The Most Popular Travel Destinations in Africa


Cape Town, South Africa

Panorama of Cape Town, South Africa. The city beach against magnificent mountainskavram/ShutterstockCape Town is a rich tapestry of cultures, religions, flavors, and landscapes. The magnificent, flat-topped Table Mountain may be the star—and one of the most stunning hiking trails in the world—but it’s far from the only scenic spot. Case in point: Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Point Nature Reserve, and Green Point Urban Park. Of course, the Mother City is more than natural beauty, it’s also steeped in history. Bo-Kaap is dotted with colorful facades washed in shades of lilac, lime, magenta, and turquoise. And Robben Island, the former prison where Nelson Mandela served the majority of his sentence, is now a memorial and museum.

Don’t miss these cheery photos of the most colorful towns in the world.

Serengeti National Park

Lush green vegetation of Serengeti National park. Aerial view from the hill on Serengeti National park, TanzaniaSun_Shine/ShutterstockSerengeti National Park, in northern Tanzania, is known for its massive annual migration of wildebeests, gazelles, and zebras. It’s also (arguably) the most famous safari destination in the world. Each year, this spectacular setting draws upwards of 350,000 visitors to its grassy plains, savanna, hills, crocodile-infested rivers, and woodlands. And when it comes to accommodation, there are plenty of options inside the park, from luxury lodges to rustic and more budget-friendly campsites. Don’t miss these 11 unforgettable bucket list trips that won’t break the bank.

Marrakech, Morocco

Panoramic view of Marrakech or Marrakesh with the old part of town Medina and minaretSavvapanf Photo/ShutterstockMarrakech is a feast for the senses. Inside the rosy-hued pisé ramparts is the medina, a treasure trove of cobbled corridors, and crowded souks selling aromatic spices, hand-woven textiles, and bronze lanterns. Its beating heart, Djemaa el-Fna is a bustling square filled with food vendors, storytellers, and performers. The zellige-ornamented Ben Youssef Madrasa and Koutoubia Mosque are masterpieces of Islamic architecture. The “Red City” is also home to more than 800 riads (traditional Moroccan houses with central courtyards), many of which—El Fenn, Dar Darma, and Riad Jardin Secret to name a few—have been converted into tranquil respites for travelers looking to escape the frenetic pace. And you can even sleep under the stars at Royal Mansour.

Mahé, Seychelles

beach on Mahe island, SeychellesIakov Kalinin/ShutterstockDespite being the largest and most developed island in the Seychelles archipelago, Mahé hasn’t fallen victim to the pitfalls of over-tourism that plagues so many vacation hotspots. On the contrary, it retains the scenic beauty—white-sand shores, verdant rainforests, majestic mountains, and exotic flora—that makes it so appealing in the first place. Whether you opt to stay on a remote stretch of the west coast or near the vibrant capital of Victoria, you can’t go wrong when the destination is this amazing. If you have extra time, take a 35-minute flight to Desroches Islands. The Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, opening spring 2018, is the only resort on the coral island and is well worth the side trip. For other great getaway ideas, check out the beaches with the clearest water in the world.

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Johannesburg, South Africa

Skyline aerial view of skyscrapers in business district of Johannesburg - Architecture concept with modern buildings of skyline in South Africa biggest city with southafrican flag painted on wallsView Apart/ShutterstockJohannesburg is on the rise. Once defined by segregation, now by diversity and freedom of expression, new construction and urban-renewal projects are helping to reinvigorate the bustling metropolis. Maboneng is a shining example. This industrial precept turned hip neighborhood has emerged as a hub of art, entertainment, and culture. Of course, Johannesburg, like the rest of South Africa, can’t escape its past. Both the Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill serve as ever-present reminders of the very real and recent struggle to end segregation that existed until the early 1990s.

Sossusvlei, Namibia

Dead trees in Deadvlei, Sossusvlei, Namib Nauflutf National Park, Namib desert, Namibia.Hector Ruiz Villar/ShutterstockWe often think of sand as it relates to the beach, but Sossusvlei, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert, is one of the most striking stretches without an ounce of water in sight. Salt and clay pans surrounded by red dunes so tall they seem to meet the deep-blue sky make it Namibia’s most popular and widely photographed attraction. But beyond aesthetics, there’s adventure to be had, namely climbing the massive dunes—a feat not for the faint of heart or those with a fear of heights.

Fes, Morocco

Tanneries of Fes, Morocco, Africa Old tanks of the Fez's tanneries with color paint for leather, Morocco, AfricaLukasz Janyst/ShutterstockMorocco’s oldest city and cultural capital is steeped in ancient allure—much of it unchanged centuries later. Fes El Bali, the UNESCO-listed walled medina, is a maze of winding alleyways, blind turns, medieval Marinid architecture, lively souks, tanneries, and mosques. It remains the world’s largest car-free urban area. Fes is also an under-the-radar foodie destination: Dar Hatim is a wonderful family-run restaurant. Karima and Fouad’s welcome diners into their actual house for warm hospitality and the finest chicken pastilla you’ve ever tasted. Craving something utterly unique? Make a reservation at Nur. Each night, chef Najat Kaanache executes a wildly creative multi-course menu of contemporary twists on Moroccan classics.

Mauritius

 Mauritius island. beautiful Le Morne beachleoks/ShutterstockFew things do justice to this Eden on earth, save the words of Mark Twain: “Mauritius was made first and then heaven, heaven being copied after Mauritius.” (If ever there was a tourism slogan it would be that, right?) This island nation is as idyllic as described—and posher than perhaps you imagined. Among the lavish lodgings is Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, which promises contemporary sophistication, picture-perfect views, and plenty of privacy. Spend your days soaking up some rays at your five-star hotel or endeavor to try more active pursuits, such as snorkeling, surfing, kitesurfing, and horseback riding.

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Praslin, Seychelles

Anse Lazio beach at Praslin island, Seychelles Lucky-photographer/ShutterstockPraslin, the second largest island in the Seychelles, is beloved for its unspoiled shores, laid-back vibe, and luxurious resorts like Constance Lemuria—golf enthusiasts will enjoy the opportunity to play 18 holes on the championship course. Of all the beautiful beaches, none quite compare to Anse Lazio, a paradise of golden sands, turquoise waters, towering palm trees, and giant granite boulders. To the south is Praslin National Park, a forested nature preserve dominated by coco de mer and other endemic fauna. Discover these secret (and gorgeous) island escapes around the globe.

Nairobi National Park, Kenya

panoramic view from a herd of zebra's walking and grazin on a golden grassfield with the city of Nairobi on background, Kenyarjmiguel/ShutterstockLocated just seven miles south of the city center (so close you can actually see the towering skyscrapers in the distance) is Nairobi National Park, the world’s only game reserve within the precepts of a nation’s capital. Kenya’s first game reserve wins points for accessibility and abundant wildlife. It’s one of Africa’s most successful rhinoceros sanctuaries. Visitors can catch a glimpse of endangered black rhinos, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffalo, zebras, and more than 400 species of birds. There are also picnic areas, trails, and campsites.

Find out the destinations you need to go to in 2018.



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The Most Popular Travel Destinations in South America


Machu Picchu, Peru

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Machu Picchu is South America’s most iconic archaeological site. Situated high in the Andes, above the Sacred Valley, the sprawling mountaintop ruins of the ancient Inca civilization draw millions of visitors each year. Built in 1450 and abandoned a century later, the mysterious citadel continues to intrigue with its mortar-free construction—temples, towers, terraces, walls, and ceremonial stones. June through August is peak season, so plan accordingly. Looking for more thrilling locales? Check out these adventurous getaways around the globe.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazilwindwalk/Shutterstock While Americans may know it from the Frank Sinatra song “The Girl from Ipanema,” this city seduces with its beautiful beaches, majestic mountains, open-air markets, and pumping rhythms of the samba. It’s also famed for its 98-foot-tall Christ the Redeemer, the largest Art Deco statue in the world, and Carnaval, an annual festival of food, drink, music, dance, and festooned merriment.

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena-columbiasteve estvanik/Shutterstock

This colorful, Colombian port city tantalizes travelers with its vivacious spirit, flavorful cuisine, and lingering colonial charm. The heartbeat of Cartagena is its walled Old Town—preserved Spanish forts, narrow cobblestone lanes, 16th-century residences cast in sun-kissed hues, carved wooden balconies with cascading bougainvillea, grand churches, quaint cafes, and lively squares filled with musicians, dancers, and artisans selling traditional woven bags and other crafts. Bonus: You don’t have to break the bank to visit. Colombia is one of the best budget-friendly travel destinations.

 

Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Buenos Aires is intoxicating. This cosmopolitan capital pulsates with an indescribable energy. And when the sun goes down, things really heat up at the milongas (tango halls) and boliches (dance clubs). Equally irresistible as the late-night boogie sessions is the architecture—from Belle Epoque landmarks like Casa Rosada and Teatro Colón to the Kavanagh Building, a towering Art Deco skyscraper, to the florid facades of Caminito in La Boca—a visual storytelling of the city’s rich history. Don’t miss these the secrets to vacationing cheap, according to travel agents.

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Cusco, Peru

Cuscocge2010/Shutterstock Trekking to Machu Picchu? Cusco is worth making a pit stop. Located 11,000 feet above sea level—3,000 feet higher than Machu Picchu—this former Incan capital delivers a major dose of tradition and old-world charm. Carve out some time for La Catedral, Sacsayhuamán, Coricancha, and Santo Domingo Convent. Feeling the effects of the high altitude? Sip a cup of cocoa leaf tea to help acclimate to the elevation. And don’t forget to follow these tips to help reduce your risk of headaches.

 

Lima, Peru

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Lima has something for everyone. Where else can you find pre-Columbian temples and ancient Inca archaeological sites alongside Spanish colonial structures and modern high rises? Fans of ceramics should head to Museo Larco, in the Pueblo Libre district. There’s also many independent galleries and an emerging contemporary art scene. Hungry? Lima is among the top gourmet destinations. Plus, Peru is surprisingly affordable.

Santiago, Chile

ChileDaniel Indiana/Shutterstock

Located in Chile’s central valley and surrounded by the Andes, this resilient city is as picturesque as it is politically, financially, and culturally important. Your first stop: Parque Metropolitano, better known as Cerro San Cristóbal. Crowned by the towering Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepción statue, it also boasts trails, public swimming pools, botanical gardens, and a zoo. Next up: Plaza de Armas, the main square, for a look at neoclassical landmarks including Palacio de la Real Audiencia de Santiago and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Poetry lovers will want to visit La Chascona, the former house-turned-museum of Pablo Neruda.

Lake Titicaca

TiticacaGustavo Postal/Shutterstock This gigantic, 3,200-square-mile Andean lake borders Bolivia in the east and Peru in the west. At 12,500 feet above sea level, it’s the highest navigable lake in the world, and is recognizable for its reflective waters, rare wildlife—such as the giant frog, which can reach a foot in length and weigh up to six pounds. Don’t miss the floating islands woven by the ancient Uros people from tortora reeds that grow in the shallows; the islands are prized for their splendor and pre-Colombian heritage. Take a peek at these heart-shaped islands and lakes around the world.

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São Paulo, Brazil

Sao-paulo-brazilDiego Grandi/Shutterstock

This massive metropolis is home to 21 million people, making it one of the most populous cities in the world. You can trace São Paulo’s fascinating history through its architecture: The colonial Pátio do Colégio church, neo-gothic São Paulo Cathedral, the 1929 Martinelli skyscraper, and the modern curved Edifício Copan. Do some retail therapy at the shops along Avenida Paulista. Spend an afternoon exploring Parque do Ibirapuera, a massive urban park with leisure areas, monuments, museums, and music halls. Pro tip: Avoiding these travel mistakes will ensure you have the most awesome trip ever.

Bogotá, Columbia

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Once more synonymous with drugs and crime than vacations, Bogotá is on the upswing. Recent years have brought a revival in tourism. On the itinerary: Explore La Candelaria, the cobbled historic quarter, lined with colonial-era landmarks and museums including the Museo del Oro, acclaimed for its amazing collection of pre-Columbian gold. Refuel with a hearty bowl of ajiaco (a chicken-and-potato soup) at La Puerta Falsa. Book a Bogotá Graffiti Tour to see the eye-catching street art murals. Visit the ritzy Zona Rosa district for upscale shopping and hip nightlife.

Mendoza, Argentina

ArgentinaPaco Forriol/Shutterstock Set in the heart of Argentina’s wine country, east of Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, Mendoza is an oenophile’s dream. The downtown is distinguished by its wide avenues, Art Deco buildings, and cultural attractions, such as Plaza Independencia and Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno. Vino enthusiasts will want to venture outside the city to the nearby bodegas (wineries) to taste world-class Malbecs. Brush up on these essential wine terms before you go.

Iguazú National Park, Argentina

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This national park spans 190 square miles of subtropical rainforest in the northeast of Argentina. Its star, Iguazú Falls is among the world’s most incredible waterfalls. This unspoiled paradise also delights with its hiking trails and exotic wildlife. If you’re lucky, you might even spot jaguars and toucans! Love the great outdoors? There’s no better way to appreciate Mother Nature than spending a night under the stars at these incredible campsites.

 

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The Most Popular Travel Destinations in Canada


Vancouver

VancouverDan Breckwoldt/Shutterstock

Located in the southwest corner of British Columbia, and surrounded by water on three sides, Vancouver is an irresistibly vibrant, diverse, and verdant coastal city. Its mild climate and natural beauty lure visitors year round. This picturesque seaport also has thriving art, music, and culinary scenes. On the itinerary: Explore Stanley Park, a 1,000-acre urban oasis featuring lush forests, beaches, and trails. Stroll through VanDusen Botanical Garden, take a thrilling walk across the Capilano Suspension Bridge, visit the storied sites from the 2010 Winter Olympics, and enjoy a sophisticated evening at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. The one draw back? Vancouver is expensive. In fact, it was voted the least affordable city in North America.

Whistler

WhistlerAdam Melnyk/shutterstock The Sea to Sky Highway, otherwise known as Hwy 99, connects Vancouver to Whistler. Famed for its awe-inspiring mountain landscape, world-class skiing and snowboarding, storybook pedestrian village, and sprawling resorts, this alpine paradise is the perfect vacation for people who love winter activities. You might be surprised to learn that the number of summer vacationers now rivals that of their cold-weather counterparts. No doubt due to Whistler’s prominence as a major mountain biking destination.

Victoria

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One of the overlooked jewels of Canadian tourism, Victoria, a hop, skip, and a jump away from Vancouver, balances a colonial past with a contemporary present. A guided tour is a great way to take in the neo-baroque British Columbia Parliament Buildings. The stately Craigdarroch Castle is another must. And you could easily spend an entire day strolling around its pictorial Inner Harbour. Just make sure to leave enough time for Butchart Gardens and Goldstream Provincial Park.

Tofino

surferEB Adventure Photography/Shutterstock

Surfing and rainforests may not be the first things that come to mind when you think about the Great White North, but Tofino is about to change all that. Set at the tip of the Esowista Peninsula in Clayoquot Sound in British Columbia, this hippie haven turned relaxed resort town surprises and delights with its beautiful beaches, lakes, inlets, west coast-style eateries, quaint cabins, and stellar swells. Here are nine more unique and unexpected surfing spots.

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Québec City

QuebecDiego Grandi/Shutterstock Québec City is the epicenter of French Canadian culture, not to mention one of North America’s oldest settlements. And with that comes history—400 years worth! A UNESCO World Heritage site, Old Québec conjures the nostalgic charm of Europe with its narrow cobblestone streets, 17th-century homes, churches, cafés, bistros, manicured squares, and heritage landmarks such as Château Frontenac. Before you go, brush up on these essential French phrases.

Montreal

MontrealProDesign studio/Shutterstock

Situated on an island in the Saint Lawrence River, Montréal is the largest city in Québec. Considered the cultural capital of Canada, this French-speaking metropolis is a sophisticated urban escape with a romantic, European-esque vibe. It’s also blessed with an exciting food scene, chic boutiques, galleries, museums, and marvelous architecture. No passport? No problem. These domestic destinations will have you feeling as though you skipped across the Atlantic.

Ottawa

OttawaMaurizio De Mattei/Shutterstock

Canada’s attractive capital, Ottawa, impresses with its Victorian architecture, acclaimed museums, and public parks. The core of downtown is Parliament Hill, where you’ll find the grand National Gallery. The tree-lined Rideau Canal offers boating in the summer and a chance to glide across its seasonal (frozen) stage in the winter. Love spinning across the ice? Take a peek at these stunning natural skating rinks.

Banff

BanffJeff Whyte/Shutterstock Nestled amid the Canadian Rockies within the sprawling Banff National Park, this tiny resort town has something for everyone. Downtown is distinguished by its scenic beauty, lively nightlife, boutiques, restaurants, and museums. Those with a taste for luxury will love the five-star lodges, spas, and fine dining. While proximity to mountain recreation is sure to appeal to outdoorsy types. And the Banff Hot Springs are an all-around crowd-pleaser. If you fancy a soothing soak, check out these gorgeous hot springs around the globe.

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Lake Louise

LakeBGSmith/Shutterstock

A 40-minute drive northwest on the Trans-Canada Highway from Banff is Lake Louise with its emerald waters, majestic glaciers, and rugged peaks. Travelers can take advantage of superb skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating in the winter and canoeing, fishing, and hiking in the summer. And when it comes to where to stay, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is in a league of its own. (Can’t wait until the weather warms up? Here are seven stunning U.S. trails to hike right now.)

Toronto

TorontoLucky photographer/Shutterstock

Peter Ustinov once characterized Toronto as “New York run by the Swiss” and Margaret Atwood called it “Canada’s Big Apple.” Such descriptions paint a picture of this dynamic, multicultural city its modern skyline dominated by the CN Tower, the tallest freestanding structure in the Western Hemisphere. Over 140 languages are spoken and the cuisine is equally diverse. And Toronto is the headquarters of major sports franchises such the Blue Jays, Maple Leafs, and Raptor, which means you can almost always catch a great game.

Calgary

CalgaryDarko HD Photography/Shutterstock Calgary is a sort of magical mix of cosmopolitan and cowboy. The center of Canada’s oil industry, it’s teeming with corporate offices, towers, and skyscrapers. And with upwards of 1.2 million residents, it has the highest population in Alberta. Even with all this growth, Cowtown still retains its traditional stetson-esque spirit. For a true western experience, head to Ranchman’s Cookhouse and Dancehall, where you can kick up your heels to country tunes and try your luck at the mechanical bull. Or time your trip to the annual Calgary Stampede, a rodeo and farm festival held every July. While you’re there, consider making the three-hour drive to Edmonton, among the most popular travel destinations for 2018, according to Airbnb.

Niagara Falls

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Niagara Falls beckons with its rushing waters and mesmerizing mist. One of the coolest places to watch this hypnotic natural wonder is the 520-foot Skylon Tower, which touts indoor/outdoor observation decks and a revolving dining room. For an up-close vantage point, don your poncho and head down to the subterranean caverns behind the falls. And while the splendor of the iconic cascades is certainly the biggest draw, there’s plenty to see and do beyond on dry land. Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory, the Bird Kingdom, and Niagara SkyWheel are just a few of the family-friendly attractions. Don’t miss these vacations that kids of all ages will enjoy.

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The Most Popular Travel Destinations in Central America


Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

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Set on the southern tip of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, Santa Teresa has unspoiled beaches, surf breaks, consistent 80-degree temps, and laid-back vibe. Beyond riding the waves and soaking up some sun, vacationers can destress with ocean-view yoga classes and holistic spa treatments. Hungry? It’s all about eating clean, a philosophy that comes to life through the many local seafood joints and fresh juice shops.

If wellness is a priority, check out these healthy retreats to kick-start—and keep—a new program.

Ambergris Caye, Belize

Belizejames bommarito/Shutterstock Belize’s largest island, Ambergris Caye, is the crown jewel of its tourism industry. And its main draw is the Belize Barrier Reef. A quarter-mile offshore, it boasts some of the most magnificent snorkeling and dive sites in the world, including the protected Hol Chan Marine Reserve—just a 10-minute boat ride from the main town of San Pedro. The attitude is laid-back—golf carts are the preferred mode of transportation—and you can just as easily spend your days popping into Belizean art galleries and souvenir shops as you can lounging on the white sand. Here are the amazing beaches to add to your bucket list ASAP.

León, Nicaragua

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One of Nicaragua’s oldest cities, as well as its political and intellectual center, León is brimming with history, culture, and architectural grandeur. From the colonial-era buildings to the awe-inspiring Basílica de la Asunción (the largest cathedral is the largest in Central America), its faded beauty knows no bounds. Museum and art galleries abound. The energy—youthful, dynamic, and deeply passionate—is contagious. And that’s just part of the reason that Nicaragua is one of the fastest-growing tourism destinations in the world.

Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

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Spanning nearly half of the Osa Peninsula, Corcovado National Park is one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet. It’s home to 500 species of trees and an equally astounding variety of wildlife, including tapirs, jaguars, giant anteaters, harpy eagles, sloths, and largest population of scarlet macaws in Costa Rica. Nature lovers can embark on multi-day excursions to explore the lush rainforests, rivers, mangrove swamps, and beaches.

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Roatán, Honduras

HondurasJohn A. Anderson/Shutterstock Roatán is located 40 miles off the northern coast of Honduras and is the largest of the Bay Islands. Ringed by the massive Mesoamerican Reef, it’s renowned for its abundant marine life and is one of the premier snorkeling and scuba diving spots in the world. From zip-lining to exploring the botanical gardens, there’s plenty to explore on land too. Figuring out when to go? You’ll want to avoid the most expensive days to fly.

Antigua, Guatemala

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Situated in the highlands of southern Guatemala, Antigua is renowned as the best-preserved colonial city in the region and a hub of Spanish-language learning with dozens of dedicated schools and immersion programs. Its impressive architecture—baroque-style churches, plazas, and prominent 16th-century landmarks such as Santa Catalina Arch—is made even more stunning set against the awe-inspiring volcanic backdrop. Love discovering new destinations by yourself? Here are 11 things you should always do to stay safe while traveling solo.

Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica

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Peninsula Papagayo is paradise. Pure and simple. This 14,000-acre oasis in the northwest Guanacaste province is a center of ecotourism, famed for its lush rainforests, rocky coves, miles of pristine beaches, and warm Pacific waters. It’s also home to the recently-renovated and ultra-luxurious Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo, the only Forbes five-star-rated property in Central and South America. Craving some adventure? Try zip-lining, surfing, or paddle boarding. Don’t miss these 11 epic vacations for adrenaline junkies.

Granada, Nicaragua

Granadaelnavegante/Shutterstock It’s easy to fall in love with Granada: This historical city is distinguished by its well-preserved colonial architecture and cobblestone streets. Iglesia La Merced, originally built in 1539, still retains its baroque beauty thanks to meticulous restoration efforts. To the south, Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve, Lake Nicaragua, and the Islets of Granada offer ample opportunities for exploration.

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San Blas Islands, Panama

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If private and picturesque describe your dream getaway, let us turn your attention to the San Blas Islands, an archipelago off the Caribbean coast of Panama. Of the approximately 365 isles and cays, only 49 are inhabited, the rest remain unaffected by the other trappings of modern life. The best way to see these remote treasures is to organize a day or week-long boat trip. Can’t make it to the San Blas Islands? Use these tricks to turn any trip into a digital detox.

San José, Costa Rica

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San José may not embody the pura vida lifestyle synonymous with Costa Rica, but it’s not without its own unique charm. The country’s political and cultural capital is celebrated for its Spanish colonial landmarks, such as the neoclassical National Theatre of Costa Rica. The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum dazzles with its collection of gilded artifacts. The bustling Mercado Central is also a must visit. While you’re there, don’t miss the chance try local “golden beans” and fresh seafood. Looking for nightlife? Head over to the lively bars and clubs of El Pueblo. Bonus: Costa Rica also made our list of best places women can travel alone.

Tikal, Guatemala

TikalSimon Dannhauer/Shutterstock Nestled in the tropical El Petén rainforests of northern Guatemala, Tikal is among the largest cities of the ancient Mayan civilization. At its peak, it had an estimated population between 100,000 and 200,000. Today, the ruins of its iconic pyramids, palaces, and religious structures—including the towering Temple IV, the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas—are part of the UNESCO-listed 220-square-mile Tikal National Park. On a budget? Guatemala is also one of the most affordable vacation spots.

Panama City, Panama

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Touted as Central America’s most cosmopolitan capital, Panama City is a hub of international banking and trade with an ever-expanding skyline of gleaming glass high rises and skyscrapers. And, of course, there’s the Panama Canal, plus awesome accommodations such as The Santa Maria, one of the most anticipated international hotel openings for 2018. But this modern mecca also has plenty of vintage charm. Case in point: The cobblestones colonial quarter, Casco Viejo, with its landmarks, quaint cafes, boutiques, and galleries.

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Summer Destinations That Are Surprisingly Gorgeous in the Winter


Montauk, New York

Summer-Destinations-that-Are-Surprisingly-Gorgeous-in-the-WinterCourtesy Gurneys Montauk

Montauk may lure summer travelers with its sandy shores, surf spots, and resorts (it’s one of the top 10 perfect places to escape with your besties), but winter brings something even rarer—serenity. The roads, overrun with cars in summer, are clear and easy to navigate, making for a quick drive to year-round sites such as Montauk Point Lighthouse Museum or Deep Hollow Ranch. Plus, a handful of restaurants and resorts stay open for business despite the cold. Gurney’s Montauk turns up the heat with seasonal spa treatments, a Finnish-style rock sauna, a Russian steam room, and an array of wellness programming—all with a beautiful, snowy backdrop!

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Summer-Destinations-that-Are-Surprisingly-Gorgeous-in-the-WinterCourtesy The Nantucket Hotel Once the world’s top whaling port, modern-day Nantucket retains much of its classic charm—sweeping beaches, sand dunes, historic harbors, and seaside cottages. After the crowds have emptied out, this 50-square mile island feels totally and utterly peaceful. Plus, off-peak prices at some of the island’s hottest properties mean you can experience New England luxury for a fraction of the cost. Winter rates at the famed Jared Coffin House—a stately brick mansion, once home to a prominent whaling merchant—start at $175. And you can stay at The Nantucket Hotel for $195 (compared to $625 in the summer). Plus, there’s cocktail hour in the outdoor hot tub and fondue by the fire pits. Craving more waterfront adventure? Here are 12 awesome island vacations you can take without leaving the country.

Newport, Rhode Island

Summer-Destinations-that-Are-Surprisingly-Gorgeous-in-the-Wintercourtesy Rhode Island Commerce Corporation

Famed for its yacht-filled harbor and Gilded Age mansions, Newport has long been the summer locale of choice for New England’s elite. And while that certainly remains true, these days many people are making this coastal community their primary residence. The opening of Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina—with its do-it-yourself hot chocolate bar, mixology classes, and fire pits—further solidified it as a year-round destination. This Rhode Island gem sparkles during the winter. When Jack Frost comes to town, everything—from the cobblestone streets to the historic homes that line Bellevue Avenue—is cloaked in fluffy flakes, making it even more magical. Of course, no trip to Newport is complete with a drink at the White Horse Tavern, said to be the oldest bar in America.

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Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Summer-Destinations-that-Are-Surprisingly-Gorgeous-in-the-Wintermelissamn/Shutterstock Situated seven miles off Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard is one of the best beach vacation in the U.S., but what you might not realize is that it’s home to 15,000 full-time residents and ferries from Woods Hole run every day (weather permitting), which means this idyllic island doesn’t shut down in the winter, but it does mellow considerably. And for solitude-seekers, that’s even more of a reason to visit. Adding to its off-season allure are reduced hotel rates, easy-to-secure restaurant reservations, and the promise of skating Uncle Seth’s Pond in West Tisbury.

Cape May, New Jersey

Summer-Destinations-that-Are-Surprisingly-Gorgeous-in-the-Wintercourtesy Cape Resorts

The Jersey Shore is popular summer destination—and a bucket-list stop for New Jersey—here are the top destinations for all 50 states. Cape May’s family-friendly fun has plenty to appeal to visitors year round. And the holidays are particularly picturesque. Snow-dusted Victorian homes dressed with yuletide decorations invite visitors to step back in time. And there’s even more festive fun to be had at Congress Hall. “America’s oldest seaside resort” evokes the spirit of Kris Kringle with a holiday shopping village, seasonal concert series, and even a carousel. The quieter months of January and February are great for relaxing and wallet-friendly getaways as many hotels offer specials. Topping the list is The Virginia, which has a “winter warm-up” package that includes a dining/cocktail credit and a discount on spa services.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Summer-Destinations-that-Are-Surprisingly-Gorgeous-in-the-WinterDmZ/ShutterstockCape Cod has much to offer to those willing to visit outside of the summer months. Come winter, you’ll find many unexpected pleasures like frosty beach walks, cultural attractions, minimal crowds, and tasty treats. Gallery hopping in Provincetown is always a hit. Or, bundle up and hit the trails at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary or the Salt Pond Visitor Center. Afterwards, warm up (and satisfy your sweet tooth) with a cup of cocoa at The Hot Chocolate Sparrow, Hole-In-One Doughnuts, or Pie in the Sky Bakery. For something a little stronger, stop by Cape Cod Beer or Devil’s Purse Brewery. And if the weather is crummy, why not expand your mind with a trip to the Cahoon Museum of American Art or the Woods Hole Science Aquarium? Speaking of animals, these photos prove there’s nothing better than being a dog on Cape Cod.



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The Most Popular Travel Destinations in Western Europe


Paris

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What can you say about Paris that hasn’t already been said? From its iconic monuments—the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and Arc de Triomphe—and exquisite gastronomy to its artistic acumen and fabled fashion, it just has that certain je ne sais quoi. Picturesque and deeply romantic, it’s a place where couples sit hand-in-hand on the banks of the Seine, trade kisses under the arches of the Pont Marie, and picnic on the Champ de Mars. Can’t make it across the pond? Visit one of these small towns in America that will have you thinking you’re in Europe.

London

WestminsterESB Professional/Shutterstock London is a fast-moving, modern metropolis with rich historic roots and a litany of recognizable attractions—Buckingham Palace, Camden Market, Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Royal Opera House, the British Museum, Hyde Park, the Tate Modern, and the London Eye to name a few. A beautiful walking city, contemporary structures stand beside storied landmarks providing a visual dialogue between past and present. Its status as a cultural melting pot can be felt, err tasted, through its diverse and ever-expanding culinary scene. Beyond fish ‘n’ chips and other traditional British fare, there’s an array of authentic Indian, Italian, and Chinese food. Do you know the real difference between Great Britain and the United Kingdom?

Zurich

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Switzerland’s largest and wealthiest city is a global financial center. But the buck doesn’t stop with banking. Consistently ranked among the most livable locales, it boasts enviable shopping, excellent public transportation, vibrant nightlife, acclaimed museums, and plenty of historic appeal. Its medieval Old Town is home to significant landmarks—double towers of the Grossmünster (Great Minster), Peterskirche (Peter’s Church), and the Fraumünster (Minister of Our Lady)—and, interestingly, the highest concentration of clubs in the country. Which brings us to this: Zurich epitomizes the “work hard, play hard” mentality. Street Parade, a techno celebration held in August and one of the wildest parties in Europe, is another example.

Amsterdam

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Canals, cycle paths, and tulips galore are just a few of the reasons Amsterdam should be on your must-visit list. And its allure is certainly not limited to aesthetics. This tiny city is a treasure trove of creative inspiration. Admirers of art will want to make spend a few hours at the Van Gogh Museum, dedicated to the tortured Dutch impressionist painter. The Rijksmuseum displays masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and many more Golden Age artists. Stop and smell those famed tulips at Bloemenmarkt, the world’s only floating flower market. And live out your childhood fantasies by eating pannenkoeken (pancakes) for dinner. Find out the best time to visit Amsterdam—and other popular travel destinations.

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Saint Tropez

Saint-tropezInu/Shutterstock A long-time playground for the rich and famous, Saint Tropez has an unmistakable cache. Aristocrats, artists, celebrities, high-rollers, and international jetsetters continue to flock to this holiday hotspot for its ritzy seaside resorts, clothing-optional beaches, nightlife, yacht-filled port, cobblestoned La Ponche quarter, and designer boutiques. Things really heat up come summer, especially during July and August when many Europeans take off. Take a look at these gorgeous beaches with the clearest water around the globe.

Dublin

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Dublin dishes out a hearty serving of centuries-old culture and conviviality: The long history of Irish whiskey and stout are proof of that. Tradition meets merriment at the Guinness Storehouse, where you can slog back pints of the Black Stuff straight from the source. Another stop on the tipple train is Old Jameson Distillery for a tour and tasting. Journey back to the days of yore with a visit to Dublin Castle, St Patrick’s Cathedral, and Kilmainham Gaol, a former prison that played an integral part in Ireland’s path to independence. Set in an original 18th-century house, the Dublin Writers Museum is an ode to the lives and works of such local literary legends as James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Samuel Beckett.

Zermatt

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Set in the shadow of the pyramidal-peaked Matterhorn, Zermatt is among Switzerland’s most scenic Alpine resorts. It’s renowned for high-altitude skiing and snowboarding, which can be enjoyed through early summer. And the pedestrian village is filled with tiny streets, old-fashioned chalets, luxurious mountain lodges, swanky lounges (there’s a happening après-ski scene), thermal baths, and chic boutiques. Can’t make it to Zermatt? These are the top 10 places to ski in the U.S. this winter.

Edinburgh

Edinburghevenfh/Shutterstock Edinburgh is a treasure trove of hidden gems—narrow alleyways, discrete eateries, tucked-away courtyards, winding staircases, quiet gardens—just waiting to be discovered. The best way to explore this compact capital? On foot. Start with the hilltop Edinburgh Castle, home to Scotland’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny, considered one of the top 10 haunted places on the planet. Make your way down to Royal Mile, the historic heart of Old Town, lined with medieval monuments and cathedrals. After refueling with a quick bite, hoof it up to Arthur’s Seat for spectacular 360-degree views of city.

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Nice

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Nice is the picturesque capital of the Côte d’Azur. Its seaside location has long attracted tourists looking to soak up some sun with a glass of Provencal rosé in hand. But this coastal gem has so much to offer beyond its pebbly shores. Stroll along the scenic waterfront promenade, dine at one of the many outstanding restaurants, visit the notable museums—including Musée Matisse with an inspiring collection from prolific local artist Henri Matisse—and explore the charming old town, anchored by Place Rossetti with its sidewalk cafés, stately fountain, and Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate. Find out your ideal vacation, according to your zodiac sign.

Lucerne

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Set in the German-speaking region of central Switzerland, Lucerne is a mesmerizing mix of medieval and modern, set against the beautiful backdrop of a cobalt lake and majestic mountains. Its centerpiece is Kapellbrücke, the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe. Musegg Wall takes you back to the 13th century with its well-preserved towers and fortifications, as do the fresco-adorned historic houses, town squares, Baroque building, and churches. In contrast, the KKL (Culture and Convention Centre) is futuristic multi-use space with an acoustically renowned concert hall, conference area, and art galleries.

Brussels

BrusselsS-F/Shutterstock Belgium’s capital and the headquarters of the European Union, Brussels is a contemporary city steeped in Middle Age splendor. Its central square, the Grand-Place is surrounded by nearly forty opulent guild halls, the Gothic-style Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), and Maison du Roi, which houses the Musee de la Ville de Bruxelles (the Museum of the City of Brussels). Next door is Les Galeries Saint Hubert, a grand glass-roofed arcade—the first of its kind in Europe—featuring high-end specialty boutiques, chocolate shops, restaurants, two theaters (Théâtre des Galeries and the Vaudeville), and a cinema. Don’t miss these enchanting locales that look straight out of a storybook.

Marseille

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Marseilles, a port city in southern France, has been an important trade hub since it was first settled by the Ancient Greeks in 600 B.C. What it lacks in glamour (a la Saint Tropez, Nice, and Cannes) it more than makes up for in maritime history. Fishing remains its primary industry to this day. The colorful Vieux Port (Old Port) neighborhood buzzes with waterfront seafood restaurants serving up bouillabaisse and fisherman selling local catch at the legendary Criée aux Poissons (fish market). You’ll definitely want to commit these essential French phrases to memory before you go.

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16 Incredible Beauty Destinations from Around the World to Add to Your Bucket List


Blue Lagoon in Iceland

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It’s not hard to believe that this stunning turquoise pool has been considered a world wonder by National Geographic. Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is a man-made open air spa comprised of mineral-rich water and silica-rich geothermal mud. Located just 30 minutes from Reykjavik, it’s a great place to spend a few hours applying its white mud on your face, which is said to give you radiant skin.

Poca da Dona Beija in Furnas, Portugal

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Would you be interested in soaking in natural springs heated by a volcano? If this sounds like an adventure to you, look no further than the Poca de Dona Beija in the Azores Archipelago, which gets up to 102 degrees. It’s widely known as the Paradise Pools, Well Water, and Youth Pools, thanks to its therapeutic skin-care benefits. (Need further inspiration? These travel quotes are sure to feed your wanderlust.)

The Dead Sea on the Israeli Coast

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Just floating in the waters of the Dead Sea is known to relieve everything from skin problems to muscle aches and joint pain. On top of being the saltiest body of water in the world, the Dead Sea has mineral-rich mud that can help exfoliate, restore your skin’s pH balance, minimize pores, and control conditions like eczema and psoriasis—basically your entire skincare regime in one muddy handful.

Pamukkale in Denizli Province, Turkey

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Pamukkale fittingly translates to “cotton castle” in Turkish, which is exactly what comes to mind when looking at this natural phenomenon. A stunning tiered, pool complex, Pamukkale has been used for centuries to alleviate various physical ailments. Its surreal beauty and healing powers attract over two million visitors annually, and it’s been named a Unesco World Heritage site. But before jetting off, make sure to learn these travel secrets booking companies don’t want you to know.

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Spring Baths in the Japanese Alps

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Japanese culture has included soaking in traditional onsen bathhouses for thousands of years. The ritual is centered around the country’s natural hot springs, so the best region for enjoying them is hands-down in the Japanese Alps, where there are active volcanoes. The towns of Kusatsu and Hakone, in particular, boast luxurious onsen houses with several large baths and wellness resorts. Remember, bathing naked with others is considered completely normal and to be expected in Japan. If you’ve worrying about bathing naked with a stranger, allow this massage therapist to explain why you look better than you think.

Fonteverde Natural Spa Resort in Siena, Italy

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If you’re looking to indulge in utter luxury, there’s no skin-care destination as extravagant as the Fonteverde Natural Spa Resort in Siena. Picture yourself soaking in the infinity pool’s thermal waters surrounded by some of Italy’s finest vineyards and olive groves. Built in the 17th century by the Grand Duke Ferdinando I de’ Medici, this exclusive resort has maintained its reputation for providing world-class healing treatments. When you get there, make sure to make the most of your trip by attempting this life-changing travel habit.

Volcanic Hot Springs in Araucania, Chile

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Chile hugs the edge of a tectonic plate, so it’s no wonder that volcanoes and geothermal hot spots abound throughout the country. One area that stands out as a skincare destination is southern Santiago in the Araucania Region. More than 170 volcanoes make this an ideal place to bathe in slate-covered waterbeds and mineral-water pools. To make matters even better, getting there involves a scenic route through lush forests and around pristine lakes. Find out the most extreme adventures in the world.

Thermal Baths in Budapest, Hungary

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There’s a reason Budapest is unofficially known as the “City of Spas”—and, believe it or not, many of Budapest’s 16th and 17th-century Turkish baths are still widely used today. There are 18 different pools and another ten saunas equally rife with history and all open for the experience. The neo-baroque Széchenyi Baths are particularly popular, thanks to their high magnesium, calcium, and hydrogen carbonate contents. These make the water great for your pores, as well as arthritis, blood circulation, and nervous system disorders.

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Hot Springs in Beitou, Taiwan

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Taiwan’s landscape is littered with hot springs formed by (mostly) dormant volcanoes. Many of these springs have been converted into bathhouses and spas, as seen in the town of Beitou, which is home to a stunning thermal valley. In the Yangmingshan area, you can even soak in the hot springs beneath the blooming cherry blossoms during spring. (How well do you know your travel lingo? It’s best to master it before you get on the plane.)

Volcanic Springs in the Northern Plains of Costa Rica

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The continually erupting Arenal Volcano keeps the magma springs in Costa Rica’s Northern Plains nice and toasty. The Arenal Volcano National Park has become a geothermal playground of lagoons, mud pots, hot springs, and natural saunas. Check out the incredible Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort for world-class mineral pools and ponds.

Calistoga Spa Hot Springs in Napa Valley, California

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You don’t even have to leave the country to tick one of these bucket-list skincare destinations off your list. The Calistoga Spa Hot Springs in Napa Valley, California is one of America’s best kept travel secrets. It has all the nutrient-rich mud you could dream of, which dates back to Mt. Konocti’s eruption that coating the region eight million years ago. That same mud remains popular today; spas mix the ash with local hot spring water.

The Wadden Sea along the German Coast

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A wetland may not sound like an ideal place to get a natural spa treatment, but the Wadden Sea proves an exception to this rule. Located along the Danish, Dutch, and German coasts, the low tide in this part of the North Sea has mineralized mud all along the horizon. This muck is an excellent place to soak, walk, and use the rich soil as a cosmetic treatment. A word of advice? Book your trip to Germany by taking advantage of off-season travel deals.

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Thermal pools in Vulcano Island, Sicily

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The thermal pools on Vulcano Island, Sicily are terribly sulfuric, but if you can withstand their stench, your body will undoubtedly thank you. The pool’s hot springs have impressed its visitors since ancient Romans discovered it, believing it to be the chimney of the fire god, Vulcan. Though your bathing suit with reek for days, your bones, skin, and respiratory system will be seriously refreshed.

Wai Ora Spa Resort in Rotorua, New Zealand

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The Rotorua region of New Zealand is known for its bubbling mud pools, spewing geysers, and natural hot springs. To make the most of these regional highlights, pay a visit to the Wai Ora Spa Resort. The internationally acclaimed hotel brings all of the local, geothermal mud therapies and healing techniques into one stunning spa.

Milky Way Lagoon in The Republic of Palau

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Palau is comprised of a string of tiny islands with lush forests and aquamarine waters. However, it’s what lies beneath Palau’s stunning surface that will work wonders on your skin. The white limestone mud in the Milky Way Lagoon can be generously applied all over your body. Locals swear that you’ll emerge from the water looking a decade younger. It’s worth a shot!—and so are these other dermatologist-approved tricks.

Kaiser-Friedrich-Therme in Wiesbaden, Germany

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This art nouveau complex was built on the site of a former Roman sauna between 1910 and 1913. At over one hundred years old, the Kaiser-Friedrich-Therme maintains its traditional sauna, a Russian steam bath, a Finnish steam bath, and of course plenty of massage treatments.

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