5 Authentic European Food Stops

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.

5. Copenhagen

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.

4. Munich

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.

3. Barcelona

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.

2. Bordeaux

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.

1. Brussels

The 8 Best Airport Hotels in the World

For too long now airport hotels have been gouging travelers with the overpriced, small and amenity lacking rooms, but thankfully times are changing. Hotels located in the airports and close to the airports are listening to what guests want, such as soundproof windows, a variety of dining choices and more amenities. The best airport hotels in the world offer all of these things, plus more including free Wi-Fi, award-winning spas, luxury suites and day rooms that are perfect for those long layovers. From Canada to the United States to Germany and beyond, here are the eight best airport hotels around the world.

8. Aloft San Francisco Airport, San Francisco, CA, USA

Located just half a mile from the airport, this hotel makes it easy to reach with its free and frequent shuttle service that runs 24/7. Relatively new at just two years old this hotel is perfect for an overnight stay while connecting on an early flight. An open-air lobby invites guests to enjoy a billiards table and old-time board games.

The business center is also located in the lobby, which can make it a bit noisy if you are looking to grab a meeting there. An outdoor pool and backyard patio space features live music or a DJ spinning beats on the weekend. The bar is typically busy with other guests grabbing a much-needed drink or snack. As far as downsides go, we don’t really see any considering a stay here starts at just $169/night.

Via travelforsenses.com

7. Hilton Munich Airport, Munich, Germany

Located between terminals, travelers will quickly leave behind the hustle and bustle when they enter into the beautiful Hilton Hotel at Munich’s airport. Whether you want to book a room during the day to kill eight hours or spend the night here, there are enough amenities to keep any grumpy traveler happy. Enjoy the 24-hour fitness center that boasts an abundance of state of the art machines, or head to the heated indoor swimming pool for some laps.

The signature restaurant on-site along with two bars gives travelers the perfect excuse to enjoy a nice meal and a glass of wine. The rooms are elegantly furnished with luxury bathrooms, there is ample meeting space and the hotel atrium will simply amaze you. Make sure you don’t leave this hotel without checking out the Fit & Fly Spa, the perfect way to relax before a long day of travels.

Via Travelocity

6. Regal Airport Hotel, Hong Kong

It doesn’t get much better than this, a nice hotel directly connected to the passenger terminal of the Hong Kong International Airport, by an enclosed air-conditioned link bridge at that. Travelers who are staying here can expect to visit the OM Spa, one of the only spa facilities in Hong Kong to provide couples massages, and if you are just too relaxed to move this spa actually allows guests to spend the night in the spa. A 24/7 workout center is also available for guests along with steam rooms, saunas and an indoor and outdoor swimming pool.

Rooms are spacious, stylish and provide the perfect resting place for weary travelers. Dining here is easy with an array of distinctive dining experience from Cantonese to Japanese to Western to International cuisine. This hotel receives constant awards for its hotel spa, class of excellence and best in class in terms of airport hotels.

Via travel.rakuten.co.jp

5. Crowne Plaza Hotel Changi Airport

This beautiful airport hotel opened in May 2008 and became the first international upscale hotel to operate with direct access to Singapore’s Changi Airport’s Terminal 3. The hotel was designed with style and high tech in mind and features open corridors, rainforest-style gardens and natural light throughout from the strategically based skylights.

Some of the favorite amenities for travelers here include a beautiful swimming pool that is designed around landscaped “mini-islands” and Jacuzzi tubs, providing natural hideaways to soak your tired body. Other travelers choose to head directly to the spa treatment center for some jet-lag reflexology. Delicious restaurants and bars, contemporary rooms with added bonuses and direct access to the airport make this hotel one of the best in the world.

Via IHG

4. Sofitel London Heathrow, London, UK

This airport hotel combines convenience and elegance and offers a break away from one of the busiest airports in the world.  The hotel is actually connected to Heathrow Terminal 5 via a walkway and to the other terminals via free inter-terminal transfers. Three restaurants and two elegant bars await weary travelers who are looking to grab either a quick bite to eat or sit down for a nice meal.

Every room includes in-room Wi-Fi, a mini fridge and a plush bed that offers a great sleep. Many travelers here take advantage of the award-winning Heathrow spa located in this hotel, offering over 25 innovative treatments. A 24-hour fitness center is also on-site, along with a sauna and Jacuzzi. Additional added touches include soundproof windows and an extensive champagne list that will have anyone wanting more than just one glass.

Via Accor Hotels

3. Langham Place, Beijing Capital Airport, Beijing, China

This convenient airport hotel offers elegant flourishes, modern design, and sparkling service; making travelers forget they are still at an airport hotel. Guests of this hotel should expect timeless luxury and tailored hospitality, with added bonuses throughout. Guestrooms include several lofts, townhouses, and an ultra-luxurious penthouse.

Oversized bathrooms, an abundance of gadgets and a bed you will never want to leave await you in the rooms. There are a total of five restaurants to choose from, whether you are seeking classic or international cuisine. A state of the art cardio studio, an art gallery within and spectacular meeting rooms make this more than just your run of the mill airport hotel.

Via red-luxury.com

2. Fairmont Vancouver Airport, Vancouver, Canada

This soundproofed, luxury hotel and spa are located directly within the Vancouver International Airport. Guests here are treated with floor-to-ceiling views, diverse dining choices, health club, spa, indoor pool and many other amenities. Dining here is a breeze and many choose the signature restaurant that offers views of the runway. Others head to Jetside Bar for live music offered five nights a week.

Rooms here are beautiful with state-of-the-art technology, views of mountains, ocean and the runway and this airport hotel offer day rooms for guests with long layovers. The Absolute Spa offers over 130 different treatments while the health center offers saunas, a whirlpool, children’s wading pool and workout area. With check-in for major airline carriers at the hotel lobby, it couldn’t be easier to choose this as your airport hotel of choice.

Via Booking.com’s

1. Hilton Frankfurt Airport, Frankfurt, Germany

If there were one word that could sum up this hotel it would be ‘fantastic’. From the fantastic service to the fantastic rooms to the fantastic gym to the fantastic food; it is easy to see why this hotel is one of the best airport hotels in the world. All rooms in this awesome hotel include king size beds, Wi-Fi access, soundproof windows and a large desk for any work that you may need to get caught up on.

The Hilton offers two choices of dining, both being open late into the evenings to cater to guests. A fitness room, steam bath, and sauna are on-site for any fitness buffs. Getting here is a breeze; simply use the pedestrian walkway from Terminal 1. With offerings of rooms, suites, and dayrooms this hotel caters to anyone who doesn’t’ want to spend hours upon hours in those uncomfortable airline seats.

Via cvent.com

8 Places to Visit in Europe Before You Have Kids

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.

Paris romance

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.

National museum Barcelona, Spain

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.

Jazzmany / Shutterstock.com
Jazzmany / Shutterstock.com

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.

Mykonos, Greece

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.

Cilento, Italy

3. Monaco

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.

Monaco grand casino

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.

Cannes, France

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.

Berlin Germany party night

Eerie Abandoned Olympic Venues Around the World

The Olympics are an exciting time. We watch the games and cheer on our country’s representative athletes as they go for gold and strive to be the best in the world. To be awarded the title of host city for either the summer or winter Olympics is a great honor which requires years and years of preparations. What we see on the television is often bright, sparkly new state-of-the-art facilities which house the various sporting events during the games. What we don’t often see are the very same facilities, years later, which have become run down, abandoned and in serious states of disrepair. This dark side of hosting the Olympic games often goes unmentioned but many cities still sport the scars of games past. Here are some of the abandoned Olympic structures which are still standing around the world today:

1. Sarajevo, Yugoslavia -1984 Winter Olympics

In 1984, the city of Sarajevo in Yugoslavia (now Bosnia and Herzegovina) hosted the Winter Olympic Games. Many relics still stand around the country today, like this Olympic medal podium.

Fotokon / Shutterstock.com
Fotokon / Shutterstock.com

2. Sarajevo, Yugoslavia -1984 Winter Olympics

This concrete track in Sarajevo was used as the bobsled track for the 1984 Olympic games. It still remains today but these days it is covered in graffiti and overgrown with weeds.

Sarajevo Winter Olympics

3. Sarajevo, Yugoslavia -1984 Winter Olympics

This abandoned ski jump was the setting for many of the ski events during the 1984 Winter Olympics. Though the jumps are still intact today, they haven’t been used in decades.

Fotokon / Shutterstock.com
Fotokon / Shutterstock.com

4. Beijing, China -2008 Summer Olympics

Beijing, China was the site of the 2008 summer Olympic Games. The most notorious structure, the “birds nest” or Beijing National Stadium was to be used for sporting events after the games wrapped up but now sits unused, except for tourist tours.

Zhao jian kang / Shutterstock.com
Zhao jian kang / Shutterstock.com

5. Beijing, China -2008 Summer Olympics

During the 2008 summer games, this stadium was the site for the men’s and women’s volleyball championships. Today the stadium sits boarded up in a sad state of disrepair.

Photo by: Citylab
Photo by: Citylab

6. Beijing, China -2008 Summer Olympics

This concrete park in Beijing was the site of the Olympic kayak aquatic center. Today the site is abandoned but the words”One World, One Dream” still encircle the track.

Photo by: ABC News
Photo by: ABC News

7. Athens, Greece -2004 Summer Olympics

Athens, Greece played host to the 2004 summer Olympic games and the government spent a reported $15 billion in preparation for the games. In the end, the government went over budget, and today most of the expensive structures are no longer in use.

Mike Liu / Shutterstock.com
Mike Liu / Shutterstock.com

8. Athens, Greece -2004 Summer Olympics

The aquatics center in Athens, Greece was the site of many Olympic swimming and diving events during the 2004 summer games. Today the facility sits abandoned and run down.

Photo by: Fast Co Design
Photo by: Fast Co Design

9. Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy -1956 Winter Olympics

This dilapidated ski jump in Cortina d’Ampezzo is one of a few relics still standing from when the Italian city hosted the 1956 Olympic winter games.

Yuri Turkov / Shutterstock.com
Yuri Turkov / Shutterstock.com

10. Munich, Germany -1972 Summer Olympics

The city of Munich in Germany hosted the 1972 summer Olympic games. These games were overshadowed by the tragic Munich massacre in which 11 athletes and a German police officer were killed by a terrorist group. Today the abandoned Munich Olympic Train Station stands as a somber reminder of the 72′ Olympic games.

Munich Olympic Train Station

11. Berlin, Germany -1936 Summer Olympics

The 1936 summer Olympics were held in Berlin, Germany during Adolf Hitler’s reign of terror.  Also called the “Nazi Olympics” this was where Hitler used the games as an opportunity to promote his ideals of racial supremacy. Despite the games occurring 80 years ago, many old abandoned structures from the games can still be found around Berlin.

Photo by: i09
Photo by: i09

12. Helsinki, Finland -1952 Olympic Summer Games

The 1952 summer Olympic games took place in the city of Helsinki, Finland. Like many other host cities, Helsinki built several athletic facilities specifically for the games, which can still be seen today, although somewhat understandably, they aren’t looking so pretty these days.

Photo by: Confidentielles
Photo by: Confidentielles

5 European Fall Festivals to Beat the Winter Blues

Summer is over, thus the days are shorter, the air is colder, and the hats and gloves are out…but, just because the snow is coming does not mean we should go into hibernation! With all the rocking fall festivals in the lineup across the pond, now is the perfect time to head to Europe (and make your summer vacation last just a little bit longer)!

5. Oktoberfest, Germany

Beer lovers and partiers rejoice! Munich is the stomping grounds for Oktoberfest, an all-you-can-drink beer festival from September 19th to October 4th, 2015.  While Oktoberfest is held all over Germany, Munich is where all the real action is. This event is worth planning a trip to Europe, and although the festival has already passed, it books up quick, so get ahead of the game and start planning! This festival is all about pounding back a pint (or several) with the locals, who are up at the crack of dawn drinking, celebrating, and loving life. What better time to join in on the fun! Das Boot anyone?

Intrepix / Shutterstock.com
Intrepix / Shutterstock.com

4. Festes de la Mercè, Spain

Year round is a giant street party in Barcelona, so for there to be a festival at the end of September claiming to be the city’s greatest party, you know it has to be epic. From the 18th to the 24th of September, the festival is the official send-off of summer, and the city bids adieu with a bang. The streets literally come alive with fire during the Correfoc (there is a slightly less intense fire run for kids earlier in the day, while the event for adults waits until dusk), and many parades and street vendors invade the city with music, dance, great food and delicious drink. You’ll see street performers, human pyramids, projection shows, and all the fun you can possibly imagine. It is not just for the tourists, the locals anticipate this event all summer. But come to Barcelona for this festival and you can’t help but be thankful that summer has gone. It’s an unforgettable festival sure to keep you energized for the coming winter.

Photo by: La Merce Barcelona
Photo by: La Merce Barcelona

3. Iceland Airwaves, Iceland

From November 4th to 8th this year, nearly 9,000 people will take over the island of Iceland. Downtown Reykjavik is overrun with eager festival goers and partiers looking to take in the latest and greatest musical acts. The setting couldn’t be more perfect for this festival. The music seems to seep into your soul and extend into the vast wilderness surrounding the capital. People who attend are eager to party, Reykjavik is a small town, so if you are looking for peace and quiet, maybe avoid Iceland during this time. But, if you are looking for great music, fun locals, new friends, and memories you won’t forget, head to Iceland!

Photo by: Iceland Airwaves
Photo by: Iceland Airwaves

2. Wine Festival, Moldova

In one of the most underrated countries in Europe is one of the most underrated festivals of the year. The Moldova Wine Festival, held every year during the first weekend of October. The Moldovan’s are proud of their wine, as they should be. Moldovan’s wine is rich, delicious, and, consumed in large quantities over the weekend of this festival. Their wine is celebrated all over the country, but the main events are held in the capital, Chisinau. Sponsors set up booths all over the main square for taste testing, while locals provide tons of entertainment like dancing and music.  The locals welcome travellers to their festival, and are eager to have a great time. Moldova is the perfect place to extend your summer vacation!

Photo by: Moldova Wine Day
Photo by: Moldova Wine Day

1. Lollapalooza, Berlin

Two straight days of non-stop, heart pounding music, friends, and awesome vibes in one of the most eclectic cities in the world is what you sign up for when you head to Lollapalooza. Some of the world’s best and most well-known artists from a plethora of genres take over Berlin and lead you in a massive, city wide, 48 hour party. And being the first European edition of the festival, you can be sure that the city will be pulling out all of the stops. Being an international city, expect amazing food and drink, unbelievable music, and an art and social environment unlike any other. Berlin is the place to be in September, so pack your most colorful clothes, party shoes and get ready to tear up the streets for Lollapalooza!

Photo by: Lollapalooza Berlin
Photo by: Lollapalooza Berlin

10 Best Tents to Visit at Oktoberfest in Munich

Oktoberfest, on many a traveler’s bucket list, celebrates its 205th anniversary in 2015. The festival attracts tourists from all over the world, who, along with the locals, drink up nearly eight million liters of beer throughout the 16 day party. The atmosphere definitely encourages bonding with new friends (even if you don’t speak the same language), but sometimes the sheer size and scope of attending Oktoberfest can be overwhelming. It would be an understatement to say that Oktoberfest is a busy event, so reservations are encouraged and visitors lacking them are advised to arrive early. But which of the 14 big tents and 21 small tents should you choose? That’s where this list of the top tents at the Wiesn (that’s what the locals call it) comes in handy.

10. Café Kaiserschmarrn

Smart Oktoberfest attendees reserve seats in the big tents in advance, meaning they don’t need to queue up to ensure they have a seat when the doors open. That allows time for a leisurely breakfast at Café Kaiserschmarrn, a fairy-tale gingerbread house serving up croissants, pretzels and other baked goods. Be sure to grab a coffee to provide fuel for the rest of the day. This is one of the smaller tents, seating just 370 people at once, so it’s also a place to keep in mind as an escape from the sometimes overwhelming crowds later in the day. Take this time to try one of the delicious cakes or pies, there’s also champagne and cocktails available. Café Kaiserschmarrn can also be a good palate cleanser after a few liters of lager.

Photo by: Usien via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Usien via Wikimedia Commons

9. Festhalle Schottenhamel

The younger travelers to Oktoberfest will likely want to make this tent their home base, as it’s the most popular with those in their early twenties, but all attendees no matter what age bracket, should do their best to be in this tent on the day Oktoberfest begins. Here’s where the mayor of Munich opens the festival at exactly noon sharp, yelling “O’zapft is!” (it is tapped). The ceremonial keg is tapped as 12 cannons are fired, and thus it’s time for the drinking to begin. Schottenhamel serves beer from Spaten, one of the first breweries to produce the Helles lager, the type nearly all tents serve today. The oldest tent at the Wiesn, Schottenhamel is smaller only than the Hofsbräu, but its 10,000 guests are never going to feel lonely, particularly with this tent’s reputation for fun.

Photo by: Abhijeet Rane via Flickr
Photo by: Abhijeet Rane via Flickr

8. Zur Bratwurst

Near Schottenhamel is the distinctive Zur Bratwurst “tent,” which looks more like a traditional Bavarian chateau that’s been displaced from the nearby Alps. When the enormous crowds at Schottenhamel get to be too much, or when it’s just time to find some food to soak up all that beer, be sure to head to Zur Bratwurst. As the name implies, this tent is known for its meat and in particular most famously the Rostbratwürstl, it is grilled over an open fire. There’s room for 170 inside, but try to find a seat on the patio which holds another 80, to watch the rest of the festival go by. It’s not necessary to let too much time go by without drinking, though: Zur Bratwurst serves Augustiner, so guests can wash down all those delicious roasted meats.

Photo by: Panoramio
Photo by: Panoramio

7. Pschorr Festhalle Bräurosl

Lederhosen and dirndls will be visible as far as the eye can see and in every tent guests are likely to encounter a fair bit of oompah-pah music. But it’s at the Bräurosl tent where traditional Bavarian music is emphasized, and it even has an authentic yodeler who gives two 15 minute performances each day. This tent pours Hacker-Pschorr beer, a brewery descended from one of the original Oktoberfest beer masters. In fact, the same family has maintained this tent at Oktoberfest for over 100 years. But before assuming “traditional” equates with “conservative,” we should point out that the Pschorr-Bräurosl tent launched what’s become known as “Gay Sunday,” celebrating the LGBT community on the first Sunday of Oktoberfest.

Photo by: Oktoberfissa
Photo by: Oktoberfissa

6. Kufflers Weinzelt

German speakers will know this is as the tent that pours wine (wein) and champagne (sekt). Surely it’s not to everyone’s taste, which is probably why it’s one of the smaller of the large tents, with ‘just’ 2,000 seats. But for those hankering after something other than the malty sweetness of a liter of Helles lager, the Weinzelt offers a wonderful respite. Guests can choose from 25 different types of wine and champagne, or even choose to stick with beer. Even that’s a bit different at this tent, which offers Paulaner Weissbier by the half liter. Those tempted to indulge in wine or champagne should be warned, while beer at most tents runs about 10-12 euros per liter, a glass of wine could cost about 11 euros and a bottle of champagne might be 150 euros.

Photo by: Kufflers Weinzelt
Photo by: Kufflers Weinzelt

5. Löwenbräu Festzelt

Those needing to arrange a place to meet their friends at the Weisn could do far worse than the Löwenbräu tent. The white tent with the blue banners may not be distinctive in and of itself, but the lion perched 120 feet above the ground sure is noticeable. As though the lion’s impressive stature isn’t enough, he also lets out a roar every few minutes, beckoning guests in for a liter of Löwenbräu. The brewery, founded in 1383, celebrates its Bavarian heritage by decking out its tent in blue and white, the colors of the state’s flag. Here you’re likely to find soccer supporters, not fans of Munich’s flashy and successful Bayern, but rather second-division side TSV 1860 Munich, whose nickname is “The Lions.” Make reservations for this one or get here as early as possible. It’s one of the biggest tents, holding 8,500 – but only 2,600 of those are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Photo by: Abhijeet Rane via Flickr
Photo by: Abhijeet Rane via Flickr

4. Hacker Festzelt

This is the tent that’s most often pictured on postcards featuring happy festival goers filmed for coverage of Oktoberfests’ goings-on. That’s because the proprietors have given the inside plenty of pizzazz. Not only are the walls covered in murals, but the ceiling depicts a dreamy blue sky dotted with puffy clouds. It’s perfect for expressing the Hacker-Pschorr slogan: Himmel der Bayern or “heaven of Bavaria.” Here a traditional brass band takes center stage – literally, on a revolving stage in the middle of the tent – but in the evening makes way for a rock band. Hacker Festzelt is one of the favorite places to be on the Wiesn’s closing night, when the nearly 7,000 inside light up their sparklers reflecting off the sunny ceiling and the stars painted on the walls and sing in unison.

Photo by: Hacker-Festzelt
Photo by: Hacker-Festzelt

3. Ochsenbraterei

Smart Oktoberfest goers realize that it’ll take a bit more than a big pretzel to keep the next day’s hangover at bay. Those same smart people also know that the Wiesn features some pretty delicious foods. Follow these people to the Ochsenbraterei, a tent marked by a mechanical ox turning on a spit. Here, the Spaten beer seems almost secondary to the full meals available. And yes, with a modern split roasting around seven oxen per day throughout the festival, that is the meat featured heavily here. Be sure to stop by the split to check out the current ox’s name and weight. For those vegetarians in the crowd, or just those who didn’t want to know the name of their meal before it was served up alongside some potato salad, the Ochsenbraterei also features a few meatless dishes.

Photo by: Andreas Steinhoff via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Andreas Steinhoff via Wikimedia Commons

2. Hofbräu Festzelt

This tent is often the top destination for the tourists that flock to Oktoberfest. That comes as no surprise as Munich’s Hofbräuhaus is the biggest attraction when the festival isn’t going. For those looking for a crazy party atmosphere, there’s no better than this tent at the Wiesn. It’s the biggest tent, holding 10,000, but only 2,000 of those are available without a reservation, so it’s best to get there as early to opening time as possible. Unlike most of the other tents, the Hofbräu allows for around 1,000 standing guests, making it easier to get a beer and further contributing to the feeling of being at an enormous party. This is the place to be for those who want to wrap their arms around strangers, sway while singing John Denver’s immortal “Country Roads,” drink to a toast and come away with a whole host of new friends.

Photo by: Hofbrau-Festzelt
Photo by: Hofbrau-Festzelt

1. Augustiner Festhalle

The oldest brewery in Munich still serves up what just might be the city’s most delicious beer. While the other brewers at Oktoberfest pump their beer in from enormous tanks, Augustiner takes its legacy very seriously, since being founded in 1328 it’s possible to witness the crew rolling in their wooden kegs. That means this tent is a great place to connect with locals who appreciate the fine Helles lager that comes from this traditional method. Everyone here is friendly, including the waitresses charged with ferrying liters around the 6,000-seat tent. That doesn’t mean the Augustiner tent is boring, however; the tent is often raucous by midday, and it’s not out of the ordinary for travelers to bond with the locals, finding themselves pulled into the group and even standing on tables singing songs.

Photo by: Christopher Brown via Flickr
Photo by: Christopher Brown via Flickr

6 European City Escapes Perfect for a Weekend

There are countless European cities and towns to top a traveler’s list of continental adventures—many quintessential for a weekend getaway. So many fascinating details comprise the historical aspects of Europe’s greatest cities, showcased throughout museums, galleries, and impressive landmarks dotted across the continent. Add in some interesting gentrification, modern cultural amusements, and spice it up with a whole lot of contemporary fixings, and these six cities skip to the beat of their own drum. Whether you’re a budget traveler or a big spender, the following cities welcome almost any budget and propensity.

6. Rome, Italy

“Rome wasn’t built in a day” couldn’t be more sincere. The legendary city practically bleeds history through incredible, ancient buildings, beginning with the Forum. To the west is Capitoline Hill, to the east the renowned Colosseum, and the south is celebrated for the Baths of Caracalla and Palatine Hill. The backdrop along the beautiful River Tiber sets scenes for days of old and unbridled romance: you’ll find ancient Rome, Vatican City, endless cathedrals, and the Renaissance capital of Raphael and Michelangelo. Make time for the trendy shops, lively café culture, and fashionable restaurants—it’s all just one big, modern and delightful dichotomy. If you’re in Rome for history, forgo the car and relish instead in the pedestrian center where most famous ruins and buildings are clustered or hop the metro, ditching the dizzying traffic jams. Slip into Rome’s Mediterranean tempo while perusing the historical legacies and 21st century pleasures.

Rome, Italy

5. London, England

Incredible diversity, pulsing energy, centuries-old history, and innovatively impressive, London is England’s most progressive city. The Thames River carves through London like a snake, flanked by attractions both exciting and scenic. Head to central London to the most famous sites, including galleries, museums, and legendary landmarks but relax in the fact that, when the busy pace is overwhelming, there is a wide choice of green spaces to unwind, like pretty Hyde Park. Take pub culture by the horns—there’s no better place to pub hop—and sample some of the beautifully diverse, ethnic restaurants along with local English favourites. “Mind the Gap” as you venture onto the city’s renowned Tube, and enjoy affordable and convenient transportation. Take a twirl on the London Eye, crane your neck at Big Ben, and revel in the arts at Tate Modern—it would take years to soak this city up in its entirety.

Top Cities 2013 - London

4. Florence, Italy

Rolling hills, cypress trees, and olive groves come to mind when conjuring landscapes surrounding Florence in Italy’s Tuscany region. This is where you won’t just explore a piazza, you’ll experience it while settling in for an unforgettable meal or remarkable wine. Fans of art from the Renaissance shouldn’t miss this haven of period pieces, best seen at the Uffizi Gallery Museum. The Arno River passes through, setting the scene for a different mood from sunup to sundown while slender streets give way to historic palaces, towering cathedrals, and busy piazzas. As romantic as it all is, fashion is as fundamental in Florence as the arts are; both Roberto Cavalli and Gucci were born in the city, breaking bread with the well-dressed wealthy amid the wine-fueled cocktail parties in the hills. Fashion doesn’t rule the roost though; there’s plenty of history, great nightlife, and sights for non-Fashionistas to enjoy too.

Florence Cathedral

3. Munich, Germany

Crowds flock to Munich for Oktoberfest—the best destination for the Autumn celebration—and are equally enthralled with its beautiful, summertime setting, yet Munich can be enjoyed in any season. This Bavarian capital is party central, supremely conveyed when in the Old City (Altstadt), when every square is filled with people eating, drinking, and enjoying life. The beer gardens and local Hofbräuhaus are typically German, brimming with revelry. Sophistication and culture is as much a part of Munich as the merriment is, evident throughout a prominent arts community, gastronomic endeavors, and mercantile joys. Less gritty than Hamburg or Berlin, Munich’s central core is lively and enchanting, where the chime of church bells entrances and the streets are fitted for people over cars. Safe, clean, and somewhat rustic, visitors can walk or cycle the English Garden, shop, eat, and drink in the Gärtnerplatz, then cruise on over to the traditional farmer’s style Viktualienmarkt.

Marienplatz Munich

2. Barcelona, Spain

Catalonia’s capital city is drenched in history while featuring so many modern twists, it’s downright mind-boggling. Barcelona is one of the most thrilling cities in the world, hitting on just about every interest, from family fun to some pretty wild nightlife. The spread of attractions is incredible: Gothic architecture, vibrant markets, lovely beaches, and pumped up nightlife. Galleries and world class museums exhibit cultural highlights along with a full roster of music and theater performances. If you haven’t heard of Gaudi, look him up immediately. His jaw-dropping, magically styled buildings are literally unlike anything in the world. Every shopaholic gawks at what’s on offer throughout popular retail avenues of Passeig de Gracia and Placa de Catalunya while casual souvenir seekers love unusual shops along Las Ramblas, a colourful pedestrian avenue. From the Gothic district to the endless collection of famous Spanish tapas restaurants, there’s something here for everyone.

Park Guell Barcelona Spain

1. Prague, Czech Republic

The capital city of the Czech Republic, Prague, is one of the world’s most breathtaking cities. One sweeping look and Prague administers a scenic trance with its incredible skyline, soaring stone buildings, and cobblestone streets. The pull of the gardens and Renaissance palaces inside the Little Quarter (Mala Strana) seem extra magnetic for the riverside location and museums of modern art, along with fantastic bars and restaurants, colour this district with charisma—just south is pub-laden Smíchov. The 14th century Charles Bridge carves through; a spectacle and hotspot overlooking lazy and exquisite Vltava River, and the perfect spot to admire Prague Castle. Wandering aimlessly is how to really see Prague in its glory of mazy courtyards and cobblestone streets, always pulling you in for a little more. Walk through Old Town where unanticipated gardens, old school pubs, and pleasant cafes eat into hours, especially through neighborhoods like Bubeneč and Vinohrady.

Prague

The 15 Best Airports For a Layover

Passengers who fly a lot often or even just once in a while dread having a layover in a strange airport within a strange city. But flyers need not worry if they are flying through one of these remarkable airports. Some of these airports are futuristic, others are friendly and many of them offer extraordinary amenities and close access to visit cities. What they all offer is a unique and easy way to enjoy a short or long layover, with free showers, movie theaters and even a full 9-hole golf course. Discover the best of the best in airports around the world for layovers.

15. Keflavík International Airport, Iceland

This airport is modern, compact and recently went through a renovation that makes it easier to navigate and has added many shops and dining options that please passengers who are stuck here. Like most places in Iceland the airport offers free WiFi, a welcome amenity to those travelers from many of the US airports that charge. But perhaps the best part about having a layover here is the location. Located just half an hour from the famous Blue Lagoon, passengers on a layover here will have the chance to leave the airport and soak their troubles away in the warm, geothermal waters. Spread across the landscape of black lava mounds, visitors can soak in the 100-degree water for a few hours before returning back via shuttle, taxi or bus. This is one airport you will want to seek out for a long layover and take advantage of this awesome experience.

Photo by: Keflavik International Airport
Photo by: Keflavik International Airport

14. Helsinki International Airport, Finland

Despite this being a relatively small airport, the Helsinki airport offers up plenty of uncrowded space, amenities and a calming presence. It is one of the most relaxing airports on this list and travelers can experience the Finnish culture through the cinema area that features Finish films and large sculptures that adorn the terminal. For avid readers there is a book exchange that features a cozy nook where you can get lost for hours reading and swapping titles. A scenic terrace lets visitors watch the incoming and outgoing planes during the summer months. The best part about this airport may be the free relaxation area that features foldable beds, comfy chairs and plugs for all of your electronics. Plenty of shopping and authentic dining options, as well as the option to leave the airport and tour the city makes this airport an excellent layover destination.

Sorbis / Shutterstock.com
Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

13. Tokyo Haneda International Airport, Japan

There is lots to do if you are stuck in the Tokyo airport on a layover and being only 9 miles from the downtown area gives passengers plenty of options. Free WiFi, a barber, hair salon, oxygen bar, health clinic and duty free shops are all scattered throughout the terminals for passenger convenience. Sleeping here on a layover can also be quite pleasant. The seats and benches are comfortable, the lights are dimmed and there are no loud announcements over the speakers. The huge panoramic terrace on the roof offers amazing views of the planes landing and taking off. Lounges can be assessed for as little as $8 US and offer comfortable seats, electrical outlets, refreshments and showers. Many layover passengers enjoy these amenities without having to shell out big bucks.

cowardlion / Shutterstock.com
cowardlion / Shutterstock.com

12. Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia

This airport may not be the most modern on the list but the rain forest-like feel coupled with free WiFi, plenty of dining options and the friendliness of the Malaysian people makes it one of the best airports to have a layover. The upper level of the airport boasts four different areas where passengers can curl up and watch TV. In the middle of the terminal is a small tropical garden and on the 5th level is an area just for children, complete with activities and slides. If you are looking to leave the airport and experience the city you will need about a six to seven hour layover. The KLIA express train takes you right into the capitol in just thirty minutes. Whether you want to sit and enjoy the tropical feel of the airport with its free WiFi and showers or venture out into the city; this is a great airport to have a layover.

Sorbis / Shutterstock.com
Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

11. San Francisco International Airport, California, USA

It is the only airport located in the United States to make this list and travelers who spend a layover here will be pleasantly surprised by the amenities offered throughout. Standard amenities range from free WiFi, rapid charging stations, XpressSpas offering massages, facials, manicures/pedicures, etc and art exhibits spread throughout. The Aviation Museum and Library is open to the public and free admission makes this a great place to kill some time. For those with little ones, hanging out at the airport has never been easier with different kids play areas and a scavenger hunt with prizes. Free yoga rooms, relaxation rooms and hydration stations are offered throughout. Eating and drinking at the airport is truly a culinary experience with an emphasis on locally crafted food, beer and wine. If you do want to leave the airport during your layover, the city center is a quick 25 minute ride away on the train.

Kenishirotie / Shutterstock.com
Kenishirotie / Shutterstock.com

10. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan

For those passengers who face a layover at the Taiwan Taoyuan Airport, there is an abundance of free activities and entertaining things to do while you wait, beginning with free hot showers. Large couches and comfortable seating areas allow for passengers to relax and even catch a sleep while they wait for their next flight. Exploring the terminals is a great way to pass the time here as this airport offers 30 plus themed lounges ranging from Hello Kitty to a sports themed lounge. Cultural art galleries are scattered throughout as well as numerous kids’ areas that feature gaming stations. The free library offers books, tablets, computers and e-books, as well as mobile charging stations and comfortable seating. There are free massage chairs, numerous prayer rooms and cloud-based reading areas where comfortable chairs and computers are provided. One thing for sure, you won’t need a reason to leave this airport on your layover.

outcast85 / Shutterstock.com
outcast85 / Shutterstock.com

9. Vancouver International Airport, Vancouver, Canada

This International airport is home to First Nations art, 5,000 marine animals and a nature inspired creek that runs through it; amongst many more things. If you are going to have a layover in Canada, this would be the place to do it. One of the most impressive ways to spend time in this airport is to head to the international terminal where an 114,000 liter aquarium sits as a permanent exhibit. A jellyfish aquarium also sits up on the fourth floor. There is no shortage of comfortable seating at this airport, rows of chairs complete with headrests and footrests are at each gate as well as removable cushioned chairs with no armrests, letting passengers create mini sleeping areas. Mini TV watching stations are available, complete with three different channels, comfortable theater style chairs and a kid’s play area nearby. Although the city is just a short train trip away, you may find yourself wanting to stay here and explore this awesome airport.

 Lissandra Melo / Shutterstock.com
Lissandra Melo / Shutterstock.com

8. London Heathrow

It’s one of the busiest airports in the world and provides a ton of dining, shopping and entertainment venues to keep passengers occupied during a layover. It’s one of the only airports in the world that offers personal shoppers to the passengers to help pick out gifts, travel wardrobes, etc. Shoppers will delight in duty free stores and high end retail like Burberry. There’s also something for foodies who will delight in over 100 restaurants throughout the terminals. Passengers can wander through the cultural exhibition showcasing British sculptors, painters, and photographers. Sleeping isn’t great at this airport as it is busy, but there is so many nooks and crannies to discover throughout the huge terminals so patience in finding a place to snooze is a must. If you feel like leaving the airport, the city is only about 15 miles away and can easily be accessed through underground, train or taxi.

Milosz_M / Shutterstock.com
Milosz_M / Shutterstock.com

7. Dubai International Airport, Dubai

Like everything else in Dubai, this airport is over the top, extravagant and truly unforgettable. This is one airport where having a layover is actually an incredible experience. Shopaholics will go crazy for the world’s largest duty-free shop at 58,000 square feet and other high-end shops. Passengers can walk through open-air gardens complete with mist machines or choose to use the G-Force gym; open 24/7, with a pool and showers. The immaculate inside of the airport offers such things as shopping stands where you can purchase actual gold bars. If you are looking to sleep, the Dubai airport offers Snoozecubes; soundproof units with a bed, touch screen TV and music for a minimal price available by the hour. This airport is expanding at a rapid rate and expects to be able to handle 90 million passengers by 2018, which means even more amazing amenities coming here.

Sorbis / Shutterstock.com
Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

6. Munich International Airport, Germany

You won’t have any problems finding a beer in this airport, which is often the perfect way to pass some time during a layover. Everyone heads to Airbräu, a Bavarian-style tavern complete with its own beer garden, live music and on-site brewery, where beer enthusiasts can watch the brewmaster in action. Passengers will find free showers, a beautiful courtyard that connects the terminals and plenty of relaxation centers with reclining seats and electrical outlets. The visitor’s park is truly an amazing feature of this airport and offers free showings of aviation movies, mini-golf, a viewing platform and historical aircrafts. Passengers on a layover should head to terminal two which features ultra-modern touches such as nap pods complete with iPhone and USB ports. There is free coffee, tea and hot chocolate throughout, a skating rink in the winter months and access to free WiFi makes Munich the perfect layover airport.

Luisa Fumi / Shutterstock.com
Luisa Fumi / Shutterstock.com

5. Zurich Airport, Switzerland

An extensive renovation to this airport back in 2011 improved this already well-liked airport with the likes of two rooftop terraces with observation points and an awesome kids area complete with a mini-plane and tower to explore. There are plenty of ways to rest and freshen up in this airport. Free showers are available along with plenty of communal rest areas with comfy reclining chairs. If you are looking for a little more privacy, simple furnished rooms are available to rent that come complete with beds, TV and an individual wash basin. Plenty of duty-free shops and restaurants line this airport, including ones with the famous Swiss chocolate. For those looking to get a little exercise between flights, in-line skates and bikes are available to rent right from the airport.

MR. INTERIOR / Shutterstock.com
MR. INTERIOR / Shutterstock.com

4. Amsterdam Schiphol, The Netherlands

This one terminal airport has been in the same location for 100 years and pleasing passengers from the get go. The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Museum is housed here and offers free admission, letting passengers take in the permanent and temporary art exhibits by Dutch artists. The world’s first airport library also provides a great way for passengers to pass the time and offers e-books and print books in 29 different languages. Having a layover here means access to over 75 shops and many dining options such as the Bubbles Seafood & Wine Bar where you can dine around a saltwater aquarium with a glass of champagne and fresh seafood. For those travelers looking to relax there is free WiFi, numerous spas and showers. Massage chairs, casinos and numerous lounges round out this airport experience.

Bokstaz / Shutterstock.com
Bokstaz / Shutterstock.com

3. Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong

This futuristic airport offers endless entertainment for passengers stuck on layovers here. The endless charging stations, business centers and beautiful lounges will suit the business travelers, but the guests who really benefit from having a layover here are those looking to have some fun between flights. The outdoor nine-hole golf course is open 24/7 to passengers looking to squeeze in a round or two. The world’s first airport IMAX Theater shows both 2D and 3D films and sports lover can head up to the iSports simulator for car racing, basketball and soccer. High end shops and Michelin star restaurants are located throughout the airport. The Aviation Discovery Centre which tracks aviation history in Hong Kong through themed exhibits and attractions including the SkyDeck, and Cockpit Simulator keep passengers occupied throughout flight times.

TungCheung / Shutterstock.com
TungCheung / Shutterstock.com

2. Incheon International Airport, South Korea

This airport is a favorite among travelers, especially among the ones who get stuck here for a few hours. There are a ton of free amenities that will make weary travelers happy including WiFi, use of laptops and free showers. More importantly though this airport offers lots of fun for layover passengers including two movie theaters playing Korean and Hollywood Hits, an ice skating rink and an 18-hole putting course. The culture center offers experiences such as learning traditional Korean paper handicraft and taking in harp performances. There are seven gardens throughout the airport that are perfect for the ultimate relaxation, or hit up the spa and sauna. If passengers want to leave the airport there are many tours that leave directly from it and take visitors to temples, historic sites and newer attractions. Did we mention that this airport offers over 90 different duty free shops and looks more like a sparkling clean mall, rather than an airport?

Tanjala Gica / Shutterstock.com
Tanjala Gica / Shutterstock.com

1. Changi International Airport, Singapore

This airport is truly the best in the world and there is nowhere else in the world that you should want to have a layover than here. The Changi Airport in Singapore has won over 400 awards and continues to add to its impressive list of features. For passengers who are stuck here on a layover, there are hundreds of things to discover. Take a walk through one of five gardens, including the live butterfly garden boasting more than a 1000 butterflies. Take a ride down the 40-foot swirling slide, refresh in the rooftop Balinese-themed swimming or catch a free flick at the movie theater. Entertainment areas featuring Xbox, Playstations and other electronics are scattered throughout as well as art sculptures and waterfalls. Business travelers will be happy with the 200 iPad-wielding agents, hundreds of free Internet terminals, plus airport-wide free WiFi and hundreds of USB ports and power sockets.

joyfull / Shutterstock.com
joyfull / Shutterstock.com

10 Things to See and Do in Munich

Visiting a city with as rich a history as Munich can be overwhelming for visitors, with so many sights to choose from and seemingly so little time. The good news is that many of Munich’s historic landmarks are located in the Old Town and are within walking distance of one another. From expansive parks, to fairy tale castles to Oktoberfest, Munich has a variety of attractions to keep travelers of all ages and interests entertained. Below is a look at 10 of the most compelling places to visit in the Bavarian capital.

10. Deutsches Museum

The world’s largest museum of science and technology, the Deutsches Museum (meaning German Museum) is home to 28,000 exhibited objects from some 50 different fields of science and technology. The museum is the largest in Munich, and has approximately 1.5-million pass through its doors annually. The main site of the museum is actually on a small island in the Isar River. In addition to the main island location, the museum has two more branches in Munich and one in Bonn.

A prominent display featured in the collection is a rare Horton flying wing glider built in the 1940’s and restored from surviving parts. A unique collection of German vertical take off and landing planes developed in the 1950’s and 1960’s are also on display, as well as Russian planes taken following the reunification of the country. The newest branch of the Deutsches Museum focuses on transportation technology, while the branch in Bonn focuses specifically on German technology, science and research following 1945.

pio3 / Shutterstock.com
pio3 / Shutterstock.com

9. BMW Museum

The BMW Museum is an automobile museum located near the Olympiapark and deals specifically with the manufacturing history of German automaker BMW. The museum opened in 1973, shortly after the Summer Olympics that year and underwent construction from 2004 through 2008 during the development of the BMW Welt directly opposite the museum.

The unique design of the building has led to it being nicknamed the salad bowl or white cauldron due to its silver futuristic design. Visitors ascend on a spiral upwards inside the building to visit the exhibits that are each located on four “islands” inside the building. A small movie hall combined with a number of interactive exhibits explains the technology further before an escalator finally brings visitors back to the ground floor. The museum demonstrates BMW’s technical development through history, and contains engines, turbines, aircraft, motorcycles and a variety of other different vehicles.

forden / Shutterstock.com
forden / Shutterstock.com

8. Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle (“New Swanstone Castle” in English) is a 19th century Romanesque Revival palace situated upon a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau, just outside of Munich. The palace was constructed by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a personal retreat, and an homage to Richard Wagner. Ludwig actually paid for the development of the castle from his own personal fortune and through extensive borrowing rather than using the funds of his people.

Initially developed as a picturesque fairy tale getaway for the reclusive King, the palace quickly opened to the public following his death in 1886. Since then, more than 61-million people have visited the castle, with an average around 1.3-million a year. The castle features prominently in a number of movies, and served as the inspiration for Disneyland’s famous Sleeping Beauty Castle. Due to its secluded location, the palace remained undamaged during World War 2, and remains in extraordinary condition to this day.

Neuschwanstein Castle Munich

7. Allianz Arena

The 75,000 plus seat Allianz Arena is the third largest arena in Germany. Both professional soccer clubs in Munich call the Allianz Arena home, though Bayern Munich, one of the biggest soccer clubs in the world owns the stadium after buying out second tier TSV 1860 Munich’s shares in 2006. The stadium is known for its exterior of inflated plastic panels, and was the first stadium in the world with a full color-changing exterior.

The panels are lit differently depending on which team is hosting the game inside the stadium, with red representing Bayern Munich, blue for TSV and white for when the reigning World Cup champion German national team hosts. Not only does the stadium act as a cathedral for the fans, but also as a shrine with the Bayern Munich FC museum being located inside the stadium as well. The partial roof over the stadium provides shelter to spectators, though some unruly winds can still blow rain in an unfavorable direction.

Yuri Turkov / Shutterstock.com
Yuri Turkov / Shutterstock.com

6. Kunstareal

The Kunstareal (meaning “art area” in English) is divided up into three different museums: the Alte Pinakothek (“Old Pinakothek” in English), the Neue Pinakothek and the Pinakothek der Moderne. The Alte focuses on European art from the 13th and 18th centuries and is considered to be one of the most important collections of art from this time period in the world. The Neue (New) examines European art from the 18th and 19th centuries, and is of equal prestige for this time period.

The Pinakothek der Moderne includes exhibits of modernism since the 1900’s, contemporary art from the 1960’s as well as new videos, photos and other media from more recent times. The Kunstareal also is home to the Museum Brandenhorst, Glyptothek, Lenbachhaus, Bavarian State Collection of Antiques and the Egyptian Museum. The Paleontology Museum of Munich and Geological Museum are also located nearby to the Kunstareal.

place-to-be / Shutterstock.com
place-to-be / Shutterstock.com

5. Englischer Garten

A large public park in the center of Munich, the Englischer Garten (“English Garden” in English) stretches from the city center to the northeastern boundaries of the city. It was created in 1789 and has an area of 1.4 sq mi (3.7 km2), larger than that of New York’s Central Park. The name refers to the informal style of landscaping that was popular in Britain from the middle of the 18th century to the early 19th century.

One of the more unexpected sights in the garden is a Japanese teahouse built during the Summer Olympics in 1972. The park has roughly 75 km of roads, footpaths and bridle paths, with over 100 bridges throughout the area. Visitors can even go surfing in the park, as one of the 8.75 km of streams in the park features a standing wave produced by a pumping mechanism. Signs warn visitors that the surfing should be left to those with experience, however.

Mariia Golovianko / Shutterstock.com
Mariia Golovianko / Shutterstock.com

4. Marienplatz

Marienplatz (“Mary’s Square” in English) is a central square in the heart of Munich, and has served as the city’s main square since 1158. Once upon a time during the Middle Ages, markets and tournaments were held in the square. Today, Marienplatz is dominated by the Neues Rathaus (New City Hall) on the north side.

The Glockenspiel in the tower of the new city hall was inspired by these medieval tournaments, and re-enacts famous local events on a daily basis acted out by life size figurines (including a joust). Also in the Marienplatz is Mary’s Column, erected in 1638 to celebrate the end of Swedish occupation during the Thirty Years’ War topped with a golden statue of the Virgin Mary standing on a crescent moon. At each corner of the base is a statue of a putto, each depicted fighting a different beast to symbolize the difficulties the city overcame in its history, including war, pestilence, hunger and heresy.

Marienplatz Munich

3. Dachau Concentration Camp

The first of the concentration camps opened by the Nazi’s and intended to hold political prisoners, the Dachau Concentration Camp is located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory about 10 miles northwest of Munich. Opened in 1933 by the notorious Heinrich Himmler, the purpose of Dachau was expanded to include forced labor, and eventually, the imprisonment of Jews, ordinary German and Austrian criminals as well as individuals from nations occupied or invaded by Germany.

There were about 32,000 documented deaths at the camp, with potentially thousands more that went undocumented. In the post war years, the camp saw use holding SS members awaiting trial, ethnic Germans who had been expelled from Eastern Germany and awaiting resettlement and even as a US military base before the camp finally shut its doors in 1960 for good. There is no charge to visit the camp, and the experience provides a powerful reminder of the freedoms enjoyed in the world today.

Dachau Concentration Camp Munich

2. Frauenkirche

The Frauenkirche (“Cathedral of Our Dear Lady” in English) serves as the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, and is the seat of the Archbishop. The cathedral is a noted landmark and symbol of Munich, as the church tower is widely visible due to local building height limits. The south tower of the cathedral is open to the public and provides visitors who are willing to climb the staircase a unique view of the city and of the nearby Alps.

The capacity of the Frauenkirche is an astonishing 20,000 people, and Catholic mass is held regularly. Given that the population of the city was around 13,000 when the cathedral was constructed, the large capacity was certainly ambitious. Unfortunately, much of the interior was destroyed during World War 2, though an attraction that survived is the Teufelstritt (Devil’s Footstep) at the church’s entrance, with a number of legends as to how the footmark came to originate.

Frauenkirche Munich

1. Oktoberfest

The world’s largest funfair held annually in Munich, Oktoberfest is a 16-day festival that runs from late September through the first weekend in October. Some 6-million people attend the event annually from all across the globe, and serves as an important part of Bavarian culture since its inception in 1810.

Statistics from 2013 show that the 6.4-million visitors consumed 6.7-million liters of refreshing Oktoberfest beer during the festival that year, while enjoying a number of attractions such as amusement rides, side-stalls, games and a wide variety of traditional Bavarian dishes like Hendl (roast chicken), Schweinbraten (roast pork) and of course, Saurkraut. Despite the party atmosphere, steps have been taken in recent years to help cater to all demographics, with noise limitations during certain hours to create events that are friendlier towards the older and family crowds. According to the strict regulations, there are only six breweries that are officially allowed to sell their product during the festival, which are: Augustiner-Brau, Hacker-Pschorr-Brau, Lowenbrau, Paulaner, Spatenbrau and Staatliches Hofrau-Munchen.

Intrepix / Shutterstock.com
Intrepix / Shutterstock.com

8 Cities that Have Public Transit Figured Out

Remember the days when you couldn’t catch a bus past midnight, the days where the sun and rain wreaked havoc on the faded schedule taped to the post at the bus stop, and the days of the graffiti filled subway stations? When we think about public transportation these are often the memories we recall but we are here to show you that public transit systems have been taken to a new level. Replacing these memories are those of clean stations, touch screen kiosks, 24 hour service, and robots helping you on the way. These systems are fast, efficient and cost effective and most of them even have Wi-Fi. With subways, buses, trams, streetcars and bicycles; the possibilities for getting around are endless. Welcome to the new world of public transit. Sit back, relax and read on to discover the eight cities that have really excellent public transit.

8. Melbourne, Australia

Boasting the largest tram network in the world and the innovative bike share program it’s no surprise Melbourne makes the cut. The bike share program was initially affected negatively by the introduction of a mandatory helmet wearing law. Since that law, Melbourne has offered free helmets and helmet rental opportunities that has increased the use of this program. The myki card is an added bonus to this transit system. Easily purchased at over 800 retail locations, stations and ticket offices, this card calculates the lowest fare available to you every time you “touch on touch off” a train, tram or bus. Melbourne is also home to the City Circle Tram; a free historical tram experience taking you past many of Melbourne’s landmarks.

melbourne tram

7.  Vienna, Austria

Surprised to see Vienna pop up on this list? After you’ve discovered one of the most affordable, cleanest, efficient, safe and rarely overcrowded public transit systems you will change your mind. Vienna boasts a system that is made up of subways, local trains, trams and busses. Flat fare tickets that can be used for any of the above modes of transit makes it just that much easier. Tickets are easily purchased throughout the stations, at stores or even on the bus and tram. Rarely waiting more than five minutes for service and a late night bus that runs throughout the night and into the wee hours of the morning is why Vienna is the model of so many public transit systems in Europe.

Brendan Howard / Shutterstock.com
Brendan Howard / Shutterstock.com

6. Paris, France

In a city designed for exploring the “hidden” nooks and cracks, Paris does a fine job of providing ways to do exactly that. One of the greatest public transit methods Paris has put in places is Velib; the biggest bike sharing program in the world. Free for the first 30 minutes, self-serve, available 24/7 and ease of access all contribute to this overwhelmingly popular choice of transport in the city. For those non-bikers, Paris also offers the 16 line metro, commuter rail, buses, boats and the RER. Along with being one of the world’s safest and most efficient transit systems, Paris takes their public transportation very seriously and is adding to their tram with the opening of four new lines in the past two years.

paul prescott / Shutterstock.com
paul prescott / Shutterstock.com

5. Munich, Germany

The U-Bahn and the S-Bahn are both run by the Munich Transit Authority which might explain the cleanliness, safety and on time performance this public transit system prides itself on. Ease of access along with only having to validate your ticket once rather than at every transfer or stop reduces congestion on this busy system. With the central train station located next to historic downtown it’s easy to connect to the rest of Europe in a timely fashion. Not to be forgotten is the amazing fact that trains in the central area depart every two minutes. With a fare that won’t stretch your wallet, this city has truly made it easy to get around.

s-bahn and u-bahn munich

4.  Tokyo, Japan

Known as having one of the best public transportation systems in the world, Tokyo uses a combination of trains, subways and buses. It is important to note that during rush hour, Tokyo subways are often packed full, being a testament to how efficient the rail system is. Once in the station, one will notice not only the cleanliness of it but the ease of where to go with floor markings to tell you where to stand. Once on the train you will sink into your heated seat and read the digital message in both Japanese and English on what the next stop is. Tokyo’s rail system in uncanny in its reliability and punctuality. Exactly what one wants in a public transportation system.

Stephen Bures / Shutterstock.com
Stephen Bures / Shutterstock.com

3. Hong Kong, China

With approximately 90% of all travel in Hong Kong being done by mass transit it is imperative that this city has public transit figured out. Luckily for all those transit users, Hong Kong has gone above and beyond with their system. The subways system is responsible for most of this travel and their trains travel on time, every time. While on the train, don’t fret about losing that phone call because 3G cellular network is available on all commutes, even underground. The Automated People Mover in Hong Kong’s airport is also a futuristic transportation method we just have to mention. Designed to take passengers to gates, immigration, customs, baggage claim and the SkyPier; this driverless people mover is a lesson in efficiency.

Alan49 / Shutterstock.com
Alan49 / Shutterstock.com

2. Taipei, Taiwan

The Taipei MRT subway system in not only one of the most expensive systems in the world but has been voted the safest and most reliable for numerous years in a row. LED screens offer passengers times of trains in both Mandarin and English while announcements are made in four different languages. The cleanliness is unchallenged by the prohibition of eating, drinking or gum chewing in any of the stations and cars. An honorable mention must go out to the high speed train aka “the bullet” which can reach upwards of 300km/hr and connects passengers to some of the bigger cities in the western part of the island. Make sure to eat before you board as eating is also prohibited on the bullet train.

Wayne0216 / Shutterstock.com
Wayne0216 / Shutterstock.com

1. Seoul, Korea

Bigger subway cars, cleanliness, and the fact that it moves 8 million people a day is something to boast about. Coupled with the LED screens that tell passengers when the next train is coming and announcements in both Korean and English, this system is way ahead of the times. Going even one step further are the heated seats, digital touch screen kiosks in stations and colour coded buses. Free Wi-Fi in the underground stations and cars plus the addition of digital TV’s in the subway cars just seems like an added bonus. And there is one more thing that pushed them into first place; Robots that help passengers find information in the underground stations. Robots….can you believe it?

meunierd / Shutterstock.com
meunierd / Shutterstock.com