While I love being outdoors and spending time in nature, I also enjoy seeing the world’s great cities. After being amazed in 62 different countries and all 50 of the United States of America, here are my very favorites:
5. Venice, Italy – Whether you arrive by train, boat, or even airplane, entering this water city is simply magical. Where else can you transfer from Marco Polo airport to your hotel directly by boat? The ride across the train bridge into Santa Lucia station heightens the anticipation. Moreover, entering this romantic city by sailing the Giudecca Canal is beyond breathtaking. Once on the island, this uniquely walkable place of spaghetti-like islets, half the fun is getting lost wandering over small canals through the many neighborhoods and squares. The food is fantastic, whether munching on pasta, trying the gelatos, or enjoying a full-blown Italian feast (and surprisingly affordable if you order the daily menu).
4. San Francisco, USA – While New York and Los Angeles usually come to mind when thinking about the USA, I love the city by the bay. This is the first place I visited that I thought to myself, “I would love living here!” The great bridges and water backdrop provide a colorful setting filled with even more colorful neighborhoods. Riding one of the cable cars, a moving national monument, is better than a theme-park roller coaster, and much cheaper, too! Fantastic food is found everywhere, from Chinatown to Sausalito. Golden Gate Park, Twin Peaks, and the Cliff House are a few of my favorite spots.
3. Sydney, Australia – Do you see a theme here? My favorite cities have water throughout them. While everyone has seen the vistas of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, the charm and appeal of Sydney are the many nooks and crannies that dot the vast harbor. Riding the ferries are the best way to explore and experience this beautiful place. Manly and Bondi Beach are two of my personal favorites. Cool food and friendly people add spice to the visitor experience.
2. Cape Town, South Africa – If you love water and spectacular scenery, this city will certainly grab your attention. Majestic Table Mountain, with its cloud-covered tablecloth, stands guard over the historic downtown area. But the real charm of this city is exploring the cape peninsula with its spectacular peaks and bays. We ran a marathon here in 2003 and saw right whales cavorting in False Bay. One of my favorite spots in all the world is a small bench in Boulder’s Beach near Simon’s Town where you can watch a colony of penguins without visiting Antarctica!
1. Istanbul, Turkey – Arriving by sea to this incredible place is surely one of the best travel experiences anywhere. The mighty Bosphorus strait splits the city into two continents, Europe and Asia, and the beauty of the people, incredible food, and historic buildings boost this magical place to my number one ranking. I was fortunate to live in Istanbul for two years and learn some of its many secrets. I suppose two decades would not be enough to explore the city completely, but I especially love Emirgan Park, the Kucuksu Pavillion, the Prince’s Islands, Pierre Loti and the Golden Horn ferry. For my three-day guide to visiting Istanbul click here.