Bali is a living postcard, an Indonesian paradise that feels like a fantasy. Soak up the sun on a stretch of fine white sand, or commune with the tropical creatures as you dive along coral ridges or the colorful wreck of a WWII war ship. On shore, the lush jungle shelters stone temples and mischievous monkeys. The “artistic capital” of Ubud is the perfect place to see a cultural dance performance, take a batik or silver-smithing workshop, or invigorate your mind and body in a yoga class..
Cape Town, South Africa:
Cape Town glistens at the southern toe of the African continent. Tourist brochure-views at Blaauwberg Beach and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens are within easy driving distance of “The Mother City.” The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve provides sweeping sea vistas, hiking trails and wildlife encounters. On a more somber note, travelers can visit Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 27 years.
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is a huge seaside city in Brazil, famed for its Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, 38m Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mt. Corcovado and Sugarloaf, a granite monolith with cable cars to its summit. The city is also known for its sprawling favelas (shanty towns). Its raucous Carnival festival, featuring parade floats, flamboyant costumes and samba, is considered the world’s largest.
Scotland, the U.K.’s northernmost country, is a land of mountain wildernesses such as the Cairngorms and Western Highlands, interspersed with glacial glens (valleys) and lochs (lakes). Its major cities are Edinburgh, the capital, loomed over by its iconic castle, and Glasgow, famed for its vibrant cultural scene. Scotland is also the ‘home of golf’, typified by the 16th-century Old Course at St Andrews.
Taiwan is a small island nation 180km east of China with contemporary cities, hot springs resorts and dramatic mountainous terrain. Taipei, the country’s capital in the north, is known for its busy night markets and street-food vendors, Chinese Imperial art at the National Palace Museum and Taipei 101, a 509m-tall, bamboo-shaped skyscraper with an observation deck.
Cuba, a large Caribbean island nation under communist rule, is known for its white-sand beaches, rolling mountains, cigars and rum. Its colorful capital, Havana, features well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture within its 16th-century core, Old Havana, loomed over by the pre-revolutionary Capitolio. Salsa emanates from the city’s dance clubs and cabaret shows are performed at the famed Tropicana
Iceland, a Nordic island nation, is defined by its dramatic volcanic landscape of geysers, hot springs, waterfalls, glaciers and black-sand beaches. The capital, Reykjavik, home to the majority of the population, runs on geothermal power and offers a renowned nightlife scene as well as Viking history museums. The glaciers in Vatnajökull and Snæfellsnes national parks are popular for ice climbing, hiking and snowmobiling.
Gdańsk (Danzig in German) is a port city on the Baltic coast of Poland. At the center of its Main Town, reconstructed after WWII, are the colorful facades of the Long Market, now home to shops and restaurants. Nearby is Neptune Fountain, a 17th-century symbol of the city topped by a bronze statue of the sea god.