You’ve heard it a million times: Ours is an era in which people value experiences over stuff. Sure, nice things are great – but nice meals are better (especially when they’re cooked over hot lava or eaten at 12,000 feet above sea level). Collecting stuff is cool, but collecting memorable moments – like a sound bath in the desert or a train ride over 435 bridges – feeds the soul in a way that possessions just can’t. Going out and doing things satisfies our need to explore, to learn and to grow (and then to brag about it on social media).
Our company was founded 50 years ago to help people discover the best things to do. Like our guide to the world’s 50 coolest neighbourhoods, the DO List was created to distil that spirit. It’s curated from more than 5,000 recommendations by roughly 200 expert writers and editors in over 400 destinations worldwide, as well as suggestions from 15,000 of our readers.
These, in our humble and expert opinion, are the 50 very best experiences of their kind in the world right now. We’ve judged the list by uniqueness, timeliness, geographic diversity, and cultural brilliance – making good use of our expert theatre, art, museum, film, food and travel editors. We’ve also thrown in some irresistible trendy to-dos; we’re not above wanting to be part of a moment as pulse-racing as ziplining over a 1000-year-old city.
Our hope is that the DO List becomes not just your bucket list, but your inspiration to experience and appreciate the corners of magic in the world. Sure, none of the items on this list are as responsible as, say, buying a new washing machine, but unless that appliance has a secret portal to a room full of stardust, we reckon they’ll be a whole lot more fun. Happy travels!
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Find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world.
The very best things to do, all over the world
With her dream-like, kaleidoscopic world of polka dots, pumpkins and mirrors, Yayoi Kusama has become one of the most instantly recognisable artists in the world. People flock to be immersed in her surreal visions, and now there’s a permanent space dedicated to her work for Kusama addicts to get lost in. Yayoi’s very own museum is a slender, minimalist space that gives visitors an intimate glimpse into her work. Sure, there are the usual polka dots and pumpkins, but what makes this place really special is the focus on Kusama’s lesser-known archives and her very latest works. Getting tickets isn’t always easy – they must be purchased in advance through the museum’s website and, at the time of writing, you can’t get tickets on the door – but if you plan ahead you’ll be rewarded with a properly tranquil and personal experience of Kusama’s overwhelming, psychedelic art. Chee Wah Lim
New York, NY, USA
New York’s gritty, drug-fueled party scene has slowly eroded over the past two decades, but a handful of hotspots are keeping the city’s weird streak alive. House of Yes, a club tucked away on the edge of Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighbourhood, is the shining star in a new generation of local venues and events that encourage you to fly your freak flag. On any given night, you’ll find the house packed with insanely costumed aerialists and dancers. If you want to get in on the fun, there are often body painters on hand to turn your look up a notch (or 20), or just take it all off upstairs in the semi-secret hot tub which gives revellers a chance to bare it all in a safe space. All told, these euphoric parties are nothing short of a trip, whether or not you’re actually tripping. More than anything, House of Yes celebrates sexual freedom: the club’s owners have strict rules surrounding ‘enthusiastic consent’and the normalisation of activities that would feel taboo in almost any other city on the planet. Clayton Guse
In response to the near-biblical challenge of moving their northernmost town wholesale two miles east to escape subsidence from an iron-ore mine, the Swedes have done something typically civilised and Scandinavian: they’ve built an insanely cool sauna. ‘Solar Egg’ is an alien-looking, golden-mirror-clad ‘social sculpture’ by artists Bigert & Bergström, set on a hilltop to hold silent, otherworldly watch over Kiruna as it embarks on its epic nomadic journey. Enter its warm cocoon for relaxed contemplation and debate about society, the environment and the possibly itinerant future of mankind. All followed by a reinvigorating naked roll in the arctic snow. Malcolm Jack
Santa Fe, NM, USA
Hidden inside an unassuming building in Santa Fe’s industrial district lies an immersive, interactive installation where visitors can explore a multidimensional mystery dwelling – Meow Wolf’s ‘House of Eternal Return’. It has secret passages, portals to magical worlds, all manner of climbing apparatus and lounge spaces, plus surreal, mesmerising art exhibits. Slide through the washing machine to a room aglow with twinkling blue stars, or shimmy through rubber car-wash strips into a pitch-black room whose centrepiece is a giant laser harp. Kids go bonkers here, but it’s mind-bending entertainment for adults as well, especially as the space hides an award-winning music venue where the likes of Bob Moses, Kurt Vile and St Vincent have performed (after finding their way through the refrigerator and over the treehouse bridge to the stage, that is). Kate Wertheimer
Tejo is a wacky proposition for a national sport: drink copious amounts of beer while throwing metal pucks into a goal packed with clay. Oh, and that clay is studded with small explosives, which you’re meant to avoid, but you probably won’t because it’s fun to blow stuff up, and also, you’re drunk. This game is a great equaliser: played as often by dignitaries as by the working class, it was made internationally popular by the late Anthony Bourdain, who learned to play (and got appropriately sauced while doing so) at Los Amigos Club, where you too can toss a tejo puck, drink too much Poker (a local brew), and befriend the regulars. Kate Wertheimer
Australia’s island state might seem an unlikely place for a world-class museum, but then a lot of things about MONA are unlikely. It’s built underground, carved into the sandstone cliffs of the Berriedale Peninsula; it’s best reached by a high-speed, camo-painted ferry from Hobart’s waterfront; and it’s funded by the gambling proceeds of owner David Walsh. This year saw the opening of the Pharos Wing – the first expansion since MONA opened in 2011 – described by Walsh as ‘a testimonial to the power of light as art’. It’s one of the only places in the world right now where you can experience one of James Turrell’s perceptual cells: a fully immersive, hallucinatory light bath. This one, ‘Unseen Seen’, is housed in a silver sphere, lasts a full 15 minutes and is meant to be experienced in pairs. To reorient yourself afterwards, head to Faro bar for an Instagram-friendly Black Margarita, garnished with a pig’s eye encased in ice. Ruth Dawkins
Los Angeles, CA, USA
It isn’t summer in LA until the first of Cinespia’s cemetery screenings brings hordes of movie-lovers to the hallowed resting place of such Hollywood greats as Rudolph Valentino and Bugsy Siegel. Grab a spot on the Hollywood Forever Cemetery lawn (it’s BYO booze, blankets and snacks) and watch classic and cult films projected on to the side of a giant mausoleum. DJ sets, dance parties, fireworks, film-set-worthy photo booths and a few all-night slumber parties – plus quite a few living celebrities – complete this LA rite of passage; we’ve yet to experience a more magical movie screening. Can't get enough during summertime? Look out for special screenings in historic Downtown LA cinemas during the off-season. Michael Juliano
Dive into the wondrous universe of Antoni Gaudí in a way few others have, through his first big architectural undertaking. This is where he applied techniques, decorative motifs and symbols that years later he would use in his most famous buildings, including the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell. The marvel that is Casa Vicens was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, but wasn’t opened to the public until November 2017. Now visitors are able to explore the building that the Catalan architect designed in 1883 as a summer house for Manuel Vicens. It might seem odd to build a holiday home in a busy area of Barcelona, but back then, what is now the neighbourhood of Gràcia was a village. Top tip: if you visit on a Monday, you pay half-price. Erica Aspas
Marvel at Peru’s unique culinary ancestry in the country’s only restaurant specialising in high-altitude cuisine. Mil overlooks the ruins of Moray, a series of circular terraces built by the Inca as a kind of agricultural laboratory. In homage to these innovators, only ingredients grown at 11,500 feet or above are served: diners enjoy eight ‘moments’, featuring everything from local wine, to alpaca and a handful of Peru’s 4,000 types of tubers. Both the experience and the high-altitude location in the Sacred Valley will leave you breathless (literally, there's an oxygen tank on hand at the restaurant) – so plan a long, lingering lunch after a few days acclimatising in nearby Cusco. Steph Dyson
Portuguese cuisine is having a major moment right now, with whole grilled octopus tentacles, oozing croquetes and umami-rich salt cod appearing on fine-dining menus all over the world – and the country’s capital, of course, which is the place to go to sample these dishes. For the best snapshot of the country’s culinary legacy, head to Time Out Market in Lisbon. We don’t mean to toot our own horn, but Time Out’s editors and food critics have spent years scouring the city to deliver the very best cooking in town, under one roof, and in 2018 the market received the prestigious Hamburg Food Service Award, recognising it as ‘one of the most visionary concepts in the European foodservice sector’, so we’re not just being biased here. And it’s not only about food either – you’ll also get to enjoy cultural experiences, find shops selling traditional products and local wines, and attend a cooking school if you’re looking to hone your caldo verde-making skills. Then you can dance off your dinner at the performance space upstairs, celebrating Lisbon’s thriving nightlife scene. Alyx Gorman
Landers, CA, USA
Balance your chakras with a quartz crystal bowl sound bath in an acoustically (and aesthetically, in our opinion) perfect structure in the middle of the Joshua Tree desert. The all-white, all-wood, dome-topped sound chamber was built in 1959 by ufologist George Van Tassel, who claims to have been following instructions given to him by visiting Venusians. Book well in advance, and arrive early to relax in the many hammocks strung throughout the grounds (and to get that perfect Instagram shot). Post-bath, peruse old pamphlets, propaganda and newspaper clippings detailing the area’s still-active community of UFO enthusiasts, and see Van Tassel’s original plans for the building, which included bells and whistles for human cell rejuvenation, anti-gravity capabilities and time travel. Kate Wertheimer
The Museum of Broken Relationships is one of the world’s most eccentric collections. Set in an eighteenth-century palace in Zagreb’s Upper Town, this collection of objects has been donated by the public: each tells the story of a past relationship. The museum started life as a tongue-in-cheek touring exhibition nearly a decade ago; like its symbolic mementoes of failed relationships, it wasn’t supposed to be a long-term thing. Now it enjoys a cult status at its permanent home in Zagreb. If you’re recently heartbroken, cheer yourself up at its appetising new restaurant, which features playfully experimental takes on Croatian cuisine. Justin McDonnell
Thrill-seekers, look lively; you can launch yourself from Bergen’s highest mountain and hurtle down a giant zip wire that offers unparalleled views of the city and a huge adrenaline rush to boot. The 643-metre-high summit of Mount Ulriken is home to Norway’s fastest zipline, which opened in summer 2016. Harnessed and helmeted, adventure junkies plummet 300 metres toward Mount Fløyen, watching as Bergen’s spires, mountains and panoramic vistas of the fjords and North Sea rush by beneath their feet. Sure, every other scenic site has a zipline nowadays, but the twist of a millennium-old town beneath your feet makes this one special. With views like this, the hardest part will be getting off. Ellie Ross
Cape Town, South Africa
Since opening on Cape Town’s stunning V&A Waterfront in late 2017, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) has been attracting culture vultures from around the globe. The museum’s galleries are spread across nine floors, with a collection including work by brilliant artists like the feverishly political Glenn Ligon, Turner Prize-winner Chris Ofili and American painter Kehinde Wiley, who recently painted the gorgeously floral official portrait of Barack Obama. Above the museum resides the Silo Hotel, one of the buzziest – and priciest – hotels on the continent. (If the museum doesn’t satisfy your Instagram needs, make a beeline to the hotel’s painfully hip bar.) The not-for-profit museum – which collects, preserves, researches, and exhibits twenty-first-century art from Africa and its diaspora – hosts regular Museum Nights with free entry for the first 2,000 visitors between 5pm-10pm (and is free to all African citizens every Wednesday between 10am-1pm). Eric Grossman
Japanese whisky is all the rage right now – in fact, Suntory and Nikka, its two main producers, make some of the most expensive spirits on the market. Suntory’s Yamazaki distillery catapulted the entire category to fame in 2012, when Yamazaki 12 won the prestigious title of World’s Best Whisky. Its sister distillery, Hakushu, is well worth a visit on its own. Sitting roughly three hours outside of Tokyo in the pine forests of the southern Japanese Alps, this mountain temple to whisky is known for its ethereal spring water, which produces its signature fruity and smoky spirits. Visitors enter a sprawling welcome centre and museum filled with whisky memorabilia. To soak up the booze served in the gift shop tasting room, there’s onsite restaurant White Terrace serving traditional, locally sourced fare. Dan Q Dao
Taichung City, Taiwan
Once a settlement for retired veterans, this small village in Taiwan’s Taichung City was slated for demolition in 2010. Out of protest (and boredom), its only remaining resident, Huang Yung-fu, began painting colourful murals on every surface he could find. The village, which has since become a protected cultural site, is now one of the most beloved and enduringly delightful tourist attractions in Taichung, drawing over a million visitors a year. It’s free to stroll through, though we recommend going early to avoid the crowds and get the best views of the fantastically detailed, colourful paintings. If you see Huang (affectionately known as ‘Rainbow Grandpa’), stop and have a chat. Annette Chan
Montgomery, AL, USA
Stand in a building that once housed enslaved African Americans and confront the impact of the slave trade at the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. Tours begin with a series of replica slave pens where holograms tell tragic stories of families torn apart, using dialogue from first-person slave narratives. Also on view are glass jars filled with soil from lynching sites, part of the nation’s largest collection of data on lynching. Blocks away, a sculptural steel memorial to lynching victims viscerally evokes the reality of racial terror. Both sites opened in the spring of 2018, and present a powerful counter-narrative to the dozens of Confederate memorials around the state. It’s the first museum to trace the African American experience from slavery to mass incarceration, at a site where tens of thousands of human beings were sold into bondage. Meghan Holmes
Carrizal de Alajuela, Costa Rica
Embrace your inner canine on a stroll through otherworldly mountainside dog sanctuary Territorio de Zaguates (‘Land of Strays’), in the rolling Santa Barbara de Heredia hills. An hour from San José, Lya Battle and Alvaro Saumet have spent eight years cultivating this home to hundreds of Costa Rica’s roaming hounds (including unique crossbreeds with names like the long-legged Irish schnaufox and freckled terrierhuahua). Join them all on a two-mile guided hike that immerses you in the Costa Rican countryside, gains you hundreds of new furry friends, and helps ready the pups for future adoption through interactions with humans. Book your spot well in advance, then check in the morning of your tour to make sure the sanctuary is open; it sometimes closes at short notice if it’s short-staffed, as its funding comes solely from donations. In other words, donate! Duncan Madden
Most visitors to Iceland don’t make it beyond the Reykjavík region, which means that many never get to Mývatn Nature Baths, located 489 km from the capital. You can take the plunge, then, without rubbing shoulders with tons of tourists. Enter the pebble-lined pools and absorb minerals from the warm water that some claim can cure a hypochondriac Google search’s worth of ailments. The lagoon is open year-around, but ornithologists should visit in the spring, when nearby marshes serve as a breeding ground for a diverse gaggle of bird species. Complement your dip with in-water drink service, and the local speciality: cake-like rye bread, baked underground in a geothermic pit. Laura Studarus
Chicago, IL, USA
Sadly the Warehouse, the legendary Chicago nightclub where producer and DJ Frankie Knuckles popularised house music in the late ’70s, is long gone, but its legacy lives on at another local institution. Every Sunday night, subterranean Wrigleyville nightclub Smart Bar hosts Queen!, an inclusive evening filled with four on the floor beats, wild dancers and drag performers strutting around the venue. The party’s founder, Michael Serafini (who also owns local shop Gramaphone Records), regularly books Chicago house producers with deep roots in to the local scene as well as globally renowned selectors – keep an eye on the line-up (sometimes surprise guests get added late in the week) and arrive early to bag a spot on the crowded dancefloor. Zach Long
No, you haven’t fallen through a wormhole on to another planet: Atacama’s insane topography is right here on earth. Geysers gush into the freezing air 14,000ft above sea level, flamingos strut about in salt flats and wind-sculpted canyons undulate towards smoking volcanoes. NASA even tested its Mars Rover here. This otherworldly topography is best viewed on a hot-air balloon voyage at sunrise. Come nighttime, you’ll be looking up instead of down; Atacama boasts unbeatable clear skies due to its altitude, dryness and lack of pollution. Given the current trend for astro-tourism, the region has shot to the top of many a traveller’s bucket list for stargazing. Nebulae (interstellar clouds), planets and lunar craters can be seen with the naked eye, or you can register ahead to visit the world’s largest land-based observatory, ALMA, with a telescope ten times more powerful than the Hubble. Estella Shardlow
Boston Bay, Jamaica
Follow the waft of allspice and smoke to the coastal town where chicken first got the ‘jerk’ treatment. Long before it attracted a foodie fanbase from Brixton to Brooklyn, Boston Bay’s Maroon communities were perfecting their mouth-watering technique of marinating meat or fish with local Scotch bonnet peppers and seasonings. Today, most jerk sellers swear by their own particular mix and keep it a closely guarded secret. A far cry from some of the touristy resorts you’ll find elsewhere in Jamaica, Boston Bay comes up trumps for atmosphere and authenticity; literally hundreds of ramshackle stalls line its streets. Even better, you can wolf down your portion while watching the surf roll in on the town’s spectacular beach. Estella Shardlow
New Orleans, LA, USA
Studio Be may look like yet another disused warehouse transformed into a painted, photogenic feast, but here the display is a weighty, visually stunning homage to catastrophe, oppression, resistance and resilience. The artist behind the space, Brandan Odums (AKA Bmike) is known for his large-scale murals, which often celebrate African American icons. The outer walls have been painted by street artists and muralists from all over the world, and the space hosts regular talks and artist visits. New Orleans has changed considerably over a decade on from Hurricane Katrina. Studio Be articulates a perspective on the city that cannot be ignored. As the mural that spans the entrance wall puts it: ‘They tried to bury us: they didn’t know we were seeds’. Alyx Gorman
Beer and cycling are both religions in Belgium. What better way to worship these twin gods than with a two-wheeled pilgrimage to an abbey where monks have been brewing for centuries? The 28-mile Trappist Route is a self-guided bike tour that starts and ends at Westmalle, home to the eponymous beer. Tranquillity-seekers should come at dawn to truly experience the silence. Refuel afterwards with a Westmalle at next-door Café Trappisten, which also serves the abbey’s own cheese. The monks even have a handful of rooms available for those who want to join them for a few days of quiet contemplation. Sally Tipper
Drive for an hour on a bumpy dirt road in rural Chile for a great reward: 17 natural hot springs tucked into a narrow canyon of verdant rainforest. Japanese-inspired redwood walkways connect the steaming pools, which vary in size and temperature (there are multiple cool-down options: three plunge pools and two human-made waterfalls). The swirl of steam continuously alters your perspective as you gaze through the trees, and changing rooms have grass planted on the roofs. Be sure to visit the café pre- or post-soak, which is heated by an outdoor oven built into the wall and offers piping hot, locally grown coffee. Waheeda Harris
Imagine standing amid a six-football-field expanse of colourful light bulbs a couple of hundred metres from Uluru, the monolithic red rock at the heart of Australia and one of the most sacred Indigenous sites in the world. Well, that’s what Bruce Munroe’s solar-powered, site-specific artwork ‘The Field of Light’ is: 50,000 glowing orbs that bring a slice of ‘Avatar’ to the red centre. The piece is located in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and can be visited on foot at sunrise or sunset. Or you can opt to go all out and see it from a helicopter. The work was inspired by the intense spiritual energy of Uluru, and the sheer contrast between the work’s otherworldly glow against the red ochre sand and the magnificence of Uluru certainly provides a powerful sense of mystic wonder. The installation will finish at the end of 2020, so if you’re going to experience it, you’d better get planning. Jordan Kretchmer
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New7Wonders of Nature, the Puerto Princesa river flows directly beneath the St Paul Mountain Range and is the longest navigable underground river in the world. Exploring the this vast, pitch-black cave system in (almost silent) paddle boats lit only by boatmen’s lamps can be both spooky and serene but will be absolutely unforgettable. See waterfalls gushing through cave walls, prehistoric fossils and a cave covered in glittering crystals. A spiritual experience also awaits in the Cathedral Chamber, which soars 65 metres high, with what appear to be religious figures, a nativity scene and giant ‘melting’ candles within the rock formations. Jennifer Choo
When the Moroccan sun is at its most scorching, there’s only one place to retreat to in Marrakech, where art, design, fashion and nature meet. Back in 1980, French couturier Yves Saint Laurent found out that Jardin Majorelle, the beloved garden next to his villa created by French painter Jacques Majorelle, was to be replaced by a hotel. He rescued it by purchasing the plot, and today it’s home to an intimate museum, opened in 2017, boasting an exquisite collection of couture and accessories, alongside sketches and images of Saint Laurent’s many muses and inspirations. The Jardin Majorelle surrounds the museum – a truly enchanting oasis, accented by the intense and majestic ‘Majorelle blue’ walls. The gentle streams, shady corners and cool ponds covered in lilies are as much a feast for the senses as the couture creations in the museum. Katherine Brodsky
Seoul, South Korea
You can’t turn a corner in Seoul without finding an Olive Young, an Innisfree, or a Tony Moly: this is a country that takes its skincare seriously. But no store better exemplifies the K-beauty trend than the Dr Jart+ Filter Space. The beloved ‘cosmeceutical’ brand opened its factory-like flagship in Gangnam in 2016, but the three-storey building is as much an immersive experience as it is a temple to retail therapy. Designed to encapsulate the ‘essential elements of beauty’ – water, air, and light – the shop offers brand loyalists intricate skincare prescriptions called ‘Life Recipes’ based on their health and mood. Even those just passing through the front door airlock (yep) can sip on water distilled through high-tech machines or simply bask in the Seoul sunshine on the third-floor rooftop terrace. Laura Ratliff
Montreal, QC, Canada
What would happen if a day spa got it on with Soho House on a barge in the middle of Montreal’s Saint Lawrence River? That would be Bota Bota, a floating three level spa and bar where the city’s young and gorgeous types come to soak, steam, socialise and covertly suck THC lollipops. This place is a choose-your-own-adventure of chill, with several circuits of saunas, hot tubs, ice-cold plunge pools and heated rooms filled with suspended cocoon chairs. If you’re looking for tranquility, the spa’s Nordic circuits are designated silent areas, where chatters will be chastised. Feeling talkative? The centrepiece of Bota Bota is a large outdoor pool deck where conversation is encouraged, and the water is steamy enough to keep you warm even in Montreal’s bitter winters. They host DJs, movie screenings and live music here sometimes – so you can also soak in culture. The ultimate Nordic circuit challenge is behind the bar – a set of steps leading down to the river, which is partially frozen for much of the year. Plunge in for full body-shock, followed by waves of bliss. Alyx Gorman
The ambitious Bomontiada complex opened its doors in 2015 inside the long-abandoned Bomonti brewery, breathing much-needed fresh air to a sleepy neighbourhood that was once one of Istanbul’s most cosmopolitan areas. In addition to being the new location of Babylon, the iconic music venue that recently closed its home in Asmalımescit, Bomontiada is home to a variety of fantastic eateries including craft beer pub The Populist, modern meyhane Kiva, third-wave café Monochrome, delicatessen Delimonti and fine-dining restaurant Kilimanjaro. Also known as an arts hub, Bomontiada’s tenants include the multidisciplinary art space Alt, the Leica Store and Gallery, and the Ara Güler Museum, which houses the late Turkish-Armenian photographer's extensive archive. During the warmer months there are free outdoor concerts and film screenings in the courtyard, which attract huge crowds. Yusuf Huysal
Step into 3,300 square metres of massive space splashed with colourful projections and dedicated entirely to digital arts: welcome to L’Atelier des Lumières. Arts organisation Culturespaces has set up its brand-new, must-see project in a gorgeous former foundry (unoccupied for nearly 20 years), and has made great use of the building’s ten-metre-high ceilings with no less than 140 laser projectors and 50 speakers. The party has already begun with a giant display of works by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. In a word: illuminating! Houssine Bouchama
Unlike other volcanic destinations that tend to keep you well away from molten lava, at Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala you can experience the hot flowing bubbles up close. So close, in fact, that you're able to roast marshmallows and hot dogs above the fiery streams with no barriers or guards on-site. We recommend travelling to the volcano’s base with an Antigua tour company: you can check with them ahead of time to ensure the lava is active and to learn the flow’s current whereabouts. Keep your arms and legs covered for protection and wear shoes you don’t care about: you’ll likely have to leap over rivulets of lava to seal a prime roasting spot. Jenna Jonaitis
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Amsterdam’s iconic Rijksmuseum, home to centuries of great art, was designed by architect Pierre Cuypers in 1885. While the rest of the museum was recently given a refresh to keep it in step with the twenty-first century, its Research Library was kept as it was and oozes nineteenth-century atmosphere: it’s all wrought-iron, cathedral windows, balustrades and twisting spiral staircases. And, of course, there are floor-to-ceiling shelves of thick books. White-gloved art historians pore over rare tomes and the public aren’t allowed entry, save for a special reading room right in the library’s centre. Book in advance to visit, then request a book upon arrival, grab a seat and start learning how Rembrandt seemingly painted with light. Karen Burshtein
Fajardo, Puerto Rico, USA
If sipping champagne is like drinking stars, then kayaking across a bioluminescent sea is like paddling through them. In Puerto Rico’s Laguna Grande, bioluminescent marine organisms are the fireflies of the water: they emit an enzyme that glows in the dark. With each push of your paddle, the blade is tracked by thousands of points of light. Choose a clear night when the moon is new (a full moon makes the night sky too bright), and go with an experienced guide who knows the coves and bays where the bioluminescence hasn’t been ruined by pollution or recent storms. Bring a paddling buddy who will keep quiet (apart from oohs and ahhs) and see Mother Nature sparkle. Margaret Littman
Between Belgrade, Serbia and Bar, Montenegro
This extraordinary rail journey offers the chance to travel back in time, when dusty red velvet upholstery and thickly embroidered, threadbare curtains adorned hazy carriages carrying passengers slowly through what was formerly Yugoslavia. The Montenegro Express has been virtually untouched since its Soviet-era construction – it was opened by President Tito himself – and it continues to roll along one of the last historic railways in the region. Nearly 300 miles of track stretch from the Serbian capital to the Adriatic Sea, peppered with 435 bridges and 254 tunnels. In an era of high-speed trains and white-glove service, there’s a mysterious romance to the Montenegro Express, accompanied by the rhythmic rattling of untouched china in the empty dining car. Savour this experience before it inevitably vanishes. Kristy Alpert
Spare some time (and camera memory) for art that leaves a lasting impression. Step into the future at ArtScience Museum’s only permanent exhibition, ‘Future World’, where the envelope-pushing Japanese tech-art collective teamLab takes you through its immersive 4D art display powered by LED lights and motion sensors. Wander through this digitally rendered, kaleidoscopic natural world featuring six-metre high waterfalls, fluttering butterflies that disperse as you touch them, scattered cherry blossom and more. If you’ve got ’em, keep kids busy in the play section boasting slides, giant illuminated blocks and a colouring corner that instantly turns their doodles into digital art. Nicole-Marie Ng
Chicago IL, Buffalo NY, London UK
The world’s most hyped musical still lives up to its reputation. While tickets to the New York show are still sold for eye-popping prices (unless you’re lucky enough to win the lottery), the production is now touring around the United States and showing in Chicago and London to equally rave reviews. In both of these cities and on select tour dates around the United States, it’s possible to nab a ticket for under $100. Last we checked, Buffalo, NY had tickets starting from $80, Chicago had $72 tickets and in London it’s possible to get tickets for just £37.50, provided you book well in advance. San Franciscans are fresh out of luck though, with ticket costs soaring above even New York prices. Alyx Gorman
Maui, HI, USA
The road to Hana is Maui’s claim to road-trip awesomeness: a winding, 64-mile stretch of busted concrete, toppled trees and the occasional mudslide or overflowing waterfall (4WD is most definitely required). Visitors take on this challenge in droves, to be rewarded with sweeping verdant vistas, towering waterfalls and picture-perfect swimming holes seemingly around every corner. There is an embarrassment of natural riches along the road to Hana, but the sweetest reward for weary drivers is manmade. Glen Simkins, who’s lived on the famous roadway since 2008, whips up batches of organic vegan ice cream, made with coconut milk and served in planet-friendly coconut shells (even the spoons are fashioned from old coco husks), then serves it from a palm-frond shack. It’s a welcome treat made that much sweeter by the journey (we won’t judge if you get a double scoop). Before you hop back in your Jeep, grab a baggie of toasted coconut pieces for the road. Forget raisins, this stuff is nature’s real candy. Kate Wertheimer
Spend a Sunday afternoon sitting alongside families taking in a traditional charreria – Mexico’s answer to a rodeo – in one of the oldest stadiums in the country. The programme begins at noon sharp, and the excitement never wanes: horses whip round at breakneck speed amid whoops and hollers. Our favourite part? The escaramuza, where teams of gorgeously dressed women compete, riding sidesaddle. The sport originated in Jalisco – also home to mariachi music – so don’t be surprised if you’re serenaded by a local band. It’s easy to spend several hours there: vendors come by regularly with cold beers and shots of tequila, as well as pork rinds and popcorn drenched in chile con limón. Mariel Cruz
Scotland’s world-class design museum opened in September 2018 and it’s stunning both outside and in. The super-sleek building is the handiwork of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who used the dramatic cliffs of north-east Scotland as inspiration. Stop snapping riverside shots just long enough to head inside and explore the treasure box Scottish Design Galleries. Banish stereotypes of tartan and shortbread and marvel at ancient illustrations and contemporary fashion labels. But the jewel in the crown has to be Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Oak Room – an example of the famous designer’s work that was saved when its former location was demolished and which has sat in storage ever since. This magnificent former tearoom interior is a warm cocoon of glossy wood that smells as good as it looks. Rosemary Waugh
Germany’s not known for its sense of humour, but Mayowa Lynette is changing that with ISSA Comedy Show. The American-Nigerian filmmaker and comedian brings out the best of Berlin for her monthly night showcasing acts from around the world. The English-language event highlights queer performers and world-class comedians of colour before boiling over into a simmering hip-hop dance party that lasts well into the wee hours in true Berliner fashion. Plan to stay late, but arrive early: while tickets are available on the door, space is a hot commodity and the night has been known to sell out. Nathan Ma
Now that plants are officially trending (two million #plantsofinstagram posts can’t be wrong), there’s nowhere better for a green fix than the UK's Eden Project. Its two wondrously sci-fi looking biomes top 50 metres and house 2,000 tropical and Mediterranean plant species, including the rare, stinky and much-maligned Corpse Flower. Thrillseekers can explore the Rainforest Biome via a heartstoppingly high aerial walkway (complete with simulated monsoons) and even zipwire across the whole structure at 60mph. The biomes also light up in spectacular colours for Eden Sessions, the long-running nighttime concert series (Björk and Massive Attack played this year) – just remember to nab your spot early at the on-site hostel or campsite. With plans to build biomes on every continent, there’s never been a better time to visit the OG. Zhi Ying Tsjeng
You say you simply must see all the Roman ruins in Spain? Or perhaps you can't go on living until you've visited all the sets used to film scenes from 'Game of Thrones'? You get a two-for-one if you head to Italica, in Seville, where some 200 years before we started our current calendar, Romans built an amphitheatre that's also doubled as the Dragonpit in King's Landing. Feel the history of those who have come before you, men in ancient times who battled on the same spot where Cersei and Tyrion Lannister exchanged looks of sibling rivalry, where Daenerys made quite the entrance on the back of a dragon, where Brienne learned The Hound was still alive, and The Hound learned the same of his enslaved brother. In May 2018 the GoT cast and crew were back, filming for the much-anticipated final season. Whichever history speaks to you, this incredibly well-preserved Roman city is historical indeed, and in October 2018 was put up for consideration to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jan Fleischer
The cluster of buildings that were once the Central Police Compound and Victoria Prison in Central Hong Kong have been revitalised and revamped as the newest It spot in the city, opened in May. For history buffs, step back in time as you admire the well-preserved 170-year-old architecture and visit the former prison cell blocks. For art connoisseurs, exceptional contemporary exhibitions, innovative stage performances and Insta-worthy light shows await within these high red-bricked walls. And for foodies, get ready to tuck into international and fusion gourmet dishes and drinks in repurposed venues like Aaharn – a Thai eatery helmed by renowned Aussie chef David Thompson – and hidden bar Behind Bars. There are even free Sunday movie screenings on the steps. Olivia Lai
Milan is one of the world’s great shopping capitals, so it takes a lot to stand out as the city’s chicest destination. 10 Corso Como is a lot, and then some. Owned by Milanese fashion legend Carla Sozzani (sister of the late, great Vogue Italia editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani) this multi-storey converted warehouse stocks hundreds of the world’s coolest labels and objects, from fashion to art books to homewares. With regular exhibitions and a courtyard café serving one of Milan’s best hot chocolates, it's worth a visit even if you can't afford the frocks. With stores in Tokyo, Seoul, and lately New York, 10 Corso Como is becoming an empire. But, like a Prada backpack from 1984, the OG edition has a special magic. Alyx Gorman
Abu Dhabi, UAE
It may have taken 10 years to build, but the Louvre Abu Dhabi was definitely worth the wait. The building looks stunning as you approach from Saadiyat Island, but it’s only once you're inside that you discover just how amazing Jean Nouvel’s creation is. There’s art to see, sure, including works from Henri Matisse, Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent Van Gogh, as well as artifacts from ancient Egypt and the Middle East. But when you step outside the galleries and under the geometrically-cut dome, with light dappling down on you from the roof, you’ll realise the Louvre itself is a work of art. Be sure to visit the rooftop Art Lounge for a drink before you leave, and soak up the views out to sea. Paul Clifford
London’s Borough Market has a history that stretches back to the thirteenth century. Today, in the shadow of Southwark Cathedral, it’s livelier than ever, packed with traders selling top-quality artisan cheese, bread, veg, game, coffee and more. It’s also home to some of the best restaurants and bars in the city. But there’s more to it than this. Beneath its glass-and-iron canopy is the story of London’s ever-evolving relationship with food, from common necessity to cultural yardstick. Borough’s success as a gastronomic destination is perceivable on tables and counters right across the city. Anyway, when you’re done with your amateur social geography and foodie flânerie, head to The Market Porter pub. It opens at 6am for those market traders working the graveyard shift, so is a godsend if you’re up for a very early (or very late) one. Chris Waywell
Central China’s Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge was a smash hit when it opened in 2016. Measuring 430 metres in length and suspended 300 metres above the ground, it was both the longest and highest glass bridge in the world at the time, with a dizzying see-through walkway. Thrill-seeking visitors flocked to it, quickly outstripping the bridge’s capacity and forcing it to close for a month after one of the glass panes cracked. When it reopened, the bridge’s designers demonstrated its safety by pounding the glass panels with sledgehammers, proving how strong and safe the walkway is. The publicity stunt worked, and thousands of people continue to blithely stroll across the bridge every day. If that’s simply too tame, as of this year you can chuck yourself off it in the world’s highest bungee jump as well. Anna Ben Yehuda
Journey into another world (or 20) at Dubai’s VR Park. The world’s largest VR adventure land opened this year, and the futuristic experience goes way beyond putting on an Oculus Rift headset. Escape zombies in a ‘Walking Dead’-themed game, or hunt swamp monsters in a ‘Stranger Things’-esque version of the Louisiana bayou. Even the smells and temperatures are designed to fully suck you into VR Park’s imaginary worlds. You can also ride a hair-raising rollercoaster, zoom around the desert or hang out with dinosaurs. Many of the games and experiences are multi-player, so you won’t have to face an uncertain future alone. Alyx Gorman
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