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15 trips you have to take in your lifetime
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15 trips you have to take in your lifetime

There are places in the world you have to visit at least once in lifetime. And I'm not just talking about the Brooklyn Bridge or the Chinese wall, the Opera House in Sydney or Stonehenge, but a number of experiences that are a little less known but still deserve to be included in your trip wishlist, even if you're planning to travel solo.

I have selected 15 destinations that are an invitation to enjoy adventure, wonder, meditation and discovery. How many of them do you already know?

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Nature and art: 5 adventures

The tour starts from Cappadocia, in the heart of Turkey: for those who do not suffer from vertigo, the balloon safari is a must, the only way to really enjoy a dreamlike, surreal, lunar landscape. You have to see the so-called Chimneys of the Fairies at least once: over the centuries, these ancient deposits of tuff shaped by volcanoes have assumed the appearance of turrets, chimneys, tunnels turned into houses and villages.

Let's move to India, more precisely to Cochin, Kerala: like Macao, the Las Vegas of the East in which people speak Portuguese, this area has been transformed from its colonial past. It is the only place (outside of China) where you can admire the cheena vala, the traditional Chinese fishing nets. The historical center is made evn more beautiful by the memories of the passage of Arabs, Dutch, English and Portuguese colonizers.

The next two destinations are located in two different corners of the planet, 7 thousand km apart, but they are equally electrifying. The first is known as the Devil's Pool: it is located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and it's a stretch of water between the course of the Zambezi River and the spectacular Victoria Falls. Devil’s Pool is usually open from around mid-August to mid-January, but pay attention to selfies: the backdrop is slippery and any fake movement can be fatal.

The second destination has an equally allusive name, Gates of Hell: I'm talking about a large crater that's 70 meters wide and 20 meters deep in the middle of the Karakum desert, in Turkmenistan. Far from being a natural phenomenon, the chasm was inadvertently opened in the '70s by Soviet geologists who were operating a drilling rig and accidentally drilled into a pocket of natural gas. 

Titicaca LakeTiticaca Lake

Last stop, South America, at the top of the Andes between Bolivia and Peru: here, at 3000 meters above sea level, you can find the Titicaca lake, the highest navigable lake in the world. What is that makes it special, may you ask. The answer is the Uros islands, a group of artificial platforms built with totora reeds and anchored at the bottom of the lake. 

5 cheap trips

If you only have one weekend, you can fly to Zadar, Croatia. The location is ideal for visiting some of the main tourist attractions in the country, such as the Krka Waterfalls Park and the Kornati National Park. But you can also experience a beautiful thing for free: the beauty of the sunset seen from the seafront, listening to the sound of the Sea organ designed by architect Nikola Baši, played by the wind and the waves.

Portugal is one of the cheapest destinations in the world, as well. In the southern region, Alentejo, you can also enjoy an excellent fish dish for a few euros. Vila Nova de Milfontes, two hours away from Lisbon, is a fishing village that seems to come out of a poem by Pessoa: the days flow slowly, cadenced by the rays of the sun breaking on the waves and the blue and white houses.

credit: Emanuele Siracusacredits: Emanuele Siracusa

Cheap destinations do not necessarily have to be around the corner. Even Shanghai can prove to be super affordable. From zongzi to the traditional dumplings, Chinese street food is varied and plentiful, suitable for all tastes, and Airbnb will give you the chance of staying in an apartment for fifty euros per night.

The same goes for Vietnam, which boasts an ultra-sophisticated landscape and is perfect for honeymooning as well as for a spiritual journey. In the first case you could go to the Ha Long bay and enjoy its white beaches. If you're planning a more spiritual adventure instead, you should visit the  My Son archaeological site and the Marble Mountains, building your trekking route between Hindu temples and lush forests. And speaking of street food, the village of Hue has no rivals: try the banh khoai, a pancake made with corn flour stuffed with pork and prawns and served with a sesame and peanut sauce. 

Ha Long BayHa Long Bay

If you really do not want to get away from Europe and do not settle for the usual weekend at the beach, go to Bulgaria, the cheapest area of the whole old continent. Some people say that if there was an earthly paradise, it would be Mount Musala. And if you do not believe in heaven but nonetheless you are into spirituality, you can take a bike tour of the monasteries. If you prefer to take a swim in the Black Sea, there is the Sunny Beach, where a dinner for two (wine included) costs something like twenty euros. Cheap, uh?

5 ideas for traveling solo

Traveling alone is not only for singles. It's a privilege for everyone. Whether it is to find oneself or meet new people, one should indulge in a solitary holiday at least once in a lifetime.

The Scandinavian cities are the ideal destination for people willing to travel alone: according to the OECD Better Life Index, Norway for example is the country with the lowest crime rate, the one in which people feel safe even walking by themselves at night. After an immersion in nature and a few hours of whale watching in Tromsø, you can enjoy the city life in Oslo, staying in a hotel with a 24-hour reception.

Switzerland is a perfect gem to explore on your own even by bike. Prices are not really democratic, but you can start saving from water: tap water is drinkable.

Are you looking for adventure? Then you should consider going to Costa Rica. Labeled the happiest country in South America and nestled between two oceans, it offers an extraordinary landscape, including river forests, rushing waterways and active volcanoes. And above all it is suitable for adrenaline junkies: cave diving and suspensed bridges, anyone?

Do you want to go to the sea? Between June and September the ideal destination is Greece. People there are helpful and welcoming and there is something for everyone. Athens offers an impressive view from the Parthenon and a nightlife that has nothing to envy to Ibiza in the districts of Monastiraki, Omonia, Psyrri and Mextaxourghio. Among the islands, Santorini, Ios and Mykonos are the most crowded, Paro and Naxos the most intimate, and you can also go wind surfing. If you love trekking, add the Meteora Monasteries and Mount Pelion to your to-visit list.

Cloud Forest in Costa RicaCloud Forest in Costa Rica

And, last but not least, why not organize a car tour of eastern Sicily? The food is plentiful and cheap, Catania has a lively nightlife, the Val di Noto is famous for its architectural beauty and the Vendicari Reserve boasts a number of small extraordinary beaches and a natural landscape that changes every 100 meters. Make sure you buy a ticket for a show at the ancient theater of Syracuse: you will never forget it!

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