Ever seen a boot prettier than Italy? We doubt it. Readers of Rough Guides voted the heel-shaped beauty in at an impressive 4th place. And we’re not at all surprised. Europe’s pin-up girl is packed out with gorgeous piazzas, and is buzzing with vespas, gelato stalls and stunning architecture. Our favourite? Florence’s Piazza del Duomo – an iconic cathedral in the main square. Or, if you’re after something with a slower tempo, check out Tuscany’s rolling hills, offering up a perfect setting for drinking in the amazing views of the countryside with a glass of wine. Bit of a romantic? You’ll fall in love with Sorrento, a cliff-hugging town surrounded by lemon groves and inhabited by a sea of red-roofed buildings and cobbled streets. In fact, the only thing that’ll tempt you to leave are the views of Mount Vesuvius and the fairy tale island of Capri, another Italian stallion that’s just a quick ferry ride away.
As one of the most Instagrammable locations in the world, it’s no surprise that Iceland came in at 8th place. Beating neighbours Finland and Norway, it’s a country covered in beauty spots. Take in the sights on the back of an Icelandic pony (think Shetland pony, but even cuter) and trot past ice sculptures and stunning glaciers. You’ll soon agree that it’s not just the temperatures that take your breath away here – it’s a real natural beauty. Explore the snow-topped national parks, warm up in steamy hot springs and admire stunning glacier waterfalls like Gullfoss. Iceland’s a bit of a performer, too. Head to Strokkur, an active geyser that erupts every ten minutes or so, or grab a seat at Budir beach and watch baby seals heading off for their first swim. We can’t not mention the Blue Lagoon either. Lather up with a mud mask, lie back and relax as the mineral-packed water does wonders for your skin – who says you can’t be beautiful, too?
Placed in 12th position, it’s clear you guys thought Mexico was a bit of alright. And we agree. Its staggering beauty is a result of its genetics – being part-south-american, part-north-american, and topped off with a dash of Caribbean good looks. Look outside of the colour-popping kaleidoscope of Mexico City, and you’ll discover 67 national parks, a whopping 5,000 miles of coastline, deserts, tropical rainforests and underwater caves. Keen to get exploring? Zipline over the Sierra Madre Mountains in Puerto Vallarta, duck underwater and spot tropical fish in Xcaret Park in Cancun, or step back in time with a trip to the Chichen ruins – one of the new wonders of the world. We also reckon its cultural influences play a big part in its staggering beauty. Mexico’s home to over 60 indigenous languages, which are evident in the Latin American and Spanish influences decorating its markets and towns with colour, colour and more colour (seriously, have you seen what it looks like on Day of the Dead?)
Never shy of attracting the limelight, thanks to its unprecedented fame in Game of Thrones, Croatia crept into the chart at number 19. Look out for “that coastline” which stretches for almost 2000km, or head high above the ancient walled city of Dubrovnik in a cable car. If you’re after a more undiscovered beauty spot without the crowds, try Pula’s dramatic amphitheatres, or sail among forest-covered islands in Vsar. History-buff? You’ll swoon over Hvar’s 13th century port town and matching Spanish fortress. And, if you’re all about long days on beautiful beaches, you’re not going to be disappointed with a trip to Brac island – probably one of the best-looking patches of the Adriatic. Go on, have a look.
Vietnam really cut things close, creeping into the chart in 20th place. The competition was tough, but we knew there had to be a place for it. It’s practically oozing with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and it’s hard not to be stunned by its glass-clear waters, soaring mountains and neon-green rice fields. Ready to be impressed? Grab a paddle and canoe around Halong Bay’s 1,000 stunning islands. Or, go cultural and explore Hoi An’s Chinese and Japanese architecture. Phu Quoc’s an unmissable slice of Vietnam, too, thanks to castaway-style beaches and hideaway coves. Dip your head underwater and you’ll be just as impressed, thanks to colourful coral reefs and an abundance of techni-coloured tropical fish, like angel fish, as well as bamboo sharks and octopus.
The adults-only TUI SENSIMAR Adriatic Beach is set at the foot of a pine-covered mountain, on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast.
After an Italian stallion? The Hotel Parco Del Sole puts you in walking distance of Saint Agnello by foot and offers a shuttle bus into Sorrento, so you’re in a prime position for exploring.
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