The World’s Strangest Laws

The world is full of strange and unusual laws that sometimes don’t make any sort of sense. Some are just so farfetched it’s hard to believe they are real while others are just confusing and sometimes ignorant. From the illegality of having donkeys sleep in your bathtubs to the ban on building sandcastles to a law that prevents chewing gum into a country; these 15 laws are some of the world’s strangest laws.

15. Donkeys and Bathtubs

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It is one of the most ridiculous laws we have ever heard of and it’s unsure why it even exists, perhaps to make people scratch their head and wonder what they were thinking. In Oklahoma, it is illegal to have a sleeping donkey in your bathtub after 7 pm. Does this mean you can have an awake donkey in your bathtub? Or even a sleeping donkey in your house? Apparently, the law is based on a case that happened in 1924 when a donkey fell asleep in a bathtub and headed down the river into a valley.

Locals had to haul the donkey back to its home and signed a petition to pass a law, in case this sort of thing ever happened again. We doubt anyone still has donkeys in their bathtubs, but hey, you never know.

14. Keep smiling in Milan

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They certainly are happy in Milan but perhaps they are smiling because it is actually the law to do so. The law in the province of Milan actually requires every citizen to smile when they are out in public. Exemptions are made if you are headed to a funeral or visiting someone in the hospital. Breaking this law can lead to being arrested and fined up to $100. It’s a good thing it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown or a whole lot of people would be facing daily fines.

13. No Sandcastles in Eraclea, Italy

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There are a lot of strange laws in Italy and although some make sense, this one baffles us completely. If you are heading to Eraclea, make sure you know that it is absolutely illegal to build sandcastles here. Lawmakers say that sandcastles “obstruct the passage” but try telling your five-year-old that it is actually illegal to do so. It is not known what the punishment is for breaking this law but you should probably leave your buckets and shovels at home when you head to this beach.

12. Check for Children, Denmark

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The road laws in Denmark actually say that you have to check under your car for children before going, but only sleeping children according to officials. We have absolutely no idea why this law came into effect but we have to wonder how the people of Denmark are raising their children if there is a chance someone might find them sleeping under their car. Regardless you can face fines and punishment if you accidentally forget to look under the car for those sleeping children before pulling out.

11. No Public Eating During Ramadan, United Arab Emirates

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If you plan on traveling to the United Arab Emirates during Ramadan, the holy month, you should definitely know the laws during the fasting hours. First up the fasting hours are during daylight and if you think you are going to eat or drink in public without getting a fine, you would be wrong.

The price of the fine can range but just recently two tourists were charged $275 each for taking a drink of juice in public. Make sure you stick to your hotel room if you want to eat lunch, take a drink, or have any sort of public displays of affection with your partner. Because as most of you know, public displays of affection are also banned in this country.

10. Make sure you flush the Toilet in Singapore

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It is actually illegal not to flush the toilet in Singapore and if you thought officials didn’t enforce this law, you would be wrong. According to the law, you can face a fine of up to 5,000 Singapore dollars for not flushing a public toilet after using it. Officials have actually been known to do random spot checks and will certainly find any offender. While this law is strange we must admit we wish every country would put this law into place and crackdown on it. No one likes going to a washroom with a floater in it.

9. No noisy footwear, Capri, Italy

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Don’t plan on wearing your flip flops here, unless you have somehow managed to make them silent as wearing noisy footwear in Capri Italy is actually illegal. These peace-loving locals are serious about their peace and quiet and people have been both fined and arrested for wearing wooden clogs, noisy flip flops, and other shoes that don’t fit the quiet bill. Make sure you are also fully clothed when walking around this island as wearing just a bikini or without a shirt will also lead to a fine.

8. No Camouflage Clothing, Trinidad and Tobago

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Don’t plan on wearing anything that remotely resembles camouflage on your next trip to Trinidad and Tobago or you will be faced with a possible fine of up to $1000 and 18 months in prison. The law was put in effect as camouflage too closely resembles the uniform of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force. It is even illegal for children to wear this kind of clothing. You will be in more trouble if you do break this law and someone mistakes you as part of the force. They take their military seriously around here.

7. Don’t Feed the Pigeons, Italy and San Francisco

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In both Italy and San Francisco along with a handle of other cities, it is illegal to feed those pesky pigeons. Yes, it may be tempting as they are one of the only birds brave enough to walk right up to your hand and eat out of it but pigeon feeders can be arrested and fined serious cash. So why is it illegal? It causes over breeding, health hazards, and a few more reasons that lawmakers cite every time someone gets arrested for the act. Some hypothesis the cities just don’t want to pay someone to clean up all the pigeon crap that constantly wreaks havoc on the sidewalks. Both ways, it’s a law and it is highly enforced.

6. Watch where you step, Thailand

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There are a number of strange laws in Thailand, such as it is illegal to leave your house without wearing underwear (we wonder who checks for this one) and you have to wear a shirt while driving a car. One of the strangest laws here though can easily be broken simply but not looking where you are going. It is actually illegal here to step on any Baht, the local currency. For example, if you drop a bill and it starts to fly away, don’t even think about stepping on it to stop it. You can get arrested and fined for stepping on any Baht currency here, as well as if you decide to throw it at a person in anger or deface it in any way.

5. No Overweight People, Japan

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It is the slimmest industrialized nation and it’s no surprise considering it is actually illegal to be overweight here. In 2008 lawmakers in Japan passed the Metabo Law, hoping that it would stop the dreaded metabolic syndrome from affecting aging populations.  Citizens here now have to comply with a government-imposed waistline standard, the maximum waistline size for anyone age 40 and older is 85 centimeters (33.5 inches) for men and 90 centimeters (35.4 inches) for women.

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of health risks, including stomach flab, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol that can lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The penalty for breaking this law is far from harsh though and individuals are required to attend a combination of counseling sessions, monitoring through phone and email correspondence, and motivational support.

4. Don’t Stop on the Autobahn, Germany

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The Autobahn in Germany is one of the last places on earth that you can drive as fast as you want and although many places have speed limits, there is still a fair number of long stretches where you can put the pedal to the medal. There are certain laws though that go with this privilege of driving however fast you want.

First off make sure you don’t run out of gas on this highway as it’s highly illegal. So is stopping on the side of the road. So is walking on the Autobahn. That’s three strikes against you if you happen to pull over because your gas needle is on empty and you have to walk to get gas. Don’t get caught as you can face $100 per fine, and you will be whacked with more than just one in this case.

3. Don’t Cheat in Hong Kong

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If you are a male, we highly suggest not cheating on your wife if you happen to reside in Hong Kong. This is because it is actually legal for a female to kill her cheating husband, as long as she uses her bare hands. Not just the husband but the women who have been with him is also allowed to be killed by the wide, but by any manner she chooses.

There are numerous forms of punishment for wives who have been cheated on, in case they don’t feel like committing murder. Wives can send their cheating husbands away to a work camp for up to two years, the wife can claim half the possessions given to the secret lover and they can even demand compensation from their husbands.

2. No Chewing Gum, Singapore

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A ban on the sale, import, and manufacture of chewing gum in Singapore took effect on 3 January 1992 and the law still exists today. In 2004 therapeutic chewing gum was allowed into the country and dental and nicotine gum are exceptions, but only from a prescription from your doctor.

This law was created in large part because the local railway system was being vandalized but it can be dated back to 1983 when the former prime minister was fed up with the amount of chewing gum that was being left on sidewalks, in mailboxes, and in elevators. Then the MRT started running in 1987 and vandals began sticking chewing gum to the doors, causing the sensors to malfunction. In 1992 Goh Chok Tong took over as president and immediately banned chewing gum.

1. Leave your bible at home, Maldives

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This Muslim nation is serious about their religion and owning a bible here is illegal and can get you thrown right out of the country. The Islamic government here prevents its citizens from converting to any other religion other than Muslim and non-obeyers can face serious consequences. The few that did convert are forced to meet underground. If you plan on moving here and want to be accepted as a citizen, you best leave that bible at home and prepare to convert to the Muslim faith.

The 9 Best Fashion Museums in the World

Fashion week takes over the world in London, Paris, New York City and Milan twice a year but that doesn’t mean fashion lovers can’t get their fill in the rest of the year. All across the world are incredible fashion-focused museums, some free to check out while others accept a small payment. It is here at these museums where visitors will find one-of-a-kind pieces, a history of shoes, more bags and purses in one spot than you ever imagines, famous articles of clothing, avant-garde fashion and more. From Milan the capital of the fashion world to a UNESCO site in Amsterdam to Italy, there are the best fashion museums in the world.

9. Palazzo Morando, Milan

It wouldn’t be a complete list without a fashion museum in one of the worlds most important design capitals. The Palazzo Morando is housed in the Renaissance palace that was at one point home to Milanese noble families until it was donated to the city in 1945.

It wasn’t until 2010 when the Castello Sforzesco’s costume collection was merged with the former Museum of Milan’s collection that this became one very chic museum. Although you won’t find loads of clothes on display like others, this museum features two separate display areas and includes a collection of clothing, accessories, and uniforms. As a bonus, this museum is free and open to the public.

Via Artribune

8. Christian Dior Museum and Garden, Granville, France

This museum is actually the former childhood home of the famous couturier and now is a place of memories dedicated to the life and work of Christian Dior. Since the year 1997 a temporary exhibit is held each summer who theme is linked to the fashion designs of Dior and his fashion house and since 2010 an Autumn and Winter exhibition presents the museums own collection.

This cliff-top villa houses the designer’s exquisite creations as well as pieces from the fashion houses other notable designers including Yves Saint Laurent and John Galliano. Open 7 days a week from 10am-6:30 pm, this is truly a treat for the biggest of fashion lovers.

Via Le Relais du Louvre

7. Ferragamo Museo, Florence Italy

This museum is dedicated to Salvatore Ferragamo, the inventor of the wedge and the cage-heel, one of the greatest inventors when it comes to shoes of all time. The museum opened in 1995 in an effort to illustrate Ferragamo’s artistic qualities and the important role he played in the history of shoe design and international fashion. Much of his success came from Hollywood Starlets across the pond such as Marilyn Monroe.

The museum is host to photographs, sketches, books, magazines and over 10,000 models that were designed by him until 1960 when he passed away. The shoes are on a biennial rotation and are all works of refined craftsmanship. Visitors can marvel at the incredible display of shoes and step back into a true artist’s mind through the many artifacts displayed.

Via style.corriere.it

6. Costume Institute at the Met, New York City

For anyone interested in costume fashion, there is perhaps a no better place on earth than the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This museum is home to over 35,000 costumes and accessories ranging from the 15th century to the present and representing five continents.

It underwent a two-year renovation between 2012-2014 and has since reopened to the public with one more special exhibitions annually. Fashion-focused tours are available year-round that discuss costume history within the context of the Museum’s collection of armor, textiles, paintings and more with an audio guide. If you can attend the annual gala expect plenty of celebrities and high profile fashion designers.

Via amny.com

5. Museum of Bags and Purses (Tassen Museum), Amsterdam

It is the largest of its kind in the world, a fascinating story that features fashion, art, customs, and history. The museum also happens to be situated in a lovely canal house in the center of Amsterdam and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Canal Ring Area.

On display is the development of bags and purses from the Middle Ages to the present day and this is truly the only place in the world where you will find so many handbags in one spot. Featuring 17th-century-period rooms, the actual Versace bag used by Madonna, over 5,000 bags and purses, a lovely restaurant with a view of the gardens and guided tours, a trip here is well worth taking, especially if you just happen to love bags.

Via Afar

4. Museo De La Moda, Santiago, Chile

This privately operated fashion museum has an incredible permanent collection of Western clothing, particularly from the 20th century and is well known for a few key items. It is here where you can see John Lennon’s jacket from 1966, the cone bra that was designed for Madonna and an evening gown worn by Lady Diana in 1981. There are more than 10,000 pieces in this collection, with only a fraction on display at one time.

Temporary exhibits here are incredible and have ranged from a Michael Jackson tribute to a Mad Men 60’s theme. There are thousands of sketchbooks, photographs, and books on fashion and design that are also available to view as long as an appointment is made in advance. Opened in 2007, this fairly new museum is host to an impressive number of important fashion pieces.

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3. Museum at FIT, New York City

New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology has given the world incredible fashion stars and its museum is one of the only ones in the city that is open to the public. It hosts rotating exhibits that pull from the school’s impressive collection of one-of-a-kind pieces from designers such as Chanel, Alaia, and Halston. Not only does this museum feature exhibits but also talks, tours, lectures, book signings and fashion conversations with leading designers.

The permanent collection here encompasses over 50,00 garments and accessories from the 18th century to the present, with an emphasis on avant-garde fashion. With three different galleries, a photographic studio, workshop, and conservation laboratory this is one impressive museum. Expect patrons here to be dressed to the nines while they check out the fashion.

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2. Gucci Museum, Florence

Guccio Gucci started the label in Florence in 1921 and it is fitting that in 2011 a museum devoted to this designed finally opened its doors. The museum provides a history of the Florentine fashion house, containing a permanent exhibit of the iconic pieces of the brand such as bags, clothes, and accessories.

Along with stunning evening gowns including ones worn by Hilary Swank, amusing exhibits such as monogrammed scuba diving flippers and early-edition monogrammed luggage, there is a contemporary art space which features incredible related exhibits. Black and white photographs line the staircase and a Gucci-upholstered car from the 70’s complete the picture here.

Via Florence Inferno

1. Victoria and Albert Museum, London

It is the world’s largest museum dedicated to art and design and contains an incredible collection of costumes and applied arts from all over the world. It can be overwhelming at times to decide what to look at and taking the one-hour tour is a good way to get acquainted. The collections here range from Indian textiles to painful footwear but for the fashion lovers, heading to the fashion section should be first on the list.

It is here where you will find a 400-year span of men and women’s clothing and one gigantic collection of hats, after all this is Britain. Except for occasional special exhibits, this museum is actually free to visit as well. Check out 17th-century gowns, samurai armor and medieval love rings, all on display here at this incredible museum.

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8 Places to Visit in Italy Before You Have Kids

Italy is truly one of Mother Nature’s masterpieces, offering a geography boasting incredible landscapes- from the icy Alps to the volcanic craters to the turquoise waters. Along with incredible scenery, this country is filled with history, medieval towns, and more UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites than any other country. Dine on traditional Italian foods, indulge in the finest of wines and take in incredible sites. Italy is a place to be visited twice, once before kids and once with kids and the following eight places should all be done before you are toting around the wee ones.

8. Milan

The fashion capital of the world is best discovered without kids in tow, for obvious reasons and the time to get there and shop is now. This seething metropolis at times can seem brash and soulless but underneath that lies serious history and beauty. Visitors should count on visiting the grand Gothic Cathedral that lays at the heart of the city, La Scala one of the best Opera Houses in the world, the ancient shopping gallery- Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and the Brera Art Gallery. There is no shortage of museums, churches and historical monuments to be found in this city, along with a slew of incredible restaurants and accommodations. Shop, eat, catch a football game or attend one of the many exhibitions that take place throughout the year; whatever it is you do, enjoy it sans kids.

La Scala Milan

7. Sicily

The gorgeous island of Sicily is one of Europe’s most alluring destinations, the eternal meeting point between East and West, Africa and Europe. The varied landscape here with sea, mountains and volcanoes makes for a stunning backdrop for outdoors activities. Visitors here will be privy to plenty of diving, swimming, climbing and hiking. The ancient cuisine here will make any foodie happy, as the chefs still depend on island-grown ingredients including shellfish, tuna, hazelnuts and almonds, and play with these ingredients to create timeless recipes with creative flairs. Wander through the rubble of ancient columns, through the breathtaking Concordia temple and palace walls as you discover the history of this incredible island. Best done without kids, this is one place in Italy you must get to.

Sicily ruins

6. Cinque Terre

Made up of five small fishing villages, Cinque Terre has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997 and offers some of the most dramatic coastal scenery on the planet. This is a place that is rooted in history with the oldest village, Monterosso dating back to AD 643. Much of what remains in the villages today date back to the late High Middle Ages, including several castles and parish churches. Explore the villages by train or foot, as cars were banned over a decade ago. Expect long walks with breathtaking views, eccentric shops, quaint B&B’s and superior wine and food. The main draw here is the landscape and there is an abundance of hiking trails throughout the villages, as well as a number of beaches throughout.

Cinque Terre

5. Amalfi Coast

If you are looking for a more road trip style vacation before you have kids, there is only one choice when it comes to Italy, and that is the Amalfi Coast. Considered to be Italy’s most scenic stretch of coastline the landscape is full of towering bluffs, pastel colored villages, luscious green mountains and expansive vista over the sparkling turquoise waters. Aside from the sheer beauty you encounter here, the Amalfi coast is home to a slew of superb restaurants and hotels, as well as being one of the top spots in the country for hiking. Don’t miss the coastal towns of Positano and Amalfi, which are the two favorites. If you are looking for romance stop into the most romantic and beautiful small town in Southern Italy, Ravello, a city blessed with lush gardens, unforgettable views and a beautiful history.

Amalfi Coast

4. Merano

This city of flowers is located in Italy’s Alps, a breathtaking landscape of snow-capped peaks, clean air and luscious green. The city itself sits only 1,000 feet high and is often referred to as the Shangri-La of Italy with its sunny microclimate and leafy boulevards. Visitors come to this city for it’s incredible spa hotels, wonderful organic farmers markets and spectacular wine. Head here during the International Wine Festival in early November for a chance to try local stars as well as vintages from around the world. Explore medieval castles, ride the aerial tramways, dine on sausage and beer from street stalls, meander through the Merano Promenades or simply soak your troubles away in the abundance of spa centers; whatever it is you choose to do, do it now before you have little ones in tow.

Merano italy

3. Tuscany

The region of Tuscany is full of great things to see and do, without kids of course as dragging them to renaissance towns and art galleries surely won’t be any fun for them. There are plenty of UNESCO World Heritage Sites to explore in this region including Siena, a beautiful medieval town worth exploring. This region is truly postcard material with its gently rolling hills, golden wheat fields, silver olive groves and hilltop villages. Spend your days hiking, cycling, visiting the islands off the south coast or simply sipping a glass of wine with your significant other. Explore the historic churches, chapels and monuments that make up the breathtaking city of Florence and choose from the simplest of accommodations or boutiques so chic you can even choose your own sheets.

Tuscany

2. Rome

A city full of history, fine art and great food screams for a child-free visit and this is one city you need to get to before having kids. This internal city is one of the world’s most beautiful and inspiring capitals. Much of your days in Rome will be spent wandering historic sites, immersing yourself into the culture and idling around the city streets. When the sun sets and the temperatures break here, that’s when the real party starts and let’s be clear; this is no party for kids. The fashionistas descend onto Rome’s cafes and restaurants and then later head to the famous late-night clubs and bars. Think freshly ground coffee in the mornings, five-star dining in the evening and gorging on pizza at neighborhood diners.

Colosseum Rome

1. Venice

This city seeps with romance, from the romantic gondola rides through the canals to drinking wine at the open-air cafes that fill the sidewalks. It screams child-free with its impressive dining options complete with plenty of Prosecco, Venice’s signature drink of choice. Bringing kids here really isn’t recommended, as there is lots of walking, plenty of adults-only dining and just not really that many interesting things to see or do as a kid. Venice thrives on mystery and awe, a place where marble palaces disappear into the fog, where labyrinth like streets fill the city and where cathedrals beg to be discovered. There are no cars or roadways here, just canals and boats and narrow alleys and small squares, with hidden treasures at every turn. The perfect place to explore sans kids.

Venice

10 Things to See and Do in Milan

Located in northern Italy, Milan is the second highest populated city in the country and the capital of the Lombardy region. With ancient roots, the city has long been considered the Italian financial, commercial and industrial hub, now hosting the country’s main stock exchange and several major corporate and banking headquarters. In contemporary history, Milan has also been seen as one of the world’s foremost fashion and design centers, annually holding the world renowned Milan Fashion Week, among other international events. For travellers, the city’s long history has provided a treasure trove of stunning buildings, important cultural and historical institutions and world-class shopping and dining. With a mix of traditional tourist attractions and ideas for individual exploration, read on to see EscapeHere’s top 10 things to see and do during your stay in this beautiful city.

10. Grab a Glass of Wine

Milan is in Italy’s Lombardy region, a place that has been long known for producing some of the finest wines in the world, most notably red Valtellina and sparkling Franciacorta. Visiting Milan and not grabbing a glass is like trudging through Paris’ Louvre Museum and skipping the Mona Lisa—it just doesn’t make sense (unless of course, you don’t drink). But, for all of you winos out there, the opportunity  to drink an unforgettable wine on its home turf are endless, with a vast selection of wine bars, walking wine tours, local tastings and day-long vineyard excursions, Milan has something for every taste.

Red Wine glasses

9. Explore the Navigli Canals

Though nothing compared to the beauty of the canals in Venice, these two Milanese waterways have their own claim to fame—one of them was designed by the great Italian, Leonardo Da Vinci. The quiet, laid back atmosphere surrounding the canals provides a welcome break from the bustle of the city center, and in recent years the area has grown into quite an artsy community, with a number of unique stores, galleries and restaurants that are worth checking out. The neighborhood also hosts an awesome antiques market on the last Sunday of every month, as well as being home to the largest growing nightlife scene in the city.

Navigli Canals, Milan

8. Wander, Shop and People Watch at 10 Corso Como

This artistic emporium, which showcases and sells everything from art to fashion to literature, was established in 1990 by former Vogue Italia editor Carla Sozzani. The complex, originally established as an art gallery and bookstore, has grown to include several fashion and art shops, as well as a restaurant, garden café, rooftop terrace and three room hotel. This unique and whimsical place (just check out the website!) is a magnet for all things (and people) relating to art, fashion and lifestyle, as well as being the original inspiration for the now commonly accepted idea of the “concept store”. Though prices tend to run a little high for the average tourist, an afternoon spent here exposes visitors to the inherently cool crowd that frequents the space as well as confirms all preconceived notions of Milan’s advanced fashion and design scene.

Alexandre Rotenberg / Shutterstock.com
Alexandre Rotenberg / Shutterstock.com

7. Visit Castello Sforzesco

Touring a European city would not be complete without a visit to a castle, and Milan’s Castello Sforzesco does not disappoint. Built in the 15th century by Milanese Duke Francesco Sforza, the castle had a long (and mostly depressing) history before becoming a cultural emblem of the city in the late 19th century. Today, visitors can’t help but admire the Renaissance architecture of the structure, which features a number of towers, battlements and courtyards, as well as the Sforza rooms which now house several civic museums and art galleries. The castle is also home to Michelangelo’s last and unfinished work, the Rondanini Pieta, as well to notable work by Andrea Mantega and Bartolomeo Suardi.

Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com
Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com

6. Take a Stroll on Via Solferino

A 20 minute stroll from the city’s picturesque Sempione Park, the street between Via della Moscova and Via Pontaccio is a good place check out, particularly if you’re hungry. While boasting a number of stylish stores, the street in this Brera neighbourhood is becoming increasingly known for its vast selection of good eats, offering everything from wine bars, bistros and pizzerias to full-fledged restaurants and gourmet pasticceria. Especially worth checking out is Dry, which serves up some of the city’s best pizza and cocktails, and Picasso, which offers traditional Italian food with contemporary twists.

Photo by: DRY Cocktails & Pizza
Photo by: DRY Cocktails & Pizza

5. Watch a Match at San Siro Stadium

Milan’s San Siro Stadium is home base for both FC Internazionale and AC Milan, two of Italy’s most well-known football clubs, as well as some of the most audacious fans of the sport in the world. If you are lucky enough to be in the city on a match day, grab a ticket and experience the electrifying passion of Milanese soccer fans that radiates through the 80,000 seat stadium. Alternatively, if there is no match to be seen, take a tour of the property and each teams’ locker rooms to get some insight into their contrasting ideologies, as well as to get a sense of what it is about them that inspires such complete adoration from fans.

Paolo Bona / Shutterstock.com
Paolo Bona / Shutterstock.com

4. Catch a Show at Teatro alla Scala

Italy may be well known for its pasta, sports cars and Renaissance painters, but, as theater aficionados will tell you, there are also few things in the world comparable to the experience of watching Italian opera. Seeing one of these classics at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, or La Scala, as it is known colloquially, is no exception. The theater opened in 1778, premiering with Antonio Salieri’s Europa Reconosciuta, and is now regarded as one of the best opera houses in the world. For those unable to get all schmoozed up and attend a performance (cheapest tickets are in the realm of 65 euros), the theater is still worth a visit to admire the austere façade’s contrast to the gilded and velvet interiors, and to walk the same steps as operatic greats of the past 200 years. Also worth checking out is the theater museum and library, which displays costumers and materials pertinent to the house itself and Italian opera and musical theatre in general.

Photo by: Dan Kamminga via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Dan Kamminga via Wikimedia Commons

3. Window Shop at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Named after the first king of Italy, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II was opened in 1877, making it one of the world’s oldest shopping centers. Besides housing a commendable amount of (mostly luxury) retailers, the Galleria is also a popular meeting place and upscale dining destination, not to mention a stunning example of architectural accomplishment. This predecessor to the modern shopping mall consists of two intersecting arcades topped with vaulted glass, a glass domed center intersection and ornate flooring throughout, making it a must-see even for those unwilling to drop a few hundred euros in the likes of Prada, Dolce and Gabbana and Valentino.

anshar / Shutterstock.com
anshar / Shutterstock.com

2. Check out the Basilica Santa Maria delle Grazie

If you’ve ever wanted to personally see a work that has sparked some of the world’s greatest controversy and speculation, the Basilica Church and convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie is the place to do it. Tucked away in the refectory adjoining the church, you will find Da Vinci’s most iconic mural, The Last Supper, which measures an impressive 180 by 350 inches and depicts the dramatic meal where Christ reveals his betrayal. After centuries of damage and neglect, restoration of the whole work took an astounding 22 years (finished in 1999), and is now available for public viewing, albeit by reservation/tour only and in 15 minute increments. The Basilica in itself is a sight to see, built in a mix of Renaissance and Gothic architectural styles and frescoed by Ferrari, Bramantino and Zenale, making it one of Milan’s most amazing historical and cultural attractions.

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore Bergamo Alta, Italy

1. Take in the City from the Rooftop of Milan Cathedral

Taking over 500 years to construct, this marble cathedral, known as the Duomo by the locals, is one of the highlights of the city. As the second largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the church is an architectural masterpiece, standing over 100 meters tall and decorated with upwards of 3400 statues. While it is obvious that the interior is a must-see, the most spectacular part of a visit to this building is the publicly accessible rooftop—a 100 meter long stretch of terrace rising 70 meters above ground level. This unparalleled view of the city is only enhanced by the exquisite architecture surrounding the main terrace, with the rooftop allowing a closer look at the detailed construction of the spires, gargoyles and pinnacles, and allowing visitors to experience one of the best open air city views in the world.

Milan Cathedral

The 15 Most Visited Cities in the World 2015

We assume some cities to be de facto tourist meccas; we’re told over and over again that places like Paris, London and Rome are places that every traveler must visit in their lifetime. But have you ever wondered just how many people visit some of these cities each year—or, indeed, which cities attract the largest share of international tourists? While some of the tried-and-true destinations have made the cut for 2015, other entries on the list of the top 15 most visited cities might surprise you.

15. Milan, Italy

Perhaps most famous as Italy’s fashion powerhouse, the city of Milan is much more than that. Located in northern Italy, it is also home to Italy’s largest stock exchange, two major soccer teams and numerous theaters, museums and monuments. Milan has something to offer each one of its seven plus million visitors each year. Notable sites around the city include the Santa Maria delle Grazie, a UNESCO World Heritage site decorated by Leonardo da Vinci paintings. Although the city itself is entirely flat terrain, the nearby Alps form part of its cityscape, and the city’s proximity to Alpine tourist destinations have positioned it as a gateway community. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the world’s oldest shopping mall and is located on the Piazza Duomo, near the fifth-largest church in the world, Milan Cathedral.

Milan, Italy

14. Rome, Italy

Given Rome’s ubiquitous position as the cradle of Western civilization and European civilization in particular, as well as its unique reputation as a tourist destination, it’s perhaps surprising that Rome didn’t rank higher on this list. Still, with a projected 7.4 million tourists in 2015, tourism to Rome is nothing to sneeze at. Rome is home to some of Europe’s most famous historical monuments, such as the Colosseum and St. Peter’s Basilica. Religious tourism to Rome is still an important factor; although the Vatican is a separate state, it is located inside Rome and many visitors tour through Rome’s churches as well. Under the influence of numerous popes, Rome has undergone a program of patronage since the Renaissance that aimed to make it the cultural and artistic center of the world—a lofty goal and one that has resulted in Rome long being a mecca for people around the world.

eternal city Rome

13. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

When The Netherlands first legalized the sale of cannabis in coffee shops, a running joke became that most young North American tourists would hit Amsterdam for one reason and one reason alone. While some of the city’s 7.44 million international tourists might visit for that reason, there are many other things to do and see in the Dutch capital. Amsterdam is, of course, famous for its cannabis cafes and red light district, which attracts many visitors, but other aspects of its nightlife, including numerous discotheques and world-renowned jazz clubs, are equally attractive to tourists. The city’s architecture, historical buildings and many museums are also incentive for visitors. Anne Frank’s House and the Van Gogh Museum are just two of the many historic sites frequented by tourists. The city is also well-known for its system of canals, which add to its picturesque appeal.

Amsterdam

12. Barcelona, Spain

Capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia, in Spain, Barcelona has a long history of tourism: in medieval times, it was an important site for Christian pilgrims. Today, the tourism industry is still an important and growing part of Barcelona’s economy, with more than 7.5 million people expected to visit the city in 2015. Barcelona rivals Madrid, the country’s capital, in terms of major attractions and historic sites; the city boasts no fewer than eight UNESCO World Heritage sites and many museums. As the largest metropolis on the Mediterranean, Barcelona has also become internationally renowned for its many beaches; many Spaniards vacation in Barcelona for the beaches and the practice is catching on with foreign visitors. Notable sites include the fortress at Montjuic and the Basilica of La Merce, as well as the stunning, yet incomplete, Sagrada Familia Basilica.

Park Guell Barcelona Spain

11. Tokyo, Japan

Whether you’re looking for exciting subculture fashion, interested in experiencing the Japanese tradition of kabuki theater, or just want to eat the freshest sushi in the world, Tokyo has you covered. Japan’s capital city is a sprawling urban metropolis littered with skyscrapers, excellent restaurants and renowned museums, and interspersed with parks and greenspace. Various districts of the city are dedicated to nightlife (Roppongi and Shibuya), fashion subcultures (Harajuku) and electronics (Akihabara). Ancient Shinto shrines and historic castles are a testament to Tokyo’s long history as the center of Japanese culture, and now you can mingle with ultra-modern architecture like Tokyo Skytree and the iconic Tokyo Tower. With slightly over eight million foreign tourists expected in 2015, Tokyo continues to be one of the most visited cities in the world, although it remains outside of the top 10.

Tokyo

10. Hong Kong, China

In 1997, Hong Kong became an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China. Beginning in the 1970s, the city developed into a global metropolis, functioning as a center for trade and finance. Hong Kong also developed an entertainment industry, producing many popular kung-fu action films. Today, more than 8.5 million people visit the city each year, some for business and others for pleasure. The cityscape is decidedly modern, with the number of skyscrapers outnumbering any other city in the world; architecture has blended between Eastern and Western styles, and elements of traditional culture, like feng shui and dim sum, mingle easily with Western influences. Despite this, Hong Kong is also renowned for its geographical features: its deep harbor has made it an important port, nearby Mount Kowloon offers steep terrain and the rugged coastline has many excellent beaches.

Hong Kong

9. Seoul, South Korea

More than 10 million foreign tourists are expected to visit Seoul in 2015. The financial, cultural and political heart of South Korea, Seoul was first designed as a capital city in the 14th century. The city’s lengthy list of historic buildings and UNESCO World Heritages sites includes palaces and temples, as well as the remains of neolithic settlements unearthed nearby. Two old residential districts are now preserved as museums to showcase traditional Korean culture and lifeways, including hanok houses. Seoul has many more museums, such as the Kimchi Field Museum. But Seoul isn’t all about the past; the city boasts some of the world’s most design-forward modern architecture and was named a World Design Capital in 2010. Ultra-modern buildings mingle with numerous parks, creating a unique and attractive cityscape near Mount Namsan.

Top Cities 2013 - Seoul

8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The capital of Malaysia will attract more than 11 million international visitors in 2015, making it the 8th most visited city in the world. Tourism and shopping are major drivers of the Malaysian economy and nowhere is that more evident than Kuala Lumpur, which functions as the largest retail center in the country with 66 shopping malls. Major attractions include the Petronas Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world, the National Palace and the Jamek Mosque. Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown, is another notable destination for tourists, and the Hindu celebration of Thaipusam and its procession to Batu Caves is a major cultural festival that attracts visitors from many different locales. The city also functions as a hub for entertainment, art and events, including sports and music festivals. Kuala Lumpur is also noted for its multiethnic blend of cuisines and architectures.

Top Cities 2013 - Kuala Lumpur

7. Singapore City, Singapore

Nearly 12 million people will visit the city-state of Singapore during the course of 2015. Over the last decade, the country has garnered a reputation for being a “luxury” destination, with many high-end hotel chains setting up shop, and the legalization of gambling heralding casino tourism. The island country’s biggest draw, however, is said to be its cuisine: Singapore’s multiethnic mix has led to a unique fusion of Indian, Malay and Chinese cuisines—like the Peranakan style of cooking, a hybridization of Chinese and Malay culinary traditions. There are many restaurants and, in fact, dining is said to be one of Singapore’s national pastimes. Architecture in the city-state similarly reflects the fusion of various cultural influences. Water sports such as sailing, scuba diving and water skiing are popular recreational pastimes, while soccer is a popular sport to watch.

Singapore city at night

6. New York City, United States

The only American entry on this list, New York City remains the U.S. destination of choice for international tourists, with over almost 12.3 million people expected to visit in 2015. Attractions such as the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building continue to draw visitors, while major events like New York Fashion Week pulls in crowds from around the world. Times Square and Broadway also remain popular attractions for international visitors, while shopping, cuisine and nightlife are alluring for many others who choose to take a bite out of the Big Apple. Other notable sites include Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge. For many, New York remains the premier American destination, ranking well ahead of other U.S. cities like Los Angeles. As America’s largest city, NYC is likely to remain the country’s biggest tourist draw as well.

New York City Times Square

5. Istanbul, Turkey

With over 12.5 million foreign tourists projected to visit in 2015, Istanbul is both the fastest growing destination in Europe and the 5th most visited city in the world. Located along the Bosphorus, the city has been an important center of European civilization since the time of the ancient Greeks. Situated at the heart of two historically important empires, Istanbul has a long and illustrious heritage. It’s easily one of Europe’s most multicultural cities, thanks to its unique positioning on the edge of both Europe and Asia. It was named a European Capital of Culture in 2012. The city boasts mosques and churches, bazaars and malls and a treasure trove of other attractions. Traditional Turkish cuisine, such as kebabs, are popular and the city is also well-known for a vibrant entertainment industry and nightlife. Its historic center, a partial UNESCO World Heritage site, remains the most popular tourist attraction.

Top Cities 2013 - Istanbul

4. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates and has recently emerged onto the global stage through its innovative architecture, such as the world’s tallest skyscraper and its history of hosting major sporting events. A center of world banking, Dubai has earned a reputation for being both pricey and luxurious—as a vacation destination, it’s often lauded as a sort of playground for the rich and famous. Its skyline is dominated by the Burj Khalifa, currently the world’s tallest building at 828 meters. The Burj al Arab is another iconic structure. Dubai’s attitude is clearly go big or go home: the Dubai Miracle Garden, opened in 2013, is the world’s largest flower garden and the Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world. More than 14 million people are expected to visit Dubai from other countries in 2015 as tourism continues to grow.

Sophie James / Shutterstock.com
Sophie James / Shutterstock.com

3. Paris, France

Oh Paris,  the iconic city of love with its grandiose Eiffel Tower ranked 3rd on this list. Being the 3rd most visited city in the world says something about how many people travel here each year. Paris will attract over 16 million foreign tourists in 2015, and it is well behind the first and second-place cities. Nonetheless, Paris remains a top-tier destination for many travelers, often considered a must-take trip or a bucket-list destination. The capital of France is noted for its cuisine, including its many bistros and cafes, along with many 3-star restaurants. The Arc de Triomphe, the Palace of Versailles, the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre are all popular tourist attractions. Paris is also known as a center of fashion, hosting the twice annual Paris Fashion Week. The city is also the host of several important sporting events, including the finish of the Tour de France and the Paris Grand Slam tennis tournament.

Top Cities 2013 - Paris

2. Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand’s capital city is on-track to receive more than 18 million foreign tourists in 2015, making it the second most visited city in the world. With world-class shopping and dining and a dynamic nightlife, Bangkok offers something for everyone to see and do. Another major driver of travel to Bangkok is sex tourism; Bangkok has actually earned the nickname “Sin City of Asia” as a result of how many visitors it receives on account of the industry. Other visitors are attracted by the city’s mix of historical buildings, showcasing a variety of influences and cultures. Notable sites are Wat Phra Kaew, a Buddhist temple in the Grand Palace, and Jim Thompson House, considered an outstanding example of Thai architecture. As the seat of the Thai government and the royal family, Bangkok is also a hub for major cultural events, such as religious celebrations and festivals.

Top Cities 2013 - Bangkok

1. London, United Kingdom

London is projected to receive almost 19 million foreign tourists in 2015, making it the most visited city in the world. The U.K.’s capital ranks among its European counterparts, like Paris and Rome, boasting numerous landmarks, iconic monuments and a host of other tourist attractions. The city has numerous museums and a strong arts scene, as well as a world-renowned shopping district (High Street) and fashion industry, which includes the twice-annual London Fashion Show. Notable sites include Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, the Shard, Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster. The city also has a large theater district in the West End, with more than 40 theaters. The British Museum, the Tate Museum and the National Gallery were the top three attractions in 2010. Even the transit system is iconic: the London Underground is the oldest underground railway in the world.

Top Cities 2013 - London

The 10 Cheapest Cities to Touchdown in Europe

A trip across the Atlantic Ocean over to the Old World of Europe may only be a fantasy for a number of North Americans. With airfare, accommodations, food, spending money and all the other little things that add up it can be an exceedingly costly trip. Though many people may dismiss the thought of a European getaway as just a fantasy that isn’t fiscally obtainable, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. One may be surprised to learn that certain cities are much more affordable to visit than others and the reasons for this can range from lower airport taxes to economic struggles. Below is a look at 10 of the best places in Europe to visit by cost:

10. Athens, Greece

Athens International Airport is the obvious international hub of Greece, though that may not be the best plan of arrival for potential visitors. In bound flights to Greece are rarely cheap, and it usually makes more sense for travelers to land elsewhere in Europe and make a short land trip into the country instead. Due to recent economic struggles in the country, hotel prices have dropped quite a bit in the past few years.

Tourism is a major industry and a key part of the Greek economy. Greece ranks as the 10th most visited country in Europe, and saw over 15-million visitors in 2012. Major attractions in Athens include: the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the Agora and the National Archaeological Museum. For travelers on a budget, Greece is an ideal candidate to visit on a trip through a number of countries as prices for hotels and other amenities have dropped from the aforementioned economic struggles.

Athens, Greece

9. Milan, Italy

The choice between Milan and Rome is a difficult one, but Milan comes out slightly cheaper in comparison for tourists. Milan is one of the most important tourist destinations in all of Europe, and will never truly be a bargain destination for visitors. The addition of Emirates flights to Milan, however, means that there are more reasonably priced flights to a destination considered to be truly first class among travelers.

The city is home to two professional soccer clubs that share the famous San Siro stadium, considered a Mecca of sorts to traveling fans that are as vocal as they are loyal and exist all across the globe. Milan is also home to Pinacoteca di Brera, Piazza del Duomo, and the Milan Cathedral. Italy ranks as the 3rd most popular European destination behind only France and Spain, and Milan provides an opportunity to experience a cultured city for a relatively reasonable price.

Milan, Italy

8. Prague, Czech Republic

A country known to savvy travelers as a little-known gem, the Vaclav Havel Airport in Prague is where visitors land. The country has started to gain notoriety for being a great place to visit, and has experienced a major boom to its tourism industry. The secret is starting to get out, however, as prices have started to rise in the past few years as more and more people become aware of the beauty of the Czech Republic.

Younger travelers may be interested in the nightlife offered in Prague, as it is known for being low cost, and home to a large number of bars and clubs that are in close proximity and open late. There are a number of castles, breweries, and quaint towns to visit throughout the Czech Republic, but potential visitors should act quickly as prices are expected to continue to rise in this historic and unique Eastern European nation.

Prague, Czech Republic

7. Madrid/Barcelona, Spain

Though the two cities provide a vastly different experience, both cost travelers an almost identical price. Madrid is home to Barajas Airport, while Barcelona has El Prat Airport. For those with an interest in the “beautiful game” both Madrid and Barcelona provide an opportunity to catch some of the best soccer players in the world plying their craft in the confines of the magnificent stadiums.

The Spanish economy has become fairly reliant on tourism as an industry, which has seen a decline due to economic issues. Luckily for potential tourists, this means costs will be less for a very popular destination. Each city provides a unique experience, with the high-tempo Madrid contrasting perfectly to the quieter Barcelona. Take advantage while the opportunity is there, as Spain is still the 2nd most popular destination in Europe. If possible (and if desirable), visit Ibiza for a crazy night or two, as it is recognized as the party capital of the world.

Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com
Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com

6. Budapest, Hungary

Much like Prague in the Czech Republic, Budapest in Hungary is another less-obvious tourist haven that has started to become more recognized. The cheapest tickets for a flight into Budapest’s Ferenc Liszt International Airport usually involve a stopover in Moscow or Helsinki, though a stop in Zurich is not much more in terms of cost and saves a great deal of time. Similarly, like Prague, prices for Budapest have begun to climb in 2014.

Popular attractions in Budapest include Buda Castle, which includes: the Hungarian National Gallery, the Matthias Church, the Parliament Building and the City Park. Thermal baths are another popular tourist destination, and the Danube River passes through the city providing for great scenery. While Budapest may not be top of mind in terms of European cities to travel to, take some time to learn about its great history before crossing it off a list of places to visit.

Budapest, Hungary

5. Lisbon, Portugal

The westernmost large city and capital in Europe, Lisbon has been on the rise as a popular and affordable tourist destination. Tourism has started to become an increasingly important industry in Portugal, with Lisbon becoming one of the most visited cities in all of Europe. Flights to Lisbon Portela Airport, the international airport in Lisbon are reasonably priced, and the city is known to be much less expensive than other premier destinations in Europe.

Some of the more popular destinations in Lisbon are the Sao Jorge Castle, Belem Tower, Lisbon Oceanarium and the Church of Santa Engracia. Potential visitors should aim to get to Portugal before the tourism industry truly takes off in the country, while flights and local prices are still more accessible for travelers. Take in some soccer before leaving, and maybe get a chance to witness world-famous Cristiano Ronaldo as he continues his quest to break long-held records.

Lisbon, Portugal

4. Paris, France

The dream vacation for a number of North Americans is a trip to the world-class city of Paris. The popularity of the city has led to Charles de Gaulle Airport being one of the busiest hubs in Europe. Because of this, travelers can find surprisingly competitive prices for a flight to Paris. As of 2014, costs have even slightly improved for tourists as well.

Paris is home to a number of France’s most famous attractions, starting of course with the Eiffel Tower. The Arc de Triomphe is another famous monument built to honor those who fought and died for France during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. The world-renowned Louvre Museum is also in Paris, home to the Mona Lisa and many other iconic pieces of art. The diversity of sights in Paris also features the iconic Notre Dame cathedral, a gothic-style church that is as gigantic as it is awe-inspiring.

Top Cities 2013 - Paris

3. Istanbul, Turkey

Despite the significantly further distance to travel to Istanbul in comparison to the rest of Europe, Istanbul can offer some reasonable prices for airfare. Turkey ranks as the 4th most popular destination in Europe, and 10th most popular in the world. With tourism in mind, the government in Turkey has undertaken the development of what will be the world’s largest airport in Istanbul, with the first (of a four part plan) being completed in 2017.

Due to the historical significance of Istanbul, the city is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world. Some of the major tourist sights in the city include the Haiga Sofia, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Topkapi, Basillca Cistern and Galata Tower. Istanbul is also home to Cevahir Mall, the biggest shopping mall in all of Europe (and 7th largest in the world). The city is also home to a number of museums, sports teams and cultural events.

Istanbul, Turkey

2. Dublin, Ireland

Ireland is a remarkably cheap country to visit in comparison to the rest of Europe. Though Dublin is the capital of the country, the airfares for flights landing at Dublin Airport are less than that of Shannon Airport, Ireland’s other international hub. Tourism provides a significant amount of income for Ireland’s economy with more than 6-million people visiting the country in 2012.

Destinations in Dublin include St Patrick’s Cathedral, the National Museum of Ireland, Trinity College, Christ Church Cathedral and of course the Guinness Storehouse. While at the Guinness Brewery, taste brews that are only available in Ireland, and take a break in their famous lounge. In 2010, the United Nations even awarded Dublin the title of UNESCO City of Literature due to the number of famous writers who are from the city. Travelers should also be pleased to know that Ireland also has no departure tax or comparable fees for air travel.

Bridge Dublin Ireland

1. Moscow, Russia

Even though the distance to Russia is quite far, travelers shouldn’t be intimidated by the fear of an expensive trip. Russia’s national airline, Aeroflot, is one of the cheapest tickets in Europe, and many cheap flights to other countries stop over in Moscow. Russia has seen a rise in tourism likely as a result of the previous Winter Olympics, but the current economic landscape in Russia benefits potential tourists right now.

There are a number of world-famous tourist destinations in Moscow, most notably the Kremlin and Red Square, the political heart of Russia. The city also features the impressive architecture of Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the Winter Palace and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The city is also home to the iconic Mausoleum of Lenin. It is important to note the cultural differences between Russia and the west, so it is best to read up on recent political and legislative changes that unfortunately may deter some travelers from wanting to travel here.

Moscow Russia Red Square

Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Cities to Visit in 2015

The ever popular publisher of travel guides has come out with their ‘Best of Travel 2015’ guide which lists the best of the best for the next year of travel in all sorts of categories from best budget travel to best family travel experiences. If you’ve been planning ahead for next year’s vacations here is the list of the best cities to visit in 2015 to get your imagination running wild. All cities were reportedly chosen for their “topicality, unique experiences and ‘wow’ factor”.

10. Toronto, Canada

The only Canadian city making this list, Toronto is the shining star of the province of Ontario. It’s a vibrant city and its people aren’t shy about telling you why. The city offers something for everyone with an amazing arts, culture and culinary scene, major sports teams, music, festivals and even history. One of the best things about this city is discovering its many hidden gems.

Toronto

9. Chennai, India

Chennai, the ‘Gateway to South India’ is often overlooked by tourists for the more obvious major cities like Delhi and Mumbai but Chennai has come up on more than one ‘must visit’ list. Arts and culture play a significant role in the city and it’s actually home to the oldest museum and art gallery in the country. With beaches, temples and history galore, Chennai is the perfect place to experience Indian culture at its finest.

Kapaleeshwar Tample, Chennai India

8. Vienna, Austria

Often praised for its beautiful architecture and intriguing culinary scene, Vienna enters this list in 8th place with some exciting events happening in the coming year. The incredibly popular Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Vienna in 2015 and is also celebrating its 60th anniversary, while Vienna’s iconic Ringstraße boulevard also celebrates a milestone 150th anniversary. With so many milestones, 2015 is going to be an exciting time for this European hotspot.

Vienna, Austria

7. Salisbury, U.K.

Somewhat surprisingly, Salisbury is the only city in the U.K. to appear on this list, but we’re not surprised this city got the nod. It’s a place that’s been described as ‘quintessentially English’ and 2015 will be a big celebration with the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, house in the iconic Salisbury Cathedral which is a must see in itself. If you’re planning a euro-trip this coming year, make sure Salisbury is more than just a short stop on your way to Stonehenge.

Salisbury Cathedral, England

6. Plovdiv, Bulgaria

One of Europe’s hidden gems, Plovdiv is a modern city with old world charm. From the remarkable ruins of the Roman theatre to countless museums and galleries, this city covers history and the arts extensively. It’s also said to have a nightlife scene that rivals the capital city of Sofia. Plovdiv is also set to be the European Capital of Culture for 2019 so over the next few years we’re sure to see this city’s popularity skyrocket.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

5. Valletta, Malta

2015 marks the 450th anniversary of the Great Siege of Malta so celebrations of this ancient city’s history will be at the forefront over the coming year. Of course the city is still a sight to behold regardless of these celebrations with its artfully restored 17th century buildings including an open-air theatre. Every vista in this tiny capital is worthy of a postcard making it a respectable addition to your own must visit list.

Valletta, Malta

4. Zermatt, Switzerland

There’s one mountain synonymous with Zermatt and the Swiss Alps overall and that is Matterhorn. In 2015, this famous peak celebrates 150 years since the first ascent. This southern Swiss city draws countless hikers, mountaineers and skiers from across the globe but even if you’re not the outdoorsy type Zermatt’s beautiful views of the Alps are more than worth the trip on their own.

Zermatt, Switzerland

3. Milan, Italy

This Italian city is most recognized for lavish extravagance, wealth and high end Italian fashion, but in 2015 that all takes a back seat as the city holds Expo 2015. The next world’s fair will be taking over Milan with a theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” which is sure to focus on food of all varieties. The world’s fair has been credited with introducing such items as hamburgers, ice cream cones and cotton candy to the world so make the trip to Milan find out what we’ll be eating in 50 years!

Milan, Italy

2. El Chaltén, Argentina

Argentina’s newest city celebrates its 30th birthday in 2015. El Chaltén has quickly become the trekking capital of the country as it sits surrounded by the ice and snow covered Monte Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. While still more of a town (or even a village) than a city, as more and more tourists add Argentina to their South American travels, we know this destination is bound to take off.

El Chaltén, Argentina

1. Washington, D.C., USA

The only American city to make this list comes in at first place and while we’re sure the controversial debates are on-going, we think Lonely Planet was on the money with this pick. Chosen for its many recognized museums and monuments, including the famous Smithsonian, this American city is quite possibly one of the most historically significant in the country. It’s a city that’s been on the rise for years and now boasts amazing nightlife, including a vibrant LGBTQ scene and incredible culinary offerings. To top it off, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln so history will be at the forefront over the coming year.

Washington DC

Top 15 Global Destination Cities For 2013

Travelers looking to travel oftentimes look beyond their own country’s borders when planning their trips. According to the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index for 2013, there are 15 cities that stand out for travelers. Seven cities on the list are located in Asia, six are European cities, and one is North American. Istanbul, Turkey, the No. 6 city on the list, strides the Europe-Asia border.

15. Amsterdam, Netherlands 

Amsterdam is the capital of and the largest city in the Netherlands. It is known to cater to all tastes as those who want to relax in an old European city are just as fulfilled as those who want to embark on a night of serious partying.

Top Cities 2013 - Amsterdam

14. Shanghai, China

Shanghai is the largest city in the world at 18 million people. Its status as a tourist destination has taken off the past 20 years. Visitors will be able to get around easily on its subway system, the longest in the world at 260 miles.

Top Cities 2013 - Shanghai

13. Rome, Italy

Rome is one of the most historic cities of the world as it was the center of the Roman Empire. Travelers enjoy coming to the City of Seven Hills to visit the Vatican City, the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum.

Top Cities 2013 - Rome

12. Milan, Italy 

Milan, Italy’s second-largest city, is located in the north of the country. It is a destination for those looking to enjoy some football, shopping, the performing arts and nightlife. Fashion aficionados will especially enjoy visiting Milan.

Top Cities 2013 - Milan

11. Seoul, South Korea

Seoul is one of East Asia’s cultural highlights. The city’s Five Grand Palaces are impressive. Hikers enjoy trips to the mountains around Seoul. Fans of the hit song, “Gangnam Style,” can visit the Gangnam District.

Top Cities 2013 - Seoul

10. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is the center of Catalonia, a nationality in Spain’s northeast corner. The city still feels the effects of having hosted the 1992 Summer Olympics, including an influx in tourism. The Picasso Museum is a strong attraction for art enthusiasts.

Top Cities 2013 - Barcelona

9. Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong is a city of dualities with its history as a British colony and its current status as a Special Administration Region of China. It is highly dense as 7 million people live within its 426 square miles. Victoria Peak is a pleasant scenic escape, however.

Top Cities 2013 - Hong Kong

8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 

Malaysia’s capital city offers travelers some of the best bang for their buck of any city on this list. The city has 66 shopping malls, allowing visitors plenty of options to buy items to bring home. The night life is quite vibrant here as well.

Top Cities 2013 - Kuala Lumpur

7. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai is one of the seven emirates that comprise the United Arab Emirates. It is conveniently located just five hours flying time from much of Europe. It is known as one of the most liberal cities in the Middle East.

Top Cities 2013 - Dubai

6. Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is a city of two continents as the city’s bridges connect the European and Asian sections of the city. It is one of just four transcontinental cities in the world. The historic and religious sights of the city are numerous and impressive.

Top Cities 2013 - Istanbul

5. New York, United States

New York is the largest city in the United States, and it is a multi-cultural melting pot. Some of its sights include the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. The offerings in the Theatre District are world class.

Top Cities 2013 - New York

4. Singapore

Singapore is an island city-state located just south of Malaysia. Visitors enjoy a multi-cultural atmosphere as influences exist from China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. It is the second most densely populated country in the world behind Monaco.

Top Cities 2013 - Singapore

3. Paris, France

The sights of Paris are known throughout the world. The most iconic one has to be the Eiffel Tower. The City of Light is also home to the Arc de Triomphe and the Notre Dame cathedral. The Louvre is one of the world’s most renowned museums.

Top Cities 2013 - Paris

2. London, England

London is the capital of England and of the United Kingdom, and its core dates to medieval times. Its sights include Hyde Park, the British Museum and Buckingham Palace. Some of the world’s best soccer is played within its city limits.

Top Cities 2013 - London

1. Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok is a destination for travelers from throughout the world. Some of the most popular attractions in this cosmopolitan city include the Grand Palace and the Bangkok National Museum. Muay Thai is the popular local sport.

Top Cities 2013 - Bangkok

10 of the World’s Oldest Active Sports Stadiums

Sporting events over the last century have been an integral part of the human experience. They have inspired millions of athletes and fans all over the world. As a result, some of the most fantastic architectural creativity has gone into the construction of sporting arenas. These stadiums are a tribute to the memory of the players and fans alike, harboring the ghosts of spectacular victories and devastating defeats. They are dedicated to the unrelenting pursuit of pride and greatness.

1. Melbourne Cricket Ground (Melbourne, Australia)

The oldest continuously operating sports arena in the world is also one of the largest, with a capacity of over 100,000. Built in 1854, it has grown into an enormous spectacle, hosting events for one of the fasting growing sports in the world. It also boasts the world record for the highest light towers in a sports arena.

Melbourne Cricket Ground
Neale Cousland / Shutterstock.com

2. Churchill Downs (Louisville, Kentucky)

The grandfather of American horse racing venues, Churchill Downs is a truly historic landmark. It has been in operation since 1875, and has played host to hundreds of breathtaking high stakes finishes in the crown jewel event of the Triple Crown.

Churchill Downs
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com

3. Anfield (Liverpool, England)

Home to the world famous Liverpool Football Club, Anfield is one of the world’s sports meccas. Constructed in a stalwart square shape in 1884, the stadium has undergone several modern upgrades, but has stayed true to its original form.

Anfield Liverpool
mrmichaelangelo / Shutterstock.com

4. Old Trafford (Manchester, England)

The name says it all. The home ground of Manchester United, Old Trafford is one of the oldest and most fabled sports arenas in the world. Many famous players and key events in English and world football have graced its pitch. Built in 1910, it has become one of the most advanced and appealing stadiums in the world.

Old Trafford Stadium
Debu55y / Shutterstock.com

5. Fenway Park (Boston, Massachusetts)

Constructed in 1912, Fenway Park is the oldest major league baseball stadium in America. Fenway is famous not only for the Boston Red Sox, but also for its unique architectural features. Its left field wall, known as the Green Monster, is the product of limited building space and strange angular dimensions.

Fenway Park
JASON TENCH / Shutterstock.com

6. Wrigley Field (Chicago, Illinois)

Wrigley Field ranks just behind Fenway Park as the second oldest MLB ballpark, built in 1914. Its field is a vast green expanse shadowed by remarkable views of the Chicago skyline.

Wrigley Field
Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock.com

7. Wimbledon (London, England)

Known as the cathedral of professional tennis, Wimbledon was erected in 1922 at the site of the All England Racquet Club. It only plays host to public events for two weeks out of the year, during the Wimbledon grand slam tournament. Its new center court is a marvel to behold, featuring comfortable 360 degree seating under a retractable roof.

Tennis

8. San Siro (Milan, Italy)

The San Siro, named after its neighborhood in the city of Milan, Italy, is the home of two world famous football clubs, AC Milan and Inter Milan. Built in 1925, it underwent a major renovation in 1990 when Italy hosted the World Cup. Its brilliant and unique features draw thousands of visitors every year, including sports fans and architecture buffs.

San Siro
Bokic Bojan / Shutterstock.com

9. Bryant-Denny Stadium (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)

Home to the University of Alabama’s legendary football team, Bryant-Denny was built in 1929, and has hosted over 200 home wins for the resident Crimson Tide. It is the home of the most national championships in NCAA football, and the legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Bryant Denny Stadium

10. Notre Dame Stadium (South Bend, Indiana)

One of the most historic sites in college football, Notre Dame Stadium, built in 1930, is one of the most recognizable stadiums in the world. Its field, surrounded by its huge bowl-shaped coliseum, has hosted countless legends in college football.

Notre Dame Stadium

The 10 Worst Traffic Cities in the World

You probably think your daily commute is bad. Heck, you probably hit the horn and yelled obscenities at fellow commuters this morning, however, consider yourself lucky that you don’t have to battle traffic in the world’s worst traffic-congested cities.

Here are the top 10 worst traffic cities in the world…in a totally chaotic order, of course:

1. Milan, Italy

Consider yourself lucky that you don’t have to contend with more than just cars, trucks, and the occasional motorcycle on the highways. Commuters in Milan have to watch out for cars, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, a multitude of cyclists…and sheep, which and prone to blocking roads in stubborn herds.

2. Detroit, Michigan, USA

It’s not called the “Motor City” for nothing—Detroit is the heart and soul of America’s auto industry, and commuters feel the result of this, spending a good majority of time stuck in traffic jams and inhaling exhaust fumes.

3. London, England

Bonny Londoners might not be so ever tempered when stuck in traffic. And, who can blame them? The city ranked fifth for the nastiest traffic jams in the entire world!

4. Brussels, Belgium

You may feel slightly bunged up after eating the vegetable of the same name, so it’s ironic that the city itself experiences some of the evilest traffic jams around the globe.

5. San Francisco, California, USA

There must be something in the water in San Francisco that causes motorists to suffer an annual average of approximately 50 extra hours wasted in traffic congestion.

6. Paris, France

Oo la la…Paris might be the city of lights and sites, but it’s also the city renowned for traffic “c’est pas terrible!”

7. Dallas, Texas, USA

The southern USA is known for its gracious hospitality, but all bets are off when it comes to merging onto the I-20, I-30, or the I-45—the majorly packed metropolitan freeways in the state.

8. Antwerp, Belgium

Traffic jams in Antwerp are considered the most frustrating in the world, according to a US Inrix traffic survey—where the average commute is known to take 40-percent longer than normal.

9. Los Angeles, California, USA

Sure, the city of angels is known for its beautiful weather, but one doesn’t expect to spend most of their time stuck in traffic.

10. Rotterdam, Netherlands

This huge shopping and tourist metropolis in the Netherlands is known for traffic jams all day, at all times of the day.