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Whether you want to escape—or embrace—the cold, it’s time to start mapping out your winter adventure. From Cape Town to Swedish Lapland, here are our picks for this year’s top warm-and cold-weather winter getaways: http://cntrvlr.co/jIGB0pi
- •Cape Town, South AfricaWhy we love it: From December to March, South Africa’s safari circuit takes a back seat to Africa’s most cosmopolitan city, thanks to prime weather conditions. During the southern hemisphere's summer, Cape Town's restaurant, hotel, and nightlife scenes—which rival major European and American metropolises—are at their best.
- •Patagonia, ChileWhy we love it: Icebergs, mountains, fjords, granite spires, temperate rainforest, pumas, and guanacos, llamas' wild cousins. Welcome to summer in Chilean Patagonia, at the southernmost tip of South America, where the natural scenery is some of Earth’s finest.
- •French PolynesiaWhy we love it: Want an exotic tropical location that's Zika-free? Take note: Unlike many of the Caribbean and Pacific islands that haven't been so lucky, as of this writing, French Polynesia’s 118 islands have still evaded the Zika epidemic. Here, you can pick from five diverse archipelagos that cover a surface area larger than the European continent, or keep things simple by heading to Bora Bora, the treasured island of Tahitian archipelago.
Thanks to fairy tales and legends of the Blair Witch variety, a dense, dark forest can elicit feelings of dread. Check out the full list of haunted forests here: http://cntrvlr.co/Yv0PWc4
- •Epping Forest, Essex, EnglandThe size and density of Epping Forest have made it a popular hideout for criminals and an infamous burial spot for bodies. Notorious highwayman Dick Turpin hid there in the early 1700s, and more than a dozen murder victims have been discovered in the woods since the 1960s. It's no surprise then that the forest has developed a reputation for spooky sounds and ghostly apparitions (including Turpin himself).
- •Aokigahara Forest (aka Suicide Forest), JapanThis seemingly serene forest at the foot of Mount Fuji has a tormented past. Colloquially known as “Suicide Forest,” Aokigahara is the world’s second-most popular site for suicides (after the Golden Gate Bridge): In 2010 alone, 247 people attempted to take their own lives here, and 54 of them were successful. Some blame this trend on the forest’s association with demons in Japanese mythology.
- •Pine Barrens, New JerseyThe heavily forested Pine Barrens spans over one million acres and seven counties in New Jersey. The area thrived during the colonial era, host to sawmills, paper mills, and other industries. People eventually abandoned the mills and surrounding villages when coal was discovered to the west in Pennsylvania, leaving behind ghost towns—and, some say, a few supernatural wanderers.
- •Hoia-Baciu Forest, RomaniaFrom the moment a military technician captured a photograph of a UFO hovering over the forest in 1968, Hoia-Baciu has gained paranormal notoriety around the world. The area has become known as the "Bermuda Triangle of Transylvania," as some believe it to be a portal that causes visitors to disappear.
It’s shoulder season again, which is a boon for travel bargains—in October, value on hotels and flights is often unbeatable. Of course, it’s also Halloween, another excuse to take an adventure to experience fright night somewhere new. Here are our picks of the best destinations for October travel—check out more ideas here: http://cntrvlr.co/Qg7LYxh
- •KEY WESTWhy we love it: For a counter-culture Halloween, head down to Key West. For much of October, the Conch Republic is deeded over to a ten-day extravaganza, Fantasy Fest, which started in 1979. It’s an adult-aimed carnival with a sexy, satirical edge (though recent tightening of regulations has tamped down some of the more outré events).
- •NEW ORLEANSWhy we love it: Where better to spend Halloween than in the city considered America’s most-haunted? It’s even more appealing when you realize that October is the month when New Orleans, prone to damp spells even in high summer, is at its driest.
- •SAN FRANCISCOWhy we love it: Even diehard San Franciscans would admit the weather there is its Achilles heel, often cycling through all four seasons in a single day. September and October are exceptions, though, when the weather usually remains reliably warm and dry—the ultimate Bay Area Indian summer.
As ice caps melt and wildfires rage, scientific assertions that climate change is occurring at a rate faster than formerly expected have become manifest in locales around the world. Full list here: http://cntrvlr.co/3zoVBkA
- •The Great Barrier ReefSpanning more than 1,400 miles, the Great Barrier Reef—located off the northeast coast of Australia—is the largest coral reef system in the world. Replete with marine life, the reef draws slews of scuba divers each year. But rising ocean temperatures have caused coral bleaching in vast portions—a condition in which the coral turns white and is prone to mass die-offs. Recent studies have revealed that more than 90 percent of the Great Barrier Reef has experienced bleaching to some degree.
- •The AlpsThis European mountain range has long served as a Shangri-La for skiers, stretching across eight countries and providing some of the most sought-after slopes in the world. With increasing temperatures, however, significant snowmelt continues to shorten the season for winter sports. Many resorts have already begun to compensate by offering spa treatments and outdoor activities like horseback riding or tennis to lure more off-season visitors.
- •The Rhone ValleySituated in the south of France, the Rhone Valley is among the most vaunted winemaking regions in the world. Covering a corridor of more than 120 miles in length, visitors could spend a full week driving from one tasting to the next, admiring the sprawling vineyards surrounded by mountainous backdrops.
- •VeniceIt’s impossible to walk the streets of Venice without being seduced by its anachronistic charm: The Adriatic Sea coursing through its canals, the romance of a gondolier’s serenade as you float beneath the Bridge of Sighs. In a place so at one with water, locals have come to expect flooding in Piazza San Marco and other parts of the low-lying city—but as ocean levels rise, Venice inches toward more serious inundation.
We all know that travel can educate, but some places truly take you back in time. To walk through the ancient ruins of Greece or Egypt is to absorb history, not just admire its traces. Check out the full list here: http://cntrvlr.co/bxyoPty
- •Lisbon, Portugal: 1,200 B.C.The history: Lisbon is a port city and the capital of Portugal, and was named after the legacy of Ulysses, protagonist of The Odyssey. Until the 16th century, Lisbon was considered the edge of the world. Much of its ancient architecture was destroyed by a major earthquake in the mid-18th century, but the city’s beauty remains.
- •Varanasi, India: 1,700 B.C.The history: An ancient city in India's northern state of Utter Pradesh, Varanasi—also called Banaras—is often described as the spiritual capital of the country. It has served as a home for people continuously dating back to at least 1,700 B.C., with signs of life as old as 11,000 B.C.
- •Luoyang, China: 1,900 B.C.The history: Luoyang is an historic city in central China, largely credited as the origin of Chinese civilization. Located in the northwestern Chinese province of Henan, Luoyang was once home to nine ruling dynasties and served as the residence for imperial kings. Home, too, to China’s first Buddhist temple, Luoyang serves as an important reference point for the country’s Buddhist history.
- •Luxor, Egypt: 3,200 B.C.The history: Luxor rests on the Nile River in the upper Egypt. The city houses the famous town of Thebes, also called the City of a Hundred Gates, and was the capital of Egypt in the 12th century. Luxor is also home to temples dating back to 2,000 B.C.
Paris is beautiful no matter when you go. But there's something particularly thrilling about being there in the fall, including annual traditions involving red wine and chocolate, a street party where it's required to stay up all night, and special catch-them-now-or-you'll-miss-them events. Full list here: http://cntrvlr.co/8Wtg6Cg
- •Festival d’Automne à Paris (September 7-December 31)The French take their devotion to arts and culture so seriously that four months out of the year are dedicated to the Festival d’Automne à Paris, or Paris Fall Festival. Whether you're interested in dance (a night dedicated to the work of Lucinda Childs, pictured), film (a roundup of American indie shorts), or performance (Charlotte Rampling and Tilda Swinton re-creating iconic photographs), there's definitely at least one event worth putting on your calendar.
- •Magritte at Centre Pompidou (September 21-January 23)This fall and winter, the Centre Pompidou is paying homage to the Belgian Surrealist artist Rene Magritte with a retrospective entitled "The Treachery of Images," which gets its name from Magritte's famous "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" painting. The exhibit includes paintings, drawings, and letters.
- •Fête de la Gastronomie (September 23-25)Going to Paris to do nothing but eat is a totally acceptable vacation strategy, and the annual Fête de la Gastronomie makes it easy to justify a long weekend. This year's festival, which is themed around "Popular Cuisine," includes everything from different chefs discussing their favorite way to cook duck to a conversation about how Thai food became so popular in France. If you only attend one event, make sure it's the International Gastronomy Village, which is packed with tastings and accompani
Every year, MasterCard puts together its Global Destination Cities Index, which tracks airline ticket purchases, souvenir purchases, and other travel spending data to figure out which cities are the most popular with tourists. Here's how the 2016 list stacks up. Check out full list here: http://cntrvlr.co/B80nDwO
- •1. Bangkok, ThailandNumber of overnight visitors: 21.47 million
- •2. London, UKNumber of overnight visitors: 19.88 million
- •3. Paris, FranceNumber of overnight visitors: 18.03 million
When you don't know where to eat—but don't want to waste a meal on some tourist trap—consult our list of 207 of the greatest restaurants around the globe. Full list here: http://cntrvlr.co/XmSFHfG
- •Sqirl, Los Angeles, CA“Believe the hype. I’m happy to wait in line to get my hands on my favorite Sqirl triumvirate: sorrel pesto rice bowl, brioche toast with ricotta and Blenheim apricot jam, with a turmeric tonic.” - Fiorella Valdesolo
- •Gjusta, Venice, CA“Travis Lett’s team understands how people will want to eat in the future. Their original restaurant, Gjelina, is an L.A. classic, but its upstart younger sibling, a café/bakery cum deli counter in a sprawling Venice warehouse, channels a certain brand of breezy California sophistication. Come for coffee and a croissant, a healthy salad, or a porchetta sandwich. It’s not fine dining. It’s about a rules-be-damned freedom of choice. How Californian is that?” - David Prior
- •Au Cheval, Chicago, IL“I’ve only had 0.01 percent of America’s burgers, but this is by far the best I’ve ever tasted.” - Peter Jon Lindberg
From Brussels to Nashville, this is the best drinking itinerary ever. Check out the full list here: http://cntrvlr.co/sxEQKOC
- •SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIAThe Beer: Pliny the Younger, Russian River Brewing Co.
- •CURITIBA, BRAZILThe beer: Way Amburana Lager
- •NEW GLARUS, WISCONSINThe beer: Wisconsin Belgian Red
- •LUCCA, ITALYThe beer: Brùton Limes
(If you can afford it)Check out the full list of places here: http://cntrvlr.co/0imU3eW
- •Richard Branson’s Necker IslandLocated in the British Virgin Islands, this private escape has all the benefits of a resort, like a full staff, multiple pools, two beaches, a tennis court and personal chef, without all of the people. Only able to accommodate 28 guests at a time, you'll have run of the island and be able to stay in a 10-bedroom Balinese-style villa perched just above the beach. Each of the bedrooms has open walls, giving a stunning 360-degree view.
- •David Bowie’s MandalayHe may no longer be with us, but David Bowie has ensured that we can still enjoy the fruits of his labor for years to come. And we're not talking about his music: The rock star's five-bedroom Mustique mansion can be rented between $40,000 and $70,000 a week, and comes with plenty of glam amenities.
- •Prince’s Spanish VillaSituated very close to Marbella, Spain, this villa is everything you'd expect from Prince—the flashy entrance alone boasts a colonial-style double staircase, marble floors, and a massive chandelier. The rest of the hilltop home includes six bedrooms and six bathrooms, a tennis court, heated pool, and 1.45 acres of landscaped gardens.
- •Sting and Trudie Styler’s Villa in Figline Valdarno, ItalySting and Trudie spent summers in this 16th-century villa for more than 15 years, and now rent it to the public. Located about 45 minutes from Florence, the property is made up of not one, but six homes to stay in, with the Villa Palagio being the largest with nine double rooms. Wander around the Italian countryside, take a dip in the swimming pool, play a round of tennis, or jump in the onsite lake to cool off.