Forget the past and set the New Year off to a fantastic, unforgettable start by spending it somewhere truly inspirational. Here are seven destinations that you may or may not have heard of, but which you should definitely visit once in your lifetime.
Skaftafell Ice Caves, Iceland: These caves look amazingly beautiful from the inside. The centuries old ice coming down the slopes of the glacier has metamorphosed into highly pressurized glacier ice that contains almost no air bubbles. The cave is accessible through a 22-foot entrance on the shoreline. At the end it tapers to a tight squeeze no more than four feet high. Ice caves are in general unstable and can collapse at any time. Thus it is safer to enter only in winter when the cold temperatures harden the ice. Even so one could hear constant cracking inside the cave. It is not because the cave would collapse but due to thecave moving along with the glacier itself. Each time the glacier moves a millimeter, loud sounds can be heard.
Enchanted River, Philippines: With its tranquil blue waters, palm trees and rock pools, this idyllic river in Surigao, Philippines is nothing short of paradise. But the Hinatuan River, which runs on the island of Mindanao, the second largest and southernmost in the region, is no ordinary hideaway. It got its name as the Enchanted River because the salt water river seems to have no source.Due to its close proximity to the sea, some believe the idyll was created when seawater flowed through long tunnels and caverns deep below the ground, finally resurfacing at the spring. The river, considered one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in the Philippines flows straight into the Pacific Ocean at Hinatuan, Surigaodel Sur.
Lake District, England: With its postcard-perfect valleys surrounded by glittering lakes, burbling brooks, rolling hills and craggy peaks, the Lake District in England’s northwest is quite literally taken out of fairy tales. Each year nearly16 million visitors come to the Cumbrian National Park for its lake cruises, mountain hikes and awe-inspiring sightseeing. For city-dwellers especially, it can seem like stepping into a storybook realm of undulating fells, whitewashed cottages and stonewalled fields where ponies roam.
Lake Sørvágsvatn, Denmark: Lake Sørvágsvatnis known as the most striking of all the Faroe Islands’ lakes. As the star of a clever optical illusion, the lake appears as if it is resting hundreds of meters above the sea, with the ocean churning beneath its placid waters.But nature can be deceiving because in reality, Lake Sørvágsvatn is actually no more than about 30 meters above sea level. Visit the 18 rocky, volcanic islands connected by tunnels, ferries, causeways and bridges, and view Mother Nature’s oddest optical illusion on the island of Vagar.
Sagrada Familia, Spain: With its intricate symbolic sculptures, monumental medallion-capped spires and wildly imaginative carved facades, the Sagrada Familia rises from Barcelona’s urban setting like an elaborate Gothic castle ripe with stories and secrets.Designed by one of Spain’s most famed architects, Antoni Gaudi, the history of this Roman Catholic Church and UNESCO World Heritage Site is a legend in itself.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany: If you are not a believer of fairy tales then you must set your eyes on the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. An enchanting Romanesque Revival fortress that rises majestically from the Alpine foothills of southwest Bavaria, this picture-perfect palace is rumored to be the inspiration behind Sleeping Beauty’s and Cinderella’s Castle in Disneyworld.Straight from the dreams of little princesses across the globe, this magical palace has everything a fairy tale castle should: a romantic setting, a glowing limestone facade, fanciful turrets and an elaborate interior featuring shining suits of armor.
Krzywy Domek, Poland: With its undulating roofline and warped windows and doors, this 4,000sqm building was inspired by the fairy tale illustrations of Jan Marcin Szancer and the work of artist Per Dahlberg. The vertigo-inducing building in the seaside resort town of Sopot houses a shopping centre, restaurants and a radio station, and draws thousands of tourists each year to see the modern architectural marvel for themselves.