Counting countries is fun. We love nothing more than adding a new one to our list. However, we also love returning to countries numerous time and exploring new cities, towns and villages. Take our favourite country – Italy for example. We have visited at least half a dozen times over the past 11 years. In fact, our next trip there is in a couple of weeks. Other countries we cannot get enough of include The Netherlands, Germany, Spain and America. We could return to them time after time and never get bored.
Even though we don’t really like returning to the exact same place twice, maybe it’s the fear of missing out, there are a few cities around the world that just keep calling us back. I’m sure we’ve all got our favourites that we would return to given the opportunity? Here, are ours and why we love visiting them so much.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam was the first places I ever visited with my girlfriends when I was 18. We jumped on the ferry from our hometown of Hull and bobbed across the North Sea to The Netherlands. During the subsequent 17 years, I have returned to Amsterdam a further 10 times both with my friends and Mr ESLT and have never got tired of visiting it. In fact, I am heading back to the wonderful city again during December to do some Christmas shopping and to explore the Christmas markets.
So over the years, I have visited the majority of the main attractions including Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and one of my favourites, The Heineken Experience. There is a lot to see and in Amsterdam and more than enough to keep you occupied for at least a long weekend. A visit to the city’s main square – Dam Square and a wander along the canals is also a must. And when the weather is nice, I also enjoy taking a relaxing boat trip along the canals, it allows me to see the city from a different viewpoint.
There is so much more to Amsterdam than just the cafes and Red Light District. Just watch out for the bikes and the trams.
Another city that I have visited a lot over the years is Bruges. It is a beautiful little place, especially during the winter months when the ground and buildings are white with snow. Mr ESLT and I enjoy nothing more than getting ensconced in one of the many restaurants in the Markt. Preferably one with a roaring fire, with a big pot of muscles followed by a waffle and a couple of pints of local beer. We always try to bag a window seat which allows us to people watch to our heart’s content.
Even though Bruges is not that big, it has everything you need for a long weekend. The shops in Bruges are great, especially for its size. With numerous chocolatiers, I always pick up souvenirs/Christmas presents for friends and family (ok and maybe a little something for myself too). Also, there are a few lovely little homeware shops in the city and I’ve always left with a lovely little trinket for the house too. Activities in the city include climbing the Belfry, visiting the Basilica of the Holy Blood and taking a boat tour on the canal if the weather permits.
Edinburgh is a great and vibrant city and one that I love to visit when I get the opportunity. I first visited Edinburgh when I was in high school and was a member of the school’s drama club. We put on performances every year at the world famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I had the pleasure of visiting the city, 3 years in a row and during our downtime, I explored the length and breadth of Edinburgh discovering what makes millions of people flock there every year.
I have since returned a few times both with friends and even a cheeky romantic weekend with Mr ESLT. The city is full of history and amazing architecture which gets a massive thumbs up from me. There is also the JK Rowling and Harry Potter link, which visitors to the city go mad for. I personally love the Royal Mile and the Grass Market areas of the city. The Grass Market is the perfect place to grab a drink and watch the world go by. It is also easy to get to Edinburgh Castle from too, which is a must, especially if it is your first time visiting.
If travelling on a budget Edinburgh is home to a number of museums that are free to visit. And Arthur’s Seat offers amazing views over the city.
If you are a regular reader of the blog, you will know that Florence does and always will have a very special place in both our hearts. It’s the first place we visited together, just 3 weeks after meeting and also the place we returned to for our first wedding anniversary. It’s somewhere we love and also the place where we fell in love and we cannot wait to revisit in the near future. The history, art and architecture are major factors (along with pizza of course) that appeal to us and we just cannot get enough of it.
As mentioned before Italy is our favourite country in the world and Florence is definitely our favourite city in it. Just walking through the streets feels like you are walking through an open-air museum. There are building buildings and sculptures everywhere. Therefore, you get to see a lot of amazing things without having to spend a penny. However, if you do have more cash to splash we recommend heading to Galleria dell’Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David, the Uffizi Gallery and if you have time, take a wine tour.
Also, if you want to get the best view of the city, take a trip Piazza Michelangelo or the top of Giotto’s Belfry next to the Florence Duomo (Cathedral).
Las Vegas, USA
The first time I visited Las Vegas, I fell in love. It was somewhere I had always wanted to visit. Therefore, when deciding where we should spend New Year’s Eve in 2011 (heading into 2012) – there was only one place – Sin City. Mr ESLT had visited before with his friend a few years previous, therefore I had a great and knowledgeable guide to show me around. The first time we visited, we did all the touristy stuff – watch the fountains at the Bellagio, have our photo taken at the Las Vegas Sign, gamble in the casinos and we even took a day trip to the Grand Canyon. We did not stop.
Last year when we were planning our Californian road trip, it made sense to finish our trip in Las Vegas. A quick 40-minute flight from San Diego and we were back in Disneyland for adults. This time we took the opportunity to do some of the things that we didn’t have the time to do during our first visit, although it was 45 degrees, therefore a lot of our time was spent by the pool. We did, however, squeeze in trips to the Mob Museum, the Neon Musuem and the Fremont Experience. All of which are off The Strip but well worth visiting.
As we are currently going through the adoption process, it may be a very long time before we return to Las Vegas which will be tough. But we have fantastic memories.
Can you believe I was 24 the first time I visited London? Being from and living in England, how on earth did it take me nearly a quarter of a century to visit my own capital city? I had travelled around the world and back but never made the 3 and a bit hour train journey to the Big Smoke. Well, after my first visit there was no stopping me and I have returned so many times since I’ve lost count. Being from a quiet market town in the north of England a trip to the bright lights of London, for me, is just as exciting as a foreign adventure and more often than not, just as expensive.
For us now as regular visitors to London, we love nothing more than dinner and a show. Therefore, we always stay in a centrally located hotel. Hotels in London can be super expensive and when we can’t find a good deal, we always opt for a Travelodge. Yes, they are basic. But in reality, when in London, all you need your hotel room for is to sleep in. London is also big, therefore if only visiting for a couple of days, concentrate on one or two particular areas rather than trying to whizz across the city on the underground, especially at rush hour, which can be a busy, hot and sweaty nightmare.
Although we haven’t got a trip to London planned in the near future, we will definitely be back soon as soon as we can find a free weekend, of course.
New York, USA
New York – the Big Apple! Somewhere Mr ESLT and I love to visit and return to as often as we can. In fact, our next trip is planned for January. We have been in Summer and in Winter and we love the city, regardless of the season. Summer’s a great time to visit if you enjoy spending time outdoors. Central Park is the perfect place to hang out as are the numerous rooftop bars which can be found all over the city. Winter, on the other hand, is a great time to explore all the amazing museums the city has to offer. Our favourites include the American Museum of Natural History and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
Regardless of the time of year you visit, there are some attractions that are a must when visiting New York. All of which I was beyond excited to see for the first time. Walking into Times Square felt like I was walking onto a film set, it was amazing to see it up close for myself after seeing it a million and one times on the screen. The Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and the Top of The Rock are also must-sees. If your budget allows, I would recommend a helicopter ride over the city, a boat trip along the Hudson River, as well as tickets for a show on Broadway.
We cannot wait to go back to New York in a few months and already have a list of things to do as long as our arms. There is still so much for us to see and do, this will not be our last visit.
How do you like to travel? Somewhere new every time or do you have certain cities that you love to return to time and time again?
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