From having your first kiss under the Eiffel Tower to watching your first sunset in Honolulu, if you were to experience life’s big firsts all over again, where would be the most quintessential destinations in the world to do it?
Using our specialist travel knowledge, we’ve put together a list of the ultimate places that are perfect for giving some of life’s big firsts another go.
Coined the best European country to drive in, Germany is known for being the home of some of the most stunning roads in the world, including the Romantic Road, the Wine Road, the Castle Road and the Fairy Tale Road. And with no maximum speed limit, there’s no better destination to roll the windows down, turn up the radio and feel the wind in your hair while cruising amongst spellbinding scenery of medieval castles, rolling hillside and charming villages.
We spoke to Adam and Hannah, travel writing duo at GettingStamped about their experience driving in Germany and what makes its roads so unique.
“Possibilities are endless when you’re exploring Germany along its roads and it’s up to each traveller how they want to explore them. You can travel the roads for three days or a week or more, depending on how many stops are made in little German towns along the way.
“We loved driving the Romantic Road because it’s one of the best ways to take in the scenic beauty Germany has to offer and visit fairy tale-like castles in Germany.”
Alternative destination: Route 66
One of the most famous (if not the most famous) driving routes in the world, Route 66 is certainly a must for those visiting the USA. Spanning a whopping 2,400 miles, Route 66 passes through eight states, starting in Chicago, Illinois and ending in Santa Monica, California. A tour of the country’s revolutionary pioneering heritage, the route’s top destinations include Oklahoma City, Santa Fe, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and more.
The world over, Dublin is known for its raucous nightlife enjoyed by both tourists and locals alike. Can you picture being anywhere better to enjoy your first legal drink than in a traditional Irish pub with a rollicking atmosphere?
Watching classic Irish singing and dancing that you can’t help but get join in with while enjoying your first ever pint of Guinness would certainly be a night to remember (and hopefully not forget!).
Dubliner Cath from Travel Around Ireland told us what makes Dublin a fantastic watering hole.
“Dublin is one of the friendliest cities in the world which makes it worth visiting. What makes Dublin unique is that you’ll always find the ‘craic’ around every corner. The ‘craic’ being fun, laughs and general merriment. Walk into any public house in Dublin and you’ll be greeted with a smile and asked what your poison is.
“It’s the perfect city to enjoy your first legal drink as you have such a choice of establishments to choose from. From small intimate pubs to the larger ones around Temple Bar, Dublin is your oyster when it comes to enjoying your first legal tipple. And if you want to combine a drink with some fun, many of the larger establishments in the city centre also have live bands and dance floors or are attached to a nightclub so you can enjoy some music at the same time.
“Just one word of warning: it is very easy to lose hours in one night while you are enjoying yourself. Pace yourself, especially if it is your first time enjoying a drink, so that it is a night to remember and not a night you will forget in a haze!”
Alternative destination: Oktoberfest
If Dublin doesn’t do it for you, then where better to enjoy your first legal pint than the world’s biggest beer festival? Held annually in Munich, Oktoberfest is Germany’s world-renowned folk festival that welcomes 6 million visitors into its Carnival-like tents over the 16 to 18-day festival. Enjoy amusement rides, attractions and more while sampling top Bavarian brews and excitable company.
How could we choose any other place on earth than Paris to have your first date and share your first kiss? Whether you’re gazing into your lover’s eyes across the table outside a vintage Parisian café or enjoying a romantic picnic on the Champ de Mars with the enchanting Eiffel Tower as your backdrop, it doesn’t get more romantic than this.
We spoke to romance expert Lily from Je T’Aime, Me Neither, asking how Paris lives up to its reputation as the City of Love.
“Gorgeous architecture, charming cobbled streets and alluring bars and restaurants all make Paris the perfect city for romance. Whether you picnic next to the Seine River with some red wine, bread and cheeses or enjoy a seductive cocktail in a speakeasy-style bar, the city offers endless great date ideas - you just need to be a little creative... and let yourself fall under its spell!”
Alternative destination: Santorini
A popular honeymoon destination, Santorini’s sun-bleached, sugar-cube houses and blue-domed roofs are enough to make you swoon. One of the Cyclades islands in Greece, romance can be found frolicking down an unassuming side street in Órmos Athiniós or at the bottom of a glass of ouzo while watching the sun set on the deep blue horizon from iconic Imerovigli. However you define romance, you’re sure to find it in Santorini.
When it comes to festivals, nobody does it better than Rio de Janeiro. Known as ‘The world’s biggest party’, every year the flamboyant, glitter-filled festival of Rio Carnival welcomes millions of people from all over the globe to celebrate in true Brazilian style on the streets of Rio.
"I went to the Carnival in Rio for the first time in 2018, and it's one of the best events I’ve ever attended,” travel writer Samira Holmer told us. “The carnival is all about being present and enjoying life. People are letting themselves go, wearing costumes, kissing, singing, dancing, and everything else you can and can't imagine.”
If you could attend your first festival all over again, you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to experience Carnival’s street parties and famous Samba Parade, where local samba schools compete against each other with hundreds of dancers, musicians, float operators all contending to be crowned the carnival winners.
“Brazilian Carnival belongs to the people and it's one of the rarest moments in which Samba schools from different neighbourhoods and favelas get to shine,” travel blogger Reut from Sugar Travels Blog. “The different Samba schools work hard all year long towards this monumental event, and the winning school is highly respected afterwards.
“Brazilian Carnival is different in every city, so you get to explore completely different festivities wherever you go. One day you can go to the Sambadrome to witness the biggest parades of the leading samba schools, then the next day, day party in the streets of Rio.”
Samira agrees that while the Samba parade is an important part of the carnival, the real parties happen on the streets in the form of blocos (street parties). “Blocos are local music groups transforming the city into a giant playground. Up to 70 official blocos can be playing in one day in Rio alone.
“The carnival is an unforgettable, crazy and unique experience, and should be lived at least once in your life. The celebrations take place all over Brazil, and each area has a different way of celebrating. You won’t forget it and you might, just like me, be back again and again."
Alternative destination: Holi Festival
Although it’s hard to top ‘The world’s biggest party’, another vibrant alternative would be the ancient Hindu tradition of Holi Festival in India, Nepal and Pakistan. Known as ‘The festival of colours’, this festival celebrates the end of winter and the ‘victory of good over evil’. After the ceremonious bonfire ritual, the next morning entails water balloon and water gun fights and not forgetting the throwing of bright and colourful powders at one another!
If you could sit back and watch the sunset again for the first time, can you picture anywhere more heavenly than Honolulu? A paradise on earth, this mesmerising gem in Hawaii is the perfect setting to watch the sky slowly turn from powder blue to bruised purple before erupting into a vibrant fiery orange.
Kathryn from Adventures of A+K told us what makes Honolulu, Oahu such a special destination.
“With perfect weather, sandy beaches, blue water, lush mountains and a bustling city, Honolulu offers a mix of relaxation and adventure, making it a perfect destination for travellers of all styles and ages. Whether you spend your day enjoying shave ice on the beach, hiking to a waterfall, learning about Hawaiian history, or shopping in Waikiki, you'll fall in love with the scenery, food, people, and culture.”
Kathryn told us why seeing a Honolulu sunset is like nothing you’ve ever witnessed before.
“Just when you think you couldn’t love Honolulu more, the blue sky transforms into vivid oranges, pinks, and yellows. Sunsets in Honolulu are magical and there are endless places to enjoy them. For a beach sunset, head to Waikiki Beach or venture west to Ko Olina. To see the sun set over the city, drive up to Tantalus Lookout, and if you’re up for a hike, climb up the stairs to Koko Crater for breathtaking views of the mountains, ocean and city.”
Alternative destination: Norway
Although Norway’s sunsets are pretty breathtaking all year round, we recommend visiting the North during May and July to witness its world-renowned Midnight Sun. A natural phenomenon whereby the sun doesn’t set completely, this stunning display of colours in the sky can be enjoyed until the early hours of the morning. Grab some supplies and find somewhere peaceful to take in the sights such as a lake or mountain to witness this otherworldly phenomenon.
The first time being out on the water is not something many of us forget. So, if we had to choose the most unforgettable destination in the world to do it all over again, it would have to be Halong Bay, Vietnam.
A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, weaving between Halong Bay’s moss-coated limestone islands is a bucket list experience that you’ll be hard-pressed to beat. With emerald green waters and stunning natural beauty at every turn, there are few places that can offer a level of tranquillity like Halong Bay can.
Travel blogger VickyFlipFlop told us what makes Vietnam such a mystical destination.
“Vietnam is one of the most interesting countries I've ever visited. The food is amazing, there's so much to do, and it has such an interesting history to learn from. Also, the many different landscapes are incredible.
“One of the best landscapes in Vietnam is found in Halong Bay. The huge limestone cliffs come up out of the water creating a unique and fascinating sight. One of the best ways to see the sights is to sign up to one of the Halong Bay junk boat rides. You'll travel out to the best of them and explore caves, go kayaking, and have some tasty food along the way. It's one of the most magical things to do in Vietnam and I'd totally recommend it.”
Temples and Treehouses blogger Maire also fell in love with Halong Bay and the Vietnamese culture when she visited.
“Vietnam offers incredible scenery, fast-paced cities, ornate temples and amazing food. In one day, you can have noodle soup for breakfast at a floating market, explore an ancient citadel, then sip cocktails at a trendy rooftop bar.
“Halong Bay, just east of Vietnam's buzzing capital, Hanoi, and is one of the most dramatically beautiful places in the world. Thousands of towering limestone islands spike up from a bright turquoise sea. You can sail between them in a junk boat, take to the ocean to scuba dive, and kayak past sea gypsy villages into secret lagoons.
“On Cát Bà Island you can visit a national park and biosphere reserve for hiking and bicycling, or explore Hang Sung Sot cave, which is filled with interesting rock formations. The area has even been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its ‘outstanding scenic beauty’.”
Alternative destination: The Danube River
The second-longest river in Europe, the Danube River offers spellbinding spectacles on its riverbanks which you won’t find on other scenic river cruises. Marvel at mystical castles, age-old medieval structures and enchanting forests all on one winding waterway. Starting in Germany’s Black Forest and ending at the Black Sea, the Danube winds its way through a whopping ten countries, passing a variety of notable cities including Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest.
Do you remember the first time you tried an international dish? The explosion of flavours, ingenious food combinations and never-experienced-before textures? These are the things that make the customs and traditions of different cultures so special, and worth taking the time to experience.
But if you were to try your first ever international dish all over again, who could say no to a bellissimo gourmet dish from Italy? Fresh, wholesome ingredients and delectable flavours to boot, Italian cuisine has its heart and soul poured into every dish.
Italian blogger Cinzia from Instantly Italy told us what sets Italian gastronomy apart from other international cuisines.
“What makes Italian food incredible is the richness of its flavours and its unbelievable diversity. Lots of people think that Italian food is just pizza and pasta but it’s a lot more than that. There are so many regional dishes - almost every town has its own traditional recipes and we have recipes for every occasion and every time of the year.”
And while there are ‘Italian’ dishes available to buy in every country, it just does not compare to the real deal.
“You can have Italian food outside of Italy, undoubtedly, but this just doesn’t taste the same,” says Cinzia. “Italy is the perfect place to eat Italian food because ingredients are fresh and locally sourced, which gives dishes a richness in taste you can’t find elsewhere. Moreover, many Italian restaurants in Italy follow ancient traditions and have recipes that you can find only there. Lastly, here you will find only the real Italian cuisine, not the Italian-American one that many people think is Italian.”
With Italy being home to some of the finest quality ingredients and skilfully crafted recipes on the planet, Cinzia says it’s hard to pick just one dish she’d recommend.
“It is very difficult to recommend just one or two dishes because the choices are so varied. I’d recommend doing some research or asking people about the traditional type of food or dish in the area that you are visiting. This way, you can discover some recipes you may not be able to find anywhere else in Italy. And always ask the locals about the best places to eat, so that you don’t end up in some tourist trap. Speaking of dishes, I am from Liguria, so if you do visit don’t miss out on trying the best pesto, focaccia and farinata.”
Alternative destination: Japan
One of the most popular delicacies in the world, Japanese gastronomy is nothing short of culinary excellence and is substantially different to western cuisine. With a focus on balance and variety, Japanese dishes are aesthetically pleasing, packed full of flavour and highly satisfying. So much so, in fact, the traditional Japanese cuisine of Washoku became a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage practice in 2013. Although traditional sushi and ramen certainly come recommended, there is so much more to Japanese food than just fish, rice and noodles. Try an unagi dish (eel), sukiyaki (hot pot), miso soup and more for a taste sensation.
Whether you’d like to while away the day sailing along Halong Bay like it’s your first boat ride or enjoy a drink or two in a bustling Dublin pub like you’ve just turned of age again, we have the cruise to suit. Browse our cruise deals or contact our friendly team today.