Horseback Riding in Europe: 10 Best Trails

Saddle up and head for the hills of Europe on 10 of the most popular horseback riding trails. With its varied landscape and long tradition of horsemanship, Europe is ideal for a horseback-riding holiday. Every country has its own distinctive history and natural wonders to be explored and horse riding offers a completely different perspective on popular European destinations. From the chateaus of France to the glaciers of Scandinavian, get ready for a ride of a lifetime.

10. France

With their centuries-old tradition of horseback riding, Renaissance chateaus from the 16th century, and vineyards of Bordeaux, France is an excellent place to experience the country by horseback. Like an aristocrat from the Victorian era, saddle up, English style, for an adventure into the ancient woodlands and castles of the Loire Valley. Another popular riding spot is Provence, an area known for its fine food and glorious landscapes that inspired Cezanne. Riders can also discover the rugged, remote Pyrenees of Pays Basque, the region that borders Spain, for a ride through the mountains and rolling hills. Get ready to gallop across sandy beaches of Landes and witness the castles and famous wine cellars of Bordeaux. Following the French riding tradition of Natural Horsemanship, riding experts encourage a non-violent approach to training, which is a horse whispering riding style that has been passed down through generations.

9. Portugal

With its natural diversity and pleasant weather, Portugal has excellent terrain for horseback riding. On a riding holiday of a lifetime, get ready for gallops on deserted sandy beaches, trail rides through mountain ranges, and breathtaking trails along windswept coastlines. In Lisbon and Porto, saddle up and discover the historic architecture of the medieval quarters. For more remote landscapes of the Portugal countryside, head to a romantic pousada, monastery, or manor house for an overnight stay in between trail rides. There are also beautiful rides in Alto Alentjo along the southwest coast and the farmlands and rolling hills of upper Alentjo. Portugal has a long dressage tradition, which is cultivated at the world-class training facility of Lusitano Riding Center. If you’re a novice rider, they offer beginner lessons on the Lusitano horse, a breed considered the best riding horse for its calm temperament and sturdiness.

8. Ireland

After a pint of Guinness and a hearty traditional Irish meal, saddle up on a Connemara pony and head out into the Irish countryside. Like most of Europe, Ireland has a rich history of horsemanship, making it easy to horseback ride across Emerald Isle. Horseback is a great way to explore the highlands of Kerry County or the dramatic coastal cliffs of the Atlantic coast. Ireland is also filled with vast grasslands and meadows, the perfect spot for an epic gallop. It’s also a chance for Americans to reconnect with their distant Irish heritage. Along the trails, you’ll find a rich Celtic heritage in the remote islands off the Atlantic with old stone ruins dotting the landscape. The countryside is also full of medieval castles, ancient monasteries, and famous landmarks. In between trail rides, pop in a historic pub that seems to be at the end of every path.

7. Iceland

Situated on the edge of the Arctic Circle is one of the most rugged and remote landscapes on earth. With its glaciers, dramatic fjords, waterfalls, and volcanoes, Iceland has some of the most scenic horseback riding trails. The region of the North Atlantic is so rough that extra horses are often brought along to prevent exhaustion along the trail. But the extra effort is worth it for an up close look at the country’s stunning natural wonders. But with the Icelandic horse leading the way, you can rely on the sturdy, even-tempered beast of burden to take you safely through the terrain. Often passing through the backcountry, the riding trails typically lead to rustic mountain huts amongst wild mountain backdrops. The landscape might be unyielding, but on horseback, it’s a thrilling ride through the world’s most dramatic natural scenery.

6. Cyprus

Known as Aphrodite’s Isle, Cyprus is full of romantic notions, particularly the legend of the goddess of love rising out of the waves. With its sandy beaches, hillsides, and mountain ranges, the ancient isle has a variety of trails that are ideal for horseback riding. Along the way, you’ll get to explore relics of the ancient world, medieval castles, and Byzantine churches. In a landscape filled with historic wonders and romantic legends, it’s no surprise that Cyprus is a popular honeymoon destination and a vacation on horseback ups the ante in the art of romance. Another horse riding trail is in the countryside of Mesogi in the Paphos region where the Eagle Mountain Ranch offers

5. Greece

In the Cradle of the Ancient World, explore the backdrop to Greek mythology by horseback just like the early pioneers. Starting in Crete, saddle up for a ride through traditional farmlands, rolling hills, ancient olive groves along the rugged coast of the Mediterranean. Back on the mainland, the country is full of major archeological sites, including the ancient city of Athens and the ruins of the Partheneon and Acropolis, among others. The mild Mediterranean weather is also ideal for horseback riding year-round and a cool gallop down the coast at sunset is a favorite activity for Greek riders. From the ancient city of Athens to the rugged coast, Greece is full of unforgettable trail rides for the novice or the expert rider.

4. Norway

With its dramatic fjords, rugged mountain ranges, and ancient woodlands, Norway is full of horseback riding trails. Saddle up on a sturdy, sure-footed Icelandic horse and head out into the Scandinavian countryside for an unforgettable horseback-riding holiday. In the southwest, riders can explore the fjords under the midnight sun, a place where the sun never rises in the winter or sets in midsummer. Norway also contains Justedalsbreen, Europe’s largest glacier, which can be explored by horseback on a guided tour. Along the way, you’ll get the chance to see the Sognefjord and Nordfjord, which cut through each side of the glacier. Deep in the rural area, riders often stop off at rustic mountain cottages before heading out for another day of trailblazing against the backdrop of the Scandinavian heartland.

3. Romania

Deep in the heart of vampire country is the mysterious and ancient Transylvania, the jewel of Romania. Get ready to gallop through green fields, past steep snow-capped mountains, and old monasteries left by monks of antiquity. As the setting for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Romania is an land of intrigue, legends of the Old World, and natural wonders. Follow the trail through quaint folk villages that haven’t felt the passage of time and still plow the fields with horses. The region is also known for the mountains that were featured in the movie Cold Mountain and the medieval villages in the nearby Carpathian Mountains. For an unforgettable experience that will take you back to the 18th century, take a horse and carriage ride to Borgo Pass for a spooky overnight stay in Hotel Castle Dracula.

2. Spain

In a world of stunning natural landscapes, historic landmarks, and medieval villages, Spain is a great place for horseback riding adventures. Starting in Catalonia, head out to the trails leading to volcanoes and pristine sandy beaches. Spain also contains part of the Pyrenees Mountain Range, a rugged landscape ideal for cross-country horse riding. Outside Madrid, a popular trail takes riders to medieval villages that dot the countryside and finally to the Kingdom of Castile in the Gredos Mountains, an area known for its red-roofed Romanesque architecture that was popular in antiquity. The Spanish horse, known as the Andalusian, is the most ancient horse breed in the world. Although their exact origin is unknown, they are believed to be a distant relative of the mustang and quarter horse breeds that are popular in the US.

1. Turkey

At the crossroads of the East and West, Turkey has been a major center of trade and culture throughout the centuries, dating back to the ancient world. For horseback riders, the country has some unique trails the pass through ancient ruins scattered throughout Anatolia, the eastern part of Turkey. Further south on the coast of the Mediterranean, you’ll find a different landscape of dramatic coastal cliffs and sandy beaches for a spirited seaside gallop. Other trails will take you through the Anatolian Plateau, which is considered the heartland of Turkey with its tranquil countryside surround by woodlands. Further along the coast is the Turkish Riviera, also known as the Turquoise Coast. Here you’ll find deserted beaches, mountain scenery, and the famous Lycian tombs carved out of rocks jutting out from precarious cliffs, making the carvings a natural wonder of the ancient world.

The World’s Absolute Best Tennis Hotels

Tennis lovers unite! All over the world, there is a multitude of amazing hotels and resorts that are catering to the player in all of us. Whether you are a serious tennis player, looking to watch the pros in action or just getting started; there is a tennis hotel for you. From the south coast of Antigua to the Swiss Alps to the charming state of South Carolina, these hotels are loaded with amenities, fabulous dining choices, luxury rooms and of course, the best in tennis instruction. Discover the World’s Top Tennis Hotels where we promise you will improve your play.

12. Carlisle Bay, Antigua

On the south coast of Antigua overlooking the sparkling blue waters and rain, forested hills sit a family-friendly hotel that is perfect for the tennis lovers. The bedroom suites are enough to visit this hotel alone, with their chic furniture and split-level designs. As for dining here, guests have their choice of four different restaurants, all serving locally sourced ingredients.

But it is tennis for the whole family that really stands out at Carlisle Bay. With nine well-maintained tennis courts, including four that are floodlit for night play; you won’t have any problems working on your skills. Rackets and balls are provided on a complimentary basis, as well as the hotel runs complimentary clinics throughout the week. If you are looking for more professional instruction there are instructors on hand for group or private lessons. It’s hard to beat the setting as you practice amongst tropical flowers and the bright shining sun.

Via Carlisle Bay

11. The Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa, Arizona

This 1,300 acre Arizona resort is surrounded by an outcrop of 12-million-year-old granite and is set just north of Phoenix. It has been ranked as one of the top tennis resorts in all of America by TENNIS magazine and it certainly does not disappoint. The Boulders features exceptional service and first-class facilities including four premier hard courts, three cushioned courts, and one classic clay court. Private lessons and clinics are offered on a daily basis and expect to dramatically improve your skill here.

While off the court guests will enjoy the four crystal blue pools, two world-class golf courses and a 33,000 square foot spa. Guests here have their choice of casitas, executive suites, villas or haciendas; all decked out with luxury furnishings and the feel of home. The resort is truly an oasis full of willows, cactus and flowering shrubs, flowers and a dramatic landscape.

Via Boulders Resort & Spa

10. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Big Island, Hawaii

This beautiful beach hotel features 11 tennis courts alongside the ocean, making this one of the best views players will get. The hotel was built in 1965 by legendary hotelier Laurance S. Rockefeller and was completely updated after an earthquake in 2006. As well as enlarged and enhanced rooms, a spa and new restaurants, the courts also got a facelift. The setting of the tennis complex is perhaps what makes it so special, located so close to the sea that players often call timeouts to watch the whales and bottlenose dolphins that pass just off-shore.

The tennis direction Craig Pautler has set up amazing lessons, clinics, social activities, games and programs for kids. Children as young as 4 years old can start in the tiny tot’s tennis program whereas adults can enjoy the round robin tournaments or private lessons.

Via Big Island Now

9. Sani Resort, Greece

This resort sprawls over 1,000 acres and is made up of four hotels, ranging from family friendly to grown-up suites. It also happens to feature its own marina, an ecological reserve, an 8km stretch of beach and six tennis courts. The courts are clay and floodlit, housed in the state of the art sports complex near the Sani Beach Hotel. The Sani Tennis Academy focuses on providing an ideal environment to motivate young beginners while at the same time giving advanced players the opportunity to continue training at a higher level.

Experienced full-time coaches are on hand to lead you through group sessions or one-on-one instruction. Kids are welcome here and specialty camps are offered for kids aged 4-12. Besides tennis there are plenty of other activities such as scuba diving, walking trails and lounging by the pool. Three restaurants, a spa, and miles of beach await visitors to this awesome tennis resort.

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8. Wild Dunes, Isle of Palms, South Carolina

It has been ranked in the top 10 of best Tennis Resorts in America, nine years in a row by Tennis Magazine so it is no surprise it is amongst the best in the world. Tennis isn’t just an option at this beautiful resort but a true passion. Wild Dunes offers 17 courts, including a stadium court and five of them floodlit for night play. As a guest here you will receive complimentary court time.

Guests are also privy to top-ranked instruction with professional instructors and activities range from clinics, lessons, and drills. Accommodations here range from condos to cottages to hotels and guests can choose from pool-side to beach-side and even court-side. Other activities here include golf, fishing, water sports, and fitness. Let’s not forget about the abundance of spa services that are offered here as well.

Via Destination Hotels

7. TOPS’L Beach & Racquet Resort, Destin, Florida.

Visitors here only need to spend moments in the Pro Shop and around the courts to appreciate the love for tennis at this resort. Located on the soft white sand beaches, this private resort combines a 12-court tennis complex with a gorgeous stretch of beach, for the ultimate tennis vacation. Several tall towers and numerous one and two-story condos make up the resort, along with an expansive pool, restaurants, whirlpools and an on-site shuttle service.

Players here should expect the ultimate tennis experience as the staff is focused on delivering lessons, clinics, round robin plays and weekends devoted to team competitions. The 12 courts are all clay courts and ten of them are lighted for night use, with guests having complimentary access to all of them. There is no reason why you can’t enjoy the beach and improve your game at the TOPS’L Beach and Racquet Resort in Florida.

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6. Gstaad Palace, Switzerland

This beautiful hotel is set against the dramatic backdrop of the Swiss Alps and dates back to 1913. Featuring 104 rooms, a spa, an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, numerous restaurants and four tennis courts; this Palace is truly spectacular. During the summer seasons is when tennis lovers will want to head here, specifically during one of the specialty tennis weeks when tennis legend Roy Emerson offers personal instruction to guests.

If you are more interested in watching the pros perform, plan on staying at this hotel during the Allianz Swiss Tennis Open Gstaad where the world’s best tennis players compete for one of the most important tennis trophies. There also happens to be three indoor courts located next door in case of bad weather. Whether you want to relax with a full body massage after a long day of practicing, soak in the steam baths of hit the nightclub; this hotel truly offers it all.

Via TrailblazerGirl

5. Topnotch Resort and Spa, Stowe, Vermont

This resort and spa is a haven for both tennis lovers and those looking to get introduced to the sport. With a recent renovation to its 76 rooms, this resort also enlarged the amazing swimming pool, enhanced the 40,000 square foot European Spa and installed a new casual restaurant. It’s the tennis academy that sits above all though with its extensive menu of both indoor and outdoor programs. Players can count on playing up t 5 hours a day if they choose to do so while junior programs divert kids and encourage the whole family to play. Staff will arrange opponents for games or group and private lessons. There is your choice of rooms, suites, and homes to rent; all packed with luxury amenities. If you get sick of tennis why not head over to the equestrian center, golf courses or shops that are all located nearby.

Via Topnotch Resort

4. Forte Village Sardegna, Sardinia, Italy

If you happen to love tennis and want to visit the wonderful country of Italy, there is only one place you need to visit and that is the Forte Village. This resort in Sardinia features a total of 12 tennis courts- 10 clay, 1 natural grass and 1 synthetic- all floodlit for nighttime use. Guests flock here for the head coach of the tennis program here, a man by the name of Rocco Loccisano, a former top Australian player and once trainer to Wimbledon champion Pat Cash.

Private or group lessons are available from a plethora of tennis professionals but that isn’t all these amazing resort offer. Choose from a spacious seafront suite, bungalow, villa or 5-star hotels to spend your nights in. An array of restaurants and bars await you, as well as shopping and nightlife. If you happen to have the kids with you, make sure to check out the awesome children’s wonderland that features pools, a theatre, and other fun activities.

Via Forte Village

3. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Kiawah Island, South Carolina

With two complete tennis complexes located on this 10-mile island, it is easy to be close to a championship court. This elegant oceanfront hotel comes complete with an elegant spa, dedicated children’s park, five designer golf courses, 10 miles of pristine beach and numerous shops and restaurants. What makes this resort pretty special is the fact that they have put their tennis clubs under the direction of former touring pro, Roy Barth.

For 35 years Barth has been operating a broad-based program that features a lengthy roster of weekly activities including instructional clinics, mini-camps, round robins and private lessons. The resort features 90 holes of championship golf, fishing tours, special activities for kids and teens and a plethora of dining options including a signature steakhouse. Choose to stay in the Sanctuary Hotel, a private villa or luxury private homes.

Via charlestoncvb.com

2. Rancho Valencia, California

This elegant Relais and Chateau and retreat in Santa Fe California has a huge focus on tennis, offering 17 courts for just 49 suites. This family-friendly resort also has a way with customer service and guests here should expect that every need they have will be catered to, one and off the court. Along with the amazing courts, this retreat offers an incredible 10,000 square foot spa, a delicious restaurant that is focused on California coastal ranch cuisine and amenity-rich suites.

The suites here are simply to die for, with their gas-log fireplaces, outdoor Jacuzzis, private patio gardens and jetted tubs. Guests here will enjoy the superior coaches and instructors that offer private lessons and programs that are tailored to each individual. Complimentary match play, daily tennis clinics, video lessons and family lessons are just a slice of what is offered here.

Via Jetsetter

1. Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire

The setting is picture perfect, an English mansion that is set in the Buckinghamshire countryside that dates back to 1908.  The grounds are over 300 acres and include 49 exquisite rooms, three restaurants, indoor swimming pool, a 27 hole championship golf course, and a whopping 13 tennis courts. Tennis is the draw here and every year this hotel hosts the pre-Wimbledon tennis tournament where tennis stars from around the world gather to warm up for the season.

Many guests choose to come during this week to watch the stars in action. If you are more interested in working on your own tennis skills though, this hotel offers lessons to guests on both the indoor and outdoor courts and provides junior camps to young players. Luxury amenities, incredible dining options and the opportunity to not only work on your skills but see the stars in action make this one awesome tennis hotel.

Via Stoke Park

10 Jaw Dropping European Beaches

Travelling to Europe this summer? When you’re there, make sure to travel outside of the city centres to explore the breathtaking coasts along the ocean. There are some incredible beaches for you to lounge on and explore the underwater wonders of these countries. Whether it’s a well known tourist destination, or a top secret location, these beaches will ignite your love for the ocean, warm sunshine and the wildlife that surrounds you.

1. Oludeniz Beach, Turkey

Oludeniz, translated to “Dead Sea” is a national nature reserve blue lagoon that will stun you the moment you set eyes on it. It is listed as one of the top five beaches in the entire world due to it’s location and the aquamarine color of the water. Paragliding is a frequent activity surrounding this beach, so if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, this beach fits the bill.

 

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2. Navagio Beach, Zakynthos Island, Greece

In 1980, a freightliner ship sailed too far inland due to stormy weather and poor visibility. It was left there to rest and is now the reason for the nickname “Shipwreck Beach”. Navagio Beach is only accessible by boat and is visited by thousands of tourists each year.

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3. Benagil Cave, Portugal

Yes, it’s really this incredible to look at in person. Technically you can swim to this location but it is strongly discouraged due to the unpredictability of the waters. Take a boat ride to this beautiful cave for some amazing photos and to check it off your bucket list.

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4. Cala Macarella, Mallorca, Spain

This beautiful inlet of calm waters in the perfect location to go and relax on a Sunday afternoon, especially with a Sushi Bar on site selling group sized tapas. A short walk away is a nudist beach for those tourists who want the full nude beach experience.

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5. Zlatni Rat Beach, Brac-Dalmatia, Croatia

This beach is translated to “Golden Horn”. It is truly one of the most stunning beaches in Croatia and is surrounded by the Vidova Gora Mountain Range. Swim in the sea and stare up at the mountains with this beautiful tourist destination.

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6. Calo Des Moro, Mallorca, Spain

Looking for a free activity while in Spain? This beautiful beach is accessible by the road and is privately owned by owners who care deeply about the well being of this location. They prevented a hotel from being built here and are very conscious of the wildlife and plants being well maintained. Sounds like a pretty picture we want to be apart of!

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7. Durdle Door Beach, Dorset, England

Looking for a stroll on the beach without the swimming? This beach is so picturesque you could fill up your camera’s memory card with just shots of this location. Known for it’s beautiful arch in the ocean, your eyes will feast on all the greenery and textures on this beach.

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8. Nissi Beach, Cyprus

Ready to party? Nissi Beach is known for it’s foam parties, shockingly clean and clear waters and the nightlife. This beach is great for those enthusiastically social travellers looking to make a few friends along the way.

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9. Vik Beach, Iceland

Go see the most impressive and memorable black sand beach in Iceland. Vik Beach is filled with icy water and dark sand that will be a completely different beach experience from any other beach in Europe. Car rentals are cheap in this area so you can hop on the road and go see the beach first hand quite easily.

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10. Chia, Sardinia, Italy

You would think you had gotten lost in the tropics when you arrive at Chia Beach. Other than the crystal clear water, peachy sand and stunning views, there is a flamingo breeding ground in the lagoon behind the beach. If you are visiting in July or August, be sure to arrive very early as the beach can get crowded. In June and September, you’ll be able to find a peaceful beach waiting your arrival.

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10 Memorable Places Best Visited By Cruise Ship

When planning your next vacation, there are a variety of trips you can go on. Will you fly to an all-inclusive resort and lay on the beach? Will you rent a car and go on a road trip down a beautiful coastline? How about a backpacking adventure? One of the options that is always present, is going on a cruise. Cruises are a great way to see a variety of locations in a short amount of time, while travelling in comfort and class. The best part about a cruise, is that you only have to unpack once!

 

1. Alaska

Visit this isolated and chilly part of the world from the comfort of a cozy cruise ship cabin. You are able to see Humpback Wales, Bears, Hawks and Moose, just to name a few of our animal friends that will be waiting for you in Alaska. Denali National Park is also one of the sites you can explore on some Alaskan cruises and it features the highest point in North America.

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2. Hawaii

With so many islands and a limited amount of holiday time, cruises are a great way to get a taste of each Hawaiian island in a short time span. Many Hawaiian cruises will feature a lot of the Hawaiian culture and traditions to help you feel like you’re on an island, even when you’re cruising through the ocean. When the boat makes stops, there are so many once in a lifetime opportunities to try out on each island such a helicopter tours, hiking, rafting and so much more. The scenery is to die for!

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3. Caribbean

If you are wanting to go on a trip to the Caribbean, it can be difficult to decide where to go and what island to see. On a cruise ship, you can see a wide variety of the Caribbean islands. Then, in a few years you can fly to the island that was your favorite on the cruise and make the most of that location. Another winning factor of going on a cruise here, is that it is very family oriented.

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4. Mediterranean

Are you looking for a visually stunning location with tons of history? Take a Mediterranean cruise, and I promise, you will not be disappointed! These cruises are ideal for mature, adult travellers who are looking for some enriching experiences and peacefulness.

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5. Norway

Throw on a thick sweater, a good book and some slippers and cruise around Norway. These cruises are special because of the amount of daylight that is present for a large portion of each day. It allows you to see the maximum amount of scenery in a good amount of time. You also get to experience entering the Arctic Circle where there is a noticeable change in the water, temperature and overall climate.

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6. The Cook Islands

When you see islands like this, you probably think it’s in the Caribbean. The actual fact is that this set of islands is halfway in between Hawaii and New Zealand. It has an untouched quality about it and the best part about it is that there is no bad time to visit! The lowest temperature in the winter is 18 degrees Celsius. See all of the Cook Islands on a breathtaking cruise to ensure you won’t miss a thing.

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7. The Nile

Have you ever considered cruising down the Nile River? The best time to go is between October and April for between 3-7 days. These cruises allow you to visit many historical sites such as the Valley Of The Kings and countless temples. You also have the opportunity to hire a private tour guide to show you all the sites along the way.

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8. Australia and New Zealand

Aside from the stunning views and peaceful locations, this cruise will lead you and your loved ones to the Great Barrier Reef to see incredible fish and other wildlife. Your experience of a lifetime will also be highlighted by cruising through the Tasmanian Wilderness where you will see more wildlife and breathtaking locations.

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9. The Baltic

Where does a Baltic cruise go you ask? It travels to Russia, Estonia, Poland and Germany, just to name a few locations. The incredible architecture and historic locations are enough to convince you to sign up for one of these tours. One advantage is that there is very short distances between ports because there is so much to explore. You will be transported to a fairy tale when you are walking through these magical old towns.

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10. England, Scotland and Ireland

When you think of a cruise, you probably don’t think of these countries first. As someone who has been on a ship in the Irish Sea, I can say it is completely worth it. See ruins of castles and heart stopping landscapes that make incredible photos. These cruises also feature culturally accurate cuisine so you won’t miss out on the perks of the mainland.

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15 Best Retirement Cities in Europe

Retirement is an exciting time of wrapping up your many years of service to society and starting a new adventure in life using all the knowledge and wisdom you’ve acquired over the years. Then comes the question of where to live – where you have your whole adult life? Or moving to an incredibly beautiful, new location? Well, it’s not like I’m biased or anything, but I feel like your biggest adventure can start with where you live. Check out these places you may not have considered moving to.

 

1. Pau, France

A well-loved area of France, Pau is also known as the Garden City, filled with woodlands, friendly locals and a lively college student community. It is also in Wine Country and has the ancient town Gaves De Bearn within.

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2. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is one of those places that is easy to navigate in and is filled with beauty around every corner. It is Spain’s second largest city and will keep your mind stimulated with all it’s historic landmarks.

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3. Gozo, Malta

Why wouldn’t you want to live here? Oh my goodness it’s stunning. Retire to Gozo, Malta which is filled with sunshine and the ocean. Welcoming locals will want to involve you in their Karnival traditions and you will never run out of places to explore by foot and by boat.

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4. Cascais, Portugal

This small town is filled with incredible architecture and breathtaking views. Looking out onto peaceful waters, this little community is filled with incredible restaurants and stunning designer boutiques.

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5. Canton of Valais, Switzerland

Home to the world renowned mountain Matterhorn, this incredible location will not disappoint. Visit the Ice Palace nearby or after hitting the slopes,  take a weekly trip to the closest thermal spa. This little spot will hold a special place in your heart once you settle in for your retirement years.

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6. Abruzzo, Italy

Instead of a city, this region of Italy is absolutely stunning and couldn’t be reduced to just one city. With fantastic house prices and welcoming locals, this area of Italy is well loved by locals and expats alike.

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7. Paris, France

When you’re surrounded with culture, you can only become a better person. Paris is one of those places where you will always keep learning and experiencing new things while travelling through the city for only 1.90 Euros for public transit. With movies, museums, local grocers and bakers nearby, you’ll always get the best of everything. Talk about a luxurious retirement!

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8. Halkidiki, Greece

A gorgeous location with reasonable home prices is the perfect recipe for a successful retirement. Who would’ve thought that you could afford a dream location like this?

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9. Algarve, Portugal

Stunning, isn’t it? With affordable real estate, sunny weather and sandy beaches, I don’t see why you wouldn’t just retire tomorrow and move here as soon as humanly possible!

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10. Dusseldorf, Germany

Dusseldorf is a city filled with culture and overall joy. Listed as the city with the second best quality of life, retirees will find a vibrant city culture in their new home. The city also is a hub of finance, fashion and the arts, so there is always much to see and do any day of the week.

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11. Gdansk, Poland

Listed as one of the happiest places to live, Gdansk will light up your life with it’s strong community. Gdansk is also known as the City of Freedom for playing a vital role in the collapse of communism.

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12. Bruck an der Mur, Austria

This tiny town is clearly under rated. With mouth watering good food, historical monuments tucked away for you to discover, and good health care, what else can you ask for?

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13. Munich, Germany

Discover the historic and photogenic city of Munich! It is considered the most liveable city by the Mercer Quality of Life Index and has the best healthcare in Germany. You can sleep easy knowing that you will be well cared for in this diverse city.

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14. Dorset, England

This quaint little county has views that will make you stop in your tracks to fully take in the beauty in front of you. Dorset attracts retirees so many friendly neighbours await, and there is a high level of health for the 65+ age group.

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15. Bergen, Norway

Did you know that Norway is the world’s happiest country? Bergen is Norway’s second largest city, but has the feel of a small town. Located near dramatic waterfalls, breathtaking Fjords, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there is no shortage of beauty here.

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8 Places to Visit in Europe Before You Have Kids

There are two ways to visit Europe, the first is with kids and although that seems overwhelming at first, this continent is actually quite kid-friendly. The second way to travel this beautiful continent is without kids, before you have them, and when you have all the time in the world. Whether you want to visit Europe to party, for a romantic getaway or to have the experience of a lifetime, there are hundreds of cities to do just that. These 8 places in particular though deserve a visit before you have kids. Think long strolls on the beach, the Eiffel tower at night and getting up close and personal with celebrities.

8. Paris, France

Known as one of the most romantic cities on the planet, there is no better time to visit Paris than before you have kids. It is truly a city where you want to embrace the clichés, whether you are strolling the streets hand in hand or taking a sunset boat ride down the Seine. Visit the Eiffel tower in the day and again at night when the lights are twinkling and it’s picture perfect. Take your time wandering through the amazing museums and ancient historic sites. Sip coffee at a sidewalk café and people watch for hours, or hole up in tiny boutique hotels where no children are allowed. Dine at five star restaurants, meander through the cobblestone streets and find romance in this city of love. Only then will you truly appreciate just how special it is.

Paris romance

7. Barcelona, Spain

Spain’s second largest city deserves two visits, one before you have kids and one with the kids in tow. There are so many things to see and do in this colorful city that is a mix of modern design and old-world charm. Visitors sans-kids will spend hours wandering through the outdoor European markets, window shopping and strolling through ancient city walls and stone corridors. The nightlife is alive in this city and whether you are looking for a vintage concert hall or the rapid rhythms of flamenco, you will find it here. The city’s wild side comes out in the wee mornings as party-goers hit the clubs sometimes as late (or as early) as 3am. Sun-drenched beaches beckon visitors to their shores, to hike, jog or simply swim in the deep blue waters. As you wind your way through hidden squares, fountains, and palaces along the Mediterranean; it will become abundantly clear why you got here before you had kids.

National museum Barcelona, Spain

6. Munich, Germany

Germany’s unofficial southern capital flourishes throughout the year, but especially during the summer and Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest is definitely the most famous celebration in Munich and everyone should plan on heading here once in there lifetime to celebrate, preferably without kids. This 16-day festival involves consuming a large quantity of Oktoberfest beer along with a mixture of attractions. Visitors will be privy to amusement rides, side stalls and games, traditional food, parties, parades and a slew of traditional Bavarian gear. If you are visiting the city outside of Oktoberfest time, make sure to take in the world-class art galleries and museums, churches, palaces and castles, and impressive parks.

Jazzmany / Shutterstock.com
Jazzmany / Shutterstock.com

5. Mykonos, Greece

It’s the party place in Greece, perfect for those looking to get one last shin dig in before having kids. It is here where you will find a mix of holidaymakers, cruise-ship crowds and fashionistas, all coming together for one great party. This whitewashed paradise is in the heart of the Cyclades and visitors should be prepared for beach bars, loud dance clubs and lots of people. If you want to explore the quieter side of this party island, head to Delos- a small uninhabited island that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its impressive archaeological sites. Or head to one of the many museums that dot this island. Little Venice and The Windmills is a popular spot to watch the sunset and grab a cocktail at one of the many outdoor bars/cafes.

Mykonos, Greece

4. Cilento, Italy

The Cilento coast is absolutely beautiful with its small bays, dramatic cliffs and seaside villages, and has this stuck-in-time feeling. It is one of the lesser-known areas in Italy and you won’t find throngs of tourists or really any kid-friendly activities, thus why visiting here before you have kids is the best choice. If you are after romantic isolation, head inland to the Cilento National Park where you will find incredible hiking trails and mountain inns that serve delicious wines and some of the best fresh mozzarella you will ever taste in your life. Famed for its orchids, streams and towering waterfalls, there is no shortage of beauty that will surround you in this park. The park also has a colorful history that is worth exploring while in the region.

Cilento, Italy

3. Monaco

This former Portuguese colony has grown to be one of the top gambling destinations in the world and if you want a vacation packed with glitz and glam before you have kids, this is the perfect destination. If you have deep pockets there is only one way to spend your money here and that is at the Grand Casino where you will gamble alongside the rich and famous, where the dress code is strict and the entry fees are high. Other than gambling though, Monaco offers its fair share of things to see including Monaco-Ville, a medieval village made up of pedestrian streets, century homes and picturesque buildings. There are a slew of exotic gardens to be found here, along with an art gallery, opera house and the Prince’s car collection. This is not a budget destination and thus is best done before kids, and at a time when you have some extra money to spend.

Monaco grand casino

2. Cannes, France

It was once a small fishing village but is has turned into a glamorous and equally expensive seaside town in France, considered to be one of the social hubs of Europe. When this town shines the brightest though is in May as it plays host to the Cannes Film Festival, drawing the rich and famous to its shores from all over the world. Fans flock here to see actors, celebrities and directors on the famous steps of the Palais des Festivals at the end of La Croisette. If you prefer to visit the rest of the year, there are plenty of things to see and do. Walk the narrow winding streets of Old town where the view from the castle ruins at the top is excellent, or head to one of the beaches to soak up the sun. Dine at one of the local restaurants serving up regional fresh produce sourced directly from the markets.

Cannes, France

1. Berlin, Germany

Move over New York City, Berlin is the city that truly never sleeps; a city full of Germans who love nothing more than a good time. This is a great city to visit before having kids, as it is full of iconic sites, sky bars, chic restaurants, boutique hotels and a party that literally never stops. It is here where you can take in top international performers at theaters or concert and opera stages. Berlin is a city full of museums, artists and a colorful history, where modern architecture and historical buildings meet. There is an endless amount of shopping, parks to explore, open-air cinemas, beach bars, forests and more here. The relaxed vibe of this city will enthrall you, suck you in and make you never want to leave. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Berlin Germany party night

Eerie Abandoned Olympic Venues Around the World

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

1. Sarajevo, Yugoslavia -1984 Winter Olympics

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

Fotokon / Shutterstock.com
Fotokon / Shutterstock.com

2. Sarajevo, Yugoslavia -1984 Winter Olympics

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

Sarajevo Winter Olympics

3. Sarajevo, Yugoslavia -1984 Winter Olympics

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

Fotokon / Shutterstock.com
Fotokon / Shutterstock.com

4. Beijing, China -2008 Summer Olympics

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

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

5. Beijing, China -2008 Summer Olympics

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

Photo by: Citylab
Photo by: Citylab

6. Beijing, China -2008 Summer Olympics

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

Photo by: ABC News
Photo by: ABC News

7. Athens, Greece -2004 Summer Olympics

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

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

8. Athens, Greece -2004 Summer Olympics

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

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

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

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

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

10. Munich, Germany -1972 Summer Olympics

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

Munich Olympic Train Station

11. Berlin, Germany -1936 Summer Olympics

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

Photo by: i09
Photo by: i09

12. Helsinki, Finland -1952 Olympic Summer Games

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

Photo by: Confidentielles
Photo by: Confidentielles

The Top Places To See Before It’s Too Late

Technically we are all in places that are about to change drastically. There are many remote idyllic, places being threatened by climate change that face melting glaciers or catastrophic flooding. But then so does Miami. Whether it’s rising sea levels, desertification, torrential monsoons, melting glaciers or ocean acidification, climate change is rapidly altering the landscape of our planet and perhaps about to destroy some of the world’s legendary vacation spots. Then there is the traditional destruction inflicted by human error and downright imbecility. More hotel rooms, spas and golf courses are part of the inherent contradictions of tourism increasing accessibility means increasing degradation. There seems to be no solution to that equation. We will be one of the last generations to see some of the Earth’s most cherished places. Here’s our list of 20 places to see before they vanish to climate change, over development and encroachment. It’s a survey of various sources from CNN to MNN (as in Mother Nature Network), at the same time being quite conscious of the other contradiction that advising more people to visit already vulnerable sites is farther contributing to the degradation. Perhaps you can solve that moral quandary by designing am environmentally sensitive visit. Or contribute to conservancy groups that are fighting to save them.

20. Gozo, Malta

CNN has this theory that once a foreign city is featured in a blockbuster movie, it takes a hit from an influx of curious tourists. Gozo, population 37,000 is a short ferry ride from Malta. Its website proudly proclaims its natural beauty, its “tortoise-like pace” and amazing history. Gozo means ‘joy’ in Castilian, so named at its founding in 1282. Last year Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt shot their latest film “By the Sea” there. Directed by Jolie, it appears to be a drama about an artistic couple’s fading marriage with Gozo subbing for France. CNN warns that “There are few better advertisements for a destination than a good movie,” and expects hordes of Brangelina fans to disturb the tranquility in search of the places the couple tried to rekindle their romance.

Gozo Malta

19. St. Kitts

With its neighbor and sidekick Nevis known as the decadent playground of the idle rich, St. Kitts is passing under the spell of the Evil Trinity of tourism; Big name hotel chains, golf course designers and marina builders. It is being done in the name of sustainability which may be easier to do environmentally that in preserving the spirit of a place heading to over development. When they open the world’s first edible golf course, you know the gimmicks have just begun.

St. Kitts

18. The Seychelles

National Geographic rates the beach at Anse Source d’Argent as the best in the world. One of nature’s most convincing versions of paradise. The beauty of the pink sand, the coral reef sheltered by massive granite boulders brings many beach lovers to this archipelago of more than a hundred islands in the Indian Ocean but the water rises relentlessly, the perfect beaches are eroding and its coral reef, like others around the world is being degraded. Barring some miraculous engineering innovation or divine intervention, many of the islands could be lost in the next 50 years.

Seychelles

17. The Athabasca Glacier, Canada

With its relatively convenient location in mid-Alberta between Banff and Jasper National Parks, The Athabasca Glacier attracts more tourists than any other on the continent. It is also the largest ice field between the poles. It’s a kind of frozen tributary of the massive Columbia Ice Fields. But with ice fields north of 90, as old hands call the Arctic, the Athabasca at 52 degrees north latitude is in for The Big Melt. Parks Canada estimates it’s receding up to ten feet a year. At this rate maybe too far gone for the next generation to experience.

Athabasca Glacier Canada

16. St. Helena

In its own way, St. Helena is an exotic destination. A volcanic speck of 50 square miles in the middle of the south Atlantic, it is the definition of remote, 4,000 miles east of Rio de Janeiro. Let’s face it, after Waterloo, the British were not about to exile Napoleon in Paradise. Part of its cache is that getting there is a challenge, by the Royal Mail ship St. Helena from Cape Town, Walvis Bay or Ascension Island. It’s somewhat for bird watching and its rugged terrain protects well preserved Georgian buildings. After Longwood, Napoleon’s home after 1815 (now a museum), the island’s biggest celebrity draw is Jonathon the tortoise, age 180 and going strong. The British have sunk the better part of half a billion dollars into an airport for the tiny island to open early in 2016. For that chunk of change, expect more than the usual 3,000 or so visitors soon.

St. Helena Island

15. Taj Mahal, India

Even the great frescoes of the Sistine Chapel dulled with age and the emission from centuries of candle smoke and neglect. But they were inside the walls of a building in the First World, whereas the Taj Mahal is neither. The whole point of the spectacular tribute to an Emperor’s late wife, is its pristine whiteness indicative of the purity of their love. But the air quality in India’s major cities is worse than the horrific pollution levels of Beijing. Fading to yellow or rust is not just a cosmetic downgrade it degrades its very meaning. An ornate mausoleum of white marble, The Taj Mahal is the sparkling jewel of Muslim art in India. Built in the 17th century by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his favorite wife, The Taj currently has more than 3 million visitors a year and the heat, foot traffic and toxic air are beginning to undermine the building’s structural integrity. It’s not hard to see a lengthy shutdown for restoration in the near future, not to mention banning people from going inside.

Taj Mahal

14. Dead Sea

There is the old joke that someone says he’s so old he remembers when the Dead Sea was only sick. Sadly that’s no longer just a joke. It is being sucked dry by the water-desperate countries around it who are helping themselves to the water in the River Jordan, the sea’s main source. It has shrunk by a third in size and scientists fear if the rate of attrition continues, the intensely salted water some claim has medicinal qualities, has maybe 50 years of life left.

Dead Sea

13. The Galapagos Islands

Truth be told Europeans have been abusing the Galapagos since the late 19th century when pirates used it as a base to launch their raids. Darwin didn’t arrive until 1835 to begin on what would become The Origin of the Species 25 years later. Now there are pages of tours echoing the name of his ship The Beagle. The islands are threatened by too many people. Too many insensitive people acting reprehensibly to degrade this natural treasure to take the greatest selfies and poach plants and animals (not necessarily at the same time.) The prognosis is much better than many other sites however because the ecosystem, while delicate, can still be saved by limiting if not stopping altogether, the onslaught of tourists. So if it’s on your bucket list…tread lightly.

Galapagos Islands

12. Glacier National Park Montana

In fact, anything with the word “Glacier’ in its name or title may be at risk, barring some miraculous reversal in climate change, the effects are well documented. They are living on borrowed time, the more temperate the climate the more critical the patient. The number of glaciers in the stunningly beautiful Glacier National Park on the Montana-Canada border has shrunk by 75% in the last century. Pessimistic estimates say the glaciers and the ecosystem that depends on them could be gone by 2030. The good news if you’re into dark humor; the surfing in Montana is about to improve dramatically.

Glacier Bay National Park Montana

11. South Australia

One of those areas facing the climate change double whammy, coastal flooding and interior desertification the Australian government has studied and published many daunting studies on the effects. Rising sea levels will threaten hundreds of miles of beaches and the lovely city of Adelaide will be put at risk. The soaring temperatures and absence of rain in the interior will challenge some of the most renowned wine growing regions in the world, including the Barossa and Clare Valleys. While the region accounts for only 7% of Australia’s population, it is also responsible for half of the $1.3 billion in wine exports. Unless you are entertained somehow by catastrophic flooding and drought, best to go soon.

McLaren Vale, South Australia

10. Greek Islands

There are 6,000 islands from Aegina to Zaforas in the Ionian and Aegean seas off the Greek coast. Only 227 are inhabited and only 50 have airports. Traveling between them has always been a question of taking leisurely ferries with shall we say occasionally regular schedules. Until now after a Greek airline has announced to connect another 100 by seaplane. As always accessibility is a mixed blessing. The islands of Crete, Skyros and Pelion are first on the list with more to come as early as year’s end. Book accordingly. Unless you like crowded beaches, then this is your lucky year.

Aigiali village in Amorgos island in Greece

9. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe/Zambia

The famous falls are twice the height of Niagara with a fraction of the tourists. At least until the new Victoria Falls International Airport, on the Zimbabwe/Zambia, border opens in the fall of 2015. It’s being built to handle what pilots call “Heavy Metal”, wide body A340’s and Boeing 777’s and their human cargo. It will be a huge boost for the tourism sector in the long-suffering country. The five regional airlines that used the old airport will be joined by British British Airways, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Emirates, and Kenya Airways, just to start.

Victoria Falls Zimbabwe

8. St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Caribbean

An idyllic place. Everything you wish for in a Caribbean destination. And less, without the crowds, partiers and such. Beaches rank among the best in the world, coral reefs provide diving that’s to die for, it’s care free relaxation in a setting almost too beautiful to be true. But it’s always been a bit of a schlep to get there by connecting flight. The new $250,000,000 Argyle International Airport , will come with direct flights to North American and European cities increasing capacity by at least 400%. Plus it is upgrading its port infrastructure to bring in more cruise ships whose environmental record has been somewhere between bad and wretched. The good news for would-be visitors is that the airport is behind schedule for those who would like to have the island experience before it gets paved and up go the condos.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

7. Nicaragua

Lake Nicaragua is a scenic, unspoiled place with coastal towns lost to time and lots of fishing spots locals love. It has been fast-tracked to the environmental critical list by a crazy ambitious $50 billion Chinese-backed project to build a canal three times the length of the Panama Canal from the Pacific to the Caribbean Sea and hence the Atlantic, in the process trampling through prized lakes, wetlands, coral reefs and any number of delicate ecosystems in Central America and the Caribbean. The Nicaraguan Academy of Sciences warns “this canal would create an environmental disaster in Nicaragua and beyond. Tourist visits have soared since the construction started.

Lake Nicaragua

6. Papua New Guinea

There is an automatic exoticism to the south Pacific and in the case of Papua New Guinea, it’s enhanced by its status as one of the last truly unexplored places on earth. The government has expressed a “wish” to maintain the rarely seen villages as the basis for its society. It’s a nice gesture, but at the same time they’re expanding the almost non-existent tourism infrastructure starting with cruise ships and with them a fading chance to experience a land not far removed from first contact.

Amy Nichole Harris / Shutterstock.com
Amy Nichole Harris / Shutterstock.com

5. The Alps, Europe

The mighty Alps are facing an uphill battle they can’t win. The evidence is incremental but unmistakable. The temperature, even on peaks over 10,000 feet has been steadily rising. The elevation at which snow falls and accumulates is falling. Towns and cities dependent on skiing for their livelihoods are taking strong measures to lower local CO2 emissions, but climate change scientists say the effects of climate change could hit hard by 2040. So maybe the problem will be solved by then, it still leaves you at least 25 years to book, but after that forget the skies and take hiking boots and sunblock.

French Alps

4. Venice, Italy

Like the famous writer Mark Twain, reports of the death of Venice have been greatly exaggerated. The magical kingdom of canals and Renaissance masterpieces has been written off many times before. But the severe flooding it has long suffered has become deeper and more chronic. When you can stop on your way to St. Mark’s and, bend down and catch fish with your bare hands, the fat lady may not be singing but is definitely warming up. The prognosis: the only people to see Venice past the 22nd century are likely scuba divers and snorkelers. However, the city has miraculously hung tough before. It may not be clear just how just yet, but surely no expense will be spared to save one of the greatest treasures on the planet.

Venice Italy Lagoons

3. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Another long running natural disaster that could have been easily mitigated by sustainable practices. The fabulous reef has been assaulted not only by climate change but by human stupidity. Higher water temperatures and its older foes of pollution and acidification from ever rising carbon dioxide emissions are killing off the corals at an alarming rate. More recent threats are damage caused by the development of Australian ports to export coal to China, thereby contributing to more CO2, hence more damage to the reef and its $4 billion in tourist income. A whole new enemy has emerged as well in industrial overfishing which doesn’t directly damage reefs around the world, but destroys the fish stocks that are part of its ecosystem. The wonderful reef in Belize is facing the same threat of death by coral bleaching.

Great Barrier Reef Fish

2. Cuba

Oh the irony. According to CNN, the son of Che Guevara, the iconic Marxist guerrilla leader, has turned out to be quite the entrepreneur, launching a motorcycle tour company for the biking crowd to see the island from behind their choppers. With the easing of American travel restrictions, the fabric of the island is in for rapid change for the less impoverished though not necessarily better. Not to revel in other’s poverty but the anachronism of the island frozen in a time warp by antiquated Communist central planning was part of the charm, like the famous 1950’s vintage vehicles constantly repaired and rebuilt out of economic necessity. The wonderful beaches are already popular and if there are bikers, the massive cruise ships won’t be far behind. Hemingway’s Havana is already on borrowed time.

Kamira / Shutterstock.com
Kamira / Shutterstock.com

1. Antarctica

Expect to see more headlines like this one from the BBC: “Should tourists be banned from Antarctica?” It’s feared that Antarctica is shedding up to 160 billion tons of ice annually and rising. The biggest threat to the ice cap is warming temperatures, not humans. Less than 40,000 people visit every year and only a quarter of them actually go ashore. Tour companies abide by strict international guidelines to limit human impact but those guidelines are voluntary. That human impact may be minimal, but any additional pressure on an increasingly vulnerable ecosystem is critical. There will be many more calls for restrictions to follow the BBC’s warnings. It won’t disappear in a century but trips to see it may be extinct long before.

Antarctica

The Top Countries You Can Visit For Less Than $50 a Day

With more people traveling around the world, countries are getting even more expensive to visit. Despite popular beliefs, it is possible to pick the right place where you can stretch your dollar for days, even weeks. Doing your research, opting for public transportation, and eating in local spots will all go a long way to helping you stick to your budget.

10. Thailand

Despite its popularity, Thailand has remained one of the cheapest countries to visit over the years. The north side of the country is definitely cheaper than Bangkok and the islands but you will be hard-pressed to spend more than $50 a day. Rooms go for about $6-10 per day and a meal from a local restaurant will run you $5. The picture-perfect islands are even a bargain here, provided you don’t want to stay in a luxury resort. Local buses are cheap, beers are cheap and activities and sightseeing rarely runs you over $15. It is no wonder Thailand remains a hugely popular destination for budget travelers and although many continue to flock here, there is still plenty to explore without being engulfed in the crowds.

Phang Nga Bay Thailand

9. Greece

Greece has always been a bit of a budget traveler’s paradise when it comes to Europe. The fall of the economy in Greece has only made it more affordable to visit. Whether you are choosing to visit one of the islands or the mainland, there are bargains to be found. In the past few years, tourism has actually been on the decline of this beautiful country and has dragged the low prices even lower. Street vendors will sell you fresh delicious gyros for under $3 where a huge lamb meal complete with local alcohol might run you $10. Hotels and rooms can be as cheap as $20 a night and take local buses to save even more. Stay away from the touristy islands to save on accommodations and meals and choose to visit the roads less traveled.

Athens, Greece

8. Peru

Peru is one of South America’s liveliest and friendliest countries and it just so happens to be one of the cheapest to travel in. Although most travelers come here for the Inca trail, Peru is absolutely loaded with other things to see and do. Stay in a hostel for around $10 or splurge for a guesthouse that will run you $25 a night. Sit down meals are rarely over $5 and the local intracity buses cost around $1. What costs the most in this country are the activities you do. Book last minute specials when you arrive in Peru to visit Machu Picchu at half price or explore other ruins of Inca destinations for less. Hit the deserted white sand beaches, sail the Amazon and explore a beautiful country full of happy and funny people.

Lima Peru

7. Romania

Romania is the perfect country to experience old-world charm at half the price. Although many people associate this country as a decrepit ex-Communist nation, Romania is actually full of awesome things to discover. This Eastern European country offers medieval villages, castles and beautiful countryside. The time to travel here is holiday season which is the low season where you can stay for even cheaper. Expect to pay around $10 for a room and $5 for most meals. Entrance to the museums and galleries are quite cheap at $5-10 and makes for a perfect way to explore the cities. Try to stick to the smaller towns here as the touristy ones can charge double or triple for rooms and meals. If you have always wanted to explore Europe but found the price point to be high, try hitting up Romania for the ultimate European adventure.

Radu Bercan / Shutterstock.com
Radu Bercan / Shutterstock.com

6. Portugal

The cheapest place to visit in Western Europe is the beautiful and lively country of Portugal. Beaches, wine country, historical cities, and towering cliffs make it an exciting place to discover. Dorm beds can be found for about $20 a night and an even cheaper option is to camp as this country is home to spotless campgrounds located right on the beach. Meals can be a bit pricey and the bigger cities such as Lisbon often offer the most affordable food choices. Lisbon also happens to be one of the most affordable cities to stay in a five-star hotel, just in case you feel like splurging for a night. Take advantage of the free admission days that most cities offer with access to museums and galleries, ride the cheap and efficient public transit systems and enjoy this wonderful country at an extremely low price.

Porto Santo, Portugal

5. Cambodia

Cambodia is one of the cheapest countries on this list to visit and much like its neighboring country of Thailand it offers rich history, great cuisine, and a good nightlife.  This country is also less developed and less explored and therefore comes in even cheaper than Thailand. A fully private room in a typical hostel with air conditioning will only cost you about $8 a night where a typical hotel room with A/C will only run you $15-20. Food is even cheaper, most costing $2 for local food and $6-8 for a more typical Western meal. Even exploring the jungles, the cities, and the ruins won’t cost you a lot. With some of the nicest people around and raw rugged beauty at every turn, it is easy to understand why travelers often call this country their favorite. You will be hard-pressed to spend $50 a day here unless you want to live like a king.

Cambodia Floating Market Seller

4. Nicaragua

It’s the largest country in Central America but one of the least discovered and therefore extremely cheap to travel in. That is until it becomes more popular like neighboring Costa Rica. For now, though it is easy to make your way through the country experiencing the lively people, colorful towns, surfing, wildlife and volcano trekking that will keep you entertained for weeks and all for the cost of less than $50 a day. Sleep in a hammock for $5 or splurge for a room with a bathroom for $20. Food costs just mere dollars whether you are eating from a street vendor or local restaurant. Getting around is cheap and easy, either by using local buses or hopping in the back of a local truck, an ever-popular choice with locals and visitors alike. Stay away from the touristy area of San Juan del Sur as prices tend to be inflated and there are more beautiful beaches and jungles to the north.

Nicaragua

3. Indonesia

This beautiful chain of islands looks to be expensive with its stunning blue waters and silky sands. But don’t let the pictures fool you. If you can get away from the more touristy places it is actually quite affordable to travel within the country. In fact, it’s the plane ticket to get here that costs so much. The touristy south near Ubud and Kuta are where visitors will want to avoid, as they are full of dirty beaches and overpriced resorts. Head to the rather unexplored areas instead and it is easy to find a room in a hostel or guest house for less than $4 a night. Street food will only cost you a couple of dollars where a restaurant meal may run you $6. For well under $50 a day you will find rice terraces, black and white sand beaches, volcanoes, food markets, and jungles.

Mount Bromo, Indonesia

2. India

India is extremely cheap to travel to and instead of asking how one should survive on $50 a day most people ask how they can do it on $20 a day. Yes, it is possible. Local Indian vegetarian food is the way to stick on budget with the occasional splurge on meat and you can bank on spending no more than $10 a day total on food. Rooms can be found for about $5 a night. Take rickshaws instead of taxis and local buses. The flight to India is definitely the most expensive part about traveling here but once you have arrived, everything else is truly a bargain. With the exchange rate being as it is, changing dollars into rupees is advantageous for the traveler and they are seeing 50% more money to travel with, thus making India one of the best bargain countries on this list.

India Market

1. Turkey

Turkey is a unique mix of eastern and western culture which visitors should plan on spending at least a few weeks discovering. Luckily it is easy to live on much less than $50 a day here and despite popular beliefs, it’s actually not that expensive to reach. Istanbul happens to be one of the handfuls of cities around the world where airfare bargains are the norm. Hostels will be your most expensive part costing about $20 a night but the quality is high and often includes a wonderful breakfast. Typical food such as kebabs and shawarmas will only cost you about $2. The good news is the buses run frequently and are cheap, offering the chance to explore a lot of this country. Turkey offers spectacular landscapes, delicious food, fantastic sights and plenty of things to do all for the mere price of $50 a day.

Istanbul, Turkey

The 5 Most Beautiful and Underrated Greek Islands

A trip to Greece is often considered incomplete without a visit to Santorini. The whitewashed cliffs and blue-domed buildings are something everyone should see in person at least once in your lifetime, but with the popularity and beauty come the crowds. There are many other Greek islands that are stunning in their own right, and offer quintessential Greek experiences; because they are less busy, the atmosphere is usually more authentic and the locals more friendly. So save Santorini for another time, and hit up one of these lesser known Greek islands instead:

5. Evia

A favorite by Athenians, Evia is located not far from the coast, and has a plethora of relaxing opportunities and architectural monuments. During the summer months, Evia is busy with Greek vacationers, but if you are outgoing enough to introduce yourself, they sure know how to have a good time! Be sure to spend some time taking in the tides; Trela Nera is a natural phenomenon with some of the best viewing opportunities from the island.

Evia Greece

4. Karpathos

If you are looking for tradition and history, Karpathos is your island of choice. You get a glimpse into Greek history here; villagers still wear traditional clothing and live in traditional houses. There is plenty of architectural history on this island, as well as unique and expansive landscapes- the mountains are well worth a visit, although they can be chilly!

Karpathos Greece

3. Zakynthos

A great opportunity for environmentalists is volunteering with sea turtles; Zakynthos offers many organisations where you can help protect these precious islands. The snorkeling is world class, and the island is beautiful and relaxing, although if you are looking for night life and culture this many not be your island of choice.

Zakynthos Greece

2. Thasos

For those looking for more than beach life, Thasos is where to be. This place offers many outdoors, adventure options year round, although it is known for its mountain biking opportunities; experts and casual riders will both find enjoyment here! Thasos is the perfect local to enjoy on foot; there are so many breathtaking landscapes, you will surely be stopping often to take pictures. Thasos is not what traditionally comes to mind when considering Greek islands, but there is so much natural beauty and culture here that it should not be missed!

Thasos Greece

1. Naxos

Greek music is some of the most intoxicating, local music in Europe; it has remained relatively the same for centuries. If you want an unbridled, musical experience, than head to Naxos, an island known for its musical prowess. While this island does offer beach life and Greek history, it is the music you come here for; there are free live shows nearly every night where you can soak in traditional Greek music and listen to old songs passed down for generations. Be warned, if you stop to listen in on a family event, you will be invited to stay, and given copious amounts of wine!

Naxos Greece