The Safest Cities For Women to Travel Alone in Europe

There has never been a better time than now to be a solo female traveler looking to explore Europe. Cities are becoming safer, female-friendly hotels are popping up and it is getting easier to meet other solo female travelers around the world. Here are 20 safe European cities for female solo travelers.

20. Vienna, Austria

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Austria is ranked number 4 on the Global Peace Index, making it an excellent and safe country for female solo travelers to visit. Vienna, the capital of Austria has earned the name of “city with the highest quality of life” several years in a row.

Vienna is full of stunning architecture, music, and history. There are plenty of museums to visit, such as Sigmund Freud’s house. This museum will help you understand why Vienna is known as the “city of dreams”.  You may also want to make a stop at Prater park to see the iconic Riesenrad Ferris wheel landmark. Finally, be sure to head to a local restaurant and try authentic Austrian food such as Wiener Schnitzel (a thin, breaded, pan-fried veal cutlet), Sachertorte (chocolate torte), or an Apfelstrudel (apple strudel).

19. Edinburgh, Scotland

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Between the breathtaking landscapes, ancient castles, and rich history, Scotland has a lot to offer. Scotland, a region of the United Kingdom ranks 45 on the Global Peace Index and is considered safe for female solo travelers. There is so much to do and see in Edinburg, the capital of Scotland. To begin, if you visit in August, there is a month-long arts festival called Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This festival offers theatrical performances, comedy shows, and many other activities that would be perfect for a female solo traveler, especially if you’re hoping to meet new people.

Moreover, consider taking a guided tour of Edinburgh Castle and take in the medieval architecture. After visiting the castle, be sure to head to Calton Hill which is a high point in the city that allows you to catch a full view of Edinburgh. Finish your day at a local pub and indulge in authentic food while meeting the locals.

18. Berlin, Germany

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Berlin, Germany’s capital is home to 3.5 million residents. Berlin is rich in history and full of culture and would be an excellent place to explore on your own. There are many restaurants, markets, and cafes in Berlin that will make you feel comfortable dining alone.

Discover what this city has to offer by taking a free walking tour, use the bike-sharing program, or hop on public transportation. Be sure to check out the Brandenburg Gate, and the Holocaust Memorial, and the remnants of the Berlin Wall.

17. Bruges, Belgium

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If you are a solo female traveler looking to immerse yourself in a fairy tale this would be the city to visit. Straight off a postcard, the city of Bruges is loaded with cobblestone streets, historic houses, and canals. It is here where you will be inspired to take long strolls throughout the streets and enjoy Belgian pints of beer by street-side cafes while people watching.

This city is extremely safe, for all travelers and welcomes visitors, especially in the summertime when it becomes peak travel season. There is a range of good hotels along with budget hostels that will meet any traveler’s budget, and English is widely understood throughout. Female travelers will feel safe as locals are willing to lend a hand if needed and are more than happy to give advice on where to go, what to see, and where to grab the next pint of beer.

16. Santorini, Greece

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If you want to see jaw-dropping scenery, be sure to add Santorini, Greece to your travel wish list. The emerald Mediterranean Sea is enough to take your breath away, but also the picturesque white villas are a sight to see too. Many people travel to Santorini with a partner or friend but that doesn’t mean you can’t travel there solo.

With friendly locals and an affordable bus system, you’ll be able to navigate your way across the city.

15. Paris, France

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Paris, France is known as the city of love. So it may seem ironic that one would travel there alone. However, exploring this beautiful city alone means that you don’t have to abide by anyone else’s opinions or plans. Further, exploring this city is easy and best to do either on foot or by taking the metro.

There are so many amazing things to see and do in Paris, France. Be sure to check out the iconic Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the Arc de Triomphe. You should also enjoy a bottle of wine and a baguette all to yourself during your stay too.

14. London, England

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London, England is an excellent destination for solo female travels. Traveling through this city is easy from the amazing public transportation system to the remarkable hostels, hotels, and Airbnb’s. Not to mention English is their first language in this city of England.

During your stay, be sure to visit Buckingham Palace, take a tour of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and visit one of the many museums London has to offer. You should also dine at a local pub to indulge in traditional British food such as fish and chips, or a Toad in the hole. Further, dining at a pub will also help you meet the locals as well as other solo travelers too.

13. Oslo, Norway

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Oslo is a dream for female solo travelers, alas a bit expensive at times. It is Norway’s largest city and a great cultural city destination that is overflowing with things to see and do. Female solo travelers will feel safe no matter where they stay but may feel some extra comfort if they choose to stay on the women-only floor of the 130-year old Grand Hotel. Here they will find rooms stacked with books, magazines, a yoga mat, toiletries, and a female room-service menu, without the room service charge!

Wandering around the Vigeland Sculpture Park, which is 80 acres and feature 212 bronze and granite sculptures, you are sure to meet other solo travelers who will become quick friends. Head out to one of the many vibrant nightclubs or theaters with new-found travel friends for an unforgettable experience.

12. Dublin, Ireland

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Ireland is a very safe country. According to the Global Peace Index, Ireland ranks number 12 in the world. Further, as a female solo traveler, you will feel comfortable dining alone and you may even run into another solo traveler during your stay.

Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is laden with historic buildings including the captivating Dublin Castle. Some other great places to see are the St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the National Museum of Ireland, and other must-see historic Attractions in Dublin.

11. Lisbon, Portugal

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Lisbon, Portugal is a wonderful place for female solo travelers. To begin, there are many safe and affordable hostels to stay in where you will meet many other solo travelers too. Secondly, Portugal ranks 3rd on the Global Peace Index.

Lisbon is full of rugged yet wonderful architecture and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Consider having a beach day all to yourself, or explore the Castelo de S. Jorge or the Jerónimos Monastery. Exploring this beautiful city is easy and can be done either by public transportation, on foot, or on a bike.

10. Stockholm, Sweden

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Built over 14 islands and connected by over 50 bridges this lovely cosmopolitan city is home to more than two million people. It is known for its gorgeous modern architecture, friendly people, and captivating waterways. Women are treated equally like men here and solo female travelers will face no issues in terms of harassment, drink spiking, or pickpocketing.

There is a slew of budget hostels throughout the city that are both affordable and safe, and a great way to connect with other travelers. This is a great city to experience Nordic culture in its modern and multicultural avatar, as well as dine on delightful local food. English is widely spoken here, and the locals are often teased for speaking a mix of Swedish and English-nicknamed Swinglish. Women will have no trouble finding people to talk to, tours to take and culture to experience here in Stockholm.

9. Cardiff, Wales

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Cardiff is the capital and largest city of Wales. This city is also considered one of Britain’s safer cities and for that reason, it is Wales’s most popular tourist destination. Along with being a safe city, Cardiff is full of culture, has many captivating castles and if you meet the locals they’ll surely share some of their ancient Welsh legends.

Further, students make up about 10% of Cardiff’s population which means younger female solo travelers will surely be well taken care of. There are many things to see and do in Cardiff. During your stay be sure to check out the National Museu, Cardiff Bay, and Cardiff Castle.

8. Helsinki, Finland

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The capital of Finland is one of the best cities for female solo travelers, thanks to its friendly locals, its reputation for being safe and beautiful. This walkable city is loaded with lovely parks, free city events, music, and shopping. Solo travelers will delight in the 20th-century architecture, the Helsinki Cathedral and the National Museum of Finland, which are always, home to other visitors.

One of the best things to do when you first get into the city is to take a walking tour, in order to fully appreciate the city’s cultural heritage, then move on to the shopping and dining. One cannot travel here without taking a dip in the Yrjönkatu Indoor Swimming Pool, (the oldest pool) built-in 1928. Recently renovated to house three pools and wonderful saunas, this is where women meet after work and have a sauna and swim followed by a drink, all done without any clothes on.

7. Prague, Czech Republic

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Immerse yourself in the alluring culture of the Czech Republic by visiting its capital, Prague. There is an abundance of things to see and do in the wonderful city of Prague.

Prague is not only a beautiful place to visit but the country, the Czech Republic ranks in the top 10 of the Global Peace Index. Consider meeting other solo travelers by taking a walking tour, or keep to yourself and explore one of their many museums, or even check out a show at the State Opera.

6. Copenhagen, Denmark

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The capital of Denmark is a vibrant and colorful city, which still manages to maintain a small-town feeling. New meets old in this fairytale-like city that features ancient buildings and towering glass and steel skyscrapers. Many of the state-run museums in this city are free admission, making it easy to save on spending and you can’t miss out on visiting the world’s oldest amusement park- Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park.

This city offers a unique experience that is perfect for female solo travelers called ‘Meet the Danes.’ This service arranges home-dinners with a Danish family or a single woman and her friend. Expect a traditional Danish meal and plenty of conversation with your new-found friends. Don’t miss the goddess Gefjun fountain that depicts the mythology of Denmark’s creation and magic within the Norse religion.

5. Barcelona, Spain

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Barcelona, Spain is known for its captivating architecture and art and would be a great destination for female solo travelers. For starters, the public transportation system is excellent. You’ll have the option of taking a bus, metro, trains, or trams, however, you will also be able to see a lot of the attractions on foot too. While Barcelona is generally safe, it’s always important to still take precautions such as keeping your personal belongings close by to prevent pickpocketing and don’t flash around money or expensive belongings.

During your stay be sure to check out the Sagrada Familia church, designed by Antoni Gaudi, and the Picasso Museum.

4. Zurich, Switzerland

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Zurich is an extremely safe city and therefore traveling alone as a female here is also incredibly safe, and downright breathtaking. Snow-capped Alps loom in the background, museums and art galleries line the streets and the nightlife is something to speak of. Female travelers will find no shortage of shopping to do here, cobblers, tailors, metalsmiths, candle makers, jewelry makers, and watchmakers fill the streets.

Choices of accommodations are endless here and if you feel nervous at all in this city we suggest heading over to Lady’s First Design Hotel, which was built especially for female travelers. The ancient center is the perfect place to stroll through the winding lanes and look up to the tall church steeples, stopping for coffee at sidewalk cafes. Further, Zuri-West is where to find the hottest nightlife in the city, just in case you are looking to meet new friends that want to dance the night away.

3. Sorento, Italy

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Sorento is a coastal town located in the southwestern part of Italy. This charming town faces the Bay of Naples on the Sorrentine Peninsula. Be sure to make your way to Piazzo Tasso, a central square in Sorrento that offers plenty of restaurants and shopping. Here you can try their famous Gelato, or drink a cup of delicious coffee.

Not only is there a lot to see and do in Sorento, but it’s also a popular vacation spot for Europeans. This means that you’ll hear a lot of English in both the restaurants and in the streets of Sorento which will only make traveling by yourself even easier. Further, you’ll find that it is easy to navigate around the town which will only add to a stress-free experience.

2. Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Amsterdam received the nickname “Venice of the North” because it has many beautiful canals. This charming city has something for every type of female traveler. Whether you enjoy history, are a party animal, or prefer to simply take in the scenic view, Amsterdam has it all.

According to the Global Peace Index, the Netherlands ranks in the top 20 in the world.  There is plenty to see and do in Amsterdam and you will most likely run into other solo travelers too.

1. Reykjavik, Iceland

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It has been rated as the number one safest country for women to travel to alone and Iceland has been beckoning female solo travelers for as long as it can remember. This is the ultimate travel adventure for the traveler who loves the outdoors. Think glacier hiking in the Pingvellir National Park, skiing at Blafjoll, and Viking horse riding at Thingvellir.

If you aren’t the outdoorsy type, don’t worry there is plenty for you to do here including the chance to relax and de-stress in one of the many thermal pools and spas across the city. If you’re lucky you may even get to witness the famous Aurora Borealis. This city happens to be famously expensive though and we highly suggest staying at a hostel instead of a hotel to save money. This city is notoriously safe, even at night and as a female solo traveler, make sure you put Reykjavik on your bucket list.

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

8 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Skip a Visit to Wales

Wales is often the overlooked country in the United Kingdom. This small country, wedged between Scotland and England is usually just the stepping stone to get to the Great Britain hot spots like London and Edinburgh, but it shouldn’t be! For a small country, Wales has so much to offer. It has the dramatic and beautiful national parks, with mountain ranges and miles of pristine coastline, and it has the years of history and charm, with the castles and archaeological landmarks (seemingly) every few feet. The food is spectacular, the people are warm and inviting (if a little hard to understand!); Wales will be surely be a highlight of your British adventure- you may just skip the other countries and stay here even longer!

8. Caernarfon Castle

Often historic castles that are open to tourists have been restored so much that it is hard to get a feel of what it was really like to live there. Not this one. Caernarfon Castle still retains much of its historical features and charm, which lends to a greater feeling of authenticity when walking through the narrow, stone-laden halls and climbing the rickety, steep tower stairs. Of course it has been preserved, and since it is a tourist hot spot, there is a museum to walk through, but the museum is well done and gives excellent information to Wales’ military past. The walled castle is stunning; walk up to the top of one of the towers and you get an entire view of the impressive building, as well as the surrounding town. Be sure to leave time to explore the town of Caernarfon itself; with colorful buildings, great music and delicious food, Caernarfon is everything a charming port town should be, with an impressive fortress smack-dab in the middle, of course.

Caernarfon Castle

7. Millennium Stadium

Sports fans all over flock to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Ultra-modern and architecturally stunning, come rugby game day, this stadium and the surrounding streets are overwhelmingly overflowing with crazy Welsh sports enthusiasts. Europe sports fans are passionate when it comes to soccer (or more appropriately, football), yet in Wales it is all about the rugby. They are fanatics and huge supporters of their team. Even if you don’t enjoy sports, be sure to come here for a game and soak in the atmosphere. Crowds grow hours before the game starts, spilling from the pubs out onto the street, singing, dancing and chanting loud enough for all of Wales to hear. It won’t be long before you are joining in on all the fun!

Millennium Stadium

6. Snowdonia National Park

Mountains, lakes, beaches, castles, villages… all are found in Snowdonia National Park, Wales first national park, and the third largest in Great Britain. Popular with locals and tourists, this park receives nearly six million visitors each year, and it is not hard to see why. The landscape is sprawling and dramatic; from the harsh coastline, to thick forest to mountainous peaks, this park has it all. It is popular with hikers and mountain climbers; there are three thousand feet summits that require expert training, and there are simple, beautiful trails perfectly suited for a fun afternoon in the park. If visiting, bring a rain jacket, as Snowdonia is the wettest spot in all of the United Kingdom- chances are, you will get wet!

Snowdonia National Park

5. Brecon Beacons National Park

Rolling hills, mountains, moorlands, lush valleys, sprawling fields, AND centuries of tradition and history. If you can believe it, all of that and more are overflowing in a 42 mile wide national park, located in the South and Mid Wales. During the summer months, or the winter, miles of trails are available, from easy beginner strolls to hardcore multi-day treks and everything in between. While the stunning scenery leaves nothing to be desired in the park, this national site is home to over 200 archaeological sites, including prehistoric and Roman castles, stone circles, burial chambers and camps. And, if none of the above entices you to visit this beautiful landscape, Brecon Beacons was given International Dark Sky Reserve Status for its endless stargazing opportunities.

Brecon Beacons National Park

4. Big Pit National Coal Museum

Located in Blaenavon, a historical mining town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is Big Pit; a working coal mine turned museum and heritage preservation site. The Welsh have a rich heritage of coal mining, an industry that drove their country during the industrial revolution, and later was the source of many national tragedies. Wales is on a mission to preserve and pay respect to their heritage, and Big Pit is one of the best locations in Wales to get a glimpse into the past. The site has an interactive museum where you can experience a typical miner’s day through video and demonstration and another, where you can learn about the history of mining in Wales, through pictures, props and descriptions. But, if you really want the experience, take the tour into the pit- at three hundred feet underground you can begin to somewhat understand what life was like for the Welsh miners every day. A worthwhile and moving experience, although definitely not for the claustrophobic!

Big Pit Wales

3. Wales Coast Path

The United Kingdom is known world over for its stunning and dramatic coastline – from the cliffs in Ireland to the harsh yet pristine beaches of South England- but the Wales coastline is perhaps the most dramatically stunning of them all. For the adventurous and the outdoorsy, you can spend 80 days walking the Welsh coastline in its entirety- with the option to camp or for the more luxurious folk, you can stay in one of the many local inns dotting the coastline. There are also many small, low key trails on the 870 mile route- Pembrokeshire Coast National Trail is one of the more established trails and offers a chance to get out and take in the stunning Welsh landscape. From rugged cliffs and sprawling windswept beaches, to castles and quaint villages, the Welsh coastline is one of those scenic landmarks that exceeds all expectations.

Wales Coast Path

2. Portmeirion

When you think of Disney, you often think of Wales, right? Well that’s very nearly what you get in this eccentric, Disneyland inspired resort near Porthmadog in North Wales. This quaint, somewhat strange resort is the very definition of whimsy; the architecture, the flowers, the setting all seem way over the top, yet somehow here it all works. It is difficult to be the most eccentric in Wales, as the country is chalk full of many bizzare yet interesting little villages, castles, and countrysides, but this Portmeirion may do just that. If you want, you can spend the night, but costs are high; though, wandering around here for a few hours will surely satisfy any curiosity you have about this neat resort in North Wales.

Portmeirion wales

1. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwymdrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

It may look made up, but that is the actual name of a Welsh town in North Wales! Made up of 57 letters (all but 13 consonants), this town means “St. Mary’s Church in the hallow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave”. Tongue twister, isn’t it! You don’t need long to wander this small town, but make sure you take your picture standing in front of the sign- the best photo is in front of the town’s railway station. And, try your hand at pronouncing it! Warning though, if attempted in front of a local Welsh, you will be (endlessly) made fun of.

Llanfairpwllgwyngyll

Britain’s 15 Best Beaches

Many people don’t necessarily think of hitting the beach when they visit the UK, but in fact it is absolutely loaded with beautiful coastline, alas the water isn’t always the warmest but the views will make up for that. Many of these beaches lie untouched, wildly beautiful and free from crowds of people. Others are popular spots among surfers (yes, there’s surfing in Britain) and water sports enthusiasts. Brilliant blue waters, silky white sands, beautiful dunes and luscious landscapes make up these 15 best beaches in Britain.

15. Blackpool Sands, Dartmouth

Located in South Devon is a beautiful beach, sheltered in a bay surrounded by evergreens and pines with water so turquoise in color it almost feels Mediterranean. The water here is crystal clear, in large part due to the small smooth pebbles that make up the beach and the ban of dogs on the beach. Perfect for families, Blackpool Sands has lifeguards on duty during the summer months, along with plenty of amenities to keep everyone happy. A floating raft in the summer months is one of the most popular activities as many choose to sunbathe on it, or dive off into the blue waters. With a café producing local and organic meals, a shop renting out water sports equipment and events happening all summer long, Blackpool Sands is the perfect Britain beach getaway.

Blackpool Sands, Devon england

14. Llanddwyn, Anglesey

This stunning island beach is known as the “Beach of Romance” due in part to a story about a runaway princess that fled here after a love affair gone wrong. This three-mile stretch of sand is backed by impressive sand dunes and has been awarded for having extremely clean water. The beach is cleaned daily, although they are no lifeguards on duty and therefore parents should be aware of that before they visit. Just beyond this beach is the Newborough Warren National Nature Reserve, a 1.5 acre piece of property that is popular with bird-watchers and wildlife enthusiasts. There are over 10 miles of footpaths for hiking enthusiasts and visitors should keep their eyes open for the elusive red squirrel that lives here. Stunning scenery, a laid back atmosphere and a lovely island to explore makes the beaches here the perfect getaway.

Llanddwyn island, Anglesey

13. Watergate Bay, Newquay

It is one of the most popular beaches in the area due to the predictable Atlantic swells that provide the perfect waves for any surfer. This two-mile stretch of golden sand also happens to be beautiful with its dunes and cliffs providing the picture perfect backdrop. Families happen to love this beach as there are plenty of rock pools filled with crabs and other creatures to amuse the kids, while adults can book a surfing lesson or relax nearby. This wide stretch of beach ensures that it never feels crowded and there are plenty of things to do other than swim, including taking a hike along the cliff top or taking a traction kiting lesson from the nearby academy. There are a couple of restaurants located right on the beach as well as hotels for extended stays. Make sure to grab your board, pack plenty of buckets for the kids and prepare to spend at least a day exploring this beach.

Watergate Bay, Newquay

12. Luskentyre, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

The landscape in the Outer Hebrides is enough of a reason to go, never mind the breathtaking beaches that are present here. Arguably the best of the beaches here is Luskentyre, largely in part to its azure-green waters that look more like Caribbean waters. Miles of white sand backed by beautiful dunes set the stage for this incredible coastline. This beach is truly incredible at any time of the year and the most popular activity here is to walk along the stretch of sand. Depending on the sun, clouds and sky, expect the water to constantly change color from green to blue to black and back to green. Expect the scenery to change along the way with pools, cliffs, islands and an abundance of wildlife. Otters, seals, dolphins, wild ponies, eagles and deer are all known to call this place home.

Luskentyre, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

11. Lunan Bay, Scotland

This two-mile stretch of beach is located on the Angus coastline and provides visitors a picture perfect escape from reality. The beach is backed by magnificent dunes and the equally stunning Red Castle, a crumbling 12th- century fortress that makes for the perfect backdrop for any budding photographer. The beach is littered with curious rock formations, low red cliffs and some people swear that the sand takes on a pinkish hue at times. If you are lucky to be here after a storm you will most likely be able to find semiprecious stones that have washed ashore, such as jasper and agate, you might even find a shark egg here as well. The currents at this beach tend to be strong and swimmers should take great care when they are in the water. The two most popular activities here have to be surfing and bird watching.

Photo by: Visit Scotland
Photo by: Visit Scotland

10. Woolacombe Beach, Devon

This three-mile stretch of white sand is popular among both families and surfers and remains one of the most popular and most-loved beaches in all of Britain. Because of its size, this beach never feels crowded and throughout the day visitors stretch out amongst the white sand to play games, build sandcastles or play in the water. Lifeguards are on duty throughout the day and with plenty of rock pools to splash in and gentle sloping sands; it is truly the perfect beach for children. Plenty of amenities such as shops, cafes, washrooms and showers make it easy to spend the entire day here. The world-class surf breaks are perfect for those wanting to catch a wave while cliff top trails provide the perfect experience for hiking enthusiasts. Make sure to stick around for sunset as the colors that light up the sky are truly unbelievable; just don’t forget your camera.

Woolacombe Beach, Devon

9. Scarborough South Bay, North Yorkshire

This large sandy bay is full of excellent amenities, facilities, trained lifeguards and beautiful surroundings. Legend has it that Scarborough was one of the world’s original spas and that people came here as early as 1611 to bathe in the waters that were thought to have healing powers. Scarborough Castle, although in ruins is what separates North and South Bay and the ruins are well worth exploring. There is a working harbor along with a marina located at this beach which means there is no shortage of seaside stalls selling amazing fresh seafood. The waves lap gently onto shore and the waters are relatively free of currents and therefore perfect for any type of swimmer. It is important to note that this beach can get crowded on a hot sunny day and visitors should arrive early to grab a prime beach spot.

Scarborough South Bay, North Yorkshire

8. Porthmelgan Beach, Pembrokeshire

This sandy, sheltered cove is perfect for any visitors looking to escape the busyness of everyday life, with its tranquil nature and beautiful scenery. The beach itself is a triangle of golden sand that is surrounded on three sides by protective cliffs, making it a haven for sun lovers and keeping the winds out. The rock pools are a delight for both kids and adults alike, full of interesting creatures such as crabs, shrimp and small fish. Furry four-legged animals are welcomed here all year around and there is plenty of room for them to run and play. It is important to note that at high tide the beach is made up of pebbles and the sand doesn’t appear until the tide starts to retreat. Overlooking Ramsay Island, home to the UK’s largest grey seal population, this picture perfect beach is a respite from the overcrowded Whitesands Beach, located just a short walk away.

Photo by: Visit Pembrokeshire
Photo by: Visit Pembrokeshire

7. Achmelvich Beach, Highlands, Scotland

The west coast of Scotland is home to an abundance of beautiful beaches; some just miles of golden, others sparkling with crystal clear turquoise waters and all of them uncrowded and pollution free. Achmelvich Beach is located in the far north-west of the Highlands and is actually a series of intimate beaches with clean white sand. The waters here are pollution free, safe for swimming and are often filled with playing porpoises. Expect a beautiful background full of lush greenery and brilliant flowers. Achmelvich Beach is also home to the tiniest castle in all of Europe and an amazing annual sandcastle-building competition. Camping is quite popular around this beach and there are a total of two campgrounds and one caravan park that are open for business. Visitors should not that dogs are banned from this beach in the summertime, as well as they are banned year round in the camping parks.

Photo by: Welcome to Scotlande
Photo by: Welcome to Scotlande

6. Rhossili Bay, Wales

This beach bay is made up of three-miles of fine golden sand and incredible Atlantic Swells, making it the perfect beach for both sandcastle building and surfing. During low tide visitors will be privy to the remains of Helvetia, a ship wrecked in 1887. If you are looking to stay away from the crowds, make sure to stick to the Rhossili end of the beach rather than the Hillend. You won’t find any sort of facilities at this end but you will find incredible picturesque views and amazing tranquility. The water tends to be quite warm in July and August, unusual for Britain and many swimmers and surfers can be seen enjoying it. One of Gower’s most famous landmarks, Worms Head is also found here. Head down to the Hillend side if you are looking for shops and restaurants.

Rhossili Bay, Wales

5. Pentle Bay, Tresco, Scilly Isles

The white sand and sparkling blue color of the water gives this beach a tropical feeling, and with a slightly warmer climate here than the rest of Britain, it is easy to feel as though you are sitting in the midst of the Caribbean. This beach is one of the smallest on this list at just half a mile but that doesn’t make it any less breathtaking and amazing. Because of its location on the opposite shore of where the boats land, Pentle Bay remains largely unvisited. It is only a 10-20 minute walk here but surrounding beaches that are closer means this one often gets overlooked. Surrounding low dunes, sheltered and safe waters and an outstanding view are all reasons to make the walk here. Whether you are looking to collect seashells or simply lounge on your beach towel, be sure not to miss out on Pentle Bay.

Photo by: Tresco Island
Photo by: Tresco Island

4. Scarista Beach, Isle of Harris, Scotland

For those looking to enjoy the island life, Britain is the perfect place to be as it is home to more than 6,000 islands. Isle of Harris, located in the Outer Hebrides is home to one of the best beaches to be found. Scarista Beach is made up of miles of shell-scattered golden sand with gently lapping water. The sand is backed by towering dunes and a mountainous lunar landscape. The stunning blue water is often filled with seals playing nearby and make sure to keep your eyes peeled for nearby deer that often wander down to the beach. This beach also happens to be very popular with surfers as it packs a great swell for both beginners and experts. Make sure to pack your beach towels and a picnic and spend the whole day here, often unaccompanied by any other visitors.

Photo by: Rough Guides
Photo by: Rough Guides

3. Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire, Wales

This golden sand beach is one of Wales best kept secrets and although it has come into the spotlight in recent years, it stills remains largely untouched. There is no road access to this beach and visitors can expect to walk about half an hour over the picturesque cliff top to reach it. Beach goers should be aware that the hike is not suitable for anyone in a wheelchair, pushchair or stroller. The reward for the trek is a breathtaking crescent shaped beach, with deep soft sand and a brilliant shade of blue, often compared to the color of the Caribbean Sea. Gentle waves and a lack of currents make this the perfect place for children to swim that is if they can endure the hike. Make sure to bring along a picnic if you plan on spending the day here as there is nowhere to buy food or drinks, nor is there a washroom to use.

Photo by: Bluestone national park
Photo by: Bluestone national park

2. Durdle Door, Dorset

On the Jurassic Coast lie a couple of beaches so hard to get to that we promise they won’t ever be overcrowded, and it sure is worth the effort. Durdle Door is actually the name of the limestone arch between the two beaches, St Oswald’s Bay and Man O’War Cove. To reach these beaches visitors must descend down several hundred steps built into the cliff. Once you get down though, the location is absolutely stunning. Besides the obvious beautiful rock formation, visitors are treated to windless conditions, clear blue waters, lush green vegetation and a wild and desolate feeling. We recommended bringing everything down with you that you may need as it is a long way to get back up. Swimmers are warned the water is cold, all year round and draws gasps of disbelief from even the bravest of swimmers. Think of this beach as a photographer’s paradise more than swimmers.

Durdle Door

1. Bantham Beach, South Devon

It is hailed as one of the finest sandy beaches in Devon and certainly one of the best in all of Britain, with its vast expanse of sand and beautiful blue waters. Families love this beach for its fantastic rock pools, tiny estuary and windless conditions. Surfers flock here for the long and low waves that make the conditions perfect for both beginners and veterans. The favorite time at this beach is low tide, when the miles of sand are exposed and it looks like you can simply walk out forever. A background of dunes and cliffs create the perfect backdrop for a memorable day at the beach. Grab a bite to eat at the Gastrobus in the dunes, spend the night at the art deco hotel and enjoy one of the best beaches in all of Britain.

Bantham Beach, South Devon

7 Beautiful and Underrated Cities in the UK

The UK is brimming with cities full of medieval architecture, breathtaking cathedrals, lively green spaces and fascinating history. Indeed most people flock to the cities of London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Liverpool where they fight crowds of tourists and visit overrated attractions. The secret of visiting the UK is to find the hidden gems, the underrated, the beautiful and the closely guarded. From England to Scotland to Ireland, we have discovered 7 of these cities, who offer a slew of incredible attractions and beautiful buildings.

7. Lincoln, England

Back in the day this city was actually a pretty big deal, in fact it housed the world’s tallest cathedral for over 250 years, along with a castle, two universities and plenty more attractions. Visitors will want to pay a visit to the incredible cathedrals as it boasts amazing stained glass windows, an interior full of intricate carvings in stone and wood, and the ruins of the Bishop’s Old Palace beside it. It is here where you will find 14th and 15th century medieval buildings as well as the oldest bridge in England to have houses built upon it. Don’t miss out of ‘Steep Hill’, a street full of small independent shops. Lincoln is also home to one of the only four surviving copes of Magna Carta, dating back to the 13th century and visitors here should plan a trup to Lincoln Castle and discover a piece of human history.

Lucian Milasan / Shutterstock.com
Lucian Milasan / Shutterstock.com

6. Cardiff, Wales

It is one of the most pleasant cities in the UK, boasting a magnificient castle, innovative architecture and great people. This Welsh capital once started as a Roman fort and since the 11th century the Cardiff Castle has held court where the fort once stood. It has not been considered a pretty city by any means in the past but times are changing and major regeneration projects have been occurring over the past decade. Think a brand new performing center, a revamped waterfront and a 74,000 seat stadium; just to name a few. The free National Museum Cardiff should absolutely be on your list of things to do in this city, as well as attend one of the infamous rugby matches. Markets, awesome dining options, impressive accommodations await visitors to this city which is becoming more beautiful as time goes on.

Cardiff, Wales

5. Sheffield, England

This city isn’t known for its castles, souped up riverside docks, cobbled streets or typical tourist attractions, but there is a lot to Sheffield that makes it both unique and fun to visit. Plan on arriving here by train where you are greeted by a stunning waterfall just outside the station. Visitors will want to head to the Winter Garden-the largest urban glass house in Europe-home to over 2,000 plants from around the world. There also happens to be more than 250 parks, woodlands and gardens throughout the city, giving this city the highest ratio of trees to people of any city in Europe. Did we mention that it is also home to the world’s oldest football club? Throw in the medieval Anglican cathedral, two theatres, a slew of restaurants and pubs and some of the friendliest people in the north and you have yourself one pretty epic city.

Sheffield, England

4. Belfast, Ireland

It has been avoided, forgotten and underrated for the better part of half a century. But this city is slowly making a new name for itself as it reinvents itself with award-winning architecture, a vibrant restaurant scene and lovely locals. This small and walkable city encourages visitors to stroll through its beautiful botanic gardens and the cobbled Cathedral Quarter that teams with restaurants, pubs and arts venues. Visitors will not want to miss a visit to the Metropolitan Arts Centre which is a shining star in terms of stunning architecture, an asymentrical tower of brick and volcanic stone that houses seven stories of high-ceilinged galleries and unique reading nooks. Massive regenerations projects have improved the old dockyards, Victoria Square and the waterfront, which boasts some of the most impressive nightlife in the UK.

Belfast

3. Chester, England

This city is more than 2,000 years old which means plenty of history, culture and architecture await visitors here. Chester boasts the more complete city walls in the country, the largest undiscovered ampitheatre in the UK and a slew of breathtaking medieval buildings. It is easy to walk around this city as the Roman grid pattern of streets have survived the years, and trust us you will want to walk in order to take in the historic towers and gates that adourn the Roman walls. Chester Cathedral is located in the heart of the city and deserves a visit, as does the beautiful River Dee, Roodee Racecourse and the pretty Grosvenor Park. Hit up the independent galleries and boutiques, dine on local Cheshire produce and stay in anything from a luxury hotel to a quaint cabin in this beautiful, yet highly underrated English city.

Chester, England

2. Nottingham, England

It is best known as the home of Robin Hood, but that is about it and tourists tend to skip by this charming English town. The men in tights are long gone in this city and instead you will find a castle, which sits atop a labyrinth of ancient tunnels, England’s oldest inn- Ye Olde Trip to Jeruslaem- which is built into a cliff face and is said to have a chair that makes any woman pregnant, and much more. Visitors will want to head to the Galleries of Justice Museum where you can explore the gruesome history of crime and punishment. Or how about the City of Caves, where you will descend far below street level and discover just a few of the 500 man-made sandstone caves that date back to medieval times. Beautiful buildings include Wollaton Hall, Newstead Abbey and Nottingham Castle.

Nottingham caves

1. Stirling, Scotland

Stirling is Scotland’s heritage capital, a place where the Wars of Independence were fought and won and where for three centuries monarchs ruled in regal splendor. This cobbled old town in much quieter than Edinburgh and offers much in the way of history, architecture, culture and attractions. Visitors will find themselves winding their way up to the dominant castle which offers an incredible view for miles. Keep your eye out for the Wallace Monument, a Victoria Gothic creation that was made to honour the legendary freedom fighter of Braveheart fame, and looks so gothic it deserves at least a a few circling bats. Take a ghost walk, visit the museum and gallery, go whisky tasting or hang with the monkeys at the safari park. Whatever you do though, don’t miss exploring the Old Town and the picturesque path that encircles it.

Stirling, Scotland monument

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

The 10 Best Stargazing Spots in the Northern Hemisphere

We’ve told you where to find the best views of the heavens in the southern half of the world; the southern hemisphere’s positioning makes it a particularly good location for aspiring astronomers to get a glimpse of our galaxy. But that doesn’t mean that those of us in the northern hemisphere have to miss out on awe-inspiring starscapes. There are dozens of dark-sky reserves and parks and prime viewing spots in more northerly climes. You’ll want to pack your telescope if you plan to travel to any of these 10 locations.

10. Brecon Beacons National Park, United Kingdom

Head to south Wales and you’ll quickly find that sheep outnumber people in this part of the world. Brecon Beacons National Park is a prime stargazing location because of its seclusion. The ruins of the Llanthony Priory provide a stunning backdrop for the night sky. The area near the park is home to 33,000 people and within easy access for nearly 1 million, which means that residents have worked hard to ensure that lighting within the communities near the park are dark sky-friendly. Most of the park is open grass moorland, which makes for plenty of open viewing of the night sky. The park was originally designated in 1957, and in 2013, it became an official International Dark Sky Association Dark Sky Reserve. Once you’ve done some stargazing, be sure to step into the Priory to grab some authentic Welsh ale—the ruins have been converted into a pub.

Llanthony Priory

9. Westhavelland, Germany

The Westhavelland Nature Park, in the state of Brandenburg, Germany, was established in June 1998. With an area of 1,315 square kilometers, the park is the largest protected area in Brandenburg and is home to the largest contiguous wetland in all of Europe. It has also become renowned for its dark skies, despite being just 70 kilometers west of Berlin, Germany’s most populous city. Its location also means easy access for the nearly 6 million people living in the region—and tourists to Berlin. The Dark Sky Reserve, which was certified by the IDA in 2014, is approximately 750 square kilometers within the park. The park offers an extensive education program, including the annual WestHavellander AstroTreff Party and an interpretive program. The Milky Way shines in full splendor over Germany’s first and foremost “star park”!

Brandenburg Milky Way

8. Mauna Kea, United States

Although there are several locations in the Hawaiian islands that are prime stargazing spots, Mauna Kea has to claim the top spot. Located on the Big Island, Mauna Kea Observatory sits 13,756 feet (4,205 meters) above sea level, on the slopes of the mountain, high above the town of Hilo. Here you’ll be able to see northern hemisphere favorites, including the Milky Way, Ursa Major, the bands of Jupiter and Orion, with perfect clarity. Although the largest optical telescope in the world will be off-limits after nightfall, you can still peer through telescopes offered at the visitors’ center, located at 9,200 feet. Free lectures and Q&A sessions at the observatory are complemented by tour packages offered by adventure companies, some of which include dinner. Although Mauna Kea isn’t an IDA-certified site, it remains a popular location for stargazers from around the world.

Mauna Kea night sky

7. Tenerife, Spain

You can probably pick any of Spain’s Canary Islands to get a good view of the stars. In fact, the island of La Palma is a protected area, although it’s not officially a park or reserve. For the best views, however, hop over to Tenerife, the largest island in the chain. Tenerife has passed a law controlling flight paths, specifically with the quality of stargazing in mind. From April through December, you can take a tour of the Teide Observatory. Visitors can also enjoy a cable car ride up to the top of the volcanic Mount Teide to really get a good gander at the stars. Cap off an evening by enjoying dinner at the mountain-top restaurant, with the stars as the romantic backdrop. The semi-annual Starmus Festival is also a popular attraction, celebrating science, music and the arts.

Tenerife Night sky

6. Kiruna, Sweden

The northernmost settlement in Sweden, the town of Kiruna lies about 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle, which means that between December 11 and January 1, there is a period of continuous night. While some of us may not be enthused by the idea of constant darkness, it does make for an amazing opportunity to view some of the spectacular skies. Given the remote location, the skies are truly dark, creating the perfect canvas for the aurora borealis. Visitors can book a stay at the world-famous Icehotel, just 11 miles from Kiruna in Jukkasjarvi. Nighttime “picnics” are offered on northern lights tours. Other activities include ice-sculpting and wintertime sports like skiing. You can also tour the Esrange Space Center, which developers hope to turn into a spaceport in the near future.

Sweden aurora borealis

5. Cherry Springs State Park, United States

There may not seem to be a lot of reason to visit Pennsylvania, but stargazers are drawn to the 82-hectare Cherry Springs State Park. This highly regarded site provides one of the best glimpses into the center of our own galaxy, the Milky Way. The park sits atop a 2,300-foot (701 meter) peak, which allows you to leave civilization (and light pollution) down on the ground. The park offers various programs throughout the year, including its annual Black Forest Star Party in early September, a popular event for amateur astronomers. In 2014, stargazers were lucky enough to spot the aurora borealis not once, but 4 times in Cherry Springs. First designated a dark sky park by the state in 2000, Cherry Springs was proclaimed an International Dark Sky Park by the IDA in June 2007.

Photo by: karenfoleyphotography/Alamy via Travel and Lesiure
Photo by: karenfoleyphotography/Alamy via Travel and Lesiure

4. Kerry Dark Sky Reserve, Ireland

The County Kerry in Ireland is considered one of the most picturesque areas in the country. Situated between the Kerry Mountains and the vast Atlantic Ocean, the Iveragh Peninsula is home to the Ring of Kerry, with numerous scenic attractions along its length. In 2011, the Kerry Dark Sky Reserve became the only gold-tier reserve in the northern hemisphere, and it was officially designated in January 2014. The night sky has long been important to the inhabitants of the region; Neolithic stone formations dating to 6,000 years ago were used to observe astronomical events and track the sun and moon. The area, which is approximately 700 square kilometers, incorporates territory along the Wild Atlantic Way. It is naturally protected from light pollution, although the inhabitants are working to create dark sky-compliant lighting systems to improve the quality of the night skies even more.

ring of kerry

3. Jasper National Park, Canada

Jasper, located in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, is probably one of Canada’s most famous national parks. Not only is it a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was also declared a dark-sky preservation area in March 2011. Although Jasper is not certified by the IDA, sites in Canada must adhere to the strict guidelines set out by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. The guidelines were developed to protect wildlife that is sensitive to light pollution. Every October, Jasper holds a Dark Sky Festival, which includes daytime solar viewings and rocket launches to entertain the kids. There are approximately 100 year-round campsites scattered throughout the park, meaning that you don’t need to visit in the fall to get some spectacular views of the night sky over the Canadian Rockies.

Jasper at night

2. Zselic Landscape Protection Area, Hungary

In the past, the starry skies were essential for Hungarian shepherds guiding their flocks back to fold. Today, Hungary is home to some of the best dark skies in the world; in August 2015, Wanderlust named it the third-best stargazing spot in the world. Zselic Starry Sky Park is located within the National Landscape Protection Area, which was originally established in 1976 to protect the natural assets of the North Zselic region. The Triangulum Galaxy is visible to the naked eye here, and in the spring, you can spot Orion and the Orion Nebula, along with the zodiacal light. The Lighting Society of Hungary and 17 surrounding municipalities have worked with the park to minimize the impact of lighting both within and outside the 9,042 hectares of parkland.

Photo by: RAFAEL SCHMALL / SCHMALL RAFAEL PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo by: RAFAEL SCHMALL / SCHMALL RAFAEL PHOTOGRAPHY

1. Natural Bridges National Monument, United States

This Utah national park was the first IDA-designated International Dark Sky Park, declared in 2007. The park is renowned for its 3 natural bridge formations (hence its name), one of which is the second-largest in the world. The area was first designated a park in 1908. In the summer, the park provides astronomy ranger programs to help share its gorgeous nighttime skies with some of the 95,000 people that visit each year. The Milky Way is very clearly visible and the desert conditions of the area make for many nights of clear viewing throughout the year. During an assessment by the NPS Night Sky Team, the park registered as a Class 2 on the Bortle Dark-Sky Scale, making it one of the darkest skies in the lower 48 states.

Utah stars

Lonely Planet’s 10 Cool New Openings

The ever popular publisher of travel guidebooks has come out with their annual ‘Best of Travel’ guide which lists the best of the best for the next year of travel in all sorts of categories from best budget travel to best family travel experiences. If you’ve been planning ahead for next year’s vacations here is the list of the hottest new attractions set to open in 2016 to get your imagination running wild. This year’s list has something for everyone from Disney fans to football fanatics, outdoor explorers and adventurous foodies, no one will be disappointed and everyone will be scrambling to find their passport after one read through this list.

10. Shanghai Disney Resort, China

In Spring of 2916, Disney is set to open its newest resort and the first of its kind in mainland China. The park will include 6 themed areas placed around the largest constructed Enchanted Castle of any Disney park. In the center of the park, ‘The Garden of the Twelve Friends’ will depict the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac represented by Disney characters. There will also be a Disneytown entertainment district (perhaps similar to America’s Downtown Disney) located outside of the new Magic Kingdom which will feature restaurants, shopping, entertainment and two Disney hotel accommodations.

Photo by: Shanghai Disney Resort
Photo by: Shanghai Disney Resort

9. Mamma Mia! The Party, Stockholm, Sweden

Diehard ABBA fans will want to take note of this next opening in Stockholm next year; the city’s Gröna Lund amusement park will see the opening of a brand new Mamma Mia!–themed restaurant in January of 2016. The brains behind this new disco-dining experience is none other than ABBA’s own Björn Ulvaeus, the former Swedish music star also co-composed the famed Mamma Mia! musical so naturally he has some involvement here as well. Lonely Planet reports that diners will enter a Greek-style Taverna where diners will tuck into Greek specialties while the story unfolds around them.

Photo by: ABBA Fanatic
Photo by: ABBA Fanatic

8. Monnaie de Paris, France

For those who haven’t been to the city, the Monnaie de Paris is the Paris mint, and in mid-2016 it will see the completion of its ‘MetaLmorphoses’ project -a huge transformation of the mint’s 1.2-hectare site on the Seine. So far the transformation has already seen art exhibitions in the mint’s neoclassical building in 2014 and the opening of famous Michelin accredited chef Guy Savoy’s flagship restaurant in 2015. The fun will continue in 2016 with the unveiling of the mint’s previously unseen collections. In addition, there will be metalwork and foundry tours, Guy Savoy’s MetaLcafé brasserie and much more to see and do.

Photo by: Soundscapes Blog
Photo by: Soundscapes Blog

7. FIFA World Football Museum, Zurich, Switzerland

Ask any football fan if they would make a trip if there were a world football museum and chances are they would probably say yes. Well in spring of 2016, just such an attraction will be opening its doors in Zurich, Switzerland. The FIFA World Football Museum will be a 3,500 square meter facility located in the heart of the city and dedicated to the most widely played sport in the world. The museum will take visitors through the history of the game with a timeline and include a hall of fame, a cinema and a giant football pinball machine.

Rob Wilson / Shutterstock.com
Rob Wilson / Shutterstock.com

6. Bourdain Market, New York City, USA

Famous culinary adventurer Anthony Bourdain first announced his plans to open a food market in New York back in January 2014 and foodies have been listening for any little detail about the project ever since. While many details are still unknown (and likely will be until its opening) we do know that the theme will be crazy, loud and slightly obnoxious and it’s all set to open in early 2016. The 100,000 square foot space at Pier 57 will feature producers and carefully selected food vendors from around the world as well as a hawker-style food hall, rooftop beer garden, farmers market and oyster bar.

Erin Cadigan / Shutterstock.com
Erin Cadigan / Shutterstock.com

5. Surf Snowdonia, Wales

Snowdonia National Park in Wales is known for it’s vast natural beauty and spectacular scenery. While this piece of natural paradise is perfect for hikers and those with an appreciation for the great outdoors, there are an increasing number of adventure sports enthusiasts heading to Snowdonia for the man-made adrenaline attractions like Europe’s longest zip line and an underground trampolining center. In 2016 the park will see another new attraction to entice visitors, in the form of a 300 meter long artificial surf lagoon. The £12 million project is said to use rainwater to produce a consistent barreling 2 meter wave every minute, and is the first of its kind in the world.

Photo by: Surf Snowdonia
Photo by: Surf Snowdonia

4. National Gallery Singapore

Lonely Planet says that while Singapore is host to several world-class museums, if you only have time for one in 2016 make it the National Gallery. Located in the city’s former City Hall and Supreme Court buildings, the gallery not only offers Southeast Asian art from the 19th century to today, but the venue itself offers history and its own story. Visit the restored colonial courtrooms and council chambers but make sure you also check out the beautiful rooftop garden which offers spectacular views of Marina Bay.

Photo by: National Gallery Singapore
Photo by: National Gallery Singapore

3. BASK, Gili Meno, Indonesia

BASK is a brand-new luxury villa-resort development on the island of Gili Meno near Bali. The development which is set to open in 2016 has a very recognizable celebrity endorsement on its side; David Hasselhoff, aka The Hoff, is the face of BASK and is said to be looking at having his own vacation villa in the complex. The development is located on a private white sand beach and will feature a world class restaurant, beach club, luxury spa and even its own underwater sculpture park for diving enthusiasts.

Photo by: BASK
Photo by: BASK

2. Louvre Abu Dhabi, UAE

The Abu Dhabi arts scene is about to get a new star in 2016; the Louvre Abu Dhabi was first planned to be completed in 2012, but flash forward another 4 years and we will finally see this €100 million dollar project completed. The building itself is a sight to behold as the domed structure seems to almost be floating on the water as it sits on Saadiyat Island. The museum will have a permanent collection of art throughout the ages including Chinese Buddhist carvings and Italian oil paintings while works from famed artists like Van Gogh, Monet and da Vinci will be on loan from France.

Photo by: Louvre Abu Dhabi
Photo by: Louvre Abu Dhabi

1. National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC, USA

The number one opening in 2016 is an exciting first for America; the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC for short) will become the first national museum in America to focus exclusively on the lives, history and culture of African Americans. The 10-storey space Smithsonian Institution museum will open in Washington DC in 2016 and will boast artifacts from around the country that represent the history of African Americans. Everything from Harriet Tubman’s 1876 hymn book, to a Jim Crow-era segregated railcar, to banners and photographs from notable human rights demonstrations will be on display.

Photo by: Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroupJJR
Photo by: Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroupJJR

10 Unexpected Kid-Friendly Vacation Destinations

Beyond the Disney World’s, the aquariums, the all-inclusive resorts and the cruise ships; there is a whole other world of vacation destinations that are kid-friendly. Although at one time these destinations may have catered to only adults, in recent years they are encouraging families to visit and making it more affordable and easier to do so. From the mountains of Argentina to the coast of Wales to the heart of Brazil; these 10 unexpected kid-friendly destinations will have you booking your flights in no time. But hurry, before everyone else realizes what really awaits families here.

10. Patagonia, Argentina

Patagonia has always been known as an incredible adventure destination but in recent years more and more families have taken to traveling here. It could be that the breathtaking landscapes that boast mountains, lakes, fiords and glaciers beckon to both kids and adults alike, or perhaps parents are discovering this destination which encourages kids to switch off their electronics. There is an abundance of guided walks, boat rides and horseback rides that are designed with kids in mind. The landscape here is rich with wildlife including gray foxes, cougars, whales, sea lions and eagles and if you are traveling with older kids mountaineering is a popular option to see some of these.  To get the kids excited about traveling here make sure to let them watch Ice Age before you go, where glaciers and fiords come to life. Plenty of family lodges and restaurants make this destination perfect for your next family vacation.

Penguins Patagonia, Argentina

9. Croatia

One wouldn’t necessarily think of traveling to Croatia for a family vacation, as it is well-known for two things; its line-up of music festivals and a romantic seaside getaway. Families should be happy to know though that this breathtaking landscape is the perfect spot to bring the kids. Croatia boasts many family-friendly hotels that include kids clubs, private pools and planned activities. Even though this country is known for its elegant cuisine, kids here will find plenty of pasta and pizza on the menus, along with ice cream parlors on every corner. The long stretches of beaches are one of the biggest reasons to head here with the kids. Many of them boast facilities such as restrooms, snack bars and even lifeguards. This country loves children and while traveling here with them, you will be welcomed into every restaurant, museum or any other activity you want to explore.

Beach Dubrovnik Croatia

8. South Africa

Whether you are looking for a beach vacation or something more along the lines of a safari; South Africa is the perfect place to do so with the kids in tow. The excellent weather, breathtaking scenery, accommodations that fit your budget and a variety of activities to be had; the long flight is definitely worth it. Hotels that are specially geared towards families are speckled throughout the country and come with amenities such as kids clubs and experienced babysitters. These hotels often offer discounts for kids and many of them even offer ‘kids stay free’ promotions. Wildlife safaris can be planned on malaria-free reserves with all-inclusive lodges and an exciting kid’s program. Some even offer horseback riding and cycling safaris; which prove to be popular with kids. First-world amenities make it easy for the whole family to enjoy this country with kid’s menus in the restaurants and excellent road infrastructure.

Cape Town South Africa

7. Panama

It is one of Central America’s hottest new destinations and the biggest decision that families face when visiting this country is deciding where to go. This country is packed with wildlife, jungles, a remarkable canal system, fascinating islands and impressive history. A good tip in this exotic location is the fact you can drink the tap water safely, a bonus for families with kids who need plenty of hydration! Discover the jungle and wildlife with one of many family friendly guided tours, charter a boat around the islands or play in the surf at one of the many beaches. If you are looking to explore Panama City, it has never been a safer option than now and families will love strolling through the historic neighborhoods, biking along the paths, tasting unique fruits from the markets and enjoying one of the many ice-cream stands that are always nearby.

Panama

6. Sedona, Arizona

This vast natural playground provides the perfect setting for a family destination, whether you want to explore the red rocks and their geology, slide down a waterslide or pick out constellations in the night sky. A jeep tour through Sedona that caters to families is the perfect way to start your vacation as guides will educate you on the land, the rock formations and point out flora and fauna you will see throughout your visit. A visit here must include time spent at Slide Rock State Park where kids and adults will slide down the natural water chute, swim in the pools and enjoy a day of hiking. Camp Verde is also a must do on this family vacation with its zoo, zip lines and a close up look at Montezuma Castle. Plenty of kid-friendly accommodations and restaurants make it easy to plan your next family vacation to Sedona.

Wollertz / Shutterstock.com
Wollertz / Shutterstock.com

5. Hong Kong

If you can overcome the idea of taking your kids on quite a long flight, Hong Kong is perhaps one of the most underrated kid friendly destinations in the world. Underneath the modern skyscrapers that dot the landscape lays an array of kid-friendly activities, hotels and restaurants. The two theme parks here; Ocean Park and Disneyland Hong Kong are a huge hit with families and unlike other monstrous theme parks, these are small enough that kids can walk around and are less crowded than other theme parks. The people of Hong Kong love children and everywhere you go you will find someone willing to lend a hand, give up their seat and make your experience even more memorable. The luxury hotels here cater to families which means you won’t have to give up first-class amenities; some of the features for kids include kiddie pools, playgrounds, babysitters and baby equipment.

Hong Kong Observation Wheel

4. Wales, U.K.

If you are looking for a family vacation in the U.K. but don’t want to pay the high prices and fight the crowds in London, Wales is the absolute perfect solution. Only a two hour drive away from London is a world full of natural wonders, kid-friendly bargain accommodations and enough activities to fill your days for weeks. This destination is for families who love to camp or stay in cottages as there are an abundance of options, from ‘glamping’ in a yurt to staying in a self-catering cottage on the coast. If exploring the outdoors is on your list of things to do, Wales has you covered with its numerous mountain climbs and loads of nature reserves complete with boardwalks that make pushing a stroller a breeze. For the families that are seeking a little more excitement make sure to check out the zip lining adventures, underground trampolines and white water rafting.

Jason Batterham / Shutterstock.com
Jason Batterham / Shutterstock.com

3. Las Vegas, Nevada

It has long been known as the ultimate playground for adults but Las Vegas is surprisingly kid-friendly. This city may just offer more entertainment and activities for children than anywhere else in North America, other than Orlando. Staying here is a breeze as many of the hotels cater specifically for families and if you are looking for something a little quieter, many of them are located just a short shuttle trip away from the strip. Amenities such as kid’s pools, babysitting, playgrounds, camps and organized activities are all found in the hotels. Despite popular belief, a family vacation here can also be quite affordable with the many free attractions including free shows, street performers and admission to certain attractions. The best part of taking the kids to Vegas might just be watching their reaction as they see life-sized replicas of some of the most famous landmarks in the world.

Jorg Hackemann / Shutterstock.com
Jorg Hackemann / Shutterstock.com

2. Atlantic City, New Jersey

It may be known for its casinos and entertainment but Atlantic City certainly shouldn’t be thought of as an adults-only destination. This city has in recent years has put a big push on promoting itself as a family-friendly city which means you can score great deals on hotels which are catering to families. Choose a hotel that has a pool, kid’s programs and restaurants within to make your trip even easier. Many families are now choosing a non-gaming hotel when they visit here. Beaches line the Atlantic Ocean complete with surfing and kayaking opportunities. The Steel Pier is located on the boardwalk and features many rides and attractions for families, with even a kiddies-ride area. The Atlantic City Aquarium, the IMAX theater and historic landmarks are all just a short drive away.

Pier Atlantic City, New Jersey

1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio is often known for its beautiful people and beautiful beaches but underneath all of that is an extremely kid-friendly city that absolutely loves children of all ages. Restaurants that have attached playgrounds are the norm here, as are kid-friendly beaches and an abundance of family activities. Some of the beaches have organized kids activities, along with a slightly calmer feel than many of the popular crowded, beats-pumping ones. A train ride to see the iconic Christ the Redeemer Statue, aerial cable car rides, a walk in the rainforest and enough fresh juices, ice cream and pastries to keep the kids happy all day long proves that Rio can be just as fun for kids as it can for adults. Enjoy the hotels where kids stay free, the restaurants where they eat free and the welcoming arms of the people who will gladly juggle your screaming baby when you are trying to enjoy your meal.

Filipe Frazao / Shutterstock.com
Filipe Frazao / Shutterstock.com

10 Things to See and Do in Cardiff

Cardiff, the largest and capital city of Wales, is the chief commercial center of the country. It is the most popular tourist destination in Wales and in 2011, Cardiff was ranked sixth in the world as an alternative tourist destination by National Geographic. It was named a city in 1905 and declared the capital of Wales in 1955. There are several sporting venues in Cardiff and the city was awarded the European City of Sport in 2009 because of its role in hosting major international sporting events and was awarded it again in 2014. Cardiff is divided into several communities with several of them having their own community council while the rest fall under the jurisdiction of Cardiff City Council. There are many popular destinations in Cardiff as well as other hidden treasures you’ll want to check out while there.

10. Cardiff Bay

Created by the Cardiff Barrage, Cardiff Bay is located in south Cardiff and is one of the most successful regeneration projects in the United Kingdom. It is supplied by two rivers forming a 500-acre (2.0 km 2) freshwater lake. It used to be tidal with access to the sea being limited to a couple of hours each side of high water, but now three locks offer 24 hour access. The mudflats at the mouths of the River Taff and River Ely were inundated with loss of habitat for wading birds, but The Barrage provided several new habitats for freshwater species with the wetlands to the south of Hamadryad Park. There are some interesting and beautiful buildings located in the area, like St. David’s Hotel, The Pierhead Building, The Senedd, Wales Millennium Centre, Norwegian Church, Craft in the Bay, Techniquest, Roald Dahl Plass, Mermaid Quay and The Tube visitor’s centre. The water-based attractions include Cardiff Bay Wetland Reserve, Cardiff Waterbus, Cardiff Bay Barrage, Lightship 2000, Queen Alexandra Dock, Cardiff International Pool, Cardiff International White Water, Cardiff Sailing Centre, Cardiff Yacht Club and Cardiff City Rowing Club. There is lots to see and do here while enjoying the pristine waters all around you.

Cardiff Bay

9. St. Fagans National History Museum

St. Fagans National History Museum, named after the village it is located in, is an open-air museum in Cardiff recalling the historical lifestyle, culture, and architecture of Welsh people. It is part of the National Museum of Wales. It consists of more than 40 buildings from a variety of locations in Wales and sits on the grounds of St. Fagans Castle, an Elizabethan manor house. The buildings include a nonconformist chapel, a village schoolhouse, a Toll road toll booth, a cockpit and a tannery. Some of the items on display there include traditional crafts with a working blacksmith forge, a pottery, a weaver, miller, clog maker, two working water mills, one flour mill and one wool mill. There is also a small working farm on the site which focuses on preservation of Welsh native breeds of livestock. You can even purchase produce from the bakery and flour mill there. What a great way to step back in time and experience how people lived and worked many years ago.

Photo by: Visit Cardiff
Photo by: Visit Cardiff

8. Castell Coch

Castell Coch (Welsh for Red Castle), is a Gothic Revival castle built in the 19th century above the village of Tongwynlais in South Wales. The original castle was left in ruins and in 1848, John Crichton-Stuart, the 3rd Marquess of Bute, inherited the castle. He hired a contractor to rebuild the castle “as a country residence for occasional occupation in the summer” using the ancient remains as a basis for the design. The castle was rarely used and in 1950, his grandson placed it into the care of the state. It is now controlled by Cadw, the Welsh heritage agency. The castle occupies a woodland area on the slopes above the village of Tongwynlais and the River Taff. The historian Charles Kightly, referred to the castle’s architecture as “the crowning glory of the Gothic Revival”. The outside of the building consists of three circular towers – the Keep, the Kitchen Tower and the Well Tower. Inside, you’ll find a magnificent banquet hall, an octagonal drawing room occupying two floors, the Lord’s and Lady’s Bedrooms and many other rooms you’ll want to explore. It is a work of art.

Castell Coch

7. Doctor Who Experience

The Doctor Who Experience is an attraction housed close to BBC Studios in a special facility offering a unique and sometimes frightening journey into the fifty years of adventure in space and time with this popular Sci-fi show. There are two distinct “experiences” offered – The Interactive Experience and The Exhibition Hall. During specific times of the year, admission can also include a Walking Tour or The TARDIS Tour. With the Interactive Experience, visitors get to go on a real live adventure with the doctor. The adventure begins at the Gallifrey Museum to the heart of TARDIS and will have to save the universe from the threat at hand. Once you survive that adventure, you can journey straight through to The Exhibition Hall. While you recover from your adventure, you can see and experience the world’s most extensive collection of props and artifacts from Doctor Who. You will get to see costumes that were used back in 1963 up to present day. Whether or not you are a fan of the show, it offers a fun and interesting adventure.

Photo by: Elliot Brown via Flickr
Photo by: Elliot Brown via Flickr

6. Boulders Indoor Climbing Centre

Boulders Indoor Climbing Centre is located just outside of Cardiff city center on M4. The facility can accommodate people of all ages who would like to climb, starting at under seven to adult. Whether you are an accomplished climber or a newbie, Boulders has something to offer. Private climbing lessons are offered to newcomers giving them an intensive 80 minute lesson until they are ready to have a go at it. If you have young children and would rather not have them climb a rock wall, the center has an area called Soft Play in Pebbles. The area allows younger children (usually under seven years old) the chance to climb in a safe area with plenty of cargo nets and large holes big enough for them to crawl through. They also host birthday parties in the Soft Play area where children can play for 90 minutes and then enjoy a nice meal in the party room. Overall, it’s a fantastic family fun center offering great physical exercise in a safe environment.

Photo by: Visit Cardiff
Photo by: Visit Cardiff

5. Cardiff International White Water

Cardiff International White Water is an Olympic-standard white water rafting center at Cardiff International Sports Village in Cardiff Bay. Opened in March of 2010, the center is the first on-demand white water center in the U.K. It offers on-demand whitewater rafting, canoeing and a flat-water pond for warm-up and training purposes. They also offer off-site surfing and gorge walking. Designed for international and Olympic use, the International Canoe Federation’s World Cup of 2012 was held there. The course consisted of 23 gates for the final race arranged with seven upstream, six downstream with eddies, a set of three flush gates forming a zig-zag and 13 through 15 gates having all of their poles arranged in a straight line evenly spaced for the racers to slalom through. The 250-meter hairpin shaped course, holds about 10 cubic meters of water per second when used for recreational use, but can hold up to 16 cubic meters per second when used for international competition. If you would like a little adventure but have never had the chance to whitewater raft before, this place is where you want to go, their lessons can prepare you for the fun.

Philip Bird LRPS CPAGB / Shutterstock.com
Philip Bird LRPS CPAGB / Shutterstock.com

4. Chapter Arts Centre

Opened in 1971, Chapter Arts Centre, often referred to as Chapter, is a multi-art form arts center located in Cardiff which hosts films, plays, performances art and live music. It also includes a free art gallery, cafe and bars with over 60 workplaces for a variety of purposes including training courses. The films shown here include mainstream Hollywood productions as well as an array of foreign and independent films on a regular basis. The center consists of gallery spaces, two film theaters, two theaters, two bars, a cafe, shops, and several spaces for hire and ongoing art production, resident artists and more. The variety of films and art offered at the center is incredible. You can visit here several times a year and never tire of it because is has such eclectic offerings. You can see films like Carry On Screaming!, Rosewater, Timbuktu, Far From The Madding Crowd and more. The art exhibits include Richard Woods: Inclosure Acts, and Bad Bricks currently. Performances like The Ted Bundy Project and Miramar can be attended now as well. Be sure to check out what is currently going on at the center when you plan your travels. It offers something for every taste.

Photo by: Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff via Wikimedia Commons

3. Llandaff Cathedral

An Anglican Cathedral in Cardiff, the Llandaff Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Llandaff, who is the head of the Church in Wales Diocese of Llandaff. The building, built in the 12th century was dedicated to Saint Peter, Saint Paul, and three Welsh saints: Dubricius, Teilo, and Oudoceus. The Cathedral also serves as a parish church with the Dean being the Vicar of the Parish of Llandaff. The church is located close to the bank of the River Taff and much of the area is now a conservation area. Despite being surrounded by the city of Cardiff, the area is very tranquil and unspoiled. The building is breathtakingly beautiful inside and out with its magnificent architecture. The stained glass windows are a vision and the general atmosphere is tranquil. You can spend a lot of time just taking in the beautiful decor and relaxing atmosphere. Lose yourself in the peace all around you.

Photo by: Visit Cardiff
Photo by: Visit Cardiff

2. Wales Millennium Centre

Wales Millennium Centre is an arts center located in Cardiff covering a total area of 4.7 acres (1.9 ha) and has hosted performances of opera, ballet, dance, comedy and musicals. The center consists of one large theater and two smaller halls with shops, bars and restaurants. It is home to the national orchestra and opera, dance, theater, and literature companies totaling eight art organizations in residence, as well as the Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre. The Donald Gordon Theatre, which is the main theater, seats 1,897, while the BBC Hoddinott Hall can accommodate 350 and the Weston Studio Theatre seats 250. You can take a guided backstage tour, eat and drink at “ffresh”, Bar One, Crema Coffee Shop, Hufen ice cream parlour and the theater bars. If you’d like to take in a free show, you can go to the Glanfa Stage. They have full listings at “What’s On” of upcoming events, free talks and other activities. The free art exhibitions are incredible to see and you can visit the gift shop for a souvenir before leaving. Milipwt’s Den is a free and fun place for your children to explore as well. A great place for the entire family.

antb / Shutterstock.com
antb / Shutterstock.com

1. Cardiff Castle

Touted as one of the leading heritage attractions in Wales, Cardiff Castle is located in the parklands at the heart of the city and is considered a site of international significance with its 2000 year history. Roman Fort established around the end of the 50s AD and The Norman Keep are located at Cardiff. The Norman Keep was built reusing the same site of the Roman Fort. The Bute family was responsible for turning Cardiff into the world’s greatest coal exporting port. You can take a house tour of the castle through the exquisitely decorated rooms such as the Winter Smoking Room, The Nursery, Lord Bute’s Bedroom and The Roof Top Garden. Visiting the Castle Apartments is an opportunity to see the rich fairy tale apartments decorated with ornate murals, gilding and elaborate wood carvings, stained glass and marble created by art-architect, William Burges for the 3rd Marquess of Bute. Also found within the castle walls are tunnels which were used as air-raid shelters during the Second World War. You’ll want to visit the Firing Line: Cardiff Castle Museum of the Welsh Soldier commemorating 300 years of history including the Battle of Waterloo 1815. It offers an incredible story of the history of Cardiff.

Cardiff Castle