This Italian city literally oozes love and romance the minute you first jump off the plane. There’s no shortage of cultural amazement either, being a hub for fashion, the arts, world-class cuisine, and some of the finest wines you’ll ever get a chance to sample without paying hefty import fees and markups. Make sure to visit the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (aka. Duomo for its magnificent domed roof). It never disappoints. Learn more about what to do in this enchanting city at visitflorence.com
4. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Rio is best known for its endless beaches, adventure activities, laid back lifestyle, and the imposing Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks the city. It’s surrounded by hectares of sprawling Amazon jungle and also has some of the most interesting tropical wildlife (like super awesome and funny monkeys!) you’ll see anywhere on the planet. Despite the high crime rates that continue to befall its citizens (and uninformed tourists), the people here are magnificent! Just pick an activity and its there for the doing: dancing and other local celebrations, ziplining over a dense jungle canopy, watersports of all kinds, helicopter rides along the coast, fishing and much more. Learn more about what to do your next time in Rio at lonelyplanet.com
3. Siem Reap, Cambodia
This Cambodian city is a major hotspot for seasoned travelers, but doesn’t get talked about near as much as it should in the western world. Siem Reap has two of the most amazing Buddhist temples you’ll ever set foot in, Baphuon and Angkor Wat (pictured above). Tonlé Sap is a big freshwater lake with really cool villages that float atop its waters. There’s tons of ancient relics of various temples and other cultural artifacts strewn throughout that will become part of the mental picture you get every time you think of Cambodia after leaving. The locals, as with all southeast Asian destinations, are among the nicest the world over, and they sure help to make every moment worthwhile during your visit.
2. Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto is the most beautiful city in Japan. Hands down. While all of Japan’s breathtaking, Kyoto has her magical gardens which draw those of us with botany in our blood to her by the millions each year. Each carefully maintained garden fits a separate category and are meant to evoke a different feeling or purpose for viewers: “Tea Gardens”,
“Stroll Gardens”, “Narrative Gardens” and more. The garden-friendly culture is part of Japan’s oldest religion Shinto that the landscape one lives in and around to be sacred — a far cry from what so many of us are used to, am I right (call me a tree-hugger, I don’t care). Mount Daimonji holds much of the outer edges of the city on her lower slopes and as you continue farther up the mountain you’re met with age-old conifers, berry bushes, wildflowers and perennials with clouds overhead that look like they were drawn there by an artist on a clear day.
1. Cape Town, South Africa
I think there’s more to do here than any other place mentioned on this list. You might not think about living in the lap of luxury when visiting the birthplace of man on the continent of Africa. After all, most of it is desolate desert and poverty-stricken, still considered a third world country. South Africa and it’s most popular coastal city, Cape Town is a slice of heaven that separates the sand dunes from the ocean. Hit up the trendy cafes and bistros in the city’s commercial heart, City Bowl. Hit up the Clifton Bay area and hang out with the swanky glitterati at the city’s trendiest beachfront bars. Check out the Woodstock area; Cape Town’s scaled down version of New York’s artsy Soho neighborhood. Then there’s Constantia, just 20 minutes from the city and known for its beautiful vineyard estates, many of which are open to the public.
Main Image Credit: jbdodane/Flickr