Streaks of purple, pink and green, the Northern Lights dance across Arctic skies, from September through April, when solar winds collide. Also known as the Aurora Borealis, the lights can be seen close to home in Alaska and Canada. But, these days, savvy travelers are heading to Norway. At the center of the Northern Lights belt, and with low-lying mountains and miles of coastline, Norway offers some of the world’s clearest and most unobstructed views. The Gulf Stream also keeps winter temperatures relatively warm—a big plus when hunting the nighttime lights.
Buoyed by the success of last year’s UNESCO tourism initiatives, which resulted in a 5% increase in foreign tourists, the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) is building on this momentum with its 2015 emphasis on Germany’s cultural and culinary traditions.
My first morning on the island of Losinj was a treat for the senses. As I jogged into the town of Mali Losinj, boats floating on placid harbor water filled my vision, the smell of jasmine, lavender and salt air was in my nose, and church bells clanged in the distance. I knew right away that this was a place I was going to thoroughly enjoy, and the next few days here didn’t disappoint.
Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, combines a charming historic Old Town with chic designer shops, lively clubs and cafes and a vibrant cultural vibe. Its wide range of offerings is epitomized by three recent additions to the scene: the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Torture and the newest, the Museum of Illusions, which just opened this spring. Families especially enjoy the Zagreb Zoo and kid-friendly museums while quality hotels and event venues are ideal for weddings and conferences.
Two hours east of Zürich, across Lake Constance from Austria and Germany, and bordering Liechtenstein, the Appenzell is close to Switzerland’s heart, but a world apart. Farmers in embroidered red vests, yellow breeches, and black hats embellished with flowers and ribbons parade their cattle to the high pastures; artisans craft big shiny cowbells; rustic mountain inns welcome hikers, and fresh-farm meats, produce and herbs provide down-home gourmet fare.
Imagine a vast colorful land that is riddled with fairy chimneys, hoodoo formations, and rock pinnacles in the colors of pink, peach, and coral. Lying within these natural wonders of Cappadocia, Turkey, is one of the most striking and largest cave dwelling complexes in the world.
The arts are alive and well in the Czech Republic and your clients who love design, music, theater, art or architecture will delight in the rich cultural atmosphere of its cities.
Most will arrive in its beautifully restoreda capital of Prague, filled with buildings in styles from Gothic to Gehry in an old-world setting complete with a castle, palaces, meandering lanes and charming squares.
Not only does the architecture create a virtual textbook of styles, but the examples of each are definitive ones. Churches and palaces are stunning examples of Baroque, and Prague is renowned for its Art Nouveau buildings and cafes. Fans of Modernism and later styles will be just as happy: they can tour Villa Müller, designed by Modernist architect Adolf Loos, and see Frank Gehry’s famous Dancing House.
Mysteriously, Wroclaw (pronounced Vrots-Wahf), is among the warmest cities in Poland as evidenced by the proliferation of gelato shops, short sleeves, short skirts, and throngs of young people. It is also famous for hot chocolate spiced with a dash of chili and gummy candies at kiosks. Its medieval center wears its age well with covered markets, baroque gardens, towers, canals, peddlers selling zapiekanki (a Polish open-faced sandwich on a baguette) and trams.
In the northern reaches of the Croatia, there sits the exquisite heart-shaped peninsula of Istria that juts into the turquoise Adriatic Sea. Along its coast are lovely fishing towns and pristine beaches that the world has discovered as a summer playground. But in the interior, is another world. This large green oasis has ancient villages with church steeples scraping the heavens as they look down on their peaceful surroundings. Down its slopes drape vineyards, cool forests, and cultivated fields. All this beauty is stitched together with quiet winding roads. Traveling them is to go back in time to a peaceful, slower, and simpler life.
With 1,244 islands and 97 Blue Flag beaches along its Adriatic coast, Croatia has long been a favorite of sun-seeking Northern Europeans. But its fabled beaches are still little known to Americans, and its historic and natural sights rarely make the tourist must-see list.