When you hear Switzerland, what comes to your mind? High-quality quartz watches? Think again. Army knives? Not quite. The red-cross? Roger Federer? Or tax-free accounts from and to which money can be wired without hassle? Well, you’re quite right. The Swiss are famous for all of the previously mentioned points. But our interest in Switzerland today is more concerned with its viability as a tourist travel destination. Switzerland has an abundance of exciting places that you need to visit the next time you’re touring Europe. We’ll point out some really significant ones here:
The Alps: Remember the 2012 movie Summits of my Life? Some of the peaks you saw there are a part of the alps. The Alps are a breathtaking range of mountains that lie in a total of eight countries around Europe. Yes, you read that correctly, eight countries which include France, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany and Slovenia. They have been described as the highest and most extensive mountain range in Europe. The view of these mountains from Switzerland isn’t something that can be described in writing. You just need to get to see it for yourself. Apart from their aesthetic and magnificent appeal. The alps are also historically significant. Adolf Hitler was said to have had a particularly soft spot for the Alps and hoped to retire to that area before the fall of Berlin.
Lake Geneva: A very beautiful landmark with a serene environment surrounding it. Lake Geneva is another natural attraction that you shouldn’t miss when visiting Switzerland. Of course, you recognize the name “Geneva conventions”. The lake is close to the city of Geneva which plays host to over 150 international organizations including the United Nations. This means you can easily move from experiencing the natural peace of the lake to feeling the vibe of the organizations working for man-made peace.
The Rhine Falls: From alluring mountains to breathtaking waterfalls. Switzerland seems to have it all as far as nature is concerned. The Rhine falls, located between the Schaffhausen and Zurich cantons in the North of Switzerland, close to the Schaffhausen Township. Falling from about 75 feet with a width of 490 ft. The Rhine waterfalls is the perfect spot from which to ponder and contemplate the magnificence of nature.
The Swiss National Park: This park with its visitor center located in Zernez is a highly protected natural reserve. This is due to the absolute beauty it exhibits which has made authorities enact strict rules to prevent any chance of defacement. Not far from this park are the Western Rhaetian Alps. This means you can easily afford a view of the magnificent mountains we mentioned earlier. Note down this location as one of the points of call on your next trip to Europe. You’ll be grateful you did
Interlaken: Another picturesque city with a lot of access to the alpine peaks of Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau. And if you’re not into hiking or mountain climbing. There are over 45 mountain railways, cable cars, and chairlifts to ferry you across the terrain.
Iceland is a home to many natural wonders. It is beautiful, but yet strange and dramatic at the same time. Rivers in this place run through deserts, fire erupts from ice, striking landscapes, etc. This exciting destination will shock you and take your breath away at once.
The Blue Lagoon
The geothermal spa is filled with sea water and believed to have healing powers. Seawater is very rich in minerals. Various skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis, and several other skin problems have been solved by the silica and minerals present in the water. You will find a special skin treatment clinic along with restaurants and luxury spa treatments. This is one of the top tourist destinations in Iceland.
The Volcano Hekla
Hekla is one of the most active volcanoes in the world today. 1104 marked the year when its earliest eruption was documented and since then, there have been between twenty and thirty eruptions recorded. The area has also been a source of inspiration for artists such as Ridley Scott the film director.
The region experiences warm climate and sunny days. The park has one of the most astonishing landscapes ever seen. Glacial rivers, black desert sands, and a wood forest are some other features that make up this beautiful park. Jokulsarlon is a short distance away from where titanic icebergs float on the sky blue lagoon.
Lake Myvatn Geothermal Area
The area was formed by volcanic eruptions about two centuries ago and is the fourth largest lake in Iceland. Krafla volcano being close by makes the surrounding area to be considered volcanically active. A lot of bird species are found within the lake area along with unusually shaped lava formations.
Some of the activities that you can do in Iceland include;
Have a dip in the warm pools
Snowmobiling or snorkeling
Go glacier hiking and ice carving
Witness the northern lights at night during winter
South Africa, commonly known as the Republic of South Africa is a beautiful country with so much to offer. Its size is roughly the size of France and Spain combined. You will be blown away by the savannah vegetation, desert land, wildlife, gorges, spectacular cultures, and many more attractions
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is one of the oldest game reserves in South Africa and among the most famous safari parks in the world. The park has a wide diversity of wildlife including the big five (lion, rhino, elephant, leopard, cape buffalo) and others like cheetahs, giraffes, etc. There are various ways to explore this national park; you can choose an aerial view of the place in a hot air balloon, walking safari, or through sealed road. Accommodation options range from luxury lodges to tented camps.
This route is a 200 kilometer stretch through the mind-blowing scenery of the coast. It passes along the Indian Ocean in the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape. Through the route are captivating cliffs, hills, lagoons, lakes, and picturesque coastal towns. If you feel adventurous, you can do the bungee jump, elephant back rides, whale watching, and tree tours.
If you want to enjoy some peace and quiet at the beach, Durban is the best bet for you. Marine parks, water sports, or just relaxing at the beach. The place is often compared to Miami beaches. The Durban beaches are safe and clean. It is a great place to start as you tour the city. It has high-rise restaurants, shops, entertainment complexes, etc. You can also visit the marine world and mini town which is a replica of Durban.
Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve
It is sometimes referred to as Motlatse River Canyon and it is between Kruger National Park and Johannesburg. Blyde River Canyon, Africa’s second largest canyon, is extremely rich in biodiversity (both plants and animals). The foliage, rock formations, waterfalls, and rivers are a sight to behold. You will spot crocodiles, hippos, primates, and other wildlife if you decide to view game. To take in the beauty of this reserve, you may opt to hike the trails or use certain driving routes.
This is the largest city in South Africa with large deposits of gold, therefore nicknamed. “city of gold”. The city is very vibrant with activity hence an economic engine for the country. To gain a bit of historical knowledge, you can visit Apartheid Museum, Gold Reef City, and Constitution Hill. The shanty towns of Soweto are in Johannesburg too so you can head there and see where South Africa’s democracy was birthed.
This institute is famous for the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela for 18 years. It is a testament to triumph even in the most difficult situations. It is listed as a World Heritage and is a reminder of the struggle to end apartheid. Ex-prisoners are the guides who narrate the horrors they had to experience in exchange for freedom.
Portugal is a famous tourist destination in Europe due to its varied, fascinating features. It is located in Southwestern Europe, bordered to the south and west by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the east and north by Spain. Portugal also boasts of being one of the safest places in the world. With a rich history, fascinating views, and amazing locals, what more could you possibly ask for from a holiday destination? It should be on your bucket list. Popular destinations within Portugal include;
Porto is on the coast north of Lisbon and is a beautiful city; the second largest city in Portugal. The riverside and its antique past significantly add to the beauty of the city. Many people mistake it for Portugal’s capital because this city oozes life from it. Porto is extremely rich in cultural diversity. It is also famously known for the production of fine port wine.
If you want to understand all that entails Portugal, Lisbon is a great place to start. It is the capital city of Portugal and surprisingly, very calm. In Europe, it is considered as one of the most affordable cities to live in. There is so much to see in Lisbon; not to mention lots of restaurants with great food. Since navigating through Lisbon is fairly simple, you will find people even doing it on foot on those narrow roads.
Aveiro is a coastal town found on Portugal’s West Coast. Surprisingly, this town is not well known despite its magnificent architecture. The Convento de Jesus, Aveiro Cathedral, and the São Gonçalinho are some of the art works and architectural attractions found in the area. The area is filled with canals and beautiful boats with very warm locals.
Historic sites in this region like the Cathedral of Evora and the Roman Temple speak volumes about this area. It has a very rich historical background that dates back to the 16th Century. The Chapel of Bones may send shivers down your spine as it had accommodated 5000 human bones. You will fall in love with Evora if you love history.
For hiking expeditions and a myriad of many more activities, visit Algarve. The dramatic cliffs are mesmerizing along with the warm Mediterranean climate and sunny beaches. Whitewashed villages, olive grooves, and several summer resorts is also a perfect way to describe Algarve. You are not likely to experience a language barrier in this area as most neighborhoods have more English speakers than Portuguese. It is definitely worth checking out.
Coimbra was once the capital city of Portugal and has about the highest number of visitors than any other Portugal destination. You will spot numerous medieval and Roman ruins. The university of Coimbra is the oldest degree institution in the old and your visit to Coimbra is not complete without visiting this place. Biblioteca Joanina has also contributed to the rise of fame in Coimbra as it is considered to be one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.
If you are in search of spectacular beaches, then Lagos is your best bet. It is located along the Algarve coastline. It is a sight to behold with the sunshine, the rock cliffs, and the secluded beaches. One of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal is the Dona Ana beach found in Lagos. If you want to explore the sandstone cliffs, you will have to travel there by boat.
Sintra is a small, gorgeous town located just a drive away from Portugal’s capital. You will be amazed at the colorful buildings and the cafes’ lined up the streets. It is a great place to walk around leisurely, and just people watch. It houses the Pena Palace and medieval Castle of the Moors. There is a fairy tale story surrounding this region so you might as well head to Portugal and hear the story.
It is not a wonder the number of tourists visiting this country with fantastic shores, intricate architecture, and mind blowing cuisines. You get to experience all these amazing places at an affordable rate. Portugal’s geographical location has also established it as a place with a very good climate.
Malaysia is located in the Southeast region of Asia and is home to a diverse multi-racial community. Tourists from all over the world throng to this beautiful country to witness the breathtaking scenery, islands, and varying cultures. It is ranked as the 11th most visited country in the world.
Its proximity to the ocean makes it a hot and humid country with the temperatures averaging 70 to 85 degrees (F). Other than the highland areas of Malaysia, the climate is hot and dry. The coastline of Peninsular of Malaysia is the most affected in the monsoon season. The East Coast areas receive rainfall during September to December while the West Coast sees heavy rains in the months of November to February. The nights are however cool.
Tropical Gem Langkawi
This island is considered as one of the most beautiful islands in the world. It is a popular destination in Malaysia. The best thing about it is that the island is not crowded. Here you will see and experience beautiful beaches, wonderful sights, and jungles.
It consists of a big and small island. Water sports such as scuba diving and snorkeling are a favorite on this island, and there are a lot of facilities to cater for this interest. The island is active with activities and business operations from boat operators, luxurious resorts, and restaurants, water taxis, etc. If you don’t wish to participate in the water activities, the ambient atmosphere is perfect for unwinding and relaxing as you enjoy the beautiful weather. The islands have a thick lush of green and white sand.
Standing at 4095 meters, Mount Kinabalu is ranked as the 20th tallest mountain in the world and tallest in Malaysia. For climbers, this will be a tough but thrilling experience. The view at the top will make it worth it. Due to its rich biodiversity, it is named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
True Paradise; Lake Kenyir
It is the largest human-made lake and is found in the state of Terengganu, Northeast Malaysia. Taman Negara is to the west of the lake. It is surrounded by hundreds of islands, caves, and waterfalls that will blow your mind away. Birds, insects, and animals such as hornbills, snakes, monkeys, tigers, and wild elephants can be spotted.
Taman Negara National Park
Taman Negara can be accessed through Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital city. It is the largest national park. It is also one of the oldest primary rainforests in the world. It stands on a broad expanse of land making it difficult to see the rare species of mammals and wildlife found in the place. It has grown to become a popular ecotourism destination.
Petronas Twin Tower
This building stands at a high of 88 floors with the Twin Towers Skybridge in between the twin towers. Visitors flock the place to get a view of the beautiful country from above. The bridge has become a popular attraction site and visitors get to enter the place free of charge. Only a pass is required to allow limits to the number of people entering the building. A myriad of other activities happens in the building like shopping, restaurants, playgrounds and much more around the area.
When you hear safari, you think Kenya. Those two words are synonymous with each other in the travel industry. Located in East Africa, it is home to a great diversity of wildlife, beautiful scenery, sandy beaches, exquisite food, breathtaking landscapes and warm cultures. Nairobi, its capital, is always full of activity being one of the fastest growing cities in Africa. The Great Rift Valley gives you a great insight into the different cultures and the northern parts of the country have various reserves and conservancies for the protection of wildlife.
It borders Kenya and Tanzania forming a wildlife corridor between these two countries. It is located in Narok County. You will get a chance to experience one of the most interesting game reserves. The name Maasai comes from the neighboring community that resides in that area. These are pastoralists who have been grazing in the reserve for centuries. The area is covered by vast grasslands and acacia trees.
It hosts the great migration of thousands of wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles to and from the Serengeti. This happens between July and October. Crocodiles and hippos have their habitat in the Mara River along with other predators like lions, leopards, and cheetahs. They are mostly seen in the dry months of December to February. The weather is mild all year long.
Amboseli National Reserve
Also home to the indigenous community of the Maasai, the name Amboseli is a Maasai word that means salty dust, perhaps in reference to the conditions of the reserve. It neighbors Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa and is a favorite getaway. If you want to see elephants up close walking in herds, Amboseli is the place to be. There are also hundreds of bird species and big cats in this broad expanse of land. In addition to the wildlife, you will be greeted by the site of Lake Amboseli, woodlands, savannah and wetland habitats.
Tsavo National Park
This is the largest park in Kenya and it is divided into two; Tsavo East and Tsavo West. It is a sight to behold with waterfalls, savannah vegetation, lava-rock plateau, wildlife, and rivers splitting into rapids. It is here that you are most likely to see elephants bathing in the red dust. The dense vegetation present in the park may hinder you from seeing some of the wildlife. Other than that, the scenery of this park is breathtaking.
Lake Nakuru National Park
A visit to Lake Nakuru national park is met by huge flocks of pink flamingoes wading in the water beautifully. It is a rich source of bird species and has been named an Important Bird Area (IBA) and other wildlife is present too. The landscape comprises of woodlands and rocky cliffs. The area is an arid area that hosts the largest euphorbia forest in Africa.
One of the best ways to view the area is by boat. It is a haven for hundreds of birds and is also considered an IBA. It is located at the highest point of the Great Rift Valley and has a wide diversity of wildlife. To the south, it is bordered by Hells Gate National Park.
Hells Gate National Park
A favorite spot for climbers, this is one of the few parks that allows camping, cycling and on foot expeditions. If you want to experience hiking, Hells Gate is your desired destination. There are two extinct volcanoes in the park and an ancient volcanic plug. It is also very popular for its geothermal features such as hot springs and geysers. Olkaria Geothermal station lies within this national park.
Mount Kenya National Park
This is a UNESCO World Heritage site with a good view of equatorial snow at its peak. It has three glacier peaks that are frequented by climbers. Sometimes the weather poses a big challenge while climbing but nothing beats the feeling of reaching the top. There is also a great diversity of animals and plants, alpine forests, bamboo thickets, etc. There is a luxury retreat in the foothills of the mountain, Mount Kenya Safari Club, where you get to enjoy tennis, fishing, and even golf.
Kenya’s capital, it has a colorful colonial history and was once the capital of the British East Africa. It is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa and is always abuzz with activity. To see the history, art, and culture, Nairobi National Museum is a good place to visit. The Karen Blixen Museum is also a wonderful place to stop by if you appreciate art and history. Your Nairobi tour cannot be complete without a visit to Nairobi National Park, (just a few minutes from the city), and Giraffe center.
This is the second largest city in Kenya, after Nairobi, and the biggest port. It is rich in exquisite cuisines, historical background, wildlife, sandy beaches and architectural sites. Wasini Island and Mombasa Marine national park are some of the areas where wildlife has taken up residence. You will enjoy exploring narrow streets, traditional Swahili dwellings, Old Town and Fort Jesus, and the history buffs will particularly enjoy it. White Sands at the beach for beach lovers are also a favorite for tourists.
Sundance Travel celebrates travel to all the Sunny places in the world. Sometimes these places are hot and sometimes they are quite cold and sunny even though that seems to be a contradiction in terms. This will be an overview of some of your options!
Sunny and Hot
Pretty much anywhere near the equator counts unless it also happens to be high altitude. You have your choice of tropical rain forests, veldts, deserts, whatever suits your fancy. Sometimes it could be all on one trip.
Most people know the US options fairly well. You have the beaches and amusement parks such as Disney World in Florida, along with the Everglades, Kennedy Space Center and other attractions. More on the hot and humid side. Moving across, you have New Orleans with the great restaurants and night clubs and Mardi Gras. Also hot and humid. Then you move across to Texas with coastal areas being humid and inland frequently dry. Houston being a big hub for the oil and gas industry as well as home to NASA Space Center.
Dallas and Fort Worth with a wide range of businesses and cultural attractions. San Antonio with its famed Riverwalk and El Paso with parks with cactus, coyotes and golden eagles. Now you are in the really dry area with the lovely stark landscapes in New Mexico and Arizona with amazing rock formations and desert flora. There is Carlsbad Caverns, Albuquerque, Taos and Santa Fe in New Mexico and the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Saguaro National Park and Phoenix in Arizona. Finally we come to Southern California with San Diego and its Hispanic flavor and the coast area and the influence of the Navy base. And then there is Los Angeles. The more we have gone there, the more we have liked it (except for the traffic). There are so many things to do and see there that that will be for another time.
This is dominated by Mexico in terms of geographic size. What many people think of when they think of Mexico are the beach resorts such as Cancun. Then you have Mexico City built on top of the capital of the Aztecs with all its colonial Spanish architecture. But you also have Aztec and Mayan ruins in a number of places around Mexico. The Mayan ruins match anything you find in Egypt or other areas of the world. There are fabulous Mayan ruins in other Central American countries as well.
A perfect place to take a sailing vacation, such as the British Virgin Islands. Great snorkeling and scuba diving and sail boarding on many of the islands. Some are flat and some are mountainous and/or volcanic. There are many resorts. Just a lovely place to spend time and many different places to visit.
The north part of South America has a variety of climates and terrain and also in places troubles with drugs. Brazil is a huge country with possibly as many climates as the US. The most dominant influence is the Amazon whose size is hard to comprehend unless you can see it. Especially in the rainy season. Although on the southern end of the country, Rio de Janeiro and its beaches are still sun spashed. Then you have Peru with the Incan ruins, the most famous of which is Machu Picchu, along with older civilizations such as the Chico, Nazca, Moche and Wari.
Africa is further north than you might think. The equator runs through the middle of it, below the bulge at the top and below the Sahara desert. The countries along the Mediterranean Sea are probably the best known and most visited. Morocco with Casablanca and Marrakesh is etched into our minds thanks to the movies. The coast has a lovely climate. As you go inland and get to the Sahara it gets desolate but no less beautiful. Algeria and Libya haven’t been vacation spots because of political turmoil but Tunisia has an interesting and generally more moderate history. Ancient Carthage, an important port for the ancient Greeks and Romans is close to modern Tunis, the capital. And then, of course, there is Egypt with the pyramids, sphinxes and other amazing buildings of the ancient Egyptians. Some of the countries are very poor and the amenities not very good. Some countries don’t even have a hospital and have significant political unrest. Kenya is one country that stands out in a positive way along with its southern neighbor Tanzania. Tanzania has Mount Kilimanjaro and both countries have a number of big game parks which attract people from around the world.
Although it is well north of the Equator, the countries along the Mediterranean have a lovely sunny climate. Spain, Portugal (although it is actually on the Atlantic), southern France, Italy, Greece and Turkey all have a plethora of things to see and do. These will also be the subject of other posts.
We doubt anyone is hankering to go to Syria right now. Unfortunate because of its rich history, in more stable times it would be a wonderful place to go. Beirut used to be an absolutely wonderful city and Lebanon was one of the nicest countries to visit. Civil war for 20 years kind of did that in. It is more stable now but the State Department still has a warning about it. Being next door to Syria doesn’t help. Saudi Arabia is a possibility as is Jordan, but basically most of the Middle East is not the greatest place for Americans and Europeans to vacation. The one exception would be Israel and even that has problems with terror attacks.
India and Sri Lanka
In the north of course are the Himalayas, but India is a huge country and in the south is quite sunny and tropical. The most famous site is the Taj Mahal. There are many other things such as the Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Wind built so royal women could look at what was happening in the outside world without being seen by anyone outside the palace. There are national parks with tigers and elephants. With long coasts there are many beaches such as Varkala beach. Qutb Minar is the second highest minaret in the world and is build of red sandstone and marble bricks with inscriptions from the Koran on them. Mysore Palace is actually 7 different palaces and is absolutely incredible. Then there is the Lake Palace which is built in the middle of a lake and has been converted into a 5 star hotel.
Asia and Australia
There are wonderful resorts in Thailand. The younger crowd has made Viet Nam a destination. Then there are the many islands such as Bali that are popular. Probably the biggest draw though is Australia. There is not much going on in the interior except Ayers Rock and Alice Springs. Then there are all the coastal cities such as Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and of course Sydney with its famous Sydney Opera House. And of course all the beaches and the sailing.
Sunny and Cold
If we are getting cold, might as well go whole hog. Trips to Antarctica are not cheap but people rave about the experience. Typically ships are taken from the tip of South America to the Palmer peninsula area. Plenty of ice bergs and also penguins and various types of seals.
Unless you are a fan of Sibera, not a good choice.
Alaska and Northern Canada
Nothing much going on in Northern Canada unless you are going on a hunting or fishing expedition. You can experience the sun 24 hours a day or close to it in the summer in much of Alaska. Taking a cruise along the coast is absolutely spectacular. There are many other natural wonders further inland as well such as Denali National Park.
Scandinavia and Iceland
For cold and sun, Scandinavia and Iceland can’t be beat. Although when it is sunny it really isn’t all that cold. Quite the experience to go into a night club when it is light out and come out and it is still light. Scandinavians know how to enjoy the sun and the summer. (They also have really good window blinds for when they want to sleep in the summer.) We are convinced the Finns invented the sauna because that is the only way anyone would go into the water. Jumping into the water during or after a sauna is breath taking. Helsinki is a wonderful city but also get to Turku, Finland the ancient capital. Of all the capitals, we like Stockholm the best. Lots of things to do and see. In Norway, Oslo is great but for an amazing train ride take the train from Oslo to Bergen. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. Don’t forget Copenhagen in Denmark. Touring the Carlsberg brewery is fun.