Top 5 Things to Do in Mykonos Besides Partying

Great party spots, superb food, and heart-stopping views help make Mykonos a splendid holiday destination for thousands of jet-setters, VIPs, and globetrotters alike. Whether you in for a week of fun, a solo adventure, or injecting some culture into your family vacation, the Island of the Winds might just be your ticket to the one-of-a-kind holiday in the Mediterranean you have been dreaming of. Below, you will find 5 top things to do besides partying till you drop!

Explore pristine beaches

Famous for their crystal clear waters and golden sand, the beaches of Mykonos please all tastes. Want to party? Head to Super Paradise and Paradise beach. Need a family-friendly spot to enjoy the sun and sea with the kids? Ornos, Elia, Kalo Livadi, and Agios Sostis beaches are for you. In search of a trendy beach to meet celebs and A-lists? Psarou, Paraga, and Ftelia beaches are where you will rub shoulders with Hollywood stars and athletes of world fame. And while there, you can as well pay a visit to the infamous Nammos, Scorpios, and Alemagou beach bars (also serving as restaurants).

Tip: Besides driving yourself around (or even riding your scooter), an even better way to explore the beaches in Mykonos is with your yacht – either rented or owned. That way, you get to lay eyes on secluded coves and spots not many can visit from land.

Visit Mykonian Landmarks

The windmills are an iconic feature of the island definitely worth seeing. They used to refine grain for many centuries using the power of the winds that blow on Mykonos. Although their use declined with the progress of technology, they now open their doors to visitors (as museums, like the Boni and Kato Myloi windmills) while some of those that have survived (from a total of seven windmills) also serve as private residences. It may be an uphill walk/drive to get there but an incredible view of the Aegean spreading down your feet will reward you for sure.

Island Hopping

The nearby archaeological island of Delos is loaded with Greek myths that place it as the birthplace of ancient Greek gods Artemis and Apollo. It is an uninhabited island declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site that you may explore with a boat ride or, even better, a helicopter ride you can take from the premises of your luxury villa in Mykonos Island. That way, you can enjoy amazing panoramas of the sea and the endless blue of the Mediterranean sky and also get to visit nearby Santorini, Paxos, Naxos, and Ios islands in a heartbeat (and absolute comfort). Alternatively, you could organise a cruise tour with your friends or family.

Walk Around the Old Port

The old harbour of Mykonos is a picturesque area with many restaurants and cafes overlooking the sea, offering fantastic sunset views. Beautiful whitewashed, square buildings with blue doors, winding alleys, and romantic spots to have a loving evening (followed by a delicious meal or cocktails by the sea) in Little Venice with your significant other are some of the things that will steal your heart. Speaking of magnificent sunset views and cocktails, The Belvedere is an exceptional place to relish luxury, fine champagne, and alluring sights of Mykonos Town, and not only.

Tip: Don’t forget to take a selfie with Petros the Pelican; the mascot of the island and the next most-photographed attraction!

Grab a Gyro

You can’t walk the streets of a Greek island without treating your palate to gyros! The yummy street food (pita bread with pork or veal meat, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, tzatziki or other sauces/dips of your likes) is a must-have in Mykonos, especially before or after a wild party or after a full day swimming and exploring the fab underwater world of the island. Start with Jimmy’s Gyros (legendary) that opens late at night and take it from there!
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Most Emblematic Areas in Dubai You Must Visit

Dubai’s ability to dream, and then achieve the impossible has ripped up expectations and rewritten the record books. Stunning developments such as the soaring Burj Khalifa, the unforgettably beautiful Burj al Arab and the vast Palm Jumeirah island are embodiments of the ruling sheiks’ determination to make the city one of the world’s essential destinations for the twenty-first century.

A few kilometers south of the old city center, modern Dubai begins in spectacular style with Sheikh Zayed Road, home to a neck-cricking array of skyscrapers. This strip is an essential stop for lovers of postmodern architectural whimsy, and also to many of the city’s best restaurants, bars, and pubs. 

Further south lies the massive new Downtown Dubai development, centered on the stupendous new Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

West of the Sheikh Zayed Road, the sprawling beachside suburb of Jumeirah is the traditional place of choice for Dubai’s European expats, with an endless swath of walled villas and a smattering of low-key sights including the beautiful Jumeirah Mosque and the kitsch, Italian-themed Mercato mall. 

At the southern end of Jumeirah, the sleepy suburb of Umm Suqueim is home to a trio of iconic Dubai sights: the wave-shaped Jumeirah Beach Hotel; the extraordinary mock Arabian Madinat Jumeirah complex, and the unforgettable Burj al Arab hotel.

If you arrive in the city on a Dubai cruise, one of the first places you'll notice will be the South of the Burj al Arab. Here you'll find the spectacular new Dubai Marina development, with its densely packed forest of glassy skyscrapers, while offshore lies the Palm Jumeirah, the world’s largest man-made island, which ends in a flourish at the gargantuan new Atlantis resort. 

On the north side of the Creek, the bustling district of Deira is where you’ll find most of Dubai’s traditional commercial activity, much of it still conducted in the area’s vibrant array of old-fashioned souks, including the famous Gold and Spice Souks.

At the heart of the metropolis on the south side of the Creek, Bur Dubai is the oldest part of the city and offers a fascinating insight into Dubai’s traditional roots. The area is home to many of the city’s most interesting traditional Arabian heritage houses, clustered in the beautiful old Iranian quarter of Bastakiya and the waterfront Shindagha district.

Last but not least, fringing Deira and Bur Dubai, lie the city’s inner suburbs. Attractions here range from the entertainingly workaday suburbs of Karama and Satwa, home to dozens of no-frills Indian curry houses, low-rent souks and some of the city’s most entertaining street life.

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Been Neglecting Your Nearest and Dearest? You Need a Summer Holiday!

It’s a sad fact that many of us begin to lose our big friend groups in our early twenties, what with lots of people going their own way, starting new careers, moving around, getting married and having kids, and that’s sad. Friends are like the family we choose and losing that can be really upsetting, even if it is a gradual process.

That’s why it’s high time for you to grab your closest mates, and go off on a summer retreat, just you and them. A couple of days somewhere beautiful chilled out or exciting, maybe a healthy spa trip or a shopping and nights out city break can do absolute wonders for a friendship, allowing you and your friends to become as close as you used to be once again. But how come a summer mini-break is the answer? Here’s why!

It’s Always Going to be the Best Way to Get to Know Someone Again!

Barring some huge and shared life-altering event, one of the best ways to get close to someone you’ve drifted away from a little bit is a good couple of days in each other’s company. If you’ve got a close friend you’ve not been getting the chance to see very much for the last couple months or even years, planning a getaway can be the way forward.

With so many epic, beautiful and exciting locations to check out around the UK, you’re sure to find the perfect location and a great hotel, maybe even one with some luxurious spa facilities, maybe one in a vibrant city or lush countryside, whatever you two fancy! Whether that’s shopping, spa treatments, and pampering, or even hiking! It’s all out there in the UK.

Destress Your Life

Beyond getting close to an old friend again, there’s another great reason for a quick summer getaway, and that’s relaxation and dealing with stress. Stress is increasingly one of the big issues in society, having been linked to all manner of conditions, including sleep problems, hair loss and weight loss and gain, and if you’ve got a stressful job or lifestyle, it’s time to put some safeguards in place.

Research has shown that a holiday can have distressing effects for up to a month after you return home! That means that a quick break in the summer, getting to know an old friend again, and having a great time can be perfect for getting you back on track again, relaxed and focused.

The world we live in has never been more connected, but that doesn’t mean we get to keep all the friendships we’ve always enjoyed. Loneliness is a strange thing, and it’s all too common here in the west. That’s why you need to take every opportunity to spend time with your bestie, even if you’re busy with career, kids or partner. Spending time with your friends can also be great for a relationship, too! Taking a few days out for a summer getaway is always going to be the perfect answer!

Photo by Vratislav Darmek via Flickr Creative Commons
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5 Money-Saving Tips to Help Make That Dream Vacation a Reality

Let’s face it – the idea of a dream vacation seems out of reach for most people. Doing a basic online search for the destination you hope to visit can be overwhelming, particularly as the dollar signs start to rack up.

For millions of determined travelers, however, a dream vacation is within their grasp by saving as little as $10 a day!

That’s right, with financial planning, and a little ingenuity, even the most budget-conscious family can travel across the globe and share in exciting new experiences without stressing over cost. Here is a list of five money-saving tips any family can do every day that will ensure the trip of a lifetime can indeed be in the cards.

Set a realistic budget

One of the most important factors to take into account when planning adventures abroad has to be the budget that is instrumental in getting you there. Setting a realistic budget can make all the difference when it comes to the success or failure of any vacation. By taking into account the estimated full cost for a trip to Australia, for example, travelers are better able to get a snapshot on how that full-figure translates to incremental deposits into a savings account or dedicated vacation fund.

Save every single day

One great habit to start getting into is making small payments into your vacation fund on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Oftentimes people look at the lump sum monthly deposit necessary and cringe, fearing they won’t be able to realistically keep up with their desired goal. It is possible, though. Here’s an example: for a trip in eighteen months costing $5,000, travelers will need to save roughly $275 dollars a month – translating to $69 a week or just under $10 a day – to reach their goal. This is a much more manageable expectation to set for yourself when planning a trip.

Cut back on unnecessary expenses

Cutting back on expenses that aren’t essential to keeping up with your home or health is a great way to build up that vacation fund in a hurry. By simply eliminating daily $5 retail-espresso drinks from your day-to-day routine, and opting into a home-brewed coffee alternative instead, wannabe world-trekkers can save as much as $100 a month or $1200 a year! With an extra $1200 in your travel fund, maybe you won’t feel so guilty about possibly upgrading to luxury hotel experiences in exotic new places.

Apply for cash-back rewards credit programs

There are so many great opportunities out there for using credit cards to your advantage. Applying for a cash-back rewards credit card, and using it correctly, can truly add up to high dollar amounts that can be applied to all sorts of goodies like airline miles or hotel discounts. Many major credit companies offer these great programs to responsible and applicable consumers.

Invest your annual tax refund

The greatest thing about working hard throughout the year is that most us get a little bit of money back in one lump sum from the government to kick off the new year. While the draw to spend that money on expensive electronics and instantly gratifying treats can be strong, why not invest it straight into your travel account? By doing this, not only are travelers boosting their vacation fund but are also building a necessary cushion just in case something comes up throughout the year that makes it impossible to put as much into the fund as they would have liked.

Where will you go on your next dream trip?

Photo by Hamza Butt via Flickr Creative Commons
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4 Celebrity Chef Menus to Try in Dubai

Dubai is an urban paradise, attracting pleasure-seekers from across the globe throughout the entire year. As such, the opulent city plays host to a staggering variety of restaurants, cafés and eateries, all vying energetically for custom in one of the most competitive hospitality scenes in the world. In such an environment, getting your name known is the key. As a result of this, some of the most popular culinary destinations in the city are ones that are connected with big names in the restaurant industry. Luxury holiday providers have put together this list of some of the celebrity chefs who have played a part in shaping Dubai’s food and drink scene, and learn a little about their signature establishments.

1. Rhodes W1 - Gary Rhodes

TV chef Gary Rhodes of Saturday Cooks and Local Food Hero fame launched the Rhodes W1 restaurant, complete with luxurious terrace and bar, at the Grosvenor House complex in Dubai’s glorious marina in September 2008. Serving a sumptuous selection of traditional European-style dishes prepared to perfection, the high class eatery won TimeOut awards last year for its classy afternoon tea and expert grasp of European cuisine. If you’re looking to book into this lauded establishment, then the acclaimed afternoon tea is definitely the place to start!

2. Bread Street Kitchen and Bar - Gordon Ramsay

Famed as much for his passionate, foul-mouthed rants on television shows such as Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen as for his excellent culinary skills, Ramsay at first opened and international restaurant, Verre, in 2001 at a Dubai branch of Hilton Hotels. However after a successful ten years of operation, the restaurant closed and Ramsay has now turned his sights to the exceptionally stylish Bread Street Kitchen and Bar, which celebrated its first anniversary in 2016. The restaurant boasts its own unique brand of tableware as well as a rich and delicious menu of “British European” specialties, inspired by the changing seasons. If you visit, don’t miss out on Ramsay’s exceptional beef wellington.

3. Jamie’s Italian - Jamie Oliver

Chef and health food campaigner Jamie Oliver heads Jamie’s Italian - a well known and prolific restaurant chain with branches all over the world. The franchise’s Dubai site is positioned within the glamorous Jumeirah Beach Hotel, just a short walk from the spectacular Palm Jumeirah archipelago. The menu is - as the name suggests - inspired by the flavours and dishes of Italy, and is wonderfully family-friendly. The “Cured and Crispy Fish Plank”, served with “music bread” comes particularly recommended here.

4. Frankie’s Italian Bar and Grill

Yet another European-inspired menu, but this time with a particularly unique partnership behind it. Often dubbed “the first celebrity chef”, Marco Pierre White is the culinary mastermind behind this delightful piano-lounge style restaurant, located close to the popular JBR beach, while the second figure credited with its conception is its namesake, Italian jockey Frankie Dettori. Achieving the accolade of Best Newcomer at the What’s On awards in 2008, and dubbed Best Italian Restaurant by TimeOut the year after, Frankie’s delicious “white truffle” menu is utterly superb.

Photo by the_dead_pixel via Flickr Creative Commons
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5 Things to Do in Tenerife

The rich island landscape of Tenerife has a vast array of activities to offer beyond relaxing on its sweeping golden beaches. With astonishing natural beauty, rich city life and incredible thrill-seeking readily available wherever you turn, no holidaymaker is short of things to do on the largest of the Canaries. Discounted holiday provider Holiday Gems have been sharing some of their Tenerife tips with us and here are just a few of the adventures that can be experienced on this beautiful island in the North Atlantic.

1. Teide National Park

The glorious Teide National Park spreads across an enormous section of central Tenerife and boasts the Volcan El Teide - an active volcano - right at its heart. Hardier visitors can witness the incredible power of nature by taking the five-hour hike to the mountain’s summit, though it’s also accessible via an exhilarating jeep safari tour or by cable car. The park features a remarkable collection of flora and fauna, and, surprisingly, is often used to test scientific equipment to be used on Mars, due to their strange geological similarities. The fascinating Teide Observatory continues the astronomical theme of the area - perched on side of the mountain.

2. Watersports

Take the plunge - whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or just out to test yourself, there are scores of opportunities to explore the oceans around Tenerife, whether you choose to take a thrilling catamaran trip, search for the majestic creatures of the deep on a whale or dolphin watching tour, go on an extreme jet-ski safari or plunge into the stunning depths of the ocean during a snorkelling or scuba-diving session, there are wild and wonderful options galore available at innumerable points around the island’s coastline!

3. Loro Parque

A hugely popular zoo and animal sanctuary, Loro Parque is situated in Puerto de la Cruz on the North coast of the island and is particularly famous for the work it has done towards the conservation of various species of parrot (“Loro” is the Spanish word for parrot). The attraction also features big cats and other large mammals, and a wide variety of sea life, including orca whales and dolphins. Visitors can explore the park under their own steam, or book a “Discovery Tour” of around an hour and three quarters which can be delivered in a number of languages, including English.

4. Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre

The name of this fascinating establishment translates as “Museum of Nature and Man”, and its exhibits focus on the geology, geography, fauna and anthropology of the Canary Islands. Seated on the Eastern coastline of Tenerife within the city of San Cristóbal de la Lagune, the museum features a beautiful open courtyard and a restaurant,and tells the tale of Earth’s natural and early human history, and the birth and growth of the Canaries.

5. Mercado Municipal Nuestra Señora de África

A thriving market in Santa Cruz de Tenerife dating back to the 19th century, there is very little that you can’t buy at the mercado. The Recova, a stunning honey-coloured neo colonial building over two floors, is home to a great number of fresh food stalls and excellent eateries. There is also a modern mall building featuring more than 40 shops, two great cafés and an oriental buffet.

Photos by bjoern via Flickr Creative Commons
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Ten Most Beautiful Camping Spots in the World

When the monotony of daily life starts taking its toll on you, a camping expedition can prove to be a source of revival. As it goes without saying, nothing brings you closer to yourself than a night spent in the lap of nature, with some fire to keep you warm and a peaceful sleep under the stars. So pack your bags, put on your camping shoes and find your way to any of these most beautiful places in the world where you can go camping.

1. New Zealand

Being the most camper-friendly country in the world, New Zealand has the top spot on this list because you can set up your camp almost anywhere in this country. There are deserted beaches for a magical campfire night by the shore, the mountain plateaus with majestic views in every direction you look and the forest clearings for a night in the wilderness. The 'freedom camping' system here allows you to camp on any public land in the country. However, there are serious environmental protection rules you ought to abide by. Given the beauty and the tranquillity of this place, you are in for a fantastic time which includes self-discovery and romancing the natural heritage of New Zealand.

2. Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

Beaches are what comes to your mind when you think of camping in the Hawai. However, there is so much more to this beautiful paradise than just the crashing waves and the stretch of white sand. You can get yourself a place in Haleakala National Park or just put up a camp near the Ohe'o pools to enjoy the last dip before you doze off under the stars. Kimphulu rainforests are another great camping site and if none of these suits you then there are the majestic beaches waiting for you with their arms wide open.

3. Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

With its vast wildlife and an array of scenic beauties, Costa Rica is a natural wonder when it comes to camping. It's a pleasure filled experience to see forest cover as far as your eyes can see and the Corcovado National Park is a treat for your eyes to behold. The phrase 'enchanting forest' does justice to the scenic beauty of this place. Untouched by human footprints, you can look deep into your soul and discover the joys of being in touch with your inner self. There are deserted beaches, lagoons and waterfalls, all right outside your tent when you camp here. You can surf on the waves, go fishing and even meet some of the residents of the national park- tiger, pumas and monkeys.

4. Sahara Desert, Morocco

The cultural riches of Morocco are known to us all, but when it comes to natural wonders, Morocco is incomplete without the grand Sahara desert, one of the most sought after camping destination for nature lovers. What could be a better camping experience than enjoying the nomadic way of life in the Sahara Desert? This place is beautiful in its own rustic and rural way. You get to camp at the foot of the sand dunes with nothing but the desert spreading all around you. All the life's secrets seem to unfold when you watch the sun's rays melting over the desert as it sets. The tranquillity you experience here gives you unmatched inner peace. You can lay under the stars with plenty of time to rediscover yourself under the night sky.

5. Lake District, England

With its idyllic British countryside charm and its classic setting, the Lake District in Cumbria looks nothing short of a scene from one of Jane Austen's romantic novels. You can lose yourself to its alluring beauty and then go on a journey of self-discovery as you roam among the wildflowers and along the crystal clear lakes here. Despite the constant rains in England, this place is a perfect camping destination to simply get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and watch the raindrops while you enjoy a hot bowl of soupy noodles inside your tarpaulin tent.

6. Laguna Quilotoa, Ecuador

Laguna Quilotoa is nothing short of a sight which makes you gape with your mouth open. You can set up a camp in Insinlivi, by the shore of this mesmerising mirror green lake. The place has a mysteriously peaceful aura about it. With the snow-capped Iliniza Sur and Cotopaxi mountain right at the doorstep of your tent, you can spend the entire night in untangling your thoughts and admiring this majestically beautiful place. As it goes, mysterious places have their way of giving you a solution for even the most complicated situations The Laguna Quilotoa is said to have no bottom and rightfully so, given its simplicity and awesomeness.

7. The Outback, Australia

With vast countryside spreading for miles with grassy plains, meandering rivers and a tinge of desert terrain all along the roads, the Outback in Australia is one of the most beautiful places in the world to set up a camp. Camping in the wilderness has its challenges and benefits at the same time. While it gives you plenty of space for bonding with yourself, it also demands that you stay out of danger and keep track of the path to avoid getting lost. You can also enjoy a little barbeque fire, but it is important that you do it by digging a pit to avoid drawing attention from the animals.

8. Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya

The Maasai Mara is the top camping spot on the list of wildlife lovers since it is the best place to witness the great migration that happens every year. However, it does mean that you will be surrounding yourself with a lot of gazelles, zebras and other wild beasts. The rustic, countryside beauty of this place combined with the large variety of animals that are found here makes it a hot favourite for campers. You also get plenty of scenic beauty to admire- the grasslands spreading for miles dotted by acacia and the red-hued landscape reaching the horizon. The Mara river is another beautiful addition to this site with plenty of crocodiles and hippos to spot here.

9. The Himalayas, India

The Himalayan ranges in India are one of the most adventure-filled camping destination across the world. Not only are the snow-capped peaks of Himalayas world's most vast and tallest but also blessed with some of the most beautiful and eye-catching sights. The Corbett National Park on the foothills of the Himalayas offers you a beautiful abode to camp in. With the eye soothing view of green meadows, locally called 'Bughyals', on your tent's doorstep and plenty of animals including Indian Tigers to spot, this camp can prove to be a soul reviving experience. You can also trek along some of the popular trekking sights in this area and indulge in activities like fishing and water rafting.

10. Yellowstone National Park, USA

With 9000 kilometres of a natural landscape, the Yellowstone National Park is like America's version of the Outback. This place has some of the most stunning backdrops for campers to pitch their tents to. There is noisy traffic and high pitched music blaring in your ears which allows you to indulge in self-discovery for hours here. The vast canyons, fishing options and natural hot springs around every corner in this national park are some other treats on the platter of campers and nature lovers. The only things yo ought to be careful about are the wolves and bears who might care to join your campfire if your barbeque smells tasty enough.

You can learn more about these places and camping locations around them from various travel forums. It is advised to carry less luggage for camping. By selecting the best duffle bags for travel, you can travel light and carry all you need in a single bag without being burdened through your journey by excessive luggage.

Author Bio:

Evans Lily is the founder of SkyWeFly, where she and her associates blog about photographs, stories and travel tips that will help you make a great journey. She hopes to bring her passion to more people via SkyWeFly.
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Three Top Reasons to Bring Your Friends to Singapore’s Universal Studios

While everyone who has rugrats to spare knows that bringing them to one of the many Universal Studios amusement parks that have sprung up around the world is a no brainer, what about your adult friends? If you are looking for a fun addition to your next trip abroad, you might just want to consider this.

Heading out to a beautiful and exotic city like Singapore just got that much more exciting and fun when you add in a day of goofing off with a few of your best pals at Universal Studios Singapore. Not sure that your friends will actually appreciate just how fun an amusement park in an exotic location can be? Here are three great reasons that you can throw at them for tagging along on a vacation of a lifetime.

Relive Your Childhood

Everyone knows that Universal Studios has made some of the most awesome films, especially when it comes to adventure films that the whole family loved. But you can’t beat the company or the amusement park for bringing back some great memories of laughs and thrills when you all were just kids. The obvious fun adventure is heading out to see everyone’s favorite lovable green monster, Shrek.

We loved this guy as kids and when you head out to enjoy the adventure all over again in the land of Far Far Away, you get to once again remember just how great this guy is to kids of all ages. So, bring along some friends, laugh at the crazy antics of Shrek or sing along with Donkey at his own stage show. You know you all love this guy, why on earth wouldn’t you want to share him with your friends.

Get Silly Again

There is nothing quite like an amusement park, especially one this size, to allow us to let it all out and just plain get silly. Ride the carousel, shoot down the rapids screaming your heads off or just run around and enjoy the park. Each of the seven zones has cool places to stop and eat, many of them with Halal menus.

If you are looking for a roller coaster ride to get the adrenalin going again, each zone has their own special ride. No matter what you need to get down and get silly, this is the place to let it all hang out and enjoy yourself.

Have an Adventure

Truth of the matter is, when it comes to just plain great adventure rides this is one park that makes them and knows how to run them. While Disney may be great at fantasy rides for the whole family, Universal knows how to make rides that are a real adventure.

These are not for little kids and you will have a better time when you bring your adult friends with you to ride the wild rides and scream your lungs out. And don’t forget to check out the scary Revenge of the Mummy ride in Ancient Egypt while you are there.

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Colorado’s Top 5 Most Incredible Natural Wonders

Colorado is one of the most magical states in America. Its epic mountains and 300 sunny days per year make it a paradise for the outdoorsy type, while the great beer (200+ breweries!), delicious cuisine (Smashburger anyone?) and plenty of Colorado vacation rentals to choose from, not only promise, but also deliver tons of fun and adventures to remember.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park, easily the most popular of the state’s national parks in terms of visitor numbers, is also the most spectacular. Photos of its magnificent snowcapped peaks have graced so many calendars and coffee-table books, people often envision Rocky Mountain National Park when they think of Colorado.

Snow-covered peaks stand over the lush valleys and shimmering alpine lakes that cover the 415 square miles of Rocky Mountain National Park. But what really sets the park apart is its variety of distinct ecological zones. As you rise and descend in altitude, the landscape of the park changes dramatically. The park is also home to bighorn sheep, which have become its unofficial mascots.

This is also one of the best places to camp in the state. And since it can get very crowded, especially in summer, I recommend you go in late September or early October.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Just 35 miles northeast of Alamosa, is Colorado’s fourth and newest national park.  Far from any sea or major desert, this 39-square-mile expanse of sand seems incongruous here.

The dunes are the tallest on the continent, piled nearly 750 feet high against the western edge of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The dunes were created over thousands of years by southwesterly winds blowing across the valley. They formed when streams of water from melting glaciers carried rocks, gravel, and silt down from the mountains.

Walk the easy half a mile self-guided nature trail that begins at the visitor center. If you want more of a challenge, hike the dunes. You can get to the top of a 750-foot dune and back in about 90 minutes. Those who make it all the way to the top are rewarded with spectacular views of the dunes and the surrounding mountains.

Maroon Bells

There are practically unlimited opportunities for hiking and backpacking in the Crested Butte area. But some of the best are in the Maroon Bells, accessible from a trailhead at Gothic, above Mt. Crested Butte, where you can hike to Aspen if properly motivated.

The two sheer, pyramidal peaks called Maroon Bells, 10 miles west of Aspen, are probably two of the most photographed mountains in the Rockies.

With a number of fourteeners, including the namesake Maroon Bells, this is one of the most scenic mountainscapes in the West. A vision of glaciated rock and lush greenery, the trails here are popular with backpackers, but there are plenty of good day hikes as well.

Garden of the Gods

There’s nothing like a sunrise at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, with its fantastic and sometimes fanciful red-sandstone formations sculpted by wind and water over hundreds of thousands of years. It’s worth spending some foot power to get away from the crowds on one of the park’s many trails, to listen to the wind and imagine the gods cavorting among the formations.

One of the West’s unique geological sites, the 1,300-acre Garden of the Gods is a giant rock garden composed of spectacular red sandstone formations sculpted by rain and the wind over millions of years. 

The park has a number of hiking trails, that offer great scenery and an opportunity to get away from the crowds. Many trails are also open to horseback riding and mountain biking.

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde is the largest archaeological preserve in the United States, with some 4,000 known sites dating from 600 to 1300 AD. The earliest known inhabitants of Mesa Verde built subterranean pit houses on the mesa tops.

During the 13th century, they moved into shallow caves and constructed complex cliff dwellings. Although it was a massive construction project, these homes were only occupied for about a century. Their residents left in about 1300 for reasons as yet undetermined.

The area was little known until ranchers Charles and Richard Wetherill chanced upon it in 1888. Looting of artifacts followed their discovery until a Denver newspaper reporter’s stories aroused national interest in protecting the site.

The 52,000-acre site was declared a national park in 1906. It’s the only U.S. national park devoted entirely to the works of humans.

Photos by Steven Bratman & USFWS Mountain-Prairie under Flickr Creative Commons
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What to Do in Northern Spain This Summer

The overwhelming majority of travellers heading to Spain make an instinctive beeline for the country’s southern towns and cities. Blessed with beautiful beaches and excellent weather for most of the year, it’s easy to understand the pull of Spain’s south. But at the same time, overlooking the true treasures of the north is something of a shame.

On the plus side, the fact that Spain’s north is far less travelled than its south helps it retain a gloriously undiscovered feel about it. And given the fact that Spain is now so incredibly easy to reach from the UK by ferry, there’s really no better place to head for a fantastic holiday of adventure and discovery.

So if the undiscovered north of Spain has caught your attention, here’s a quick rundown of just a few unmissable highlights to check out over the summer:

Picos de Europa National Park

Founded in 1918, Picos de Europa National Park was the very first national park in Spain and was previously known as Montana de Covadonga National Park. A popular region among hikers and anyone with a taste for the great outdoors, the stunning vistas over the national park make it difficult to believe you are in fact still in Spain. The region is dotted with gorgeous traditional mountain villages and settlements, presenting Spain in a rustic, charming light most travellers never experience. There’s a fabulous cable car at Fuente Dé for those who prefer not to strap on their hiking boots and it’s possible to see snow-capped peaks at any time of the year.


Occupying a stunning plot on the Bay of Biscay, the port city of Santander is not to be missed while visiting Spain’s north. Santander is home to some of the most stunning beaches in Spain, which mercifully do not tend to get nearly as crowded as those to the south. The ancient city centre itself is also a truly captivating experience in its own right, with a sizeable arsenal of important museums, galleries and theatres to check out. Food is nothing short of a religion in Santander, making it the perfect place to sample all the regional delicacies you can lay your hands on.

Rioja Wine Region

Continuing with the theme of gastronomic delights, it would be a crime to visit this area of Spain without taking a trip through the home of the country’s world famous Rioja wine region. Home to 500+ wineries which in most instances continue to follow centuries-old crafting techniques, there’s no better way of taking it all in than embarking on a horseback ride through a working vineyard. Needless to say, sampling the very best of what’s on offer comes as standard and it’s impossible not to be blown away by the masterpieces these artisans come up with. But then again, they have been making wine here for over 1,000 years!


A trip to the Asturias province capital also comes very highly recommended. Famed for its important religious monuments and churches dating as far back at the 8th century, Oviedo is in many respects a living museum to Spain’s ancient past. And if you happen to find any of the sights you come across somewhat on the familiar side, it might be because a fair few scenes from Vicky Cristina Barcelona were shot here.


The cosmopolitan, cultural and wholly refined city of Bilbao today is a far cry from its origins as a highly industrialised port city. Bursting with incredibly beautiful buildings and more museums and galleries than a dozen lesser cities, Bilbao is the real deal for culture vultures. Of course, the highlight of the city is the spectacular Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, which is just as impressive from the outside as it in on the inside. The city’s setting among the surrounding Basque country hills is truly majestic.


Always an amusing challenge for newcomers to attempt to pronounce, Gaztelugatxe is located just off the shore at the Bay of Biscay and can be accessed by way of a pedestrian footbridge. There is a small chapel on the island at its very top, which can be reached by scaling the 230 or so rather steep steps. It’s not a climb for the faint-hearted, but there’s no disputing how the jaw-dropping views from the top make it an exertion that is more than worthwhile.


An often overlooked yet breathtakingly beautiful Spanish city, Burgo is home to some of the country’s most important religious architecture. Deeply historic and steeped in local legend, Burgos features the only cathedral in Spain that has individually been awarded UNESCO World Heritage designation. While visiting the Castile-León region, it is also more than worth taking the time to pay a visit to the towns of Santo Domingo de Silos, Covarrubias, Frías and Aranda de Duero. Outstanding gastronomy is no less than a religion throughout this beautiful region.

Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela is the Galician capital city and one of the most important religious sites in the whole of Spain. Pilgrimages from across the country and beyond continue with the main square as the primary arrival point. Occupying a stunning spot right at the centre of the city, the main square is a stunning landmark in its own right and home to Santiago Cathedral. It is believed that an Apostle of Jesus Christ – St. James – was laid to rest in Santiago de Compostela.

Santillana del Mar

You might want to consider packing a sturdy pair of shoes if you decide to visit Santillana del Mar – an absolutely beautiful medieval village where cars and vehicles in general are not permitted. It’s walking all the way in Santillana del Mar, which is often referred to as The Town of Three Lies - it is not a Saint (Santo), nor flat (llana), nor is it by the sea (Mar).

San Sebastian

Last but not least, the stunning beach resort of San Sebastián is absolutely worth a visit during your stay, not to mention the outstanding restaurants, bars and nightlife of the nearby Old Town. There is an extensive calendar of cultural events to check out throughout the year – one of the most notable being the extraordinary jazz festival which takes place every July.

Photos by Jaime Gonzalez and Sandra Cohen-Rose & Colin Rose under Flickr Creative Commons
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