Dreaming of traveling outside the US now that the world is opening up again? There are so many wonderful places to visit (195 countries in the world today), so how do you decide?
For first timers it’s often the crowned capitals of Europe (London, Paris, Rome, and Madrid among many). For the more adventurous, how about “Aruba, Jamaica, ooh, I wanna take ya to Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama, Key Largo, Montego. Baby, why don’t we go?”
With so many choices, where do we start?
ESGI and ThinkFives polled hundreds of teachers, and here are the vacation spots they either recommended or placed at the top of their “visit soon” lists.
Officially the Hellenic Republic, the land of Alexander the Great, Homer, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle is #5 on our teacher list.
Families can walk the steps and visit the ruins where these famous Greeks once taught and orated. Athens and the Acropolis are clearly the highlights, but there are so many other famous sites including Mount Olympus, Delphi, Corinth and Mycenae.
Other tourists prefer to cruise the Aegean while enjoying stops at Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes and Crete. In the summer, the deep blue water and inviting beaches are a great complement to touring the historical sites.
With so many places to visit, you might need your own 10-year Odyssey to see all the sites.
- In certain spots of Greece, you can’t wear high heels. This is to protect the ancient temples and their sites.
- Democracy was born in Greece. The word democracy actually comes from the Greek words demos (people) and kratos (rule) – Demoskratos.
- Greece consists of more than 6,000 islands and islets, but only 227 of the islands are inhabited.
- The island Santorini has three different colored beaches – white, black, and red beaches due to its volcanic past.
- Greece is home to more archaeological museums than any other country in the world with a total of 173 archaeological museums.
Do you come from a land down under? That line from an old 80s song (name that tune) helps identify #4 on our list, Australia. The only choice from the southern hemisphere, it’s not only a country but a continent.
Known for its many natural wonders, wide-open spaces, beaches, deserts, the bush and the outback, Australia is one of the world’s least urbanized countries.
Sydney, its opera house and idyllic harbor, is usually a visitor’s first stop in Australia but there’s so much more to the country. Swim at the Great Barrier Reef. Traverse the Blue Mountains. Swim or surf at Bondi Beach. Experience a rain forest or just trek the outback. There’s so much to do.
So pack your favorite Crocodile Dundee hat and commence your own personal walk-about.
- Australia has three times more sheep than people.
- Australia was the second country in the world to give women the right to vote in 1902.
- Canberra was selected as the capital of Australia because Sydney and Melbourne could not stop arguing over which city should be the capital.
- Australia is home to the longest fence in the world. Originally built to keep dingos away from fertile land, the fence is now 5,614 km long.
- Australia is the only continent in the world without an active volcano.
This enchanting country offers a perfect blend of historic and scenic sites, as well as a rich cultural heritage that will leave you awe-inspired. Scotland has its own unique charm that captivates visitors from all over the world.
Scotland offers an array of dishes that will excite your taste buds. Prepare to try haggis, a traditional Scottish dish made with sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, combined with oats, onions, and spices (Honestly, this is an acquired taste for Americans). Or you can savor the world-famous Scottish salmon, renowned for its exceptional flavor and quality.
But when you think Scotland, no visit is complete unless you sample the exquisite single malt whiskies that Scotland is internationally celebrated for.
Scotland is also steeped in history, with countless ancient castles, historic sites, and mysterious ruins just waiting to be explored. Immerse yourself in the grandeur of Edinburgh Castle, perched majestically on a volcanic rock, offering stunning views of the city below. Or visit Stirling Castle or the iconic Eilean Donan Castle.
- Scotland is home to the famous Loch Ness, known for its legendary resident, the Loch Ness Monster.
- Did you know that Scotland boasts over 790 islands? From the Isle of Skye to the remote Orkney Islands, each island offers its own unique charm.
- Scotland is the birthplace of the modern game of golf, with the Old Course at St. Andrews considered the oldest golf course in the world.
- Scotland’s national animal is the unicorn. Yes, you read that right! The mythical creature has been a symbol of strength and power in Scottish folklore for centuries.
- The Scottish Highlands are the setting of many iconic movies, including the beloved “Harry Potter” series.
When thinking about Italy, it’s hard to decide on our first focus: the historic and scenic sites or the food. We will start with the food.
The land of pasta, pizza, risotto, scallopini, parmesan and great Chianti is the top choice for teachers for non-US vacations. There’s so much to do in Italy that daytime touring is the perfect way to work up the appetite for an incredible Italian dinner —capped by a cappuccino at one of the many great piazzas in Italy.
On the touring side, Rome is home to several of the top historic ruins in the world. Heard of the Colosseum or the Roman Forum? The Fountains of Trevi? Or how about the ornate beauty of the Vatican?
Travel north and visit Venice, the world’s most famous city on the sea, or the city that may have some of the most famous art in the world, Florence (Hello David).
We’ve barely scratched the surface of things to do in Italy, not even mentioning Milan, the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, Capri, Lake Como or Sicily. No wonder why Italy is number one on the list recommended by our teachers.
- Tourists throw over $1 million into the Trevi Fountain in Rome each year.
- Vatican City (in Rome) is the world’s smallest country with just 1,000 acres.
- There is a secret passage from the Vatican through Rome for the pope to escape in emergencies.
- Italy is the world’s largest wine producer. Italy produces about 54,800 hectoliters of wine a year.
- There are more than 900 churches in Rome alone.
The land of leprechauns and pots of gold is #3 on our list recommended by teachers. Ireland is well-known as one of the friendliest countries in the world, and provides teachers and families a chance to visit the small town pubs and experience the rugged coastlines.
The Irish Isle hosts the Republic of Ireland, which covers most of the island and Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom. These days, travel is easy between the two countries and stops at both Dublin and Belfast are a must.
From movies and songs, there are so many Irish attractions: The Cliffs of Moher, Galway Bay Killarney, County Cork, Waterford and Kilkenny are just a couple of the sites.
Try donning your tartan pants, Irish wool sweater and Paddy Hat to see if that will bring you the luck of the Irish.
- Halloween is from Ireland. Its traditions began with the Celtic festival of Samhain.
- More Irish people live outside of Ireland than in Ireland.
- Ireland is named after the goddess Eriu. Eriu was a goddess that looked out for the general well being of the ancient island nation.
- It might sound like heresy but according to fossil evidence there have never been snakes in Ireland.
- There are around 30,000 castles in Ireland.
What world class vacation is on your list?
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