Amsterdam, Netherlands (Photo creds: Laura Branson)
We all have our favorite places around the world, and although I live in a stunning area of California, right on the bluffs overlooking the beach, there are 10 places outside of America that I can call my favorite (for now)!
10. Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
I’ve been here 3 times, at 14 years old, 18 years old, and 19 years old. Coming here at 18 was my first time going out of the country without my family, and my first REAL taste of wanderlust. Although it definitely wasn’t a backpacking trip (more like a typical beach resort vacation), it still ranks as one of my favorite places. Beautiful resort, beautiful beach and waters, and such a relaxing time. Very different from my newer, not so relaxing style of traveling. I was also able to legally drink for the first time, which was awesome considering I was staying in an all inclusive resort.
9. Masada Desert, Israel
I loved my entire Birthright trip to Israel. That was where my real love for travel sparked and having the opportunity to be immersed in such a different culture is what changed my life forever – I never wanted to stop learning. It’s hard to pick what my one favorite place was from the entire trip, but seeing the sunrise over the Masada Desert was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever witnessed. Waking up at 2:30 am so that we could hike for an hour up to the ruins wasn’t fun at the time, but it was worth it 100%! I’ll never forget that morning.
8. Santorini, Greece
Santorini is famous, and for good reason! A small island known for its’ picturesque blue and white buildings, it provided for a really wonderful few days. Throw in some relaxing beaches, an ATV to ride around the island on, and a sunset that rivals any other that I’ve seen, it’s definitely a must for anyone trying to add onto their bucket list.
7. Hallstatt, Austria
I recently put up a blog post about Hallstatt, and I’ll repeat what I said in there. Hallstatt is the quaintest, most picturesque place I’ve possibly ever set foot in. I’ve never before felt like I was living in a fairy tale world until I got to Hallstatt. There’s a big, calm lake where you can rent a boat and explore, the buildings look like a pack of crayons exploded on them, there are even swans wandering around! Amazing place to visit and I wish I had given myself more time there.
6. Prague, Czech Republic
There’s a reason everybody’s heard of Prague! A city filled with so much culture and history, it’s hard to not walk away loving it. The architecture throughout the whole city is incredible and the famous Astronomical Clock Tower draws in lots of people excited to see the short show. Also, how can you complain about being in Eastern Europe where everything is dirt cheap (including beers… 39¢ for a tall boy?! Hell yeah!). The nightlife there is also great and so much fun, there’s even a 5 story club. (Tip… Do the Drunken Monkey pub crawl! Super fun).
5. Copenhagen, Denmark
Denmark is known as the world’s happiest nation and I can vouch for that! I celebrated 4th of July there this past summer, ignoring the fact that I was nowhere near America. If I’d been running around the streets of Paris drunk, yelling “It’s America’s birthday!” with a beer in each hand, I’d have been getting some damn dirty looks from the French (no offense meant towards the French…). But in Copenhagen, all the Danes were giving us high fives and wishing America a happy birthday with us. Some even decided to enhance our fun and buy us more beers. Besides just that, the city itself is amazing. A very modern and colorful feel, and there are so many things to do there; Islands Brygge, Christiania, Little Mermaid… The list is never ending!
4. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam will always hold a special place in my heart – it was my first stop on my first ever backpacking trip. As much as I love being in new places and traveling anywhere I can, I can’t really envision myself living outside of America long term, with the exclusion of Amsterdam and Copenhagen. The city has a really laid back vibe, which makes sense considering the substances that are legal there. Beautiful architecture throughout all of Amsterdam, the canals are awesome to explore, and I think the fact that everyone rides their bikes everywhere is so cool! Also, Amsterdam has Vondelpark, which was one of my favorite parts of the whole city.
3. Cinque Terre, Italy
In one word, Cinque Terre is BREATHTAKING. 5 small towns on the coast of Italy, interconnected by hiking trails and a train line, it draws in so many tourists from all over the world. The small, colorful homes sit against the hills, and the waters are the clearest I’ve ever seen. Manarola is currently my laptop desktop background, and I don’t think I could ever bring myself to change it. I’d suggest booking a trip soon because there’s been talk that they are supposedly cutting off tourist access to Cinque Terre. The small town economy can’t handle the millions of tourists that flock there each year!
2. Ios, Greece
Clearly I have a thing for Greece! Although smaller than Santorini, Ios has the similar iconic blue and white buildings and stunning horizons. Many people have heard of the Greek island Mykonos, known for the non-stop fun partying, but not as many people know about Ios, which has the same social, party culture as Mykonos. I don’t think I’ve ever had as much alcohol induced fun as I did in Ios! Everyone on the whole island is so friendly and welcoming, and the village of Chora where all the bars and clubs are is such a unique place to walk through at night. Drunk partying aside, the island itself is so beautiful, and provided for some really great sunset views.
1. Budapest, Hungary
Another city I’ve recently put up a post about – Budapest! I absolutely loved Budapest; between the architecture, the history, the culture, and the nightlife, Budapest had everything. It’s a very unique city in Eastern Europe with many options and things to do! Check out Parliament, go to the thermal baths, explore the Buda and Pest sides, the list is endless!
There you have it… My (current) top 10 favorite places outside of the USA. What are YOUR favorite places? I want to know! I need to start adding some new and exciting places to my bucket list, so tell me where you think I should go next!