TOP 5 PLACES TO TRAVEL

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  • 2 years ago

To compile our annual list of the best places to travel in the upcoming year, T+L editors thoroughly and meticulously consider a variety of factors. Which under-the-radar gems are most exciting to our network of contributing writers and global correspondents? Which destinations are our A-List travel specialists fielding requests for? Which classic vacation spots are starting to emerge—but for entirely new and compelling reasons? Which global events and changes in travel restrictions have made certain destinations easier to get to?

This year’s list ranges from the Andaman Islands, off India (which impressed even the most discerning ocean-lover, Jacques Cousteau), to an unspoiled stretch of the Caribbean, and nine other beach destinations with sun, sand, and beautiful views. For food lovers, we’ve got everything from Ghent, Belgium (where a group of young chefs is leading the culinary revolution and plans for a massive food hall are under way), to the canal town of Aarhus, Denmark, which is stepping out of Copenhagen’s shadow with three Michelin-starred restaurants of its own.

#1 Paris

There's this idea that Parisians stick up their noses to Americans — that they're notoriously unfriendly and even rude. However, a little savoir-faire, or diplomacy, helps. So, try to speak the language, if only a kindly bonjour (hello or good day) or bonsoir (good evening). If you're at a loss for words, politely ask the waiter or shop attendant pouvez-vous m'aider? (can you help me?) or parlez-vous anglais (do you speak English?). Another helpful phrase: Excusez-moi (pardon me or excuse me). Try to blend into the refined sophistication of Parisian life rather than stick out as a loud, garish or uncouth visitor.

Speaking of trying to blend in … Paris is one of the most fashionable cities in the world. Leave the fanny packs at home. After all, everyone from Marie Antoinette and Coco Chanel to Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Lacroix got their start in haute-couture fashion in Paris — and their influence remains. Blend in with the locals by dressing stylishly and taking pride in what you choose to wear. But take note, certain items of clothing such as shorts and sneakers are frowned upon, especially in restaurants and night clubs.

France uses the euro, and major credit cards are accepted at most establishments in Paris. Since the euro to U.S. dollar exchange rate fluctuates, be sure to check what the current exchange rate is before you go. Keep in mind the exchange rate when you tip and make purchases. Some smaller bakeries or bistros may only take cash, though, so research ahead of time. Most restaurants and cafes will include a 10 to 15 percent service charge (service compris) on the bill. You can leave some additional change for exceptional service, if you wish. Taxi drivers tend to expect a 5 to 10 percent tip, though usually rounding to the nearest euro or two will often suffice. You may also encounter fees to use the bathroom in some restaurants and bathroom attendants in many bars in Paris. If the fee isn't collected ahead of the use of the facilities, it's polite to leave 50 cents to a euro for the attendants.

#2 Amsterdam

Don't believe everything you hear about Amsterdam. Yes, this Netherlands city takes a lax look at women beckoning business in the Red Light District and "coffee shops" selling an unorthodox type of herb to a toking clientele, but these descriptions only scratch the surface. At some point, during an excellent Indonesian meal, a twilight canal-side rambling or a shopping excursion through the boutiques of Nine Little Streets, you'll realize – as many travelers have before you – that there's much more to Amsterdam than you might've thought.

And although the city's loose laws on vice seem to attract a college-age, male-dominant crowd, Amsterdam is also ideal as a romantic getaway for two or an educational excursion with the kids. With attractions that range from biking along a maze of canals to remembering the Holocaust through the eyes of Anne Frank; from exploring the swirling Expressionism of Vincent van Gogh to lazing in the expansive Vondelpark, Amsterdam suits a variety of traveler tastes.

#3 Tokyo

"Animated" is perhaps the best word to describe Tokyo. Crazy about its anime, Japan's mega city is constantly buzzing with movement—feet clack down sidewalks, cars zoom along streets, subway trains hum below ground, ships cruise in and out. And yet bright lights and loud signs beg you to pause, to break your motion for just one second to pray (oops, we mean pay) at the altar of consumerism. This is a city that feeds on motion and progress.

But when you want to stop in Tokyo, the city will certainly make it worth your while. The tech savvy locales may whizz past the monuments and urban parks daily (except during the cherry blossom season when everyone floods the green space), but, we assure you, the museums and historical sites are world-class. Here, there are photos to be taken, sushi to be eaten, and a lot of shopping to be done. So what are you waiting for? You better get a move on.

#4 Rome

Rome, the city of seven hills, enjoyed a mythic beginning. Romulus and Remus — twin brothers who were nursed by a she-wolf and fathered by a war god — reportedly founded the Eternal City. And although historians are a little skeptical about this epic entry into the world, most travelers are absolutely certain that there is something magical about Rome. Whether it's the mystery of nearby Vatican City or the ghosts of the Colosseum, an afternoon caffè on Piazza Navona or a piled-high plate of pasta at a trattoria, Roma is sure to enchant.

Italy's capital city, Rome is also known for a history that dates back to the eras of Octavian, Julius Caesar and Hadrian, among others. Left behind are structures like the Pantheon, the Roman Forum and dozens of churches, among other historic gems. Art enthusiasts will relish the trove of art housed at the Vatican Museums, and foodies will enjoy the splendid Italian fare, not to mention the gelato. And though its momentous past is the focus for many vacationers, Rome is also a fast-paced, modern and relevant city, with gleaming designer storefronts, sleek hotels and cutting-edge restaurants.

#5 Sydney

Sydney is both a laid-back beachside town and a thriving metropolis that boasts some of the Southern Hemisphere's best surf, landmarks and activities. Whether you're looking to watch a show at the iconic Opera House, take to the waves at Bondi Beach or explore trendy areas like The Rocks and Darling Harbour, Sydney features something for everyone. Even Sydneysiders have an ideal mix of both worlds: Fashion-forward attire and British-style sarcasm combine with a "no worries" attitude and relaxed coastal vibe. It's no wonder this vibrant city down under is a natural choice for first-time Aussie visitors.

In addition to tons of beaches and top-notch restaurants and bars, Australia's most populous city features an array of things to do. Thrill-seekers can participate in heart-pounding activities like a Sydney Harbour Bridge climb, while visitors looking to unwind will appreciate a relaxing day at Coogee or Manly Beach or a peaceful stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens. There's also plenty of seasonal Sydney festivals and events to experience, such as Sculpture by the Sea, the Festival of the Winds and the Night Noodle Markets. Whether you're looking to enjoy a rugby match, hit up the city's museums or lounge on a beach, Sydney's got you covered.



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