When you’re travelling a lot, you’ll see many extraordinary, overwhelming, outstanding places. And some of them are even magical. Here you’ll find the places that really enchanted me – my personal “the World’s most magical Places”. Hope you’ll feel the same!
It’s really difficult to rank these places, as they are so different – that’s why I’ve put them just in alphabetical order. But I’ll tell you on the way which ones are my three favorites.
There are two Antelope canyons: the “upper” and the “lower”, the latter being the more crowded one, but easier accessible. The area around Antelope is completely unsuspicious – from the Highway you’ll see a power plant close by on an unspectacular desert plain, and nothing that suggests one of the major attractions the US west has to offer. After waiting in line for almost 2 hours, we finally made it into the Canyon. And even the entrance looks quite unimpressive. Then you get through a tiny cleft into the ground… …and just stare. It’s incredible!! And it’s definitely among my personal “top three”!
Basilica Cistern, Istanbul
The Basilica Cistern in the heart of the historical Sultanahmet district of Istanbul is definitely also among my “top three” list. Being the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns in Istanbul, the Basilica Cistern (in Turkish: Yerebatan Sarnıcı, which means “Cistern Sinking Into Ground”) was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian. The huge, dark vaults create a very special atmosphere – arcane and mysterious. If you’re lucky and get to see it without hundreds of other tourists (which is getting more difficult since the Basilica cistern featured in the Dan Brown novel Inferno and its 2016 film adaptation), you can stroll along the wooden runways and imagine being in a different world.
Bruges is famous for its canals – “the Venice of the North”. Well, the historical center is quite a bit smaller than the one of its famous Italian “sister”. But still very romantic and best explored with is a boat tour on the channels. Unfortunately, during summertime it gets really crowded, so maybe it’s a good idea to try a touristically less popular month. A nice add-on, if you’re a film fan: At the market square there’s the bell tower – yes, the famous tower from the movie “In Bruges”. Featuring Colin Farell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes, the historical center of Bruges is the “real star” of the movie. The market square and the hotel “Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce” mark prominent movie settings. But the most impressive one is the bell tower top: it’s where the final fight between “the “good and the evil” guy takes place. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll look down from the bell tower platform with different eyes.
The Empire State Building – New York by night
The Empire State Building is an iconic building, by day and by night. Numerous movies set scenes here, many love affairs started and some even ended. Although a true tourist magnet (and thus always crowded), the atmosphere above the “city that never sleeps” is special. Try a mild summer evening after dawn!
Forum Romanum, Rome, Italy
For those of you who still had to learn Latin at school (like I did), this place might be more special than for others. What I particularly like is the light and atmosphere at late afternoon, the stones lavished with a red-golden glow. Walk the main street of the old Romans and imagine how it must have felt about two thousand years ago.
Hong Kong Island, view from the Peak
Cities like Hong Kong, that consist of ONLY high rise buildings, are very special to Europeans like me, who are used to the occasional skyscraper among a lot of lower buildings. As in Frankfurt, Paris or London. But Hong Kong is completely different. There are basically no low buildings at all, and skyscrapers as far as the view goes. Which is best observed from the Peak. Get out of the cable car and be amazed!
House without a key, Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii
Visitors of Waikiki know what to expect: high rise buildings at famous beaches – and you’ll get what you expect. What we had not expected was a place among the buildings (in fact part of a hotel), that transports the “Hawaian feeling”. OK, it’s a restaurant, they serve food and drinks. But they also offer this very special Hawaian music which – combined with the open setting next to the ocean – lets you forget the hotel towers and forget any trouble. Relax, be happy and just enjoy!
Jerusalem is special – this high density of Roman ruins, synagogues, mosques and churches you’ll not find anywhere else. Even if you’re not really religious and rather dislike the notorious touristic junk shops along the famous Via Dolorosa, the historical ambiance will get a grip on you. Walk through the historical old city of Jerusalem and on the Mount of Olives, marvel the view from there over the Jewish cemetery to the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Imagine who else has enjoyed this view, centuries or even milleniums ago.
Los Angeles, Griffiths Observatory, California
Two of the features that LA offers in abundance is space and light. Both are ideally combined at the Griffith Observatory (famous due to the movie “La La land”). From there you’ll have the best view of LA. The entire city is spread in from of you like a huge carpet of lights, provided there’s no smog.
https://part-time-travel.com/usa-west-coast and here: https://part-time-travel.com/the-perfect-day-in/los-angeles
Melba Gully, Great Otway National Park, Victoria, Australia
This is a magic spot for nature lovers. Humid – in fact dripping of rain when we entered it – and foggy, this spectacularly huge fern gully moves you into a fairy tale. During our trip through Australia we visited many fern gullies – but this one was definitely the best!
Mono Lake, California
Mono Lake – that’s a lunar landscape with picturesque Tufa formations. Although they are pretty famous, it’s usually not crowded, due to the long drive from either the western national parks or the Californian cities. View of the rocks and the lake during sunset is spectacular, and more so if you’re lucky and on your own. Imagine being on a different planet!
Monument Valley, Arizona
The opinions about Monument vary – many people are disappointed, having spent many hours in a queue of cars moving slowly along the only road allowed for a self-drive. Therefore: you’ll have to explore it on foot! The Wildcat Trail is – still – the only hiking trail inside the Tribal Park that visitors can hike unescorted by authorized Navajo guides. Try it at sunrise, and you’ll not be disappointed!
Pointe du Raz, Brittany, France
Pointe du Raz is one of these few locations where you feel the power of natural forces. The place itself is an impressive sea cliff at the far southeastern end of Brittany, with more rocks off the shore, the “fare du vieille” (an ancient lighthouse) and even further away the “ile de Sein” island. Between the cliffs, rocks and the island of Sein, there’s a very strong sea current, leading to spectacular high waves. Which you’ll become aware of, when the occasional boat tries to fight the waves. Look it up at youtube, (like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nv0zVsdwAb8 ) – or better: go and watch yourself!
San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy
San Gimignano is one of the “hot spots” in Tuscany – bringing thousands of tourists to the small city every day. Thus, to feel the “spirit” you’ll have to stay overnight – and book it months in advance. Because there are only very few hotel rooms available in the town – when the tourists leave, the town gets empty. When the sun sets, the so-called “gender towers” get illuminated. Walking through the empty streets among the spectacular towers feels like walking through your own medieval movie set. Absolutely amazing!
It’s famous – the view from the crater rim over the deep blue water within the sunken crater. Blue infinity pools, merging with the Mediterranean sea hundreds of meters below and the equally blue sky above. A place so special…that’s it is worth the considerable amount of money a night on the crater rim costs you. Just try to find a spot that’s not being used for a wedding photo shooting.
This is the third place in my personal “top three” list of magical places. I know – millions of tourists haunt Venice each and every month. The crammed “runway” between Rialto Bridge and St. Marks Square is definitely not very romantic. But the romantic Venice is still there, and usually just around the corner. You’ll just have to walk a few meters further to discover lots of beautiful places, unknown churches (despite the occasional Titiano or Tintoretto just next to the entrance door). And speaking about walking – for me Venice is the biggest and most beautiful pedestrian zone in the world.
That’s it – my favorite magical places. Feel free to comment or send your “most magical places”!