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issyk kul lake

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issyk kul lake

Tucked into the mountains of eastern Kyrgyzstan, issyk kul lake has drawn visitors for centuries.
  The jewel in the crown of two mountain ranges that soar skyward in eastern Kyrgyzstan, issyk kul lake glistens in the summer sun, shimmering during winter days as well, and providing a year-round playground for adventurers. The lake is the seventh deepest in the world, tenth largest by volume, and second only in size among saline lakes to the vast Caspian Sea.
  Encompassing 6,236 square kilometres (2,408 square miles), issyk kul lake is a wonderland for the traveller and a trove of subject matter for scientific study and evaluation as well. Situated along the ancient Silk Road, it beckons to those seeking fresh mountain air, stunning views, and health-related resorts. Nicknamed the ‘Pearl of Central Asia’, the lake is embraced on all sides by the Terskey and Kungei Ala-Too mountains of the northern Tien Shan range, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its crystal waters average a depth of more than 278 metres (913 feet), while the surrounding peaks soar to more than 4,855 metres (15,928 feet).
  Despite the lake’s altitude of 1,607 metres (5,272 feet) above sea level, the climate is relatively mild, both in winter and summer, with moderate temperatures and seasonal snow. The focal point of the surrounding area for commerce and urban living is the town of Cholpon-Ata, a drive of 262 kilometres (163 miles) from Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan. On the northern shore of issyk kul lake, Cholpon-Ata offers hotel accommodation and thriving bars and restaurants, Beaches are scattered at lakeside, a short walk from the centre of town. Several major air carriers serve Bishkek, and car rental facilities are located in the airport, Kyrgyzstan Air Company operates flights into Cholpon-Ata. 
  While issyk kul lake was not well known in the West until Russian explorers published accounts of their journeys in the 1800s, the surrounding area was well populated for centuries. Ancient history abounds, and the crossroads of cultures is apparent in petroglyphs left by peoples of the past. Ruins of towns that bustled with activity centuries ago remain, some along the shoreline and others submerged beneath the deep blue of the lake. With the decline of the merchant traffic along the Silk Road during the 15th century, the population ebbed, but the allure of the region revived with its spectacular blend of mountain and lake, water and stone, ancient and modern.
  Today, issyk kul lake welcomes hiking enthusiasts, who find the winding courses exhilarating. At Altyn Arashan, visitors complete their trek with a soaking in the hot springs. Others choose to sunbathe along the lake's shore, and during the winter months the ski resort of Karakol is quite busy. About a half-hour drive from Karakol, the Jeti-Oguz, or Seven Bulls. rock formation of striking red sandstone emerges in a scenic valley, and the location of the town on the eastern edge of issyk kul lake makes it ideal as a base for excursions into the surrounding area.
  issyk kul lake was a popular holiday spot during the Soviet era, and numerous health facilities, holiday homes and small rentals were built. Recently, an economic resurgence has led to the construction of new resort properties.

top things to do in el nido

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top things to do in el nido

Secret beaches and a raucous underwater world, the Philippines’ El Nido is as idyllic as they come.
  Made up of 49 limestone isles, El Nido lies 238 kilometres (148 miles) north of Palawan’s tropical capital. The gateway to the Bacuit Archipelago, one of Asia’s most beloved natural treasures, El Nido’s unspoilt beauty and rich biodiversity has been fiercely protected since 1991. Beyond the untouched beaches, prehistoric geologic formations give way to blue lagoons, and exotic marine life takes centre stage. 
  For sun worshippers, tropical paradise awaits on El Nido’s many palm-fringed shores, where sea turtles nest on cotton-white sand, and butterflies fill the warm, salty air, resting on frangipani and bright bougainvillea. The only way to explore the archipelago’s deepest nooks and crannies is to island-hop aboard traditional banca fishing boats.  
  North of the patchwork town of El Nido, Nacpan Beach stretches over three long, gorgeous kilometres (1.8 miles), embracing its twin, Calitang Beach, on the southwest tip. Watched over by a natural viewpoint, the turmeric-tinged sand is caressed by the warm ocean currents. Here, the only sounds are lapping waves and clicking geckos.
  Another pristine patch where the sand is icing-sugar soft, the ocean aquamarine, and eagles swoop overhead Secret Beach is hugged by imposing limestone cliffs. Meanwhile, the laid-back Marimegmeg is best suited for colourful cocktails and tangy crab curry under the shade of coconut palms. As the wavering sun projects a rainbow, the beach transforms into an alfresco disco. Further north, curtained by verdant jungle, the remote Duli Beach offers up phenomenal surf breaks and deserted sands the beating heart of El Nido’s vibrant surfing community.
  The adventure continues beneath the water’s surface. Teeming with more than 100 species of coral and 800 tropical fish species, El Nido’s biodiverse marine sanctuaries attract scuba divers in search of spectacular reefs and unusual underwater life. The shallow crystalline water of South Miniloc, El Nido’s most famous dive site, is home to scorpion fish, seahorses and chevron barracuda. Another popular site, North Rock boasts kaleidoscopic coral tables, passing blacktip reef sharks, sea cows and dolphins. Night-dive utopia Nat Nat crawls with critterhunting hermit crabs and Spanish dancers.
  For landlubbers keen to challenge their limits, El Nido’s crisscrossed hiking trails follow a tapestry of karst formations, marble cliffs and waterfalls. Fortress-like, the limestone Taraw Peak, towering 230 metres (755 feet) heavenward, presents El Nido’s toughest challenge. The near-vertical trail is not for the faint of heart, requiring some scrambling skills to negotiate the steep drop offs. Summiteers are rewarded with a bird’s-eye view of the Bacuit Archipelago, its azure ocean dotted with anchored boats.
  For inexperienced climbers, the canopy walk, El Nido Taraw Via Ferrata, offers a safer, more relaxed alternative. With stairs, scaffolding and suspension bridges, the trail makes scaling the geological monolith more a walk in the park than a dance with death.
  Those in search of history trace the region’s deep roots to Ille Cave. Believed to be over 14,000 years old, the chamber was used as a Stone Age burial site, and in 1998, 20,000 artefacts, such as stone tools and shell beads, were excavated from its limestone belly, as were tiger bones the first evidence of these majestic creatures in the Philippines.

Visit Goa

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Visit Goa

Once the epicentre of hippies, hedonism and full-moon parties, India’s Goa is now all grown up.
  Amelting pot of Indian and Portuguese cultures, Goa’s picture-perfect beaches, ancient temples, freewheeling spirituality and seductively accessible nature have transformed it from a hippie hideaway to a bucket-list regular.
  Blessed with mile after mile of gorgeously golden shoreline and blindingly blue water, Goa’s beaches are deceptively diverse. From secluded palm-fringed coves to talcum-powdersoft stretches and sunrise yoga to soundtracks of gently throbbing bass, each has something unique to offer.
  While much of northern Goa’s coastline has been heavily developed, tranquillity can still be had at Mandrem Beach a gorgeous spit of ticklishly soft sand separated from the village by a shallow creek. Frequented by kite-surfers, Ayurveda disciples and meditation pupils, it is no longer the well-kept secret it once was. But, early each morning, fishermen still come and go, unloading their brightly coloured boats in the shade of coconut palms. Turtles and crabs usually outnumber the swimmers on this sweep of fawn sand, dotted with laid-back eateries dishing out delicious bowls of curried fish and fresh coconut.
  Aside from postcard-perfect Palolem, which has become overrun with resorts, southern Goa is sleepier than the north. Veiled by dense jungle is the pristine, hidden beach of Cola. Secluded for most of the year, facilities are minimal, but that’s all part of the charm, as is the turquoise lagoon that dissects the shoreline. Home to sea eagles, monkeys and even the occasional dolphin, it’s the perfect place to play Crusoe.
  Further south, stretching two kilometres (1.2 miles) and bookended by impossibly green, vegetation-cloaked cliffs lies Agonda its coastline sprinkled with minimalist bamboo huts. Each September, the tranquil cove serves as a nesting ground for the endangered olive riddle sea turtle, as does the almost-deserted Galgibag its cumin-coloured sand lined with a swaying curtain of casuarina pines.
  Away from the beaches, Goa’s state capital Panaji is a cultural crockpot, resplendent with faded remnants of Portuguese rule. But nowhere is this felt more than the old Latin quarter of Fontainhas, where cobbled streets are flanked by ochre-hued colonial-era mansions. Across the rest of the city, cafes and quaint chapels rest beside backstreet bars and multi-storey malls. Sitting proudly atop a hill is the distinctive church, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, with its crisscrossing staircases. Down on the banks of the Mandovi River, come nightfall, another world emerges, as ferry boats rub shoulders with floating neon-clad casinos.  
  A short drive from Panaji is Anjuna, home to a weekly flea market since the 1960s. While fewer flower children are selling well-worn belongings to fund the rest of their journeys along the Hippie Trail, it remains a Goan institution. Today, chai stalls and bamboo kiosks peddle trinkets, spices and saris from as far as Tibet and Kashmir.  
  To the south lies Ponda, the cultural and spiritual heart of Goa. Sprinkled amid the rice paddies and mangroves are enchanting Hindu temples, including some of the country’s oldest. The region is also home to a number of tropical spice plantations, like the 200-year-old Savoi Plantation an organic farm, which harvests cardamom, turmeric and clove, alongside pineapple, coconut and jackfruit.

Visit Mount Fuji

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Visit Mount Fuji

An enduring symbol of the spirit of Japan, Fuji is so much more than a mountain.
  Japan’s Mount Fuji is one of those rare landmarks of the Earth, a masterpiece of nature a stoic, cylindrical monument in perfect symmetry with both the heavens and the Earth.
  Towering more than 3,700 metres (12,100 feet) over the prefectures of Shizuoka and Yamanashi, on Japan’s island of Honshu, it has long been revered in the indigenous Shinto faith as the home of the kami, or spirit, Princess Konohanasakuya. Adding to the allure is its status as an active volcano, a gateway into the planet’s very own epicentre of creation.
  On a clear day, the mountain can be seen more than 80 kilometres (50 miles) away, from the cities of Tokyo and Yokohama. Its image has captured the imaginations of poets and artists for more than 1,000 years so evocative, it was used by both the Empire of Japan and the Americans during World War II to encourage, and dissuade, Japanese troops.
  Climbing this unparalleled marvel is beyond your average hike; for the Japanese, it is a rite of passage, a journey along the heartbeat of Japan’s very soul. As one proverb states: “A wise man will climb Mt Fuji once; a fool will climb Mt Fuji twice.”
  The mountain is a pilgrimage site, and not just for its various Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. Roughly a third of the 300,000 adventurers who scale the mountain every summer travel from across the world.
  The most popular hiking route is the yoshidaguchi trail, which begins at kawaguchiko gogome 5th station and leads 15 kilometres (nine miles) up towards the summit. this can be reached from tokyo via the keio express bus from shinjuku. the trail takes six hours to ascend and three to return a journey that many like to break with a short rest at one of fuji's various mountain huts.
  Though only the most basic of respites, sometimes comprising a shared space on the floor. these cost around £35 ($46) for a night with hot meals available for an additional £7 ($9). these are ideal for inexperienced hikers,  who may need longer to adjust to the change in altitude, even if just for a few hours, or those who wish to see the Sun rise over the mountain’s summit. More luxurious lodging is available, but this can cost in excess of £55 ($73) a night and all accommodation should be booked far in advance, especially during busy periods. Hardy hikers who push straight through to the mountain top are rewarded with a delicious meal of noodles. curry or ramen at a selection of restaurants.
  One of the best ways to enjoy the mountain from afar is with a trip to the onsen, or hot springs resort town of hakone. its network of railways cable cars ropeways and the infamous pirate ships offer fantastic views of the mountain though visibility is notoriously unpredictable. the fuji five lakes region. especially lake kawaguchiko at the foot of the mountain is also home to cherry blossoms and a brilliant base for a wide array of outdoor activities from fishing to skiing not to mention the beloved fuji-Q highland amusement park.

Visit Sharm el-Sheikh

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Visit Sharm el-Sheikh

Fly into Egypt’s prime holiday destination for thrilling coral reef diving and beaches galore.
  Sharm el-Sheikh is located at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, and with a dedicated airport, this is the perfect place to kick back by the pool, visit historical sites, practise your haggling skills and even learn how to scuba dive.
  Na’ama Bay is at the heart of Sharm elSheikh’s beach life. Take a stroll  to the hot, white sands and dip your feet in the warm waters for complete relaxation. The midday heat, however, can become intense with temperatures reaching 30 to 40 degrees Celsius (86 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer months of July and August, so visiting the beach early morning is recommended. Reaching out directly from a strip of luxury hotels and resorts, Na’ama Bay is renowned for its range of cafes and shops, with many sellers attempting to draw you in to peruse the goods. Na’ama Bay is also a great spot for snorkelling, with coral reefs lining the waters this makes for an ideal introduction to snorkelling before heading out further afield.
  A holiday to Sharm el-Sheikh should not go without a trip to the Ras Muhammad National Park, just 38 kilometres (23 miles) further south along the peninsula. This area of natural beauty features a selection of impressive dive sites that makes snorkelling and scuba diving a top attraction for visitors.  
  Head to the Shark Observatory, close to Main Beach, for incredible views over the surrounding area (the chances of spotting sharks, however, are very slim). Another great spot for snorkelling is Marsa Bareika Beach, with its calm waters and sandy beaches making it ideal for beginners and also perfect for families and young children. Go to Salt Lake for a spot of swimming, and then head to Old Quay Beach or Jolanda Bay for some excellent coral reef diving. On your way out, drive by the Mangroves and see how the vegetation sprawls out into the crystalclear waters of the Red Sea.
  For one of the best beach experiences Sharm el-Sheikh has to offer, and a much quieter location compared to that of the busier Na’ama Bay, head to Ras Um Sid just five kilometres (three miles) to the south of the main town. This spot is the perfect snorkelling location for those looking for a more casual coral reef experience, with some amazing sea life and rare fish species waiting to be seen. Don’t miss out on the most exciting diving experience on the Sinai Peninsula: the Thistlegorm wreck.  
  This is the site of a British army freighter that sank during World War II. It has been well preserved in the salt water of the Red Sea. Ideal for more experienced divers, the Thistlegorm site is located 33 metres (108 feet) down on the seabed, featuring motorbikes, cars, trucks and many more items within the ship’s holds. Towards the stern of the ship, get up close to the turrets and machine guns as well as the ship’s large propeller at the rear. Book yourself on a full-day boat trip with prices starting at around £70 ($91), or a two-day trip with a night’s stay on a boat (the latter includes a night dive of the wreck). This is truly a wondrous site to behold and is the perfect opportunity for those looking to experience a bit more than just sea life.  
  Once you’ve got a taste for dive sites, chances are you’ll want to head over to Tiran Island, accessible by boat just six kilometres (four miles) off the coast of Sharm el-Sheikh. Although the island belongs to Saudi Arabia, it is actually part of the Ras Muhammad National Park. Visitors are invited to dive and snorkel around the island to experience the array of amazing coral reefs, clear waters and another impressive shipwreck.  
  If you’re planning to spend more of your time in Sharm el-Sheikh on dry land, there’s a plethora of locations to visit further inland. Book a trip further afield to Colored Canyon, situated northward up the Sinai Peninsula coastline. Walk through the 800-metre (2,600-foot) canyon around glowing orange pinnacles and amazing boulders. This place offers itself as an ideal photography location for stunning sunrise and sunset shots, capturing the dramatic landscape and colours from the rock surfaces.
  Saint Catherine’s Monastery, located more centrally on the Sinai Peninsula, is considered to be one of the oldest working monasteries in the world. Located 210 kilometres (130 miles) from Sharm el-Sheikh, a day’s tour can be organised from most resorts. Tour prices start at £33 ($43), with optional extras that include hikes to the summit of Mount Sinai at sunrise for some incredible panoramic views. Remember when visiting the site that appropriate dress codes must be considered, including no shorts or exposed skin over shoulders. The monastery houses some of the most renowned religious icons in the world, attracting both tourists and pilgrims from all over the world who come and pay their respects.
  Camel riding is a favourite among visitors to Sharm el-Sheikh, with tour operators offering camel safaris across the Sinai Desert. Usually lasting for an hour, expect to pay from £40 ($52) per person. After experiencing the slow and bumpy ride, most tour operators offer the Make sure you experience a camel ride into the desert while in Egypt chance for you to sample authentic local tea and food with Bedouin people as part of the tour. This is a great opportunity to get a better sense of what desert life is like for the local people.
  Take a day to explore the local bazaars and markets of Sharm el-Sheikh and pick up a souvenir or two at the Old Market; or pay a visit to Soho Square (opened in 2018) for award-winning entertainment and a plethora of restaurants. When you’re not dining out, Soho Square features an ice rink, bowling alley and tennis courts to keep kids and adults entertained throughout the day.
  There’s truly something for everyone in Sharm el-Sheikh, no matter what your budget may be. Whether you’re after a relaxing time away from home chilling on the beach, or a more adventurous trip in which you can push your scuba-diving skills, or explore some natural wonders, there’s so much to do that you’ll want to book a flight straight back there.
  Sharm el-Sheikh makes for the perfect base for exploring, with fantastic beaches, shopping and entertainment available within close range. But it’s also possible to take a trip out to the country’s capital of Cairo, where you can marvel at major sites including one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and then take a walk across to the incredible Sphinx. Don’t miss out on a visit to the city’s impressive Egyptian Museum to learn about Ancient Egypt it’s here where you can view the largest collection of artefacts in the world. Depending on your budget, Cairo can be reached either by a direct flight from Sharm el-Sheikh that will take just one hour, or by a bus transfer that will take five to six hours either way, winding through the Sinai Peninsula.

Visit Zanzibar

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Visit Zanzibar

This eclectic tropical paradise, a region of Tanzania, is simply unlike anywhere else in the world.
  Known as Spice Island, the honeymoon destination of Zanzibar may be famous for its turquoise waters and pristine white beaches, but this multicultural melting pot has plenty to spice up your life.
  The archipelago in the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of Tanzania, comprises over 50 islands, but the main ones are Unguja and Pemba. Unguja, commonly known as Zanzibar, is the largest and is popular with tourists for its stunning beaches and capital city Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Freddie Mercury. The ‘Green Island’ is a fitting name for Pemba, which is covered in lush-green forest and clove plantations 70 per cent of the world’s cloves are produced here. Zanzibar’s second-largest island is also one of the best spots for diving and snorkelling. It may be quieter than Unguja with fewer hotels, but one resort that gets a lot of attention is the Manta Resort, which boasts an underwater room offshore.
  The smaller islands also have their draws. Chumbe, Zanzibar’s first Marine Protected Area, is a wildlife haven; watch humpback whales during migration, search for endangered coconut crabs or the rare Aders’s duiker. The Chumbe Island Eco Lodge is the island’s only accommodation. There are just seven bungalows, so you have privacy and spectacular views. There are only ten rooms on the remote and luxurious Mnemba Atoll as it’s just 500 metres (1,640 feet) in diameter, but you’ll have to splash out to stay here. The reefs in this marine conservation area are stunning and you can see turtles during breeding season.
  If you’re searching for paradise, the best beaches on the main island are Nungwi and Kendwa in the north, Matemwe in the northeast and Bwejuu in the southeast. While Pemba and Mnemba are the best locations for diving and snorkelling, there are plenty of spots off the main island including Kizimkazi reef and Stone Town reef. If you don’t dive, there are plenty of water sports from kitesurfing to deep-sea fishing.  
  Its waters may be rich in marine life, but there’s plenty more to see. Visit the Jozani Forest to see red colobus monkeys, one of Africa’s rarest primates, or go to see Aldabra giant tortoises on Prison Island. The archipelago’s real charm lies in its rich culture. Once a major trade route, Zanzibar represents a mix of cultures from Africa, the Middle East, India, Persia and Europe, and these influences can be seen in its food, architecture and customs. Visit Lukmaan restaurant to try local curry and samosas, or go to the Forodhani Gardens for fresh seafood and sugar cane juice. The Rock restaurant’s unique offshore location makes it a diner’s dream.  
  Stone Town’s architecture highlights the blend of cultures, from Anglican churches to Islamic mosques and Hindu temples. Look out for the incredible woodwork on the doors, showing off detailed workmanship.
  Zanzibar has a number of festivals throughout the year, but highlights include the Sauti za Busara music festival and the Zanzibar International Film Festival.
  Whether you’re taking a dhow (traditional sailing boat) cruise to experience the breathtaking sunsets, or shopping for a kitenge (Swahili garment) at the Darajani Market, there’s culture around every corner. The history of Zanzibar is equally as fascinating, from spices to slavery. Visit the slave monument, the former slave market or David Livingstone’s house to learn about Zanzibar’s history as East Africa’s biggest slave port. Then explore a plantation to discover how the country’s wealth grew from common spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  
  Take a tour of Stone Town for a deeper insight into the island from the House of Wonders to the Old Fort and Palace Museum. Other landmarks include the Old Dispensary, the Persian Baths and, of course, Freddie Mercury’s house. You may go for the beaches, but Zanzibar’s unique mix of gems is what will really rock you.

top things to do in cape town

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top things to do in cape town

South Africa’s Mother City is one of the best of all world travel experiences.
  Located at the southern tip of South Africa, Cape Town is one of the most stunningly diverse cities in the world. Where else could you swim with penguins, climb an iconic mountain and visit vineyards all in one day?
  Cape Town is possibly most famous for the truly unique Table Mountain a onekilometre (0.6-mile) high mountain whose most distinguishing feature is a flat summit that stretches for 3.2 kilometres (two miles). The sheer size of the mountaintop, the rugged terrain and the wildlife make it easy to forget you’re not on the ground, but instead on South Africa’s smallest mountain. Table Mountain is ideal for nature lovers, as it is home to a wider range of unique flora and fauna than anywhere else in the world. A walk around Table Mountain is a truly unforgettable sight, and the cable car to the top is cheap, quick and safe.
  Once you’ve finished your mountain climbing, you may be in need of a dip in the ocean, so a trip to Boulders Beach is in order as long as you don’t mind sharing. That’s because Boulders is home to hundreds of African penguins! There is nowhere else in the world you can get this close to these magnificent birds in the wild.
  All that exercise may have left you needing a drink so where better than Stellenbosch? The vineyards are a 45-minute drive from the city in perhaps South Africa’s most well-known wine-producing region, boasting internationally renowned Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage.
  If you’ve gone all the way to Cape Town, why not head to the place that gave it its name the Cape of Good Hope. This point at the southwestern tip of Africa has a fearsome reputation among sailors, but provides tourists with a stunning view of the point where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean  with the added advantage of a possibility of a whale sighting.  
  But what of the city itself? History buffs simply have to schedule in a visit to Robben Island, the prison in which Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years. Tours are conducted by former inmates, many of whom were there at the same time as the former president.
  The Castle of Good Hope is also a gorgeous piece of architecture. Sports fans can take in a Test match at the spectacular Newlands Cricket Stadium, while foodies must head to the Old Biscuit Mill, which houses a number of top-class restaurants including the Test Kitchen, voted Africa’s best restaurant in 2018.  
  Put simply, there is nowhere in the world quite like Cape Town that has so much to offer every kind of traveller. The adventurer, the nature-lover, the wine buff, the city breaker and the beachbum can all spend a magical time in South Africa’s vibrant coastal gem.

Visit Marrakesh

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Visit Marrakesh

Get lost in Morocco’s cultural capital in the Sahara sands.
  With its sand-coloured buildings, bustling streets and colourful markets, Marrakesh is Morocco’s cultural jewel. Located in the shade of the stunning Atlas Mountains, at the very edge of the Sahara Desert, it has been home to a vast variety of people over the ages from native Berbers to Arabs, as well as French colonisers and folk coming from all over Africa. The result is a real melting pot of influences and it really shows.
  Officially founded in the 11th century by the Almoravid Berber chieftain Abu Bakr ibn Umar, Marrakesh became a cultural centre, as its rulers erected a number of stunning mosques and madrasas (centres for Islamic learning). Over the years, its reputation spread across Africa, and people came from all over the continent to trade goods with each other.
  Sticking up in the Marrakesh skyline is the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque, located at the very centre of the city Marrakesh seems to sprawl out around it. If you think you’ve seen it before, you probably have the minaret served as an inspiration for La Giralda’s cathedral spire in Seville. Opened in the 12th century, it was built next to the king’s residence, and designed so that nosy worshippers couldn’t get a look into his private quarters from the minaret. Inside, there are six rooms, each with its own architectural style. The grounds of the mosque feature destroyed ancient foundations (with information boards to tell their story), as well as expansive gardens with tall palm trees fanning the pathways.
  Seeking to build upon Marrakesh’s lofty reputation as an intellectual hub, Saadian dynasty sultan Abdallah al-Ghalib embarked on a massive construction project in 1565: the Ben Youssef Madrasa. At the time, it was the largest Islamic study centre in all Morocco, said to accommodate up to 800 students. As well as Quranic teachings, students learned about literature, history and science. The buildings are centred around a stunningly symmetrical courtyard, featuring a classically Moroccan reflecting pool, and the walls are adorned with beautiful Islamic geometric patterns. Besides the educational buildings, you can also look around the student living quarters, perhaps to see how they compare with modern-day dorms. Much better, probably.
  Built by Abdallah al-Ghalib’s successor, Ahmad al-Mansur, the El Badi Palace ruins are another must-see. In its heyday, the palace was easily the grandest in the city, built using costly materials such as onyx and gold. Archaeologists estimate that the palace once had 360 rooms, playing host to political intrigues, private scandals and foreign dignitaries from far and wide. After the fall of the Saadian dynasty, their Alaouite successors stripped the palace of anything valuable, and left it to rot. Today, its ruins are carefully preserved.
  Follow Ahmad al-Mansur to the grave by visiting the Saadian tombs, another major landmark on the Marrakesh trail. The tombs are the final resting place of al-Mansur and his family, as well as some servants and soldiers. Constructed from dazzling Italian marble, it’s surprising to learn that these beautiful royal tombs were hidden from the world for centuries. The Saadians’ vanquishers, the Alaouites, were keen to downplay their predecessors’ influence, so the tombs were walled up. The only way to get to them was through a small passageway in the Kasbah Mosque, accessible only to a few. howeverthanks to newly inverted aerial photography. the tombs were disccovered from above in 1917. since then they've been lovingly restored to their fromer glory. and you're able to wander around them at your leisure.
  Marrakesh's rulers, no matter which dynasty they hailed from, seem to have been avid gardeners. they built many lovely green spaces throughout the city. arguably the most famous of these is the menara botanical gardens. a little way out of the city centre right next to the airport, in fact. Among the fruit orchards and olive trees, a golden Saadian-era pavilion overlooks a rectangular reflecting pool. It’s best to visit the Menara gardens in the evening, if you can that way, you’ll see the gardens bathed in a warm sunset glow. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see the snow-capped Atlas Mountains in the background the perfect spot for taking some great photos.
  Jump forward in time a few centuries to capture a shot of your own at one of Marrakesh’s most-Instagrammed landmarks, the Bahia Palace. Walk through its halls to experience all the different eras in Marrakesh’s past although the palace was built in the 19th century, its builder, Si Moussa, wanted to showcase the best of his country’s history. Inside, you’ll find a homage to traditional Moroccan styles, including sandstone walls, geometric marble rooms and colourful Islamic art. The gardens are even better there are a number of courtyards filled with palm trees, water features and brightly coloured stained-glass windows to admire. The pièce de résistance, however, is the final courtyard, a vast expanse of intricate tiling; blue, yellow and red ceiling decorations; and picturesque fountains scattered with delicate petals. You could easily spend an entire afternoon here, soaking up the sun and revelling in the greatness of Moroccan design.
  For a taste of modernist Marrakesh, step inside the walled Majorelle Gardens otherwise known as the Yves Saint-Laurent gardens, after the famous french designer led efforts to restore the gardens in the 1980s. originally laid out in the 1930s. the gardens. known for their trademark cobalt buildings and terracotta pathways. are unique because they blend traditional moroccan landscaping with unmistakeably european architecture. the bright-blue cubist villa(which now houses the berber museum) at the top of the gardens looks like it would be more at home on the french riviera than in marrakesh. still. you’ll never forget the incredible colour scheme and botany on show here.
  Last but certainly not least on the Marrakesh itinerary is a trip to the famous souk and we suggest you do save it until last, otherwise you might spend all your money here! Entering from Jemaa el-Fnaa square, apparently Africa’s busiest square, explore the endless narrow passageways packed full of exciting goods and wares. As well as standard souvenirs, you’ll find all manner of spices, food, traditional cooking items (yes, including tagines), furniture, clothing and even books here. Try to grab a good deal by giving haggling a go but be warned, Marrakesh’s market sellers drive a hard bargain!
  Although Marrakesh’s old character is part of its charm, you can also take advantage of the city’s modern side. As well as top-ofthe-range hotels with rooftop pools and romantic spots ideal for sipping cocktails, you’ll also find an array of cultural pleasures to take your fancy. Visit the House of Photography to learn more about this useful art, or the Yves Saint-Laurent Museum to find out about the notable designer. Or, if you tire of souk shopping and want nothing more than to grab a coffee and hit up the boutiques, visit the Carré Eden shopping mall in the modern neighbourhood of Gueliz.    You’ll find it close to Marrakesh’s shiny new train station, built in 2008. To end your day in modern-day Marrakesh, enjoy one of Morocco’s bestknown pastimes: a visit to the hammam. Though these spas have their origins in Ottoman bathing, their popularity in Morocco has soared, in part thanks to the country’s tourist boom. Enjoy a massage for a fraction of the price you’d pay at home, then take a dip in a blue pool, surrounded by sensual aromas and ambient lighting.

places to visit in rome

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places to visit in rome

Visit the stunning capital of Italy and experience a part of history.
  Italy’s capital will take you on a journey into the past while enabling you to enjoy the cosmopolitan buzz of a fashionable city. Explore ancient Roman ruins, soak up the art and culture, and enjoy the incredible cuisine. Begin your day with a trip to the Colosseum, then take a walk through the Roman Forum and on to the Pantheon. 
  The Colosseum is a spectacle not to be missed it’s the largest amphitheatre ever built, and still an icon of Imperial Rome. Even if you don’t want to venture inside, you’ll really regret not taking the time to see it in person. The area around it can feel a little daunting; the roads are wide and busy, but there are some lovely restaurants close by where you can enjoy a traditional lasagne with a view of the spectacular structure. The Colosseum is striking at any time of day, but imagine sitting in view of it with a glass of Italian wine as the sun sets and streams through its many arches. We really can’t think of many things better than starting and ending your day at this stunning building.  
  The Roman Forum is another iconic landmark of the Roman Empire. It’s filled with temples, squares and old government buildings that are well worth taking a stroll around. You can explore it alone or join a tour to learn about the interesting history of the site. Nearby the Pantheon is a 2,000-year-old temple, the best preserved of all of Rome’s ancient monuments. It is one of the most influential buildings in the Western world. Venturing through its large, bronze doors and into the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever built is probably as awe-inspiring and breathtaking as it was when it was first constructed. Despite its age, it’s still as stunning as ever.
  The Vatican is by far the city’s most popular tourist destination, so be prepared for a lot of people and many, many queues. If this fills you with dread, just be sure to avoid Wednesdays, as this is usually when the Papal Audience takes place. This is when the Pope is in Rome, meaning there will be even more people. In the warmer months, this is often held in St Peter’s Square, so if you do want to get a glimpse of the Pope then head on down just prepare yourself for a lot of people around! Visiting the Vatican Museums with a tour is by far the best way to do it, and between April and October you can book to visit the museum at night, which means there are fewer people to cope with. If you plan on visiting St Peter’s Basilica, then you must be dressed appropriately no bare knees, midriffs or shoulders on show.
  Vatican City, the independent city-state, is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. A trip to the Vatican should be left for a day when you have nothing else planned, as there is a lot to see. It’s home to St Peter’s Basilica  and the Vatican Museums, which contain artistic masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes.
  The most popular square in Rome, Piazza Navona, shouldn’t be left off your itinerary. The piazza is lined with restaurants, cafes and swanky shops to explore but it will definitely burn a hole in your wallet! The ornate fountain, Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, sits at its centre too. Another piazza not to forget about is Piazza di Spagna, which is where the city’s famous Spanish Steps are. It’s a central meeting place for both locals and tourists, and a great place for people watching and candid photography.
  After a long day exploring the once ‘caput mundi’(capital of the world), enjoy watching the world go by in one of the pizzerias or trattorias located within the many piazzas. Don’t forget to sample traditional dishes that can only be truly enjoyed in Rome. Seek out a proper Roman carbonara, made with just a handful of ingredients, or look for the classic amatriciana, made with a rich tomato sauce and savoury pork cheek. Start your day with a local maritozzo, which is a sweet, yeasty bun containing raisins and pine nuts and filled with delicious whipped cream.
  In the evening, take a romantic walk to the famous Trevi Fountain, and make a wish by throwing a coin in using your right hand over your left shoulder a tradition at the fountain. Standing 26 metres (85 feet) tall and 49 metres (161 feet) wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city. There are many pretty fountains to be found in the city’s piazzas where you can enjoy a delicious Italian coffee, sample crisp white wine from the nearby Castelli Romani hills, and make sure you don’t miss out on trying the gelato. On the way to the Trevi Fountain you’ll stumble across Giolitti, which is Rome’s oldest and best gelateria well worth the pit stop.
  Visit the official residence of the Pope situated in the Apostolic Palace. The stunning chapel was originally called Cappella Magna and was named after Pope Sixtus IV, who restored it between 1477 and 1480. You can book tickets in advance in order to skip the queues and secure entry into an often-sold-out venue. It’s located within the Vatican Museums, and access to the Sistine Chapel is included with your museum tickets. The Sistine Chapel is the last room you’ll visit on your trip through the museums and the 54 galleries. They truly leave the best until last on this tour. It’s absolutely stunning and very memorable.

Visit Istanbul

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Visit Istanbul

Turkey’s cultural capital lays bare its metamorphosis from roman conquest to modern metropolis.
  Dissected by the glittering Bosphorus strait, separating Europe from Asia, Istanbul is unlike any other city in the world a tale of two continents. But its charm is less about East meets West, than new colliding with old.
  Founded by the Greeks in the 7th century, Istanbul, formerly known as Byzantium, was conquered by the Persians, Athenians, Spartans and Macedonians. It later became the capital of the Roman Empire, when Emperor Constantine rechristened it Constantinople, and remained the capital of the Byzantine Empire for more than 1,000 years, before falling to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.
  Luring conquerors and commoners alike, Istanbul’s geographic position, straddling two continents, wasn’t its only draw the city also marked the end of the Silk Road. Many a passing merchant loved it so much they decided to stay, weaving a rich cultural tapestry that still exists today, marked into its architectural landscape.
  Thanks to its storied past, Istanbul is a living, open-air museum, studded with relics of the great powers who ruled over it from Roman waterways to extravagant Ottoman estates. This patchwork of historical gems is interrupted with welcome bursts of modern life contemporary art museums, nightclubs and classic mansions with sleek, glass-fronted extensions. The old quarter’s fabled skyline of minarets and domes still sits atop a tangle of narrow, cobbled streets that echo with the muezzin’s five daily calls to prayer.
  The vestiges of Istanbul’s ancient past are mainly dotted around the Sultanahmet district. The opulent pavilions of Topkapı Palace, the administrative seat of the Ottoman Empire for 400 years, stretches behind the magnificent Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya in Turkish). Built by Byzantine emperor Justinian, the basilica was consecrated as a church in 537, before Mehmet II converted it into a mosque in 1453. Atatürk, the father of modern Turkey, later pronounced it a museum.
  Gazing across Sultanahmet Square is the iconic Blue Mosque, festooned with 20,000 handcrafted Iznik tiles famously created from quartz rather than traditional clay. A short stroll northwest, Süleymaniye Mosque crowns one of Istanbul’s seven hills, towering over the medieval Grand Bazaar and its labyrinthine maze of coffee shops and stalls tended by polo-shirt-clad men, balancing spices and loose-leaf tea on brass scales used by their fathers and grandfathers before them.
  Just a cheap ferry ride across the Golden Horn, the medieval Galata Tower watches over‘new’ Istanbul, and the vibrant entertainment districts of Karaköy, Beyoglu and its namesake Galata replete with coffee shops, galleries, rooftop bars and boutiques. With cuisine as diverse as its heritage, Istanbul is a food-lover’s paradise. smoky succulent kebabs, freshly caught fish and syrupy desserts are best washed down with raki. the national drink of aniseed brandy. or local wine.
  For those whotire of city life. the car-free princes islands. once a safe haven for exiled royal membrs, are just a 20-kilometre(12-mile) boat trip away. here sandy coves and pine forests converge. as horse-drawn carriages with leather seats trundle past seafood restaurants strung along the harbour. hawking the day's catch a great opportunity to relax.

Visit Reykjavik The Capital Of Iceland

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Visit Reykjavik The Capital Of Iceland

Journey to Iceland’s capital to experience breathtaking scenery and spectacular natural wonders.
  Reykjavík is a city like no other. Backdropped by mountains and located along Iceland’s south-western shoreline, embracing the constantly changing climate of the capital is all part and parcel of visiting one of the world’s most exciting destinations.
  The city is a cultural hub for those looking to get more familiar with Icelandic history, as well as its modern way of life. Featuring a wide array of museums to suit everybody’s tastes, from The Settlement Exhibition, the Saga Museum and The National Gallery of Iceland, to the Whales of Iceland exhibition and the Reykjavík Museum of Photography, you’re never without somewhere to visit on rainy days.
  Divulge your taste buds in some of the best fish and chips at the Reykjavík Fish Restaurant along the harbour, or chomp on a fresh hot dog at the little Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur stall. If you’re feeling adventurous, try out some of Iceland’s more traditional delicacies, including fermented shark (hákarl), lamb soup (kjötsúpa) and dried fish (harðfiskur).
  You can’t visit Reykjavik without dipping your toes into a geothermal pool for instant relaxation and to soothe those sore muscles. The popular Blue Lagoon lies just a 50-minute drive away from the city centre, and will set you back around £70 ($95) entry per person. Or, for a budget-friendly alternative, locate one of the city’s public swimming complexes, for example Vesturbæjarlaug, to enjoy a variety of hot pools at various temperatures for a fee of just £6 ($8) entry for adults.
  Visit a reykjavik roasters cafe to slake your thirst for caffeine and enjoy expertly made oee tha will leave a lasting impression. be wary. though, as shopping in leland comes with a hefty price tag. sticking to a budget and looking for those deals where possible will make pennies stretch further. use the appy hour app to give you a list of all the pubs and restaurants that have deals running on drinks at any one time. 
  Treat lceland's capital as a base to explore from. as most of the country's sights can be accessed through either organised tours or by hiring a rental car. A couple of days is all that’s required to explore the city’s highlights before heading out into the wild to witness majestic glaciers, gigantic waterfalls and exploding geysers.
  Take a day out to explore the Golden Circle; a round-up of some of Iceland’s most spectacular natural wonders. Sights include the stunning Thingvellir National Park that, when visited during the snowy season, is truly a winter wonderland. Also featured on the tour is Gullfoss, a huge  waterfall fed from a glacier that’s visible in the background on a clar day.
  A northern lights tour is a must for those visiting lceland. a tour will typically last three to five hours. don't forget to take your camera to capture the colourful natural wonder in all its glory. although buying photos from your tour organiser is sometimes an option.
  The fact that the number of tourists who visit Iceland each year outweighs the country's actual population by six times over is evident of just how popular this island has become as a dstination to not miss out on. 

top things to do in stockholm

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top things to do in stockholm

World-leading style, culture and flavour are yours for the taking in Sweden’s capital city.
  Scandinavia has become synonymous with cool, minimalistic design and a forward-thinking approach to modern life. Stockholm epitomises this identity like nowhere else. The Swedish capital is as effortlessly cool as the well-dressed, friendly folk who live there, offering city breaks that combine unique museums, laid-back dining and good oldfashioned urban exploring.
  Stockholm is spread across 14 islands. You might think that this would make it tricky to get around, but the city has an excellent public transport system, and most destinations are within walking distance of one another. Bring some sturdy boots if you plan on visiting in winter; Stockholm’s icy streets can take their toll on shoe leather after a long day of strolling between landmarks and cafés.
  Begin your Swedish sojourn in Stockholm’s aesthetically appealing Old Town. The island of Gamla Stan is at the heart of the city,  and is home to the Royal Palace (Kungliga Slottet). With more than 600 rooms, museums and galleries, this enormous building is the official residence of the King of Sweden. Take a tour of the royal digs, and be sure to check out  the Changing of the Guard ceremony.
Other worthwhile sights on Gamla Stan include Stockholm Cathedral and the Nobel Museum. Perhaps the best way to soak in the area is to simply amble around its cobblestone streets, taking time to marvel at the historic sights you’ll see along the way.
  To experience how modern residents live, head or the quirky and hip island of sodrmalm. this is one of the best places in the ity to browse boutique stores and stock up on the coolest scandinavian fashion, taking inspiration from chhic locals hanging out in the area's enviable selection of cafes and bars.
  Make the most of these fine establishments by partaking in the quintessential swdish ritual of 'fika' a coffee and cake break dedicated to socialising with friends while enjoying the simple pleasures of food and drink. alongside its sweet treats, stockholm is awash with savoury flavour thanks to ingredients from its nearby fields, forests and waters. Specialities range from classic Swedish meatballs and fried herring to more modern cuisine, including some of the best vegan food in the world and fantastic options for health-conscious diners.
  Swedes also love their beer craft ale aficionados will be right at home here, where cheaper pints are served after work, and microbrewed beverages can be sipped in practically every bar you visit.
  Museums in stockholm demand to be sen. from the vasa museum (vasamuseet). home of an ill-fated swedish warship that's been masterfully reassembled, to skansen, the world's first open-air museum that re-creates sweden in miniature. these hubs of specialist knowledge are arguably the best way to gain an insight into swedish culture during a short stay in the city. pop fans won't want to miss abba the museum, and on the other end  of the cultural spectrum. moderna museet's collection of modern art is free to peruse.

The Highlands

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The Highlands

Scotland’s breathtaking landscapes are just waiting to be uncovered.
  If for your next trip you’re looking for an ethereal, rugged landscape, look no further than the Scottish Highlands. With something for everyone, from wildlife spotting to drinking Scotland’s famous whiskies, it’s the perfect destination no matter what your tastes.
  The Highlands are perhaps best known for the lochs, which are littered around the area, each providing a unique experience. Some are on the main tourist trails those like Loch Ness with its famed ‘monster’ and Loch Lomond and can be easily reached on day tours from Edinburgh and Glasgow. Others are hidden away, waiting to be stumbled upon, like Loch Morlich and Loch an Eilein near Aviemore. Each one is worth a visit to experience the peaceful waters and wooded slopes that envelope the lakes.  
  But those slopes are worth exploring in themselves. Take a trek through the Cairngorms National Park to reach the top of Ben Macdui or Braeriach. A little closer to Aberdeen you can find Bennachie, although this is out of the Highlands itself, or near Fort William you’ll come across Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest peak. No matter whether you’re in the north, south, east or west of the Highlands, there’s no feeling quite like scaling one of the peaks some of which are good for novices and the views from the top  are always breathtaking.
  Of course, not everyone goes on holiday to spend all their time in the great outdoors, and the Highlands is more than ready to provide. Take a trip to the historic city of Inverness before making your way down the coast of Loch Ness to Urquhart Castle at Strone, and Fort Augustus. Check out the typical Highland towns of Nairn and Aviemore, or head as far north as you can until you reach John O’Groats.
  For those who want to take things a little slower, the Highlands region is known for something else: whisky. Plenty of distilleries open their doors to whisky drinkers, offering tours and tastings to those over the age of 18. From Ardmore and Glenmorangie, to Knockdhu and Tomatin, it’s the perfect excuse to try some of Scotland’s finest exports and buy those all-important gifts for friends and family back home. However, it is important to point out that Scotland has incredibly strict drinkdriving laws compared to the rest of the United Kingdom while in England, Wales and Northern Ireland you’re considered over the limit with 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, in  Scotland it’s just 22.
  But there’s one thing you can’t miss when visiting the Highlands. If you get the opportunity and you’re visiting in the summer, head to the Highland Games for a traditional Scottish experience. Watch the caber toss, hammer throw and a tug o’war, before a parade of pipers makes its way around the arena. You can also enjoy track and field events, Highland dancing competitions, and good food and drink. A fun day out for all.
  If you haven’t already booked your trip to the Highlands, what are you waiting for? Whether you want to trek in the hills, explore the towns and villages in the area, or enjoy the Highland Games, it’s the perfect getaway for all.

Visit London

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Visit London

From red phone boxes to black cabs, there’s an iconic sight on every corner in England’s capital city.
  Samuel Johnson once said: “When a man is tired of London, he’s tired of life.” London is one of the most vibrant cities in the world. It’s packed with things to see and do, from beautiful architecture and history to iconic landmarks and, of course, the Royal Family!  It’s a shopaholic’s paradise, a culture vulture’s dream and a major foodie hotspot. But beyond  this, every neighbourhood has something unique to offer.
  Red telephone booths, double-decker buses and the Underground are synonymous with London, but the city is full of iconic sights. One of the most famous landmarks is Big Ben. You can’t take a trip to London without taking a photograph in front of the Elizabeth Tower and Houses of Parliament. Mistakenly, most people think Big Ben is the 96-metre (315-foot) clock tower, but it is in fact the massive 13-ton (13,760-kilogram) bell. It’s a spectacular sight to see, particularly when lit up at night. Tower Bridge is another landmark that often appears on postcards. One of the city’s most famous bridges, its high-level walkways not only offer incredible views of the city, but a different perspective of the River Thames through its glass floor.  There are countless places for epic views, but arguably some of the best vistas can be seen from the London Eye, Europe’s largest observation wheel. There is also The View from The Shard; London’s tallest building offers the highest viewpoint at 244 metres (800 feet). If history is what you’re after, the Tower of London is the place to visit. This royal palace, fortress and infamous prison encompasses more than 1,000 years of history. Visitors can meet  the iconic ‘Beefeaters’, hear tales of torture and execution, and visit the Crown Jewels at this  UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  London has three other World Heritage Sites: the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey, Maritime Greenwich, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The Palace of Westminster is not only a stunning piece of Victorian Gothic architecture, but it’s also home to the Houses of Parliament. Next door, Westminster Abbey is Britain’s coronation church and the venue for Prince William and Catherine’s wedding.
  From affluent Mayfair to bohemian Camden, but the leafy area of Greenwich has some of the best highlights, including the Royal Observatory, National Maritime Museum, Cutty Sark and Greenwich Market. Here you can visit the home of Greenwich Mean Time, see the uniform that Nelson was wearing when he was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar, discover the world’s largest surviving tea clipper, or sample delicious food.
  While 30 minutes from the city centre, Kew Gardens highlights its greener side. The world’s most diverse collection of living plants is housed here. Hyde Park, Hampstead Heath, Richmond Park, The Regent’s Park  and St James’s Park are just a few of the other green spaces that draw attention to London’s natural beauty.
  While spring is one of the best times to visit to see London in bloom, if you want a regal day out, you’ll have to come in the summer when Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s official London residence, opens to the public. From the Changing of the Guard a formal ceremony of the Queen’s guards in their red uniforms and bearskin hats to the 19 lavish stately rooms inside, the palace never fails to impress. Other awe-inspiring palaces include Kensington, the birthplace of Queen Victoria; and Hampton Court, Henry VIII’s favourite royal residence. If you still haven’t had your royal quota, visit St Paul’s Cathedral to see where Prince Charles and Diana were married. Climb the 528 steps to the Golden Gallery for spectacular views, or listen to the acoustics in the Whispering Gallery.
  Designed by Britain’s most famous architect, Sir Christopher Wren, St Paul’s is not the only masterpiece. Christ Church at Spitalfields, the Old Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College and the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel are all visually  astonishing and worth a trip.
  London has a plethora of beautiful sights to see, but it’s also bursting with things to do. The city is packed with museums and galleries, many of which are free to visit. From the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum to Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers at The National Galley, it’s a treasure trove. Other cultural gems include Tate Modern and Tate Britain, the National Portrait Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Natural History Museum.
  Music fans are just as spoilt for choice. Visit the shooting locations for some of the most famous album covers, including the Beatles’ Abbey Road, or go to top-notch record stores and music venues. Among the best music venues are the Royal Albert Hall, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, The Roundhouse in Camden and the 02, which hosts some of the biggest names in music.
  But it’s not just music and art. London has every form of entertainment from theatre in the West End or at Shakespeare’s Globe, to nightclubs, pubs and bars. Have a pint at The George Inn near London Bridge, where Shakespeare once drank, or sip a James Bond martini at DUKES Bar.
  Dozens of new bars and restaurants open every month, making the city a holy grail for foodies. From street food to fine dining, there’s something for everyone. Visit Brick Lane for a curry, wander Borough Market or take your pick from one of almost 70 Michelin-starred restaurants. If you want the quintessential British experience, have a full English breakfast at a local café, enjoy afternoon tea at The Ritz, or eat fish and chips at Poppies.
  London is also a fashion capital. From high-end boutiques in Mayfair to flagship stores on Oxford Street, you can shop until you drop. If you’re after more than just clothes, Harrods and Fortnum & Mason are almost attractions in their own right, and London’s markets, especially Portobello Road, are the perfect place to hunt for antiques and one-of-a-kind items.
  London has something for everyone. Kids can get a thrill riding the ArcelorMittal Orbit, the world’s longest tunnel slide, and sports fans can visit Lord’s, Wembley or Wimbledon.
  It’s such a multicultural city that you can dine on Asian food in Chinatown, watch French cinema at the Barbican, and learn Flamenco at the Southbank Centre all in one day. There are so many events from the Notting Hill Carnival to Chinese New Year. And there’s always something different to do. Ride a narrowboat on Regent’s Canal, watch street performers in Covent Garden or visit Sherlock Holmes’ Baker Street home.
  One of the best things about London is that it’s ever-changing. You could visit a dozen times and never run out of new things to discover. You may get tired running around trying to do it all, but like Samuel Johnson, you’ll never get tired of London.
  You can see palaces in London, but if you’re making the journey to the UK, you might as well make a trip to one of the best known of them all. Take a day trip to see the world’s oldest castle and the venue for two recent royal weddings. Walk in the footsteps of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle or Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank who were both married here. Windsor Castle is the largest occupied castle, covering 13 acres (five hectares). It is currently one of the Queen’s residences, and she spends most of her private weekends here. The castle has more than 900 years of history and has been home to 39 monarchs. Take an audio tour narrated by Prince Charles to visit the opulent state rooms and marvel at the Gothic architecture of St George’s Chapel. When else will you get to wander a castle? It’s a one-hour train journey from London, but very much worth it for a magical day out.

Dubrovnik

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Dubrovnik

Croatia’s stunning seaport is worthy of its world-renowned reputation.
  With its enticing combination of history, culture and coastal scenery, it’s no wonder that Dubrovnik has become one of the most popular choices for European holidays in recent years.
  Begin your tour of Dubrovnik with a walk along its iconic city walls. The two-kilometre (1.2-mile) stretch provides some of the best views of the Old Town, as well as stunning panoramas of the azure-tinted Adriatic Sea. The first of Dubrovnik’s city walls were constructed in the 9th century,  with defences being fortified in the 14th century, and forts added to protect against Turkish attacks in the 15th century. These fortresses can be observed as you walk the walls, and your admission ticket will give you access to Fort Lovrijenac, one of the city’s most fascinating fortresses and a recognisable filming location from Game of Thrones.
  Access to the city walls is granted via two historic gates, Pile and Ploce. Pile is more popular among tourists, so you can get a jump on the crowds by starting your stroll at Ploce. The walk provides little shelter and can be notoriously hot on sunny days, so prepare for scorching weather and take lots of water to avoid overpaying at opportunistic vendors.
  Other historic sights to witness in Dubrovnik include Rector’s Palace, a Gothic-Renaissance palace that doubles as a cultural history museum; the Franciscan Monastery, which houses the 14th-century pharmacy; and the Large Onofrio’s Fountain, which spews drinkable water from the mouths of 16 ornately carved masks.
  You can take in the whole city at once from Srd, a 412-metre (1,352-foot) hill that overlooks Dubrovnik and provides unbeatable views of the Old Town, the island of Lokrum and the Elafiti Islands. The easiest and most enjoyable route to the top is via cable car head up just before sunset to see Dubrovnik at its most enchanting and magical.
 Once you’re done sightseeing, why not mix things up with a spot of sea kayaking? The activity is a popular pastime in Dubrovnik, and a fun way to get active while enjoying a different perspective of the local scenery. It’s easy enough to kayak your way across to the lush island of Lokrum as part of a guided tour. The car-free isle is a popular spot for swimming and relaxing on the beach, and provides a tranquil retreat.
  All that walking and paddling is hungry work. Luckily enough, Dubrovnik is filled with restaurants that serve some of the best food in Croatia. The specialities here are based on locally caught seafood, and include grilled fish and squid  risotto head to Lokanda Peskarija or Restaurant Proto for some of the best.
  For a drink, D’vino offers cosy vibes and an excellent selection of Croatian wine, making it a popular choice, or you can enjoy intoxicating ocean views while sipping beverages at one of two popular cliff-top bars: Buža I and Buža II.