Top 10 Cities to Add to Your Travel Bucket List in 2024
Top 10 Cities to Add to Your Travel Bucket List in 2024 - Rome - The Eternal City Calls
It's impossible to walk through Rome's ancient streets and not feel like you've stepped back in time. From the mighty Colosseum to the Baroque Trevi Fountain, remnants of the days of emperors and gladiators surround you. Beyond the ruins, Rome thrums with la dolce vita energy; scooters zoom down cobblestone alleys while neighborhood trattorias tempt you inside. This intoxicating blend of past and present makes Rome an essential stop on any Europe itinerary.
One of the best ways to explore the historic city center is on foot. Wind through the ruins of the Roman Forum, once the pulsing heart of the ancient city. Pause to imagine the speeches given at the Rostra and visualize the vestiges of temples slowly being reclaimed by grass and ivy. Move on to the epic Colosseum, the site of gladiatorial battles and wild animal hunts during the days of the Roman Empire. Though much of the original structure is gone, what remains inspires awe.
After exploring ancient Vestiges, head to the Vatican to marvel at St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo's frescoes on the chapel's ceiling and rear altar wall never cease to impress. Don't miss the views from the top of St. Peter's dome - on a clear day, you can see across Rome's sea of terracotta rooftops.
Beyond the big-name sights, lose yourself in Rome's intimate neighborhood piazzas. Stop at a cafe for a caffeine jolt or grab a cone of gelato for an afternoon pick-me-up. When hunger strikes, sit down for a leisurely lunch at a trattoria. With dishes like cacio e pepe, carbonara, and amatriciana on offer, you can't go wrong.
As the sun sinks toward the horizon, make your way to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, two of Rome's most iconic and photogenic spots. Toss a coin into Trevi's waters to ensure you'll return to Rome again one day. There's nowhere quite like it.
What else is in this post?
- Top 10 Cities to Add to Your Travel Bucket List in 2024 - Rome - The Eternal City Calls
- Top 10 Cities to Add to Your Travel Bucket List in 2024 - Paris - Romance and Art in the City of Light
- Top 10 Cities to Add to Your Travel Bucket List in 2024 - Tokyo - Futuristic and Traditional Japan
- Top 10 Cities to Add to Your Travel Bucket List in 2024 - Cape Town - Dramatic Nature and Urban Chic
- Top 10 Cities to Add to Your Travel Bucket List in 2024 - Prague - Fairytale Architecture in the Heart of Europe
- Top 10 Cities to Add to Your Travel Bucket List in 2024 - Havana - Vintage Cars and Caribbean Vibes
- Top 10 Cities to Add to Your Travel Bucket List in 2024 - Marrakech - Exotic Moroccan Allure
- Top 10 Cities to Add to Your Travel Bucket List in 2024 - Reykjavik - Natural Wonders in Iceland's Cool Capital
Top 10 Cities to Add to Your Travel Bucket List in 2024 - Paris - Romance and Art in the City of Light
Paris seduces visitors with her winding cobblestone streets, iconic monuments, and timeless romance. This walkable city packs an astonishing number of attractions into her petite confines, making her a must-see on any Europe itinerary.
A stroll down the Champs-Élysées is de rigueur for first-time visitors. This famous boulevard stretches from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde, providing stellar people watching and glitzy shopping opportunities. For more intimate explorations, get lost in the charming lanes of Montmartre. Wander past cafés, patisseries, and tiny toy shops before ascending the steps to the iconic basilica Sacré-Cœur. Enjoy panoramic views across Paris from its lofty perch.
Of course, no trip to Paris is complete without seeing the Eiffel Tower. Ascend via steps or elevator for Instagram-worthy vistas. After dark, watch as the tower erupts in sparkling lights each hour. For more excellent views, climb the towers of Notre Dame Cathedral or ascend to the top of the Pompidou Center.
In addition to landmarks, Paris overflows with world-class museums. The Louvre houses masterpieces like the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo amid palatial corridors. Seeking something more intimate? Musee d'Orsay contains Impressionist and post-Impressionist gems in a striking former rail station.
Beyond museums, Paris cradles charming neighborhoods made for meandering. Stroll the Latin Quarter's vibrant student scene before descending into the Catacombs' eerie ossuary tunnels. Meander the historic Marais district's narrow medieval lanes lined with restaurants and boutiques. For the ultimate Parisian market, explore Rue Mouffetard, overflowing with produce, cheese, charcuterie, and more.
Of course, no discussion of Paris is complete without mentioning cuisine. This moveable feast offers pastries, cheese, wine, and classic dishes like coq au vin, cassoulet, and steak frites. Grab a flaky croissant and cafe au lait from a corner patisserie for breakfast. Lunch at a bustling brasserie before indulging in an afternoon crepe. As the sun sets, live your Hemingway fantasy at a dimly lit cafe with a bottle of red wine and plate of fromage. With so many temptations, it's easy to eat your way through this delicious city.
Top 10 Cities to Add to Your Travel Bucket List in 2024 - Tokyo - Futuristic and Traditional Japan
Tokyo dazzles visitors with a heady mix of the hyper-modern and deeply traditional. Soaring skyscrapers brush against tranquil temples while neon-lit signs illuminate tiny alleyways. This dichotomy between new and old creates an electric urban energy unlike anywhere else.
Don't let Tokyo's vast size intimidate you. The metro system makes navigating the megalopolis a breeze. Begin your explorations in Asakusa, Tokyo's old town, to experience traditional Japan. Visit the ancient Sensoji Temple, browsing the fragrant incense shops that line the atmospheric streets leading to its entrance. From there, wander down Nakamise Shopping Street, sampling Japanese street food like dango dumplings and taiyaki filled pancakes.
For a more contemporary scene, head to youthful Shibuya. Cross the iconic Scramble Intersection to experience the controlled chaos of crowds crisscrossing from all directions. Shoot photos with the retro Hachiko statue before getting lost in the trendy boutiques and restaurants of Cat Street and Center Gai. At night, Shibuya's neon-drenched signs and giant video billboards evoke Tokyo's futuristic side.
Don't miss Tokyo's lively izakaya pubs, where the after-work crowd unwinds over plates of yakitori, ramen, and chilled beer. Try Ichiran Ramen for their signature tonkotsu pork broth and Partitioned solo dining experience. For stunning city views, head to an upper-floor izakaya in Shinjuku's skyscraper district.
Beyond the neon cityscapes, tranquil green spaces offer moments of serenity. Meander through the traditional gardens of the Imperial Palace East Garden or find zen at the rock gardens of Ryōan-ji temple. Come spring, cherry blossom season transforms even concrete stretches into pink wonderlands.
While Tokyo dazzles with its modernity, traditional experiences still thrive. Start your day with a simple breakfast at a tiny cafe before heading to the tranquil Meiji Jingu shrine. Witness ritual Shinto weddings held on weekends as priests bless couples in traditional garb. Later, relax with a multicourse kaiseki meal served by kimono-clad waitresses in a tucked-away restaurant. Or unwind at a tiny neighborhood izakaya, chatting with locals over yakitori skewers and cold sake.
Top 10 Cities to Add to Your Travel Bucket List in 2024 - Cape Town - Dramatic Nature and Urban Chic
With its stunning natural setting, vibrant culture, and world-class cuisine, Cape Town captivates visitors. Dramatic mountains, white sand beaches, and turquoise waters form the backdrop for this cosmopolitan city. It's a beguiling blend of natural splendor, urban energy, and laidback attitude.
One of Cape Town's top attractions is Table Mountain, which looms over the city. Ride the cable car up to admire panoramic views of Cape Town and the surrounding landscape. Look out over the desaturated blues of the Atlantic seaboard, the purple-hued peaks of the Twelve Apostles, and the swaths of green that make up Table Mountain National Park. Descend and hike one of the park's trails for a close-up look at the area's incredible biodiversity, from colorful fynbos plants to cute dassies.
Down by the V&A Waterfront, hop aboard a boat to visit Robben Island. This UNESCO World Heritage site was once an apartheid-era prison holding Nelson Mandela. The informative tour brings South Africa's troubled past to life in a poignant way. Back on the mainland, wander through Cape Town's top museums, including the District Six Museum and the South African National Gallery.
As the sun fades, make your way to Long Street. The city's lively nightlife corridor draws revelers to its trendy bars, clubs, and restaurants. Sip a glass of crisp Chenin Blanc and savor contemporary cuisine fused with diverse African and Asian flavors. Seafood features prominently on menus, so be sure to try specialties like West Coast mussels, linefish, and south coast prawns.
Nearby Kloof Street and Bree Street offer more great dining and boutique shopping. Venture to the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock for the Saturday Neighbourgoods Market. Here food trucks and artisan stalls give you a taste of Cape Town's exploding creative side.
Top 10 Cities to Add to Your Travel Bucket List in 2024 - Prague - Fairytale Architecture in the Heart of Europe
Prague enchants visitors with its medieval lanes and fairytale architecture. Winding cobblestone alleys unspool past pastel-hued buildings adorned with Gothic spires and decorative stonework. Cross the iconic Charles Bridge under waving statues to enter the city's atmospheric Old Town. From Old Town Square's ornate Astronomical Clock to the hilltop Prague Castle, this is a city made for wandering.
Lose yourself in the crooked lanes of the Old Town, emerging onto spacious squares anchored by magnificent churches. Enter the soaring St. Vitus Cathedral within Prague Castle and gaze up at colorful stained glass illuminating the Gothic interior. Descend to stand before the tombs of Bohemian kings buried beneath the nave. Back outside, enjoy panoramic views over the terracotta rooftops and church spires of Staré Město from high atop the castle walls.
Meander along Nerudova Street's winding curve, pausing to appreciate the historic homes' imaginative door signs depicting everything from grapes to goblets. Pass through the towers framing near the castle entrance to enter Golden Lane, a row of tiny medieval houses now occupied by cozy shops and museums.
Cross over the iconic Charles Bridge to enter Malá Strana, home to baroque buildings and peaceful gardens. Climb the hill to Prague's most famous church, St. Nicholas, to admire the lavish Rococo interior and city views from its dome. Descend to wander the ornamental laneways leading to idyllic Kampa Park along the riverside.
Venture into Nove Mesto to uncover more architectural gems like the gilded Art Nouveau Municipal House and stately National Museum. The neighborhood's bustling Wenceslas Square pulses with shops and nightlife. Step inside one of Prague's classic beer halls to sip a cold pilsner under soaring ceilings etched with Art Nouveau flourishes.
Top 10 Cities to Add to Your Travel Bucket List in 2024 - Havana - Vintage Cars and Caribbean Vibes
Step back in time with a visit to lively Havana, Cuba. Here, mid-century American cars cruise past faded colonial facades and lively salsa music spills from open doors. Despite its vintage vibe, Havana thrums with infectious energy and Caribbean soul.
Wandering the atmospheric streets of Old Havana feels like a journey through history. Baroque cathedrals anchor lively plazas where locals chat, strum guitars, and play games of dominoes. Follow narrow lanes to discover hidden architectural gems, from neoclassical theaters to art deco buildings. Stop for a mojito at a breezy rooftop bar with views over the city and the sparkling sea beyond.
No Havana experience is complete without a classic car ride. These mid-century beauties, including bright pink Cadillacs and turquoise Chevys, have been kept running for decades thanks to mechanical ingenuity and makeshift part replacements. Hailing one of these photogenic rides lets you cruise the Malecón seaside drive in vintage style. For the full experience, make sure your convertible's top is down!
Beyond Old Havana, destinations like the historic University of Havana campus offer a glimpse into Cuban life. Stroll through the central courtyard, where students read under shady porticoes. Peer into lecture rooms adorned with oversized portraits of Che Guevera and Fidel Castro, which speak to Cuba's complex history. Stop for a strong coffee at one of the campus cafes frequented by serious-looking students.
Later, head to the late 18th-century fortress Castillo de San Carlos de la Cabaña. Sunset is the ideal time to visit, when the evening cannons are fired ceremoniously as the sun sinks towards the horizon. The sweeping bay views from the fortress walls provide Instagram-worthy panoramas, with Havana's pastel towers glowing pink in the fading light.
When evening falls, thumping salsa music spills from open doorways all over Centro Habana, beckoning you inside for impromptu dance parties. Follow the sounds of bongos down lively streets before joining in at a steamy late-night dance club. Here, you can try your hand at salsa dancing alongside friendly locals more than happy to teach you the moves.
Top 10 Cities to Add to Your Travel Bucket List in 2024 - Marrakech - Exotic Moroccan Allure
Marrakech beckons with ancient alleyways, vibrant souks, and exotic allure. Within the ochre walls of the medina, donkey carts laden with mint and spices weave past Berber carpet stalls and spice vendors. Follow labyrinthine lanes as they unspool towards magnificent palaces and tranquil gardens. This intoxicating blend of new and old, frenetic energy and calm oasis, provides a feast for the senses unique to Marrakech.
Getting lost in the Marrakech medina's winding cobblestone souks provides an immersive introduction to Moroccan culture. Lively hawkers tempt you into tiny storefronts glowing with lanterns and gleaming metal teapots. Breathe deeply of the enticing aromas wafting from sacks of cumin, cinnamon sticks, dried chilies, and mounds of saffron. Keep an eye out for traditional babouche leather slippers, colorful hand-loomed carpets, and ornate silver teapots perfect for making mint tea the Moroccan way.
When the call to prayer echoes through the narrow passages, make your way to the Ben Youssef Madrasa, an ancient Koranic school beautifully decorated with carved cedar, stucco etching, and colorful mosaics. Marvel at the painstaking detail of the interior before heading into the attached Ali Ben Youssef Mosque to watch devotees washing at the central fountain.
As the sun sinks lower in the sky, make your way to Jemaa el-Fnaa, Marrakech's main square that transforms into a circus-like spectacle at night. Snake charmers play their pipes, trained monkeys wear tiny fezzes, and impromptu dance circles shake to drum beats. The air becomes scented with spices as food stalls fire up grills, tagines, and vats of snail soup. Grab a piping hot bowl of harira and a plate of grilled kebabs before ascending a rooftop cafe for panoramic views of the show below.
After the nonstop stimulation of the medina, wander through the tranquil oasis of the Jardin Majorelle, an enchanting jungle retreat. Follow curving paths through groves of bamboo, pools dotted with water lilies, and vivid bursts of bright blue buildings. Make time for a restorative mint tea at the on-site cafe, the perfect place to soak in the calm and vibrant color.
Top 10 Cities to Add to Your Travel Bucket List in 2024 - Reykjavik - Natural Wonders in Iceland's Cool Capital
With its striking setting along the Atlantic Ocean, Reykjavik charms visitors as a colorful capital surrounded by natural wonder. Just beyond the city limits, massive glaciers, thundering waterfalls, geothermal springs, and stark volcanic landscapes wait to be explored.
Start your natural explorations at Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site just outside Reykjavik. Walk along the rift valley marking the divergence of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates to stand with one foot on each continent. Meander wooden paths along the valley’s edge, watching for rainbows arcing through the mist of waterfalls cascading down the rocky walls. Hike up to Öxarárfoss falls to be drenched by the sheer power of the churning white waters.
Next make your way to Haukadalur valley, home to the Strokkur geyser which erupts dramatically every few minutes. Arrive early to secure a front-row view, then delight in the 100-foot vertical water show featuring a heart-stopping climax. Nearby, calm pools swirl with ethereal blue hues. As you stroll the valley, look for steam escaping through vents and bubbling mud pots reminiscent of a witch’s cauldron.
Of course, no trip to Iceland is complete without visiting the country’s most famous waterfall, Gullfoss. Here the wide Hvítá River tumbles 105 feet over two jagged rock tiers, producing mesmerizing cascades and a constant mist. For the most dramatic views, climb the staircase leading to an observation platform tucked almost underneath the second crashing tier. Prepare to be drenched by the drifting spray as you gaze upwards in awe.
Wrap up your explorations with a drive along the South Coast to see Reynisfjara Beach’s striking black volcanic sands and the basalt sea stacks at Vik’s Dyrholaey peninsula.along the way, stop to wander behind two-tiered Seljalandsfoss falls and watch chunks of ice float lazily by at Diamond Beach. End your route at Skaftafell glacier, part of immense Vatnajokull National Park, for guided glacier hikes across crevasse-riddled azure ice.