Everybody has their favourite holiday destination, whether it’s watching the Caribbean sunset from a beach-side bar, hiking into the Alaskan wilderness or wildlife spotting from a balloon over the Masai Mara.
But according to the latest poll completed by millions of Trip Advisor reviewers, it’s city breaks that really hit the spot, in particular these five modern staples of the travel connoisseur’s diet.
1. Istanbul, Turkey
A city of domes and minarets, Istanbul is at the meeting place of eastern and western culture on the historic Silk Road. In fact, the famous Bosphorus Strait splits Istanbul into two, with Europe on the west and Asia on the right. Turkey’s largest city is renowned for its colourful and fragrant bazaars, luxurious baths (or ‘hammams’) and amazing architecture. Be sure to visit:
- The Hagia Sophia – Formerly a Greek Orthodox church, the Hagia Sophia is now a museum renowned for its collection of Christian and Islamic mosaics.
- The Blue Mosque – So named on account of the tiles adorning its interior walls, the Blue (or ‘Sultan Ahmed’) Mosque can be seen from most parts of Istanbul.
- Sultanahment District – this old shopping district houses the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace, and is a hive of activity. Sample a Turkish coffee, and maybe buy some local spice to take home with you.
2. Rome, Italy
One of the oldest cities in Europe, the ‘Eternal City’ is considered by many to be the birthplace of western civilisation. A city steeped in history and a renowned centre of painting, music and sculpture, Rome continues to capture the imagination of those who think about her, and the heart of those who visit. Don’t miss taking in:
- The Colosseum – built in AD72 and with a capacity of 50,000, the awe-inspiring Colosseum is certain to capture your imagination as you contemplate the dreadful but spectacular contests that must have taken place inside.
- Villa Borghese – an oasis of beauty and peace, Villa Borghese is the third largest public park in Rome adorned with trees, lakes and galleries galore.
- The Capitoline Museums – built in 1734, the Capitoline museums are the oldest public galleries in Rome and most of the artefacts are from the city itself.
3. London, England
The thriving multicultural capital of the UK, there is something for everyone in London. With its continuing royal legacy, history on every corner, the cream of the nation’s museums and a top class restaurant scene and nightlife, it’s no wonder that London attracts more international arrivals than any other city in the world. Next time you visit, take a trip to:
- The Tower of London – a place of contrasts where you can stare open-mouthed at the opulence of the Crown Jewels before embarking on a Beefeater’s tour of the dungeons with their gruesome history. Don’t forget to count the resident ravens – there should be seven.
- Buckingham Palace – 19 of the palace’s 775 rooms are open to the public, a perfect opportunity to get up close and personal to British royalty. Far from a dusty relic, Buckingham Palace is the busy administrative HQ of the monarchy.
- The West End – the hub of London’s entertainment scene, the West End is noted for its musicals. Treat yourself to a ticket before you leave.
4. Beijing, China
Ancient and modern China rubs shoulders in Beijing and the legacy of the ancient Ming and Qing dynasties is as keenly felt as the modern expansion overseen by the People’s Republic. A city of temples, fortifications, parks, palaces and tombs, Beijing is certain to leave a lasting impression. No trip to Beijing is complete without a visit to:
- The Forbidden City – the earthly counterpart of the celestial emperor’s abode, no-one could enter the city without the Emperor’s permission, hence its name. Home to the Palace Museum.
- The Temple of Heaven – the Temple of Heaven is unmistakeable with its triple-gabled roof. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests was positioned using the Chinese art of Feng Shui.
- The Hutongs – the iconic narrow alleyways with their courtyards and single storey dwellings are gradually being demolished but are a fascinating glimpse into traditional Beijing.
5. Prague, Czech Republic
With its spires, capolas and gardens reflected in the Vltava River, Prague is among the most beautiful cities in the world. Its varied architecture includes buildings in the Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque styles, charting Prague’s development through the ages. While in the city, don’t miss out on:
- Beer – Prague is famed for its beer, and many Czech nationals proclaim it the best in the world. That’s where the agreement ends though, with each town or city arguing that its beverage is the best in the country.
- The Astronomical Clock – can you work out the occult mysteries supposedly hidden in its intricate design? Either way, make sure you hang around for the religious drama enacted by animated figures that emerge every hour.
- The DOX Centre – less than a decade old, the respected DOX Centre plays host to some powerful, thought-provoking pieces of modern art.
Following closely behind these top 5 holiday destinations comes:
6. Marrackech, Morocco
7. Paris, France
8. Hanoi, Vietnam
9. Siem Reap, Cambodia
10. Shanghai, China
Whether you are looking for European or Worldwide travel these destinations get you exploring new cultures.