crossing5oceans.com | Published January 11th, 2021 | Last Updated May 5th, 2021
All Images © 2021 - Kelly Girouard - Please Contact for Permission to Use
For some travellers planning a trip starts with choosing a location, and for others, it’s all about travel style. Some may have an affinity for architecture, medieval towns, or scenic walks, while others prefer to explore beautiful landscapes, go on adventures or hunt castles. If your trip planning is based on a travel style, then read on to get inspiration for your next epic adventure!
Iceland is a country chock-full of adventurous activities. From glacier walks and dog sledding to crossing the Arctic Circle and hiking a volcano. There's no shortage of unique ideas to intrigue even the most adventurous of travellers.
One such unique adventure is caving through volcanic lava tubes, and a great place to experience this is at the Leidarendi cave system located outside of Reykjavik. Leidarendi is not a tourist cave; there are no wooden walkways and modern lighting, so it makes for a more authentic experience. There are areas of the ceiling that have fallen from previous earthquakes, so crawling through on your belly is part of the fun, provided you are not claustrophobic, of course. An interesting fact about this cave system is how it was created. While most caves form by erosion from water, Leidarendi was formed by magma; as a volcano erupted and the magma bored its way through the earth, it left striations on the walls caused by heat and friction from the moving rocks. While Leidarendi may not be the longest, the deepest or the most difficult to traverse, it's a fascinating, unique and adventurous experience all the same.
Walking Over Pillows of Green Moss to Reach The Leidarendi Cave System
Almost every country has options for luxury travel, from hotels with breathtaking views of city skylines to villas with glass floors revealing the ocean underfoot. Paying for luxury travel shouldn’t just be about being pampered and having five-star amenities; it should also be about having an unforgettable experience during your stay.
A trip to the Anantara Desert Resort outside Abu Dhabi can be compared to staying at a sandcastle in the middle of the desert, which is one such unforgettable experience. From the minute you turn down the main road to get to Qasr Al Sarab, you are transported to the middle of the Arabian desert with wind-swept dunes as far as the eye can see. Fair warning, it may take a while to drive down the entry road as photo opportunities are never-ending.
I stayed in a suite complete with a living room, mini kitchenette and a back patio that overlooked the empty quarter's desert sands. While the service, food, and accommodations were beyond expectations, the activities and walking around the grounds of this isolated resort made staying at the Anantara so memorable.
One of the most unique experiences was a camel trek at sunset; it was magic from start to finish. As we rounded the top of one of the dunes, there were stools topped with plush red pillows lining the sand with the sun setting over the endless mass of dunes in the distance. What an experience!
Entry to Qasr Al Sarab Anantara Desert Resort - United Arab Emirates
For some travellers, the mystery, beauty and sometimes turbulent past surrounding a castle is too intriguing to pass up, but would you plan a whole vacation around it? Maybe not, but if you're in love with the idea of exploring castles along with other sites, why not pick a country that has them in spades?
Scotland, while known for its whisky, bagpipes, the Highlands and Nessie, among other things, it's also known for its castles. Several castles in Scotland make the top lists of must-see castles in the world, and two beautiful examples are Eileen Donan and Dunnottar.
Eileen Donan is the most photographed castle in Scotland for good reason. It's set in the highlands on a small island where three lochs meet with mountains rising in the background. On a cloudy day, the misty shroud that envelops the ground resembles a dramatic movie setting which ironically matches its turbulent history. The first part of the defensive structure was built in the early 13th century and has undergone destruction, weathering and abandonment. It was rebuilt in 1911 using previous plans and was completed in 1932 as the castle that stands today.
Dunnottar Castle is a medieval fortress in ruins. Some may question why you would visit castle ruins, and the answer lies in the setting and the story. The oldest establishment of the castle is somewhere between 5000 B.C. And 700 A.D. When arriving at Dunnottar, the structure is not fully visible from the parking area. At first, it appears to be crumbling stone on top of a hill, but as you cross the footbridge, it becomes a fortress among massive craggy rocks overlooking the North Sea. It's an unforgettable sight!
Other stops on a castle hunter’s list while in Scotland are Edinburgh, Stirling, Balmoral, Cawdor, and Inveraray. Castle Ruins worth checking out include Tantallon, Dirleton, and Urquhart Castle.
Dunnottar Castle Overlooking the North Sea, Scotland
The country with some of the most incredible landscapes anywhere belongs to ‘the land of fire and ice.’ I’m talking, of course, about Iceland. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit this beautiful country's surreal landscapes, it should be high on your bucket list.
From waterfalls and lava fields to volcanos and hot springs, Iceland has some of the most unique terrain anywhere on the planet.
Spend the morning watching seals swim in a glacial lagoon. In the afternoon, experience the heat and force lying under the earth's crust as you witness pools of boiling mud and steam vents sending vapours rising to the sky. The experience of driving through this country should be a bucket list trip for any avid traveller.
Steam vents, bubbling mud and hot springs of Seltun, Iceland
Many cities worldwide are a treasure trove of architectural gems and home to the most significant buildings from history to the present. However, for anyone interested in planning a trip around modern-day architectural wonders, look no farther than Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
From buildings shaped like a picture frame and a sailboat to the elliptical-shaped Museum of the Future, time should be spent in these cities marvelling at the accomplishments made in construction and engineering.
One of these fantastic feats in engineering is the Burj Khalifa; the tallest building in the world. It's one that you not only admire from the outside but you're also able to take an elevator to the top floors to view the the ant-like world passing by below you. If it’s in the budget, I would suggest getting the pass that allows access to the 145th floor as this is the highest observation deck in the world, it's far less crowded, and the tickets will enable you to skip the line. It was worth the extra money spent!
The architecture of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The options for scenic walks around this beautiful planet are endless, so here's a quick peek at a couple to get you started.
In Slovenia, why not visit Vintgar Gorge? While this isn't the longest walk, the scenery makes up for the short distance in spades. There are wooden trails to follow on this 1.6 km hike. While a portion of the path is on the ground beside the gorge's emerald green waters, there are spots where the walkways have been suspended on the side of the canyon walls; the walkways then traverse from one side of the gorge to the other. It's a stunning hike from start to finish!
A second walk worthy of making the list, is the path that leads from the town of Arnarstapi to the town of Hellnar in Iceland. It's about a 4.3 km hike one way on the steep coastline that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. During the walk, you'll hear birds squawking as they dive into the water and fly overhead, you'll walk over lava fields, and breathe in the smell of the salty ocean air. The terrain is easy to walk, and it’s an unforgettable way to spend a day in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
If you're touring Alberta, Canada, another breathtaking scenic walk is on the pathway at the top of Sulphur Mountain in the Rockies. From the lodge where the gondola arrives, use the 1.6 km wooden walkway to reach Sanson’s Peak. During the hike, you'll take in the most incredible scenery of six mountain ranges and Bow Valley. The walkway is well maintained, sturdy and easy to hike. There are stairs involved, but nothing too strenuous. The gondola to reach the top of the mountain does not operate daily, so it is best to check the schedule before heading out.
Walk the 1.6 kilometre boardwalk on Sulphur Mountain, Alberta Canada
Picking a city to explore presents many opportunities to take in the culture, see the sights and enjoy the cuisine. One of the most beautiful cities to have these experiences in, is Paris. It's a remarkable city to admire architecture both old and new, visit museums, and indulge in French delicacies.
There are many popular must-see attractions in Paris including, but not limited to, a visit to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Palace of Versailles. There are also numerous activities in Paris that can be enjoyed for free. How about a visit to Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, strolling along the Sienne or wandering around the Jardin de Tuileries? Use these maps of Paris to create your own Itinerary and see all the wonders this incredible city has to offer.
The Louvre is Just One of Many Attractions to Visit in Paris
If you enjoy history, ancient architecture or just the atmosphere of old-world charm, then exploring Medieval cities and towns should be high on your list of must-see travel experiences. While there are many Medieval destinations around the world, one that deserves more attention, is Gent Belgium. Visitors are transported back through time while walking the quaint cobblestoned streets of this exceptionally picturesque city. A few of the activities to experience in Gent include:
Admiring the beautiful architecture around Korenmarkt.
Walking along the River Leie.
Indulging in tasty Belgian waffles and visiting Gravensteen Castle in the city's centre.
You may like this Guide to Belgium for more inspiration.
The Incredibly Picturesque Medieval Town of Gent Belgium
The world is an oyster for history buffs. Are there any places left to travel that don't have a history associated with the buildings, people, or cultures? It all comes down to the type of history you're interested in uncovering. Are you seeking out architecture from Ancient Rome or Greece? What about seeing the supposed spot where Leonidas died and the hot gates that held back the Persians in the war for Sparta? Maybe you want to visit the town of Gdansk and the shipping yard where World War II is said to have started. The options are limitless when it comes to planning trips around historical events or locations.
The Entrance to the Acropolis - The Acropolis was built in 525 B.C.
While there are so many great reasons to take a train from one destination to the next, sometimes there’s nothing like hitting the open road. Renting a car in a foreign country may seem daunting, but if you do a bit of research to see if it's a relatively easy place to drive, you have the opportunity to make your own schedule and stop at locations whenever you please. As a solo female driver, I was nervous in the first few countries that I opted to rent a car. However, I started to realize that with the help of GPS and a quick overview of the street signs before I left, I was just fine. You may like to read: "Are you Prepared to Drive in a Foreign Country"?
One of my favourite road trips was driving through Slovenia; there are so many incredible landscapes, and one turn after another is full of stunning vistas. Slovenia is home to the Mediterranean coast with its remarkable azure waters, the mountainous areas with their spectacular limestone peaks and the interior with its striking green rivers, castles and caves. You may like to read: "Five Reasons Slovenia is Europes Most Underrated Travel Destination".
Driving Through Towns Perched on Mountains in the Slovenian Countryside
While many travellers plan trips around a particular destination, it seems that planning around your style of travel will satisfy your sense of adventure, your need to delve into history or just hop in a car and hit the open road. Planning vacations with this in mind may result in your most memorable travel experiences to date!