Travel Inspiration from go-today: Our Best Vacation Spots of 2014!

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Looking back, where did you travel in 2014?  Italy?  New Zealand?  Ireland?  Iceland?  With 2015 a mere two weeks away, it’s not a bad idea to start thinking of new vacation ideas for next year.  In doing so, it might be helpful to know what’s trending – which international destinations are wowing Americans?  A year in review: it can lend inspiration to what’s just around the corner!

Read on to discover our 10 Most Popular Vacation Packages of 2014. If you like bits of this – and bits of that – and want to add a night there – and switch this for that, no problem; you can customize any vacation package to your liking over the phone (at no charge) with a go-today reservations expert.  

The Best of Italy

travel to Italy
Piazza Navona, one of Rome’s most famous squares

How could any vacation strike out with time spent in the unforgettable Italian cities of Rome, Florence and Venice?  Truth be told, we don’t know which is more fun – Italy’s monuments, culinary scene and multitude of cultural attractions – or the Italians themselves.  Folks who travel to Italy with our Best of Italy package have ten exciting days to soak up some of this vivacious country’s best offerings.  Looking for vacation ideas in Italy that work well with this package? 

See ancient Rome’s most recognizable monuments like the Colosseum, Forum and the Pantheon.  Eat your way through Rome’s neighborhood trattorie and gelaterie.  (Click here to read about some of our favorite things to do in Rome.)  See Renaissance masterpieces in Florence, the incredibly beautiful capital of Tuscany.  Stroll the banks of the scenic Arno River, make a day trip to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or check out Florence’s legendary leather markets.  Wrap up your amazing vacation in Venice, a playground for history, art and wine fans – and the perfect place for a dose of romance during your vacation to Italy.  Take a scenic gondola ride through Venice’s canals.  Visit topnotch art museums, palaces and basilicas.  Travel to the nearby islands of Burano and Murano.  Enjoy shopping in some of the Veneto region’s best streets – home to boutiques, top fashion designers and shops selling some of Venice’s best souvenirs: prosecco, carnival masks, Murano glass and lace.

Paris and Rome

travel to Paris, France
Paris’ gorgeous Place des Vosges

We don’t mind saying it – this package is beautifully divided between two magnificent, ancient European capitals.  Both are thousands of years old – yet very much alive and bursting with the quotidian hustle of its locals.  Both Paris and Rome are home to superb historical sites, great museums, entertainment venues and (probably our favorite) out-of-this-world food!  Don’t worry – with all the delicious dishes you’ll be eating, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to burn those calories off while wandering in Rome’s Villa Borghese Park and Paris’ Tuileries Garden, through extraordinary squares like Piazza Navona and Place des Vosges, and along the banks of the Seine and Tiber rivers.  Click here to read about Montmartre, one of our favorite neighborhoods in Paris, or here for general sightseeing ideas in Paris.  After getting to know Rome and Paris’ historic centers, day-trippers have incredible options to consider.  Here are several great ideas for day trips:

From Paris: Claude Monet’s Home and Gardens in Giverny, the Palace of Versailles, Champagne tasting in Reims, Normandy and the Landing Day Beaches and the Loire Valley Castles

From Rome: the island of Capri, the ruins of Pompeii, Tivoli and Its Villas, the ruins of Ostia Antica, and the Castelli Romani 

London, Paris and Rome

Travel to London
A view of Big Ben in the United Kingdom’s dazzling capital

No doubt about it – Paris and Rome were absolute destination giants this year with go-today travelers, and they both make another appearance in our London, Paris and Rome vacation package.  We’ve already mentioned a fraction of what one can see and do in those two gems, so we’ll focus now on London, the energetic, cosmopolitan and trendy capital of both England and the United Kingdom. 

While London’s weather isn’t its finest attribute – we promise that it really doesn’t matter.  London has an extraordinary variety of indoor attractions (many of which are free – click here for a list).  We’re talking about some of Europe’s best museums, historical palaces, superb restaurants – you’ll find every kind of cuisine under the sun – and an epic theatre district whose only rival is Broadway. Go-today passengers make the trip to London to see a show, to shop, to visit Shakespeare’s Globe Exhibition, to cruise the River Thames and to see wonderfully important historical sights like the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey.  Popular day-trip destinations from London include Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, Bath, Oxford, the oh-so lovely Cotswolds, Canterbury, Cambridge and Highclere Castle (for all you Downton Abbey fans).  

Paris and Barcelona

Travel to Barcelona
One of Barcelona’s architectural marvels: Gaudí’s Casa Batlló

Another extremely popular Parisian pairing in 2014 was our Paris and Barcelona vacation package.  No matter how odd your interests may be, there’s something for everyone in Barcelona!  So after taking in all that France’s gorgeous “City of Light” has to offer, head south to the Mediterranean seaside city of Barcelona, the laidback capital of Spain’s Catalonia region.  Barcelona is home to generally great weather, a relaxed attitude, city beaches for romantic walks and lazy afternoons, absolutely delicious Catalan cuisine, fantastic museums, great shopping – and the best modernista (Art Nouveau) architecture you can find in Europe.  This Gaudi wonderland beckons tourists year after year who come to see some of this hometown hero’s architectural masterpieces including the Sagrada Familia Basilica, Park Güell, Casa Milà (also known as “la Pedrera”) and Casa Batlló.  Barcelona day-trippers also frequently head west to cava country and to the region’s famed pilgrimage site: Montserrat Abbey.  Last but not least, we consider Barcelona a pretty great, kid-friendly vacation place in Europe.  Click here to read more on that. 

Madrid and Barcelona

travel to Spain
Madrid’s magnificent Plaza Mayor

Madrid and Barcelona couldn’t be more different, and we love both of them.  While Barcelona is many things, elegant it is not.  Barcelona is ancient, vibrant, bohemian, relaxed, artistic and “beachy.”  Madrid is sophisticated, classical and elegant. One houses the wild designs of Art Nouveau geniuses – and the other beautiful baroque and rococo palaces, convents and cathedrals.  If you think you’d like to travel to Spain in 2015, our Madrid and Barcelona package offers the best of both worlds – a fabulous taste of Spain’s two largest cities.

We’ve just detailed above some of our favorite things to do in Barcelona.  For art fans, it doesn’t get much better than in Spain’s capital city.  Folks traveling to Madrid should visit at least one of these three iconic European art museums: the Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Prado Museum and the contemporary Reina Sofía Museum.  Other must-sees include seeing one of Spain’s most magnificent squares: Madrid’s Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace and Retiro Park.  Madrid is also an ideal base to make day trips to several of the best places to visit in Spain.  We’re talking about cities like Toledo, Segovia, Ávila and San Lorenzo de El Escorial.  And after a fun, satisfying day of sightseeing, many visitors choose to round the day off with an evening of tapas and flamenco in Madrid. 

Reykjavík and Amsterdam

spa and wellness in Iceland
Iceland’s thermal Blue Lagoon. Anyone up for a spa day?

Now we know you might be thinking, Iceland and the Netherlands… what a strange combo.  It made the list?  Why yes it did.  Iceland is a recent darling of European tourism – and deservedly so.  Branded a destination of fire and ice, its scenery is unbeatable.  Relaxing thermal pools, magnificent waterfalls, towering geysers, immense glaciers, volcanoes, a bazillion outdoor activities, Viking archaeological sites and the spectacular, polar light show commonly called the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) – seriously, what’s not to like?!  In fact, it’s not even that cold.  Thanks to the Gulf Stream and an abundance of geothermal energy, Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavík is actually warmer in winter than New York City; their sidewalks are even heated!

Another great aspect to visiting Iceland is that it pairs so conveniently with Northern European cities like London, Oslo and Amsterdam.  Amsterdam is a gem on its own.  Truly.  Don’t be fooled into thinking it is solely home to Red Light activities and “coffeehouses.”  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Bicycle-filled Amsterdam houses remarkably beautiful canals, flower gardens and impressive museums like the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House.  From Amsterdam it’s easy and pleasant to make day trips to Dutch cheese farms, charming towns graced with windmills, and to the legendary Keukenhof Gardens (for all our tulip fans).  If you’re looking for two wonderfully different views while vacationing in Europe, this might be the package for you.

Greek Island Hopper

Travel to Greece
Mykonos remains a favorite island for travelers in Greece.

With 2 nights in the cultural mecca that is Athens along with 6 nights on the magical, postcard-like Greek islands of Santorini and Mykonos, it’s no wonder that this vacation package to Greece made our list.  Gosh, how terrible it must be.  Just look at that picture.  It looks like vacationing in Greece is rough indeed.   Who would want to see the ancient Acropolis and then have to sail around the Aegean and deal with these views?  Sign me up.  

Budapest, Vienna and Prague

Travel to Budapest
The Hungarian Parliament Building lines the scenic Danube River in Budapest.

Go-today travelers know that when you plan ahead, it’s amazing how much you can see in just over a week! This fantastic trip is one such example.  Those who travel to Budapest, Vienna and Prague go to enjoy some of Central Europe’s best cultural and historical attractions.  (In fact the historic centers of Prague, Vienna and Budapest are all World Heritage Sites.)  During this unforgettable journey travelers can experience storybook Bohemian castles, Habsburg palaces, renowned museums, river cruises along the Danube, pretty medieval architecture, classical music venues – and amazing pastries!  

Berlin and Munich

Travel to Germany
Bode Museum sits on Berlin’s Museum Island.

Germany’s capital city has dramatically evolved in the last 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Today Berlin is affordable, trendy and vibrant.  Its history is extraordinarily rich (hello Kingdom of Prussia!).  Visitors who travel to Berlin have the chance to experience some seriously impressive historical sights like the Berlin Wall Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate and the Sanssouci Palace in nearby Potsdam. 

The second star of this winning package is Munich, the capital of Germany’s southern region of Bavaria.  Munich is a beauty.  It was once the hometown of the powerful Wittelsbach dynasty – and it shows.  Their legacy has left its mark on Munich’s frankly amazing architecture and museums – and on Bavaria’s world-famous castles.      

It’s also worth mentioning that visiting Munich is a cross off the bucket list for beer and car fans, many of whom traveled to Munich with go-today in 2014 to visit local breweries, neighborhood beer gardens, and the highly impressive BMW Museum.  Click here to read about some of Germany’s best beer and wine festivals.  

Amazing Ireland

travel to Ireland
Dunquin Bay, Ireland’s breathtaking Dingle Peninsula

Ireland is a country whose best attractions are often natural.  It does have incredible prehistoric and early Christian sites that undoubtedly merit a visit.  However, the star of the show has always been its scenery.  You can’t fully appreciate Ireland without sampling its countryside villages, natural parks and unusual landscapes.  (Why do you think so many travelers want to golf in Ireland?)  This Amazing Ireland package has consistently been a favorite with go-today travelers because it’s ideal for those who want to want to travel to Ireland – with some room for flexibility.  They spend one night in an Irish castle hotel – and four nights in charming bed & breakfast accommodations (with a convenient, open-voucher scheme).  A 6-day rental car (included) allows you to choose which magnificent corners of Ireland you wish to discover.  Many Americans have Irish heritage, and this B&B style trip to Ireland offers travelers a unique, authentically Irish way of experiencing “the Motherland.”  If you decide to add a night or two in Dublin at the beginning or end of your Irish adventure, click here for ideas on what to see in Dublin.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Go-today Team!

 

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