The way wine enhances food, we’ve paired big cities with nearby places that will give you a whole different perspective on life in the region.
There’s something to be said for a thriving metropolis - the hotels, restaurants, the museums and nightlife. But getting away from it all can be refreshing. We’ve taken some of our favourite major cities and paired them with our favourite day trips.
From modern to medieval in the Czech Republic
Prague and Český Krumlov
After the Velvet Revolution in the late ’80s, Prague emerged as a major European destination. Stroll across the Charles Bridge into the town square and climb the tower with the astrological clock, then sample a beer brewed in the pilsner tradition. To see where this city’s ancestors came from, drive to the sleepy medieval town of Český Krumlov. Make sure to visit the stunning baroque theatre, the castle dating back to the 12th century, and sample the town’s famous hot chocolate.
The ultimate American road trip, through stunning Northern California
San Francisco and Carmel-by-the-Sea
A colourful, artistic city, hilly San Francisco is teeming with things to do. Stroll through Fisherman’s Wharf, relax in Dolores Park, sip a cocktail at sunset at the top of the Mark Hopkins Hotel in Nob Hill, or jump on a cable car. Then hop in your car and head down Highway 1 to the serene resort town of Carmel. Shop in the boutiques or take in the soul-stirring vistas of Big Sur.
Putting the “port” into Portugal
Lisbon and the Douro Valley
Lisbon is becoming one of the hottest tourist destinations in Europe. Explore the late Gothic Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, climb the tower of Belém, duck into a café in the Chiado neighborhood, and take a funicular up Miradouro São Pedro for some breathtaking views. A few hours away, the Douro valley, A UNESCO World Heritage Site, makes an excellent day trip for sampling their famous port wine along the majestic river.
America’s democracy, then and now
Washington, DC, and Philadelphia, PA
To understand America, a visit to Washington, DC is a must. You can tour the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court to see the government in action. Don’t miss the Smithsonian museums. Then journey just two hours north to see how it all began in the old city of Philadelphia. Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell evoke a rich history, and the restaurants of Rittenhouse Square are world-class.
Spanish flair in the capital and countryside
Madrid and Segovia
Madrid is famous for its dramatic flamenco music, tapas restaurants, and the world-class Prado Museum. Sip some sangria and people-watch in the Plaza Mayor or stroll through the gardens of Retiro Park. Then escape to the small town of Segovia just to the northwest. Indulge in suckling pig at one of the oldest restaurants in Europe, in the shadow of an ancient Roman aqueduct.
Centuries of seafaring Swedes
Stockholm and Mariefred
Stockholm is one of the most stylish cities in the world. You can walk through the cobblestone streets of medieval Gamla Stan and see a fully restored viking ship at the Vasa Museum or view impressive contemporary art at the Färgfabriken gallery. Then take a three-hour steamship ride to the coastal town of Mariefred. You can see hundreds of years of important Swedes at the portrait collection of Gripsholm Castle.
The beauty of Ireland, from writers to waterfalls
Dublin and Enniskerry
The home of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, and the Book of Kells, on display at Trinity College, Dublin pays homage to a rich literary tradition with memorials across the city. Hear traditional Celtic music at a modern pub in Temple Bar and then journey 20 km south of Dublin to the charming town of Enniskerry. Amble through the vast gardens of the Powerscourt Estate, and don’t miss the 400-foot waterfall, and sublime views of the Sugar Loaf mountain.
See South Africa by city and safari
Johannesburg and Kruger National Park
Follow in the footsteps of President Barack Obama and the First Lady by visiting the Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto, a commemoration to youth who lost their lives in the 1976 uprising, and the Apartheid Museum in bustling Johannesburg. Then make your way to Sandton City, where Nelson Mandela Square boasts the best restaurants in the city. Afterwards, escape civilization altogether by going on safari in Kruger National Park — a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Your guide will get you up close and personal with wildlife such as lions and elephants in the largest game reserve in Africa.
Shutterstock.com / Photos courtesy of Salvatore Ferragamo