CHARLOTTE: Recently “Conde Nast Traveler” published a list of best places to visit. One guaranteed way to start a conversation, and oftentimes some controversy, is to publish a list of “The Best or Worst of Anything.” However , the following 20 best travel destinations are hard to argue with.
Best destination lists a flag for red-blooded travel veteran
A travel professional will first want to see how many destinations they have personally been to. Then they will look at the reviewer’s comments and see if they agree if it deserves inclusion to a best of list.
Listed below, and from the Conde Nast group, is one of their many lists. However, added are a few destination they neglected but could or should have easily been included. It’s all subjective, of course, but it’s fun to consider.
One of the interesting things about Tokyo, which is the capital of Japan today, is that Kyoto, the former capital is actually nothing more “To” and “Kyo” in reverse.
With 35 million people, Tokyo is the largest metropolitan city in the world which, by itself, is incentive enough to visit.
If you need more enticement however, Conde Nast says Tokyo has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any city in the world.
Lucerne is especially appealing to first-time visitors, but it’s also a place that beckons travelers regardless of how often they have been there. Nestled in a bowl surrounded by the Alps, the Lake of Lucerne flows into the River Reuss beneath the ancient wooden Chapel Bridge.
Lucerne, with its historic legends about the unification of the confederation is also popular with the Swiss themselves
Revered by many as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Budapest has more than 100 thermal springs which make taking a bath there one of the great travel pleasures in the world.
Divided by the Danube with Buda on one side and Pest on the other, it is connected by several bridges, of which the Chain Bridge is the first, most famous and most beautiful. By the way, Budapest celebrated its 1,000th anniversary in 1896.
Arguably one of the top three most naturally beautiful cities in the world, the Golden Gate, Fisherman’s Wharf, Lombard Street, Chinatown, Alcatraz and the famous trolleys are ample ammunition for any city to attract visitors.
Another divided city, and the only one that sits on two continents, Europe and Asia, Istanbul is one of the most intriguing destinations in the world.
Don’t miss the covered bazaar, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace or the Pera Palace Hotel where Agatha Christie wrote much of “Murder on the Orient Express.”
For over 1,000 years Kyoto was the Imperial capital of Japan. Today, it is one of the most beautiful cities in the country thanks to the preservation of many shrines, temples and historic buildings. If you want to see Japan as it used to be, Kyoto is the place.
The name alone captures the imagination. As a pilgrimage site for Christians, Jews and Muslims, the layered religious history that lies beneath its streets and around every corner make the Old City of Jerusalem a must-see destination. Even the streets and markets, though different today than they once were, still resemble the ancient iconic images of the past.
Dublin’s Trinity College with its Book of Kells is one of the first places on a traveler’s agenda. Following that, no trip is complete without sampling a drink at the Jameson Distillery or Guinness Storehouse. Among Dublin’s most endearing qualities is the friendliness of the people which almost certainly guarantees a good time.
Vancouver is another of the three most naturally beautiful cities in the world. The coastal seaport city with its aquarium, Chinatown, Stanley Park, the historic steam clock and hundreds of miles of seaside and forested trails make Vancouver one the best ports in the world for cruising or to start or end a vacation.
There are also stunning rail journeys to Whistler and through the Canadian Rockies.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico:
Though not one of the better-known destinations on the Conde Nast list, San Miguel de Allende is noted for it vibrant colors and picturesque cobblestone streets.
La Gruta Hot Springs make Mexico’s “Disneyland” a great place to savor a therapeutic bath inside a cave.
Nearly everyone recognizes the famed Sydney Opera House overlooking Darling Harbor. As with the Irish, Australians are full of life and friendly welcoming charm that add to any travel experience. A helicopter ride over the harbor and city is a must, along with a visit to the “Rocks” to hang out with locals. Be sure to do a walking trip across Harbor Bridge.
Outside the city, a day trip to the Blue Mountains is a popular excursion.
Cape Town, South Africa:
For years South African tourism suffered because of its racial policies, but today, it is making a comeback. Cape Town has much to offer both inside and outside the city. The cable car to Table Mountain is a good place to start while a ride along the coast is also a must. You will surprisingly discover penguins along the way plus lots of other unexpected delights.
Best of all, Cape Town is near South Africa’s wine country and it is also a gateway to Kruger National Park. Do not miss the thrill of spotting the Big Five in the wild (lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos and cape buffalo) on a safari.
‘Nuff said. Paris speaks for itself. Known as the “City of Lights”, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame, Champs-Elysées, the Opera House and Montmarte are just the beginning to whet your traveling appetite.
Singapore is almost always a surprise because it is so clean compared to most large cities in the world. It is the world’s only island city-state which automatically makes it unique. Among the most popular attractions is the Supertrees which are solar powered mechanical trees reaching as high as 160 feet and built to mimic the ecological functions of actual trees.
The Gardens by the Bay should also be on your agenda.
Conde Nast rates Venice among its top 20 cities in large part because of its uniqueness, history and art. Venice often gets reviews from travelers however, who either love it or hate it with very little in between.
The canals, of course, give Venice its character along with St. Marks Square, Saint Mark’s Basilica and the famed Rialto Bridge. Many visitors also enjoy the delicate intricacies of hand blown Venetian glass and bringing home a souvenir mask that can be purchased nearly everywhere.
Hong Kong is almost the New York of Asia. The harbor is one of the primary gathering spots, but it, too, is also a “city that never sleeps.”
Be sure to ride the world’s longest escalator, if for no other reason than to say that you did it. You can also dine at the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant, Tim Ho Wan where you can savor their legendary Dim Sum for slightly more than $6.
Prague, Czech Republic:
Frequently referred to as the most beautiful city in the world, Prague is typically on everyone’s list of favorites. Historic Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, Old Town Square and it astronomical clock are among the treasures to behold.
Known as the “City of a Hundred Spires”, Prague is a place that “in-spires” as well. Don’t forget to bring home at least one piece of Herend Bone China.
So much of British history and literature is tied to the United States it is impossible not to include London. Linked by a common language (for the most part), London and the U.K. are often appealing to first-timers wanting to overcome the fear of language barriers and other perceived travel barriers.
Theater, museums, art and shared history are among the appeals that make London a favorite choice regardless of how many times you have been there before.
Bruges is a favorite due to its medieval charm and storybook ambiance. Conde Nast says it is sometimes referred to as the “Venice of the North” but then so is Stockholm, Amsterdam and St. Petersburg.
Much of the appeal of Bruges is that it was largely built between the 12th and 15th centuries and today remains much as it did hundreds of years ago. Make sure you bring home some lace.
New York, NY:
While some would argue whether New York should top the list, there are many more who believe it to be the absolute best city in the world. The restaurants are incredible and nightlife scene that is incomparable.
Though New York is certainly not the true “America”, the “Big Apple” has something for everyone including an energy that cannot be found anywhere else on the planet.
The places Conde Naste missed
Now comes the time for debate and challenge. Large cities and small that are on the cusp of making the list could easily replace some of Conde Nast’s choices.
In the larger city category there are Stockholm, Rome, Rio, Vienna and Dubrovnik.
Stockholm is a beautiful city built on 14 islands. While Rome can be congested and dirty, it does have a bit of everything including art, museums, history, religion and cuisine. Rio de Janeiro suffers from bad publicity due to high crime rates but it is also among the three most naturally beautiful cities in the world with magnificent beaches which are frequented by the best looking women in the world.
Vienna and beyond:
Vienna is a city where the music never stops and the walled Croatian city of Dubrovnik is difficult to beat. And what about Berlin?
For medium and small towns, donot overlook Sintra in Portugal, Italy’s Florence, Ravello and Orvieto or, perhaps, Rothenburg in Germany. The arcaded streets of Switzerland’s capital city of Bern is another great choice.
These are but a few alternatives to the Conde Nast list. It’s wonderful game to play and a great way to ice breaker for your next party with guests who love to travel.
Lead Image: By David Spigiel – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51323441
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime
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