Lisbon might not be as popular as Rome, Paris or London, but it’s rich with culture, architectural beauty and history. The capital of Portugal is built on seven hills and has a lot to offer to visitors. And it’s much more budget-friendly than most of Europe’s capital cities.
The Unique Feudal Abbey of Mont Saint Michel
Mont Saint Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is often called the Wonder of the West. During high tides, its slender towers and sky-scraping turrets, encircled by stout ramparts and battlements, appear to rise out of the middle of the bay. In addition to being home to the abbey that is its namesake, this feudal town once served as an impenetrable fortification and jail.
Taiwan’s Modern Marvels and Natural Beauty
Taiwan is an island nation probably best known for its modern cities, but it also has beautiful tropical beaches, sea-skirting cliffside roads, mountain peaks, hot springs and tranquil lakes. Portuguese sailors who saw it for the first time in the 16th century were so impressed with its natural beauty that they called it Ilha Formosa, which means Beautiful Island.
The City of Pearls: Hyderabad, India
Hyderabad sits at an ancient crossroads of commerce, and was once famous as a pearl and diamond trading center. Still known as the City of Pearls, its centuries-old shopping bazaars offer modern and exotic goods from all over India. This 400-year-old city on the banks of the Musi River is full of striking Qutb arches, royal palaces and minarets.
Serene and Mysterious Mount Koya, Japan
Nestled between eight mountain peaks in Japan, Mount Koya was once home to just one Buddhist monastery. The area, known locally as Koyasan, has since grown into a small, tranquil town with about 120 temples.
Medellin’s Magnificent Mountain Setting
Nestled among seven hills, it almost feels like Medellin, the second largest city in Colombia, was built especially for tourists. That wasn’t always the case. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was home to drug cartels and intense violence. But city planners have transformed the area into an international tourist destination.
The Mountainous Mediterranean Island of Corsica
The French island of Corsica is not only Napoleon’s birthplace, but also an idyllic land of deep forests, stylish coastal towns and craggy peaks. Much of the island remains undeveloped, adding to the natural beauty of its stunning coastlines and mountains.
The Baroque Palaces and Gardens of Valletta, Malta
Malta is an island country in the Mediterranean Sea located about 50 miles south of Sicily. Valletta, the capital of Malta, is nicknamed Superbissima, or “most proud” because of its many impressive and ornate Baroque palaces, churches and gardens. The preservation and historic importance of Valletta resulted in the entire city being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Take Time to Explore Tunis
Golden Mediterranean beaches, perpetually sunny weather, affordable luxuries and world-renowned resort villages abound in Tunisia, an amazing North African country rich in culture and history. Most visitors use Tunis, the country’s capital, as a stepping stone to the nearby Mediterranean resorts of Hammamet and Sousse, or as the starting point for tours of the Sahara Desert. But you shouldn’t rush to get out of Tunis.
Tourists are Flocking to Oman’s Outstanding Beaches and Rich History
Oman, a Middle Eastern country bordered on three sides by the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea, is undergoing a tourism boom. The country’s miles of pristine beaches, rich history, friendly people and stable political regime all but ensure a steady influx of travelers.
See the Giant Pandas of Chengdu
Chengdu is the fifth largest city in China and a booming economic center. More than 250 Fortune 500 companies have opened outposts in the city. But that’s not why tourists are flocking there.
East Meets West in the Ancient City of Istanbul
Istanbul, founded in 657 B.C. as Byzantium, is an ancient transcontinental city. The historic city center lies in Europe, while a third of the city’s population of 14.4 million lives in Asia. Because of its unique location, it’s the largest city in both the Middle East and Europe. Located between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, Istanbul straddles the Bosphorus Strait in Northwestern Turkey.
Rotterdam’s Rich with Maritime History and Modern Culture
Rotterdam is both an historic city and a dynamic, modern metropolis. The Netherlands second largest city, it’s known as “Manhattan on the Maas” for its high rises and impressive architecture. The city also boasts more than a dozen museums dedicated to architecture, contemporary art, natural history, maritime history and ship building.
Lose Yourself in the Ancient Medinas of Fez, Morocco
Founded in 1859 and featured in Travel and Leisure’s Best Places to Travel in 2015, Fez has been called the “Mecca of the West” and the “Athens of Africa.” It is Morocco’s second largest city and home to more than a million people.
Experience Abu Dhabi’s Sophistication and Culture
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates and the second biggest city in the country. As a travel destination, it is usually eclipsed by its more glamorous cousin Dubai, with its grandiose architecture and burgeoning travel industry.
Visit the European Capital of Culture: Mons, Belgium
You may have never heard of Mons, Belgium, but that’s about to change. The latest CNN report on top travel destinations puts it in the spotlight as one of the prime places to visit in 2015, and for a good reason.
Explore the Extremes of Bolivia
Bolivia was once largely cut off to travelers due to endless transportation strikes and general dysfunction. But that’s changed, and thanks in part to recent investments in tourist-friendly infrastructure it’s number eight on the New York Times’ 52 Places to Go in 2015.
Go Stargazing and Wine Tasting in Elqui Valley in Chile
The incredible clear skies, high altitude and remote location of the Elqui Valley in Chile have long made it the ideal environment for large research telescopes. But it has recently also become a hotbed for astrotourism. Small, private observatories now dot the landscape, along with quaint hotels catering to stargazers.
The Rainforests, Volcanos and Beaches of Costa Rica Draw Ecotourists
There are good reasons why Costa Rica is a prime ecotourism destination for North American tourists. It has hundreds of breathtaking waterfalls, peaceful lakes, and roaring rivers.
See the Natural Beauty of Iguazu Falls
What does Iguazu Falls in South America have in common with these destinations: Table Mountain in South Africa, the Amazon Rainforest, Halong Bay in Vietnam, the Philippines’ Puerto Princesa Underground River, Jeju Island in South Korea, and Komodo Island in Indonesia? The answer: They are all included on the list of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.