If your summer isn't complete without a trip to the beach, the Maldives is sure to be your dream vacation. Its crystal-clear waters hold 3,000 coral reefs and over a thousand fish species, making it an ideal getaway for divers and snorkelers.
The country is made up of over a thousand small islands; some are inhabited and allow you to explore small villages, markets and other aspects of Maldivian daily life; others have only sand and palm trees, giving you a serene escape from the world. Each Maldivian resort has its own private island, letting you choose whether you want family entertainment, romance, luxury spas or simple quiet.
For more information make sure you read our Maldives Destination Guide.
With 25 beaches of white sand bordering the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, Zanzibar is a fantastic site for a beach vacation. Travellers who prefer to relax on the beach and enjoy nature can simply soak in the sunlight and take advantage of the archipelago's snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities, which allow you to see beautiful coral reefs and hundreds of marine species.
If you prefer to take in some of Zanzibar's cultural opportunities, be sure to visit Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with twisting, cobbled streets that take you through the living history of the country. Visitors may also enjoy Darajani Market, which offers all sorts of handmade goods as well as a variety of fruits, vegetables and meat.
For more information make sure you read our Zanzibar Destination Guide.
The Czech Republic's capital city, Prague, has a natural beauty that extends back more than a millennium in history, and it’s one of Europe’s best-preserved cities.
A must do in Prague is to visit Prague Castle which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has fantastic panoramic views of the city. Within Prague Castle is St. Vitus Cathedral, the construction of which has been enhanced progressively between the 14th and 20th centuries. Other popular historical attractions in Prague include the Astronomical Clock and the Charles Bridge.
Prague has many museums and galleries to choose from. The National Technical Museum features exhibits on architecture, photography, airplanes, cars and other industrial wonders. If you prefer viewing and learning about Renaissance-era pieces, the glasswork, tapestries, ceramics, jewellery and other artefacts in the Museum of Decorative Arts are certain to fascinate. For additional culture, walk through the vast Wallenstein Garden or experience Czech drama, opera and ballet performances at the National Theatre.
You will not want to conclude your trip to Prague without tasting local food and shopping for distinctive items. Alcron, the Michelin star restaurant in the Radisson Blu, is a wonderful venue for ordering Eastern European fare with innovative touches. If you prefer to spend the day shopping, make sure you visit Pařížská Street, which has luxury fashion brands including Dior, Gucci, HUGO BOSS, Jimmy Choo and Salvatore Ferragamo.
For more information make sure you read our Prague Destination Guide.
Bratislava is the capital and largest city in Slovakia and travelers here can explore some fascinating historical locations, great culture and excellent food.
Bratislava Castle, although recently renovated, retains its impressive architecture and breathtaking views that have enthralled visitors for thousands of years. Apponyi Palace, restored in 1761, features a wine-making museum and furnished antique rooms. Another ancient Bratislava building, St. Martin's Cathedral, has seen 11 monarchs crowned since the 14th century.
Bratislava is a worthy destination for both activity and cultural travellers. Bratislava Forest Park has a hilly terrain on which you can walk, hike or take a cable car ride. If you enjoy art, you can view some eclectic regional works at the Slovak National Gallery. Take in an opera, ballet or drama performance by the Slovak National Theatre, a company that specializes in national and international pieces.
While in Bratislava, you will also want to spend time sampling local cuisine. Stop by Cafe Verne in order to try a delicious Slovak meal, or Shtoor, a chain cafe, serves up coffee, cake and lunches for your enjoyment.
For more information make sure you read our Bratislava Destination Guide.
The history of Sofia dates back more than 2,000 years so it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that Bulgaria's capital city has plenty to offer in terms of attractions. To get a feel for the historical background of Sofia, view a number of ancient artefacts at the Archaeological Museum, tour the Royal Palace or marvel at the architecture of the Sveta Sofia Church, which houses a museum and various tombs. Explore literary history by visiting the Ivan Vazov House-Museum, where the famous Bulgarian author of the same name once resided.
Relax during your Sofia vacation with a trip to Borisova Gradina, a large park brimming with flowers, cafes and statues. Within the park, you can sometimes take in a live soccer match at the Vasil Levski Stadium. For cultural fun, the National Polytechnic Museum showcases exhibits of cameras, radios and other gadgets through the ages. The National Palace of Culture also hosts concerts, exhibitions, shows and film festivals.
Go shopping in Sofia at the Tsum Retail Centre, a multi-level mall offering household items, jewellery, clothes and other goods. If you wish to purchase special Bulgarian souvenirs, drop by the Centre of Folk Arts & Crafts, where you can find books, musical recordings, pottery, rugs, carvings and more. Traditional Eastern European dishes, which include rabbit, pork, vegetables and fish, can be sampled at establishments such as the Manastirska Magernitza tavern and Chevermeto.
For more information make sure you read our Sofia Destination Guide.
Istanbul's relaxing baths and gorgeous mosques are available to visit all year, but certain events and activities are especially fun in summer. Have a picnic at the beautiful parks on the Princes' Islands, or take a cruise of the Bosporus when it's warm enough to enjoy the water breezes. A trip to Istanbul wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the famous The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the Blue Mosque), an exquisite masterpiece of Ottoman architect Sedefkâr Mehmet Ağa.
If you are looking for a more ‘upbeat’ holiday, Istanbul offers a range of music events and festivals. Events like Istanbul Calling and the International Music Festival allow you to dance the day and night away, and the Istanbul Shopping Fest brings amazing bargains and extended store hours to shopping enthusiasts.
For more information make sure you read our Istanbul Destination Guide.
A journey to Tbilisi's Old Town is a wonderful fusion of the ancient and modern. The tiny streets wind past centuries-old churches and hidden courtyards as well as fun modern tourist spots like evening cafes, shops and museums, making it an easy place for history buffs or couples to lose themselves for days.
Tbilisi is also a spectacular place to book a spa vacation. The sulfur springs provide natural hot baths at several spas in the city and novelist Alexander Pushkin declared them the best baths he'd ever had.
For more information make sure you read our Tbilisi Destination Guide.
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