With so many delightful and diverse places to choose from, planning a vacation can be overwhelming at the best of times. To make things a little easier, the folks at US News have compiled a list of the best holiday destinations across the length and breadth of the planet. At the end of their extensive survey, the following emerged as the Top 10 holiday destinations and we here at FirstClass have added our own little recommendations to help your planning!
#1 The Great Barrier Reef
A top bucket-list destination for many travellers, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders on earth. This magnificent web of 3000 coral reefs off the coast of Queensland is home to over 1600 odd species of marine life. While the reef is the main draw, the ecologically diverse Daintree rainforest nearby makes for a pleasant change of scene. The quaint mountain retreat of Kuranda 25km from Cairns offers a diversity of attractions, but what makes the experience special is the journey to the top – involving either a heritage train or a cableway over the tree canopies.
One of the best ways to access the reef is by using one of Queensland’s islands as your base. And while there are many to choose from only a select few offer a true luxury getaway:
Despite the growing popularity of more off-the-beaten-path destinations, the magic and romance of France’s capital city refuses to fade away. Be it a river cruise down the Seine, an amble along the Champs Elysees or a visit to the Louvre, the city’s sights have been traveller favourites for a long time. However, Paris is not without its share of contemporary attractions as is evident from the quirky art of Centre Pompidou or the gourmet restaurants peppered around its many arrondissements. For a uniquely Parisian feel, head to the artistic quarter of Montmartre or spend a Saturday morning sampling the wares at one of the city’s many food markets.
Paris was a city built for royalty, and that old-world luxury is still alive and well in it’s 5 star accommodations. Only 600m from the Eiffel tower the Shangri-La Hotel, Paris offers lush and elegant rooms and suites with some of the best views of the Parisian skyline. Or, if shopping is what you’re after then The Peninsula, Paris would serve as the best base, as it’s just steps away from the Arc de Triomphe and some of the best luxury boutiques in the world. Other five star accommodations in Paris include:
#3 Bora Bora
Synonymous with decadent honeymoons, Bora Bora in French Polynesia is increasingly becoming a fixture in many a traveller wish-list. This tiny island with its azure waters and stunning outlooks is the quintessential tropical paradise. However, paradise doesn’t come cheap, and Bora Bora is by far the most expensive of the Top 10 holiday destinations. This also means that Bora Bora offers some of the most luxurious getaways on this list also. It’s not all sun and sand here though. The island has a diverse landscape and when the swimming and snorkelling gets too much, a hike up the extinct volcano of Mount Otemanushould provide a welcome break.
Wondering where to find your luxurious paradise getaway? Discover FirstClass’ recommended 5 star properties for Bora Bora:
Having lived under the shadow of more high profile Italian cities, the birthplace of the renaissance movement is now coming into its own as a traveller destination. Art is at the heart of Florence, be it the Duomo in the centre of the old town, Michael Angelo’s David in the Galleria dell’Accademia or the many iconic works housed in the famous Uffizi gallery. Being situated in the heart of Tuscany, Florencealso serves as a handy base to explore and experience the world-renowned food and wine of the region.
Century-old traditions, quirky subcultures and electronic megastores coexist harmoniously in Tokyo, catering to a wide spectrum of travellers and making it one of the best travel destinations of all-time. The Sensoji temple and surrounds in Asakusa is where visitors go to feed their culture craving. Shinjuku and Shibuya are the shopping and dining districts, whereas Akihabara is the place for all things geek. For something out of the ordinary, catch an early morning practice session at a Sumo stable or head to Harajuku on Sunday for some cosplay watching.
An amalgam of the various cultures that have ruled over it, Cusco is the gateway to Peru’s top attraction, Machu Picchu. However,being a treasure-trove of all things Incan, Cusco is a city worth visiting in its own right. One of the most stunning attractions in town is the Qoricancha or the Golden Courtyard. Once the richest temple in the region, in Incan times it was covered with real gold. Other interesting things to do include visiting the nearby Ollantaytambo ruins, roaming the cobbled streets of the old town and shopping for local souvenirs at the colourful San Pedro market.
Are you ready to dive into a Peruvian adventure? Then check out these luxury tours and start exploring:
If at all there is a destination that ticks all the boxes (okay, except good weather!) it has to be London. In addition to it’s many historical attractions, the city is also a mecca for fine food, theatre, art and architecture. It is by no means a one-time visit destination and even the seasoned traveller is bound to discover a new London on every trip. For a true local feel, head to Shoreditch to peruse the latest street art, followed by a visit to one of the many historic pubs to sample the fine ales on offer, finishing off with dinner at the latest flavour of the month eatery in Soho.
While you won’t be able to live like real royalty in Buckingham Palace, you can get pretty close with these five star accommodations:
As the seat of, arguably, the greatest civilisation on earth, Rome is one of the best travel destinations for those in search of a history fix. Vatican City, with it’s impressive St Peter’s Basilica and Sistine Chapel too warrants a visit, irrespective of one’s religious leanings. With attractions such as the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain to boast of, Rome surely gives Paris a run for its money in the ‘romantic’ stakes. Most importantly, Italian cuisine being what it is, every meal in Rome is likely to be an experience, made even more memorable by a big helping of the best gelato you are likely to find anywhere on the planet.
Staying in Rome embodies the city’s mix of old and new as old-fashioned elegance meets contemporary luxury. Here are our picks for your Roman stay:
#9 New York
Like the other contender for the ‘centre of the world’ title in this list – London, New York too merits multiple visits. If Times Square, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty have been ticked off the list, it’s time to head to the East village and Brooklyn for a spot of vintage shopping and cafe hopping. While old favourites such as Fifth Avenue and Central Park continue to be popular options for people-watching, the newest attraction New Yorkers are flocking to is the ‘High Line’ – an elevated tree-lined walkway traversing the west side of Manhattan.
New York is famous for many things, and it’s 5 star accommodations have quickly become synonymous with the best in the world, hotels such as The Plaza and the St Regis need no introduction and below are a couple more of our top picks for a luxury getaway to the Big Apple:
Offering nearly all the attractions of a desert island holiday, but at a fraction of the cost, has earned Maui a place in the Top 10 travel destinations list. While most first-time visitors to Hawaii tend to opt for the adventures of the Big Island or the city feel of Oahu, Maui has a little bit of everything. Along with the typical Hawaiian experiences of dancing with hula dancers and sunbathing on beaches, Maui also caters to visitors seeking history and culture – made sweeter by the fact that it’s just a 40-minute flight away from Honolulu.