I am often asked where my favorite places I have visited are. It is pretty difficult to narrow it down to one specific place as I have fallen in love with quite a few. I have decided to compose this list of my top six favorite places I have visited. I realize these can be ever changing the more that I travel however as of today these have been my favorites.
Without a doubt Iceland is on this list. Lately it has been getting a lot of tourists as WOW Airlines has been offering $99 each way flights. If it is on your list of places you want to visit, I highly suggest taking advantage of the airfare deals.
I visited Iceland in September of 2014 right when it was barely starting to get a craze. I was exploring Europe at the time and it was a fairly cheap flight from Manchester, UK on IcelandAir. Now as for why Iceland is one of the top of my list, I’m sure you can see from the pictures above. The stunning scenery and nature are beyond break taking. From the caves to the waterfalls, to the geysers, and the natural baths, there is not a dull moment while exploring the country.
Also a huge bonus if you’re a Game of Thrones fan is they have a tour in Northern Iceland where you can check out filming locations such as the cave that John Snow and Ygritte went into, Lake Myvatn where scenes for “North of the Wall” were filmed as well as several other locations.
I had to update my list to include an extra destination due to my recent trip to New Zealand. From the moment I arrived I was blown away with the country. New Zealand is a lot bigger than most people may assume. Also another interesting fact is that is is broken up into two main islands: the North Island and the South Island.
Renting a car is a must for getting around unless you want to take buses (which is what I chose to do). Although I had a week for exploring, I only made it around about half of the north island. The breathtaking scenery is more beautiful in person than a picture could ever show. There are a lot of fun places to visit throughout the North Island. I had a great time exploring Hobbiton (filming site for Lord of the Rings), Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Te Puai (Maori Village) and several other tourist attractions.
From the amazing food to the sweetest people and the stunning scenery, there is no question about why New Zealand is one of the top of my list. I highly recommend everyone to add it to their bucket list and if you happen to need a travel buddy, you know who to call!
Another favorite country of mine is Portugal. From the moment you arrive you immediately are stunned by the beauty of the city and the friendliness of all the locals. I absolutely loved how cheap everything was as well! An uber ride almost anywhere in the city wasn’t more than $10. Plus the metro and bus system is fantastic as well. I have been to Lisbon on two different trips and can’t wait to be back in the future again. Everything in Lisbon is very easy to get to and you can easily spend several days in the city just stunning at everything around you.
However another reason i love Lisbon is that it is fairly close to many other cities that you can take day trips to. My absolutely favorite would be to head to Sintra and check out the Pena Palace. It is the colorful palace in my pictures above. The entire palace is absolutely stunning and it is enclosed in a forest. You can easily spend an entire day exploring. When I went I wanted to check out several royal palaces along the way, so I stopped off at the Quelez Palace and the Sintra Palace as well. Both the two palaces along with the Pena Palace were easily able to see during a one day trip.
Another great day trip would be to take the train out to Cascais and Estoril. They are cute little fishing villages by the beach. The food is fantastic and it is stunning to walk along the boardwalk by the water. You can take the train all the way down to Cascais and then walk along the boardwalk to Estoril in order to take the train back from there.
I definitely plan to return to Portugal in the future in order to explore more of the beautiful country. The city of Porto is top of my list for a future trip.
South Africa took me by complete surprise. I spent time in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Kruger National Park. I arranged transportation through my hotel when I landed in Cape Town and was shocked to see I was getting picked up in a Porsche! My hotel was across the street from the beach so the views were stunning, especially at night with the sunsets.
Cape Town has so much to see that I truly which I had a longer stay. First, I am obsessed with penguins so when I found out there was an entire beach filled with them I knew it was the first thing I wanted to see. Boulder’s Beach did not disappoint. I spent nearly four hours playing with the penguins and they truly are everywhere. The second most exciting thing for me was heading down to the Cape of Good Hope. It is the dividing point between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans and is one of the most southern points of Africa.
Now Kruger National Park was probably the highlight of the entire trip. I stayed at the Mala Mala Game Reserve and had transportation arranged from the airport. From the moment I arrived the staff made sure I felt very welcomed. The itinerary is pretty simple you wake up, have breakfast, go on a game drive, have lunch, go on another game drive, and then come back for dinner. I was only there for three days as it is quite expensive however the experience is worth a lifetime. I would wake up every day with giraffes peering on my balcony waiting for food. The animals are all wild so you never knew what you could encounter on the balcony or outside your room. The rooms were these cute suites built up on a cliff. Seeing all the wildlife on the game drives was so surreal. We saw lions attacking a buffalo, had an elephant charge at me, and got our jeep invaded with baboons, however the entire trip was so fascinating.
This was definitely an experience I recommend everyone to try at least once in their lives if at all possible. Cape Town and Kruger National Park are both must see places.
Now Malta was interesting place because I had never heard of it before Game of Thrones. I was researching filming locations as I love the show and have visited many of the cities where they have filmed. The pictures and reviews I read definitely made me add it to my itinerary for a trip I took last summer. Plus I couldn’t pass up a visit to Popeye’s Village!
I stayed in St Julian’s Bay, which I highly recommend if you want to go out at night and have a very cool scene to be. I felt very safe each night I went out and there was a huge area of bars, restaurants, and entertainment. Everything was walking distance to my hotel so it was all very convenient. My first day there I took the hop on hop off bus in order to get acquainted with the island and learn some history. Both Valleta and Mdina were filled with historic places such as cathedrals and buildings.
On my third day I took a city bus for several hours to reach the port in order to take a ferry over to the island of Gozo. This is where the Azure Window is (arch above) and is where Daenerys and Khal Drogo had their wedding during Game of Thrones. This island also had a number of place of historical significance especially around the capital of Victoria.
Last but certainly not least is the Galapagos. I always wanted to go there ever since learning about the islands in middle school. Luckily I was able to add this onto my trip when I was in South America in 2014.
I flew in from Guayaquil, Ecuador and was transported to the island of Santa Cruz where I had a hotel as the home base for my entire trip. The hotel was very nice with a restaurant, pool, lookout on the water, and a seal that always hangout with guests.
Each day I arranged to take a ferry out to the different islands. By far Isabella Island was my favorite due to all the penguins you can hangout and swim with in their nature habitat! Santa Cruz Island was also pretty cool because of the giant tortoises. The Galapagos Islands had more iguanas and seals than I hd ever seen in my life. It was such a great experience to see so many animals that you would never see anywhere else in the world!