Sleepy, sunny Seville has plenty of action if you know where to look. The city is anticipating a visitor boom now that filming has wrapped on Game of Thrones scenes at the Real Alcázar palace. But this Moorish fort is a treat whether or not you know your Lannisters from your bannisters.
Home to over 60 million olive trees, this Unesco World Heritage site is a food-lover’s dream. Walk through the Old Town and spot women expertly folding traditional orecchiette — little ear-shaped pasta shells — by hand. Local restaurants serve this egg-free pasta with fresh cima di rapa (leafy turnip tops) and delicious meat ragu.
For an adventurous alternative to Lanzarote’s beautiful beaches, turn inland and look up. Lanzarote is home to a chain of dormant volcanoes christened the ‘Mountains of Fire’, which can be climbed following a short bus trip. To get closer, take part in a guided Ruta de Tremesana hike to the top.
For the coolest crowds and cocktail bars in Porto, head to the Unesco World Heritage site of Ribeira. Explore the maze of narrow alleyways, cobbled streets and brightly coloured houses, before stopping off for a glass of Port or ‘Super Bock’ — the local beer.
The Kremlin, the Bolshoi ballet, the Pushkin State Museum… Moscow’s classic sites thrill culture hungry visitors. But between its gleaming domed cathedrals, a new generation of creative Muscovites are making their mark with vintage shops, design institutes and hidden bars. Escape the summer crowds in leafy Gorky Park, where outdoor yoga classes and ping-pong tables entertain hip young things.
Locals will tell you that the best Sicilian sites aren’t signposted — that’s certainly true of the hike down Europe’s deepest gorge, Laghetti de Cavagrande del Cassibile in Syracuse, where a perfect turquoise lagoon lures in those who are willing to work up a sweat. Prefer a natural high? Journey further north and scale imposing Mount Etna’s curious lunar landscape.
The spectacular coastline and delightfully scattered islands of Croatia will enchant. Split, the nation’s second city, was chosen by the Roman emperor Diocletian for his palace of pleasures. From here, island-hop your way to Dubrovnik, arguably the finest walled city on the Adriatic.
The vibrant nightlife of Santo Domingo city and the idyllic beaches of Punta Cana are just the start of your adventure. Go whale watching in Samana Bay, or try snorkelling in the deserted lagoons of Saona and Cayo Paraiso. Jarabacoa is the home of all things extreme, where thrill-seekers can indulge in canyoning, white water rafting and paragliding.
There’s more to Austin than the SXSW festival — if you know where to look. Head to the Tiniest Bar in Texas or the Broken Spoke dancehall, two of the city’s enduring hole-in-the-wall venues, or join revellers celebrating the one-day festival, Eeyore’s Birthday Party. To experience the city’s famous food trucks, visit the Midway Food Park just off Highway 360 for tacos, lobster rolls and cheesecake.
Embrace the exciting chaos of this South American metropolis. Visit the jazz bars, browse the glamorous shops on Rua Oscar Freire, and sample some of the darkest, most delicious coffee in the world. To escape the concrete, take a road trip to Florianopolis — a well-kept Brazilian secret with great surfing beaches and an authentic local party scene.
After a few days in buzzing Buenos Aires, journeying through this spectacular expanse of land — which covers both Chile and Argentina — will be a wild change of scenery. One of the world’s least populated regions, the eerily beautiful and arid landscape captivates intrepid adventurers with its windswept plateaus, ancient petrified forests, unexpected Welsh settlements, wonderful wildlife and brilliantly blue glaciers.
Stroll through the heart of Mexico City and you’ll come across the ‘wall of skulls’ – part of the 14th century Aztec Templo Mayor. And just a 50 minute drive away, step back to 100 AD and in the Avenue of the Dead you’ll find the Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon, part of the ancient civilisation of Teotihuacan.
A city hewn into red-rose rock by Nabataeans, a crusader fort perched on a rocky mountain overlooking Shoubak, a sea where Herod the Great and Cleopatra bathed, Roman amphitheatres, and nature reserves that provide a haven for plants, birds, mammals and marine life – Jordan opens up a world of discovery.
A country of imperial cities that ring with the cries of muezzin and souk stall-holders. But head to the mountains, covered in walnut blossom in spring, and trek trails alive with birdsong. Essaouira, a charming laid back coastal town that offers a break from the hubbub of Marrakech. The Medina of Essaouira is a UNESCO World Heritage listed city, with quite impressive ramparts, built on the cliffs.
Combine sea and desert activities for the perfect Oman adventure. Dive or snorkel the aquamarine waters, then relax under a date palm. Explore Oman's ancient desert forts and hike to lush oases. Climb Jebel Shams, Oman's highest mountain. No trip to Oman would be complete without visiting Muscat's mosques, museums and markets.
From the mystical burial mounds of the Kasubi Tombs in Kampala to the snowy peak of ‘Mountain of the Moon’ Mt. Rwenzori, Uganda is a country of wonders. Pack your boots, rucksack and a friendly smile and look forward to meeting gorillas, topi, zebra, elephants and, of course, warm-hearted locals who greet you with “Hello Mzungu!”
A vibrant mish-mash of neon lights, K-Pop and temples, Seoul has plenty of unusual cultural delights — including adventurous cuisine. Try hongeo, a notoriously pungent fermented skate dish, or follow the local hipsters to Kyungnidan for craft beer and build-your-own stir-fry. Truly fearless foodies should head to Noryangjin seafood market for sannakji — octopus that’s so fresh that it’s still wriggling on your plate.
From an ancient Zoroastrian temple to the Zaha Hadid-designed Heydar Aliyev Center, this brilliantly bizarre city is a visual jumble of the old and new. Spend the day getting lost in the Old Town’s cobbled alleyways, or for something completely different, drive to Gobustan National Park and Reservation, which is home to 20,000-year-old rock engravings and half of the world’s mud volcanoes.
If giant pandas in their natural habitat get your heart racing, visit Bifengxia Panda Reserve about 1½ hours from Chengdu. Less crowded than the Chengdu Research Base, you can wander through this verdant gorge with its cascading waterfalls, watching pandas eat, play and looking after their young.
Once a hub for powerful and wealthy dynasties, this historic city isn’t short of grand temples, mosques and palaces. But to get off the tourist track, drive to the hilltop city of Bidar, which is home to impressive ruins and a colossal fort. Back in the city, tuck into a fiery biryani and sip Irani chai to the sound of the muezzin’s call.
Steeped in spirituality, Chennai offers you the Temple of Annamalaiyar with its 1,000 pillared hall, the serene Cholmandal Artists’ Village where you’re welcomed into the studios, and a tempting choice of restaurants where you’ll enjoy richly flavoured southern dishes such as sambar, rasam or kootu.
For a speedy ride from Tokyo to the charming old town of Kanazawa, take the 160mph Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train. For a more leisurely journey to “little Kyoto”, try the Kyushu Seven Stars sleeper train. Designed to rival the luxury of Europe’s Orient Express and the Ghan in Australia, relax in exquisitely designed surroundings as you pass through rice paddy fields and Japan’s volcanic landscapes.