6 trips of a lifetime everyone should take

Cherry Blossom in Japan
Cherry Blossom in Japan
19 Mar 2019

While we love all kinds of travel, there are some trips that are so jaw-dropping they stand out among all others. We’re talking about the kind of travel that makes you stop and think about how utterly beautiful the world is. And while half the fun of travel is figuring out the right trip for you, we’re giving you a head start on these ones. Check out these six incredible options:

A twirl through Tuscany

It's hard not to fall head over heels in love with Tuscany. The picturesque rolling hills dotted with elongated cypress trees, the endless vineyards, the medieval hill towns -- and everywhere, the most amazing food. Start your journey in Florence, which in 2019 celebrates Leonardo Da Vinci on the 500th anniversary of his death. Masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s David at the Galleria dell’Accademia and the magnificent Masaccio fresco are must-sees on a trip around this beautiful area.

As you leave the city, stunning countryside awaits, and renting a car is a great way to make the most of it. We recommend heading to Lucca, which is known as the City of One Hundred Churches and is completely encircled by medieval walls. It is also home to what many consider the best gelato in all of Italy. 

 

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Japan's Golden Route

The so-called Golden Route is about to turn the most ethereal shade of pink as the country's legendary cherry blossom blooms along the trail between Tokyo and Kyoto. Hanami -- the ritual of celebrating the transient beauty of these flowers -- will see gardens and parks in Tokyo and across the country filled with people out picnicking and taking scenic strolls.

Continue the sensory overload with a stop at Yamanaka Onsen, a hot-spring resort in the mountains, where you should stay in a traditional ryokan. At the nearby volcanic national park of Hakone, take a boat ride for epic views of Mount Fuji. Once in Kyoto, you'll find plenty more cherry blossom, as well as the lush mountain forests of the Fushimi Inari Shrine and the surreal Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. 

 

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From Rome to Monte Carlo

Spend a few days time touring the millennia-old treasures of Rome -- the Colosseum, the Forum, the Terme di Caracalla -- and the modern luxuries (don’t miss La Pergola, the Eternal City’s only Michelin 3-star restaurant, where the views from the top of the Rome Cavalieri are as impressive as La Pergola's legendary fagottelli). Wander through the fairy-tale Quartiere Coppede, and before you leave the city take in the view from the Gianicolo, where the monumental fountain (the one from "La Grande Bellezza") is a must.

Then, taking a boat from the nearby port of Civitavecchia, make your way up the Mediterranean coast to the yellow and pink fishermen’s houses that line Portofino’s harbour. Next, head to glamorous Monaco,  where you can catch the Grand Prix if you time your trip right. Make sure to visit the opulent 18th-century casino, which may look familiar from "Goldeneye" or "Ocean’s Twelve".

 

Venturing through Vietnam 

Step into the vibrant streets of Hanoi, with scooters whizzing past you from every direction, pagodas and palaces encircling you, and the scent of some of the world’s best street food in the air. Spend at least a couple of days soaking up the mix of Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influences. Eat all you can, and don’t leave without trying the local egg coffee at the hidden-away Cafe Pho Co, where you'll get rooftop views of the Hoan Kiem Lake. You’ll also want to visit Hang Gai, the silk street, for lush textiles and custom-tailored clothes.

Then, journey your way down the country, taking in incredible views along the way -- from the limestone outcrops in Halong Bay to the terraced rice fields in Nam Cang village. Once you reach Ho Chi Minh City, take a day trip to the extravagantly painted Cao Dai temple, home to a unique blend of Buddhism, Christianity and Confucianism. 

 

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The Galapagos Islands

Unleash your inner naturalist in one of the most enthralling spots on earth, where Charles Darwin famously developed his theory of evolution. The animals still thriving on the Galapagos Islands are the main attraction -- you’ll be able to observe sea lions, giant tortoises, iguanas and blue- and red-footed boobies, among other colourful characters. The best way to see the islands is aboard a small cruise, offering you the chance to kayak, hike and snorkel among the breathtaking sea life. 

Don’t miss a stop in Quito -- Ecuador’s Andean capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is built on Inca remains and there are many Baroque churches and monasteries to see. 

 

Spain's dynamic duo

On its own, Madrid makes for a jam-packed getaway, and the same is true for Barcelona. But combine the two -- and throw in some local events -- and you’ve got one memorable trip. In bohemian Barcelona, Antoni Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia basilica and tile-covered structures in Parc Guell will simply awe you. Spend time on La Rambla boulevard, where you’ll find street performers, cafes and La Boqueria -- a jaw-dropping food market, filled to the rafters with all manner of meats, cheeses, pastries and sweets. 

Next stop: Madrid, where a global cultural icon -- the Museo del Prado -- happens to be celebrating its 200th birthday in 2019. You’ll also want to visit the Reina Sofia museum (home to Picasso’s "Guernica"), the stunning Royal Palace and Botín -- the world’s oldest restaurant, according to Guinness World Records.

 

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