50 Travel Clichés That Are Actually Worth Experiencing Gallery
50 Travel Clichés That Are Actually Worth Experiencing
If you’re a travel aficionado, chances are you have a bucket list. While a travel bucket list often contains certain islands, countries, or cities, many will have a more precise list of specific activities, festivals, food, or other experiences. Sometimes, however, the things we think we want to experience just aren’t worth it.
For example, New Year’s Eve in Times Square can be painful due to both extremely cold temperatures and extremely large crowds. The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is just a show of men in funny uniforms switching places to marching music — which is, frankly, quite boring. Taking a photo of yourself holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa is extremely overdone. And why drink where Hemingway did when there’s plenty of other great bars in the U.S.?
Clichés are often clichés for a reason, however. Certain cities really are the best place to spend Christmas, and we know of one that’s got a better (and warmer) New Year’s Eve bash. In addition to specific festivals or holidays in specific cities, there are also iconic activities or landmarks that just can’t be missed, no matter how touristy they’ve become. If you’re unsure how to differentiate between an experience that you absolutely have to check off your list and one that’s better left off of it entirely, check out our list of 50 travel clichés that are actually worth your time and money.
Biking Through the Lavender Fields of Provence
It’s a sight that photos just won’t do justice — although you definitely should take some to share with the followers on your Instagram feed. Visit the French province of Provence between mid-June and the end of July — blooming schedules depend the exact field or area — to catch the breathtaking sight of lush lavender fields. Bike through them to feel super European or just attend one of the many lavender festivals that occur throughout July and August in different towns.
Broadway Shows in New York City
At the Daily Meal, we’re a little biased when it comes to New York, but the presence of Broadway makes it hard to deny that The City That Never Sleeps is one of the best in the world. For nearly a century now, Broadway has been home to the world’s top theater performances, and it’s an absolute bucket list activity for anyone visiting Manhattan. The city loves its show business so much that there’s even a BroadwayCon held there every year for theater geeks from around the world.
Bungee Jumping in New Zealand
Bungee jumping was popularized in the 1980s in New Zealand, and in 1988 the country was home to the first ever organized bungee jump, consisting of 28 people. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, there’s no better place for extreme sports, and Queenstown in particular is an exciting destination where you can take a leap among the gorgeous scenery of the Southern Alps.
Burning Man in Nevada
Every year, there’s an entire temporary city by the name of Black Rock City constructed in northwestern Nevada for Burning Man, a late summer gathering that gets its name from the burning of a large wooden effigy, or “The Man” on the Saturday before Labor Day. The Burning Man organization calls themselves an “experiment in temporary community dedicated to radical self-expression and radical self-reliance.” This openness to creativity often results in amazing visual and performance art that’s absolutely worth the steep ticket price. Just make sure you stay well-hydrated and well-fed while you’re there, as it can get seriously hot even without the burning of the Man.
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro
Cities around the world hold huge bashes every year before Lent, but no one does it like Rio. With approximately two million people in attendance each day, Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, which dates back to 1723, is the biggest of its kind in the world. Things can get pretty hectic, but the performers and floats are gloriously dressed up and the samba schools, or local dancing clubs, make the parade one of the liveliest you’ll ever see.
Cheesesteak in Philadelphia
Cheesesteaks are so Philadelphia that one Pennsylvania man was literally buried with his favorite ones. Yes, they’re that good. While the Declaration of Independence that was signed here states that all men are created equal, it doesn’t say the same of cheesesteaks, so be sure to check out Philly’s best spots for this American classic.
Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan
Hanami — literally “flower viewing” in Japanese — is a Japanese tradition in which one enjoys the beauty of flowers, usually the cherry blossoms that bloom from late March to early May all over Japan. This tradition has turned into multiple cherry blossom festivals around the country, the most acclaimed of which are those in Hirosaki, Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka. Not only will you get to witness some of the most gorgeous cherry blossoms in the world, but the festivals also involve plenty of eating, drinking, and music.
Christmas in New York City
There are so many reasons to visit New York City during the Christmas season. Attend the lighting ceremony for the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas tree or, if you’re in town afterwards, simply visit it before taking to the center’s vast skating rink. The window displays on Fifth Avenue, particularly those at Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, take window shopping to a whole new level, and the real shopping at the city’s multiple holiday markets is fantastic as well. Try to nab some tickets to see the Rockettes at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular or a performance of The Nutcracker at the Lincoln Center. New York doesn’t sleep any time of the year, but during the holiday season, it’s particularly alive.
Christmas Markets in Germany
Three German cities made it to our list of the world’s 50 best places for celebrating Christmas, and a big reason is their traditional Christmas markets. Cologne alone has seven of them. The concept of the Christmas market, or Christkindlmarkt, started here, so no one knows how to hold one quite like the Germans. Get in on some of the best German local cuisine while learning a great deal about the culture and history of the region you’re in.
Cruising Down the Nile River
Egypt is a bucket list destination for any serious traveler, especially this year, and a great way to see it is through a cruise down its famous Nile River. Witness the beautiful scenery of the Nile Valley and ancient Egyptian ruins, notably the iconic Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza as you relax on a felucca, a traditional wooden sailboat. Most trips will take you from the busy southern city of Aswan to Luxor, where you can visit the ancient city of Thebes.
Día de Muertos in Mexico
Día de Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday held from October 31 to November 2, in which people gather together to remember their friends and family who have passed away. While observed around the world, particularly where there are people of Mexican descent, there is no place better to join in the festivities than Mexico itself. Among the best destinations for the Day of the Dead are Cuernavaca, where they celebrate for eight days; Mixquic, which has a fantastic mock funeral procession; and Oaxaca, which hosts rollicking nighttime parades.
Dune-Bashing in Dubai
Extreme sports are still very much possible, and very much popular, in the desert. Specialist desert drivers can teach you dune-bashing over the Dubai sand dunes on dune buggies, sand boards, 4X4 safari Jeeps, and quad bikes. The sunset from out on the sand dunes is unbelievable as well.
Elephant Tours in Chiang Mai
The number of active and nature-centered things to do in Chiang Mai make it one of the most exciting travel destinations in the world. Among the most notable activities here are the elephant tours provided by many different tour companies, in which you can trek Chiang Mai’s hills and forests on the back of a pachyderm, appreciating the surrounding scenery and maybe even visiting with local hill tribes. Not all tours treat their elephants well, however, so make sure you find a responsible elephant tour company by asking other tourists or doing research online.
Exploring the Amazon
The Amazon rainforest is mostly within Brazil, although there are smaller portions in Peru and Colombia, with even smaller parts in Bolivia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela. You can explore this vast, extremely biodiverse tropical rainforest in any of these countries, although the best choices are probably Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Many tour companies will take you on an expedition to see the local flora and fauna, but a cruise is a pretty comfortable alternative as well.
Flamenco Shows in Andalusia
Much of what’s associated with Spain and Spanish culture — flamenco music and dance, bullfighting, Moorish architecture — is Andalusian in origin, although these cultural elements are now found throughout the richly diverse country. That being said, flamenco shows within Andalusia are a whole new level, as the art has a three-millennia-long history in the region. Seville in particular is home to some of the best flamenco shows, and el Museo del Baile Flamenco — the Flamenco Dance Museum — is a great place to understand the history of this art and maybe even learn some yourself.
Gondola Rides in Venice
We suggest you visit Venice sooner rather than later, as it’s currently sinking and may soon disappear. And while you’re there, we highly suggest a ride on the famed gondolas. Cruise through this city of canals with your beloved or a few friends; the boats can seat up to four people for a ride of about 30 minutes. The center of one of 2017’s biggest travel controversies, Venice also recently banned cruise ships, which should help in preserving the city’s charm for you to enjoy.
Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts
While Salem has a truly horrific history thanks to the Salem witch trials that occurred in the late seventeenth century, the city has embraced that past in a way that truly shines during a holiday that celebrates witches: Halloween. The town kicks up the festivities for the entire month of October, known as Haunted Happenings, which include the Haunted Happenings Grand Parade, ghost tours, and special events held by local institutions such as the Salem Witch Museum and magic shops.
Helicopter Rides Over Volcanoes in Hawaii
Hawaii is an absolutely gorgeous place with plenty of great spots for stunning scenery. Get an especially spectacular view of the Aloha State with a Hawai’i volcano tour which will take you by helicopter to see the state’s three active volcanoes: Lo’ihi, Mauna Loa, and Kilauea, the most active volcano on the planet.
Hiking Down the Grand Canyon
You can’t truly appreciate the vastness or the beauty of the Grand Canyon until you see it in person and up close. Hiking the canyon will lead you to come across all sorts of stunning rock formations, interesting creatures, and natural scenery. You can also enjoy the Grand Canyon from the top with a nice meal at Sa’ Nyu Wa restaurant, located next to the skywalk.
Hiking to Machu Picchu
Peru is one of this year’s must-see destinations, and one of the reasons is the famed site of Machu Picchu. With over a million visitors every year, the 2,500-visitors-per-day limit set by UNESCO and the government has been far overrun, but it’s not hard to see why. Peru’s countryside is particularly beautiful, making the trek more than worth it, and once you’re there, prepare to be amazed at the ingenuity of the Inca civilization.
Holi in India
While big American cities with sizeable South Asian populations, like New York, have respectable festivities of their own, there’s simply no place like India to celebrate Holi, a spring festival observed by Hindus and Sikhs, as well as certain sects of Jains and Buddhists. On the night before Holi, festivities start with prayers and religious rituals, but it’s the next day’s festivities that are truly, and quite literally, colorful. People of all ages take to the streets with dry colors and water guns and balloons filled with colored water to throw on each other. Musicians and dancing fill the streets, and revelers fill their stomachs with many delicious local treats and soft drinks.
Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia
The serene relaxation that comes with a hot air balloon ride combined with the amazing lunar-like landscape of the Cappadocia region makes for one of the most breathtaking experiences one can have in Turkey. You’ll see beautiful orchards and vineyards as well as all sorts of interesting rock formations and architecture such as cave churches and houses carved into rock from high above.
Making a Wish at the Trevi Fountain
It’ll only take you a few seconds to make a wish at the iconic Trevi Fountain in Rome — it’s said that you’re supposed to do so using your right hand over the left shoulder — but the beauty of this eighteenth-century Baroque structure makes it worth a stop too. Approximately 3,000 euros get thrown in every day, and what makes it even more worth it is that the proceeds then go towards subsidizing a supermarket for the poor.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Like Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, New Orleans knows how to party before Lent with its famed Mardi Gras celebrations, held on every Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, as it’s known in French. The parade is a sight to behold and the live music and amazing cuisine that comes with the festivities showcases the best of Louisiana’s Creole and Cajun-influenced culture.
Mona Lisa at the Louvre
Many visitors to the Louvre Museum in Paris find that the Mona Lisa is much smaller than they expected and bristle at the number of people they have to deal with jostling past to get a good look. That look is worth it, though, for both history geeks, who will marvel at one of Leonardo’s greatest works and the painting that Napoleon kept in his room, and art lovers, who will appreciate Leonardo’s use of aerial perspective and his soft, outline-free sfumato style. Although it’s behind a bulletproof glass case, seeing this masterpiece in person is truly an experience worth getting in line for.
New Year’s Eve at Copacabana Beach
Take a warmer alternative to Times Square and celebrate at one of the biggest New Year’s Eve parties at one of the world’s best beaches, Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro. Approximately two million people — all wearing white — go to this massive beach every year to see the New Year’s fireworks display, which is one of the largest in the world, and attend the free concert that goes on all night long.
You can see the northern lights, also known as aurora borealis, from Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, the Yukon, or Scandinavia, but your odds of catching them are higher the closer you are to the Arctic Circle. Take along our guide to stalking this natural phenomenon and marvel at the bright green, red, blue, purple, and pink lights. It may be freezing out there but the experience is absolutely worth it; just make sure to stay warm.
Oktoberfest in Munich
Join in the largest Volksfest — a beer festival with an accompanying travelling funfair — in the world in Munich where the over six million people come together from the third weekend of September through the first weekend of October. In addition to millions of liters of beer, revelers can enjoy some great German cuisine, games, rides, and stalls, as well as a great parade and multiple shows.
Overwater Bungalows in Bora Bora
Located in the Society Islands of French Polynesia, Bora Bora is a luxurious and expensive destination. If you can afford it, however, the famous overwater bungalows here are not only picturesque but superbly outfitted with the latest amenities, some withcomplete with their own personal pools or spas as well as glass-paneled floors.
Partying in Ibiza
As chronicled in modern-day pop songs, Ibiza is a popular place to party, as it’s home to some fantastic nightlife and its accompanying electronic music. Famous DJs have been known to play weekly in Ibiza, many of them using the island as a place to try out some of their latest music. Cala Jondal, one of the best beaches in the world, is also located in Ibiza for the days when you’re looking for a bit of a break from the non-stop party.
Perusing Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar
Between 250,000 and 400,000 people go to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul every day, making it one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the world. One of the planet’s oldest and largest markets, there are more than 4,000 stalls for you to peruse among over 60 covered streets. Antiques, carpets, ceramics, jewelry, and spices, particularly those native to Turkey, can be found here, as can plenty of food vendors with delicious Turkish cuisine.
Pintxos in San Sebastián
What are known as tapas in the rest of Spain are referred to as pintxos in the northern part of the country, and San Sebastián in particular is a foodie’s must. Go from bar to bar trying different snacks consisting usually of some type of meat or seafood fastened to a piece of bread with a toothpick. The best part is they’re often included for free with your drinks.
Pizza in New York
New York City prides itself on its pizza, and the rest of the world loves it too. If you’re ever in any of the five boroughs, make sure to try a local hand-tossed pie, made with a large crust layered with light tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella. The wide slices are usually soft enough to fold in half, which is the customary way to eat it. Pizzerias have been known to transport tap water from the city across the country to their shops in order to get that authentic New York texture and flavor, but it’s still not the same as a slice actually from New York — although it should be noted that the acclaimed New York Times food critic Pete Wells declared that the best New York pizza can actually be found in New Jersey.
Running of the Bulls in Pamplona
There are many runnings of the bulls around the world, but the most famous is in Pamplona during the festival of Sanfermines held in July. While we don’t recommend you actually take part, as there’s a significant chance you may be injured, it’s worth grabbing a spot at a nearby café or waiting along the roads to see hundreds of people running down the narrow streets of the city in front of six bulls and six steers.
Safari in Africa
While there’s much more to Africa as a continent than safaris, multiple countries really do have fantastic safari opportunities that allow travelers to truly appreciate nature in all its glory. Zambia in particular is a great place to go; it’s the birthplace of the walking safari, which you can experience with a guided tour company or through a safari lodge such as the King Lewanika Lodge, which just opened up as the first permanent camp in Liuwa Plain National Park. Other countries with great safari experiences include Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, and South Africa, the latter two of which have safari resorts that are among the top all-inclusive resorts in the world, such as Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp, Kapama Karula, and Ulusaba Private Game Lodge.
Seeing the Sistine Chapel
Absolutely worth the trip if you’re ever in Rome, the Vatican Museums in Vatican City have 54 galleries of some of the world’s greatest works of Western art by legends such as Da Vinci, Raphael, and Caravaggio. The most famous and most impressive work of art, however, is in the last gallery: the Sistine Chapel itself. The ceiling and the altar, the latter of which is covered with the famed “The Last Judgment,” were painted by Michelangelo in the sixteenth century. Most guided tours through the museums end with the Sistine Chapel, where you can take as long as you like to study the intricate and fascinating details of the many frescoes inside the room.
Shopping in Dubai
Dubai is a shopaholic’s paradise and a great place to purchase gold, textiles, and electronics, with the latter being particularly cheaper here than in most other places. Take on the Gold Souk, a market where you’ll find a huge selection of gold and other fine jewelry (and where you can haggle if you know how). The Dubai Mall is the largest in the world with over 1,200 stores (not including pop-ups), 120 restaurants, a theme park, an aquarium, an Olympic-sized ice skating rink, and even a 250-room luxury hotel. There’s even a Dubai Shopping Festival, held in January and February, during which nearly every store has a sale and live concerts and performances are held as well.
Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef
Made up of over 2,900 reefs and 900 islands and located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world. This World Heritage Site is not only biodiverse but truly amazing to see. Although one can see the reef from space, swimming among the turtles, dolphins, fish, and more as you scuba dive or snorkel is the best way to experience it. We do recommend you do so sooner than later, however, as global warming and carbon pollution may cause the Great Barrier Reef to disappear alarmingly soon.
Strolling Through Central Park
New York City’s Central Park is one of the most filmed locations in the world, so you’ve likely already seen it in many television shows and films. Being there in person is totally different, of course, and the park has lots to offer, such as a zoo, garden, carousel, two ice-skating rinks, a theater, and even a castle. You don’t have to take part in any of this to appreciate the laid-back atmosphere — a contrast to the rest of Manhattan — as well as the beautiful greenery, particularly during the warmer months.
Summer Solstice at Stonehenge
Thousands of people visit England’s Stonehenge every year on the summer solstice to see the sunrise. Once daylight breaks and the sun is directly above Stonehenge’s “Heel Stone,” the festivities begin. Singing, dancing, and general revelry takes over all day as people celebrate it being the longest of the year.
Sunset in Santorini
Santorini has become such a popular destination that Instagram photos of sunsets among the white and blue-domed buildings of the town of Oia have become a total cliché. There’s a reason for that cliché, however, as the views here really are stunning and the sunset only heightens that beauty.
Sushi in Tokyo
You simply can’t leave Tokyo without trying the city’s famous sushi. Try some kaitenzushi, or conveyor belt sushi, or check out the sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market. For a bit of a fancier atmosphere, check out acclaimed restaurants such as Sukiyabashi Jiro or Sushi Saito, some of the best in the world for sushi.
Tango in Buenos Aires
You need to visit Buenos Aires in 2018, and while you’re there you need to enjoy the marvel that is Argentine tango. Catch tango dancers in La Boca, a district famous for its artistic pedestrian street, or Boedo, where tango houses abound. Tango clubs are also quite popular here, and you can even take tango classes to get yourself up to speed.
Teatime in England
Learn teatime the right way from the Brits themselves at one of the many tearooms in England, today mainly located in luxurious hotels. Enjoy some scones, pastries, and tea sandwiches in a truly British tradition.
Theater at Shakespeare’s Globe
Shakespeare’s Globe honors the Shakespearean tradition not only with a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, where many of the Bard’s plays were performed during his lifetime, but also through the tradition of top-quality performances and education of the public regarding theater and the life of Shakespeare himself. Watch some of Shakespeare’s classics, often reimagined for a modern audience.
Throwing Tomatoes at La Tomatina
On the last Wednesday of August every year, the Spanish town of Buñol dissolves into chaos as 20,000 people throw tomatoes at each other for an hour in the town square in what is known as La Tomatina. There are certain rules to be followed in order to make sure the practice is safe for everyone, and the town square is a sight to see in the aftermath.
Top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
Nothing symbolizes Paris, or gives you a view of Paris, like the Eiffel Tower. A visit to the base of this monument is a must, but so is getting a panoramic snapshot of the City of Love from atop it.
Train Rides Through Scotland
The Scottish Highlands are absolutely stunning, and a great way to witness them is by taking a train ride through them and the rest of Scotland. The Royal Scotsman is one of the best train rides in Europe, and you can spend anywhere from two nights to an entire week journeying through beautiful towns. There’s also the shorter, 90-minute West Highland Line which will take you from Glasgow through the western coast up to Mallaig with a ride over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, as seen in the Harry Potter films when the Hogwarts Express travels over it.
Walking the Great Wall of China
Built over 2,300 years ago, the Great Wall of China is finally starting to show signs of age and may disappear in as few as 20 years. That’s why we suggest heading out to see it as soon as you can. Given the fact that it’s made up of several massive walls, there are plenty of places you can walk this ancient structure, depending on the intensity of the hike you’re seeking.
Wine Tasting in Napa Valley
Located in California’s Bay Area, Napa Valley is the premier winemaking region in the United States. Given recent fires that have been devastating for the area, tourism is more needed than ever. That suits any wine-loving traveler perfectly, as the wine tours here are wonderful for a laid-back, relaxing vacation amidst a beautiful countryside. California isn’t the only place where wine grows in the U.S., of course, and you may be surprised as to just how many states have a prolific winemaking tradition.