Travel Tips & Articles

Popular Travel Destinations Around the World

You're ready to go. The vacation bug's hit hard. But where? Florida's nice, but everyone flocks there -snoozeville- nothing new. The U.S. State Department warns Americans to stay out of Mexico, so forget the parents financing Cancun anytime soon. Tourism is picking up in Europe. Hmm, that's a possibility. But not just any old place. You're ready to venture off the beaten path, someplace with a high cool factor that makes your friends look for your tweets and Facebook updates.

Paris, France

The Capital City of France

Where it is: Paris lies in the heart of the French Republic along the Seine River. It is inland about 110 miles (175 km) from the English Channel.

Coordinates: 48, 51' 24" N, 2' 21' 3" E

Time zone: UTC/GMT +1 hours

Official language: French

Why go? Paris may be one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, but it's cheap to visit during fall or spring break. You can find plenty to do that's free. Sightseeing on foot gives you a chance to explore the Seine River, with its makeshift "beach" where you can people watch from your chaise lounge right there in central Paris. If you love taking in its rich history, visit the Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre, another free half-day trip, and save your money for shopping the markets.

Famous offerings: The Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre.

Tourist attractions: The Musee Rodin, Pere-Lachaise Cemetery, Centre Pompidou and Jardin des Tueleries.

Average hotel cost: Budget: $125 USD (nightly rate), Expensive: $1100 USD (nightly rate). The average hotel rate within the city is about $300 USD per night.

Unusual Fact: Paris boasts the longest underground sewerage system in the world. It's just a hair over 1307 miles (2200 km) long. Visit the sewer museum and take a tour then let your friends know whether you needed a clamp for your nose.

  • Paris Info: If you want off the main tourist paths, just search this official website for the best cafes, getaways and boutiques.
  • Paris City Centre Map: Search for transportation, attractions, streets and neighborhoods with this interactive map.

Barcelona, Spain

Mediterranean Student/Art Mecca

Where it is: The Catalan capital, Barcelona, lies on the northeast Iberian Peninsula. It faces the Mediterranean Sea.

Coordinates: 41' 23' 0" N, 2' 11' 0" E

Time zone: UTC +1 hours

Official language: Spanish

Why go? Other than the Mediterranean beaches, Barcelona's funky, student-friendly, artsy, historical past entices teens, even if they aren't into art history. The impressive towers of Sagrada Famiia seem to ascend forever, while giant mosaic dragons promote definite coolness factor. Barcelona is youthful and hip-especially the Raval district. It's cosmopolitan, yet ancient. Rent a sailboat with the sailor; take in the famous Mediterranean beach atmosphere.

Famous offerings: the Sagrada Familia, La Rambla, La Seu Cathedral, ancient Barri Gotic (the Gothic Quarter), and any of the Mediterranean beaches.

Tourist attractions: the Sagrada Familia, the Magic Fountain of Montjuic, the Spanish Village (Poble Espanyol de Montjuic).

Getting around: A snap-just whip out your Barcelona Card. It's a good value if you are going to travel around the city centre for 2 to 5 days. You can buy it online. Your parents can buy and use them, too. It's FREE UNLIMITED public transportation, including the Metro underground (subway) and trams (streetcars).

Average hotel cost: Budget: $128 USD (nightly rate), Expensive: $400-plus USD (nightly rate). The average hotel rate within the city is about $250 USD per night.

Unusual Fact: Walk or take public transportation since Barcelonian drivers are some of the most accident-prone in the world-one every 16 seconds.

  • Barcelona Info: Your usual guide site to all things Barcelona. It is highly recommended to get the Barcelona Tourist Card as soon as you get to the airport.
  • Barcelona Card Tourist Guide: Brazen pickpockets are plentiful in Barcelona. This card could help avert a criminal's opportunity for theft since you don't have to show your cash every time you want to board a bus.

London, England

The Capital City of England AND the United Kingdom

Where it is:London is located on the River Thames, about 3,467 miles (5579 km) from New York City.

Coordinates: 51' 30' 26" N, 0' 7' 39" W

Time zone: UTC/GMT

Official language: English

Why go? Always a "hot spot" despite its mild, often rainy climate, the city "across the pond" will host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Although not the cheap mecca it was back in the 1970s and 1980s, you can find economical lodging in and around Earl's Court and away from the main tourist tracks. Britrail passes offer transport flexibility at a good price. If you go during the Olympics, you might want to venture past London's borders into the shires for economical lodging. You can get anywhere on the London Underground, called the Tube. Just remember that like all public transportation, it can be unreliable and costly. You can't see everything in one trip, but they do have tour buses that can give you an overall glimpse of the city.

Famous offerings: Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Tower of London

Tourist attractions: Hyde Park, Portobello Market, the National Gallery, Madame Tussaids Wax Museum, Harrod's, Soho, Piccadilly Circus, the London Dungeon Amusement Park.

Average hotel cost: Budget: $100 USD (nightly rate), Expensive: $1000-plus USD (nightly rate). The average hotel rate within the city is about $350 USD per night. If you don't mind bringing a sleep sack and your own pillow, you can sleep in a hostel for cheap.

Unusual Facts: There's over 300 languages spoken in London-it is so diverse. There are 409 subway escalators around the city. The great potato famine in Ireland led to more Irish people living in London than in the Irish city of Dublin!

  • 2012 Olympic Schedule: Begins July 25. This is high season for travel and will be extremely expensive, especially during the fortnight of games.
  • London Hotel Surge: Visiting London during the Olympics may cost you 10 times as much for a hotel.

San Francisco

The Paris of the West

Where it is: "Frisco" lies on a peninsula in northern California, USA.

Coordinates: 37' 46' 45.48" N, 122' 25' 9.12" W

Time zone: Pacific Standard Time (UTC -8)

Official language: English

Why go? Fisherman's Wharf's street performers, Bay ferry rides, the Golden Gate Park bison and the mega-fun Yerba Buena Rooftop Gardens are a few things to do that teens will savor. The Gardens have a restored 1906 carousel, an amazing beach and playground that even parents will have a hard time leaving. There's dancing, music and theater, a huge ice-skating rink and the hands-on museum, Zeum. Fun streets to skateboard down and lots of artsy offerings.

Famous offerings: Golden Gate Bridge, the 49ers, Alcatraz, Lombard Street.

Tourist attractions: Fisherman's Wharf, cable cars, the Metreon Mall, Yerba Buena Rooftop Gardens.

Average hotel cost: Budget: $190 USD (nightly rate), Expensive: $600-plus USD (nightly rate). The average hotel rate within the city is about $350 USD per night.

Unusual Fact: Cable cars speed along at 9 mph and your denim jeans were invented here for coal miners who needed durable clothes.

New York City

The City that Never Sleeps

Where it is: NYC's location is in southeast New York State on New York Harbor, one of the world's largest natural harbors.

Coordinates: 40' 43' 0" N, 74' 0' 0" W

Time zone: EST (UTC -5)

Official language: English

Why go? It's open 24/7, buzzing with things to do. Visit one of the five Burroughs-The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island neighborhoods. Keep safety in mind; and if you travel at night, travel with your parents or in a group. It's the hub of everything: books, TV, sports, education, live entertainment and, of course, food. Take a trapeze class, drink in the soapboxes at Central Park, see where the bigwigs live in Manhattan, and check out the teen-friendly New Victory Theater. The hustle and bustle of Times Square can be dizzying. Don't forget to visit Ground Zero-the memorials are sure to tug at your heart.

Famous offerings: Central Park, Trump Tower, the Ritz-Carlton, Ground Zero Museum Workshop and Ground Zero, Times Square, The Empire State Building.

Tourist attractions: Central Park, SoHo shopping, Grand Central Station, Top of the Rock Observation Deck.people watching, watching people try to cross the street are attractions all their own.

Average hotel cost: Budget: $400 USD (nightly rate), Expensive: $1000-plus USD (nightly rate). The average hotel rate within the city is about $700 USD per night.

Unusual Facts: The original Woodstock was held in nearby Bethel. The New York subway system is 722 miles long. The Brooklyn Children's Museum was the world's first museum strictly for kids (1899).

Maui

The Magic Isle

Where it is: Located in the Pacific Ocean, in the Hawai'ian Island chain, its second largest island. It is about 2500 miles from Los Angeles, California.

Coordinates: 20' 48' 0" N, 156' 20' 0" W

Time zone: UTC/GMT -10 hours (Hawai'i-Aleutian Time Zone)

Official language: Hawai'ian, English

Why go? Let's see kiteboarding, whale watching, volcanoes, surfing year-round, rainforests, waterfalls, snorkeling, scuba, luaus, hiking, entertainment, golf, helicopter rides, beaches and, it's in Hawai'i"hello?

Famous offerings: The Road to Hana, Ho'okipa Beach, Iao Valley State Park, Haleakala National Park, Old Lahaina Luau

Tourist attractions: Kaihalulu, which is a beach with RED sand, Maui Ocean Center

Average hotel cost: Budget: $259 USD (nightly rate), Expensive: $621-plus USD (nightly rate). The average hotel rate within the city is about $450 USD per night.

Unusual Facts: Maui is home to the Haleakala High Altitude Observatory Site, one of the five most important astronomy centers in the world. The West Maui mountaintop gets more than 400 inches of rain annually. This equates to 271,540 baths a person could take in a 40-gallon bathtub.

  • Maui for Teens: Go down 100 feet on a submarine, listen to whales talk, explore a lava tube and ride the Sugar Cane Train.
  • Welcome to Maui: Easy to navigate guidebooks and read about other people's experiences, especially if this is your first time visiting.

Montréal

Canada's Cultural Capital

Where it is: Montréal is located in the southwest Canadian province of Quebec. The St. Lawrence, Ottawa and Prairie rivers surrounds the city-so it's actually an island.

Coordinates: 45' 30' 0" N, 73' 40' 0" W

Time zone: UTC/GMT -5 hours

Official language: French

Why go? Underneath Montreal lies an underground city with over 2,000 shops. Old Montreal museums, architecture and historical, safe neighborhoods invite you to check it out on foot or horse-drawn carriage. Great restaurants, a nice blend of funky and old for younger and older teens to enjoy.

Famous offerings: Old Montreal, the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, Notre-Dame Basilica, La Ronde Amusement Park

Tourist attractions: Old Montreal, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal Botanical Gardens, the Underground City

Average hotel cost: Budget: $94 USD (nightly rate), Expensive: $400 USD (nightly rate). The average hotel rate within the city is about $175-200 USD per night.

Unusual Facts: Montreal's has an 18-mile long "Underground City" that is climate-controlled and full of shopping. The Montreal Canadiens, its pro hockey team, has won 24 Stanley Cups. Celine Dion and William Shatner are two famous Montreal natives.

  • Montreal City Portal: Community information and events personalizes your visit.
  • Old Montreal: Here's the map and location information to this charming one-mile area of Montreal

Vancouver

Arts and Nightlife

Where it is: Vancouver is on the southwest coast of British Columbia in Canada, mainland, North America.

Coordinates: 49' 15' 0" N, 123' 6' 0" W

Time zone: UTC/GMT -8 hours

Official language: English

Why go? Vancouver feels fresh and international. It's close to the U.S. border at Washington State--just about 100 miles. Once there, you can ski Cypress Mountain, home to the 2010 Winter Olympics alpine ski event. Hit Gastown for souvenirs and to wait for the steam clock to strike every quarter hour. If you want to get away from the touristy areas, check out the shopping and food courts at Metro-Town Mall where the locals go. See a great view of Vancouver from a hilltop in Queen Elizabeth Park.

Famous offerings: Granville Island, Stanley Park, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Grouse Mountain, the Sea-to-Sky Highway.

Tourist attractions: Whistler Ski Resort, Burnaby Village Museum, Science World at Telus World of Science, the resorts.

Average hotel cost: Budget: $175 USD (nightly rate), Expensive: $1100 USD (nightly rate). The average hotel rate within the city is about $300 USD per night.

Unusual Fact: Vancouver is considered "Hollywood North" for the amount of movies and TV shows that are located and shot there.

  • Vancouver with the Family: Try mud pie, a treetop and cliffhanger walk, and the Kids Market.
  • Vancouver Tourism: Trip planning, visitor guides and services. While in town, you just may see celebrities walking the streets or a movie being made.

Zurich

The Wealthiest City in the World

Where it is: Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and lies on the northwest tip of Lake Zurich.

Coordinates: 48'51'24"N 2'21'03"

Time zone: UTC/GMT +1 hours

Official language: German, also called Swiss-German

Why go? Hitting the nearby Alpine ski slopes and resorts may be reason enough to visit for many. But there's more to Zurich than just skiing and banking. Be prepared, it is one of the most expensive cities in the world to visit, but you can find bargains if you look. Clog along the cobblestone streets, visit churches, eat the frou-frou Swiss chocolate. Zurich West is trendier, with a club-like atmosphere. With all of its charm, Zurich demeanor remains polite and spiced with German.

Famous offerings: Lake Zurich, the Bahnhofstrasse, the Zurich Opera House, Rhine Falls.

Tourist attractions: Zurich Toy Museum, Fluntern Cemetery, Winterthur, Swiss Alps.

Average hotel cost: Budget: $125 USD (nightly rate), Expensive: $500-plus USD (nightly rate). The average hotel rate within the city is about $250 USD per night.

Unusual Facts: The University of Zurich costs just $1200 USD for a year. Tina Turner lives here. Kids don't go to school on Wednesdays and just 1 out of 10 people own their own home-the rest rent.

  • Zurich Tourism: Winter may be one of the best times to visit Zurich for discounts.
  • Zurich History: Get to know Zurich's prehistoric past to its future as an economic center of the world.

Edinburgh

The Capital City of France

Where it is: Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is located just northeast of the Scottish-English border near the North Sea.

Coordinates: 55' 56' 58" N, 3' 9' 37" W

Time zone: UTC/GMT

Official language: English

Why go? Edinburgh's a natural extension of any visit to the United Kingdom, only a few hours north of London. It's countryside, castles make it peaceful. The city life remains bustling with shopping, museums and nightlife. The Scottish accents are just as mesmerizing as the stereotypical rusty, red hair of many inhabitants. It's can be a relatively inexpensive vacation and students flock there for all over the world.

Famous offerings: Edinburgh Castle, Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh Zoo, the National Gallery of Scotland.

Tourist attractions: Edinburgh Castle, the Museum of Childhood, Royal Scottish Regimental Museum.

Average hotel cost: Budget: $125 USD (nightly rate), Expensive: $1100 USD (nightly rate). The average hotel rate within the city is about $300 USD per night.

Unusual Facts: Edinburgh's population doubles during the Edinburgh Festival. Edinburgh Castle has a dog cemetery. Weird medical cures, like dove poop, used to be peddled here to cure baldness. Sean Connery grew up here.

Additional Travel Information and Resources

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Hostels: It's easy to book a cheap hostel anywhere in the world.

Accessible Transportation Services: How to find national and local resources to help those who need extra help traveling due to disability.

State Department: Get travel warnings and stay safe when traveling abroad.

The Centers for Disease Control: Find out where disease makes it unsafe to travel.

Travel Healthy: World Watch information from the International Society of Travel Medicine.

The Ultimate Packing List: Know what to pack and not to pack before you go.

Priceline: Get the best bang for your buck.

Seat Guru: Finding the seatmap for your flight.

TimeOut City Guides: Your guides for major cities throughout the world.

Auto Europe: Find auto rentals anywhere on the continent.

A View on Cities: The searchable database puts the world's attractions at your fingertips.

Word Travels: Taking you where you want to go on every continent.

Vacation Rentals: Database listing over 160,000 rental properties worldwide.

Travel Tips: Just click on the location for local travel tips.

Travel USA: Click on any state to get the travel guide for that state.

Safe Travel USA: Find weather and road conditions, including construction.

Discover America: Places to see, personal experiences, and how to plan your trip.

Go Greyhound:Exploring the United States by bus-nothing like the open road.

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