....a second choice
Everyone remembers their ‘First Time’ on a significant trip. When it comes to planning the next one, we all want to capture the excitement that comes from the novel and fresh. If you’re on the lookout for a brand new travel experience in 2017, let Booking.com inspire you with some great recommendations when it comes to first time travel.
Having curated a bespoke list of 20 popular cities worldwide, this global leader now gives you a compelling alternative for each, using its unique traveller endorsement data.
Favourite destinations around the world are matched with lesser known places that offer an equally awesome experience when it comes to culture, food, nightlife and attractions - perfect for those looking to explore somewhere a little different for the first time.*
Take a look through the guides below to find your perfect first time trip!
If you like PARIS, why not try QUEBEC CITY?
Landscape: Paris is a one stop shop for iconic cityscapes that blends old and new. To explore the best of what Paris has to offer, start with the unforgettable Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Champs-Elysees – before sauntering down the lamplit streets, parks and terraces.
Culture: The city is prized for its art scene in particular. It’s hard to beat the cherished Louvre or Musee d’Orsay if modern impressionism is more your style. If you’re after something a bit more glamorous, sample the city’s impressive fashion credentials via its huge department stores, vintage shops, flea markets and haute couture houses. Not to mention a wealth of opera, theatre, music festivals on offer throughout the year.
Points of interest: The capital’s landscape is remarkable from the outside but make sure you go inside to really soak up the city – whether it’s venturing up the Eiffel Tower for the views, taking a tour around the Notre Dame cathedral, getting lost in the Louvre, travelling down the Seine River or visiting the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens.
Food: ‘Cuisine’ is French for ‘kitchen’ and it’s fair to say the foodie reputation in Paris is first rate. From small bakeries to Michelin starred offerings, it has the best of what France has to offer. Most famous for its patisseries, bakeries, chocolatiers and cheese shops – nothing beats a fresh Parisian croissant and fresh baguette covered in butter.
Nightlife: The city is definitely not all can-can girls and Moulin Rouge – there are a variety of evening activities, ranging from dance clubs, grand hotel bars, outside terrace tables perfect for people watching to chic wine bars and casual late night dining joints.
Did you know? If you’re in the city with friends in summer, grab a bottle of wine, a fresh baguette and some cheese and join the hordes of local Parisians on the Seine quays.
Quebec City, Canada
Landscape: Quebec, although small, is well known for its varied and picturesque cityscape. Its beautiful old town is an UNESCO World Heritage site - filled with cobbled streets, 17th and 18th century houses, churches, squares and the beautiful Chateau Frontenac on top of the hill - the city’s most visited attraction.
Culture: The city is mainly split between the Old Town and Old Lower Town, but there is more to explore outside the historic town gates. There you can reach Port St-Louis and Porte St-Jean and sample even more wonderful restaurants, shopping and nightlife. Think antique stores, cosy bistros and world-class theatres. Not forgetting Quebec’s famous outdoor festivals that celebrate music, history and the winter season.
Points of interest: Take a boat tour on the Saint Lawrence River to see the city in all its glory or walk down the Chateau Frontenac promenade to explore Quebec’s battlefield remnants and gain an appreciation of its rich military history.
Food: The city has a dynamic and evolving food scene – famous for its gourmet coffee, meat pies and young raw milk cheese, you can sample pretty much anything at the local markets. Don’t forget to visit the stunning Chateau Frontenac for afternoon tea and sample the city dish of ‘poutine’ (pile of fries, gravy and cheese curd) – it’s a local delicacy.
Nightlife: There are various nightlife options to sample after dark. Ranging from art galleries with bars included, microbreweries, karaoke and even bars featuring church pews. The main area to head to is the Grande-Allee which contains the majority of the best restaurants, bars and even clubs situated in gutted Victoria style mansions.
Did you know? The imposing Morrin Centre, a former prison, now serves as Quebec’s only English-language library and well worth a visit to see its neatly lined book shelves and the balcony where prisoners were once hanged.
If you like TOKYO, why not try SANTIAGO?
Landscape: As one of the world’s busiest cities, Tokyo offers unforgettable skyscrapers with neon and crowds everywhere. It’s an attack of the senses with futuristic technology coupled with ancient shrines and absolutely no street litter.
Culture: The wide ranging culture transports you from traditional hot baths in a local spring, to experiencing the very best in modern technology. Tokyo’s culture is largely routed in its traditional arts, performances, rituals and various festivals of celebration that are held throughout the year.
Points of interest: Visit Asakusa, one of Tokyo’s oldest neighbourhoods, for the city’s oldest temple. Then take a walk to Ueno Park for museums and green spaces, or try out the Tokyo Skytree – the world’s tallest free standing broadcast tower. If you have time, it’s worth taking a trip slightly out of the city to the quieter seaside town of Kamakura, with surfing, amazing food, green mountains and magnificent Buddhist temples.
Food: Tokyo has the world’s highest volume of Michelin stars in any city – and it’s much more than sushi, katsu, miso and sashimi. Expect to find a lot of tofu, seaweed and seafood and lightly fried tempura dishes. Rice is served with everything – including breakfast.
Nightlife: Karaoke is massively popular in the city and it’s a celebrated national pastime. There are big sound systems at even bigger clubs, pub crawls for tourists all around and bars are open until five in the morning. The main nightlife district is Roppongi, which is popular with locals and foreigners alike.
Did you know? The Hakone Hotel serves delicious breakfasts and if you ask, the hotel chefs will even make the kids an omelette in the shape of an animal.
Landscape: Santiago offers a breath-taking and changing landscape, with pacific coastlines and the Andes as its backdrop. The city sits on an earthquake zone and so for safety reasons, the entire city has been built relatively flat. Take a train ride to see it in its best light.
Culture: The historic Barrio Lastarria district is famous for its shops, restaurants and museums while the Barrio Italia district has more of an artsy, trendy vibe. But with the whole city as a world heritage site, its traditional and vibrant culture can be sampled just from walking round the pretty streets.
Points of interest: The Metropolitan Cathedral is a must see, as is the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, filled with the rich art of Chile. Santa Lucia craft market is a bustling, exciting experience and the International Theatre Festival is a must see if you’re in the city during the summer. For families, visit the zoo, Parque Araucano or the towering Sky Costanera to see the sites from above.
Food: Santiago is an up and coming foodie destination, not to mention its booming wine industry. The Mercado Central has a great seafood market or there is the city’s central produce market, La Vega – where you can find delicious casseroles, soups and fresh seafood.
Nightlife: Be warned that the nightlife in Santiago starts late, usually after midnight, and dinner isn’t usually until between 9 and 11pm. If you want to dance, there are a lot of clubs in different neighbourhoods where you can experience everything from exhilarating house DJs, to sexy salsa dancing.
Did you know? Chile’s national drink is a brain-freezing ‘terremoto’, made with pineapple ice cream and a sweet fermented wine.
If you like LONDON, why not try SEATTLE?
London, United Kingdom
Landscape: London provides one of the world’s most iconic cityscapes. From Big Ben, the Shard, St Pauls and London Eye, to the murky Thames, historic Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and the formidable Tower of London. Walk through impressive streets lined with white town houses in Mayfair, or dive into the densely packed Covent Garden and China Town for shopping, food and vibrant atmosphere.
Culture: The city is a mix of world class art galleries and museums, coupled with beautiful green spaces and a booming food and drink industry. It’s also very much a diverse, multicultural city renowned for its theatre in the West End and music – from underground indie gigs to opera and ballet. It is also very proud of its festivals – from the world famous afro-Caribbean Notting Hill Carnival – to chocolate, coffee and beer.
Points of interest: The London Eye is a great way to sample the sights from above or take a bus tour to see up close. The Tower of London is a brilliant journey through time and don’t forget to visit Buckingham Palace or walk inside stunning Westminster Abbey for a royal flavour of the city. Hit the shopping streets on Regent Street if you don’t mind crowds and for families – head to the Kensington museum district for the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert museum.
Food: London has long had a reputation as a food capital and offers variety in bucket loads – from decadent brunches, gourmet coffee, tapas, French, Chinese to Sunday roast pub lunches, first rate burgers and steak houses. Why not head to Borough or Maltby Street market for delicious fresh produce as well?
Nightlife: Don’t miss the huge variety of shows in the West End district, the Covent Garden Opera House or the Albert Hall. Or visit the hundreds of oldie worldly pubs and bars dotted around the entire city. Music venues are also huge – from jazz, blues, or trendier Shoreditch for pop bars, gin tastings and craft beer by the bucket load.
Did you know? The Dukes Bar in Mayfair is internationally renowned for its famous martinis and personalised cocktails. But did you also know that is was regularly frequented by James Bond author Ian Fleming and is said to be the inspiration for the classic line, 'shaken, not stirred'.
Landscape: Laying on the shores of the Puget Sound with Mount Rainier towering in the background, Seattle’s landscape is made up of smaller cities, each with its very own charming landscape.
Culture: It has a growing population that’s well educated, tech-savvy and the most literate city in the US. Seattle is the birthplace to Starbucks coffee but its independent coffee shops are well worth a visit. Music is also massive – there is a natural bias towards Jimi Hendrix but let’s not forget Pearl Jam, Kurt Cobain and its emerging hip hop scene.
Points of interest: Head to the Pike Place Market on the waterside for a great foodie spot. Then visit the top of the Space Needle for iconic views of the city or embrace a bit of musical history with the Museum of Pop Culture.
Food: There is a big variety of coffee shops, microbreweries and craft cider shops on offer – as well as huge number of delicious eateries. Fresh produce is everywhere, as are experimental first rate restaurants – seafood is a huge focus and the city is well known for fried oysters, clam chowder and salmon.
Nightlife: There are plenty of dance clubs and bars and the Capitol Hill and Belltown neighbourhoods are where you’ll find it. From live theatre and jazz clubs, to craft cocktail bars.
Did you know? Locals and visitors in Seattle have been sticking colourful pieces of gum onto the same wall since the early 1990s. Aptly named The Gum Wall, it’s now grown in size right along Post Alley and continues to spread. It’s a unique, bizarre and colourful must see.
If you like SAN FRANCISO, why not try STOCKHOLM?
San Francisco, USA
Landscape: It doesn’t get more iconic than the Golden Gate Bridge. Often shrouded in fog, the city scape is a mix of treetops, hills (43 to be precise) and rooflines.
Culture: The city has an electric and open minded culture due its history of being a large port. It’s largely known for its counter culture and prides itself on being on the edge of a trend – whether art, tech, literature or music - which spans everything from ballet, classical to opera and jazz.
Points of interest: Start with one of the many museums – especially the Museum of Modern Art which attracts more than 600,000 visitors a year. The Californian Academy of Sciences is great for natural history and houses both an aquarium and planetarium. There is also a zoo for family fun, or head to Union Square to people watch. For the more adventurous, why not walk across the Golden Gate Bridge or take a night tour of the infamous Alcatraz Island.
Food: Foodie trends are huge here, as is its famous dish, the ‘Hangtown Fry’ which features scrambled eggs, oysters and bacon. There are over 3,000 places to eat and a main reason to visit in its own right. San Francisco is rumoured to have the oldest Italian restaurant in the US… Fior d’Italia.
Nightlife: There is a huge selection of things to do after dark. Including a big bar and club scene – featuring hotel lounges, stylish saloons and rooftop bars. The club scene is kept to the SoMa district, while salsa and Latin can be found in the Castro area.
Did you know? There is a 163 step staircase made up of colourful mosaic tiles on 16th Avenue. Not only is it an interesting experience to walk up, once you get to the top, you’ll be rewarded with city views and a handsome garden.
Landscape: Spread across 14 islands, Stockholm’s landscape is impressive. It has 57 bridges with a distinct character for every neighbourhood. There’s gorgeous leafy squares, cobbled streets – even a palace – and is well regarded as one of the best preserved medieval cities in the world.
Culture: Stockholm culture is varied and beautiful, housing museums, fashion, shopping and parks against a backdrop of medieval atmosphere. There is stunning scenery everywhere you look and features not one but two World Heritage Sites.
Points of interest: Museums are first class in the city – start with the open air Skansen museum, which provides insight into how Swedes used to live. Next, visit the Vasa warship, crafted in 1600s and famous for sinking minutes after leaving for its maiden voyage, then why not finish with the ABBA museum.
Food: There is much more on offer in Stockholm than Swedish meatballs. Even the condiments are worth sampling and the famous lingonberry jam is a staple on Stockholm’s menus. There is a lot of pickling and curing on offer too – from salmon and crayfish to herring, which is hugely popular. Open sandwiches, crispbreads, pea cakes and savoury pancakes are also common dishes. But check out the sweets too – they’re popular but only really eaten on Saturdays for health reasons. The city even has a national Cinnamon Bun day!
Nightlife: The city hosts a huge Jazz festival in July and there are a lots of expensive but glamorous clubs in Stureplan. If you’re after something more relaxed, try one of the many hip bars for a more laidback end to the day.
Did you know? Head to the royal Haga Park for long walks, boat tours around the city, a visit to the Butterfly House or a meal at Stockholm’s oldest inn, Stallmästaregården.
If you like SHANGHAI, why not try MUMBAI?
Landscape: Shanghai is home to the world’s second tallest tower and skyscrapers dominate the landscape. But that doesn’t take away from the beautiful old town, featuring art deco buildings, temples and cathedrals.
Culture: Confident and colourful - you can enjoy anything from the latest fashion and foodie trends. It’s east meets west in China and offers a unique blend of Chinese tradition and western culture.
Points of interest: The shopping in Shanghai is fantastic and there are a lot of markets, vintage shops and high end couture along the Bund. Sample one of the many art galleries, visit an acrobatic spectacle or take a night-time river cruise - a great way of sampling the colourful city scape Shanghai has to offer. Don’t miss one of the many ancient temples, old town markets, the Yuyuan Gardens and Bazaar, filled with rockeries and pavilions.
Food: Shanghai’s food is diverse as it is delicious and the city has its very own Michelin dining guide. There is a lot of freshwater oily fish, steamed crab, lobster on offer, as well as peppered duck and lots of sugar! But get out into the streets for delicious steamed dumplings, pork buns, rich soups, fritters, pancakes and eel noodles.
Nightlife: Shanghai’s nightlife has boomed in recent years – there are many bars open until sunrise, including underground dance clubs, sports bars and live jazz bands. It’s mainly concentrated around the Bund, which also features theatres for opera, dance, drama and even puppet shows.
Did you know? To get the best view of the city, visit the Vue Bar in Hyatt on the Bund for a relaxing drink or a dip in the bar’s swimming pool.
Landscape: Mumbai has a bustling mix of gothic, Victorian, art deco and contemporary landscape to soak in. It’s a city embracing energy and discovery. Where else can you find a tropical forest next to an urban metropolis?
Culture: The city is the centre of India’s film industry and is a vibrant mix of working class and millionaires. It is also the country’s financial heart and at the centre of fashion – its fast paced and busy, with tradition at its heart.
Points of interest: Arriving to Mumbai via the stunning Gothic train station is an experience in itself. Then there is the striking Iskcon Hindu Temple, the renowned walled Hanging Gardens or head north to the Elephanta Island, a World Heritage Site, for a labyrinth of cave temples, ancient ruins and Hindu carvings that date back to the 5th century.
Food: The street food in Mumbai is impressive – it’s part of everyday life and considered just as good as the restaurants. There are numerous local delicacies but try to sample the pav bhaji’s, kebabs, potato patties and bhel puri – delicious puffed rice and vegetable snacks.
Nightlife: The hectic buzz of the day makes way for fun, dance and food by night and there is an array of fun bars or romantic meals out to choose from. There’s a flourishing LGTB scene, as well as live music and late night foodie destinations.
Did you know? For a real taste of authentic Mumbai food, try Swati Snacks in the Tardeo district for traditional specialities.
If you like RIO, why not try SAN SEBASTIAN?
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Landscape: Think beautiful long beaches, tropical landscapes with forested mountains and smaller islands dotted around the coastline. The cinematic landscape is dominated by various iconic landmarks such as world famous Corcovado Mountain and Christ the Redeemer Statue, Sugarloaf Mountain and Ipanema beach.
Culture: Music is at the heart of Rio, dominated by the samba and celebrated via the city’s Carnival Samba Parade holiday in February. Overall, it’s a vibrant city, filled with cinema, theatre, dance and strong traditional family values.
Points of interest: You can’t miss Ipanema Beach for a spot of football, volleyball, surfing or people watching. Providing it’s not too hot, take a hike through the rainforest, rent a sail boat or take advantage of the various rock climbing activities on offer. After all that activity, take a relaxed walk around the Botanical Gardens or a cog train to visit the Christ the Redeemer Statue.
Food: Brazilian food is vibrant, meaty and delicious. It has a BBQ focus, as well as stews – the most famous being the ‘feijoada’ stew - beef gravy, with potatoes, pork cracking, kale and orange. Street food is also huge so be sure to make a visit to local street vendors for pastries or ‘pastels’ and pancakes.
Nightlife: Head to the Lapa district if you’re after some authentic samba, live music destinations and all night parties. But if dancing isn’t your thing, then the Flying Circus provides a brilliant music venue for emerging bands, or sample the variety of bars filled with cooling beers and refreshing ‘caipirinhas’.
Did you know? Why not take the kids to the newly open AquaRio, the largest aquarium in all of Latin America.
San Sebastian, Spain
Landscape: San Sebastian is a charismatic Spanish city with stunning beaches and gothic style basilica’s, squares and castles wherever you look.
Culture: The city houses a mix of the old town - filled with bars and charming places to stay - together with the shopping filled Area Romantica, the more relaxed Gros with its beach - perfect for surfing – or the more up market area surrounding the half-moon shaped Ondarreta Beach.
Points of Interest: The Playa de la Concha beach is striking and filled with beautiful people. The Parque de Cristina Enea is another picturesque must visit, as is a walk to the Monte Urgull castle for stunning views across the city. For when the sun gets too hot, there is a brilliant aquarium and a variety of art museums to keep the whole family entertained.
Food: Tapas culture is big and San Sebastian has the Michelin stars to match – it regularly tops the list of best places to eat in the world and is a real foodie destination. The quality of the food is excellent, whether dining at the best restaurants or smaller pintxos bars. It’s safe to say that San Sebastian is a food lover’s dream – try its many delicacies for an authentic flavour, including aged beef, superb bean dishes, tortillas, salted cod and baked egg custard.
Nightlife: San Sebastian houses a lively but fairly small bar scene with a mix of traditional wine bars, small music clubs and chic modern bars in the old town, versus the slightly more relaxed area of Gros. There’s something for everyone - including a casino for those not ready to call it a night.
Did you know? The city offers over 30km of cycle paths, known locally as ‘bidegorris’, which can conveniently take you around the entire city centre, promenades and surrounding areas.
If you like SYDNEY, why not try SAN DIEGO?
Landscape: You can find some of the best cityscapes in the world in Sydney – highlights include the iconic Opera House, Sydney Harbour, sandy white beaches, bridges and towering office blocks.
Culture: The city is loud, dynamic, diverse and glamourous. There is lots going on and is an attractive culmination of fantastic food, atmosphere, exercise and outdoor living.
Points of interest: A visit to the Opera House (even if just the steps) is a must, as is a walk along the Harbour Bridge. If you fancy venturing out of the city, the Blue Mountains offer beautiful scenery and for the more active, why not swim in the ocean, take a trip north to the slightly more relaxed Manly area, walk around the impressive Sydney Zoo or take the famous Bondi to Coogee coastline walk to really soak in what the outskirts of the city has to offer.
Food: You can taste pretty much any cuisine you like in Sydney and the restaurant scene is booming. But the fresh produce is always a winner and Australia is known for its mangoes, avocados and prawns.
Nightlife: There are some trendy spots to venture to after dark. Sydney houses everything from the latest bar openings to music gigs, bigger clubs and outdoor foodie hot spots in the harbour.
Did you know? The Kayak Sydney Harbour Coffee Tour is a fun way to soak in the harbour sights with a qualified guide. The tour also includes beach stop offs, complete with freshly brewed coffee.
San Diego, USA
Landscape: San Diego is a prime example of gorgeous coastline, impressive beaches and even more impressive bridges. It houses a mix of old and new buildings, blending Mexican, Italian and Spanish influence, together with contemporary U.S. design.
Culture: The culture is relaxed with brilliant weather and picturesque neighbourhoods. The city also offers an array of outdoor activities, art galleries and Hispanic heritage spilling over from the Mexican border.
Points of interest: The city is particularly good for families – from the museums, beaches, wildlife parks, zoos and of course - LEGOLAND and SeaWorld. Why not surf on Mission Beach, take a relaxed cycle along Pacific beach or visit Seaport Village for waterfront eateries & boutique shops by the bay.
Food: Fish tacos are a local speciality, as are wood fired pizzas and craft beer. The city is a fantastic place to sample the best tuna and fresh seafood – but don’t forget to check out its local wine and plum brandy, too.
Nightlife: There is a big music scene throughout the city which attracts first rate live musicians and DJs. The centre is in Downtown, with over 10 nightclubs to choose from, plus rooftop bars, comedy clubs, glamorous lounges and wine bars galore.
Did you know? San Diego has its very own Mexican wrestling themed taco shop. Head over the Lucha Libre Taco Shop on Washington Street to sit in a real wrestling ring, experience ‘Lucha Libre’ paraphernalia galore and of course, taste some excellent tacos.
If you like BERLIN, why not try BELGRADE?
Landscape: Pioneering landscape swarms in Berlin and as it suffered a lot of destruction during the Second World War, post war design dominates today’s landscape. Its TV tower, standing at over 1,000 feet is unmissable – nestled amongst gardens, palaces, bridges, a beautiful cathedral and, of course, the Berlin Wall Memorial.
Culture: There’s a sense of excitement in this hipster city – it’s busy, and there’s always something to see, do and talk about. It offers great transport, a relaxed café culture, a booming tech industry that houses hundreds of start-up businesses and top performers as part of its inhabitants.
Points of interest: The Berlin Wall Memorial is a must visit way to find out more about the city’s history, while the Brandenburger Tor monument is one of Germany’s most visited landmarks. For something a little more musical, Berlin’s philharmonic orchestra is one of the best in the world and performs regularly in the city. The city also has a huge variety of markets and microbreweries for foodies.
Food: Perhaps most famous for its ‘currywurst’ – a hot sliced sausage with ketchup, curry powder and chips - you also can’t leave Berlin without trying its schnitzel, pretzels or steins of beer of course. Another local delicacy – believe it or not – is pork knuckle, where it’s boiled for several hours in sauerkraut and served with potatoes.
Nightlife: Well known as a party city, Berlin has everything from tech-house edgy clubs, to cocktail bars, opera and underground pubs. Head to the east side for the best partying areas but be prepared for a late night. Most clubs don’t get going till one am so why not start in the Kastanienallee area for great restaurants and good bars.
Did you know? If you’re out and about on a Saturday night, try House Of Weekend – a rooftop bar with great views and local hotspot.
Landscape: Resolute and urban probably best describe Belgrade. Whilst it has its green spaces with its parks, tower blocks and concrete dominate its gritty but still charming cityscape.
Culture: The city has a thriving café culture, great food and lively nightlife. All come at great prices too, making Belgrade a fun, wallet friendly, must-visit city.
Points of interest: The Belgrade fortress in the city’s Upper Town is beautiful and has a great restaurant and park within, or why not go for a bit of shopping through Knez Mihailova. The Tower of Sibinjanin Janko offers brilliant views, while the Museum of Fugoslav History has an unrivalled collection of historical artefacts, with free tours at the weekend.
Food: Expect lots of meat, potatoes and vegetables at great prices. It’s most typical dish is a meat patty, usually made from ground lamb, pork, beef and onion. Kebab like dishes are also popular, as is rolled veal stuffed with bacon – or try ‘sarma’, stuffed cabbage with minced beef with rice.
Nightlife: Belgrade has grown a thriving nightlife in recent years, with a focus on the DJ scene and underground clubs. Locals are big on cabaret nights and casinos. Don’t miss one of the quirky bars situated on river barges.
Did you know? Belgrade has a huge number of mysterious underground tunnels, galleries and caves all over the city that house remains of previous civilisations. Book on a tour to get a real taste of the city’s history.
If you like VENICE, why not try BRUGES?
Landscape: One of a kind, Venice is truly unique in its architectural presence. There’s grandeur with beautiful marbled interiors every way you look, intertwining between its waterways, with colourful gondola’s navigating the backstreets.
Culture: The city is undoubtedly mysterious and it’s almost impossible make up is a great representation of Venice’s distinctive existence. It takes heavily from its renaissance art legacy, music and history of wealthy commerce.
Points of interest: The Basilica Di San Marco is unforgettable and dates back to the 9th century. Then there is the Palazzo Ducale museum by the water and a beautiful example of Venice’s gothic, lavish décor and art lovers cannot miss the Gallerie Dell’Accademia. Take time to peruse through the cobbled streets, sample the fresh food markets or take a tour by water through the Grand Canal.
Food: Put the Italian pizza and pasta aside. Fish is a speciality in Venice thanks to its unrivalled access to local produce and its Venetian tapas that shows it off the best. Creamed cod, fried crab and Venetian style rice - a recipe featuring pancetta, onion, butter, parsley and peas – are local dishes found on a huge number on menus. And to wash it all down, try Venice’s signature – Prosecco.
Nightlife: Nightlife kicks off fairly early and by the Rialto Bridge is a great place to start for romantic restaurants and trendy bars. Head to the Skyline Rooftop Bar for great views of the river or find one of Venice’s many jazz clubs. The younger crowds should head to the livelier bars in Campo Santa Marghertia – but if you really want to dance, then best head to the mainland for bigger clubs.
Did you know? For something a little bit spooky, visit the Palazzo Dario palace, located at Grand Canal in the Dorsoduro district, whose architectural beauty contrasts with a reputation as a cursed house. Designed by Giovanni Dario in 1487, it is called the "House that kills".
Landscape: Medieval buildings, picturesque squares, towering clock towers, stunning cathedrals and romantic canals all make Bruges a one off architectural destination. It’s a brilliantly persevered European medieval town and a prominent UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Culture: Its cobbled lanes and canals offer an enchanting visit for tourists, as well as incredible art collections and foodie offerings. Bruges offers a remarkable culture mixing fascinating surroundings with relaxed living.
Points of interest: Start with a brilliant art gallery with the Groening Museum, then make your way to the 13th century Belfort Tower – offering refreshing views if you’re willing to climb the 366 steps. Visit the Heilig-Bloedbasiliek and Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk churches for iconic Bruges landscape at its best and to see Michelangelo’s Mother and Child outside of Italy.
Food: Bruges is largely known for three things. Chocolate, chips and beer. A huge variety of chocolatiers are everywhere, filling the cobbled street and squares - and there is even a museum dedicated to Belgium’s chocolate journey. Chips are also thought to be invented in Bruges and yes - there is also a museum to visit which shows the journey of the humble potato fry.
Nightlife: Bruges is filled with a huge number of atmospheric bars, restaurants but it’s particularly well known for its huge range of strong Belgian beer. Not a destination for dancing clubs, Bruges has a brilliant offering of smaller bars and old pubs that provide late night cosy frivolity throughout the year.
Did you know? There is a 12th century chapel in the city that houses a phial thought to contain cloth stained with the actual blood of Christ. Take a trip to the Basilica of the Holy Blood to see it for yourself.
If you like BEIJING, why not try YOGYAKARTA?
Landscape: A striking mix of ancient landscape and modern design. Beijing offers stunning modern structures, like its new CCTV Tower and National Museum, to the ancient arches, gates, temples, palaces and beautiful lakes found in the Schichahai area.
Culture: Beijing is regularly cited at China’s cultural heart, routed in food, music, art and museums. It’s also well known for its performing arts scene – including world famous acrobatics that is a must see for any tourist.
Points of interest: The city offers no less than six World Heritage Sites to visit – but a great place to start is the sprawling palace or ‘Forbidden City’ and taking a walk along the Great Wall of China that intertwines up the mountain. Temples are also a must see, as is Tiananmen Square for people watching or Beihai Park for one of the oldest imperial gardens in China.
Food: The city is well-known for its sumptuous dumplings, soups and noodles but don’t leave until you’ve tried the world famous Peking duck. Most restaurants will carve it next to your table and a local trick is to dip the skin in sugar before eating.
Nightlife: Beijing’s nightlife offering is diverse with lots of cinemas, theatres, bars, karaoke clubs and nightclubs to choose from. For those looking for a more relaxed evening, there are plenty of opera shows, dance performances and tearooms to choose from, as well as Kung Fu shows and acrobatics.
Did you know? Beijing has a working version of the Friends’ Coffee Perk coffee shop. The show is hugely popular in the city and this open shop replicates the real Coffee Perk in brilliant detail. Hidden on the sixth floor of a shopping complex, it even plays episodes of the sitcom on TV screens.
Landscape: As one of Indonesia’s oldest cities, Yogyakarta’s landscape spans everything from the walled palace of Kraton, the grand Borobudar Temple, elegant heritage buildings and colonial palaces.
Culture: Still entrenched in tradition and custom, it’s a lively and bustling city renowned for fine art, drama, dance, music, education and ancient landmarks.
Points of interest: It’s rightly considered one of the biggest tourist destinations in Indonesia. The city houses both the Borobudar Temple – the largest Buddhist monument in the world and the Prambanan – the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia – and both are must see places for any visiting tourist. For the more active, there are the Goa Jomblang caves or take a hike up one of the local volcanos.
Food: ‘Nasi gudeg’ is a tasty speciality and consists of white and jackfruit rice, chicken and beef skin. For vegetarians, there is ‘tempe’ – which is a fermented soybean ingredients, often boiled in palm sugar and spices. Satay is also big here, as is duck, beef and Javanese rice cakes flavoured with coconut milk.
Nightlife: For a real spectacle, don’t miss the Ramayana ballet performances or for more of a relaxed vibe, head to Malioboro street in downtown for markets, street vendors, late night bars and eateries. Outdoor musicians create a vibrant atmosphere to enjoy a hot coffee or cool beer after a bustling day.
Did you know? The Gunungkidul Region has some of the best beaches in the city. If you’re feeling brave, head to Timang beach to try out a wooden cable cart that transports you over crashing waves to a remote rocky island.
If you like MIAMI, why not try FUENGIROLA?
Landscape: Perhaps best known for its beaches, Miami has equally impressive modern landscape to enjoy too. Art Deco is present throughout the city, particularly around the South Beach area, as well as its ‘MiMo’ modern constructions with Fontinebleau Miami Beach Hotel and old colonial style villas. Think skyscrapers on the beach.
Culture: Miami is a distinctive blend of Cuban and American cultures and offers fantastic outdoor living, fashion, entertainment, arts and commerce. It’s garish and glamour all in one.
Points of interest: You can’t visit Miami without heading to South Beach and its Bayfront Park – but be warned, it’s beautiful but busy. Explore Miami’s rich Mexican heritage in the Little Havana neighbourhood, take a dip in the stunning Venetian Pool and experience some of the best shopping the U.S. has to offer.
Food: Miami loves its plantains and frying the delicacy and serving it with pork is a popular dish. Tacos are seriously popular, filled with pretty much anything you can think of, as are hot dogs, ceviche, fried fish and even deep fried pork skin.
Nightlife: There’s a brilliant nightlife on offer, particularly its clubbing scene that rolls down the coastline. But it’s not all DJs and high heels - it has great hotel lounges, beer bars and live Latin music in abundance.
Did you know? Open Table is widely known as the best way to get a reservation in Miami, whether you’re a local or tourist. Calling ahead isn’t an option for the vast majority of restaurants and waiting until you arrive often results in disappointment.
Landscape: The city is dominated by its stunning seven kilometre beach, with a mountainous backdrop and towering hotels in-between. But that’s not to say it’s lost its charming fisherman’s village character, with winding streets, squares and hot springs.
Culture: Fuengirola is one of the most popular areas of the Costa del Sol and you can expect a busy atmosphere, sun, sand and marinas.
Points of interest: The stretch of white sandy beach is a great place to start, as is the Sohail Castle perched on top one of the surrounding hills. The city has an impressive array of shops and boutiques on offer, as well as water sports, golf courses, street markets and the Bioparc Fuengirola for a small but perfectly formed zoo.
Food: There are plenty of cafés and foodie spots to choose from throughout the area and thanks to the city becoming a tourist hot spot, there are all kinds of cuisines to choose from. But for a more authentic taste of Spain, head to the numerous tapas spots featuring fresh fish or book a table at the family run El Rio – the city’s most popular tapas bar.
Nightlife: The city promises partygoers a great time and encompasses a fun selection of clubs, bars and restaurants all in walking distance of each other. There are a good number of rock bars, live bands, Latin American dance classes and British style pubs too.
Did you know? If you head to the beach in the evening, try sardine ‘espetos’, grilled fish on skewers and cooked over a fire right on the sand.
If you like CANCUN, why not try ADEJE?
Landscape: A stunning mix of Mayan historical sites, tropical landscapes, turquoise waters winding beaches and urban development – it’s impossible not to be amazed by Cancun’s diverse architectural offering.
Culture: Probably best known for its 14 miles of beaches and vibrant clubbing scene, it also has incredibly rich Mexican tradition and ancient Mayan heritage dotted throughout the city.
Points of interest: A day trip to the tropical island of Isla Mujeres is a stunning day out, as is a visit to Coba, an ancient city with spectacular Mayan ruins. There is the opulent green Xcaret Park for snorkelling, the Xel-Ha Park to swim with dolphins, or visit the Underwater Museum for over 500 sculptures and art galleries submerged in the ocean.
Food: Cancun offers a delicious mix of Mexican, Mayan and Caribbean cuisine. The Yucatan area houses some fantastic Mexican restaurants, serving char-grilled meats and an array of different spices. The seafood is also excellent and fresh lobster is a popular dish, as is shrimp, octopus and ceviche.
Nightlife: Cancun offers a selection of nightlife options, including larger DJ clubs, to smaller live music venues and tequila bars. A lot of bars have an all you can drink charge upon entry, while the larger bars put on impressive acrobatic shows to keep guests entertained.
Did you know? Downtown Cancun has a huge selection of street food stalls, serving delicious traditional sopes, tacos, empanadas and the local ‘propoful’ drink – made with vodka and condensed milk.
Landscape: Upmarket hotels, trimmed beaches and lush blue waters dominate Adeje’s attractive and modern aesthetic. It’s one of the more recently developed areas of Tenerife but it does still house a distinct old town area in the upper district.
Culture: Its unashamedly modern and traditional culture largely gives way to upmarket hotels and activities for families. It’s glitzy and gleaming, with a great outdoor living atmosphere and modern attractions.
Points of interest: Beach side activities are vast and varied – from sailing, surfing, water-skiing and even jet biking. If the active lifestyle really is for you, then take a walk along the coastline, head to one of the many golf courses on offer or visit the Aqualand Park.
Food: As with any tourist hotspot, there’s a variety of cuisines on offer to suit all tastes, as well as typical Canarian dishes such as grilled salted fish, ‘papas arrugadas’ potatoes, meat stews and spicy chickpeas.
Nightlife: Its after dark scene is typical for Tenerife and offers a variety of manicured clubs and chic cocktail bars, as well as a focus on live cabaret and Irish themed bars dotted throughout.
Did you know? Nearby Siam Park is one of Europe’s largest waterparks and features over 30 thrilling rides and flumes in an exotic Thai setting. If you’re feeling brave, try the almost vertical Tower Of Power shoot.
If you like COPENHAGEN, why not try PERTH?
Landscape: Copenhagen’s landscape is a Danish myriad of castles, palaces, copper spires, stunning harbours, colourful townhouses and cobbled streets – all best admired by foot or bike.
Culture: Its culture spans everything from extensive museums, eco-friendly interiors, fine art, jazz, music, cafes and fashion. It’s one of Denmark’s cooler and hipper cities, embracing a laidback, happy and friendly lifestyle for its inhabitants.
Points of interest: Start with the Tivoli Gardens amusement park for its beautiful landscaped gardens and picturesque buildings. Make time to visit the Little Mermaid sculpture, as well as Kronborg Castle to the North for one of Europe’s finest Renaissance castles and the Stroget for shopping.
Food: The city houses Scandinavia’s biggest collection of Michelin stars but even its everyday dining scene is first rate. You can’t leave the city without trying a ‘smorrebrod’ – the open sandwiches topped with chicken or potato. Other local dishes feature a lot of smoked pork, salami and smoked or pickled herring. For fresh produce, head to the Torvehallerne Market for meats, cheeses and smoked fish.
Nightlife: Just like the city, the nightlife in Copenhagen is cool and booming. Think chic wine and cocktail bars and trendy microbreweries before they were cool anywhere else. From hipster bars, to happy hours, jazz bars to underground clubs – locals and tourists let loose in trendy hangouts throughout the week.
Did you know? The city has just opened up a new street food market in a warehouse near the harbour. It’s offering cuisines from all over the globe at affordable prices, plus its harbour side location provides a great lunch spot.
Landscape: As one of the most geographically isolated cities in Australia, it makes full use of its beautiful coastline with glistening, towering office blocks and cosmopolitan urban developments.
Culture: Perth is going through a huge population increase and its inspiring, exciting but still laidback vibe is reflective of that. It has everything from parks, the bush, beaches and oceans, to hip restaurants, attractions and arts.
Points of interest: Aside from the stretch of gorgeous beaches, go to Kings Park or the Botanic Gardens to sample the best green spaces the city has to offer. For hipster cafes and vintage boutiques, it’s best to head to Hay Street or the Northbridge area and for a spot of history, head out 30 minutes to Freemantle Harbour for Perth’s colonial and sea faring past.
Food: Western Australia is well known for its wine so make sure you sample the local produce. Perth in particular has more restaurants per capita than any other city in Australia so you’ll be sure to find something for all tastes – there’s plenty of east vs west fusion, as well fresh seafood and a booming coffee culture.
Nightlife: The city has a real mix of laidback bars and elegant, expensive clubs. Whether you’re after $20 cocktails, speakeasy whisky bars, colonial hotel lounges, hipster beers in Northbridge or traditional Aussie pubs, Perth has it all.
Did you know? For a great seasonal menu, try Restaurant Amuse – arguably one of the best restaurants in Western Australia and known for its outstanding degustation menu that changes with the seasons. Tip: book early!
If you like AUCKLAND, why not try CALGARY?
Auckland, New Zealand
Landscape: With soaring skyscrapers, sprawling green spaces, bright lights and blue waters, Auckland offers up a pretty and thriving cityscape.
Culture: As well as soaking up its vibrant city life, wildlife lovers can head to Auckland Zoo to see over 138 different species of animals and for those that love outdoor living, you can take a trip to witness the beautiful landscapes of Rangitoto Island, Mount Eden or Cornwall Park. The urban city offers some of New Zealand’s best museums and cultural attractions including the Auckland War Museum and Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki.
Points of Interest: Auckland is one of the best spots in New Zealand for a spot of shopping. Take your pick from boutiques offering high-end labels, high street favourites and large shopping malls. If you’re a foodie, head to one of the famous bustling farmer’s markets for delicious fresh produce and unique local crafts.
Food: There’s plenty going on for food fans in Auckland, with home-grown and international chefs providing mouth-watering options with their inventive and sophisticated dishes all over the city. The annual Taste of Auckland event is not to be missed, offering visitors the best from the city’s most exciting restaurants, all in one place.
Nightlife: Famous with backpackers, Auckland’s array of bars and clubs on Queen Street offer special offers, events and discounted food all year round. For something a little more local head to Viaduct Harbour to check out some of Auckland’s resident DJs.
Did you know? For a delicious meal, try the braised mackerel and pork belly hotpot with bamboo hearts at Case Hanoi.
Landscape: Calgary offers a huge mix of landscapes, from Fresh Creek Park and the Bow River, to Western Canada’s highest observation deck with Calgary Tower, glistening sky scrapers and sprawling urban life.
Culture: Previously named culture capital of Canada in 2012, this lively city offers some fantastic art galleries, exhibition spaces and pop ups which support local artists. If you’re a fan of architecture, make sure you visit Peace Bridge. Designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and unveiled in 2012, it’s an iconic sight in its Canadian red and white colours.
Points of Interest: Calgary’s got a great choice of things to do – from fantastic shopping, tours at the Big Rock Brewery, to climbing Calgary Tower for panoramic views of the city. It’s great for the family with Calgary Zoo, an amusement park and Inglewood Bird Sanctuary to keep the little ones occupied. Get lost wandering the bustling high streets and discover edgy and eclectic boutiques. Head to 17th Avenue to take a much needed lunch break after day of shopping.
Food: These days, you’ll find plenty of unique and new restaurants popping up in-between the high rises, offering innovative dishes which is putting this city on the foodie map. If you’re brave enough, try the signature dish – the pig head ‘mortadella’, the very reason why the town is nicknamed ‘Cowtown’.
Nightlife: Whatever your perfect nightlife is, Calgary’s got something for everyone. From classy wine bars and cosy pubs, to fine dining restaurants, comedy clubs and night clubs.
Did you know? A local favourite is 1886 Buffalo Café. With its old charm, family photos and antique clocks, this historic restaurant is a hidden gem and serves delicious breakfasts.
If you like HVAR, why not try ALGHERO?
Landscape: As a small bay town, Hvar provides pretty landscape within its 13th century walls. Nestled in rolling hills, you’ll find Gothic style palaces, imposing fortresses, stunning beaches, cobbled streets and marbled squares in this medieval Croatian island.
Culture: Hvar is a huge tourist hotspot, getting especially busy in the summer season and as a result, making way for more resorts and five star hotels than ever before. But it still retains is traditional charm via its old lanes, ceramic art scene, white sands and religious landscape throughout.
Points of interest: It’s worth taking a walk up to the fortress on top of the hill for brilliant views of the harbour, or dive straight in it by renting a boat and visiting the Blue Caves nearby or the unique Pakleni Islands. The Cathedral of St Stephen is a 17th century construction spanning four stories and not to be missed, nor is a swim in Hvar’s iconic blue waters.
Food: Hvar offers plenty of charming restaurants serving fresh seafood and ‘gregada’ – a Hvar local stew made with sea bass, onions, garlic, wine and potatoes. Croatian cuisine consists of a lot of roasted meat, fresh squid, pasta and goulash stews but you can find American and Italian offerings all over the city.
Nightlife: Hvar has a brilliant nightlife reputation and attracts international DJs throughout the year. Music tends to be house and clubs are open till 5am. The Carpe Diem is an exclusive but glamorous place to party into the small hours, but if it’s not your scene, there are plenty of wine and tapas bars for a more relaxed evening.
Did you know? Locals are touting Gariful restaurant as one of the best in Hvar – try the beefsteak or any local fish dish.
Landscape: Situated on the coast of Sardinia, Alghero is rich in medieval buildings, cobbled streets, lavish piazzas and gothic inspired town houses. Religious buildings populate the city every way you look - perhaps most visited is the 16th century, neo-classically designed Cathedral of Santa Maria.
Culture: The city has an authentic feel about it and offers hundreds of bars, restaurants, boutique shops all in keeping with its atmospheric character. The harbour and the Centro Storico are prime examples of Alghero’s ancient seafaring culture.
Points of interest: The old centre is a must see and only to be done on foot. Dating from the 16th century, it’s the heartbeat of the town and offers plenty of piazzas and quaint streets to wonder around. There is also 1.5km of white beaches for sun worshippers, or head out to Capo Caccia for dramatic limestone cliffs that provide truly excellent views of the surrounding area.
Food: Sample a selection of Sardinian fish and meat recipes, gnocchi, ravioli and pizza throughout the city. Another local delicacy is spit-roasted pig cooked over a log fire, semolina pasta and ‘culurgiones’ – pasta stuffed with potatoes, mint and served with a tomato sauce.
Nightlife: The nightlife in Alghero is much lower key than Hvar, but it still has plenty of cocktail bars and places for a quick nightcap after a delicious meal.
Did you know? Alghero is home to prehistoric colourful caves, locally referred to as Neptune’s Grotto. It’s a must visit for diving fans who will experience the largest submerged marine cave in the Mediterranean.
If you like CAPE TOWN, why not try SANTA CRUZ?
Cape Town, South Africa
Landscape: Cape Town has an imposing mountainous beauty that surrounds blue seas, rocky beaches and an expansive urban development. It mixes modern living and infrastructure with historical imperial structures and a shadowy down town suburb.
Culture: It’s a cosmopolitan city, fully embracing its multiculturalism, history, stunning scenery and traditional arts. It’s a destination best lived outdoors and offers a unique food scene, as well as the entertainment factor. Cape Town is beautiful, bold and dynamic.
Points of Interest: The scenery is truly breath-taking and the Centenary Tree Canopy is a great way to soak in the views. Its beaches are brilliant for people watching and even better for surfing, sand dunes and spotting the local flamingos. If you’re after an active break, try out the various hiking and kite-surfing activities on offer. For a spot of history, visit the Robben Island Museum where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his sentence, or take a cable car or steep walk up to the Table Mountain National Park for more magnificent views.
Food: Long Street is popular with backpackers and, as one of Cape Town’s liveliest foodie spots, houses various cuisines from Mexican to Italian. Make sure you try the local ‘Gatsby’ dish, featuring curried meat and French fries in a loaf of bread, and expect a lot of meat and sausages on the menu.
Nightlife: Nightlife in Cape Town is vast and varied. Head to Long Street for live gigs, electro music, sports bars and chilled outdoor terrace bars. During summer, you can head to one of the many trendy nightclubs on Camps Bay, or sample Grand West for gambling, amusement rides and cinemas.
Did you know? Cape Town has an extensive variety of night markets. Head to the souks after dark to pick up everything from clothing, jewellery and a bite to eat while enjoying the local live music.
Santa Cruz, USA
Landscape: Known for its warm climate, surfer’s paradise, beautiful redwood forests, pristine coastlines and endless white sandy beaches, there really is something for everyone when visiting the picture-perfect city of Santa Cruz, California.
Culture: Travellers will love the combination of Santa Cruz’s laidback beach lifestyle, plus the vibrant nightlife this exciting city has to offer. Embrace the alternative community lifestyle and ride a wave with the local surfers, party with the students at the University of California and check out the fitness fanatics, punks and eccentric characters along the famous beach boardwalk.
Points of interest: Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, wildlife lover or simply want to relax, Santa Cruz has something for everyone. Visitors can stroll along the famous Beach Boardwalk, soak up the sun at the beach, try out some zip lining or catch a glimpse of humpback whales on a whale watching trip.
Food: This sleepy Northern California town is anything but lazy when it comes to its food, boasting some of the most delicious restaurants along the Monterey Bay coastline. Be sure to pick up some hearty American food at the delicious Betty Burgers, or fresh seafood and cocktails on the beautiful waterfront Crow’s Nest Restaurant.
Nightlife: Santa Cruz is home to a vibrant live music scene and downtown is where the party is at. Be sure to check out the Brew Cruz, Santa Cruz’s original brewery tour bus, exploring the extensive beer trail this colourful city has to offer. Or opt for an intimate and cosy night at Moe’s Alley where the best live bands come to perform.
Did you know? A trip to the Mystery Spot is a must for your to do list. This old-fashioned, visual illusion based tourist stop is located on a steep sloping hillside where compasses seem to have a mind of their own and buildings lean at strange angles. Come and see this gravitational anomaly for yourself, located in the stunning redwood forests just outside of Santa Cruz.
If you like ST IVES, why not try NEWPORT
St Ives, UK
Landscape: One of Britain’s most picturesque harbour towns, St Ives in Cornwall offers white washed cottages, sandy beaches, blue water and towering Victoria town houses in spades.
Culture: St Ives is well known for its art scene and houses various studios and galleries open all year round. From the Tate to the Barbara Hepworth Museum, the city prides itself on its artistic heritage. Its inhabitants are a friendly bunch and the breath-taking scenery make it a popular destination the whole year round.
Points of interest: If you can brave the chilly waters, then walk down to Porthgwidden Beach for soft sands and cute cafes. You can’t visit St Ives without embracing its art offering and the Tate St Ives is a great place to start for a blend of old and new local artists together. Leave time to wonder around the quaint little streets for a spot of shopping, take a boat trip out to see the local herd of seals or head to the cliffs for beautiful views of the British coastline.
Food: St Ives is full of fantastic pubs, gourmet cafés and speciality sweet shops, all serving traditional British fare. Expect lots of fresh seafood on the menu, as well as gourmet burgers and fish ‘n’ chips.
Nightlife: St Ives nightlife is centred around old pubs, inns and bars – it’s fairly low key but provides a cosy, friendly and relaxed evening after a tiring day on a beach.
Did you know? The Porthmeor Beach Café serves excellent cocktails. Perfect to sip on while taking in the views and watching the local surfers.
Landscape: Newport is a colonial and coastal town in historic Rhode Island with green forests, pretty housing and old city squares. It houses miles of beaches, stunning mansions and impressive coastal views.
Culture: The town has charm by the bucket load, largely down to its traditional and well preserved colonial vibe, rich in art heritage and welcoming locals.
Points of interest: The best way to experience Newport is to get walking – explore the miles of beaches, scenic trails and stunning colonial summer houses. There is also the International Tennis Hall of Fame for any sports fans, or various opulent mansion style houses open for those looking to get a flavour of old colonial living.
Food: This seaside town is a great place to sample fresh, local seafood – from calamari, oysters and lobster. There are also plenty of contemporary restaurants to choose from, serving steaks, pasta dishes and pizza alongside fantastic wine lists.
Nightlife: Popular with students after dark, Newport’s nightlife is surprisingly good. Head to Thames Street for the majority of clubs and bars. There are plenty of venues offering live music and dancing till late – but if you’re after something more relaxed, there are numerous bars offering fantastic cocktails and local brews.
Did you know: Every July you can experience world class musicians at the Newport Music Festival. All day performances are scheduled at great venues all around the town and is a tradition going back to the 1920s when Newport culture lovers established the Newport Music Club.
If you like LEIDEN, why not try LEUVEN?
Leiden, The Netherlands
Landscape: Situated in South Holland, this is a pretty historical town with well-kept and colourful buildings dating back to the seventeenth century. Laced with canals, this vivacious town offers an array of canal boat tours and guided walking tours.
Culture: Although small, this city is packed with history, friendly people and a unique Dutch charm. Strewn with museums, the city is famous for being the birthplace of Rembrant and home to the Netherland’s oldest and most respected university.
Points of interest: Take in the city on a walking tour and experience all the sights and history. Stroll through the beautiful park Leidse Hout and finish your day in one of the many canal side cafes to relax and enjoy the local delicacies. If you are visiting with kids the Naturalis Natural History museum is a great way to spend the day.
Food: A must visit for breakfast on a Saturday morning is a little French bakery called Mamie Gourmande. Join the queues for their almond croissants which are most definitely worth waiting for. The Waag Leiden restaurant has recently opened its doors in the centre of Leiden and is known for its international building and vibe that makes you feel at home.
Nightlife: Locals love the lively Annie’s Verjaardag, situated in the centre of Leiden with a beautiful terrace on the water. Make sure to check this out in the spring and summer to enjoy the boats passing by through the canals.
Did you know? In the spring of 2017 the new shopping centre on de Aalmarkt will be open, featuring great food stores such as Yogurt Barn and other well-known brands.
Landscape: The charming and traditional town of Leuven in Belgium is known for its city walks, historical monuments and architectural gems like the Gothic Town Hall.
Culture: Nature lovers will love the Kruidtuin Botanical Gardens, history goers will enjoy the iconic St. Peter’s Church and travellers looking to soak up some culture should visit the impressive M Museum.
Points of interest: Take in the grand sites of the Stadhuis Town Hall. With its incredible architecture and guided walking tours, travellers will also love the surrounding cafes and restaurants.
Food: What could be better than a combination of delicious food and beer culture, travellers must visit Muntsraat, known as the restaurant street lined with beautiful seventeenth buildings.
Nightlife: Often considered one of the prettiest and liveliest of Belgium’s small cities, travellers will be spoilt for choice for things to do in the evening.
Did you know? Leuven is the home to the largest brewing company in the world, Stella Artois. Be sure to visit the Het Zythos Bierfestival in April, this annual beer festival is home to more than 100 Belgian brewers offering travellers the chance to sample over 500 different types of beer!
If you like VANCOUVER, why not try BAR HARBOR?
Landscape: This Canadian coastal seaport city sits amongst incredible mountain ranges and rivers, reflecting the natural environment in its landscape. The steel and glass aesthetics dominating downtown Vancouver led to the city being nicknamed the ‘City of Glass’.
Culture: Known for its natural beauty and cultural diversity, Vancouver is full of cosmopolitan appeal. Nature is everywhere with its rich green mountains, parks and beautiful views, as well as plenty of museums, cafes and galleries to explore.
Points of interest: There’s no shortage of sights to see in this vibrant city. Stroll around Stanley Park, the largest urban park in North America, and the VanDusen Botanical Gardens for superb waterfront views. Take a walk across the Capilano Suspension Bridge and peruse the markets on Granville Island for quaint streets and charming cafes. If you’re feeling more adventurous, there are plenty of hiking opportunities in the forested mountainous that surround the area.
Food: New and exciting eateries are popping up around every corner and there is something for everyone, whether you’re after some fine dining or budget eats. Famous for its food truck scene, you’ll be able to enjoy everything from burgers and sushi, to Asian street food and pizza.
Nightlife: Buzzing at night, Vancouver’s neighbourhoods are full of bars, clubs and pubs for you to enjoy. Granville Street is home to late night clubs and live music venues, in Yaletown you’ll find chilled out cocktail bars and Gastown is the place for Irish pubs and wine bars – so take your pick!
Did you know: You can explore the city’s culinary delights with the annual Secret Supper Soiree. Hop aboard the old school trolley bus and get whisked away to a secret location to enjoy a multicourse dinner from a local chef. Get in there quick, it sells out every single year.
Bar Harbor, USA
Landscape: This quaint resort town, situated on Mount Desert Island in Maine, is home to the 1,532-foot Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, making this a great destination for those that love the great outdoors.
Culture: Discovered by the Wabanaki Indians, there’s a lot of rich heritage in this town. Visitors can discover more about Bar Harbor's past by visiting the Abbe Museum and the Dorr Museum of Natural History.
Points of interest: Bar Harbor is a destination to be experienced outdoors, with the incredible Acadia National Park on its doorstep, offering plenty of hiking or rock climbing opportunities on Cadillac Mountain. Visitors can also go boating or fishing along the town’s picturesque coastline, visit the local zoo or browse the boutiques.
Food: Situated right on the coast, you’ve got to sample the seafood, fresh off the docks of Maine. Tuck into juicy clams, tender mussels and lobsters from the great choice of seafood restaurants dotted around the harbour.
Nightlife: Bar Harbor has a mix of charming pubs and bars offering live music and comedy nights. For something a little different, why not try Bar Harbor’s original ghost tour and hear about the ancient tales of the Wabanaki Indian spirits.
Did you know: Although Acadia National Park is where everyone flocks, make sure you stop off along the way for picturesque viewpoints to watch the waves crashing in. Sand Beach in the national park is perfect for relaxing in or even some star gazing, too.
If you like MOSCOW, why not try MEXICO CITY?
Landscape: A city of contrasts, this Russian capital is full of beautiful medieval churches interspersed with impressive, modern skyscrapers and attracts visitors from all over the world with its culture and history. The architecture styles range from traditional Russian to beautiful Italian and you can lose days exploring all the sights.
Culture: A culture vultures dream and previously a European capital of culture, Moscow is full of stunning cathedrals, churches, theatres, museums, restaurants and bars that reflect its unique vibes. In the oldest museum of the city, the Museum of Moscow, you’ll find a collection of exhibits depicting life in the city throughout history.
Points of interest: It’s hard to narrow this down as Moscow is home to some of the world’s best museums and galleries. A must is the Kremlin, giving a sneak peek into Russia’s imperial past as well as Red Square, St Basils Cathedral, Boslshoi Theatre and the Izmailovsky flea market.
Food: You’ll find everything here from bohemian restaurants to cosy cafes and luxury dining. Traditional Russian food is typically hearty including dumplings, Stroganoff and Borsch (traditional beef and cabbage soup) to warm you up in the freezing winters.
Nightlife: You’ll soon learn that this city never sleeps – spoilt for choice when it comes to elite nightclubs, quirky bars and cosy pubs open until the early hours, travellers will also find that the bars and nightclubs also double up as restaurants, bowling alleys and even book shops.
Did you know: Once you’ve explored the city on street level, why not take a trip underground? You’ll find artificial limestone caves underneath Pochta station – don’t forget a torch and a guide!
Mexico City, Mexico
Landscape: Mexico City is well regarded as one of the world’s mega cities. Its vibrant mix of cosmopolitan, urban and colonial architecture makes for an impressive and imposing cityscape.
Culture: Mexico City is a vivacious, energetic city, teaming with activity, food, entertainment and history.
Points of interest: The Zocalo square is a fantastic spot to sample the city’s stunning architecture and soak up a bit of its historical heritage - every day, soldiers still form around the central flagpole to unfurl the giant Mexican flag. For art fans, don’t miss the Palace of Fine Arts for sprawling galleries, sculptures and imposing halls or if you fancy a striking walk, head to the Alameda Central Park for fountains and people watching.
Food: Mexico City is a must visit destination for food lovers. Try the abundance of traditional dishes on offer, including ‘chilaquile’s (fried corn tortillas, topped with eggs, salsa and pulled chicken), tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, corn on the cob served with salt chili and cheese and of course, the guacamole.
Nightlife: Mexico City has a varied and trendy nightlife on offer – the weekend usually gets going from a Thursday night and there are hundreds of clubs, restaurants, dancing venues and bars to choose from. Don’t feel like you have to stick to the traditional tequila – Mexico City offers a great selection of local wines and beers. Or why not try a local favourite, the ‘paloma’, made with tequila, grapefruit, lime and soda.
Did you know? The Isla de las Meñecas (Island of the Dolls) is home to hundreds of decapitated dolls. The headless or limbless dolls hang from trees after being plucked from surrounding canals by a local caretaker. Take a short boat ride over for a bizarre but intriguing experience.
* Compiled by Booking.com January 2017 by comparing each focus city to other destinations of the same size to find out which endorsement categories that city excelled at relative to the competition. This resulted in a list of stand-out categories for each city, which was then matched to other, lesser-known destinations around the world.