Every year we crunch the numbers, consult our industry contacts and tap into the collective know-how of our travel experts to bring you our 50 top travel experiences for the upcoming year and beyond, in no particular order – they’re all amazing. Be inspired to see more of the world through these incredible experiences in 2020.
01.Travel Switzerland by scenic rail
A small mountainous country in the heart of Europe, Switzerland is usually associated with chocolate, banking, knives and watches.
This is a place for the organised, the efficient and the finer things in life. Yet, from the fertile valleys of the north across the Alps to the Mediterranean south, the spectacular scenery really is something special. There’s no better way to explore than by rail. Imagine sitting with a glass of wine, informative commentary on your headset and uninterrupted views as you glide through villages and valleys over mountain passes and blue lakes.
02. Go glamping in the Kimberley
The landscape is awash with colour – the bright-red dirt of the road framed by sparse, green foliage and the vivid blue sky.
It’s dry and dusty in this part of the Kimberley in June but the landscape is awash with colour – the bright-red dirt of the road framed by sparse, green foliage and the vivid blue sky. We’re driving along the famous Gibb River Road, bumpy and shaky in parts, adding to the 4WD experience. Just 200m off the Gibb, an oasis awaits: Bell Gorge Wilderness Lodge. It’s more glamping than camping, our luxury tented cabin is spacious with a fully equipped ensuite. We arrive late in the afternoon, just in time to settle into deck chairs with a drink to enjoy the sunset over the King Leopold escarpment.
03. See Thailand’s floating pagodas
The otherworldly white pagodas seem to hover mystically from their perch high on the mist-shrouded peaks
Though their origins may look supernatural, the floating pagodas of the Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat temple, in Lampang Province, northern Thailand, started life via the very hike you’ll do to reach the breathtaking heights at which they sit. In an awe-inspiring display of devotion, a much-loved monk led a team of around 50, who carried every piece of the temple to the mountain top, working each day for two years, completing the incredible project around 13 years ago. et and uninterrupted views as you glide through villages and valleys over mountain passes and blue lakes.
04. Set sail on a state-of-the-art ship
A new ship is set to revolutionise the ocean-going experience in 2020
Celebrity Apex (launching in April) is the second ship to launch in Celebrity Cruises’ Edge series fleet with a raft of innovative design and visionary spaces. While the exterior is certainly eye-catching, the interiors are just as stylish and modern with outdoor plunge pools for the two-storey Edge Villas. If that wasn’t fantastical enough, the Magic Carpet is the world’s first cantilevered platform that can move decks and up to a height of 13 storeys for a new perspective on cruising.
06. Drive the Wales Way
Discover the fascinating stories of Wales by taking to the roads
Running through the mountainous heart of Wales, the five-day Cambrian Way begins in the Welsh capital of Cardiff and takes you north to the charming Victorian seaside town of Llandudno. Mountains, coastal villages, gourmet food tours and the fascinating history are waiting for you along the four-day North Wales Way. Following the shore of Cardigan Bay for 290km on a seven-day self-drive journey, the Coastal Way takes you to harbour towns, beaches, galleries and countless foodie ports-of-call such as gastropubs, farmhouse cheesemakers, distilleries, legendary fish 'n' chip shops and so much more.
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07. Venture to the seventh continent in luxury
The seventh continent enthrals visitors with its sparkling icebergs, glaciers and wildlife
The seventh continent enthrals visitors with its sparkling icebergs, glaciers and wildlife and Antarctica is now more accessible than ever. Two new, state-of-the-art expedition ships are due to set sail to the Antarctic Peninsula in 2020 with each voyage carrying around 100 passengers. Aurora Expedition’s The Greg Mortimer and Lindblad Expedition’s National Geographic Endurance boast cutting-edge nautical and safety features, while providing a luxurious and relaxing onboard cruise experience. Adventurous guests can enjoy shore excursions or chill out on board with activities such as yoga.
08. Be a guest at an Indian wedding
Imagine being surrounded by a riotous flurry of multicoloured decorations, elaborate silk saris in rainbow hues and catchy uplifting music as you’re swept up in the joyous celebration of a multi-day Indian wedding ceremony.
Wendy Wu Tours can organise a private tour that invites you to join in a couple’s nuptial festivities in India to celebrate the commitment, religion, tradition and union of families. The details – hennaed hands and feet, flower garlands, intricate gold jewellery, exquisite Indian sweets and the significance of wedding rituals – seal the deal on a trip that offers an intimate look at Hindu customs rarely experienced by outsiders.
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09. Soak up the rays at the world's first island beach club in Fiji
Malamala Beach Club is the world’s first beach club located on its own island – a perfectly circular island ringed by white-sand beaches and crystal-clear blue lagoons
A day trip here is just 25 minutes via a South Sea Cruises transfer from Port Denarau, just off Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu. Once there, you can enjoy all-day activities from swimming to snorkelling in pristine waters, kayaking, walking around the island or just relaxing in a private cabana. Malamala Beach Club also offers an incredible menu of South Pacific-island inspired creations and a selection of handcrafted cocktails with a perfect side of paradisiacal views.
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10. Check out NYC's newest neighbourhood
Now open, Hudson Yards in Manhattan’s Far West Side is definitely buzzworthy.
New York City’s newest neighbourhood was built from the ground up atop an open-air railyard. The mixed-use district is poised as the cultural centre of one of the world’s most dynamic cities with shops, dining and innovative art and design as well as green spaces. To visit the city’s newest neighbourhood, jump on the 7 subway line, which lands you directly in the heart of the area. Attractions include the Vessel, Thomas Heatherwick’s structure of connected staircases between the buildings of Hudson Yards, or there’s the seven-storey, shopping mall like no other retail in Manhattan.
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11. Blend your own wine at d'Arenberg Cube
Striking and modern in contrast to the rural backdrop of South Australia’s McLaren Vale wine region, the d’Arenberg Cube demands your attention.
The structure is reminiscent of an oversized, unsolved Rubik’s Cube, reflecting the complexity of creating the perfect drop. Each level, a playground for the senses, is an attraction within itself at the award-winning, experiential venue. On the top level, the Blending Bench allows you play winemaker; tasting, mixing and bottling your own blend of grapes that ripened on the vines below. Name your blend and play sommelier at the next dinner party.
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12. Dive the Great Barrier Reef
Under the water, it’s a whole new world
Taking a helicopter to the Great Barrier Reef, the view from the air is absolutely stunning. Flying over coral reefs with the ocean below glistening in 50 shades of blue, green and turquoise makes you realise flying is definitely a ‘wow’ way to arrive to Heron Island in the southern Great Barrier Reef. Under the water, it’s a whole new world. The diversity of marine life and the colours of the reef and its inhabitants are astounding. On my first dive I swam amid hundreds of reef fish, multiple species of rays and a sea floor dotted with coral in many shades and colours. et and uninterrupted views as you glide through villages and valleys over mountain passes and blue lakes.Read more ...
13. Stand on the edge of Pulpit Rock in Norway
Want breathtaking views, literally?
Pulpit Rock is a sheer cliff that towers 604m over the Lysefjord in southwestern Norway and one of the area’s most famous natural attractions. The 8km round-trip trail starts with a steep climb, followed by a gentle walk along a mountainside before another steep rise up natural stone stairs. After a series of smaller ascents and descents, we’re at a wooden walkway on the side of the cliff before the final leg of the trail up a smooth rock surface. Natural paths zigzag along the cliff face before a sheer drop down the fjord. Just up ahead is Pulpit Rock. Read more...
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14. Kayak with orcas
Vancouver Island is one of the best places to witness orcas in the wild
Seated in the kayak, I can see a murmuring on the surface of the water, bubbles surfacing and ripples forming into small waves. They’re here. A slight bump on the underside of the kayak is the first greeting we receive from an orca (also called a killer whale). Breaching beside us, a formal hello is delivered in the form of a water spout showering me in cold water from the Pacific Ocean. Vancouver Island is one of the best places to witness orcas in the wild and Johnstone Strait, between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia, is home to the largest resident pod in the world.
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15. Beach yourself in Boracay
White-sand, blue-water beach of tropical island dreams
Until Boracay closed to tourism in 2018 for rehabilitation, the island was one of the Philippines’ top tourist draws, famous for its 4km-long White Beach – the white-sand, blue-water beach of tropical island dreams. Reopening in October, 2018 with a daily visitor limit, travellers now need to have proof of accommodation on the island in order to board the boat from Kalino to Boracay. White Beach has lost none of its lustre, the sandy stretch is still a popular spot with bars and restaurants along the beachfront and boutiques and local markets for souvenirs. There’s a lively atmosphere and the beach itself is back to its pristine best.
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16. Go scrambling on the Isle of Skye
Rambling, by definition, is ‘walking in the countryside for pleasure’
It’s wonderfully British. But when the ground you’re rambling across gets steeper and you find yourself using your hands to climb up a craggy basalt peak … now you’re scrambling. Scrambling is also one of Britain’s favourite outdoor pastimes, and there’s nowhere more thrilling to get your scramble on than the Isle of Skye. With 22 peaks, Black Cuillin Ridge is known as the UK’s toughest mountain challenge. If that makes you a little nervous, don’t be. You don’t need to take on the most challenging climb to witness some of the most beautiful and dramatic scenery in the world.
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17. Be wowed by the restaurant scene in Bali
Exploring the culinary landscape Bali is hungry, but rewarding work.
A host of esteemed international chefs has traded big cities for beach views, transforming Bali into a modern foodie mecca. With menus dishing up everything from Mediterranean to Mexican, Asian fusion, modern Australian and experimental fine dining, the more than 20 million tourists who grace Bali’s shores annually are spoilt for choice. Dedicated foodies can indulge in a burgeoning dining scene that’s equal parts sophisticated and adventurous. Venues such as Sardine take inspiration from local flavours in refined Balinese fusion dishes, while Italian Osteria Da Maria will have guests trading Bintangs for burrata and bolognaise. So, bring your appetite – exploring the culinary landscape Bali is hungry, but rewarding work.
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18. Go caving amid Mayan ruins in Belize
It’s not easy to get to, but as with most things, the more difficult the challenge, the greater the reward.
Deep in the Belizean jungle, it’s an hour’s ride from San Ignacio and another hour’s light trek on paths and through three rivers just to reach the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave (ATM cave). It’s humid with smatterings of light rain, there’s been a snake sighting and all we can hear are howler monkeys in the trees above us. How, we wonder, did the intrepid archaeologist who discovered the ATM cave in 1989 after more than 1,000 years of them being ‘lost’ even get here?
19. Float away on a Nile River cruise
It’s incredible how many Egyptian antiquities you encounter on a Nile River cruise.
To be in the presence of the last Ancient Wonder of the World – the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx – is something I’ll always treasure. On a nine-day cruise itinerary from Cairo, I was able to experience this ancient destination from the modern comfort of my luxury cabin, seeing the beautiful scenery and temples that line the banks of the Nile and waving to the locals as we coasted along. Watching the feluccas sailing in the sunset, it was a fitting ending to a trip back in time.
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20. Stargaze the largest Dark Sky Reserve in the world
Clarity of the cold night is endless
On a chilly evening in September, I left the warmth of my accommodation at Lake Tekapo in New Zealand to travel to the brand-new Dark Sky Project Base on the lakefront, ready to stargaze the Southern skies. The Crater Experience at Cowan’s Private Observatory is a five-minute bus ride from the base and it’s soon evident why the South Island region of Aoraki Mackenzie has earned its reputation as the world’s largest gold-standard International Dark Sky Reserve. With the clarity of the cold night and limitless sky, constellations and galaxies can be observed with the naked eye as well as through the powerful 14-inch optical telescope.
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21. Watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat
The darkness lifts, the sky slowly turns orange and the grand temple reveals itself little by little.
We arrive to Angkor Wat in total darkness, unable to see anything beyond what our phone torches illuminate. We follow a guide to the base of the temple, which is a looming black silhouette in the pre-dawn light. Rather than jostle with the crowd at one of the famous reflection pools, we travel a little further around its edge and find a quiet place to sit on the grass. The darkness lifts, the sky slowly turns orange and the grand temple reveals itself little by little. The sun finally breaks over the central tower, rays flooding the grounds of the ancient temple, illuminating everything in the most glorious golden glow.et and uninterrupted views as you glide through villages and valleys over mountain passes and blue lakes. Read more...
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22. Frolic on a private island
Royal Caribbean International cruises has its own tropical island paradise and it’s open for fun!
Perfect Day CocoCay in the Bahamas is a fun-park-beach-getaway-chillout zone that’s exclusively for RCI guests and accessible by tender from your ship. The overall vibe is relaxation with a side of adventure set on a remote island surrounded by crystal-clear water. Be adventurous zip-lining across the island, tackling Daredevil’s Peak – the tallest waterslide in North America – and parasailing, or chill out on hammocks.
23. Trek Torres del Paine National Park
The most spectacular part of Chile's Torres del Paine National Park is the diverse scenery.
And the famous W Trek encompasses everything Patagonia has to offer. On a seven-day walking adventure in what is virtually the end of the Earth, I trekked next to vast lakes, wooded forest and stark rocky outcrops. I had a view of a different glacier nearly every day, culminating with the giant granite towers the park is named for – three huge stone monoliths that are really worth the steep climb to get to the top. At the end of the W Trek, enjoy some downtime at the eco-lodge or luxury lodge with sweeping views over the park.et and uninterrupted views as you glide through villages and valleys over mountain passes and blue lakes.
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24. Immerse yourself in France on a Viking river cruise
France is the most visited country in the world for good reason – the art, culture and gastronomy, the iconic landmarks and the idyllic countryside elicit joie de vivre for all who travel there
It’s imbued with history at every turn and there’s no better way to experience it than on an eight-day Viking cruise from Avignon to Lyon on the Rhone River. The south of France in summer is so ripe with beauty, aromas and charm you can easily see how this pocket of Provence has seduced and inspired artists for centuries. Even the sunrise from my tastefully furnished cabin aboard Viking Delling is like a watercolour painting – beautiful pink and orange shades reflecting in the river. Read more...
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25. Deep-dive into the design of Chicago
The city has a fascinating history, which is reflected in the design and stories
The Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise is the most interesting activity you will ever do in Chicago, even if you’re not an architecture buff. The 1.5-hour tour by Chicago Architecture Center’s super-knowledgeable tour guides imparts stories of how Chicago grew from a small settlement into one of the world’s largest cities in less than 100 years. The Windy City is also home to the world’s first skyscraper. The city has a fascinating history, which is reflected in the design and the stories of more than 50 buildings and skyscrapers that line the Chicago River. et and uninterrupted views as you glide through villages and valleys over mountain passes and blue lakes. Trust me, it’s even better than it sounds.
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26. Stay on a coffee estancia in Colombia
Colombia, the third-largest coffee-producing country in the world, is considered to have the ideal geography for growing our favourite stimulant
The higher the elevation, the better the taste of the bean, so the so-called Coffee Triangle of the lush highlands of the Santa Ana Valley, between Salento and Medellin, is a coffee lover’s nirvana. Staying at Hacienda Venecia coffee estancia (two hours’ drive from Salento) on Intrepid’s Cafe Colombia trip will get your closer to the bean and its connection with the local culture. From the brightly hued fruit on coffee trees to the roasted grounds and, of course, tastings of the different coffee types, you’ll gain an understanding of the complex history of coffee cultivation.
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27. Sail on a gulet in Turkey
Turkey is a destination where travel dreams become a reality
It’s morning three of our sailing adventure along Turkey’s striking Turquoise Coast and I’m dreading waking from this dream when we disembark at the ancient city of Olympos. And this is certainly the stuff of travel dreams: sleeping on deck under the star-pierced sky, morning swims in the cerulean sea, exploring crumbling ruins (St Nicholas Island) and ghost towns (Kayakoy) hidden among olive shrubs and exploring the sunken city of Kekova. Setting sail from the port city of Fethiye, we’ve explored enchanting resort towns such as Oludinez and Kas, moored in picturesque bays to sleep and swim as our crew fish for dinner.
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28. Safari in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is where you’ll find some of the densest concentrations of leopards and elephants in the world
Flip the script on the traditional safari experience by going wild in Sri Lanka where you’ll find some of the densest concentrations of leopards and elephants in the world. While Sri Lanka’s north is a lush tropical jungle filled with Asian elephants and sloth bears, in the southeast part of the teardrop-shaped isle the terrain is open and scrubby – similar to the classic African savannah. Yala National Park is a 130,000ha nature reserve of grasslands, forests and lagoons that’s home to 44 mammal species and 215 types of bird. Its most famous, and famously elusive, resident is the Sri Lankan leopard.
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29. Traverse the Puglia Coastal Walk
Tucked into the heel of Italy, Salento in southern Puglia is a region of natural beauty and stunning surrounds.
Tucked into the heel of Italy, Salento in southern Puglia is a region of natural beauty and stunning surrounds. On a self-guided walk from Otranto, Italy’s easternmost point, to Lecce along tratturi, sun-baked ancient footpaths and mule tracks once used by farmers that wind through fruit orchards and ancient olive groves, the Puglia Coastal Walk is a sensory experience. Ideal for those with moderate fitness, the rocky paths hug the coastline and include historic Roman sites, patches of wild herbs and secret swimming spots as well as glimpses of the Albanian mountains on a clear day.
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30. Witness the beauty of Yosemite National Park
Situated in the Sierra Nevada range in California, it’s the most accessible national park for Aussie travellers
Yosemite National Park is definitely one of the US national parks you’ve heard about, welcoming 4.2 million visitors annually, mainly from June to August, to an area that’s the around the same size as the ACT. Situated in the Sierra Nevada range in California, it’s the most accessible national park for Aussie travellers, a four-hour drive east from San Francisco, or a 4.5-hour drive south from South Lake Tahoe on the Nevada border. Exiting Wawona Tunnel – boom, out of the darkness, there it is – the breathtaking moment when Yosemite Valley is revealed: El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall in the foreground framed by Half Dome at the rear.
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31. Learn local traditions in Japan
Japan is an enigma – a thoroughly modern society rooted in traditions and handicrafts that date back thousands of years
Some traditional rituals and historic practices are known outside Japan, such as tea ceremonies, martial arts practice, shodo (the art of calligraphy), origami and ikebana (floral arrangement), but to learn more about these centuries-old rituals and crafts, I travel to Kyoto. From the bamboo walls of the teahouses and the glowing lanterns of the Yasaka Shrine to the bustle of the main street of Hanami-Koji, experiencing Kyoto’s ancient streets by night is an essential part of visiting Japan’s city of tradition.
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32. Trace the Silk Road route
The ancient Silk Road trade route weaves its way from China to Turkey on the Mediterranean Sea through the Central Asia steppe, passing through the fascinating countries known collectively as the ‘Stans – Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan
According to Intrepid Travel, these ‘undertouristed’ nations have some of the world's lowest tourism density ratios, so you’re guaranteed an authentic experience. We do as the locals do and travel mainly by train. The communal style of travel allows us to meet fellow travellers and locals – while not a lot of English is spoken, we have great conversations with just the odd word, plenty of hand signals and smiles. Read more...
33. Wonder at the northern lights in the Yukon
The Yukon is a prime viewing point for the aurora borealis
In the wilderness of Canada’s Yukon Territory, nature puts on a spectacular show with the amazing aurora borealis. The Yukon is a prime viewing point for the aurora borealis and can be experienced any time between mid-August and mid-April. When the northern lights appear, a gradual green glow starts to rise on the horizon until suddenly, a nebula of light takes form. Splays of the aurora borealis dance across the sky and it’s such a stunning, multi-dimensional phenomenon. It changes form and multiplies, dying down then exploding against the backdrop of stars again. It is breathtaking even to the human eye.
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34. Immerse yourself in Ireland's 2020 cultural hub
Inspired by boundless creativity? Galway, on the Irish West Coast, is the place to be in 2020.
Designated as European Capital of Culture for the year, Galway is set to wow visitors and locals alike with an incredible lineup of arts festivals, exhibitions, workshops and music events. The cultural program begins on February 1, 2020 to coincide with the Celtic festival of spring, which celebrates new life and the re-awakening of the land. It’s a fitting beginning, with Celtic traditions a central theme in the huge lineup of events highlighting the rich diversity of Galway’s culture and people.
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35. See the world on show in Dubai
World Expo 2020 Dubai will see representatives from 190 countries – and millions of visitors
For 173 days in 2020 and 2021, the warmth and tradition of Emirati hospitality will be on show as Dubai hosts the region’s first World Expo. The largest event of its kind to be held in the Arab world, World Expo 2020 Dubai will see representatives from 190 countries – and millions of visitors – converge on the city. The theme ‘Connecting minds, creating the future’ celebrates the UAE’s culture, collaboration and innovation. Dubai’s popularity as more than a stopover is growing thanks to a raft of exciting cultural experiences and attractions; the city will come alive with events and installations making 2020 the perfect time to visit.
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36. Take a guided hike on the Maria Island Walk
Befriend a wombat, stay in the old prison and learn about the original ancestors
Experience Maria Island during a four-day guided walk of the mountainous isle, which is just a 30-minute ferry ride from Triabunna on Tasmania’s east coast. As the entire island is a national park, it’s no surprise the full 48km trek is significant in many ways – full of convict history, geological formations and wildlife. Mostly the terrain is flat, but surfaces may vary from beaches to tracks. Along the way, befriend a wombat, stay in the old prison and learn about the original ancestors, the Puthikwilayti people.
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37. Go sledging on Kaituna River
Drive 40 minutes from Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island to face nature head on.
Battle the rapids of Kaituna River at eye level, clutching a purpose-built sledge. The first leap into the water will have you gasp, particularly in winter when temps can drop to 11 degrees Celsius. Your fitness level should be substantial, as you’ll need to manoeuvre through the whitewater alongside local guides in a group. When the river provides a break, admire the ferns and moss, which grow right up to the water’s edge, and marvel at this breathtaking outdoor thrill.
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38. Feel blue in Morocco
It’s a destination that may take you out of your comfort zone but will lodge itself in your memories forever.
The city of Chefchaouen was not always blue. It’s believed the distinctive hue dates back to 1492 when the city in northwest Morocco was used as a hiding place for Jews during the Spanish Inquisition. The blue tone is said to be representative of the colour of the sky and the Jewish faith. Known as the ‘Blue City’, Chefchaouen was my main reason to visit Morocco and the highlight of my Intrepid tour. The Old Town of Chefchaouen is where the colour is most concentrated with small doorways, decorative windows and narrow staircases painted blue. It’s a destination that may take you out of your comfort zone but will lodge itself in your memories forever.
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39. Discover the Mediterranean’s best-kept secret
Malta is in a world of its own.
I could be in Greece, Italy, or even Spain with the Mediterranean architecture, lively streets and Roman ruins. But there is something different about this place. Malta is a rocky island nation between Italy and North Africa, and in a world of its own. The arid landscape is lined with chalky cliffs and spectacular swimming holes, while its culinary traditions are a mix of Italian, African and Middle Eastern. A stroll through the narrow streets will take you on a journey of occupation, from Roman fortresses of 4000BCE through Moorish times to the more recent French and British reigns. In short, Malta is the introvert’s answer to Italy.
40. Drive the Garden Route in South Africa
Stunning golden beaches and wild, blue ocean, showcasing a different side to South Africa
South Africa may be synonymous with safaris, but the coastline is just as impressive. The Garden Route seems somewhat of a misnomer – the Western Cape road trip sandwiched between the Outeniqua Mountains and the Indian Ocean in South Africa is, after all, most famous for its dramatic coastline. But on a nine-day, 750km self-drive trip from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, from behind the wheel I watch the landscape shift from national parks to forests and lakes, as well as stunning golden beaches and wild, blue ocean, showcasing a different side to the safaris and sun-baked terrain South Africa is known for.
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41. Ski Japan & South Korea
The cool kids are setting sights to ski South Korea and Japan
Japan has really taken off as a holiday hotspot for Aussie travellers in recent years, shifting from a seasonal to a year-round destination, thanks to competitive flights from Australia with a range of premium and low-cost carriers. Much of this demand for Japan is being driven by the snow-bound Millennial traveller, fuelled by cheap flights to Sapporo, which makes popular Hokkaido ski resorts easier than ever to reach. From Tokyo, snow bunnies can easily access Hakuba and the new ski resort hotspots of Shiga Kogen in Nagano and Naeba. Now the cool kids are setting their sights to ski South Korea.
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42. Feel like a kid in the Theme Park Capital of the World
Orlando is the Theme Park Capital of the World and it’s truly the ultimate big kids’ playground
Orlando welcomed 75 million visitors in 2018, making this Florida city America’s most-visited destination with five million daily visitors. It’s also officially known as the Theme Park Capital of the World and it’s truly the ultimate big kids’ playground (it’s also for the littlies, too). No other destination on Earth has more or more iconic theme parks than Orlando – Walt Disney World Resort has six theme parks alone, spread across 100sqkm (double the size of Manhattan). There’s also SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Orlando Resort, Legoland Florida Resort and more. If that’s not enough to float your boat, Orlando is also the ideal jumping-off point for Caribbean cruises.
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43. Cycle Girona
A cycling holiday in the Spanish city of Girona is one of the best ways to enjoy the warm European summer with myriad cycling routes on offer from leisurely rides through to technical descents
Known worldwide as the cyclists’ favourite destination and home to much of the professional peloton, its proximity (close to Barcelona), pleasant climbs and scenic beauty make Girona a cycling hotspot. The highlight of the trip was riding along the curvy and jaw-dropping coastline leading out of Tossa de Mar along the fabled Coastal Loop, a vista made sweeter with an obligatory pastry stop at Dulce Pikika, a favourite of the pros.
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44. Channel your inner archaeologist at Petra
Weaving through a mountainous maze of sandstone in the ancient Nabatean city of Petra, Jordan, I could never imagine the hidden surprise awaiting me at the end
There are so many ways to make your way through Petra to the main attraction of the Treasury (Al-Khazneh) based on your preferred level of physical activity. My Topdeck guide, Ahmad, led our exploration of Petra, assisted those wanting to enter Petra via the traditional entrance of the Siq on horseback or foot, while also guiding the more intrepid travellers tackling the difficult Madras Trail Loop, nicknamed the 'Indiana Jones Way' (scenes from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were filmed here).
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45. Cruise to Russia’s almost uncharted Far East
It’s remote, uncharted and a definite 'wow' experience for adventurers.
Russia has been trending as a cruise destination for a few years now with river cruise itineraries that offer the opportunity to see the treasures of the tsars from waterways between Moscow and St Petersburg. But there’s a part of Russia that is one of the least explored regions on the planet, due to restricted travel for Westerners for most of the 20th century – Russia’s Far East. It’s remote, uncharted and a definite 'wow' experience for adventurers. For its untouched nature and remoteness, this region has been compared to wild habitats such as the Galapagos and the Arctic.
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46. Swim with whale sharks in Mexico
I’m close enough to see the spotted marks of their skin and watch their wild abandon.
After an hour of boating at high speed on the Caribbean Sea, I see them. We’re so far out there is no land in sight, but I can see whale sharks – at least 58 that we can count. It all happens quickly – we don our goggles, snorkel, life vest and fins and jump off the boat into the water two at a time with our guide. It’s a lifelong ambition of mine to swim with whale sharks and off the Cancun coast is one of the world’s largest populations of these magnificent creatures. I’m close enough to see the spotted marks of their skin and watch their wild abandon.
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47. Hike Kuelap in northern Peru
High in the clouds of the Andes in northern Peru lies one of the world’s secret wonders.
Touted as an alternative to Machu Picchu, the impressive ruins of Kuelap were built by the Chachapoyas or Cloud Warriors around 600 to 900 years before the famous Incan citadel to the south. I follow the outskirts of the massive fortress walls to the top, looking over clouds high in the Andes. Wandering through the round, stone bases of homes and temples scattered throughout the walled city, I close my eyes and feel the history of the site where more than 5,000 people lived on this secluded mountaintop. It’s now easily accessible by cable car and hiking up to the site, but still feels a world away.
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48. Enjoy all-access luxury in the Maldives
An oasis of white sandy beaches, blue lagoons and more than 1,000 coral isles
The 26 ring-shaped atolls of the Maldives sparkle in the Indian Ocean, an oasis of white sandy beaches, blue lagoons and more than 1,000 coral isles. Once the exclusive domain of loved-up couples and honeymooners, the barefoot luxury of the Maldives is now more accessible than ever with daily connecting flights via Singapore from most Australian cities. Connecting boat transfers straight from airport in the capital, Male, to nearby islands make the Maldives an ideal island-hopping destination. The best time to go is between November and April, while for surfers the peak time is between March and October.
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49. Go on a historic London pub crawl
Here's cheers to London's newest protected historic drinking holes.
The title of London’s oldest public house is a contentious one, but if an establishment has survived fire, war and hipsters to lay claim to centuries of longevity, we’ll drink to that. Some worthy contenders include Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street (rebuilt in 1667), The Prospect of Whitby (1520) in Wapping and The George (1583) in Borough, which counted Shakespeare among its patrons. Tower Hamlets borough in East London recently granted 37 historic pubs protected local listing status with several ‘drinking palaces’ dating back to the 1800s. Thankfully the ales are fresh.
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50. Layover at Singapore Changi Airport
The multi-award-winning Singapore Changi Airport is worthy of lingering in, thanks to the addition of seven-storey precinct, the Jewel
The Crystal Clouds installation – bringing the outdoors inside – sparkles above. At the Jewel’s centre is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, the HSBC Rain Vortex, a dramatic feature day or night. The Jewel is full of attractions, gardens, shops and eateries for a taste of Singapore without leaving the airport. No need to visit the markets for chilli crab, dig in on arrival. Bounce on the Manulife Sky Nets, or play in clouds of mist at the Foggy Bowls and lose yourself in the mirror maze.
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