“What’s your favourite country?” “…favourite city?” “…favourite place in the world?” I don’t have the answers to these questions, but this post comes pretty close. Here I have listed all of my *current* travel top threes. Ie. my very favourite places on the planet, and why.
Top Three Countries
After spending 2 weeks in a tiny part of this incredible country earlier this year, it is right at the top of my list of favourite countries. I loved almost everything about it and each day made me even more fond of this crazy foreign land. It exceeded my expectations in every way and I 100% have to go back soon.
This little Balkan gem packs a massive punch and I loved it the second I got into the country. In an entirely different way to India, 2 weeks was a great amount of time to enjoy so much of what this country has to offer, from the cobbled towns to the mountains and beaches to lakes. It’s totally stunning and I had the best experience there.
Greece will always feature as one of my favourite countries and it is somewhere I will always return to. Since a very young age I have been in love with the landscapes, food and people, which has kept me returning at least every few years. From a city break in Athens to 6 weeks camping in a small town on the mainland, every trip has brought something different and each gets better.
Top Three Cities
1. Plovdiv, Bulgaria
I think cities is the hardest thing for me to rank, but Plovdiv would definitely feature on any list about my favourite cities. Plovdiv is an underrated, historical old capital (the oldest in Europe), and is so worth visiting. After it’s recent revamp thanks to becoming the European City of Culture, it is a very attractive city break, and is also nestled in Bulgaria’s charming landscapes, so it’s a win-win.
2. Rovinj, Croatia
Rovinj is a city that is so easy to fall in love with. It is totally picture perfect and is the most relaxed, beautiful place to wander around for hours enjoying the vistas, buildings, streets and people. It also hosts a fun salsa festival, which I was lucky enough to see, and is home to one of the best sunsets known to man.
3. Cordoba, Spain
Again, a very historical city, the stone buildings, roman bridges and immense Mezquita completely transfixed me from the moment I got there. I also happened to get there at the end of the courtyard festival and at the beginning of the summer Feria, which definitely made my experience all the better.
Top Three Towns
1. Koroni, Greece
I left a big piece of my heart in Koroni after volunteering there for 6 weeks, and it’s still one of my favourite places. Not only because of that, but it also has many gorgeous beaches, a relatively lively main street, a historic castle overlooking the town, lots of places nearby to visit and, of course, a growing population of sea turtles. It’s an amazing place.
2. Kotor, Montenegro
This tiny cobbled town sits in one of the most stunning landscapes I have ever seen. Climbing up to it’s fortress, you can see over the whole bay, over to the mountains and down to the stoney town. At sunset, this view is just incredible.
3. Sintra, Portugal
[Not totally sure if this is a town or city but we’ll go with it.]
Sintra is an actual magical fairyland and every second within this place is unbelievably stunning. The palaces, castles and forests are like no other place and I honestly couldn’t get over how incredible it was.
Top Three Beaches
1. Lagos, Portugal
Without a doubt, one of the most stunning beach areas I’ve been to is in the Algarve. The cliffs are striking, the sand is soft and the water is crystal clear. It literally can’t get much better than this.
2. Brac, Croatia
Staying on the island of Brac was a gamble, one I partly took to escape the crowds heading to Hvar. The gamble paid off BIG TIME. Brac is one of the most beautiful islands I’ve ever visited, owing a large part of that to it’s absolutely wonderful beaches.
3. Tortola, Caribbean
Back when I was only 12 years old, I was lucky enough to go on a Caribbean cruise, as it was my mum’s 50th birthday. We went to a number of idyllic islands, but Tortola was definitely the most amazing. White sand, turquoise water and a fun vibe on the island makes this a firm favourite.
Top Three Hostels/Hotels
1. The Grove, Stari Bar, Montenegro
If you’re going to do anything in Montenegro, staying at The Grove should be right at the top of your list. This hostel is in the coolest renovated building, within a tiny town on the edge of the hills, and is ran by the best team of fun people. They cook every night, give you a double bed in the dorm rooms and organise amazing trips around the area. I had the best time there and it’s my all time favourite hostel.
2. Rajputana Heritage, Sawai Madhoper, India
This hotel is all about the owner. He was the kindest man and made our stay unbelievable. He got us booked onto 3 amazing safaris where we saw tigers on 2 of them (which is pretty much unheard of). He’s just magic and I would never stay anywhere else if I was in Ranthambhore National Park again. Plus, the rooftop restaurant was yummy.
3. Chamounix Mansion, Philadelphia, USA
This strange, but lovable, hostel is situated away from the city centre in Fairmount Park which I loved as this was my favourite part of Philly. I liked the peacefulness of it, plus the building is beautiful inside and out, and has some great facilities. Really liked my stay here and would stay again for sure.
Top Three Hikes
1. Rila Seven Lakes, Bulgaria
One of the wildest, most beautiful hikes I have ever done, was in the Rila Mountains. As we were there in May, we were walking in the blissful sunshine one minute, and trudging through snow the next. The views were absolutely insane, especially seeing the remaining ice sitting below the water’s surface.
2. Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
The moment I felt the most accomplishment from a hike, was when I got to the top of Bobotuv Kuk, the highest mountain in Durmitor. It was such an enjoyable hike and getting to that summit was the best feeling. The whole day was unbelievably stunning and I am always dreaming of going back.
3. Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales
Back in school, I completely my bronze and silver DofE awards. I thoroughly enjoyed completing these, and the highlight was the weekends away walking in the Brecon Beacons. I hope I will get to go back at some point and get back to the top of Fan y Big, which I loved and will always remember (mostly because of the name that our year 9 selves found hilarious).
Top Three Museums
1. National Cinema Museum, Turin, Italy
This museum is super underrated and is located in a city that a lot of people miss out on an Italian trip. I found the whole thing super cool and couldn’t believe how many amazing cinematic objects and scenes they had put under one roof. It’s an awesome building too!
2. Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb, Croatia
Possibly one of the strangest and yet personal museums in the world is the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb. It’s becoming more famous now, and I whole-heartedly recommend it. I had A LOT of fun exploring it and I don’t think I’ve ever read so many museum captions.
3. 9/11 Memorial and Museum, New York City, USA
This museum had the biggest impact on me. I spent a whole afternoon in and around the 9/11 museum and it was a few hours well spent. The museum is beautiful. It was curated so sensitively and is powerful yet harrowing in so many ways. Learning about what happened as a whole ‘event’ whilst also understanding more about the individuals who were affected was really touching. The memorial is incredibly peaceful and moving.
Top Three Sunrises/Sunsets
1. Boston Harbour, USA
One thing I like to do on each trip, is wake up for sunrise. In Boston, that meant a 5am train ride into town and waiting eagerly by the harbour for the sun to creep over the floating boats. It was probably the most stunning sunrise I have ever captured.
2. Sibenik, Croatia
The best sunset? Sibenik, Croatia. I arrived in this little city with few expectations and this sunset was the beginning of a few magical days completely falling in love with Sibenik, a place few people bother with.
3. Agra, India
Of course, the Taj has to make it’s way into this top 3. We spent a few days gawking at the Taj Mahal from every angle possible, and I think the sunset may have been my favourite. It was seriously stunning. (Sunrise was also incredible and highly recommended.)
Top Three Views
I ascended both the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller centre to get the best views over NYC. I saw it at night from the Empire State and in the day from the Rockefeller, and I preferred the latter in so many ways. It was far less crowded, the building was super interesting and the view was even better, as it contained the Empire State Building.
2. Tuscany from Fiesole, Italy
Florence is one of my favourite Italian cities and it truly shines the brightest when viewed from high up, as it nestles between the rolling hills of Tuscany and neighbouring terracotta villages. Well worth a bus ride.
3. Þingvellir National Park, Iceland
We got so lucky on our trip to Iceland, and at the very end of our Golden Circle trip, as we pulled up to the viewpoint in Thingvellir National Park, the sun beamed down and completely lit up the Park. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.
Top Three Religious Buildings
1. Ranakpur Temple, India
We stopped of at this ancient site when travelling between Udaipur and Jodhpur. Thank god for no train line otherwise we might never have come here. It was totally enthralled by this building and even paid attention to all of the audio clips. It was that good.
2. Mezquita, Cordoba, Spain
I kept returning to the Mezquita like a yoyo. I thought it was marvellous. After studying it at university I didn’t think it could ever live up to expectations, but it completely exceeded them. No other place has left me quite so speechless.
3. Rila Monestary, Bulgaria
This monastery, located in the glorious Rila mountains is a giant work of art. Every painting, window and wall is delicately finished and it is a sight to behold. I am definitely hoping to return whenever I get back to Bulgaria.
Top Three Countries to Return to
Two weeks was only a taster of India and I definitely want to return. I loved Rajasthan but there is so much more to see in all corners of this gigantic country and hopefully at some point I’ll be lucky enough to spend a few months here.
I visited Kenya when I was 8 years old and I hope I’ll be able to go back. One thing I would love to do is work at a lodge or do some volunteering somewhere that allows me to see more of the plains and animals. I would also be interested in attempting to climb Mount Kenya, or Mount Kilimanjaro nearby (not in Kenya – I know), but these are extreme treks and, having only climbed to 2,500m before, I’m not sure I could handle either of these!
I visited Berlin at Christmastime pretty recently and had hoped to travel around southern Germany shortly after. I instead opted for Bulgaria (no regrets there as you will have seen from this list of favourites) but I would love to travel around the Black Forest and Bavaria some time.
Top Three Bucket List Countries
This is hopefully my next destination and it has been right at the top of my list for a few years now. The coral reefs, forests and ruins fascinate me, not to mention the food and the people, so hopefully, within the next 6 months, I will get to visit.
2. New Zealand
I have no idea when I’ll ever get to this side of the world, but hopefully not too far in the future. I hope to spend some months here doing a working holiday visa and travel all around this insane country.
Again, no plans to actually visit Chile anytime soon, but it’s up there on the list. To me, it looks like paradise and has so much to offer, especially Patagonia. It’s one of those places that looks otherworldly in photos.
There we have my current travel favourites/top threes. I’m sure these will change in the future but, for now, these are the places I have loved the most on my travels. I love looking back and reminiscing over past trips, and this was a really fun way to do it. It was also incredibly hard to narrow it down – especially when it came to cities!
Let me know if you agree with any of my travel top threes, or what yours are!
PS. I haven’t included my all time favourite place, because I live here, but that spot belongs to Edinburgh. It’s the best city in the world and the top photo is of a tiny loch about a half an hour walk from my flat. Dreamy.