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Nebraska

Omaha Travel Guide

Omaha has long been saddled with a reputation as a flyover city; that is, a place many travellers only see from the air when hopping from one coast to the other. But over the past 20 years, the city has slowly been transforming itself, edging out Middle American blandness while retaining the friendly, down-to-earth manner of the Midwest that travellers so appreciate. Omaha remains a travel hub due to its central location, but the music scene, quality museums, and vibrant downtown historic neighbourhood now ensure that the city is a worthwhile final destination, rather than just a pleasant pit stop on the way to elsewhere.

The heart of the city, from which this new pulse emanates, is its arts and entertainment district, the Old Market. The area is made up of block after block of renovated industrial warehouse buildings from the 1800s, which now house a variety of unique shops, boutiques, bookstores, galleries and some of Omaha’s finest restaurants. Homer’s Music is an Old Market institution and, in addition to hosting live events itself, can provide the latest information on Omaha’s thriving indie rock scene. Not one to ignore any form of artistic expression, the city also has a burgeoning film industry.

Omaha was historically a trade and transport hub, with its location on the great Missouri River and proximity to the Platte River ensuring its importance in the region. Today, the city is home to an impressive number of billionaires and Fortune 500 companies and attracts business travellers as well as holidaymakers.

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Nevada

Las Vegas Travel Guide

The only place in the world where you can gamble in Ancient Egypt, float along the canals of Venice, and party in Ancient Rome in one night, the glittering, hedonistic extravaganza that is Las Vegas never wanes in popularity:

Bright, brash and lavish, there is no reason to holiday in Las Vegas other than the pursuit of pleasure and entertainment, because that is why this city in the Nevada desert exists. Travel to Las Vegas to discover a city of fun and fantasy, filled with mega-resort casinos. Vegas has been dubbed the entertainment capital of the world, and its ‘wow factor’ continues to grow along with its building budgets.

No longer is a holiday in Las Vegas just for gamblers though. The casinos flourish, of course, but the city is now a well-rounded destination which offers everything from wildlife viewing to theme park thrills, from world class shows to spectacular night clubs. This is truly a destination for everyone and anyone who is just out to have fun. Even if one never enters a casino, the shopping, the lavish resorts, the restaurants, the theme parks, and the famous nightlife, will keep the excitement at boiling level for the duration of a holiday in Las Vegas.

Best time to visit Las Vegas

Anytime is a great time to holiday in Las Vegas, which is situated in a desert and therefore bathed in sunshine all year round. Summers, between June and August, can be blindingly hot, but never fear, everything indoors is air-conditioned. Read more on Las Vegas’ Climate and Weather.

What to see in Las Vegas

-Watch the spectacular fountain show outside the iconic Bellagio Hotel and Casino.

-Admire the famous neon lights at the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Vegas.

-Enjoy the many swimming pools of Mandalay Bay Resort, voted the best in the city.

-Get a taste of Venice at Venetian Hotel, and a taste of Egypt at The Luxor.

What to do in Las Vegas

-Try your hand at driving massive bulldozers and excavators at Dig This.

-Get your adrenalin fix on one of the many roller coasters that compete in the city.

-Gamble away the night in the famous MGM Grand.

-Treat the kids to thrills and spills at Adventuredome.

Beyond Las Vegas

Although primarily known for its man-made glitz, many wonderful natural attractions lure visitors out of Las Vegas: popular excursions out of the city include visits to the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon, the engineering marvel of Hoover Dam, and the beautiful desert landscapes of Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire State Park.

Getting there

Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, located five miles (8km) south of central Las Vegas, is the busiest air hub in the state and the entry point for the vast majority of foreign visitors. Get more information on Airports in Las Vegas.

Did you know?

-On average, there are more than 300 weddings in Las Vegas every day.

-Las Vegas is said to be the brightest place on Earth when viewed from space.

-There are no clocks and no windows in Las Vegas casinos, to prevent gamblers noticing time passing.

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New Mexico

Albuquerque Travel Guide

New Mexico’s largest city has been described as having one foot in the past, one in the present, and its eyes firmly set on the future. This certainly sums up this multi-cultural city, spread across the desert plains beside the Rio Grande, known for its high-tech research facilities, sentimentally proud of its historic Old Town, and offering a mix of museums, galleries, spicy restaurants and great shopping centres to satisfy the appetite of every kind of visitor. Albuquerque has an ultra-relaxed attitude, with shorts and t-shirts the unofficial uniform and locals cracking jokes about living in a ‘dusty hick town’. But the city’s numerous attractions are on-hand to prove them wrong.

Albuquerque was born back in 1706 when a group of Spanish colonists decided that the point on the Rio Grande where the river made a sweeping curve, backed by the wooded slopes of the nearby Sandia Mountains, would be a useful place to start a settlement. Water for irrigation and wood for building was plentiful, and the local Indian pueblos were available for trading. The new town, at first just a cluster of mud houses around a small adobe church, was named for Spain’s 10th Duke of Albuquerque. Today the original church, San Felipe de Neri, stands enshrined in the centre of the historic heart of the city, the hub of various special holidays and feast days, drawing visitors and locals alike.

One of the most splendid sights Albuquerque has to offer happens only once a year: each October the International Balloon Fiesta has all eyes focussed on New Mexico’s blue skies as hundreds of hot air balloons sail past. Every day of the year, though, the city offers up its attractions such as the zoo, aquarium, museums and vineyards for enjoyment, as well as an array of activities like skiing, golfing, mountain biking, hiking or simply dancing the night away. If all else fails, you can always eat – mild or with chilli, there is nothing to beat New Mexican cuisine to really add spice to life.

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Santa Fe Travel Guide

New Mexico’s capital city and the oldest capital in the United States, Santa Fe, is sited just 60 miles (97km) north of the state’s largest metropolis, Albuquerque, from which it differs quite remarkably. Where Albuquerque is high-tech and expansive, Santa Fe is arty and intimate. The home of Georgia O’Keefe, the city has become a haven for artists of all persuasions, featuring more than 250 art galleries and studios.

Tourists not only flock to this 400-year-old city at the foot of the Rocky Mountains for the museums and galleries, but also because it is surrounded by almost a hectare (two acres) of National Forest, offering great opportunities for skiing, rafting, golf, horseback riding, mountain climbing, hiking and a host of other associated recreational pursuits, including unusual activities like geocaching.

More urban attractions are plentiful as well, with enough to keep the whole family busy. Kids will love the Santa Fe Children’s Museum and going for a ride on the Southern Railway, while adults will enjoy the numerous art museums and Spanish colonial architecture. Everyone can enjoy Santa Fe’s multitude of festivals, including wine festivals, rodeos, cultural events, and film and art festivals. Santa Fe’s music calendar is full as well, and the Santa Fe Opera enjoys an international reputation.

The local culture is built firmly on Spanish and Native American roots, which is reflected in the city’s historic architecture and the crafts sold on the plaza by the hawkers. The city is also confusing to navigate by car, with its narrow winding lanes and one-way streets, making it best explored on foot from its busy central plaza. Santa Fe makes an ideal base from which to explore the many Indian pueblos, which are within an hour’s drive throughout the valley of the Rio Grande.

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New York

New York City Travel Guide

Very few cities can compete with New York’s frenetic energy and creativity and the Big Apple remains one of the top urban travel destinations in the world:

To visit New York City is to visit one of the most exciting and diverse man-made environments on earth, and travellers never seem to tire of this ever-changing metropolis. New York really is the city that never sleeps and although some may find it somewhat exhausting, nobody denies that it is endlessly stimulating.

Many arrive on business, but millions more travel on holiday to see the myriad famous sights, trawl the shopping streets, catch a show on Broadway, and soak up the incredible atmosphere. The Statue of Liberty greets travellers just as she once greeted immigrants, and among the towering skyscrapers the oasis of Central Park promises some relief from the rat race. The celebrated nightlife beckons party animals, the restaurant scene delights foodies, and the endless supply of museums and galleries charms culture vultures.

Best time to visit New York City

Although the city is a year-round destination, the best time to travel to New York is in autumn, during September and October, when the days are mild and pleasant, without the high humidity of the spring and summer months, or the snow and freezing temperatures that occur in winter. Read more on New York City’s Climate and Weather.

What to see in New York City

-Watch a show on Broadway, a joy for the whole family.

-Marvel at New York’s skyline from the observation deck of the mighty Empire State Building.

-Enjoy all the quirky and iconic fare that the Museum of Modern Art has to offer.

-Pay tribute to the many victims of 9/11 at the World Trade Center.

What to do in New York City

-Wander Greenwich Village, a famously artistic New York neighbourhood.

-Explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art, home to one of the greatest art collections in the world.

-Take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, one of the best ways to see the city.

-Skate on the scenic Trump Rink in Central Park.

Beyond New York City

Popular excursions include the funfairs of Coney Island, the natural splendour of Bear Mountain State Park, the Dia Art Foundation of Beacon, and the spooky literary joys of Tarrytown, all of which await travellers just beyond the city. The Metro-North Railway can be used to access many nearby towns and cities in New York.

Getting there

John F Kennedy International Airport, one of the world’s major air travel hubs, is New York City’s main airport, located 12 miles (20km) from downtown Manhattan. New York La Guardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport also serve the city. Get more information on Airports in New York City.

Did you know?

-New York City is home to about 4,000 street food vendors.

-More than 250 feature films are shot on location in the city annually.

-The musicians who perform in the NYC Subway system go through a competitive audition process.

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North Carolina

Raleigh Travel Guide

North Carolina’s capital, Raleigh, makes up the southeastern corner of the famous Research Triangle, with Durham and Chapel Hill at the other two points. The state’s second-largest city is a vital centre of high-tech business and education. Unlike many cities that grow up around ports or stations, Raleigh was planned specifically to be the state capital. At its centre stands the beautiful North Carolina Capitol building, a fine Greek Revival-style landmark, from which wide, oak-lined streets radiate. This careful geometry makes exploring Raleigh quite straightforward. Raleigh is a pleasant city, with a unique mix of Southern heritage and down-home manners; elite academia and boisterous university life and athletics; and the fast-paced, sleek sophistication of Triangle professionals.

Raleigh is often lumped together with nearby cities Durham and Chapel Hill, and though the three are only about a 30-minute drive from one another, they are different communities. Durham was once one of the most thriving African-American centres in the country. Today, its main attraction is Duke University, one of the top schools in the United States and home of the Blue Devils, another sports powerhouse. Its downtown areas, however, have suffered in recent decades, although revitalization efforts are underway. Chapel Hill, meanwhile, is a lovely college town, with beautiful old homes; endless independently-owned coffee shops, pubs and restaurants; and a decidedly liberal leaning. It is home to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, another top American educational institution, and the beloved Tar Heels, a force in college athletics. The three cities, and their massive college sports followings, remain friendly rivals.

Raleigh is a perfect destination for those seeking to experience a bit of Southern history and culture without giving up the attractions and conveniences of a big city. Raleigh’s restaurants serve up plenty of sweet tea and mouth-watering barbecue, but it is also known as the ‘Smithsonian of the South’ for its renowned museums and excellent performing arts scene.

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NAMIBIA

Walvis Bay Travel Guide

Walvis Bay is often overlooked by tourists travelling to Namibia. However, on closer inspection, the country’s second largest city has a lot to offer. Visitors to Walvis Bay get to step away from the rat-race and enjoy the serene and lonely beauty of some of Namibia’s most evocative desert scenery. The town is the gateway to a host of endless dunes, freshwater lagoons, birdlife, sea life and silence. The dunes just outside Walvis are both majestic and tragic as they dissipate into the ocean in a timeless battle that will never be concluded. The freshwater lagoons found at the base of some of these dunes provide life to a variety highly unique desert wildlife. Visitors to Namibia should not miss the opportunity to visit this diamond in Namibia’s desert crown.

Aside from the awe-inspiring scenery, Walvis Bay offers a range of other activities and sightseeing opportunities for adventurous visitors as well as those who just want to relax and commune with the wind. This seaside town is Namibia’s only working sea port. Walvis Bay is the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding desert regions, including the beautiful Sandwich Bay and Cape fur seal colony at Cape Cross, and the nearby seaside resort of Swakopmund. Other popular activities include deep-sea fishing excursions, dune-boarding, dolphin watching and scuba diving.

Walvis may be a small dusty town along Namibia’s barren and harsh coastline, with hot days, cool nights and mornings shrouded in sea fog, but it offers up something magical that few can resist. Even the Hollywood glitterati like Billy Bob Thornton, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have fallen for its charm. Walvis is the perfect place to relax, zone out and commune with your surroundings as you sip a cold beer, watching the colours of the fiery sunsets compete with the flamingos in the lagoon.

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Windhoek Travel Guide

The small, Germanic capital of the country, Windhoek is an attractive city situated in the Central Highlands and surrounded by hills and mountains, occupying the geographical and economic heart of Namibia. It is Namibia’s largest city and a good base for travel in the country.

The city centre is characterised by historic German colonial architecture and imposing modern structures. Dominating the skyline is the striking German Lutheran church, Christuskirche, a mixture of Art Nouveau and neo-Gothic design, and the Titenpalast, or ‘Ink Palace’, the parliament building from where the sparsely populated country is governed. The railway station is a Cape Dutch edifice dating back to 1912, and Independence Avenue is a pleasant tree-lined place with fountains and walkways providing a relaxing ambience among the modern buildings of the central business district. The women of the Herero tribe, cattle herders of the region, are very distinctive with their voluminous Victorian-style dresses and colourful headgear.

The German influence is not only apparent in the architecture and colonial style buildings, but is evident in the food and locally-brewed beer. Polony and sauerkraut are available on the menu among local dishes, including seafood from the west coast and venison or game steaks from the hinterland. Eating out in Windhoek is a fun and unique experience.

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NEPAL

Kathmandu Travel Guide

Presided over by snow-covered mountains, the Kathmandu Valley is surrounded by verdant agricultural hills scattered with traditional villages and brick houses. Rich in ancient holy temples and shrines used by both Buddhist and Hindu worshippers, the area reflects Nepal’s great wealth of culture and tradition. Most of Nepal’s ethnic groups are represented in the Valley, particularly in Kathmandu itself, but it is the Newars who are the original inhabitants, responsible for much of the splendid art and architecture in the cities.

The Valley is the cultural, political and commercial centre of Nepal and encompasses three cities: Kathmandu, the capital; Patan, which has been enveloped by the growing Kathmandu outskirts; and the medieval city of Bhaktapur. For the unprepared visitor, the capital city of Kathmandu can trigger a sensory overload. It is a heaving city of both intriguing and unpleasant smells, incessant noise and pollution, and sights that etch themselves on the memory. Cows wander the streets of the old city, stepping between steaming piles of rubbish and hooting taxis, and narrow alleyways overflow with spices, vegetables and handicraft shops. Throngs of people thread their way along bustling cobblestone streets lined with structures from an ancient architectural heritage, which lead onto open squares surrounded by temples of all shapes and sizes. The largest city in Nepal and the nation’s historical centre, Kathmandu throws together a blend of the country’s varied population and boasts a distinctive, age-old religious influence visible in the daily life of its inhabitants.

Fascinating as this city is, many people choose to stay outside Kathmandu in one of the Valley towns or mountain resorts, restricting their visits to day trips; or, they base themselves in the tourist-orientated Thamel district of the city, which offers modern bakeries, smart hotels and upmarket restaurants, along with pushy handicraft and cannabis sellers.

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NETHERLANDS

Amsterdam Travel Guide

A city as famous for its flowers and museums as it is for its liberal attitudes to sex and drugs, Amsterdam is one of the top urban travel destinations in Europe:

Amsterdam is full of old-world charm, with houseboats, canals, cobbled streets and distinctive Dutch architecture that belong to another age. The city is said to have more museums per capita than any other in the world, providing a treasury of historical information and world-class art for culture vultures. Museums dedicated to icons like Rembrandt, Anne Frank and Van Gogh are perennially popular and the famous Rijksmuseum is reason enough for some people to visit the city, but there are also some quirky museums hinting at the modern, liberal character of this exciting place, like the Amsterdam Sex Museum.

Travel to Amsterdam for a lively nightlife, awesome art galleries, great shopping, the enticing Red Light District, the picturesque canals, the coffeeshops that sell more than coffee, and to liberally sample the indigenous Heineken beer. Amsterdam also has a restaurant scene which will delight foodies, and a calendar bursting with exciting and creative events and festivals.

Best time to visit Amsterdam

Summer (June to August) is the most popular tourist season in Amsterdam. However, spring (March to May) is arguably the best time to vacation in the city: the weather may be unsettled but this is when Holland’s great flower shows are in full bloom, providing a bonus for tourists. The King’s Birthday in April is also a major event, when street parties abound in Amsterdam. Read more on Amsterdam’s Climate and Weather.

What to see in Amsterdam

– Enjoy a performance at the Concertgebouw, one of the finest concert halls in the world.

– Marvel at four centuries of Dutch naval history at the National Maritime Museum.

– Wander around the glorious Van Gogh Museum, one of Amsterdam’s most loved attractions.

– Explore the tiny wartime hideaway of Anne Frank House and see the famous diary.

What to do in Amsterdam

– Take a boat tour through Amsterdam’s picturesque canal network.

– Learn about the brewing process and sample the beer at the Heineken Experience.

– Picnic or cycle in Vondelpark, the city’s most popular green lung.

– Treat the kids to a day of fun at Efteling theme park.

Beyond Amsterdam

Amsterdam is conveniently close to many wonderful cities and towns in the Netherlands and is truly a destination that promises exciting excursions. The quaint city of Haarlem is a short train ride away; the Hoge Veluwe National Park provides a taste of Dutch countryside; Maastricht, the oldest city in the country, is a good weekend getaway; and all the attractions of The Hague, including the Peace Palace, are within easy reach.

Getting there

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, the main air travel hub of the Netherlands, is located nine miles (15km) southwest of Amsterdam. There are regular direct flights to Amsterdam from the US, the UK and all over Europe. Get more information on Airports in Amsterdam.

Did you know?

– Amsterdam started out as a humble fishing village and took its name from the Amstel River.

– There are more bicycles in Amsterdam than there are permanent residents.

– Amsterdam has three times as many bridges as Venice.

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Delft Travel Guide

South of Amsterdam lies Delft, a Dutch city famous for its distinctive blue and white ceramics. There is much more to Delft than china, however, and the city has a 750-year history full of drama and excitement.

Founded in 1246, Delft became a prosperous city until much of it was destroyed by a great fire in 1536. It was hit with another disaster in 1654, when a gunpowder warehouse exploded and large sections of the city were destroyed. Delft has also been the site of Dutch East India Company offices, acting as a major trading centre in the Netherlands. Nowadays, Delft is one of the prettiest towns in the Netherlands, with a number of beautiful buildings and a network of canals that are pleasant to stroll along. There are a few museums worth visiting, and the Thursday Market at the main square is a great place to both soak up some local culture and do a bit of souvenir shopping.

The city has a lively atmosphere thanks to the 13,000 students of the Delft University of Technology, and there are a number of cafes, restaurants, bars and nightclubs to keep everyone entertained. While Delft has no red light district, there are a few marijuana coffeeshops in town as well, though whether these are still accessible to tourists is open to debate.

Of course, the famous earthenware is not to be forgotten and apart from the touristy shop windows, which overflow with a sea of blue and white, visitors can make a stop at the factory which produces the most iconic pieces. The white and blue decorative pottery, the trademark of Royal Delftware, was influenced by Chinese porcelain brought back from the east by the tradesmen of the Dutch East India Company. The Royal Delftware Factory (Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles) is the only remaining earthenware factory in Delft and dates back to the 17th century. Visitors to the factory can see painting demonstrations, attend painting workshops or visit the factory’s museum and showroom.

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Groningen Travel Guide

The largest urban centre in the northern Netherlands, Groningen is an ancient city with a young heart, thanks to its large student population. Its status as a major Dutch educational centre has imbued Groningen with a vibrant arts scene, lively nightlife and a wealth of fascinating museums covering various topics from history, science to comics, and even tobacco.

Old and new blend well in this city, which dates from the third century, but had to be largely reconstructed after bombing in World War II. Nevertheless, attractions are far from few in the city. Through the centre of town runs the Herestraat, a wide pedestrian avenue packed with big-name stores. Radiating out from the main street are narrow roads lined with small shops selling local goods and crafts, interspersed with bars, cafes and restaurants. The city’s landmark building is the Martini Tower, adjoining a church on the main square (Grote Markt), which can be climbed to afford a spectacular view across the city. Its most architecturally notable building, however, is the city theatre (Stadsschouwburg), a pink Renaissance concoction with a unique ornate interior, which is as worth seeing as the productions which take place on its stage. Visitors can also visit a number of medieval almshouses, which still function today as homes for seniors and the poor.

Art pervades the city, even in the train station with its magnificent stained glass windows; but not to be missed for art-lovers is the renowned Groningen Museum opposite the station, which houses a permanent collection of 17th-century works (including Rubens’ Adoration of the Magi), Hague School paintings, ceramics, and works by Groningen’s expressionist De Ploeg group.

Groningen is a pretty city, with a number of parks and gardens to relax in on beautiful days. The Renaissance-style Prinsenhof Garden, open from April to October, has lovely topiaries that have been sculpted for over 250 years. With plenty to do and see, and easily accessible by air or train, Groningen has become a firm favourite with visitors seeking to stray beyond the traditional Dutch tourist destinations.

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Rotterdam Travel Guide

Unlike many historic cities in the Netherlands, which sport Renaissance buildings and ancient Gothic churches, Rotterdam is a gleaming cluster of high-rise buildings, some of which are marvels of 20th-century architecture. A city made up of spacious streets with slick shopping malls and public parks dotting the efficiently-designed city centre, Rotterdam is the perfect destination for those seeking out the modern and the less classically historic.

After many parts of the city were destroyed in World War II, much was demolished in order to rebuild. In fact, only three buildings in Rotterdam’s historic centre survive: the art deco City Hall, the iconic White House, and St Lawrence Church. Another enclave of historic Rotterdam is the Delft Harbour area, luckily missed by German bombs. The result of all the construction is a space with its own unique personality when compared to the rest of the Netherlands. The city can be viewed and admired from the iconic Euromast Space Tower, a 605 foot (184m) tower with a revolving sit-down elevator; a favourite among visitors.

Rotterdam hasn’t forgotten its history, despite its modern look and feel, and there are a number of museums where you can catch glimpses of its illustrious past. Some of these include those dedicated to natural history, maritime history, photography, art, architecture, World War II, and the Netherlands’ rail system. Rotterdam is also a multicultural city, with larger immigrant populations than most of the Netherlands, and this is evident in the diversity of restaurants and neighbourhoods within the city.

The Netherlands is famous for its windmills; however, there are increasingly few of the traditional structures remaining in the country today. One prominent cluster does remain in the small town of Kinderdijk, roughly nine miles (15km) from Rotterdam. The 19 Kinderdijk Windmills are fully-functioning, and serve to drain excess water from the Alblasserwaard polders. They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region.

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NEW ZEALAND

Auckland Travel Guide

Auckland is situated on a narrow strip of land, flanked by two magnificent harbours to the east and west. The shallow Manukau Harbour opens out to the Tasman Sea to the west, while the Waitemata Harbour lies at the heart of the city centre and is Auckland’s deepwater port. It has a vibrant waterfront that has flourished with the successful hosting of the America’s Cup, and the trendy restaurants and waterside cafes are a constant hive of activity.

Known as the ‘City of Sails’, with a larger boat-to-person ratio than anywhere else on earth, it is a paradise for sailing enthusiasts. Every weekend the waters of the Hauraki Gulf come alive with a flotilla of colourful sails. The best way to experience the city is from the water, sailing around the attractive harbour or on a ferry cruise to one of the many stunning islands dotted about the Gulf.

Auckland is the largest and most cosmopolitan city in New Zealand, and acts as a major gateway to the rest of the country. Yet it is also one of the least densely populated in the world, covering an area twice the size of London but with barely a million inhabitants. It has a friendly small-town atmosphere and a relaxed pace of life.

Beyond the bustling downtown area, dominated by the southern hemisphere’s tallest building, the Sky Tower, the city sprawls outwards, with low-slung buildings and wooden houses among leafy parks and walking tracks. The suburbs wind their way around picturesque bays and harbours and between volcanic hills that provide panoramic views over the city and mountains, encompassing numerous green urban parklands that are dotted with sheep.

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Christchurch Travel Guide

Christchurch is the most English of New Zealand’s cities, named after an Oxford college. The atmosphere is reminiscent of an English university town, with school boys in striped blazers and punting on the River Avon, a grand Anglican cathedral dominating the central square, little stone-walled bridges, elegant Victorian architecture and numerous parks and exquisite gardens.

Dubbed the ‘Garden City’, it is the lively capital of the Canterbury region, priding itself on its green areas, arts, and history as well as its sports. The surrounds offer beach suburbs, protected bays and dolphin swimming, green valleys and snow-capped mountain ranges for skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and climbing. The city itself has a relaxed and cosmopolitan centre with historic trams rattling along the streets of the bustling downtown area, a lively pub and restaurant scene, theatres, street buskers, museums, and art galleries.

Christchurch was devastated by a major earthquake in February 2011, and some of the damage is still evident, but the city has rapidly risen from the rubble and now frequently graces lists of the top cities to visit in the world. The nightlife and restaurant scene has bounced back impressively, with close to 1,000 cafes, bars and restaurants currently operating in the city. Some tourist attractions and hospitality businesses have not reopened after the earthquake, but others have sprung up to replace them.

Christchurch is the gateway to the South Island and offers the visitor an appealing mixture of historic charm and vibrant city life, a pleasing balance between urban pursuits and outdoor activities. With the least rainfall of any of New Zealand’s cities and plenty of sunshine it is a perfect base for a diverse range of activities, including a Canterbury skiing experience.

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Queenstown Travel Guide

With a reputation as the adventure sports capital of the world, Queenstown is New Zealand’s premier tourist destination, offering visitors the chance to indulge in almost every adrenalin activity imaginable. But Queenstown has more to offer visitors than action packed activities.

Queenstown is a heavily commercialised, year round resort that is touristy, crowded and characterless, but with its magnificent scenery, set on the deep blue Lake Wakatipu and framed by the craggy Remarkables Range, it is appealing to adventurers and leisure seekers alike. The lake is the perfect setting for steamer cruises, there are many fine walking opportunities in the surrounding hills and valleys with breathtaking views. The surrounding vineyards offer wine tasting, and there is shopping at the town’s many boutiques. The nearby historic gold mining town of Arrowtown is a fascinating day’s outing. Scenic flights take visitors on unforgettable excursions, such as those around the majestic peaks of Mount Aspiring and Mount Cook, or to Milford Sound.

Queenstown’s popularity is also due to the fact that it is a year round resort, a renowned alpine playground for skiers and snowboarders in winter and activities such as jet boating, bungee jumping, luging, white water rafting and paragliding in the summer months.

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Wellington Travel Guide

The capital city of New Zealand is located at the southern tip of the North Island. Wellington is situated on a splendid harbour and hemmed in by steep hills, creating a compact inner city centre with a mix of historic and modern buildings. It is the second largest city in the country, the energetic centre for culture and arts, and the entertainment, commercial and political capital of New Zealand with an air of pronounced sophistication and vibrancy. Apart from its importance as the capital, it is the main departure point for the South Island.

Also called ‘Windy Wellington’, it lives up to its name especially in winter when the lashing winds from the Cook Strait whistle through the wind funnels created by the high-rise buildings of the central business district. The bustling, pretty waterfront area is a sheltered refuge with a graceful promenade, featuring shops, restaurants and various leisure activities. Brightly coloured sails scud across the harbour, with the reliable wind providing excellent sailing and windsurfing opportunities. The ferry to the picturesque Days Bay, one of Wellington’s best swimming beaches, affords excellent views of the city from the water. Dominating the waterfront is the Te Papa Museum, the pride and joy of the nation that embodies the quintessence of New Zealand and its people.

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NIGERIA

Abuja Travel Guide

As a purpose-built city, there is something slightly contrived about Abuja, the relatively new capital of Nigeria. Founded in the late 1970s, it is situated in the heart of the country in an area called the Federal Capital Territory – a location chosen for its neutrality in a country rife with ethnic and religious division.

Divided into four districts, with designated business and residential sectors, the city has leafy, wide roads, high office towers and large apartment blocks, and is infinitely less congested and polluted than Lagos, the former capital. Much of the city is still under construction and its population remains small, thus it lacks the colour and bustle of other Nigerian cities. However, it must be noted that for tourists not used to travelling on the African continent, Abuja makes for a far gentler introduction to a Nigerian holiday than Lagos does.

Aso Rock is the landscape’s dominant feature; an ancient 400-metre high outcrop on the city’s outskirts, which looms behind the attractive government buildings. Although there is little else on offer in the way of tourist attractions in Abuja, visitors can explore the nearby Zuma Rock, the National Mosque, the National Church, Parade Square and the Wuse Market.

Abuja is often used as a jumping-off point for exploring the rest of the country, and most visitors only take a day or two to take in its limited sights. Perhaps as it grows in stature and size, Abuja will become more of an interesting tourist destination in its own right.

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Lagos Travel Guide

It is hard to believe that Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest, busiest city (with a population of roughly 15 million and counting) originated as a small Yoruba settlement. Spread over the mainland near the Gulf of Guinea and several large islands on the vast lagoon that gives Lagos its name, the city is Nigeria’s principal port and its commercial and cultural centre.

The former capital grew to prominence when it became a central trading post for the Portuguese in the late 1400s, also serving as a major hub for the international slave trade. When the British annexed the city in 1861, they effectively put a stop to the slave trade, but took control of trade and industry. Once Nigeria gained independence in 1960, Lagos experienced a boom, which swelled the city’s population considerably, and today Lagos is one of the world’s fastest-growing cities, home to a complex tapestry of religious and ethnic groups. The sprawling city is chaotic, crowded and lacks any major tourism infrastructure, though the government is investing millions in upgrades to security and public transport.

Most visitors travel to Lagos for business, and there are few tourist attractions in the city; however, those willing to put in some effort will have a unique and memorable experience. Streets are congested, drivers are maniacal and blackouts are common, but the complex history of the city, and Nigeria as a whole, contributes to its exotic flavour. Lagos has an interesting National Museum, National Theatre, several colourful markets and some decent beaches to explore.

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NORWAY

Oslo Travel Guide

Legends of heroes, trolls and princesses roaming the countryside outside this charming city attract many travellers looking for a Scandinavian holiday. Oslo, situated at the end of a 70-mile (110km) long fjord, is Norway’s capital and its largest city, rich in culture and folklore and with a fascinating Viking history. Oslo is the gateway to some of Norway’s most scenic areas, with forests, lakes and hiking trails just a subway ride away, but a holiday in Oslo is a joy in its own right. This sophisticated city offers cultural attractions, nightclubs, cafes, and chic boutiques enough to tempt any urban soul.

Oslo is an eclectic mix of old medieval buildings, churches and modern architecture, sitting among the green trees and forests that form the balance of nature and civilization. Around the city there are numerous museums, art galleries and places of interest, especially the Edvard Munch Museum and the Norwegian Folk Museum on the sought after Bygdoy Peninsula. Other attractions include Vigeland Park with its interesting collection of sculptures, and the medieval Akershus Fortress dominating the seafront.

Although Oslo has a small population compared to other European capital cities, it retains a true vibrancy. The city centre is filled with restaurants, bars, cafes, clubs and theatres and has a very cosmopolitan feel, with street artists hanging around the main street, Karl Johans Gate. Oslo is renowned as a city of culture and the City Hall hosts the annual awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Stavanger Travel Guide

Situated on the southwest coast, Stavanger is Norway’s fourth largest city, and its petroleum capital. A modern city, with excellent public transport, it also boasts the area known as ‘Gamle Stavanger’, a cobble-stoned old suburb full of 18th-century wooden houses, where many local artists have taken up residence. The old quarter spreads out from the harbour and the waterfront is also a hub of activity for travellers, bustling at night with crowds of locals and visitors, particularly during summer. Stavanger is a fun mix of old and new, a cosmopolitan port city with a charming historic atmosphere.

Sightseeing attractions in Stavanger include the Oil Museum, the Canning Museum, and the Rogaland Art Museum, among many others. The city is also known for its rich and varied nightlife, which is considered some of the best that Norway has to offer. In the summer, visitors can take advantage of Stavanger’s many climbing and hiking opportunities, or hang out on Solastranden, a long, sandy beach close to the airport; and in winter, can ice skate on the city’s largest lake, Stokkavannet.

Several low-cost airlines regularly serve Stavanger’s Sola Airport making it a popular entry-point for travellers to Norway. Situated on the west coast of Norway, Stavanger is within easy reach of Bergen and the famous fjordlands.

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Tromso Travel Guide

Set in a magnificent landscape of dramatic snow-capped mountains with a rocky shoreline, Tromso is a lively town characterised by unusual old wooden houses, street music, cultural events and the most pubs per capita in Norway. It is the capital of the north and a bustling metropolis in comparison to the surrounding fishing communities along the northern coast of Norway; it is also a vibrant university town.

Known as the ‘Gateway to the Arctic’ and situated within the Arctic Circle, Tromso is an excellent base from which to explore the surrounding area and has some of the most extensive Northern Light activity on earth, making it a sought-after tourist destination from which to experience the spectacular show of the Aurora Borealis. The Midnight Sun during summer is another strange phenomenon, when continuous daylight makes people forget to go to bed; whereas the winters see only a few hours of bleak twilight during midday. It is these extreme light conditions that hold the greatest fascination for tourists, regardless of the season, and make Tromso such an intriguing place to visit.

The north of Norway is also the place to get to grips with the fascinating indigenous Sami culture, which can be investigated in Tromso. There are several museums and other places of interest, a cable car to the top of one of the surrounding hills providing fantastic views, and boat trips into the glorious landscape of the arctic fjords.

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Trondheim Travel Guide

The oldest of Norway’s major cities, Trondheim has a youthful feel, dominated by the student population from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Traditionally a religious centre and trading hub for northern Europe, the city of Trondheim is now well over a thousand years old.

Trondheim is home to some important historic landmarks, including the Nidaros Cathedral, one of the biggest churches in northern Europe and the only Gothic cathedral in Norway. There are many traditional wooden houses in pretty areas including Bakklandet and Ilsvikora, and other wooden buildings can be viewed from the Old Town Bridge. There are historical military sites at the fortress island of Munkholmen and the former German submarine base of DORA 1. Trondheim also has several good-quality museums dedicated to local culture and history.

Trondheim is a picturesque city, and though there are active pursuits like skiing, swimming, and hiking available, it is also pleasant to simply stroll along the Nidelva River. There are a number of shopping centres and restaurants spread across town; and the student population ensures an energetic nightlife, though venues tend to close earlier than in other major cities. The city is especially lively in July and August during the St Olav Festival.

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