The Quirky Traveller Top Ten Travel Destinations 2011
At this time of year many of us are planning holidays, short breaks, trips and big adventures for the coming year. Here, in reverse order, are my Top Ten suggestions to intrigue and inspire you to get out and explore more of our quirkilicious planet.
10. Lithuania: Relatively new to the tourist trail, this country is slowly emerging from a very colourful past to take its rightful place in the European travel itineries. With its age-old traditions, medieval towns and villages, breath-taking landscapes and friendly, hospitable people, it has everything the discerning traveller is looking for.
9. Boracay, The Phillippines: simply one of the loveliest beach destinations in the world. White sandy beaches overhung with palm trees, the sea every shade of blue imaginable, laid-back charming people and an island so small you can walk its length before breakfast. The perfect get-away to relax and remember what life is really all about.
Boracay, the Philippines
8. Minnesota, USA: The BBC recently showed a fascinating documentary 'The Bear Family & Me' which highlighted this region as a must-see for lovers of the outdoors, nature at its finest and one of the best places in the world to discover more about the magnificent black bear.
7. Venice, Italy: No excuses for including this magical place. Everyone should visit Venice at least once in their lives. Take a stroll round the back streets, gaze up at crumbling palaces, find the most out of the way trattoria, escape from the heat into one of the many churches on every corner - and do the full-on tourist bit with a gondola ride and a coffee at Florian's as you watch the world pass by on St Mark's Square...
6. Kinsale, Co Cork, Ireland: No-one really needs a reason to visit this part of Ireland, but the quaint fishing village has a cosmopolitan air that certainly adds to its appeal. Near the vibrant city of Cork, amongst some of the loveliest scenery in the country, Kinsale is famous for its diverse culinary delights and its excellent sailing. The village has colourful Dutch-style buildings, fantastic restaurants, welcoming bars and quirky shops, an old fort and, of course, the Irish 'craic'. Great any time of the year.
5. Leptis Magna, Libya: Maybe for the more adventurous traveller as Libya is not the easiest place to visit, but this impressive Roman city in North Africa is one of the marvels of the ancient world. A recent visitor said "The astonishingly well-preserved splendour of the city, with its triumphal arches, columns, harbour, amphitheatre, circus, theatre, market, baths, palaestra, temples, basilica and gigantic forum modelled on Rome, led to it being listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1982." Experience the warmth and vibrancy of Libyan hospitality and explore new vistas.
4. Rotarua, New Zealand: Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe is its Maori name and that culture permeates the area as much as the smell of sulphur. Boiling hot steams escapes the earth at every opportunity, from tiny cracks in the formal English-style gardens to enormous geysers shooting high into the air in the geo-thermal park. There is so much to do here for all the family; some of New Zealand's most spectacular scenery and adrenalin-fuelled activities are right on the doorstep.
3. Abersoch, Wales: This tiny seaside village comes alive in the summer months as tourists young and young-in-spirit turn up to surf, swim, BBQ and sail around this delightful coastline. The mountains of Snowdonia provide a powerful backdrop with loads of places to visit to suit all ages and interests. A nearby favourite is Italianate Portmeirion, designed and built by the very eccentric Sir Clough William-Ellis, the setting for the cult TV series 'The Prisoner'.
2. Western Turkey: For anyone interested in the origins of European civilisation, this area is a treasure-trove of delight. There are also great seaside resorts with gorgeous beaches, luxury hotels and quality restaurants, some of the best spa treatments in the world, exotic bazaars and traditional markets. The Temple to Apollo at Didyma, the Library of Celcus at Ephesus, Lycian Tombs, hot springs at Pamukkale, a leisurely cruise from Fethiye ... and so much more.
Aphrodisias Amphitheater, Turkey
1. The Lake District, Cumbria, England: Make 2011 the year discover an area that's inspired many of the world's greatest writers and artists to produce some of their best work. Our quaint villages, beautiful lakes and rivers, soft hills and challenging mountains, historic sites, vibrant cultural events, welcoming old pubs, top-class restaurants and quality accommodation were a few of the reasons the Lake District was voted 'Best Destination' in Virgin's 2010 Responsible Tourism Awards. The loveliest place in all the world - but then I would say that, wouldn't I - it's my back yard!
Zoe Dawes is the Quirky Traveller Editor for Wandering Educators.
For more Quirky Traveller Tales or to get in touch, visit http://quirkytraveller.wordpress.com
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