Paris, France

12 things not to miss in Paris

Lovingly referred to as the ‘City of Love’ or the ‘City of Light’, Paris has become a leading centre in the worlds of fashion, art and entertainment. With a history going back thousands of years, the city holds plenty of treasures no tourist should miss out on. Here is our list of 12:

1. The Musee d’Orsay
This grand museum showcases the world’s foremost collected works of impressionist paintings. Several rooms are dedicated to art work by masters like Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir Dega and Cezanne during the mid 1800s and first half of the 1900s where they can be viewed and appreciated.

2. The Luxembourg Gardens
Paris’ second largest public park, The Luxembourg Gardens as it is known in English, delights the senses of sight and smell. Exquisite lawns, landscaped gardens, fruit orchards displaying characteristic features of statues and fountains. Apart from its aesthetic value, housed within the gardens is a playground which promises loads of fun for children; tennis courts and jogging paths.

3. Cruise down the Seine River
An unforgettable experience with an amazing view of Paris from the river Seine can be had on one of the many river cruises on offer. There is the choice of hop-on and hop-off tours which provide a different take on the city. Choose a night tour to make the experience all the more special.

4. The Sacre Coeur
The Sacre Coeur basilica is favourably placed at the highest point of Paris to provide unbeatable panoramic views of the City of Light for which it is famous. Other incentives to visit this basilica, sanctified in 1909, are to see its stained glass windows and gold mosaics.

5. Place de la Concorde
One of the symbols of reconciliation in post-revolutionary France is Place de la Concorde, boasting an area of 86,400 metres; it is the largest square in Paris.

6. The Sorbonne and the Latin Quarter
A visit to one of Europe’s oldest and flourishing universities, Sorbonne University is a real treat for tourists. Founded in 1257 the university has schooled renowned names like Rene Descartes, Jean-Paul Sarte and Simone de Beauvoir.

7. Centre Georges Pompidou
The locals lovingly refer to this art museum and cultural centre as Paris’ ‘cultural pulse’. The museum was opened in 1977 in honour of president Georges Pompidou. The museum’s unique skeletal design draws many visitors who are either mesmerized or appalled by the design.

8. The Louvre Museum
No tourist can visit Paris without paying homage to the world’s most famous art works housed within the Louvre Museum. Its signature glass pyramid is one of the city’s more famous landmarks. An art collection in excess of 1 million is proudly showcased here including Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ and works by Michelangelo.

9. The Eiffel Tower
Constructed in 1889 and at a staggering 1 000 feet high in the Champs de Mars park, the Eiffel Tower remains one of the most popular attractions for tourists the world over. Incredible views and photographic opportunities of the city is afforded by it enormous height advantage.

10. Notre Dame Cathedral
Featuring two elevated towers, a spire and soaring 400 feet high, the Notre Dame church is a perfect example of French Gothic architecture of the 13th century. Visitors await an awe-inspiring glimpse of rose windows, Gothic carvings and sculptures.

11. The Arc de Triomphe
Built in 1806 in tribute to Napoleon Bonaparte’s triumphant battles, the Arc de Triomphe is one of Paris’ most popular attractions. Intricate reliefs which tell of the victorious battles as well as the names of the brave soldiers who gave their lives for their country are engraved on the arch.

12. Champs–Elysees
The city of Paris holds its major celebrations on this world-famous avenue from New Year’s Eve to military parades on the 14th of July. Situated along the avenue are cinemas, cafes and shops for the indulgent. Fabulous landscaped gardens and fountains can be found near Place de la Concorde.

New York City

7 Essential things to see in New York City

Few cities can compare with the wealth of attractions that New York has to offer a visitor. It can be overwhelming for the first-time tourist to New York to decide what to see as the list of top attractions is extensive. Whilst there can be no definitive list, our top 7 of must-sees appear below:

1. The unbeatable skyline of New York City
New York’s skyline is one of the most instantly recognizable in the world and that leaves most that look upon it, awe-struck. Iconic high rise buildings, monuments and bridges create a spectacular feast for the eyes. The aerial view provided 86th floor observation deck, 1 050 feet high, of the Empire State building is second to none.

2. Times Square
Time Square is one the classic attraction for both local and international visitors. Its characteristic gigantic digital billboards’ bright lights, art and jewelry peddlers, Broadway shows, restaurants and big brands’ flagship stores offer a colourful eclectic mix that tantalizes all the senses.

3. Central Park
Located in the pulsing heart of Manhattan, is a manmade modern masterpiece – Central Park. Traversing 843 acres, this urban oases comprises of rolling fields, walking trails and suitably placed lakes and reservoirs. Central Park on its own showcases plenty of attractions for the visitor to delight in: Cantral Park Zoo, the Great Lawn, Wollman Rink, Rumsey Playfield, Belverdere Castle are just some of the highlights to experience here.

4. Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
One of the most instantly recognizable landmark is the Statue of Liberty. This iconic Lady symbolizes a beacon of hope and freedom to millions who set eyes on her. The 125-year old statue can be accessed easily via a short ferry ride to Liberty Island.

5. Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo is considered the largest urban wildlife preserve housed within the United States. More than 5 000 animals call the 265 acre Bronx Zoo home. Zebras, lions, giraffes, baboons, lemurs, crocodiles, sea lions, penguins, tigers, antelope are just some of the wildlife that can be viewed. Visitors are invited to excite the senses on the Wild Asia Monorail, or gaze in awe at the World of Birds or World of Reptiles.

6. National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center
It is well worth a visit to stop by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center. The eight acre memorial is in tribute to the 3 000 victims who lost their lives due to the terrorist attacks on February 26, 1993, and September 11, 2001. A sanctuary featuring more than 400 trees offer visitors a space of quiet reflection to think of the lives that were lost. Two large reflecting pools fed from waterfalls have the names of the men, women and children inscribed in its bronze walls. A short distance away lays the 9/11 Tribute Center where photos are displayed and where visitors are invited on walking tours that remember what took place during those horrific events.

7. Staten Island Ferry
A glorious view of the New York Harbor and the Manhattan skyline can be had on a free short 25 minute ferry ride from Lower Manhattan to Staten Island. The ferry service is offered 24 hours a day with stops at St. George Ferry Terminal. Attractions which are fed by the ferry service include: the Staten Island Museum, St George Theater, Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden.

Activities in Johannesburg

Top 10 things tourists should not miss in Johannesburg

Johannesburg presents a world-in-one for tourists wishing to sample and savour the delectable delights of this pulsating hub of electrifying energy. Where else in Africa can one find a colourful explosion of culture, cuisine, entertainment, activities for the adrenaline addicted, wildlife and a history far from bland all in one spot? Locals lovingly refer to it as the City of Gold, and indeed, it is a treasure house just waiting to be explored.

1. Nelson Mandela National Museum
The first democratic president of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Nelson Mandela’s house in Soweto is a worthy worthwhile point of interest.

2. Gold Reef City
This world renowned theme park should be on every tourist’s itinerary list. A myriad of thrilling adrenaline adventures await the whole family. In addition to the heart stopping amusement park rides, Gold Reef City houses a casino and a reproduction of a mining town which highlights a tour down a mine shaft.

3. Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens
Framed picturesquely against the Witpoortjie waterfall, this stunning garden boasts 300 hectares of landscaped and natural veld areas.

4. Museum Africa
This museum of note displays exhibits and collections which focus particularly on local African cultures, history and archaeology. A must see is the impressive rock art collection. Local artists are celebrated as well as Pre-Raphaelite and Impressionist paintings.

5. Hector Peterson Memorial and Museum
This memorial has become a symbol of resistance against the apartheid regime and a worthy tribute to Hector Peterson, the 12 year old boy shot by the police on 16 June during the 1976 student uprisings. On display are photographic exhibits which detail the events of that day.

6. Oriental Plaza
Regarded as the Jewel of the shopping price Mecca of South Africa, the Oriental Plaza is a real treat for tourists who are ardent bargain-shoppers. Over 360 shops with the best selection of designer wear of both local and international brand Houses are located here. The food catered for by the restaurants tempts palates that enjoy ethnic and spicy cuisine.

7. Carlton Centre Observation Deck
The Top of Africa observation deck situated on the 50th floor of the Carlton Centre high rise offers scintillating views of Johannesburg.

8. Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site
One of South Africa’s eight World Heritage sites and home to about 40% of the world’s human ancestor fossils. 53 000 hectares protects a wide range of flora and fauna.

9. Lion Park
Admire the king of the jungle from the safety and comfort from your own car with the option of a hands-on experience with lion cubs. The park is home to just over 80 lions as well as other species of wildlife. Cheetahs, zebra, antelope, wild dogs giraffes are just some of the animals that can be seen.

10. Montecasino
Lauded as the entertainment complex in Johannesburg, it is simply s must-see for every visitor. A movie theatre, bird sanctuary, tenpin bowling, a number of theatres, casino and a whole host of restaurants, coffee shops and a musical fountain to delight both the young and old.

Glastonbury Festival

7 Music festivals to attend in the UK this Summer

Nothing characterizes summer time like a music festival which has become part of the fabric of British society in the summer. The UK hosts a number of music festivals over the summer period that draws thousands from across the globe. What is spectacular about these music festivals is that they cover a wide range of music genres to accommodate for all types of taste from jazz to dance to pop, blues and folk.

1.    Glastonbury
The most world famous music festival held in the UK would be Glastonbury. Thousands of music performances are held across fifty venues. There is something for everyone from cabaret, theatre, poetry recitals and green crafts. Notable top class performers include U2, Coldplay and Beyonce.

2.    T in the Park
The venue for this music festival is in Kinross, Scotland. Held for the last 15 years, this music summer festival is considered the widest and nosiest festival in Britain and Scotland’s major music festival. Top names in music in attendance include Arctic Monkeys, Beyonce and the legendary Tom Jones. Apart from the star attraction- music – festival devotees can enjoy a fairground, organic food, bars and browse around numerous stalls.

3.    O2 Wireless festival
Staged in central London’s Hyde Park, O2 Wireless festival runs into its seventh year. The festival is celebrated over three days and showcases top talent in the best bands and DJs. Award winning musical talent like the Black Eyed Peas, Bruno Mars and David Guetta constitute the headline acts. Also to be enjoyed by festival goers is the impressive beer garden, food stalls and interactive games.

4.    At Scarborough’s Acoustic Gathering festival
This is a free music festival held in Peasholm Park which is held on the last Sunday in September to mark the end of summer. The festival has been held since 2006 with the aim of showcasing local musicians along with top national and international stars. Performers are rowed onto a stage which is situated at the centre of a lake.

5.    Leeds and Reading festival
Towards the end of the music summer festival line up is the Leeds and Reading festival. Hosted in the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire and Reading, Berkshire this music festival is the UK’s leading rock, alternative and indie festivals. A long history is attached to these festivals stretching all the way back to 1961. Both the festivals are held simultaneously across the two cities. Star studded names like My Chemical Romance and The Streets perform at both locations.

6.    Bestival
Newport, Isle of Wight hosts the Bestival music festival. On the music festival circuit, Bestival is considered more of a philosophy than a festival. This is an award winning boutique festival spanning four days. Festival fans are enticed by the eclectic mix of world class music. The festival celebrates the likes of Groove Armada, The Cure and PJ Harvey.

7.    Basingstoke Live
Another one of the UK’s free music festivals held in War Memorial Park, Basingstoke. A new addition to the summer music festival circuit, presents over a hundred events for the festival goer to delight in. Over 30 venues are part of the festival offering music, drama, dance, film and plenty more. Local talent is celebrated as well as community spirit.
In 2010 Basingstoke Live recorded a record 30 000 attendance.

Visit London in Summer

Top Things to Do in London this Summer

London is arguably the world’s number 1 top tourist destination. It is not surprising at the city boasts plenty of top attractions for the tourist to feast their eyes on. This cosmopolitan capital offers so much for visitors. With a history of over 2000 years, London at heart remains astonishingly youthful and exuberant.

A visit to London reveals exceptional treasures for the tourist to savour all year round, but none more special than during the sizzling season of summer. No list can be comprehensive enough to detail all the gems in London’s trove of tourist treasures.

There are many ways to experience London to tantalise adventure for all tastes and ages from the London Bicycle Tours, river cruises and open hop-on-and-off bus tours.

London Zoo 
Said to be the oldest scientific zoo in the world, London Zoo is an ideal attraction for the whole family to enjoy. Since 1828 the zoo has been facilitating the study of animals. During the summer, the zoo hosts many thrilling exhibitions throughout the day overseen by leading curators. Some of these include bird displays as well as gorilla feedings.

Tower of London 
One of the most popular tourist attractions in the city is the iconic Tower of London. A must see for every tourist is a visit back in time to tales of historical drama, the Crown Jewels and the Royal Armouries.

St Paul’s Cathedral
Regarded as the spiritual hub of London, a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral should be on every tourist’s list of things-to-do. Apart from the fact that the burial chamber is the resting place of some of Britain’s more famous personalities – John Donne, Sir Christopher Wren, Horatio Nelson and the Duke of Wellington, lofty St Paul’s Cathedral affords some of the most spectacular views of the city.

Hampton Court Palace
A real treat for palace-loving enthusiasts is a call to Hampton Court Palace, once the home of King Henry VIII. London may boast its fair share of palaces, but what sets this legendary landmark apart from the rest are the visual displays of breathtaking gardens and a world celebrated hedge maze.

Thames River Cruise
Lined along the banks of the Thames River are visual symbols of London almost anyone in the world can identify: Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, MI5, Canary Wharf. The waterway intertwines through the city making a river cruise the ultimate experience in witnessing London.

Buckingham Palace
No visit to London can be complete without a sighting of the world renowned Buckingham Palace. A visit here during the summer time is made all the more special as the doors are open to the public. The interiors and paintings on display in royal households are unrivalled and are a sight to feast one’s eyes on.

The London Eye
A relatively new addition to the arsenal of attractions London has to offer. A contribution to London’s millennium celebrations this structure is a giant observation wheel presents scintillating aerial views of the city.

View another 200 things to do in London

10 things to do in Cape Town

Top 10 things to do in Cape Town in Winter

Cape Town in winter offers a magical myriad of indoor and outdoor attractions for both local and international visitors. Discover Cape Town and witness the city showcasing its unique culture and heritage in the arts, food and wine attractions.

1. Winter wining and dining
Whet your appetite at some of the most exquisite eateries in Cape Town. The Mother City boasts plenty of fine dining establishments where one can savour sumptuous meals in multiple course set menus. Food lovers are spoilt for choice with dishes ranging from Cape Malay inspirations to haute cuisine.

2. Shopping
Shopping enthusiasts are presented with an array of shopping destinations housed comfortably with the city of Cape Town. The premier V&A Waterfront, Cavendish Square and Canal Walk are just some the shopping malls offering unrivalled adventures to shopping connoisseurs of local and international fashion. The V&A Waterfront draws in huge numbers and is celebrated as an ultimate entertainment venue housing theatres, craft markets, specialty shops and pubs.

3. Theatre
World-class theatrical performances can be enjoyed at the Artscape, the Baxter and Masque Theatres and the Theatre-on-the-Bay. From ballet to drama productions to comedy shows there is something to suit every taste.

4. Winter music festivals
Pencil in a music festival whilst in Cape Town. The Cape Town International Jazz festival is a musical extravaganza of note. The fourth largest Jazz festival in the world highlights the talents of 30 international and local acts

5. Two Oceans Aquarium
Explore South Africa’s largest aquarium and savour the enchanting exhibits of aquatic life. The Two Oceans Aquarium promises to delight both the young and old alike. This popular tourist venue displays in excess of 3 000 marine life forms from the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.

6. Indoor Markets
A leisurely amble around the numerous indoor markets is a perfect introduction to the colourful culture and unique identity of Cape Town. Sample the local cuisine or soak up the buzzying atmosphere of Hout Bay’s Bay Market or V&A Waterfronts’s Market on the Wharf.

7. Historic Museums
Robben Island is synonymous with exile, isolation and imprisonment; this now world renowned museum located only 12 kilometres from Cape Town was where freedom fighter and former South African president Nelson Mandela spent 27 years of his life fighting oppression.

8. Kirstenbosch Botantical Gardens
This top tourist attraction situated against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain is celebrated the world over for the astounding beauty and diversity of Cape flora it is home to. Indigenous South African plants are grown exclusively in the 528 hectare estate.

9. The Ice Station
Labelled as a premier South African ice rink, The Ice Station provides experienced and novice ice skaters with plenty of pleasure-filled ice-scapades. Part of the exciting line-up of events held by The Ice Station is ice hockey games and figure-skating competitions.

10. Visit a wine farm
Cape Town is famed for its wine estates and excellent wine. A visit to one in Constantia, Stellenbosch, Paarl or any of the other wine farms is highly recommended and should be included on every visitor’s itinerary.

30 more things to do in Cape Town