Updated: Nov 12
Traveling abroad can sometimes feel very overwhelming. You have an endless amount of options, cities that you feel you have to see, and lists upon lists of things you want to do.
But you need to take it slow down when it comes to planning the trip of a lifetime. Yes you can always pack a punch with 5 cities in 6 days - but are you really experiencing those cities? Sometimes just going through the motions is the easiest way to miss out on something that can be so simple, yet so spectacular.
Lesser known cities can sometimes feel harder to navigate, but trust me when I say it's worth every second of the planning involved.
So first things first, think about where you are flying into, experience the city, but then move on... that is where we start with our list of cities that simply should always come in twos.
Maui & Kauai
Hawaii is one of those Domestic Destinations that is very easy to get sucked up into the "tourist attractions." But if Pearl Harbor and World War 2 history isn't at the top of your list, we actually suggest skipping Oahu all together and heading to Maui first. You lose the congestion of Waikiki Beach and gain all of the beautiful flora and fauna that makes Hawaii truly spectacular. Hire a private Road to Hana tour, visit the whales and sea turtles that make Molokini their home, hike the Bamboo Forest and experience a Traditional Luau. Then head west to the island of Kauai. I feel like Kauai always gets left off the list when you're planning a trip to Hawaii, but really it's spectacular in its own way. This is where your inner adventurer truly shines! Waimea Canyon, Wailua River, & Fern Grotto are just some of the spots you will want to visit for hiking, kayaking, ziplining, and waterfall jumping.
Madrid & Malaga
Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia are pretty common when you're visiting Spain. It's hard to beat the history in the larger cities that have become so popular in the world of tourism. But if you're looking for a smaller, more immersive experience, head down to the southern shore and spend a few days in the Malaga area after spending some city time in Madrid. With just a quick train ride south, you experience a side of Spain you never knew existed. Malaga is slightly on the larger side when you think of 'small town', but still nothing like Madrid or Barcelona. Home to the Roman Theater, Alcazaba Fortress, and the Cathedral of Málaga - this beach town offers an astounding mix of history, culture, shopping, food, and art. It's even where Picasso is from!
Rome & Sperlonga
"When in Rome, do as the Romans do" - but let's be honest here, no matter how fun it may be, Romans weren't Instagramming themselves holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. If you're looking for that true cultural experience, spend a few days in Rome, but then head down the coast to Sperlonga. This charming coastal town is a great change of pace after doing all the tourist must do's in Rome. Not quite as popular as Amalfi but just as picturesque, Sperlonga has beach, culture, and history all tied up in one quintessential little package. Stroll through Old Town to see all the beautiful architecture, hit the beach with shallow waters and sandy shores, and visit Emperor Tiberius’s Palace and the local archaeological museum - you won't be disappointed.
Paris & Colmar
Usually when I think of France I say "get me some pastries, a coffee and champagne" and I'm a happy traveler. But honestly, the small villages you find throughout the French countryside are so quaint and inviting that I couldn't imagine only visiting Paris on any of my trips. Colmar is definitely the top of that list, mainly because of its ties to both the French & German cultures. The city has changed hands between the two countries so many times in past centuries that you get the perfect mix of both. Anything from canals and markets to timber architecture and cobbled roads - all beautifully preserved, even through World War 2. Visiting in the springtime is perfect for seeing the Schwendi Fountain decorated by local townspeople and visiting the massive Easter Market that takes over Old Town. Visit in December for what is honestly one of the most beautiful Christmas Markets that I've ever seen.
Dublin & Killarney
Ireland is one of those destinations that actually does get a lot of credit for its small towns. I feel like no one truly understands how big the country actually is. It's pretty common to think that you can stay in Dublin the entire time and day trip out to the smaller towns. But the truth of the matter is that you really want to actually head west and stay a few days in the Killarney area. This is where you will get to experience traditional pubs, medieval castles, sprawling estates, and stay in the sweetest B&B's with working farms. It's a whole new experience compared to the city life in Dublin. Now, that's not to say you shouldn't visit the Guinness Storehouse or cross the Ha'Penny Bridge. But you will definitely want to see the sprawling hills and try your hand at Falconry as well.
Interested in a custom itinerary to one of these amazing destinations? Be sure to contact your preferred Lotus Travel Concierge Advisor for your Complimentary Consultation.