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  1. From romance to adventure: inspiring destinations for every journey

    posted by Heather Thompson | 0 Comments

    Aug132012

    So you’re looking to take a trip...but what kind of journey are you looking for? From solo backpackers to families and everything in between, pretty much everyone starts planning their trip with a specific type of experience in mind.

    To this end, we’ve compiled a few great destinations to suit a range of interests. Have a look and be inspired!

    Adventure Travel: Rotorua, NZ

    Rotorua is a beautiful city on the North Island of New Zealand, just 230km from Auckland. It sits right on a caldera and is well known for its geothermal activity, from the geysers at Whakarewarewa to the relaxing mud pools at Kuirau Park. It’s also surrounded by 17 lakes, with white-water rafting and extreme kayaking available.

    New Zealanders seem to have a knack for inventing new ways to have fun dangerously, imaginatively interpreting the need for speed. Why not try climbing into a giant plastic ball and throwing yourself down a hill, also known as Zorbing? Or you could head over to Agroventures, where you can zip around the Shweeb Velodrome, bungy jump or put on a flight suit and experience free falling. Rotorua also has skydiving, luge, sledging and more.

    Rotorua Central Backpackers is ideally located in the very centre of the city near Lake Rotorua and offers private double rooms, female dorms and mixed dorms, making it perfect for all kinds of travellers. With a spa pool, BBQ area, offstreet parking, a fully equipped kitchen and free local phone calls, this hostel’s also a convenient launching point for adventure seekers arriving to Rotorua.

    More adventuresome travel: Jeep trekking in Namibia | Trapeze school on the Santa Monica beach in Los Angeles | Cliff jumping in Jamaica

    Romantic Getaways: New York, NY, USA

    Paris might have the reputation as the most romantic city in the world but we think New York is also an excellent choice for couples looking for a romantic getaway together. Just imagine waking up to coffee and bagels together before taking a stroll through Central Park, where you could skate on the ice rink, ride the antique carousel, picnic by Strawberry Fields or take a paddleboat out on the lake together. There’s also the iconic sights and sounds of the Village, or a relaxed stroll along Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

    Tired of walking around? Take in the sights over Battery Park and New York Harbour while sipping cocktails or enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience of watching a ballet or opera at Lincoln Centre. And don’t forget the three Ss of any great New York getaway – Spa treatments, Shopping and Steak.

    La Sienna guesthouse is set in a charming brownstone in Harlem and features a number of private double-bed rooms. They offer free unlimited Wi-Fi, in-room TV, air conditioning and even a guest kitchen if you feel like staying in and cooking a romantic dinner for two.

    More romance: Gondola riding in Venice | Diving at secluded beaches around Sorrento, Italy | Stay in a Riad in Morocco

    Weekends Away: Madrid, Spain

    Madrid is the capital of Spain but is often overlooked in favour of Barcelona. In fact, this thriving city has so much to offer, from museums to shopping to nightlife, making it an ideal choice for weekend trips. During the day you could see Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ and Goya’s famous Black Paintings by visiting the city’s ‘Museum Triangle’ of the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia. Then stroll around Plaza Mayor or visit the Palacio Real. Hungry? For a quick snack, you could try local favourites Cien Montaditos or the Museo del Jamon, or for a delicious dinner head to Cava Baja, full of popular restaurants and bars.

    Madrid also has fantastic nightlife, no matter what kind of music or atmosphere you’re looking for. We recommend checking out Chueca’s hip and gay bars, or starting the night in Plaza Santa Ana. From fancy bars on hotel rooftops to kitsch Hawaiian tiki bars, this area always has something on offer.

    Nursing a hangover on the Sunday morning? Make sure you head over to the Rastro, a huge outdoor market selling everything from Moroccan lamps to chic clothes to antiques and handmade jewellery.

    The centrally-located Way Hostel offers double private rooms and dorms ranging from three bed to 12 beds, many ensuite. Their rates include breakfast and free Wi-Fi. They also offer air conditioning, bicycle hire and a wide variety of nightly activities like walking tours, pub crawls and flamenco performances.

    More weekenders: Canal tours of Amsterdam | Join the Notting Hill Carnival parade in London | View the Northern Lights in Iceland

    Quick Culture Hits: Paris, France

    No matter where you turn in Paris, you’re bound to be looking at some part of the city’s rich history. From the distinct architecture to chic fashion, this city has it all. Where else could you pass by the Sacre-Coeur, Notre-Dame or Saint Chapelle cathedrals while just walking around? Here you can spend the days exploring one of the city’s iconic museums, such as the Louvre or the D’Orsay, or discovering lesser-known treasures like the Arab World Institute. Don’t forget to pay tribute to Oscar Wilde and a hundred other luminaries in the stunning Pere Lachaise cemetery.

    Parisian culture isn’t just experienced through sight, either; the food is legendary. Check out Chartier – you might have to queue for a while but it’s worth it to experience the legendary waiters, escargot and buzzing atmosphere of this very budget-friendly bistro. After dinner the choices of nightlife are practically infinite, from cabaret at the Moulin Rouge to the Paris Opera to any of the city’s clubs, pubs and cafes.

    Cecilia’s Guest House offers self-catering apartments set in a house with a large private garden. Each apartment has a kitchenette and also features free Wi-Fi, free maps, bicycle parking and the option of having delicious, freshly-made pastries for breakfast.

    More culture: Gorge on Renaissance art in Florence, Italy | Join a full-moon party in Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand | Visit The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg

    Whet your appetite? Use your imagination and plan the perfect trip...no matter where you’re going, we’ve got great accommodation to suit. Still looking for inspiration? Sign up for our events and festival alerts! They highlight everything from quirky and unusual celebrations to the best sports events around the world, providing great new ideas for every traveller.


    Rotorua image courtesy Héctor de Pereda.
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