I’m a sucker for quaint, charming destinations, places that are so picturesque they don’t quite seem real. In such locations, I find myself saying the same types of comments over and over.
Can you believe how gorgeous this is?
Wow, can you believe this?
It’s so gorgeous.
It’s probably a good thing that I’m mostly travel by myself because, as my daughter can tell you, my constant declarations of amazement get annoying after awhile. This summer in Prague, she would respond in all her teenage sarcasm, Yes, it’s STILL pretty. Yes, I know how gorgeous it is.
As you think about your travel plans for 2016, here are ten of my favorite places you might want to put on your list.
10. Chania, Crete, Greece. Chania is the second largest city on the Greek island of Crete, but I think it’s the city to see. A Venetian lighthouse, a Turkish mosque that dates back to the 1600’s, and colorful buildings line the harbor. My favorite time of day was at dusk when the heat was less intense and the lights flicker in the sea.
9. Bruges, Belgium. Bruges, or Brugge, as you will sometimes see it, is sensational. Canals, narrow cobbled roads, bicyclists, chocolate, waffles. Do I need to say more? This medieval town is so picturesque you might need to pinch yourself to realize it’s real. Though with the hordes of tourists that crowd the city in the summer, you might not get the fairytale feel you for which you were hoping. Even with the crowds, it’s a place worth visiting.
8. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. Situated in the middle of Bali, Ubud is nestled below a volcano and amidst terraced rice fields. There are temples and shrines (and Starbucks) that help give Ubud its unique, magical appeal.
7. Prague, Czech Republic. Prague is known as “the City of a Hundred Spires.” Red roofs topped with ornamental spires create one of the most mesmerizing skylines. Prague amazed me from every turn, every vantage point. It’s an exquisite city. Baroque buildings and Gothic churches line cobbled stone roads, making it one of my favorite destinations.
6. Venice, Italy. I feel like Venice is a city everyone knows about because it is such a gem of a destination. No cars, just boats on the canals. Narrow passageways and bridges create a maze-like experience for visitors trying to navigate their way around the city. A definite must-see destination.
5. Eze, France. The village of Eze sits atop a hill in the French Cote d’Azur. Following the winding pathways up and down will lead you to hidden surprises. Cafes, art galleries, jewelers, perfume shops, and most important, views of the Mediterranean sea. You don’t need a lot of time to appreciate this village, but it’s definitely a great place to spend an afternoon.
4. Arles, France. Sure Arles is full of Roman ruins, and that might be the appeal for some, but for me, it’s Van Gogh. Arles is where Van Gogh painted around 200 paintings including many of his famous sunflower paintings, and this yellow cafe. Van Gogh’s Arles is a place I could dream many days away.
3. Hoi An, Vietnam. The Old Town of Hoi An is a perfect combination of yellow buildings, colorful silk lanterns, and ancient Chinese and Japanese temples and bridges. I biked around the city and found that after a day, there wasn’t much to see. It’s a gorgeous city (full of tourists), certainly one to see, but not one where you need a lot of time. If anything would have motivated me to stay longer in Hoi An, it would have been the food. Have I mentioned how much I love Vietnamese food? (Maybe that’ll be a future post.)
2. Chefchaouen, Morocco. If you take a bus from Tangier (or Fez) to the middle of the Rif Mountains, you’ll find a blue oasis called Chefchaouen. This entire mountain village is painted different shades of blue, creating the most splendid sight. The blue medina is confusing but is nothing like the mazes of Fez and Marrakech. The tranquility of Chefchaouen makes it a great reprieve from the chaos of the bigger Moroccan cities.
1. Santorini, Greece. Santorini is a popular honeymoon destination for right reason. The white and blue spilling down the rugged cliffs makes for one of the most dramatic and exquisite sights I’ve ever seen. Not to mention mesmerizing sunsets.