GO THE DISTANCE

Adelaide, the laid-back capital of South Australia, is a world away from the urban powerhouses of Melbourne and Sydney. The only one of Australia’s state capitals to be founded by free settlers, Adelaide retains its independent spirit to this day, and it feels more like an oversized village than the country’s fifth most populated city. With its Victorian architecture, picturesque waterfront, burgeoning art scene, and myriad other things to do, Adelaide is a city-break destination in its own right—but for many travelers it's also home base for day trips to the vineyards of the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale, Murray River, Kangaroo Island, and Fleurieu Peninsula. 

Known as America's Last Frontier, Alaska magnetizes travelers with untamed wilderness and the promise of solitude. A region of extremes, Alaska swings between warm summers and demanding winters (when the Yukon River freezes solid); from bustling port cities to outdoor expanses. Fairbanks serves as a gateway to Chena Hot Springs and the Arctic Circle's Northern Lights, while cruises past abundant marine wildlife in Kenai Fjords National Park are best accessed from Seward. Dogsled and pan for gold on the Skagway section of the Yukon River; go white-water rafting on rapids that flow from the Mendenhall Glacier; soar over Denali National Park on a flightseeing tour; or feast on salmon and enjoy easy access to Mt. Roberts from Juneau's historic downtown. If you're looking to cover the highlights of the vast state, take the scenic Alaska Railroad route to popular visitor stops such as Anchorage, Talkeetna, and Whittier, or delve into Gold Rush-era history on a journey to White Pass Summit. At Ketchikan's zipline adventure park, kids and adults alike will love flying over the Alaskan rain forest and observing black bears. With opportunity for adventure at every turn, you're sure to submit to the call of the wild during your time in Alaska. 

Home to shimmering lakes, soaring peaks, dense pine forests, and some of Canada's most impressive unspoiled wilderness, the western province of Alberta is an outdoor explorer's paradise, with spots such as Banff and Jasper drawing nature lovers from across the globe. A helicopter sightseeing flight provides an unconventional look at the Rocky Mountains, as does a via ferrata mountain tour, in which fixed iron ropes assist climbers of all abilities. Paddle through the swirling currents of Kicking Horse River on a white-water rafting trip or, for something a little more sedate, spot native Canadian wildlife on a dusk safari in Banff National Park. Don't miss Alberta's top sights, which include Columbia Icefield in both Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, as well as Banff's UNESCO-listed Lake Louise, where the crystal-clear waters reflect the mighty Rockies. Edmonton, the capital, and Calgary have plenty to offer travelers looking for a more cosmopolitan experience, too. Urban explorers can spin through diverse Edmonton neighborhoods such as Glenora and Old Strathcona by Segway, and take in top landmarks such as Whitemud Park and 124th Street with ease on a tour led by a local. To get to know Calgary, take a culinary walking tour, a brewery tour, or use the city as a base for alfresco trips to Bow River, Fort Calgary, Inglewood, St. Patrick's Island, or the Trans Canada Trail and get back to the nature for which Alberta is so well known. 

Also known as the Grand Canyon State, thanks to its best-known natural wonder: Grand Canyon National Park—combines a desert- and mountain-dotted landscape with increasingly cosmopolitan cities to form one of the United States' best places for exploring the outdoors mere minutes from bustling downtowns. In Phoenix, Arizona's modern capital, enjoy baseball's sping training in March; hot air balloon rides over the city; tours of the city's burgeoning craft cocktail and farm-to-table dining scene; and helicopter flights. Meanwhile, nearby Scottsdale entices with its 200 golf courses and major tournaments. To the north, Sedona's red rocks are best enjoyed on Jeep tours of the open desert, while the Montezuma Castle National Monument offers an impressive display of Pre-Columbian cliff dwellings. To the south, Tucson serves as a melting pot of European, Mexican, and Native American cultures, all of which inform its architecture and gastronomy. If you really want to travel back into Arizonan history, take a custom tour of the original Apache Trail. And, of course, it's impossible to overlook the importance of the Grand Canyon National Park, home to some of the most awe-inspiring views in the world which can be marveled over on a helicopter tour from most Arizona cities. 

Just 182 miles (293 kilometers) off the coast of Miami, the coral archipelago of the Bahamas rises out of jewel-toned seas, complete with swaying palms, virgin beaches, and a richly Caribbean culture. Most visitors to the islands find themselves in bustling Nassau or Freeport, where the cruise ships dock. Known for nonstop partying, an intriguing pirate past, and street vendors hawking goods to passersby, both Bahamian cities can be explored in the company of a local guide for off-the-beaten-path experiences. Explore hidden culinary gems in Nassau on a walking and tasting tour; get the inside scoop on local landmarks; or take a shore excursion from Freeport to the less-crowded part of Grand Bahama Island. There, Lucayan National Park is home to one of the world's largest underwater cave systems and visitors can stroll along miles of unspoiled beaches. Those in search of an even more laid-back experience still should head to the Out Islands; thanks to tours that provide aquatic transportation, getting there couldn't be easier. Watch for wildlife—including swimming piglets—on the Exumas, accessible via powerboat tour from Nassau; or cruise over to Rose Island for snorkeling or kayaking. Regardless of your vacation agenda, there's an island or a cay in the Bahamas that's got you covered. 

Islands of adventure, home to more than 120 active volcanoes, more than 700 languages, and 17,000-plus islands (and counting), Indonesia stretches further from east to west than the continental United States. For travelers to the world’s fourth most populous nation, this means two things: You’ll never see it all, and you’ll never run out of things to do. Adventure awaits in this tropical wonderland—from spotting Komodo dragons and Sumatran orangutans to learning about Sulawesi funeral rituals and visiting ancient temples on Java to partying at beach clubs on Bali.

Multicultural Belgium—the political center of Europe—is a small-but-important country that entices visitors with its specialty beers, tantalizing chocolate, and myriad waffles, along with an equally rich history. Belgium's location, squished between Germany and France, give it an often-outsized historical importance, with World War I and II having left notable marks; day tours from the capital make stops at historic sites related to the well-known Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of Waterloo. Brussels itself boasts a warren of medieval architecture, the Houses of Parliament, and plenty of that renowned Belgian beer and chocolate that you won't want to leave without sampling. Head just an hour outside the capital, though, and big city life fades away in favor of the picturesque fields of Flanders, and secondary cities such as Antwerp and Bruges. Visitors can easily see one or both in a single day with the help of a guided tour. Antwerp's beautiful port and majestic town square open to reveal celebrated art by Rubens and the intense center of the diamond industry. Meanwhile, Bruges' quaint serenity creates a timeless fairy-tale scene where travelers can step back a few centuries via canal cruises or walking tours through the town. 

Wherever you are in Brazil, the infectious sound of samba drifts from bars; platters of perfectly roasted meats and obsidian-black beans line tables; and cheerful ois (hi, in Portuguese) erupt from the mouths of lively locals. In Rio de Janeiro, the legendary Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are set against the dramatic backdrop of Corcovado, Sugar Loaf Mountain, and the outstretched arms of Christ the Redeemer. Full-day sightseeing tours tick off all of the city's highlights, while the Selaron Steps, Rochina favela, and a samba show are typically form part of the itinerary, too. But Rio is just the beginning. The sprawling metropolis of São Paulo—Brazil's most-populous city—reveals its cultural heft on a panoramic tour, while nature buffs will be charmed by the Amazon rain forests of Manaus, home to numerous biodiverse species. In the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Iguassu National Park, the Iguazu Falls (Foz de Iguacu) create a thundering roar, and in Salvador, historic African influence dictates the vibrant energy of the city. Myriad private and group tours help visitors experience it all with skip-the-line entry to top sights, simple transportation options, and local perspectives. And Brazil borders almost every country in South America—only Chile and Ecuador are excluded—making it the ideal starting point for any South American trip. Begin with New Year's Eve or Carnaval, two of Rio's most spectacular celebrations, before journeying across the continent. 

Hemmed in by the beaches of the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane is the perfect cultural antidote to a sun-and-surf overdose. Effortlessly laid-back yet surprisingly fashion-forward, Queensland’s capital city is always changing, with museums hosting some of Australia’s most cutting-edge exhibitions, and new restaurants, pop-up stores, and seasonal events springing up constantly. Highlights of a trip to Brisbane include climbing the famous Story Bridge, strolling the lush City Botanic Gardens, and spotting koalas at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Lone Pine is a 20-minute drive from downtown Brisbane, but it’s more fun to float there on a river cruise that departs from Southbank, with views of Brisbane’s landmarks along the way. As the gateway to Queensland, Brisbane also makes a good base camp for exploring the region’s highlights. The beaches of North Stradbroke Island or Moreton Island are a short ferry ride away, while the world-class theme parks and beaches of the Gold Coast are just an hour’s drive south of the city. To experience Queensland’s diverse flora and fauna, tours are your best bet. A guide can lead you to waterfalls and glowworm caves on a rain forest tour of Springbrook National Park, 62 miles (100 kilometers) south of Brisbane, and Mt. Tamborine National Park. Or join a multi-day excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Fraser Island (one night at a beach resort included) or the Great Barrier Reef, where you can swim, look for turtles and humpback whales, and snorkel ’til your heart’s content. 

The name Byron Bay evokes nostalgia in anyone who has traveled around coastal New South Wales. While it has certainly spruced itself up since its legendary bohemian era, it’s no less spectacular. The little town is famed for its gorgeous beaches, hinterland rainforest, coastal trails, whale watching, epic surf breaks, and buzzing nightlife scene. And its hippie legacy lives on in its many yoga retreats. Read the latest Byron Bay travel guides, trip ideas, and articles from Viator’s travel insiders, a community of writers and locals who’ve been all over the world to help travelers find and experience the best things to see and do.

Nestled on the Queensland coast, Cairns attracts visitors from around the world as the gateway to Australia’s Tropical North and the Great Barrier Reef. Set 1,499 miles (2,413 kilometers) north of Sydney, the city of Cairns is the perfect home base for adventure lovers, and boasts tropical climes, nearly endless diving possibilities, and a vibrant food and drink scene. Biking, Segway, and walking tours hit attractions such as the Cairns Historical Society Museum and Cairns Regional Gallery. Outside the city, popular day-trip destinations include the ecotourism destination Cape Tribulation in Daintree National Park, the Cape York Peninsula, and Cooktown. 

Located just outside the spectacular Banff National Park, Calgary is a bustling hub of stylish bars, diverse restaurants, chic boutiques, and green-lawned parks, with enough to keep visitors of all ages happy. Host of the 1988 Winter Olympics, Calgary has a rich sporting pedigree, and it’s an ideal base from which to step into Alberta’s great outdoors. Explore the streets and walkways with ease on a guided Segway tour, on which you’ll take in top sites of interest such as the Bow River, Fort Calgary, Inglewood, St. Patrick's Island, and the Trans Canada Trail. Discover the flavors Canadians love (bison, honey, Saskatoon berries) with an artisanal food and craft beer walking tour, and perhaps meet some of Alberta’s passionate brewpub owners. While you’re in Calgary, take time to learn about the First Nations peoples on a guided day trip, and embrace the culture of Canada’s northern plains. Travelers keen to head into the Rockies can take a helicopter sightseeing tour for panoramic views over the soaring peaks and plunging valleys, or explore the mighty Columbia Icefield by coach tour—which often stretch all the way from the Banff National Park to the southern end of Jasper National Park. From there, it’s just a trip to the waters of UNESCO-listed Lake Louise, widely considered to be one of Alberta’s top natural attractions. 

More than just the home of Australian politics, the city of Canberra will surprise you with its cultural depth and outdoor versatility. “The Bush Capital” is just as defined by its rugged, alpine setting as it is by its broad avenues and man-made lake–and good craft beer and comfort food are just as easy to find as historic sites and art museums.

Read the latest Canberra travel guides, trip ideas, and articles from Viator’s travel insiders, a community of writers and locals who’ve been all over the world to help travelers find and experience the best things to see and do.

Cancun is more than a party destination with luxury hotels (though a good one at that). It is the Yucatán Peninsula's gateway to a world of jungle-clad Mayan pyramids, the crystal caves of Rio Secreto, and a scuba paradise off Isla Mujeres. Days can be spent lounging next to Caribbean waters with margarita in hand, or exploring the nearby jungles and cenotes. Make time to visit Chichen Itza or the Tulum ruins—both places you can go for guided morning explorations before the grounds open to the general public. For something different in Mexico's most popular beach destination, spend an afternoon in a downtown plaza, or venture out for dinner and a Cirque du Soleil show in the heart of Riveria Maya. 

Charleston is a jewel of the South, renowned for its beautiful mansions, magnolia-scented gardens, and heady mix of influences from as far away as France, Africa, and the West Indies. Charleston is known for budget-friendly Lowcountry staples like shrimp and grits and she-crab soup. Because of the city’s coastal location and European, African, and American Indian influences, its cuisine is a true melting pot of flavors. Other must-try dishes include hush puppies, fried green tomatoes, oysters, barbecue, and Frogmore stew. Most travelers enjoy exploring the city’s historic sites on foot during the day, and then taking an evening ghost tour to wander the grounds of the rumored haunted graveyards. Shop the boutiques along King Street and browse Charleston City Market, which stretches four city blocks and features vendors of items ranging from jewelry to Gullah sweetgrass baskets. 

The Third Coast's greatest city, located along the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago—the largest city in Illinois and the third largest in the United States—offers a wealth of art, music, historical, and architectural experiences. Culture lovers can stroll through Millennium Park and the Loop to view outdoor art (including the iconic “Bean”), tour world-class museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago, or cruise the Chicago River to see modern landmark gems. To meet the locals, buy a ticket for a ball game; catch some live blues or jazz (both of which have deep roots in Chicago) at a club; or laugh at the comedy acts at Second City, where many top comedians launched their careers. 

China, the king of Asia, is simultaneously ancient and futuristic; rural and metropolitan; traditional and cosmopolitan. In a land of paradoxes, culture and cuisine project a distinct identity enhanced by vast landscapes and iconic landmarks. Tick off a New Seven Wonder of the World at the Great Wall of China; soak up Hong Kong's unique island culture; and immerse yourself in attractions such as the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, and Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of the endangered species. Each city, be it Shanghai, Beijing, or Xi'an, offers fine food, lively entertainment, and rich history. 

From the eastern plain’s flat grasslands rippling in the breeze to the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado is perfect for those who heed the call of the wild. A variety of tours offer hiking opportunities in Rocky Mountain National Park and Garden of the Gods, each within easy reach of Denver and Colorado Springs, respectively. White-water rafting tours whisk you along rivers that wind their way through the state. Snow sports enthusiasts will want to join an excursion to some of the best slopes in the United States in Vail, Telluride, and Breckenridge — which transform into cultural hubs hosting music festivals and outdoor movie nights when the snow melts in the summer. Take a trip to tour the southern tip of the state, where Canyons of the Ancients and Mesa Verde National Park offer a glimpse into the lives of the area’s Ancestral Puebloan inhabitants. When it’s time to step indoors, make your way to a culinary or city tour for some cowboy-chic culture, especially in and around the Mile High City (and state capital) of downtown Denver. Sip high-altitude beers on a tour of the city’s ever-expanding craft brewery scene; taste farm-to-table cuisine on a Denver food tour; spend an evening touring the city’s fine art collections; or take an easy day trip to the neighboring college town of Boulder. 

Perched on the Jutland peninsula and an archipelago comprised of more than 400 islands, Denmark has a reputation for high-quality living and health-forward thinking. Copenhagen, the Scandinavian country's capital, is one of the world's most bike-friendly cities, so cycling tours are a natural way to take in the sights, from the elegant Amalienborg Palace and Kastellet Fortress to Rosenborg Castle and the famous Little Mermaid statue inspired by Hans Christian Andersen. Hop-on hop-off bus tours let you mix and match from the many attractions scattered across the city's varied neighborhoods, including the alternative neighborhood of Christiania, which essentially functions like an independent nation. Copenhagen isn't just about sightseeing, either; examples of the modern Danish aesthetic—clean, simple, and lovely to look at—are everywhere, from Copenhagen's architecture and interior design to local fashion and cuisine. Sample the best of the city's cutting-edge culinary scene on a food tour, or learn about the pursuit of hygge (a Danish concept meaning contentment, coziness, and camaraderie) on a tour of locals' favorite spots. Once you've exhausted Denmark's capital, consider taking a day trip to North Zealands and the UNESCO-listed Kronborg Castle, the setting for Shakespeare's Hamlet; a guided tour to Sweden's Malmö, just across the Öresund bridge; or a wine-tasting adventure on the shores of the Baltic sea at an organic vineyard.

When you think of the United Arab Emirates, you likely think of its blockbuster, over-the-top city: Dubai. With the world's tallest building, man-made islands, an aquarium big enough for scuba-diving, and indoor ski slopes, there's no shortage of experiences to check off and sights to see. But beyond the glitz and glamor of this shiny, new city, there's another side to the United Arab Emirates, which existed long before Dubai started booming. Explore the Hajar Mountains, towering over the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah; or visit the hub of culture and athletics in Abu Dhabi, the capital, with highlights including the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the museums at Saadiyat Island. Get to grips with art and heritage in Sharjah via visits to the Grand King Faisal Mosque, Souk Al Arsa, and the Heritage Village. No trip to the UAE is complete without a foray out into the desert, whether it's dune-bashing, riding a camel, or experiencing a cultural presentation under the protection of a luxury tent. Luckily, many of these experiences can be combined on a desert day tour. Finally, for relief from the hot, sandy desert, travelers can head to the Gulf of Oman for swimming and other water activities, visit the Aquaventure Waterpark, or experience the indoor Ski Dubai snow park.

An ancient land of towering pyramids and endless stretches of desert, Egypt is often referred to as the cradle of civilization. On the lush banks of the Nile River, papyrus reeds sway alongside pharaonic temples, and sandblasted tombs reside beneath the mysterious gaze of the Sphinx. With so much to see, a popular way to explore the Gift of the Nile is by cruise ship, with options ranging from week-long luxury jaunts to shorter, budget-friendly trips. Popular stopovers include Aswan, home to the Aswan High Dam and Philae Temple; Luxor, where temple complexes in the Valley of the Kings pay testament to pharaohs including King Tutankhamun; and, of course, Cairo, capital city and gateway to the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (and a perfect opportunity for a desert camel ride). Alternatively, make Cairo your base, exploring the enormous Egyptian Museum and doing some shopping in the vast Khan el Khalili Bazaar. From the city, you can take day trips to many of the essential sites, including the ancient capital of Memphis—home to Egypt's oldest pyramid. Following a healthy dose of history, head to the Red Sea coast to relax on the golden sands of Hurghada and experience the country's best scuba diving in Marsa Alam, where unspoiled coral reefs teem with marine life. 

The most sparsely populated country in the European Union, Finland attracts travelers in search of wide-open spaces and unspoiled swathes of beautiful nature. But city-dwellers will find plenty to love as well—in fact, the bulk of the country's population is concentrated in the capital, Helsinki, located on the southern coast. Known for its cutting-edge design and tech scene, it's a truly cosmopolitan city that's home to top-notch museums; stately historic buildings; and cool restaurants, bars, and markets (be sure try local delicacies like squeaky "bread" cheese with cloudberry jam). With its extra-long words, the Finnish language can be tricky to master, so a local guide can be helpful for navigating the city. A typical Helsinki tour includes stops at the Rock Church (Temppeliaukio), Senate Square, the Parliament Building, and the Sibelius Monument. Day trips from the city include the Suomenlinna sea fortress, the medieval city of Porvoo, Nuuksio National Park, or picturesque Tallinn, just a quick boat trip across the Baltic Sea in Estonia. Up north in Lapland, where the nights are long, you'll find an amazing vantage point from which to photograph the northern lights and engage in unforgettable wintertime activities. Hop aboard a dog sled for a tour of the tundra, explore an amethyst mine, go snowmobiling, do some ice fishing, or visit a reindeer farm. 

There’s more to this panhandle US state than just Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom. An airboat experience in the Everglades showcases one of the world’s largest wetlands, the powdery sand beaches on the Gulf of Mexico offer the perfect getaway, and a walking tour of Miami’s vibrant food scene lets travelers in on some of the eclectic elements that make up Florida’s spirit. From Kennedy Space Center to the string of islands that make up the Florida Keys to, yes, Orlando’s ubiquitous theme parks, the Sunshine State mixes outdoor adventure, diverse culture, and family fun to form an all-in-one destination that delights all ages. 

Chic. Sophisticated. Iconic. France’s cultural identity is prominent across the globe. Paris, known affectionately as the City of Light, tops every list of romantic destinations yet offers something for every type of traveler, from dinner shows at the Moulin Rouge to world-renowned art at the Louvre Museum and Gothic architecture at Notre Dame Cathedral. In Versailles, the colossal palace exudes grandeur; fine wines beg to be quaffed in Bordeaux and Champagne; and war history enshrouds the battlefields of Normandy and the Somme. Gastronomes will find nirvana in France, where freshly baked baguettes, cheese, casseroles, and delicacies such as snails and frogs’ legs are staples on most menus. 

Germany offers a path for every kind of traveler, whether it leads toward the castles of Neuschwanstein and Linderhof, a glass of local wine in Rhine Valley, or across to Austria's Salzburg Lake District, an area synonymous with the Von Trapp family and The Sound of Music. For history buffs, stories of the Cold War abound in Berlin, and day trips to World War II memorial sites offer a somber and significant look at the past. If you find yourself in Munich in the fall it can only mean one thing: a stop at Oktoberfest, the world's largest beer festival, for a taste of Bavarian brews, culture, and food. 

Queensland lives up to its nickname of the Sunshine State—from tropical rainforests to white sand beaches and the warmth of an Australian welcome. This laid-back region is filled with culture, history, and adventure, reflected as much in the glittering cities of Brisbane and the Gold Coast as in the camping-friendly outback. Among its highlights are the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. Read the latest Queensland travel guides, trip ideas, and articles from Viator’s travel insiders, a community of writers and locals who’ve been all over the world to help travelers find and experience the best things to see and do.

Greece never fails to enchant, with its miles of azure coast, well-preserved ancient ruins, and fresh Mediterranean cuisine. The capital of Athens is an ideal starting point—there, guides on walking, bike, Segway, and bus tours lead travelers through the Parthenon, Acropolis, and other buildings of historical and archeological interest, offering insight into both past and present. Combine your tour with a traditional Greek dinner in a classic Plaka taverna, or take a food and wine tour. From Athens, a short day trip north takes visitors to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Delphi, with its Temple of Apollo and other ruins, once central to the ancient world. Experience the clear-blue Aegean Sea on one of the Greek islands, such as Crete, Hydra, or Rhodes. Skip the hassles of arranging transportation, food, and docking points, and book a boat tour to the romantic island of Santorini, famous for its sunsets, wineries, and black-sand beaches. Mykonos, with its contrasting white beaches and legendary party scene, is another unmissable island; hiking, scuba diving, or cruise tours offer a different perspective on its beauty. The more relaxed Syros, which can be part of an island-hopping adventure, is an authentic paradise, where the Greeks themselves go to enjoy the architecture and local restaurants of Ermoupolis. You can book shorter sailboat tours of the Mediterranean from multiple points, and sunset tours are your best bet for postcard-worthy vistas. 

Anyone can see why the Pacific archipelago of Hawaii is a favorite pick for travelers: cobalt waters, powder-white beaches, volcanic peaks, indigenous wildlife, and rich traditional culture. Hawaii’s vibe is casual and laid-back, with life here mostly lived outside. Locals and visitors divide their time between chowing down on traditional island food, surfing or bodyboarding the waves, snorkeling or diving the coral reefs, or hiking over ancient lava flows. 

Iceland, the country of fire (volcanoes) and ice (glaciers), lives up to its magical reputation. Human presence feels minimal and nature reigns supreme: The northern lights, hot springs, glaciers, active volcanoes, geysers, and inviting desolation makes Iceland a natural phenomenon in itself. Your entry point will be the capital Reykjavík, where the top things to see and do include Hallgrímskirkja church and Harpa concert hall. Reykjavík also serves as an ideal jumping-off point for the country’s natural wonders. The well-known Golden Circle of the island contains three of the country’s most famous natural attractions: Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall, and the Strokkur Geysir and geothermal area. Discover the south coast with a guided visit to the famous Blue Lagoon for a hot swim in an ice-cold climate, or take a whale-watching boat tour. 

Deeply spiritual, highly majestic, and overwhelmingly frenetic, India is a country that has no comparison. Home to a whopping 32 World Heritage sites, India weaves Himalayan hikes, stunning architecture, colonial heritage, religious harmony, and culinary diversity into one fascinating destination. Unsurprisingly, the iconic Taj Mahal tops nearly all India itineraries, as do the ancient forts and palaces of Jaipur, Agra, and Delhi—the cities that comprise the Golden Triangle. Stray from the beaten path, and you'll see that India offers a wealth of wonders: Varanasi, split by the revered Ganges River, is considered one of the most fascinating places on earth; the white-sand beaches of Goa continue to allure free-spirited travelers; in Kerala, glistening backwaters and emerald tea plantations abound; and in Rajasthan, fairy-tale palaces are juxtaposed with rare wildlife. Multiday tours are a safe and hassle-free way to travel around India, with almost all covering the highlights of the Golden Triangle. Meanwhile, full-day sightseeing tours of Mumbai mean you can experience the madness and magic of the city even if you're short on time. Time your visit to India with one of the country's numerous Hindu celebrations for an unforgettable cultural experience—top picks include Holi festival, known as the Festival of Colors; and Diwali, when the country erupts into fireworks and candlelight. 

Coastlines, castles, and hospitality abound on the Emerald Isle. Pucker up at the Blarney Stone; sip a stout in a thatched-roof pub, or after a tour of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin; or feel the icy blast of the Atlantic at the Cliffs of Moher. Indisputable highlights include the UNESCO-listed Giant's Causeway, with its mysterious rows of hexagonal columns; the culture-rich cities of Galway and Cork; and the natural wonders contained by the Ring of Kerry. Roughly 300 miles long, the island can easily be explored end to end, with live music, ancient ruins, and traditional watering holes never too far away from any stop. 

Combine beautiful natural landscapes with holy sites for three of the world's major religions and you have Israel. What some would call the heart of the Middle East has much to offer travelers. In Tel Aviv—the cosmopolitan hub on Israel's Mediterranean coast—sightseeing tours highlight UNESCO-listed architecture and culinary hotspots, while the Dead Sea region boasts the oasis of Ein Gedi, ancient Masada, and, of course, one of the world's oldest natural spas. Nazareth, Jericho, Masada, and Bethlehem are popular day trips from both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, perfect for those who want to immerse themselves in the region's religious history. 

Well-known for its boot shape, Italy boasts a staggering number of renowned pieces of art, an abundance of UNESCO World Heritage sites, and welcomes visitors with a warm, friendly atmosphere. Let a private or small-group tour with an expert guide show you how to walk in Caesar's footsteps through the Forum in Rome. Take a gondola tour of Venice to glide by the city's classic architecture. Stare in awe at the colorful frescoes in the Vatican Museums’ Sistine Chapel one day, and hike the Path of the Gods along the Amalfi Coast on another. Italy is an art lover's paradise, where masterpieces by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, and Raphael await. Learn about the birthplace of the Renaissance in Florence, and admire the Botticellis in the Uffizi Gallery. Then switch gears to explore hilltop villages in remote parts of Tuscany, or browse for the latest fashions in Milan. Foodies flock to Italy to taste pizza in its hometown of Naples. You can also take a cooking class to learn the secrets of Italian cuisine, like gnocchi and tiramisu in Sorrento, or risotto with prawns in Venice. And then there's the wine—book a wine tour to the Frascati region of Rome for reds and dessert wines, or head to Florence for Chianti. Meanwhile, other tours let you take in a Venetian concert or drift in a boat on Lake Como. 

In Japan, the past and the future are gloriously juxtaposed. Robots dance to techno beats in Tokyo; snow monkeys soak in hot springs in Yamanouchi; and geishas serve green tea ceremoniously in Kyoto. Tokyo, the Land of the Rising Sun's capital, is the obvious starting point for any Japan trip. Must-do activities in and around the city include watching a cabaret show at the Shinjuku Robot Restaurant, witnessing the early-morning tuna auction at Tsukiji Fish Market, and taking a day trip to Hakone to gaze at the snow-capped peak of Mt. Fuji during a Lake Ashi cruise. Visit hundreds of UNESCO World Heritage–listed shrines and Buddhist temples in Nara; ski and snowboard on the frozen slopes of Hokkaido; or relax on white-sand beaches lapped by the Pacific Ocean in Okinawa. Super-speed bullet trains make ticking off less central cities such as Nagoya, Osaka, and Hiroshima (home to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park) possible on a day trip, while food tours of major cities showcase the best of local Japanese cuisine, from sushi to ramen and gyoza (dumplings). For the ultimate sensory banquet, take your Japan vacation during the sakura (cherry blossom) season between March and April, when the country is carpeted in pastel-pink blooms. 

Time has dramatically carved the landscape of Kauai, the northernmost and oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands. It has a more rural and intimate feel than neighboring Oahu, and still teems with authentic Hawaiian culture and heritage. Lush and enchanting, many of the aptly named Garden Isle’s natural wonders are seen only by air or water, and myriad tours and backcountry adventures abound. A first stop for many visitors is the western Na Pali Coast, where snorkel, kayak, and sunset sailing cruises navigate the waters beneath steep, brilliantly hued mountain ridges framing waterfalls and deep valleys. Some boat tours visit sea caves and nearby Niihau, the Forbidden Island, or ply the Pacific in search of spinner dolphins and migrating humpback whales. Back on land, coursing down trails on a mountain bike is an exhilarating way to explore Waimea Canyon—the Grand Canyon of the Pacific—and neighboring Koke'e State Park. Head east to the serene Wailua River for kayaking and hiking among fern grottos and hidden waterfalls. Down south, fly through the treetops on a Koloa zipline tour. And then, of course, there are Kauai’s heavenly beaches—Hanalei Bay and Spouting Horn are two of the island’s most scenic. Come evening, head to Luau Kalamaku for Hawaiian cuisine and Polynesian entertainment. And don’t be fooled by Kauai’s small size: There is a lot to do, so a multi-day tour may be the best way to see it all—or if you’re short on time, a helicopter tour reveals Kauai’s natural beauty from above. 

Colorful Key West combines a tropical island vibe with a laid-back lifestyle for a Caribbean-esque vacation at the southernmost tip of the United States. History buffs will want to take a sun break to visit Ernest Hemingway’s Home and Museum, President Harry S. Truman’s Little White House, and the Key West Shipwreck Museum. Water lovers can explore on guided cruises, snorkeling or kayaking tours, Jet Ski rides, or quiet evening sails. Sunset is a major event each evening, with crowds gathering at Mallory Square to watch the show and enjoy street performances. Most people also visit festive Duval Street to explore the bars, restaurants, and art galleries. 

Explore the islands of Lāna‘i, Kaho‘olawe, Maui, and Moloka‘i from above on the only helicopter tour of “Greater Maui” with Paradise Helicopters. Over one million years ago, Maui Nui (“Greater Maui”) was a single island forty percent larger than present day Hawai‘i Island. Over time, natural forces drew Maui Nui lower into the Pacific, and its saddles fell below sea-level to form separate islands.

Vegas is a shimmering party scene at the edge of the Mojave Desert. A-list entertainment, glitzy casinos, and celebrity-chef restaurants are the games in town, but spectacular scenic beauty is not far from the Strip—Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon are less than an hour away. 

Known for its rich history and architecture, London has bridged the gap to become a vibrant cultural hub with world-class museums, eateries, and performances. England is a small yet mighty country brimming with culture, history, and charm. London, the jewel of England’s architectural crown, reigns supreme over the south and enjoys a close proximity to the 5,000-year-old Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath. Elsewhere, Oxford and Cambridge encompass intellectual grandeur; York’s Gothic abbey exudes a ghostly ambience; and coastal gems such as Brighton, Dover, and Cornwall offer family-friendly attractions and the chance to visit Britain’s beaches. Whether you want to experience the bright lights of London, the tranquil beauty of the Lake District, or the deep-rooted history of English cities, England’s cultural diversity offers something for everyone. 

From its sun-kissed beaches to the star power of Hollywood, the Southern California metropolis of Los Angeles is known for its celebrity culture, mild weather, and breadth of experiences. Los Angeles visitors who look beyond the bright lights of Hollywood find an increasingly multidimensional destination, a city offering an incredible array of cuisines, historic architectural landmarks including Griffith Observatory, and a wealth of outdoor opportunities such as hiking, surfing, and horseback riding. Whether you’re drawn to the beach, nearby amusement parks, or celebrity-spotting opportunities in Beverly Hills, the City of Angels never fails to make an impression—or steal the show. 

An island country located off the southeastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. It is the fourth largest island in the world and has a diverse landscape that includes rainforests, beaches, mountains, and grasslands. The capital city is Antananarivo, and the official languages are Malagasy and French. Madagascar has a unique flora and fauna, with many species found only on the island, such as lemurs, fossas, and aye-ayes. Unfortunately, many of these species are threatened or endangered due to habitat loss and hunting. The country is also known for its vanilla production, which is one of the main exports. The history of Madagascar is marked by the arrival of various ethnic groups, including Bantu, Arabs, and Europeans. The island was colonized by the French in the 19th century and gained independence in 1960. The country has faced political instability and economic challenges since then, but has made progress in recent years towards political and economic reform.

An island nation located in the Indian Ocean, southwest of India and Sri Lanka. It is made up of a chain of 26 atolls, which are groups of islands formed by coral reefs. The capital and largest city is Malé. The Maldives is known for its beautiful beaches, coral reefs, and clear blue waters, making it a popular tourist destination. The Maldives has a population of around 530,000 people and the official language is Dhivehi. The majority of the population is Muslim, and the country's culture is heavily influenced by Islamic traditions. Fishing and tourism are the main industries in the Maldives, with tourism accounting for a large portion of the country's economy. The Maldives has developed a reputation as a luxury travel destination, with many resorts and hotels located on private islands. The Maldives has a unique geography and is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels and coral reef damage. The government has implemented measures to protect the environment, including the establishment of marine protected areas and a commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030.

With warm waters, swaying palm trees, and the towering Haleakala volcano, Maui is a paradise on earth. Few places can match the island’s postcard-perfect scenery and year-round good weather, and Maui packs a lot into a small package. Take a road trip to Hana, dive beneath the waves to observe sea turtles and tropical fish, or get an introduction to traditional Hawaiian culture. And let’s not forget the numerous options for adventure-minded visitors, who can choose among surfing, hiking, zipline courses, and other tropical experiences. 

Long in competition with Sydney for the title of Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne is often the people’s choice, consistently topping the list of the world’s most livable cities. There’s a lot to love, from its melting pot of inhabitants and distinctly European ambience, to its brunch scene, art galleries, and nightlife. Global audiences fill coveted seats at the Arts Centre Melbourne and sporting temples like Melbourne Cricket Ground and Etihad Stadium. But it’s not just about arts and sports. The very essence of Melbourne lies in its neighborhoods. Discover the city’s coolest bars and eateries tucked away in the CBD’s narrow laneways; shop in flashy South Yarra or along Fitzroy’s hipster Brunswick Street; or stroll the sandy beaches of St. Kilda, just a few miles outside the city. And only a day trip away are the Yarra Valley wine region, Mornington Peninsula, and Great Ocean Road. 

Imagine swimming in a sunken volcano that teems with thousands of fish, while splashing in crystal clear water. On this Molokini snorkeling tour, cruise out to the crater, before jumping in the crystalline waters and scouring the colorful reef. Make a second stop dependent upon conditions, and search for turtles at Turtle Town or a spot named Coral Gardens. This family-friendly Maui activity is one of the island's most popular, and an unforgettable day of exploring the underwater world.

The capital of French-speaking Canada boasts an enviable combination of history, cuisine, and nonstop cultural happenings. Walking and biking tours are among the best ways to explore the city’s neighborhoods—from Old Montreal (Vieux-Montréal) to Chinatown—and hit must-see landmarks such as Notre-Dame Basilica, Mount Royal, and St. Joseph’s Oratory. Ascend Montreal Tower Observatory for panoramic city views, or book a food tour to immerse yourself in the internationally influenced culinary scene. Montreal is also ideally located for day trips to Montmorency Falls, Quebec City, and Quebec’s wineries, as well as Rivière-du-Loup whale-watching excursions. 

Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum. Nashville may sound like twangy country music and smell like barbecue, but this Tennessee city is swinging past stereotypes and fast becoming the hipster hub of the South. Think street art, coffee shops, craft breweries, farm-to-fork dining, and of course, plenty of live music (not limited to country)—all happening along the banks of the Cumberland River in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Come for the Parthenon, a full-scale replica of its counterpart in Athens, and stay for literally everything else. 

Rowdy yet refined, New Orleans is a city that unabashedly mixes all-hours fun with a deep respect for tradition and culture. Late night revelers spill into Bourbon Street, trombone players and tap dancers vie for attention on street corners and in famous clubs, and both old school cuisine and the chefs it inspired entice visitors into the city's varied restaurants. Tour the Garden District and the French Quarter; cruise down the Mississippi River on a steamboat; and watch live jazz all over town. A day trip to the countryside reveals New Orleans’ roots, with opportunities to tour historic plantations and ride airboats through the swamps. 

New York City is one of the most visited places in the world—and for good reason. The city’s diverse population makes it a cultural capital for art, music, food, and much, much more. 

It might have been the popularity of The Lord of the Rings movies that put New Zealand on the map, but it's the enchanting landscapes, rich Maori heritage, and unforgettable natural wonders that keep travelers coming back. The North Island is home to New Zealand's capital, Wellington, and largest city, Auckland, but its real highlights lie outside the urban centers. Stroll the golden beaches of the Bay of Islands, journey to Middle Earth on a tour of the Hobbiton set, or cruise through the glowworm caves of Waitomo. Nearby, Rotorua is as renowned for its bubbling mud pools and lava fields as it is for its Maori culture, while farther south, the rocky peaks of Tongariro National Park form the backdrop to one of New Zealand's most rewarding hikes. A short ferry ride from Wellington lands you on the South Island, where the landscapes get wilder, the weather more temperamental, and the cities even more laid-back. Expect to spend most of your time outdoors, traveling from the sandy spit of Cape Farewell, past the windswept beaches of the West Coast, to the dramatic fjords of Milford Sound and the Fiordland National Park. Christchurch, revamped after the tragedy of the 2011 earthquake, is the main hub of the north, while the southern city of Queenstown is New Zealand's adventure capital, where thrill-seekers congregate to try skydiving, bungee jumping, white-water rafting, and ziplining. 

Norway: land of breathtaking fjords, cosmopolitan cities, and Scandinavian design. In the capital city of Oslo, visit top attractions such as the Viking Ship Museum and Vigeland Sculpture Park, and get a taste of Norwegian culture on a food tour. On the west coast, UNESCO-protected fjords, craggy coastlines, and Bergen—the so-called City of Seven Mountains—beckon outdoor enthusiasts. Those in search of the northern lights and winter activities—from dogsledding to snowmobile safaris—should head for Tromso, while train buffs won't want to miss a trip on the Bergen and Flam railways, considered among the world's most scenic train journeys. 

This island gem—the third largest of Hawaii’s eight—offers city entertainment to the south and outdoor adventure to the north, just an hour’s drive apart. History buffs can visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona or get a taste of the island at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Experience the outdoors, from snorkeling to sailing to jetskiing to just plain lounging on Waikiki Beach, or with a hike up Diamond Head. And be sure to plan a night at a traditional lu’au; visit to Haleiwa on the North Shore for garlic shrimp and shaved ice; and trip to the Halona Blowhole to snap photos. 

From the kaleidoscopic reefs of Bocas del Toro to the dense, steamy jungles of Darien National Park, Panama forms a physical and cultural bridge between Central and South America, lapped by the Caribbean on one shore and the Pacific Ocean on the other. From glossy, sun-drenched Panama City to the tiny fishing villages scattered across the islands, Panama offers a heady mix of nature and culture, modern and traditional. History buffs can take a luxury cruise on the Panama Canal, passing through the Miraflores Locks and stopping in Panama City for a walking tour of UNESCO-listed Casco Viejo, the old colonial district. Many jungle treks and bird-watching trips are also available from the capital. Top draws for nature lovers include Gamboa rainforest, El Valle de Anton, Gatun Lake, and Chagres National Park, home to native Embera people and Monkey Island. Divers and snorkelers flock to Bocas del Toro, not far from the Costa Rican border, for its legendary coral reefs and wrecks. Book a multi-day sailing trip to explore further along the Caribbean coast, and if you dream of deserted tropical isles, charter a private boat to the San Blas archipelago. Only a fraction of its 365 tiny islands are inhabited, despite miles of perfect white-sand beaches. And if time permits, you could sail all the way to Cartagena from here. With easy access to both Colombia and Costa Rica, Panama makes an ideal launch pad for extended trips in either Central or South America. 

A cultural metropolis located between the Indian Ocean and the stunning landscapes of Western Australia, Perth is a city of contrasts offering plenty of things to do. Here, you'll find skyscrapers and riverside parks, modern museums and street art, picture-perfect beaches and old-growth vineyards. Add a vibrant social scene, a sunny climate, and an island reserve full of loveable quokkas, and you have one of Australia's loveliest cities (and best-kept secrets). 

From the lush Amazon rain forest to the high-altitude Andes Mountains, Peru packs a topography as diverse as its offerings, weaving colonial architecture, Inca ruins, multi-day hikes, Amazonian wildlife, and culinary diversity into a South American adventure. The iconic Machu Picchu, which must be booked via tour, tops most Peru travel itineraries, as do the surrounding archaeological sites in the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the colonial town of Cusco. A tour guide can unlock the mysteries of the Inca Empire as you trek the trail to the lost city of Choquequirao, summit the Andes on the Inca Trail, bike from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, and take in the views of Lake Titicaca in Puno. To make sense of the enigmatic Nazca Lines, take to the skies via helicopter or scenic flight. Meanwhile, in the south of Peru, don't miss the view from a volcano in Arequipa. A sightseeing tour of the Peruvian capital of Lima will take you to its colonial center for catacombs, pre-Colombian artwork, lively nightlife, and relics of Inca history, while nearby Miraflores is a popular novice surf spot. In Cusco, opt for a food tour to sample lomo saltado (stir-fried beef), Peruvian corn on the cob, and even cuy (guinea pig); or delve into traditional drinks such as pisco sour cocktails and coca tea. Explorer-types should head to the rainforest—near Iquitos there's a vast mass of wetlands full of wildlife and plant diversity, while the Tarpaca River Walk is ideal if you're after a stroll. 

An enchanting archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines serves up mist-shrouded mountains, white-sand beaches, and jewel-toned water in Southeast Asia. Often lesser-known than its Indonesian, Malaysian, and Thai neighbors, the Philippines attracts travelers looking to stray from the beaten path. Both cities and less populated areas beckon: Get a healthy dose of colonial history and metropolitan chaos on a tour of Manila; hike amid staggering natural scenery on guided trips to the Taal volcano and Tagaytay Ridge; marvel at Bohol’s Chocolate Hills, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; or escape from the madness of modern life in Palawan, where Coron Island and Kayangan Lake provide a serene retreat on an ecotour. The caves of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park provide ample wildlife watching opportunities; while Cebu City, the thriving port capital of the Cebu province, serves as an excellent jumping-off point for Moalboal, where backpackers flock to dive, drink, and dine. From Manila, tours of Fort Santiago (built by a Spanish conquistador) and Corregidor Island (long fortified against attack) reveal the Philippines’ rich history. From Oslob, strong swimmers can snorkel alongside whale sharks in crystal-clear waters. And from Malay, sun-worshippers can spend the day hopping between the islets surrounding Boracay island, the epitome of a coastal paradise. 

Long overlooked in favor of its larger neighbor, Spain, Portugal is holding its own on the European travel circuit today, as growing numbers of visitors discover its old-world charms. Outstanding food, award-winning wines, and distinctive Manueline architecture are just the beginning. Portugal's diverse landscapes range from granite peaks and forested hills in the north, to the sunny beaches of the southern Algarve—all bordered by nearly 500 miles of stunning Atlantic coastline. Start in Lisbon, taking in the capital's many historical sights and famous hills by foot or electric bike. The country's faded glory as a maritime empire in the 15th and 16th centuries is most evident here, but humans have lived in this region since prehistoric times. After a city tour, take a day trip to wander through Roman ruins in Evora; tour a royal castle and a Moorish palace in Sintra; or visit one of the well-preserved medieval villages, like Obidos, that are sprinkled all over the countryside. In Northern Portugal, foodies flock to the UNESCO-listed Douro Valley for wine- and food-tasting tours. Porto's striking harbor is the starting point for scenic Douro River cruises. Thrill-seekers can get their adrenaline fix by surfing, skydiving, or parasailing in the Algarve. And for those who prefer a more relaxed pace, the fishing villages of Nazare, Sagres, and Tavira can feel like a trip back in time. Portugal's delights are many, and with easy access to Western Spain, your Iberian itinerary could extend to Seville, Cordoba, or Granada. 

The sand and sea destination of Punta Cana is nestled on the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic, 121 miles (196 kilometers) east of bustling Santo Domingo. This is the Caribbean paradise you’ve read about: Soft, white-sand beaches stretch along the entire coast, dotted by arching palm trees and lapped by rolling waves. If you’re visiting in search of lazy days and relaxed sunbathing, you won’t be disappointed, but there’s also plenty of opportunity for outdoor adventure. Snorkel on a catamaran cruise, dune buggy through ancient palm groves and tobacco plantations, parasail over pristine beaches and lush forests, or hit the links at some of the best golf courses in the Caribbean. 

Quebec City lies at the southern end of the province of Quebec in Canada, 156 miles (252 kilometers) to the northeast of Montreal—its busier, flashier cousin. Home to cobbled alleyways, classy bistros, 18th-century townhouses, and pretty squares, this UNESCO World Heritage–listed city boasts rich history, loads of character, and a proud French identity. Visitors short on time can see the main sights in a day or two, using a hop-on hop-off bus or a guided walking tour to hit all of the highlights with ease. But those able to linger can experience a true taste of colonial Canada—and this is a city best appreciated slowly. The Old Town stretches from the Cap Diamant cliffs to the banks of the St. Lawrence River, attracting visitors to top attractions including the Citadelle of Quebec, the Fortifications of Quebec National Historic Site, and Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church. The city comes into its own in summer, with a whole host of dazzling shows and festivals to entertain locals and visitors alike. And away from the city streets, whale-watching cruises take visitors into the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park, cycling tours spin along the banks of the St. Lawrence River, half-day excursions head to impressive Montmorency Falls, and walking trips lead into the beautiful Canyon Sainte-Anne—where cascading waterfalls and beautiful scenery await. 

Buzzing Rio de Janeiro—the second largest in Brazil—is famous for its miles of stunning beaches, rich musical culture, and beautiful people. Experience it all at once by simply people-watching on one of the beaches, which Cariocas (Rio locals) consider their backyard. On legendary Copacabana, Ipanema, or Leblon beach, you’ll find residents and visitors alike socializing, relaxing, eating, drinking, dancing, and playing. Off the sands, see the best of Rio—while maximizing time and minimizing crowds and potential language barriers—on a guided city tour. A cog-train trip up Corcovado to the famous art-deco Christ the Redeemer statue or its twin peak, Sugar Loaf Mountain, rewards with stunning views of the urban sprawl, lined by white-sand beaches and the sparkling Guanabara Bay. Cruise that very bay for a different but equally epic perspective on the city, then feast on a Brazilian-style barbecue at a churrascaria. Stay up late to catch a samba show in Lapa, or wake up early to trek through the tropical Tijuca Forest or the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden. Walking tours stroll through the streets of historic and bohemian Santa Teresa, or up into the hills for a look at favela life in Santa Marta or Rocinha. And for sports lovers, behind-the-scenes tours of Maracana Stadium showcase the country’s national obsession: futebol (soccer). 

A quintessentially coastal California town, San Diego welcomes visitors with picture-perfect weather and a surprising variety of things to do. Within its vast city limits, you can scale mountains, embark on desert hikes, and surf at one of many palm tree–lined beaches. You can also learn about military and Spanish colonial history, and eat fresh seafood and Mexican cuisine to your heart’s content. From its laid-back beach neighborhoods—like Ocean, Mission and Pacific beaches—to the bustling nightlife and downtown dining destinations of Little Italy and the Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego offers something fun for every traveler. 

San Francisco is seven square miles of fog-shrouded magic. Travelers come for cable-car rides and the Golden Gate Bridge—and stay for edgy neighborhoods, cultural diversity, and beautiful open-air spaces. 

Saudi Arabia is a country located in the Middle East, occupying most of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Yemen. The capital city is Riyadh, and the official language is Arabic. The country is known for its vast deserts, historical landmarks, and Islamic culture. Saudi Arabia has a population of around 35 million people, and the majority of the population is Muslim. The country is ruled by a monarchy, with the current king being King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The government is based on Islamic law, and the country's legal system is heavily influenced by Islamic principles. The economy of Saudi Arabia is heavily dependent on oil production and exports, and the country is one of the largest oil producers in the world. However, the government has been making efforts to diversify the economy, with a focus on industries such as tourism and renewable energy. Saudi Arabia has a rich cultural heritage, with many historical landmarks such as the ancient city of Mada'in Saleh and the Al-Masjid Al-Haram mosque in Mecca. The country is also home to many festivals and celebrations, such as the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and the Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha holidays.

Snow-capped volcanoes meet towering forests in Washington State—a rain-lush landscape straddling summits and sea. Natural beauty abounds in this famously outdoorsy Pacific Northwest charmer, and hiking boots are going-out wear even in the urban tech hub of Seattle and the nearby capital of Olympia. From there, ferries link up Puget Sound islands, while steep roads climb through the high passes of the Cascade Mountains. Eastward is a golden-brown landscape dotted with apple orchards, wineries, and horse corrals that can feel more Wild West than Pacific Coast. 

With more than 2 million visitors descending on UNESCO World Heritage–listed Angkor Archaeological Park each year, the small, nearby city of Siem Reap has become Cambodia's epicenter for tourism. Once a sleepy, rural town, Siem Reap now bursts with life (although you wouldn't necessarily know it during the day). There are a few sights in Siem Reap itself—notably Cambodian Landmine Museum and School and Angkor National Museum—but the magnificent Angkor temples are the obvious draw, and that's where most visitors spend their days. From watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat to wandering through the ancient Khmer palaces of Angkor Thom and dozens of other atmospheric ruins, you could easily spend three days exploring the vast archaeological site. If you ""temple out"" quickly, or just need to escape the heat for a few hours, book a massage at any number of Siem Reap's relaxing day spas. Or, sign up for a cooking class and learn to make a few Cambodian dishes. In the evenings, head to the vibrant Angkor Night Market for souvenir shopping and a tasting tour of Khmer street food. You might also catch a cultural performance of traditional music or dance. Night owls will find a few more entertainment options on the aptly renamed Pub Street. After the temples, the most popular day trips head south to Tonlé Sap, where lakeboat cruises set sail for the Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary, and glide past the floating villages of Kompong Phluk and Chong Khneas. 

With its space-age architecture, busy shopping malls, and skyscraper-lined waterfront, Singapore is one of Asia’s most modern cities, but there’s more to the city than its contemporary draws. Discover Singapore’s multi-cultural heritage in the Arab Quarter and Little India, stroll the illuminated waterfront of Marina Bay, tuck into tasty street food at the Chinatown night market, then escape the urban sprawl for the Botanic Gardens and the Gardens By the Bay. A short cable car ride away, Sentosa Island has something for the whole family, with theme parks, amusement rides, and plenty of beachfront entertainment. 

Sandwiched between Portugal to the west and France to the northeast, Spain entices visitors with its rich culture, history, and fabulous cuisine. The sun shines almost all year round, locals pass down traditional tapas recipes through the generations, and people greet each other with warmth and affection. Whether you visit for the food, the weather, the coast, or the history, Spain brims with adventures, all of which can be easily accessed by a host of private and small-group tours. In vibrant Barcelona and Madrid, walking and cycling tours lead you to top attractions such as the Prado National Museum and Gaudí's iconic La Sagrada Familia, and offer skip-the-line access as well as a guide who will help bring Spain's history to life. Food tours, wine-tasting experiences, and cooking classes teach you how tapas delicacies such as Iberian ham, salted cod, and rich chickpea stew complement Spanish reds and whites like Rioja, Montenovo Godello, and Serrana Macabeo. History buffs can explore medieval streets around Besalú, Tavertet, and Rupit on a group tour to see where castle ruins hide among rugged cliffs and dense forests, while culture vultures will want to take in the passion of flamenco, a traditional Spanish dance. Meanwhile, multi-day tours take travelers to far-flung destinations like Cordoba, Granada, Ronda, Seville, and Toledo, as well as the beautiful coast east of Malaga, where ancient olive groves thrive in the Spanish sunshine. 

One of the largest countries in Africa by area and population, South Africa entices travelers with stunning landscapes, incredible diversity, unique cuisine, and unforgettable experiences. Johannesburg is one of the main international gateways and home to the acclaimed Apartheid Museum, which is not far from Soweto township. You can visit both on guided tours, which include transportation and provide insider information from a guide. Cape Town on the western coast of the country is one of the oldest cities in South Africa. The iconic Table Mountain looms over the city, and the famous winemaking towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are in the nearby Cape Winelands. Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, sits just off the coast from Cape Town and is reachable by ferry. Durban, on the eastern coast, offers another look at South African life with its Zulu and Indian influences. Garden Route tours during the spring give visitors a chance to see a profusion of local flora in bloom, while safari tours are one of the most popular activities in South Africa, from the enormous Kruger National Park to smaller game reserves all over the country. Choose to visit on a day trip or opt for longer multi-day tours to enjoy game drives in search of Africa's "Big Five." South Africa is also a common starting point for tours that visit other nearby countries, such as Zimbabwe or Zambia to see the mighty Victoria Falls, or Botswana to explore Chobe National Park or the Okavango Delta. 

South America is a continent located in the southern hemisphere, bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Caribbean Sea to the north. It is the fourth largest continent in the world and is home to 12 countries, including Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Chile, and Venezuela. South America has a diverse geography, including the Andes Mountains, the Amazon rainforest, the Patagonian steppe, and the Atacama Desert. The continent is also known for its rich cultural heritage, with indigenous populations such as the Quechua, Aymara, and Mapuche, as well as the influence of Spanish and Portuguese colonization. The economy of South America is varied, with some countries relying heavily on natural resources such as oil, gas, and minerals, while others have more diversified economies. Agriculture is also an important industry in many countries, with crops such as coffee, soybeans, and bananas being major exports. South America is home to many vibrant cities, including Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, and Lima, which offer a mix of modern amenities and historical landmarks. The continent also has a rich cultural scene, with music and dance styles such as salsa, tango, and samba, and a diverse cuisine that includes dishes such as ceviche, empanadas, and feijoada.

Nicknamed the Land of Morning Calm, South Korea is a nation of extremes. Major cities like Seoul and Busan are abuzz with bright lights and a 24-hour lifestyle, while the pace of life in sleepy rural communities ticks by the same way it has for centuries. Seasonal weather changes see glorious sunshine, heavy monsoons, clear skies, and harsh humidity as the months pass, and South Koreans swing between their traditional hearty cuisine and the latest international fast-food chains. Travelers to South Korea can find new discoveries round every corner, with activities and adventures to suit all tastes and ages. In the capital city, Seoul, visitors can explore UNESCO World Heritage–listed landmarks such as Changdeokgung Palace and Gyeongbokgung Palace on sightseeing tours, and experience the bustling markets of Gwangjang, Insadong, or Namdaemun, where locals shop for everything from fresh produce to valuable antiques. Savor the diverse flavors of Korean cuisine on a food and craft beer walking tour, or visit the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) where the tension between North and South Korea is palpable. In the countryside outside Seoul and Busan, day-trippers can rub shoulders with locals along popular hiking trails around Mt. Geumgangsan, Mt. Hallasan, and Mt. Taebaeksan, or relax in sunshine as the waves roll in on Jeju Island, South Korea's popular paradise retreat. 

Travelers to the Scandinavian country of Sweden could be forgiven for arriving in Stockholm and never wanting to leave, but there's much to explore beyond the chic, history-drenched capital city made up of 14 islands. Sure, Stockholm is a blockbuster: sleek, modern, with plenty of Scandinavian design, oodles of cultural attractions, an impressive palace on the waterfront, and the medieval Gamla Stan—start with a walking, bike, or bus tour to get your bearings. But it's easy to get out in the Stockholm archipelago from there and it's worth the trip. The string of more than 30,000 islands, islets, and rocks is ripe for exploring, and its contents range from tourist-centric towns to uninhabited, unnamed rocks emerging from the sea. Gothenburg is Sweden's second city and is home to highlights such as Lilla Bommen, the Maritime Museum and Aquarium, Feskekörka fish market, and Liseberg amusement park, which are accessible by hop-on hop-off bus and boat tours. Moving north into central and northern Sweden uncovers a forested, farmed landscape that's sparsely populated. Swedes take full advantage of this terrain, regularly engaging in active pursuits such as cycling, fishing, boating, skiing, and foraging for the natural bounty that is the foundation of sophisticated Scandinavian farm-to-table cuisine. 

Sydney makes a brilliant first impression with its spectacular harbor and beaches. On second glance, you’ll find a wealth of outdoor activities, with diverse art, music, and food rivaling any global city. 

Be it portion sizes, rugged landscapes, or cowboy hats, everything is bigger in Texas. The state offers an abundance of country culture mixed with modern metropolises, ghost towns, and even a replica of the Eiffel Tower topped with a cowboy hat in Paris, Texas (just outside Dallas). San Antonio's River Walk winds through the city, and Dallas' sprawling skyline is dominated by the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. Meanwhile, hip Austin combines award-winning barbecue and a sizzling live music scene; Houston reveals the history of space travel; and Big Bend National Park affords incredible photo opportunities with its striking landscapes. 

Long holding the title of Southeast Asia's most popular vacation spot, Thailand is paradise-by-numbers with its tropical islands, lush jungle, and sun-bleached sands. But it's not just the beaches that bring travelers back time and time again—Thailand's most enduring asset is its welcoming people. The capital of Bangkok, with its bustling streets, colorful night market, beautiful Buddhist temples, and the Grand Palace complex (home to the sacred Temple of the Emerald Buddha), is the obvious starting point. Just outside of the city, the ancient Siamese capital of Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while the Damnoen Saduak floating market offers a fascinating glimpse into traditional Thai life. In southern Thailand, beach lovers can set sail for Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand, where the surrounding islands offer ample opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving. Over on the Andaman Sea Coast, the sandy beaches and golden temples of Phuket are the precursor to the dramatic landscapes of Phang Nga Bay, James Bond Island, and the Phi Phi islands, where The Beach was filmed. Far from the beaches of the south, the sweeping highlands of northern Thailand mark out the borders with Laos and Myanmar. Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are the main destinations, where adventurous travelers can try white-water rafting, observe elephants, or join a trekking tour to explore the remote hill tribe villages. 

Cosmopolitan and culturally diverse, Toronto sits nestled on the banks of Lake Ontario. Visitors come from far and wide to experience its food, buzzing nightlife, and colorful festivals, though things quiet over the winter season—when heavy snows and plummeting temperatures push people to the ski slopes. Within the city limits, top Toronto attractions abound, such as the majestic castle of Casa Loma; CN Tower, the third tallest tower in the world; Dundas Square; Toronto Eaton Centre shopping mall; and the richly multicultural neighborhood of Kensington Market. Visitors will find plenty of shopping and sightseeing options—with guides on hand to shine a light on the region’s rich history. Travelers can take to the air by helicopter, spin through the streets on a bike or hop-on hop-off bus, or cruise the waves of Lake Ontario for fine views of the city skyline. The world-famous Niagara Falls is less than a two-hour drive around the shores of Lake Ontario on the border with the United States, and travelers using Toronto as a base can opt for a day tour with transportation for easy access. For something a little more sedate, delve into the wilderness on an Algonquin Park canoe tour. You can fine native bears, beavers, and moose in their natural habitats; swim in crystal-clear lakes; and discover the best of the Ontario wilderness—all within reach of bustling Toronto. 

England is a small yet mighty country brimming with culture, history, and charm. London, the jewel of England’s architectural crown, reigns supreme over the south and enjoys a close proximity to the 5,000-year-old Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath. Elsewhere, Oxford and Cambridge encompass intellectual grandeur; York’s Gothic abbey exudes a ghostly ambience; and coastal gems such as Brighton, Dover, and Cornwall offer family-friendly attractions and the chance to visit Britain’s beaches. Whether you want to experience the bright lights of London, the tranquil beauty of the Lake District, or the deep-rooted history of English cities, England’s cultural diversity offers something for everyone. 

While exploring this western seaport city in Canada’s British Columbia, don’t be surprised if you stumble onto a film set. Nicknamed Hollywood North, Vancouver has become the backdrop for countless films and television shows. For observation of a different kind, the Museum of Anthropology houses exhibits featuring First Nations artifacts, while bay views are best seen from the urban rain forest of Stanley Park. And for those seeking the slopes, venture north to Whistler, home to one of the largest ski resorts in North America. 

Known for their snorkeling, hiking, and watersports opportunities, the Caribbean trio of US Virgin Islands serve as an ideal destination for outdoor adventure—choose the island that suits you best or book a private tour to hit them all. Sightseeing tours in St. Thomas give visitors the chance to explore bustling Charlotte Amalie, Coral World Ocean Park, and idyllic Magens Bay. Meanwhile, boat tours allow easy access to St. John, home to the nearly untouched Virgin Islands National Park and an abundance of sea turtles. And just off tiny St. Croix sits Buck Island, where you can kayak through a mangrove lagoon.