Gastronomy is the culmination of cultural expression, characterizing allegiance to both innovation and tradition. Culinary culture and the foods created by distinct groups symbolize unique differences and interlaced voices throughout the world. Wine and food tours transcend epicurean feasts; they are exemplary of a travel experience exalted to its most extravagant and unique. The global stops hailed for rich ingredients and incredible food are countless, but exceptionally unmistakable in many cities around Europe where feasting on delectable dishes is as much a pastime as a necessity. Experience the soul of European traditions, cultures, and history with these five authentic European food stops.
Copenhagen’s culinary acuity has continued to rise drawing throngs of curious food-lovers to delve into hot food spots and eat like tomorrow may never come. Danes love innovation, especially when it comes to food and this is completely emphasized in the cool restos, hopping cafes, entertaining food tours, and markets like Torvehallerne offering traditional and unconventional food and ingredients. The gastro scene is completely inviting and promotes plenty of simple ingredients too: mulberries are pulled from urban parks, open-faced sandwiches laden with cured meats and rich cheeses, and fish smoked aboard wood tabletops in funky cafes. Visit in August and be privy to the party unfolding at the Copenhagen Cooking Festival, a highly esteemed European food event. Copenhagen’s diverse food scene is best explored by a more aimless than calculated walk and with any bit of acumen for aromas, you’ll find your way to any number of persuading tables.
There are abounding prospects throughout Munich, one of Europe’s most treasured and alluring cities. The beer gardens across the city are where some simple but delicious food comes together with the continent’s most expertly brewed beer; Marientplatz, Munich’s central square, is a great launching point for food circuits and one most local foodie tours begin at; then the walk to Munich’s most esteemed market, Viktualienmarkt, is just about a five-minute walk. The 200-year-old market is Munich’s most prominent food destination where a wealth of local delicacies can be snapped up–bring a shopping bag or two–and the variety, selection, and exclusiveness of the goods add to its special feel. Another five to six minutes’ walk away is famous beer garden Hofbräuhaus where the best German beers share taps behind the bar. Round off the day and your appetite with a final stop at Dallmayr Delicatessen, a café and bistro sure to entice your wallet out with some aromatic creations. Stat another food-isnpired day with an exploration of the shops and market stalls of Elisabethmarkt where fish, sausages, soups, and other Bavarian favourites are sold.
There are few places in Barcelona where food isn’t featured:, from street stalls sell freshly cooked dishes, small shops hawk fresh bread and regional wine, all shapes and sizes of tapas bars with irresistible eats–and oh the markets, with exquisite offerings appealing to infinite tastes. If market’s are your inclination, stop in at the extensive Mercado San Antoni, conveniently set on bustling La Rambla. It’s perfect for a wander but even better for the freshest of ingredients for a simple lunch or finely cooked dinner. Part farm-fresh produce, part on-the-spot café, and part wet market, you’ll find everything from pears to sandwiches to crabs. La Boqueria is a dazzling specimen of a market and much larger then San Antoni but expect much of the same beckoning foods. If honey-infused cheeses and Catalan baked goods makes your mouth water, don’t miss this market which features natural and organic goods.
France’s Bordeaux wine region is famous for incredible wines and the culinary scene has jumped on board, accompanying celebrated vintages with the country’s most impressive indulgences. The gastronomic landscape draws on historic French traditions, constructing a varied and appetizing landing point for discerning palettes. Bigorre pork, certified Pauillac lamb, and specially raised Bazas beer (Boeuf de Bazas), display the best southwest meat dishes. The Sunday organic market along the riverfront, La Ronde des Fromages cheese market, Capcucins Market stocked with food stalls, cheese mongers, butchers, and the gamut are also prerequisite stops. With four-dozen-plus Michelin star restaurants in Bordeaux, it’s worth forking over the bills to experience refined eateries like La Gabriel, or summertime dining under twinkling lights and chestnut trees at Le St-James. Small enough to explore on foot and filled with charming, funky neighborhoods, food isn’t the only temptation you’ll find in Bordeaux, but it’s about the best.
There has never been a better time than now to be a solo female traveler looking to explore Europe. Cities are becoming safer, female-friendly hotels are popping up and it is getting easier to meet other solo female travelers around the world. Here are 20 safe European cities for female solo travelers.
20. Vienna, Austria
Austria is ranked number 4 on the Global Peace Index, making it an excellent and safe country for female solo travelers to visit. Vienna, the capital of Austria has earned the name of “city with the highest quality of life” several years in a row.
Vienna is full of stunning architecture, music, and history. There are plenty of museums to visit, such as Sigmund Freud’s house. This museum will help you understand why Vienna is known as the “city of dreams”. You may also want to make a stop at Prater park to see the iconic Riesenrad Ferris wheel landmark. Finally, be sure to head to a local restaurant and try authentic Austrian food such as Wiener Schnitzel (a thin, breaded, pan-fried veal cutlet), Sachertorte (chocolate torte), or an Apfelstrudel (apple strudel).
19. Edinburgh, Scotland
Between the breathtaking landscapes, ancient castles, and rich history, Scotland has a lot to offer. Scotland, a region of the United Kingdom ranks 45 on the Global Peace Index and is considered safe for female solo travelers. There is so much to do and see in Edinburg, the capital of Scotland. To begin, if you visit in August, there is a month-long arts festival called Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This festival offers theatrical performances, comedy shows, and many other activities that would be perfect for a female solo traveler, especially if you’re hoping to meet new people.
Moreover, consider taking a guided tour of Edinburgh Castle and take in the medieval architecture. After visiting the castle, be sure to head to Calton Hill which is a high point in the city that allows you to catch a full view of Edinburgh. Finish your day at a local pub and indulge in authentic food while meeting the locals.
18. Berlin, Germany
Berlin, Germany’s capital is home to 3.5 million residents. Berlin is rich in history and full of culture and would be an excellent place to explore on your own. There are many restaurants, markets, and cafes in Berlin that will make you feel comfortable dining alone.
Discover what this city has to offer by taking a free walking tour, use the bike-sharing program, or hop on public transportation. Be sure to check out the Brandenburg Gate, and the Holocaust Memorial, and the remnants of the Berlin Wall.
17. Bruges, Belgium
If you are a solo female traveler looking to immerse yourself in a fairy tale this would be the city to visit. Straight off a postcard, the city of Bruges is loaded with cobblestone streets, historic houses, and canals. It is here where you will be inspired to take long strolls throughout the streets and enjoy Belgian pints of beer by street-side cafes while people watching.
This city is extremely safe, for all travelers and welcomes visitors, especially in the summertime when it becomes peak travel season. There is a range of good hotels along with budget hostels that will meet any traveler’s budget, and English is widely understood throughout. Female travelers will feel safe as locals are willing to lend a hand if needed and are more than happy to give advice on where to go, what to see, and where to grab the next pint of beer.
16. Santorini, Greece
If you want to see jaw-dropping scenery, be sure to add Santorini, Greece to your travel wish list. The emerald Mediterranean Sea is enough to take your breath away, but also the picturesque white villas are a sight to see too. Many people travel to Santorini with a partner or friend but that doesn’t mean you can’t travel there solo.
With friendly locals and an affordable bus system, you’ll be able to navigate your way across the city.
15. Paris, France
Paris, France is known as the city of love. So it may seem ironic that one would travel there alone. However, exploring this beautiful city alone means that you don’t have to abide by anyone else’s opinions or plans. Further, exploring this city is easy and best to do either on foot or by taking the metro.
There are so many amazing things to see and do in Paris, France. Be sure to check out the iconic Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the Arc de Triomphe. You should also enjoy a bottle of wine and a baguette all to yourself during your stay too.
14. London, England
London, England is an excellent destination for solo female travels. Traveling through this city is easy from the amazing public transportation system to the remarkable hostels, hotels, and Airbnb’s. Not to mention English is their first language.
During your stay, be sure to visit Buckingham Palace, take a tour of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and visit one of the many museums London has to offer. You should also dine at a local pub to indulge in traditional British food such as fish and chips, or a Toad in the hole. Further, dining at a pub will also help you meet the locals as well as other solo travelers too.
13. Oslo, Norway
Oslo is a dream for female solo travelers, alas a bit expensive at times. It is Norway’s largest city and a great cultural city destination that is overflowing with things to see and do. Female solo travelers will feel safe no matter where they stay but may feel some extra comfort if they choose to stay on the women-only floor of the 130-year old Grand Hotel. Here they will find rooms stacked with books, magazines, a yoga mat, toiletries, and a female room-service menu, without the room service charge!
Wandering around the Vigeland Sculpture Park, which is 80 acres and feature 212 bronze and granite sculptures, you are sure to meet other solo travelers who will become quick friends. Head out to one of the many vibrant nightclubs or theaters with new-found travel friends for an unforgettable experience.
12. Dublin, Ireland
Ireland is a very safe country. According to the Global Peace Index, Ireland ranks number 12 in the world. Further, as a female solo traveler, you will feel comfortable dining alone and you may even run into another solo traveler during your stay.
Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is laden with historic buildings including the captivating Dublin Castle. Some other great places to see are the St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the National Museum of Ireland, and other must-see historic Attractions in Dublin.
11. Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon, Portugal is a wonderful place for female solo travelers. To begin, there are many safe and affordable hostels to stay in where you will meet many other solo travelers too. Secondly, Portugal ranks 3rd on the Global Peace Index.
Lisbon is full of rugged yet wonderful architecture and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Consider having a beach day all to yourself, or explore the Castelo de S. Jorge or the Jerónimos Monastery. Exploring this beautiful city is easy and can be done either by public transportation, on foot, or on a bike.
10. Stockholm, Sweden
Built over 14 islands and connected by over 50 bridges this lovely cosmopolitan city is home to more than two million people. It is known for its gorgeous modern architecture, friendly people, and captivating waterways. Women are treated equally like men here and solo female travelers will face no issues in terms of harassment, drink spiking, or pickpocketing.
There is a slew of budget hostels throughout the city that are both affordable and safe, and a great way to connect with other travelers. This is a great city to experience Nordic culture in its modern and multicultural avatar, as well as dine on delightful local food. English is widely spoken here, and the locals are often teased for speaking a mix of Swedish and English-nicknamed Swinglish. Women will have no trouble finding people to talk to, tours to take and culture to experience here in Stockholm.
9. Cardiff, Wales
Cardiff is the capital and largest city of Wales. This city is also considered one of Britain’s safer cities and for that reason, it is Wales’s most popular tourist destination. Along with being a safe city, Cardiff is full of culture, has many captivating castles and if you meet the locals they’ll surely share some of their ancient Welsh legends.
Further, students make up about 10% of Cardiff’s population which means younger female solo travelers will surely be well taken care of. There are many things to see and do in Cardiff. During your stay be sure to check out the National Museu, Cardiff Bay, and Cardiff Castle.
8. Helsinki, Finland
The capital of Finland is one of the best cities for female solo travelers, thanks to its friendly locals, its reputation for being safe and beautiful. This walkable city is loaded with lovely parks, free city events, music, and shopping. Solo travelers will delight in the 20th-century architecture, the Helsinki Cathedral and the National Museum of Finland, which are always, home to other visitors.
One of the best things to do when you first get into the city is to take a walking tour, in order to fully appreciate the city’s cultural heritage, then move on to the shopping and dining. One cannot travel here without taking a dip in the Yrjönkatu Indoor Swimming Pool, (the oldest pool) built-in 1928. Recently renovated to house three pools and wonderful saunas, this is where women meet after work and have a sauna and swim followed by a drink, all done without any clothes on.
7. Prague, Czech Republic
Immerse yourself in the alluring culture of the Czech Republic by visiting its capital, Prague. There is an abundance of things to see and do in the wonderful city of Prague.
Prague is not only a beautiful place to visit but the country, the Czech Republic ranks in the top 10 of the Global Peace Index. Consider meeting other solo travelers by taking a walking tour, or keep to yourself and explore one of their many museums, or even check out a show at the State Opera.
6. Copenhagen, Denmark
The capital of Denmark is a vibrant and colorful city, which still manages to maintain a small-town feeling. New meets old in this fairytale-like city that features ancient buildings and towering glass and steel skyscrapers. Many of the state-run museums in this city are free admission, making it easy to save on spending and you can’t miss out on visiting the world’s oldest amusement park- Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park.
This city offers a unique experience that is perfect for female solo travelers called ‘Meet the Danes.’ This service arranges home-dinners with a Danish family or a single woman and her friend. Expect a traditional Danish meal and plenty of conversation with your new-found friends. Don’t miss the goddess Gefjun fountain that depicts the mythology of Denmark’s creation and magic within the Norse religion.
5. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona, Spain is known for its captivating architecture and art and would be a great destination for female solo travelers. For starters, the public transportation system is excellent. You’ll have the option of taking a bus, metro, trains, or trams, however, you will also be able to see a lot of the attractions on foot too. While Barcelona is generally safe, it’s always important to still take precautions such as keeping your personal belongings close by to prevent pickpocketing and don’t flash around money or expensive belongings.
During your stay be sure to check out the Sagrada Familia church, designed by Antoni Gaudi, and the Picasso Museum.
4. Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich is an extremely safe city and therefore traveling alone as a female here is also incredibly safe, and downright breathtaking. Snow-capped Alps loom in the background, museums and art galleries line the streets and the nightlife is something to speak of. Female travelers will find no shortage of shopping to do here, cobblers, tailors, metalsmiths, candle makers, jewelry makers, and watchmakers fill the streets.
Choices of accommodations are endless here and if you feel nervous at all in this city we suggest heading over to Lady’s First Design Hotel, which was built especially for female travelers. The ancient center is the perfect place to stroll through the winding lanes and look up to the tall church steeples, stopping for coffee at sidewalk cafes. Further, Zuri-West is where to find the hottest nightlife in the city, just in case you are looking to meet new friends that want to dance the night away.
3. Sorento, Italy
Sorento is a coastal town located in the southwestern part of Italy. This charming town faces the Bay of Naples on the Sorrentine Peninsula. Be sure to make your way to Piazzo Tasso, a central square in Sorrento that offers plenty of restaurants and shopping. Here you can try their famous Gelato, or drink a cup of delicious coffee.
Not only is there a lot to see and do in Sorento, but it’s also a popular vacation spot for Europeans. This means that you’ll hear a lot of English in both the restaurants and in the streets of Sorento which will only make traveling by yourself even easier. Further, you’ll find that it is easy to navigate around the town which will only add to a stress-free experience.
2. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam received the nickname “Venice of the North” because it has many beautiful canals. This charming city has something for every type of female traveler. Whether you enjoy history, are a party animal, or prefer to simply take in the scenic view, Amsterdam has it all.
According to the Global Peace Index, the Netherlands ranks in the top 20 in the world. There is plenty to see and do in Amsterdam and you will most likely run into other solo travelers too.
1. Reykjavik, Iceland
It has been rated as the number one safest country for women to travel to alone and Iceland has been beckoning female solo travelers for as long as it can remember. This is the ultimate travel adventure for the traveler who loves the outdoors. Think glacier hiking in the Pingvellir National Park, skiing at Blafjoll, and Viking horse riding at Thingvellir.
If you aren’t the outdoorsy type, don’t worry there is plenty for you to do here including the chance to relax and de-stress in one of the many thermal pools and spas across the city. If you’re lucky you may even get to witness the famous Aurora Borealis. This city happens to be famously expensive though and we highly suggest staying at a hostel instead of a hotel to save money. This city is notoriously safe, even at night and as a female solo traveler, make sure you put Reykjavik on your bucket list.
Spain isn’t just for grownups and whether you live here or you visit, there is no shortage of things for kids to do. From an amusement park on top of a mountain to the biggest aquarium in Europe to a magical fountain; exploring Spain is fun for all ages. Here are the seven Spanish attractions that every kid, and frankly every adult should experience at least once in their lifetime.
7. Tibidabo Amusement Park, Barcelona
The mountain of Tibidabo overlooks the city of Barcelona and offers spectacular views of both the city and the coastline. It also happens to be the site of one of the best kids attractions in the country. Tibidabo Amusement Park opened in 1899 and is one of the oldest still operating parks in the world. Most of the original rides are actually still in operation here. Attractions here include a pirate area, castle and many rides both modern and original.
The journey to this park is half the fun, as you first need to take a train from the center of Barcelona to the Tramvia Blau, which takes you halfway up the mountain. The rest of the way up is by funicular train and expect breathtaking views. There are no “thrill” rides here but expect a friendly atmosphere, plenty of experiences for the little ones and one heck of a Ferris Wheel that overlooks the entire city.
6. Parque del Buen Retiro (Retiro Park), Madrid
It translates into Park of the Pleasant Retreat in English and as the biggest park in Madrid City, it is certainly worth a trip with the kids. This magnificent park is filled with beautiful sculptures and monuments, galleries, a peaceful lake and home to a variety of events. The best part about spending time here is that both kids and parents love to explore the gardens, the lake, and the towering trees.
A favorite activity here is to rent a rowboat from the lake’s northern shore, an iconic Madrid experience that shouldn’t be missed. Throughout the summer visitors will find plenty of open-air cafes to have lunch at, live music to dance too and numerous children’s events that happen. Mingle with tourists and locals as everyone heads here on the weekends to enjoy the beautiful outdoors.
5. Madrid Zoo and Aquarium, Madrid
Home to approximately 3,000 animals the zoo and aquarium in Madrid is a favorite amongst visitors with kids. It opened in 1770 and is one of the largest zoos in Spain, along with one of the only zoos in the world to house giant pandas. The exhibits at this zoo include a petting zoo, aquarium, dolphin exhibit and an aviary. There are several restaurants on-site along with a boat and train tour. Favorite animals here include the small group of koalas, gorillas, and sea lions and of course the dolphins. Talks are offered throughout the day but note that these are in Spanish.
Give yourself a full day to visit as there is plenty to see and do and make sure to pick up a map as this place is full of hidden twists and turns, and you won’t want to miss a thing! It is best to avoid coming on weekends as it does get busy and we recommended buying your tickets ahead of time online to avoid any lineups.
4. Barcelona Aquarium
Located in the city’s old harbor, the Port Vell, the Barcelona Aquarium declares itself as the world’s most important marine leisure and education center dedicated to Mediterranean undersea life. Kids will love traveling through the aquarium visiting 35 Mediterranean and tropical tanks that are home to more than 11,000 animals from over 450 different species. The highlight of this aquarium happens to be the immense Oceanarium, the only one of its kind in Europe. The transparent 80-meter long tunnel runs through the Oceanarium where you walk among sharks, morays, giltheads, ocean sunfish and more.
There are a total of three sections to the aquarium for kids to explore, the aquarium itself which houses all the different marine life, the Planeta Aqua Section where kids can learn more about water, it is here where the lethal fish are kept as well as the penguins. Lastly, there is the Explora! Zone, a fun area where children have access to interactive learning tools, as well as a play area complete with slides. Count on this being an entire day trip.
3. Poble Espanyol, Barcelona
Built at the beginning of the 20th century, Poble Espanyol is a mock village with over 40 workshops showing 21 different types of craftsmanship at work. If you are looking to do something on the weekend with the kids, this is the place to be. Sundays are the best day to visit with the little ones, as there are organized activities and shows to take part in. Bonus tip: Reserve a meal at one of the restaurants inside and gain free entry to the village.
One of the best ways to explore the village with kids is to take part in a Gymkhana activity with the family. It is a treasure hunt throughout the village that gives clues to families as they search for the hidden secrets. Children ages 3-9 must be accompanied by an adult and it is one of the best ways to get the kids involved while here. A specially designed space for education and family fun, family-friendly restaurants on site and a day full of new experiences is something not to miss!
2. Font Magica, Barcelona
It is one of Barcelona’s most popular attractions and promises to wow both kids and parents. The Magic Fountain was designed by engineer Carles Buigas and was one of the greatest successes of the 1929 International Exhibition, later restored for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. It is Barcelona’s biggest ornamental fountain that offers a spectacular display of music, water acrobatics and lights, which generate over 50 kinds of shades and hues.
During the display the moving jets are illuminated and synchronized to the music and lights, creating a magic dance that will enthrall kids. Make sure you head here from Thursday to Sundays as the fountains do not operate the rest of the week during the summer. Wintertime the fountain only operates on Friday and Saturdays with extended hours over the holidays.
1. L’oceanografic at City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia
It is the largest aquarium in Europe and certainly deserves a visit from families of all ages. Visitors will find over 45,000 examples of 500 different marine species including sharks, Beluga whales, sea lions, penguins and manta rays. This oceanographic park is structured into ten areas for visitors to explore and includes a popular dolphinarium. You will need to spend all day here to explore the entire aquarium with sections dedicated to the Red Sea, Arctic, Mediterranean, mangrove forests, and more.
Most of the aquarium is found below ground wherein a series of massive tanks you can watch the animals. The shark tunnel is one of the favorite things about this aquarium and throughout the year they offer the chance for kids to spend the night sleeping under it. Check out the two-level restaurant, which offers superb views into the aquarium.
Taking a trip to Barcelona is truly the trip of a lifetime that requires of a lot of financial splurging. As such, it’s important to find those local secrets about how to experience the city for free, or at least for a very low price. To help you with this, we have put together a list of the top 10 things you can do in Barcelona without pulling out your wallet – not once! First tip: make sure you’re in Barcelona on a Sunday? Want to know why? Read on!
1. Museu Picasso
Experience 4,251 authentic pieces of artwork by Pablo Picasso as you tour through this world renowned museum. The best part is, if you visit on the first Sunday of any month, it is free admission.
2. Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia
Many cathedrals in Barcelona have an admission fee to get inside. This cathedral is completely free and is a wonderful example of true gothic style architecture.
3. Santa Caterina Market
Experience an authentic Spanish market in this stunning building that is a piece of artwork in and of itself. It’s so beautiful and will give you many options for special items to purchase for your loved ones back home.
4. Roman Remains at El Born Cultural Centre
In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city, a massive discovery was made. Roman remains were found under the El Born Cultural Centre and are currently being excavated and researched. You are able to visit this site for free and see all the discoveries that are being made!
5. Free Walking Tours
Not sure where to turn in the city? Join in on a free walking tour to give you some historical context about the city and help you better understand where you are and the importance behind the city. You may also make a few friends along the way!
6. Park Güell
You can visit this rooftop in Barcelona during the summer for free after 8pm. It’s a wonderful location to watch the sun slowly set and have an incredible view of the city.
7. Museums on Sundays
Did you know that every Sunday in Barcelona the museums are free? Explore until your heart is content with the special treat the city has to offer it’s locals and tourists alike.
8. La Rambla
This 1.6 kilometre stretch of pedestrian mall will take your breath away and is a definite must-see before you leave this stunning city. It is lined with lovely trees, sweet little shops and is filled with friendly people.
9. Magic Fountain of Montjuic
This jaw dropping fountain puts on many shows throughout the year to show off it’s beauty. Filled with color, acrobatics, music and so much more, you won’t believe your own eyes when you see this performance. Oh, and did we mention that it’s free?
10. La Barcelonetta Beach
Looking to have a mellow afternoon? This beach has your name written all over it! Bring your bathing suit, towel and a pile of sunscreen so you lay can upon the warm, golden sand. Don’t forget to take a dip in the mediterranean sea while you’re there.
Most European waterways are not suitable for summer, due to health concerns, but that hasn’t stopped cities from inventing some pretty amazing urban beaches. In order to beat the heat and celebrate the summer, cities have imported sand, created epic pools and decked out busy streets in beach huts and sun chairs. From the capital of Poland to the streets of Paris, these are 11 of the absolute best urban beaches in all of Europe.
11. Poniatówka Beach, Warsaw
The capital of Poland was severely lacking in beaches until only a few years ago and that’s when this beach popped into the spotlight. This wild and wide beach located right in the city offers everything from beach volleyball to nightly bonfires to sunbathing to wild nightly parties. Partying isn’t the only thing this beach offers though; wildlife is plentiful if you can find a quiet spot. Animals such as otters, elk, deer and boar have been known to show themselves to visitors. Make sure to check out Temat Rzeka, an epic beach bar that is home to thousands of customers a night and offers such activities as film screenings, beach volleyball and huge beach parties.
10. Tamariz, Lisbon
Just a half hour train ride away from Lisbon this urban beach is popular with both locals and visitors. The setting here is absolutely beautiful, with 350 meters of beach, sand and open sea. The waters here are calm and tranquil, and the beach is sandy which makes it the perfect family setting. The eastern edge of the beach actually features an ocean swimming pool with slightly warmer temperatures than the sea. Chair rentals can be expensive so many people choose to bring their own along. A beautiful medieval palace overlooks this beach, only adding to its charm and beauty. Plenty of cafes and restaurants are located nearby, making it easy to spend the entire day here.
9. Barceloneta, Barcelona
This exciting city got even better when the Olympics came here in 1992, as it was then that the coastline got a serious makeover. It was decided that the city would open up to the sea and restaurants and public bathhouses were torn down and replaced with first-rate beaches. These sandy beaches were created with beautiful hotels and incredible restaurants lining them and as the years go on, this area only gets better. Day or night, visitors will find the coolest crowds here. There are over 1100 meters of beach to enjoy, along with an abundance of sea activities. One can actually walk to the center of the city via a walkway lined with palm trees, cafes and modern landmarks.
8. South Bank, London
This sliver of seaside charm is located beside one of the city’s busiest stretches of pavement. This corridor of sand skirts along Queen’s Walk, opposite the Southbank Centre and is full of sand, chairs and beach huts. This isn’t a beach you will want to visit if you are looking for a relaxing time but if you are looking to grab a few cocktails, build a couple sandcastles and take in awesome views of the Thames, this is the place to be. This beach is constantly buzzing all summer long with locals and visitors taking in the concerts, events and exhibitions that happen. Enjoy mingling with others, taking in live shows and soaking in the incredible and lively atmosphere.
7. Canary Wharf, London
The people of London and visitors to this city are in for a treat when it comes to urban beaches. The most popular may just be Canary Wharf, a sandy oasis hidden beneath the skyscrapers. The beach is loaded with volleyball courts and the famous KERB food market, where many city slickers head to grab a bite to eat during lunch hours. The beach here is dependent on what events are happening each summer and sand is brought in to create volleyball courts, beach rugby fields and more. Expect something different each time you visit here.
6. Vltava River, Prague
There may be no sea here but that didn’t stop Prague from creating one awesome urban beach on the banks of the Vltava River. With 500 tones of imported sand, over 200 pool chairs and a stunning pool; it’s no wonder locals and visitors flock to this beach. Not just for adults though, this beach has a kid’s playground located directly on it. If you are looking to get some activity in, try your hand at badminton or beach volleyball, with courts located directly on the beach. As the sun sinks and the stars come out this beach transforms into a party, with live music, dancing and special events running all summer long. Open from 10am-112pm daily, there is no bad time to visit this beach as long as the sun is shining.
5. Blijburg Aan Zee, Amsterdam
It is Amsterdam’s one true urban beach, complete with a sandy beach and swimming waters. The beach itself is 250 meters long and 40 meters wide and constantly hopping with things to do. The beach is open from June until September, Wednesdays through Sundays. Activities here include brunches on Sundays, kid’s events on the weekends and DJ’s and live bands throughout the months. The food here is absolutely wonderful and much of it is organic and vegetarian. At nighttime there is always a campfire to curl up around and visitors here will enjoy the laid back vibe of the locals. This beach also happens to host a ton of beach parties, windsurfing workshops and a monthly car trunk sale.
4. The Donauinsel (Danube Island), Vienna
This long narrow island in central Vienna is not just part of the flood protection system but also offers 42 kilometers of beach. In addition to awesome flat beaches with great bathing areas, there are extensive networks of paths for cyclers, joggers and walkers. Barbeque and picnic areas, playing fields, courts for beach volleyball and a variety of restaurants and shops also make up this urban beach stretch. There is no shortage of activities to do and many sports shops have set up along the beach to offer lessons in such water sports as scuba diving and windsurfing. Also located on Danube Island is a nature reserve, home to many plants and animals that depend on the protection.
3. Badeschiff, Berlin
This urban beach is actually comprised of a few different elements, including an old tug boat that has been converted into a pool during the summer months. Swimmers here can catch a great glimpse of the Berlin skyline and take part in some epic beach parties. The floating pool is connected by a wooden footbridge complete with hammocks to relax in. Beach goers can relax on the fine sand or play beach volleyball at one of the sand courts. The beach bar here is known for offering up a variety of summer cocktails and barbecued foods. Peaceful morning yoga classes are offered here twice a week and weekly open air concerts are a norm during the summer months. A separate area for kids to splash and build sandcastles is located just a stone’s throw away from the main area.
2. Paris Plages, France
For just shy of a month in the summer time, the right bank of the Seine from the Louvre to the Pont de Sully is converted into one of the best urban beaches in all of Europe. Sand gets imported into the area, beach chairs are set up, grass is laid down and boardwalk-style cafes and ice-cream sellers set up shop. When the temperature really soars sprinklers are put out as you wouldn’t want to swim in the Seine. Free summertime concerts take place; sporting events are in full swing and everyone who can’t go on vacation flocks to this area to enjoy some sand, sun and relaxation. Entrance to the beach is free and the only thing you will have to worry about is scoring one of the oversized umbrellas to curl up underneath.
1. Brussels’ Beach, Brussels
Every year the banks of the Brussels channel are converted into a real urban beach, complete with imported sand, huts, sun chairs and fountains. This beach only lasts in the hottest months of summer, from July 15th to August 15th and the city goes all out to ensure visitors have the best of times. Activities here range from rowing to soccer to climbing to dancing while the kids will be entertained with magic shows and workshops throughout the day. The nights are meant for adults to kick back and enjoy with an offering of nightly concerts and parties. The city kicks off this month long urban beach with an impressive light and sound show and airs free films throughout the month on the big screen. Join locals and visitors alike at this urban beach, in our opinion, the best in all of Europe.
There are two ways to visit Europe, the first is with kids and although that seems overwhelming at first, this continent is actually quite kid-friendly. The second way to travel this beautiful continent is without kids, before you have them, and when you have all the time in the world. Whether you want to visit Europe to party, for a romantic getaway or to have the experience of a lifetime, there are hundreds of cities to do just that. These 8 places in particular though deserve a visit before you have kids. Think long strolls on the beach, the Eiffel tower at night and getting up close and personal with celebrities.
8. Paris, France
Known as one of the most romantic cities on the planet, there is no better time to visit Paris than before you have kids. It is truly a city where you want to embrace the clichés, whether you are strolling the streets hand in hand or taking a sunset boat ride down the Seine. Visit the Eiffel tower in the day and again at night when the lights are twinkling and it’s picture perfect. Take your time wandering through the amazing museums and ancient historic sites. Sip coffee at a sidewalk café and people watch for hours, or hole up in tiny boutique hotels where no children are allowed. Dine at five star restaurants, meander through the cobblestone streets and find romance in this city of love. Only then will you truly appreciate just how special it is.
7. Barcelona, Spain
Spain’s second largest city deserves two visits, one before you have kids and one with the kids in tow. There are so many things to see and do in this colorful city that is a mix of modern design and old-world charm. Visitors sans-kids will spend hours wandering through the outdoor European markets, window shopping and strolling through ancient city walls and stone corridors. The nightlife is alive in this city and whether you are looking for a vintage concert hall or the rapid rhythms of flamenco, you will find it here. The city’s wild side comes out in the wee mornings as party-goers hit the clubs sometimes as late (or as early) as 3am. Sun-drenched beaches beckon visitors to their shores, to hike, jog or simply swim in the deep blue waters. As you wind your way through hidden squares, fountains, and palaces along the Mediterranean; it will become abundantly clear why you got here before you had kids.
6. Munich, Germany
Germany’s unofficial southern capital flourishes throughout the year, but especially during the summer and Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest is definitely the most famous celebration in Munich and everyone should plan on heading here once in there lifetime to celebrate, preferably without kids. This 16-day festival involves consuming a large quantity of Oktoberfest beer along with a mixture of attractions. Visitors will be privy to amusement rides, side stalls and games, traditional food, parties, parades and a slew of traditional Bavarian gear. If you are visiting the city outside of Oktoberfest time, make sure to take in the world-class art galleries and museums, churches, palaces and castles, and impressive parks.
5. Mykonos, Greece
It’s the party place in Greece, perfect for those looking to get one last shin dig in before having kids. It is here where you will find a mix of holidaymakers, cruise-ship crowds and fashionistas, all coming together for one great party. This whitewashed paradise is in the heart of the Cyclades and visitors should be prepared for beach bars, loud dance clubs and lots of people. If you want to explore the quieter side of this party island, head to Delos- a small uninhabited island that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its impressive archaeological sites. Or head to one of the many museums that dot this island. Little Venice and The Windmills is a popular spot to watch the sunset and grab a cocktail at one of the many outdoor bars/cafes.
4. Cilento, Italy
The Cilento coast is absolutely beautiful with its small bays, dramatic cliffs and seaside villages, and has this stuck-in-time feeling. It is one of the lesser-known areas in Italy and you won’t find throngs of tourists or really any kid-friendly activities, thus why visiting here before you have kids is the best choice. If you are after romantic isolation, head inland to the Cilento National Park where you will find incredible hiking trails and mountain inns that serve delicious wines and some of the best fresh mozzarella you will ever taste in your life. Famed for its orchids, streams and towering waterfalls, there is no shortage of beauty that will surround you in this park. The park also has a colorful history that is worth exploring while in the region.
This former Portuguese colony has grown to be one of the top gambling destinations in the world and if you want a vacation packed with glitz and glam before you have kids, this is the perfect destination. If you have deep pockets there is only one way to spend your money here and that is at the Grand Casino where you will gamble alongside the rich and famous, where the dress code is strict and the entry fees are high. Other than gambling though, Monaco offers its fair share of things to see including Monaco-Ville, a medieval village made up of pedestrian streets, century homes and picturesque buildings. There are a slew of exotic gardens to be found here, along with an art gallery, opera house and the Prince’s car collection. This is not a budget destination and thus is best done before kids, and at a time when you have some extra money to spend.
2. Cannes, France
It was once a small fishing village but is has turned into a glamorous and equally expensive seaside town in France, considered to be one of the social hubs of Europe. When this town shines the brightest though is in May as it plays host to the Cannes Film Festival, drawing the rich and famous to its shores from all over the world. Fans flock here to see actors, celebrities and directors on the famous steps of the Palais des Festivals at the end of La Croisette. If you prefer to visit the rest of the year, there are plenty of things to see and do. Walk the narrow winding streets of Old town where the view from the castle ruins at the top is excellent, or head to one of the beaches to soak up the sun. Dine at one of the local restaurants serving up regional fresh produce sourced directly from the markets.
1. Berlin, Germany
Move over New York City, Berlin is the city that truly never sleeps; a city full of Germans who love nothing more than a good time. This is a great city to visit before having kids, as it is full of iconic sites, sky bars, chic restaurants, boutique hotels and a party that literally never stops. It is here where you can take in top international performers at theaters or concert and opera stages. Berlin is a city full of museums, artists and a colorful history, where modern architecture and historical buildings meet. There is an endless amount of shopping, parks to explore, open-air cinemas, beach bars, forests and more here. The relaxed vibe of this city will enthrall you, suck you in and make you never want to leave. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
One simply cannot deny the convenience and often excitement that comes with living in the city, but for the most part these cities lack some serious green space. Luckily there are a few cities around the world that can offer a moment of peace and quiet in the midst of the urban jungle, whether you want to explore historic temples, picnic in open green spaces or discover thousands of beautiful species of plants and flowers. From the most famous park in the United States to one of the biggest parks in London to one of the most unusually landscaped urban parks in the world, check out these 6 awesome urban parks and what they have to offer.
6. Central Park, New York City
It is by far the most famous urban park in America, and maybe even perhaps the world, an iconic park that has been photographed millions of times from land and by air. It boasts over 800 acres, a space that is visited by over 35 million people a year. It is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, meander down the pathways, lounge in open meadows or take a break near the peaceful lakes. Walk through the woodland area of Ramble and spend some time bird watching, or take in a regularly scheduled concert or performance during the summer months. Art installations fill the green space and one of the most notable is a 2-acre area dedicated to John Lennon.
5. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
One of San Francisco’s greatest treasures, this park is so big that one can dedicate entire days to exploring the many gardens, museums and attractions. The Conservatory of Flowers is a must visit, being the oldest building in the park and home to 1,700 species of aquatic and tropical plants, as well as an impressive Butterfly Zone and miniature garden railroad. Families with kids should head to the Koret Playground where a climbing wall shaped like waves, a rope climbing structure and many slides await, or head to the Herschel-Spillman Carousel where 62 colorful animals await riders. Or why not head to Ocean Beach for some incredible sunsets and dinner at the Beach Chalet where upstairs views are simply astounding.
4. Hyde Park, London
It is visited by millions of locals and tourists every year, one of the largest parks in London and one of the Royal Parks. Hyde Park contains a number of famous landmarks and is the largest of the four parks that form a chain from the entrance of Kensington Palace through Kensington Gardens, past the main entrance to Buckingham Palace and to the Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall. Famous landmarks here include the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, the Speakers Corner and the State of Achilles. There is also plenty of opportunity for recreation here, row or pedal boat at Serpentine River, swim at the Serpentine Lido, get competitive at the mini-golf course or even go for a horse ride with the Hyde Park Riding School. If you happen to visit during the holiday months in the winter, enjoy the Winter Wonderland spectacle which sees the park dressed up in lights and festive activities.
3. Beihai Park, Beijing
It is among the largest of all Chinese Gardens and since 1925 this park has been open to the public, containing numerous historically important structures, palaces and temples. The lake is the focal point of this impressive park, with Jade Flowery Islet laying smack in the middle of it and home to the imposing White Dagoba, the landmark of the park. Inside the Dagoba is the Buddhist Scriptures, the monk’s mantle and alms bowl and two pieces of Sarira. The Hao Pu Creek Garden is another popular area to visit in the park, an absolutely serene garden featuring a mountain-water structure that is designed to give seclusion from society. Don’t miss out on the Nine-Dragon Screen, a wall unlike any other where 424 seven-color glazed tiles feature 9 huge dragons coiling on each side. Interesting temples, a large beautiful lake and ancient alleyways make up this incredible park.
2. Parc Guell, Barcelona
It is one of the world’s most unusual urban parks, featuring buildings designed by famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. The whimsical structures throughout the park were originally designed as a part of a housing development that was unsuccessful. These structures seem to give the park more of a theme park feel, although there is plenty of green space that covers the rest of the park. Climb to the top of the hill for a panoramic view of the bay, lounge on the serpentine bench along the main square, stare the at Art Nouveau gingerbread house or simply wander through the beautiful gardens teeming with colorful flowers.
1. Monsanto Forest Park, Lisbon
In the capital city of Lisbon lies this 2,400-acre park where visitors come for incredible skyline views of Portugal’s charming old city. The park is divided into several protected and leisure areas, along with numerous picnic areas, making it the perfect meeting spot for friends and family. The Ecological Park is one of the most noted areas, stretching 50 hectares and giving visitors the opportunity to learn about the environment through exhibitions, multimedia resources and an interpretation center. Alvito Park is also located here and is perhaps the most popular among families with kids. It is here they will find swings, towers, trains and several swimming pools, perfect for cooling down during those hot summer months. The park is dotted with historical mills, abandoned quarries and beautiful scenery, covered with vegetation and enough space to make all visitors feel welcome.
Experience one of Spain’s favorite activities—evening tapas at these 10 popular spots in Barcelona. Join the locals for an afternoon or early evening feast of small plates ranging from blood sausages and Spanish omelets to more inventive small plates like tuna topped with caviar and platters of garlic prawns. When it comes to local flavor, you won’t find any chain restaurants on this list but trendy, old-fashioned hideaways serving up classic Spanish dishes.
10. El Rincon del Cava
In the heart of the Poble Sec neighborhood of Barcelona, get ready to feast on pre-dinner tapas like prawns, mussels, chorizo, and all the classic dishes at El Rincon del Cava, a popular local taperia. While unknowing out of town travelers get gauged at nearby tourist traps, you can rest easy since most tapas are around 3 Euro and pints of beer only 2.50. Not bad for the budget traveler feeling peckish in between meals. You’ll find it situated on Carrer de Blasco de Garay, which lies in the middle of a cultural mecca of chic restaurants, lively bars, and historic landmarks like the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC), a treasure trove of art history relics.
Along the well-grooved tapas trail of Basque-style taperias, follow the locals to Maitea and happily indulge in generous portions of cured meats, Spanish cheese, and seafood casually served with toothpicks, a hallmark of the tapas tradition. They also serve pintxo, a decadent bite-size treat made with a large date wrapped in bacon. Maitea also has a large selection of wines, plus Almogaver beer on tap and txakoli cider. Follow the signs to Carrer de Casanova and grab a seat at the bar for an early evening feast of cold montaditos, which are small sandwiches made with a variety of ingredients ranging from bacon and goat cheese to fried quail eggs and walnuts. Grab a sampling of the most enticing tapas and leave the toothpicks, which will be counted at the end of the meal, the Spanish way of paying the bill.
Head to Elisabets on Carrier d’Elisabets and join the local workers and students for reasonably priced tapas at this well-loved institution. If you’re feeling adventurous, skip the classic Spanish omelets and garlic prawns and try the patatas rabiatas, a rich dish of fried potato chunks and piquet bolognse or the morcilla amb confitada de cebolla (blood sausage with braised onions). Its central location and cheap prices make it a popular spot for hungry locals looking for a pre-dinner snack before venturing out for a late night dinner, one of the interesting habits of Spaniards. The choricito and pimientos de pardon might be on the spicy side for the average palatte, but a jug of Spanish beer is the perfect antidote.
7. Los Toreros
Bullfighting might be a thing of the past in Spain, but its long tradition can be felt within the walls of Los Toreros, Barcelona’s favorite bullfighting themed tapas bar. The faded relic of the 1960s is full of bullfighting memorabilia. Now more of a museum, the décor is a nostalgic tribute to Spain’s centuries-old tradition of bull verses matador. Around the corner from the Ramblas, settle in and get into the Barcelona spirit with rabo de toro, the classic oxtail stew or lighter tapas like a platter of garlic prawns. Sombreros are optional, but a glass of their house-made sangria is highly encouraged.
6. Casa Jacinta
Casa Jancinta, a tapas bar on Carrer de Tamarit, might look like a hole in the wall tavern, but it’s typically packed with locals who keep coming back for some of the best albondigas (meatballs) in Barcelona. What the taperia lacks in posh décor and ambiance is made up for with their tasty tapas like papas arrugadas, which is made with smashed potatoes in a rich coriander sauce. They also serve a delectable aubergine mousse with sesame seeds and toast points. With enough pretention to go around at the fine dining restaurants, Casa Jacinta is a laid-back alternative to the more posh hotspots in the city.
After a stroll through the Sagrada Familia Church, the world famous Modernisme style marvel designed by Antoni Gaudi, stop in at Tossa and feel like a local over an al fresco tapas feast on the terrace or inside the bar for a more intimate experience. What sets Tossa apart from the many tapas bars scattered across Barcelona are their homemade croquetas, which are considered by many to be the best in the city. From their interesting tapas menu, you can sample classic dishes like stuffed eggs and tuna-filled jacket potatoes or lighter faire like salpicon de marisco (seafood salad) or Navajos (razor clams) covered in garlic and butter. For more traditional tapas, Tossa also serves blood sausages and cured meats, the staples of Spain.
Situated on Carrer de Girona, Morryssom is always busy with locals feasting on their favorite tapas like pescadito frito (whitebait), custom paella made to order, mussels, and all the Spanish classics. They even have vegetarian paella with goat cheese if you happen to have a vegetarian in your party. After the lunchtime rush, you’ll find the bar scattered with stragglers lingering over coffee and licores, a popular rich-flavored digestivo. Hopefully by then you’ll be able to grab a spot at one of their pavement tables to catch the last rays of the late afternoon sun while curbing pre-dinner hunger with a few small plates.
3. El Roure
This Catalan style taperia is a favorite local hangout for friends meeting up for a few small bites before heading out onto the town. During the day, it feels more like a quiet canteen filled with older clientele and university students in between classes or study sessions. Before the rowdy evening crowd shows up, Roure on Carrer de Luis Antunez is a peaceful spot that is ideal for writing or reading over a platter of garlic prawns or cured sausages. After wandering around Gracia, head to this tavern for the best paella in Barcelona, although it’s only served on Thursdays. The owners are used to fussy locals ordering their paella custom prepared or serving every variation of traditional tapas imaginable. They also serve Moritz, a popular malted beer from Spain.
2. La Cova Fumada
La Cova Fumada might be a local hole in the wall, but it keeps out hordes of tourists, letting locals and savvy travelers enjoy their tasty tapas in peace. This busy family-owned taperia is known for its handmade bombas, which are meat-filled mashed potato balls rolled in bread crumbs and served with a range of hot sauces that vary in strength. The bread is also something special with huge slices grilled and slathered in fresh garlic mayonnaise. It might sound simple enough, but it’s still bursting with local flavor. For one of the most authentic Spanish tapas experiences in Barcelona, head to this hidden gem on Carrer Baluard.
1. Quimet y Quimet
What makes Quimet y Quimet stand out among the many Barcelona tapas bars is their impressive wine and spirits collection that fills the shelves from floor to ceiling. This boisterous bodega on Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes is also famous for their interesting montadito combinations that range from tuna topped with caviar to salmon with truffle honey. They also have all the classic small plates like croquetas, cured meats, and seafood dishes. If you can’t decide what to order, let the maestro put together a platter of popular dishes for a sampling of the chef’s choice.
Congratulations! You have decided to take the plunge into parenthood. Well, almost. What about the things you wanted to do first, and the places you wanted to go? When the babies arrive, travel becomes significantly harder while you’re carrying a diaper bag, bottle, and stroller. Everything seems to become ‘what’s best for baby.’ With it’s all night parties, mouth-watering food and endlessly flowing wine, now is the time to visit Spain and these exciting cities before it’s too late!
The second largest city in Spain is home to legendary nightlife and an ultra-trendy, cutting edge vibe. Barcelona is a city for night owls as nothing really kicks off before 11pm no matter what night of the week it is. With an itinerary that starts off with tapas and drinks at small local bars before hitting up the dance clubs and going until the wee hours of the morning. It’s clear that kids would just get in the way of this adult-centric scene.
Estepona is a popular Spanish holiday town and boasts some amazing beaches along it’s 21 kilometers of coastline. Among these beaches is ‘Costa Natura’ nudist beach, the very first naturist site in Spain. Clearly ‘bearing it all’ isn’t something for young eyes so if strutting your stuff on the golden sands of Spain’s first nudist beach is an experience you’d like to cross off your list, you’d best do it before your beach vacations turn to more family friendly shores.
If you;re looking for an authentic Andalusian experience, what better place than the capital city of the region? Seville touts itself as the birthplace of tapas and flamenco music so you know they’re going to celebrate that fact in every way they can. Visit one of the many sophisticated theaters and performance spaces or bar hop, sampling the wealth of delectable Andalusian tapas and listening (or more likely dancing) to traditional Spanish music.
The city of Bilbao come from rough roots of industrialization and many would say this city was more of a wasteland of industry than a place to visit, but thanks to the opening of the shiny Guggenheim Museum here, this place is now a major European arts center. While other arts cities may come across as uppity, Bilbao’s hasn’t let the plethora of galleries and performance spaces go to it’s head. First and foremost. this artsy city remains true to it’s down-to-earth soul.
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “we’re going to Marbs” now you’ll know exactly what they’re talking about. Marbella is to Spain what St. Tropez is to France; a coastal playground for the rich and famous. Exactly the kind of place you don’t want to visit with kids. It’s earned a reputation as one of the most luxurious resort towns in the world and Puerto Banus is the biggest hotspot in the area with tons of bars, restaurants and ultra-exclusive nightclubs.
2. San Sebastian
San Sebastian is a foodies paradise, and nothing kills that authentic Spanish experience faster than trying to find a place to eat that “the kids will like.” Be forewarned, chicken fingers and ketchup won’t be found here. This Basque country city seems to catch Michelin stars as if they’re just giving them away (but we can assure you they’re not) and a visit here will mean plenty of indulgence.
It’s no secret that the town of Ibiza is the crown jewel in the Spanish party scene, and it’s one of the most legendary nightlife destinations of the whole world. Sure parents on holiday can have fun here too but Ibiza’s hedonistic ways are far more enjoyable if you’re single. Epic nightclubs become the stage for big name DJ’s blasting upbeat tunes until the sun comes up. Sip cocktails beachside and enjoy some of the freshest seafood you’ve ever had. The operative word when describing Ibiza; FUN.
The world’s population is rapidly aging and this is having an impact on global business and tourism as companies are slowly starting to realize that accessibility is not just an issue that must be addressed for those with a disability. It’s a real issue that many grey nomads are putting some extra thought into before booking their next vacation. Lonely Planet agrees that with an aging baby boomer population that isn’t willing to slow down when it comes to travel, accessibility is becoming paramount. With this in mind they’ve put together this list of the most accessible vacation destinations for 2016:
10. Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Snowbirds love to head south in the winter, and mexico is a popular winter destination for many including those over the age of 65. Playa del Carmen is only an hour away from Cancun airport but it’s a far cry from the lively Spring Break destination city. Accessible hotels are available and the beach is also easy to navigate with the help of special beach wheelchairs and even special equipment to help you snorkel, even if you can’t swim.
9. Barcelona, Spain
The tourism agencies of Spain and especially the Catalonia region have been pushing the importance of accessible tourism for quite some time now. As a result, 80 per cent of metro stations and 100 per cent of public buses are wheelchair accessible. And unlike many old historic cities, the old town of Barcelona is cobblestone free reducing the risks of trip and falls and making it easier for those with walkers and wheelchairs.
8. Galápagos and Amazonia, Ecuador
After watching these nature-centric destinations on programs like Planet Earth, they may not seem like an option for those with mobility issues, however they’re a lot closer in reach thanks to Lenín Moreno, a paraplegic who was the vice president of Ecuador from 2006-2013. Moreno’s work is responsible for the inroads in accessibility in this largely inaccessible continent.
7. Sicily, Italy
When one thinks of Italy, images of cobblestone streets and elevated countryside usually come to mind -not exactly the picture of accessibility. But Lonely Planet says Sicily is breaking new ground on this front and is home to a tactile museum and Europe’s only sensorial botanic garden. Two Guinness world records have also been set here by people with disabilities; the first paraplegic to dive to 59m and first blind woman to dive to 41m.
6. Manchester, England
Although Manchester is indeed an old city, much of the central business district was rebuilt in the late 1900s. The result is a city with wide, smooth pavements and many shopfronts, bars and restaurants that are completely step free. Perfect for those with reduced mobility. The city’s public transit is also wheelchair friendly and offers service to just about anywhere you’d want to get to in the city.
5. Melbourne, Australia
The city of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia has been called the ‘best in the world’ for a lot of things, but it can now add ‘most accessible’ to that list as well. The city’s highly accessible public transit has received global praise and the compact central city core helps earn the city’s status as one of the most accessible cities in the world. Lonely Planet even has a guidebook dedicated to the subject titled ‘Accessible Melbourne.’
4. Ljubljana, Slovenia
The capital city of Slovenia is relatively flat, a fact that many aging travelers will appreciate. It’s also equipped with highly accessible public transit which features audio and video stop announcements on buses (because there’s nothing worse than missing your stop!) The main attraction of the city is the 16th century Ljubljana Castle, and while you wouldn’t expect anything built in the 16th century to be accessible, the castle is actually wheelchair accessible.
Singapore is arguably the most accessible city in Asia and one of the most overall accessible in the whole world. You’ll find stepless access to most buildings and an endless supply of curb cuts to make sure there are no barriers for those in wheelchairs. The city’s mass rail transit (MRT) and buses are also designed for the visually and motor impaired, making this city one were there are essentially no limitations.
2. San Diego, USA
Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (which just celebrated its 25th anniversary) most of the United States is very accessible, but Lonely Planet picked San Diego, California as a standout in its class. The city is easy to get around with a fairly flat grid system and public transit is easy with a fully accessible tram system. The most notable feature is the miles long beachfront promenade which offers beach wheelchairs to those who need them.
1. Vienna, Austria
Like Manchester but perhaps even richer in history, Vienna is a historic city that’s been refurbished to meet modern day demands. Unlike many old European cities, its cobblestones have been removed as have many curbs and central shops, cafes and restaurants are wheelchair friendly. One of the city’s most notable attractions, the Schloss Schönbrunn is fully accessible making it a must-see for everyone, no matter your age.