An epic journey, far and wide, to assemble (in no particular order) the very best that the planet has to offer
Pay homage to The King in Graceland
2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the King of Rock and Roll’s death, and is a perfect time to pay tribute to his everlasting impact on music. A visit to Graceland, Presley’s Tennessee home, is a rite of passage for music fans. When Elvis was a young boy, he promised his parents he would make a lot of money and buy them the best house in town – and with Graceland, he did exactly that. As the front gates open, you’re taken on an unforgettable journey into the private world of a musical legend, including the famous Jungle Room and Trophy Building (but don’t step on his blue suede shoes).
Visit Munich for Oktoberfest
Lederhosen, dirndl aprons, hops, music and dancing – that’s what you can expect on a trip to Oktoberfest. Actually kicking off in September, the world’s largest Volksfest begins with the Mayor tapping the first Oktoberfest-hops-barrel in Schottenhamel tent, watched on by 10,000 revellers, immediately followed by twelve gunshots that cue sixteen days of celebration. Enjoy the sideshows and attractions like endless parties, traditional costume parades, fairgrounds, and concerts – there’s even a national holiday, so that everyone from Bavaria can join in.
Explore Cape Town
This is no ordinary city break destination: this is where two oceans collide, where great mountains tower, and where sharks breach on the horizon. Your challenge? To see it all. Start by scaling Table Mountain: it’s easier than it sounds, with a cable car boasting unbeatable views all the way up (and down) this dramatic plateau. Next, venture to the Cape of Good Hope, a wind-whipped spot where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet, and where African penguins play. The finale of your adventure should be cage diving with great white sharks: though you’re safe from Jaws, it’s not for the faint hearted – but is a must on anyone’s bucket (of chum) list.
Visit India’s cities of colour
Found within the desert state of Rajasthan, India’s three ‘cities of colour’ have their own unique charms. Jaipur, the Pink City, is named for its adobe-coloured buildings and roofs, which evoke the Disney movie Aladdin. It’s bustling, filled with markets, camels and snake charmers and contains the must-see Amber Fort. Further into the desert you’ll find Jodhpur, the Blue City, awash in indigo paint. It’s much more tranquil than Jaipur, although not nearly as laid-back as Jaisalmer, the Yellow City, the smallest and most remote of the cities of colour. You’ll love its small-town charm, which is like staying in a giant sandcastle. Probably.
Explore Gaudi’s Barcelona
Gaudi’s genius infiltrates the city of Barcelona in colourful fantasy and intricate geometry. To get to grips with the architect’s most famous works: stroll Passeig de Gràcia, the elegant avenue built for the wealthy where luxury shops neighbour banks and the stock exchange atop Gaudi’s pavement tiles. Gaze at Casa Milà’s wavy façade, colourful balconies and intriguing chimney tops, wondering at his inspiration. Then visit Sagrada Familia, the still-in-process jewel where each façade depicts a chapter of religious prominence. Inside, the sight of the basilica, in all its curved-column, colour-changing magnificence, is breathtaking.
Party hard in Las Vega
Dubai might be like no other place on earth, but even Vegas tops it for sheer over-the-top spectacle. The main strip is a neon wonderland, with each five-star hotel crowding over its neighbour in a bid to stand out. Wander by the Bellagio and catch its famous fountain display, every 30 minutes from 3pm til 8pm, and then every 15 minutes until midnight. The hotels also play host to epic pool parties, where beautiful people to gather and celebrate – and of course, most of the world’s biggest music stars are also often in residence, from DJ maestro Calvin Harris to singers like Britney Spears, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey.
Take a tour along the Mekong
Navigate through a maze of lush coconut palms and emerald rice paddies lining the landscape, while buffalo cool off in chocolate brown waters. Many boat tours depart from Ho Chi Minh City and will show you how communities that rely on the nutrient-rich soil use the bountiful produce – from coconut candy and rice paper to palm tree vases and sweet, juicy mangoes. Most tours make stops at bee farms where you can sample delicious honey tea, followed by a concert from local children. Make sure to do your research before you arrive however, as the quality of tours vary, with some simply taking you from gift shop to gift shop.
Embark on an Arctic Circle cruise
The ultimate chillout, this region has a piercing, stark beauty; white and grey have never been so arresting. The midnight sun is just one of the protagonists in this crunching, barren landscape, which is punctuated by spottings of polar bears, walrus, seals, arctic foxes and colonies of birds. (It’s also an alternative ticket to seeing the Northern Lights, mentioned elsewhere in this travel-collection). Cruises can stray into the waters of Norway, Sweden, Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Canada, Russia and even Alaska, past spouting whales and surging waves of Prussian blue. It’s a must-book voyage, into a wild realm bursting with natural beauty.
Embrace the majesty of Victoria Falls
You’ll hear it before you see it: a low rumble, trembling your eardrums before you even get close. And then you’ll see the long white cloud of spray thickening, until you emerge – with ears roaring – onto the waterfall’s edge. One million litres of water tumble over that drop per second, a hypnotic sight that’s as terrifying as it is thrilling. When David Livingstone found the falls in 1855 he named them after his queen, but the local Kololo tribe had their own name: ‘The Smoke That Thunders’. See them on foot, then take a microlight flight for an unforgettable bird’s eye view.
Witness a pop of pink with Sakura season
The cherry blossom is a symbol of Japan’s natural beauty and no filter can do the brilliant display of blooms justice. To see the full splendour, visit from February to early May and you’ll be spoilt for choice – stroll through a tunnel of trees in Kakunodate, see a traditional Japanese castle at Hirosaki city or head up Mt. Yoshino to experience the mountain awash with colour. If it’s romance you’re after, take a trip to Takayama City during its annual festival. Float down Suimon River in a washtub style boat as petals flutter by, then stay for the night glow when sakura trees are lit by Japanese lanterns.