Top Ten Barbados (Top Ten Things to Do and See in Barbados)

Top ten things to do and see in Barbados

Barbados is home to beautiful beaches and friendly people.  Here’s our top ten Barbados.

1. Lounge on Crane Beach.  Every beach in Barbados is deemed public property, even resort beaches.  So feel free to lounge on the beach of another hotel if you bring your own chairs and towels.  The Crane beach is protected by a reef offshore, which allows for better swimming than other East coast beaches on the island. The beach also has a big cliff and rocks on either side, making it feel more protected and secluded.

2. Sip on Rum Punch.  One sour, two sweet, three strong, four weak.  Or so the saying goes for the recipe of the signature drink of Barbados.  However, it seems every place you go likes to put their own spin on the classic so be sure to try rum punch from a variety of places to pick your favorite.

3. Tour Harrison’s Cave.  Families will find a trip to Harrison’s Cave popular with their younger members who enjoy the awe of the caves along with the tram ride to tour it.  

4. Dine on a Flying Fish Cutter with Macaroni Pie. Debatably the most popular dishes in Barbados, it is not difficult to find a flying fish cutter (known as a sandwich stateside) and macaroni pie at nearly every restaurant on the island.  It’s a quick, easy, and affordable meal that any traveler can enjoy.

5. Visit Hunte’s Gardens.  Anthony Hunte built an outstanding collection of plant species in the Bajan rainforest.  With music drifting through the air and greenery surrounding you, you will never guess you are in Barbados.

6. Bask in the Sun at Bottom Bay or Foul Bay.  Bottom Bay and Foul Bay are both secluded beaches on the East coast of Barbados.  Typically uncrowded and calm, the bays offer a perfect spot for picnics, relaxation, and plenty of trees for a reprieve from the sun.  Many locals maintain that Bottom Bay is the best beach in Barbados, but be cautious of currents and strong waves if you want to take a swim at either.

7. Lunch at Sandy Lane. The scenic resort where Tiger Woods married Elin is difficult to get a room at (and will cost you a pretty penny if you can).  However, the hotel has a restaurant overlooking its bright beach where any peon can dine with reservations. Sit back, relax and experience life as the other half lives.

8.  Sail on Cool Runnings. Swim with the sea turtles and snorkel over a shipwreck on a catamaran adventure.  The cruise has two snorkeling stops and serves drinks and lunch or dinner depending on your cruise time.  Alternatively, if you like to party, you make want to opt for the pirate ship excursion (which makes the same stops) instead.

9. Oistin’s Market.  Popular with locals and tourists alike, Oisten’s Fish Market offers lots of vendors who will cook your selection of fish right in front of you.  The Fish Fry is a particularly popular thing to do on Friday nights, with live music and tables set up to watch the sunset.

10. Visit the Bathsheba Coast.  The northeast section of the coast of Barbados offers dramatic scenery with large boulders in the ocean and striking views from cliffs.  The so called Soup Bowl is a popular spot for professional surfers, who are likely the only people prepared to withstand the rough waves famous in the area.

 

Top Ten Havana, Cuba (Top Ten Things to Do and See in Havana, Cuba)

Top Ten Havana, Cuba

Photo Credit: Cuban.Habana.Malecon. Antonio Milena for Agencia Brasil. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cuba.Habana.Malecon.01.jpg

Top Ten Havana, Cuba:

1. Take a Ride in a Classic Car. Since the Cuban Revolution in 1959 the level of trade in Cuba has greatly diminished.  As a result of very few new imports, there are tons of classic build American cars still in use today and a ride in one is a must.  You can pick up a car on the street, just like a standard taxi for a fun experience.

2. Have a daiquiri at the Floridita. Famous for being a  favorite hang out spot for Ernest Hemingway, the restaurant and bar is well known for its daiquiris.

3. Hang out at the Malecon Sea Wall. When in Cuba, do as the Cubans do.  In the evenings, you can find tons of locals hanging out on the sea wall.  Grab a bottle of rum and head down to relax and people watch at the Malecon.

4. Experience Cuban Cigars.  Cuba is world famous for its cigars. Whether you want to smoke one yourself or watch them being hand rolled, cigars are a huge part of Cuban culture and something worth experiencing.

5. Go to the Cannon Firing Ceremony. Every evening at 9 P.M. there is an elaborate ceremony at La Cabana to reenact firing a cannon over the harbor.  The ceremony is quite touristy, but its a free way to pass some time and the fort offers some pretty night views of the city.

6. Drink an authentic Mojito.  Havana is the birthplace of the Mojito and you can find one just about anywhere you turn in the city.

7. Explore the Hotel Nacional.  The Hotel Nacional is a luxury hotel that boasts famous guests from Frank Sinatra, Winston Churchill, Backstreet Boys, and all kinds of performers and diplomats in between.  The hotel has a room dedicated to documenting all the celebrities and notable guests that have stayed there.  Castro took over the hotel during the Cuban Revolution and used it as headquarters for the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Now, the hotel is back to its original purpose with the lobby and grounds in all their glory.

8. Dance at the Buena Vista Social Club.  The Buena Vista Social Club was a members club which became a very popular place for musicians to come perform in Havana.  The Club was shut down during the Cuban Revolution and the original has never been reopened.  However, Cafe Tebarna offers a dinner show replicating the Buena Vista Social Club.  The shows involve a dozen or so performers playing instruments and singing,  along with some latin dancers.

9. Dine at Paladar los Mercaderes.  Delicious Cuban cuisine in a great setting.  The owner takes great pride in the restaurant and is focused on service details, like sprinkling rose petals along the stairway to the restaurant each day.

10. Spend the day at the beach. Havana is not your typical Caribbean destination in that there really isn’t beach access within the city.  It is much more like a European city than a Caribbean hot spot.  However, you should still consider setting aside some time to hit a Cuban beach.  The most popular option, Playa de Este, is 20 minutes East of Havana by cab.  You can also arrange day trip excursions to more scenic or secluded spots on the island if you’d prefer to snorkel.

Top Ten Iceland (Reykjavik): Top Ten Things to Do and See in Iceland.

Top Ten Iceland (Reykjavik): Top Ten Things to Do and See in Iceland.

Iceland Top Ten

1. Take a Walking Tour of Reykjavic.  A great way to start out you trip to any new city is with a walking tour.  It’s a great way to get acquainted with the city and your guide will likely make suggestions of unique things to see or restaurants to try.  Blogger Audur, who runs the popular blog I Heart Reykjavik recently started giving tours.  There are also various tip based tours available.

2. Search for the Elusive Northern Lights.  There are numerous tours available to try and find the Northern Lights in Iceland but none can promise you will actually see the lights.  The most popular tours involve a tour bus taking viewers outside the city to get away from light pollution and standing in a field, hoping to catch a glimpse.  You may want to consider choosing a tour that combines viewing the lights with another activity, such as a glacier walk or a boat tour, that way if you don’t see the lights you still did something else worthwhile.  Alternatively, you could rent a room in the countryside and try to view the lights from the comfort of your room.

3. Check out the Golden Circle.  One of the most popular day tours from Reykjavik is the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is a loop around some of Iceland’s famous sights including geysers, Gullfoss waterfall, and Thingveiller National Park.  Most tours also include a few more stops and last about half a day.  They are all pretty much identical, though one company offers a noon start time instead of the 9:00 a.m. start that most companies offer, which reduced the crowds at each attraction for us.

4. Watch some Whales. Iceland is one of the best places in Europe to whale watch.  Catch a tour and view some of the giants in their natural habitat.

5. Dine at Grillmarkaðinn (Grill Market).  One of the best restaurants I’ve dined at across the globe.  Everything we had was incredibly fresh and full of flavor.  A meal here isn’t cheap, but it’s worth the splurge for a special meal out. You won’t regret it.

6. Catch the View from Hallsgrimska.  Ride to the top of the iconic Hallsgrimska church for great views of the city.

7. Snack on the Famous Icelandic Hot Dogs.  The unofficial national food and the most popular restaurant in the country, is a hot dog stand.  The surprisingly delicious dog is made mostly from lamb and is a unique twist from the American version.  Getting a hot dog with everything is a must when you are in Reykjavik.

8. Tour the Countryside. Iceland’s greatest treasure is its natural scenery.  From glaciers to volcanoes, if you love the outdoors Iceland is your place.  A tour to the South Coast, Snaefellsnes Peninsula, or any other part of the country is definitely worth looking into for your trip.

9. Visit the Iceland Phallological Museum.  Reykjavik is home to the world’s largest display of penises and penile parts.  If you want a unique experience, this one is for you.

10. Experience an Icelandic Geothermal Pool.  Going to the pool is a huge part of Icelandic culture and something you should experience if you want an authentic experience.  The pools are most famous for their shower requirements (where all pool attendees must shower naked before putting on their swimsuits), but don’t let that scare you off.

Top Ten San Francisco (Top Ten Things to Do and See in San Francisco, California)

top ten san fran

1. Walk or Ride Across the Golden Gate Bridge.  Arguably the most recognized symbol of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge is a popular attraction for tourists.  Experience the bridge in all its glory by walking or biking across.  At 1.7 miles the bridge isn’t an easy trek, so if you want to make it all the way across you may elect to take a bike.  If you’re feeling particularly adventurous ride across the bridge into Tiburon, grab a bite to eat at Sam’s Anchor Cafe and catch a great view of San Francisco across the bay. Then take the ferry back into San Francisco (bikes are welcome abroad the ferries).

2.  Climb to the top of Telegraph Hill/Ride to the Top of Coit Tower.  Poised on the top of Telegraph hill, Coit Tower offers unparalleled views of San Francisco.  You can enjoy the view even from the base of the tower, so you may decide it’s not worth paying to go up to the top.  Either way make sure you peek inside the tower to see the murals, which are free to view.

3. Complete the Unofficial Food Tour of San Francisco.  San Francisco is known for its food and has many signature bites.  I couldn’t choose just one, but here are some of my favorites.  Boudin – famous for their sourdough bread which they make into really fun designs (crabs, bears, etc.) if you get there early enough in the day to get one. They sell out pretty much every day, so pick some up early to eat later or dine on the famous clam chowder in a bread bowl at their cafe.  Ghiradelli – if you like ice cream or chocolate, this is your place. Here you can find a huge assortment of sundaes and chocolate, which make a great souvenir to take home to friends.  Buena Vista – this cafe and bar is renowned for claims to be the first place to serve Irish coffees and is conveniently located just around the corner from Ghiradelli.

4. Explore Golden Gate Park.  Larger than NYC’s Central Park, Golden Gate Park has tons to offer.  Enjoy the free summer concert series on Sunday nights, walk throughout the highly acclaimed Japanese Tea Garden, or observe the resident herd of buffalo.

5. Observe the Bay Bridge Lights.  In 2013 an art installation was created on the side of the bridge to commemorate its 75th birthday.  LED lights were placed on the side of the bridge which move in a pattern designed to never repeat itself.  Grab a snack and head down to the waterfront one evening to relax and watch the memorizing light show before it is potentially removed in March of 2015 (there is currently an effort to extend the project).

6. See San Francisco from the Water.  Whether it’s a ferry to Alcatraz, Tiburon, or Sausalito or a sunset dinner cruise, seeing the city from a boat on the bay offers great scenery.

7. Ride on a Cable Car.  There are 3 different lines in San Francisco that operate the historic cable cars.  The Powell-Hyde line will take you from Ghiradelli Square with a stop right by Lombard Street.  If you’re just in it for the ride, try the California Line, which will let you skip the massive lines from Fisherman’s Wharf.  All tickets are one way, so if you need a ride back you can elect to take a streetcar which is much cheaper.

8. Get a Drink at the Top of the Mark.  Formerly the 11 room penthouse of the Mark Hopkins hotel, Top of the Mark is now a rooftop bar and restaurant at the highest point of downtown San Francisco. Grab a drink or champagne brunch and enjoy stellar views.

9. Brunch on Authentic Dim Sum.  While it may not be your typical idea of brunch, dim sum is a widely popular meal in Chinatown.  For the best experience, pick a place where the dim sum is cart or tray-passed.  Servers will come around to your table and offer you small plates of various kinds of dim sum.  If it looks delicious, you can snag a plate or if it’s too intense you can just say no and wait for the next option.  Don’t be intimated by the lack of English menu items, it’s hard to go wrong with dim sum and a nod or a shake of the head are universal signals.

10. Visit Lombard Street.  Nicknamed “The crookedest street in the world”, Lombard Street is a sight you have to see to believe its absurdity.  If you are really brave (and patient) try your luck at driving down it.

Top Ten Venice (Top Ten Things to Do and See in Venice, Italy)

Top Ten Venice (Top Ten Things to Do and See in Venice, Italy)

Venice Top Ten

1. Take a Ride on Vaporetto Route #1.  A great way to get acquainted with Venice when you arrive is to hop on the number 1 vaporetto (vaparettos are basically the city buses of Venice) and ride around the city.  Find fare information and schedules here.

2. Wander Around the City.  Venice is often regarded as one of the safest cities in Europe. It’s small size and relatively aged population make walking around the city aimlessly a perfectly acceptable and safe thing to do.  The city is full of hidden shops and eateries perfect for stumbling into. Spend some time walking around and enjoying the unique city on foot.

3.  Climb (Ride) to the Top of the San Giorgio Maggiore Campanile.  Across the water from Saint Mark’s Square, you can go to the top of the bell tower of the San Giorgio Maggiore church and catch great views of the classic sights of Venice.  The view is a bargain at €3. Check the hours and get more info here.

4. Ride around Venice at Night.  This would be number one on the list if Venice wasn’t such a sight to see during the day as well.  The city is magical at night, with all the houses lit up.  I highly recommend you see Venice from the Grand Canal at night, just hop back on your trusty friend Vaporetto Number 1, you won’t regret it.

5. Sip on Spritzs. An aperitif that originated in Venice, a spritz is typically a a mix of Aperol or Campari, white wine, and sparkling water.  The Aperol version is the lighter of the two, with Campari being the more bitter alternative.

6. Day Trip to the Surrounding Islands. Venice has a selection of other island cities easily within reach to Venice tourists.  Murano, Borano, and Torcello are likely the most popular, and there are a wide selection of organized tours to see them.  However, you can easily get to these islands via Vaporetto for a fraction of the cost.  Murano is famous for its hand-blown glass, Burano is well known for lace and its brightly painted houses, and Torcello is a relatively unpopulated island known for its cathedral and peaceful reprieve from tourist filled Venice.

7. Take a Traghetto.  Since you can’t j-walk across a canal, the unique Venetian experience of traghettos was created.  A traghetto is a gonola-like boat that transports people from one side of the canal to the other.  The ride will set you back €2, but that beats walking until you find the next bridge.  Plus if you play your cards right, you can take a picture with a gondolier in the background and convince all your Instagram friends (and yourself) that you took a gondola without dropping the cash for a real one.

8. Dine in Piazza San Marco.  St. Mark’s square is bustling with tourists non-stop throughout the day.  Grab a cup of gelato or sit down for some cicheti (Italy’s version of tapas) at one of the restaurants around the square to observe some tourists in the wild.  The best time to do this is in the evening; you can watch the square clear out as tourists head back to their hotels for dinner and experience the square when it’s more peaceful.

9. Have a Beach Day at the Venetian Lido.  Across the lagoon from the main part of Venice, lies the Lido.  An oasis from the non-stop crowds, the Lido offers a more relaxed feel with great views of Venice.  The lido also has a beach perfect for a relaxing day.  Take a vaporetto over, grab a bike, and spend the day lounging around the island and visiting the many restaurants and shops.

10.  Enjoy lots and lots of Wine.  Wine, an Italian staple, is prevalent throughout the city.  There are also vineyards that are within easy reach of Venice, perfect for day trips.  You can travel to the vineyards on your own, opt for an organized tours of the wineries, or you can enjoy the Italian version of a pub crawl and hop from wine bar to wine bar in the city.  Grab a glass and get started!

Explore more things to do in Venice here or start planning your trip itinerary here. 

Top Ten: Berlin (Top Ten Things to Do and See in Berlin, Germany)

Top Ten: Berlin (Top Ten Things to Do and See in Berlin, Germany)

Top Ten Berlin Germany

Photo Copyright: Karaoke in Mauerpark: juliaviajando https://www.flickr.com/photos/juliakranz/5068594882/ Wannsee Beach: ax11 http://www.flickr.com/photos/ax11/347230273/

 

1. Get a Bird’s Eye View of the City on a Balloon Ride.  In the center of Berlin, you can climb on one of the world’s largest helium balloons and see the city from the sky. The balloon is tethered to the ground and releases you slowly up then pulls you back down.  For just over $25, the ride is bargain compared to the cost of hot air balloon rides.  Bring your student ID or proof you are unemployed (everyone carries that around, right?) for a discounted fare.

2. Visit the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.  Not your average Holocaust Memorial, the Memorial includes an interactive structure composed of concrete rectangles eerily reminiscent of coffins.  The concrete slabs vary in height, but are arranged in a grid, intended to give visitors the feeling of a confusing atmosphere in a structured system. Definitely a unique sight worth stopping by.

3. Attend Karaoke in the Park. A new favorite activity of Berliners is Bearpit Karaoke in Mauerpark.  On Sundays around 3 PM, grab a cool beverage and join thousands of locals for a good laugh and some free entertainment at karaoke in park.

4. Drink Beer in a Biergarten. Drinking beer in Germany is a given, and the perfect place to do so is a beer garden.  Grab a famous Berliner Weiss and relax. Try Prater Garten, the oldest biergarten in town.

5. See What the Wall was like at the Berlin Wall Memorial. The Berlin Wall Memorial offers a look into what the Berlin Wall was like when it stood.  You can climb to the top of an observation deck to see all the obstacles separating the East and West sides of Berlin, which were much more complicated than just a wall.

6. Go on a Walking Tour of the City. I like to go on a walking tour the first day I’m in a new city to figure out the layout of the city and pick up helpful tips and suggestions from the guide and fellow travelers.  Berlin has a TON of history and interesting facts that you would likely miss if you were just wandering alone, making it the prime candidate for a tour.  We took the Free Sandeman’s New Berlin tour which we enjoyedbut I don’t think you can go wrong.

7. Stop by the East Side Gallery.  You can’t visit Berlin without seeing the Berlin Wall, it’s such a quintessential piece of the city’s history. Likewise, street art is a huge scene in Berlin. Combine the two and you get the East Side Gallery. Fun fact, the Berlin wall even caught the eye of a young lady, who called it “the sexiest wall ever” and married it in 1979 (no really,it happened).

8. Relax on a Lake Shore Beach. You read that correctly, I said beach in Berlin. Berlin has a few lake options that have beaches perfect for swimming and relaxing. Probably the best known, is Strandbad Wannsee on the west side of Berlin.  Though Strandbad Grunau, located on the far east side, is said to be more charming.

9. See the City from Above.  Who doesn’t love a sky high view? Panoramapunkt is a well known observation deck that offers arguably the best views in Berlin. If you want to try something a little less mainstream, check out the relatively new Klunkerkranich, a rooftop bar and hang out spot.

10. Day Trip to Visit Sachenhausen Concentration Camp.  Located less than an hour’s drive from Berlin, Sachenhausen is also accessible via public transportation.  Sachenhausen was one of the largest concentration camps during the Holocaust, and is an incredibly eye opening experience.  There are also tour and excursion companies that offer trips from the city, so if you’re hesitant about getting there on your own, that is a great option too.
See more things to do in Berlin and start planning your trip here

 

 

 

Top Ten Chicago (Top Ten Things to do and see in Chicago, Illinois)

Top Ten Chicago

  1. Go on an Architecture River Tour. The best way to tour the city is from the water on a river and lake architecture tour.  While the Chicago Architecture Foundation Tour is probably the best known, all the tours are very similar and other companies offer the tour on discount sites such as Groupon. If you’re doing the tour in fall or spring, choose a company that offers enclosed seating to ensure you don’t freeze.
  2. Ride the Navy Pier Ferris wheel. Catch some great views of Chicago from the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier for less than half the price of other popular viewing spots such as Hancock and Willis Tower, plus the added fun of an amusement park ride.
  3. Dine on deep dish pizza. Getting some deep dish pizza in Chicago is a must. Try the locals’ favorite, Lou Malnati’s or the well known Giordino’s.
  4. Visit the Signature Lounge. Skip the $18 fee for the 360 at Hancock Tower and head two floors up to the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor for drinks and appetizers instead. If you go right before sunset you can catch great day and nighttime views of the city.
  5. Experience The Wiener Circle. Not for the easily offended, The Wiener Circle is a popular hot dog stand that becomes very colorful late at night. The surprisingly delicious hot dog spot is famous for insulting and frequently cursing at rambunctious customers, though the customers are encouraged to give it right back to the employees.  If you would like some nudity with your hot dog, be sure to order the famous “chocolate milkshake”.
  6. Get a drink on the Trump Tower Terrace- Right on the river, the Trump Tower Terrace bar offers great views of the city. Walk along the canals then stop here for drink or bite to eat. Fair warning, you pay for the stunning vistas with drink prices here, but it’s well worth it.
  7. Feast at Eataly. I previously mentioned the food market chain in the Top Ten: Rome post, but if you aren’t visiting Italy soon, stop by one of the few U.S. locations in Chicago. A great, unique spot to grab lunch or dinner at one of the restaurant stands on the top floor. They also have a bar and wine tasting spots. Be sure to save room for dessert though, on the bottom floor is a Nutella bar, full of different desserts made with Nutella.
  8. Ride bikes along the lake front. Some of the best views of Chicago come from the walking and biking paths along the lake between Lincoln Park and Navy Pier.  You can grab a Groupon for Divvy bikes, which you can rent by the hour at many convenient locations throughout the city.
  9. Get some laughs with Second City Comedy Club. The Chicago based comedy club is famous for starting the careers of an impressive amount of SNL cast members and other famous comedians including Tina Fey, Chris Farley, and Steve Carrell, to name just a few. Opt for the revue or classic improv over tickets to a scripted show.
  10. Catch a Buckingham Fountain show. The well known fountain near Millennium Park has fountain shows each evening including lights and music, starting at dusk then every hour on the hour with the last show beginning at 10:35 P.M.

Top Ten Amsterdam (Best Things to Do and See in Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Top Ten Amsterdam

1. Cruise the Canals.  Amsterdam is home to 165 canals.  Viewing the city from the water is a must whether it be by a public boat or a private one.

2.  See the city by bicycle.  Bicycles are widely used in Amsterdam and it is incredibly easy to find a rental.  Riding around the city on bike is great way to experience the town.  Biking in Amsterdam should only be for those comfortable on a bike though.  Locals often express their annoyance at tourists who don’t know how to bike and who do not follow the rules of the road.

3.  Dine on Pannekoeken or Poffertjes.  When you think of Amsterdam, the cuisine is not likely to be one of the things that comes to mind.  Dutch Pannekoeken, or pancakes, are well worth a try though.  Similar to French crepes, but you can get fillings like meat and cheese in addition to dessert flavors.  Check out The Pancake Brewery for some good and unusual pancakes.

4. Visit the Markets. Amsterdam has a variety of markets to explode, some specializing in one particular thing such as fabric or flowers.  Dappermart was voted one of the top 10 shopping streets in the world by National Geographic and is worth a look.

5. Try local beer. The Heinken tour is a well known attraction in Amsterdam, but there are plenty of interesting pubs and micro-breweries that are likely cheaper and definitely less touristy than Heineken.  Check out this post for some ideas of where to get local beers: http://bit.ly/1gmWPIg, alternatively try a pub crawl.

6. Visit the tulip fields.  Every spring 1,000s of neatly planted tulips bloom in Holland.  One of the most famous spots to view the flowers is Keukenhof Gardens, which is just under an hour outside of Amsterdam.  Spend a day going to see the famous fields.

7. Experience a Coffee Shop.  Amsterdam is well known for its acceptance of cannibis, which has become a huge part of the essence of the city.  You should definitely stop by a “coffee shop” to see what the hype is about, no participation necessary.

8. Tour the Red Light District.  The Red Light District is much more than a sex symbol, the area is full of interesting culture and is a big part of Amsterdam.  Try a guided tour of the district to learn about the secrets that are often overlooked.  You should also visit during day and then again at night, it will seem like a completely different place.

9.  See Anne Frank’s House.  Arguably the top must see in Amsterdam, Anne Frank’s House is an incredibly sobering and interesting reflection on WW2.  Be sure to order your tickets online ahead of time and either go early or late in the day to avoid crowds as much as possible.

10.  Day Trip to a Surrounding Town.  There are a number of smaller towns outside of Amsterdam easily accessible by train.  Perhaps the most quintessential, Zaanse Schans is less than a half hour from the city and ofters a wooden shoe workshop, multiple windmills, and the famous Dutch blue ceramics.

See more pictures and things to do in Amsterdam here.

Top Ten: San Juan Puerto Rico (Top Ten Things to Do and See in Puerto Rico)

An island getaway whose old charm has lasted the test of time, Puerto Rico has become a hotbed for tourism.   Much like Cuba, the fourth most populated Caribbean island has been able to keep its idyllic heritage and culture while still catering to its many admirers.  Here are the top ten things to do in Puerto Rico:

Top Ten Puerto Rico

1. Climb to the top of Castillo San Felipe del Morro.  The old fort hosts some awesome views of San Juan. Bring a snack and enjoy the sights.

2. Follow the trails in El Yunque.  The only rain-forest in the U.S. National Park system, El Yunque National Forest is about an hour outside of San Juan.  Many tour companies offer day or half day trips or you can rent a car and drive yourself. El Yunque is on the way to Farjardo where many Bio Bay tours are, so try a tour that offers a combo of both.

3. Check out Pamela’s Caribbean Cuisine.  Pamela’s is literally set up on the beach, so you can dine with sand under your toes and listen to the waves hit the shore with a pretty view of downtown San Juan. Dine at night and enjoy the sunset or during the day and you can get beach chairs and umbrellas to lounge on after your meal.  You must get the coconut creme brulee for dessert.

4.  Eat Monfongo. Ask a local what’s in the monfongo and you’re likely to get a different answer each time.  A signature dish of Puerto Rico, monfongo is based on plaintains and typically includes one type of meat or another.

5. Relax on a beach. You’re in the Caribbean, so this should be an obvious thing to do.  There are many beaches around San Juan, the best beach access is found on the hotel properties where you’ll have access to chairs.  Many hotels have partnerships for beach access in San Juan, so check with your concierge to see where you can stake a spot in the sand if you hotel isn’t on the beach or you want to try out a different spot.

6. Try a Zipline Adventure. There are many places offering zipline tours around San Juan that have day trips from the city.  Check out Toro Verde which has a zipline called The Beast at almost a mile long with a harness where you lay belly down instead of hanging from your waist.

7.  Experience the Bio Bay.  One of the most unique things in Puerto Rico is the Bio Bay, or Bioluminescent Bay.  The water in these bays is home to tiny plankton which illuminate when the water around them moves.  It is like kayaking through stars. The best place to experience this is on Vieques, an island off the coast.  However, the bay in Fajardo is more easily accessible and has a wide variety of tours to choose from.

8. Wander through Old Town San Juan. Spend some time walking around Old Town to see the beautiful buildings and bright colors. Stop and grab a mojito and enjoy the atmosphere and friendly people of San Juan.

9. Take a trip to Vieques or Culebra. While getting there may not be the easiest thing to do, the islands host some of the best beaches in the world. Drive an hour and a half to the coast then jump on an early ferry to Culebra or Vieques for the day. The ferries can get packed, so the earlier the better. Vieques is quickly becoming the ‘it’ place to visitIt is also home to the top Bio Bay in Puerto Rico, which makes staying a few days ideal.

10. Eat Lechon from the “Pig Highway”.  Another specialty of Puerto Rico, roast pig stands.  Along the side of the highway you can find Lechoneras which sell cuts of pork.  One of the more authentic experiences you can have in Puerto Rico.

Check out our other guides to Caribbean locations here.

Top Ten: Barcelona (Top things to do and see in Barcelona, Spain)

 

Top Ten Barcelona Take 2

Photo Copyright: Labyrinth – daniMU https://www.flickr.com/photos/justmuit/4887814630/

1. Attend a FC Barcelona futbol game at Camp Nou.  There is no better way to experience Spanish culture than to go to a soccer game.  The Spanish love their futbol, and go crazy for the sport. There is no doubt it will be an experience to remember.

2. Relax in Park Guell. While I’m sure you’ve seen this on every Barcelona list, the park truly won’t disappoint. Take a snack, sit back, and relax and enjoy the gorgeous scenery and art.

3. Picnic atop the old air bunker in Carmel.  Located in La Rouira in the neighborhood of Carmel, a WW2 bunker boasts one of the best views of Barcelona.  The spot is relatively unknown to tourists and is a perfect spot to relax or enjoy a picnic dinner, especially at sunset.

4. Watch a show of the Magic Fountain of Montjuic. If you love the Bellagio fountains in Vegas, check out the Magic Fountain.  Layers of fountains perform shows nightly complete with lighting and music.  Head there sooner than later, you don’t want to miss the show, and you’ll likely want to stay for the next one. View the schudule here:  http://bit.ly/POYRtQ.

5. Casa Mila.  Like most of Gaudi’s work, Casa Mila offers some very interesting architecture.  Even if architecture and buildings aren’t your thing, Casa Mila is worth checking out for the rooftop.  The house offers a great rooftop view of the center of Barcelona.

6. Explore the labyrinth at Parc del Laberint d’Horta.  Challenge yourself in the cypress tree maze in Barcelona’s oldest park.  The labyrinth is not your typical tourist attraction, but it offers a quiet break and something different for visitors to do. 

7. Day trip to Sitges.  Spend the day in upscale Sitges, known for its great beaches and vibrant gay scene. You can take the bus or train to the city in under an hour of travel time and less than eight Euros.  The city is renowned as one of the most charming towns on the Catalan coast.

8. Eat tapas. As much as possible.   Tapas are Spain’s greatest contribution to civilization (in my humble opinion).  Why the rest of the world doesn’t follow suit and offer complimentary bites to eat with your beer is beyond me.  An excellent way to avoid spending large amounts on food and also to avoid eat large amounts of food.  Read more about tapas in Barca here:  http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/restaurants/tapas-barcelona.html.

9. Dine on Catalan food in Gracia.  Grab dinner or lunch in one of the many modern Catalan restaurants in Gracia.  The neighborhood is north of the city center and is regarded one of the most typically Catalan neighborhoods in Barcelona.

10. Hit the beach.  You can’t miss the beaches when you visit Barcelona. Just be prepared to see more of people than you may wish, and make sure to keep an eye on your belongings.