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The 5 best places to go on a smart vacation

It’s time to take a break. You know it, we know it, your frowning pug Rocky knows it.

In the ultra-fast work environment of the 21st century, professionals live and breathe their work. How oft in the echoing halls of the workplace has the phrase “take a break” been uttered from weary lips and spent cheeks? From (office) time immemorial, and for good reason – it’s incredibly important to detach from the job and relax when your mind and body is feeling the strain. However, instead of just staring at a sandy beach, why not learn to cook empanadas, dance tango, scuba dive, or speak a new language? Cue the “smart vacation,” a mix of personal development and vacation.

Ready to get more out of your time off? Here’s a guide to our favorite smart vacation destinations.

1. London

Top up your language skills in one of the culture capitals of the world. London boasts an array of the best museums and markets on the planet (from the British Museum to Portobello Road Market), with both ancient relics and tasty treats in abundance. The best part? They’re free. What’s more, on the last Friday of every month student groups visit a museum “late,” where they can network in English while sampling guest lectures, drinks, and live music.

2. Miami

Miami offers more than just world-class beaches. Disconnect from work-mode in a city distinguished by its Latin-American heritage: Practice salsa with a local instructor, dine al fresco with your peers while speaking in a new tongue, and absorb the colors of the Art Deco District.

3. Malta

Malta is the Mediterranean archipelago you never knew you needed to visit. With archaeological evidence of Roman settlement and subterranean relics dating back thousands of years, this sun-drenched nation is the ideal place to take a smart vacation. Spontaneously don the scuba gear for a picture-perfect dive at sunrise, then refresh your language skills over traditional Maltese fritters at lunch.

4. Madrid

The Spanish capital has an artistic flair and infectious energy hard to beat. Obsess over tapas on Calle Cava Baja and untangle Picasso at the Reina Sofia Museum with a group of fellow professionals, in between classes. Top tip: Don’t forget to shout ‘Hala Madrid!’ when you see the white jerseys.

5. Paris

History flows around every gothic spire and through every sweet-smelling patisserie in elegant Paris. From Renaissance to revolution, the French capital has always been at the epicenter of change in Europe. Marvel at the charming Parisian boutiques off the Champs-Elysées, or grab a leisurely Café au Lait and people watch at Café de Flore – either way, you’re sure to be enchanted.

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