Off the beaten path – best travel destinations in rural Europe

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Travel broadens the mind and enriches life experience, and this is the reason it is so important to try to do as much of it as you possibly can. There are so many wonderful travel destinations these days, and the rise of budget travel has allowed more people to see much more of the world.

The most fulfilling travel experiences are those that take you off the beaten track and onto the road less traveled. Who knows what mysteries wait just around the corner, and where you can discover them? If you want an unforgettable break this year, away from the frenzied, tourist-filled streets, here are some amazing European gems just itching to be discovered.

Alentejo region, Portugal

If you’re planning on heading for a vacay soon, one of the best places to check out is Portugal’s stunning Alentejo region. This delightful part of southern Portugal comes alive in the springtime, presenting a smorgasbord of incredible floral colors. With pinks, oranges, yellows, and whites blanketing the ground, there are serene and elegant walking routes around Alqueva Lake and across beautiful countryside. Oh, and there are some amazing restaurants en route in the city of Evora as well.

Pyrenees, French-Spanish border

The Pyrenees Mountains are spread across France, Spain, and Andorra, and you can take an incredible road trip that allows you to travel across borders and see some of the most amazing parts of the Pyrenees. Hire a car and take a remarkable three-day road trip that scales mountain peaks, gorgeous valleys, and picture-postcard villages. Enjoy the 3,000m views from the top of the Pic du Midi mountain, accessible by cable car.

Sardinia, Italy

Sardinia is a must-visit destination in Italy, and it’s one you might not think is that unique. Well, how about experiencing this amazing island as part of a sea kayaking adventure?! This offers an invigorating and unforgettable break, where you can hit hidden beaches, secret coves, and enjoy the gorgeous surroundings of Porto Conte. Starting in April, these trips give you the perfect Sardinian experience, and something unique that lets you have the spring break you’ve always wanted.

Carpathian Mountains, Romania

The Carpathian Mountains demand discovery, and this is one of the places you need to check out for your spring break. There are so many amazing reasons to take a trip here, but one of the biggest is bison tracking! Yes, believe it or not, you don’t have to go on an African safari to get your bison fix. High up in the foothills of the Carpathians, a conservation project has allowed these majestic creatures to thrive. You can stay in Bucharest, and head out in groups (fronted by rangers) into the wilds of the Tarcu Mountains to see bison, bears, and other creatures.

How about these for some off the track destinations to explore the beautiful and majestic underbelly of Europe. These are some incredible choices that can take you away from the crowds, and allow you to experience things you might not otherwise have been able to. Indulge, slip away, and lose yourself in the elegance of European delight.

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The most beautiful travel destinations for cyclists

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Cycling allows you to enjoy some of the most amazing destinations in the world, and you can enjoy them from a completely different perspective. Hitting the open roads and dusty wastelands of the great outdoors as your legs pump like pistons and your tires drag you onward to parts unknown is one of the best ways of exploring the world and taking things further.

There are a lot of great places you can visit while cycling and biking destinations offer the opportunity to discover gorgeous scenery and keep fit while doing it. This is different to cycle racing, as you are taking in the world’s most picturesque places, and having a real experience. This is a list of some of the most jaw-dropping and sensational biking routes that every cyclist needs to know about right now!

Tuscany, Italy

Yes, believe it or not, Tuscany is not just a place you go to eat great food and drink delicious grape juice (wink); you can actually cycle an excellent route here. The rolling hills and sprawling vineyards of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Val d’Orcia makes for one of Europe’s most divine cycling routes. And, what better destination for refreshing pit stops than Italy’s famed vineyard region?!

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is one of the most striking, stunning, and unforgettable cities in the world. A place of wonderful architecture, aching beauty, and plenty to explore. Rent a bicycle and cycle along the banks beside the grey, glassy waters of the Danube River as it snakes away into the great beyond. Then head up into the hills and follow the mountain cycle trails that span 25 miles of forests, parks, dirt roads, and new discoveries. Divine.

 

New England, United States

It’s fair to say New England is one of the most stunning regions in the whole of the US, and with scenery like this, you’d be doing it an injustice not to explore it by bike. Everything about New England is better by bike, and the East Coast Greenway offers some of the best biking routes on Earth! With trails built on former railways, and some gorgeous surrounding scenery, places like Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, following routes like the National Rail Trail, Down East Sunrise Trail, and Island Line Trail, New England is an unmissable destination for cyclists.

Génolhac to Vallon Pont d’Arc, France

It’s no coincidence that the Tour de France, professional cycling’s showcase event, takes place in France. There is such beauty and diversity to the French landscape, and this is one of the most remarkable routes you can enjoy by bike. Starting in the small village of Génolhac, and cycling 42-miles across charming vistas, amazing towns, and picture-perfect tourist landmarks, the ride eventually ends up in Vallon Pont d’Arc. This is a stunning adventure on the breathtaking open roads of southern France.

Intrepid cyclists with a thirst for adventure and exploration need to check out the best routes on offer. There are so many incredible biking trails all over the world, and getting hands-on experience with these will really enhance and boost your enjoyment of adventure cycling.

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A journey in leaves – the best destinations for tea lovers

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Who among us doesn’t love a steaming cup of chai? Sure, a cup of tea might be the most British of inventions, but there is a growing love for tea across the United States. As a nation of coffee lovers, those of us flying the tea flag might be in a minority, but we are certainly growing.

Those tea enthusiasts out there are looking for any excuse to be able to sample more delicious tea variant. That’s why we have decided to compile a list of some of the ultimate destinations for those who love tea of all kinds. These are some of the most amazing tea experiences you can have in your life right now.

Assam, India

India might be better known for Darjeeling, but the largest tea producing region is Assam. Vast tea plantations sprawl across the region which supplies three-fifths of the tea in India. Enthusiasts should check out Mancotta, a wonderful estate house from the 1840s nestled amid the plantations.

Ceylon tea, Sri Lanka

Ceylon used to be the name for Sri Lanka, so it is fitting that the Ceylon black tea is such an iconic choice in Sri Lanka. You should check out the delightful Ceylon Tea Trails, and take informative and intriguing tours, where you can learn all about the process of cultivating and creating Ceylon tea.

Afternoon/Cream tea, England

No tea experience would be complete without a trip to England, the spiritual home of tea! If you find yourself in Cool Britannia any time soon, you simply have to head for London, offers more afternoon tea options than you can shake a finger sandwich at! Alternatively, you might like to head to Cornwall’s Tregothnan to sample an authentic Cornish cream tea. Delicious!

Mint tea, Morocco

Morocco is famed for many different types of tea, but the absolute classic Moroccan offering is gunpowder green mint tea. Make sure you head for the Dar Baths Museum in Fez and check out a history lesson surrounding this delicious drink. The etiquette here is that you slurp rather than sip, and make sure you make the most of this delicious hot treat.

Corrientes, Argentina

It might surprise you to hear that Argentina is the third-largest consumer of tea in the world, by volume. The country consumes a delicious tea called Yerba Mate, a herbal tea that contains antioxidants. Many consider this to not be a proper tea because it’s herbal, but if mint tea counts then we feel this one should. There are plenty of tours in Corrientes where you can sample this herbal concoction, and this is definitely something you need to think about.

These are just some of the best tea experiences you can have in the world today. The love of all kinds of tea is growing and improving, and there are so many different experiences you can enjoy in countries all across the world. If you want to expand your tea horizons, and taste lots of different delicious teas from all across the world, these are some of the best places to begin.

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The best spring break destinations

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Let’s be honest; college is pretty darn stressful. You have deadlines, you have essays, you have exams, and you have 9am lectures (whose bright idea was that?). Because of this, college students often need to give themselves a break, let their hair down, and let their worries simply float away. More specifically, they need to let these worries float away as they jump on a giant inflatable unicorn on spring break. Go hard or go home, right? Spring break is an unforgettable college experience, and these are the hottest spring break destinations.

Cancun

Cancun is perhaps one of the most popular spring break destinations out there, and it’s not hard to see why. This Mexican city offers endless beaches and resorts that are perfect for college revellers. Don your all-inclusive band for limitless drinks, enough food to fill you up for the next semester, and entertainment that will leave you with ringing in your ears. In a good way, of course. Could you pick a better destination for your spring break? We think not.

Dominican Republic

Considering the United States is so close to the Caribbean, it’s easier than ever for students to cross the ocean and set up their spring break shenanigans on these beautiful islands. The Dominican Republic is one of the top spring break destinations on the list and is also one of the most beautiful. From rolling sand to bending palm trees, the beaches here are screaming out to be used for party games, drinking contest, and friendly frolics.

Miami

What could be better than rollerblading down Miami beach with a drink in each hand? Not a lot. Miami has largely been associated with celebrity hangouts, but it’s becoming more accessible and affordable for college students on a budget. Yes, you can hang out on the beach, on rooftop bars, or even quirky dive bars to quench your thirst, before hitting the town and keeping an eye out for

South Padre Island

South Padre Island is just a short drive away from Texas, but it seems as though it’s a world away. While everyday travelers do make their way to this destination, the tourism board of South Padre Island knows they’ve got a good thing going on with their college students. They put on concerts for their spring breakers, they provide them with awesome accommodation, and more than enough water sports to keep them busy.

Las Vegas

Just like Vegas, what happens on spring break stays in spring break. This infamous city is becoming more and more popular with college students across the country because this Sin City is where anything goes. Although you might not be able to enjoy the beach, there are more than enough hotels and casinos that will keep you entertained for hours. As if that wasn’t enough, the nightclubs in Vegas are off the chain.

With spring break just around the corner, you should probably start thinking about where you’re going next. Are you going just down the road? Or are you going a bit further afield? These destinations will certainly spark your interest.

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Most crowded travel destinations

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The world is pretty incredible, and it seems as though we keep adding more and more to our bucket list each day. Yes, all we have to do is see a photograph online of a destination, or listen to our friend’s recent travel adventures, and we immediately want to pack our bags and explore what Mother Nature has gifted us with. However, it seems as though we’re not the only ones who get some serious FOMO about the world. Tourists flock to some of the most popular destinations in the world, but this also makes them incredibly crowded. These are the most crowded travel destinations and the best time to visit them so you can avoid becoming a sardine.

Venice, Italy

There’s no doubt about the fact that Venice is absolutely stunning. From the gondola rides along the canals to the bustling markets and town squares, this island has everything you could possibly want. Yet, a huge number of visitors make their way to this floating city every single year, and sometimes you just can’t see the wood from the trees. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to ditch your Venetian travel plans. All you have to do is visit Venice in the winter rather than the summer when the crowds have gone!

Shanghai, China

If you want to really expand your horizons, why not take a trip to China? Shanghai is a bustling metropolitan city that is full of bright lights, bubbly people, and a buzzing atmosphere. Most people make their way to Shanghai during the summer when the days are warm, and tourism is at its peak. Yet, having our shoulders jostled every minute of the day is not something we want to experience. If you want to check out every inch of this place, then it’s best to avoid the heat and visit between October and November.

Delhi, India

Everyone should visit India at least once in their lives, and Delhi is the obvious choice. This region is a conglomeration of sights, sounds, smells, and everything you could possibly need to make the most of it. However, with a population of 18.6 million and countless other tourists, it’s fair to say that it’s a bit of a squeeze in Delhi. That’s why it’s best to go in the heat of the summer if you can bear it. While the heat may be a little too hot to handle for some people, it’s incredibly quiet.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu isn’t for everyone, as it requires one heck of a trek before you reach your final destination. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop a huge number of people making their way to these Mayan ruins with their selfie sticks in hand each year. Because of this, it can be hard to enjoy the culture and the authenticity of the lost (but now found) city. That’s why it’s always best to visit this destination in November or April when the peak tourist season is over.

Looking to visit these crowded tourist destinations? You just need to do your research and choose the right time to visit!

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These destinations are straight out of fairytales

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Many of us grew up reading fairytale stories, but never believed we could actually visit many of the places in those stories. Little did we know, there are plenty of places in the world that look like they have come straight from a fairytale – these are just some of them.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park – China

Movie fans might want to take a trip to China if they want to see what the world of Avatar looks like in real life. That’s because it’s said that James Cameron used the landscape as inspiration for his world, Pandora. Amazingly, this is not only China’s first national park but is also the home to the 3,540-foot tower named Avatar Hallelujah Mountain.

Bagan – Myanmar

The area of Bagan is filled with temples that look as though they have been plucked straight out of a fairytale and scattered throughout the land. The mist often surrounding the buildings only adds to the intrigue of this mystical place. The best bit? There are so many ways to explore Bagan including hiking around the area or taking a hot air balloon trip.

Hoh Rainforest – U.S.A.

Believe it or not, but tucked away in Washington is one of the best surviving rainforests of the country. In fact, the Hoh Rainforest can see anywhere between 140 and 170 inches of rain each year. There are two trails that wind within the trees, and some visitors may even be lucky enough to see a group of elk grazing amongst the fairytale landscape.

The Giant’s Causeway – Northern Ireland

This area of coastline would be right at home in a story thanks to the hexagonal rocks that lie tucked next to each other between the land and the sea. Volcanic activity from thousands of years ago is the reason behind the formations, and now creates one of the most beautiful sights in the land. Folklore states the columns were formed none other than the giant, Finn MacCool.

Vaadhoo Island – Maldives

Of course, many of us have seen the picturesque landscape that is the Maldives, but it’s the Sea of Stars found off the coast of Vaadhoo Island that makes it even more breathtaking. The bioluminescent marine plankton emits a glowing light whenever they are disturbed and create a show that almost looks like the entire night’s sky under the sea.

The tulip fields – Holland

Team miles of colorful tulips with fairytale windmills all across the country and you might just find yourself wondering if you could still be on planet Earth. As if that wasn’t enough, Holland is known for its love of bicycles and trams which can be a far cry from the loud engines of cars that many of us are used to around the rest of the world.

We never knew there were so many breathtaking places all around the world. In fact, you might have to pinch yourself if you need a reminder that you’re still on Earth and haven’t been transported to a fairytale destination straight out of the storybooks. Perhaps it’s time to start exploring all these magical lands?

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Destinations for first time skiers

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Picking up a new sport can be a challenging experience but fun nonetheless. Whether you’re going to keep up with the sport after your initial trials largely depends on the type of experience or instruction you get at this time. That’s why it’s important to choose a learning place where all your sporting needs will be catered for and you’ll be in the hands of great and experienced instructors.

This should be the case with skiing. As a first time skier, the area you decide to give the sport your first try should be beginner friendly. If not, you’ll probably end up frustrated and give up the sport early. Good beginner skiing areas should be able to first of all have gentle slopes that are not too challenging. This is where starters will easily pick up basics before they take up more advanced runs. Instructors to offer lessons and skiing courses should also be part of the package, along with hire services for ski equipment. Here are some of the skiing destinations that are ideal for first time skiers.

1. Champoluc, Italy

There are many factors that make this one of the best areas for skiing beginners. At Ski 2, there’s provision of tuition which is vital to any beginner. There’s also equipment hire, so you don’t have to spend money on expensive skiing equipment that you may never use again if you decide that skiing isn’t your kind of thing. To make it even more accommodating to first timers, there’s a school on the establishment that’s purposely for guests. Alongside expert instructors, the schools also provide equipment to learners. Bring in the countless hotels available in this area and the perfect skiing holiday is complete.

2. Soldeu, Andorra

Nobody wants to break the bank for something that might turn out to be a temporary endeavour, and that’s exactly why Soldeu is such an ideal destination for first time skiers who haven’t yet found their footing in the sport. There are extremely good prices which undoubtedly make the sport worth trying. What makes this place even more cost friendly is the fact that it’s duty free. With 2 nursery slopes spanning a wide area which are gentle, getting started becomes easier. There’s also English-speaking ski instructors so language barrier is not an issue and everybody is well accommodated.

3. Méribel, France

The beginner experience is made easier at Méribel with gentle nursery slopes and tuition programmes that get any willing skier started off on the right foot. There’s even a group course for beginners. With three zones dedicated sorely to first timers, this is a great place to learn the basics without jostling with pros. Good news for the pocket too, access to these zones is absolutely free. These can be found in the Mottaret, Platieres and Chatelet areas.

4. Les Arcs, France

At Les Arcs, each of the main villages at the resort have nursery slopes just above them. Along with this accessibility, there’s a free beginner’s lift. One of the areas hosts an award winning ski school, meaning that beginners are in the right hands here. As first times gain more experience they get to progress to more advanced slopes.

5. Bansko, Bulgaria

Bansko happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so there’s going to be the added advantage of marvelous sights alongside skiing. Beginners here get lessons, lift passes and cheap accommodation. There’s a gentle area to teach basics to starters, after which they get to explore exciting forest routes and open runs.

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The best destinations for culturephiles in the United States

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Everyone has different hobbies; some like to collect things, while others like to explore the world. Among those who love to travel and see new things are people who are interested in learning all about different cultures, or culturephiles. They are especially fond of exploring the history and culture of different regions.

With so many destination options out there, it can be difficult to decide where to go first. So, culturephiles, here are the best destinations in the United States for you to check out.

Houston, Texas

The most significant historic attraction in Houston, Texas is the San Jacinto Monument, commemorating the battle of Texas, along with a great historical museum. There is, of course, a huge space center located in Houston, which can be a great place to visit if you are interested in space exploration and the history of the US space program. There are also various other historic buildings, statues, and architecture that are worth seeing in this fascinating city.

New York City, New York

The marvelous Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center, and Ellis Island are just a few of the most visited places in New York City. Colloquially known as the “city that never sleeps,” New York is home to incredible art and culture, music, museums, and plays.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico is the oldest state capital in the United States. Here, you can explore the magnificent history of the country from long ago. This beautiful city is famous for its historical architecture, preservation of the old cultures, unique boutiques, and super-delicious food. There is always a lot to do in Santa Fe, and the options range from shopping and eating to biking and hiking.

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis is a huge tourist center, with about 600,000 people visiting every year. Memphis is famous for its lush green parks and plenty of museums, and of course, for being the hometown of the great Elvis Presley. There are a number of museums and tributes that honor the King of Rock and Roll. In addition, Memphis is a great place for kids, and there is a children’s museum in the middle town and an epic zoo nearby, too.

Indianapolis, Indiana

The world’s largest children museum is located in Indianapolis, and it is one of the world’s most rapidly emerging capitals. The diverse culture and multicolor history are core assets of this charming place.

Phoenix, Arizona

The mesmerizing scenery in Phoenix, Arizona makes it a stunning place to visit and spend some time in the outdoors. Phoenix is famous for its diverse ecosystem, camelback mountains, rare species of flora and fauna, and several botanical and horticulture gardens.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is a city with a beautiful skyline, incredible museums, and diverse people and culture. It is great for all ages and there is always something to do here from kayaking on the Chicago river to visiting the famous Field Museum of Natural History. It is a diverse city with a very interesting history, not to mention the great food and sports teams associated with the Windy City.

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Popular travel destinations that have been ruined by tourists

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The world has become a more connected place than it used to be. Thanks to advances in technology, travel is cheaper, and we can all just Google a flight to see where our next holiday destination should be. While it is great that so many places that were once thought impossible to get to are now up for vacation consideration plans, there is a problem. The increased footfall in these places is having a negative impact on the place, people, or the actual tourists. Have you been on vacation only to have thought it was ruined by other people also visiting? Check out these popular travel destinations ruined by tourists.

Santorini, Greece

The small island of Santorini in Greece is as beautiful a place as you are likely to find anywhere on the planet. The small island is picturesque and has become an Instagram-worthy vacation destination for many. It is a popular stop for European cruises, so the number of tourists visiting the island per day has had to be capped at 8,000. With so many people crammed onto such a tiny piece of rock, the island is losing its charm and instead just feels overcrowded during peak travel times.

Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

You’ve seen those pictures of people standing in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, pretending to be holding it up thanks to a trick of the camera. Well, good luck finding a clear space to take that picture as pretty much everybody who goes is trying their best to get one of these ‘hilarious’ shots that are totally original and have never been done before. The tower is incredible to see, but the sheer number of people who are swarmed around it can really ruin the atmosphere when you are there.

Taj Mahal, India

Unquestionably, the Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, so it makes sense that so many people want to visit. The huge crowds of people, really become a problem as you’ll basically have to battle with them to get a semi-decent photo of one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. If you really want to go then your best bet is to arrive first thing in the morning (gates open at 6am) and then run to the spot you want to take your picture from, otherwise forget about getting a good picture without anyone else in the background.

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galápagos Islands are possibly the best known natural habitat found anywhere on the planet. The islands in Ecuador are naturally a place many people want to visit to get a glimpse of the diverse wildlife found there, but visitors can imbalance the environment. There are strict rules places on visitors, and they are only allowed to go on marked trails with the assistance of a guide. Much of the natural world has been destroyed thanks to human activity, and the Galápagos Islands are one of the few places left on the planet where humans have had relatively little impact on the biodiverse wildlife that lives there. The ecosystem is very fragile there, and further tourism can lead to the whole thing breaking down, ruining it forever.

Mount Everest, Nepal

One of the world’s most dangerous places is being made even more dangerous thanks to the overcrowding on the Nepal side of this mountain. Local guides have complained about the impact too many tourists are having on the site, especially those not capable of climbing the notoriously difficult peak. It is already difficult to climb without having to battle against the hordes of others around you on the mountain.

These places are all incredible and are rightly places that many people desire to go and visit. Unfortunately, they are not capable of housing all of those people which is negatively impacting the experience tourists have when they go. Next time you consider one of these places, think about your impact – and be prepared to wake up early if you want to get a good photo!

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