Here's some crisp end of the year travel destinations, where you can relax and enjoy endlessly.
Mauritius is fascinating. A world-in-one-island piece of paradise. The very name conjures up images of tropical luxury and lush extravagance.
We chose Mauritius, not because of the sky-blue seas, white, soft, sandy beaches, luxury hotels or the beach houses (which can also be found closer to home), but because it’s often hard to know what to do next on this African Island.
This slice of paradise is loaded with historic sights, cultural diversity, geographic variation and almost limitless activities to distract you from the daily routine of beaches and swimming. And its biggest asset is the chilled-out charm of its warm and welcoming people.
Mauritius is the most developed of the Mascarene Islands, but with a bit of effort and resourcefulness you can escape the crowds and find your own sand-filled grass patch.
The flavors, the noises and the hustle & bustle of the mercantile capital of Port Louis, are never far away. The busy garment markets in the Central Plateau towns of Quatre Bornes and Curepipe have that French something with a bit of special. And the Black River Gorges National Park's dramatic virgin luxuriant forests make you forget that Mauritius is just another beach destination.
The beaches! From the stunning sand-rimmed blue lagoons and the wide public soft beaches to the picturesque islands off the country’s coastline, there’s truly something special for everyone here.
Add to these the joys of a delicious blend of Chinese, Indian, French and African cuisine, the rousing beat of séga music and the infectious party spirit of the locals, and you'll suddenly understand why Mauritius really is so many people’s idea of paradise on earth.
Know more at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mauritius
Nature has been prolific and perhaps has spent a lot of time creating Montenegro, producing such iconic draws as the bewitching Bay of Kotor and the buzzing beaches along its Riviera. Be sure to pack a pair of hiking boots with that swimsuit of yours, for Montenegro’s beauty is no less intense in the wild and rugged, almost savage, interior. A new – and steadily growing – network of hiking and biking trails and improved infrastructure is making this glorious quilt of nature ever more accessible, while creating new employment for locals.
One reason to plan a trip to Montenegro this December is to get there before the constantly rising tourism changes the nature and feel of the place and drives prices up. During the seven years since Montenegro separated from Serbia, travelers have started to rediscover the breathtaking beauty and peaceful atmosphere of this small Balkan country.
The locals are warm and cozy sharing with tourists the authentic Balkan life experience.
The growth of tourism in Montenegro is outracing nearly every country in Europe—visitors outnumbered residents 2-to-1 in 2011 – and yet the country is still affordable. For now.
You can rent a comfortable hotel room for $75 a night and enjoy a hearty meal of local delicacies, plus wine and dessert, for $12-$15. But don’t wait. These prices won’t last long.
Read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montenegro
3. Courchevel, France
Located in the westernmost fold of the Trois Vallées, the largest ski area in the world, Courchevel is made up of four separate settlements, each defined by its altitude in meters.
Courchevel 1850, the largest of the four, has the most glitter of the French Alpine resorts. Exclusive hotels, stylish chalets and apartments, Michelin-starred restaurants and a buzzing nightlife, are what makes Courchevel a snowy paradise.
Once a predominantly French resort referred to as the 21st arrondissement of Paris, it is today a cosmopolitan destination attracting a jet-set crowd from as far as Russia, Argentina and South-East Asia. The resort offers plenty of scope for skiers of all grades with miles of carefully maintained pistes, an abundance of off-piste and a number of challenging couloirs.
Know more about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courchevel,_France
Cambodia is still a great deal for adventure-seekers and history buffs.
Despite the boom in the number of midrange hotels in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in particular, a huge amount of budget accommodation is still available at much lower prices.
The challenge is, you have to be a creative and imaginative tourist. Exploring the country's less-well-visited parts will find it easy to afford that extra Angkor beer or three, while discovering that unseen beauty. A budget of US $15 is tight but achievable, provided you forgo a room with air-con and don’t dwell for too long in the headline destinations.
Read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambodia
5. Portland, Oregon, USA
One of the world's greatest towns for beer, weirdness, cheap tasty food, funky neighborhoods, forest hikes and much more craziness, Portland is the kind of city you visit for only two days and then move to with your whole family. Endlessly entertaining and intriguing, it's easily walked and explored by bike and most locals will tell you the famous rain is merely a bonus.
Portland, OR translates to a travelers dream. Cheap food! Free things to do! Forty breweries (and still counting...) with pints of perfectly crafted beer often costing just US $4! Yes, yes budget-conscious but still fashionably minded travelers may have reached the promised land in Portland, Oregon. The city has been thrust into the limelight by the Portlandia TV series (2011), but was hardly unknown before. With the town's progressive take on urban life in a part of the Pacific Northwest that’s best appreciated slowly, it boasts with good taste.
In an episode of Portlandia, the solution to the city's excessive produce bounty is 'We can pickle that!' But skip the screw-tops and head to the farmers markets for famous berries, mushrooms from the rain-saturated forests, artisan-baked goods, ubiquitous food carts, prepared foods and a community vibe where love is celebrated amidst the tomatoes.
Read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland,_Oregon
6. Naples, Italy
Sandwiched between a sleeping volcano and the steaming Campi Flegrei, Naples is a rumbling mass of contradictions. Extremes are something that define Naples. Grimy streets meet palm-fringed boulevards. Crumbling façades hide baroque ballrooms and shrines flank cutting-edge clubs. One minute you’re in dusty Tangier, the next you’re thinking of Paris.
Exploring the intricate system of roads is an adventure in itsself. Wild traffic, shabby street stalls and smooth-talking African salesmen make for an intense introduction. The Mercato quarter is a high-octane spectacle of rough-and-ready markets, multiculturalism and poverty.
Centri storico is dense, dark and intoxicating. The ancient Greek streets teem with tourists, scooters, shrines and secret hidden treasures, letting you fantasize the Latin romance stories.
Shop-heavy Via Toledo, is the perfect haunt for the chic shopaholics.
South of Via Toledo, regal Santa Lucia boasts the mighty Piazza del Plebiscito, Palazzo Reale and the great world opera Teatro San Carlo. Just around the corner, Castel Nuovo (Maschio Angioino) looms over Piazza del Municipio like a giant toy castle.
Looking down on it all is middle-class Vomero, a leafy concoction of gorgeous Liberty villas, soulless apartment blocks and the hulking Castel Sant’Elmo.
West of Piazza del Plebiscito, upmarket Chiaia is Naples’ heart of cool, its sleek shops and bars stretching west towards the bobbing-boat port of Mergellina.
From here, posh Posillipo climbs the promontory separating the Bay of Naples from the Bay of Pozzuoli. Beyond it lies the Campi Flegrei, a volcanic sprawl of classical ruins, sulphurous steam and sexy summertime beach clubs.
Find out more about Naples at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naples,_Italy
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