10 beautiful Minnesota cities for outdoor travel

The international port city of Duluth, which is home to around 85,000 people, is the largest Minnesota city on Lake Superior. 

The northern Minnesota city boasts shopping, dining, history, outdoor adventures, breweries, distilleries, and big-city amenities for all to enjoy no matter the season. 

Duluth is home to some major attractions, including the Great Lakes Aquarium, the Lake Superior Zoo, historic Glensheen Mansion, Spirit Mountain Recreation Area, the University of Minnesota Duluth, golf courses and more. 

Those daring to take a dip in Lake Superior can do so on the sandy beach on Park Point or don wetsuits and grab a surfboard to catch a wave, which are particularly impressive in the late fall and winter. 

Duluth is filled with parks — 6,834 acres of parkland — and boasts 178 miles of wooded trails. The city recently completed the Lakewalk, a 7.5-mile trail that connects Canal Park and the 1905 Aerial Lift Bridge to Brighton Beach, offering views of ships coming into port and massive waves during storms. 

It also has 16 trout streams, the St. Louis River, snowmobile trails, dog parks, ski trails, and biking and hiking routes. There are boat tour companies and two scenic railroads (North Shore Scenic Railroad and the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad) that offer different perspectives of the city. 

Duluth is also not far from several Minnesota State Parks for hiking, the City of Two Harbors, and casinos. 

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Volcanoes, gelato and canals: Italy’s great small cities chosen by readers | Italy holidays

Winning tip: Happy wanderer in Puglia

A little piece of my soul was left in Polignano a Mare, a beautiful slice of real Italian life in Puglia. Pretty houses perching on clifftops overlooking emerald seas, a labyrinth of streets leading to a stunning old town, delectable gelato and a buzzy atmosphere as locals promenade and music plays, all combine to create a real gem. The contemporary art museum is worth a gander. It is the wandering, however, getting lost in delightful white-washed streets, stumbling across the poetry written on doorways and stairs, finding a clifftop bar beloved by locals, which is the key to enjoying this romantic town.
Vivienne Francis, Kent

Lovely Lucca

Photograph: JM_Image_Factory/Getty Images

Lucca is the hidden jewel in the Tuscan crown of Italy, and September is the best time to visit. Just 20 minutes from Pisa, its medieval walls, cobbled streets and shaded squares create a calm, quiet atmosphere. Cars are absent inside the walls, so it’s great to stroll around at any time, and not uncommon to hear Puccini’s music playing from open windows or balconies – Lucca is the composer’s home town. Around mid-September a candlelit procession followed by fireworks and open-air festivities mark the climax of the Holy Cross festival – simply magic.
Yasmin, Cambridge

Venice without the hype

Great water view of Chioggia with vintage cabins and bridgeChioggia, little Venice in Italy
Photograph: LianeM/Getty Images

Chioggia is like Venice without the crowds and the high prices. At the southern end of the Venetian lagoon, it combines views of the snowcapped peaks of the Dolomites on a clear day and the Adriatic from its fine, sandy beach. The pastel-coloured houses create a colourful canvas to its waterways, as the fishing boats chug slowly along, dispensing their catch to local trattories. A medieval clocktower watches over the city and the Museum of Adriatic Zoology showcases the area’s maritime traditions. Sit at a cafe sipping your cappuccino with vistas of calm canals and chatting fishers.
Gonca, Birmingham

Baroque gems in Vigevano

Italy, Lombardy, Vigevano, Ducale Square
Photograph: AGF Srl/Alamy

Just 35km south-west of Milan and easily accessible by road and rail, the town of Vigevano is an architectural gem. Its centre is dominated by the Castello Sforzesco, now a museum which is closely linked to that of Milan: it is connected to the town’s outer fortifications by an amazing and unique 200 metre-long medieval, covered bridge and roadway which allowed horsemen to ride directly from the castle to defend the town. Alongside the castle is the breathtaking 15th-century porticoed Piazza Ducale, enclosed at one end by the baroque cathedral – it is one of the most breathtaking open spaces in Italy.
Ian Statham, Cardiff


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Artisanal Anghiari

alley in the medieval village Anghiari, Arezzo, Tuscany
Photograph: Getty Images

The vast, 13th-century defensive walls of Anghiari still loom high over the plain of the Valtiberina, location of the decisive Florentine victory over the Milanese in 1440, and celebrated annually by a colourful, viciously contested Palio. Hidden within, a flower-strewn labyrinth of winding alleyways reveals linen looms, artisans’ workshops and boutiques hewn from the bedrock. The Southbank Sinfonia performs in the piazza under the stars each July, and the town revels in seasonal celebrations of Tuscan gastronomy, culminating in the “Chequered Tablecloth”, in which local produce is served at candlelit, communal tables, accompanied by performances of folklore, poetry and song and dance.
Benedict Leonard, London

Roman Christian mosaics in Ravenna

Mosaic of the baptism of Jesus, in the Arian Baptistry of Ravenna.
Mosaic of the baptism of Jesus, in the Arian Baptistry in Ravenna. Photograph: Michael Honegger/Alamy

Go to Ravenna – it is perfect for a long weekend, and close to Bologna. The imperial capital in the dying days of the Roman empire, it houses the most amazing collection of early Christian mosaics you’ll ever see. The art mostly dates from the fifth and sixth centuries and adorns just a handful of ancient churches in the compact city centre. The imagery is a real shock. There are no crucifixions or other signs of Christ’s suffering, and everywhere you’ll see sheep. Yes, they took the idea of us all being a flock very literally 1,500 years ago.
Chris Wilson, Fife

Sunsets in Sicily

Taormina with Mount Etna at sunset.
Taormina with Mount Etna at sunset. Photograph: Westend61/Getty Images

The city of Taormina in Sicily has it all. It’s perched on a hilltop, therefore boasting amazing views of an active volcano, Mount Etna, while also having beautiful sandy coves, which can be accessed by a steep hike or via cable car. The town’s piazza is one of the best places to watch the sun set in Sicily and a visit to the ancient Greek-Roman theatre is not to be missed– you can even catch a show here today.
Rachel W, Cumbria

Blown away in Sardinia

The Roman amphitheatre of Cagliari
The Roman amphitheatre in Cagliari. Photograph: Luis Leamus/Alamy

Try a short break in Cagliari, a beautiful and bustling port city on the island of Sardinia – . Countless places to eat and drink, all fiercely proud of the local produce. Bombas, a modern burger restaurant, is nestled inside a cave within the stunning medieval city walls. Sightseeing includes La Torre dell’Elefante, an imposing 14th-century limestone tower, the sprawling ruins of the Roman amphitheatre and a host of museums and galleries. We visited not expecting much, but were blown away by what Cagliari had to offer.
Dom S, Accrington

Railway rapture in Genoa

funicular railway Genoa
Photograph: Roberto Lo Savio/Alamy

Genoa is steep, built into the Ligurian cliffs. But if you don’t fancy walking up and down the many staircases, there are a series of delightful funicular railways. The Zecca-Righi funicular gets you from the city centre to the high hills in minutes. But best of all is the cute and weird Ascensore Castello d’Albertis-Montegalletto – a delightful little carriage that trundles you 300 metres into the hillside, before boarding its own lift to leave you high up above the city, overlooking the port and just around the corner from the Museum of World Cultures. Journeys are €0.90.
Thom, London

Friuli had you fooled?

Piazza Libertà in Udine.
Piazza Libertà in Udine. Photograph: MassanPH/Getty Images

Italy but not Italy … That’s the feeling that strikes you as you wander the streets of Udine, in the lesser-known region of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. Sitting in the shadow of the castle, Piazza Libertà is considered to be the most beautiful Venetian square on terra firma, but it’s the people and food that hint towards a more unusual mix of influences. The local language, Friulian, and the hearty dishes of frico, cjarsons and gubana give clues to the city’s mountainous hinterland and its intoxicating Germanic and Slavic influences. Yet as your senses are filled with new sights, tastes and sounds, a glass of bianco from the Collio vineyards reminds you that, well, maybe this is Italy after all.
Steve Bassett, Exeter

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Priceline reveals booking tips and top U.S. travel cities

Major U.S. cities are experiencing a revival in visitors and activity right now. This is an especially exciting development because the flexibility of remote work means that many people are less limited in their travel options—a long weekend away can now be even longer. Priceline took a look at the data for hotel, flight and package bookings across 20 U.S. cities to find out the advantages of booking travel right now, and where to go to get the most value for your money. Here’s what they discovered, plus ideas for what to do in the top five cities.

Why Book Now?

Cities are making a comeback. Major cities across the country are seeing an uptick in travel in the second half of 2021 compared to the first half of the year, particularly northeastern cities, such as Boston;  New York City; Chicago; and Washington, DC.

Hotel rates are rising—and may only get more expensive. Compared with the second half of 2019, the average daily rate of a hotel stay has increased by 5%. As travel continues to rebound, Priceline expects that these rates—which are already above 2019 levels—will likely continue to rise.

Airfare is still more affordable than it was before the pandemic. The average cost of a roundtrip ticket has dropped 15%, while the TSA is reporting checkpoint numbers that are more than twice as high as 2020, although still lower than 20191.

Package deals are better than ever. Priceline’s Work-Life Balance Report revealed 74% of Americans agree that saving money through travel deals is a high priority—a sentiment reflected in an increased interest in bundling hotels and flights when traveling to major U.S. cities. In the second half of 2021, average package prices dropped 10%, reflecting an even stronger value proposition in the face of rising hotel costs.

The State of City Prices

Orlando, Sacramento and Phoenix are showing the biggest increase in consumer interest for hotels during the second half of 2021 compared with the same time period in 2019. While most major U.S. cities show an increase in average daily hotel rates, some are showing large drops, particularly San Francisco (-21%), New York City (-14%) and Seattle (-11%), making them incredible values right now.

When it comes to flights, Miami, Orlando and Atlanta are showing the most growth in consumer interest when comparing the second half of 2021 with the same period in 2019. While average roundtrip flight costs remain down across major cities, Miami (-26%), Los Angeles (-16%) and Phoenix (-15%) have all experienced the largest decreases, making them especially attractive and wallet-friendly. Boston is the only city for which average roundtrip flight tickets have remained flat compared with 2019 rates.

And packaged deals for hotels and flights to Miami, Tampa and Phoenix, all warm-weather destinations with great outdoor activities, are showing the most growth in consumer interest in the second half of 2021 compared with the same period in 2019.

Pro Tip: Looking to really save? Package deals to San Francisco (-18%), Phoenix (-17%) and Seattle (-14%) have come down the most, making them great options.

5 Cities Worth a Closer Look

To help travelers plan their next trip safely and affordably, Priceline further evaluated all of these cities—for roundtrip hotel and airfare pricing, and how to get the best experience by extending your stay in surrounding areas—and homed in on the five best cities to visit now: New York City; Los Angeles; Chicago; Washington, DC; and San Francisco.

New York City The city known for constantly reinventing itself is guaranteed to offer something new every time you visit, not to mention a ton of free attractions. This fall, visitors can enjoy the long-anticipated reopening of Broadway shows, drive north to go apple picking at farms like Love Apple Farm in the Hudson Valley, or attend Comic Con on Oct. 7 or 8, where you may spot original Priceline Negotiator, William Shatner.

  • Average daily hotel rate: $188
  • Average roundtrip airfare: $314

Los Angeles To discover the city’s outdoorsy side, consider taking a day trip only two hours east to Big Bear Lake for its OktoberFest event, which runs through Nov. 7.

  • Average daily hotel rate: $190
  • Average roundtrip airfare: $303

Chicago Watch the leaves change in Millennium Park, attend one of the city’s many food festivals—Chicago Gourmet is a standout—or even celebrate Halloween in Chicago style: with parades, haunted tours, Day of the Dead celebrations, and more.

  • Average daily hotel rate: $205
  • Average roundtrip airfare: $282

Washington, DC Beyond visiting the historical landmarks that dot the capital, you can also enjoy sporting events, check out free street fairs, or attend unique events like Brews and Views (Oct. 21) at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, a happy hour open to all where you can discuss the intersection of beer making, art and politics.

  • Average daily hotel rate: $144
  • Average roundtrip airfare: $310

San Francisco The weather here is perfect in the fall, without the city’s signature summer fog. Check out the Castro Street Fair (Oct. 3), a free, fun-filled festival with live music and dancing in the street.

  • Average daily hotel rate: $184
  • Average roundtrip airfare: $367

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Warriors, cathedrals and carnivals: Spain’s best smaller cities, chosen by readers | Spain holidays

Winning tip: Seductive Salamanca

I stopped in Salamanca for lunch when driving from Madrid to Lisbon and ended up staying there for a week, caught up in the lovely atmosphere of the city. Its graceful red sandstone architecture, with two cathedrals and splendid university buildings dating from the 15th century, gives the city the quality of an alfresco cultural living room – where academics, students and locals live on a sort of dreamy, theatrical open-air film set. Street names are hand-painted in scarlet on signs and the youthful population creates a hedonistic vibe at night when darkness descends. By day, check out the Plaza Mayor and the lovely Doll Museum.
Yasmin Cox

That’s Zamora

Church of San Pedro de la Nave, near Zamora.
Church of San Pedro de la Nave, near Zamora. Photograph: Alamy

Approached by a wonderful medieval bridge over the Duero River, Zamora, perched on its sandstone cliff, offers so much. More romanesque churches (24) than any other city, with their pink-tinged sandstone glowing warmly in the sunlight. Add to this the Baltasar Lobo sculpture museum near the medieval castle, the Duero wines from the surrounding gentle hills, the famous Holy Week processions, an eclectic collection of art deco buildings and you might not find time for the greatest gem of all, the Visigothic church of San Pedro de la Nave, 12 kilometres to the northwest.
James Kay


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Thank you for your feedback.

Segovia … sigh!

Cathedral of Santa Maria de Segovia, Castile and Leon, Spain
Cathedral of Santa Maria de Segovia. Photograph: Getty Images

Segovia. A heavenly city roughly one hour north-west of Madrid. I lived there for my Erasmus year but still sigh whenever I think about it. The centrepiece of this stunning place is the Roman aqueduct, built in the first century AD. If that doesn’t impress you then the Disney-inspiring Alcazar certainly will. The cathedral is the most modern gothic one in Europe, and Segovia offers beautiful views whichever way you are facing. For award-winning tapas pop to El Fogón Sefardí, or for casual bites go to El Sitio. This is a treasure trove of gastronomic and architectural delights, not to be missed!
Rhiannon Pattison

Breathtaking Ronda

Sunset view of Ronda, Spain
Sunset view of Ronda. Photograph: Getty Images

The Spanish town that will definitely take your breath away is Ronda (in the province of Málaga, Andalucía). Between a 150m-deep rocky gorge, which you can admire from the bridge called Puente Nuevo, Ronda is a perfect place to see architecture influenced by the Romans, Arabs and the Catholic Monarchs. Going down the steps of the Water Mine at Casa del Rey Moro, admiring omnipresent beautiful mosaics, strolling around Ronda’s cobbled streets and passing by the oldest bullfighting rings in Spain, Plaza de Toros de Ronda, are some of the things you can do in beautiful Ronda!
Magdalena Rasmus

Bustle and beaches, Vigo

A beach in the Cies archipelago, near Vigo.
A beach in the Cies archipelago, near Vigo. Photograph: Getty Images

We had little knowledge of what Vigo would be like before we visited it in 2017. What we found was a bustling port city with welcoming people and delicious food. Being on the Galician coast means the local speciality of octopus is abundant. Every restaurant does their own version of this delightful, meaty delicacy. In contrast to the prices in some of Spain’s more popular cities, Vigo is affordable – for less than €2 you could have a beer, or small glass of wine, and a small, free tapas. The highlight of our visit was a trip to the Cies Islands (a 45-minute ferry from Vigo), with golden beaches that have, rightfully, been named among the most beautiful in the world.
Graham Tait

Saints and storks in Tarazona

Cathedral of Santa Maria de la Huerta, Tarazona, Aragon, Spain, Mudejar cimborio
Cathedral, Tarazona. Photograph: Getty Images

Tarazona, halfway between Soria and Zaragoza, has kept its medieval Arabic street plan and is therefore easy to get lost in. From the Romanesque church of St Mary Magdalene, high above the town, you can admire the ancient roofs and see the pattern of the town, with the 18th-century bullring at its centre, and, opposite, the Mudéjar Cathedral, with its gothic wall paintings and amazing windows. In between are the hanging houses of the Jewish quarter, the ornate Renaissance town hall, and clusters of friendly bars and restaurants. At Easter it’s columns of women who carry the statue and beat the drums in the procession from St Mary Magdalene, and at that time of year the storks are everywhere.
Barbara Forbes

Warrior pose, Toledo

View on Puente de Alcantara and Alcazar de Toledo from side of Tagus river, Toledo, SpainFDX5YA View on Puente de Alcantara and Alcazar de Toledo from side of Tagus river, Toledo, Spain
View on Puente de Alcantara and Alcazar de Toledo from side of River Tagus. Photograph: Sergey Dzyuba/Alamy

Toledo is my best Spanish city. You feel like you are living in old centuries, or you are watching a real life of ancient soldiers. You even think that you are a warrior and you have to win the battle. It is really an interesting city with extraordinary walls and gates. After one hour’s walking, you will find the best view ever at mirador, where you can see a panoramic view all over the city. It is really so unique and you will fall in love with the majesty of this city.

The treasures of El Burgo de Osma

Facade of the Cathedral. El Burgo de Osma, Soria, Spain.FCK86T Facade of the Cathedral. El Burgo de Osma, Soria, Spain.
Photograph: Alamy

Among the rolling landscapes by the Duero River, a gem of a small town is waiting to be discovered. Midway between Zaragoza and Valladolid, El Burgo de Osma is a treasure trove of history, from Roman ruins, a medieval castle, to perfectly preserved city walls, beautifully manicured gardens and an elegant plaza mayor. The centrepiece, though, is the magnificent cathedral, built of honey-coloured stone over five centuries. We stayed in a spacious, stylish apartment at El Balcón de la Catedral overlooking the cathedral square for €60. The historical centre is barred to traffic, so wander the streets, grab a table, soak it in. It’ll probably be just you and the locals.
Jean Rich

Carnival in Cádiz

Aerial view of Cadiz and the tower of the Cathedral of Cadiz in Cadiz Andalusia, Spain in summer.
Aerial view of Cádiz. Photograph: Daria Pavlova/Getty Images

The warmth of the Spanish sun is second only to the warmth of the heart and soul of the ancient city of Cádiz. An island, not geographically speaking, but surrounded almost entirely by water. The scenes and beautiful beaches of Cádiz rival any Andalucían paradise. The endless maze of streets are lined with lively taverns and stunning buildings, providing enough adventures for a lifetime. The Atlantic Ocean plays a vital role in the life of the city, crashing against the city walls and filling the plates with an endless bounty of fresh seafood and fuelling the energy of its citizens come carnival day. In Cádiz, every day feels like carnival day.
Elliot Greest

Medieval Trujillo

Plaza Mayor, Trujillo, Spain.
Photograph: Juan M Casillas, All rights reserved/Getty Images

The medieval town of Trujillo, in the unjustly overlooked province of Extremadura, made a surprisingly stunning stopoff on our road trip to catch the Bilbao ferry. Our excellent boutique accommodation was in an unassuming street; however, a 20-yard stroll brought us to the main square. More Game of Thrones than Game of Thrones, the panorama was stunning: medieval buildings encircled the square, which was in turn encircled with battlements. A multitude of bell towers rose around us, and a distinguished church took centre stage alongside an oversize statue of conquistador Pizarro. Evening dinner in the square was a delight, local peasant derived food washed down with an Extremadura red.
Douglas Stewart

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7 Best European Cities To Visit In October (2021)

Europe loves a good festival, and during the summer months festivities usually involve music, be it modern or classical. But come October, many a local fete embraces all things food related. From onions to truffles, wine to saffron, all mixed with a hint of art and culture, Europe in October tempts with a great variety of occasions that add a bit of something special to your long-overdue visit to gorgeous European cities.

Yes, the weather can be temperamental at times in this month, but generally, the temperatures are still good, perfect for sightseeing at any rate, and the odd shower of rain can always be ignored in a nice museum or restaurant.

Here are my favorite places to visit in October 2021, chosen because not only are the destinations worth a visit at any time but also because some previously canceled events are back in full swing, waiting for visitors to come and join in.

The famous traditional October onion market "Zwiebelmarkt" holiday in Germany with tourists stopping to look at boths.
“Zwiebelmarkt” (Shamsiya Saydalieva / Shutterstock.com)

1. Weimar, Germany 

Weimar, a city in central Germany, is not only famous for its political history but was also home to two of Germany’s most revered writers and poets: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller. In addition to that, architect Walter Gropius brought to life the Bauhaus School of Design in the city, and composer Johann Sebastian Bach, as well as philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, called Weimar home at some point. It follows that Weimar is generally regarded as the home of Germany’s — and indeed Europe’s — intellectual past and as a cultural center. 

Always worth a visit with its old town center and beautiful architecture, in October, the lovely old Market Square gets taken over by the Zwiebelmarkt, which translates to Onion Market. These festivities embrace a concept of selling fresh produce together with cultural performances and much merriment, all of which date back to 1653 and have been celebrated every second weekend in October since then. 

Library of Duchess Anna Amalia from outside / City of Weimar in East Germany.
marako85 / Shutterstock.com

Pro Tip: As if you needed any more convincing that Weimar is a superbly intellectual city, along comes one of the most beautiful libraries in the world: the Duchess Anna Amalia Library where the modern library is just as stunning as the original Rococo Room dating from 1766, and both of which make any book lover’s heartbeat that much faster. 

Inside the Munch Museum of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch in Oslo. Hall with art works, pictures on the walls, visitors.
Aleksandra Suzi / Shutterstock.com

2. Oslo, Norway 

A visit to Oslo not only involves Vikings, dragons, and good food, but also The Scream. One of the most famous pictures by Edward Munch, there are in fact, four versions of The Scream, and when in Oslo, posing in front of one of them is a must-do for any visitor. There is one version at the National Gallery (currently closed until June 2022), and, when I went, there were two versions at the Munch Museum. Alas, only one was on display. And that is also the reason behind the opening of the new Munch Museum, fittingly called MUNCH, opening on October 22, 2021. The old museum simply did not have sufficient exhibition space for the 28,000-odd pictures in its collection. This one claims to have, if not all, but many more pictures on display.

Leaves changing color at The Vigeland Park, Oslo, Norway on October 21, 2017.
Jakapong Paoprapat / Shutterstock.com

Pro Tip: Even if it is a little colder than in the summer months, going for a fjord cruise brings its own delights in fall: The trees along the coastline and on the islands burst into amazing orange and red hues. Another good spot for foliage viewing is the Vigeland Sculpture Park.  

Panoramic view to cosy tuscany town Certaldo with cypress and bright blue sky, Italy.
Serega_tm / Shutterstock.com

3. Certaldo, Italy 

The town of Certaldo lies roughly central in the triangle made up of Florence, Pisa, and Siena, in the heart of Tuscany. The picture-perfect medieval walled part of the city, Certaldo Alto, is worth including in any Tuscany Road Trip itinerary. But if you find yourself nearby at the beginning of October (date to be announced), don’t miss Boccaccesca, when the narrow streets of Certaldo fill with stalls celebrating the best of Tuscan cuisine and wine. From fresh produce to street food, to local restaurants selling samples of their specialties outside on the streets, this is a must for food (and wine) lovers. Don’t miss the roasted chestnuts, the chianti, and the special, flat local onions only grown here.

Pro Tip: If you are not on a road trip but based in Florence, Certaldo is only 50 minutes away by train.

Treiso in Autumn, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy.
pixelshop / Shutterstock.com

4. Alba, Italy 

Just 180 miles further northwest in the Piedmont region, closer to the French border, you’ll find Alba, and Alba is famous for its truffles. The annual truffle fair, celebrating Alba’s white truffles is heaven on earth for truffle enthusiasts, and you don’t even have to rush: The festival begins on October 9, 2021, but lasts through to December 5, 2021.  

White Truffles (Tuber Magnatum Pico) on a trader stall of the Fiera del Tartufo (Truffle Fair) of Alba, Piedmont (Italy).
Alessandro Cristiano / Shutterstock.com

While this is mostly a fair for restauranteurs from around the globe here to buy the precious fungus all fair long, but especially on weekends, you’ll find cooking displays, wine tasting events, food stalls, and all sorts of festivities celebrating the region’s white gold.

Pro Tip: If you are tempted to splurge and buy a truffle, be aware that they only last a maximum of two weeks when stored correctly. If you are not heading home immediately, you may want to shop for dried truffles.

Aerial panoramic cityscape view of Paris, France with the Eiffel tower on a fall day.
Ekaterina Pokrovsky / Shutterstock.com

5. Paris, France

When I lived in Paris, the Fête des Vendanges was always one of my favorite events to attend. Over a long weekend, the lanes of Montmartre just below Sacre Coeur fill with stalls selling food and drink to celebrate the grape harvest. From wines to champagne, but also in recent years cocktails and beer, a nice glass is offered at every corner at decent prices, and the drink stalls are interspersed with food trucks selling anything from tapas-like nibbles to charcuterie to cheesy potatoes, omelets, and sandwiches. It gets crowded, but if you go at around 7 p.m. and leave before 10 p.m., it’s busy but fun. This year, it takes place between 6 and 10 October.

Pro Tip: Once your head is clear again, don’t miss the Botticelli exhibition at the lovely Musée Jacquemart-André, continuing until January 24, 2022.

Streets and Medieval Fair (closed) in Alcala de Henares,dawn during the week of Cervantes (10/06/2016)
peizais / Shuttertock.com

6. Alcalá de Henares, Spain 

If you are coming to Spain in October, you can enjoy not just one but two unusual but spectacular traditional festivals. The first, taking place between October 2 and 10, 2021, celebrates the writer Cervantes, famous for writing Don Quixote, in a week-long extravaganza taking place in Alcalá de Henares a few miles northeast of Madrid. This is where Cervantes was born, and people dress up and reenact his famed tome. There is also a medieval fair, and, of course, plenty of food, drink, and music.

Famous windmills in Consuegra at sunset, province of Toledo, Castile-La Mancha, Spain.
canadastock / Shutterstock.com

Once you are done with that fiesta, head to Consuegra, some 80 miles south of Madrid for the annual Rose of Saffron Festival. Taking place October 23 to 25, 2021, there is again lots of dressing up in traditional costumes and festivities, but most importantly, you will get the best paellas and other local dishes flavored with the region’s mainstay — saffron. And to link the two festivals perfectly, on the hill overlooking Consuegra, there is not only a castle but also Spain’s best-preserved windmills, seven of them. These windmills are said to have been Cervantes’ inspiration when writing Don Quixote

Pro Tip: Read Don Quixote in preparation for your trip. This is Cervantes country and while thick, the book is hugely enjoyable and will make traveling through this part of Spain much more meaningful.

View of the historic city of Tomar in central Santarem, Portugal during Fall.
makasana photo / Shutterstock.com

7. Santarem, Portugal 

Less than 50 miles inland from Lisbon along the river Tagus lies the city of Santarem. It is home to the old kingdom’s strongest fort, making the city second only to Lisbon. The old houses are beautifully decorated with the blue Azulejos tiles and there is much history to be explored. But, in line with so many worthwhile reasons mentioned in this October 2021 lineup, there is one more reason to visit Santarem in October: the National Festival of Gastronomy taking place between October 16 and 25. It consists of 10 days of tasting local produce, enjoying cooking shows and displays, markets, and stalls, and, most importantly, eating out in the many participating restaurants which will serve up the best of Portuguese cuisine, paired with some fine local wines. This festival has been celebrated every year for 40 years, except in 2020, so this year there will be even more reasons to enjoy it.

Couple of unknown pilgrims walk on  a wooden path down the Camino de Santiago trail.
Shcherbyna Nataliia / Shutterstock.com

Pro Tip: October is a good time to embark on the Camino Portugués, the Portuguese pilgrimage path to Camino de Santiago, with the path starting off in Lisbon and Santarem being the first stop on the itinerary. 

Final Tip

Not only were all the above-mentioned dates and events correct at the time of writing, but all the listed countries were also open to U.S. travelers. But during the still ongoing pandemic, things change at a moment’s notice. Please check the events and the travel guidelines before you book, as regulations might well have changed again since this was written.

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The 9 Most Colorful Cities In North America

When I wrote about my favorite colorful cities throughout the world, not only were there so many more vibrant cities that could not include because of space limitations, but I also got lots of comments from readers who suggested further cities. So the editor decided to make this into a little series, highlighting the best — but most likely not all — colorful cities in various regions around the globe.

Starting with the United States, Canada, and Mexico, I have heeded reader suggestions and compiled some real stunners, colorful enough to cheer up any traveler — armchair or intrepid — and to be included on everybody’s to-travel-to list.

The list doesn’t just include pretty fishing villages famous for their colorful residences, but a mix of all sorts of cities made colorful through their architecture, their lights, their art, and more. But all have in common that when you visit, you will notice that this is indeed a colorful place, and more cheerful and wonderful for it.

1. St. John’s, Newfoundland And Labrador, Canada

St. John’s, the capital of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, is a right little stunner. Set in a perfect natural harbor, its buildings are bold and colorful. Like so many harbor towns around the world, the cheerful buildings welcome ships and fishermen, making it easy to spot the town from the sea as well as giving sailors the chance of spotting their home from a distance. Bright houses are dotted all over the rugged cliffs, and with its 500-year-old history, there is much to see and do, considering its relatively small population of roughly 130,000 inhabitants.

The city’s streets are meandering, filled with history, color, and lots of art, making for a great weekend away.

Pro Tip: The best way to explore St. John’s is by walking tour, taking in a bit of history, sightseeing, and art.

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada

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2. Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada

Famous for its stunning coastline, Nova Scotia is studded with sights, from lighthouses to picturesque fishing towns. Vibrantly colored Lunenburg is one of them, with the added bonus that Lunenburg’s old center is one of only two urban communities in North America designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Fishing always has been a mainstay of the community, with this being the site of Canada’s largest secondary fish-processing plant.

Pro Tip: To get into the fishing frame of mind, not only can you enjoy superb seafood in the many restaurants nestled around the bay, but you can also explore the colorful vistas across the harbor and surroundings during a boat tour.

Colorful cottages in Key West, Florida.

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3. Key West, Florida, United States

Key West is Florida’s southernmost point. It is part of the Florida Keys archipelago, a stop on the Overseas Highway across the Keys, and a popular port for cruise ships. The Key West color comes not only from its white beaches, blue skies, turquoise water, and pink sunsets but also from the pastel-hued houses in town. Think two-story homes and conch houses with the cutest little porches, all painted in soft pastel colors, from pink to yellow to baby blue, with the odd splash of a bright magenta or deep blue. A walk down the historic center is a colorful experience.

Pro Tip: Hemingway’s house, so intrinsic to Key West history, shows you a different take on the Key West color scheme, with a white house and yellow shutters.

Rainbow Row, Charleston, South Carolina.

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4. Charleston, South Carolina, United States (Rainbow Row)

Is there anything about Charleston that is not to like? The food — and drinks — scene is fantastic, and there is so much history and art that you will be busy for days. That southern charm oozes from every corner — and then there is the architecture. While the iconic antebellum mansions harken back to a rich, if very troublesome history, there are also the much cheerier and brightly colored homes, especially down the very aptly-named Rainbow Row. It seems that it was a woman called Dorothy Porcher Legge who started it all: She bought a number of the houses along East Bay, and while renovating them, she opted to paint them according to a colonial Caribbean color scheme. Neighbors followed suit, and Rainbow Row is the most colorful street in Charleston.

Pro Tip: Explore and hear more about Rainbow Row on a walking tour with local guides.

Las Vegas, Nevada.

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5. Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

Las Vegas can be called colorful for so many reasons, none of which are related to the architecture. No pretty pastel-colored houses here, but instead, you get the full-on blast of bright neon lights. The first neon sign appeared here in 1929, and the creation of the Hoover Dam nearby and the electricity it produced are credited as the reason that Vegas turned into the city of neon lights. You can learn more about the colorful neon history in the unique Neon Museum.

Pro Tip: You know the old saying “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”? That goes for neon signs as well. You can visit old and decommissioned neon signs in the Neon Boneyard.

Ocean Drive, Miami, Florida.

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6. Miami, Florida, United States (South Beach)

Miami has the largest concentration of Art Deco buildings in the world, with some 800 buildings. They, plus the fabulous beach, bring in travelers from near and far. Nearly falling foul of the city’s popularity and need for expansion, the survival of these architectural beauties is due to some persistent activists who founded the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) in 1976, saving the lot of them and at the same time giving the city its special character.

As if Art Deco buildings weren’t already stunning enough, here you get that extra pop of color: from the mint green Carlyle to the blue and cream Marlin Hotel to the multi-hues Breakwater and the salmon-and-white McAlpin.

Pro Tip: Learn about the architecture from those who saved it on a walking tour led by the MDPL.

San Antonio Riverwalk.

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7. San Antonio, Texas, United States

San Antonio has many multi-colored features that allowed it to be included in this list. Rather than being known for its colorful residences, it has a mix of all sorts of brightly colored architecture, such as the cheerful facade of the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio or the bright orange Central Library. Then there are the vibrant hues found along the San Antonio River Walk, from Mediterranean-esque houses to bright umbrellas shading you from the sun; from colorful boats to even more dazzling street performers. Add the San Pedro Creek Culture Park, with its street murals, and the many old-school neon lights dotted throughout the city, and you have a colorful city indeed.

Pro Tip: Need another splash of color? Head to the Ruby City contemporary arts center for color inside and out.

Guanajuato, Mexico.

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8. Guanajuato, Mexico

Guanajuato, capital of the state of the same name in Central Mexico, is the star of many jigsaw puzzles. Bright colors are dotted across the city, with private houses and even churches picked out in bright hues. No pastel colors for Guanajuato, no. Instead, there are strong ochre colors, dark oranges, deep blues, murky reds, vibrant pinks, and teals. The old part of Guanajuato is a network of tiny, cobbled lanes, the bright residences decorated with intricate balconies and windows. Walking around the old center is equal to getting a color-overload, especially in little streets such as Del Portrero by the pink San Francisco Church.

Pro Tip: Take the tiny little Guanajuato Funicular up the hill to Monumento al Pilpila. Most people go up for sunset and stay after dark, when the views are spectacular, but make sure you also have plenty of time in daylight to appreciate the color of the city stretching below you.

Izamal, Mexico.

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9. Izamal, Mexico

Izamal, on the Yucatan Peninsula, has embraced the color yellow. The official buildings are yellow, the churches are yellow, the private houses are yellow. Understandably nicknamed La Ciudad Amarilla (the yellow city), the origin of the egg-yolk yellow that covers everything is steeped in mystery. There is a story that the city was painted yellow in honor of a visit by Pope John Paul II in 1993, but apparently, it was yellow before then. Others say it is to reflect the sun from the buildings, but the explanation I like best is that Izamal was painted yellow to honor the Sun God, as it has long been a pilgrimage site to honor Kinich Kakmo, the Sun God.

Pro Tip: To have a closer look and learn more about the Sun God, visit the Pyramid of Kinich Kakmo, one of the town’s 12 Mayan pyramids.

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The names of cities and towns of Massachusetts

There are 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, and my friend and fellow journalist from the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, Bill Ballou, has visited every one of them.

That means he’s traversed from the tip of Provincetown in the east to the westernmost point of Mount Washington, the northern point of Amesbury on the New Hampshire border to the Connecticut neighboring town of Southwick.

And let’s not forget ferry trips to the towns on Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and the island of Cuttyhunk.

I am constantly amazed when I pick up a map of the state, or an atlas, and scan the different towns and cities I have never heard of, much less never visited.

So, to make you feel a little smarter, here is just some miscellaneous trivia regarding the cities and towns that comprise the Bay State.

By the letters: Of the 26 letters of the alphabet, there are no Massachusetts town names starting with the letters V, X or Z. For four other letters, there is only one town – Ipswich, Kingston, Quincy and Yarmouth. Alphabetically, Abington would be listed first and Yarmouth last.

Long and short of it: The town with the most letters in its name is Manchester-by-the-Sea (18 letters). There are 10 towns of four letters: Avon, Ayer, Gill, Hull, Lynn, Otis, Peru, Rowe, Stow and Ware. However, the shortest name with only three letters is Lee.

Oldest and newest: In terms of settlement, Plymouth is not only the largest town in the state by area (134 square miles), it is also the oldest, incorporated in 1620. Followed close behind are Weymouth (1622) and Gloucester (1623). The newest town came 300 years after Plymouth – East Brookfield (1920). It is one of only two towns incorporated in the 20th century, the other is Plainville (1905).

Large and small: Boston is obviously the largest city with a population of 695,506, while the smallest city is Palmer with 12,140 residents. The smallest town is Gosnold in Dukes County, home to 75 people. Nahant is the smallest in area at one square mile.

Um … ham: There are many communities that end in the three letters “ham” derived from Old English – ham meaning “home” or “homestead.” However, depending on where you live, their pronunciation either uses or holds the ham. Towns pronouncing the ham: Ashburnham, Bellingham, Eastham, Framingham, Oakham, Tyringham, Wareham and Wilbraham. Leaving it at “um” are Chatham, Dedham, Hingham, Needham, Wenham and Wrentham. And there’s “sam” as in Petersham (hold the “h”).

Presidentially speaking: In the western part of the state are towns that share the names of some of our earliest presidents – Washington, Adams and Monroe. The town of Holden has the village of Jefferson, while other towns sharing presidents’ names are Clinton and Lincoln.

Homonyms: You remember your grammar lessons – cities and towns that are spelled differently but sound the same: Air, Barry, Born, Row and Where.

States and countries: Within the confines of Massachusetts, you can travel to Florida and Washington, as well as Holland, Peru and Wales.

Sir or madame: It has become common practice by some parents to name their children for towns or cities. Many of them are common names.

Boys: Chester, Clinton, Dalton, Dennis, Douglas, Dudley, Erving, Everett, Franklin, Gill, Granville, Heath, Holden, Hudson, Lawrence, Lincoln, Lowell, Maynard, Milton, Montgomery, Otis, Quincy, Randolph, Russell, Spencer, Sterling, Upton, Warren, Wendell and Weston.

For the girls: Beverly, Chelsea, Hadley and Sharon.

And for both: Lee, Lynn, Marion and Shirley.

Sorry if I left out the name of your grandson, Egremont, or your niece, Aquinnah.

The burg is the word: In the German language, “burg” means castle or fortress, though so many towns grew up around castles that it almost came to mean city, and is incorporated into many placenames – such as Clarksburg, Fitchburg, Lunenburg and Williamsburg.

Hitching up the boro: Many towns also end with either “borough” or “boro,” which is an Anglo-Saxon term for towns surrounded by walls or forts. Those towns would be Attleboro, Boxborough, Foxborough, Lanesborough, Marlborough, Middleborough, New Marlborough, North Attleborough, Tyngsboro, and Northborough, Southborough and Westborough (but no Eastborough).

By the ton: Many towns also end with the letters “ton” (i.e., Hubbardston, Templeton, Royalston, Princeton) of Anglo-Saxon origin, eventually evolving into “town.” Other communities simply incorporate town into the name like Belchertown, Edgartown, Freetown, Georgetown, Provincetown and Watertown.

Let’s bury it: Eventually, word pronunciations varied in towns using “borough” at the end, where it was shortened to “bury,” as in Millbury, Newbury, Shrewsbury, Shutesbury, Sudbury, Tewksbury.

What’s new: There are five two-word towns in the state that begin with “New.” They are New Ashford, New Bedford, New Braintree, New Marlborough and New Salem. And while there is also a Bedford, Braintree, Marlborough and Salem in Massachusetts, there is no town named Ashford.

So, now do you feel a little smarter than before you started reading this column?

Comments and suggestions for The Gardner Scene can be sent to Mike Richard at [email protected] or in writing to Mike Richard, 92 Boardley Road, Sandwich, MA 02563.

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Southwest Airlines Adds Nonstop Flights To Hawaii From Three New Cities

Traveling to Hawaii on nonstop flights is about to get a whole lot easier.

What’s more, considering that COVID-19 restrictions are easing, there is a great deal of pent-up demand for travel, and the school year is nearing an end, the timing of the announcement from Southwest Airlines about its expanded service to Hawaii comes as welcome news to anyone planning a tropical vacation.

Here’s why: Southwest just announced it will begin nonstop service to Hawaii from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. When combined with the service it already offers to Hawaii from five other airports in California, the announcement means travelers from more than 40 cities in the continental U.S. will now have same-plane or connecting access to Hawaii, Southwest announced.

“These new flights bring Hawaii service closer to more of our customers who live near airports across the west, and make it possible to choose Southwest to fly between the Aloha State and cities as far east as Nashville, without spending an entire overnight in the air,” Andrew Watterson, chief commercial officer and executive vice president for Southwest Airlines, said in a statement.

Los Angeles

Southwest already offers nonstop flights to Hawaii from five cities in California: San Diego, Long Beach, Oakland, San Jose, and Sacramento. Adding Los Angeles service means Southwest now serves four airports in Hawaii directly from six gateway airports in California, Watterson explains.

Southwest will begin nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Honolulu, Oahu, and Kahului, Maui, on June 6. Nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Kona, Island of Hawaii, and Lihue, Kauai, will begin later — on June 27.

Las Vegas

Watterson says the largest request the airline has had from people in Hawaii — after beginning interisland flights in 2019 — was to connect Hawaii with Las Vegas via nonstop flights. This new service meets that demand, he says.

Daily nonstop service to Honolulu, Oahu, from Las Vegas will begin June 6, followed by nonstop service to Kahului, Maui, on June 27. Next up: nonstop flights from Las Vegas to Kona, Island of Hawaii, and Lihue, Kauai, beginning in September.


Southwest’s Phoenix operations have grown to serve nearly 60 cities with more than 180 nonstop departures a day, Watterson says. Adding nonstop service to Hawaiian islands from Phoenix has been another long-time request from travelers because it makes their journeys simpler, he explains.

The nonstop flights from Phoenix to Honolulu, Oahu, and Kahului, Maui, will begin June 27. After that, nonstop flights from Phoenix to Kona, Island of Hawaii, and Lihue, Kauai, are scheduled to begin September 7.

Know Before You Go

Hawaii is open to travelers. However, the state is still relying on its Safe Travels pre-travel testing program — even for fully vaccinated passengers — to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Travelers who wish to avoid a mandatory 10-day quarantine upon arrival in Hawaii must have negative COVID-19 test results and enter them into the system before leaving for Hawaii. For full guidance on how the process works, be sure to check here. And once you understand testing program requirements, get inspired by all our Hawaii content here.

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9 Most Colorful Cities In Central And South America

Latin America is practically one big pop of color, from its lush green forests to the beautiful coastline, or, in the case of Peru, those utterly stunning Rainbow Mountains. Add the indigenous weaving, the music, and the vibrant atmosphere, and it is not surprising that the decision of which colorful cities to pick for this edition of “Most Colorful Cities in…” was difficult. 

So, as always, I went with those I know, or, if I haven’t quite made it there yet, at least places I have on my radar and have researched extensively. A couple of cities, Valparaiso and Buenos Aires have already been awarded a place in my Most Colorful Cities in the World selection, but that is because they are simply the best when it comes to a pop of metropolitan color.

Enjoy planning your next colorful getaway to Latin America!

The historic quarter of Valparaiso in Chile at night.
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1. Valparaiso, Chile

Before I ever visited Valparaiso, I knew I would love it. A once-thriving port city that had persevered through economic decline and hardships under political dictatorship, through color and street art, always offers something special. In Valparaiso, street art was once encouraged by Nobel prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda, then went underground, only to emerge again, and is now loved and thriving. Walking through the steep streets, with every corner a picture, and even humble staircases turned into works of art, you can spend hours, in fact, days discovering new pieces of art. It is one of the most colorful places, and one of my favorite art-filled cities in the world.

Pro Tip: The only way to try and see most of the art on display is by guided walking tour, and even then, you have the constant feeling that you should be looking around the next corner. So, I suggest you start off with one guided tour to get your bearings, and then go back and add to it with a self-guided walking tour experience later.

Colorful painted buildings of Favela  in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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2. Santa Marta Favela, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro conjures up images of glamorous hotels, stunning beaches, and happy people in bikinis frolicking on the same. But the brightly colored favelas are as much part of Rio as Christ the Redeemer or Sugarloaf Mountain. I’m not a fan of so-called slum tourism myself, and there are arguments for and against it. That said, visitors to these areas bring money to those who need it most in the city. Much like in other Latin American cities where street art and literally painting the town have brought together poorer communities, the favelas in Rio have undergone art-centric revivals, and it is worthwhile taking a closer look at these vibrant communities clinging onto the sides of the city’s many steep mountains. 

Pro Tip: To state the obvious, don’t try and attempt to go into the favelas without a guide, and even when with a guide, don’t carry your best purse or watch. But do go with a local and spend some money in the neighborhood shops. 

Typical houses in La Boca, Buenos Aires.
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3. La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires is one of my favorite cities in South America. It is like a Paris that has frayed around the edges, but with the faded grandeur and the vibrancy of the city still very much present. Full of music, dance, art, and culture, Buenos Aires has many distinct neighborhoods, and La Boca is the colorful one. La Boca, the mouth, was once the port area of Buenos Aires, and today is best known for its street markets, street art, and painted surroundings. Even the cobbles on the streets are painted. Touristy, with many posing tango-dancing couples displaying their skill in front of popular bars, yes. But fun despite the hype? For sure. Especially for photographers and Instagram enthusiasts, this colorful neighborhood is difficult to beat.

Pro Tip: Caminito is a lane, literally meaning small path, within La Boca, and is even more colorful than the rest. Here, you’ll find a fabulous street market full of art and arts and crafts. The market is open daily, but the most stalls are out on weekends.

Zocalos in Guatapé, Colombia.
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4. Guatapé, Colombia

This is, reportedly, the most colorful city or town in Colombia — and maybe even in South America. Colombia itself is full of worthwhile sights, but a stop in Guatapé is a must if you like color. Not only are private residences as well as public buildings painted in all the colors of the rainbow and then some, but they also have special frescos on each house called zocalos. Some of the frescoes are abstract patterns while others depict more recognizable shapes such as chickens, flowers, and birds. Each and every house is worth taking a picture of, and having entire streets filled with them is just ridiculously joyous. Just exactly how and why this tradition of the zocalos has started nobody seems to know, but they are now a fixture and a must-see when in Colombia.

Pro Tip: The surroundings of Guatapé are also worth exploring, so, if coming from Medellin, which is roughly two hours by bus, why not stay the night before heading back? There are also organized tours if you are shy of taking local transport.

Beco do Batman in São Paulo.
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5. Batman Alley, São Paulo, Brazil

Wherever I go, I search out areas that are known for their street art. Sometimes those can be slightly dodgy neighborhoods, visited with care, but other times, as in the case of Batman Alley, they are dedicated areas where artists are allowed and encouraged to let loose. This alleyway would normally have been a nondescript back lane, boring and bland, but now, adorned with ever-changing murals, it is an outdoor art gallery in a lovely neighborhood that is colorful and filled with small boutiques and cafes, making you linger a little longer.

Pro Tip: São Paulo is not only full of amazing museums and art galleries but also has some of the largest commissioned murals by world-renowned street artists in the world. As you drive through the city, look out for underpasses along the motorways and up at the towering apartment blocks in the city center. Most spaces are adorned by art.

Pelourinho, the historic center of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.
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6. Pelourinho, Salvador, Brazil

Pelourinho means whipping post in Portuguese, and this neighborhood of Salvador, the upper, old part, was where the slave auctions took place. Ironically, like in most Central, Caribbean, and South American cities, it is the colonial buildings we find so beautiful, and they are, but the history behind them is disturbing. That said, it is history, and should not be ignored, and, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this very colorful part of the city is being cherished and preserved.

Pro Tip: Pelourinho is on a hill overlooking Salvador, and the climb can take a toll on your knees. Instead, take the lift, Elevador Lacerda, to the top. It’s a sight in itself, with fabulous views from the top.

Skyline of Guayaquil. Ecuador.
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7. Guayaquil, Ecuador

Apart from being a colorful city, Guayaquil also has Ecuador’s second busiest airport and is the transit hub to the Galapagos Islands, so, if you are en route, book a brief stopover and enjoy the city. While it is an ever-growing modern city, there is an old colonial part that dates to 1538. The old town, Las Peñas, is located at the end of the Malecón 2000, the bustling beach promenade, on a hill overlooking the port. It is a real pop of color. To best appreciate it, climb the 444 Steps of Cerro Santa Ana, a wide, comfortable staircase hemmed by beautiful buildings and lined with palm trees and pieces of art. And even if 444 steps sound a lot, it is a comfortable climb.

Pro Tip: Don’t miss Numa Pompilio Llona, a cobbled street at the bottom of the hill, which is famous for its old wooden buildings.

Granada, Nicaragua, in Central America.
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8. Granada, Nicaragua

Granada in Nicaragua is a hotchpotch of colonial buildings, some dating to 1524, crowded markets, a great selection of cafes and restaurants, and the sunshine-yellow Cathedral Iglesia Guadalupe. The entire old center is full of single-story residences, each brighter than the next, but one of the best streets to linger for a while is La Calzada, also known as Gringo Street. Touristy, yes, but full of cafes and restaurants, color, and street musicians. Perfect for a lazy afternoon.

Pro Tip: Granada lies on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, the only freshwater lake that contains oceanic, that is, saltwater species of fish, which are believed to have become trapped there after the lake was formed by a volcanic eruption.

Panama City and Biomuseo seen from the sea.
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9. Panama City, Panama

Panama City is one of those cities where super-modern meets old and charming. The Casco Viejo is one of my favorite places in Latin America because of its gorgeous — yes, colonial — architecture that is painted in vibrant colors. The old town is filled with lovely boutiques (Panama hat, anybody?), arty markets, superb top-rated restaurants, atmospheric cafes, and many picturesque spots. Add to that the carnival and the truly rainbow-colored Frank Gehry-designed Bio Museum, and you have a superbly colorful mix which to enjoy within easy reach of the States.

Pro Tip: Spend your first night on the rooftop bar Tantalo, which I include in my picks for The World’s 9 Best Champagne Bars To Enjoy A Sip. The views are incredible.

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