Best 16 Museums in the World

Virgin vacations put out this list a while ago of the best 16 museums in the world.

I believe this list is a little American-centric, but I decided to put it to the test and see what real travelers thought about each one anyway.

1. Musee du Louvre, Paris, France

Dan of Dan-and-dee with an elaborate tomb in the Louvre

Dan of Dan-and-dee with an elaborate tomb in the Louvre

To be perfectly honest, we both enjoyed the outside of the Museum (ie the architecture of the buildings), more than the inside, the pyramids alone were spectacular and a lot less people to move between for a photo, or even just a glimpse!Dan-and-dee

2. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, USA

Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Jimandlaura

Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Jimandlaura

Took the subway uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wow, what a place. We loved it and we only scratched the surface. Particularly liked the modern art (Hirst, Pollock) and the ancient Japanese silk prints. You could spend a week there and still not see everything. Great cafe too!Jimandlaura

3. Vatican Museums, Vatican City, Rome, Italy

The ceiling in the Vatican Museums

The ceiling in the Vatican Museums

The museum was extended in 2000 for the millennial year celebration of Christ’s birth, and the renovations included a large spiral ramp leading to the entrance to the museums. We had fun by challenging the group to run up the spiral ramp while they took the escalator.

We saw a number of interesting sculptures while waiting in a courtyard to enter the first of the museums. One was of a pine cone from 1 AD or 2 AD, that was a symbol of fertility and was first made as a Roman fountain. In the courtyard, we also learned about the story and significance of the Sistine Chapel. The chapel is used as the place where the cardinals choose the next Pope. It was named after Pope Sixtus IV.

As we walked through various parts of the museums, I was surprised to see some art from Ancient Egypt and Greece, even including two marble sculptures of Diana the fertility goddess and Diana as the goddess of the hunt. Worship of Diana was notorious in the New Testament. It seemed to me as though the presence of the artwork indicated the idea that the church acknowledged and saw itself as the fulfillment of many earlier traditions and religious practices. My interpretation could, however, be incorrect.

I was awestruck by the tapestries depicting various events in Christ’s life. The tapestries were housed in a darkened room and one of them gave the impression that Christ’s eyes were following you as you walked past. Another interesting room was a room of ancient maps.Woodsfamily

4. Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy

Ruthperelstein on the terrace of the Uffizi Gallery

Ruthperelstein on the terrace of the Uffizi Gallery

Tuesday we visit the Uffizi Gallery. This is another place where you have to have a reservation. It does make it less stressful and you do beat the lines, which are long and full of grumpy tourists.

The Uffizi Gallery has the greatest collection of Italian paintings anywhere, including Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. It is beautiful. The time periods this museum are not my personal favorites but again the sculpture knocks us out.

Building of the palace was begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de’ Medici as the offices for the Florentine magistrates — hence the name “uffizi” (“offices”). There is also a corridor that extends for the end of the building along the Arno river and through the Ponte Vecchio to the Pitti Palace that is no longer used by was the way the elite could travel without stepping a foot into the dangerous streets.Ruthperelstein

5. Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain

Juliana of Paul-jules at the Prado Museum in Madrid

Juliana of Paul-jules at the Prado Museum in Madrid

We got to our hotel, and headed out to the Prado museum immediately. It is one of the best museums we have seen on the trip. It has a large number of El Greco paintings. He has become one of our favourite artists. It also has many by Raphael, Reubens, and Durer.Paul-jules

6. The State Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia

Fishtails04 found the State Hermitage overwhelming

Fishtails04 found the State Hermitage overwhelming

The State Hermitage, located in the former Winter Palace of the tsars, in St. Petersburg, houses one of the finest art collections in the world, with more than three million pieces – it seems that Catherine the Great liked big numbers in more than just her lovers. And that’s the problem really: it’s estimated that to walk through each of the galleries would total about twenty-five kilometres – i.e. it’s just too big to cover in an afternoon. It’s also too excessive in style for me to really enjoy: all busily decorated floors, marble pillars, highly decorated ceilings, heavy furniture, dark portraits of gloomy monarchs, imposing sculptures, huge crustal chandeliers, and gold and gilt opulence. As the guidebooks says, “One must visit the Hermitage on a visit to St Petersburg…”, and it was worth it to gain an appreciation of its scale, but I felt something of a failure when, after an hour and a half, I’d had enough and, with that sense of panic I experience in large department stores when I can’t see a way out, started frantically searching for an exit.Fishtails04

7. J. Paul Getty Center, Los Angeles, USA

Inside the J. Paul Getty Center with Jeznkez

Inside the J. Paul Getty Center with Jeznkez

At length the road wound up through the hills and we arrived at the J. Paul Getty Centre, which is a gigantic art museum, housed in a purpose built series of monoliths amid the verdant grounds. The museum is perched on a hill in the Santa Monica Mountains, looking over L.A. and out to sea.

We had nowhere near enough time to do justice to the whole four buildings, each of which contains different styles of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present, but had a good look around and enjoyed the peaceful and exquisitely conceived gardens, interwoven with sculptures and water features. The whole complex is constructed from Travertine (1.2 million square feet of it) which is a fossilized, textured stone that reflects the bright Californian sunlight, imparting the whole place with a luminous, ethereal glow. Overall an incredibly successful public space and a great example of modern architectural design and realization. And all free of charge!Jeznkez

8. Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France

Londonpenguin at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris

Londonpenguin at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris

Our long walk ended up at the Musee d’Orsay. I headed straight for the Impressionists upstairs, and leisurely made my way back down. Happened upon the Salle des Fetes, which is a glorious burst of gold, crystal and mirrors. I also found the Art Nouveau rooms and was really enjoying them when the announcement came over the loudspeaker that the museum would be closing in 15 minutes, which was half an hour earlier than we had been told. Slightly disappointing, but it was definitely worth going back to.Londonpenguin

9. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA

The Enemans standing in front of a fountain at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC

The Enemans standing in front of a fountain at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC

The style of the buildings downtown is such a far cry from anything else you’ll see. There were times when I thought even the Greek Gods would be impressed. I was surprised to see how brand new the art gallery looked, despite having been open for sixty years. The marble floors were pristine and the walls were un-scuffed as if it had been built last week. I was particularly anxious about the Ansel Adams beach photography gallery on display for a limited time.Jeneman

10. Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France

Mamakarpus at the Centre Pompidou in Paris

Mamakarpus at the Centre Pompidou in Paris

I really wanted to see the Pompidou Centre, so we went looking for that. It took us forever to find it, it was so annoying. We kept looking at the map backwards, so we were wandering around forever. Oh well. We eventually found it and it was pretty cool. It’s a modern art museum. I honestly didn’t care about going in to see the art, but I wanted to see the building and the fountains right beside it. So I was happy.Mamakarpus

11. Tate Modern, London, England

Laohallo's friend at the Tate Modern in London

Laohallo's friend at the Tate Modern in London

After borough markets we headed over to tate modern which is a modern art museum. Im blaming Tammy for picking this tourist attraction. Lets just say the art is very strange and modern. It was a good laugh though.Laohallo

12. Museum of Modern Art, New York City, USA

Julesjb found this statue in MoMA's sculpture garden

Julesjb found this statue in MoMA's sculpture garden

After that I then went across to Manhattan to see the MOMA (Museum Of Modern Art) which was amazing. All my favourites were there including Cezanne, Magritte, Picasso and Dali. I also saw a few Jackson Pollack’s which I thought were very impressive in terms of scale and use of paint.Julesjb

13. British Museum, London, England

Harmony at the British Museum in London

Harmony at the British Museum in London

It was spectacular and we could not believe the size and the amount of artifacts, especially since it was free to get in! We saw the Rosetta Stone, a massive Easter Island head, many beautiful Greco Roman sculptures, and much much more.Mikeandharmony

14. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, USA

Ineednewears found solace in this room at the Guggenheim museum

Ineednewears found this to be one quiet place in the Guggenheim museum

Who would have thought that on a windy, rainy, cold Friday evening dozens of people were willing to queue underneath the semi-permeable dripping roof of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in their damp clothes and soaked shoes just to get in for close to free (for some, pay-what-you-can comes frighteningly close to nothing). I pictured a Friday night at the “Gugg” along the lines of a Friday night at the library or much like a sheep pasture with but a few bodies scattered around in the far corners, but what I got involved much more arm-against-arm rubbing and additional queuing as the spiral-shaped interior, seven-levels high, filled up.

I complained not about the crowds but about the barriers along the spiraling platform being too low, and constantly feared toppling over to free fall and be torn open by one or more of the suspended cars on my way down. Ineednewears

15. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA

Toddfamily had a "Rocky moment" at the Philadelphia Art Museum

Toddfamily had a "Rocky moment" at the Philadelphia Art Museum

The next day we spent the morning on a bus tour of the city and ended up at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We really enjoyed this museum too and were once again lucky to join a tour with a very knowledgeable guide. We met Mark at the front of the museum afterwards and had a little Rocky moment on the front steps – those of you who know the first Rocky film will know this scene!Toddfamily

16. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA

Traveled loved the Chicago Art Institute

Traveled loved the Chicago Art Institute

We took the Metro to Union, then walked down Adams to the Art Institute. We saw more exhibits in one day than I recall seeing on any of my previous visits. We started off in the European area, then lunched at the cafe, which was surprisingly satisfying, and finally we took a couple more hours to walk through the American and photography exhibits. One my favorite works of the day was one that probably does not receive the attention it deserves, located in the corner of the same room as “American Gothic” by Hopper, called “Nightlife” by Motley. But of course, I also loved almost everything I saw there.Traveled

Featured blogs

11 Most Romantic Destinations in the World

TravelPod bloggers know how to treat their best friends and partners (or even just themselves!) to romantic getaways. Here are some of the most popular “romantic” destinations as decided by members of the TravelPod forum discussion topic, “Most romantic locations“.

1. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Pnp53 on the beach at Carmel-by-the-Sea

Pnp53 on the beach at Carmel-by-the-Sea

We drove down to the beach and explored for a while. It wasn’t crowded and was very nice. We sat in a tree and relaxed. Danny went back later and ran the beach.Pnp53

2. Sunset cruise in Key West, Florida

Jeffmx64 on a sunset cruise in Key West after their wedding

Jeffmx64 on a sunset cruise in Key West after their wedding

The journey back to port was breathtaking as the sun slowly sank behind the horizon and filled the sky with every color of orange and pink imaginable. I could not have imagined a better day. We were married in paradise, celebrated on Duval Street and wrapped it up snorkeling on the reefs.Jeffmx64

3. Plains of the Serengeti

Kasnsqueak on the Serengeti plains

Kasnsqueak on the Serengeti plains

At night we could here lots of noises as there were no fences and as we camped on the river the animals crossed sometimes into the camp so the camp had 3 Maasai warriors as guards to keep the animals out. These tall men carried their weapons of a spear; machete and club so were well armed. Over the 3 nights we heard hyenas, baboons and elephants and even saw the elephants just down from our hut in the river and the Maasai chased them away.Kasnsqueak

4. St Lucia

Ri-anne.cruz in St. Lucia

Ri-anne.cruz in St. Lucia

This Caribbean landscape seems too good to be true! This island is incredibly picturesque… a mixture of luxuriant tropical vegetation on a mountainous landscape, stunning beaches and Creole culture… now I realize that’s why they call St. Lucia —- SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL !!Ri-anne.cruz

5. Maldives

Eastcoastrod with his wife on their honeymoon in Maldives

Eastcoastrod with his wife on their honeymoon in Maldives

We were to spend our days lazing away, dressed appropriately in as little clothing and as little footwear as possible. Every morning, as our eyes slowly adjusted to the morning light, we would stare at the ceiling, oblivious to the time of morning, watching the sunlight filter through the wooden blinds, jagged lines dancing on the ceiling as they mirrored the ebb and flow of the tides. Breakfasts were sometimes two hour long affairs, consisting of a table cluttered with food of various cuisines – Sushi, Indian curries, Cold cuts, and Oriental fried rice.Eastcoastrod

6. Seychelles

Excope had "vacation elation" after visiting Seychelles

Excope had "vacation elation" after visiting Seychelles

There are no words available to describe giant granite boulders scattered wildly, resting in the white sands, surrounded by an oriental carpet of impossibly-varied green and blue tones – there just isn’t. I spent the next several hours swimming and staring at what lay before me, and truly had to wonder if it was real. I felt as if I was in a cartoon, everywhere I looked, was a perfect picture that anyone could find as a default background setting on their computer. It was truly an awe-inspiring, exactly-why-I-came-here feeling that I will never forget.Excope

7. Santorini, Greece

Akopplin enjoying the beach on Santorini

Akopplin enjoying the beach on Santorini

It is nice waking up in the morning and looking out the tent door directly into the ocean. First night we were down on the beach, and now we moved it up a cliff for a really great view. Akopplin

8. The Romantic Road

Brian796's friends at Neuschwanstein Castle on the Romantic Road

Brian796's friends at Neuschwanstein Castle on the Romantic Road

Cindy and Alycia rode the horse-drawn carriage most of the way up to Castle Neuschwanstein while Trey and I walked up. Built under the commission of King Ludwig II of Bavaria in the late 19th century, it’s a fairy tale castle rather than a true fortress against invaders. It’s the castle that Walt Disney based his on when building his first theme park. Most of the visitors were Americans, Orientals, Australians, and Brits, as a result of its “fake” status. Nevertheless, we had a good time and the castle is not only fun to tour but has some interesting history and stories behind it.Brian796

9. Paris, France

Luahn and her boyfriend in Paris under the Eiffel Tower

Luahn and her boyfriend in Paris under the Eiffel Tower

From the top of the Arc, the Champs Elysees looked magnificent because by the time we had made it to the top, the sun had gone down and the lights were twinkling away. In the distance, the Eiffel Tower made a guest appearance. It was just as I pictured it having seen lots of romantic comedy movies! Dave and I had a nice little cuddle and I was so thankful that he took me to Paris.Luahn

10. Monte Carlo, Monaco

Brianandjulie had a romantic breakfast in Monaco on their honeymoon

Brianandjulie had a romantic lunch in Monaco on their honeymoon

We spent the morning having a croissant, diet coke, and coffee, watching people walk by as we sat in an outdoor cafe.Brianandjulie

11. Gythion, Greece (Historical Bonus)

Bogna found the place where Helen and Paris' romance began

Bogna found the place where Helen and Paris' romance began

I read in my guide book that at the island where we went, there had started the romance of Helen and Paris, and at the same time – the Trojan War. We spent 3 hours there, swimming in clear like a crystal and azure water and resting in a shade of trees.Bogna

Hot places

5 best nude beaches in the world

TripAdvisor recently released its yearly list of the best nude beaches in the world. Most of them are in North America, why is that? Surely there are other nudist beaches elsewhere in the world…

1. Haulover Beach, Miami Beach, Florida, USA

Yyztrvlr's friend blowing up an air mattress on Haulover Beach

Yyztrvlr's friend blowing up an air mattress on Haulover Beach

We spent little time lounging on Miami Beach but instead headed north to Haulover Beach where we were able to spread out and still be amid a huge crowd but didn’t feel as though we were going to be stepped on by every passer by. – Yyztrvlr

2. Wreck Beach, Vancouver, Canada

Deepfin went totally nude at Wreck Beach

Deepfin went totally nude at Wreck Beach

You can be nude at Wreck if you want, so I was. It’s actually kinda weird if you are dressed because so many people are in their birthday suits. And you get this guy walking by with nothing but a little hip sack and a cooler selling beer. And another person going by selling special cookies. It’s such a cool place. And there is so much to look at. Excellent for people watching. Deepfin

3. Paradise Beach, Mykonos, Greece

Lovin_apples swimming in the background, nudist in the foreground

Lovin_apples swimming in the background, nudist in the foreground

Everyone tends to kick back, have a couple of drinks, head down the beach, take their clothes off and laze around in the sun all day. Paradise beach especially has a really relaxed atmosphere, with tunes pumping out from the bars, beds and couches and deckchairs spread at different intervals along the high side, with loungers and thatched style umbrellas lined up closer to the sea. Lovin_apples

4. Orient Beach, St. Maarten, Caribbean

Advertisement for a nude beach in St. Martin

Advertisement for a nude beach in St. Martin

Orient Beach is the most famous NUDE beach on St. Martin and it is located at the Northeastern side of the island (French side by the way). The beach is okay but a little too crowded, the water is nicely blue but still a little muddy; however, people on the beach are not all that beautiful. While there are many bars and restaurants along the beach, they are all quite expensive. There was a band playing reggae music in one of the beach bars but songs they played are those cheesy Caribbean staples. I was sort of ready to leave after like, 40 minutes.Whk2006

5. Black’s Beach, San Diego, California, USA

Larrykrista exploring San Diego

Larrykrista exploring San Diego

We visited San Diego’s nude beach. How does a game of naked beach volleyball sound? Worn out from all the activities, we decided to head back to the hotel pad and relax before going out tonight. Larrykrista

Hot places

22 Quietest Places in the World

A little while ago, ForbesTraveler.com featured 10 of the quietest places in the world. I wanted to see what TravelPod bloggers thought about all these places. I posed the question to people in the forums and we expanded our list.

What are your favourite places to go for peace and quiet?

1. The Hoh Valley

Jwmoles found the Hoh Valley amazing

Jwmoles found the Hoh Valley fascinating

Hoh Rain Forest – A real, live rainforest, right in the middle of the U.S. (well, not in the middle). This place is unreal. There’s an area here called the Hall of Mosses that looks like a scene out of a Lord of the Rings movie. Fascinating. – Jwmoles

2. The Grand Canyon

Kristenvv enjoyed the sunrise at the Grand Canyon

Kristenvv enjoyed the sunrise at the Grand Canyon

The morning sunrise on the walls of the canyon was spectacular! The hike out was the hardest. Four miles straight up. – Kristenvv

3. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Paul of Paul_and_mandy in the "super lava tube"

Paul of Paul_and_mandy in the "super lava tube"

We hiked down into a natural bowl in the earth, a forest preserve the lava hadn’t touched — full of birds and giant tree ferns. After a short walk we came across a black hole in the earth. It’s a cave, it’s a tunnel no its Super-Lava Tube. The tube, about a 1/2 mile long, is a 500-year old lava cave formed when an underground channel of molten lava drained from its cooled walls forming a massive, hollow chamber. You pop out the other side back into the tropical rainforest. Strange almost. – Paul_and_mandy

4. Cape Cod

Sschwaiger's kids fishing in a Cape Cod lake

Sschwaiger's kids fishing in a Cape Cod lake

Our tent site had a track down to the ‘kettle pond’ so we traipsed down and had one cast into the (supposedly) well stocked trout and salmon pond, before losing the lure to a root. Matt went out 50 yards fully dressed to rescue the line while Aviva, Dan & Tom found new friends and bobbed around in the lake. – Sschwaiger

5. The Gobi Desert

Nz2uk travel along an empty road in the Gobi desert

Nz2uk travel along an empty road in the Gobi desert

Soon we entered the sandy Gobi desert (it seems to change every few hours), gusty winds creating sand waves on the road and low visibility. Quite eerie. – Nz2uk

6. The Kalahari Desert

Arjenandeline cook in the Kalahari desert

Arjenandeline were isolated in the Kalahari desert

We drove on to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, where we spent some of our most memorable nights. We had to bring lots of extra petrol, wood, water and food, as it is a very isolated park. There are no facilities and no fences, so you basically sleep with the animals. Key thing here is to make a fire (‘bush t.v.’), eat and get into your tent before it gets dark, because that is when the lions start hunting. There was a pride of about 8 roaming around our campsite, plus a single male. To hear the lion’s roar at night truly puts you on your place as a human being. – Arjenandeline

7. Anza-Borrego State Park, California

Happywayfarer spent a few days camping in Anza-Borrego state park

Happywayfarer spent a few days camping in Anza-Borrego state park

At nearly 700,000 acres Anza-Borrego is one of the biggest state parks. It is mostly wilderness and a remarkable desert environment. – Happywayfarer

8. Loch Lomond, Scotland

Justinrowe enjoying a few beers in Loch Lomond

Justinrowe enjoying a few beers in Loch Lomond

In the morning we were up early before the sun to climb Conic Hill. The path started next to where we stayed the night and it was about a half hour climb to the top. From there we watched the sun rise over Loch Lomond. The view over the lake and the surrounding hills was stunning. – Justinrowe

9. The Muir Woods, California

Goldenfrog88 in Muir Woods

Goldenfrog88 in Muir Woods

I biked to Muir Woods where there are Redwood Trees. At the top, I had to descend for 4 miles to get to the park….which meant more uphill on the way back. I was apparently the only idiot to bike there as I never saw another one of me. The trees were beautiful and just as I remembered them when I went with my family to a redwood national forest. – Goldenfrog88

10. Victoria Falls

Goodrichodyssey loved the view of Victoria Falls

Goodrichodyssey loved the view of Victoria Falls

We paid our $20 US dollars each and made our way to a view that has been talked about since man first set his eyes on it “Victoria Falls”. The pictures do not do it justice. – Goodrichodyssey

11. Antarctica

Roamingmonk went to Antarctica for their 15th anniversary

Roamingmonk went to Antarctica for their 15th anniversary

Our first landing on the actual Antarctic peninsula was at Nico Harbour, this impossibly beautiful bay, surrounded by 60m high glaciers that went as far as the eye could see and massive snow covered mountain peaks. Honestly, it´s indescribable. – Roamingmonk

12. The Arctic

Ditchthecube drove his car to the Arctic Circle

Ditchthecube drove his car to the Arctic Circle

The scenery is utterly beautiful as you drive up the first half of the highway. It winds through Tombstone Territorial Park, as well as a high plateau that leads up to the Eagle Plains Hotel, the halfway point service station. – Ditchthecube

13. Saba, Netherlands Antilles

Gemmathomas got all muddy climbing Mount Scenery

Gemmathomas got all muddy climbing Mount Scenery

After St Eustatius we headed over to Saba, as the island got smaller they got nicer and improved my impression of the Caribbean. – Gemmathomas

14. Harbour Island

Outbound5 visited the pink sands of Harbour Island

Outbound5 visited the pink sands of Harbour Island

A man riding a horse in the ocean, stuffed turtles, and holding the worlds largest coconut were some other highlights before leaving the island. –

15. Death Valley

Twinkfran found Death Valley sweltering

Twinkfran found Death Valley sweltering

In one drive we see barren plains, mud flats, sand dunes and mountains. I think the countryside of the US is often forgotten or underrated compared to the cities but it really is amazing. – Twinkfran

16. Rose Test Garden

Cgibbons18 smelling roses at the Rose Test Garden in Oregon

Cgibbons18 smelling roses at the Rose Test Garden in Oregon

Walked the gardens in the rain, and they were gorgeous regardless. The rose smell was wonderfully overwhelming. – Cgibbons18

17. Baker Beach

Yyztrvlr at Baker Beach in California

Yyztrvlr at Baker Beach in California

The beach was sparsely populated. A few kids seemed either brave enough or foolish enough to run and splash around in the cold waters of the Pacific. Most people were covered in jackets or wrapped in blankets and tending to fishing poles. Strangely there were 3 people who still seemed to think it was a good day to be naked on the beach. – Yyztrvlr

18. Gatineau Park, Quebec

Ariteo swimming near Gatineau Park

Ariteo swimming near Gatineau Park

We headed north for a couple of weeks to Tia, Eva and Mary’s cottage in La Peche township in Quebec, close to Gatineau Park. We had a great time, eating, drinking, swimming and loon-watching. – Ariteo

19. Jasper National Park

Dlpool enjoyed the view in Jasper National Park

Dlpool enjoyed the view in Jasper National Park

We spent the rest of the trip looking up most of the time at the spectacular mountains and glaciers, and reminiscing about our visit to the area a few years ago. – Dlpool

20. Lake Louise

Jess_stewart went horsebackriding at Lake Louise

Jess_stewart went horsebackriding at Lake Louise

The ride started through the woods of Lake Louise, and our guide walked us through a little history of the area and then it ended at the Lake. I could just make out this gorgeous blue through the trees, and then when we came into the open I could see Lake Louise. It’s now melted and the colour that has come through is spectacular. – Jess_stewart

21. Lake District, UK

Alanna.holloway in the Lakes District

Alanna.holloway in the Lakes District

It was finally semi decent weather and so I went for a few walks up and down lots of hills. This was heaps of fun and I got some really amazing views while out and about. – Alanna.holloway

22. Nagano, Japan

Mchao visited a famous temple in Nagano

Mchao visited a famous temple in Nagano

The main site is the major Zen temple Zenkoji. The walk up is pretty devoid of people, but the actual shrine grounds are totally packed, way more than I expected. Turns out that this is one of the years (every 7) that the enshrined Buddha is connected to a wooden post placed in the courtyard by a rope of multicolored strings. This creates a ‘direct’ connection between the Buddha and pilgrims who touch the wooden pillar. Of course this means that there’s a ton of people waiting for the chance to create this cosmic connection, which apparently is supposed to help you get a peaceful death. How…comforting? – Mchao

Hot places

8 More Quirky Museums Around the World

I enjoyed putting my previous list of wacky museums together so much, that I decided to create another one. Here are some more bizarre museums bloggers in the TravelPod forums, recommend.

1. Cumberland Pencil Museum, Cumbria, United Kingdom

Tomodea was fascinated by the pencil museum

Tomodea was fascinated by the pencil museum

Then on to Keswick to the Cumberland Pencil Museum which tells the story of the discovery of graphite and how pencils were developed. We saw the large range of products now produced – many more than we were aware of. We learned that during World War II there was a special section making pencils for British aircraft crews. These pencils also contained a compass and a map of the area the crews were flying over. They were a different colour than the other wartime pencils. – Tomodea

2. Teddy Bear Museum, Jeju Island, South Korea

Wjrohde and the political teddy bears in Jeju Island

Wjrohde and the political teddy bears in Jeju Island

Teddy bears were dressed up and displayed in all sorts of interesting, strange fashions. Some of my favorites were the renditions of Gandhi, the moon landing and Michael Jordan. – Wjrohde

3. Sex Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

This lady frightened Amygz's friend at the Sex Musem in Amsterdam

This lady frightened Amygz's friend at the Sex Musem in Amsterdam

We stopped off at the Sex Museum which was … um … interesting but kinda gross! One place where i didnt take many photos! Just didnt seem right to take pics of photos of people having sex in so many different places and ways!! – Amygz

4. Devil Museum, Kaunas Lithuania

Pwong was disappointed in the Devil Museum

Pwong was disappointed in the Devil Museum

Part of coming to Kaunas was to see the Devil Museum – it sounded really interesting from the guidebook description but it turned out to be rather disappointing. I expected the focus to be more on the myth and folklore, rather than just one man’s collection of assorted Devil paraphernalia. A little more creepiness would have also been nice. Every piece in this museum was owned by a Lithuanian artist, Antanas Zmuidzinavicius. He lived until the age of 90 and believed that his longevity stemmed from his obsession with the Devil. – Pwong

5. Musee Mecanique, San Francisco, California

Cklenotic had her fortune told by "Grandma"

Cklenotic had her fortune told by "Grandma"

Then I headed over to Musee Mecanique on pier 43, a free, time-warped arcade with mechanical fortune tellers circa Big, nickelodeons and quirky games like an arm-wrestling machine (I ran out of quarters before I could beat that machine’s ass). I had Grandma “tell me” my fortune (a card popped out), and apparently I’m a virtuous person, but I have some trouble with the devil…”The devil will get you if you don’t watch. out.” I also had my next career predicted, and I guess it’s in the stars for me to practice psychiatry. And, I learned what my friends call me behind my back: wild (huh? I don’t think ANYONE has ever described me that way). – Cklenotic

6. Devil’s Rope Museum, McLean, Texas

Funkinthetrunk acting tough at the Devil's Rope Museum

Funkinthetrunk acting tough at the Devil's Rope Museum

It was a museum all about barbed wire. Now if your thinking, “Barbed Wire? What could there be to see?”. A LOT! I’ve never seen so many examples of barbed wire. There must have been thousands of examples of different ways to form this stuff. Not to mention several different sculptures made from barbed wire as well as the different machinery used to make the fences. Overall it was one of the most unique museums I’ve ever been to. – Funkinthetrunk

7. Glore Psychiatric Museum, St. Joseph, Missouri

A "coffin cage" at the Glore Psychiatric Museum

A "coffin cage" at the Glore Psychiatric Museum

We toured the Glore Psychiatric Museum. They attempted to keep me, but I escaped. The Museum showed how the mentally ill were treated before modern medicine. They were caged in coffin like devices and made to run on enclosed wheels. One woman swallowed about a thousand nails and screws. She died after surgery. – Leonardgrill

8. Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada

Tanyabolt loved the Bata Shoe Museum

Tanyabolt loved the Bata Shoe Museum

I found my most favourite place in the world, The Bata Shoe Museum. With some 1200 shoes it was like a dream for me. Pitty you can’t buy any of them, but I found out that you can get married there. Always an option if I could ever find Mr Right. – Tanyabolt

Hot places

5 Adrenaline-Pumping Thrills to Find This Summer

1. Zip line, Maui, Hawaii

Kristint ziplining through the Hawaiian mountains

Kristint ziplining through the Hawaiian mountains

Toben and his roommates were so welcoming, it was the friends we made in Maui that really set the island apart from the others. With them, we visited a spectacular blowhole fueled by massive waves, played improvised music at the Fuzz Box studio, and had a private sunset zip-line tour.Kristint

2. Rain forest sledding, Ocho Rios, Jamaica

2technocavers on a bobsled through the rainforest

2technocavers on a bobsled through the rainforest

I couldn’t take pictures until we were at the end of the ride- wheeee! was it ever fast!2technocavers

3. Crocodile close-ups, Darwin, Australia

Elijah holding a crocodile at Crocosaurus Cove

Elijah holding a crocodile at Crocosaurus Cove

You pay big bucks to be lowered in a cage to swim with the BIG BOYS (Saltwater crocs). Not much action today from the crocs but you can see the scratches on the cage where they have obviously given it a go in the past. It’s a fairly good park although I’m not sure it’s worth what you pay. Seen a lot of the same stuff at a couple of the other places we’ve visited lately too. One novelty is a cage that you can get up underneath and look up at the croc through glass domes so can look face to face with them. Kids enjoyed this. They do the standard feed the crocs try and make them jump out of the water… they seemed pretty sluggish to me. There’s a pretty good reptile walk through area and also a museum of stuffed crocs all the different types from around the world which was interesting comparing them all. Think I might nearly be over crocs!Drownsroundaus

Adrenaline Pumping Theme Parks

4. Kings Island, Ohio

Jimho enjoyed Kings Island with his family

Jimho enjoyed Kings Island with his family

There were so many cool rides at Kings Island we could have spent another day there easily. There was a couple of indoor rides that really surprised us, one was a indoor coaster and another was the Tomb Raider ride which went pitch black then flipped us upside down a few times.Jimho

5. Six Flags Magic Mountain

Tatsu rollercoaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain

Tatsu rollercoaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain

For our second day in LA, we went to Six Flags Magic Mountain, which is a huge themepark (apparently one of the best anywhere). While it was a Sunday, it was actually fairly empty (I was expecting it to be packed seeing as it was a weekend). Quite a few of the rides had virtually no queue at all which was pretty cool. I did as many of the rides as possible in the time available, and they were all awesome – needless to say they were a million times better than what Rainbows End has to offer back home!Marksadventures

Hot places

10 best places in the U.S.A.

Polydemic is a superb addition to the TravelPod community. He knows all there is to know about the U.S.A. Here are his top picks for an American vacation.

1. Denali Park, Alaska

Denali Park in Alaska with Kitchenshrink

Denali Park in Alaska with Kitchenshrink

I can only say that the millions of acres of park yielded landscape and wildlife that we will never forget. – Kitchenshrink

2. The Grand Canyon, Arizona

Crapper66 at the Grand Canyon

Crapper66 at the Grand Canyon

It was pretty cool, but there’s some limit of awe to a big hole we stood there for about ten minutes then we started getting cold and headed back to the car. – Crapper66

3. The Adirondacks, New York

Keralajs at Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks

Keralajs at Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks

After leaving Lake George, we drove along our favorite road in the Adirondacks, Route 28N, and stopped in Newcomb to view the high peaks. – Keralajs

4. Mammoth Caves, Kentucky

Hillaryjoseph in Mammoth Caves

Hillaryjoseph in Mammoth Caves

Once under ground, however, I was completely entertained by the educational, yet interesting tour guide, and awed by the amazing rock formations. – Hillaryjoseph

5. Yellowstone Park, Wyoming

Lauravanwaas' friend with a geyser in Yellowstone

Lauravanwaas' friend with a geyser in Yellowstone

There is just a sprinkling of snow on the highest mountaintops and the entire area is bathed in the most blissful autumn sunshine. – Lauravanwaas

6. Yosemite Park, California

Traceywilson in Yosemite National Park

Traceywilson in Yosemite National Park

On my way into the park I saw a kingfisher and plenty of birds of prey. The smell of the trees was just fantastic. – Traceywilson

7. The Everglades, Florida

Couchonbp in the Everglades

An alligator in the Everglades

We saw a couple alligators, lizards, storks, and giant mutant teenage grasshoppers that were everywhere! We also saw turtles and woodpeckers. – Couchonbp

8. Mt Rainier, Washington

Jwmoles on top of Mt. Rainier

Jwmoles on top of Mt. Rainier

Nevertheless, I made it! The summit crater is huge. At the top, we walked across the crater (it takes about twenty minutes) to the true summit at Columbia Crest. – Jwmoles

9. Crater Lake, Oregon

Foreman on the edge of Crater Lake

Foreman on the edge of Crater Lake

It was amazing. In fact we look at photos, and I think they almost looked super-imposed; the background looks false. Let me assure you, it is VERY real. Quite surreal. – Foreman

10. Meteor Crater, Arizona

Johnrandall at Meteor Crater

Johnrandall at Meteor Crater

This is a neat place and a nice little side trip, it’s the best $15 I’ve spent to see a big hole in the ground. ; ) – Johnrandall

Hot places

Top 10 Free U.S. Attractions

Here’s TripAdvisor’s list of the best free attractions in the U.S. released last spring, but it’s still relevant. Let’s see what TravelPod bloggers thought about it:

1. Bellagio Fountains, Las Vegas, Nevada

Jaskate at the Bellagio fountains

Jaskate at the Bellagio fountains

We also checked out the Bellagio fountains, which are truly spectacular. – Jaskate

2. Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

Jackies-world at Arlington National Cemetery

Jackies-world at Arlington National Cemetery

3. Waimea Canyon, Waimea, Hawaii

Oceanevelyn in Waimea Canyon

Oceanevelyn in Waimea Canyon

There are ocean views where the blue water goes on forever. I couldn’t tell where the ocean ended and the sky began. – Oceanevelyn

4. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California

Bpippert and the Golden Gate Bridge

Bpippert and the Golden Gate Bridge

Next we headed out to get an amazing view of the Golden Gate from the view of an old gun battery used up into WW2. – Bpippert

5. Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

Npacadia at Angel's Landing

Npacadia at Angel's Landing

Angel’s Landing is one of the iconic trails in Zion that feature numerous steep switchbacks, a very narrow and steep ridge line, and a magnificent perch overlooking the Zion canyon below. – Npacadia

6. U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii

Trippinwithleis at the USS Arizona memorial in Oahu

Trippinwithleis at the USS Arizona memorial in Oahu

What an incredible sight. I can’t believe it is still leaking oil 60-some years later. – Trippinwithleis

7. Pacific Coast Highway, Route 1, California

California's Pacific Coast Highway

California's Pacific Coast Highway

The scenery was beautiful – burnt orange heather covered the hills beside the road. As we approached Monterey we could see the ocean – the sun was beaming on the water. – Sistersontour

8. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.

Cestlavie at the Holocaust Memorial Museum

Cestlavie at the Holocaust Memorial Museum

That time period has always fascinated me and I’ve read tons of books from all different perspectives, but I loved putting it all together by walking through the stages, from Hitler’s insidious rise to power all the way through the Nuremberg trials. – Cestlavie

9. Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts

Elrigster in Boston

Elrigster in Boston

We decide to follow the Freedom Trail (although the name nearly puts me off) which takes us from the main state house all the way over to the bunker hill monument on the other side of the river passing by a pletora of points of interest on the way. – Elrigster

10. Central Park, New York, New York

Leanneruss in Central Park

Leanneruss in Central Park

Checked out Strawberry Fields and the memorial to John Lennon. Lots of people were there laying flowers and paying respects. I sat relaxed and people watched while listening to some John Lennon classics on my iPod. – Leanneruss

Hot places

Top 10 tourist attractions in the USA

Based on local tourist boards, here are the numbers for the most popular tourist destinations in the United States with some interesting blog posts. Do you agree with the list?

1. Times Square, New York City
37.6 million visitors

Carolyn of paulandcarolyn in Times Square

Carolyn of paulandcarolyn in Times Square

2. The Las Vegas Strip, Nev.
30 Million visitors

Emilykamal's view of the Las Vegas strip

Emilykamal's view of the Las Vegas strip

3. National Mall and Memorial Parks, Washington, D.C.
25 million visitors

Globetrotters at the presidential inauguration

Globetrotters at the presidential inauguration

4. Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston
20 Million visitors

Childofsolitude in Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Childofsolitude in Faneuil Hall Marketplace

5. Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
17.1 million visitors

Lostagain2006 in DisneyWorld

Lostagain2006 in DisneyWorld

6. Disneyland Park, Anaheim, Calif.
14.9 million visitors

Samira_steve explore Disneyland

Samira_steve explore Disneyland

7. Fisherman’s Wharf/Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco
14.1 million visitors

Lukeroyle on Fisherman's Wharf

Lukeroyle on Fisherman's Wharf

8. Niagara Falls, N.Y.
12 million visitors

Lukeroyle in Niagara Falls, New York

Lukeroyle in Niagara Falls, New York

9. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tenn./N.C.
9.04 million visitors

Andyfreshwater in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Andyfreshwater in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

10. Navy Pier, Chicago
8.6 million visitors

Cestlavie on Navy Pier

Cestlavie on Navy Pier

Travel news

Santa Barbara forest fires common in California

The latest forest fire in Santa Barbara is making news worldwide. Million dollar homes are reduced to ashes as the flames sweep the countryside.

However, fires are not at all uncommon in this part of the U.S. Many TravelPod bloggers have found themselves in the midst of a wildfire in the past.

Here are a few entries from California, I found particularly interesting:

Lisartw got stuck just outside Los Angeles, as a monstrous fire took over the highway that was supposed to take her into the city. She posted some breathtaking shots of the smoke encircling the area.

California forest fire

California forest fire

The Interstate 5 runs right through a huge wildfire that’s been burning for a week. 24,000 acres of burning grassland and only 25% contained. The interstate was shut so we bedded down in a lovely little motel 4 miles north of the fires and the closure in a hope that the road would be back open today. Well, it was. Luckily for us …We made it through the fire, the scene was quite remarkable. The amount of grassland that was on fire was amazing and the amount that had been burned already quite shocking. All credit goes to the poor firefighters battling it. Some of them were staying in the motel we were at last night and the poor blokes could hardly talk, I’m assuming coz of the smoke.

– from “Universal”, Los Angeles, United States

Deb93 drove across the country with a couple of her friends in a Ford Taurus a few years ago. They also spotted a wildfire in Yosemite Park.

Yosemite wildfire

Yosemite wildfire

Not only is Yosemite wildly popular (there were traffic jams from every direction heading into the visitors center), it was also the 4th of July long weekend so we had NO chance! The first thing we learned upon entering Yosemite is that it’s HUGE!! It was a good 45-60 minutes between the time we actually entered the park and got to the “ranger station” and all the cool things the park is famous for.

-from “Veering from the plan”, Yosemite National Park, California, United States

Hannahandbrian also encountered a small fire on their bicycle tour of the Pacific coast.

Big Sur wildfire

Big Sur wildfire

We rode past a forest fire on our way to camp, and hoped that our campground would be open because of it. As we rode, we could look back and see the fire creeping closer to the road, and by that night when we checked it out it looked as if the fire had moved down from the ridge to the road.

– from “Big Sur (Day 36)”, Big Sur, United States

TravelPod in the news

9 Sweet Street Markets

We’ve all been there, in a city’s central market square, enjoying the complete sensory experience that is the street market. There’s the fresh fruit, the vendors hawking their goods, just-picked flowers, exquisite wholesale fabrics and more.

The blog, Eyeflare attempts to narrow the worldwide marketplace down to nine of the best. See if you agree.

1. Bologna food markets, Italy
2. Patpong night market, Bangkok
3. Sarojini Nagar market, New Delhi
4. Central Market, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
5. Durbar Square market, Kathmandu, Nepal
6. Pisac market, Cusco, Peru
7. Sonoma Farmers’ Market, California
8. Borough Market, London
9. Sonora Witchcraft market, Mexico City

What’s your favourite market?

Car planter in Kensington Market

Car planter in Kensington Market

Me, I enjoy almost any market, but I think my favourite is Kensington Market, in Toronto. It’s full of artist types, hipsters and wannabes, if you’re ever in the area, definitely check it out, it’s just next door to Chinatown.

Head to the TravelPod travel forums to talk about your favourite markets.

See you there!

Louise Brown

TravelPod Community Manager

Hot places

Top 10 free attractions in the US and Europe

TripAdvisor released their top 10 free attractions in the US and Europe today and I am very surprised at the result.

How come Niagara Falls was not included? It’s absolutely free, you can see it for nothing! Even from the American side.

Also! What about Mount Rushmore?! Where is that on this list?! Mount Rushmore is pretty amazing. Why isn’t that included? Last time I checked, it was free to look up and admire a giant sculpture in a mountain.

I can’t believe that some mundane fountains made number one on the US list. The entire United States of America must have more exciting and beautiful free things to do, don’t you think?

What about in Europe? I think that list is a little bit better than the US one.

What I learned today is that there are beautiful things everywhere that are free, and it can’t be whittled down to 20. No how, no way!

Does anybody else disagree with this list too? Come chat about it in the TravelPod travel forums.

Here is the unedited list in question:
Top 10 Free U.S. Attractions

1. Bellagio Fountains, Las Vegas, Nevada

2. Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

3. Waimea Canyon, Waimea, Hawaii

4. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California

5. Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

6. U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii

7. Pacific Coast Highway, Route 1, California

8. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.

9. Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts

10. Central Park, New York, New York

Top 10 Free European Attractions

1. Pantheon, Rome, Italy

2. National Gallery, London, England

3. Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, England

4. Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

5. St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels, Belgium

6. Duomo – Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, Italy

7. Retiro Park, Madrid, Spain

8. Westminster Abbey, London, England

9. St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice, Italy

10. Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills, Northern Ireland

See you in the forums,

Louise Brown

TravelPod Community Manager

Travel news