The world is full of destinations on the well-trodden path, where the number of visitors seems to go up every year and the crowds can sometimes feel endless. Don’t you want to go somewhere different for a change? No matter what corner of the globe you look at, there are plenty of overlooked vacation spots just waiting to be explored. Whether you want to relax somewhere off the beaten path or escape to a place you’ve never even heard of, you’ll find it on this list of under-the-radar destinations. —Michael Alan Connelly
When it comes to holiday decorating, a handful of American hotels stick to the mantra “go big or go home.” Not content with just a lobby tree and a string of lights, these hotels stand out from the pack by upping the decorating ante, and adding millions of lights, outdoor skating rinks, and even ride-on trains. This is the time of year when a hotel’s pastry department can also showcase its talents by turning hundreds of pounds of sugar, flour, and chocolate into life-sized gingerbread houses and even a pirate ship. Here’s a look at some of the most festive hotels of the sea —Christina Valhouli
Whether you like it or not, cruises touch on a tantalizing vacation trifecta: good value, hassle-free planning, and the promise of adventure. Pay an upfront rate and you’ve got a floating hotel, three meals a day, ample entertainment and activities, luxe services, and an expert itinerary in multiple destinations. Now add to that the fact that you only have to unpack your bags once. We know the reputation that cruises still have, but even staunch non-cruisers will want to become first-timers after considering this stress-free kind of travel. Whether you’re a cruising veteran or an absolute beginner, you’ll find everything you need to prepare for your next floating getaway in this comprehensive guide.
All over the globe, from Italy to Zimbabwe, civilizations have left behind impressive monuments and structures that attest to their former glory. Appearing in literature, songs, and films, these mystical sculptures, sacred religious sites, royal palaces, fortifications, ancient centers of commerce, ports, and tombs are all we have left of some of history’s most illustrious societies. While some sites were lost for centuries, engulfed by overgrown jungles, others never fell out of use. Either way, these awe-inspiring places are sure to inspire travelers looking for adventure and a connection to the past.
by Laura Itzkowtiz
Train travel is not only fast and efficient, but also provides ample opportunity to admire some of the world’s greatest architecture. Though now a less used means of transport, train travel was once at the forefront of innovation, revolutionizing travel and prompting monarchs, architects, and city planners to build magnificent train stations to impress passengers. From lavish Beaux-Arts stations to ultra-modern masterpieces, here are 20 beautiful railway stations around the world.
by Laura Itzkowitz
The rule of thumb when visiting Hawaii is you need one week per island—so if you have a week to explore Maui, use it—but most travelers don’t have that much time. You might be overnighting on a multi-island cruise, or maybe you’re on a quick side trip from another island, or perhaps you found a great deal from the West Coast and are only there for the weekend.
Whatever your reason for a short visit, you can get a good taste of Maui in just 48 hours. Follow this itinerary, and you’ll check off two of the island’s top activities, see stunning beaches and waterfalls, discover some lesser-known local gems, and still have time to kick back with a Mai Tai. Buckle your seat belt, because this tour covers many (unbelievably scenic) miles of road.
Day 1: Enjoy Island Time
Your first order of business on arrival is to pick up a rental car. If you haven’t reserved a convertible, the car company may ask if you want to upgrade to one. Say yes. You won’t need four-wheel drive for any roads on this itinerary, but exploring Maui with the top down puts you even closer to the island’s photogenic scenery.
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New Year’s comes but once a year, so it’s worth it to make the festivites memorable. But where’s the best place to be when the clock strikes midnight on December 31? We’ve scoured the world for the best annual celebrations, from the beaches of Rio de Janeiro to Berlin’s Brandenberg Gate. The fun doesn’t have to stop after New Year’s Eve, though, because many cities offer a wide variety of New Year’s Day activities as well. Epic fireworks displays, all-night dance parties, one-of-a-kind cultural traditions—you’ll find all these and more in the world’s best places to celebrate New Year’s.
By Michael Alan Connelly
In the weeks leading up Christmas, holiday markets open across Europe and America as part of an annual tradition. Crowds gather to watch Christmas carolers, lantern processions, and tree lightings; otherwise, they’re there to browse stands of handmade gifts, toys, and decorations. The markets are the perfect place to warm up with a glass of mulled wine or satisfy your sweet tooth with a Christmas treat. Whether you’re taking in Strasbourg’s sparkling Christmas tree, or sampling gingerbread at the Tallinn Christmas market, you can’t help but feel the spirit of the season at our favorite holiday markets around the world.
By Emily Wasserman