Consider a city break this year to make your summer vacation sizzle with exciting activities.
Most people travel in summer to get away from it all. They want to be close to nature, by the ocean, or in the mountains, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and modern communications. But while city folk are scurrying out to the country and seashore, it’s a great time for the rest of us to take advantage of urban city life– where great restaurants and bars are open until the early hours of the morning and life in the city is exciting!
So when I think about a vacation hotspot where I can enjoy the rush of city life, I look for places where there are activities to do during the day and at night, places where things are hopping, happening and entertaining for an urban jungle adventurer like me (sometimes!).
Here are 5 of the world’s most idyllic destinations for city loving travelers:
New York City, USA – New York City, especially Manhattan, has always been a popular destination for those who like day and night life.
During the day — You can visit one of the many famous landmarks: The Empire State building, the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Chinatown, Little Italy, Soho, Greenwich Village or Central Park. New York also has premier museums scattered around town and let’s not forge the boutiques on famous 5th Avenue. You can be walking for hours and not feel it, but be sure to wear some comfortable shoes! Most travelers will find New York a fashion mecca, a shopping haven and an entertainment powerhouse.
At night– The city comes alive with restaurants, bars, clubs and theaters. There are so many different venues to cater all sorts of interests you’ll have a challenge making a choice. One thing’s for sure: The “City that Never Sleeps” is anything but dull.
Paris, France –The City of Light, Love, Fine Art and Cuisine.
During the day — Forget taxis, buses and the metro! Try to walk the boulevards and get lost. You can’t imagine how many beautiful things you will discover while walking around unfamiliar streets. Hidden parks, surprising architectural treasures– there are always interesting street scenes around every corner. Paris is also known as the city where artists from all over the world are drawn to, and it is manifested by the many museums all over town; The Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Musée Picasso, Musée Rodin to mention just a few. There are gardens to visit, the Eiffel Tower, famous churches like the Notre Dame and the Sacré-Coeur and haunts made famous by writers, poets and painters.
At night – You understand why Paris is called The City of Light as every monument is wonderfully illuminated; there are small restaurants in every quarter of the city, bars and bistros at every corner. French food has no need for advertising. It has long been the leader in culinary arts.
Tel Aviv, Israel – You’d think this is a crazy place for a vacation but it’s definitely nothing like you see in the news. In Tel Aviv, people like to live as if there’s no tomorrow and celebrate the mundane.
During the day — You can go to the beach, get a tan and enjoy people watching. You can visit museums and see the rest of Israel with short day trips.
At night — Tel Aviv is known to be a cultural center, with many theaters, orchestras, operas and ballets. They say there are more bars in Tel Aviv than synagogues and the Israelis are known for their innovations. It seems every tiny place can be made into a bar or a restaurant. The Israelis also have a passion for travel and discovery. You’ll find different kinds of restaurants with ethnic food from all over the world accepting reservations up to 1AM. The Slogan of Tel-Aviv is “The City That Never Stops.”
Madrid, Spain – Madrid is considered one of the top European destinations for art lovers and (surprise!) financial institutions. Similar to Paris, it has been always known as an art center.
During the day – You can marvel at the historic architecture all around you. As far as art is concerned, The Golden Triangle of Art is the best known museum, located along the Paseo del Prado and comprising of 3 museums. I recommend a visit to the Reina Sofia Museum which displays Picasso’s famous mural Guernica. You can even see bull fighting in Las Ventas – the world’s center for bullfighting. The Season of the Bulls begins in March and ends in October. For sports fans, Madrid is the home of one of the most famous soccer teams – Real Madrid.
At night – The nightlife is one of the biggest attractions of Madrid, with tapas bars, cocktail bars, clubs, jazz lounges and flamenco theaters. In the neighborhoods of Bilabo, Tribunal, Aticha and Alonso Martines, among others, you’ll see plenty of domestic and international tourists looking to have good time. The Spaniards love to eat and drink out, and the restaurants are full of life and live music.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands – For those who haven’t been to Amsterdam, the first thing that comes to mind are clogs, tulips and windmills. I had that premise too. But for those who have already visited there, it’s easy to see that all our assumptions are misguided. There are hundreds of interesting places to explore.
During the day — You can lose yourself in the maze of canals crisscrossing the city. In the pockets of land that their network creates, you will find inviting shops, galleries and cafes. You can do like the Dutch do and get on a bike to see the city. Stop by kiosks that sell raw herring and other fish as a snack between meals, and visit the Old Masters museums in a place where it used to be called the center of European art; Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals or Van Gogh are some of the most famous Dutch painters who have museums dedicated to their works.
At night — Visit one of the many bistros and discover the multi-ethnic nature of the city. Indonesian food is one of the most popular cuisines since Indonesia was once a Dutch colony. There are just far too many things to discover in Amsterdam and it doesn’t always involve going to their famous Red Light District or checking out marijuana cafes.
About The Author: Tess Pajaron is part of the team behind Open Colleges, a TAFE Course provider in Australia. She is a frequent traveler to many different countries and loves to explore.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons, #1 William Warby, #2 Vana Teofilo, #3 Ana Paula Hirama, #4 San Roman, Jorge E, #5 Peror Avi