The world is a vast assortment of colors, languages, and intriguing locations that evoke our imaginations and nourish our spirits. There are specific cities, beaches, and natural areas that connect us more deeply to our planet. Castles, coastlines, and cultural icons can all tempt you to dust off your passport. These ten places of remarkable beauty will fire up your wanderlust! Which location will you travel to next?
Technically, Appalachia extends from New York to Georgia. The area is famous for the Blue Ridge Mountains, which appear blue due to a naturally occurring gas. The scenic Blue Ridge Highway extends for almost 500 miles, connecting two of the country's most magnificent national parks: the Great Smoky Mountain and Shenandoah National Park. Explore eastern Kentucky where it meets West Virginia to take a scenic drive through the hills. Visit Pine Mountain while enjoying the rural views of million-dollar horse farms and charming small towns.
Venice may be the best-known city in the world, and for good reason. The intricate and varied architecture, precious artworks, and labyrinthine streets draw millions of tourists every year. On a crisp day in November, you can see the Dolomite Mountains from the city. Fewer tourists brave the chill, but if you pack a coat, you'll enjoy the Festa Della Salute. The city builds a temporary third bridge, which crosses the Grand Canal, during the celebration. The festival honors the Virgin Mary for ending the 1630 plague which killed a third of the Venetian population. The Santa Maria Della Salute church holds choirs and special services during the festival.
The Republic of Maldives is a collection of islands crossing over 35,000 square miles. There are nearly 1200 paradisaical beaches in the country. This far-flung group of coral isles makes up the world's most low-lying nation at less than five feet above sea level. Six Maldive Coral Mosques are awaiting Unesco verification as heritage sites. Divers can swim with Whale Sharks at Maaya Thila while spotting several species of dolphin and sea turtles. Photography enthusiasts can inspire jealousy with pictures of Vaadhoo Island's magical, bioluminescent phytoplankton.
Utah's dramatic landscape ranges from red rock mountains to the Great Salt Lake; the state is a stunner. Arches is an ideal park for outdoor adventure sports like rock climbing, horseback riding, hiking, and biking. The Devils Garden is home to spires, narrow walls made from rocks called fins, and giant boulders balanced on top of one another. Park Avenue and Courthouse Towers are iconic symbols of the West that offer stunning vistas.
The vibe in Puerto Viejo is best described by their saying, Pura Vida, which means "pure life" in English. This expatriate town is a few hours south of the port city of Limon. Black and gold sandy beaches flank the town while the jungle sits on the other side of the road behind the hammock hotel. Monkeys and sloths are your neighbors, and dolphins frolic with the surfers in the ocean. It's easy to mistake Puerto Viejo for a Caribbean town with the rhythm of reggae pumping from the dance clubs situated on the edge of the beach.
Sintra is less than an hour away from Lisbon, Portugal. The entire town of Sintra is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Lord Byron referred to the city as a "glorious Eden," and it's easy to see why he fell in love with the region. The pine tree-covered hills of the Serra de Sintra offer a refreshing reprieve from the heat. Romantic architecture is at home among the natural ecosystem of the Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais. The lavish gardens, playful palaces, and mysterious mansions make this small city a must-see for visitors. Palacio da Pena is a grand palace that looks as if it's sculpted from Play-Doh. Quinta da Regaleira is a gothic mansion opulent with mythical symbols, while the grounds offer secrets around every corner.
The Amalfi Coast is well known for its glamorous residents, glittering beaches, and staggeringly beautiful cities. The best way to see the Amalfi Coast is to take a bus ride from Sorrento to Salerno. This trip isn't for the faint of heart; the bus takes hairpin turns at high speeds as the driver navigates the serpentine switchbacks that hug the mountainside, overlooking the sea. There are plenty of charming towns to visit, like Vietri Sul Mare and Ravello, but if you're short on time make sure you at least explore Positano. The city is stacked high against the mountain, so wear comfortable shoes.
Siem Reap is in northwest Cambodia and is considered the 'gateway to the Angkor region.' The real attractions are the temples of Angkor Wat which cover over 400 acres and represent the largest religious monument in the world. Angkor Wat (which means Capital Temple in English) is all that remains of the Khmer civilization. The Angkor Wat Temples display the tenets of Hindu mythology. This Unesco World Heritage site is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World.
If you like the beach and castles, then Pembrokeshire should be your next vacation destination. Pembrokeshire is the only national park in the United Kingdom established for its coastline. The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path is 186 miles of astounding natural beauty. Along the way, you can stop by St. Govan's Chapel. The legend states St. Govan hid in a cave from pirates. He was so grateful for the safe escape that he built a chapel there. The smallest city in the U.K. is Saint David's, which is home to St. David's Cathedral, considered a holy place since the 6th century.
If you're a fan of Game of Thrones, then you've seen parts of the Coastal Causeway on television, but merely seeing it on TV doesn't do the region justice. Most visitors will arrive in Belfast, a friendly city with plenty to see and do in itself. Belfast was where they built the Titanic, and there's an impressive monument for history buffs. The Antrim Coast half a day's drive from the city is a lush, emerald landscape dotted with crumbling castles, ancient forests, and dazzling rock formations like the famous 'Giant's Causeway.'