The Most Exciting Travel Destinations Gallery
The Most Exciting Travel Destinations
When choosing a place for vacation, many people often try to find places with the most bang for their buck. Sometimes, however, you just want bang. No matter where you go, a new city means new things, which is what makes travel so exciting in the first place. But not all cities are created equal.
If you’re looking for excitement, there are the big guys: New York City, London, Tokyo. There are also a few other cities that are growing fast as destinations in parts of the world that you may not have considered such as Colombia or New Zealand. That’s where The Daily Meal comes in. We appreciate how much the world has to offer in terms of history, culture, and of course, food, and we know how many places there are that don’t get the attention that they deserve. So with both world-famous cities and rising-yet-relatively-undiscovered spots alike, here are the most exciting travel destinations that you should visit.
Barcelona has always been an interesting place, and in recent months, the capital of Catalonia has taken up headlines as politicians and activists in the region push for independence. That doesn’t seem likely to happen any time soon, however, so the city will stay a Spanish destination for the foreseeable future. Full of iconic attractions such as the unfinished La Sagrada Familia and Barcelona Pavilion, Barcelona also boasts some of the best beaches in Europe, and the nightlife and restaurant options are never-ending.
Bogotá’s food scene is exciting enough to earn the city a place on this list, but its plethora of other activities hold something for everyone as well. You can go hiking in the Sabana (or “savannah”) de Bogotá or mountain biking in the nearby hills if you’re looking for a more active vacation, or hit the city’s amazing clubs or salsa tours if you’re more interested in the nightlife. As the country’s capital, Bogotá is also home to its finest museums and art galleries, as well as all kinds of arts venues and amusement parks.
One of the most popular destinations on the entire continent, Cape Town is a coastal South African city with a lot going on. Learn about the country’s apartheid history at Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and other freedom fighters were once held prisoner, before visiting the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain, where you’ll get a fantastic view of the city and its harbor during the day, and take to Long Street for some amazing nightlife later on. Cape Town is also an absolute must for any foodie, and the local cuisine is a mix of pan-African, Indian, French, and Dutch flavors.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai isn’t as bustling as Bangkok, but it is quite cosmopolitan with the added bonus of more active and nature-centered things to do. Stunning Buddhist temples and galleries full of local work by Thai and Burmese artists showcase this city’s great cultural landscape. The best place for a foodie in a budget, Chiang Mai also has some great stuff for nature lovers; ride an elephant on a (responsible) elephant tour or pet a tiger at Tiger Kingdom. Zip lining, mountain biking, and golfing are all popular here as well, as are the many festivals and celebrations that occur throughout the year.
There’s a reason Dubai was one of the top travel destinations of 2017.There’s a lot of interesting things in Dubai, one of the world’s best shopping destinations as well as a great place to watch camel races or go dune-bashing. In addition to its luxury and opulence, it’s also one of the safest cities in the world, so you know you won’t have too much excitement.
Havana is just one of many reasons you need to visit Cuba the moment you can, but it’s definitely at the top of the list. The capital city is a great place to learn about Cuba’s fascinating history, and you can also visit a factory for its famous cigars, try the country’s famous coffee, or visit its wonderful beaches and bumping nightlife. Catch some great live music and make sure you eat some of Cuba’s delicious cuisine.
Istanbul may not be the official capital of Turkey, but it’s definitely the cultural one. Delicious Turkish kebabs and teas await you, as well as gorgeous handcrafted jewelry and ceramics at the Grand Bazaar. Istanbul also has some of the most gorgeous mosques in the world, most notably the Hagia Sophia and the iconic Blue Mosque. Make sure you also stop by the Topkapı Palace, which houses relics that are said to have belonged to several figures important to the Abrahamic religions, including Abraham, Moses, and David among others.
Diverse and ever-popular London continues to excite people as it has for centuries. An international hub of finance, fashion, education, culture, and more, London is home to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, and more. The food scene here is as multicultural as its population, and you’d be remiss to not check out a theater performance in the West End.
Visit Marrakesh in Morocco, one of our 35 places to visit in 2018, for a fantastic vacation in North Africa that’s near both mountains and desert. Full of palaces and street markets just waiting to be explored, Marrakesh is also home to the newly opened Yves Saint Laurent Museum where fashion lovers can visit the famous designer’s studio and home. Take a trip to a tannery to see how Moroccan leather is made or relax with a typical Moroccan spa treatment at a hammam before indulging in the local cuisine.
There’s quite a bit to do in Mexico City, the oldest capital city in the Americas and the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world. Walk the Centro Histórico and bike along the Paseo de la Reforma. If you’d rather rest up, you can also take a hot air balloon ride over the iconic pyramids at Teotihuacán. With a population of approximately 9 million people, Mexico City is positively buzzing, particularly at night when the restaurants and clubs really come alive.
Nearly nine centuries of interesting and eventful history has left Moscow one of the world’s leading global cities with breathtaking architecture and a rich, diverse culture. Check out the city’s opulent theaters or take a dip at a Russian bathhouse, or banya. The city is filled with beautiful gardens and parks, and its culinary scene is a world of its own, with ethnic cuisines available from all over the former Soviet Union and other surrounding Asian countries. White Rabbit, in particular, is one of the most beautiful snowbound restaurants we’ve ever seen.
Mumbai is one of the fastest-growing tourist spots in the world, and for good reason. Also known by its earlier colonial name, Bombay, it’s India’s largest city and a melting pot of the nation’s many cultures. You’ll find all kinds of restaurants here to represent those cultures, serving many different dishes from around the subcontinent as well as around the world, along with religious sites important to all of India’s religious minorities as well as the majority Hindu population. Catch a movie or even watch one being shot in the hometown of Bollywood — or enjoy one of the many theatrical performances around the city.
You can enjoy the best of Southern and Creole culture and cuisine any time of the year in the Big Easy — but many choose to visit mid-February for the fabled Mardi Gras or in late April and early May for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. And those are just two of the 160 festivals held each year in this party city, making the excitement and celebration nonstop. This year in particular will be a great time to visit as the city turns 300, and each festival is sure to have something special in honor of the tercentennial. Over a decade after Hurricane Katrina, the city has bounced back with flair; new hotels are popping up and old hotels are ready for you too, such as the historic Pontchartrain Hotel, which just underwent a $10 million renovation.
New York City
New York is so exciting that it’s known as “The City That Never Sleeps.” Its most iconic attractions, such as the Empire State Building, Times Square, One World Trade Center, and Rockefeller Plaza, are located in Manhattan, but its four other boroughs are worlds of their own — multiple worlds, in fact, as every neighborhood has its own character with tons to offer in the way of museums, art galleries, historical sites, and restaurants as well. With such a multicultural population, New York City is known for its multicultural cuisine, and you’d be remiss if you left without trying its famous bagels, cheesecake, falafel, gyros, and of course, pizza.
“The Happiest Place on Earth” just keeps getting happier as its many theme parks make additions and updates every year. Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Adventure Park are just the top three amusement parks here, each with multiple, massive sections to them. Orlando also has a thriving downtown and nightlife as well as tons of golf courses for you to enjoy.
Queenstown, New Zealand
If you’re looking for the kind of excitement that’s a pure adrenaline rush, Queenstown is the place for you. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, visit during your winter months, when it’ll be summer in New Zealand. Bungie jumping, sky diving, river surfing, canyoning, and jet boating are just some of the thrilling activities you can take part in among the gorgeous scenery of the Southern Alps.
Rio de Janeiro
Known for its party culture and world-renowned beaches — Copacabana Beach made our list of the world’s 50 best — Rio de Janeiro is a nonstop celebration. Catch a game at Maracanã Stadium, once the world’s largest (and still currently South America’s), and take on the nightlife for some great samba. Visit in late winter, usually February, to take part in the phenomenon that is Rio’s Carnaval, probably the world’s most renowned of its kind.
South Korea also made it to our list of places that you need to visit in 2018, and when you do visit this country, Seoul is an absolute must. The capital is full of cutting-edge technology, Korean pop culture, centuries-old traditions, and impressive skyscrapers as well as stunning temples and palaces. Check out one of Seoul’s many interesting amusement parks, art centers, or famously quirky coffee shops, and take a load off at a luxurious sauna or spa. Seoul also has plenty of culinary schools just for tourists, so you can learn how to make Seoul specialties such as tteokbokki (rice cakes in a spicy sauce) or pajeon (a type of Korean pancake made with scallions).
The city-state of Singapore is a leading East Asian destination and the second most densely populated country in the world at 5.6 million people. A lot of those people are workers and expats from around the globe, which makes for an impressive culture and cuisine, with influences from the Chinese, Malay, and Indian communities that have thrived here. It’s also one of the safest countries on the planet, although that doesn’t make it boring; Singapore has some of the best food, shopping, and nightlife along with many beaches and tourist resorts.
There’s simply no city in the world that’s anything like Tokyo. The Japanese capital boasts a population of over 13 million people and 23 separate wards, each with its own distinct personality, so a single visit here will barely scratch the surface of what this great city has to offer. Don’t leave without trying the best sushi in the world or exploring Tokyo’s shops full of funky fashions, anime paraphernalia, the latest electronics, and snacks in literally every flavor you can imagine (and some you can’t). In addition to the city’s many quirky attractions, Tokyo also offers the best of traditional Japanese culture — the city is full of Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, and opportunities to participate in or observe tea ceremonies, martial arts, or calligraphy lessons. And don’t let the thought of a long flight daunt you; we’ve got some great tips to get you through the journey there.