As the country struggles to boost tourism after the arab spring, all eyes are on the thriving resort of El Gouna.
Ten great cities. Ten perfect destinations in each. Above: Mexico City's Xochimilico canals.Charly Kurz / Laif-Redux
Ten great cities. Ten perfect destinations in each. Above: Beijing's 'ghost street.'Mike Kemp / Corbis
Ten great cities. Ten perfect destinations in each. Above: Copenhagen's Louisiana museum.Bob Krist / Corbis
Ten great cities. Ten perfect destinations in each. Above: Istanbul's Basilica Cistern.Ramin Talaie / Corbis
From knockoff goods to a 15-meter Buddha to a vibrant Chinatown, Thailand’s capital is a haven for tourists.
Grand Palace/Chao Phraya River The Grand Palace, on the Chao Phraya River, has been the 213,600-square-meter official residence of Thai kings since 1782 and includes the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Going by boat provides a ride along the river, which, with its wonderful sights and sounds, is itself a major attraction.Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon; Tha Tien or Tha Chang pier; grandpalacethailand.com Wat Arun Among the best of the city’s temples (wats), this temple, also known as the Temple of the Dawn, is on the river’s western bank (or the Thonburi side, as locals say).
Descend into history at the Basilica of San Clemente, bend the budget for a private tour of the Vatican, and enjoy the best coffee in the city.
After-Hours Tours of Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel It may seem like a rite of passage to fight the crowds through the corridors of the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel, but to truly appreciate the glorious wealth of art history, consider bending the budget for a private after-hours tour. Several private operators offer tours that can cost as much as $300, but it is worth it to be virtually alone in the world’s greatest museums.www.vatican.
Climb the Willis Tower, laugh at the nation’s premier improv club, and grab fresh greens on the North Side. The Second City’s mayor lists his favorite things to do in Chicago.
Willis Tower Formerly known as the Sears Tower, the tallest building in North America was renamed the Willis Tower in 2009. This is a must-visit location for any guest to the city of Chicago. Travel 103 floors up to the Skydeck and step into the Ledge’s glass box, 412 meters in the air, for breathtaking views of “the City That Works.”233 South Wacker Drive; theskydeck.com Architectural Boat Tour Learn a little history and enjoy the Windy City’s famous skyline from a unique perspective.
Choose from a 62-page menu at a famous teahouse, hop a man-powered boat in Xochimilco’s canals, or stroll in the world’s second-largest city square. Welcome to Mexico’s bustling capital.
Maison Française de Thé Caravanseraï In the district known as Colonia Roma, the early-20th-century art nouveau Balmori Building welcomes connoisseurs and neophytes into one of the most famous teahouses in the city. A 62-page menu explains the characteristics of every leaf drink and other specialties, including organic dishes. Then, go for a walk in the area for a complete cultural experience; you’ll see abundant art deco, art nouveau, and neoclassical architecture, dozens of shops, and the Casa Lamm Cultural Center.
Bargain hard at a frenzied open-air market, taste the world’s most succulent duck, and venture into the Forbidden City.
Forbidden City For 500 years, the largest preserved palace complex on the planet was closed to commoners. Visitors now are welcome in the onetime home of 24 emperors, with its swallowtail roofs, crimson pillars, and treasure-filled mini-museums. Ask your guide to describe how China’s rulers, concubines, and eunuchs lived and died—otherwise you might get a recitation of the dimensions of its 9,000 pavilions and rooms.Tiananmen Square; dpm.org.
Enjoy cocktails by one of history’s most important waterways, sleep in Trotsky’s hotel, and take in the magnificent sunsets of Turkey’s ancient metropolis.
Rustem Pasha Mosque The Aya Sofia is more ancient by a millennium, the Suleymaniye is far more magnificent—but for pure architectural perfection, the Rustem Pasha is the greatest mosque in Istanbul. Following a short walk down a bustling market street from the Egyptian bazaar, a simple archway leads upward into an architectural heaven of 16th-century Iznik tiles and perfect archways.Hasircilar Caddesi, Fatih Sunset Over the Old City Istanbul is a city of great views.
Stroll down the iconic Avenida Corrientes—with a quick stop for pizza—take in the art of native son Xul Solar, or grab a table at Borges’s old haunt in the romantic Argentine capital.
Teatro Colón’s Centro Experimental It didn’t take long for the newly renovated Teatro Colón to regain its standing as one of the city’s must-see attractions. Considered to be one of the best concert venues in the world for the quality of its acoustics and impressive architecture, it has hosted figures such as Richard Strauss, Enrico Caruso, and Maria Callas. But not many visit its Centro Experimental, which has operated from the building’s basement since the 1990s, staging innovative performances that are difficult to imagine in this classic theater.
Get a taste of the real Danish experience—delectable baked goods, a hippie commune just kilometers from Parliament, and what may just be the best beer in the world.
Lagkagehuset (The Cake House) Danes take bread seriously. On Saturday mornings, expect lines but also delectable rewards at this popular bakery. Situated by a canal in historic Christianshavn, Lagkagehuset sells several versions of rugbrød, the dark and savory rye bread that Danes so love. Top tip: don’t ask for “a Danish”—in Denmark, pastries are known as Viennese bread.Torvegade 45; lagkagehuset.dk Christiania Not far from Lagkagehuset one can find more alternative pleasures.
On the tip of Africa, find one of the finest botanical gardens in the world, Nelson Mandela’s cell, and plenty of boating excursions.
Table Mountain Hiking up this mighty slab of sandstone, a symbol of Cape Town, is almost compulsory for visitors. Choose a clear, wind-free day and take the easiest route to the top along Plattekloof Gorge. Enjoy a cool drink at the cable-station restaurant and feast on the sumptuous views. To save your legs, take the cable car back down to the city. Mount Nelson Hotel Also known as the Pink Lady, this grand old establishment has been the favored hotel of royals, politicians, and film stars for more than a century.
Take in the sweeping views of Australia’s most famous harbor, check out the sharks at the local aquarium, and learn about the nation’s dark history as a host for convicts.
Sydney Opera House Like the shimmering white sails it resembles, the Sydney Opera House seems to billow over this city’s stunning harbor in an image that takes away the breath of tourists and locals alike. It’s easily one of the world’s most compelling and original buildings. Slip into the bar and restaurant at its side, called Opera Kitchen, and have a meal or just sip an Australian sauvignon blanc while soaking in the views of the harbor bridge and the boats.
Paul Theroux looks at his hometown after the marathon bombing and finds the mood of the city transformed.