7 Top Cities to Visit in Russia

7 Top Cities to Visit in Russia

*This article was originally written for Travel & Destinations (www.travelanddestinations.com)

Russia is by far the largest country out there with an area of about 17 million square kilometres. It is so big that Russia has 11 different time zones and a population of 145 million people. So, when deciding to visit Russia it is best to plan ahead which cities are best to check out. This article will suggest 7 of the best cities in Russia to discover on your trip.

1. Sochi

Sochi is a beautiful city in Russia connecting with the Black Sea. It is known as a great summer/beach destination and is famous for hosting the 2014 “Winter Olympics”.

When visiting, head down to the shore and relax by the black sea, visit the Olympic Park and watch the singing fountain in action. In winter, you can go skiing in Krasnaya Polyana and go hiking there in summer. You can also enjoy a nice day or a picnic in the beautiful Sochi Park.

Aerial view of Sochi in Russia
Photo © Valery Smirnov | Dreamstime.com

2. Saint Petersburg

St. Petersburg also referred to as Leningrad, is the second-largest city in Russia and is situated on the Neva River. It has a great number of sophisticated cathedrals and palaces with wonderful bridges around the rivers and canals.

During your visit enjoy a stroll at the Palace Square where the impressive Winter Palace and The Alexander Column are located. Another great place to go includes the State Hermitage Museum which is exceptional on the inside and the outside. Make sure to visit the dreamy Peterhof Palace which has an impressive 173 fountains supplied by underground natural springs.

One popular way of visiting Saint Petersburg is through a multi-destination cruise where you visiting several other cities and countries located around the Baltic Sea.

Peterhof Palace and Samson fountain, St. Petersburg
Photo © Mistervlad | Dreamstime.com

3. Yekaterinburg

Yekaterinburg is a bustling city located in the Ural Mountains and is known to be a vibrant and cultural place that houses several theatres, museums, dance companies, plays, libraries, and famous Russian rock bands. Yekaterinburg is impressive as it houses the oldest wooden sculpture in the world (over 11,000 years old), the Shigir Idol. This sculpture can be found at the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum of Local Lore in Yekaterinburg.

Other things you can do is enjoy a picnic at Victory Park, heading to the State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, and checking out the golden-domed Church on the Blood.

Yekaterinburg
Photo © Mikhail Markovskiy | Dreamstime.com

4. Moscow

Moscow, the capital of Russia is where around 12 million people reside. It is famous for its artistic accomplishments like operas, ballets, classical music, symphonies, and paintings. During your trip be sure to see the important and historic Red Square. This is encircled by incredible sites like the Kremlin, Lenin’s Mausoleum, and the stunning St Basil’s Cathedral.

The St Basil’s Cathedral (seen below on the right) is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world with colourful onion-shaped domes that appear to look like live flames. Other things to enjoy during a visit include the State Historical Museum, Tretyakov Art Gallery, Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, and Izmaylovo which is home to Moscow’s largest flea market.

St Basil's Cathedral and the Kremlin in Moscow
Photo © Tomas1111 | Dreamstime.com

5. Nizhny Novgorod

Nizhny Novgorod is a wonderful place where the Volga and Oka Rivers run through; with beautiful hills that overlook the meeting point of these two rivers. This city is home to some scenic landscapes, top museums, cafés, and restaurants.

For an unforgettable scene of the city, take the Aerial Tramway which is a 3660-meter-long gondola lift linking Nizhny Novgorod with the town of Bor. This ride offers the chance to see top views of the city and the surrounding area.

For Russian literature lovers, check out the museum of Maxim Gorky, a popular and celebrated Russian writer. Other things to see include the Nizhegorodskaya Yarmarka Fair (seen below), The Nizhegorodsky State Art Museum, the National Centre of Contemporary Art, and the Sakharova Museum.

Nizhegorodskaya Fair in Nizhny Novgorod
Photo © Saiko3p | Dreamstime.com

6. Irkutsk

Irkutsk is located near the huge Lake Baikal, which is one of the top attractions of the Trans-Siberian Route. It has many areas that are filled with traditional Siberian wooden buildings, cosy café’s, vibrant bars, and delicious restaurants found along its streets.

During your visit take a walk in the historic centre of Irkutsk, which has been submitted to be a UNESCO World Heritage site. If you want to see one of the world’s oldest icebreaker ships (1898 and 1905), you can find it at the Angara Museum. Other things to see are the Irkutsk Museum of Fine Arts, and the churches of Krestovozdvizhenskaya Tserkov’ and Spasskaya Tserkov’.

Cathedral in Irkutsk
Photo 80405191 © Saiko3p | Dreamstime.com

7. Golden Ring

The Golden Ring is a group of cities and towns located outside of Moscow and are known to have charming countryside packed with gorgeous landscapes, cherry orchards, picturesque cottages, fortresses, and breathtaking churches, and monasteries filled with art.

The official cities that you can check out on the Golden Ring tour are Suzdal, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Vladimir, Ivanovo, Pereslavl-Zalessky, Sergiev Posad, and Rostov Veliky.

These cities and towns would make a nice addition when visiting Moscow allowing you to discover more of the country during your trip.

Holy Trinity Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad
Photo © Elena Perminova | Dreamstime.com

Summary:

Russia is a picturesque and fascinating place that everyone should visit once in their lives. It not only has breathtaking scenery and luscious nature, but it is also a country rich with history, interesting culture, unique art, great cuisine, and lively people. When visiting Russia be sure to enjoy some of the cities mentioned in this list, which will help you have the best time on your trip to this beautiful country!

Cover Photo by Random Institute on Unsplash

Top Things to See and Do in Egypt

Top Things to See and Do in Egypt
By: Neha Singh (Contributing Writer)
Editor: Katy Terroz

History and adventure lovers have long been drawn to Egypt as the place of ancient pharaohs, interesting historical heritage, tombs, and pyramids. However, Egypt has so much to offer other than the obvious places of interest and archeological wonders that suit travelers of all types; it offers wondrous cities and coastlines laced with stellar sandy beaches and a vibrant buzz that will leave you enthralled. This article will introduce you to the top things to see and do for all those planning a vacation to Egypt.

Pyramid of Giza and Sphinx
One of the popular things to do in Egypt is to visit the majestic Pyramid of Giza and the Sphinx. The attractions in Egypt are synonymous with the identity of the country, which is why most tour packages in Egypt include the chance for visitors to see these marvellous historic landmarks.

These centuries-old archeological wonders are located in the Giza Pyramid Complex which also features other temples, tombs, burial sites, and remnants of village settlements of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. These monumental structures have withstood the test of time and will definitely get you awestruck at their colossal splendor.


The Nile River
Cruises on the Nile River are a great way to see Egypt if you are not keen on camel/horse rides or desert settings. Nile River meanders through Egypt, offering a unique opportunity to experience the Egyptian landscape through a unique perspective.

Several cruise liners operate on the river, so you can find the experience that meets your budget and interests. Cruise liners operate mostly between Luxor and Aswan. With a luxury cruise experience on the Nile, you can spend a couple of days onboard a ship that provides spacious cabins, an amazing cuisine as well as spectacular leisure and recreation opportunities.

Cairo Town
While most people think Egypt is filled with ancient ruins and deserts, they are rather surprised to discover the world of modern culture mixed with a traditional Egyptian flair. Cairo is the ideal destination to explore some of these fascinating experiences. Begin with some wholesome Egyptian breakfast or grab some delicious lunch while exploring Cairo. Khushari is a filling traditional meal to try if you feel hungry during your Cairo city tour.

The food scene in Egypt is amazing and the palette is teemed with legumes and non-vegetarian choices.  Several traditional goods and cultural cuisine await you at Khan El Khali – an Egyptian bazaar. Cairo is also rich with some of the most charming ottoman-era architectures and centuries-old structures that are amazing to view.

Egypt plans new capital city covering 700 square kilometres
SOURCE: dezeen.com

Sharm El Sheikh
Sharm El Sheikh is a dynamic coastal township nestled between the Red Sea and the Sinai Peninsula, offering the best of Egyptian luxury and laid-back leisure. The sweeping sea views and stunning coastline make this place one of Egypt’s best beach destinations. Places like Naama Bay and Shark Bay are amazing havens for sun-soaked relaxation or a soothing dip in clear waters.

Sharm El Sheikh provides a totally different ambience from the usual idea Egypt conjures up. It is a clear indication that Egypt is much more than its archaeological attractions and ancient wonders. It is also an ideal place for scuba diving and snorkelling as the surrounding waters are teeming with spectacular marine life.

SOURCE: aec.afdb.org

Alexandria
Most globetrotters overlook the fact that Egypt is bordered by the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea which both along with the Nile River gives this destination a dramatic topography. Alexandria is one such destination that anyone travelling to Egypt should add to their travel itinerary. Perched on the north of Egypt, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, Alexandria is a fascinating port city that fuses Egyptian cultural essence with a refreshing natural panorama.

The city is steeped in historical fables and its remnants can be seen throughout the city. The extensive sea views offer a haven for serene sunset views and is a spectacular place to simply unwind at any of the beach shore cafes and seafront restaurants. Don’t miss a trip to Alexandria Souk for an amazing shopping experience.

Hurghada
Located along the Red Sea, Hurghada is another charming seaside town popular among tourists and residents alike. Come and experience life on the beaches of Hurghada; Egypt’s best white-sandy beaches located next to the most relaxing hotels and resorts along the Red Sea coastline.  You can also enjoy a refreshing swim in the waters, or even explore the underwater world if you are an extreme adventurer.

A boat ride to The Giftun Island is one of the popular tours to enjoy on a trip to Hurghada. Aside from being a premier snorkelling destination, Hurghada is also an excellent spot to experience some exhilarating water sports.

White Desert National Park
Located in northwestern Egypt, the White Desert National Park is a stunning landscape of chalky white rock formations scattered on the golden desert landscape. This national park also goes by the name Sahara el Beyda and extends across over 116 square miles.

 The White Desert is a part of the Farafra depression which was formed by the reaction of calcium, quartz, and limestone with the forces of nature, resulting in this textured, unique landscape. This park is not just famous for the unique white sands and rock formations of the Sahara Desert, but it also protects a wide range of animal wildlife and makes a great wildlife viewing experience.

Fayoum Oasis
One of hidden gems of Egypt is this lush stretch of land situated south of Cairo. Within a vast desert expanse, Fayoum oasis boasts abundant vegetation and stunning waterfalls. The serene setting is often a refuge for Cairo dwellers escaping from the bustling city life.

The contrast of sand dunes and rock formations with the desert’s wilderness and water cascading down jagged cliffs and glistening on the still waters of a tranquil lake create an ambiance of relaxation for all who visit. The Fayoum Oasis is also home to an UNESCO World Heritage site – The Valley of Whales which comprises fossils of marine animals and wildlife.

Al Fayoum Oasis, Egypt | Lake Qarun | Qasr Qarun | Wadi El Rayan
SOURCE: khufuegypttours.com

Conclusion
If you do not know much about Egypt, you probably know it to be the land of mummies, pyramids, and pharaohs. However, if you dig deeper, you will find that Egypt has much more to offer than archeological relics and vast deserts. The Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and the meandering Nile River all contribute to giving Egypt a relaxing and refreshing ambience. The beaches of Egypt are some of the best to visit on the African continent. The coastal ambience along with the desert landscape, archaeological ruins, delicious cuisine, bustling traditional and modern cities all complement each other to present a varied combination of experiences while visiting Egypt.  

10 Top Things to See and Do in Monaco

10 Top Things to See and Do in Monaco

*This article was originally written for Travel & Destinations (www.travelanddestinations.com)

Monaco is the second smallest country in the world after the Vatican and the most densely populated; with an area of 2.02 sq. km and a population of just over 38,900 (2019). What is even more interesting is that more than 30% of Monaco’s population are millionaires! Monaco is a gorgeous place nestled on the French Riviera blessed with natural beauty, great weather, gorgeous beaches, lush mountains, palm trees and beautiful architecture.

Although really small, there are some great things to see and do in this tiny country! Here are 10 recommendations on the top things to see and do when visiting Monaco.

Palais du Prince

The prince’s palace in Monaco is the official house of the Sovereign Prince of Monaco which was constructed in 1191 as a fortress and is located high above Monaco. You can enter and tour the palace when the prince is not there. You can usually tell if he is there by the flag in the major tower which is raised to indicate that the prince is there.

Some of the things to check out while at the palace includes the Italianate style gallery, the Blue Room, the Throne Room, and the Palatine Chapel. At the palace, you can also see the daily changing of the guards taking place at 11.55 am.

Monaco Palace
Photo 79180537 © Ryhor Bruyeu | Dreamstime.com

Jardin Exotique

Jardin Exotique is a beautiful Mediterranean botanical garden that opened in 1933 and covers 3 acres. This garden is situated on a cliffside located in Fontvieille with great views overlooking the ocean.

This tropical garden is incredibly unique as it has over 7,000 species of plants. The garden is filled with luscious green exotic trees, cacti, succulents, flowers where you can even find an assortment of plants from Africa and Latin America.

Jardin Exotique in Monaco
Photo 206098389 / Jardin Exotique Monaco © Dudlajzov | Dreamstime.com

Opéra de Monte-Carlo (Salle Garnier)

Something you must check out are the shows at the Opéra of Monte-Carlo which is an opera house that is part of the Monte-Carlo Casino. It was constructed in 1878 and portrays a grand scene where the performance area is wrapped with vibrant red and gold decorations, beautiful frescoes, and sculptures.
So, if you feel like catching a great opera show, a musical concert, or a spectacular ballet, then make sure to visit this fantastic opera house.

Opera de Monte-Carlo
Photo 33601387 / Monaco © Lucian Milasan | Dreamstime.com

Fort Antoine

Fort Antoine is an outdoor theatre that used to be a military fortification (fortress). It was constructed in the 18th-century and got demolished in 1944 later to be rebuilt in 1953.

Now, Fort Antoine is a go-to “under the stars” theatre that offers plays, concerts, films, special performances, and shows during the summer months.

Fort Antoine in Monaco
Photo 216800495 / Fort Antoine © Michel Peres | Dreamstime.com

Moneghetti District

The Moneghetti District is one of the richest districts in Monaco and famous for its luxurious villas, perfectly shaped gardens, and gorgeous terraces. The walk leading to the district is a great venture by itself as the roads cut into the cliffside; so be careful if you have vertigo.

In the Moneghetti district, you will also find “Parc Princesse Antoinette” which is famous for its 100 years old olive trees and its miniature golf course.

Musée Oceanographique

Musée Oceanographique is an oceanographic museum and a public aquarium with neo-baroque style located in Monaco. It first opened in 1910 and is situated on the side of an 85 m tall cliff.

The museum is unique for its collections of more than 350 species of marine life and wildlife creatures from seahorses, jellyfish, starfish, turtles, sharks, rays etc. The museum also houses a great exhibition of marine-related pieces like animal skeletons, model ships, weapons, and items made from mollusks, pearls, and shells.

Display at Oceanographic Museum in Monaco
Photo 206096781 © Dudlajzov | Dreamstime.com

Larvotto Beach

Larvotto Beach is the only public beach in Monaco and is actually a man-made beach! It was built following World War II and is now a must-visit location with clear waters, a volleyball court & a scenic seafront.

After a long day discovering Monaco, head to Larvotta beach the next day and enjoy a relaxing beach day. You can find many nice bars and restaurants where you can have refreshing drinks and delicious dishes.

A view of the beach in Monaco
Photo 43320360 / Monaco © Aleksandar Todorovic | Dreamstime.com

Monaco-Ville (Le Rocher)

Monaco-Ville known as Le Rocher (the rock) is the oldest district in Monaco standing high on a 62-meter cliff, where the residence palace of the ruling Grimaldi family is located. You can reach Monaco-Ville in two ways; an elevator or by walking up several ramps and stairs.

The way up to Monaco-Ville is filled with beautiful scenes and dazzling views. Make sure to wander along the roads and alleys of Monaco-Ville where you can find vibrant and colourful buildings and architecture from orange, pink and yellow. You can also find several restaurants and amazing bars with great lively vibes.

View from Le Rocher
Photo 121364757 © Sphraner | Dreamstime.com

Monte Carlo Cathedral

The Monte Carlo cathedral, also known as “Saint Nicholas”, is the main church in Monaco located in the old town. Its construction started in 1875 and got finalized in 1911. The church is incredibly beautiful with Roman/Byzantine style; a splendid high altar and the Episcopal throne made from white marble.

The church has two organs where on feast days and during religious events, you can listen to the brilliant and peaceful music made by the organs. Some worth-checking paintings found inside in the church are paintings by Ludovico Brea (1500) and François Brea (1500-1505).

The outside of Monte Carlo Cathedral
Photo 82293593 / Monaco © Pigprox | Dreamstime.com

Monte-Carlo Casino

Monte-Carlo Casino goes back over 150 years when it was opened in 1863. It is one the most famous casinos in the world where movies like Iron Man 2 and Golden Eye had scenes shot. This casino is beautiful and very luxurious and certain clothing is required to visit; such as no sports shoes, shorts, or flip flops. One crazy fact is that Monaco’s own citizens are forbidden to gamble or enter the casino’s gaming rooms.

If you are looking to do some gambling for fun and want to have the Monaco gambling experience, just put 5 euros in one of the slot machines and enjoy. If you win, you can collect the money right away!

Note: always take care in casinos to ensure you know your limits and don’t spend beyond your means.

Monte Carlo Casino at night
Photo 27280823 / Monaco © Kasto80 | Dreamstime.com

Summary:

Monaco is a magnificent tiny country overflowing with beautiful gardens, colourful buildings and architecture, as well as historical monuments, gorgeous beaches, gardens, and interesting museums that are definitely worth seeing. If you are looking for a straight-out-of-the-movies luxurious holiday, then Monaco should definitely be a top choice!

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10 Best and Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Spain

10 Best and Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Spain

*This article was originally written for Travel & Destinations (www.travelanddestinations.com)

Spain is a gorgeous country located on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula and blessed with diverse landscapes and cultures, beautiful nature, and charming beaches. Not shockingly, the third most UNESCO World Heritage Sites of any country goes to Spain. The reason behind this goes to the fact that many civilizations throughout history left a mark in Spain, from Greeks, Celts, Romans, Iberians, Phoenicians, Moors and Visigoths.

When it comes to finding a holiday beach destination, Spain should be an obvious choice with the most “blue flag” beaches awards in the world (590 Spanish beaches) and 3,000 miles of coastline. With so many great spots to choose from we’ve narrowed down some of the best. Below are 10 of the best beach and summer holiday destinations to visit in Spain.

Menorca

Menorca (Minorca) is one of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea and is known for its endless beaches. A few top beaches to check out in Menorca include Playa de Cavalleria, Mesquida cove and Cala Trebalúger.

The best things to do here besides having a beach day is to visit the town of Binibeca, explore the Menorcan vineyards, explore the tomb of Naveta d’es Tudons, or hike up Monte Toro.

You must explore the old capital Ciutadella, as well as the gorgeous city of Mahón (which is now the capital). Also, make sure to take a sailing trip along the Menorcan shoreline and/or enjoy a kayaking day around Es Grau beach.

Pregonda beach in Menorca
Photo 74519331 © Ignasi Such | Dreamstime.com

Majorca (Mallorca)

Mallorca (Majorca) is the largest of the Balearic Islands. It is famous for its beautiful coast, beach resorts, bays, coves, as well as Roman and Moorish remains and several limestone mountains.

Some of the best things to do on this island include visiting the capital Palma de Mallorca, shopping in Puerto Portals, as well as exploring some of the towns and villages such as Alcudia, Pollença and Cala Figuera.

A few of the best beaches to enjoy include Platja es Carbó, Platja des Carregador and Playa de Canyamel. Also, make sure to go on a cruise around the huge Calvia coastline and discover the beautiful cliffs and bays.

Mallorca Beach in Palmanova
Photo 92069506 © Fotoandvideo | Dreamstime.com

Ibiza

Ibiza is an archipelago of Spain located in the Mediterranean Sea and is one of the best Balearic Islands to visit. It is famous for its clubs and nightlife and is a destination where some of the biggest clubs in the world are located.

Other than partying, other top things to do in Ibiza includes exploring Dalt Vila (Ibiza old town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site), seeing the Ibiza Cathedral, and watching the sun go down at Cafe Del Mar.

A few of the best places on the island for relaxing on a beach or by a pool include Playa d’en Bossa, San Antonio, Talamanca, and Cala Comte. Also, you can have a relaxation day at the many spas and yoga retreats located around the island.

Beach in Ibiza
Photo 34287412 © Lunamarina | Dreamstime.com

Tenerife

Tenerife is one of Spain’s Canary Islands. It is home to a dormant volcano and Spain’s tallest peak, Mt. Teide (at 7,315m). The island of Tenerife has many beautiful sandy beaches and resort areas where you can enjoy great days on the beach. Top beaches include Playa de Las Teresitas, La Tejita, El Duque and Playa Jardín.

A few of the other best places to visit in Tenerife include cities and towns such as Puerto de la Cruz, Santa Cruz, La Laguna, Garachico, as well as nature spots including Mount Teide and Anaga Rural Park, an impressive 35,800 acre Biosphere Reserve.

Other cool places to relax (and swim) is Lago Martiánez which is a huge open-air swimming pool, and also Siam Park, a fantastic water park which will be sure to give families a great day out.

Teresitas beach in Tenerife
Photo 180488250 © Boarding1now | Dreamstime.com

Fuerteventura

Fuerteventura is another of the Canary Islands and the second-largest. It is popular for its sandy beaches and great all year warm weather, as well as scenic cliffs, and coves. Some of the top beaches include Morro Jable, Matorral, Cofete, Costa Calma and Cotillo. Also be sure to visit the pretty Lobos Island located just north of the main island and is a protected natural area.

A few of the other top things to do include exploring the sand dunes at Corralejo Natural Park, seeing the Calderón Hondo volcano, and visiting the old town of Betancuria.

While in Fuerteventura enjoy water sports such as surfing, waterskiing, and windsurfing. You can also enjoy a whale and dolphin-watching tour in Fuerteventura (preferably in June).

Fuerteventura - Morro Jable Beach
Photo 80921953 © Elena Krivorotova | Dreamstime.com

Lanzarote

Also part of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote is known for its gorgeous weather, volcanic landscapes, resorts, villas, and beaches.

While there, make sure to visit the Timanfaya National Park for its scenic landscapes, explore the Jameos del Agua caves, and see the unique cactus garden, Jardín de Cactus. Some top beaches to enjoy include Playa del Papagayo, Playa Flamingo, Playa Francesa and Playa de Mujeres

Also, make sure to check out the natural outdoor swimming pools (formed by the sea) which are found around Lanzarote’s eastern and southern coasts. The pools can be found in Punta Mujeres, Cueva del Agua (Los Cocoteros), and Los Charcones.

Beaches in Lanzarote
Photo 203561979 © Miguel Tamayo Diaz | Dreamstime.com

Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria is located off northwestern Africa (and part of the Canary Islands). The island is characterized by its rural and mountainous landscapes. The true sand colour in Gran Canaria is black due to the volcanic origin of this island.

On the island can find large sandy beaches such as below as well as other highlights such as Roque Nublo rock and Pico de las Nieves (1,949 m). You should also explore the Maspalomas dunes (a protected natural research), wander around the botanical garden “Jardín Botánico Viera y Clavijo”, and visit the fishing village Puerto de Mogán.

Gran Canaria island is popular for its water sports such as yachting, windsurfing, sailing, scuba diving, and water-skiing.

Beach in Gran canaria
Photo 131272343 © Ingus Kruklitis | Dreamstime.com

La Palma

La Palma is yet another of the Canary Islands, known for its craggy, forested terrain and volcanic landscape with volcanoes like Teneguía and Cumbre Vieja located there.

Some of the coolest things to check out are the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, Roque de Los Muchachos (for stargazing), and the capital city of Santa Cruiz de La Palma. Also visit places such as  Los Llanos de Aridane, Fuencaliente and Villa de Mazo.

Some beaches in La Palma worth seeing include Bajamar Beach, Los Cancajos beach and Puerto Naos beach.

La Palma, Spain
Photo 214681032 © Dudlajzov | Dreamstime.com

Sitges

Sitges is a beautiful town on the coast of Spain’s Catalonia region close to Barcelona. It is famous for its gorgeous sandy beaches, bars, nightclubs, and promenades surrounded by beautiful houses and big mansions.

A few of the best things to experience in Sitges besides having a relaxing beach day, include wandering along the Passeig Maritim (a scenic walk), visiting the Museu Cau Ferrat, and exploring the beautiful Garraf Natural Park.

Stiges beach, Spain
Photo 215945701 © Nataliavo | Dreamstime.com

Málaga

Málaga is a city located on Spain’s Costa del Sol. It is known for its luxurious resorts, hotels, its beautiful yellow sandy beaches and its many museums. It is famous for being the birthplace of the great Pablo Picasso.

While in Malaga, a few historic highlights to see include the La Alcazaba fortifications, the Roman Theatre, Málaga Cathedral and Castillo de Gibralfaro. Also visit the Museo del Vidrio, Ataranzas Market, Parque de Málaga and of course Picasso’s museum.

A few beaches for relaxing in the sun includes Playa de la Malagueta, Playa Peñón del Cuervo and Playa de la Carvajal.

Nerja Beach in Malaga
Photo 90300370 © Valery Bareta | Dreamstime.com

Barcelona

Although not a typical beach destination, Barcelona has on its shores a wonderful stretch of beach which is perfect to relax upon after exploring the highlights and gems around the city. Also along the beachfront, you’ll find bars and restaurants where you could spend your day on the beach before moving into the clubs at the end of the day for a fun night out.

Barcelona of course isn’t just about its beach and serves as a great destination for a city break, where you’ll find incredible historic landmarks to explore as well.

Barcelona Beach

Summary

Spain is definitely a dream destination for a beach and summer holiday. It is blessed with fantastic sandy beaches, perfect weather, delicious food, vibrant nightlife, friendly people, and gorgeous wide coasts. Consider some of the places above which will guarantee you the time of your life and a wonderful time in Spain.

10 Best and Most Beautiful Places to Visit in France

10 Best and Most Beautiful Places to Visit in France

*This article was originally written for Travel & Destinations (www.travelanddestinations.com)

Almost 90 million people visited France in 2018 and it is one of the world’s most visited travel destinations. The Louvre which is located in Paris is also the most visited museum in the world with 9.6 million people paying a visit in 2019. These huge numbers can be expected given the amazing country that France is.

France has a very distinct landscape; from beautiful beaches on the southeast coast, lavish agricultural lands, gorgeous forests, towering archaic mountains and extinct volcanoes. It also has Europe’s tallest peak, Mont Blanc, standing at a massive 4,810m tall! If you are planning to visit France, then keep reading as we suggest 10 beautiful places you must visit.

1-Etretat

Étretat is a town on the north coast of France in the region of Normandy. It is known for its outstanding rock formations carved out in its white cliffs, including the Porte d’Aval arch and L’Aiguille, which is a pillar rising from the sea like a needle. The massive white cliffs of Etretat have encouraged many artists like Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet and should inspire you too.

While in Etretat, walk up to the top of the cliffs to have a bird’s eye view of the coast, caves, and the arches in their shining glory. While on top, visit the chapel of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde which is hovering high above the surrounding area. Also, explore the village centre which is small and can easily be navigated by walking. You must try the refreshing cider since it is a local specialty and enjoy the charming galleries, boutique shops, and the delicious food at the French restaurants.

Etretat coastal town in France

2-Nice

Founded by the Greeks and later a retreat for 19th-century European elite, Nice was named after the Greek goddess Nike. Nice has attracted many writers, composers and artists who got inspired by the unique views it offers. Nice is one of the best places to go in Europe for its museums, galleries, perfect climate, great cuisine, and beautiful coast.

When in Nice, check the huge 7 kilometres long Promenade des Anglais which stretches from the airport on the west to the Quai des États-Unis on the east. Also, visit the Vieille Ville, Nice Cathedral, Parc de la Colline du Château, Cours Saleya Market, and Parc Phoenix.

Beach in Nice France

3-Colmar

Colmar looks like a charming place out of a storybook and is an old town with cobblestone streets along with medieval and early Renaissance buildings in the Grand Est region of northeastern France. The town borders Germany and is on the Alsace Wine Route which has local vineyards that specialize in Riesling and Gewürztraminer wines.

While in Colmar, visit the picturesque old town square, Place de la Cathédrale, Unterlinden museum, museum Musée du Jouet (Toy Museum), and Koïfhus (Ancienne Douane). Also, visit the beautiful churches like the Eglise des Dominicains, Eglise Saint Martin, and Saint Matthieu Church. Finally enjoy a stroll along these beautiful quartiers; Krutenau, Quartier des Tanneurs, and Quai de la Poissonnerie.

Colmar, France at sunset

4-Paris

Paris is a must-visit destination since it is the lavish and rich capital of France. A fun fact is that Paris was actually a Roman city called “Lutetia” in historic times. Paris now receives millions of tourists each year because of the incredible attractions on offer.

While in Paris be sure to visit the historic Louvre museum, the Tuileries gardens, the Sainte-Chapelle chapel, the Paris catacombs, Notre Dame cathedral, Arc de Triomphe, and of course the Eiffel Tower. If you have time then also have a little picnic along the Seine River followed by a stroll along the Champs-Elysees.

Me 🙂

5-Strasbourg

Strasbourg is the beautiful capital of the Alsace region in eastern France and holds the formal seat of the European Parliament. It is situated on the border with Germany which gives it its unique characteristics and Franco-German culture and architecture.

Strasbourg is crossed by the Ill river and is made up of numerous islands, where the most known is the Grande Île (“Large Island” in French). This has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. So, make sure to visit this unique island first and check the famous Strasbourg cathedral (cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg), which is a symbol of the city and the oldest Gothic cathedral in the world. Also, check the 4 medieval churches, St. Paul’s church and several palaces (Palais Rohan) from the 18th century which are located here.

Later, take a stroll in the famous Gutenberg, Kleber, and the Broglie Squares. Also, check The Petite France area, and witness the beauty of the covered bridges (“Les Ponts Couverts de Strasbourg”) and the Vauban Barrage (Vauban Dam).

Museums in Strasbourg are numerous, including the Strasbourg historical museum, the Alsatian museum, and the Zoological museum. If you come in Christmas you can enjoy the Strasbourg Christmas Market. Finally, another way to enjoy Strasbourg is by taking a boat tour on the canals or a bike tour.

Strasbourg in France at sunset

6-French Alpes

The Alps is a huge mountain range in Europe and spreads over 1,200 km across France and seven other countries. These include Slovenia, Monaco, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, and Austria. The French Alps are the parts of the Alps mountain within France, located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regions. The French alps is perfect for skiers and nature lovers and is surrounded by the most charming natural scenery in Europe, huge mountains, magical lakes, waterfalls, and magnificent forests.

While there, check the Chamonix Valley at the foot of Mont Blanc, Annecy, Vercors Regional Natural Park, Grenoble, Aix-les-Bains (internationally renowned spa town), Val d’Isère, Evian-les-Bain, and Megève. Also visit Val Thorens and Portes du Soleil Ski Area which are great for ski holidays and a perfect place to revel in the gorgeous Alpine scenery.

Views of the mountains of Tignes ski resort

7-Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel is a gorgeous tidal island in Normandy visited by more than 3 million tourists each year. Mont Saint-Michel and its bay are on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites and many of its buildings are protected in France as historic monuments. The island will take you on a trip back to the Middle Ages where the whole island is a pedestrian zone with stone buildings dating back to the 13th – 15th centuries.

While there, visit the popular Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel, Eglise Paroissiale Saint-Pierre, and La Chapelle-Saint-Aubert. The island is tiny so make sure to walk around its fairy tale streets and also visit La Grande Rue which is a street filled with cute little shops, charming cafés, and restaurants, as well as “Chemin des Remparts” (Ramparts Pathway) to enjoy the magical views.

Views towards Mont Saint Michel

8-Corsica

Corsica is the 4th largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Cyprus, Sicily, and Sardinia. It is located between the west coast of Italy and the north coast of Sardinia. Corsica was sold to France in 1768. Corsica has more than 200 beaches and also very mountainous terrain with its tallest peak being Monte Cinto (2,706m).

While in Corsica, you must enjoy a lovely beach day since this island is known for its clear turquoise waters and gorgeous sandy beaches. Some of the top beaches are Calvi, Bodri, Loto, Palombaggia and Santa Giulia.

A beach day would also be perfectly paired with a snorkelling adventure. Some of the recommended beaches for snorkeling are Roccapina, Rondinara, Loto, Palombaggia and Marinella. You must also check the charming hilltop villages like Pigna and Sant’ Antonino, which is the oldest village in Corsica. Get lost in the cobbled streets and alleys and enjoy the beautiful vibes of the island.

You can also enjoy a boat tour around the island and discover more villages; the pretty village of Girolata is solely accessible by sea or a narrow path down the hills.

Corsica beach in France

9-Versailles

When in Paris be sure to take a train to Versailles which is remarkably close; approx 20 km from the centre of Paris. Versailles is a city known for the Château de Versailles and the gardens of Versailles which are among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and must be on the top of your list to check out. Make sure to see the hall of mirrors and the Royal Chapel in the Château de Versailles.

Other things to see include Grand Trianon, the Versailles Royal Opera, the Versailles Cathedral, Notre-Dame de Versailles, and Petit Trianon park. Finally, enjoy a stroll around Versailles and enjoy its cute markets.

10-Provence

Provence is a region of France bordering Italy and the Mediterranean Sea. It is famous for its varied landscapes, from the Southern Alps to rolling vineyards, olive groves, charming lavender fields, and wonderful pine forests. Provence is perfect to visit any time of the year as it is one of the sunniest regions in France and has approximately 300 days of sun a year.

While in Provence, check out the famous lavender fields at the Abbaye de Senanque, the Palais des Papes in Avignon, the Roman City of Nîmes and the famed white horses and cowboys of the Camargue.

Make sure to visit the Village of Gordes, the archaic town of Vaison-la-Romaine, the Mercantour National Park and the Vallee des Merveilles. Provence has some delicious wines too, so while in the region enjoy the delicious wine at the vineyards in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which is a medieval village where the Château des Papes overlooks beautiful lavender fields.

Nearby the old Port of Marseille, which was since the 6th century BC one of the most ancient trading hubs in Europe. Provence also has a set of wonderful national parks. Such as the Parc National des Calanques and the Verdon regional park where the renowned river canyon (Verdon Gorge) runs for 25 km through the park.

Provence in France - Lavender Fields

Summary

France has so much to see and is one of the best all-year destinations in Europe. If you are looking for a charming and fairytale vacation, then France is the place to be. When in France, you can come and enjoy the wonderful scenery, the gorgeous snowy mountains, the crystal-clear beaches, the quaint villages, the interesting museums and artwork, and delicious food and wine.

Free Museums In Rome: 8 Free Entry Museums

Free Museums In Rome: 8 Free Entry Museums
Visiting Rome on a budget but eager to have a cultural and artistic experience? Then this article is for you!
In Rome, there exists 8 city-run museums that are totally free and open all year round:

1. Villa di Massenzio (Maxentius)

The Villa of Maxentius is an imperial villa and now an open air museum in Rome. It was built by the Roman emperor Maxentius and is located between the second and third miles of the ancient Appian Way (Via Appia). It consists of three main buildings: the palace, the circus of Maxentius and the mausoleum, designed in an inseparable architectural unit to honor Maxentius.

Address: Via Appia Antica, 153, 00178 Roma RM

2. Museo Barracco

Museo Barracco is a museum in Rome, featuring a collection of Egyptian, Assyrian, and Phoenician art, as well as Greek sculptures of the classical period. This collection of art was acquired by Giovanni Barracco, who donated his collection to the City of Rome in 1902.

Address: Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 168, 00186 Roma RM

Museo di Scultura Antica Giovanni Barracco (Roma): AGGIORNATO 2021 - tutto  quello che c'è da sapere - Tripadvisor

3. Museo delle Mura

The Museo delle Mura is an archaeological museum in Rome which is housed in the first and second floors of the Porta San Sebastiano at the beginning of the Appian Way. It provides an exhibition on the walls of Rome along with their building techniques and the opportunity to walk along the inside of one of the best-preserved stretches of the Aurelian Wall.

Address: Via di Porta San Sebastiano, 18, 00179 Roma RM

4. Museo Pietro Canonica

The Pietro Canonica Museum is the house/museum of the sculptor Pietro Canonica and is part of the system of Museums in the Municipality of Rome. It is located in the gorgeous Villa Borghese. The house, where the artist lived until his death, was donated by him to the municipality of Rome which now manages the museum.

Address: Viale Pietro Canonica, 2, 00197 Roma RM

5. Museo Napoleonico

The Napoleonic Museum of Rome is a historical museum dedicated to Napoleonic relics, mainly deriving from the collection of Count Giuseppe Primoli, donated to the city of Rome in 1927. It features family portraits, marble busts, rare artwork & gold plated furniture.

Address: Piazza di Ponte Umberto I, 1, 00186 Roma RM

Museo Napoleonico
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6. Museo Carlo Bilotti

The Carlo Bilotti Museum is a contemporary art museum located in the “Orangery” of Villa Borghese in Rome. It contains paintings, watercolors and sculptures from the collection donated by Carlo Bilotti, an Italian-American businessman and collector. The collection includes works by Andy Warhol, Giorgio De Chirico, paintings by Gino Severini, and Larry Rivers and a sculpture by Giacomo Manzù.

Address: Viale Fiorello La Guardia, 6, 00197 Roma RM

Museo Carlo Bilotti | Turismo Roma

7. Museo di Casal de’ Pazzi

The Casal de’ Pazzi Museum is important for its archaeological, geological and paleontological value and has been transformed over time into a real museum. It is located in Rome, in the IV Municipio, between via Tiburtina and via Nomentana, not far from the Aniene river. The museum structure is part of a Pleistocene deposit and has been continuously open to the public since March 2015.

Address: Via Egidio Galbani, 6, 00156 Roma RM

Riflessi di Jerico, murale al Museo di Casal de' Pazzi a Roma - Lazio -  ANSA.it
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8. Museo della Repubblica Romana e della memoria garibaldina

The Museum of the Roman Republic and of Garibaldi’s memory is part of the Joint Museums and is located off Porta San Pancrazio in the Trastevere district of Rome.

The exhibition winds along the four floors of the building, narrating, room by room, the historical events of the Roman Republic and the Garibaldi tradition. Busts, paintings, engravings and Garibaldi relics, as well as models and a very rich multimedia apparatus, guide the visitor to discover the places, the days and the main protagonists of the events of those years of great political ferment.

Address: Largo di Porta S. Pancrazio, 00153 Roma RM

Porta San Pancrazio Rome.JPG

Let me know in the comments if you visited any of these museums!