Top three places to travel this year
Have you made your travel plans for this year yet? If not, leave it to us to tell you why you should include these three fabulous destinations into your travel itinerary this year! Trust us, you will not regret it.
Here is our Top 3 destination of 2016. Our choice of these destinations is based on multiple factors such as budget-friendliness, family getaways, connectivity, activities and natural beauty.
This gem of a country hidden away in Caucuses region is surrounded by Turkey, Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia and is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Located at the intersection of West Asia and East Europe and this amazing stretch of land is a mere four and half hours away from Dubai. Tibilisi, the capital city is easily the most beautiful cities in the Caucuses region, surrounded by pretty hills and monasteries and sulphur springs.
Whether you are looking for great food, natural beauty or a family friendly destination, Georgia has it all for you. Even if you are short of time, there is a lot you can see in this amazing country.
1. Georgian Military Highway: Running from the capital Tibilisi to Vladikavkaz (in Russia), this beautiful 212 kilimeter long stretch goes through unimaginably beautiful landscapes – from rivers to high mountain passes, you get to see everything up close. Before you reach the end at Stepantsminda or Kazbegi, the roads winds up through Jvari Pass, the highest point in the road. On this stretch of road there are many sights worthy of mention, such as the Jvari Monastery, Ananuri Fort, the confluence of black and white Aragvi River, Zhinvali Reservoir and Friendship Monument near Gudauri .
2. Jvari Monastery: A UNESCO World Heritage Site near Mtshketa, this Georgian Orthodox monastery stands on a rocky mountaintop overlooking the confluence of two rivers – Mtkvari and Aragvi and the town of Mtskheta itself. The views are mind blowing. However, be careful when you stand on the rocky edge for that perfect shot – there are no protective railings in many places and the winds are fierce.
3. Sighnaghi: A short drive from Tibilisi, through some fascinating landscape dotted with vineyards you arrive at Sighnaghi a pretty town sitting on a hilltop overlooking beautiful green Alzani Valley to the Caucasus beyond. Walking down the road you could for a moment feel yourself in Italy – the town has been renovated not too long ago, the streets are quite new – but they have easily managed to retain much of the old world charm.
4. Uplistsikhe: An ancient “cave city” very close to the capital – gives you an insight into the lives of people centuries ago. This beautiful city overlooks river Mkvari and is a must visit place when in Georgia.
5. Tibilisi: A city that survived many invasions for hundreds of years has retained much of the old world charm which you can see in the old town, with its ancient cobbled stone streets. Hundreds of restaurants and café dot this area. Not to miss is the amazing cable ride over the city and the sulphur bath! It will leave you absolutely rejuvenated.
Must try food
Must do in Tibilisi
Walk around the historical Old Town
Take a cable ride over the city
View the Friendship Bridge a night
Take a sulphur bath
Ride the funicular to Mt Mtatsminda for some mind blowing panorama of the entire city.
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A destination that has been on the tourist radar for years and shows no signs of abating, Prague is easily the most gorgeous city in Eastern Europe. A mere six (check timing) hours from Dubai, Prague is among the TOP 3 choices for families and couples looking for a quick getaway.
A beautiful and well preserved medieval city teeming with a rich cultural history, great food and shopping, parks and museums, cathedrals, museums and a very energetic nightlife, Prague is a haven for both budget and luxury travelers alike.
Castle: The famous Prague castle sits on the hill top overlooking all of Prague. This humungous structure consists of multiple sections such as St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace, The Story of Prague Castle, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane (best seen at when the rays of sunshine turn this into a mellow gold colour), the Powder Tower, and Rosenberg Palace. All this can be visited for just one combine ticket.
Park: A good city to get lost in, especially in of those large parks, namely the Petrin Park, the city’s biggest park with the most sweeping views of Prague. A great outing for families and children – go play hide and seek amongst the trees or get lost in the maze! Ride the funicular uphill if you are not up to walking!
Old Town Square: Walking about this historical area will throw up some of the best surprises. Simply watch people while munching on a trdelnik sandwich, but don’t miss the giant Astronomical Clock. Don’t miss its hourly chime that has people lining up in thousands.
A number of talented musicians and bagpipe players throng the Square, giving you the best performance right there. The beautiful Tyn and St. Nicholas churches are around the Square ring and so are the amazing catacombs right under the Town Hall.
Charles Bridge: It is said that all roads lead to Charles Bridge, Prague’s unique attraction. Cross the historic bridges to find sweeping views of the river and what’s more, you might even end up finding an amazing piece of art from famous artists right there.
Prague has a lot of must try foods – this includes the famous Chlebíčky (an open faced sandwich), Koláče (a delicious pastry with fruit jams), Goulash (a meat dish) and trdelnik (a rolled pastry)
Prague is a stunning whichever way you look it. Wander its streets, just get lost – you will not regret it.
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A city that grew along the canals and Amstel River, Amsterdam is every shopper or adventure lover’s top favourite spot. There is nothing like seeing this city on a boat – and boats are everywhere! The canals are incredibly beautiful and are easily the most popular tourist attraction in the city. Remember it is a city that has more bikes than any other city in the world, and biking is also the best and easiest way to explore this city. Watch out for the bike-traffic when you are looking to cross the streets!
Well, there is more than just canals here – have we mentioned the museums? Did you know that the museum here features many of Van Gogh’s best works of art alongside an excellent biography of his life. The museums also house paintings by other famous artists of the period, like Monet, Manet, and Matisse.
Van Gogh Museum: The most popular attraction in Amsterdam, for both lovers and non-lovers of art, this museum features many of Van Gogh’s best works of art alongside an excellent biography of his life. Not only can you see the master artist’s greatest work, but also works by other renowned artists like Monet, Manet, and Matisse.
The Rijksmuseum: Located next to the Van Gogh Museum, this beautifully remodeled museum features an extensive Rembrandt collection and an admirable collection of other classic Dutch painters, like Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer.
Anne Frank House: Remember the famous Diary of Anne Frank? Yes, this is all about her! This is the place she went into hiding and wrote her famous diary!
Amsterdam History Museum: For the history of this amazing city, head to this museum – you will of course need a couple of hours to see it all, but you won’t regret this time for sure.
Round off your visit to this fabulous “cheese” country by visiting one of the many “kaas” shops or markets for some cheese. Particularly popular are the Gouda, Geitenkaas or Maasdammer. If you are a big cheese lover and want to know just how this country produces cheese, visit the Cheese Museum or visit the Reypenaer Tasting Room for some cheese tasting of some of the finest brands.
No matter how many times you visit this city, there is always something new to find – and do. Be it cruising in the canals, visiting galleries and museums, cycling, visiting parks, dining out with family, shopping or club hopping, Amsterdam will spoil you for choice.
Did you know that Amsterdam is among the Top 15 safest cities in the world?
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Author - THERE ARE NO GODS IN NORTH KOREA & ALMOST INTREPID
Lonely Planet Author, Traveler, Columnist