It’s time to saddle up and frolic around the South American countryside, gaucho style. From the pampas of Argentina to the jagged cliffs and foothills of the Andes, witness the wild terrain from a different perspective. At one of these authentic ranches, or as the locals call estancias, experience one of the world’s last frontiers in the centuries-old tradition of the early pioneers. The hard-working ranch hands still round up cattle in the vast grasslands of the pampas and enjoy a rustic, simple country life.
10. Estancia El Bordo de las Lanzas, Salta, Argentina
For an authentic estancia experience, Argentina style, head to Estancia El Bordo de las Lanzas in Salta, a 400-year old ranch and the oldest of its kind in the country. It’s also a great spot for exploring the foothills of the Andes and the nearby Lerma Valley by horseback. After a ride with a local gaucho who knows every inch of the terrain, head back to the luxurious estate for some asado, the traditional Argentinian barbeque. This estancia, which still serves as a working ranch, is perfect for experiencing an authentic day in the life of an Argentinian cowboy. Join the gauchos for a cattle round up and a trail ride through the beautiful and romantic countryside of Salta. Established in 1609, the estate’s historic tradition of warmth and hospitality also comes with all the rustic trappings of the early pioneer days.
9. Estancia Puerto Consuelo, Puerto Natales, Chile
At Estancia Puerto Consuelo in Puerto Natales, Chile, you’ll have the chance to explore the romantic shoreline filled with flamingos and swans on horses that are as laid-back as the Chilean countryside. Once the gaucho shows you the ropes, get ready for a glorious, unforgettable gallop through Patagonia, one of the last frontiers. In 1893, the explorer Captain Herman Eberhard first arrived on the shores of the magnificent terrain and shortly after the Estancia Puerto Consuelo was established, one of the first ranches of the Ultima Esperanza Province. With the peaks of the snow-capped Andes and foothills, there is no shortage of breath-taking views, especially by horseback. After a day of riding the trails and exploring the rustic, pristine landscape, rest your sore legs and sip on a glass of Malbec at the Bories Hotel, a charming country house situated on the shores of Last Hope Sound.
8. Posada de la Laguna, Argentina
Posada de la Laguna is a working ranch in the heart of the Ibera Wetlands and a popular spot among nature lovers and horseback riders for its wild, beautiful landscape and Argentinian horse riding traditions. If you’re feeling adventurous, head out onto the trail bareback with gauchos leading the way. The ranch also offers accommodation in their elegant lodge, which is situated on the shores of the Esteros del Ibera Lagoon, a haven for caimans, capybaras, and exotic wildlife. Venture out for an evening gallop along the shores of the lagoon while taking in sights of the boggy wetlands. For those looking for an eco-vacation filled with scenic tranquility and natural wonders, this pastoral estancia provides a comfortable hangout in between trail rides and boat tours. And like the cowboys will tell you, when you’re in doubt, let your horse do the thinking.
7. Estancia Dos Lunas, Cordoba, Argentina
Deep in the heart of the Ongamira Valley is the 3,000 hectare Estancia Dos Lunas, a remote, hidden gem in Cordoba, Argentina. With big skies,
6. Sayta-Cabalgatas, Salta, Argentina
Another great spot for a horseback riding vacation is Sayta-Cabalgatas in Salta, Argentina. Situated among the ancient tobacco fields of Chicoana, the estancia is housed in a grand, whitewashed colonial style estate. In a place that literally means “where time stands still,” get swept away on a horseback trail ride through mountainous panoramas, big canyons, and trickling streams. At night, cowboys and visitors rest their tired legs over a glass of red wine and excellent Argentinian steak or barbeque. That way, when you climb into the saddle the next day, you’ll be ready for the ride. Because of its proximity to the remote areas of Bolivia and the Andes, explorers will get to witness up close the indigenous tribes that still live the simple, ancient way of life carried on by centuries of generations. In this rural, isolated region, you’ll feel miles away from the harried, bustling urban centers like Buenos Aires.
5. Estancia Cerro Guido, Puerto Natales, Chile
On the border of the Torres del Paine national park in Chile is Estancia Cerro Guido, a typical style ranch that follows in the old pioneering traditions of the first gauchos. Ride to the top of the heaped stone cairn surrounded by snow-capped peaks and feel on top of the world. Experience the Patagonian tradition at one of the country’s grandest and most beautiful estancias. Besides horseback riding adventures, the estate also offers a menu in the old world tradition of barbeque lamb, fine steaks, and lots of South American red wine. Founded in the 19th century, the ranch was built as part of the “Sociedad Explotadora Tierra del Fuego,” and the establishment as Chile’s premier sheep-farming trade. It might be the 21st century, but in this remote part of the continent, you’ll feel as if you’ve traveled back in time to the pioneering days.
4. Pampa Estancia, Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
The setting of the Pampa Estancia in Rurrenabaque, Bolivia is impressive with the surrounding jagged foothills of the Andes and the dense, exotic Amazon rainforest. Saddle up and head out into the countryside and explore the vast, open grasslands of the Reyes pampas as the poncho-wearing gauchos make their cattle wrangling rounds as they have done for centuries. In a fantasy of a lifetime, visitors of all riding levels get the chance to be an authentic South American cowboy for an entire week on their popular eco-tours. So, get on your chaps and ride out into the sunset to discover hidden lagoons, a thriving wildlife habitat, and unchartered terrain. The ranch house also offers riders a peak into the life of a Bolivian cowboy as they go about their daily chores. Prepare yourself for adventurous days of horseback riding through the pampas, evenings with traditional Bolivian food, and beautiful crimson sunsets.
3. Estancias Los Potreros, Cordoba, Argentina
For a horseback riding adventure in the Sierras Chicas, head to Estancia Los Potreros, a working cattle ranch in the Cordoba region of Argentina. Stretching across the western border, the Central Sierras is one of the highest mountain ranges outside the Andean cordillera. Situated on top of a mountain, the estancia is an oasis of dramatic scenery, riding trails, and the traditional way of life of the Argentinian cowboy. For centuries, the gauchos have been perfecting their horse handling skills, including breeding methods. At Los Potreros, horse riders will get the chance to ride the Paso Peruano, a Peruvian horse that is considered to have the smoothest gate of any horse breed. After a day of adventure, take an evening gallop over to Potrero de Loza, the main guesthouse, and relax by the fireplace in a room decorated with charming relics from the old days.
2. Estancia Huechahue, Argentina
For exploring the Patagonian Steppe of Argentina, locals recommend crossing the rugged, wild terrain on horseback, a tradition carried on by Estancia Huechahue for over four generations. Follow the cattle hands on trails through the mountains and witness up close the natural beauty of Argentinian Patagonia. With a rich history of horse riding, the gauchos know every cliff, foothill, and grassy plain of the Andes, and their horses probably know it even better. In a world of vast, untamed terrain, it’s the perfect spot for a glorious gallop across the valley. After a day of trail riding, head back to the lodge, a cottage that encourages rest and relaxation with big trees and a tranquil pond. In a land of homegrown food and a thriving cattle business, visitors have the rare chance of experiencing one of the last remaining cultures that cultivate a simple, wholesome way of life.
1. El Galpon del Glacier Estancia, Argentia
In the heart of the dramatic landscape of Argentina is the El Galpon del Glacier Estancia, a traditional style ranch in the El Calafate region of Santa Cruz. With the word glacier in their name, you can expect spectacular horseback rides through the jagged glaciers known for their magical, iridescent hue of aqua blue. With such a varied landscape, riders have the chance to see impressive panoramic views of iceberg-filled lakes and vast pampas of the grasslands. On a peaceful ride at the edge of the world, you’ll be far away from the smog and noise of the urban centers like Buenos Aires. El Galpon del Glacier is a joyous departure from modern life and the typical vacation. Visitors will get the rare treat of seeing the challenges and bliss of estancia life. From the shores of the Argentinian Lake, hop on one of their sturdy horses and gallop along the waters.
Of all the continents in the world, it’s apparent South America’s people have the most innate penchant for parties of all kinds, from food fairs to music festivals and religious fetes, each is celebrated with passion, enthusiasm, and a rainbow of costumes. If you’re lucky enough to hit a festival, be sure to book well in advance–the secret has long been out and people literally flock to these fantastic fiestas. Some are complete chaos and others orderly and easygoing; be sure to do some research and know what you’re in for because some South American festivals can be off-the-charts-wild.
6. Semana Santa, Peru
Kicking off two days before Palm Sunday and celebrated for ten dynamic days until Easter Sunday arrives, Semana Santa is one of Peru’s most outstanding festivals. This religious fete is a hotel-filler and one of the best times to stay with a local family (Peru’s tourist office provides homestay options). The Friday kick-off starts with a parade honoring Our Lady of Sorrows (La Virgen de los Delores)–at this point consider standing out of the way: it’s customary to levy “sorrows” upon spectators by slingshot fitted with pebbles. Otherwise the mood is fairly somber yet Semana Santa still paints the streets colorful with religious traditions, vibrant processions, art and music shows, traditional competitions, and abundant, delicious Peruvian fare. Be sure to attend on the Saturday preceding Easter Sunday for an all-out Peruvian bash that plays out until morning, definitely showing the wilder side of locals.
5. Tomorrowland -Sao Paulo, Brazil
Tomorrowland is an extension of an electronic dance music (EDM) festival stemming from Boom, Belgium, also one of the world’s biggest and one that’s been happening annually since 2005. Tomorrowland has stepped into South American terrain–where it’s evident crowds can’t get enough–bringing in some of the best Djs to Sao Paulo in the first week of May over three days solid. Dreamville is the onsite camping accommodations available to festival-goers at Tomorrowland where you can pitch your own tent but there are three other (much easier) camping options including a pre-made tent fit with sleeping bags, small but arty cabanas, and the Dream Lodge reminiscent of a night safari tent complete with access to scores of amenities–the prices aren’t cheap though! This festival is so popular tickets sell out in a matter of minutes and then the only way in is to buy a package deal.
4. Mendoza Wine Harvest Festival
Since 1936, the Mendoza Wine Harvest Festival (Fiesta National de la Vendimia) has been uniting wine growers, vineyard hands, locals, and thousands of visitors in a spectacular show of love for the Cuyo region and the incredible wines it produces. The festival is a culmination of celebrations happening between December and February throughout Mendoza’s 18 districts. Starting off the first weekend of March, the region’s bumper harvest is celebrated famously with wine, food, music, and innumerable special events. Concerts, parades, fireworks, and general merrymaking create a definitive carnival-esque atmosphere under blue skies and starry nights. A mammoth finale performance at Mendoza’s Greek Theater features hundreds of dancers and actors, the National Grape Harvest Queen is crowned, and the entire celebration ends with a huge fireworks display. As one of the world’s most renowned harvest festivals, this Mendoza gala is definite must for any traveling oenophile.
3. Corpus Christi Festival, Ecuador
Ecuador has long been recognized for enduring indigenous traditions including numerous festivals throughout the year. Ecuadorians love just about any reason to celebrate and especially love their customary observances–they really do put on extravagant shows. In the small town of Pujili, the Corpus Christi Festival happens in the second week of June, welcoming thousands of Ecuadorians for a fete blending the commemoration of both harvest to Incan Sun God Inti and Holy Communion. Food, art, folk and regional dance, and music are intrinsic parts of the festival and culminate following a days-long fiesta in the El Danzante parade where traditional clothing and costumes come together in a kaleidoscopic exhibition. If you do make it to Pujili, head just 15 minutes further to Latacunga National Park for Andean forests alongside striking rivers and lakes and forest habitats within the Amazon, a dramatic area mostly unexplored by tourists.
2. Tango Festival -Buenos Aires, Argentina
Precision, tempo, elaborate clothing, and most of all passion rise to crescendo during the Tango Festival in Buenos Aires, one of the most famous dance festivals in the world and one for both pros and the keenly interested but inexperienced. The dramatic tango was born in Argentina’s brothels and over the decades, has become one of the most sensual, provocative, and emotional dances of all time favored by all social classes. The Tango Festival starts with a series of recitals and shows called La Festival; there are film screenings and lessons city-wide. Then comes the main event: the Tango Championships. During the celebrations, there’s a must-see event at the massive, alfresco milonga (tango hall) where more than 10,000 dancers (tangueros) careen across Buenos Aires’ cobblestone streets–it’s a beguiling show that can make anyone want to learn the tango if they don’t already know.
1. Carnival -Brazil, Columbia & Uruguay
Carnival is celebrated throughout South America in Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, and Columbia but the Brazilians undoubtedly celebrate with the most passion. Prior to the onset of Lent, numerous Argentinian towns celebrate Mardi Gras but no one seems to do it quite as well as it’s done in Rio de Janeiro where a phenomenal party takes place. In Salvador, flatbeds called blocos, fitted with pumping sound systems drive music bands around the city for a full-on, three-day party to end all parties. Second prize for the best Carnival celebration goes to the city of Barranquilla in Columbia where African-style dancing, parades of floats, and ultimately Miss Carnival receives her crown. Riding in at close third is Uruguay, where in the city of Montevideo, they carry Brazil’s zeal for Carnival and celebrate with unbridled enthusiasm–no neighborhood goes untouched by Carnival–with dance parties, countless parades, and extreme Latin revelry.
Thundering water, “smoking” water—these are just a couple of the ways people around the world have conceptualized waterfalls. No matter where in the world you live, you have a good idea of what a waterfall is. In all shapes and sizes, these landmarks and their majesty have captured the imagination of generations. The world is filled with amazing waterfalls and while picking a waterfall destination is never the wrong choice, there are some that are must-see locations—like the ones on this list. From highest to largest to widest, you should put the waterfalls down on your bucket list.
10. Ebor Falls, Australia
Named for a nearby town, Ebor Falls are a cascade-type waterfall formation on the Guy Fawkes River in the New England area of New South Wales, Australia. They are situated about 23 miles northeast of Wollomombi on the Waterfall Way, one of Australia’s most scenic drives. The upper falls plummet 115 meters in 2 cascades, while the lower falls, about 600 meters downstream, plunge into a steep, forested gorge. The falls are located in Guy Fawkes River National Park, and are popular with tourists, with nearly 80,000 people visiting in 2008. Viewing platforms, as well as rest areas and walking trails, are available. Camping is available at the nearby Cathedral Rock National Park, home of Round Mountain, about 6 kilometers west of Ebor. Ebor Falls have longer been recognized as a site for recreation and preservation; they were first protected in 1895.
9. Gocta Cataracts, Peru
We like to think that there’s nothing left to discover on this planet of ours, but as the case of the Gocta Cataracts proves, nothing could be further from the truth. The Gocta Cataracts, about 430 miles northwest of Lima, the Peruvian capital, were a well-kept secret until 2005 when an expedition by Stefan Ziemendorff brought the falls onto the world stage. Ziemendorff convinced the Peruvian government to measure the falls’ height—a staggering 2,530 feet, making it one of the tallest in the world (although its exact ranking is disputed). Since discovery, the Peruvian government has developed the waterfall as a tourist attraction, building a hotel 6 miles from the base of the falls. Hiking trails and horse paths allow tourists to access the falls—which are said to be haunted by a beautiful mermaid. Given the falls’ altitude, at over 7,000 feet, clouds sometimes obscure the view.
8. Humboldt Falls, New Zealand
New Zealand’s mountains are now famous, and where there are mountains, there’s a good chance you’ll find waterfalls. That holds true in the island-nation: in Hollyford Valley, in Fiordland, you’ll find the spectacular Humboldt Falls. The falls are nearly 1,000 feet high, with the water cascading down the rock face in 3 distinct steps. The largest of the 3 drops is 440 feet, almost 50% of the falls’ total height. The falls are a horsetail-type waterfall, and, despite their height, are relatively easy to reach. The trail from the falls, along Hollyford Road, is about 600 meters long and will take you about half-an-hour to navigate. The grade is relatively easy, allowing visitors to get close enough to glimpse some spectacular views of the waters of the Hollyford River rushing into the gorge below.
7. Trümmelbach Falls, Switzerland
Where there are mountains, there are waterfalls. Nowhere is that more true than in the soaring heights of the Alps. As snow and glaciers melt, the resulting water flows down the steep inclines, resulting in some spectacular feats of nature. The Trümmelbach is one of those feats: it drains the glacier defiles of Switzerland’s 3 most famous mountains, Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. Up to 20,000 liters of water pass through the falls per second. The Trümmelbach is a series of 10 falls and they are actually located within the mountain, twisting and turning through the rockface as they rush to lower ground. The falls have been made accessible to tourists by tunnel-lift and they are illuminated for viewing. Viewing the glacial water plunging through the “Corkscrew Chute” is a glimpse into some of nature’s most secretive workings.
6. Huangguoshu Waterfall, China
The name of this stunning Chinese waterfall means “Yellow-fruit Tree Waterfalls.” Located on the Baishui River, it is one of the largest waterfalls in the whole country and in East Asia. It stands 255 feet high, with the main fall boasting a 220-foot drop. The falls span a width of approximately 330 feet. They are an example of a segmented block waterfall formation. The falls are considered a natural tourist draw and have been rated as an AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration. Tourism is served by a special line of buses and 3 viewing platforms offering different views of the falls. Another attraction is Shuliandong, the Water-Curtain cave, a 440-foot cave that formed naturally at the back of the falls. There are several other waterfalls in the area, about 28 miles southwest of Anshun city.
5. Dettifoss, Iceland
Dettifoss is the largest waterfall in Iceland, which says something as this island-nation is a place of many waterfalls. It’s also reputed to be one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe, with an average flow of 193 cubic meters per second. The falls are 330 feet wide and plunge 150 feet into the Jökulsárglijúfur canyon. Located in Vatnajökull National Park in the northeast of the island, Dettifoss is situated on the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River, whose waters originate at the Vatnajökull glacier. A new road, finished in 2011, allows better visitor access. The waterfall is located on Iceland’s popular Diamond Circle tourist route, which also includes Húsavík and Lake Myvatn. The falls are a multi-step formation, which is a series of waterfalls of roughly the same size, each with its own sunken plunge pool.
4. Iguazu Falls, Brazil/Argentina
Located along the border between Brazil and Argentina, Iguazu Falls are a sight to behold as they stretch along for more than 1.5 miles. Depending on the water level, there may be between 150 and 300 smaller waterfalls, most of them on the Argentine side of the border, with plunges between 197 and 269 feet. The main attraction is the Devil’s Throat, a U-shaped waterfall that spans nearly 3,000 feet. Perhaps the best feature of Iguzau’s structure is that it allows visitors to be surrounded by waterfalls up to 260 degrees at a time—not quite encircled, but close. Iguazu is wider and discharges more water than the equally impressive Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Tourism in the area is well developed, and the falls can be reached from either the Brazilian or Argentine side, as well as from Ciudad del Este in Paraguay.
3. Angel Falls, Venezuela
If you’ve seen Pixar’s Up, you’ve seen Angel Falls. The Venezuelan waterfall is well known to people around the world. Part of its fame comes from the fact that it is indeed the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall—the plunge is an astounding 2,648 feet. The official height given by the Venezuelan state and UNESCO is 3,212 feet, which includes sloped cascades, rapids below the drop and another plunge downstream. The falls were given their current name in honor of Jimmie Angel, an American aviator. In 2009, the Venezuelan president indicated his intention to give the indigenous name to official status. Although the indigenous people were aware of the falls before Angel’s 1933 flight, they did not visit the area and it was not known to the outside world. Today, the falls are a popular tourist attraction, despite the difficulty in reaching them through isolated stretches of jungle.
2. Niagara Falls, Canada/USA
Along the Canadian-American border lies Niagara Falls, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. The Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side, named for their shape, are larger and more renowned than the (still impressive) American falls. The distinctive color of the water flowing over the drop is a by-product of finely ground rock dust and dissolved salts, which occur in the water because of the erosive power of the Niagara River and the falls. Currently, erosion moves the falls back about 1 foot per year. The falls were already a huge tourist attraction in the late 19th century, and they continue to be a popular attraction today, with many hotels, casinos and excursions available to visitors. It is also a popular location for honeymooners and for film and television.
1. Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe
Located near the Zambia-Zimbabwe border, Victoria Falls is the widest waterfall in the world, which results in the largest sheet of falling water. While other falls may be wider, many of these actually contain several distinct falls; Victoria Falls is a single flow. The falls are viewable from both the Zambian side and the Zimbabwean side; traditionally, the Zimbabwean side was more popular with tourists, but recently the number of visitors to the Zambian side has been increasing. The Zimbabwean government has considered renaming the falls to Mosi-oa-Tonya, the indigenous name for the formation. The name means “the smoke that thunders.” The falls are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, although extensive tourist development in the area has led the UN to reconsider this designation. Nonetheless, the falls remain majestic to see at peak flow in April. In the dry season, it is possible to walk through the First Gorge.
Designations from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization are much sought after by cities around the world. Its best known one is the World Heritage Site that calls on signatories to protect and preserve important monuments from a small church to a vast jungle. Less well known but still dandy for planning itineraries is the Creative Cities Network in which cities receive a special designation if it can prove its creative specialty is unique of important cultural and economic significance and is sustainable. One of the most intriguing is Design. UNESCO has identified 15 Cities of Design that “(place) creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans.” It is about not just the urban space but the things that fill space that, to meet UNESCO criteria must enhance the quality of life for people and be environmentally sustainable. And of course make a whole bunch of seriously cool stuff. Here are, in UNESCO’s estimation the 15 most aesthetically pleasing and innovative Cities of Design.
15. Montréal, Canada
The genius of some of the world’s great architects dot the Montreal skyline despite the civic edict that no building exceeds the height of Mont Royal under whose slopes the city was founded in 1642. I.M Pei’s Place Ville Marie still dominates the downtown more than 50 years after its debut. Other stellar works include Mies van der Rohe’s Westmount Square, Buckminster Fuller’s stunning Geodesic Dome and Moshe Sadie’s Habitat, the latter two built for the 1967 World’s Fair has found new life. Old Montreal by the Old Port is a treasure of preserved 19th century buildings on cobblestone streets. It is the home of the Canadian Centre for Architecture as well as the UNESCO Chair in Landscape and Environmental Design at l’ Université de Montréal. UNESCO calls Montreal “The City of Designers” with 25,000 people in design development in one of the most stylish cities in North America.
14. Buenos Aires, Argentina
For architecture fans and design geeks, Buenos Aires is already heaven. One of its iconic historic buildings, Palacio Barolo is an homage to the Dante’s 15th century masterpiece, The Divine Comedy with the Hell, the ground floor with flame images on the walls, to the mid-level office space, called Purgatory and the upper floors with their fantastic views of the great city being ‘Paradise.” It has a stable of great works on its skyline built in a jumble of Old World Styles from Renaissance to Art Deco. The Planetarium and Women’s Bridge continue the creative tradition into the 21st century. UNESCO notes with praise the use of government incentives to grow the design industry which now accounts for almost a tenth of the giant city’s Gross Domestic Product and “contributes to turning Buenos Aires into a benchmark of design in Latin America: while fostering inclusive and sustainable development.
13. Curitiba, Brazil
This city of 3 million people in southern Brazil is at the forefront of sustainable urban development in the world. Already a cultural and design center, UNESCO singles out the city’s innovation for “Recognizing design as an agent for urban transformation.” In this context the term “design” goes beyond buildings in post-modern, futuristic shapes to the materials used to make them. The sustainable city mission was begun by architect and three-term, Curitiba Mayor Jaime Lerner and inspired similar initiatives across the country. Lerner combined an overhaul of mass transit and garbage collection with the promotion of alternative building materials to streamline costs and provide affordable housing. An, NGO (Nongovernmental Organization) Curadores da Terra or Keepers of the earth has developed a process that turns the environmental plague of plastic bottles into a popular, inexpensive building material.
What leaps to mind at the Mention of Bilbao, is the beautiful jumble that is the Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gehry, one of the most famous and renowned pieces of architecture since it opened in 1997. In fact the whole process of reclaiming former heavily industrial urban areas that are in decline or abandoned has come to be called “The Guggenheim Effect, the great Museum reclaimed a derelict section of the old port for a sustainable addition to the city’s tourism infrastructure. The policy continues with the Alhondiga, a beautiful wine warehouse from 1909 on the verge of demolition but rescued and turned into a multi use cultural facility in 2010. Bilbao’s approach using design and technology to transition from an old industrial economy to a modern service economy is the model UNESCO wants more cities to follow, the creation of “major cultural facilities contributing to the economy in terms of wealth creation, employment and social well-being.
11. Turin, Italy
Italy has been at the forefront of global design since they built the Roman Senate in 753 BCE. Turin has been called the Detroit of Italy, the home of great automotive brands like Fiat and Alfa Romeo. And like its American counterpart it experienced economic crisis and depopulation in the 1980’s. Still with about the same GDP as the country of Croatia, Turin has used its accumulated wealth expertise and world class schools to move upstream into more sustainable, knowledge based industries, most notably aerospace. Several of the International Space Station modules were designed here. The greatest symbol of the city’s rejuvenation and transition is the fabulous Lingotto Fiere,which remains futurists despite being nearly a century old. Even Le Corbusier the great French architect raved about it.The old Fiat plant opened in 1922, but then became outmoded in the seventies and eventually closed in the 80’s. It reopened as a multi-use complex, including a hotels, concert halls art gallery shopping mall and a campus for the world renowned Polytechnic University of Turin.
10. Graz, Austria
Graz is already home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites. Eggenberg Castle is a grand historical work in the Baroque style. The Old Town is an impeccably preserved wealth of centuries of buildings in wide range of architectural styles. But the small city of 300,000 isn’t resting on those fortunate laurels of the distant past. UNESCO’s website is prone to thick bureaucratic gibberish, but the spirit of the initiative comes through in statements like noting a fashion festival “is committed to cultural exchange on the textile level.” It’s just an example of the injection of sustainability into everyday goods that is providing the basis of The Next Economy in First World places that can afford to lead the way. Consider it the next Industrial Revolution. The Creative Sector in Graz has almost 5,000 companies, mostly small and medium size that generate about $700,000,000 in additional revenue allowing the city to commission innovative, iconic works of architecture that goes beyond fancy buildings for the sake of being fancy to making intelligent design that “and values both the aesthetic component of design as well as its ability to make daily life more livable.”
9. Berlin, Germany
Berlin has been one of the creative centers of the world for centuries and is now becoming leader in Design with some 2,400 companies been over $400,000,000 in annual revenue. Its International Center for Design is focused on what it believes is the way of the future: “Environmentally-conscious design is thus the key to a sustainable society.” At its heart is the emerging consumer behaviour called LOHAS “Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability” as individuals seek out healthier lifestyle and environmentally sensitive choices. They have become a world leader in ‘eco-design…to optimize energy efficiency, to minimize pollution emission and waste production.” There are 5000 Design students in the city’s elite schools. Berlindesign.net acts as an independent, fair trade platform for hundreds of independent Berlin designers from fashion to furniture to food. It’s all based on a highly innovative business plan called the “Triple Bottom Line,” in which design marketing and pricing reflect not just profit margins but ecological, economic and social concerns as well.
8. Helsinki, Finland
Design is embedded in the Finnish soul. Or as the Guardian wrote “Design is to Helsinki as literature is to Dublin and samba is to Rio.” Scandinavia in general is known for its modernist, minimalist furniture but Finland itself with a population of 5.5 million has given the world two of its greatest architects, Eero Saarinen and Alvar Aalto. The Finnish capital is an architectural garden of delights. Volumes have been written about the Finns creativity but UNESCO pointed to two things in particular that propelled Helsinki to 2012’s World City of Design status. One, Design is a government priority. The Finnish Innovation Fund stimulates the sector to design solutions to a wide variety of public policy issues from sustainability to education. It especially notes the inclusion of passengers in the process of designing the seats on the transit system.
7. Dundee, Scotland
A charter member of the global Rust Belt of once vibrant juggernauts of heavy industry, Dundee was made the United Kingdom’s first Creative City of Design. It is a case study in urban reinvention in knowledge based economic sectors and an example of just how broad the discipline of design has become. The booming shipbuilding and textile industries have given way to biotechnology and digital media. Dundee is home to one of the largest teaching hospitals in the world as well as the company that produced the hugely popular video game called Grand Theft Auto. The city is spending 1.5 billion dollars on revitalizing its waterfront, including a striking Museum Of Design with the goal of making the city an international design center, creatively financed by government and private sector funding.
6. Shenzhen, China
Shenzhen’s skyline shimmers with stunning, cutting edge architectural design as befits to an emerging innovative powerhouse of 11 million people. The Stock Exchange, the Asian Cairns and the Oct Museum push the design envelope. In southern China close to Hong Kong, design is a multi-billion dollar business employing 100,000 people. A generation of Chinese designers were trained here and excel in a wide spectrum of disciplines, women’s fashion being the most notable but that includes crafts, jewelry and toys. The city has moved upstream into creative, knowledge-based sectors, finance primarily among them as integration with the wealth creation machine that is Hong Kong.
5. Shanghai, China
The Shanghai Design Show is Asia’s biggest and most important attracting the world designing elite, from Jaguar to Nike to Cognac giant Martell. A truly international city home to 25 million people faces enormous challenges in sustainable development. But it has a huge creative sector to meet those challenges and develop sectors that add about $40 billion to the city’s GDP. UNESCO notes that the city was the Chinese leader in creative sectors such as film and music. It takes one look at Shanghai’s dynamic skyline to grasp the tremendous creative power the city is harnessing under the aegis of the Municipal Commission of Economy and Technology. Shanghai’s Creative Cites page boasts 87 Creative Clusters, over 4,000 innovative design-related agencies and institutions, 283 art institutions, 239 art and cultural community centers, 100 museums, 25 libraries and 743 archive institutions. It is perhaps Exhibit A of a city growing its economy by investing in Design.
4. Kobe, Japan
There is a 21st century about the Kobe skyline partly because of its innovative nature and sadly, from a major rebuild after the catastrophic earthquake in 1995. But in one form or another the city has been adept at self-reinvention through history. As an open port it has absorbed the influence of many cultures and has long been regarded as a cosmopolitan city. There is an old saying that says, “If you can’t go to Paris go to Kobe.” Like the French city to which it’s compared, Kobe is a fashion design center. Kobe Biennale is a major annual art and design event that aims to use the twin disciplines “not only to promote the arts, but also to contribute to the enrichment and environment of Kobe.” In 2015 a number eclectic competitions were held for Art-in-a Box, using old containers as a kind of urban canvas; creative toys, ceramic art, comic illustration and ‘green’ art.
3. Nagoya, Japan
One of the rare cities that has managed to retain its blue collar and artistic pedigrees. It is home to major Toyota and Mitsubishi auto plants as well as traditional Japanese theater, cuisine and craft work dating back to medieval times. All under the magnificent watch of the fabulous 17th century Nagoya Castle. Even the modern manufacturing systems are based on the old Japanese principle of Monozukuri which Toyota defines as “manufacturing which is in harmony with nature and that is value adding for the society… the older sister of sustainable manufacturing.” Also unlike many others on the list, Nagoya can claim a design specialty. An army of engineers advance robot technology as well as a sector that discovers and designs new materials. UNESCO lauds its combination of tradition and the philosophy of Humanism with advanced technology.
2. Seoul, South Korea
The economy of South Korea is an aggressively powerful export machine barging into giant-dominated sectors like cars and cellphones. Seoul, the dynamic capital, is home to three-quarters of the country’s designers. Seoul’s design sector is heavy on IT related products now honing fashion and digital home appliance design. City government policy acts as a facilitator linking design companies with its thriving industrial base. Dongdaemun Design Plaza is like a modern Silicon Valley of design and creative expertise that not only serves as an incubator for innovation, but transformed one of the city’s oldest, most historic districts.
1. Beijing, China
Far and away the most controversial and debatable of UNESCO’s designations is Beijing, China. However, UNESCO notes the city’s 3000 years rich with history. The architecture and design of the venues for the 2008 Olympics were spectacular but remain underused and unable to be integrated into the city fabric. Meanwhile the brutally bulldozing of the city’s legendary hutongs or traditional neighborhoods of narrow alleys have been documented in books and documentaries. UNESCO cites the huge number of museums and creativity clusters “bearing in mind their relevance for sustainable development.”
Throughout Argentina, visitors find a huge diversity of things to do and see all around the country. Many points of interest are conveniently close enough to travel between by bus or car, making it easy to plan a mix of activities, from easy-going sightseeing to heart-pounding excursions. The Argentinean people are welcoming, the backdrop gorgeous, and costs for amenities can fit almost any pocketbook, from budget trips to luxury vacations. Explore this list of eight impressive attractions across Argentina to find out what this captivating South American country has to offer.
8. Delve Into Buenos Aires
Argentina occupies a large swath of South America, sidled up against Chile, in an opportune location on the mid-eastern side where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Rio de la Plata. The spectacular Buenos Aires backdrop sets the perfect stage for the lively café cultured, neo-classically styled, European-inspired city—yet the city still exhibits strong ties to cultural roots evidenced throughout tango halls, local artisan shops, and distinctly Argentine cuisine. Historic neighborhoods filled with character, romantic dining spots, and wide, grand avenues set the mood for fun. Get your dose of retail therapy via Palermo Viejo and Palermo Viejo; become mesmerized by a Tango show at a milonga; and hit the jazz clubs at San Telmo and Palermo Soho. Explore European and Latin American arts along museum-laden Avenida del Libertador and don’t forget to try one of the famous grill houses and try world famous Argentine beef.
7. Ski San Carlos de Bariloche
Almost a full day’s travel southwest of Buenos Aires is San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina’s winter Mecca for skiers and snowboarders within a national park of the same name. Tucked into the foothills of the Andes, it’s the biggest of South America’s ski areas—often seeing almost six feet of powder by season’s end—and a warm weather hotspot for paragliding, climbing, boating, horseback riding, cycling, and trekking. Frigid Lake Nahuel Huapi, which doesn’t get much warmer than 14 degrees Celsius, is perfect for the courageous to take a plunge, and sits below stunning alpine peaks towering over 6,500 feet. Breathtaking beaches Villa Tacul and Playa Bonita are fantastic summer destinations but beware the influx of students come July. As Argentina’s chocolate capital, Bariloche’s shop fronts display a huge array of the sweet stuff—a definite must-try if you’ve got even the slightest sweet tooth.
6. Drink Wine in Mendoza
A short three hours from San Juan is Argentina’s celebrated wine country of Mendoza. Mendoza city is a lively center set on the eastern side of gorgeous Mount Aconcagua, the Western Hemisphere’s tallest summit. Just a quick drive from the downtown core, the countryside is the consummate playground with plenty of opportunities for hiking, rafting, climbing, cycling and more, but it’s still the wine that draws the biggest crowds. With over 1,000 lush vineyards in Mendoza, it’s easy to imagine the hundreds of options for tours and tastings (most wine bodegas are friendly, family-run operations). Oenophiles from around the globe flock to Mendoza for the rich offering of incredible award-winning blends; most famously Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec varieties. Scenic drives throughout the magnificent region are popular, most notably from Mendoza through the mountains to Upsallata along Route 52, also called El Camino de las 365 Curvas.
5. Hike El Chalten
If horseback riding, hiking, or cycling is on your hit list, head to El Chalten, a small mountain hamlet in Argentina’s Santa Cruz Province. Towered over by glacier fringed Cerro Torre and craggy Monte Fitz Roy, and found on the banks of the Rio de las Vueltas inside Los Glaciares National Park. El Chalten’s neighboring area holds a series of unforgettable waterfalls, forests, peaks, glaciers, and lakes rivaling almost every South American landscape. Enigmatic and untamed, the Southern Patagonian Ice Field is here, beckoning climbers across its wild terrain. Set off between December’s end to late February and enjoy longer daylight hours and encouraging weather. Test your will on an alpine adventure but know that at trail’s end you can chow down at a local parilla (grill) where Argentinean asado, a style of barbequing, will quickly bring you back to reality—if not into a food coma.
4. Relax in Villa La Angostura
There’s definitely a mountain theme throughout Argentina and the upscale resort town of Villa La Angostura follows through. An easy going village in northern Patagonia, Angostura is an ideal escape to misty mountains, alpine forests, and sublime views. Just an hour north of Bariloche near Argentina’s western border, Villa La Angostura is a choice departure point to incredible Los Arrayanes National Park but also a worthy destination on its own. It’s a popular egress for those heading off along Ruta de los Siete Lagos (The Seven Lakes Route) which ties San Martin de los Andes to Angostura in the most breathtaking way: trek through densely forested glens, below mountain passes, and alongside almost a dozen glassy lakes—the fishing is world class and campsites on route are good. If sticking to town, explore the village center’s quaint stores offering artisanal goods like trout, chocolate, and beer.
3. Sightsee in San Martin de los Andes
Spread across the banks of magical Lake Lacar, San Martin de los Andes is Patagonia’s shining star. Smaller and more chilled out than Bariloche but retaining the same magnetic charm, San Martin de los Andes is a birder’s paradise, a mountain biker’s dream, a skiers Eden, and perfect for hitting the water in any vessel. The landscape is absolutely gorgeous, so entrancing it’s hard to get away. Culture buffs will adore the lakeside town for the many charming arts and crafts tiendas and all the incredible, artisan foods anteing up a gratifying sensory experience. On the town’s west side, the lake attracts those who don’t mind cooler waters and a nice sandy stretch to kick back on. It’s on during the winter months for skiers and boarders at Cerro Chapelco and bustling in summer for Parque Nacional Lanin’s excellent climbing, trekking, and cycling.
2. Touch the End of the Earth in Ushuaia
Ushuaia is Tierra del Fuego’s beloved capital: a bustling port and center for worldwide explorers. As the world’s southernmost settlement, Ushuaia gives way to Argentina’s most exciting attractions, promising to spark eyes open and get hearts pumping wildly. This essential access point leads swiftly into Glaciar Martial and Cerro Castor for premier skiing; to the Beagle Channel where orcas, penguins, and other wildlife abound; and to astounding Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina’s foremost coastal park filled with easy-to-navigate trails along rivers and bays, leading through thick evergreen forests, and radiant vermillion hillsides in autumn. Ushuaia draws some pretty interesting characters too: this is where you can knock back a few brews and swap stories with some of the world’s most intrepid vagabonds and plot the next day while sharp, ocean waves crash into shore and the Andes taunt from the clouds.
1. Listen to Deafening Iguazu Falls
There are some pretty spectacular waterfalls around the world—then there’s other-worldly Iguazu Falls, a natural wonder resonating in the memories of those lucky enough to experience its resounding flow and incredible power. The setting can easily lead to so many other adventures: Iguazu is set directly between Argentina and Brazil in a sweeping area of rainforest and national park (makes you wonder just who set the boundaries back then). Taking a day tour of both the Argentine and Brazilian sides of the falls offers a broad experience while in Puerto Iguazu. Go independently and find easy route to the falls and area, and a lot to explore including the Tancredo Neves Bridge, the Mborore Museum of Images of the Jungle, and world-renowned Iguazu National Park. West of the center visit Hito Argentino, a vibrant bazaar at the confluence of Iguazu and the Ríos Paraná.
One of the best ways to experience a city as a local does is to attend its local sporting events. The crowds are often friendly (as long as no one makes the mistake of wearing the other team’s colors) and they’ll point out the best street food, the cheapest beer, and most likely, they’ll be using local slang to insult the opposition. But not all soccer teams are created equal, nor are their arenas. Read on to find the 10 sporting teams whose arenas should be on your bucket list.
10. Estádio Municipal de Braga – Braga, Portugal
The Estádio da Luz might be “the Cathedral” and Estádio José Alvalade is bright and beautiful, but it’s the Estádio Municipal that should be on soccer fans’ must-visit list. How many stadiums are carved out of a quarry? The Portuguese stadium might be unique in its setting, providing a beautiful place to watch a match. Only two sides of the field are flanked by stands, meaning the stadium is on the small side, holding just over 30,000. But a glance toward the hew rocks on one end, upon which the scoreboard stands, can fool visitors into believing they’re in the middle of nowhere. Look around to the other end, however, and the city of Braga sprawls below. The stadium sits just a 15 minute walk outside the city center, meaning there’s also plenty of opportunity to enjoy the delights of Portugal’s food and drink.
9. Anfield Stadium – Liverpool, England
For neutral fans wanting to catch a game in the country that gave birth to modern soccer, Anfield is by far the best choice. While Manchester United has a slick new complex and both Chelsea and Arsenal are located in London, all three are known for the rather tepid atmosphere pervading their stadiums. So for those seeking both a great stadium experience and a fun city to explore, the choice must be Anfield. Liverpool hasn’t won a major trophy in over a decade, but that doesn’t mean Reds fans are any less dedicated. The stadium is filled to capacity for nearly every league match, and the Kop – where the most vocal supporters sit – is guaranteed to be raucous. Be sure to learn the words to the club’s anthem, You’ll Never Walk Alone, before showing up at Anfield, as the entire stadium sings along just prior to kickoff.
8. Juventus Stadium – Turin, Italy
Serie A was once the top league in Europe, but Italian football is on the decline. That means less money, and less money means once-glorious stadiums like the San Siro in Milan are now crumbling. Juventus Stadium, however, provides not just a bright spot on the peninsula, but a prime model other clubs are in the process of emulating. Filled to almost its 40,000 capacity for every game, all that money goes to the team, a rarity in Italy. For Juventus, that means the ability to buy better players, which has lead to a run of league titles. For fans, it means getting to watch great soccer in the comfort of a modern stadium. For the visitor, it’s a wonderful atmosphere with seats almost right on top of the field. In short, it’s where to go to see the future of Italian soccer.
7. Maracanã Stadium – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Brazil’s Maracanã is one of the most famous stadiums in the world. Even those who have no idea of its history (the venue was built to wow visitors coming to Brazil for the 1950 World Cup) would likely recognize it as an icon. All those memorable shots of Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue, broadcast to millions during the 2014 World Cup final, often showed the stadium in the background. Visitors might be disappointed to learn they can’t see the famous statue from inside any longer, however, as the roof has been extended to protect nearly every seat in the house. But the upgrades make this a great place to watch a game, from the open, single tier of yellow and blue seats to the airy roof above. And lovers of soccer history will be thrilled to know they’re sitting in the same stadium where the legendary striker Pelé scored his 1,000th goal.
6. Celtic Park – Glasgow, Scotland
Celtic played their first match at Parkhead, as fans refer to the stadium, way back in 1892. The park has come a long way since those days when just one wooden stand loomed over the field. Rebuilt in the 1990s, 60,000 seats now enclose the field, and the noise from the stands creates an intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams. Those wanting to catch a game at Celtic Park should try to get tickets to an Old Firm derby, when Celtic play their rivals Rangers. More difficult to find now that Rangers are in the second division, when a tournament draws these two together, these tickets are some of the hottest in Europe. Not only does the Old Firm pit the two most successful teams in Scottish history together, but it brings together passionate fans that absolutely despise the other side, making for a cracking atmosphere.
5. Estadio Azteca – Mexico City, Mexico
Club América is one of the most successful teams in Mexico, and it’s definitely worth a trip to watch them play Chivas Guadalajara, another of the country’s best and América’s most bitter rivals. But the real reason to come to this stadium is for international matches. The Mexico national soccer team, nicknamed El Tri, rarely ever loses a game at its home stadium, largely due to the intimidating atmosphere in the stands, which hold more than 95,000 spectators. Even when El Tri isn’t playing, history gets made. The Azteca, the first stadium to host two World Cup finals, has given the world some of the most famous moments in soccer. In 1970, Italy beat West Germany 4-3 in what’s known as the “Game of the Century,” while 1986 brought not only the “Goal of the Century” from Diego Maradona, but his infamous “Hand of God” incident against England.
4. Türk Telekom Arena – Istanbul, Turkey
Once the holders of the Guinness Book of World Records title for the loudest crowd noise at a sporting event, now Galatasaray fans behave as though they’re determined to take back their crown. The Türk Telekom Arena isn’t one of the biggest in the sport, holding just over 50,000, but the cim bom faithful know how to create a fantastic atmosphere. Galatasaray supporters are also partial to fire, so keep an eye out for flares and flames coming from the sections that house the hardcore fans. For those lucky enough to score a ticket to the Intercontinental Derby, when city rivals Fenerbahçe come to visit, huge displays of choreography and massive banners exalting Galatasaray are to be expected. Expect to be entertained by antics on the pitch as well, as tempers flare there’s usually at least one sending off.
3. La Bombonera – Buenos Aires, Argentina
Officially named the Estadio Alberto J. Armando, this stadium is called “La Bombonera” due to the fact that it resembles a chocolate box, having originally been built in a U-shape, although the fourth side is now filled with a low stand and VIP boxes. The addition of more space for spectators along that fourth side hasn’t diminished the stadium’s acoustics. The triple-tiered stands along three sides trap the noise, aiding the 49,000 supporters in creating an atmosphere hostile to visiting teams. The smallish capacity can make tickets hard to come by, especially if Boca Juniors are playing rivals River Plate, but the experience of being among such passionate fans is worth the effort. Take time before the game to walk around La Bombonera, admiring the murals depicting important moments in Boca Juniors’ history – particularly the choosing of the club’s famed blue and yellow colors.
2. Camp Nou – Barcelona, Spain
The biggest soccer stadium that can be found outside North Korea, the Camp Nou is on nearly every serious soccer fan’s bucket list. And no wonder: the stadium plays host to one of the most successful teams in Europe and offers a stage to many of the best players on earth.The fans also demonstrate a fierce pride in Catalonia, the autonomous region in which Barcelona is located. The club’s Catalan motto, “Mes que un club”, is spelled out in the seats, the supporters sing in Catalan, and the region’s flag waves throughout the stands. If going to El Clásico, the meeting between Barça and Real Madrid, read up on the political background for some fascinating insights into the rivalry. Even without a visit from the rivals, however, visitors are certain to see some wonderful soccer played out.
1. Westfalenstadion – Dortmund, Germany
The absolute best place to go for fans who want to experience both entertaining soccer and a fantastic atmosphere. Officially named Signal Iduna Park, the Westfalenstadion is the biggest in Germany and one of the largest in Europe, holding 81,359 when both seating and standing are included. While standing is not allowed when Borussia Dortmund are playing in European tournaments, it is their standing section that is perhaps the most attractive feature of a trip to the stadium. Die Gelbe Wand, or the Yellow Wall, comprises the Westfalenstadion southern terrace. It was named so because Dortmund’s primary color is bright yellow. The wall is an intimidating sight, featuring 25,000 supporters doing their best to strike fear in the heart of the opposition. Also watch for Dortmund’s tifo, or giant banners, unfurled in impressive displays of choreography as the match begins.
Beyond the Disney World’s, the aquariums, the all-inclusive resorts and the cruise ships; there is a whole other world of vacation destinations that are kid-friendly. Although at one time these destinations may have catered to only adults, in recent years they are encouraging families to visit and making it more affordable and easier to do so. From the mountains of Argentina to the coast of Wales to the heart of Brazil; these 10 unexpected kid-friendly destinations will have you booking your flights in no time. But hurry, before everyone else realizes what really awaits families here.
10. Patagonia, Argentina
Patagonia has always been known as an incredible adventure destination but in recent years more and more families have taken to traveling here. It could be that the breathtaking landscapes that boast mountains, lakes, fiords and glaciers beckon to both kids and adults alike, or perhaps parents are discovering this destination which encourages kids to switch off their electronics. There is an abundance of guided walks, boat rides and horseback rides that are designed with kids in mind. The landscape here is rich with wildlife including gray foxes, cougars, whales, sea lions and eagles and if you are traveling with older kids mountaineering is a popular option to see some of these. To get the kids excited about traveling here make sure to let them watch Ice Age before you go, where glaciers and fiords come to life. Plenty of family lodges and restaurants make this destination perfect for your next family vacation.
One wouldn’t necessarily think of traveling to Croatia for a family vacation, as it is well-known for two things; its line-up of music festivals and a romantic seaside getaway. Families should be happy to know though that this breathtaking landscape is the perfect spot to bring the kids. Croatia boasts many family-friendly hotels that include kids clubs, private pools and planned activities. Even though this country is known for its elegant cuisine, kids here will find plenty of pasta and pizza on the menus, along with ice cream parlors on every corner. The long stretches of beaches are one of the biggest reasons to head here with the kids. Many of them boast facilities such as restrooms, snack bars and even lifeguards. This country loves children and while traveling here with them, you will be welcomed into every restaurant, museum or any other activity you want to explore.
8. South Africa
Whether you are looking for a beach vacation or something more along the lines of a safari; South Africa is the perfect place to do so with the kids in tow. The excellent weather, breathtaking scenery, accommodations that fit your budget and a variety of activities to be had; the long flight is definitely worth it. Hotels that are specially geared towards families are speckled throughout the country and come with amenities such as kids clubs and experienced babysitters. These hotels often offer discounts for kids and many of them even offer ‘kids stay free’ promotions. Wildlife safaris can be planned on malaria-free reserves with all-inclusive lodges and an exciting kid’s program. Some even offer horseback riding and cycling safaris; which prove to be popular with kids. First-world amenities make it easy for the whole family to enjoy this country with kid’s menus in the restaurants and excellent road infrastructure.
It is one of Central America’s hottest new destinations and the biggest decision that families face when visiting this country is deciding where to go. This country is packed with wildlife, jungles, a remarkable canal system, fascinating islands and impressive history. A good tip in this exotic location is the fact you can drink the tap water safely, a bonus for families with kids who need plenty of hydration! Discover the jungle and wildlife with one of many family friendly guided tours, charter a boat around the islands or play in the surf at one of the many beaches. If you are looking to explore Panama City, it has never been a safer option than now and families will love strolling through the historic neighborhoods, biking along the paths, tasting unique fruits from the markets and enjoying one of the many ice-cream stands that are always nearby.
6. Sedona, Arizona
This vast natural playground provides the perfect setting for a family destination, whether you want to explore the red rocks and their geology, slide down a waterslide or pick out constellations in the night sky. A jeep tour through Sedona that caters to families is the perfect way to start your vacation as guides will educate you on the land, the rock formations and point out flora and fauna you will see throughout your visit. A visit here must include time spent at Slide Rock State Park where kids and adults will slide down the natural water chute, swim in the pools and enjoy a day of hiking. Camp Verde is also a must do on this family vacation with its zoo, zip lines and a close up look at Montezuma Castle. Plenty of kid-friendly accommodations and restaurants make it easy to plan your next family vacation to Sedona.
5. Hong Kong
If you can overcome the idea of taking your kids on quite a long flight, Hong Kong is perhaps one of the most underrated kid friendly destinations in the world. Underneath the modern skyscrapers that dot the landscape lays an array of kid-friendly activities, hotels and restaurants. The two theme parks here; Ocean Park and Disneyland Hong Kong are a huge hit with families and unlike other monstrous theme parks, these are small enough that kids can walk around and are less crowded than other theme parks. The people of Hong Kong love children and everywhere you go you will find someone willing to lend a hand, give up their seat and make your experience even more memorable. The luxury hotels here cater to families which means you won’t have to give up first-class amenities; some of the features for kids include kiddie pools, playgrounds, babysitters and baby equipment.
4. Wales, U.K.
If you are looking for a family vacation in the U.K. but don’t want to pay the high prices and fight the crowds in London, Wales is the absolute perfect solution. Only a two hour drive away from London is a world full of natural wonders, kid-friendly bargain accommodations and enough activities to fill your days for weeks. This destination is for families who love to camp or stay in cottages as there are an abundance of options, from ‘glamping’ in a yurt to staying in a self-catering cottage on the coast. If exploring the outdoors is on your list of things to do, Wales has you covered with its numerous mountain climbs and loads of nature reserves complete with boardwalks that make pushing a stroller a breeze. For the families that are seeking a little more excitement make sure to check out the zip lining adventures, underground trampolines and white water rafting.
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
It has long been known as the ultimate playground for adults but Las Vegas is surprisingly kid-friendly. This city may just offer more entertainment and activities for children than anywhere else in North America, other than Orlando. Staying here is a breeze as many of the hotels cater specifically for families and if you are looking for something a little quieter, many of them are located just a short shuttle trip away from the strip. Amenities such as kid’s pools, babysitting, playgrounds, camps and organized activities are all found in the hotels. Despite popular belief, a family vacation here can also be quite affordable with the many free attractions including free shows, street performers and admission to certain attractions. The best part of taking the kids to Vegas might just be watching their reaction as they see life-sized replicas of some of the most famous landmarks in the world.
2. Atlantic City, New Jersey
It may be known for its casinos and entertainment but Atlantic City certainly shouldn’t be thought of as an adults-only destination. This city has in recent years has put a big push on promoting itself as a family-friendly city which means you can score great deals on hotels which are catering to families. Choose a hotel that has a pool, kid’s programs and restaurants within to make your trip even easier. Many families are now choosing a non-gaming hotel when they visit here. Beaches line the Atlantic Ocean complete with surfing and kayaking opportunities. The Steel Pier is located on the boardwalk and features many rides and attractions for families, with even a kiddies-ride area. The Atlantic City Aquarium, the IMAX theater and historic landmarks are all just a short drive away.
1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio is often known for its beautiful people and beautiful beaches but underneath all of that is an extremely kid-friendly city that absolutely loves children of all ages. Restaurants that have attached playgrounds are the norm here, as are kid-friendly beaches and an abundance of family activities. Some of the beaches have organized kids activities, along with a slightly calmer feel than many of the popular crowded, beats-pumping ones. A train ride to see the iconic Christ the Redeemer Statue, aerial cable car rides, a walk in the rainforest and enough fresh juices, ice cream and pastries to keep the kids happy all day long proves that Rio can be just as fun for kids as it can for adults. Enjoy the hotels where kids stay free, the restaurants where they eat free and the welcoming arms of the people who will gladly juggle your screaming baby when you are trying to enjoy your meal.
Travel + Leisure searched thousands of hotels all over the world in order to find the best game changer hotels that are new for 2015. The hotels were then tested out by staying a night in each and with a combination of elegance, innovation, personality of the owners and more; Travel + Leisure named their top 43 new hotels on the planet. We have gone one step further and explored these hotels picking our 15 favorites! From Israel to London to Botswana, here are our top 15 picks for the best new hotels on the planet:
15. Pikaia Lodge, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Boasted as the most luxurious and sustainable eco-lodge in the Galapagos; the Pikaia Lodge is designed for the environmentally conscious traveler who is looking for adventure in this remote area. Forget being stuck on a yacht, this lodge is land-based and offers land and water based activities through the day in small groups; allowing visitors get as close to nature as possible. With an infinity pool, spacious rooms, amazing restaurants and a spa, guests won’t have to sacrifice any amenities here. Did we mention that the lodge is perched on a small plateau on top of two extinct volcanic craters and offers some of the most spectacular viewpoints in all of the Galapagos?
Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge was actually re-built from an existing lodge and offers one of the most architecturally stunning safari camps. It blends seamlessly into its surroundings, the forest canopy of wild palms and fig trees with an abundance of wildlife nearby. 12 Cocoon like suites complete with wood burning fireplaces, private plunge pools and solar-power air conditioning hover on stilts above the floodplain reserve. World-class dining, breathtaking furnishings and an open-air dining room that is absolutely breathtaking set the mood for the ultimate safari adventure.
13. Viña Vik, Millahue, Chile
It looks more like a spaceship that touched down in the lush hills of Chilean wine country than a winery complete with a retreat recently added on the hillside above it. Viña Vik is home to only 22 rooms, each one designed by a different artist, adding to the allure of the place. Activities here are endless from taking a private guided tour through the winery, taking a dip in the stone infinity pool or eating the delicious food at the Pavilion Café.
12. The Norman, Tel Aviv, Israel
This boutique hotel blends 1920’s elegance with luxury services and facilities including a rooftop pool, wellness center and first-class dining. The Norman spans across two historic buildings that have been restored to their unique architectural heritage and furnished with a combination of classic and modern furnishings and fixtures. With 30 individually designed guestrooms and 20 one-of-a-kind suites the choice is endless as to where you can lay your head down at night.
11. Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard, London
This hotel isn’t just attracting tourists but locals themselves as they come to gawk at the Shangri-La Hotel located on floors 34-52 of the tallest building in Western Europe. Floor to ceiling windows in your room give you a breathtaking view of the vibrant city of London and the River Thames. The infinity pool, the incredible suites, the intimate bars and the amazing dining options are just a slice of the many luxuries offered here.
10. Four Seasons Resort Orlando, FL
It is Disney’s first five-star resort and it manages to incorporate enough trademark Disney traditions such as character breakfasts without sacrificing any of the luxury one would expect from a five-star resort. With a total of 443 rooms, there are options for both families and grownups including huge balconies, pullout sofas and oversized closets; all done in neutral colors to please anyone. Luxury amenities include the 13,000 square foot spa, the championship golf course and the adults-only pool. Count on dining on the roof top restaurant which features incredible views of the nightly fireworks.
9. Adler Mountain Lodge, Dolomites, Italy
Located in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Adler Mountain Lodge is truly a wood-built hideaway at the heart of nature. This lodge promises breathtaking views across the mountain meadows and soaring peaks, as well as an innovative guest experience and superior holiday experience. From the heated outdoor pool to the alpine spa to the sauna with incredible views, this lodge is like no other and creates the perfect base for exploring nature.
8. Belle Mont Farm, St. Kitts
The passion for sustainable living is at the forefront of Belle Mont Farm hotel, along with making sure luxury amenities are still available to guests. Accommodations have been designed to fit in with nature and feature spectacular views of the ocean and forest. The guesthouses are loaded with amenities including rainwater showers, film-stocked iPad, projector screens and fresh fruit crates that get delivered daily. The personalized attention from the owners and the farm-to-table approach is what really wins guests over here.
7. Maalifushi by Como, Maldives
It’s not over the top luxury that got this hotel on our list, as the Maldives are packed full of that. It’s actually the family-friendly vibe that caught our attention. Maalifushi by COMO offers every choice of accommodation from two-bedroom suites to private pools to direct beach access to private butlers; giving families a wide range of options. Amenities such as a kid-friendly lagoon, kid’s club with outdoor cinema and babysitting services complete the experience. Don’t forget about the spa suites over the water, surfing lessons on nearby legendary breaks and amazing dining options for the grownups.
6. Raffles, Istanbul
This 21-storey hotel houses 181 guest rooms that are elegantly designed with Turkish influences and feature fine details you won’t find elsewhere. Floor to ceiling windows fill the rooms with light, private terraces, spa-like bathrooms and walk-in closets are just a few examples of these. The hotel is decked out with over 200 pieces of contemporary art that create a refined, modern sense of style. Whether you are enjoying the 33,000 square foot spa, dining in one of the seven on-site restaurants or sipping on Turkish coffee in the lounge, this hotel proves to be unforgettable.
5. Hotel Sahrai, Fez, Morocco
Gone is the notion that one must hole up in a budget hotel when visiting the medieval city of Fez with the introduction of this hotel. Loaded with terraces, outdoor bars, dining areas and an infinity pool; Hotel Sahrai embraces the notion of open space and natural light. The 50 guest rooms feature glass walls, soothing colors, exclusive furnishings and elegant details. Delicious food in an elegant setting tops off this hot new hotel of 2015.
4. Vines Resort & Spa, Mendoza, Argentina
Vines Resort is set amongst 1,500 acres of private vineyards and offers 22 private villas ranging from one to two bedrooms units. The huge windows allow for visitors to watch the incredible sunrises and sunsets that take place in the Uco Valley. Outdoor hot tubs, luxury linens, gas fireplaces, rooftop terraces and spa-inspired bathrooms complete the villas. Guests here can choose to dine inside, outside or in front of the open kitchen where they can watch skilled chefs cook with locally sourced ingredients to create five star dishes. Paired with award-winning boutique wines; this is one experience you won’t forget.
3. 25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin
25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin is certainly one of the most unique hotels on this list as designers have created a hotel that blends nature with culture in one of the most interesting designs we have seen. Think 10-speed bikes dangling from the hallway ceilings and hammocks lining the third floor lobby. The location cannot be beat and if you feel like watching the apes play in the city zoo all day, why not book a room overlooking it or head to the rooftop bar. Rooms are playful with their polished concrete floors, black-tiled showers and colorful fabrics throughout and this will truly be one unique hotel stay.
2. Namiri Plains, Tanzania
The eastern edge of the Serengeti has been off-limits to visitors for over 20 years, as its status as a wildlife refuge took precedence. The game-rich region is full of big cats including the ever elusive cheetah. Namiri Plains was created to cater to the wildlife enthusiast that was seeking a deeper experience, secluded surroundings and excellent wildlife experiences. This camp was created to minimize the impact on the environment and comprises of only eight tents that are perched in the shade of the giant acadias. Daily game drives, sunset picnics and the annual migration of the wildebeest and zebra make this an unforgettable vacation destination.
1. The Brando, Tetiaroa, French Polynesia
The Brando is made up of 35 ultra-private villas, each constructed with sustainable local wood and cooled by seawater-powered air conditioning. They face their own secluded private beach complete with visits from sea turtles and exotic birds. If you are looking to escape reality for a week, this is the hottest new hotel to visit this year. Two restaurants, a luxurious spa and wellness center, an organic garden, lily pad pond and two bars make up the rest of the property. Don’t forget about the tennis court, infinity pool and cultural center. Guests can expect to snorkel or dive with the tropical fish, take a sail into the lagoon, kayak above coral gardens, paddle board out to a nearby island or just relax on the breathtaking white sand beaches.
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, there are a lot of places in the world where sometimes creepy and freaky stuff happens, things that just can’t be explained with today’s science. Maybe one day we’ll be able to explain supposedly paranormal and supernatural occurrences, but for now, such happenings only serve to fuel modern-day legends and urban myths about ghosts and angry spirits that walk this mortal plane. The belief in spirits is widespread, a global phenomenon, and as such, there are plenty of places around the world where ghosts and other ghouls are reported to hang out. Sometimes, though, whether through a combination of accumulated history or a single tragedy, a location gains a reputation for being a congregation space for residents of the other world. These 12 locations—whether due to the longevity of the legend, the number of ghosts, or the infamous nature of the ghosts—are some of the most haunted places on the face of the earth.
12. Valley of the Kings (Egypt)
The ancient Egyptians’ burial practices are well-known to us today and, given the advanced techniques of preservation that allowed them to make mummies, it’s little wonder that any place associated with ancient Egyptian burials is rumored to be haunted. That, coupled with the lore that surrounds the pharaohs of ancient Egypt cursing their tombs to keep their riches and ward off would-be tomb robbers, makes a place like the Valley of the Kings seem particularly spooky. The Valley of the Kings, located in the Theban Hills off the western Nile, was used as a burial site for nearly 500 years. Tombs were constructed for powerful pharaohs and other nobles. The valley is known to contain 63 tombs and chambers. That’s a lot of mummies! Up to 10,000 visitors arrive in the Valley on any given day of the week and some of them have reported seeing a vision of an Egyptian pharaoh riding a fiery chariot drawn by black horses. Many deaths have been associated with the tomb of King Tut in particular, although most people suggest the “mummy’s curse” wasn’t actually responsible for these deaths.
11. Dumas Beach (Surat, India)
This urban beach, located along the Arabian Sea in the Gujurat state of India, has become a popular destination for tourists. Well-connected to major cities by rail, Surat is particularly known for its blend of cuisines and along the promenade of Dumas Beach, you can find vendors selling Indian and Chinese street foods. Dariya Ganesh Temple, adjacent to the beach, is a popular attraction. The beach’s black sand is also a draw. But the locals believe the beach to be haunted. That’s because Dumas Beach has long been used as a crematorium by the local Hindu population. As per Hindu tradition, rather than burying bodies, the people of Surat burn their dead on the sands of Dumas. (Kind of makes you worry about why the sand is black, doesn’t it?) Visitors say they have heard voices telling them to “go back” where they came from. Sometimes, people hear many voices, although the beach is deserted at the time. Creepy!
10. The Kremlin (Moscow, Russia)
The Kremlin is one of the most iconic buildings in Russia’s capital city, but this fortified complex has a reputation for being haunted, particularly by the leaders of old Soviet Russia. It’s little surprise, given the bloody legacy of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent Soviet era. Today, the complex serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation, and the Kremlin towers and Kremlin Wall are iconic as symbols of Russia. Indeed, the Kremlin is the most famous of 5 similar citadels, and with 4 palaces and 5 cathedrals, including Saint Basil’s Cathedral, it’s not hard to see why. The Kremlin is most associated with the Soviet era, although it was first made into a fortress in the 11th century. Later eras saw the fortress expanded and rebuilt. Revitalized in the imperial period, the Kremlin was first rebuilt by Catherine the Great. Since then, it has borne witness to assassinations, murder, and intrigue, as well as the damage suffered in war. Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin made the Kremlin his headquarters after the revolution of 1917, and Stalin also had rooms there. Today, some report seeing the ghosts of Lenin and Stalin stalking the Kremlin hallways!
9. Tuen Mun Road (Hong Kong, China)
Since 1978, this highway has recorded an astounding number of accidents, many of them fatal. While some people attribute the number of accidents to the road’s early design and heavy usage, others claim they have seen ghosts materialize on the road, causing drivers to swerve and wreck their cars. Despite this, Tuen Mun is still one of the most heavily used roads in Hong Kong. One of the first high-speed highways in Hong Kong, many of the accidents on Tuen Mun can be attributed to poor design and cost-cutting measures used in its construction. The steep terrain and winding coastline presented some serious challenges for the engineering team and the decision to use substandard geometry and narrow carriageways directly led to a number of accidents. Although improvements have been made since that time, accidents are still frequent and often terrifying, such as a 2003 incident where a bus broke through the side of a bridge and plummeted into a village 35 meters below the road, causing 21 deaths! With incidents like that, it’s little wonder that people would believe there are some vengeful ghosts on the side of the road.
8. Zvikov Castle (Czech Republic)
One of the most important castles in the Czech Republic, Zvikov Castle, also known as the “king of castles,” stands on a difficult-to-access promontory where the Vltava and Otava Rivers meet. The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times and has been the scene of many bloody battles over the years. Although it was heavily fortified and often successfully defended against enemies, the castle was only important for farming after 1640 and the conclusion of the Thirty Years’ War. The castle was mostly a ruin by the 1840s but was restored after its owners invested huge sums in reconstruction. Today, the castle is open as an attraction to hikers from spring until autumn and hosts art exhibitions and plays. The castle has its own ghost, Zvikov’s imp, who has inspired writers and painters. The imp is said to inhabit the ancient tower Markomanka, which has strange engravings dating back to the 1st century AD. Fire hounds are also said to guard an underground tunnel, and visitors frequently report technical issues, weird photos, and ghosts, among other odd events. It is also said that anyone who sleeps in the main tower will die within a year.
7. Aokigahara (Japan)
Quick, name the most haunted place in Japan! If you guessed a forest at the base of Mount Fuji, you’d be right! Although Mt. Fuji is considered a sacred place, the forest located at the foot of the mountain, Aokigahara, has gained a rather unsavory reputation. In 1960, the novel Kuroi Jukai (Black Sea of Trees) was published and made the site a popular destination for those who wanted to commit suicide. In fact, it is the most commonplace in Japan to commit suicide and one of the most popular destinations in the world. In 2010, 247 people attempted suicide in the forest (54 were successful). Suicide attempts are said to peak in March, at the end of the Japanese fiscal year. Aokighara’s reputation goes back further, however; in the 19th century, it may have been used for ubasute, the practice of abandoning an elderly or infirm person to die in a remote location. The forest is reputedly haunted by the angry spirits of those who were left to perish. Aokighara is exceptionally quiet due to a lack of animal life and the density of the trees, which may be one of the reasons people think this forest is so eerie.
6. Baguio City (Philippines)
Baguio City in the Philippines isn’t home to just 1 or 2 haunted houses; it’s home to a whole swath of reportedly haunted areas and pretty much the entire city is considered to be haunted. With a history that’s full of trauma and tragedy, it’s little wonder that there are so many specters in the city. Baguio was occupied by the Japanese during World War II and a number of places, including the Laperal White House and the Diplomat Hotel, were sites of horrific crimes and grisly deaths, fueling rumors that ghosts now haunt these places. The 1990 Luzon earthquake did extensive damage to many of the old buildings in the city and several of them collapsed, killing people trapped inside. Many of these sites are now haunted by the spirits of those who died in the disaster. Other haunted sites include the Teachers’ Camp and the Military Academy, and many other places, including cemeteries and old hotels and houses, are also supposed to be haunted. If you want to meet a ghost, Baguio is your destination!
5. Cinco Saltos (Argentina)
Also known as the City of Witches, Cinco Saltos in the Rio Negro province of Argentina is infamous for being haunted. It has been inhabited for only about 100 years, but it has earned its reputation because of the frequency of witchcraft reports. Bajo Negro, a place where no sunlight reaches, is where witchcraft is supposedly carried out. Some people have reported seeing people dressed in black robes performing rituals there, but no photos of the site exist. Other paranormal occurrences, such as UFO sightings, are reported in the area as well. In 2009, the intact corpse of a young girl was found in an ossuary in one of the local cemeteries. She had died sometime in the 1930s and never been buried, but simply placed into the box and stored. Soon after, rumors of a ghost haunting the cemetery spread through the city. Nearby Pellegrini Lake is another site for supernatural spooks and ghouls. One story claims that an infant drowned in the lake over 50 years ago and can still be found haunting the shores of the lake, seeking comfort from those unfortunate enough to cross its path.
4. Ararat Lunatic Asylum (Victoria, Australia)
Also known as Aradale, the Ararat Lunatic Asylum is the largest abandoned asylum in Australia. Opened in 1867, it was the destination for those mental patients deemed “incurable” in the late 19th century—and it was often their final destination. The asylum continued to operate until 1998 when it was finally closed. Today, it has been incorporated into the local campus of the Australian College of Wine. The asylum was built to accommodate the growing number of “lunatics” during Australia’s colonial years. Although the building was not officially opened until 1867, the patient list extends back to 1865, and 2 sister asylums were built nearby. Over the nearly 2 and a half centuries of operation, it’s estimated that close to 13,000 people met their maker at Aradale. Ghost tours operate frequently and take visitors through many parts of the original complex, including the administration, chapel, kitchen, wards, and the morgue. You know, just in case a former asylum wasn’t creepy enough.
3. The Empress Hotel (British Columbia, Canada)
One of the oldest and most famous hotels in Canada, the Fairmont Empress Hotel, commonly known as the Empress, is also one of the most famously haunted buildings in the country. Located in Victoria, BC, the hotel is a National Historic Site of Canada. Built between 1904 and 1908, the hotel has been witness to a number of historic events and often graced with the presence of British royalty and American celebrities. The hotel is also home to several ghosts. One is a thin man with a mustache and a cane, thought to be Francis Rattenbury, the hotel’s architect. On the 6th floor, an apparitional maid can sometimes be seen cleaning, bringing new meaning to the phrase “working to death.” Another specter is an elderly woman who reportedly goes about knocking on the doors of guests. She claims to need help finding her room. If one agrees to help her, she leads them toward the elevators, where she disappears. Another grisly tale relates to a worker who hanged himself in an elevator shaft in the early 1960s; a shadow of a body swinging from above is sometimes reported by guests. No matter what, the Empress hotel sure has some interesting guests!
2. Baskerville Hall (UK)
You know a place is probably haunted when it ends up as a central location in a Sherlock Holmes novel. That’s precisely what happened to Baskerville Hall, located in Powys, Wales. The building, which is an enormous mansion, was first built in 1839 and quickly gained a reputation as being a popular haunt for some pretty ghastly visitors. The Hall is most famously haunted by the White Lady and the supposed hell hounds made famous in Conan Doyle’s novel, but there are allegedly many other spirits out and about as well. Another source of inspiration for Conan Doyle’s tale included the story of a wicked squire who, when buried in 1677, was said to lead a pack of phantom dogs to the hunt. Although Conan Doyle set his novel in Devon at the request of friends, in hopes of warding off tourists, the Hall today is a hotel ready to be explored. You might be greeted by a male apparition on the grand staircase, or you might encounter the White Lady in the rose garden. Like other guests, you might hear footsteps in the corridors or banging noises with no source.
1. Witch House (Massachusetts, USA)
You can’t get through a “most haunted” list without invoking one of the most infamous cases in U.S. history, the Salem Witch Trials. Between February 1692 and May 1693, 20 people, mostly women, were hanged after being convicted of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts. The Witch House, also known as Jonathan Corwin House, is the last standing building with direct ties to the trials. The house was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, who was called upon to preside over the trials after the execution of Bridgette Bishop and the resignation of Judge Nathaniel Saltonstall. Corwin was involved in sending 19 of the 20 victims to the gallows. While no interrogations or trial proceedings were conducted in the house itself, the building is still rumored to be haunted by the spirits of those who were sentenced to death by Corwin and his colleagues. The house serves as a museum, open seasonally, and was featured in an episode of the TV series Ghost Adventures. Two other Salem buildings, the Joshua Ward House and the Lyceum Restaurant are said to be haunted by spirits of people involved with the witch trials.
The year of 2015 is promising to take monumental steps forward in technology, science and innovation and tourist attractions are benefitting from this trend. With more people traveling than ever before, older attractions are reinventing themselves and offering visitors new exhilarating experiences. From the new floor in the iconic Eiffel Tower to a bicycle path turned glow-in-the-dark; tourism imagination is at its fullest. Besides the revamped tourist attractions are a number of fabulous brand new attractions including state of the art museums focused on helping our planet, sustainable distilleries and skyscrapers and cable cars that can whisk visitors up mountains at lightning speed. From an ice tunnel in a large glacier to what feels like the top of the world in New York City; visitors around the world have no shortage of epic and cool new tourist attractions to explore. Join us in discovering the top 15 coolest new tourist attractions in 2015.
15. Shanghai Tower -Shanghai, China
Set to be the second tallest tower in the world, the Shanghai Tower could not be left off this list of coolest and most amazing attractions of 2015. Towering over the Huangpu River with 125 stories the shape of the tower is most unique. With a curved façade and a spiraling form the tower provides nine indoor zones for public visitors offering 360 degree views of the city. Each zone is home to its own atrium with gardens, cafes, restaurants and retail space.
Sustainable design is at the heart of the Shanghai Tower and at the center of its design is the second skin that wraps around the building creating the atriums that help reduce the heating and cooling efforts needed for the building. Other features include water conservation practices, wind turbines and extensive landscaping. The tower truly represents the future in the way cities are being created and is redefining the role of skyscrapers in big cities. The building is set to be the second tallest only for a short while as the Ping An Finance Centre in Shenzhen is set to surpass it in 2016. Regardless of whether it is the second, third or tenth tallest building in the world, the Shanghai Tower features unique components and a breathtaking design that can only truly be appreciated in person.
14. Eiffel Tower Glass Floor -Paris, France
One of the attractions on our list that has been re-vamped into one of the coolest new attractions of 2015 is the infamous Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. To celebrate the 125th anniversary of Paris the Eiffel Tower went through a 40 million dollar face lift and includes a new museum, solar panels and a dizzying glass floor. The museum tells the story of the history of the museum through seven screens while the solar panels will help produce hot water and energy for the tower.
The main new attraction here and the one that has everyone talking is the glass floor located on the first floor, almost 200 feet above the ground. Visitors will feel as they are literally walking on air as the non-slip coating applied to the see through panels allow people to walk, lay, sit and take “selfies”. If you didn’t think you were scared of heights take a jaunt up to this unique twist on an already iconic tourist attraction and step out onto the glass floor; this addition only makes us want to visit the Eiffel Tower even more.
13. Flyway Taiwan -New Taipei City, Taiwan
One of the most exciting attractions on our list takes place in New Taipei City in Taiwan, amongst the rolling green hills and breathtaking landscapes. Flyway, a company founded by a man from California is set to open in spring of 2015 offering a two hour zip-line canopy tour. With over ten cables to whiz down through the forests and over valleys as well as swings, rope ladders and “free fall” experiences there is no shortage of adrenaline rushing activities.
Located on the eastern edge of Taipei, Taiwan this is not for the faint-hearted. Visitors that have done zip-lining before should think twice about skipping this tourist attraction as the varying landscapes, professional commitment and interesting course offers something very different than the typical jungle zip-line experience. The trend-crazy island of Taiwan is full of beauty, lush green rolling hills and the perfect choice to go flying through the air Tarzan Style at one of the coolest attractions set to open in 2015.
12. Bombay Sapphire Distillery -Laverstoke, United Kingdom
When one of the most iconic gin brands in the world creates a distillery with a visitor’s center it promises to be amazing and out of this world. Bombay Sapphire has managed to transform a 300 year old paper mill that sits amongst a conservation area with over a thousand years of history into a state-of-the-art sustainable distillery. The renovated Laverstoke Mill showcases the natural beauty and heritage of the site while letting visitors see the unique Vapour Infusion distillation process.
The two giant greenhouses showcase the botanicals that Bombay uses in their gin and are composed of 793 individual pieces of glass. The Dakin Still House lets visitors get up close and personal to the distillation process while the Botanical Dry Room will invigorate your senses and uncover your preferred tastes. The Mill bar is where the tasting happens and all the drinks can be tailored individually depending on your botanical preference. A combination of incredible history, beautiful glass architecture and some of the best gin in the world makes this our number twelve coolest attraction of 2015. Discover the village of Laverstoke; home to the Bombay Sapphire Distillery.
11. Whitney Museum of American Art -New York City, USA
The largest column-free museum gallery in New York City is set to open in spring 2015; The Whitney Museum of American Art has packed up its collections and moved to its new location. Situated in the meatpacking district between the High Line and Hudson River in Manhattan the building promises to include approximately 50,000 square feet of indoor galleries and 13,000 square feet of outdoor exhibition space. The special exhibit section is set to encompass 18,000 square feet making it the largest column free gallery in NY.
The cantilevered entrance creates a large public space where visitors can see views of the Hudson River, the park, industrial structures and mingle with others that are passionate about art. The education center that is part of the Museum includes classrooms, a 170-seat theater, conservation lab, reading room and black box with adjacent outdoor gallery for performances, film and video. Combined with a retail store and choice of restaurants; the new and improved Whitney Museum of American Art looks to be one of the coolest attractions of 2015.
10. One World Observatory -New York City, USA
The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere is the size of six statue of liberty’s stacked one on top of each other and is set to open in the spring of 2015. The One World Observatory occupies floors 100-102 at One World Trade Center spanning 120,000 square feet. Not only does the observatory offer a spectacular 360 degree view of New York City, surrounding waters and iconic landmarks but offers dining options, a gift store and interactive exhibits.
Visitors will first experience a multimedia gallery of the construction and engineering of this fabulous attraction. They are then whisked upwards 102 floors in just 60 seconds; the fastest elevator ride in the world. The observatory includes the “See-Forever” theater which shows a film celebrating the city of New York. A fun fact about this building; architects and designers built the tower to the specific height of 1,776 feet, to represent the year the US Declaration of Independence was signed. One World Observatory promises to be one of the hottest tourist attractions of 2015 and should be on your list of places to visit.
9. Sapa Cable Car, Sapa -Vietnam
The world’s longest and highest cable car is set to open in Vietnam in 2015. The three rope cable car system is designed to take people from the foot of Fansipan Mountain to the top in just 15 minutes. In the past only avid hikers could make the two to three day trek to the top. The summit of the mountain is described as the roof of Indochina and offers stunning views across the landscapes below to those who have been unable to view it from the top in previous years.
The sleepy hill station of Sapa will be transformed into a high attraction tourist spot making some residents uneasy about the number of visitors trekking through their culturally diverse environment. Other residents however are looking forward to it; some residents have never been to the top as the trek is too hard while others plan to open restaurants and markets for the visitors. The cable car will be able to carry a maximum of 2,000 people per hour up the mountain with 35 people per car; that is the same amount of people that stood atop the mountain last year, total. The longest and highest cable car is set to open in time for National Day in the fall of 2015 and is certainly going to be a unique attraction.
8. Springfield at Universal Studios Hollywood, -Los Angeles, USA
For anyone who has watched the legendary TV show “The Simpsons”, this new attraction coming to Universal Studios Hollywood is sure to be one of the coolest attractions on the list for you. The town of Springfield is being re-created in Hollywood, modeled after the already popular Simpsons attraction in the Orlando Park. Universal Studios Hollywood is home to the very popular Simpson’s ride which is a medium-level thrill ride with gut busting humor and outstanding displays.
The new attraction promises replica eateries including Krusty Burger, Luigi’s Pizza, Phineas Q. Bufferfat’s 5600 Flavors Ice Cream Parlor, along with Moe’s Tavern and the Duff Brewery. Slide up to the bar at Moe’s Tavern and grab a Duff Beer and make a prank phone call. Or visit the Kwik-E-Mart and indulge in a Squishee frozen drink. Other attractions include Mr. Burn’s mansion and the nuclear power plant. It seems as designers have stuck to the true essence of the show and have worked hard to make the iconic TV show come to life. Whether you spent years watching the show or have only watched one episode this attraction is sure to delight any visitor to the park.
7. TITLIS Rotair -Engelberg, Switzerland
Whether you visit Switzerland in the winter or the summer this brand new attraction is going to be something you want to do. The TITLIS Rotair is one of the world’s only revolving gondolas and it transports visitors to the summit of Mount TITLIS. Passengers load onto the gondola at the middle station located in the town of Engelberg and take a short five minute trip up to 9,926ft; the top of the summit. Passengers are provided with 360 degree views of the surrounding landscape; steep rock faces, snow covered mountain peaks, and deep glacial crevices.
There is no bad place to stand as the gondola does a full rotation up to the top and offers great views from any position. At the top another adventure awaits visitors as the Glacier Cave is free to walk through, as is the adrenaline pumping suspension bridge that is Europe’s highest suspension bridge and offers breathtaking lookouts into the abyss. The Glacier Park is also accessible from the summit and one should try the quick and slippery snow tubes or minibobs that take you down the hill; while a magic carpet waits to pull you back up. A chocolate shop, a watch store and a breathtaking Mountain view; what more could you want?
6. Langjökull Ice Tunnel in Langjökull Glacier – Iceland
Deep in the heart of the country’s second largest ice cap; Langjökull Glacier near Reykjavik an underground tunnel is being dug for the sole purpose of letting visitors get up close and personal to the ice and educating them on such matters as global warming. Set to open in June 2015 visitors will be privy to exhibitions, information, restaurants and even a small chapel for those wishing to marry in the midst of the dense ice. Make sure to bundle up in this tourist attraction though!
Visitors will get a chance to walk through the tunnel and observe the varying ice levels and colours. From the newer white ice to the colder blue ice visitors will get a better understanding of how the glacier formed. The size; 200-300 metres long at 30 metres below the surface makes it the largest man made ice structure in the world. Lights are installed on the walls of the tunnels and numerous nooks and dens will house information about the glacier and global warming. Guided tours will be available and will require a short trip aboard an 8-wheel truck across the glacier to reach the entrance to the tunnel. Discovering the layers of ice, finding out how they formed and witnessing a truly spectacular man-made creation is what awaits you at Langjökull Ice Tunnel.
5. Starry Night Bicycle Path -Nuenen, Netherlands
One of the most unique tourist attractions created for this year is located in Nuenen, Netherlands. Dutch designer Daan Roosegaard has created a glow-in-the-dark bike path with swirls of patterned lights that are based on Vincent van Gogh’s painting The Starry Night. The pattered lights look remarkably like the falling stars in the painting. This kilometer long stretch was made in tribute to the artist who passed away 125 years ago. Van Gogh was born and raised in the Dutch County of Brabant and spent a couple years working and living in the city of Nuenen.
The glowing path is created with a combination of special paint that gathers light through the day and LED lights that charge throughout the day from a solar panel. The result is a breathtaking display that is entirely self-sufficient and remarkably poetic. The path is part of the 335-kilometer Van Gogh Cycle Route that is free to use and open to the public all year round. Discover this beautiful piece of art that pays tribute to the great artist while you wander the breathtaking country of the Netherlands.
4. BioMuseo -Panama City, Panama
The BioMuseo or the The Biodiversity Museum: Panama Bridge of Life as it’s actually called is located in Panama City, Panama and is number four on the list of the coolest attractions of 2015. The museum was designed by Frank Gehry, world-renowned architect whose works have been cited as the most important works of contemporary architecture of our time. The building is brilliantly colored with each panel painted a different color and overlooks the Pacific Ocean at the front and the entrance to the canal from the back.
Inside visitors will find a plethora of exhibits to explore. Keep in mind that as of January 2015 the museum was open but still not fully completed. An overview of the biodiversity of Panama starts you off and there is an audio guide available in Spanish and English to guide you along. The movie theater boasts screens on the floor, ceiling and three sides taking you into the rainforest and nature. Visitors should look forward to the aquariums that are set to open in 2015 and will offer a look at the difference in the Pacific and Caribbean Oceans. A beautiful piece of architecture loaded with education on Panama this is one spot you shouldn’t miss out on.
3. The Yellow Submarine -Península Valdés, Argentina
One of the newest and coolest attractions of 2015 has taken an older attraction and turned it into something new and exciting. Whale Watching is a popular activity for tourists to do in certain parts of the world but there is often the complaint that only the backs of the whales can be spotted as they breach up for air. Lucky visitors will watch as the spectacular mammals jump and play but this is rare and unseen most times. A company in Argentina has solved this problem and taken whale watching to a new level with a chance for visitors to go underwater.
Yellow Submarine is the first company to build a semi-submarine specifically designed for watching whales and sea lions. The submarine offers visitors the chance to walk around on the outdoor upper deck or go down to the underwater lower viewing area. Watch as the whales and sea lions glide right past the viewing windows and feel as if you are truly diving amongst them. You will want to head here from September-December for the high season where the whales are in abundance. As you watch the enormous majestic whales glide right beside you it will be easy to understand why this attraction made our top 15 list.
2. Museum of Tomorrow -Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Brazil’s “Marvelous Port” program is revitalizing Rio’s urban waterfront district and at the forefront of this project is the Museum of Tomorrow. The museum’s focus is on science and the sustainable and ecological future of our planet. Set on the highly prominent Pier Maua, the gleaming white sculptural structure extends 300 m into the sea and is surrounded by water on three sides. A recreation area, park and 5-and-a-half acres of gardens along with pools of recycled rainwater also surround the building.
The roof is made with huge steel structures shaped like wings that help control the climate and act as solar panels. This sustainable museum has a floor space of over 5,000 square meters with four main areas of exhibits, interactive games, and projection screens. The idea behind the museum is to connect science with everyday life and to recognize that we must be proactive in environmental practices. This breathtaking piece of architecture promises to dominate the downtown waterfront while offering a unique look at our planet and the history of humankind in regards to it. Just in time for the 2016 Olympics, this museum is a treat for the eyes and mind.
1. Markthal -Rotterdam, Netherlands
The first covered market hall in the Netherlands has opened after five years of construction and promises to be something unique and special. Starting with the design, the building is a massive arch that was designed by Dutch architects MVRDV. It houses a public market with 96 fresh produce stalls, 20 hospitality and retail units and 228 apartments. The breathtaking building holds the biggest piece of artwork in the Netherlands inside of its arches; a colorful mural consisting of oversized images of the produce one will find inside, flowers and insects.
The motto of Markthal is “work, live, shop and enjoy it” and it certainly offers visitors the chance to do all of that. From well-known bakeries to local producers to a cookery school this extraordinary piece of art and retail space is truly one-of-a-kind. A staircase in the center of the market offers visitors the chance to learn about the history of food and witness the artifacts that were found during the excavation of the site. Open 7 days a week with over 1,200 underground parking spots anyone is welcome to enjoy this space at anytime. The quality and uniqueness of the design coupled with the endless amounts of choice for food, drink and shopping makes this our number one coolest destination of 2015.