Planning a trip can be a daunting task. Curating the perfect itinerary for a short getaway while avoiding the ever-present fear of tourist traps and gaffes can ruin a trip before it even begins. Being aware of activities and sites to skip is just as important as making time for the secret can’t-miss spots. Below are 31 destinations, with insider tips to match, to take the pain out of planning.
Cape Town, South Africa
Don’t neglect the famous Cape Town Winelands on your next trip to South Africa. Just an hour outside the city’s center are picturesque rolling hills with a mountainous backdrop—not to mention the delicious wine.
The natural landscape of Iceland is breathtaking—and also restorative. Settle into the warm, relaxing waters of the Blue Lagoon and slather yourself in the healing silica mud for the ultimate Icelandic experience.
For tourists, Marrakesh may seem like an unsolvable maze at first glance. The cluster of souks and spice markets could leave anyone wandering aimlessly. While on your way to the Jemaa el-Fna, keep in mind that locals often turn street signs around to confuse visitors, giving them the opportunity to offer the correct directions for a small fee.
Though you may be tempted to leave Bangkok for the idyllic surrounding islands immediately after landing in Thailand, make time for native treasures like the Grand Palace. Comprised of numerous buildings, the Grand Palace encompasses the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, residences of former kings, and perfectly manicured gardens.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Take in a unique history of Buenos Aires by wandering Recoleta Cemetery. The ornate mausoleums are home to the final resting places of several preeminent occupants such as the country’s beloved Eva (Evita) Perón and Argentinian President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento.
Get a bird’s eye view of the City of Stars from the Griffith Observatory. This shining example of art deco architecture is perched atop L.A., allowing for spectacular views of the Hollywood sign and offering incomparable stargazing at night.
New York City
Yes, the Big Apple is an awe-inspiring sight to see, but if you think New York is limited to the island of Manhattan, you are sadly mistaken. The surrounding boroughs have just as much to offer any visitor. Brooklyn, for example, has long been home to many locals, boasting an exquisite view of the Manhattan skyline and an unbeatable pizza scene.
The heart of Moscow lies in its most vibrant attraction, Red Square. From there, you can see the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral, Kremlin and other historical sites. And while you may be seduced by Moscow’s fast-moving streets and bustling cafés, take a moment to dip into Russia’s Cold War history with a visit to Bunker 42. Located 65 meters underground, this unique piece of history is the only declassified military space in Russia.
Amid the numerous must-see sites in Tokyo, like the iconic Tokyo imperial Palace and Sensoji Temple, be sure to make time for the variety of crazy dining experiences. Everything from vending machines serving up ramen noodles to robot restaurants will leave you with an experience you won’t soon forget.
In the span of five hours, you can travel Israel from end to end and see every terrain imaginable. Float at Earth’s lowest point in the Dead Sea at breakfast, and party in the metropolitan city of Tel Aviv by dinner.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Saadiyat is an island entirely dedicated to arts and culture that cannot be missed on your visit to Abu Dhabi. Visit the recently opened Abu Dhabi Louvre, designed by architect Jean Nouvel.
After seeing Istanbul’s Byzantine treasure Hagia Sophia, get lost in the maze of the Grand Bazaar, which comprises more than 5,000 shops.
Immerse yourself in the true City of Spas and take a dip into one of Budapest’s famous baths like the Gellert Baths or Széchenyi Thermal Baths.
For Hong Kong’s best architectural experience, climb—or take a train—to the top of Victoria Peak just before sundown and to admire the colorfully lit city below.
While London continues to push boundaries with a world-class culinary and cocktail scene, there is no better place to experience the city’s essence than a real pub. Look for a well-worn establishment in East London led by a bartender with a strong accent, take a seat, and enjoy a pint or two like a local.
Why take a safari when you can experience one while sitting down to breakfast? Giraffe Manor in Nairobi plays host to a herd of Rothschild’s giraffes, roaming freely throughout the property to interact with guests all day.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
If planning to visit Albuquerque, definitely try to go during the majestic Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in October. The weeklong event includes a variety of activities and a sky full of colorful balloons.
Walk around Old Havana to get a sense of the soul of Cuba. While the district is full of beautiful plazas and squares, Plaza Vieja is arguably the most historically significant, dating back to the mid 1500s.