Located in Southern Europe, this boot-shaped country is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations for a number of reasons that include art treasures, trendy fashion, stunning landscapes, passionate people and top-class cuisine. Italy offers so much to see and do that it would take a lifetime to explore. An overview of the best places to visit in Italy:

10Naples
Naples
Naples Climate

One of the busiest metropolitan cities in the country, Naples is the capital of the Campania region in Southern Italy. The city of Naples offers a treasure trove of art works and historic sites as well as a vibrant atmosphere of shops, restaurants and nightlife venues. Many favorite Italian foods originated from here such as pizza, spaghetti and parmigiana. These dishes are taken seriously in Naples and usually feature fresh, locally grown ingredients. As it is nearby famous sites like the Bay of Naples and Pompeii, Naples presents an ideal base to stay while exploring the area.

Book Now: 3-Day Italy Trip: Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri

9Italian Lake District
Italian Lake District

The Italian Lake District stretches across Northern Italy. The southern ends of most of the lakes are relatively flat but the northern ends are mountainous as the lakes reach deep into the Alps. Popular with tourists for over 100 years, the Italian Lakes combine good weather with attractive scenery. Garda is the largest lake, and offers stunning scenery, especially in its mountainous northern stretches. Como is equally stunning, with forested slopes rising directly from the water’s edge. Further west, Maggiore is less popular yet just as beautiful, with several popular family resorts.

Book Now: 4-Day Italian Lakes and Verona Tour from Milan

8Sicily
Sicily

The largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily is an autonomous region of Italy that also includes several smaller isles. It is separated from the mainland region of Calabria by the 5 km (2 miles) Straits of Messina. Home to every great Mediterranean civilization, Sicily is rich in art and history; from Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples to Palermo’s Baroque churches. The island’s most striking geological feature is Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano.

Book Now: 5-Day Eastern Sicily Tour from Palermo to Taormina: Mt Etna, Syracuse and Agrigento

7Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre

Meaning “Five Lands,” Cinque Terre comprises the five villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, Monterosso and Corniglia. Located in Italy’s northwestern coastal region of Liguria, the villages of Cinque Terre feature some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes that include steep cliff sides and wine terraces dating back to hundreds of years. Among its many gems, Cinque Terre boasts a centuries-old complex of hiking paths that offer some of Italy’s most stunning coastal views. The Blue Trail is a paved trail connecting all five of the villages and is suitable for all ages.

6Milan
Milan
Milan Climate

Nearly destroyed from heavy bombing during WWII, Milan has since reconstructed and now shines as one of the wealthiest cities in Europe. Widely regarded as a mega fashion center teeming in designer shops, Milan also attracts many to its surviving world famous treasures like Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, The Last Supper, the La Scala Opera House, the Castello Sforzesco and one of the world’s largest Gothic cathedral. Nonetheless, Milan sometimes appears less Italian compared to the country’s predominantly historic cities and more of a glamorous city with modern architecture.

5Amalfi Coast
Amalfi Coast

Situated in Italy’s southwestern region of Campania, the Amalfi Coast is known for its extraordinary beauty that makes it one of Italy’s top tourist destinations. Stretching 30 miles along the southern side of the Sorrento Peninsula, the Amalfi Coast is prized for its picturesque coastline that features shimmering bays, craggy cliffs, lemon tree gardens, multicolored villas and ritzy resorts. One of the most romantic and posh towns along the Amalfi Coast is Positano with its beautiful pebbled beaches, pastel houses and scenic mountains. One of the larger towns, Amalfi, features lovely plazas lined with restaurants while the town of Ravello is favored for its beautiful villas of gardens and art works.

4Pompeii

One of Italy’s most visited tourist destinations, Pompeii is a famous Roman city which was buried under several feet of volcanic ash for nearly 1,700 years after the cataclysmic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Excavation of Pompeii began in 1748, and the site is yet to be totally unearthed. The site is located near the modern city of Naples. A tour of Pompeii offers a fascinating insight into the everyday life of the ancient Roman world. Visitors can walk along the ancient streets to see the remains of bakeries, brothels and baths.

Book Now: 3-Day Italy Trip: Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri

3Venice
Venice
Venice Climate

One of the best places to visit in Italy, Venice is a unique city in that is built upon a lagoon surrounded by the Adriatic Sea. Located in northeastern Italy, Venice is an archipelago of 118 islands all connected by hundreds of beautiful bridges and scenic canals. Of the canals, the Grand Canal is most famous and divides the city into two sections. Picturesque waterways and historic architecture make Venice one of the most romantic cities in the world. Venice is often crowded but well worth visiting to see its magnificent landmarks like Saint Mark’s Square and Basilica, Doge’s Palace and Rialto Bridge. One of the most popular things to do is to take a gondola ride along one of its many canals.

Book Now: 5-Day Best of Italy Trip from Rome – Assisi, Siena, Florence, Bologna & Venice

2Tuscany
Tuscanyflickr/imagea.org

Italy’s most famous region, Tuscany conjures images of beautiful rolling hills, olive groves, vineyards and cypress trees. The many pleasures of Tuscany include tasting wine in Chianti, simply relaxing in hill towns such as San Gimignano or exploring Renaissance art in Florence. The medieval city of Siena also holds excellent works of art while its historic center is one of the most popular places to visit in Italy. Elba, the largest of several Tuscan islands, offers great beaches while Pisa is world-famous for its Leaning Tower.

Book Now: 4-Day Tuscany and Cinque Terre Tour from Rome

1Rome
#1 of Best Places To Visit In Italy
Rome Climate

Formerly the capital of the Roman Empire, Rome today is the government seat and capital city of Italy. Located in the country’s central region of Lazio, Rome is a vast and complex city that is both historic and modern at the same time. Best known for housing ancient Roman structures and the Vatican City, Rome has endured for more than 2,500 years as an important center for culture, power and religion. From ancient romantic plazas to stunning cathedrals and Renaissance architecture, there is so much to see and do in Rome, that it could take months or even years to see it all.

History comes alive in Germany in a way that it never will in textbooks. History, from the Holy Roman Empire to the Third Reich, can be found in every corner of Germany. It’s a land of castles that seem romantic now but probably weren’t that way to their original occupants. Listen to music by some of the world’s finest classical composers from Wagner to Beethoven. Two weeks in Germany gives you ample time to sample lusty beers, fine wines and the sausage this county is so famous for.

Berlin (3 nights); Start in Germany

Brandenburg Gate

Berlin has been around since the 13th century, giving it an historic aura. Berlin was heavily bombed during World War II, but has bounced back, becoming once again the capital of a unified Germany and home to outstanding cultural events, including concerts (try to get tickets to the Berlin Philharmonic). The Reichstag is perhaps the most important building you’ll see in Berlin; it’s where Germany’s parliament meets. Another must-see is the imposing 18th century Brandenburg Gate that is symbolic of Berlin. An important modern monument is the Berlin Wall that surrounded West Berlin during the Cold War Years. Most of the wall came tumbling down in 1989, but a memorial still contains a portion of it.

See Also: Where to Stay in Berlin

Dresden (1 night)

Dresden

Dresden, the former home of Saxon kings, is perhaps the newest “old” city you’ll ever visit. This centuries-old beautiful city was heavily bombed during World War II. Located on the Elbe River, many of the historic buildings in Dresden have been rebuilt. Today, it’s one of the greenest cities in Europe, with 63 percent of the land in parks and greenways. It has resumed its status as a cultural center, home to very fine art collections, with 12 museums making up the Dresden State Art Collections. If you’d rather walk around the city, Dresden has 13,000 monuments just waiting to be photographed.

See Also: Where to Stay in Dresden

Nuremberg (1 night)

Nuremberg

Nuremburg got its start as an imperial castle in the 11th century, but today is better known for its spectacular Christmas market and the trials of Nazi war criminals following World War II. Located in Bavaria, the old city was important to the science of astronomy. One of the city’s attractions includes the house of Albrecht Durer, who made one of the first maps of the stars. With a strong grounding in culture, Nuremberg is home to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, with its 1.2 million objects making it the largest cultural history museum in Germany. If medieval fortifications are your bag, then a visit to Nuremberg Castle is a must; it’s one of the most formidable fortresses in Europe.

See Also: Where to Stay in Nuremberg

Wurzburg (stopover)

Wurzburg

Situated in northern Bavaria, Wurzburg makes a good stopover when traveling between Nuremberg and Rothenburg. If you have only enough time to see one thing, make it the Wurzburger Residenz, an imposing 18th century complex that is a local landmark. The former royal palace contains a church that is filled with art, including a noteworthy fresco, said to be the world’s largest, by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. The centerpiece of the palace, however, is the Emperor’s Hall that stresses the town’s links with the Holy Roman Empire.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (2 nights)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Take a step back into time as you visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber, part of the Romantic Road in southern Germany. Located in Bavaria, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is famous for its extremely well preserved old town. The name of the city, which dates back to the 10th century, translates as “fortress on the Tauber River.” The wall still surrounds the city; the western gate is very picturesque. Be sure to visit the Rathaus, the seat of city government since medieval times. Climb the steps of the hall’s tower for stunning views of the city. The city also is known for its Criminal Museum detailing punishments over the last thousand years.

See Also: Where to Stay in Rothenburg

Munich (3 nights)

Munich

Munich is famous for a number of things, including its beer and its Glockenspiel. It’s possible to take in both with a visit to Marienplatz, the city’s main square. Munich’s No. 1 tourist attraction, the Glockenspiel goes off daily at 11 a.m. (more often in the summer) from the new city hall tower. Following this performance, wander around the square for awhile then find a beer hall for a glass of Munich’s finest. Other top attractions in Munich include the Deutches Museum for science, the Englisher Garden, Olympic Park and the Pinakothek art museums. Take time to remember the past with a solemn visit to Dachau, Germany’s first concentration camp that is located in a quiet Munich suburb.

See Also: Where to Stay in Munich

Füssen (day trip from Munich)

The popular day trip from Munich, Füssen is castle country, with one of the most famous being Neuschwanstein. Considered the mother of all German castles, Neuschwanstein was the inspiration for the castle in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Bavarian King Ludwig II built the Romanesque revival castle on the ruins of two older castles to be his private retreat. Views of southwestern Bavaria are stunning, so be sure to go on a sunny day. Visitors should be prepared to walk to get to the castle. It takes about a half hour to walk there from the village (get your tickets before you make the climb). Horse-and-carriage and shuttle buses also are options, but do not go all the way up to the castle.

Heidelberg (1 night)

Heidelberg

Heidelberg is a picturesque town, part of Germany’s Romantic Road, on the River Neckar. World-famous for Heidelberg University, the town has much to offer tourists. There’s Heidelberg Castle, with its Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles, and a long, narrow old town with a pedestrian street lined with Baroque buildings. A good place to view the castle and old town is from Philosophers’ Walk on the north side of the river. The Church of the Holy Spirit is a building in Heidelberg that survived many wars over the centuries, and has been used by both Protestants and Catholics.

See Also: Where to Stay in Heidelberg

Frankfurt (2 nights)

Old buildings in Frankfurt

The largest financial centers in continental Europe, Frankfurt is home to lots of trade fairs and is one of the most important transportation hubs in the country. It’s therefore one of the best places to enter or leave Germany. All major airlines fly frequently to Frankfurt and connect it to every continent and major city in the world. It also boasts several things for tourists to see and do. It is home to Kaiserdom, the historic building where German kings and emperors were crowned from the 14th century on. The Imperial Cathedral, known formally as St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral, was built in the 14th century. The Romerberg, or heart of the city, is a must-see; it was considered one of the most beautiful squares in the Holy Roman Empire. The Romer, a Frankfurt landmark, has been home to the city government for more than six centuries.

See Also: Where to Stay in Frankfurt

Rhine Valley Cruise (day trip from Frankfurt)

Rhine Valley

A cruise on the Rhine River is the perfect way to end your 2 weeks in Germany. It’s time to rest feet that have grown weary after walking on cobblestone streets and through museums. Relax as your cruise boat glides past castles that sit on hills above the river. Sample some fine German wines as the steamer passes by vineyards and quaint villages. Fill your eyes with stunning scenery as you reminisce about this awesome country.

Everyone should go to France at least once in their lives. Once you get there, deciding what to see and do could be an enjoyable challenge. France is noted for its food (and wines), fashion and fun. The country offers incredible beauty, from the ocean to the mountains, not to mention the rolling hills covered with vineyards, If that’s not enough, there are great art museums, World War I and II battlefields now serenely at peace and famous chateaux. This sample itinerary for 2 weeks in France makes a great introduction to this amazing country.

Paris (3 nights)

Notre Dame de Paris

Paris, aka the City of Light, is an excellent place to begin your immersion in French culture. The top sights you’ll want to see are the iconic Eiffel Tower; the Louvre, home to some of the world’s greatest art, and the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Follow this with soaking up the atmosphere in Montmartre, and strolling along the Seine River and the Champs-Elysees, the world’s most famous boulevard. Rest your tired feet over some wine or café at an outdoor café while planning more sightseeing, such as a visit to the Arc de Triomphe, one of Paris’ most famous monuments.

See Also: Where to Stay in Paris

Versailles (day trip from Paris)

Versailles

Escape the hubbub of Paris with a day trip to the Palace of Versailles. Once a small village, Versailles today is a suburb where wealthy Parisians live. Prior to the French Revolution in 1789, it was the political power base of French royalty. The palace as we know it today started out as a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII. The palace fell into disrepair after the revolution but has since been restored to its former grandeur. Now you’ll see rich furnishings in the former royal apartments, the Hall of Mirrors that is probably the palace’s most famous room, and lush gardens that beg to be strolled in.

Mont St-Michel (1 night)

Mont St-Michel

The castle/abbey/monastery on Mont St-Michel is one of France most famous landmarks. It is an island about a quarter-mile from land on the coast of Normandy and served as a defensive site as far back as the sixth century. It’s reachable by foot when the tide is low, but anyone out there when the high tide starts rolling in could very well be swept out to sea. You don’t have to worry about this, however, as it is reachable today by a raised causeway. The Gothic abbey, built in the 11th century, is dedicated to the archangel St. Michael. Over the centuries, a small village was established on the island.

See Also: Where to Stay in Mont-St-Michel

Bayeux (2 nights)

d-day beaches

Bayeux is famous for at least two things: the Bayeux Tapestry and the D-Day beaches of World War II. The incredible Bayeux Tapestry, possibly made in England, commemorates the Norman conquest of Britain in 1066. Today, it hangs in the Bayeux Cathedral. Bayeux is a starting point for a tour of the beaches where Allied forces landed in Normandy to begin pushing back the Nazis on land. On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 soldiers landed on an 80-km (50-mile) stretch of Normandy coastline. Fighting was bloody, with some 9,000 soldiers dying on the beaches now known as Utah, Omaha, Juno, Gold, and Sword.

See Also: Where to Stay in Bayeux

Amboise (2 nights)

Amboise

Amboise was once home to the French royals, but today is a small market town, with the market’s location marked by a fountain that depicts a teddy bear atop a turtle. Located in central France on the Loire River, it is the town where Leonardo da Vinci died in the manor house of Clos Luce. Chateau d’Amboise, the home of King Francois I, who invited da Vinci here, dominates the town. Amboise is the last place you’d expect to find a Chinese pagoda, but the Pagode de Chanteloup, built in 1775, towers over the area at more than 44 meters (144 feet) high.

See Also: Where to Stay in Amboise

Loire Châteaux (trip from Amboise)

Chenonceaux

Your tour of the Loire Renaissance chateaux starts in Amboise, one of several Loire Valley towns. Be prepared for some awesome sights of castles and chateaux along the Loire River. Even after King Francois I moved the French capital from Amboise back to Paris, other French royalty and nobility preferred to stay here. Their homes are picturesque, considering that some were destroyed during the French Revolution, and World Wars I and II. Chateaux, which resembles fortresses and castles more than private homes, you’ll want to see include chateaux de Blois, de Saumur, de Chaumont, de Cheverny and de Chambord.

Bordeaux (1 night)

Bordeaux

By now, the wine lover in you is ready for some relaxation. You’ll find this in the charming city of Bordeaux, famous for red wines. The hills around the city are dotted with vineyards. The French have been making wine here since the 8th century, and also, host the world’s premier wine fair, Vinexpo. Be sure to tour some of the wineries, but don’t forget to tour the city itself, which has more historical buildings than any place in France after Paris. Top sights include the Esplanade de s Quinconces, Europe’s largest square; the churches of St. Pierre and the Holy Cross, and the Bourse, with its statue of Louis XV.

See Also: Where to Stay in Bordeaux

Carcassonne (1 night)

Beautiful hilltop fortress of Carcassonne

Carcassonne is such an appealing place, a board game, in which tiles are placed to form a French landscape, was named after it. In reality, Carcassonne is a fortified medieval city in southwestern France that is known for its city walls. Carcassonne has been a fortress since Roman times. To get a better feel for this outstanding fortification, you’ll want to wander through the streets inside the wall, taking in the castle and cathedral. Today, a modern city surrounds the restored old town. This picturesque city also is known for its wines and boat cruises on the Canal du Midi.

See Also: Where to Stay in Carcassonne

Avignon (2 nights)

Palais des Papes in Avignon

No time to visit the Vatican in Rome? Not to worry; you can still see how popes lived at the Palais des Papas in Avignon. Seven popes ruled from the southeastern French city during the Middle Ages. Many churches and chapels can be found as you wander through the Old Town. Avignon is a fortified town on the Rhone River, with its ramparts still standing after 800 years. Old buildings built right up to the water make for a very scenic landscape. Avignon is another French city famous not only for its wines but also for its performing arts festival that draws upwards of 100,000 people here every July.

See Also: Where to Stay in Avignon

Provence & Pont du Gard (day trip from Avignon)

Pont du Gard

In recent years, British author Peter Mayle detailed the many charms of the Provence in his books. Believe his delightful descriptions! The Provence region encompasses about 90 villages moving inland from the French Riviera. You’ll probably have a have a hard time finding those famous lavender fields but there are plenty of other things to see and do on a day trip from Avignon. One attraction that is a Provence must-see is the Pont du Gard. It’s an aqueduct built by the ancient Romans. Spanning the Gardon River, this massive structure is part of a 50-km (30-mile) watering system. Near the village of Vers-Pont du Gard, it is the highest of all the old Roman aqueducts.

Cannes (stopover)

Cannes, French Riviera

The French Riviera town of Cannes makes a good stopover between Avignon and Nice. Once a fishing village on the Mediterranean Sea, Cannes is now a playground for the rich and famous. Celebrities flock here every May for the Cannes Film Festival, the world’s most famous. While you may see celebrities at other times, Cannes offers other things to see. You might want to stroll the Promenade de la Croisette on the waterfront, walk through the Old Town, take in a history museum or simply gaze at the villas in the Quartier des Anglais, the city’s oldest residential area.

Nice (2 nights)

Nice

Nice is the perfect place to end your two-week tour of France. It has a colorful Old Town with a small market. You’ll definitely want to make time for a walk along the Promenade des Anglais with its views of Mediterranean Sea. The Cathedrale Sante-Reparte is a top attraction as is the Marc Chagall museum. You can people watch at the Place Massena, the city’s main square that leads to nice shopping areas for last-minute souvenirs. If you can find a few free hours, it’s only a short bus ride to Eze Village, a medieval village with a cactus garden on top, or to the glitz and glamour of Monaco.

India is the world’s seventh-largest country stretching from the high mountains of the Himalayas to the tropical greenery of Kerala, and from the sacred Ganges to the sands of the Thar desert. Its more than one billion inhabitants are divided into two thousand ethnic groups and speak over 200 different languages.

Conform its size and population, India has an almost endless variety of cultures, landscapes, monuments and places to explore. From the ancient ruins, fascinating religious structures, exotic cities and diverse landscape there is an endless collection of tourist attractions in India that will never cease to awe and fascinate the visitor.

10Kerala backwaters
Kerala backwaters

The Kerala backwaters are a chain of lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast in the Kerala state. The Kerala backwaters are home to many unique species of aquatic life including crabs, frogs and mudskippers, water birds and animals such as otters and turtles. Today, houseboat tourism is the most popular tourist activity in the backwaters, with several large Kettuvallams (traditional rice boats, now converted into floating hotels)ply the waterways.

9Lake Palace
Lake Palaceflickr/gustaffo89

The Lake Palace in Lake Pichola in the city of Udaipur was built as a royal summer palace in the 18th century. Today it is a luxury 5 Star hotel, operating under the “Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces”. The Lake Palace hotel operates a boat which transports guests to the hotel from a jetty at the City Palace on the east bank of Lake Pichola. The palace became famous in 1983 when it was featured in the James Bond film Octopussy, as the home of titular character.

See Also: Where to Stay in Udaipur

8Virupaksha Temple
Virupaksha Temple

The Virupaksha Temple in the city of Hampi started out as a small shrine and grew into a large complex under the Vijayanagara rulers. It is believed that this temple has been functioning uninterruptedly ever since the small shrine was built in the 7th century AD which makes it one of the oldest functioning Hindu temples in India.

7Palolem
Palolemflickr/abmiller99

Palolem is the most southerly of Goa’s developed beaches and also one of the most beautiful. It is a natural bay surrounded by lofty headlands on either sides, resulting in a calm, idyllic sea with a gently sloping bed. For those who believe a beach cannot be paradise without a decent selection of cheap restaurants and good hotels, a dose of nightlife and plenty of like-minded people Palolem is the place to be.

See Also: Where to Stay in Palolem

6Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park is among the most beautiful wildlife reserves in Asia and one of best places to catch a glimpse of a tiger in India. The lush sal and bamboo forests, grassy meadows and ravines of Kanha provided inspiration to Rudyard Kipling for his famous novel “Jungle Book” and make this one of the top attractions in India.

5Harmandir Sahib

The Harmandir Sahib, better known as the Golden Temple is the main tourist attraction in Amritsar, and the most important religious place to the Sikhs. Construction of the temple was begun by Guru Ramdas ji. in the 16th century. In the 19th century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh the upper floors of the temple were covered with gold. It’s a stunning temple, and always full of thousands of pilgrims from all over India, excited to be at a place that they usually only see on television.

See Also: Where to Stay in Amritsar

4Jaisalmer
Jaisalmerflickr/Carlo_it

Located in Rajasthan’s remote westernmost corner close to the border with Pakistan, Jaisalmer is the quintessential desert town. The yellow sandstone walls of the “Golden City” rise from the Thar desert like a scene from the Arabian Nights while the Jaisalmer Fort crowns the city. Uncontrolled commercialism has dampened the romantic vision of Jaisalmer, but even with all the touts and tour buses, it remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in India.

See Also: Where to Stay in Jaisalmer

3Ajanta Caves

The Ajanta Caves are rock-cut cave monuments dating from the 2th century BC. The magnificent Ajanta caves were abandoned around 650 AD and forgotten until 1819, when a British hunting party stumbled upon them. Their isolation contributed to the fine state of preservation in which some of their paintings remain to this day. The well preserved murals depict everything from battlefields to sailing ships, city streets and teeming animal-filled forests to snow-capped mountains. The city of Aurangabad is the gateway to the Ajanta Caves as well as the equally spectacular Ellora Caves.

2Varanasi

Situated on the banks of the River Ganges, Varanasi is sacred to Hindus, Buddhists and Jains and also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. In many ways Varanasi epitomizes the very best and worst aspects of India, and it can be a little overwhelming. The scene of pilgrims doing their devotions in the River Ganges at sunrise set against the backdrop of the centuries old temples is probably one of the most impressive sights in the world.

See Also: Where to Stay in Varanasi

1Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal in Agra is an immense mausoleum of white marble, built between 1632 and 1653 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife. Called “a teardrop on the cheek of eternity” it is one of the masterpieces of Mughal architecture, and one of the great tourist attractions in India. Besides the white domed marble mausoleum the Taj Mahal includes several other beautiful buildings, reflecting pools, and extensive ornamental gardens with flowering trees and bushes.

Thailand’s world-famous attractions have been well documented on television, are used as backdrops in several Hollywood movies and crop up again and again in modern fiction. Still, to witness the Grand Palace in person or to watch a Railey Beach sunset or even to approach Phi Phi Don for the first time is guaranteed to send a shiver up the spine of even a hardened traveller and the frisson of passing by a limestone monolith in Phang Nga Bay is unforgettable.

From the north of Thailand in Chiang Mai to the lush southern province of Krabi you’ll be charmed and even shocked by the raw beauty of Thailand.

  1. The Grand Palace & Wat Prakeaw
    Bangkok

The Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew Bangkok

If there is one must-see sight in Bangkok, it’s the dazzling, spectacular Grand Palace, undoubtedly the city’s most famous landmark. Built in 1782 – and for 150 years the home of the Thai King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government – the Grand Palace continues to awe visitors with its beautiful architecture and intricate detail – a proud salute to the creativity and craftsmanship of Thai people. Within its walls were also the Thai war ministry, state departments, and even the mint. Today, the complex remains the spiritual heart of the Thai Kingdom. It is highly suggested that visitors dress politely when visiting the Grand Palace; entry can be refused to those dressed incorrectly.

 


 

2. Phang Nga Bay
Phang Nga Province – North of Phuket

Located north east of Phuket, Phang Nga Bay is an almost unique site in the world (only Ha Long Bay in Vietnam presents some similarity). A distinctive feature of Phang Nga Bay is the sheer limestone cliffs that jut vertically out of the emerald green water. James Bond Island and Koh Pannyi are just two of the more famous spots in this bay. By far the best means of enjoying the spectacular scenery, with only brief encounters with the tourist crowds as James Bond and Koh Pannyi, is to take one of the boat trips from the northern end of Phuket. A leisurely day trip cruising through the dramatic limestone islands, occasionally stopping to enjoy quiet beaches, is far more rewarding than the standard bus-boat tour.


3. Similan Islands
Phang Nga Province – West of Khao Lak 

This group of rocks and islands lies 90 minutes by speedboat off the coast of Phang-Nga, or eight or more hours by slow boat from Phuket. The area was declared a Marine National Park in 1982 and consequently remains largely undeveloped. Derived from the Malay term ‘sembilan’, meaning ‘nine’, Similan refers to the nine main islands in the group. The waters surrounding the Similans are teeming with tropical fish, colourful coral, and offer exceptional underwater visibility. As a result, the diving is generally considered to be the best in the region, and compares favourably with some of the best in the world.


4. Floating Markets
Near Bangkok

Bangkok’s colorful floating markets are familiar to many through the ubiquitous photos in tourist guides and travel books. Even though transactions are more concerned with tourists rather than locals these days, the floating market boats are still piled high with tropical fruit and vegetables, fresh, ready-to-drink coconut juice and local food cooked from floating kitchens located right on the boat.

To enjoy the atmosphere without haggling over prices, try relaxing on a guided boat tour of Damnoen Saduak market. Other floating markets to visit are Taling Chan Market, Bang Ku Wiang Market, Tha Kha, and Damnoen Saduak.


 

 

 

 

5. Phi Phi Islands
Krabi Province

The Phi Phi Islands are some of the loveliest in Southeast Asia. Just a 45-minute speedboat jaunt and a 90-minute ferryboat ride from Phuket, these picture-postcard islands offer the ultimate tropical getaway. Classic beaches, stunning rock formations, and vivid turquoise waters teeming with colourful marine life – it’s paradise perfected. There are two islands, Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh. The larger and inhabited, Phi Phi Don attracts hundreds of visitors to stay on its lovely shores. For many, Phi Phi Don is the last word in hedonistic nightlife. Starting when the sun sets and lasting throughout the night, the whole village is party central, with its bars, pubs and clubs filled with young and carefree partygoers.

Berlin is the capital city of Germany and one of the 16 states (Länder) of the Federal Republic of Germany. Berlin is the largest city in Germany and has a population of 4.5 million within its metropolitan area and 3.5 million from over 190 countries within the city limits.
Berlin is best known for its historical associations as the German capital, internationalism and tolerance, lively nightlife, its many cafés, clubs, bars, street art, and numerous museums, palaces, and other sites of historic interest. Berlin’s architecture is quite varied. Although badly damaged in the final years of World War II and broken apart during the Cold War, Berlin has reconstructed itself greatly, especially with the reunification push after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
It is now possible to see representatives of many different historic periods in a short time within the city centre, from a few surviving medieval buildings near Alexanderplatz, to the ultra modern glass and steel structures at Potsdamer Platz. Because of its tumultuous history, Berlin remains a city with many distinctive neighbourhoods. Brandenburger Tor is a symbol of division during the world war, which now shows German reunification. It was built after the Acropolis in Athens and was completed in 1799 as the royal city-gate.
Germany was later on divided into east and west, In August 13,1961, East Germans permanently closed the border between East and West. The wall had 45,000 sections of reinforced concrete and included 79 miles of fencing, nearly 300 watchtowers and 250 guard dogs. Still more than 5,000 people escaped to freedom.

Berlin is a scene-stealing combo of glamour and grit, poised to mesmerise anyone keen to connect with its vibrant culture, bold architecture, global food, intense parties and easy-going vibe. Whether your tastes run to posh or punk, you can sate them in the German capital. Here are ten things to add to the top of your list.

Dimitri Vrubel’s iconic ‘My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love’ mural on Berlin Wall. Image by Mark Read / Lonely Planet
Dimitri Vrubel’s iconic ‘My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love’ mural on Berlin Wall. Image by Mark Read / Lonely Planet

1. Connecting with the Cold War at remnants of the Berlin Wall

Few events in history have the power to move the entire world. The Kennedy assassination. The moon landing. The events of 9/11. And, of course, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. If you were alive and old enough back then, you will probably remember the crowds of euphoric revellers cheering and dancing at the Brandenburg Gate. Although little is left of the physical barrier, its legacy lives on in the imagination and in such places as Checkpoint Charlie, the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall Memorial) and the East Side Gallery with its colourful murals.
2. Marveling at 6000 years of artistic greatness on Museum Island

Berlin’s ‘Louvre on the Spree’, this imposing cluster of five treasure-houses is the undisputed highlight of the city’s museum landscape. Declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1999, Museum Island showcases art and cultural history from the Stone Age to the 19th century. Feast your eyes on Roman, Greek and Middle Eastern antiquities at the Pergamonmuseum and Altes Museum, report for an audience with Egyptian queen Nefertiti at the Neues Museum, take in 19th-century art at the Alte Nationalgalerie and lean in for close-ups of medieval and Renaissance sculptures at the Bodemuseum.
3. Losing your weekend on Berlin’s sizzling dance floors

Berlin’s reputation for intense and unbridled nightlife is rooted in the libertine 1920s when everyone from Marlene Dietrich to Christopher Isherwood partied like it was 1999. Since the fall of the Wall, Berlin’s club culture has put the city firmly back on the map of hedonists. With more than 200 venues, finding one to match your mood shouldn’t be a tall order. Electronic music in its shape-shifting varieties continues to define Berlin’s afterdark action but other sounds like hip hop, dancehall, rock, swing and funk have also made inroads. The edgiest clubs take up residence in power plants, transformer stations, abandoned apartment buildings and other repurposed locations, especially in Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Friedrichshain.
Hamburger Bahnhof. Image János Balázs / CC BY-SA 2.0
Hamburger Bahnhof. Image János Balázs / CC BY-SA 2.0

4. Dipping into Berlin’s contemporary art scene

Art aficionados will find their compass on perpetual spin in Berlin. Home to 440 galleries, scores of world-class collections and thousands of international artists, the city has assumed a pole position on the global artistic circuit. Its main contemporary art showcase is the Hamburger Bahnhof, a vast museum housed in a former railway station whose loft and grandeur are the perfect foil for this top-notch collection of paintings, installations, sculptures and video. Exciting temporary exhibits complement the permanent collection that spans the entire arc of post-1950s artistic movements.
5. Standing before history at the Reichstag

It’s been burned, bombed, rebuilt, buttressed by the Berlin Wall, wrapped in fabric and finally turned into the modern home of the German parliament: the Reichstag, one of Berlin’s most iconic buildings. Designed by Paul Wallot in 1894, this is where the German parliament, the Bundestag, has been hammering out its policies since 1999. This followed a total makeover by Lord Norman Foster, who preserved only the building’s historical shell while adding the striking glass dome, which is accessible by lift.
Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin. Image by LH Wong / CC BY-SA 2.0
Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin. Image by LH Wong / CC BY-SA 2.0

6. Getting palace envy at Schloss Charlottenburg

An exquisite baroque palace, Schloss Charlottenburg evokes the onetime grandeur of the Prussian royals. It is particularly special to visit in the summer when you can fold a stroll, sunbathing session or picnic in the lush palace park into a day of peeking at royal treasures.
7. Tracing Jewish life in Germany at the Jüdisches Museum

In an architectural masterpiece by Daniel Libeskind, Berlin’s Jüdisches Museum presents an eye-opening and emotional journey through 2,000 years of Jewish history in Germany, not just the 12 years of Nazi horror that such exhibits often focus on. Find out about Jewish cultural contributions, holiday traditions, the difficult road to emancipation, outstanding individuals like the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn and jeans inventor Levi Strauss, and the fates of ordinary people and families.
8. Roaming, picnicking and carousing in the Tiergarten

Berlin’s rulers used the grounds to hunt boar and pheasants in the rambling Tiergarten until master landscape architect Peter Lenné landscaped the grounds in the 18th century. With its sweeping lawns, shaded paths, woodsy groves, romantic corners, ponds and creeks, the Tiergarten is one of the world’s largest city parks and a wonderful retreat from the city bustle. In summer, several charming beer gardens beckon, including Café am Neuen See and the Teehaus im Englischen Garten.

9. Indulging in shopping fun on Kurfürstendamm

No trip to Berlin would be complete without a saunter along Kurfürstendamm (Ku’damm for short) in Charlottenburg. Along with its continuation, the Tauentzienstrasse, it is the city’s longest and busiest shopping strip, lined with high-street chains and designer boutiques presenting the latest in streetwear or couture. Don’t miss the KaDeWe, continental Europe’s biggest department store with a mind-boggling food hall, or the cutting-edge concept and flagships stores at Bikini Berlin (http://www.bikiniberlin.de/en), a revamped 1950s landmark near Zoo Station. Amid all this, the majestically ruined Gedächtniskirche (Memorial Church) stands quietly as a poignant reminder of the absurdity of war.

 

What You’ll Do
  • Learn more about Georgian history
  • Discover some of the most important sites
  • Visit Davit Gareji
Overview
Visit the historic Davit-Gareja Monastery Complex and city of Sighnaghi in the Kakheti Region of Georgia on a full-day tour from Tbilisi. Marvel at the scenic beauty of the mountains and semi-arid desert.
What to Expect
Discover some of the most important sites of the historic Kakheti region in eastern Georgia, home to the rock-hewn Davit-Gareja Monastery Complex and the beautiful Alazani Valley.

Following an early morning (09:00 am) departure from Tbilisi, drive to the Gareja Desert, a distance of approximately 60 miles (100 kilometers). Here, you will discover the rock-cut Davit-Gareja Orthodox Monastery complex, established in the 6th century by David, one of the 13 Assyrian monks that preached the name of Christ.

Located in a semi-desert, the complex consists of 19 religious buildings, the oldest being the Lavra Monastery, where St. David is buried. Learn how Mongol invaders destroyed and looted the complex in the 13th century, and how it was later restored by the Georgian kings.

Marvel at the hundreds of cells, chapels, refectories, and living quarters hollowed out of the rocks. Then, continue to Sighnaghi. Upon arrival in Sighnaghi, visit the holy Bodbe Monastery, where St. Nino is buried. Learn how she brought Christianity to Georgia in the 4th century and the legend of her healing properties. Nestled among cypress trees, the monastery affords stunning views of the Alazani Valley.

End your tour by exploring the city of Sighnaghi, founded by King Erekle II in 1772. You will see buildings in the style of southern Italian Classicism, with Georgian elements. Known as the “City of Love,” Sighnaghi is one of Georgia’s most compact towns, with delightful red roof tiles and panoramic views of the Greater Caucasus Mountains.

Transfer back to Tbilisi for the end of your tour services.

What’s Included
  • All the sightseeing mentioned in the itinerary
  • Private driving service
  • Pick-up from and drop off to city center hotels
  • Land transportation by air-conditioned non-smoking vehicle
What’s Not Included
  • Tips to the guide and driver (optional)
  • Beverage with meals
  • Guiding service (but this service may be added)
Meeting Point

pick-up at hotel

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