Top Spots in Spain and why they are so great

By NH | 16:14

 

If someone mentions Spain, you’ll most likely think of paella, siesta, tapas, flamenco and, let’s be honest, Ibiza’s parties. But there is so mucho more to this beautiful country! Spain is home to some of the most beautiful historical and architectural sites in the world, many of which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Today we’ll go over some of these unique places in Spain but be warned, you’ll want to start packing your bags soon after reading this!

La Coruña

Hundreds of years ago, when the Romans occupied the northern region of Spain, they built the Tower of Hercules. This 55m lighthouse is the only one included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list and is still working today! The views from the top are gorgeous and the stonework inside the tower is exceptional.

And since you’re already here, you can’t leave La Coruña without trying some of the excellent seafood Galicia is so famous for. Our tip? Make a reservation in O Fado and enjoy the best dishes prepared in a local way.

Your hotel in La Coruña

Aranjuez

Aranjuez is a town in the southern part of the Community of Madrid. It is most famous for the Palace of Aranjuez, an impressive construction that was used by the Royal Family as a Spring and Summer residence. The palace is surrounded by wonderful gardens and fountains that hide, among other treasures, a jaw-dropping hunting lodge at the end of Jardín del Príncipe.

Make sure to take a guided tour of its interiors, it is worth to see the impressively decorated rooms, the frescoes, the crystal chandeliers and the excellent olive wood and mahogany furniture pieces.

Your hotel in Aranjuez

Barcelona

Barcelona is a city that we’ve already spoken about, but we don’t mind going revisiting its many wonderful treasures, how can one get tired of admiring Gaudí’s unique legacy? It is no surprise that his artistic works are one of Spain’s most renowned UNESCO World Heritage Sites. See for yourself:

Park Güell
Built between 1900 and 1914, this lovely spot offers one of the best views over Barcelona.

Casa Milà
Words are not enough to describe this extraordinary creation of architect Gaudí, also known as La Pedrera. The entire facade is made of natural stone, and as a curious fact, know that this was the first house in Barcelona with underground parking!

Casa Batlló
Another wonder from Gaudi, Casa Batlló will leave you wonderstruck, it looks like something right out of a fairytale! Lots of colours and shapes designed to resemble nature create a magical atmosphere, that is enhanced through the daylight shining through the designed windows.

Sagrada Familia
A must see for any tourist in Barcelona, the Sagrada Familia is Antoni Gaudi’s most celebrated creation, still under construction since it began in 1882. Its construction will take longer than the Egyptian pyramids!

A little secret (that’s actually not so secret): one of the most famous chefs in the world, Ferran Adriá, is from Barcelona…. Perfect excuse to try one, or some, of his dishes!

Your hotel in Barcelona

León

The city of León, located in northern Spain, hides the truly awe-inspiring Cathedral of León. After the cathedrals of Seville and Toledo, this is Spain’s largest cathedral and an excellent example of Gothicism. Make sure to book a guided tour!

León is also famous for its regional gastronomy, this is the place to try some of Spain’s best cured meats and croquettes!

Your hotel in León

Cáceres

The old town of Cáceres is the perfect image of a Spanish medieval city, also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And did you know that some Games of Thrones scenes were filmed here? The monumental city, incredibly rich in history and architecture, is well preserved; you can still see the vestiges of all the different cultures that occupied Cáceres throughout the centuries.

We won’t forget to mention the wine, make sure to pay attention to the local tempranillo! Add a tapa of jamón serrano and you’re good to go.

Your hotel in Cáceres

Córdoba

If you’re in Córdoba, you shouldn’t even doubt visiting one of the greatest cathedrals in the world; the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba. You’ll be truly amazed by its size, horizontally, it is almost four times the size of Notre Dame! It was built by the moors in the 8th century, the Roman influence is tangible, and after the Reconquista, the mosque was turned into a Catholic cathedral. The legacy of all these civilisations is something that you’ll be able to appreciate in the Mudejar architecture, the detailed wood and marble works, and the characteristic gold and finery from Catholic monuments.

Córdoba hosts one of the world’s most significant guitar events, the annual Cordoba Guitar Festival. This year it is expected to take place in July, the exact dates have not been confirmed yet.

Your hotel in Córdoba

Cuenca

The ancient city of Cuenca, in Castile-La Mancha, hides several treasures, like the Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace and Saint Julian, the Church of Saint Peter, the Bridge of Saint Paul, the Seminary and the Mangana Tower. Besides these sights, another impressive attraction that happens to be a favourite for tourists, is the Hanging Houses of Cuenca, historic buildings that hang “dangerously” off the town’s cliffs above the Huécar and Júcar rivers.

Nearby Cuenca, tourists can visit the Ciudad Encantada, an interesting and worth to see the a labyrinth of eroded rocks.

Your hotel in Cuenca

Granada

One of the most famous buildings in Spain is located in Granada, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. And yes, we know, Spain has lots of unique attractions! This time we are referring to the spectacular Moorish fortress The Alhambra Citadel of Granada, another deservedly UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can read all you want about this place, you won’t be prepared for the amount of history of the place and its amazing size and architecture, wonderful and impressive!

Granada was the last Moorish stronghold to fall under the Catholic regime, in 1492. The oldest part of the city is the Albaicín district, also well worth a visit.

Your hotel in Granada

Santiago de Compostela

We next travel to the old town of Santiago de Compostela, where we’ll visit the baroque Cathedral of Santiago. Soaked in history, it marks the final stop for those who do the pilgrimage of Santiago.

While you visit the city, you can stop by the picturesque Hostal dos Reyes Católicos, the oldest hotel in the world or so they claim!

Your hotel in Santiago de Compostela

Seville

The Moorish didn’t waste any time during the time of Islamic Spain (or Al-Andalus), leaving behind incredible examples of Moorish architecture. Seville is another great city where the Moorish culture left its mark. Here, the visitor can go back in time visiting the great example of Mudejar architecture that is the Alcazar of Seville. Fascinating! Let yourself be overwhelmed by magic while you admire the beautiful gardens, the araba patios and the distinct interiors.

Another interesting thing to know about Seville is that Christopher Columbus is buried here, in the astounding Cathedral Santa María de Sevilla, the third largest gothic cathedral in the world.

Your hotel in Seville

Madrid

Spain’s capital is a great city for many reasons, and this is something also appreciated by kings and queens years and years ago. In fact, the city was chosen as his residence by King Philip II of Spain back in the 16th century. He ordered the construction of The Escorial (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site) at the foot of Mt. Abantos, in the Sierra de Guadarrama, 45 km away from Madrid. It is a must if you’re interested in Spanish and European history, royal palaces and romantic walks!

Visiting Madrid should also include a walk along the Gran Via, a visit Madrid’s Art Triangle, which includes the Museo del Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza museums, and a night getting to know the famous neighbourhood of Malasaña and its gritty taverns.

Your hotel in Madrid

Mallorca

Are you in the mood for jaw-dropping landscapes? Then Mallorca is the right place for you. The dreamy Mediterranean island is not just a beach destination, although the beaches ARE fantastic. The mountain area of the Serra de Tramuntana is a gem that offers a unique scenery, hidden coves, deep Calanques… Also awarded the World Heritage Status by UNESCO. Our tip is to visit Mallorca during autumn or spring and drive along the coast from Andratx to Cap de Formentor. You won’t be disappointed.

And besides its natural side, Mallorca’s main city, Palma, is another treat for the eye. Visit the old town and admire the Mallorquin townhouses, its enchanting interior patios and Palma’s Cathedral, the only in the world whose reflection can bee seen in the water!

Your hotel in Mallorca

Toledo

Toledo was founded by Romans, served as the capital during the Visigothic Kingdom, was no less important during Islamic Spain, and served as the Capital of the country before Madrid. The city’s diverse history and architecture is a mix of synagogues, mosques and churches that inspire many, it even inspired El Greco in various paintings.

Besides its history and impressive architecture, Toledo is also famous for marzipan, its most famous dessert. If you’re totally possessed by a sweet tooth, you’ll be able to purchase it at one of the many convents in the city!

Your hotel in Toledo

22 Reasons Why You Should Never Travel To Italy

By NH | 16:29

You probably know someone who has been to Italy. And you’ve probably heard all about how beautiful the country is, and an infinite list of reasons why you should visit it. Well, for a change, we’ve come up with a list of 22 reasons as to why you SHOULDN’T visit Italy:

1. So, the Amalfi Coast… Just the thought of hiking those seaside paths along the coast is enough to make you tired. Not even the enchanting pastel coloured fishing villages clinging to the dramatic cliffs are enough to convince you to go through such effort! Too exhausting.

2. Luckily a large portion of the coast is quite rocky, the perfect excuse to avoid them. But still, it’s worth noting that if the thought of soaking up the sun makes your sweat, avoid the Marche region at all costs. Its beautiful beaches are preached about throughout Italy, like this one at the foot of Mount Conero in Ancona, known as the Riviera de Conero. Next!

3. You are not interested in charming medieval towns like Bologna. Who cares if it’s home to the world’s most venerable and oldest university in continuous operation?

4. Don’t trust a country that is home to Europe’s largest active volcano, Mount Etna. Life is exciting enough without the thought of lava fountains nearby.

5. The cultural history in Italy tries too hard to be number one. For example, nearly a third of the world’s art treasures reside in Florence. It’s like… calm down!

6. Don’t get us started on the landscapes. The terrain changes so much and is so colourful that it just gets boring. For example, whoever tries to convince you to see Cinque Terre’s natural beauty, just ignore them… Yes, it’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And?

7. Why would you want to travel all the way to Lake Como, a lake that has been a popular retreat for aristocrats and famous people? Its jaw-dropping beauty, scenic towns and the amazing waterside villas don’t cut it. Well, it did for George Clooney maybe. And perhaps even Brad Pitt… but what do they know?

8. Shopping at the most exclusive and elegant avenues? In Milan you can get tired of seeing one renowned designer brand after the other. And we won’t even get started on the alternative designer labels or off-beat fashion brands. Too weird and too much effort.

9. In Naples, you’ll visit one ancient castle after another, big deal…Makes you wonder why Royals and Emperors even needed such big homes.

10. In Italy, all the cities are legendary, every single one of them. Making it difficult to plan your holidays, which is just a pain. Padua for example, claims to be the oldest city in northern Italy. Like anyone would believe it was founded around 1.183 BC!

11. Savona is simply ugly.

12. And don’t be thinking that Siena, Italy’s loveliest medieval city, is any better!

13. Food? Anyone can make pizza or pasta these days. And in Genoa, for example, make sure you stay away from the “delicious” focaccia. Sure its origins are based there but… Nah.

14. Oh, and yeah, it’s full of people who find pleasure in eating in the middle of the street. Avoid Sicily’s capital, Palermo. They are surprisingly proud of being one of the world’s top destinations for street food.

15. And in Taormina, on the other of Sicily, locals eat a semi-frozen dessert called granita that comes in numerous “wonderful” flavours. Semi-frozen? Isn’t that just semi-melted?

16. The wine is not that special, not even the ones produced in Trento, where winemaking has taken place for over 3.000 years. And have you seen the landscapes? That Don’t Impress Me Much.

17. Italian coffee, with a view of Mount Vesuvius in Naples? Not good enough, the coffee or the views.

18. And Turin has been considered the chocolate Heart of Europe since the 17th century. Something about an unpronounceable treat called Gianduja. And don’t trust a country who serves tiny chocolates with coffee. The temptation to the Darkside is not a good thing, people!

19. Back to Italy’s legacy. Old buildings are in bad shape and tend to sink! Take the leaning tower of Pisa as an example.

20. Cracked mosaics, faded paintings and pictures made out of stones. It’s what they call art. Seems that’s all they knew how to do in Ravenna during Byzantine times.

21. While in Rome, everything looks the same, valuable architectural monuments everywhere. Too generic for our liking.

22.And then there’s Venice, with all its canals. Aside from the chatter of people, there is no traffic so there is little pollution or sounds If anything, it just leaves you feeling isolated and really miss home! Plus, you would be jealous of all the magnificent houses you’ll see.

Actually, come to think of it, this and everything else we’ve mentioned might make you NOT want to leave Italy…

Your hotel in Italy.

48 Hour City Breaks

By NH | 13:10

We love to travel but the reality is that, sometimes, we don’t have the time (or the budget) to just take 3 weeks to wander off and discover that distant tropical heaven off the coast of New Zealand, or Canada’s best-hidden secrets. That is why today we’ve made a short list of 48-hour city breaks in Europe and South America. Are you ready for some travel inspiration?

Barcelona

The Catalan capital is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, thanks to its incredible architecture, magic parks, the gorgeous beaches around the city, and its unique cultural offerings. Even families will find plenty of adventures to embark on with the little ones.

So, what to see and do in Barcelona for 48 hours?

A great place to start your tour is the colourful and buzzing La Boqueria Market, located on Las Ramblas. Full of life, you can just grab a bite and walk around or sit at one of the small bars that line the inside and take in its great atmosphere.

From there, keep strolling down las Ramblas until you reach the Barceloneta Beach, and admire the beautiful seaside. In the summer and early Autumn days it can get crowded but, during the rest of the year, it is the perfect place to sit back and relax while enjoying a drink to the relaxing sound of the waves.

Barcelona is also known for being a true shopping paradise. If you don’t mind spending your entire month’s salary on a single and spectacular outfit, head for one of Barcelona’s fanciest and most exclusive streets: Passeig de Gracia. During your shopping spree, don’t just look down at the price tags, why not look up and enjoy Passeig de Gracia’s architecture? Don’t miss Casa Batlló and La Pedrera, some of the famous buildings designed by Gaudí.

You can’t really say you’ve seen Barcelona until you visit the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, another example of Gaudí’s inimitable style. Different to anything else, the cathedral is a masterpiece of architecture (still under construction after 135 years) with incredible craftsmanship and ornate details. Just make sure you book your tickets online, otherwise, you’ll have to join a long line to go inside.

For a breath of fresh air, nothing better than exploring Parc Güell. And yes, Gaudí again! The park is like a magical garden with benches made of colourful mosaics and surrounded by nature. It’s a great place to enjoy stunning views of Barcelona and take incredible photos of the city.

Looking for more breathtaking views in Barcelona? Then you must visit the Montjuic Castle. Located on a hill overlooking both the city and the commercial port, the fortress breaths history on every corner: it served as an old military fortress first and as a prison during the Spanish Civil War.

If you want to taste typical dishes in Barcelona, the best option you have is to get out off the beaten path. One of the best restaurants in the city is Don Giovanni, fronted by Sicilian chef Andrea Tumbarello. Putting the delicious food aside, just the impressive decoration of the place justifies a visit!

Save The Date!

12th March – 39th Edition of the Zurich Marató de Barcelona
25th Abril – Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week
31st May – Barcelona Primavera Sound
6th June – European Balloon Festival
21st September – Festival of La Mercè
Your hotel in Barcelona 

London

Only two days in London? Don’t worry, 48 hours is enough time to explore the main must-see attractions, you might even have time to explore some of the lesser-known areas of the city!
You’ll need to start the day with the right kind of energy, and for that, a typical English breakfast will be a perfect choice. Do yourself a favour and head off to the cosy Hawksmoor Guildhall, where the attentive staff is an added bonus to the top notch breakfast they serve hash brown, pork trotter beans, scrambled eggs, Greek yoghurt, super coffee… Need any more convincing?
Now that your batteries are charged, you’ll be ready to explore the amazing exhibits at the British Museum. It is a beautiful and educational place that both adults and children will enjoy, especially the section on Egypt! And the best part? This world class museum offers free entry all year round!

Hundreds of years of history are concentrated in one place: Tower of London. Did you know it was the first Norman building in England? The whole place is incredible, from the Knights Room to the collections of armour and medieval artifacts, and the phenomenal Crown jewels. Visually stunning, it is a good place to visit with the family!

Another incredible place to see in London is Westminster Abbey, home to some of the most famous tombs in British history (like William Shakespeare), beautiful stained glass windows and breathtaking chapels. The architecture and the history that surrounds the site are awe-inspiring. Get the audio guide, it is 100% worth it!

After, cross the Westminster Bridge and walk along the Thames to Tower Bridge. Along with this two and a half mile stroll, you’ll be able to take some amazing pictures of London’s major sights, such as the London Eye, the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Houses of Parliament, and St. Paul’s’ Cathedral.

London hides a little bit of paradise, perfect to catch a breath of fresh air and rest, you’ll need it after all the sightseeing! The place we are talking about is none other than Hyde Park, located in the heart of the city. Big green areas perfect for a picnic in the summer or walk by the river and feed the ducks by the Serpentine Lake. If you ever wondered what an English park looks like, this is the epitome!

Once you exit Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace will be within walking distance. We recommend to book a guided tour of its interiors, the only way to really take it the splendour and truly feel like a royal. The highlight of the trip is champagne toast in the foyer, at the end of the tour!

Save The Date!
26th February – Magic Lantern Festival
13th March – London Beer Week
17th March – St. Patrick’s Day
23rd April – London Marathon
24th June – West End LIVE
8th July – Pride in London
6th August – IAAF Marathon
Your hotel in London

León

The colonial city of León is located in the State of Guanajuato, and is known as the “Shoe Capital of The World”. You can guess why. It is, without a doubt, a great shopping destination and conveniently located close to other major cities and airports. If 48 hours is all the time you have to spend in this charming part of the world, we recommend you to travel to Guanajuato, just 30 minutes away and well worth the visit.
Guanajuato is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Mexico’s most picturesque places, thanks to its brightly coloured buildings, historical architecture and friendly atmosphere.

A great way to start exploring Guanajuato is to ride the short cable car that takes you up to the city’s scenic viewpoint. You can see the whole historic district from above and is an easy way up to visit the Pipila Monument, a monument of recognition for the miners that worked in the silver mines that once dotted the town.

Another lovely visit is the elegant Juarez Theater, designed by architect José Noriega and inaugurated in 1903 by President Porfirio Díaz. Touring this classical landmark is well worth a trip to see, but try to get tickets to a symphony’s live performance… Incredible!

Juarez Theater, Guanajuato

As in many other Mexican cities, the main square in Guanajuato is surrounded by gardens, great places to relax and admire your surroundings. The Jardín de la Unión must be one to the nicest squares in Mexico, with great views to the San Diego temple. Just sit back and soak in Mexico while listening to the mariachis!


Overlooking the lovely square we just mentioned, the beautiful and impressive Our Lady of Guanajuato Basilica stands out for its bright yellow colour, elegant facades and its exuberant Mexican Baroque style. It is the most important church in the city! The interior of the basilica brings you to an ancient time and at night, the building is illuminated. Time to take your camera out!

Save The Date!

9th March – 14th Rally Guanajuato Corona México
31st March – Medieval Festival
1st April – Holi Dance of Colours Tour 2017
1st June – Gastronomical Fair “Guanajuato Si Sabe”
21st July – Guanajuato International Film Festival
October – XLIV International Cervantino Festival

Your hotel in Leon

Singles Welcome: Europe’s Most Unforgettable & Romantic Valentine’s Day Destinations

By NH | 12:15

 

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, a time of celebration where couples around the world look for the most romantic destinations to visit with their loved ones.

But what if you’re single during Valentine’s Day? Does that mean it’s going to be a sad day for you?

No way people! Whether you’re travelling solo or with that special someone, you deserve to celebrate it with a trip to a unique destination that leaves everlasting memories. If you’re not sure where to start, we have a few ideas. Here are Europe’s top spots to visit for Valentine’s Day, single or not!

Rome

One of the most romantic cities in Europe is Rome, laden with centuries worth of history, ancient ruins, historical sights, and magical neighbourhoods. As a solo traveller, you won’t be bored spending Valentine’s Day in this culturally-rich city, it is so diverse that it will make your head spin! Here are the highlights not to miss when visiting ancient Rome:

Trajan Market
Less crowded than The Colosseum but just as equally mesmerising, the Trajan Market offers an amazing insight into Roman life. The best of it, though? The incredible views offered over Trajan’s Forum.

The Colosseum
What’s a visit to Rome without a proper immersion into The Colosseum? An incredible place to be in, and so much to see! Make it even more special joining a night tour.

The Pantheon
They say all roads lead to Rome, but no, they all lead to the Pantheon! At its heart, this remarkable building surprises visitors with its famous domed ceiling, still the world’s largest unreinforced dome even after almost 2,000 years. Curious fact: the painter Raphael was buried here!

The colourful Campo de’ Fiori Market
A beautiful, bustling market where you’ll get the chance to taste local products. After walking around a bit, sit at one of the lovely restaurants nearby and enjoy a true Italian coffee.

Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
The world’s largest Catholic Church (St. Peter’s Basilica) and possibly the most important collection of artistic masterpieces are located here. Expect the amazing… Just wow!

The Castle Sant’ Angelo
This castle, where several Popes once lived, is worth to visit not only for its historical and cultural value but for the amazing views from the top. Make the experience even more magical by visiting at dusk and see the city don a whole new set of colours.

For a little bit of extra TLC (Tummy Loving Care), you must try the excellent tiramisu at restaurant That’s Amore, a lovely little treasure in Via Arcione. Here, the typical Italian decor and the ambience is as addictive as the tiramisu. This truly is the perfect Rome experience! Just make sure to book ahead as it gets pretty busy.

Your hotel in Rome

Venice

If Rome is considered the romantic city to spend Valentine’s day, Venice simply sweeps you away; opera, gondola rides, baroque buildings… It is the perfect place for everyone and anyone that wants to enjoy this amorous celebration in a privileged setting. Couples aside, Venice is ideal if you’re celebrating your singleton status, because who is to say that romance is something shared exclusively with another person? When in a city like this, as a couple or enjoying L’ Amore on your own, it’s impossible to feel alone. Here are the main spots you need to unmask:

St Marks Square
Simply stunning. This beautiful square and the area around it are an absolute must while you visit the historical centre of Venice. If you have the chance, visit it during the evening and soak up the atmosphere to the sound of wonderful music. Perfect for solo travellers looking to lose themselves in the moment.

The Campanile di San Marco
The superb vistas you’ll get at the top of this historical bell tower are well worth the waiting line. If you aim to photograph the perfect view of Venice, here you’ll have the perfect opportunity. From here, you’ll see beyond the floating island out to the blues that surround it.

Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute
Located on the opposite side of the Gran Canal, this towering baroque basilica stands out for being different than any others in Venice. It’s an architectural masterpiece, a crown-jewel that dates back to the 17th century.

Ponte di Rialto
You’ll have to get the timing right, but this classic photo location is often teeming with people after the same thing, the perfect picture with the canals and moored gondolas in the background. Do things differently and take the opportunity to find a location from which you can view the bridge and the waters that pass under it without the commotion. Well worth it.

And finally, one of the most romantic settings in Venice we can think of for Valentine’s Day: a waterside lunch at La Palanca, a delightful restaurant on the Giudecca waterfront. Here you’ll be able to escape the crowds and enjoy fine bass ravioli with the stunning view of Venice as a backdrop.

Your hotel in Venice

Amalfi Coast

Hidden beaches, dreamy landscapes and enchanting beauty. Anyone who fancies a romantic escapade for Valentine’s day should consider the beautiful Mediterranean coast of Amalfi as an option. Famous since Greek times, the Amalfi Coast is full of secrets for you to explore, from the charming island of Capri to the pastel-colored Positano.

Capri
One of the most beautiful places one can visit, heaven on Earth! Catch a two-hour boat ride across the Gulf of Salerno and the Tyrrhenian Sea to the island, and wander through its cobblestone streets, dine in a typical trattoria or take the “funiculare” up to this peak for unforgettable views.

Sorrento
This enchanted city sitting on the gulf of Naples is known, among other things, for its beautiful bays, turquoise waters and, of course, the Treccia Sorrentina, a plaited mozzarella that has to be tasted.

Praiano
Cut into a steep hillside, expect lots of steps, Praiano is one of Amalfi’s quieter villages and the best place to experience the area’s spectacular scenery. From here, you’ll have stunning views of Positano!

Positano
Positano is a small village famous for its colourful buildings, its tiny roads and for being one of Italy’s most romantic hideaways, perfect for Valentine’s Day! Our recommendation: walk up the 1750 steps from Positano to Nocelle, the views won’t disappoint. This drooled-after-gorgeous area is also perfect for singles who want to celebrate this day just as couples do.

Your hotel in Amalfi

Amsterdam

The bicycle capital is another perfect city to visit this Valentine’s Day, whether you’re coupled up or not. With its mix of cultures and laid back attitude, you’ll find yourself in good company in no time. Just make sure you check Amsterdam’s agenda as there will be lots of things happening in February!

Canal Belt
There’s nothing more satisfying than walking along Amsterdam’s canals at dusk, admiring the beautiful canal houses, the quaint lighting, picture perfect cafes and, of course, crossing its charming bridges.

Amsterdam Concertgebouw
To those interested in classical dance, we recommend a visit to the charming Concertgebouw and watch the wonderful ballet performance of Mata Hari, by the Dutch National Ballet. The scenarios, the light effects and the dancers will leave you feeling euphoric!

Museums
There’s something for everyone, from modern art to collections that travel through the city’s expansive history, and many of the city’s Canal Houses have been converted into museums that are host to a wealth of Amsterdam history. So for those of you keen to walk the canals, who knows what history lessons you’ll stumble upon.

For a special and relaxing moment on Valentine’s Day, Amsterdam has plenty of cosy restaurants for all tastes and budget expectations. We recommend the simply perfect De Kas, top notch food!

Your hotel in Amsterdam

Berlin

Another stunning European city to spend Valentine’s Day in is Berlin. You might not think of it as a romantic place at first, but that’s until you discover its beautiful and fairytale-like parks, its great cultural offer, and unique restaurants, perfect to set the mood during this special day. Plus, those in the know will be aware that this is one of the best places to meet unique and unforgettable people.

Tierpark and Charlottenburg Palace
Among Berlin’s 2.500 parks, these are our two favourites. The Tierpark is an incredible green space with excellent cycling paths that guide you away from the city’s concrete jungle. If you’ve ever wanted to have a perfect romantic picnic as a couple, make sure you bring a comfy blanket and a good bottle of wine!

Nocti Vagus
Some say that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach! There are plenty of options in Berlin to satisfy the most demanding gastro lovers but if would have to pick one restaurant in the city, that would be Nocti Vagus. Why? Because it offers a very unique experience that it is worth trying whether you’re spending Valentine’s with that special someone, friends or alone celebrating singleton… Dinner in the Dark! If you’re looking for something different, this is it.

Your hotel in Berlin

Run Down of The Top 16 Cities to Visit in 2017 – Part 3

By NH | 19:00

 

 

If you loved the city trip ideas we showed you in the previous 2 parts of The Top Cities to Visit in 2017, you’ll be amazed by the cities where we are about to take you! Get ready to pack your bags and discover incredible places of unforgettable beauty.

 
6. Prague

 
The capital of the Czech Republic has plenty of hidden gems for the traveller who knows how to find them.
Its famous beauty is well deserved, just a walk through the medieval heart of Prague, Stare Mesto, will be enough to realise that you are visiting one of Europe’s most beautiful destinations.

 
Prague’s main highlight, after the Clock tower and the famous Prague Castle, is, without a doubt, the Charles Bridge. This historic site dates back to the 14th century and is considered by many to be one of the most impressive civil gothic-style buildings in the world.

 
Located on a hillside and with unique views to Prague’s Old Town, the peaceful Letna Park is the perfect hideaway for those who want to escape the tourist hustle and bustle for a few hours!


5. Lisbon

 
Not many visitors know that Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, even older than Paris or Rome! The capital of Portugal is a city filled with history and culture that will conquer you with its well-kept stone architecture and its Mediterranean climate.

 
It is very easy to get around Lisbon, thanks to public transportation and many of the city’s highlights are reachable on foot.

 
One of the must-see sights is Terreiro do Paco or Palace Square, the site of Lisbon’s royal palace until it was destroyed in 1775 by an earthquake. Rossio Square is the perfect place to go for a coffee, just sit down and take in the stunning architecture!

 
Another must is Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest district and a favourite among travellers. A stroll through its cobblestone streets is a journey to the past, and an opportunity to admire the architectural influence from the different cultures that have passed through the city throughout the centuries. Other icons in Lisbon include the Castelo de S. Jorge, Moasterio de Sao Vicente de Fora, Museo do Fado and Bairro Alto.

4. Geneva

 
The second most populous city in Switzerland is located in Lake Geneva, between the Alps and the Jura mountain chains. This is a city often overlooked, since many travellers go to Geneva to visit other popular locations, like the famous ski resort Chamonix.

 
If this is your case, we still recommend to spend at least one day in cheerful Geneva and explore it by foot. The perfect itinerary through Geneva includes a visit to St. Peter’s Cathedral, the Reformation Wall, the Flower Clock, Place Neuve and of course, Geneva’s famed fountain Jet D’Eau that can be seen even flying over the city at an altitude of 10KM!


3. Santiago de Chile

 
This is a city of unique flavours and personality that welcomes the visitor with open arms and a cosmopolitan and sophisticated atmosphere with an impressive mountain scenery as a backdrop.

 
Three days in Santiago is plenty of time to discover everything, from its typical markets and historical buildings to the country’s history and its typical gastronomy.

 
Make sure your itinerary takes you to the Chilean president’s palace, where you’ll be able to visit different exhibitions and art displays, the Plaza de la Moneda and Plaza de Armas. At the heart of the city, you’ll find the mall from Paseo Ahumada, and not too far the Museo Chileno of Pre-Columbian Art. The traditional fresh market of La Vega Central and the neighbourhoods of Barrio Patronato and Barrio Lastarria are also well worth a visit.


2. La Habana

 
The capital of Cuba was founded in the 16th century by the Spanish, evident within the architecture of the city’s buildings. Havana Vieja is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where remarkable baroque, neoclassical to colonial buildings mix in perfect harmony. Plazas, museums, old churches of surprising beauty and spontaneous street music will make your visit an experience of a lifetime.

 
These are some The Havana’s main highlights: Plaza Vieja, Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza de Las Armas Plaza de San Francisco, the least touristy Plaza de Cristo, the Bacardi Art Deco building, the Museo de la Revolución and the fortresses of Castillo San Salvador and San Carlos de la Cabaña.

 
For some excellent typical Cuban gastronomy, make sure you stop by the bustling restaurant Doña Eutimia and Café Escorial.


1. Mexico City

 
Mexico City, as one of the largest cities in the world, it might come off as chaotic, but with a bit of planning beforehand, the visitor will find museums, incredible historic churches, historical buildings, parks and the most beautiful plazas with no problem.

 
The city transport can be very crowded so a good alternative is to cycle around the city or join of the many walking tours offered and that can be booked online.

 
Top things to see in Mexico City? The incredible Chapultepec Park, La Feria amusement park (perfect for those of you travelling with children), the beautiful Chapultepec Castle, Templo Mayor (which dates back to the Aztec period), and the Anthropology National Museum. The Basilica of Guadalupe is worldwide known for its beauty, whilst the incredible Soumaya Museum is a must for fine art lovers. The best about it? It’s free to visit it!


How many places you will visit in 2017 is up to you, but this is sure, you won’t be disappointed with any of these destinations!

Run Down of The Top 16 Cities to Visit in 2017 – Part 2

By NH | 18:17

 

11. Rome

 
The magical city of Rome is a perfect mix of historical ruins and incredible monuments that still amaze visitors thousands of years after their construction: the Coliseum, the Vatican or the Roman Circus ruins are just some of the sights that await you in this city, unlike anything you have ever seen before.
Other astonishing sites to visit in Rome are the Trevi Fountain (remember to toss a coin in), the Roman Forum, the charming neighbourhood of Trastevere, Sant’Angelo castle and the chaotic but stunning Piazza Navona.
For some fabulous shopping take a stroll through Campo de Fiori or Via Veneto and find some truly delicious Italian ice cream in one of the charming ice cream shops that decorate almost every street.


10. Milan


Are you looking for some of the best chic shopping opportunities? Welcome to Milan, one of the world’s fashion capitals! The perfect shopping spree starts at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, where you’ll have to take a minute to look up and admire its extraordinary glass vaults, and finishes at the trendy neighbourhoods of Brera and Via Monte, where you’ll find some of the most exclusive and expensive shops.
Besides shopping, tourists will find that Milan hides beautiful iconic places like the famed Duomo Di Milano, one of the largest Gothic churches in Italy, the breathtaking Opera House, the Sforzesco Castle, and the Museo Della Scienza dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci, a perfect choice for those visiting Milan with kids!
Nearby Milan’s Opera House is the Giuseppe Verdi road, lined with antique shop after shop. Another cute neighbourhood is Brera, famous for its Pinacoteca, where you’ll be able to admire some of the works by Caravaggio, Hayes or Piero Della Francesca.


9. Nice


Located by the Mediterranean Sea and in the area known as the French Riviera, elegant Nice is a vibrant city that can be comfortably visited on foot or by bike. Let the buzzing energy of its people, shops, cafes and restaurants infect you with Nice’s local charm.
After a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais, find the Musee d’Art et d’Histoire Palais Massena and learn all about Nice’s history from the Napoleonic era to the 20th-century.
Tourists will find that Nice is an excellent choice for a family vacation; there are plenty of water parks, animal sanctuaries and many engaging activities for children and adults alike.
Away from the city hustle, Nice has also a lot to offer for those who seek some off-the-beaten-path sights; Sentier du Littoral, the scenic Parc de Valrose, and the local vineyard are just some examples!

 

8. Salzburg

 
Did you know Salzburg was Mozart’s hometown? And the same way it happened to him, don’t be surprised if these city steals your heart, as it’s a captivating destination of spectacular architecture and breathtaking scenery.
Salzburg is a small city so it doesn’t necessarily take longer than one day to visit its highlights. Make sure to pay a visit to the following: the Mirabelle gardens, Salzburg Dom Cathedral, Mozart’s Birthplace, St. Peter’s Monastery and the Hohensalzburg Fortress. And you certainly can leave Salzburg without admiring the UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Town of Salzburg, it will leave you speechless!


7. Bruges


This perfectly preserved medieval city is a tourist’s dream come true, and more than two million yearly visitors agree! The whole city seems just out of a fairy tale.
Its cobblestoned streets will lead the visitor to world-class museums and to Bruges highlights, including the iconic square Markt, the beautiful medieval palaces on Burg Square, the Basilica of the Holy Blood, the tranquil Begijnhof courtyard, and of course, the Bruges Beer Museum.
But splendid Bruges is not all about architecture! The city is a great starting point to enjoy more of its history and discover the Flemish countryside with one of the many tours offered at the Bruges Tourism Office.

Run Down of The Top 16 Cities to Visit in 2017 – Part 1

By NH | 15:34

 

New Year, new destinations to visit! The world is a big place and it’s practically impossible (although we wish we could) visit all the incredible places that this Earth holds in one year. To help narrow the list down a bit, we’ve made a selection of The Top 16 Cities to Visit in 2017:

16. Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a great city to visit, whether it’s with friends, with that special someone, or with family. Did you know that Amsterdam is also known as the Venice of the North? More than 1.500 picturesque bridges welcome visitors to a breathtaking cityscape that you must see at least once in your lifetime.
Visiting the Royal Palace you’ll learn all about Holland’s fascinating royal history, and afterwards, the historic Dam Square and The Amsterdam Museum immerse you further into the city. For a taste of art, visit the wonderful Rijksmuseum and pass the time learning about its extensive collection of paintings, artefacts and sculptures from Holland and around the world. Another museum to include in your list is the Van Gogh Museum, one of the most popular galleries in the World!
After some exclusive shopping? Then you can’t miss The Nine Little Streets, a photogenic neighbourhood with unique speciality stores and trendy designer shops.

 
15. Berlin
Many tourists agree that Berlin, the third most visited city in Europe, has something other world cities don’t. Berlin is young, fresh, and represents a symbol of freedom and tolerance. This, together with its fashion, its architecture and its charged political history, make Berlin one of the most beloved cities among visitors.
And what to see during a visit to Berlin? There is something for all tastes, whether you’re visiting Berlin for one day or a week, on a budget or without limits, whether you’re visiting Berlin alone or with family. Include these city sights to your itinerary: the iconic Brandenburg Gate, the spectacular Tiergarten (is the second largest garden in Germany), the Reichstag Building, the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Museum Island”, the trendy commercial district of Hackeschen Hoefe, the ultramodern Potsdamer Platz, Alexanderplatz, and the world-famous graffiti decorated East Side Gallery.

 

14. Frankfurt
Another German city makes our list! Located on the River Main, Frankfurt is known for its importance as a commercial and economic centre in Europe. The city’s skyline, formed by impressive high-rise buildings that remind us of North America, blends itself with Frankfurt’s historical and reconstructed Altstadt (the old town), creating an impressive blend between the old and new.
Any visit to Frankfurt should include the following main sights: the Romer-Platz, the house of legendary German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goeth, the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew, the Old Opera House (reconstructed in 1981 after it was completely destroyed by Allied bombing in 1944), the fine Staedel Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. These are a few of the many reasons to visit Frankfurt, the Manhattan of Europe in 2017.

 
13. Brussels
Brussels, a city of contrasts, where art fanatics will fall head over heels in love with its famous museums, and beer lovers will have the chance to taste the very best Belgium has to offer. The little ones in the family will have a blast with Brussels comic book route!
Anyone who’s visited Brussels before would recommend you to visit the Grand-Place, the city’s market square surrounded by guildhalls, the city park Cinquantenaire, the iconic Atomium and the Royal Palace of Brussels. Our last tip for your visit to Brussels? Make sure to spend a few hours in the miniature park Mini-Europe, kids will have a great time and so will you!

 
12. Madrid
The Spanish capital offers endless possibilities for cultural activities to enjoy during a business trip, a family vacation or a romantic getaway.
It is not uncommon for tourists to fall in love with Madrid’s castle-like and opulent buildings, or the beautiful sights found between the Puerta Del Sol and the great Royal Palace, which happen to be two of Madrid’s most notable attractions.
Whether exploring by foot or by public transport, make sure you don’t miss Plaza Mayor (where you should order a caña and watch people enjoy Madrileño culture), the classical meeting point of Puerta del Sol, La Latina neighbourhood with its delicious tapas, and the nearby outdoor market El Rastro. Make some time for a touch of shopping on Gran Via and raise your cameras at the picturesque Plaza de Cibeles, home to Madrid’s City Hall.
Any visit to Madrid should also include a stroll to get some fresh air at the Parque Del Retiro, after spending a few hours admiring some of Europe’s finest artwork at the Prado Museum, and a visit to the upmarket Barrio de Salamanca, filled with fancy shops and restaurants. Finally, the San Anton Market, a modern foodie paradise with rooftop included!

Have we whetted your appetite? Well, there is more to come in part two of our Run down of the top 16 Cities to Visit in 2017.

A Look Back at 2016

By NH | 12:47

This time of year is like no other. It’s when people take time to relax, reflect and share stories. making a list of the dreams and plans that have become a reality, and setting new goals for the brand new year that lies ahead of us. 

At NH Hotel Group we’re taking the opportunity to look back at the main developments within our irresistible brand, NH Collection. A brand with a mission; to create extraordinary experiences for our guests, in the best locations and with the best standards of service and comfort.

April 2016

April marks the beginning of our journey. During this month, NH Hotel Group had the pleasure of launching the NH Collection brand in Holland. An official ceremony took place for the presentation, chaired by the Mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan.

The launch was celebrated together with the re-opening of three unique gems:

  • NH Collection Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, a historic building that dates back to 1855. It is centrally located, found on Dam Square, putting it very close to Central Station and the Royal Palace. Any guest who stays at this hotel really must indulge themselves at the hotel’s restaurant, The White Room, under the guidance of 3 Michelin Star Chef, Jacob Jan Boerma.

  • NH Collection Barbizon Palace. Conveniently located opposite Amsterdam’s main train station, the hotel welcomes guests to the city of canals with big, cosy and comfortable rooms. Something that never fails to impress our guests is the unique design and architecture that this property holds. Another highlight is The Restaurant Vermeer, fronted by Michelin Star Chef Chris Naylor.

  • For travellers who are interested in a modern, comfortable, cosy yet historic stay, there is NH Collection Amsterdam Doelen. Guests will find their home away from home in this captivating building with views over Amsterdam’s canals. 

Find out more about NH Collection in Netherlands here. 

Also during the month of April, the NH Collection brand was launched in Rome. The official ceremony was chaired by Italy’s Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, Dario Franceschini. Furthermore, we celebrated the opening of the NH Collection Palazzo Cinquecento, an extraordinary historical building that dates back to the 1900’s, and conveniently located within reach of Rome’s famous cultural sights.

For more of NH Collection in Rome.

May 2016

During the month of May, NH Hotels Group crossed off a much-awaited event off the list; the launch of NH Collection in Germany, an event attended and chaired by the Spanish Ambassador in the country, Pablo García-Berdoy.

But this wasn’t the company’s only reason to celebrate this month. To accompany the celebration of this important milestone, we hosted, for the first time, the NH Collection Video Art Awards at NH Collection Berlin Mitte Friedrichstrasse. This prize was created in collaboration with curator Leo Kuelbs and promotes talented young video artists.

NH Collection in Germany and more, here. 

September 2016

The presentation of the upper-upscale brand NH Collection in America took place during September, in Mexico City. The official event was chaired by the Secretary of Tourism of the Mexican Federal Government, Enrique de la Madrid, and the Spanish Ambassador in Mexico, Luis Fernández-Cid de las Alas Pumariño.

The presentation of the brand in America started off with the inauguration of the NH Collection Mexico City Reforma, recently refurbished and located in the heart of the tourist district in Mexico City.

NH Hotel Group operates 60 hotels in 11 countries in America, of which, 19 hotels fall under the NH Collection brand and are located in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico. An eclectically vibrant set of properties that perfectly reflect the ancient and modern history of their locations.

More of NH Collection in Mexico and beyond, here.

November

With the international openings and inaugurations of the NH Collection Gran Hotel Calderón in Barcelona and NH Collection Suecia in Madrid, November was the month of NH Hotels Group’s expansion in Spain. Both hotels are located in historical buildings near to the main cultural attractions, making them the perfect spots to explore the city, whether on a leisure or business trip.

The NH Collection Gran Hotel Calderón is located along the Rambla de Cataluña and some of its highlights include a terrace with a pool, a solarium and 360-degree views of Barcelona, 10 event rooms and a video wall in the lobby.

The NH Collection Madrid Suecia is located just off Gran Vía, making it easy for the visitor to tour the city and enjoy the high variety of entertainment options Madrid has to offer. The hotel’s restaurant, Casa Suecia, offers food lovers a very interesting and unique gastronomy experience that’s not to be missed.

So, there we have it. 2016, an extraordinary year! And we can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring us: new inspirations, new goals and new dreams.

Find out more about NH Collection!

Road Trippin’: The basic list of Can’t Miss sites in Ecuador

By NH | 17:41

Not too long ago we took you on an adventure through the magical country of Chile. This time, we’ll guide you on an extraordinary trip to some of Ecuador’s most incredible places. Using Quito as our starting point, you’ll discover the amazing nature, wildlife and activities that the country has to offer. Are you ready for an exciting Latin American escapade through Ecuador? Let’s go!

Your Base, Quito!

At 2.850 metres above the sea level, Ecuador’s historic metropolis, Quito, is the highest capital city in the world and is the closest one to the equator. It boasts one of the largest, best-preserved historic centres, featuring baroque-esque structures, neo-gothic churches, colonial houses, and oh so much more. Any travel lover will be dazzled by the rich history that this city is teeming with, and makes the perfect base for anyone looking to discover the nearby nature or take on excursions further outside the city. But where?

Mindo Nambillo Cloud Forest Reserve

A little over a 2 hours’ drive away from Quito, and on your way to Esmeralda, the Mindo Valley is located on the western slopes of the Andes. The protected area covers 48.267 acres, a world of natural wonders that are the home to a vast number of endemic species, and an unforgettable tourist attraction that will keep even the most demanding of nature lovers occupied: hikes that lead you to unique green landscapes and incredible waterfalls, butterfly farms, birdwatching tours, tubing, and several zip lines and cable cars that give visitors beautiful views of the cloud forest.

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Quilotoa Lagoon

Next, we’re are taking you to a volcano Crater Lake located almost 3 hours south of Quito. A very special one, as it is considered the most beautiful lagoon in South America. The fantastic Quilotoa Lagoon is a beauty that comes with a challenge. What do we mean? Before you visit, you’ll have to make sure you’ve given your body enough time for altitude adjustment, and that’s because the Quilotoa crater is at 3.800 m!

But, once you reach the rim of the crater, you’ll have an unbelievable view of the lagoon’s shimmering blue water. Ever wanted to go canoeing inside a volcano? This is your chance! Walk down the crater towards the lagoon, and you’ll have the opportunity to rent a canoe and marvel at the stunning views.

Besides its beauty, another reason to visit Quilotoa is that it will serve as the perfect training for our next highlight in Ecuador!

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 Cotopaxi Volcano National Park

60 Km separate Quito from one of South America’s most active volcanoes, Cotopaxi. It’s also the second highest peak in Ecuador at 5.897 m and it is definitely worth the trip. Can you imagine the adrenaline rush of being close to an active volcano? Be ready for breathtaking views and fantastic landscapes, wild horses and unique flora on your way.

Our tip: make sure to pack a pair of alpaca fur gloves, and a hat won’t hurt either! Also, make sure you’re ready for the altitude. How? Spend a few days in Quito in order to give your body to adjust to higher altitudes.

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Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve

Located in the region of Esmeraldas, this is the largest protected area in Ecuador. A natural paradise formed by several rivers, the Toisan mountain range, the Cotacachi volcano and lagoons. Such a varied geography favours different climates, resulting in an incredible biodiversity: more than 2.107 plant species, 139 mammal species, 689 of birds, 111 reptiles and 124 amphibians await the visitor in a unique environment. If you’re looking to reconnect with nature, this is the place to be!

We strongly recommend a visit to the beautiful Lagoon of Quicocha. To get there, you can walk the 5-hour hike starting at the park’s visitor’s centre, or enjoy the boat ride that goes along the lake.

Our tip: Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, water and a sweater! 

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Galápagos Islands

If you travel as far as Ecuador, it is almost obliged to visit the unique and remote islands where Darwin’s theory of evolution was born. The Galápagos National Park is an archipelago of 18 volcanic islands & it’s the home to endemic creatures that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Being here is like being in a National Geographic documentary! Wildlife is abundant, snorkelling is an unforgettable experience and you’ll get the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch sea lions play, giant turtles glide in water, penguins, eagle rays and even explore volcanoes.

Today, we’ve highlighted 3 out of the 4 inhabited islands of the Galápagos Archipelago.

Santa Cruz
It isn’t often that you get the opportunity to walk along with giant tortoises in their natural habit, right? But it is possible in Santa Cruz, the main of the inhabited islands in Galápagos. The Charles Darwin Research Station and the headquarters of the Galápagos National Park Services are located on this island and can be visited by tourists. Here are our favourite things to do and visit in Santa Cruz:

  • The beautiful beach of Tortuga Bay and its marine iguanas

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  • El Chato, a ranch where you’ll be admire giant tortoises

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  • Las Grietas, a little piece of heaven where you’ll be able to swim in crystal clear water, make sure to bring your snorkelling equipment!

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San Cristobal
San Cristobal is one of the oldest islands of the Galápagos and is composed of 4 fused and extinct volcanoes. Did you know this is the island Darwin set foot on first when he arrived in Galápagos? Our two favourite places on the island are:

  • The spectacular Lobería beach, where you’ll want to stay forever observing the cutest sea lion pups!

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  • The 300m Punta Carola beach, probably the best surf in Galápagos and one of the best places in Galápagos to watch an unforgettable sunset.

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Our Tip: snorkelling is even better in San Cristobal than in Santa Cruz, so don’t forget your underwater camera!

Isabela

Isabel is the largest of the Galápagos Islands, almost twice the size of Santa Cruz, and as opposed to San Cristobal, Isabela is one of the youngest islands. The best wildlife in Galáapagos can be found here and it is definitely the best place to see whales, dolphins and rare endemic species like the mangrove fish, penguins and the rare flightless cormorant.

Five out of the spectacular six volcanoes that form Isabela are still active. We recommend a climb to the Sierra Negra Volcano, where you’ll get to see second largest caldera in the world.

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The best time to visit Ecuador is during the months from December through May, as you’ll find the weather warm enough to enjoy the coast, but also humid enough that you can explore the rainforest without being uncomfortable.

If, like us, you also think it’s a trip one must do in life… Now is the time! Remember that, as an old Asian proverb says, it is better to see something once, than to hear about it a thousand times!

 

Your hotel in Quito. 

CHILE: A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE

By NH | 15:51

Today we’re travelling to the beautiful and amazing Chile, a land of deserts, mountains, glaciers and beaches. A land that has it all. We are about to embark on a journey of discovery, during which we’ll briefly visit the main cities of Iquique, Antofagasta and Santiago de Chile. But don’t think we’ll stay there long… We’ll use these three cities as starting points for other unique adventures in the countries wilderness and some of the most inhospitable areas. 

Are you ready?

IQUIQUE

Iquique is a city that rests on the coast of northern Chile. It was founded in the 16th century, linked to small indigenous fishing communities, and evidence has suggested that the Chango people lived here as early as 7,000BC.

Its location between an enormous sand dune and the Pacific make this one of the world’s finest spots for paragliding. But if you’re not up to the challenge, there are still plenty of things for you to do and see! The city serves as an opening to incredible places, like the UNESCO World Heritage Sites towns of Humberstone and Santa Laura, the Isluga Volcano National Park or the hot-springs of Pica and Matilla.

1. Humberstone and Santa Laura
These two abandoned mining towns are located in the arid Atacama Desert and have gained a well-deserved spot in the world’s most ghostly places list! In spite of being uninhabited, both towns are being well preserved and the visitor will have the chance to visit the remains of the old industrial installations that were used in the towns’ more glorious times and learn all about saltpetre processing.

Our tip? We wouldn’t recommend a night visit, as it is rumoured that the dead of the local cemetery rises at night and pace the town!

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2. Isluga Volcano National Park

Although 190 km separate Iquique from the spectacular Isluga Volcano National park, it is definitely worth the visit. A popular choice for travellers in this area is to hire one of the special tours offered in the park and spend the day admiring and learning about the park’s endemic inhabitants… like the guanaco or vizcacha.

Curious? Or, if you prefer to discover the park on your own, there are several short and easy routes you can follow: the Isluga Trek and the Laguna Arabilla trek.

Our tip? Don’t miss out on the chance to appreciate volcano Isluga and to take in the fantastic panoramic views.

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3. Hot Springs of Pica and Mamiña
Another popular day trip from Iquique, both for local and tourists, are the hot Springs of Pica and Mamiña. If you ever wanted to visit an oasis in the middle of the desert, this is your chance!

Pica and Mamiña appear before your eyes after kilometres and kilometres of dry land, an incredible paradise where you’ll be able to relax in peaceful hot springs and savour delicious tropical fruits; mango, guava, grapefruit…

Our tip? Head to the gorgeous hot-spring of Cocha Resbaladero, in Pica.

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Your hotel in Iquique

 

ANTOFAGASTA


Antofagasta is the second large city in our route. Also known as “The Pearl of the North”, it is a port city located in the north of Chile, often overlooked by travellers visiting the country. We think the city is a great starting point for some amazing day trips to nearby areas, like the Atacama Desert. Here are some ideas to tease your travelling soul!

1. The Atacama Desert
Located between the Pacific and the Andes, the incredible Desert of Atacama is a 131 km drive away from Antofagasta. Without a doubt, a MUST visit during any visit to Chile, the desert offers a unique landscape where rust-colored ravines, salt flats, geysers, rocks and active volcanoes welcome the visitor to the driest place on Earth.

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The desert extends covers over 100.000 square Kilometres of savage beauty but we’ve highlighted some of the top attractions that will ensure an unforgettable experience:

● The Moon Valley, one of our favourites! After a 45 walk, you’ll be rewarded with stunning scenery and fantastic sunsets. Our tip? Make sure to bring lots of water and some warm clothes, it gets chilly at dusk!

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● Salar de Atacama, a healing oasis. Isolated and beautiful, it’s the world’s third biggest salar (salt lake), just behind Uyuni’s. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting your camera, as you will see landscapes you never imagined, lagoons mirroring the cloudless sky and beautiful flamingos flying in the horizon.

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Our tip? A night visit will grant you a memorable stargazing experience.

● Tatio Geysers, a show of nature’s power for the early birds among you, as 6 am is the best time to see the geysers in full action. One thing to keep in mind is that the geysers are one of the major attractions in the Atacama Desert, you’ll most likely find yourself enjoying the show with hundreds of people!

A curious fact about the Tatio Geysers: at 4.320 meters above sea level, it is one of the world’s highest elevations geysers.

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2. Huanchaca Ruins
The gorgeous Huanchaca ruins are the remains of an old silver smelter that operated in Antofagasta from 1982 to 1902, co-owned by Bolivia, Chile and Britain.

We recommend wandering around the ruins while enjoying the views of the sea, you’ll realise that the place actually looks a bit like a medieval castle! Afterwards, enter The Museum and learn about the natural, archaeological and historical heritage of the area. 

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Your hotel in Antofagasta

 

SANTIAGO DE CHILE


From the northern city Antofagasta, we move down to the more cosmopolitan Santiago, the capital of Chile. However, after discovering the city’s unique flavours and personality, we invite you to discover some of the surrounding points of interest, such as Valparaiso or Cajón del Maipo.

1. Valparaiso
As Chile’s second largest city, Valparaiso is the total opposite of Santiago de Chile. Here, the visitor will discover bright coloured buildings, vibrant street art and a bohemian atmosphere.

And did you know that Valparaiso is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site? You’ll appreciate an incredible mix of cultures, as immigrants from Italy, Spain, Germany and Yugoslavia have left their mark on local traditions throughout history.

Our favourite thing about Valparaiso? Its authenticity and people’s kindness.

Photo Credit: originalboletus on Instagram

 

Photo Credit: fernandopartar on Instagram

 

Photo Credit: sailordimi on Instagram

2. Cajon del Maipo
Just an hour south of Santiago, Cajon del Maipo is a natural paradise of wineries, Incan history, beautiful waterfalls, picturesque little towns that spread through the wilderness and a wide range of sports activities perfect for adrenaline seekers.

Our tip? Don’t miss the stunning Cascada de las Animas, a beautiful and relaxed setting.

Photo Credit: shirleyrsantos on Instagram

 

Photo Credit: felipecancino on Instagram

 

Photo Credit: nadjamelo89 on Instagram

Your hotel in Santiago de Chile

These are just some of the beautiful treasures that can be found in Chile. Next month we’ll be taking you to another of our South American destinations: ECUADOR.