I am a sucker for a vibrant city, ideally one with culture, and some form of water – be it the sea, a lake, a river or canals. Here are my top 5….
Number 1: Barcelona
Barcelona has everything – the wide tree-lined boulevards, the tiny quaint Gothic streets to get lost in, the lovely sandy beaches, complete with volley-ball courts and surfers, the harbour with yachts and palm trees. Barcelona is famous for the architect Gaudi. His work is beautiful and versatile, ranging from the huge gothic cathedral the Sagrada Familia to the lovely Park Guell.
Number 2: Vancouver
Vancouver is a relaxed and varied city. From shopping or eating on Granville Street and Robson Street, to watching sea planes at Canada Place or cycling in Stanley Park, you are bound to have a great visit. You can also test your nerve on a wobbly rope suspension bridge at Capilano or Lynn Canyon, or brave the waves for a day of Whale Watching. If I was ever to move abroad, Vancouver is one place I think I could live.
Number 3: Hong Kong
If you want East meets West, Hong Kong is just the ticket. With a vintage double-decker tram system, you can travel around the city with ease – and take the ferry across the harbour to marvel at the laser and light shows over the cityscape. A trip up the Peak is a must to see the amazing views over the city. If you are feeling like a trip out of town, try Lantau Island to ride on a glass-bottom gondola and see the Big Budda statue.
Number 4: Sydney
Sydney is known for its Sydney Opera House – and rightly so. A tour round this world famous landmark is well worth the time. Sydney has a pleasant shopping area, plus lively Darling Harbour for more restaurants. Plus you can take a ferry across the bay to the lovely Manly Beach, or drive round to the famous Bondi Beach. If you’re feeling adventurous you can also climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge!
Number 5: Miami
Miami has a vast sandy beach, an extensive boardwalk which is fun to cycle or segway along. I enjoyed watching the massive cruise ships coming into the harbour. A visit to the beautiful and atmospheric Espanola Way is a must.
Runner up: Birmingham
A surprise entry maybe, but Birmingham, UK has a lot to offer. Most famous for the Bullring shopping mall but also boasting ample restaurants, cafes, symphony hall and theatres, as well as the largest library in Europe, with a secret roof garden on the 7th floor. There is still some ugly concrete buildings to contend with, but in the sunshine, Birmingham feels like a European city, and you can even hire a canal boat and while away the time on the extensive canal network.
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