Do you need to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and lax out on a beach for a week? Are you more of a city-type who loves the vibrancy of a high-energy holiday? Or maybe you like the rolling green hills and mountains, tramping to somewhere isolated, just you and a few yaks. Whatever it is, we have the perfect destination for you.
1. Alexandria, Virginia
With quaint cobblestone streets, friendly locals and a great food scene, Alexandria feels like you’ve stepped back in time. With charming red-brick quintessentially American homes, it’s a lovely town to wander the streets. Spend some time in the boutique stores and find some cute jewellery and clothing. There are a range of great places to eat and drink, and the town has a lovely laid-back vibe.
Once you’re bored of chilling, it’s only a ten-minute drive to Washington. See all the incredible sights of the US capital during the day and head home in the evenings to your accommodation in Alexandria, which is half the price of Washington hotels. You’re also close to George Washington’s Mt Vernon home, a slice of history as American as apple pie. For more checkout www.visitalexandriava.com
Travel Tip – When looking for flights be sure to check out your options for travel insurance. Air New Zealand have a handy online quote form here. Cover usually includes medical expenses, lost luggage, delayed travel. You can also select cover for travel related expenses if you need to change or cancel your trip.
2. Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo city has stalagmital modern skyscrapers, more Michelin stars than any other city and yet still retains a taste of the ancient Oriental culture. In the morning, you can visit Tokyo Skytree, the tallest tower in the world. Then for contrast, in the afternoon head to Meiji Jingu, the 1920-built shrine to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.
For meals, you can spend a little, or a lot. A bowl of noodles from a tiny street-side vendor will cost mere dollars, or you can spend up in large in a multi-course Michelin starred restaurant. Japan is famous for its amazing food with delicate textures and flavours. For more information visit www.gotokyo.org/en/
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3. Rome, Italy
This is one of those bucket-list trips purely for its historical offerings. Rome is a city that breathes life into ancient history. You have some of the biggest tourist attractions in the world here- the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, St Peter’s Basilica, and the Roman Forum. For a mix of the historical and cat memes, head to Largo di Torre Argentina. This is where Julius Caesar was allegedly killed, but it’s also a cat sanctuary. Take your cuddling skills and put a few dollars into their coffers to help pay for their work.
Use the fantastic public transport system to get around, and you can eat cheaply by scarfing down slices of pizza al taglio or arancini street-side rather than dining in restaurants. The best thing to do is simply wander the historic streets, visiting art galleries and shops, stumbling across leftovers of an ancient life, marvelling at the advanced civilisation that Rome was. Visit: www.turismoroma.it/?lang=en
4. Xi’an, China
China is a challenging place to visit. No Facebook, Google Maps and not always a lot of English spoken. However, Xi’an makes up for it with the Terra-Cotta Army, 600 year old city walls that are 40 foot tall, and the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda all close by.
Eat hand-pulled noodles, soups and dumplings galore- Xi’an was once the end of the Silk Road, and it has resulted in a blended, exciting culture like no other.
5. Mérida, Mexico
Merida is the Mexico of old; broad plazas with locals gossiping and laughing, pastel-coloured homes alongside historic churches. Head out of town and you’ll find UNESCO sites like Chichén Itzá, a 98 foot tall pyramid, or Uxmal, the Pyramid of the Magician. Go swimming in one of the 6,000 freshwater sinkholes (cenotes). There are wildlife reserves with flamingos, sea turtles, spider monkeys and ocelots.
Everything you could ever want to escape the drudgery of the everyday rat race.
6. Mallorca, Spain
This area is no secret to locals and tourists, but you can still find areas of peaceful calm in Mallorca. White beaches, blue waters, and tiny coves for you to own for the day, sunbathing and swimming. Bike through the villages and rolling hills, enjoy the beautiful Spanish food, and relax in the peace and quiet.
7. London, England
The central point of all things British, London has amazing history, shopping, food and culture. You can visit the Shard, the tallest (pointiest) modern building, and then the historical Big Ben or Westminster Abbey afterwards. Many museums and attractions are free to visit and the botanical gardens are vast, plentiful, and beautiful even in the middle of winter (take some unshelled peanuts- the favourite snack for the local squirrel population). You can go to the Tower of London to see the British Crown Jewels, the London Bridge, the Churchill War Rooms… in fact the number of places to see in London is staggering.
To top it all off, the markets, pubs, restaurants and cafes are outstanding. A huge number of immigrants have settled in the area and the result is a diverse culture with incredible food. Make sure you do stop and have a pint with the locals in a traditional London pub- you can’t beat it for ambience.