The Best Cities to Buy Property in Europe

There is no better time than right now to purchase property in Europe, especially if you’re looking to snag a hot deal. Whether you are looking to settle down in an Irish cottage where waves crash against the dramatic cliffs or you’re looking to earn rental income in the heart of Turkey, here are the top 15 cities to buy property in Europe.

15. Istria, Croatia

Head to Southern Europe to the super affordable corner that is Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula, where apartments and houses are cheap. Croatia borders the Adriatic Sea and offers two appealing retirement lifestyle options, whether you want to be on the coast or inland- where meadows, vineyards and olive groves are your backyards. The Romans invested in some of their best buildings here back in the day, as did the Venetians when they ruled. What that means for retirees here is a landscape full of fortresses, bell towers, and an architectural legacy.

Rovinj at sunset, Istra region, Croatia.

14. Athens, Greece

Greece took a big hit during the economic crisis which has created a great opportunity to purchase real estate now. Athens, the capital of Greece offers year-round entertainment and inexpensive flights from the UK. However, it’s important to be wary about where you buy, just as you would in any major city. It may be best to consider an apartment in the city center or invest in the Kolonaki and Plaka neighborhoods as these areas are far more affordable.

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13. Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia’s capital is a gorgeous city that is rich in history dating back to Roman times. It’s predicted that Zagreb will see serious growth in the next couple of years which means this is a city you’ll want to have on your radar. In 2018, the country only saw an 8.5% increase in asking prices for condos, however, condos located in Zagreb saw a 20% increase. Further, in 2019 there was a 30% increase in Airbnb homes located in Zagreb which is a great indicator that the city is seeing a surge in vacation rentals. It’s evident that the city’s real estate market is booming and if you want to get in before the prices reach an all-time high, now is the time to buy!

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12. Algarve, Portugal

Home to more than 100,000 resident expats, it is clear that for decades this place has been the hot place to buy. Luckily for those looking to experience the 3,300 hours of sunshine per year this place gets, the market is still affordable. The Algarve’s 100 miles of Atlantic coastline is full of jagged rock formations, lagoons, and sandy beaches. The waters are azure in color and the cliff-top vistas are spectacular, Add in 42 golf courses in the region, plenty of time for sailing and boating and you have yourself one heck of a place to live. Plus the average price per square meter for real estate is just $1,345 US, a pretty good bargain for a pretty special place.

Algarve, Portugal

11. Feldkirch And Bludenz, Austria

Austria is experiencing a real estate boom which is making the secondary cities more appealing. This is because property prices in secondary cities like Feldkirch and Bludenz are far lower than major cities like the country’s capital, Vienna. Feldkirch and Bludenz are both charming alpine cities that are surrounded by stunning forest mountains. Both towns saw a 20% increase in real estate prices in the last couple of years which is higher than the country’s capital which came in at about an 18% increase. These low prices won’t last for long, so now is the best time to buy.

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10. Beara Peninsula, Ireland

There has been a strong surge in demand for family homes in desirable areas of Ireland’s main cities, but that shouldn’t discourage buyers who are looking to purchase in Ireland, it just means you need to go elsewhere. The buying place right now is on Ireland’s Southwest coast, that is if you are looking for a charming cottage or seaside house. This is not where you want to buy as an investor but instead, as a homeowner. The Beara Peninsula is the largest and most remote on this coast and houses here are quite inexpensive. Locals here are opting to buy new houses rather than renovate old traditional farmhouses and prices are rock bottom. Think $80,000 US for a typical Irish farm cottage that is steps away from the ocean and needs a little fixing up. Giant waves crashing onto cliffs, miles of sandy beaches, mountain range and warm air — there seems no good reason why we all shouldn’t be buying a second home in this beautiful country.

Beara Peninsula, Ireland

9. Istanbul, Turkey

Turkey’s property market wasn’t hit as hard as others in the world in the years 2008 and 2009, with recovery times only take about a year and a half. Despite that, Istanbul remains a bargain when it comes to real estate with starting market prices at about $1,000 a square meter. Turkey is a country of the future, with half of its population younger than 30 years of age, which means the time to invest, is now. With the economy growing and being diversified between Europe and Asia it is easier than ever for foreigners to invest here. A construction boom is also taking place in Istanbul as half the current housing stock in the country needs to be replaced or renovated, thus making it easy to get in on buying pre-construction apartments. Getting in early on a new build means discounted pricing and the expectation of price increase over the construction period. The time to invest in Turkey is now.

Istanbul, Turkey

8. Abruzzo, Italy

Abruzzo, Italy is a region that one may not think to consider when exploring properties in Italy but because it’s undiscovered it’s full of inexpensive properties. Abruzzo is full of charming ancient towns and has a landscape unlike anywhere else Italy from boasting hills to mountains. That said, you’ll still be able to indulge in all the things you love about Italy from delicious wine and food to stunning architecture and of course their hot summers. Purchasing a home in Abruzzo will cost you about $50, 000 US dollars, give or take depending on what town you choose to buy property in. Many of the homes are built of stone which helps to keep the homes cool in the summer and they’re also often equipped with open fireplaces to keep the home warm and cozy in the winter.

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7. Rotterdam, The Netherlands

About an hour away from The Netherlands capital, Amsterdam is a quaint city called Rotterdam. Rotterdam is a port city and is full of hip art, plenty of shopping, and has a bustling nightlife. Most importantly, Rotterdam inspires so much innovation that it’s considered the architecture city of Holland. Rotterdam saw a 17% increase in home prices in the past year which far surpasses the country’s average of 10%. In 2019 properties sold in about 33 days which is 11% faster than in 2018. As you can see, the property demand in Rotterdam is growing at a fast rate, making Rotterdam a city you’ll want to invest in sooner rather than later.

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6. Rennes, France

Rennes, France is rich in history, full of luscious green space, and has the appeal of a big city but on a much smaller scale. While there are 90 historic monuments in the old center, you will notice Rennes feels youthful. This is because over 200, 000 residents are students. Between the attractive property prices and the new High-speed rail that can get you from Rennes to Paris in about an hour and a half, there’s no wonder why Renne’s should be on your radar. But keep in mind the high-speed rail will continue to make this an attractive city so now the’s time to buy if you’re thinking of investing in property in France.

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5. Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe and is the second-largest city in Bulgaria, right behind the country’s capital, Sofia. The town was built around seven hills which is a large part of the city’s history. In 2019, The European Union named Plovdiv the European Capital of Culture which made the city a big focus for the whole year. This title also sparked a number of urban revitalization projects that have caused the city to see steady growth in real estate sales that is consistent with the country’s capital. With the city holding the European Capital of Culture title for a full year now, it’s predicted that the real estate will sky-rocket even further making it a great city to buy into now.

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4. Budapest, Hungary

There is great value to be found all over Budapest and the time to get into the market is now when others haven’t. From 2007 to 2014 the market in Budapest was in a major slump, causing housing prices to hit rock bottom, and it is only now that they are starting to recover. Budapest is truly a beautiful place, both to live and work and that is great for any investor when it comes to real estate as the demand for rental properties continues to increase. Budapest also happens to be a year-round tourist destination offering amazing bathhouses, dining options, and architecture; drawing visitors who often seek out private rentals to stay in. With good yields, low to moderate transaction costs and pro-landlord laws, it is easy to understand why buying property here is the right choice.

GTS Productions / Shutterstock.com
GTS Productions / Shutterstock.com

3. Seville, Spain

Spain is a popular destination, between the pleasant climate, and stunning landscapes there’s a lot to see and do. But for those looking to buy a piece of real estate in Spain now is the time to do so. Spain’s economy suffered immensely during the economic crisis, however, after 2013 the decline started to slow. Now, the demand in real estate is beginning to grow again making it a great country to invest in. If you’re looking to buy property in Spain, the city of Seville is where you may want to start. This stunning city is famous for flamenco dancing and is home to major landmarks from the ornate Alcázar Castle complex to the site of Christopher Columbus’s tomb and more. The markets have shown that Seville has great revenue growth and for those looking to invest in a rental property, the rental demand is high as this city experiences low seasonality.

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2. Apulia, Italy

This is the region that forms the heel of the Italian boot, a region not always thought of when you speak of Italy. But it is here where you can find low-priced properties in a stunning setting. Trulli houses, beehived shaped rural houses are the norm around here and there are plenty on the market for less than $100,000 US. Apulia features numerous sandy beaches on two coastlines, country land overflowing with vineyards and olive groves, and a slew of historic towns worth exploring. Living costs are low, there is an abundance of churches and palaces, medieval streets beckon you and craftsmen line the streets. This laidback, eccentric area is perfect whether you are buying a second home or starting over in life. A true bargain for a slice of Italian history, loaded with incredible scenery and people.

Apulia, Italy

1. Lisbon, Portugal

Time and time again we hear that this is the most affordable capital in Western Europe and it’s a wonder how long this will last as foreigners start to grab up inexpensive houses. For now, though it is quite inexpensive to buy here. A 2-bedroom apartment in a charming neighborhood will set you back about $100,000 US. Lisbon is a city where you can enjoy a European lifestyle, complete with history, romance, astonishing hospitality, and a seaside location for Latin American prices. The climate here is mild, the amenities are plenty and the people are among the most polite and friendly. With a low cost of living, charming hilly narrow streets and the sea at your fingertips. This is the perfect place to scoop up a second home.

Lisbon, Portugal

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 Most Mind‑Blowing Places to Paraglide

What is the quintessential adrenaline rush exactly? For some it’s free-falling out of an airplane into endless sky while for others it’s diving into the deep depths of the ocean into waters teeming with eager sharks. The essential ingredient of any adventure trip is most definitely adrenaline, no matter what form it comes in. For those less willing to leap out of a perfectly good airplane, paragliding is a great alternative; a sort of slow-motion jump from a mountain top or towering hill that offers a similar experience to a free fall with the chance to take it all in at a slower pace.

8. Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique

Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago is just 16 kilometers off the coast, one of the most remote places along the east coast of Africa and also one of the most beautiful with alabaster beaches and water like glass. It’s here where paragliders will find the ultimate in options; simply scale the massive dune, choose any launching point, and coast through the clouds through sun and along the sea. One of the most popular facets of this unparalleled paragliding location is the lack of obstacles: many people don’t bother with helmets or even shoes because there’s simply nothing to hit, making it a great place for novices to practice and for the more experienced to try more daring stunts. Condition are most dependable between May and October and low tide is ideal: paragliders can cost to the ocean and land along the beach.

7. Wengen, Canton of Bern, Switzerland

Valleys, vistas, and waterfalls make the base village of Wengen, Canton of Bern, Switzerland, an incredible, year-round destination for paragliding, hang gliding, and sky diving. Originally renowned for world=class hiking and skiing, Wengen has become a paramount European destination for heart-pumping, mountain-scaling adventures. Wengen gives way to the Lauterbrunnen Valley, known as the Valley of Waterfalls, where more than 70 waterfalls plummet down sky-scraping cliffs in an area with more than 11,000 feet between base camp and the Jungfrau summit–higher even than Mount Everest’s 10,000-foot elevation from base camp. For some paragliders, that’s reason enough to book a trip. Soar past immense alpine meadows, lush green valleys, snow capped chalets, and 19th century timber houses back into base camp and start over again or try out some equally blood-pumping activities like canyoneering (traversing canyons using various techniques like climbing and swimming) or river rafting.

6. Oludeniz, Turkey

Babadag Mountain is the place to be when planning any adventure sports in Fethiye, Turkey. It’s known as a Mecca for paragliders and other sky surfers: it towers over 5,900 feet and offers sublime views of the mountains and surrounding areas. That first view from the top can definitely induce some queasy feelings if you’ve never paraglided from that kind of height–everything below appears absolutely minuscule. Outfitters provide all necessary equipment, a jeep ride up the steep mountain, and a tandem jump that lasts over 20 minutes soaring over white sand beaches, lush green forest, and cobalt water before landing directly on Belcekiz Beach. Any adrenaline junkie will love the elevation here and the ease of the jump but be sure to watch out for fog which comes in regularly–it can turn a fantastic jump lethal.

5. Point of the Mountain, Utah, USA

For those less willing to paraglide from heights pushing into thousands of feet, Utah’s Point of the Mountain near Salt Lake City is great place to languidly fly from the top of the mountain to escape gravity and take in the surrounding scenery, whether on short flight or a longer haul adventure, the conditions are legendary; winds are consistently smooth, offering the greatest potential for both paragliding and hang gliding. Point of the Mountain is ideal for beginners, with several professional paragliding companies offering lessons, tandem flights, and tours, and advanced instruction. If you’re just a beginner wanting to take to the skies, Point of the Mountain is perfect. Beginner tandem flights can start as low as just five feet and range up to 2,000 feet, offering a level of comfort for just about anyone.

4. Valle de Bravo, Mexico

El Penon in Valle de Bravo, Mexico is one of the most famous sites for flying in the world, offering consistent conditions that can lead up to four hours flying every day. the inland thermal site is situated on the boundary of a strong network of ancient, inactive volcanoes enveloped by lush hills and blanketed in temperate, emerald forest. From December through March, these elements combine, providing incredible thermal soaring conditions within an area that perfectly compliments the lifestyle and flying schedule. Launching from El Penon is at more than 7,000 feet and the glide is easy given good conditions without too much wind. The access road is ideal for driving up, making it a cinch to arrive at the top and onsite amenities ensure you’re primed and ready to go before take off.

3. Kamshet, India

Anyone who’s been paragliding in India maintains that Kamshet, just 110 kilometers from Mumbai in the Western Ghats, is a paradise for sky launches and an ideal destination for adventure-seekers looking for a major rush. Avoiding monsoon season–typically from June through October–paragliders can head to Kamshet during the summer season between March and May for ideal conditions and temperatures. From the launch points of either east or west Tower Hill, gliders can experience some breathtaking scenes, including tiny villages dotting the entire mountain expanse. There are several guesthouses in the area accommodating paragliders in the immediate vicinity wanting to spend their entire time flying, with either tandem lessons and solo flying or strictly tandem flights. Outfitters also offer transport to Tower Hill each day. In thermal seasons, depending on conditions, launches can be extended, cross-country flights with incredible views and panoramas of the entire region.

2. Danyang, South Korea

Undescribable freedom ensues when defying gravity in Danyang, South Korea. Heading to the take-off points of either Mount Dusan or Mountan Yangbangsan, gliders enjoy a facility that’s well designed and only a two-hour drive from Seoul. If coming in from Seoul, booking a jump is easy and includes transportation from the city, equipment, tandem jumps, and extended lessons if desired (if you’re planning on the approach independently, there’s a direct bus to Danyang from the East Seoul Bus Terminal). Beginners generally always fly from Mount Yangbangsan which is near the downtown area and the site for standard training prior to departure. The views from this jump point are incredible and feature the Manhangang River below and the city spread out before you while mountains pass alongside. International and national competitions happen at this location, proving it’s better than any other paragliding point in the country.

1. Castelluccio, Umbria, Italy

The Apennines Mountains are a range in Italy comprised of a network of smaller chains spanning more than 1,100 kilometers along the peninsular length of Italy. They’re beautiful, home to countless lovely towns and villages, and offer one of the best spots in Europe for paragliding. The highest village in the Apennines Mountains is Castelluccio, most notable for vibrant valleys that begin showing off their blooms in early spring and through the summer months. It’s these kinds of scenes paired with alpine heights that have attracted numerous hang gliding and para gliding schools to establish themselves in the vicinity. The thermals here are extremely smooth and the air perfectly calm most of the year creating good conditions for first-time flyers while experienced pilots enjoy the challenges offered by heading to the summit of Monte Vettore and flying a different, more challenging route.

Surreal Landscapes Everyone Needs To See

There are surreal landscapes all around the world, many which seem to be from another planet entirely and go well beyond the point of extraordinary. Many of these landscapes are just plain bizarre and seem to be a collection of detailed movie sets but they are indeed as rel as you and I. From the honeycomb homes of ancient cave dwellers in Turkey’s Cappadocia to the fiery, blazing crater in Turkmenistan’s desert burning for more than four decades, the following landscapes are some of the most surreal visions on the planet.

8. The Wave | Arizona

In the Arizona Strip within the area of Coyote Buttes North is The Wave, not a giant hand or anything flapping in the wind but an iconic and surreal stretch of multi-coloured sandstone rock layers that twist and turn across the landscape in an almost unimaginable and dreamlike way. The windblown formations, originally formed by Jurassic winds blowing sand dunes across the southwestern desert cemented striations creating the streaked landscape. Photographers and film makers love the location, which features the main Wave, The Second Wave, and several minor fixtures including Sand Cove, the Hooters, Top Rock Arch, Fatali’s Boneyard, The Alcove, and Meoldy Arch and the Grotto. To visit this impressive landscape though, you must get a permit and that can be difficult. There are ten permits granted for each day and generally more than 150 applicants but also walk-in permits so it’s not impossible.

7. Grand Prismatic Spring | Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Spring seems like a computer-generated image for it’s eye-popping, vibrant colours but there’s definitive science behind the U.S.A.’s largest hot spring in beautiful Yellowstone National Park. This is Yellowstone’s most beautiful attraction and its most remarkable one too. Radiating high-temperature water, and astounding kaleidoscopic colours, the spring can be seen via a boardwalk running alongside of it, reachable by a straightforward walk.
It was discovered in 1871 by the Hayden Expedition, which was the first exploration of what was discovered to be Yellowstone. After abundant research, it was scientifically determined that the colours endure because of bacteria thriving in the heat of the spring and the different colours are representative of different microscopic life forms living within the spring. To see the exceptional sight, hike to Midway Bluff where a panoramic scene unfolds of the spring and adjacent Midway Basin.

6. Red Beach | China

Imagine being surrounded by a sea of blood red as far as the eye can see, with only a wooden boardwalk carving through this natural and curious anomaly. Near China’s Panjin City, the Liaohe River Delta holds a one-of-a-kind landscape called Red Beach. During the summer, Red Beach appears s any other, lovely water and some sea weed (called suaeda salsa) in typical green hues but come the season’s change, the green sea weed across the entire stretch of beach transforms to a brilliant, fire-red colour. A large part of Red Beach is a protected nature reserve (it’s the biggest reed marsh and wetland in the world) but a small part is kept open for visitors to see this astonishing change and view nearly 240 bird species living nearby. Get to Red Beach from Beijing on one of several daily trains or easily from historic Panjin City via bus.

5. Sossusvlei | Namibia

Sossusvlei is a famous salt and clay flat in Namibia in the Namib Desert’s southern end within Namib‑Naukluft National Park (Africa’s biggest conservation are) and enclosed by a series of massive red dunes creating spectacular contrast with the white flats and painting one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. The dunes are some of the world’s largest reaching more than 1,300 feet, providing photography buffs one of the most snap-worthy scenes on the continent. Sossusvlei translates to “dead-end-marsh,” Sossusvlei’s dunes create a natural dam, stopping the flow of the river Tsauchab but because of the desert’s extremely arid conditions, the river rarely reaches this point, keeping the flats bone-dry throughout but when a particularly wet rainy season occurs, visitors appear from ll over the world to see the magnificent site. The flats transform into a stunning, reflective lake enveloped by the dunes, and can remain that way or up to a year.

4. Cappadocia, Anatolia, Turkey

Cappadocia in Turkey’s Anatolia region seems to be pulled directly out of a chimerical fairytale and set into the Turkish plains, creating a geological curiosity of lofty boulders and punctured hills and an image that’s certainly ethereal. The history of humans in this part of the world though is just as fascinating as the whimsical topography–for centuries, inhabitants have taken advantage of the softness of the stones and used them to create underground shelters, leaving behind a countryside dispersed with captivating architecture. The subterranean havens of Kaymakl_ and Derinkuyu along with the rock-cut, painting-adorned shrines of Göreme are Cappadocia’s most famous landmarks. Don’t miss the unique opportunity of staying in one of the cave hotels to experience modern cave-dwelling at its best. Whether it’s quite literally sleeping in a cave that draws you here, or the incredible hiking possibilities, it’s the lunar-esque panoramas that are unforgettable.

3. Giant’s Causeway | Northern Ireland

Along Norther Ireland’s Antrim Coast is one of the most surreal landscapes in Europe, the Giant’s Causeway, a series of more than 35,000 interlinked black basalt columns jutting out of the sea, the result of an volcanic eruption about 50 million years ago. County Antrim, home to this legendary UNESCO World Heritage marvel, sits on Northern Ireland’s northeast coast, a landscape settled on lush, green countryside that touches sea under big blue skies just a few kilometers from Bushmills town. The name encouraged tales of giants stepping over the seas to Scotland. Today, the Giant’s Causeway draws millions of visitors who walk the coastal stretch with a guide or independently, often climbing the nearby Shepherd’s Steps, a cliff top path, reaching a summit for a bird’s eye view of the mystical columns. The Visitor’s Center is another vision altogether, with basalt columns, glass walls and a stunning interior designed by Heneghan-Peng, a pair of award-winning architects.

2. Antelope Canyon | Arizona

Antelope Canyon is east fo Page, Arizona on Navajo land. It’s a slot canyon, a narrow gully created by centuries of wear by water streaming through rock and characteristically much deeper than it is broad. This particular canyon is an astonishing sight comprised of two distinct slot canyon areas referred to as The Crack and The Corkscrew. The canyons are the American Southwest’s most treasured natural attraction, and similar to The Wave in Arizona, appear in many films and photo shoots for their incredible formation. To enter the canyon, visitors must walk through narrow and curving crevice spanning only a few feet in width. A drastic temperature change is most noticeable, dropping up to 20 degrees. The filtered sun reaching into the canyon depths is one of the most beautiful sights, creating magical patterns and shadows that are constantly changing and creating a dazzling range of colours.

1. Door to Hell | Turkmenistan

In Turkmenistan’s Karakum Desert by the village of Derweze is Darvaza Crater, aka The Door to Hell, a mysterious cavern that’s been burning for more than four decades. Soviet geologists discovered phenomena in 1971 when their drilling rig collapsed into the ground unexpectedly. That left a massive hole spanning more than 220 feet. The gaseous crater was thought to be poisonous, leaving the scientists to decide setting it on fire was the best way to get rid of it. The expectation was the fires would burn out in a short time yet several decades after, the fire is as strong as ever. The gas-filled, fiery crater is a visually stunning and fascinating point in a landscape otherwise dull and barren. Tour groups do make the trip as do scientists who actually suit up and bravely rappel in to collect soil samples and snap photos.

12 Best Museums to Walk Among Dinosaurs

If you ever had the inkling to come face to face with a dinosaur, now is your chance. Although there are not any Jurassic Park theme parks as of yet; there are plenty of museums where you can get a more realistic idea of where dinosaurs came from and how they evolved. From China to New York to the land down under these 12 awesome museums give you the chance to walk among the dinosaurs, each offering their own unique spin on exhibits and displays.

12. Jurassic Land, Istanbul, Turkey

Part education and part entertainment, this is the closest you will come to living out your Jurassic World fantasies. Your journey here starts at the museum which features bones and eggs from millions of years ago and takes visitors through the history of dinosaurs with incredible exhibits. The science center is among the favorites and informative guides take visitors through, talking about the incubation units and introducing them to the moving realistic looking dinosaurs.

There is a great digging workshop for kids and after excavating they will receive a certificate. The 4-D theatre is suitable for all ages, although if you have really young kids it may be scary. This interactive film takes visitors a ride to Dinosaur Island and be prepared as you may just want to watch it again and again. Part museum, part amusement park, this is best suited for families with kids.

Via istanbulkesfi.com

11. Iziko Museum, Cape Town, South Africa

You won’t be heading here to see dinosaurs such as the famous T-Rex or Stegosaurus; instead, you will find prehistoric beats from the Karoo Region. This museum caters to visitors who want to learn more about the less known dinosaurs and their cousins that inhabited the continent. The dinosaur hall is where you’ll find a permanent exhibition called Stone Bones of the Ancient Karoo.

Here visitors will find ancient lizards, huge crocodiles and a cast of the most complete skeleton of Heterodontosaurus found to date. Make sure to check out Kirky the dinosaur, arguably the cutest dinosaur in the history of South Africa. The Museum houses more than one and a half million specimens of scientific importance and you will want to explore more than just the dinosaur hall here.

Via fireflyafrica.blogspot.com

10. Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center, Colorado

Although this museum is quite small, it delivers an awesome experience for those looking to learn more about dinosaurs. The center features an awe-inspiring display of dinosaurs, prehistoric marine reptiles, pterosaurs, and fish of North America’s late Cretaceous period. Graphics and life-restoration sculptures are used to help visitors imagine these animals in real life.

What is so cool about this museum is the fact that you can see right inside the working fossil laboratory through the glass windows. This is a great museum for kids as it is not so big they will get tired and there are plenty of activities for them such as a fossil dig box, activity stations, and two short movies. Visitors will definitely want to take advantage of the tour that is included with admission as they run about an hour long and are highly informative.

Via The Dinosaur Stop

9. Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany

Besides housing an extremely large collection of bones excavated from Tanzania, 250 tones to be exact, this museum is also home to the tallest dinosaur on display in the world. The Brachiosaurus dominates the first gallery, standing at 41 feet, 5 inches tall. Also on display at this museum visitors will find the impressive Kentrosaurus, a spiky lizard that lived in the Upper Jurassic period.

What might be the most impressive here though is the Archaeopteryx fossil, thought to be the best-known fossil in the world and provides the link between birds and dinosaurs. One of the most interesting things this museum has done is install Jurascopes that allow visitors to bring the dinosaurs to life.

Via YouTube

8. Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta

This museum is home to the permanent exhibition “Giants of the Mesozoic”, where a battle between giants is taking place. The world’s largest dinosaurs are shown here in a predator vs. prey situation and replicate the badlands of Patagonia, Argentina, where the largest dinosaurs in the world were unearthed. This exhibit features the Giganotosaurus, a dinosaur that is comparable in size to the T-Rex, as well as the Argentinosaurus, who scientists claim is the largest dinosaur ever classified.

Visitors will want to look up as more than 20 pterosaurs are shown overhead. Other notable features in this museum are the pterosaur and dinosaur tracks, remnants from an Araucaria tree, a fossilized crocodile, and additional fossil casts. It should be noted that all the fossils are cast replicas of the original specimens as the actual fossilized bones remain in Argentina, where they are considered a national treasure.

Via Expedia

7. Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science, Brussels, Belgium

The most important pieces in the museum are definitely the 30 fossilized Iguanodon skeletons, discovered in 1878 and helping to make the dinosaur hall Europe’s largest museum hall completely dedicated to dinosaurs. This museum is not just fascinating to walk through though, it actually offers an incredible amount of education through the interactive exhibits including the details of the fossilization process and dinosaur digs.

Parents will love watching the eight interviews with paleontology experts around the world while kids will have a blast in the paleo lab where they can touch and explore real fossils, along with putting together a life-sized stegosaurus and walking in dinosaur footprints. This museum does an excellent job linking dinosaurs to modern-day animals, making it even easier to understand how evolution works. A win-win in our books.

Via Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

6. Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, Alberta, Canada

This museum holds more than 130,000 fossils and is the only one of its kind dedicated to the science of paleontology. This museum focuses on education, creativity, and fun while opening visitor’s eyes to the fascinating world of dinosaurs. Visitors will want to make sure to head over to the Albertosaurus exhibit where this close relative of the T-Rex is displayed moving across a dry river channel.

This exhibit was the result of scientific evidence collected from a mass grave. The Dinosaur Hall features one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaur remains that have been reconstructed and a favorite of many visitors. A rotating fossil display will enthuse visitors who are looking to see more of the tens of thousands of fossils this museum has. Make sure to make your way over to the Cretaceous Garden and experience what that environment was like and see Canada’s largest collection of prehistoric plant relatives.

Via fortwoplz.com

5. Zigong Dinosaur Museum, Zigong, China

This museum attracts over seven million visitors a year, in part because of its awesome location atop a fossil site. The excellent reputation it holds comes from the life-like exhibits, unique architecture, magnificent burial sites and incredible environment. Visitors here will experience two floors of displays and exhibits. The first floor features the favorite of many, Dinosaur world where 18 dinosaurs of different species and size are displayed.

The first floor is also home to the burial site, the largest burial site for watching spot-on protected dinosaur fossils so far known in the world. The second floor features a treasure hall, a display of all the flora and fauna from that period and displays on the evolution of dinosaurs and species. This huge roc cave-like museum was the first museum in Asia dedicated to dinosaurs and will surely not disappoint visitors.

Via CNN.com

4. American Museum of Natural History, New York

This museum has one of the greatest dinosaur fossil collections in the world and houses two famed dinosaur halls in the David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing. The Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs is where visitors will find one of the major groups of dinosaurs, the ones with grasping hands. It is here where you will find the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex and the Apatosaurus. Along with the fossils, there is a slew of video footage and photography exploring the history of paleontology at the museum.

The Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs features the group of dinosaurs defined by a backward-pointing extension of the pubis bone and include such dinosaurs as the Stegosaurus and Triceratops. The museum has actually developed a dinosaur map to go along with the exhibit and visitors can use the app to help plan their way through the exhibits. For kids ages 6-13 there is a special overnight experience that takes place in the dinosaur hall where they can explore the exhibits by flashlight.

Via Citi Bike

3. National Dinosaur Museum, Canberra, Australia

Home to the largest permanent display of dinosaur and prehistoric fossils in Australia, this is where you should head if you want to know anything about dinosaurs down under. The museum actually follows the evolution of life and just happens to put the emphasis on dinosaurs. The favorite part of this museum has to be the dinosaur garden, with its imposing dinosaur sculptures made out of fiberglass and animatronics.

The museum has only been in operation since 1993 and with 23 complete skeletons, and over 300 displays of individual fossils, it is growing and expanding its collection as each year passes. Special experiences here include guided tours, children’s learning events, and fossil digs.

Via ABC

2. Wyoming Dinosaur Center, Thermopolis, Wyoming

It is one of the few dinosaur museums that have its own excavation site within driving distance and the standout attraction is the 106 foot Supersaurus on display, although their claim to fame here is the Archaeopteryx.  Only 12 specimens exist in the world and “The Thermopolis Specimen” is second only to the “Berlin” specimen in terms of completeness, including a well-preserved skull.

Also, there are over 30 mounted dinosaurs including two Velociraptors and a 41 foot T-Rex that is attacking a Triceratops horridus. Walking through the museums means following the time displays which go from earliest life forms to dinosaurs and finally mammals. The dig site can be toured in nice weather and it’s a rare opportunity for visitors to see dinosaur bones in the ground and the actual excavation of them. The real draw here is the chance to speak with actual paleontologists or to join one of the “dig days”.

Via Pitchengine

1. The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago

It has the most famous of all museum dinosaurs, Sue, the largest, most complete, and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in the world. The original skull weighs over 600 lbs and flashes 58 teeth and she is over 42 feet long and 67 million years old. That is just the beginning of this awesome dinosaur experience here at the Field Museum of Natural History.

The permanent Evolving Planet exhibition takes visitors on a journey through an expanded dinosaur hall where you learn about every major group of dinosaurs, where they lived, and what scientists have learned from Sue. Kids will love the fossil play lab located in the dinosaur hall. Don’t miss the 3-D movie where visitors are taken on a ride through Sue’s life, from hatchling to a 7-ton ferocious beast.

Via Chicago Tribune

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.

 

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

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.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

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.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

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.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

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.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

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!

Photos By: Shutterstock

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.

Photos By: Shutterstock

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.

Photos By: Photostock

 

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.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

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.

Photos By: Shutterstock

 

The 7 Best Turkish Baths in Istanbul

Visiting Istanbul can’t be complete without visiting one authentic, historic hamam, or bathhouse. Steaming, bathing, and rejuvenating massages in one of Istanbul’s hamams is the one quintessential Turkish experience to have and an ancient amenity that has outlasted centuries of modernized social norms. The experience is easily customized, whether just for a soak, a steam, a massage, or all three. But perhaps the most notable aspect of this experience are the visuals, from massive marble slabs, to towering columns and intricate, colorful, artistic details. Don’t miss these seven note-worthy hamams while exploring Istanbul.

7. Cagaloglu Hamam

Istanbul’s Cagaloglu Hamam is undoubtedly the city’s most spectacular and most impressive hamam, favored by locals and drawing thousands of visitors each year. The sweeping arches and curved domes within the hamam’s gorgeous steam rooms are lavish and reveal some of the most ancient and enduring design models of the several centuries. Within the famously documented design are thousands of single tiles adorned in colorful tulips, adding depth to the already exquisite style. Cagaloglu Hamam was constructed in 1741, ordered by Sultan Mahmut I, and though originally only offered facilities for men (a long-standing tradition), today there are baths and a wide scope of services for both men and women within their own separate quarters. Treatments though, are not as long and lavish as one might hope: the basic washing, scrubbing, and range of massage treatments are fairly expensive considering they are pretty short.

Photo by: Cağaloğlu Hamamı
Photo by: Cağaloğlu Hamamı

6. Cemberlitas Hamam

During the late 1600s, renowned Ottoman architect Sinan designed and built Cemberlitas Hamam which has offered one of the most quintessential bathing experiences in the city for centuries. As one of the oldest Turkish hamams in Istanbul, Cemberitas is revered and therefore a popular haunt for relaxing, steaming, and bathing. Built during the last and greatest period of Sinan’s life, this hamam emphasizes his life-long experience, exemplified by the tranquility, practicality, and elegance throughout the entire design, which is fantastic in its simplicity: the hamam is not overly adorned yet still doesn’t lose a bit of appeal. Studied by professionals in many different fields, Cemberlitas features a massive central dome, which is especially beautiful when the sun is shining, lighting up the interior magnificently and heating up the gobektasi, a huge, hot stone where visitors can lay and soak in the warmth.

Photo by: Çemberlitaş Hamamı
Photo by: Çemberlitaş Hamamı

5. Galatasaray Hamam

The legend behind Galatasaray surrounds Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II: following a hunting party he walked through the dense forest and came across a revered man called Father of Roses (Gul Baba), in his small cabin. A celebrated poet and exalted Muslim dervish, conveyed wishes to Beyazid, who vowed to follow them through. Gul Baba requested a mosque and kulliye (adjacent building with facilities including a hamam), to be constructed and the hamam include a massive dome. Beyazid took one yellow and one red rose as offerings, accepted his wishes, and in 1481, built Galatasaray with the beautiful kulliye. The sogukluk (hamam’s cooling off area) is defined by large marble slabs where massages are given following a steam and/or soak. Extremely hot steam rooms are favored by the Turks, and since Galatasaray is a local favorite, the steam room and gobektasi hot stone are just that: piping hot.

Photo by: Tarihi Galatasaray Hamamı
Photo by: Tarihi Galatasaray Hamamı

4. Beylerbeyi Hamam

Near Beylerbeyi pier and ferry, Beylerbeyi Hamam is next to its namesake mosque and easily identified by its wooden façade built in Ottoman style. Sultan Abdulhamid I ordered the building of Beylerbeyi in the late 1800s and dedicated it to Rabia Sermi Kadin, his mother. Traditionally, mosques were always built with adjacent hamams because of the revenue the bathhouses generated for maintenance and updates; Beylerbeyi was built with that in mind, and has been an important source of income for the entire complex. The marble fountain located in the cooling area (the stop between cool-off area and hot bath) is a definite highlight as is the expansive wooden ceiling in the changing area, called the Camekan. Here, there is also a hot stone, which many ancient mosques have, four private rooms (halvets), and 13 fountains (kurnas). Beylerbeyi is a must-see, accommodating women in the morning and men in the late afternoon.

Turkish Bath

3. Kilic Ali Pasha Hamam

Another Sinan-designed favorite, Kilic Ali Pasa takes on the name of a slave who journeyed to Constantinople, eventually becoming a powerful captain, and was renowned throughout the region. He became a mighty 16th century admiral and an integral part of many Ottoman Naval army victories. Kilic Ali Pasha is entirely captivating, with a beautiful Camekan (changing area) and glorious dome atop of the Camekan. Rising about 51 feet in height and 45 feet wide, this hamam is Sinan’s biggest endeavor and one of the most impressive in Istanbul. In more recent years, the hamam underwent a massive, seven-year renovation to repair structural features but the best of original details have been restored. Elephant eyes made of glass, a Kulhan Chimney, marble slabs, stone carvings, and leaded domes are just a few of the original repaired design elements, maintaining original style and structure implemented by Sinan.

Photo by: Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı
Photo by: Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı

2. Haseki Hurrem Sultan Hamam (Hagia Sophia)

The majority of popular hamams were built by Ottoman architect Sinan, and so is Haseki, as he was the most talented and favored of the Ottoman hierarchy. Ordered for construction in the mid 16th century by Suleiman the Magnificent’s wife Roxelana, Haseki is built on the land formerly occupied by Zeuxippus ancient public baths in 100-200AD. Centered within Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, it has ancient ties: Haseki was once where the Temple of Zeus stood before relocation to Constantinople from Olympia. In commission until the early 20th century, the hamam was a prison, an oil and paper storage building, and—up to 2007—a popular carpet market. From 2008-2011, the final restoration brought the hamam to its original luster with thousands of square feet of marble. Today it’s considered the fanciest, with cotton and silk bath wraps and gold plated bath bowls.

Photo by: Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamamı
Photo by: Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamamı

1. Mihrimah Sultan Hamam

Constructed in the mid-1500s, Mihrimah Sultan Hamam is another gift from Suleiman the Magnificent, this time to his daughter Mihrimah. Two facilities were built, one in Edirnekapi and the other in Uskudar. Both were also built by Sinan, the Edirnekapi hamam is a storied bathhouse, with legends tied to a tale of love between Sinan and the Suleiman’s daughter—and so Sinan built Edirnekapi for Mihrimah, without royal approval, and dedicated to the object of his devotion. The Camekan area is shaped squarely, and constructed upon twelve towering columns, presenting a magnificent view. Also within Mihrimah Sultan Hamam is a huge dome that houses four luxurious private rooms (halvets) and the octagonal central heating stone (gobestasi where visitors can lay and warm up. Modern updates (which are often criticized by historians as taking away from original value), include a hot tub and a large pool.

Photo by: Istanbuldagez
Photo by: Istanbuldagez

The Top Hostels to Stay (and Save) When in Europe

Despite what the movies may have shown you, hostels can be a great and affordable way to travel across Europe. They’re quick, efficient, and provide a no-thrills attempt at necessities. That’s not to say they’re rundown or dangerous, simply bare-bones, and only offering amenities at a fee. For instance, breakfast, towels, or a room that doesn’t share a bathroom. (Don’t worry, you still get your own bed and fresh clean sheets, as well as a place to lock up your belongings.)

By staying in hostels, many travelers have been able to afford longer vacations, while being able to see more sights. But aside from practical reasons, hostels serve as an interesting way to meet fellow travelers, to learn about the local scene, see what types of events might be taking place, and so on. In order to have your very own top-notch European experience, consider staying at any of these hostels:

6. Lavender Circus Hostel -Budapest, Hungary

Travelers can sleep in quirky vintage décor at this location. All while gaining access to some serious amenities on a budget. (Rooms average around 14 Euros per night, per person.) The well known stop hosts various common quarters, a kitchen (with free tea and coffee!), and doesn’t charge for towels. When traveling you can get a great night’s rest, get yourself clean, and even manage some relaxing time before heading back out to see the sights – which are located within walking distance of the Lavender Circus Hostel. Oh, and did we mention there’s free WiFi? Perfect for Skyping everyone back home and letting them know what a stellar time you’re having! Sounds like a win for anyone wanting to check out the beautiful Budapest sights.

Photo by: Lavender Circus Hostel
Photo by: Lavender Circus Hostel

5. The Babushka Grand Hostel -Odessa, Ukraine

Coming in with an even cheaper budget comes the Babushka Grand Hostel. (We’re giving them extra points for the name.) Guests can stay privately for 11 Euros, or share with others for only 7 Euros – a bargain in hostel terms, especially for such a clean and well-maintained facility. It also comes with air conditioning, board games, and a kitchen that’s fully equipped for cooking. A perfect combination for all your traveling needs – add in sightseeing to nearby stops, like the town’s main streets and a beautiful opera house. And there’s no curfew, so you won’t get locked out for losing track of time.

Photo by: Babushka Grand Hostel
Photo by: Babushka Grand Hostel

4. The Independente Hostel -Lisbon, Portugal

Known as a “luxury” hostel, The Independente offers up seemingly fancy décor, but without charging a fancy price. The service, stay, and experience is all said to be pretty fancy, too. The kind of combination budget travelers are constantly on the lookout for. Dorms can be rented for around 11 Euros per person, with suites coming in at 85 Euros per night. Visitors can tend to business at the fax and copy machine, or stick to touristy activities and hop on a nearby train. After all they’re only minutes away from sights like the Tagus river, downtown districts, castles, and more. It’s also set on the boarder between two popular living districts, giving visitors access to either without adding excessive travel time.

Photo by: The Independente Hostel
Photo by: The Independente Hostel

3. YHA St. Briavels Castle -Gloucestershire, England

This stop brings together the perfect mixture of old classics with new trends. Not only is it an affordable hostel, it’s an 800-year-old castle. And it’s even prettier than you imagined. Each room holds its own set of charm, some even with rumors of being haunted. Check out their free library, rent a bike and head to the nearby park, or order a meal at their on-site restaurant. Staying in a castle doesn’t come quite as cheap, however, stays start at 24 Euros, while private rooms come in at 74 Euros and above. However, it’s a rate that still comes in much cheaper than most castle visits.

Photo by: YHA St. Briavels Castle
Photo by: YHA St. Briavels Castle

2. Kadir’s Tree Houses -Olympos, Turkey

Yes this place is as cool as it sounds. With essentially cabin-like dwellings, guests can enjoy an adventure – and a comfy bed – all in one stop. Bonus: it comes with an awesome forest view, a perfect contrast to all that city walking, and is only a short trip away from Mt. Olympos, along with beaches and plenty of water. Kadir’s Tree House comes in at 12 Euros a night (or 22 for a private room) and accepts credit cards – a welcome amenity in the world of hostels. Guests can park without worry, lock their items away in safe storage, or cool down at the bar. And even though its views might suggest otherwise, it’s still close to the town’s shopping center.

Photo by: Hotels.com
Photo by: Hotels.com

1. Kex Hostel -Reykjavik, Iceland

This stop is the perfect hostel for anyone looking to get away from Europe’s traditional classic feel. Rather than its seasoned counterparts, the Kex Hostel comes with a modern twist, even offering up eco tactics, such as using recycled furniture. (Not that it looks it!) Its designer searched high and low (furniture came in from anywhere from Pittsburgh, to all across Europe) in order to create this incredible eclectic and modern mix. And it’s been a hit. Folks are traveling from all over in order to stay at the hostel (at 21 Euros per night), have a drink at the bar, work out in the on-site gym, or even have their hair trimmed at the barbershop. Yep, it’s on site too – which is a perfect way to catch up on your personal maintenance while on vacation.

Photo by: Kex Hostel
Photo by: Kex Hostel

10 Countries Travelers Should Avoid

Travelers talk a lot about their must-see places; top-ten lists abound, often listing the same destinations over and over. Almost everyone has a bucket list. Less talked about, however, are the countries that travelers would do better to avoid—especially for the time being. Whether it’s political unrest, economic turmoil or concerns about disease outbreaks, you might want to take these 10 countries off your 2016 travel itinerary—and they should probably stay off your bucket list until further notice.

10. Sierra Leone

The countries of Africa’s west coast, including Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, were the epicenter of the 2014 Ebola epidemic. While Guinea and Liberia have been removed from some lists of travel advisories, Sierra Leone remains on the U.S. Department of State’s watch list. Although the agency has issued a general warning for parts of West Africa, which include Sierra Leone, the coastal country is the only one to have a separate travel warning of its own. A new cluster of Ebola cases broke out in August 2015 and, although authorities have been working to contain the outbreak, the continued presence of the virus makes travel to Sierra Leone dangerous. Ebola is highly contagious, so the U.S. advises against all non-essential travel to the country, as new infections may occur. Many medical services are either unavailable, temporarily suspended or provided at ill-equipped hospitals and clinics. Ambulances are generally unavailable.

Sierra Leone

9. Bangladesh

In early November 2015, a funeral in Bangladesh was bombed by a terrorist faction. The bombing occurred during a stretch of four days when violence seemed to uptick around the globe: Beirut and Paris were also under attack. While the U.S. Department of State’s current travel warning expires early in 2016, it seems unlikely that concerns about extremist violence in Bangladesh will dissipate any time soon. Since 2014, a string of attacks have seen both Bangladeshi nationals and foreign visitors killed by terrorist violence. Throughout 2015, writers, publishers and journalists were also threatened, and at least one American blogger was murdered in Bangladesh. The threat of violence against visitors appears to remain credible. Since the controversial 2014 elections, there has been ongoing political turmoil as well, with protests and violence occurring in the spring of 2015.

Dmitry Chulov / Shutterstock.com
Dmitry Chulov / Shutterstock.com

8. Kenya

On April 2, 2015, 147 people were killed when gunmen opened fire on a college in Nairobi. The terrorist group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility, and the attacks are part of a larger narrative of extremist violence that have plagued Kenya since 2011, with attacks becoming more prevalent from 2013 on. Kenya faces threats from insurgent groups originating in Somalia, the country’s next-door-neighbor, among others. Although many people visit Kenya without incident every year, there does seem to be growing violence, with many attacks directed against locations that tourists frequent, such as airports and resorts. Even nightclubs and shopping areas may be targeted, as well as public transportation and religious institutions, all of which may be used or visited by travelers. Kenyan security has managed to detect or stop other plots, but heightened security may cause disruptions for travelers, especially those of Somali descent.

Nick Fox / Shutterstock.com
Nick Fox / Shutterstock.com

7. Somalia

Somalia is a “failed” state and entered into a state of near-lawlessness in the 1990s. Although the country does have a democratic government, it is weak and not recognized as legitimate by many. As such, the Somali state is often ineffectual. Large areas are controlled by extremist groups such as Al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate, which has planned and carried out many attacks, including a December 25, 2014, operation at Mogadishu International Airport. Many countries do not maintain embassies and so cannot help their citizens should they decide to visit Somalia. Due to the country’s weak government, many Somalis are suffering, particularly during an ongoing famine in 2015, which heightens risks of violence. Somali waters have become notorious as a refuge for pirates, who have been known to attack in international waters out to 1,000 nautical miles. Somalia remains incredibly dangerous today.

Free Wind 2014 / Shutterstock.com
Free Wind 2014 / Shutterstock.com

6. Venezuela

Tensions between supporters of the policies of Hugo Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro, and opposition parties continue to cause civil unrest in Caracas and other areas of Venezuela. Chavista policies have led to chronic shortages of basic goods and high inflation rates. Both have contributed to violent crime in Venezuela; the country is the homicide capital of the world and “express kidnappings,” where victims are held for only a few hours while their loved ones gather funds to free them, are common. Demonstrations and riots continue as people protest the problematic policies that have caused living conditions to deteriorate and crime to soar. Armed robberies and other forms of street crime also occur frequently. Upscale neighborhoods and tourist areas are frequently targets for crime, so while many continue to visit and conduct business in Venezuela with little issue, visitors must be aware of the risks to their safety.

Caracas, Venezuela

5. Turkey

Although tourism to Istanbul, Turkey’s capital, has been increasing over recent years and interest in visiting Turkey in general has been rising, so too has the risk of violence been increasing over the past few months. While Turkey has yet to encounter the level of violence witnessed in many Middle Eastern and African countries, the country has been a target for terrorist organizations, especially due to its proximity to Iraq and war-torn Syria. An influx of refugees fleeing violence in these countries also has the potential to create unrest in the region. Turkey has initiated military operations in some of its bases near Adana, in the south of the country. Turkey has also experienced internal political unrest in recent years. Demonstrations are common and can turn violent; border areas are best avoided.

Istanbul turkey

4. Ukraine

While some of the Ukraine may be safe to travel to, including western regions and the capital city of Kiev, ongoing tensions in Crimea and the Donetsk region have made traveling through Ukraine’s eastern reaches much more dangerous. In late 2013, civil unrest broke out, affecting the capital and other areas. While the government responded, rebels in Crimea allegedly broke with the state and requested Russian support. Crimea was occupied and annexed by Russia in early 2014. Fighting continued in the rebel-controlled Donetsk region throughout 2014. A ceasefire agreement between the Ukrainian government and the rebels created a dividing line between territories controlled by either group, but clashes continue in Donetsk and Luhansk. Airspace has been restricted since mid-2014, when a Malaysian Air flight was downed over the region, killing everyone on board. Ukraine remains in a state of unrest.

MagSpace / Shutterstock.com
MagSpace / Shutterstock.com

3. Yemen

Located on the Arab Peninsula, the country of Yemen has been teetering on the edge of civil war for years. The country experienced an Arab Spring revolution in 2011. Unrest and violence continued through 2014, and the government resigned en masse in January 2015. The country has been in a state of civil war since March 2015 as two governments attempt to claim supreme power. The U.S. Department of State closed their embassy and have warned Americans living in Yemen to depart as soon as they can. Airports have been closed, limiting travel to and from the country. Yemen, like much of the Arab Peninsula, has been plagued by terrorist operations that threaten the safety of civilians and travelers alike. Piracy in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean pose additional threats, with many pirate operations taking shelter in Somali waters.

Claudiovidri / Shutterstock.com
Claudiovidri / Shutterstock.com

2. Syria

Most people are more than well aware of the situation in Syria right now; the outflow of people from the country has been headline news for months. If so many citizens are trying to escape the conditions of their country, it’s probably not a place you want to be traveling to. The situation in Syria has deteriorated since the outbreak of the civil war and the ongoing conflict has made living in the region dangerous. While some people may want to travel here to offer humanitarian aid or to connect with relatives and ensure they are safe, most will be better served by finding other ways to help, rather than traveling into an active conflict zone. The U.S. Department of State advises that communication is difficult and kidnappings, as well as security check-points operated by extremist groups, pose serious threats for travel.

Aleppo, Syria

1. Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has a turbulent and troubled history, stretching back decades. Although the DRC is currently in a period of relative peace, instability has long plagued the country and its grasp on security is indeed tenuous. In 2015, major protests demanded the resignation of President Joseph Kabila. Elections are scheduled for 2016, which could bring more civil unrest. The country was ravaged by the Congolese Civil Wars, which began in 1996 and are ongoing today. Armed groups continue to roam the countryside, committing violent crimes against civilians and foreign nationals. Travelers are often stopped at both official and unofficial roadblocks. Bribes are common and if a traveler refuses to pay a bribe, they may be attacked or even killed. Infrastructure in the DRC is minimal, with few highways or railways. Boat transport is common, but often unsafe. Diseases, including Ebola, malaria and yellow fever are common.

LMspencer / Shutterstock.com
LMspencer / Shutterstock.com

The Best Places To Spend New Year’s Eve in Europe

New Year’s Eve is a time most of us look forward to putting the old year behind us and starting with a fresh slate in the new year. Many people believe that how we ring in the new year also has bearing on what the year will bring us. For travelers, what could be better than celebrating with friends new and old in a far-flung locale, experiencing local traditions and creating new ones? These 10 European cities know how to ring in the new year; get your year started on the right foot by visiting one of these parties.

10. London

More than 250,000 people will crowd along the banks of the Thames to ring in the new year. Big Ben performs countdown services and the stroke of midnight marks the beginning a spectacular 10-minute display of lights and fireworks. The London Eye, the Shard and Parliament are among the iconic buildings lit up to welcome the new year. Looking to stay out of the cold and rain? Head to the soiree at the London Sky Bar, where you’ll find food and a live DJ, plus fabulous views of the revelry in the streets below. Free public transport all night will help get you to one of many after-parties around the city. Visit the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park and, on New Year’s Day, take in the annual parade, which features a procession of the Queen’s horses, among others.

London New Years Eve

9. Dubrovnik

Croatia may not be a top destination for New Year’s revelers, but the city of Dubrovnik gets extra points for managing to host an almost intimate party, despite the number of people who come out to celebrate. Less claustrophobic than parties in Zagreb and Split, the festivities in Dubrovnik center on Stradun, the city’s main street, where you’re likely to bump elbows with locals on their way to bars and restaurants filled to bursting with celebrating crowds. The city also hosts a number of Croatian performers, offering up a rich program of music and entertainment for the evening. Start with a cozy meal with friends or family, or, if you’re traveling with your honey, consider splurging on a meal at one of the city’s upscale establishments. Join the crowds in Stradun for the stroke of midnight, then keep the party going by stopping off at a local bar.

Photo by: Eventfully Croatia
Photo by: Eventfully Croatia

8. Stockholm

The Swedes celebrate Christmas in a relatively subdued style, which means they’re all the more ready to let loose and party on New Year’s Eve. Revelry is the order of the day in the nation’s capital, with parties becoming raucous and celebrations pouring into the streets. Fill up on a seafood at a restaurant before moving your party to Skansen, which has been the center of Stockholm’s celebrations since 1895. At the stroke of midnight, a well-known Swede will read the poem “Ring Out, Wild Bells,” as streamers fill the air. Party trumpets and fireworks erupt all around the city. After midnight, participate in some club-hopping and keep the party going late into the night; bars and clubs are often open until 3 or 4 in the morning, giving you plenty of time to celebrate the new year.

Stockholm New Years Eve

7. Paris

It should be little wonder that one of Europe’s most iconic cities makes the list as one of the best places to spend New Year’s. The Eiffel Tower is lit up to mark the occasion and crowds of revelers swarm the Champs-Elysees, which provides fantastic views of the tower. The area turns into a massive street party, with both champagne bottles and fireworks popping everywhere. If you’re looking for something a little different, try Montmarte for excellent views of fireworks without the crowd. If you want something romantic, book a dinner cruise along the Seine and listen to a live orchestra as you sail through the City of Lights. Restaurants and nightclubs also hold soirees so you have no shortage of options for how to ring in the new year. On New Year’s Day, the Grande Parade de Paris caps off the celebrations.

Paris New Years Eve

6. Vienna

Vienna, once the center of empire and a beautiful city beloved by intellectuals and artists, is perhaps the best place in Europe to experience an “Old World” New Year’s celebration. The city’s most famous party is the Grand Ball held at the Hofburg Palace, but there are plenty of other opportunities for revelry in the Austrian capital. The city’s famous Christmas markets transform into fairs and the New Year’s Eve Trail will lead you through the Old City. The party begins at 2 in the afternoon and continues long after the clock has struck midnight. Mulled wine is the drink of choice for this crowd. A spectacular fireworks display highlights the Wiener Prater fair at midnight. On New Year’s Day, join the crowd gathered outside City Hall to watch the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s concert on a giant screen.

Photo by: Room Suggestion
Photo by: Room Suggestion

5. Amsterdam

Amsterdam is known as something of a party city for North Americans, and on New Year’s Eve, the city shows that it deserves that reputation, with impromptu street parties filling the spaces between large, organized revelry in public places like Rembrandtplein, Nieumarkt, Museumplein and Dam Square. Outdoor concerts are complemented by indoor parties at bars. Fireworks go on sale the day before the celebrations, so you can be sure to see plenty of displays. Grab a perch on one of the city’s many bridges and watch the colors explode across the nighttime sky, mirrored in the water below. Grab a glass of champagne and some fried treats (like oliebollen, viamse frites and bitterballen) from the street vendors, then head to the club to keep the party going.

Photo by: Amsterdam
Photo by: Amsterdam

4. Reykjavik

Reykjavik receives only 4 hours of sun on New Year’s Eve, which means the locals are more than ready to celebrate with a festival of light. They start with community bonfires, meant to burn away the troubles of the old year. There are no official fireworks displays organized by the city; rather, there are numerous displays put on by private citizens. Fireworks will often start about half-an-hour before midnight, lighting up every corner of the city as almost 200,000 people get involved. Head to Perlan or Landakotskirkja church for the best views of the city. Plenty of small, private parties keep things hopping, and bars and clubs remain open well after midnight. Since Icelanders tend to go out late anyway, you’ll often find revelers up until the wee hours of the morning, dancing the night away.

Photo by: Guide to Iceland
Photo by: Guide to Iceland

3. Istanbul

Istanbul has been on the rise as a must-see destination for travelers, and what better time than New Year’s? While visiting this vibrant European capital is an experience and a half at any time of year, Istanbul one-ups itself on New Year’s Eve. Start your evening with a traditional Turkish meze dinner in a restaurant in Bebek or Istiklal Caddesi, where celebrations are a little tamer. Afterwards, join the jubilant crowd in the streets of Taksim or another part of the city, where revelers will organize impromptu street parties. If the crowded streets aren’t your scene, you can always book a river cruise along the Bosphorus and watch the celebrations from afar as you sail through the city. The best part is that you’ll have one of the best views for the stunning fireworks at the stroke of midnight.

Istanbul new years eve

2. Prague

Prague is known as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and one of the most beautiful in the world. The “city of a hundred spires” comes alive on New Year’s Eve, which is also known as Silvestr. The streets will be packed with a rag-tag crowd of revelers, and bars, clubs and restaurants will be filled with party-goers. Much of the fun takes place at Wenceslas Square and Old Town Square. Fireworks are set off all around town (and perhaps with a bit of dangerous abandon), with one of the best displays occurring at Letna Gardens, which can be watched from nearby bridges and embankments. Champagne bottles are smashed during the celebrations, which means you might want to bring a helmet to this party, but who could resist ringing in the new year in the heart of Europe?

Prague New Years Eve

1. Berlin

Germany’s capital has something of a reputation as a party city throughout the year, so it makes sense that the city has a go-big-or-go-home attitude toward New Year’s festivities. The highlight is undoubtedly “Party Mile,” a 2-km stretch between Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column, lined with bars, food stalls, music stages, party tents and laser light shows. The fireworks begin promptly at midnight, as do the toasts to the new year. Many people then hit the dancefloors of the city’s clubs, partying until well after sun-up. The Berliner Silversterlauf, the infamous New Year’s Eve “pancake run,” is another tradition in the city. Some people run the free 4-km race on New Year’s Day. Berlin expects to welcome approximately a million revelers to help ring in 2016—maybe you’ll be one of them.

Berlin New Years Eve