1. Granada, Spain
If you happen to be taking a trip to the Spanish capital of Madrid sometime soon, be sure to jump in a car and head south to the region of Andalucía. In it, you’ll find the spectacular city of Granada, which is quintessentially Spanish. You won’t be short of tapas to choose from here, nor will you be short of spectacular sights. Granada is a Moorish city, meaning that it was inhabited and largely built by the Moors, Muslim inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages. The city’s shining architectural jewel is the Alhambra, a 13th-Century palace and fortress complex.
2. Bath, England
The southern British city of Bath started off life as a Roman spa town almost two millenniums ago. Natural hot springs abound in the area, which gave rise to the city becoming a renowned spa destination throughout the ages. Georgian architecture has a pronounced presence in the city, which has a distinct and elegant personality when compared to the hustle and bustle of London. What’s more is that the world-famous temple, Stonehenge, is just a day trip away.
3. Kyoto, Japan
Jump on a Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo and visit Japan’s old Imperial capital, which was the seat of the country’s Imperial Court for 1,000 years. No less than 2,000 temples can be found throughout the city, and no other location can offer such an insightful look into Japanese culture of old. During the hotter months, you’re likely to see pretty young ladies going about their business dressed in traditional kimonos, clacking along the sidewalks with geta (traditional footwear resembling both clogs and flip-flops) adorning their feet.
4. Bologna, Italy
Italy is one of the best countries to enjoy a meal in the world, and Bologna is one of the best cities to enjoy a meal in Italy. Italian staples such as mortadella, tortellini and Bolognese all hail from this stunning city. You can easily get lost in its maze of streets that date back to a time immemorial, but it’ll be incredibly fun if you do – there’s so much to see (and of historical significance) that you won’t know where to look first. Be sure to visit the Due Torri, a pair of leaning towers that date back to the 12th Century.
5. Bordeaux, France
This sleepy city on the banks of the Garonne, in the Gironde department of southwestern France, is synonymous with delicious cheeses and fine wine. In fact, the city is widely considered to be the wine capital of the world. It’s arguably more representative of what French urban life is really like in contrast to Paris. Furthermore, there are some fantastic places of interest to explore, with the most prominent being Bordeaux Cathedral. This beautiful building is a national monument of France.
6. Cartagena, Colombia
Colombia’s fifth-largest city is notable for its colorful Colonial architecture. Historical sights are present in droves, as are beautiful beaches and countless cobbled alleyways. The city was founded in 1533 by Pedro de Heredia, a Spanish conqueror. Nowadays, it’s home to almost 900,000 people in addition to being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
7. Krakow, Poland
This city is the second-largest in Poland, and one of the country’s oldest. Its roots can be traced back as far as the 7th Century AD. A prominent place of interest in the city is Wawel Royal Castle, which was built primarily in the Gothic architectural style, yet also features Romanesque and Renaissance influences. It was the residence of the Kings of Poland for many centuries. Another site worth visiting is the Schindler Factory, where Oskar Schindler (about whom the movie, Schindler’s List, was made) sheltered Jewish workers from the Nazis during their occupation in World War II.
8. St. Petersburg, Russia
Founded at the turn of the 18th Century by Tsar Peter the Great, St. Petersburg is the northernmost city in the world with a population of over 1 million people. It was Russia’s Imperial capital for more than 200 years prior to the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. The city’s most iconic landmark is the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, which was built on the site where Emperor Alexander II was fatally wounded in 1881. The State Hermitage, one of the world’s largest museums, is also worth a visit.
9. Porto, Portugal
It’s sad that to think Porto, Portugal’s second city, is often overlooked by travelers, who tend to look to the country’s capital, Lisbon, instead. It is every bit as beautiful, boasting a UNESCO World Heritage site in the form of Ribeira, the city’s historic center. Medieval charm abounds in this city, and it is also the place where port wine was invented. If you’re somewhat of a wine aficionado, you’ll love this place.
10. Chefchaouen, Morocco
Built to ward off invading armies of Portuguese, Chefchaouen is nicknamed “The Blue City”, due to many blue buildings lining its streets. It was founded during the 15th Century as a small fortress, which still exists to this day. Cementing its legitimacy as a noteworthy tourist destination are the fantastic natural backdrops – Chefchaouen is nestled among the Rif Mountains.