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Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital city, renowned for its heritage, culture and festivals.
Take a long walk around the centre to explore the World Heritage Sites of the Old Town and New Town, as well as all the area’s museums and galleries. Then stop for a delicious meal made from fresh Scottish produce before heading out to take in one of Edinburgh’s many events — including the famous summer festivals of culture, or the Winter Festivals of music, light and ceilidhs.
The largest city in Switzerland is a major contemporary art and shopping destination. Important artworks are displayed in the Kunsthaus and the Rietberg Museum. Those who consider shopping an art can hone their skills along Bahnhofstrasse and Niederdorf. Chagall's stained-glass windows in the Fraumünster amaze. Zurich's 500 clubs and bars, including several in swimming pools, pulse with life till the early hours. This city on Lake Zurich has excellent public transport and a free bike-hire system.
<p>Madrid is the financial and cultural hub for Spain, and much of Southern Europe. There is a huge amount to see and do there, as well as excellent nightlife in terms of bars, restaurants, clubs and entertainment. As the area has been inhabited since Roman times, there are also plenty of historical sites to explore and enjoy. At the other extreme, you can also visit the Bernabéu stadium, home of Spanish football giant Real Madrid. This is usually popular with the younger members of the family, and many of the older ones! For art lovers you are torn between the Prado Museum, with works from the 12th to 19th Centuries including Goya, Velasquez and Rubens, or you can go to the Reina Sofia Museum for art from the 20th Century and beyond. The Reina Sofia houses Picasso's most famous painting Guernica, as well as key works by artists such as Salvador Dali - it gets incredibly busy but is a crucial place to visit! </p><p>While Madrid is a huge city, and it is easily possible to spend a whole holiday exploring, there is also a lot to see outside the city itself. Suggested excursions include Toledo, former capital of the country and a medieval city full of charm, and Segovia with its extraordinary castle which was used as inspiration for Walt Disney's iconic castle logo. </p>
The 1000-year-old Norwegian capital sits at the head of Oslo Fjord. This stunning setting gives hints of the wild wonders that lie just beyond the city. From taking in visual delights at Vigeland Sculpture Park, the Viking Ship Museum, the Munch Museum and Holmenkollen, to the challenging content within the new Nobel Peace Centre and the Holocaust Centre, Oslo offers plenty of food for thought. The Oslo Pass allows free travel on public transport, free parking and many museum and sight admissions.
Over the centuries, many cultures have added their mark to this prized piece of land. Today, you can experience those influences firsthand by exploring Istanbul’s mahalles (neighbourhoods). From the holy sites of Sultanahmet and the 19th-century European elegance of Beyoğlu to the high fashion of Nişantaşı, the vibrant café society of Kadıköy and the football-loving streets of Beşiktaş, it’s easy to see why travellers say that Istanbul isn’t just one city, but many cities within one.
Lying in south central Turkey, the moonscaped region of Cappadocia, southeast of Ankara, is most famous for unique geological features called fairy chimneys. The large, cone-like formations were created over time by erosion of the relatively soft volcanic ash around them. Past cultures have dug into them to create dwellings, castles (like Uchisar) and even entire underground cities like Kaymakli and Derinkuyu, used as hiding places by early Christians. Nearby Kayseri is the gateway to the area.
Montreal, c’est si bon! This French-speaking city is considered the cultural capital of Canada, and is a cosmopolitan celebration of Québécois style. A horse-drawn carriage ride around the cobblestone streets and grand buildings of Vieux-Montréal will give you a taste of European flavour. The Basilique Notre-Dame is a confection of stained glass, and the Plateau Mont-Royal district will delight you with its quaint boutiques and cafés. Dig in to a massive plate of poutine to fuel up for a tour of the epic Olympic Park.
Known as the safari capital of Africa, Nairobi is an energetic, modern city that serves as a fascinating introduction to both wildlife and nightlife. Music clubs pulse with life, shops and markets bustle, and a mélange of restaurants will tempt your palate in this former Maasai watering hole. Top sights include the Karen Blixen Museum, Giraffe Centre and the black rhinos of Nairobi National Park. The compact city centre is safe to walk in and taxis make other areas accessible.
Where better to go for a romantic holiday than to the great testament of love, the Taj Mahal? Built by the grieving Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his late wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal’s unrivaled beauty explains why it’s regarded as one of the eight wonders of the world. A visit to India wouldn’t be complete without it. Other must-experience destinations in Agra are two other UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the sandstone Red Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
Nepal's capital is situated in a valley full of historic sites, ancient temples and shrines, golden pagodas and fascinating villages. Hotels, bars and restaurants cater to all budgets. Shops offer handicrafts, carpets and Nepali paper prints. Bus services, taxis and bicycles open up the city. Trek to see the Monkey Temple, the valley's oldest and most sacred shrine. Mingle with locals and animals amid Durbar Square's monuments and temples, or join mountain trekkers in the bustling Thamel District.
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