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So you got to Dubai. Where to eat?

Dubai may not be as renowned as Singapore for its gastronomical delights – but does it surprise you that there’s no shortage of excellent dining options here? This is a world-class destination, after all! If you’re spending some time in Dubai, you have to make it to at least one of these restaurants; ideally, all of them! 

● At Al Mahara, in the Burj Al-Arab, Dubai’s swankiest hotel, star chef Nathan Outlaw – awarded two Michelin stars – carries you in a make-believe submarine ride to a restaurant with wall-high aquariums that make it appear like it’s underwater. The theme – as one might expect – is seafood, and the top-rated chef is constantly coming up with great dishes, making this one of the best places to eat in Dubai. 

● Al Hadheerah is the restaurant of the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, set out away from the city in the midst of the sand dunes. This restaurant has fourteen live cooking stations, where skilled chefs prepare authentic Arabian food, while guests are serenaded with live entertainment. If you’re looking for local flavours, look no further! For an extra helping of culture, the Emirati Heritage Museum is nearby. 

● If you like Asian fusion, you’ll adore Zheng He’s, where traditional Chinese flavours blend with modern Western presentation. The food is authentic – some of the best Chinese food you’ll find outside of China – and the ambience is spectacular, with mellow-lit tables out on the dock, overlooking the splendid Burl Al-Arab hotel. For any true foodie, this is a must-stop – and for anyone who just likes Chinese!

● Fancy Japanese food? You can find it in Dubai, at the Atlantis Hotel’s star restaurant, Nobu – a chain created by globally renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Here you’ll get the best and most modern take on Japanese, blended with the Arabian influence that makes food in Dubai so special. Try seared black cod served with sweet miso sauce, or yellowtail topped with jalapeño. And if you want to learn the restaurant’s secrets, sign up for one of their cooking classes! 

● At Choix Patisserie and Restaurant, three-Michelin-star-rated French chef Pierre Gagnaire takes creative cuisine to its limit. Located at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City, this restaurant is famous in the city – and beyond – especially with its high tea. Enjoy European and British flavours like the fish of the day, beef rib eye, or mushroom tortellini. 

● Trust Dubai to offer something a little unique – which it does at Table 9, where Gordon Ramsay-trained chefs Nick Alvis and Scott Price have created a casual but memorable dining experience. Here a multitude of different chefs showcase their creativity and try to outdo one another. Table 9 is famed throughout Dubai for the entirely unique quality dishes that it brings to the table – each with personalized service. Options include a four-course menu, or seasonal favourites like king crab ravioli and portobello mushroom carpaccio. 

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Get down to Addu Atoll, Right on the Equator

Addu Atoll, previously known as Seenu Atoll, is the southernmost – i.e., the most
tropical – atoll in the Maldives. In fact, it almost sits right on the equator – and it’s
actually in the southern hemisphere, so watch your toilets flush in the opposite
direction! (Not really :P) Addu Atoll includes five inhabited islands, the
westernmost of which are connected by a 16-kilometre road that passes right over
the water and provides a formidable breakwater to the changing tides; water levels
can vary by half a metre. More excitingly, it’s home to the country’s second-largest
wetlands: the Eydhigali Kilhi wetlands, and the protected Koattey area on
Hithadhoo Island.

The Addu Atoll – and Addu Nature Park – are definitely worth a visit. Cycle through
the dense and vibrant green vegetation of the beautiful wetlands. Canoe or kayak
through land so low to the water that the ocean is always a force to be felt, as
“inland” as you might get! Go birding and see the migratory birds, and even bats,
who stop over in this tropical paradise. And spend some time scuba-diving or
snorkeling to see the fantastic marine life!

Let’s cover some of the main islands in this equatorial heaven:

Hulhumeedhoo, or Hulhudhoo-Meedhoo, is an absolute must-see. It’s the
fifth-largest island in the Maldives, but still – despite this – barely the land area
of New York’s Central Park. And it’s one of the country’s oldest settled islands,
first inhabited between 500 and 1000 years before the birth of Christ. Rich in
history, and with a beautiful Indian Ocean culture, visiting here is a must.

Hithadhoo is the second-largest island in the Maldives, and contains the
administrative center of the Atoll, and of the capital city – Addu city – that
stretches across it. With a rich history, and structures like the ruins of an old fort
at Koattey, the origins of which are still unclear, even to experts. In addition, the
Eydhigali Kilhi wetlands are here, an essential part of the Addu Nature Park. You
can see wild flora and fauna galore, both above and beneath the sparkling
water’s surface. It’s definitely a must-see stop on a Maldives tour.

● On the island of Gan, stay right at the equator in a resort complete with all the
amenities. From here, you can easily take a boat ride to switch into the other
hemisphere, and then switch back – and back again if you have a mind to! Other
good news is that there’s an international airport, with flights to Sri Lanka, if you
want to start or end your trip here rather than Malé.

Maradhoo, located in the middle of the road that links the atoll, is an island with
a fair amount of historical significance during WWII, used by the British (who
then owned the Maldives) as a staging area for naval warfare. Furthermore, due
to its designation as a “non-typical” Maldivian tourist place, the sorts of
experiences that you’ll have here can be quite different than at the resorts of


You haven’t seen the ocean until you’ve dived at the Maldives

The word “dive” is even in the name of the country, right?
But let’s be serious. And let’s talk about a world-class destination for water sports.
The Maldives is a country in the midst of the Indian Ocean, comprising 19,000
square kilometres, of which less than 300 are on land. Its highest point is a
staggering 5 metres above the level of the sea. In other words, welcome to the
ocean. And whether it’s diving, snorkeling, jet-skiing, paddle-boating, or just lazily
floating through the reef with the fishes, the tropical paradise of the Maldives has it

Whatever you want to do in the Maldives – if there’s water involved, then it’s an
option. Whether you’re a thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie, or a newlywed just
looking for a place to relax – or maybe you feel like one today, the other tomorrow.
Never fear. These beautiful, low-lying islands can give you whatever you’re after.
Here are just a few of the exciting, world-class options available on the sparkling
Maldivian waters:

● Parasailing: We’ll start with some sports that you’ve heard of, but probably
never tried. Well, it’s time to try them! Parasailing in the Maldives is incredible:
with beautiful, sapphire water and cerulean skies; it’s not an experience that
you’ll ever forget.

● Windsurfing: One of the more popular water sports in the Maldives, windsurfing
is the diva that’ll steal the thunder from the rest of your vacation. Zipping along
the crystal clear water, seeing fish or even stingrays darting below you… what’s
not to love about it? Book it through a resort that specialises in the sport for an
optimal experience.

● Flyboarding: Odds are you’ve never heard of “flyboarding.” But if you’re a
thrill-seeker, this most popular water sport in the Maldives was made for you! It
involves getting on a board which is attached to a jet ski by a hose that sends it
up into the air! And begs the question: is this really a “water” sport, or is it an
aerial one?

● Fun tubing: If the name isn’t evocative enough, imagine zipping through the
water at breakneck speeds in an inflatable raft. Yep, that’s “fun tubing”! And in
the Maldives, it’s a great option that’ll keep you close to the ground (or at least
the water’s surface!) but still offers plenty of bumpy, jouncing thrills.

● Catamaran Sailing: If you’re not so much a thrill seeker as someone who wants
some time to relax and soak in the tropical vibes, then this is for you. Take you
catamaran to one of the islands’ many deserted beaches, and spend some time
alone – or alone with your special someone.

● Snorkeling: One of the best activities in the Maldives, this needs no
introduction. Short of diving down with them, it’s the best way to view the atolls’
wonderful fauna – and it’s available almost everywhere you turn!

● Scuba diving: And last, but not least: the reason that many people come all the
way out to the Maldives. The diving opportunities here are simply unmatched in
the rest of the world. The islands’ most popular activity, you can’t pass up scuba
during your visit. And if you’ve never dived, you can learn how in one of the most
exquisite diving spots on this planet!

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UNESCO tour, anyone?

Greece has a lot of UNESCO world heritage sites – far more than you might expect for a nation of only 130,000 square kilometres. Touring the country, one is never far from a site of world heritage – and truly world heritage, because the ideas that came out of Greece have expanded into something that’s truly global. 

Greece has 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with 14 more awaiting official nomination. In other words, if you want to know the history of the whole world – particularly, the civilisation that’s enveloped it – start here. 

Every Greek tourist knows about the Acropolis in Athens. Many may have heard of Delphi, or the ancient-ancient city of Mycenae. We’re going to take an up-close look into some of the less-known ones: 

Sanctuary of Asklepius at Epidaurus: this site was famous throughout ancient times as a healing centre. It was believed that a god had been born here. Patients would sleep in a special dormitory, and then recount their dreams to a priest, who would suggest a method of healing. Epidaurus is also home to an ancient theatre – the best preserved in modern Greece – with such good acoustics that, if you stand in the centre and speak, people sitting anywhere in the stands can clearly hear you.

Meteora: on sheer rocks that seem to rise from the forest below, seemingly built, or placed there by God, monks in the 13th century constructed a whole host of monasteries. Today, six of the original twenty-four are still open, and provide a breathtaking introduction to medieval Greek culture. 

Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki: Located in the far north of Greece, the city of Thessaloniki was the second-most-important centre of the Byzantine empire. Immerse yourself in the history here, and discover a period when this part of Greece was very connected to Eastern Europe and Turkey, all joined under one of the most powerful empires of the modern age. 

Old Town of Corfu: the most recently-added Greek UNESCO site (in 2007), The old town of Corfu blends the architectural style of the Greek islands with that of Venice. It has large two- or three-storey buildings, and the second largest square in Europe (after Venice’s Piazza San Marco) – Spianada Square. 

Monastery of Saint John and Cave of Apocalypse in Patmos: this is where – according to tradition – Saint John the Theologian was inspired to write the Book of Revelation (the last book of the Bible). It remains an important Christian pilgrimage site, as does the entire island of Patmos. The main city, Chora, is extremely picturesque and home to this 10th century monastery, which stands on a hill in the middle of the city. 

Delos: the island where the god Apollo was born, according to mythology. It was long a pilgrimage centre of the ancients. Close to Mykonos (and easy to get to from there), the entire island is uninhabited and has become an open-air museum.

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Make a trip to Dubai into a beach getaway

Dubai is better known for its oversized malls than as a spot to spend a relaxing day at the beach. But Dubai has beaches! Situated right on the Persian Gulf, Dubai is a prime destination for soaking up the sun – dressed modestly, of course!

 Here’s a list of the city’s best beaches:

 ● The Beach at JBR. As the name might suggest, the beach is here. The Beach is near the Dubai Marina in the south, and offers a Dubai-sized variety of restaurants, retail, and fun. There’s a cushioned jogging track and outdoor gym. Then, when you’re tired from the workout, there are cabanas for hire. When the temperature isn’t murderous (i.e., October to April) there are also open-air markets, and free yoga sessions four mornings a week. 

● Kite Beach. This beach is named for the flocks of kitesurfers who frequent the area. It’s Dubai’s top spot for water sports: wakeboarding, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. Fully equipped with washrooms and changing facilities, free Wifi, beach tennis or volleyball, cafes, and a fleet of food trucks serving burgers and kebabs. 

● La Mer. La Mer is a lively dining, shopping, and entertainment precinct, located in the heart of Old Dubai. It’s got colorful cabanas for hire. A trampoline playground for the kids. Restaurants galore. And a water park – for when the beach itself isn’t fun enough – with five water slides and a surf machine. 

● Sunset Beach. This beach – also known as Umm Suqeim Beach – is right next to Umm Suqeim Park. It’s a good beach for families, and you’ll probably see some local kids while you’re there.There are washrooms, showers and changing cubicles, plus Smart Palms that supply free Wi-Fi to beachgoers. It’s also Dubai’s only real surfing beach – for beginners – with small to medium swells. And, as the name might suggest, it’s an ideal spot to watch the sun go down!

 ● Riva Beach Club. Want to go to the beach on the palm? Riva is one of Dubai’s private beach clubs, with affordable day passes – which often include free drinks and other perks. Swim in the ocean, and then freshen up in a pool that’s chilled during the hottest time of summer. Eat at an excellent Mediterranean restaurant, and then stop for cocktails at the gazebo bar. 

● Nikki Beach. If you didn’t think of Dubai as a beach resort spot, that means you haven’t been to Nikki Beach yet. This place takes luxury and relaxation to the next level, complete with white sand, turquoise water, endless palm trees, and a swim-up bar. However, you’ll have to leave the kids in the hotel room for this one. Anyone under twenty-one is not permitted. 

● Black Palace Beach. This may not be the easiest beach to find – but it’s well worth it when you get here! It’s squarely between Palm Jumeirah and Burj Al Arab in Al Sufouh. (Your phone or your travel agent can help you get here.) Black Palace Beach lacks the facilities common in most Dubai beaches – but that’s part of this place’s secretive nature. It’s a haven for locals and expats who are in the know, and not at all a spot overrun by tourists. 

● Al Mamzar Beach Park. North of the city, near the border to the emirate of Sharjah, lies a whole complex. Al Mamzar has five sandy beaches, a swimming pool, playgrounds, and 260 acres of gardens. Bring the whole family. Eat a picnic at one of the 25 designated spots – each complete with barbecues. Rent bikes and zip around on the bike paths. Take the kids on the train. But men, be aware: Mondays and Wednesdays are “Ladies’ Days”, when males over age 4 aren’t permitted to enter.

 It’s worth noting a couple of things about Dubai’s beaches – that apply to the rest of the country, as well! Dress conservatively; no string bikinis, please! Regular bikinis are okay, but shouldn’t be worn outside the resort areas. NO topless sunbathing, and NO alcohol in public. 

That said – as long as you’re respectful of the local customs outside of the resorts – Dubai can be an incredible beach getaway! What better to do in the sweltering spring or autumn?


Going to the Yucatán? Dive into a cenote!

Forget the ocean; when you come to Cancún and the Yucatán, the water you really need to swim in is in a “cenote”! What is that? Pronounced “sen-oh-tay,” It is an underground pool: a sinkhole where fresh water, which comes from the low-lying region’s many lakes and rivers, mixes with salt water from the sea. The ancient Mayans believed that cenotes were a direct link to the underworld. And in ancient times, human sacrifices may have been held at them. Now, however, these wonderful pools of blue-turquoise water have a much less menacing draw. They are a favorite spot – for locals and tourists alike – to plunge into the glowing, clear water and go for a swim. A trip to Cancún would not be complete without a stop at a cenote. Fortunately, these unreal geologic formations – not found anywhere else in the world – are more than commonplace on the Yucatán Peninsula. There are hundreds; but here are some of the best:

● Cenote Dos Ojos (Two Eyes) is awfully close to Tulum, and it is worth setting up a day trip to see both ruins and the pool together. At the cenote, you have the option to swim, snorkel, or just jump into the luxurious, tepid water. If you are licensed for scuba diving, that is an option too here – if you are not claustrophobic!

● Gran Cenote in Tulum is one of the best cenotes on the Yucatán Peninsula, though it is heavily trafficked. However, it includes all the amenities, and two swimming areas connected by a cave. In short, this visit to underwater stalagmites is well worth dealing with a few crowds.

● Cenote Suytun is one of the best cenotes to visit straight from Cancún – complete with a beautiful sunbeam that shines through the cave in the summer, giving this magical place the aura of an ancient Mayan sacrificial altar. Which – like many of its neighbors – it once was!

● Cenote Samula is a bit off the beach – and off the beaten path – near Valladolid. And while it may be necessary to hire a driver to get there, the stunning watering hole is well worth it. The contrast between the brown rock and perfect blue water is stunning, as light shimmers through the pool in colors you have probably never seen before.

● Cenote X’keken is in the same complex as Cenote Samula, and it is easy – and well worth it – to go to both. You will get one of the best views of the startlingly pure blue waters of a cenote, just beneath the jutting rocks of the jungle from which dangle a multitude of exposed roots. The colors are spectacular and Instagram-worthy, for sure – so make sure you are brought enough SD cards for your camera or phone!

● Cenote Angelita is not a touristy site. But if you are a diver, you will have the experience of a lifetime here. Rotting wood on the bottom of this 60m (200ft)-deep, vertical sinkhole collects into a greenish-black cloud of hydrogen sulphate that hangs at the point where saltwater and freshwater – because of their differing densities – refuse to merge. Above, it may be daylight, but dive under this cloud, and you are swimming in the dark.


Here’s where to go when you get to Mexico!

Mexico is – if nothing else – huge. And unlike a lot of the world’s biggest countries (Russia, Canada, and the USA – because of Alaska) it is not just a frozen wasteland. Pretty much every part of the country is inhabited, and pretty much every part of the country has things going on. In fact, a trip to Mexico without a guide would not just be foolish – because you would miss out on so much – it would be downright intimidating! The best way to see Mexico is – simply – to make more than one trip. Pick one or two places off this list that sound nice – and limit your touring to them. Find time to relax during your vacation, instead of always running around. Trust that this warm, wonderful country will be calling you back, and that you will return. That said, here are the top, must-see spots for your many visits to Mexico:

Puerto Vallarta There is a lot more here than the wonderful Pacific Ocean. There’s wonderful, authentic regional food. Tequila tastings, even. Check out the landmarks, like Los Arcos and the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe – all of which make for wonderful photo-ops. And then there is the ocean. There are wonderful beaches – rivalling any in Cancún. Or head to the shore for a cruise to one of the nearby islands, or a whale watching tour.

Cozumel This island is a famous stopping point for Caribbean cruises – but it is a great trip from the mainland, too. The highlights are the wonderful reefs that surround this Caribbean jewel, around which there are wonderful spots for snorkel and scuba. The marine life that you will see is unbelievable.

Cancún, Tulum, and the Playa del Carmen This whole beach – from Cancún to Tulum – is worth a stay of a week, or maybe even a month. The sand is spotlessly white, and coconut palms abound. After all, this is the Caribbean! The Caribbean coast – and the Yucatán Peninsula – is a wonderland of pristine beaches and beautiful jungles, mystical Mayan ruins and sinkholes filled with water where you can plunge in for a swim. Even if you visit nowhere else in the country – Cancún is a must-see!

Mexico City Once the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, this mountain city – the country’s most populous – is loaded with culture and history. Aztec sites and ruins, fantastic food, and world-class hotels. Do not miss the Palace of Fine Arts and the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. And consider a food tour – where you will be introduced to Mexico’s finest. One thing to know is that Mexico City is at a high elevation – 2,240 meters, or 7,350 feet. If you have ever had shortness of breath, keep this in mind before you sign up for any extreme sports in the city!

Cabo Many people – even if they have heard of nothing else in Mexico – know about Cabo San Lucas. But, while it is renowned as a spring break party spot, there is much more here. Go clubbing galore – but also check out this city’s fantastic, luxurious hotels and top-notch golf courses. If you are looking from a respite from Cabo’s nonstop fiesta, stay in nearby San José del Cabo: a great place for relaxation.

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History buff? You’ve come to the right place!

Greece is a country that’s truly rich in history. The birthplace of Western
civilisation, it has long been known for its ancient philosophers, doctors, and artists.
But did you know that there were civilisations that rose and fell in the area long
before the “Ancient” Greeks trod here. Or that the history of Greece didn’t stop
when Socrates died, but continued on, uninterrupted, to the contemporary age,
through a blend of religious and political upheavals. This rocky coast and these
stoic, tough islands have long withstood the test of time.

Here’s a brief guide to the history of this incredible country:

2700-1500 BCE: The Minoan civilisation. This is Greece’s oldest civilisation, and it
flourished on the island of Crete. This island is still one of the country’s most
important spots – for tourism now! – and it’s as good for exploring the ruins as for
sunbathing on the beach.

1600-1100 BCE: The Mycenaean civilisation. Before you think that it’s short-lived,
realise that the USA has been around for less time. And this civilisation’s influence
may have been as great as the USA’s is today! The highlight here is a visit to the
ruins of the capital, Mycenae – which are remarkably well preserved.

776 BCE (the first Olympic games) to 323 BCE (the death of Alexander the Great):
Ancient Greece. From Homer to Plato and Socrates to Alexander the Great, a lot of
Greece’s most well-known history occurred in the millenium before the birth of
Jesus. Relics from this period abound. From the Acropolis to the temples at Delphi,
this was Greece’s golden age – and a main draw for many visitors.

276-146 BCE: The Hellenistic period. A dark age for this mighty power. The global
influence of Greece declined, until…

126 BCE – 393 CE: Roman Greece. This was a resurgence of Greece, under Roman
rule. Much of the Romans’ most famous attributes were copied from the Greeks,
from their artwork to their religion. Despite occupation, this was a high point for
Greece, and many Roman monuments remain.

4th – 15th century: Byzantine Greece. From the fall of the Western Roman Empire, to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Greece was a part of Byzantine Empire, one of the most powerful empires in history. Greek Orthodoxy developed, and many monasteries and churches were built.

15th century – 1821: Ottoman Greece. After the fall of the Byzantines, Greece fell
(like most of Eastern Europe) under Ottoman rule. This was a very important period
of the country’s history of which many artifacts remain, such as the ones in

1821 onward: Modern Greece. The re-emergence of Greece into the global sphere was a rocky one. The country had a revolution in 1821, followed by a kingdom, a dictatorship, occupation by the Axis forces, and finally the “Third Hellenic Republic”, which continues to this day. As you can see, Greece has a long and varied history. But, fortunately, relics from every moment in this country’s past are still observable today. If you truly love history, you could spend decades coming back here.

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Mexico trip? Make it a nature trip!

There are so many reasons to head to this wonderful country just south of the USA. And maybe you weren’t thinking that nature was one of them. But Mexico has it all – from snow-capped, lofty peaks to incredible beaches, lined with a hundred palm trees! This country has just about every ecosystem you can imagine, and its national parks are incredible. Don’t miss them – not if you make it to the land “south of the border”! Here are some of the best natural sites that you have to see if you get down to Mexico!

Lake Chapala, Jalisco:​ Come for the sunrise and scan the panorama of local boats floating over the water of Mexico’s largest freshwater lake. This is true tranquility.

Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, Campeche:​ Or if you prefer the jungle, try out some bird watching here on the border with Guatemala. Calakmul is one of the country’s largest protected natural areas. It’s also home to the Maya ruins of the same name.

 Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca: ​Petrified ​waterfalls? Yes, you heard that right. These unique geologic formations are eerie and unreal, and make for a wonderful spot for a hike and a picnic!

 Parque Nacional Grutas de Cacahuamilpa, Guerrero:​ I hope you’re not claustrophobic! Because this site – one of the largest cave systems in the world – is simply stunning!

 Las Coloradas, Yucatán:​ True to its name (translation: “the colored ones”), the lake here almost seems painted an unnatural red. Unnatural maybe, but eerily beautiful.

Tepozteco Hill, Morelos: ​The bizarre thumb-shaped formations here are mirrored in the ancient pyramid. Enjoy history and nature all in one!

 Tamul Waterfall, San Luis Potosí: ​Nothing really says “nature” like a waterfall. And this beauty – at over 100m high (almost 250ft) – is one of Mexico’s largest.

Sumidero Canyon, Chiapas:​ Formed around the same time as the Grand Canyon, this is Mexico’s response – and a wonderful, lush one at that! Unlike in Arizona, here you’re surrounded by water and vegetation.

Rosario Sanctuary, Michoacán:​ Butterflies? Each year is witness to a massive migration, where not thousands, but millions, of Monarch butterflies head here, just begging for you to capture them in a photo!

Potrero Chico, Nuevo León:​ If you’re a rock climber, this is probably what your heaven looks like! Even if you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, the crazy, steep cliffs here will inspire awe from any vantage point.

Basaltic Prisms, Hidalgo:​ If you’ve never seen the “Devil’s Postpile” in California, you’ve never seen the likes of this. Even when you get there, you’ll have trouble believing these hexagonal columns are really sculpted by nature – and not aliens!

Popocatépetl-Iztaccíhuatl National Park, Puebla:​ Come to the site of two of Mexico’s most famous volcanoes, and walk the unreal landscape of black lava and sometimes even snow!

Cuatro Ciénegas Biosphere Reserve, Coahuila:​ A verdant marsh right at the base of grey, barren mountains? Yep – that’s Mexico for you!

Firefly forests, Tlaxcala:​ Exactly what it sounds like. Come in June, July, or August and prepare to be amazed

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Mexico’s wonderful secrets

Everyone has heard of Cabo and Cancun, but Mexico has more. So much more! Here are some of the lesser-known gems in this wonderful country – and each one of them could be worth a week-long trip in itself.

Huatulco:​ Or, in other words, a beachgoer’s paradise. This charming town near Oaxaca is a wonderful place to spend a week on the beach. And it’s one of Mexico’s most forward-thinking destinations, loaded with rules to protect the environment and preserve the ambiance. Buildings cannot be more than six stories tall, and the wonderful, lush surroundings are mostly untouched.

Punta Mita: ​Just sixteen kilometres north of Puerto Vallarta, you will feel like you’ve entered into another world. And a world loaded with glam! From vacation rentals to high-end hotels like the Four Seasons, golf courses, and private beaches, here you’ll be able to lay down for a week and truly relax.

Guanajuato:​ If you Instagram a picture of yourself standing in this central Mexican city, before a hill piled with houses in every color – vibrant and bright like the feathers of tropical birds – your followers will be convinced that you hacked into Photoshop. And you might have trouble believing this place yourself. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, this Guanajuato is a kaleidoscope in every sense of the word: from the bustling plazas to the lovely Mercado Hidalgo, where you can buy authentic souvenirs aplenty. Do not miss the city’s famed underground streets and tunnels, which you can explore on a walking tour or at your own leisure.

San Miguel de Allende: ​Visit this wonderful mountain city, part of the state of Guanajuato, and ninety kilometres east of the city of that name. Walking the cobblestoned streets, it will feel like you have stepped back in time. And there’s history here for sure: from the days when this was a stopover point for transporting silver out of the mountain mines, to when it fell into disuse, until it was revived by a Chicago native who transformed it into the artist’s and expat’s hub that it is today.

Zacatecas: ​Also in Mexico’s center, this wonderful, colonial city is a must for history lovers – or anyone who wants to see how the real Mexico is, away from the crowds. The city got its start as a silver mining hotspot – and some of the old mines have become museums today. There’s also a nearby hill, the Cerro de la Bufa, where you can ride a cable car to the top and be rewarded with sweeping vistas of the city below.

Mérida: ​The capital of the Yucatán is sadly overlooked as a tourist destination, with everyone flocking to Cancún and missing out on the wonderful history here. But everything you can do from Cancún – Mayan ruins or pristine beaches – you can do from Mérida. And then some! Wander the Paseo de Montejo, lined with stone mansions, and get a sense of the colonial times at the Sunday Market. Then wrap up the day in one of a dozen quaint boutique hotels.

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