We are well into 2017 and while you have probably abandoned your weight loss aspirations (I know I have), you can still focus on improving yourself through mind and body. How? By traveling and exploring our wonderful world, of course.
Here are my top six picks for cities you need to see (and spend some serious time in) in 2017:
The youngest city in Europe and a perfect place for a relaxed weekend away.
With 666 licensed pubs and 10 million pints of Guinness produced each day, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better city for a relaxed night out with friends. But Dublin has so much more to offer – from literature and culture at the famed Trinity College (with alumni like Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker – the creator of Dracula), to the National Gallery and the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) for art. Need an escape? Head to the city’s Phoenix Park, the biggest enclosed park in Europe, for a relaxing stroll, or take the train to the sweet little town of Howth for the freshest seafood in the world.
An underrated gem on the West Coast, perfect for a week of food, culture and all-American sports (nature’s close too).
Seattle is way underrated – home to Amazon (.com, not the rainforest) and Starbucks and must-visits like Sculpture Park, Ballard Farmers Market, Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum or Experience Music Project, there’s great food and culture wherever you look. It’s also a mecca for fans of American sports like football (not to be confused with what they call soccer over there), with teams like Seahawks, Mariners or Sounders calling the city home. If city life gets a little much, take a water taxi to Alki Beach where you can build a bonfire and enjoy s’mores on a balmy summer’s eve, or take the ferry to Bainbridge Island and treat yourself to an ice cream at Mora.
A charming city perfect for a long weekend filled with hearty German fare, pretty parks and surfing (yes, you read that right).
Can’t make it to California or Australia to learn how to surf? No worries, Munich – somewhat unexpectedly – has you covered. This Bavarian town in the southern part of Germany is the river surfing capital of the world (and indeed the birthplace of the sport) and just a thoroughly relaxing place to spend a long weekend. The English Garden is a great place to stop to chill, eat a German sausage or two and just hang with friends on a warm summer’s day. If the weather isn’t cooperating, head to the Volksbad, an authentic ancient Roman spa that will make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time, or explore Tumblingerstrasse, the heart of Munich’s growing urban art scene. Outside the city, Neuschwanstein Castle is an absolute must-see – it inspired Disney’s Magic Kingdom castle and is a thoroughly lovely place to spend a day.
A world city filled with quirky culture and absolutely incredible food.
Tokyo is split up into various districts – each with it’s own unique flavor and character. You can take a boat cruise down the Kanda River from Nihonbashi and see kabuki, a traditional Japanese dance-drama, at the Kabukiza Theatre. Head to Harajuku district for the latest in urban culture, quintessentially Japanese fashion and the now world-famous cat cafes. For a dose of nature, head to the Yoyogi Park and its famedMeiji Shrine in the center of the city to soak up some zen vibes. Although Tokyo is chock full of restaurants of every imaginable cuisine (seriously, you could eat yourself absolutely silly in this city), the sushi is indeed legendary. I recommend the Tokyo Sushi Academy Tsukiji for a 90-minute class (only on Saturdays) – an opportunity not only to eat more sushi than you’ve ever eaten before, but learn to make it as well.
The world capital of chill – you heard it here first – and home to some of the most stunning beaches in the world.
One of the most photographed ocean pools in Australia is found at Bondi Beach, so if you’re not big on swimming in the big blue, you can opt for the 50-meter saltwater pool found along the Bondi to Coogee walk instead. This walk offers an easy-to-moderate hike of about six kilometers, and a perfect way to enjoy Sydney’s stunning coastline. For a relaxed picnic, head to the stunning Royal Botanic Gardens, and for an opportunity to conquer your fear of heights and soak up some truly epic views of the city, go up the world-famous Harbor Bridge. Not quite done with beach life? Take the ferry to Manly Beach, complete with a fun boardwalk, great surf spots and a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop in case you get desperately hungry.
6. Rio de Janeiro
A true gem of a city, perfect for a week or two of beaches, mountains and awesome food.
In addition to the fabulous restaurants simply too numerous to mention (I’d recommend starting your day with breakfast at Forte de Copacabana and ending it with churrasco – a Brazilian BBQ dinner at any eatery in town), be sure to take a cable car up to Pao de Acucar for an astonishing panorama, and go for a hike at Pedra Bonita and Forte do Leme or a bike ride around Lagoa. And since the city is all about the beaches, take your time to enjoy Pedra do Arpoado, Grumari and Ipanema, just to name a few of the city’s seaside gems. To top off your trip, take the tram up to the Corcovado – the famous Jesus Statue and symbol of Rio – and take an epic, “only in Rio” selfie.