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.  

7 Top Reasons to Visit Malta

7 Top Reasons to Visit Malta

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

Malta is a beautiful archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea located between Sicily and the North African coast. The country is of the world’s smallest with an area of 316 km2 and a population of around 500,000 people. An interesting fact about Malta is that most of its people can actually speak fluently 3 languages: Maltese, English, and Italian. This is due to the fact that Malta was occupied by so many nations.

Despite Malta being slightly isolated, there is proof to suggest that civilizations have been residing in Malta since the early Neolithic period (5000 BC). Malta is a beautiful place to discover and here are seven top reasons why you should visit the country!

The Great Weather

With 300 days of sunshine, the sunny and warm weather of Malta is one of the good reasons that drive many tourists to visit. The daily average of sunshine is 12 hours in summer and around 5 to 6 hours in winter. Malta is an all-year-round holiday destination; the winter season is mildly cold, and the summer season is perfectly sunny.

Its Beaches

Malta is blessed with gorgeous cyan blue beaches with the best ones situated along the Northern and Western shorelines. Malta’s beaches are known to be extremely clean and of great water quality. The top beaches to visit are Mellieha Bay (the island’s biggest beach), Dwejra Bay (located in Gozo and with natural pools), Ġnejna Bay (a more peaceful beach), Golden Bay (seen below), Ghajn Tuffieha Bay, and the dreamy Blue Lagoon.

Its Islands

While in Malta, you can have the chance to do “Island Hopping”. This Maltese archipelago is made of three main islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. You can easily reach from Malta to Gozo and Comino by a ferry which takes 25-minutes for both and costs around 5 euros (subject to change).

Malta is the largest island and the commercial, cultural, and administrative centre. Gozo is the second-largest island and is usually more rural and is famous for its crafts, fishing, and agriculture. Comino is the smallest and largely less inhabited than the other islands with only one hotel available. Comino is also the location of the famous Blue Lagoon where you’ll find stunning azure water and perfect for a refreshing dip.

The Unique Cuisine

The Maltese cuisine reflects its history where many different influences like Spanish, French, Italian, British and other Mediterranean cuisines are present in the dishes. This makes Maltese food incredibly unique.

The food that you must try while in Malta are the traditional Rabbit stew (Stuffat Tal-Fenek), the local Gbejniet (Maltese Cheese), Aljotta (Fish Soup), Zalzett Tal-Malti (Maltese sausage), the traditional pastizzi (savoury pastry), Ftira Ghawdxija (Gozitan Pizza), and Timpana (baked macaroni). As for desserts try the Imqaret (Fried Date Pastry).

Its Affordability

Malta is a great place to visit on a budget. It is affordable because the prices in Malta are usually 20 percent less than they are in mainland Europe. This percentage includes food, hotels, transportation, cruises, water activities and even the flights to Malta itself.

The Rich History

Malta is blessed with 7,000 years of rich and amazing history which you will notice during your trip. There is a large number historic artefacts, monuments, architecture, and ruins to check out while exploring. This archipelago has been ruled by many nations including the Normans, the Arabs, the Aragonese, the Carthaginians, the Phoenicians, and the Romans. What is fascinating is that the oldest megalithic temples in the world are located in Malta, where they are actually older than Stonehenge (a historic landmark in England).

The best historic sites to check in Malta are Mdina, which is an architectural landmark dating back to 4,000 years ago and the Saluting Battery located in Valletta. Also, make sure to check St Paul’s Catacombs, Hal Saflieni Hypogeum (prehistoric underground burial chamber), Rotunda of Mosta, Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary, and St John’s Co-Cathedral. Some of the history-rich villages to check out are Ta’ Qali Crafts Village, Sliema, and Popeye Village.

Its Small Size

Malta’s small size makes it easier to explore and discover as there is less area to cover making it faster to reach any destination you want. Even going to the islands can take less than 30 mins. For those staying a while then you should be able to discover all the main attractions in less than 10 days.

Malta used to have a railway and a tramway in the past but not anymore. Despite the fact, Malta is still well connected; you can get around Malta by public transport which is usually by bus or taxi. There are about 80 routes on the Maltese islands, running daily from 5:30 a.m. to 23:00 p.m.

Summary:

Malta is a great place to visit when you are on a budget and dying to go for a vacation on an island. Not only is it cheap, but it is also a dream destination for beach and sun lovers. What makes it a unique destination is that despite its size, this place does not fail to shock with its many monuments, artefacts and rich history. When in Malta you will not only get the chance to discover its history but also enjoy its delicious food, friendly people, rich culture, beautiful beaches, and charming islands.

9 Beautiful and Must-visit Caribbean Islands

9 Beautiful and Must-visit Caribbean Islands

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

The Caribbean has a staggering number of islands with more than 7,000 islands to discover. These islands not only offer the most spectacular beaches but also a myriad of hidden gems, lagoons, caves, incredible mountains, and even some beautiful towns with European style architecture.

While in the Caribbean, you will get to enjoy its natural wonders, underwater sites, endless water sports and activities, and end up sleeping in the world’s most jaw-dropping and dreamy hotels. Because one can’t simply visit all 7,000 islands, instead here are nine of the most beautiful and must-visit Caribbean Islands perfect for a vacation!

1. Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands in the Caribbean incorporates 3 islands: Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. The Grand Cayman is the largest of the islands and is famous for its dreamy beach resorts and diverse snorkelling and scuba diving sites counting Eden Rock and Devil’s Grotto.

Cayman Brac is a beautiful island with gorgeous beaches and is well known for being a popular starting point for deep-sea fishing trips.

From its name, Little Cayman, is known to be the smallest island. This island is astonishing as it’s home to a huge variety of wildlife exclusive to the island. From endangered animals like rare iguanas (Rock Iguanas) to some unique seabirds, like the red-footed boobies.

Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman island
© Mikolaj64 | Dreamstime.com

2. Aruba

Aruba is a Dutch Caribbean Island known for its continuous sunshine; in fact, Aruba enjoys the most days of sun in comparison to other Caribbean islands. Aruba is also famous for its golden beaches, bustling nightlife, safety, luxurious resorts and hotels.

While in Aruba, enjoy a beach day at the Eagle Beach, Hadicurari Beach or Palm beach which are all free of charge. Also, you can visit the Casino at Hyatt Regency Aruba, the Aruba Donkey Sanctuary, the butterfly farm and also benefit from an amazing hike at Arikok National Park.

Flamingos in Aruba
© Yanta | Dreamstime.com

3. The Bahamas

The Bahamas is an island country situated within the Lucayan Archipelago. It covers around 97% of the Lucayan Archipelago’s area and houses about 88% of the archipelago’s population. Two of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies were actually shot in the Gold Rock Beach in Lucayan National Park of the Bahamas.

The Bahamas is a great place to unwind and have a relaxing vacation. While there, make sure to hit the free beaches of Pink Sands Beach and Cable beach and the famous pig beach where you can enjoy water activities like snorkelling, diving (coral reefs, underwater caves..), boat tours, and even horseback riding.

Also, make sure to visit the Lucayan National Park, Clifton Heritage National Park, Versailles Gardens, the Glass Window Bridge and Blue Lagoon Island.

Nassau in Bahamas
© Ruth Peterkin | Dreamstime.com

4. The Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean nation famous for its gorgeous vast beaches, golfing, and lavish resorts and hotels. The Dominican Republic has a diverse terrain as it has a rainforest, savannahs, and highlands, counting Pico Duarte, the Caribbean’s tallest mountain.

While there, make sure to visit the Dominican Republic resort destination: Punta Cana and Puerto Plata where you will find great beaches such as Bavaro Beach and Playa Dorada. Enjoy a stroll in the lively street of Calle El Conde, where you can enjoy shopping, food, dinner and even gazing at some old ruins.

If you want to try Kiteboarding, make sure to go to Cabarete’s Kite Beach which is the ultimate kiteboarding destination.

Your trip won’t be complete without checking the 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua, Bahia de Las Aguilas, Isla Saona and Parque Nacional de Este.

Punta Cana in Dominican Republic
© Valio84sl | Dreamstime.com

5. Barbados

Barbados is an eastern Caribbean Island surrounded by surfing beaches, historic homes, botanical gardens, caves, and golf courses and is a great place for active travellers. The capital of Barbados (Bridgetown) is well-known to be a cruise-ship port with beautiful colonial buildings.

If you are looking for a full day of swimming, surfing, kayaking, and snorkelling for shipwrecks and marine wildlife then Carlisle Bay should be your first choice. You can also enjoy a day at these free beaches: Bathsheba Beach (surfer’s paradise), Dover Beach (windsurfing), and Miami beach.

More things that are worth seeing include Animal Flower Cave (the only accessible sea cave), Harrison’s Cave, Andromeda Botanic Gardens, Hunte’s Gardens and St. Nicholas Abbey.

Bottom Bay in Barbados
© SimonDannhauer | Dreamstime.com

6. Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia is an Eastern Caribbean Island home to volcanic crescent-shaped beaches, coral reef diving sites, waterfalls, fishing villages, luxurious resorts, and hotels. Saint Lucia is famous for the Pitons, which are St. Lucia’s twin towering peaks and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. The large Piton stands at 2,530 ft high, while the small Piton is 2,438 ft high high. Both of them were formed 200,000 to 300,000 years ago by volcanic activity. The best panoramic view of the Pitons can be found in the fishing village of Soufriere.

If you are a fan of snorkelling and diving, head to “Anse Chastanet Marine National Park” where you can find all kinds of marine wildlife from corals, coloured sponges, soft corals, brain corals, Frogfish, goatfish, wrasse, parrotfish, and barracudas.

To see the some great waterfalls, head to Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens and Waterfall & Mineral Baths.

Other top things to do and see in Saint Lucia include Pigeon Island National Park, Edmund Rain Forest Reserve, Morne Coubaril Historical Adventure Park, Marigot Bay and Rodney Bay.

Saint Lucia beach and landscapes
© Alexander Shalamov | Dreamstime.com

7. Antigua

Antigua is one of the 2 major islands that make up the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda. Antigua is known for its endless sandy beaches, coral reefs, delicious food and iconic sceneries and views. In Antigua, you can visit a new beach literally every day of the year as it has 365 beaches!

While there, begin your journey with a hiking trip from Galleon Beach in English Harbour to the summit of Shirley Heights and witness the breathtaking views of the active volcano of Montserrat and the southern island of Guadeloupe. Later, head to the beaches of Half Moon Bay, Hawksbill beach, Dickenson Bay, or Galley Bay Beach.

Also, check the Devil’s Bridge (natural limestone arch), Betty’s hope museum, the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, Nelson’s Dockyard (English Harbour), and Antigua’s Rain Forest Canopy Tour.

Beautiful views of Antigua and its coast
© Sean Pavone | Dreamstime.com

8. Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a Caribbean Island with a beautiful landscape of rainforest, mountains, waterfalls, and the sea. What is great about Puerto Rico is the existence of its two extremes: where the activities can range from exploring the jungles of El Yunque, and ziplining through trees to checking the El Morro Fort (the 500-year-old walls) and shopping in Old San Juan Street.

Start your tour by taking a nice stroll through Old San Juan Street, where you can find many of the popular attractions like the Casa Blanca Museum, El Morro fort, Calle del Cristo, Calle de la Fortaleza, and Castillo San Cristóbal. There you can do lots of shopping and also find some great food to try as there are many street vendors selling a variety of foods and drinks. You’ll also find tours to help you explore this area and enjoy the best food.

One of the things that you will find very inspiring is the Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay where the water glows blue at night due to the organisms that live there called dinoflagellates. Other top things to see include Flamenco Beach, Sun Bay (Vieques), El Yunque National Forest, Carabalí Rainforest Park, Cueva Ventana and Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico.

Beaches in Puerto Rico
© Stevengaertner | Dreamstime.com

9. St. Martin – St. Maarten

Saint Martin includes 2 different countries, divided between its French side of Saint-Martin in the north, and Sint Maarten, the Dutch side in the south. The island is home to eventful resort beaches, private coves, fusion cuisine, vivacious nightlife, jewellery and liquor shops.

While there, enjoy the many beautiful free beaches like Mullet Bay Beach (St. Maarten), Cupecoy Beach (St. Maarten), Orient Bay (St. Martin), Maho Bay (St. Maarten) and Friar’s Bay (St. Martin). Go to the Front Street in Philipsburg (duty-free) where you can go shopping for all sorts of things, ranging from jewellery to electronics and more.

Make sure to also check St. Martin National Nature Reserve, the butterfly farm, Loterie Farm (St. Martin) and Pic du Paradis (St. Martin).

Saint Martin beaches
© Thierrydehove | Dreamstime.com

Summary:

If you are looking for a once in a lifetime trip, then be sure to visit the Caribbean islands. You will get to enjoy everything from great weather, sunshine, friendly people, golden beaches, natural wonders. As well as great food, drinks, water sports, breathtaking scenery beyond imagination and so many more adventures. Although there is a great number of islands in the Caribbean, make sure to keep the islands recommended in this article on your list!

The Island of Capri

The Island of Capri

Capri is definitely a dream destination that I had the pleasure visiting and exploring during the warm month of August. In this post, I will share my Capri experience along with the top-recommended places and activities to do there.

The Island of Capri is located in the Gulf of Naples off the southern coast of Italy, just a few miles from Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. The island is 10.4 square kilometers in land area.

1. Reaching Capri

The only way to reach Capri is by sea. If you are coming from Rome, you need to take a train to Naples and Sorrento (usually takes 1 hour on the fast train) where ferries depart from. During the summer months, there are also ferry routes from Positano, Ischia, and Salerno. For most of the year, vehicles are prohibited from embarking on the island, with the exception of residents and taxis.

The island is divided into two municipalities: Capri and Anacapri. The center of Capri town is about 150 meters above sea level while Anacapri is at a higher altitute. There are also two villages directly on the coast: Marina Grande (where the port is located) and Marina Piccola.

2. Getting around

During my trip, I decided to rent a moped (70 euros for 2 days) which made it easier to reach wherever I wanted. Moreover, there are frequent buses or taxis that you can use in case you decide not to rent a moped. Taxis can cost around 25- 30 euros from Marina Grande to Anacapri.

The bus routes are:

  • Capri – Anacapri
  • Capri – Marina Piccola
  • Capri – San Costanzo (Marina Grande)
  • Anacapri – Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto)
  • Anacapri – Faro (Lighthouse)

3. Activities

  • The Blue Grotto (Grotto Azzurra):

It is a sea cave on the coast of the island of Capri. You can swim inside the grotto and discover the magic; the light passing through the underwater cavity creates a charming baby-blue reflection that illuminates the cave.

Above the grotto, their is a cute bar (and the only bar) where you can leave your things and go swimming. Having drinks at this place is recommended as it is lays high on the cliff with a breathtaking view.

Blue Grotto Bar
  • Chair lift of Monte Solaro

Monte Solaro is the highest point on Capri. The lift is in Via Caposcuro in Anacapri, near Piazza Vittoria.

On the lift, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the splendid views of the Gulf of Naples with Vesuvius , the Gulf of Salerno, and Anacapri in the background.

  • Villa San Michele

This Villa is the life’s work of the Swedish physician and author Axel Munthe (1857–1949). It is surrounded by an impressive garden, which recently won the prize as Italy’s most beautiful private park. Behind it is the Barbarossa mountain that Axel Munthe turned into a sanctuary for migratory birds.

Villa San Michele houses an important art collection. The majority is of Roman, Etruscan or Egyptian origin, many are sculptures such as the fabled 3200-year-old sphinx.

  • Gardens of Augustus

If you are looking for a shortcut to enjoy Capri’s views but don’t have time to hike, then the Gardens of Augustus can solve this problem. From there you can spot the famous attractions like the Marina Piccola, Via Krupp and Faraglioni. The gardens are beautifully terraced, romantic and multileveled.

Entrance to the Gardens of Augustus will cost just 1 euro and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. from March till November.

  • Marina Grande
Marina Grande

Marina Grande is the first thing you see when you arrive to Capri by sea and is one of the most interconnected areas on the island. This town is a charming one with vast green surroundings and scenic landscapes all around. You can spend time discovering this town by walking around, having some lunch or dinner and enjoying the gorgeous beaches there.

  • Marina Piccola

If you are looking for a less busy town and relaxing location, then Marina Piccola is the place to be. You can have a relaxing beach day while sipping drinks at the beach or enjoying a nice cup of coffee from the many cafe’s and restaurants around. Marina Piccola also a offers a great view of Faraglioni and houses the popular Siren’s rock.

  • Piazza Umberto

The Piazza Umberto is also known as La Piazzetta and is one of the main centers of Capri. This place seems to always be busy in summer and is great for a nice stroll around, shopping, and having drinks.

4. Food!!

These are my restaurants suggestions:

  • Materita
  • L’ Angolo del Gusto
  • Ristorante e Pizzeria Verginiello
  • La Rosticceria Capri Pasta
  • Gelato at Buonocore

Summary:

Italy is blessed with great food, landscapes, history, architecture and beauty. It also houses a great deal of dreamy island getaways just like Capri. Capri is definitely the place to be if you are looking for a place to have a relaxing and dreamy vacation where you can enjoy a night at a beach-view hotel, delicious sea food, jaw-dropping sceneries, along with a relaxing beach day filled with sunshine and happiness.

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Beautiful Cities to Visit in Italy

Beautiful Cities to Visit in Italy

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

Whenever you think about a dreamy and romantic destination, Italy always seems to pop up in the suggestions. This is because Italy is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Not only is Italy beautiful but it is home to the most delicious cuisine, famous art, great culture, trendy fashion, and timeless historical monuments.

Italy is visited by millions of tourists every year and is one of the most visited countries in the world. The Bank of Italy estimated that tourism in Italy produces directly more than 5% of the GDP (Italian link). Moreover, Italy encompasses 55 World Heritage Sites making it higher than any other country in the world. If you are planning to visit Italy soon, make sure to visit these amazing cities below. Here are some of the beautiful cities to visit in Italy.

Rome

Rome is a city that everyone should visit once in their lifetime. This city is in itself a museum; walking around Rome is enough to take you back in time and give you this great overwhelming feeling. In Rome, you will casually see the huge Colosseum, the Vatican, the Pantheon, and the Roman forum, just by taking a stroll. Most of the famous landmarks are close to each other where you can discover each one on foot or by taking a tram.

While in Rome, visit some of the famous squares such as Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Navona, St.Peter’s Square, and Piazza di Spagna (Spanish steps). Also be sure to visit the pretty Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Piazza Navona fountain), Arch of Constantine (near the Colosseum), Altar of the Fatherland (Piazza Venezia), Castle Saint Angelo and the Palatine Hill.

Rome has over 900 churches, with a few of the most remarkable ones including Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, San Giovanni in Laterano, Pantheon and St. Peter’s Basilica. Do not forget to finish your day with a delicious Italian dinner and gelato anywhere in the city.

@katy.terroz

Matera

In Matera, it is all about caves; you can eat, sleep, shower, and drink in a cave. This place is extremely beautiful and has incredibly unique landscapes that makes it a special destination in Italy or even in the world. The history of Matera is crazy because this place was thought of in the past as the place of poverty, diseases where its people resided in these caves without sources of water, or electricity. Matera is a source of pride for Italy as it is now an UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts a great number of tourists each year.

The first thing to do in Matera is to discover it on foot and enjoy its unique and mesmerizing structures and hidden alleys where houses and churches are carved in stone and located in caves. Some of the historical things to see are the Palombaro Lungo, Duomo of Matera, Santa Maria de Idris Church, and Madonna delle Virtù. Make sure to check out the amazing Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario (cave house) and the Matera Museum of Contemporary Sculpture.

Matera is also known for its great hike to Parco della Murgia. The hike is very scenic and adventurous as you have to cross bridges and climb up some rocks. The view at the top is priceless; luscious greenery and mouth-dropping bird’s eye view of Matera.

Matera at sunrise
Photo 46630474 © minnystock | Dreamstime.com

Palermo

Palermo is the capital of the island of Sicily and was known as the “Kingdom of the Sun”. Sicily is actually the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Palermo is a warm and gorgeous island surrounded by a green mountain range. In Palermo, you can have a fantastic beach experience (Mondello Beach) where you can enjoy several water activities like Parasailing. Also, make sure to check the churches and chapels of Palermo, such as Palermo Cathedral, Capella Palatina, Martorana (Cathedral of St. Mary of the Admiral) and San Giovanni degli Eremiti.

The largest Opera House in Italy is actually located in Palermo and is known as Teatro Massimo. Sicily is also known for its delicious and cheap fresh food and markets; so, while there make sure to visit the markets of Ballaro, Cap and Vucciria which are located in the centre. Other things to look out for are the Palermo Archaeological Museum, Fontana Pretoria and the Capuchin Abbey and Catacombs. 

Palermo Cathedral exterior
Photo 24914602 © Ionut David | Dreamstime.com

Florence

Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region and is known to be home to several famous masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture. When in Florence, have a walk and check out the following squares:  Piazzale Michelangelo, Piazza Santo Spirito, Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Signoria. Make sure to visit the gorgeous churches and cathedrals such as Florence Cathedral, Basilica of Santa Croce, Baptistery of St. John, Giotto’s Bell Tower, and the church of Santa Maria Novella.

Florence is home to many famous pieces of art and museums. So, do not forget to visit the Da Vinci Museum, Galileo Museum, National Museum of Bargello, Archaeological National Museum, Casa di Dante Museum, and the dreamy Boboli Gardens.

It’s also worth noting a popular Florentine and Tuscan dish to try which is “Pappardelle Al Ragù Di Cinghiale”, a pasta dish with sauce and wild boar meat.

Florence skyline at sunset
Photo 44736988 © Rudi1976 | Dreamstime.com

Bergamo

Bergamo is a charming city located northeast of Milan, in the region of Lombardy known for its historic Venetian walls. While in Bergamo, hop on the old funicular to the old town (Citta Alta seen below) and stop to discover the beautiful squares of Piazza Matteotti, Via XX Settembre, and Piazza Vecchia.

Bergamo is known for its beautiful churches and cathedrals so make sure to visit the Basilica of St. Mary Major, Colleoni Chapel, San Michele al Pozzo Bianco, the Baptistery of St. Mary Major and the Cathedral of Sant’Alessandro. Other things to watch out for are the Museo di Scienze Naturali e Archeologico, Rocca Museum and Museo Donizettiano.

From Bergamo, you can enjoy a trip to the famous San Pellegrino Terme (Bergamo Alps), known for the production of the natural San Pellegrino sparkling water.

Citta Alta, Bergamo
Photo 137877493 © Krajinar | Dreamstime.com

Catania

Catania is also located in Sicily and is an archaic port city on the east coast. Catania is located at the base of Mount Etna which is an active volcano. There are actually guided tours to Etna where you go to the foot of the volcano and discover the area around and end the day with a sunset over the Volcano.

Catania has some amazing squares that you must check out on your walks, including Piazza del Duomo where you can find the city’s symbol: The Elephant’s Fountain, and Piazza dell’Universita where you can find Palazzo dell’Universita and the Palazzo San Giuliano. Behind the elephant fountain, you can find the great Catania Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Agatha.

There is a street (Via Crociferi) in Catania dubbed “the Church Street” since you can find several famous churches along it. Other things to visit include Villa Bellini, Catania Roman Theatre, Ursino Castle, Museum of Contemporary Art of Sicily, and the Catania Museum of Cinema.

St Agatha Cathedral of Catania, Sicily
Photo 77533511 © Evgeniy Fesenko | Dreamstime.com

Venice

When you hear the word Venice, you may immediately think about the gorgeous canals, colourful facades, beautiful architecture, and dreamy gondola rides. Venice is indeed a fairytale place to be as it is a small and compact city that has it all. When in Venice, visit the famous landmarks like San Marco Campanile (the tallest structure in Venice), St. Mark’s Square, Gallerie dell’Accademia, and Doges Palace. Make sure to take a boat or gondola ride along the beautiful Grand Canal and discover Venice from the waters.

Also, visit the town of Murano (island town) where many famous sights like the Basilica of Saint Mary and Saint Donatus, and the Palazzo Da Mula are located. Do not forget to check the churches of St. Mark, Santa Maria Assunta, and Santa Maria della Salute. Also nearby is the picturesque Burano which is just a little bit further than Murano and easily accessible through water taxi or a tour.

Venice Night

Parma

Parma is a university-city located in the Emilia-Romagna region, famous for the delicious and vastly used Parmesan cheese and Parma ham. So, if you are all about cheese and ham, Parma is the place to be. You can visit the “Parmigiano Reggiano Factories” and take a tour to uncover the elaborate art behind the Parmesan cheese making. During the tour, you will see how the cheese is made and stored, followed by a cheese and local wine tasting.

Other “un-cheesy” things to do in Parma are several. Visit the Piazza del Duomo where you can find the Parma cathedral, and the Baptistery (1196 by Benedetto Antelami). Other churches to visit are St. John the Evangelist Church, the Shrine of Santa Maria della Steccata, Santa Croce, and the Baroque church of Santissima Annunziata.

A few other highlights include Teatro Farnese, Teatro Regio (Royal Theater), Palazzo della Pilotta, the National Gallery, Parco Ducale (the Ducal Palace), and Castello dei Burattini.

Piazza Duomo in Parma
Photo 71635093 © Sergey Dzyuba | Dreamstime.com

Cagliari

Cagliari is the capital of the beautiful island region of Sardinia. Cagliari is actually called “Casteddu” in Sardinian language, translated to mean castle. Sardinia is a dream destination due to its cyan crystal-clear waters, amazing nature, and great warm weather. While in Cagliari, take a stroll in the historical medieval center including Villanova, Castello, Stampace, and Marina. In the center, you will get to indulge in the beautiful scenes of churches, domes, palaces, and towers.

Later, visit the great churches located in Cagliari; Nostra Signora di Bonaria Basilica, the Santa Maria Cathedral (Cagliari Cathedral) where you can find the crypt which stands as one of the most fascinating places to see in the center. Also, make sure to visit the Roman Amphitheater of Cagliari, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Palazzo Viceregio, the Monumental Cemetery of Bonaria, and Palazzo Civico. You can also enjoy a beach day at the Poetto beach followed by a wildlife hike in Parco di Molentargius, which is situated next to the Poetta beach.

Cagliari in Sardinia
Photo 961304 © Noel Marc | Dreamstime.com

Summary:

Italy is a great place to be in any season or time. It is blessed with everything from beauty, nature, landscapes, history, weather, culture, cuisine, and great architecture; it is a place for everyone. The cities mentioned are wonderful escapes; home to the most delicious food, most famous artists and architects, historic landmarks that stood time, endless beaches, great activities, and gorgeous natural landscapes. These will make any trip a “great vacation”.

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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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7 Top Reasons to Visit Cyprus

7 Top Reasons to Visit Cyprus

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

Cyprus is a remarkable place to visit. It is officially known as the Republic of Cyprus and is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea with Nicosia city as the capital. In fact, Cyprus is one of the largest and most populated islands in the Mediterranean Sea with an area of 9,251 square km. It has been said that the famous Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love, was born in Cyprus.

Cyprus offers several things to do and is a perfect holiday destination especially as it’s among the safest places in the world. Below are seven of the best and most important reasons to visit the beautiful island country of Cyprus.

Its Clean Beaches

Cyprus is famous for its white-sand beaches and crystal-clear cyan waters. The waters are exceptionally clean and over 60 of its beaches have been granted the prestigious Blue Flag high-quality standard award. For a small island, this number is exceedingly high.

Some of the best beaches to visit include Nissi Beach (Ayia Napa), Coral Bay (Paphos), Fig Tree Bay (Protaras), Konnos Bay (between Protaras and Ayia Napa), Makronissos Beach (Ayia Napa), Blue Lagoon Beach (Paphos), and Aphrodite’s Rock and Beach (Between Paphos and Limassol).

Beaches in Cyprus
Photo 147667100 © Oleh Panasenko | Dreamstime.com

Its Rich History

Cyprus has a rich history older than 10,000 years. This island country has been inhabited since prehistoric times, as revealed in the excavations in the Neolithic village of Khirokitia (Choirokoitia) which now stands as an UNESCO World Heritage site.

Some of the other top historical places to check out include Ancient Kourion, St. Hilarion Castle, Skala (Turkish Quarter), Agios Lazaros (Church of St. Lazarus), the Cyprus Museum, Ancient Salamis, Kolossi Castle, and the House of Dionysus.

Khirokitia (Choirokoitia) in Cyprus
Photo 68992174 © Debu55y | Dreamstime.com

The Delicious Cuisine

Cyprus’s cuisine is quite different and delicious as it is located at a crossroad of 3 continents: Asia, Europe, and Africa. This makes the cuisine favourable and exotic in comparison to other cuisines. It is somewhat similar to Greek food which is known for its freshness and great taste.

Traditional Cypriot foods that anyone must try are the famous souvlakia, afella, fried halloumi cheese, Sheftalia, juicy olives, kolokasi, warm pitta bread, artichokes, stifado, and several chickpea and yoghurt dishes.

The desserts of course are not to be missed and include pudding pies like galaktoboureko or mahalepi. As for drinks, you must try their sweet wine (Commandaria), ouzo, filfar, and anise brandy.

Gemista dish of stuffed peppers
Photo 76968423 © Konstantin Kopachinskii | Dreamstime.com

The Spectacular Weather

The weather in this island country is spectacular and sunny almost all year long. The weather in Cyprus is known to be the most steady and warmest in Europe with an average temperature of 24 degrees yearly. Amazingly, this island has a standard of 3000 sunny hours per year making it a great destination to visit.

So, whether you want to take your vacation in summer or winter, it will not be a problem in Cyprus. You can go for a holiday all year long and enjoy the beautiful warm climate and sunshine. Crazy enough, you can also go skiing on the slopes of Mount Olympus if you feel like, which is a popular site for Cypriot locals.

BBQ on a cruise ship

The Nature, Cities and Towns

Cyprus has a beautiful and lush nature, with fantastic towns and villages surrounded by historical monuments, heritage, mountains, and gorgeous landscapes. In fact, the whole town of Paphos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The other places which are worthy of checking are Peyia, Ayia Napa, Limassol, Protaras, Nicosia (split between Greek and Turkish Cyprus), and Larnaca.

Cyprus is blessed with beautiful rock formations, turquoise coasts, white soft sandy beaches, amazing caves and rich mountains, along with forests with rivers, lakes and waterfalls running around them.

Paphos in Cyprus
Photo 63637473 © Leonid Andronov | Dreamstime.com

The Great Party Life

Cyprus is known for its nightlife and parties which attracts a lot of younger people every year. The party capital is Ayia Napa which has several bars and more than 10 nightclubs. The drinks are also pretty affordable and so is the entrance fee.

The parties host famous DJs from all over the world and are usually held on open-air stages. The craziest and best parties are usually held during the summer months, from June to August.

Club scene

The Cultural Diversity

Cyprus consists of a population that is mainly made of Greeks (78%) and 18% made of Turks.
Cyprus’s capital Nicosia is so unique as it is the only divided capital in the world where the northern part is mostly occupied by Turks and the southern side is mainly inhabited by Greeks. In fact, Turkish Cypriots have self-declared an autonomous state named the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (only recognized by Turkey).

So, when you visit Cyprus, you can almost visit another country (Turkey); 2 in 1. The people of Cyprus are also very friendly, helpful, and warm like their weather. This cultural diversity gives Cyprus its unique characteristics and vibes.

Summary:

Cyprus is a gorgeous island to visit for a holiday or vacation. This country island is so inviting and will guarantee you a special experience. In Cyprus, you can have the best time and enjoy the beaches, the food, the party, the drinks, the friendly people, the perfect warm weather, and the gorgeous nature of the island.



10 Best Day Trips to Take from Rome

10 Best Day Trips to Take from Rome

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

Rome is a great place to be for many reasons. Not only is Rome the eternal city with its stunning buildings and monuments, priceless art, and delicious cuisine, but it is also central and close to many of Italy’s other gems.

Below, are 10 of the best day trips to take from Rome, perfect for adding incredible experiences when you are in the eternal city. These places are breathtaking and will surely present you with the authentic “La Dolce Vita” vibe that you are seeking.

1. Amalfi Coast & Positano

The Amalfi Coast is a massive 50 km spread of coastline in the Campania region. If you are driving there, you will get to enjoy some gorgeous scenery of its villas, terraced cliffs, charming gardens, lemon fields, and great beaches. You can also go to the Amalfi coast by taking the train to Salerno which is a beautiful place worth stopping for a few hours to check out.

The Amalfi coast is famous for its massive grapefruit-sized lemons that are the main ingredient for the popular Limoncello drink which you, of course, must try. The best part about the Amalfi coast is that it is home to the photogenic Positano village.

Positano was a former fishing village and is now the go-to romantic holiday destination for its luxurious and scenic hotels, colourful buildings, and delicious restaurants. Discover Positano on foot and witness its beautiful and small art galleries, its cute little shops, restaurants, and the famous Santa Maria church. You can also enjoy The Path of the Gods “Sentiero Degli Dei” hiking/walking trail.

2. Turano

Lago di Turano is beautiful and almost looks unrealistic. It is so gorgeous that it has been used several times as a film location during the filming of “The Patron” movie starring Lucio Dalla. Turano is just 1 hour & 20 minutes away from Rome by car. You can also reach it using a special bus that goes to Rieti.

All you need to do when you arrive is spread a picnic blanket and just enjoy the view of the mountains surrounding the turquoise-coloured lake, all while eating some fresh pizza prepared by the artisanal bakeries nearby. Turano lake is a great location to tan and then cool off with a dip in the beautiful lake. You can also check the delicious restaurants located in Castel Di Tora nearby.

Location: See on Google Maps

3. Naples and Pompeii

Naples is located in southern Italy and is one of the most unique destinations close to Rome and is also the birthplace of pizza. While in Naples, check Galleria Umberto I, Saint Carlo theatre, Naples Cathedral, Capodimonte royal palace and museum, the National Archaeological Museum, the veiled Christ at Cappella Sansevero, and Castel dell’Ovo.

Later, have a walk along the beautiful Piazza del Plebiscito, and Spaccanapoli (street) which is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and enjoy the traditional pizzerias and pastry shops, the historic monuments, and churches in this gorgeous city.

One of the most famous attractions in Naples is Mount Vesuvius, which is a still-active volcano that destroyed the Roman town of Pompeii (the most famous archaeological excavation site in Italy). Take a train from Naples to see the incredible ruins of Pompeii. Pompeii is approx 17.3 miles (28 km) from Naples and would take you around 30 to 40 minutes to reach.

View of Naples in Italy

4. Sorrento

Sorrento is a city with beautiful sloping terraces decorated with cultivations of oranges, grapevines, lemons, and olives. It is a gorgeous city that overlooks Naples’s bay, the great Vesuvius volcano, and the islands of Ischia, Capri, and Procida can be seen in the far distance.

You can reach Sorrento by using a bus from Rome. Buses depart each day from Roma Tiburtina station. You can also reach Sorrento by taking a train from Naples. You could also explore Sorrento through a tour such as seen below.

While in Sorrento, take a walk along the old town centre and Piazza Tasso where you can find great shops, cute café’s, restaurants, and many bright yellow local limoncello shops. You can also enjoy a great beach day in the unique beach clubs. These are built on decks out into the water.

5. Capri

Capri is definitely a dream destination. The Island of Capri is located just a few miles from Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. The only way to reach the island of Capri is by sea. If you are coming from Rome, you need to take a train to Naples and Sorrento (usually takes 1 hour on the fast train) where ferries depart from. During the summer months, there are also ferry routes from Positano, Ischia, and Salerno. You can of course also take a tour (see below).

The island is divided into two municipalities: Anacapri and Capri. The centre of Capri town is about 150 meters above sea level while Anacapri is at a higher altitude. There are also two villages directly on the coast: Marina Grande and Marina Piccola.

While in Capri, have a boat tour around the island and discover the quaint Blue Grotto. You can also, go up Mount Solaro with a chairlift to see a breathtaking view from the top. Check out the Sphinx at Villa San Michele, which is a villa built by Axel Munthe, a Swedish physician and writer. This villa has one of the most scenic views of Capri. Later, have a stroll in the centre of Anacapri where you can go shopping for unique clothing and gifts. At night, cool off in the “Piazzetta” with a drink and dinner in the amazing restaurants around.

6. Florence

Florence is Tuscany’s capital and is a dazzling place and also within reach of Rome. You can easily reach Florence by a comfy train ride from Rome which are 162 miles apart. If you want to reach there in less than 2 hours, use the available high-speed trains. Florence is a picturesque place and home to several famous art pieces and architecture from the Renaissance era.

While in Florence, you must check the iconic Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo di Firenze), The Uffizi, Galleria dell’Accademia, Giardino Bardini and Piazzale Michelangelo. Have a stroll in Florence’s center and enjoy the central markets and Piazza Santo Spirito where you can find fresh pastas, pizzas, truffle bars, delicious wines, and leather shops.

7. Bracciano

Bracciano is a small quaint town in Lazio. It is located only 50 minutes away from Rome by car and 1 hour by train. The town is famous for its volcanic lake, Lago di Bracciano, with its black, sparkly and smooth sand. The lake is surrounded by beautiful medieval towns, lush green mountains, and great architecture.

Bracciano also has a famous palace, Castello Orsini-Odescalchi which is known for holding the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. The lake is besieged by charming aperitif places where you can have drinks with some delicious local food. You can also have a nice lunch or dinner inside the town away from the lake.

Location: See on Google Maps

8. Tivoli

Who knew that a 3-euro train ticket from Rome can take you to this little haven called Tivoli? Tivoli is a small town in Lazio located 1 hour and 25 minutes away by train and 40 mins away by car from Rome.

While in Tivoli, make sure to visit the 16th-century Villa d’Este famous for its terraced hillside Italian Renaissance garden and especially for its plethora of fountains. The Villa is now an Italian state museum and is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. This villa is one of the most beautiful villas you can visit.

Do not forget to check The Temple of Vesta, Villa Gregoriana, Hadrian’s Villa and Rocca Pia. Head to Via delle Cascatelle, a walkway surrounded by the amazing views of waterfalls that cascade in the northern part of Tivoli.

9. Sperlonga

Sperlonga is the perfect getaway since in a way it resembles a little Greece. The vibe is amazing, and the water is crystal clear. Sperlonga was awarded a Blue flag status for high water quality and standards. You can immediately feel that you are far away from the stress of the city.

How to get there? Take the regional train headed to Naples from Roma Termini station and then get off at Fondi-Sperlonga. Once there, take the Piazzoli bus for 20 minutes to Sperlonga (€1.50 bus ticket – note the price may change). While there, enjoy a relaxing beach day with some cold prosecco and then have lunch at the many tasty and fresh seafood restaurants.

10. Anzio/Nettuno

Anzio and Nettuno are only 10 minutes apart and are easily reached from Rome’s termini station in 60 to 70 minutes.

How to get there? One train per hour leaves from Termini station, stopping first at Anzio and then at Nettuno. Anzio was also awarded a Blue Flag status for its high-quality waters.

While in Anzio/Nettuno, enjoy a great beach day and then have a stroll in the centre where you can find many local products made fresh daily. You can get a delicious panino (sandwich) with fresh mozzarella di bufala for just 5 euros.

Summary:

If you are planning to visit Rome over the summer, then these day trips will guarantee you the trip of a lifetime. Rome is not only a great place to be because of its beauty and perfect temperature, but it is also blessed to be close to many of Italy’s “bucket list” destinations and which are crazy beautiful. So, when planning your trip to Rome, you must try and include these day trips on your list!

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.

Lebanon Road Trip Guide 2021: A 1-Week Itinerary Through All the Highlights

Lebanon Road Trip Guide 2021: A 1-Week Itinerary Through All the Highlights

With just an area of 10,452 square kilometers (4,036 sq mi), Lebanon is a country that you must visit. Lebanon is actually the oldest country name in the world, remaining unchanged for over 4,000 years. Recently, National Geographic declared it as one of the world’s oldest countries.

When you think of the middle east, you usually tend to imagine a desert. However, Lebanon is the only Arabian/Asian country that does not have a desert but actually has a huge seacoast from North to south, 16 rivers, 13 nature reserves, 28 protected forests, 17 natural sites, and even some islands. Lebanon is charming and would only take 1 week or even less to discover its beautiful places and popular locations! 

I will present a guide to a 1-week road trip in Lebanon.

  • Day 1: Beirut
  • Day 2: Jounieh / Jeita / Byblos
  • Day 3: Batroun / Chekka
  • Day 4: Anfeh / Tripoli 
  • Day 5:  Bcharré and the Qadisha Valley
  • Day 6: Baalbek / Aanjar
  • Day 7: Marjaayoun / Saida / Tyre

*This article was originally written for A World To Travel (www.aworldtotravel.com)

You can find the rest of the article here: https://www.aworldtotravel.com/lebanon-road-trip-itinerary/