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 Scariest Stairs

Stairways have the ability to be beautiful, graceful and elegant but not all stairs are created equally. There are hundreds of thousands of staircases around the world that are downright scary, for many different reasons. Some have caused death, many are falling apart and others lead to eerie experiences. From the depths of Paris to the peaks in Yosemite to the tops of temples; here are 12 of the world’s scariest staircases.

12. Inca Stairs, Peru

The Inca Stairs leads up to one of the most famous photographed peaks, carved into the side of Huayna Picchu and they are among the scariest stairs in the world. If you want to ascend these stairs you will have to be one of the first 400 visitors to the ruins, as in recent years the park has capped the number of climbers.

A total of about 600 feet of steep granite rocks create the stairs and in recent years metal chains have been added to some parts that are especially dangerous. The stairs lead to the Moon Temple, one of the least visited worship places in Machu Picchu and many do not make it all the way up them as they are that scary. The views from the top are surreal, overlooking the Urubamba River and the ruins below.

11. Moaning Cavern Stairs, California, USA

The bones of approximately 100 prehistoric humans were once found at the bottom of these stairs, in this largest single-chamber public cave in California. In order to reach this cave, that is big enough to fit the Statue of Liberty in, climbers must descend 235 stairs, 144 of which are on a spiral staircase.

This damp cave is known for its eeriness, sounds of moaning and wailing are often heard as visitors make their way down. Back in the early 1900’s before the stairs were built visitors were actually lowered into the cavern in buckets with only candles or whale oil lamps to light the way. The history of this place, along with the creepy sounds will surely make the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up.

Via Pintrest

10. Cape Horn Stairs, Chile

Cape Horn is known as the last piece of land on earth before Antarctica and this tiny little piece of land is visited by few people. Most people come here to visit the Albatross Monument, a monument dedicated to the thousands of sailors that lost their lives in the treacherous seas. To climb these stairs you must first be able to get here, a harrowing thought considering only seven cruise ships disembark at the Island.

Grab your rain gear and some water as you land on the island to face 162 slippery ocean sprayed stairs. By the time you reach the top you will most likely be soaked, cold and wind whipped. The hardest part of the stairs comes at the top when the stairs flatten into tiers of wooden boardwalk, slippery, soaked and covered in mist. The reward when you climb these stairs is access to a place that few ever get to visit.

9. Sagrada Familia, Spain

It was clear when architects built this Roman Catholic Church they did not consider the number of people who would be coming here to worship. Gaudi has envisioned a forest canopy when designing the rooftop here but didn’t quite think of what the stairs would look like when more and more people came.

The spiral staircase to the top is downright scary, void of any banisters or handrails. It coils high and long against the tightly enclosed walls and at anytime hordes of people are trying to ascend and descend. Many people avoid this church simply because of the stairs and if you think are brave enough to challenge it, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

8. Flørli Stairs, Norway

These stairs pride themselves on being the longest wooden staircase on earth, made up of 4,444 steps that ascend 2,427 feet from the bottom. They start at the edge of Lysefjord and run to the top of the mountain in the small village of Flørli. The stairs run alongside the former water pipes as the now abandoned village of Flørli used to be a power plant village.

The stairs seemingly cling to the side of the mountain and provide breathtaking views all the way up. Count on questioning every creak you hear as you ascend up as these stairs, as they are both old and noisy, due in large part to the fact they are wooden. The hike up will take you anywhere from 3-5 hours and at the top, you will be rewarded with fantastic views and a history lesson from the historic hydropower hall that still exists.

Via Pulpit Rock Experience

7. Angkor Wat Temple Stairs, Cambodia

These stairs were supposedly created to be steep, in order to remind climbers that heaven is hard to reach. Therefore it seems there is no shame in hanging your head, dropping down to your hands and knees or pulling yourself up with the ropes provided to reach the uppermost temples. The stairs are actually inclined at a 70 degree angle and are known to be some of the steepest stairs in the world.

Many people have actually spoken out about these stairs, proclaiming that it’s not right to have tempting stairs in a worship area. Take extreme caution if you choose to climb these stairs as one missed step can lead to you tumbling down them, sure to cause injury and maybe even death.

6. Half Dome Stairs, California, USA

Located in Yosemite National Park, these next stairs lead up to the most iconic peak in Yosemite Valley but getting up here is only possible for about 400 people a day. Snag one of these hard to get permits between Memorial Day and October to attempt this gruesome seven mile all-incline hike. What awaits climbers is a climb up a rock face along a cable ladder, for more than 400 vertical feet. It is absolutely essential that climbers check the weather forecast before attempting this hike as people have fallen to their death.

Proper footwear and gear is a necessity and be aware that if you try and climb these stairs without a permit, you will face possible jail time and fines. Hikers will be rewarded at the top with incredible panoramic views of the Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra.

5. Catacombs, Paris

Most everyone has heard of the Catacombs, the home of the remains of more than six million people, and if visiting isn’t scary enough, one has to contend with the creepy staircases. To reach the actual catacombs visitors will have to descend 130 steps, a narrow spiral stone staircase that leaves many claustrophobic. The sun and light quickly fade away as you descend into the darkness where bones and skulls await.

There is another set of stairs that await visitors on the way out, this one made up of only 83 stairs and most people ascend them quickly, wanting to get back into the fresh air and sunlight. A dizzying spiral staircase leading to rooms of bones; yup we think that qualifies as one of the scariest sets of stairs in the world.

4. Taihang Mountains Spiral Staircase, China

Far southwest of Beijing is a 300-foot tall spiral staircase that draws visitors from all over the world. That, in fact, was the goal of this incredible staircase when it was built, to encourage visitors to come to the Taihang Mountains in Linzhou. This so called “Stairway to Heaven” is built right on the side of the mountain and offers incredible views. But not just anyone is allowed to climb this staircase.

All potential climbers here have to sign a form stating that they have no heart or lung problems and that they are under 60 years of age. Looking more like a beanstalk, this dizzying staircase is not meant for the weak and visitors who plan on going on should be in good shape. No one quite knows what will happen if you lie about your age, but we suggest sticking to the rules and getting here before you turn 60.

Via Daily Mail

3. Pailon del Diablo Waterfall, Ecuador

Translate the name of this waterfall into English and you get “The Devil’s Cauldron”, therefore it should come as no surprise that these stairs are extremely scary! They were built to blend into the landscape and at first glance, you won’t even notice them but be aware, these steps can play tricks on you. The steps themselves are made out of smooth, oversize pebbles that become slippery from the mist of the waterfalls and offer extremely little traction.

When looking down at them they create an illusion of a slippery stone slide and the chance of falling off is high. For those of you who want something to hold onto, there is a metal railing that runs the length of the stairs. Don’t depend too much on it though, it gets slippery from all the water droplets and some say it’s really not that sturdy. The view of the waterfall from the top though is totally worth trekking up and down these stairs.

2. Haiku Stairs, Oahu, Hawaii

These stairs are actually so scary that they have been banned, as in no one is allowed to use them anymore. This rickety set of 3,922 stairs lead half a mile up Oahu’s Koolau Mountain Range. These stairs were actually contrasted in 1942 by the U.S Navy as a means to install communication wires and were nicknamed the “Highway to Heaven”. Daredevil hikers quickly discovered them after WWII and started to climb them for their absolutely incredible views.

In the 1980’s the stairs were officially closed to the public due to safety reasons, although many chose to ignore it and still climbed them. Nowadays there is a guard placed at the bottom of the stairs and many of them were destroyed when a storm blew through in 2015. It is unsure what the future of these stairs is, but if they ever happen to reopen we suggest tackling them, as even though they are scary, the views are beyond words.

1. Mount Huashan Heavenly Stairs, China

It is considered one of the most dangerous walks in the world and although the name deceives you with the word “heaven”, these stairs are more like hell. No one in history has actually even counted the number of steps, perhaps they lost count as they peered over the edge and were faced with a deathly drop. The stairs are carved into a sacred Taoist mountain and go so high up into the mountainside you lose track of them.

The side stone steps are supported by a single railing in which many trekkers hang on to as they ascend up. Unfortunately, if you thought these steps were the most dangerous part, you would be wrong. What awaits climbers after these steps is a trail known as the most dangerous on earth, a horizontal walkway consisting of planks fastened to the side of the mountain with just a single chain.

Via The Beauty of Travel

The World’s 8 Most Remote Hotels

Imagine touching down somewhere that few people have ever been, discovering a remote world that you didn’t know existed. Travelers are becoming more interested in places that offer more remoteness, that often take a journey to get to. Luckily the call for these types of places have been answered and throughout the world, remote hotels are popping up in places you didn’t even know existed. From a beachfront hotel in Iceland to a surfing getaway in Samoa, these 8 remote hotels all have a few things in common- exceptional accommodations, stunning scenery, delicious cuisine and an air of privacy.

8. Hotel Budir, Iceland

The only real beachfront hotel in Iceland lies next to a lava field with views over the Snaefellsnes glacier. The accommodations here are simple, chic and unpretentious offering a variety of rooms including eight rooms in the attic, one suite, nine deluxe rooms and ten standard rooms. In the wintertime, guests cozy up by the fireplace in the lobby while staring out the large windows at the breathtaking surroundings.

Summertime brings bonfire parties on the beach and swimming during the day. Guests here will be treated to exceptional service, an exquisite restaurant and one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. The possibilities for activities here are endless and hotel staff is delighted to help guests plan whatever their heart desires, whether they want to take a tour by helicopter, go horseback riding, fishing and more.

Via Iceland Times

7. Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland, Canada

Fogo Island is a remote island off the coast of Newfoundland, halfway between the North Pole and the Equator and home to the simple yet charming Fogo Island Inn. Open all year round, guests here are treated to the floor to ceiling views of the North Atlantic Ocean in one of 29 guest suites. Every piece of furniture and textile in the rooms are handcrafted, from the quilts to the chairs to the wallpaper.

Three meals a day are catered to suit your personal preferences along with snacks and focuses on fresh seasonal ingredients. In wintertime watch, as winter storms crash through, try your hand at cross-country skiing or ice fishing. In the spring the gigantic icebergs float by, bonfires are lit and wildlife viewing is at its finest. To get here, visitors have to take a ferry from Farewell Harbor or arrive in style in a helicopter.

Via Hospitality Net

6. Ultima Thule Lodge, Alaska

Deep in the Alaskan wilderness, hundreds of miles from paved roads sits this incredible remote lodge, taking people to places where nobody has gone before. It is a six-hour drive from Anchorage and then a 90-minute flight into the Wrangell Mountains to reach this lodge, set amongst the largest protected wilderness on earth. Visitors here should expect luxurious like bearskin rugs, floor-to-ceiling windows, a wood-fired sauna, freshly baked goods and stunning scenery.

There are no set itineraries at this lodge; every day is customized depending on the time of year, flying conditions and interests. Activities range from kayaking in a glacier-fed river, flying over the largest vertical rock face on earth, driving over glacier fields, and hiking across arctic tundra. Every experience at this lodge is unique and unforgettable and entirely worth the journey.

Via LiveTheLife.tv

5. Aganoa Lodge, Samoa

Surfing is the main draw at this ultra-remote lodge, located on Savai’i, the more remote of the two main islands of Samoa. This lodge offers fully guided surfing experiences for a maximum of eight guests while catering to non-surfers and families who want an active travel experience. Eight open-air bungalows set the stage for this beautiful experience, each one constructed of reclaimed timber and lava rocks that were collected on site.

Beautiful white sand and crystal clear water beckon guests to swim, snorkel, surf, kayak and more; with the included equipment from the lodge. Dinner is served nightly in the open lounge and features the fresh catch of the day, along with other incredible seasonal ingredients. Whether you are looking to surf, dine or relax; this remote lodge will appeal to you.

Via PegasusLodges

4. Lyngen Lodge, Norway

The ultimate remote getaway for winter sports enthusiasts is Lyngen Lodge, a remote lodge offering luxury accommodation, top quality cuisine and epic adventures in the world’s most beautiful and undisturbed arctic regions on earth. The lodge only caters to 18 guests at a time so expect a personalized retreat with incredible cuisine and exceptional customer service. Relax in the center of the lodge where large panoramic windows offer spectacular views of the Lyngen Alps and a crackling fireplace keeps you warm.

Activities here include dog sledding, snowmobiling, skiing, Northern Lights viewing, boat tours, water sports, and Heli-hiking. Whether you choose to come in the winter for the unforgettable skiing or the summer for the abundance of activities, chances are, the experience will be unforgettable.

Via Natural World Safari

3. Yemaya Island Hideaway, Little Corn Island, Nicaragua

Little Corn Island is literally a speck in the in Caribbean Ocean, 43 miles off the east coast of Nicaragua. Getting here requires multiple forms of transportation including flight, taxi, panga boat and your own two feet. The reward is well worth it though, 16 private cabanas nestled among swaying coco palms with views of the crystal clear ocean. Private outdoor verandahs, a rainforest shower, and beautiful handcrafted furnishings await you.

Dining is done in the open-air restaurant that serves up local and organic ingredients grown on site along with fresh seafood. Guests here can enjoy activities such as daily yoga, sailing, kayaking, snorkeling, paddle boarding and incredible spa treatments. This hideaway offers the chance to reconnect, explore nature and live carefree, if only for a few short days.

Via Small Luxury Hotels

2. The Oberoi Vanyavilas, India

Situated just ten minutes from Ranthambhore National Park, this is a chance for visitors to get up close and personal with the incredible Royal Bengal Tigers in the wild, while staying at an amazing remote hotel. Accommodations are in luxury tents, complete with a four-poster bed, a claw-footed tub, personal stocked bar, silk bathrobes and more.

Dining is done in the main hall of the restaurant in the winter time in front of an open wood fireplace while the outside courtyard becomes transformed into a restaurant in the summer complete with bonfires, candles and folk musicians. Explore the national park with its incredible ruins, elephants; hundreds of species of birds and of course the majestic tigers. Pamper yourself at the beautiful spa, have a private candlelit dinner or learn how to cook with Indian Spices; whatever your heart desires, you will find it here.

Via Jetsetter

1. Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

Perched at 3,116 feet above sea level in between rainforest and cloud forests sits an incredible lodge, surrounded by plants, orchids and a staggering 500 species of birds; along with monkeys, pumas and an abundance of waterfalls. Luxury and nature merge here at this five-star lodge where rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows and glass walls that look out into the lush forest.

The towering two-story dining room features fully panoramic views and seasonal menu items that are prepared fresh by fine dining chefs. Top naturalist guides are on hand to take you through the surrounding trails and explain the flora and fauna that surrounds you. Voted as one of the most unique lodges in the world by National Geographic; this remote hotel is not to be missed.

Via Mashpi Lodge

The 12 Most Unique Movie Theaters in the World

Forget watching Netflix at home or going to a regular movie theatre, all around the world from the United States to Norway to the UK there are some extremely unique theatres to visit. Some take credit for being hundreds of years old while others use new technology to wow moviegoers. From an elementary school turned brewpub/theatre to an outdoor cinema set up in a cemetery; here are our top 12 choices for the most unique movie theatres in the world.

12. Kennedy School, Portland, OR

This one time elementary school has been turned into a 35-room hotel, restaurant, and movie theatre, all thanks to McMenamins, a local empire of brewpubs and entertainment venues. The movie theatre located in the school’s old auditorium is a mix of comfortable sofas, armchairs, and tables for two. It can fit up to 300 guests inside where second-run feature films are shown nightly.

Mommy matinees are shown during the day from Tuesdays to Thursday s where kids and their parents can come enjoy the first show, and it won’t matter to anyone if the wee ones fuss. Admission here is a steal, at just $4 per person and just $2 a child. There is a special theatre lounge and lobby to grab a drink and bite to eat before the show, or put in your order, as servers will come to your seat throughout the movie so you don’t have to miss a minute of it. Not surprisingly there are a number of McMenamins Craft Beers on tap here!

Via Lonely Planet

11. Colosseum Kino, Oslo, Norway

It is the largest cinema in Northern Europe and the largest THX cinema in the world and is dominating in structure due to its large spherical dome. The grey and cream dome looks more like a futuristic spaceship rather than a movie theatre but it was actually built in 1921.

Throughout its 90 year history, the Colosseum Kino has managed to keep up with technological advances such as sounds systems, and ticketing systems. In 1998 the theatre closed down for a period of time in which major interior and exterior renovations were made.

Via Cinemaholic

10. The Castro Theatre, San Francisco

Built in 1922 by pioneer San Francisco theatre entrepreneurs, this is one of the last remaining movie palaces in the nation that was built in the 1920’s that is still in operation. Both outside and it is breathtakingly gorgeous with the inside being just a touch more luxurious. Expect to see foamy balconies, wall-mounted busts of heroic figures and an auditorium that seat over 1,400 guests in a fantasy setting that is both lavish and intimate.

On either side of the screen are large organ grills, a large art deco chandelier hangs from the room and two dramatic staircases lead to the mezzanine and balcony. Showing here are foreign films, classic revivals, festivals and some of the most intense audiences in town.  In recent years the sound quality has been improved, new stage lighting was installed and larger and more comfortable seats were put on the main floor.

9. Electric Cinema, London

Visitors to the Electric Cinema in London should expect luxury service in this adults aimed hideout in the chic Notting Hill Neighborhood. It is one of the oldest working cinemas in the country, opening in 1910 and has run almost continuously since that time. The interior of the theater is made up of 65 leather armchairs with footstools and side tables, three 2-seater sofas at the rear and six double beds in the front row.

To make things even better, individual cashmere blankets are provided for guests. The bar opens 10 minutes before screening time, whereas the movie starts 30 minutes after screening time. Offering wine, beer, champagne and a variety of snacks; one must get their food and drinks ahead of time. On Monday mornings babies and their caregivers are invited to Electric Scream, a screening designed especially for them.

Via YouTube

8. Raj Mandir Cinema, Jaipur, India

It is nicknamed the “Pride of Asia” and is considered the crown jewel of India’s cinemas, and certainly lives up to its reputation. The theatre was created to make guests feel as though they were royal guests of a palace, a place full of style and elegance. Walking into this theatre is an experience unlike any other, high ceilings hung with huge chandeliers, lighting that changes from white to blue and walls covered in artistic artwork.

The seating here is divided into four sections, Pearl, Ruby, Emerald, and Diamond and once you are seated you will be faced with a huge screen covered by velvet curtains. This is such an experience that every single movie showing over the past 25 years has had a full house, now that is something to brag about. There certainly doesn’t seem to be any better place to take in the colorful sights and sounds of a Bollywood film.

7. Cine de Chef, Seoul, South Korea

This cinema gives a new meaning to “dinner and a movie” with its small luxurious theatre. Couples will begin their night by dropping their car off at the valet and taking the private elevator up to Cordon Bleu café for a quick meal before the show. Think upscale cuisine with a twist. Moviegoers are than put into a private screening room that seats just a handful of patrons.

The comfortable reclining chairs were designed by the same people who design seats for the United Arab Emirates Royalty and once you sit down you may never want to get back up. Footstools, side tables, and lamps complete the picture of this awesome yet small venue. Tickets start at just $54 per person for both dinner and a movie.

Via designseoda

6. Rooftop Cinema, Melbourne, Australia

Sitting on a rooftop bar watching a movie play on a large projection screen sounds like a dream come true. In fact, it is actually reality at the Rooftop Cinema in Melbourne Australia. Open daily from 11am-1am it is easy to grab a drink before the movie starts and hang around long after the credits roll. The rooftop cinema is open from December to April and prices start at $22 per person.

The seating up here is incredibly comfortable deck chairs and blankets are available to rent for just $5 for the course of the movie. Showings include art house films, classics, and recent releases. It is fully licensed up on this roof and moviegoers often bring up their cocktails and brews from the bar below. Enjoy the sky above you, the grass beneath you and an incredible view of the Melbourne skyline.

Via Time Out

5. Cinespia at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA

The outdoor movie screenings here are hard to beat in terms of being unique as they are held on Fairbanks Lawn, an open grassy field inside the Hollywood Forever Cemetery; yes we did just say cemetery. Moviegoers here are responsible for bringing their own low lying chairs, blankets and pillows as well as picnics, wine and beer (note that no spirits are allowed). The Forever Cemetery is the final resting place for many, including John Huston, Peter Lorre, Bugsy Siegel and more.

The showing range from comedies to horror to old school classics and tickets generally cost $10-$15. Guests arriving at the showing will walk through the beautiful and historic cemetery before plunking down in front of the screen. There are restrooms on site to use and there are no in and out privileges. If you thought that watching a scary movie in a normal cinema was scary, wait until you watch one in a cemetery.

Via Hollywood Reporter

4. Alamo Drafthouse, Austin, TX

This quirky indie movie chain was started by a husband and wife team that had no movie qualifications, other than being devoted movie fans. Striving to create the perfect viewing experience for movie lovers there are some strict rules to follow here in order for everyone to enjoy. Some of these rules include absolutely no talking, no cell-phone usage, no unaccompanied children, no babies and no ads before the movies.

What you can expect is high quality and locally sourced food and beer that are served to your seat. This movie chain also runs some incredible events across their theatres. It once showed the Lord of the Rings Trilogy where viewers were only permitted to eat when the characters ate on screen, or how about the events when they call for every viewer to dress like a certain character. Its how movie showing should be, uninterrupted, fun and enjoyable.

Via Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

3. Secret Cinema, Unknown

Once a month moviegoers can be part of a secret audience, secret location and essentially a secret world. Secret Cinema brings together film, music, art, and theatre to create a larger than life experience in abandoned spaces. This is an entirely immersive experience where audiences must dress up as the characters or of the era of the film. They also have the chance to interact with the spectators and actors while having food and drinks, living in the world of the film before setting in to watch the film.

Tickets are not cheap for the event and start around $75 Great British Pounds per adult. Viewers must register online to receive the secret email for which film will be next on the list. Although this is not a standalone theatre, the concept and the delivery of these movies is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Via Stevenfollows.com

2. Hot Tub Cinema, UK, USA, Ibiza

One way to get people talking is to combine hot tubs and movies, because who doesn’t love both! This company started by combining great films with amazing space, lots of hot tubs and incredible people. The mantra here is that they don’t want you to watch films but instead celebrate them. This means your movie experience will be unlike any other you have had before.

Moviegoers are encouraged to dress up, sing, dance, drink and play, as well as spending plenty of time in the hot tub. With movies such as Dirty Dancing, Free Willy, Back to the Future and other classics, tickets sell out fast. Whole tubs can be rented out by buying 6 tickets for a friend or you can buy a pair of tickets and make some new friends as you share a hot tub. There are personalized tub waiters for each hot tub and you can assure this may just be the best night of your life.

Via AWOL

1. Sol Cinema, South Wales

It prides itself as the world’s smallest solar movie theatre and we have to say this may, in fact, be the most unique movie theatre in the world. The Sol Cinema is actually a mobile cinema in a caravan that is powered entirely by the sun. It can accommodate up to 8 adults comfortably and the choice is yours as to which movie is playing. Inside comfortable benches and surround sounds create the perfect viewing experience.

Guests here will get the utmost luxury treatment complete with a red carpet, usherette service and popcorn to snack on. The idea behind this solar movie theatre came when they wanted to reduce their own CO2 emissions but also show what is achievable with solar power. Creating this small cinema allows hundreds of people to be entertained on a daily basis and gives something unique and incredible to both creators and viewers.

Via Digital Spy

The Best Countries For Expats

As the world progresses, it has become increasingly easier to travel around the world and build a new life in a new country. It is still a huge change that can be at times, very scary! You want to make sure that where you move is safe and offers great amenities throughout the country. To make your life easier, we’ve compiled a list of locations that are great places to settle your family in for an adventure of a lifetime, with as many perks as possible.

 

1. Norway

Norway is an amazing place to settle in for a few years with the average expat salary landing at a solid $97,486. The best part is that the importance of having a good work/life balance is a huge priority so you won’t be spending hours and hours at the office.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

 

2. Sweden

Sweden is an amazing option for expats because of their excellent work environments. 71% of expats say the Swedish work environment is better than what they have experienced in their previous countries.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

 

3. Switzerland

Are you ready to make an amazing income and still have time for family? The average expat salary is a whopping $188,275 which is almost twice the global average. With a fantastic work environment and welcoming locals, how could this be a bad idea?

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

4. Ireland

You always arrive thinking you’re just there for a season…and then ten years later you realize you’ll never leave. Surrounded with the ocean and quaint old towns, the fresh air will fill your lungs with that sense that you’ve finally made it home. It also helps that their first language is English so there won’t be any language barriers – just accent barriers!

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

5. Malta

It has perfect weather. That should be enough to get you to move already but not only is there good weather, but there’s low taxes. And not only is there low taxes, but there’s great health care and a low cost of living. It’s amazing!

 

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

6. Italy

If you are looking for a breathtaking location to learn about a new way of life, while eating incredible food made by even more incredible people, Italy is for you! Live here to get cultured and expand your horizons about what you know about the world.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

7. Finland

Filled with blue skies and aquamarine waters, Finland invites you in with their affordable schooling and high quality healthcare. The general population also has a very high level of overall well being.

Photos By: Shutterstock

8. Canada

Not to be biased here, but with everything that’s happening in the world, I’ve never been more thankful to live in Canada. Not only is it safe and welcoming, but we celebrate diversity and are generally environmentally conscious. If these attributes of Canada appeal to you, moving here will not be a mistake!

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

9. Netherlands

With a beautiful set of cities, the Netherlands invites you to cycle through these cities as a primary mode of transportation. Many English speakers live here, so you will always have someone around to help you translate Dutch if you need some help.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

10. France

France is a classic place to move to if you are looking for a change because of it’s timeless beauty and fame around the world for romance. With an average of a 35 hour work week and a 90 minute lunch break, you have yourself a well balanced lifestyle. Oh ya, and there’s also wine at every meal.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

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.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

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!

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

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.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

 

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.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

 

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.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

 

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.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

 

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.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

 

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.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

 

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.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

 

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.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

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.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

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.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

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.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

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.

Photo By: Shutterstock

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.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

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.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

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.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

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.

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

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?

Photo By: Shutterstock

 

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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6 Scenic Ways to Navigate Norway

One of the most fitting ways to explore the ins and outs of Norway is by traveling along any one of the country’s national tourist routes; well established drives that open the doors to some of the finest, most breathtaking scenery in Europe’s most majestic, northern areas. Here the landscape is wild, shaped only by the elements outside of the mostly-small-but interesting towns and villages. Extraordinary mountains, plummeting valleys, hairpin turns, historic bridges, northern lights and midnight sun—it’s all here in Norway across tourist routes that beg to be driven over again and again.

6. Havøysund National Tourist Route

Follow the ocean across wild terrain and into the farthest reaches of Norway’s northern edge toward luminous Arctic light along the Havoysund National Tourist Route for an incomparable Nordic journey. Legendary Arctic glow from the winter’s mind-blowing Northern lights to summer’s midnight sun can be experienced in this raw and stunning landscape. The abrupt change in this northern getaway spans from fjord and coast to mountains and plateaus. The fishing industry sustains locals here, evident at almost any point where you come into contact with people; bring along a rod and reel and try out an authentic and world-class experience. History here begins about 6,000 years ago, when the hardiest of people settled the land. Don’t miss the tiny village of Havoysund, which presents some unexpected bustle among barren backdrops. Set on the Finnmark shore, arts and crafts, fishing, and tourism keeps this hamlet thriving.

Photo by: Nasjonale Turistveger
Photo by: Nasjonale Turistveger

5. Jaeren National Tourist Route

Boundless ocean expanses, broad horizons, and bursting skies define Jaeren National Tourist Route along the southern stretch of Norway. If undulating sand dunes and golden beaches sound idyllic, make time for this iconic drive, interrupted only by salmon-filled rivers and massive boulders. For 40 incredible miles, you’ll drive an expanse of road between the village of Ogna and all-time surfing favorite Bore, in Norway’s Rogaland county in western Norway (also known as Fjord Norway). Enjoy respite from the cool-to-freezing temperatures of the north, trading them up for a mild climate and scenic views never devoid of an ocean backdrop. Historic shipping lanes existed here for merchants crossing the North Sea, where lighthouses dot the coast. Jaeren exemplifies one of the lowest lying of Norway’s regions, where stretched out sandy beaches offer excellent destinations to unwind from a long drive, enjoy the backdrop, and witness spectacular sunsets.

Photo by: Nasjonale Turistveger
Photo by: Nasjonale Turistveger

4. Varanger National Tourist Route

As one of two northernmost scenic drives in Norway, Varanger National Tourist Route attracts intrepid tourists seeking out some of Norway’s wildest terra firma and coastal edges. If you’re looking for solitude, this is the place where companions are in the form of myriad bird species and the midnight sun is seen at its most breathtaking. Varanger is one of the longer routes, spanning almost 160 kilometers between the city of Varangerbotn and Hamningberg, an abandoned fishing village in Finnmark county. This most northeasterly road brings sky and sea into view and follows the shore toward the icy and treacherous Brents Sea where rich bogs and dense birch woodlands lead passengers to the lunar vista of craggy rock faces—it feels like the world ends here. The culture and people are fascinating being so near Russia, where Sami and Finnish traditions collide with Norwegian heritage.

Photo by: Nasjonale Turistveger
Photo by: Nasjonale Turistveger

3. The Atlantic Road

Anyone short on time but big on sightseeing will love the short but sweet 12 kilometer drive along Norway’s Atlantic Road where natural vistas and abrupt turns create extraordinary road trips. Also based in Fjord Norway, the Atlantic Road careens by the urban center of Kristiansund and picturesque Molde, the two largest city centers in the area. The drive crosses note-worthy bridges and features Hustadvika Bay, next to a perilous ocean spot famed for dramatic, unearthly storms. Outside stormy season, stop and scan the water for seals and whales swimming near the shore. Though short in length, this route leads through some interesting coastal towns ideal for a bite to eat, a look around, and perhaps an overnight rest. Just 30 minutes separates Kristiansund from the Atlantic Ocean Tunnel, which after passing, links up with Averoy island where another breathtaking scene unfolds on the west side.

Photo by: Visit Norway
Photo by: Visit Norway

2. Sognefjellet National Tourist Route

For a mountainous Nordic journey, Sognefjellet fits the bill, running between its namesake town and Gudbrandsdalen Valley and traversing the Jotunheimen Mountains, spanning more than 100 kilometers. This is Europe’s absolute highest mountain pass, serpentine and gorgeous all at once, especially where it peaks at 4,700 feet. The drive is record breaking in more ways than one: it’s the largest glacier on Norway’s mainland (Jostedalsbreen Glacier) and the world’s second longest fjord, enduring for more than 200 kilometers. Cyclists from all around the world prefer to take this national route by bicycle, and what a magnificent (and grueling) ride it is. Thankfully the trail is dotted with plenty of well-needed and well-equipped rest areas (and hiking trails) that also boast great views. On route, main points of interest include Lom Stave Church, and Lom itself, renowned for its culinary indulgences.

Photo by: Nasjonale Turistveger
Photo by: Nasjonale Turistveger

1. Senja National Tourist Route

The 102-kilometer long Senja National Tourist Route is striking, dramatically stretching out into the indomitable Norwegian Sea. Technically the route is only 88 kilometers long but is expanded an additional 14 kilometers or so via detours to both the village Husoya and coastal Mefjordvaer. Along the route, mountains plummet downward into the ocean, creating breathtaking scenes and the journey’s most outstanding attractions. The narrow road carves in and around twists and turns alongside icy waters flanked by beautiful fjords. Some of Norway’s most beautiful beaches are set along this coast but unless you’re as tenacious as the Finns with their hot saunas followed by ice-cold plunges, leave the swimming for a place where temperatures are at least slightly warmer. Continuing on, you’ll pass houses perched in surprising locations and small fishing villages where narrow roads wind through dramatic landscapes like the views across dazzling Bergsfjord.

Photo by: Nasjonale Turistveger
Photo by: Nasjonale Turistveger

Extreme Sports Guide: 10 Best Spots in the World for Insane Stunts

From base-jumping and snowboarding to canyoning and bouldering, check out these beautiful natural spots where adrenaline junkies get their daily fix of death-defying stunts. Ranging from extreme to family friendly, get ready for the adventure of a lifetime at the 10 best spots around the world.

10. Underground Tubing

Also called blackwater rafting, get ready for the underground adventure of a lifetime at the Waitomo caves in New Zealand, a major tourist attraction in the North Island. Cave tubing is a great way to see up close the glowworms and ancient rock formations in a series of caves found in the northern King Country region. Formed on Oligocene limestone, the caves are an exciting family friendly activity that will make unforgettable memories. For the more adventurous, specialized tourism companies can take you on an extreme cave crawl that leads to spots rarely seen by the crowds.

Waitomo caves NZ

9. Zip Lining

With the popularity of eco-tourism in Costa Rica, zip lining is often included as part of the tour. Traversing a treetop incline by a pulley is also a great way to see the lush rainforest. Feel like a bird gliding along the horizon as you make your way across Selvatura Park. The zip tour is full of lush, breathtaking scenery, but adrenaline junkies should head to Sun City, South Africa for the world’s longest, fasted zip-line. The Zip 2000 is an intoxicating thrill ride blasting across the safari at 100 mph. It might seem dangerous but Zip 2000 (www.zip2000.co.za) has boasted a 100% safety record since it opened in 2004. It’s also open to kids 12 and up, making it a thrilling family adventure. Zip-lining enthusiasts claim that it feels just like flying, not freefalling like on bungees and parachutes.  

zip line

8. Coasteering

With coasteering, thrill seekers can get their fix of adrenaline on the edge of the world, literally. Head to Pembrokeshire, Wales, the rocky and precarious coastal cliff that is a top spot for extreme outdoor adventures. In a series of swimming, diving, and climbing trails, coasteering involves traversing the rocky coastline on foot and without the aid of watercraft. There are several coasteering outfits that offer guided tours across the windswept coastline, so get ready for a day full of cliff jumping, rock climbing, and swimming in the waves. Coasteering may seem like a sport for daredevils, but with the proper safety equipment and expert guides leading the way, even kids can do it, making it ideal for an outdoor family adventure against a backdrop of breathtaking coastal cliffs.

Coasteering

7. Canyoning

Also called river trekking, this rugged outdoor sport encourages the use of climbing techniques and equipment to rappel and climb rugged canyon terrain. The best places for canyoning are mountains with flowing water like The Grand Canyon in Arizona, which contains breathtaking scenery and some of the steepest canyons in the world. A good place to start is on a mountain with flowing water where you can follow a local expert through a tour of cascading waterfalls, windswept boulders, and trickling streams. Another popular spot for canyoning is in Norway and its Scandinavian fjord country. Armed with a wetsuit, helmet, and climbing gear, get an up close look at the Jostedal glacier as you swim, climb, and rappel your way across the Sognefjord, one of nature’s best obstacle courses.

Jostedal glacier

6. Bouldering

Bouldering, also known as climbing without safety equipment, can be as daring or dangerous as you want it. For thrill-seekers, it’s just you and thousands of feet below, so one wrong move and game over. Even so, that hasn’t stopped this popular sport from becoming a possible competition in the 2020 Olympics. Ranging from 10 to 25 feet, the boulders are quite a challenge, especially without any ropes or safety nets. Instead, climbers must rely on their skills and fearlessness to conquer the boulders one precarious step at a time. Popular spots for extreme bouldering is the lower Sierra Nevada Mountain range in Bishop, California, the giant Rocklands of South Africa, and the forests of Fontainebleau in France.

bouldering

5. Ice-climbing

If you have nerves of steel, get ready for the ultimate thrill as you ascend ice formations with nothing more than an ice pick and a will to live. Adrenaline junkies use Colorado’s Ouray Ice Park (www.ourayicepark.com), the world’s only park devoted to this extreme winter sport. Situated within walking distance of the town of Ouray, the ice park is a man-made climbing area in a natural gorge. Free and open to the public, the park also offers a range of climbs from easy and moderate to high-level. Depending on experience and skill level, there are many climbs to choose from, including the Kids Climbing Park and the Scottish Gullies for the more advanced ice-climber. So, get your axe in gear and head to the San Juan mountain range and the spectacular, rugged terrain of the Rockies. 

Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com
Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com

4. Bungee Jumping

Bungee jumping is a classic adrenaline rush go-to because if it’s a bridge and it’s high up, why not jump off it? Plus, even the craziest daredevils feel somewhat protected by the bungee cord, the only thing between a stunt of a lifetime and certain death. One of the most popular jumps is at Macau Tower, the highest commercial jump established by Kiwi entrepreneur and professional daredevil AJ Hackett. Since the 90s, adventure seekers have traveled to this adrenaline-making mecca for the thrill of their lives. Located on the mainland of China in Macau, the Las Vegas of Asia, the 765-ft jump is in the Guinness World Records as the Highest Commercial Bungee Jump in the world.

nikitabuida / Shutterstock.com
nikitabuida / Shutterstock.com

3. Cave Diving

If you can handle the real dangers of freshwater cave diving, get ready to dive deep into an underwater hole in the earth for an up close look at ancient stalactites in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, an area known for containing the world’s largest concentration of sinkholes. Surrounded by a lush tropical rainforest, plunge into the dark inner depths of crystal-clear turquoise waters. Another popular spot for thrill-seekers is Ginny Springs State Park in High Springs, Florida, one of the most dangerous cave dives in the world. On the way to the network of caves, some as big as two football fields, there are signs covered in skull and crossbones and with the ominous warning, “People have died here.” Even so, it’s one of the top cave diving destinations in the world for its extensive system of caves and caverns.

cave diving

2. Sky Jumping

Popularized by Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, sky jumping is the ultimate thrill. Instead of jumping out of a plane, adrenaline junkies head to the nearest giant cliff and jump off, gliding into the air with the help of a winged bird-like suit. A favorite spot for this extreme sport is the mountains of New Zealand, a region known for its large population of extreme sports enthusiasts. The sport involves a wing suit, which is designed to help you glide through the air in a death-defying free fall and then finally the deployment of a parachute. This activity is perfect for sky divers who want to take the next step in their daily adrenaline fix. Only the most experience skydivers should attempt this. In fact, it is recommended that participants have at least 200 free fall sky dives under their belt before they take the plunge.

sky jumping

1. Heli-skiing

Heli-skiing is so dangerous it’s outlawed throughout Europe, but for the extreme adrenaline junkie, Alaska and the wild frontier of the Chugach Mountains is a popular spot for one of the most daring stunts. Considered to have the world’s deepest, softest powder, the Chugach peaks are an ideal spot to reach treacherous skiing slopes, ones that are so high and rugged that they can only be reached by helicopter. Only advanced skiers and snowboarders should try it, but for those looking for the ultimate thrill, there are several local outfits that can get you to the colossal vertical gorges and inspiring snow-capped peaks. Now is the time to channel your inner Bodhi from Point Break because “If you want the ultimate, you’ve got to be willing to pay the ultimate price.” No pressure.

heli ski

10 Ecotourism Hotspots for 2016

Eco-tourism has become something of a buzzword in recent years. Some might be quick to write it off as nothing more than fancy marketing, but the trend toward “green” travel has stayed strong through 2015, with 53% of Americans looking to book green hotels, and interest in environmentally viable and sustainable tourism is likely to grow in 2016 as talks around climate change continue. So where can we expect green travelers to head off to in 2016? Here are our 10 picks for the year ahead.

10. Costa Rica

Let’s start with the tried-but-true Costa Rica. Costa Rica is a recognized leader in ecotourism, often considered a pioneer. The country’s focus on sustainability makes sense because Costa Rica’s tourism industry is heavily centered on its natural resources, including its abundant wildlife, lush mountain ecosystems and its “cloud forests.” Costa Rica’s commitment to green extends outside of the tourism industry, however; in 2007, the country committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2021 and, as of 2015, 93% of the country’s energy needs are met by renewable sources. Environmental taxes act as disincentives to polluting businesses and laws such as the 1996 Forest Law have helped reorient other industries to sustainable development. All of this means that tourists traveling to Costa Rica can feel secure knowing they’ve made an environmentally sound choice.

costa rica

9. Laos

Two decades ago, Laos was relatively low on the list of international destinations; since the 1990s, however, tourism has grown explosively, from under 100,000 visitors annually to nearly 2 million tourists every year. The relatively quick growth of the industry might lead to concerns about exploitative development and destructive mass tourism, but Laos has also developed a strong orientation toward ecotourism—perhaps fitting for a country that has adopted the slogan “Simply Beautiful.” Luang Namtha, the northernmost province in Laos, is one of the best areas for tourists looking for a trip focused on sustainability: local villages earn alternate income from offering trekking and rafting tours through the biodiverse region around the Nam Ha Protected Area and the Namtha River, which encourages preservation of the environment as an attraction for continued tourism.

Laos

8. Cambodia

Tourism in Cambodia has long been overshadowed by violence in the country. Nonetheless, tourism is the second-most important industry in the self-proclaimed “Kingdom of Wonder,” and is based on 3 key elements. One of those elements is an embarrassment of natural attractions, and nowhere is that more evident than in Koh Kong, the country’s southwestern most province. Located near the border with Thailand, the region embraces part of the Cardamom Mountains and boasts 1 of the largest forests in Southeast Asia. The area also features untouched beaches and pristine waters along its undeveloped coastline. Cambodia’s largest national park, Botum Sakor National Park, is also located in Koh Kong, along with part of the Kirirom National Park. The rugged terrain along the Tatai River has been perfect for developing sustainable tourism aimed at keeping the natural wonders of Koh Kong intact for future generations.

Cambodia

7. Greenland

There’s been plenty of discussion about Greenland lately: the country has been named one of Lonely Planet’s top travel destinations for 2016, and much of the country’s frozen landscape seems to be melting at an alarming rate. While that might seem to be a call to travelers to see Greenland before it’s “too late,” Greenland has been working on a better plan: a sustainable tourism industry. Since much of the country’s young tourism industry focuses on experiences like dog-sledding, hiking along glaciers and whale-watching, ensuring that tourism in Greenland is eco-friendly is a must. Natural Habitat’s Base Camp Greenland is one recent eco-friendly initiative; the small-group excursion takes adventurers to a carbon-neutral expedition camp at the eastern edge of Greenland’s ice sheet. While 2016 promises to be a big year for Greenland tourism, that doesn’t mean it can’t be kept green.

Greenland

6. Norway

While it might be eco-conscious Western tourists who have been a driving force in the development of sustainable tourism, the tourist industries of most Western economies are run on less eco-friendly initiatives. One country that’s pushing toward an increasingly green tourism industry is the Scandinavian country of Norway. One of Norway’s top attractions has always been its environment, most particularly its rugged mountains and stunning fjords. While the remoteness of the fjords has kept them well-protected, so too have Norway’s strict environmental regulations played a role in keeping the iconic Norwegian landscapes pristine. Ensuring a healthy environment extends outside the realm of the tourism industry, and Norway is considered a leader in environmental policy in other industries as well. That means that scenic boat tours, biking through rugged mountain terrain and wondering at the snow-capped mountain vistas of the Norwegian fjords will be activities for future tourists as well.

Norway

5. Botswana

Botswana gets the short end of the stick when it comes to African tourism; the southern African country is bordered by South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia. In the ecotourism industry, Botswana is often overlooked for Kenya. Botswana, however, has its own charms: about 70% of the country is covered by the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta, 1 of the 7 Natural Wonders of Africa and UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also located in the country. The Chobe Game Reserve is home to a large herd of free-ranging elephants and the Khama Rhino Sanctuary offers guided trekking experiences, while the Central Game Reserve offers up some of southern Africa’s most unspoiled wilderness. In terms of tourism, the industry is small, but growing in Botswana, which means that the country has had time to focus on developing sustainable initiatives.

Botswana

4. Maldives

The Maldives, located in the Indian Ocean, is a chain of 26 atolls that is threatened by rising sea levels. With this in mind, the country has been a leader in green industries, including ecotourism. The government has pledged to make the country carbon neutral by 2019. The islands rely heavily on tourism, which is the largest sector of the economy. Most tourism is driven by the Maldives’ natural beauty, including extraordinary diving opportunities in clear blue waters. The islands are often promoted as a tropical resort getaway, and white sand beaches and sports like surfing and scuba diving are popular. Government policies have aimed to reduce damage to sensitive coral reefs and to make stricter laws for waste disposal, while resorts themselves have focused on recapturing wasted energy and recycling heat.

Maldives

3. Seychelles

The Seychelles is a 115-island country located off the east coast of the African continent. Tourism is the primary industry in the economy and has been since the late 20th century. Since the mid-1990s, however, the government has moved to ensure that tourist development doesn’t come at the expense of the islands’ natural environment. This has included capping the number of beds in some of the most popular destinations, such as La Digue. The islands contain a number of unique ecosystems and are home to a host of diverse plants and animals, some of which live on only 1 or 2 islands. While Seychellois culture is coming to value environmental protection, the nation is not currently committed to clean energy or a carbon-neutral plan; time will tell if the environmental conscience of the tourism industry spreads to other sectors of the economy.

Seychelles

2. Kenya

Tourism in Kenya has always been driven by its natural attractions; in recent years, visitors have been attracted to coastal beaches and game reserves, such as the expansive East and West Tsavo National Park. The country boasts 19 such national parks and game reserves, the Great Rift Valley and a stunning view of Mount Kilimanjaro. Best known for its savannas, Kenya is still most popular for safaris, but you can also visit coral reefs on the coast, along with rainforests and deserts. Ecotourism Kenya, a watchdog organization, keeps an eye on tourism and rates accommodations based on their environmental policies. Most safari outfitters now offer eco-friendly options for visitors, and many of them ensure they give back to or work on behalf of the local people, thus working toward sustainability in the industry.

Mount Kilimanjaro

1. New Zealand

New Zealand is a major destination for travelers who seek adventure; the wild, untamed and often rugged landscape offers excellent opportunities for almost all outdoor activities, from hiking to trekking to mountain climbing to surfing and diving. Given that tourism focuses largely on the natural environment, it’s little wonder that New Zealand is also invested in protecting its natural assets—the country has committed to becoming carbon neutral and markets itself as a “clean, green” playground for adventurers. The country has developed numerous walking and hiking trails, such as the internationally recognized Milford Track and the Te Araroa Trail, which spans the country. In line with the country’s presentation of itself, ecotourism initiatives have been on the rise, although there is some concern about tourism being a carbon-intensive industry, as many visitors travel huge distances to reach this remote country.

Milford Track NZ