Since I got bitten by the travel bug a few years ago, I’ve been taking every opportunity to explore new places and experience new things. I’ve visited a few places here and there, and it’s hard for me to pick my favorites, but I’ve finally narrowed them down. So if you’re planning a holiday and looking for ideas, I’ve got a list of my top 10 holiday destinations, including what to visit and what to do. Here we go!
1. Sumbawa. Does this count as a holiday as I lived here for 5 years? Anyway, I left Sumbawa in 2005, and three years ago I went there for a holiday and it was a total bliss. It was the epitome of island life: sunshine, sandy beaches, fresh seafood, spectacular sunsets, and so on. It’s located next to Lombok Island, but while Lombok is now catching up with Bali in terms of tourism, Sumbawa stays as peaceful as it can be. It’s quite a hassle to get there (you have to fly to Lombok, then cross the Lombok Strait with a ferry to get to Sumbawa Island), but it’s definitely worth it. The highlight of my holiday was Pulau Bedil and Pulau Keramat, empty little islands on the north of Sumbawa. I spent a day on those two islands, and boy do I wish I’d spent more time there. I wrote more about it in here.
2. Bled & Ljubljana. I didn’t know much about Slovenia when I bought a ticket for the Easter break, so I didn’t have much expectation. And wow, it turned out that low expectation led to the biggest surprise, and the best holiday I’ve had. Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia, and it’s super tiny compared to other capitals, but that’s what makes it so great. It’s quaint and beautiful, and everything is within walking distance. My favorite places: the Triple Bridge, Ljubljana Castle, Vodnik Square, and Postojna Cave (it’s a bit outside Ljubljana, but definitely worth a visit. The most impressive and beautiful cave I’ve ever been to).
And Bled? Imagine a lake surrounded by the Alps, and in the middle of that lake, is a chapel on a tiny island. A walk on one side will lead you to Bled Castle, where you can see the lake from above. Bled is about 45 minutes ride from Ljubljana, and I suggest staying there for a night or two to really enjoy the scenic view.
3. York. Ah, York. Everything about this city is charming. From the York Castle, York Minster, the Shambles, Dean’s Park, anything. The highlights of my visit were tea at a small yet homey place (too bad I can’t remember the name), a scenic walk along the River Ouse, listening to an incredible busker playing the piano just outside the Minster, and a stroll around Dean’s Park.
4. Bruges. Dubbed as the Venice of the north for its canals, Bruges is an absolute beauty. It’s a quaint little town; a paradise for food lovers or whoever wants an escape from the busy life in the city. My favorite places include Bruges Markt, Belfry Tower, Town Hall, Liberty of Bruges, Minnewater, and Béguinage. Things you can’t miss: waffles with Belgian chocolate, mussels and frites, Belgian beer, and cruising along the canals.
5. Bath. Another quaint little town of England. It’s impossible not to love Bath, especially around Christmas. The Roman Bath and Bath Abbey are the main tourist attractions, and if you’re a fan of Jane Austen, don’t miss the Jane Austen Centre. The best way to enjoy this town is by walking, and I promise it won’t disappoint!
6. Füssen. Füssen made it to this list for a few reasons. First, its proximity to Neuschwanstein Castle (another favorite holiday of mine. Fairytale dreams come true!). Second, it’s beautiful in its humble way. Imagine a medieval town surrounded by the Alps, with shops that sell antiques and old restaurants that blend nicely with the aged buildings. A perfect destination for a weekend getaway.
7. Cornwall. I went to Cornwall on a road trip, and it was one of the best trips I’ve had. Cornwall is gorgeous; the seashore, the towns, the countryside. Everything is so laid-back here, and it’s the perfect way to unwind after a hectic week. My favorite places are St. Ives and Tintagel, without a doubt. And if you’re there, don’t forget to try the Cornish pasties!
8. Edinburgh. Edinburgh is everybody’s favorite, for the right reasons. It’s incredibly stunning, with the perfect mix of old and new AND buildings and nature. Some of my favorite places are the Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh Castle, Scottish National Gallery, and Calton Hill (including the National Monument of Scotland). If you fancy some tea and scones, try Clarinda’s Tearoom near the Scottish Parliament Building. The scones are to die for.
9. Yogyakarta. While Bali is well-known for its stunning beaches, leisure, and Hindu culture, Yogyakarta (Jogja for short) is something completely different. Located in Central Java, it’s rich of Javanese classic art and culture. Jogja has a lot to offer, among those are the nature, architectures, culture, and food. Some of my favorite places: Mount Merapi, Ullen Sentalu Museum, Borobudur Temple, Prambanan Temple, Keraton (the palace where the sultan and his family live), Alun-alun (town square), and Pasar Malioboro (Malioboro Market, for souvenirs and arts). For things to watch: wayang kulit (shadow puppet show) and the Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan Temple. Also, not to miss: traditional food. They’re absolutely divine.
10. Regensburg. I have a thing with medieval cities, so it really is no surprise that Regensburg is one of my favorites. It’s listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site for its medieval city center, and looking at the town, you’ll see it’s quite obvious. The Stone Bridge, the Regensburg Cathedral, St. Emmeram’s Abbey, and Porta Praetoria are among the most picturesque places here. Don’t forget to stroll around Kohlenmarkt and Altstadt for more experience in Regensburg. Last but not least, try the sausages with sauerkraut and mustard at Historische Wurstkuchl (Historic Sausage Kitchen). Have it with Radler, because killer sausages + Radler = heaven.
Happy holiday (planning)! :)