The hit list

Date Posted: 10/01/2010

We share our top ten cities of the world you just have to visit.

Beijing
China


Flight time from London: 11 hours approx
Currency: Chinese Yuan
Population: 17 million approx

The Forbidden City is worth the trip alone, located just off Tian’anmen Square here you can marvel at the buildings from where China was ruled for hundreds of years and see wonderful art, sculptures and jade. The Temple of Heaven should be on your list, as should the Ming Tombs and a stroll along the Avenue of Statues. But the highlight is without doubt a trip to the Great Wall of China at Badaling, one of the world’s most awe-inspiring sights.

Top tips
The locals never miss a selling opportunity. Even when you’re climbing the Great Wall someone will shove a t-shirt in your face while you’re still catching your breath. Haggle and you can get some great deals.

We love it because…
There is a unique mysticism about the East and it’s an experience of a lifetime and much more than a holiday. There are some fantastic tours out there and a combination of Beijing with Xian and Shanghai is highly recommended.

www.ebeijing.gov.cn/travel
www.cnto.org

New York City
USA


Flight time from London: 7 hours
Currency: US dollar
Population: 8.3 million approx

A city hugely popular with groups and the first long haul trip for many GTOs. Like walking into a film set, NYC is instantly recognisable - even if you have never visited before. Ideal for a mixture of sightseeing, shopping and experiencing the atmosphere of one of the world’s leading destinations.

Top tips
5th Avenue is one of the more famous shopping options, but you’ll find most of the shops are expensive. Why not get out and explore beyond the obvious and take a trip to Brooklyn where you’ll find a list of thriving streets full of shops and more - Soho is also well worth visiting away from the main tourist hubs. Catching views of the skyline is all part of the experience, but you can avoid the queues and see more by opting for the Top of the Rock Observation Deck at the top of Rockefeller Centre. The views are not restricted by wire fencing like the Empire State Building and you won’t feel like a sardine in a tin.

We love it because…
You can keep going back and still find new and exciting things to do. It doesn’t matter if your group is diverse in what it wants out of a trip, as NYC has it all: history, tours, showbiz, theatre, shopping, dining, sports and more.

www.nycgo.com
www.ishopbrooklyn.com
www.topoftherocknyc.com

Paris
France


Travel time from London: 2 hours 15 mins (train), 1 hour 20 mins (air) approx
Currency: Euro
Population: 2.3 million approx

Paris is not France - it is a law unto itself. Known as the romantic city (The City of Lights), it offers what the French do best: chic style, great food, world-class restaurants, wonderful wine, superb shopping and fabulous iconic landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe. There is incredible art and history including the world famous Louvre Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral. A close proximity to Disneyland Paris and Chateau de Versailles is also a real attraction.

Top tips
You may in theory get there quicker if you fly, but actually the direct route via the Eurostar is often much more expedient and easier these days. Visit the March Buci, the traditional open air market or try the Les Catacombs for an unusual slant on your stay. The Moulin Rouge can add some memorable fun and can be combined with river / dinner trips.

We love it because…
It’s busy, it’s stylish, it’s fun, it’s sexy and it’s arrogant. It’s just great if you want an adrenalin rush, or alternatively, a relaxing atmosphere-soaked few days away, without the bother of long haul. Paris has something for everyone and is a destination famed the world over. It is a must do experience - romantic or not.

www.franceguide.com
www.new-paris-idf.com
www.eurostar.com

Berlin
Germany


Flight time from London: 2 hours approx
Currency: Euro
Population: 3.4 million approx

The German capital is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city that offers a mix of 18th century grandeur, fascinating modern history and edgy youth culture. Groups will be spoiled for choice by the variety of evening entertainment on offer in Berlin, from cabaret shows to world-class opera, ballet and classical music. Berlin is a real treat for classical fans, being the only city in the world to boast three major opera houses, in addition to eight large philharmonic orchestras. The city hosts a number of illustrious festivals and a magnificent summer open-air concert season.

Top tips
No trip to Berlin would be complete without seeing the Brandenburg Gate, Check-point Charlie, and the wall itself. Groups can also discover splendid Prussian palaces and gardens in Charlottenburg, on Museum Island and Peacock Island. Plus, a trip to the top of the TV Tower will reveal some of the best views of the city.

We love it because…
Berlin has some of the best European Christmas markets around. With around 50 markets spread across the city from November onwards, groups are sure to be tempted by the countless handicraft stalls and the seasonal aroma of Glühwein and baked treats.

www.visitberlin.de
www.germany-tourism.co.uk
www.spsg.de

Cape Town
South Africa


Flight time from London: 12 hours approx
Currency: South African Rand
Population: 2.9 million approx

Cape Town enjoys one of the world’s most stunning city locations, under the watchful eye of the imposing Table Mountain. Take a wine tour and see it all at the Cape Peninsula, enjoy the colour of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, visit Simon’s Port and then see the Jackass penguins at Boulders Beach. In Cape Town itself the main place to head is the V&A Waterfront, which is home to a range of shops, restaurants, nightspots, tourist attractions and museums.

Top tips
Take the cable car ride to the top of Cable Mountain (360 degree views) or a helicopter flight around the iconic landmark to truly Cape Town, South Africa experience the city’s famous sight. Also consider visiting Robben Island, which once detained Nelson Mandela among other famous prisoners; it’s now one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions.

We love it because…
It’s friendly and still incredibly cheap in contrast to other top worldwide cities. And once you’re there, you can go off and see other parts of this amazing country.

www.capetown.travel
www.southafrica.net
www.tmnp.co.za

Buenos Aires
Argentina


Flight time from London: 14 hours approx
Currency: Argentine Peso (US Dollars accepted)
Population: 2.7 million approx

Spanish-speaking Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and a city which has long established historical links with Britain. There is fantastic shopping, with top designer brands amazingly cheap. Argentinean beef is amongst the very best in the world and along with unique Argentinean red wines, create a gastronomic paradise for those who enjoy a great steak. Architecture, history and romance, Buenos Aires has it in abundance.

Top tips
Make sure you take in a Tango dinner evening and of course coach tours can be booked to explore the La Boca neighbourhood and San Telmo Market, including the opportunity to buy some great local artwork. Trips are available to experience ranches and cowboy living, or perhaps take in a polo match. Consider visiting the magnificent Iguazu Falls for a day by internal flight.

We love it because…
Buenos Aires is a stunning South American destination with a wonderful European, cosmopolitan feel to it. A city with great history and plenty of passion, from dancing to football to food - and it’s friendly!

www.bue.gov.ar
www.turismo.gov.ar

Sydney
Australia


Flight time from London: 22 hours approx
Currency: AUS dollar
Population: 4.4 million approx

The capital of New South Wales may be on the other side of the world, but it’s familiar, friendly and exciting. Not cheap to get there, but expect good value once you land. Tour the historic Rocks area, climb the Harbour Bridge, see something at the Opera House, take a wine tour, hit Bondi Beach... it’s worth the long flight, we promise.

Top tips
It’s best to arrange stop-overs for both legs of your flight. Popular options include Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Touring Sydney Harbour is a must but can be expensive; why not take the half hour ferry over to Manly from Circular Quay and enjoy it all for less while also visiting one of the nicest beach suburbs in the city.

We love it because…
Sydney is a city that has it all: a cosmopolitan city centre, diverse suburbs, the world’s most stunning harbour and fantastic beaches all in one brilliant bundle.

www.sydney.com
www.bridgeclimb.com
www.therocks.com

Rome
Italy


Flight time from London: 2 hours approx
Currency: Euro
Population: 2.6 million approx

Once the centre of the world, Rome has an embarrassment of riches to offer you and your group. To visit the Colosseum is special, the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel overwhelming; the city is like one big world class open air museum. It’s a perfect choice for a short city break and getting there won’t break the bank. Enjoy coffee in lively Piazza Navona, marvel at the Trevi Fountain and go inside the Pantheon, which boasted the largest dome in the world for over 1,000 years and contains the tomb of famous Renaissance painter, Raphael.

Top tips
It is a very expensive city so be careful you do not get stung. Ask for exactly what you want and ask for the price; if you get something on the side do not assume it is free.

We love it because…
You can walk everywhere and see everything by foot. Of course, the less able in your group will have to be considered but if you’re fairly fit there is no need to jump on a coach or use public transport. With such iconic sites littered around the city, it’s sometimes a little surreal but extremely invigorating.

www.italiantouristboard.co.uk
www.vatican.va

Barcelona
Spain


Flight time from London: 2 hours approx
Currency: Euro
Population: 1.6 million approx

Home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, treat your group to the sight of Sagrada Família, Antoni Gaudí’s famous and unfinished masterpiece, and tour the famous Camp Nou football stadium, home to FC Barcelona. The starting point for any visit to the city is La Rambla, the central one-mile avenue, to see and be seen virtually 24-hours a day. Take a tour with Barcelona Walks and get an insight into the history of the Catalan capital, and visit Port Vell, the old port of Barcelona, which has been transformed into a modern waterfront packed with restaurants and shops and it’s a good place to sample local seafood.

Top tips
Make sure you stay somewhere central - close or on La Rambla means you’re near the heart of the action. Some hotels could mean being a long walk away from the main sights.

We love it because…
It’s so close and offers so much for a short city break, including a great combination of vibrant city life with great beaches on its doorstep as well.

www.bcn.cat
www.spain.info/uk
www.fcbarcelona.com

London
England


Currency: Pound Sterling
Population: 7.6 million approx

It beats most other cities in terms of history and its depth of attractions and tours. Of course, the West End is full of brilliant musicals and plays and often, a theatre visit will be a GTOs first stab at group organising. Yes, it’s busy and coach parking is not always easy but there is so much to see and do, including some of the world’s finest attractions such as the Tower of London, The British Museum, The Royal Opera House or Tate London. Take a trip to Greenwich via boat, tour a famous sporting arena or visit the BBC.

Top tips
Take a Blue Badge Guided Tour and discover a London you never knew existed with a range of subjects and areas covered.

We love it because…
It’s one of the best cities in the world and it’s ours. Samuel Johnson famously said, “... when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” How right he was; new attractions open, the established re-invent themselves and Theatreland has never been more exciting.

www.visitlondon.com
www.touristguides.org.uk

 

 

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