Some people like to go back to the same place over and over. They really enjoy it and find comfort in the familiar… I’m definitely not one of those people. I always want to go somewhere new, someplace I’ve never been before…
However, despite saying that, there are a few places that I’ve been that were just so spectacular that I’d definitely consider a return trip…
10) Sydney, Australia
Sydney is probably the best known city in Australia. Home of such iconic delights as the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge it is a must see when visiting Australia. It was our starting point when we visited last fall and was truly a delight. Maybe it was because it was our first stop on a 6½ week trip and we had almost a week in the city but it was definitely our favourite part of Australia. With shops and sights in walking distance and multiple options for transportation our time was both relaxing and entertaining. It’s the kind of place that when reminiscing makes you think “yes, I would enjoy doing that again” and get to see the things we missed – like an Opera at the Sydney Opera House.
9) Washington, DC, USA
Washington, DC. The home of the President of the United States and many other symbols of power. With such sights as the White House, the National Mall, and the Smithsonian, Washington is a place to see. I have to admit that when reminiscing on our time there I didn’t really find it all that enjoyable – the heat and humidity in July were unbearable (especially for someone who prefers much lower temperatures) and I was not a happy camper. But when reflecting on everything we got to do and everything we missed, it’s definitely somewhere I’d go again – except I’d make sure to time it better in regards to the weather. In particular I’d want to time a return trip to coincide with the magical looking Cherry Blossom Festival that happens at the end of March/beginning of April every year.
8) Barcelona, Spain
Spain’s coastal city on the other hand is a place I only remember with fondness. Situated on the eastern coast the city spills onto the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. Barcelona is a city full of decadent food, stunning architecture and rich culture. La Ramblas is a street filled with all three – street performers fill the street that is lined with Tapas bars. My time in the city was capped with some of the best cuisine I have ever had. Sitting in the port area of the city in a restaurant on the water was where I had the best seafood I had ever had and nothing has topped it since then (trust me I’ve tried). My first taste of mussels was the most amazing thing I have ever tasted and I haven’t even tried to top it since then. I would go back to Barcelona simply for the cuisine but the laid back atmosphere of the city is what I’d stay for.
7) Amsterdam, Netherlands
The capital city of the Netherlands, also known as Holland, and populated by the Dutch. This is my heritage. So it’s little wonder that it’s on the list. However, Amsterdam is truly a place that has something for everyone. The Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum holds many famouns paintings from Rembrandt, Vermeer, and, of course, Van Gogh. The Heineken Experience is not to be missed for those beer lovers and the vibrant nightlife adds to the charm. And of course there are the beautiful canals and houseboats, tall vertical homes and stunning architecture. A trip to Europe wouldn’t be complete without visiting Amsterdam. I loved the city for its feeling of familiarity to home – little things like Hagelslag for breakfast in the morning (sprinkles you put on your bread) or the dutch cheese, or the words and phrases that sounded so familiar that I knew what they meant even though I don’t speak dutch. Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands is a place I need to return to.
6) Venice, Italy
The city of Venice is one of those places that have to be seen at least once in a lifetime. The iconic canals with their gondolas and the cobblestone streets devoid of cars make this one of the most picturesque cities in Europe. The floating city is slowly sinking and so there’s always this urge to “see it before it’s gone” that’s connected with Venice. However, it is a city that simply needs to be enjoyed. In 2009 on my Contiki Tour, we visited Venice and one of the things that our guide recommended we do was simply go out and “get lost”. Wander the streets with no real sense of direction or purpose, just start exploring and enjoy. Am I ever glad I took that advice. With pedestrian only streets and little bridges over multitudes of canals it was one of the most laid back cities I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.
5) Paris, France
Ah, Paris… The home of the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Palace of Versailles. These are but a few of the wonders of Paris. Situated on the banks of the Seine River, this spectacular city is known for its art, architecture, fashion, and most notably its history. While in Paris you are swept up into its history and atmosphere. Climb the Arc de Triomphe, wander the banks of the Seine, sit at one of the many cafés. My time in Paris was a whirlwind of sites and experiences. I managed to do most of the big ones but missed so many more. This is a city that begs to be explored in depth and for much longer than I was able to my first time around. This is definitely one city I plan to return to… probably more than once…
4) Dubrovnik, Croatia
Known as the Jewel of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik sits on Croatia’s southern coast. This beautiful coastal city is best known for it’s Old City – a medieval walled city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The red roof tops of the city are surrounded by the lush greenery on one side and the bright blue Adriatic Sea on the other. Some of my best memories of Europe are from this spectacular city. Dancing the night away till morning dawned, sailing to the outlying islands, exploring the historic walls, these are some of my favourite memories. It’s no wonder that the popular HBO series Game of Thrones uses this city as the location for King’s Landing and more.
3) Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Hong Kong holds a unique place in the world as it’s not quite a country but more than a city. Hong Kong is one of the major financial hubs in the world and is arguably one of the most well known Asian cities. Situated on China’s southern coast, most of the city is surrounded by the South China Sea and is made up of many islands. As a former British colony, Hong Kong is frequently described as a place where East meets West… making it an ideal first venture into Asia. As a stopover on our trip to Australia and New Zealand, Hong Kong was perfect. With one of the best metro systems I’ve ever been on it made sightseeing with limited time a breeze and with English being an official language as a holdover from it’s British colony days, you don’t have to deal with language barriers in quite the same way. One word of warning: the summertime is very hot and humid – for me, almost unbearably so… but that won’t stop me from visiting again!
2) London, England
Ahhh, London… need I say more? The capital of England is one of the leading cities in the world and is the most visited city in Europe. It’s certainly a favourite of ours and with sites like the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace it’s little wonder that we love it so much. Add the that the theatre, history, shops, and culture and you have it made. This was the first city I visited when striking out on my own. I was able to see all the most iconic sites but there’s so much more to do and see. I think you could spend a lifetime in this city and being the major international hub it is, it’s easy to return again and again.
1) Chicago, USA
Chicago, Illinois… This is my number one city to return to – and that may surprise a lot of you. Situated on the Southwest shores of Lake Michigan in the Midwest United States, Chicago is the third largest American city. The city has many nicknames including “The Windy City” and is best known for its art, architecture and theatre. While Chicago is an extremely large city it is still a pleasure to visit. While on our road trip in 2011, we stayed for three days in this city – and had no great expectations. But I fell in love… the beautiful buildings and the majestic lake, which is so large it felt as if you were on the ocean (there’s a reason they call them the Great Lakes), all culminated with extremely friendly locals and a busy nightlife. Those I know who’ve visited the city more than once only found more to fall in love with with each visit. This is somewhere I long to return to and with it being the closest city on this list, it’s more than possible.