Venice, Italy

© Fougerouse Arnaud

Venice is the consummate magician. It makes marble palaces vanish into silent fogs, labyrinthine calli (streets) disappear at the whim of moody tides, and can even turn the most pedestrian of people into fantastical, masked creatures.

Garden islands and lagoon aquaculture yield specialty produce and seafood you won’t find elsewhere – all highlighted in inventive Venetian cuisine, with tantalizing traces of ancient spice routes. The city knows how to put on a royal spread, as France’s King Henry III once found out when faced with 1200 dishes and 200 bonbons. Today such feasts are available in miniature at happy hour, when bars mount lavish spreads of cicheti (Venetian tapas). Save room and time for a proper sit-down Venetian meal, with lagoon seafood to match views at canalside bistros and toasts with Veneto’s signature bubbly, prosecco.

Big Sur, California

© NationalGeographic

Big Sur, described as the “greatest meeting of land and water in the world”, is a lightly populated and unincorporated region on California’s Central Coast where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. The coast is frequently praised for its rugged coastline and mountain views. The sparsely populated region has numerous state parks for hiking, camping, and beachcombing.

Visitors to Big Sur can glide through roughly 85 miles of stunning scenery in a couple of hours, but the region remains an overwhelming and somewhat unknowable place to many.

Mykonos, Greece

© NationalGeographic

Mykonos…! the Aegean Sea is waiting for all romantic people in this marvelous island. Ancient temples, rocky hills, snow-white houses, azure sea, majestic liners, and windmills…what else do you need? With sandy beaches, whitewashed villages and a vibrant, cosmopolitan party scene, Mykonos adds a touch of glamour to the Greek Islands.

This amazing island is popularly known for its summer party atmosphere. Beaches such as Paradise and Super Paradise have bars that blare thumping music. Massive dance clubs attract world-renowned DJs and typically stay open well past dawn. Iconic landmarks include a row of 16th-century windmills, which sit on a hill above Mykonos town.

Moselle River

© Raico Bernardino Rosenberg

The Moselle River (German: Mosel) is a river which flows through France and Luxembourg, then becomes part of the Rhine River after it flows into Germany. This river is 545 kilometers (339 mi) long.  Moselle River is known for its picturesque medieval castles and excellent wines, such as Riesling, Elbling, Müller-Thurgau, and Kerner.

Like most of Europe’s great rivers, the Moselle features both industrial stretches and scenic regions. That said, the Middle to Lower Moselle (where the river snakes its way from Trier to Koblenz through a series of steep bends) is just lovely. The winding route prevents overdevelopment and endows its banks with a timeless air and rich heritage of ancient castles and quaint medieval villages.

Kerala, India

© NationalGeographic

Kerala, a state on India’s tropical Malabar Coast, has nearly 600km of Arabian Sea shoreline. It’s known for its palm-lined beaches and backwaters, a network of canals. Inland are the Western Ghats, mountains whose slopes support tea, coffee and spice plantations as well as wildlife. National parks like Eravikulam and Periyar, plus Wayanad and other sanctuaries, are home to elephants, langur monkeys, and tigers.

Kerala’s culture and traditions have made the state one of the most popular tourist destinations in India.  Kerala’s beaches, backwaters, lakes, mountain ranges, waterfalls, ancient ports, palaces, religious institutions and wildlife sanctuaries are major attractions for many tourists.

Yunnan, China

© Yu Wang

Yunnan is a province in southwestern China with a varied wonderful landscape encompassing snow-capped mountains, amazing rice terraces, lakes and deep gorges. The region is known for its large number of ethnic minorities. Modern Kunming, known as the “Spring City,” has many museums and temples, including colorful Yuantong Temple. To the southeast, Shilin Stone Forest contains limestone karst peaks formed 270 million years ago.

With everything from laid-back villages and spa resorts to mountain treks and excellent cycling routes, Yúnnán appeals to all tastes.

Skye, Scotland

© Petr Meissner

The Isle of Skye takes its name from the old Norse sky-a, meaning ‘cloud island’, a Viking reference to the often-mist-enshrouded Cuillin Hills. It’s the second-largest of Scotland’s islands, a 50-mile-long patchwork of velvet moors, jagged mountains, sparkling lochs and towering sea cliffs.

Skye is known for its rugged landscapes, picturesque fishing villages, medieval castles and it has an indented coastline of peninsulas and narrow lochs, radiating out from a mountainous interior. The town of Portree, a base for exploring the island, features harbourside pubs and boutiques.

Brugge, Belgium

© NationalGeographic

If you set out to design a fairy-tale medieval town, it would be hard to improve on central Bruges (Brugge in Dutch). Picturesque cobbled lanes and dreamy canals link photogenic market squares lined with soaring towers, historic churches, and old whitewashed almshouses. And there’s plenty of it. The only downside is that everyone knows. That means that there’s a constant crush of tourists in the center, especially through the summer months. So to really enjoy Bruges stay overnight (day trippers miss the fabulous evening floodlighting) and try to visit midweek (avoiding floods of weekend visitors).

There’s a special charm in spring when daffodils carpet the tranquil courtyard of the historic begijnhof retreat, or in winter (except Christmas) when you can have the magnificent if icy, town almost to yourself.

Côte d’Azur, France

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Provence, a region in southeastern France bordering Italy and the Mediterranean Sea, is known for its diverse landscapes, from the Southern Alps and Camargue plains to rolling vineyards, olive groves, pine forests and lavender fields. To the south is the Côte d’Azur (or French Riviera), where the elegant city of Nice and glamorous resort towns such as Saint-Tropez and Cannes line the coast. This is a lovely region to explore, with many less known gems to discover among the more famous.

Whether it’s cruising the cliff-top roads, sunbathing on the beaches or browsing for goodies at the weekly market, Provence and the Côte d’Azur sum up the essence of France – wonderful, sun-drenched and irresistibly seductive.

Bhutan, South Asia

© Christopher Fynn

Mysterious Bhutan has always attracted travelers. it’s known for its monasteries, fortresses (or dzongs) and dramatic landscapes that range from subtropical plains to steep mountains and valleys. Bhutan is also well known for mountain adventure trekking and hiking. Jhomolhari Base Camp Trek, Snowman Trek, Masagang trek are some of the popular treks in Bhutan.

San Sebastian, Spain

© Drburtoni

It’s impossible to lay eyes on stunning San Sebastián (Basque: Donostia) and not fall madly in love. This city is cool and happening by night, charming and well mannered by day.  It’s known for Playa de la Concha and Playa de Ondarreta, beaches framed by a picturesque bayfront promenade, and world-renowned restaurants helmed by innovative chefs. In its cobblestoned old town (Parte Vieja), upscale shops neighbor vibrant pintxo bars pairing local wines with bite-size regional specialties.

Yucatan, Mexico

© NationalGeographic

Few Mexican destinations can dazzle you with ancient Maya ruins, azure Caribbean waters and colonial cities all in one fell swoop. Actually, there’s only one – Yucatán.The Yucatán always keeps nature enthusiasts thoroughly entertained. With colorful underwater scenery like no other, it offers some of the best diving and snorkeling sites in the world. Then you have the many biosphere reserves and national parks that are home to a wide array of animal and plant life.

Without a doubt, this corner of Mexico boasts some of the most adorable stretches of coastline which explains in large part why beaches get top billing on the peninsula. On the east coast, you have the famous coral-crushed white sands and turquoise waters of the Mexican Caribbean, while up north you’ll find sleepy fishing villages with sandy streets and wildlife-rich surroundings.

Bled Island, Slovenia

© Flickr

Bled is a town on Lake Bled in the Upper Carniolan region of northwestern Slovenia. Bled is known for the glacial Lake Bled, which makes it a major tourist attraction. Perched on a rock overlooking the lake is the iconic Bled Castle. The town is also known in Slovenia for its vanilla and cream pastry.

A small island in the middle of the lake is home to Assumption of Mary Pilgrimage Church; visitors frequently ring its bell for good luck. Traditional wooden boats – pletnas – have been taking visitors to the island in the middle of the lake for centuries. These boats are operated by standing rowers known as pletnars. After landing, guests climb 99 stone steps to reach the Assumption of Mary Church. On this island, which is the subject of legendary tales, listen to the church bell and ring it yourself. Legend has it that this will make your wishes come true.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

© NationalGeographic

The bustling city of Rio de Janeiro has been one of Brazil’s most popular and frequented tourist destinations for decades. This huge seaside city famed for its Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado and for Sugarloaf Mountain, a granite peak with cable cars to its summit. Its vibrant city center is bursting with culture and pulsating with a deep sense of history and heritage.

The city is also known for its sprawling favelas (shanty towns). Its raucous Carnaval festival, featuring parade floats, flamboyant costumes, and samba dancers, is considered the world’s largest.

Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

© NationalGeographic
© Lisette Barlow

This village got its first Finnish-speaking resident settlers in the 17th century, who changed the name into the more Finnish-sounding Jukkasjärvi, thereby removing its meaning. This was also the name used by Swedish officials. The village is a popular tourist accommodation during the winter months, from December until April, and is best known for its annual Ice Hotel –  a hotel literally made from ice.

The wooden church is the oldest building in the village (built around 1607/1608) and is well known for its wooden carved altarpiece triptych by Bror Hjorth.