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

10 most expensive cities in the world

The Telegraph.co.uk came up with a list of the 10 most expensive cities in the world. Here’s what TravelPod bloggers thought about the price of living in each of these cities

1. Tokyo

Karana enjoying the expensive food in Tokyo

Karana enjoying the expensive food in Tokyo

Guess we must be in a business part of town, but you would never know this is a city of over 20 million people, as expected though it is dreadfully expensive. The hotel where we are staying has some shops downstairs and fancied a t shirt until I read the price tag of 238 euros. That means about $400! – Karana

2. Osaka

Globalwanderer found that Japan's transportation system is expensive

Globalwanderer found that Japan's transportation system is expensive

Public transit such as subways and local trains aren’t very expensive, however, travelling long distances in Japan can very VERY expensive! If you can believe it, a round-trip ticket from Japan to Korea is actually CHEAPER than a ticket from Osaka to Tokyo! – Globalwanderer

3. Moscow

Aubrey of Meandher in Red Square

Aubrey of Meandher in Red Square

Many of the restaurants charge for meals by weight scales are at the side of the till. In general Moscow was more expensive than St Petes by about 20% to 40%. – Meandher

4. Geneva, Switzerland

Sponger42 in front of the UN building in Geneva

Sponger42 in front of the UN building in Geneva

We arrived in Geneva late in the evening and set to work searching for the cheapest lodging in town. It wasn’t difficult to find it–the City Hostel Geneva. Unfortunately, it was still Swissly expensive, Swissly unhelpful, and–as an added bonus, Frenchly snotty. – Sponger42

5. Hong Kong

This is what Andreadd got for $1,700 a month in Hong Kong

This is what Andreadd got for $1,700 a month in Hong Kong

Now I know that real estate in Hong Kong is ridiculously expensive and VERY small — from slightly larger than a walk in closet at about 150 SqFt (15 sq m) up to the more ‘spacious’ 500 sqFt (50 sq m) options. I thought I’d hit the jackpot when I found a place for 500 sq ft smack in the middle of Central on Hong Kong Island for ‘only’ USD 1700 per month!!! – Andreadd

6. Zurich

Dfryda on the lake in Zurich

Dfryda on the lake in Zurich

Having thought that Venice was expensive I was reminded about how expensive Switzerland is, not only do they have their own currency they also have there own values!! Our hotel was expensive and didn’t include breakfast (none of them seemed to) – Dfryda

7. Copenhagen

Simru12 riding a fake sea tortoise in Tivoli Gardens

Simru12 riding a fake sea tortoise in Tivoli Gardens

One word here. EXPENSIVE. After exchange, the average entrée was around $50. We ended up at the Promenaden, which is a B-B-Q buffet. Decent steaks and chicken wings, but Jeff said the ribs weren’t great. – Simru12

8. New York City

Dandw could not find a cheap burger in New York City

Dandw could not find a cheap burger in New York City

Later we took a little trot down 5th Avenue visiting Rockefeller Plaza, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and browsed around the way too expensive stores (check Whitney’s new kicks). We stopped for dinner at “Burger Joint” (literally a hole-in-the-wall burger joint with wood floors and tables located behind a curtain in the tres expensive Parker Meridian hotel) which was rated as the best cheap burger in the city. Somehow, our two “cheap” burgers and shared order of fries with two drinks topped $23. – Dandw

9. Beijing

Jbaxter got bartering down to an art in Beijing to save money

Jbaxter got bartering down to an art in Beijing to save money

All the main stores in the center of the town were more expensive than Australian stores so I thought i’d give that idea away until Europe, but after vising the markets I got a sweet deal on a great camera. I found the best way to do it is to go to a stall you don’t intend on buying from to check everything out, look at what they give you and after i’d figured out it was all the standard retail stuff I went to a nother stall to see what sort of price I could get them down to. – Jbaxter

10. Singapore

Radiojohn on a night safari in Singapore

Radiojohn on a night safari in Singapore

Singapore was like the opposite of all that we had experienced in Asia. Clean, well maintained and expensive. There is a joke that you will see on many posters and magnets in Singapore which says :Singapore is a FINE city” with the emphasis on FINE. Why? Because Singapore has laws, and lots of them. Eat or drink on public transport and you are breaking the law, chew chewing gum in public and you are breaking the law, spit in public, litter or jaywalk and you will be breaking the law and slapped with a hefty fine and possible even corporally punished(rattan cane). – Radiojohn

Hot places

50 places to see before you die

BBC came up with a list of 50 places to see before you die and see them you did! TravelPod bloggers have covered all of them. How many places have you seen? Will you see them all before you die? I’ve seen 11, how about you?

1. Grand Canyon

Willandluce on Guano Point in the Grand Canyon

Willandluce on Guano Point in the Grand Canyon

We woke up just in time to catch our transfer to Boulder City from where we boarded a small prop plane and after a bumpy flight over the Hoover Dam, landed at the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. There waiting for us was a helicpoter which then took us down the 4,000 foot drop into the pits of the Canyon and landed us on the banks of the Colorado River. – Willandluce

2. Great Barrier Reef

Stevenmoody snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef

Stevenmoody snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef

We had a total of 3 stops each with about an hour to an hour and a half free time to snorkel around the area. It was amazing to think I was 60 km away from land and I was snorkeling in the ocean which was only 10 meters deep where we were! Saw so many amazing things in the water including the Nemo and Doris fish! A turtle and a Shark!!! I tried to swim close enough to shark and got within about 15 foot of it and just about got a picture. – Stevenmoody

3. Florida

Lgthib at Sanibel Island, Florida

Lgthib at Sanibel Island, Florida

While walking over the inland waterway to get to Bowman Beach, the girls spotted a manatee and watched it amble under the foot bridge we were on and swim off into the distance. The tide was too high for great shelling today on the sand, but Bri & Gabi went in the water and dove for shells, finding lots of nice treasures. Squadrons of pelicans flew low across the waves, and groups of White Ibises marched along the wet sand probing for food with their long, downward curving bills. – Lgthib

4. South Island, New Zealand

Leehorscraft and friends on the South Island

Leehorscraft and friends on the South Island

We arrived at Lake Rotoiti, which was mind blowing, possibly my favourite bit of scenery in NZ. The lake is beautiful, surrounded by gorgeous snow-capped mountains. It took my breath away. – Leehorscraft

5. Cape Town

Horvathck1 climbing to the top of Lion's Head Mountain

Horvathck1 climbing to the top of Lion's Head Mountain

Today after work the interns arranged a hike up Lion’s Head mountain because of the full moon. It is apparently tradition here in Cape Town. The trail wraps around the whole mountain, beginning as gravel/clay paths, and ending with large boulders you must climb with ladders, chains, and just your bare hands and feet (with shoes, of course). It was a challenging but REALLY fun hike, and the view from the top was my favorite thing I’ve seen yet!!!! There was a group of South Africans singing at the top–it was an incredible experience. We just sat, talked, and watched the sun set and the full moon come up, while eating some bread and cheese, and some brought wine. To be sitting at the edge by myself, thousands of feet above the city, legs dangling, and watching the golden/orange ball sink under the horizon of the ocean was probably a highlight of my life so far — a moment I will never forget. The beauty of God displayed in his creation tonight honestly left me speechless. I wish I could wallpaper my room with that 360 degree view. – Horvathck1

6. Golden Temple

Nomadic1 at India's Golden Temple

Nomadic1 at India's Golden Temple

Once you enter the complex you find yourself in a massive high walled courtyard with a huge, square pool of water in it that takes up all but the edges of the courtyard. In the center of that pool sits the aptly named Golden Temple. It was just after mid-day and the sun was shining brightly causing the gold covered temple to gleam. Supposedly, the temple is gilded with over 750 kilograms of pure gold. It certainly looked it from where I was standing. – Nomadic1

7. Las Vegas

Kirstine of Andyandkirstine outside her hotel in Las Vegas

Kirstine of Andyandkirstine outside her hotel in Las Vegas

It’s entertainment at its most vulgar. It’s the only place I have ever visited in the world where it seems you can get anything you want at any minute of the day. Just walking up the street slurping on our yard of frozen margarita in novelty glasses, we saw a midget elvis shaking his pelvis in the street and a rap-off eight mile style which was being filmed..awesome. – Andyandkirstine

8. Sydney

Tracymiller visited many of the sights in Sydney

Tracymiller visited many of the sights in Sydney

I made my way to the water where there are an array of different harbours. I found myself in Darling harbour to start which is quite touristy but very pleasant and picturesque. This is where i spent most of the day, just taking in the sights such as the Maritime museum, the aquarium…which i usually don’t bother with but was well worth it with a grand display of sharks, dugong, sting rays, plethora of fish and what not…all in a huge walk-in aquarium, so that itself took 2 hrs. And the rest of the time just took pictures of the harbour, and enjoyed the sun and the waterside cafes. Then i walked to Port Jackson harbour where the iconic Sydney Opera House is, for dusk to get some pictures…was a bit slow as it was dark by the time i found it. – Tracymiller

9. New York City

Pelooyen under the Brooklyn Bridge

Pelooyen under the Brooklyn Bridge

Sitting under the Brooklyn Bridge on the Brooklyn side. The view is PHENOMENAL. I have always wanted to be here and now I am here. I just sit and soak up the view, as well as take lots of artsy photos. I am amused and fascinated by a orthodox jewish school excursion who are taking the kids to see the bridge for the first time. – Pelooyen

10. Taj Mahal

Martininindia in front of the Taj Mahal

Martininindia in front of the Taj Mahal

I’m not exactly the most euphoric person out there, but the Taj Mahal is simply marvelous. We went at 6am before the tourist crowds arrived. The white palace looks exactly like on pictures, but there is something hypnotizing about the monument that doesn’t let you take your eyes off it. Kipling called it “the embodiment of all things pure”, for me it’s more the emanation of perfect harmony. No matter from what angle or distance you look at it, it always looks balanced and never overbearing or pretentious. Anyways, in the morning light, you can see the countless nuances of the white marble; every single building block and every gem in the marble inlay unique, but as a collective the perfect unity – ‘e pluribus unum’. I don’t want to push the analogies to far, but I get a similar sense when I look at an Indian bazaar or busy street: ordered chaos. – Martininindia

11. Canadian Rockies

Mady142's three sisters in front of the "Three Sisters" mountain range

Mady142's three sisters in front of the "Three Sisters" mountain range

We drove to Canmore so that I could get a photo I’ve wanted to get since I was in Banff with Mike in 2004. The 3 sisters in front of The Three Sisters mountain range. – Mady142

12. Uluru

Kkherbst and friends at Uluru

Kkherbst and friends at Uluru

Then we checked out the cultural center briefly before doing a very short into walk at Ayers Rock. That’s the large rock you always see when they advertise Australia. We watched the sun go down on it while drinking some beers and having some quality relaxation time before heading to the local grocery store to pick up candies for the night. – Kkherbst

13. Chichen Itza

Claraz8's family at Chichen Itza before her wedding

Claraz8's family at Chichen Itza before her wedding

Leading up to our wedding celebration we had a week packed with amazing adventures. Friends and family began arriving on Saturday the 20th and we had a blast. From scuba diving off the Isla reef, to dinner in Playa del Carmen, to Chichen Itza and cenotes on Wednesday, and good old fashioned lounging around at the beautiful Le Meridien pool the week could not have been any better. – Claraz8

14. Machu Picchu

Codownsean at Machu Picchu

Codownsean at Machu Picchu

It is breathtaking and awe inspiring and I really just cannot beging to take in what I’m looking at. The sense of expectation after the 4 day hike and the sense of reward are conflicting and I just find it so hard to take in. We carry on down the trek – stopping at every corner for a different photo. Truly unbelievable and already – this has become the new highlight of the trip. Surely nothing else can surpass this. – Codownsean

15. Niagara Falls

Reneltrek enjoying the sunshine in Niagara Falls

Reneltrek enjoying the sunshine in Niagara Falls

The Canadian side has the best views. The city is one big roadside attraction. I have not seen so many people since Mardi Gras in New Orleans. It was an international crowd; we didn’t hear a lot of English. The Falls are a natural spectacle surrounded by a carnival. At night they had fireworks and a light show. It was a fun 4th. Niagara Falls should be experienced once in a life time. – Reneltrek

16. Petra

Richymariner at the monastery in Petra

Richymariner at the monastery in Petra

Today the tour took us to the insanely vast site of Petra. The place is huge, and walking through the Siq tothe treasury is worth the price of admission alone! It is very popular and as such the best photos without too many people can be obtained later in the day (when the light is better anyway). Also took in the Royal Tombs (had a geek out moment with the scene from Mortal Kombat 2!) and took the long (but definitely worthwhile) walk up to the monastery and sacrificial high places. – Richymariner

17. The Great Pyramid of Giza

Kmidgette on the Great Pyramid

Kmidgette on the Great Pyramid

Giza was amazing! The site contains the Pyramids of Menkaure, Khafre, Khufu, and six smaller Queens pyramids. I was able to climb all the way up to the sarcophagus rooms of both the Great Pyramid of Khufu and the Pyramid of Khafre. Giza also includes some smaller tombs including the Tomb of Seshemnufer IV and Senegemib. This is also were you find the Sphinx. I hired a camel so that I could go off into the desert for a great view back at the pyramids! What an awesome experience! – Kmidgette

18. Venezia

Jamierand enjoying the canal views in Venezia

Jamierand enjoying the canal views in Venezia

We spent most of our time just wandering the streets on foot. We walked across the Rialto Bridge to the Rialto district where we found the outdoor markets. That is where we did most of our shopping, and enjoyed some excellent dinners of homemade basil ravioli, and excellent fresh produce. There are also a lot of fish vendors selling pretty much anything you can imagine. It’s a little tough to look at the waters around Venice and then go eat seafood. Not exactly the crystal clear seas we saw on the other side of the country. – Jamierand

19. Maldives

Eastcoastrod and his wife in Maldives

Eastcoastrod and his wife in Maldives

The resort was spread out over two islands, consisting of a combination of beach and water villas, six restaurants, two bars, two spas and Maldives finest underwater wine cellar. There is also a diving and sea sports centre, a gymnasium, an inviting swimming pool, and beach chairs and hammocks set up all over the two islands; all this in the middle of the Indian Ocean with an endless horizon of sea, sky and clouds in sight. Indeed, Robinson Crusoe would have been so green with envy. – Eastcoastrod

20. The Great Wall of China

Maaske and her family spent a year on the road, stopping in China

Maaske and her family spent a year on the road, stopping in China

Admittedly, we can’t say we can recite the historical significance of each part and how, when and why a particular section was built but we stare in amazement at the sheer enormity of the Wall and see not stone placed upon stone but the story it tells. When I walk the Wall I know that far more than we think is possible is actually possible. The Great Wall was built 400-2000 years ago over 5000 km long on top of mountain ridges that you and I would not normally even hike. The wall is an inspiration to me that great things are possible when we work together. – Maaske

21. Victoria Falls

22. Hong Kong

23. Yosemite National Park

24. Hawai’i

25. Auckland

26. Iguassu Falls

27. Paris

28. Alaska

29. Angkor Wat

30. Himalayas

31. Rio de Janeiro

32. Masai Mara

33. Islas Galapagos

34. Luxor

35. Roma

36. San Francisco

37. Barcelona

38. Dubai

39. Singapore

40. La Digue

41. Sri Lanka

42. Bangkok

43. Barbados

44. Iceland

45. Museum of Qin Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses

46. Zermatt

47. Angel Falls

48. Abu Simbel

49. Bali

50. French Polynesia

Uncategorized

100 things to do before you die, TravelPod style (Part 5)

If you’ve got a life-goal, chances are, someone on TravelPod has already done it! Here’s part five of things to do before you die, as compiled by TravelPod members.

41. Go to the top of the Empire State Building in New York City

Twinkfran makes it to the Empire State Building

Twinkfran makes it to the Empire State Building

Day two I go to the top of the Empire State Building to see the amazing views over the city and then catch the circle line boat ride to see the Statue of Liberty. – Twinkfran

42. Feel the mist from Niagara Falls

Jtopping visits Niagara Falls on his Great American Road Trip

Jtopping visits Niagara Falls on his Great American Road Trip

The aura of the falls was present the moment we crossed the bridge into Canada. You could see the mist from the falls even when you could not see the falls themselves… We headed out to the falls around 10 pm, and got to see fireworks over the water and the light show that happens nightly at Niagara via the Canadian side. It was a spectacular sight to see, the water changing colors and the mist from the water all around you. I could have sworn that it was raining at one point, even though there wasn’t a cloud in the sky… The next morning, we did the journey beneath the falls where you can get within feet of the bottom of the waterfall. You could stand there for about a minute and be completely soaked, poncho or no poncho. – Jtopping

43. See rock band REM in concert, finally!

Giulianat got great shots of REM in Milan

Giulianat got great shots of REM in Milan

We had a great evening and after waiting three hours in the queue out the front we were rewarded with access to the mosh pit just 5 metres from the stage! I can tell you the lead singer Michael Stipe is a fantastic performer and it was great dancing around and singing with Alessia and the rest of the crowd to songs I knew and also the newer ones that I’m not so familiar with. – Giulianat

44. Enjoy writing more

Hsb deeply enjoyed writing her blog in Argentina

Hsb deeply enjoyed writing her blog in Argentina

I’m only here for a few days, and I’m obsessed writing this blog…! Well, it’s still time well-spent, as I enjoy writing, and I have definitely enjoyed reminiscing about Bolivia. It’s given me an opportunity to slowly re-live it, and has forced me to remember views and images that would have otherwise been relegated to the back of my brain forever. – Hsb

45. Start a travel club

Nancy.chappell attended a travel club meeting in Oxford, England

Nancy.chappell attended a travel club meeting in Oxford, England

Today we had a lazy morning and then they drove me to High Wickam at noon for my luncheon of Women Welcome Women Worldwide, the travel club I belonged to off and on for the last 20 years. There were about 122 of us there to celebrate the 25th anniversary – mostly from the UK, also France, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and 4 of us from the states. – Nancy.chappell

46. Visit a Vineyard

Jimandnat sample wine in Argentina

Jimandnat sample wine in Argentina

We caught the bus about 45 minutes out of Mendoza to one of the main wine-growing regions to visit some “bodegas” (vineyards). So we decided to all hire bikes, and we chose to hire a tandem which added much hilarity to the whole experience. The afternoon was gorgeous, warm, blue skies and sunny and we were cycling along tree lined avenues in the countryside and then popping into vineyards in between so it was fabulous fun. We visited a few bodegas, La Rural which is the biggest wine producer of the area where we got to have a look at some of the old equipment, like old grape-presses and lots of other little quaint bits. And then we got a free tasting of a Malbec, which is the red wine which the region is famous for. – Jimandnat

47. Explore Australia in an RV

Serenitynow playing in a park in Perth, Australia

Serenitynow playing in a park in Perth, Australia

The magnificent Kings Park is described as the jewel in the city’s crown, and one of the largest inner city parks in the world. We spent the afternoon hear and wish we could have spent longer. The park overlooks the city and provides excellent views. It is meticulously maintained with cultivated gardens and natural bushland along with many grassy lawns, all featuring grass like that of a golf course. – Serenitynow

48. Go adventuring in New Zealand

Apoc100 boating around New Zealand

Apoc100 boating around New Zealand

On the way we were very lucky to see some wild dolphins swimming next to the boat and they got quite close the boat so naturally I had to take 100 photos in the span of a minute. We also saw several waterfalls such as the Stirling Falls which created a beautiful rainbow in the light, and many “temporary waterfalls” that appear only when snow melts. These temporary waterfalls look like veins on the side of mountains that fall slowly towards the lake, usually forming bodies of ice on the way. Apoc100

49. Trek The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal

Jimmyandkristen hike the Annapurna Circuit

Jimmyandkristen hike the Annapurna Circuit

In a couple years, the circuit as we know it will be gone. The whole point is that it is a working road…but one without motorized vehicles. The only way to get to these places is to walk. The road will, as some bloggers have written, “ruin” the circuit. And I suppose for Trekkers it will. The road will make it so that you can pretty much drive almost all the way to the Throng La (Throung Pass), and will turn that achievement into a 3-5 day trek, not a 15-20. – Jimmyandkristen

50. Eat tapas in Spain

Jeffandash eat tapas in Barcelona

Jeffandash eat tapas in Barcelona

We just got back from a restaurant with some tasty tapas for dinner. Tapas are little appetizers and Jeff tried all kinds of new food…salmon eggs for example! Jeffandash

TravelPod Buzz

Billy Pittenger: Local Expert for New York state

Billy Pittenger is one of TravelPod’s newest Local Experts. He volunteered to help out in the New York forum, but his help on South America has also been priceless. Here’s what Billy has to say about New York:

Why did you become a Local Expert?
I saw that there were two experts for New York City, but they didn’t really talk about the rest of the state. All my knowledge of New York is about the rest of the state, not the city, so I figured I should share it.

What’s are the best and worst things about living in New York?

Best 2 things – New York has something for everyone, no matter what you want, you can find it somewhere in the state. And secondly, NYC is the best hub in the US for direct flights to pretty much every corner of the world.
Worst thing – Winters are horrible if you’re having to deal with it day in and day out, shoveling snow, going to work, etc.

What are the top five or 10 things for travelers to do in New York outside of NYC?

Wine tours of the finger lakes
Skiing in the Adirondacks
Horse-racing at Saratoga Raceway
Stay at the Sagamore in Lake George
Catch a race at Watkins Glen
Go bob-sledding at the Olympic Park in Lake Placid
Drive down a 2-lane road through the Adirondack Mountains in the fall as the leaves are changing

Billy "rockin' the Fiat in Brazil"

Billy "rockin' the Fiat in Brazil"

What are some of your best and worst travel experiences?

Best – Landing on an isolated lake in the outer reaches of Alaska in an amphibious plane, then rafting down a river for 6 days with no cell phones, email, or other daily distractions. Another would be trying to drive a souped-up V8 Pontiac Trans-Am down the highway during a blizzard in New York…and not dying.
Worst – (Knocks on wood) I haven’t had too many bad travel experiences. But getting a flat tire on the moving trailer during the drive from Alabama to New York sucked pretty hard.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Managing to graduate with an B.S. in Engineering from RIT while simultaneously holding down 5 part-time jobs.

That and completely surprising my wife when I proposed. I answered the door on one knee when she came back to her apartment (in Rochester, NY) from work…and she thought I was in Michigan on a co-op. I still smile when I think about the look of confusion on her face before she figured out what was going on.

Where are you planning on traveling in the future?

Currently in Brazil. But I’m trying to be able to join the Traveler’s Century Club before I’m 30 (less than 4 years to go). So lots of traveling in the future…
May 3 – traveling Sao Paulo to France, then England, back to home in New York
May 14 – road trip to Chicago, then Detroit and Toronto
May 20 – Alabama.
May 31 – 2-week trip to London, Cornwall, Guernsey, Jersey, Wales, Isle of Man, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Ireland.
July – Then will see what deals we can find on Caribbean cruises.
Sept – Most likely to Russia for a job for a few weeks.
October – Back to Brazil, hopefully can take vacation before work this time.
2010 – Travel to every country in Europe

What do you do with most of your time?

Working a lot…and when not working, traveling or planning travel. Planning to get a motorcycle this summer to keep me occupied if there aren’t any new jobs to travel to.

What’s a typical day like for you?

Working days? Wake up early…~5-5:30am, work for 10 to 16 hours, dinner, watch a TV show, plan a little more of the next trip, then sleep.

Non-working days? There is no such thing as typical!!

What’s your favourite part of the TravelPod forum?

Being able to find insider info to pretty much any part of the world. It’s much better to hear about a place from those who have been there.

TravelPod Local Expert profiles

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

Macy’s layoffs; visit the wooden escalator before it’s too late!

Macy’s just announced it will be closing stores and cutting jobs this year.

If this trend continues, will one of New York’s most popular tourist attractions be no more? Will the wooden escalator stop transporting shoppers upstairs forever?

Before Macy’s a thing of the past, read a few blogs from people who have recently shopped at the iconic department store:

Kaasha went on a work excursion to New York this December, she saw most of the city at night, since she was busy working all day. She did get to take a ride on the famous wooden escalator:

Kaasha's friends on the wooden escalator

Kaasha's friends on the wooden escalator

Walked west toward Macy’s to see the window displays, including those depicting scenes from Miracle on 34th St. Richard showed us inside, in particular to see the wooden escalator. We also got to see the crystal ball that was dropped on New Year’s 2008. It was made with waterford crystal. The guy at the store said it cost $47 million. I can’t believe it though!

-from “Dec 2 – E42nd St. and Empire State Building” – New York, United States

TravelPod’s New York Local Expert, laorfamily made a day trip to New York City to see the Christmas displays in front of Sak’s, the tree in Rockefeller Center and of course, Macy’s.

Macy's all decorated for Christmas

Macy's all decorated for Christmas

We went by Macy’s which incidentally (well, maybe not so “incidentally”) was prominently featured in a Christmas movie “Little Spirit: Christmas in New York” which they sponsored and we watched, so that was another highlight for our daughter.

-from “Christmas at Rockefeller Center” – New York, United States

Mcnamaras experienced the Christmas shopping extravaganza and filled up on Polo Ralph Lauren:

Christmas mayhem at Macy's

Christmas mayhem at Macy's

From there we took a taxi so that that Mark could get his fix of Macy’s… His middle name should now be ‘Polo’ after all of the Ralph things he bought.

-from “Tuesday” – New York, United States

TravelPod in the news

World Trade Center and Pre-September 11 travel blogs

In honour of the seventh anniversary of the World Trade Center bombing in New York, I decided to look through the archives, and dig up old pictures from some of our members’ blogs highlighting New York before and after the attack.

One of my favourites is Eric‘s from 1993, entitled Cousin’s graduation. He attended his cousin’s graduation at Columbia University and he’s got some pictures of himself on top of the World Trade Center, overlooking the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.

Eric on top of the World Trade Center

Eric on top of the World Trade Center

Traveling even further back in time, brings us to Pinkkaz‘s blog, called New York to LA and LA to New York. There are some amazing photos from her 1983 jaunt across America. She’s got a nice photo of the New York skyline from that time period, and a few cute stories from her Contiki bus tour.

1983 New York skyline

1983 New York skyline

There have been exactly 978 blog entries written about New York City since then. To peruse some of the best, you can find them in a simple TravelPod search.

Do you remember what New York was like before Sept. 11? Come to the TravelPod travel forums and share your experiences.

Louise Brown

TravelPod Community Manager

TravelPod in the news

Travel itineraries from the future at TravelSkoot

Mashup: a web application that combines data from more than one source into a single integrated tool.

TravelPod uses GoogleMaps technology to make our website better. Your travel blog has a built-in map from the result of an internet “mashup”.

We’re not the only website doing this. TravelSkoot is a brand new website also using GoogleMaps to help you plan your next adventure. The website contains a database of user-created travel itineraries all planned out neatly on a Google map.

There is a sushi crawl in New York City, a Ferris Bueller themed “Skoot” in Illinois and a short driving tour of Los Angeles among many others.

Right now, the site is weighted heavily on the American road trip side of things, but with time, more travelers should be adding their own itineraries. I couldn’t find any to direct me around any Canadian or Mexican cities, so I’m hoping that things improve.

In the meantime, if you’re planning a dog-friendly beach tour of the U.S.A. or if you want to know where the best coffee spots are in Boston, TravelSkoot may provide all the niche-y information you’re looking for.

Have you used TravelSkoot before? Let me know what you think of it in the TravelPod travel forums.

Louise Brown

TravelPod Community Manager

Cool stuff

New York Local Expert: Zohar Laor

Zohar Laor is TravelPod’s trusty Local Expert from New York. He’s got all kinds of great tidbits and knows a lot about the best festivals and food that can be found in the great state. He knows New York City like the back of his hand, and he’s all over attractions in the rest of the state and New Jersey like a wet blanket. I asked him a few questions about the region he represents in the TravelPod forums.
Zohar Laor, TravelPod\'s New York Local Expert

Zohar Laor, TravelPod

Why did you become a Local Expert?
I became a local expert for two distinct reasons. The first reason is to share some of the knowledge acquired by being in the NJ / NYC area for many years, the second reason is to give my family and me more of a motivation to check out local attractions.

What are the best and worst things about living in New York?
The best thing is that you could literally drive somewhere different every weekend for the rest of your life and never be in the same place twice. The worst is the high cost of living and / or staying in the area.

What are the top five or 10 things for travelers to do in New York?
NYC:
1) Top of the Empire State Building or Top Of The Rock
2) See a Broadway Show
3) Visit the Bronx Zoo
4) Stroll in Central Park
5) Go to the Museum of Modern Art

New York State:
1) Niagara Falls
2) Finger Lakes Region
3) Hudson Valley
4) Hike the Adirondacks
5) Dive the New York State Seaway Trail

New Jersey:
1) Take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty
2) Canoeing in Delaware River
3) Drive to Atlantic City
4) Visit the Jersey Shore
5) Visit historic Morristown

What are some of your best and worst travel experiences?

The best is being able to introduce my kids to friends and family overseas and watch them as they experience new adventures and expand their minds.
The worst – entertaining a 3 year old on a 12 and a half hour flight.

What is your proudest accomplishment?


Living a good, productive and honest life.

Where are you planning on traveling in the future?


We are not planning any “long range” traveling until our son (who is currently 1) will be a bit older. Meanwhile we have several plans for local traveling such as Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington DC.

What do you do with most of your time (hobbies, work, whatever)?
I rest 40 hours a week as a software engineer and then go home. I have been collecting Superman related items for many years, recently started to get interested in woodworking and writing an opinion column for the on-line edition of a state wide newspaper.

What’s a typical day like for you?
Get up at around 5:30 – 6:00 in the morning with my son, go to work and come home. Then I start my day.

What’s your favourite TravelPod blog post?
http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog/laorfamily/daytrips/tpod.html?tweb_UID=laorfamily&tweb_token=2461051551448356613

If you’ve got questions about New York or New Jersey, just ask Zohar in the TravelPod travel forums!

See you there,

Louise Brown

TravelPod Community Manager

TravelPod Local Expert profiles

Update: Ikea water taxi, no longer free for everyone.

The free Ikea water taxi that I reported on earlier this month is no more.

Curbed says that workers at the formerly free Ikea water taxi, are now discouraging non-customers from taking the ferry to and from the Red Hook neighbourhood of New York City.

Hand scrawled sign...

Hand scrawled sign...

A hand-scrawled sign was apparently photographed at the site that said: “Taxi is only for people who shop at Ikea and people who received the stamp from Manhattan – Ikea Management

Other frequent riders have reported that staff are being told to check for store-receipts or hand-stamps when boarding from the Red Hook side of the route.

So for travelers, forget about all the hubbub over a new alternative to the Staten Island Ferry. And for all you Red Hook residents trying to get a free ride to work, time to buy a new pair of sturdy walkin’ shoes.

Have you ridden the free ferry? Did you notice the new restrictions?

Come to the TravelPod travel forums and lament the loss of the free Ikea taxi.

Louise Brown

TravelPod Community Manager

Travel news

Top 10 Patriotic Attractions in America

TripAdvisor released its list of the most patriotic attractions in America last week, and it’s decidedly predictable. The Statue of Liberty and the Freedom Trail top the list. I think everybody’s already heard about these attractions, and many people have probably already visited them personally. I know I have.

Statue of Liberty

What I’m more interested in, are the historic places in other countries. What’s the most patriotic place to visit in Ecuador or Pakistan?

So, let me know where you think your nation’s patriotism is triumphantly on display. For example, in Canada you’ll find fervent nationalism at Parliament Hill in Ottawa and Founders’ Hall in Charlottetown. These are the obvious choices for the patriotic traveler. Let’s make a list of the top 10 patriotic locations in the world!

Where should tourists visit to best learn about your country’s history?

Talk about it in the TravelPod travel forums.

See you there!

Louise Brown

TravelPod Community Manager

Hot places

Ikea: free NYC water taxi

Ikea has just opened a new store in Brooklyn, but if you’re in downtown Manhattan it might be a little difficult to visit.

So, they’re offering a free water taxi leaving Pier 11, passing by the Statue of Liberty and slipping behind it, ending up in the Red Hook neighbourhood in Brooklyn. They’re marketing the new service as a “dinner and a cruise” for $6.99. Ingenious.

Ikea ferry map

The ferries leave every 20 minutes from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, corresponding with the opening hours of the new store. Even if you don’t feel like shopping, the ride is still free. It seems like a really interesting and cheap way to see New York. Tom Meyers of Eurocheapo actually took a ride on the ferry and it’s empty for now. He speculates that soon it’ll be overrun, much like everything else that’s fun and free in the city.

It’s important to note that if you do go shopping, you can’t bring everything the store sells with you on the boat. Anything that fits in one of those big blue Ikea bags can go on the boat, everything else, you’ve got to get it delivered or arrange for someone to pick it up for you.

I wonder how long it’ll last.

Have you tried the Ikea ferry yet? Let us know about it in the TravelPod travel forums.

See you there!

Louise Brown

TravelPod Community Manager

Cool stuff Hot places