5 Big Cities That Get Under Your Skin scintillating

When it comes to travel, there are many ready to tell you to avoid big cities and head out onto the unbeaten path in pursuit of ‘real’ adventure. Undoubtedly there’s truth in this, but there are also plenty of city break locations to explore and fall in love with. These are my picks for cities that have all the buzz, without sacrificing the spirit or culture:

Rome, Italy: There is just so much to love about Rome; the gory history of the Colosseum and the well-preserved remnants of the Roman Empire, the tantalising food and the impassioned and friendly attitude of its residents. Whether it’s enjoying gelati, driving at breakneck speed or enjoying the fine clothing, Rome will draw you in.

Cairo, Egypt: If Rome invites you in, Cairo smacks you in the face – but in the most exhilarating, fascinating way possible. Expect to be kept awake all night with the sounds of traffic, amazed by the beauty of mosques and the history behind the Great Pyramids, and then win down by shopping for papyrus and perfumed oils. Cairo really is the city with it all.

Siem Reap, Cambodia: The one destination that has kept me coming back, this really is a magical place. While some big cities lose their charm, Siem Reap is simply bursting with it. With fantastic markets, street food to make you shriek or squeal, ingenious money spinners (Dr. Fish foot massage anyone?) and of course, the truly magnificent temples not far away, this destination really does grab you and create memories that last forever.

Kathmandu, Nepal: With tiny, maze-like streets adorned with colourful flags, it’s impossible not to recognise the buzz about Kathmandu. It’s a guide-book cliché, but there’s a fascinating mix of cultures with vast Tibetan migration, making it a place with real heart and history. Plus, where else can you hop on a plane and fly around Mt Everest in just under 15 minutes?

Cusco, Peru: The original start of the Inca Trail (though few are crazy enough to start from there now!) Cusco is anything but just a transit destination. The secret is it is divided up into occupational districts; try to stay in the ancient artisans district, surrounded by beautiful art. Regardless of your religious persuasion, a visit to the Catholic churches is a must to see the blend of traditional religion and Catholicism, and even the last supper depicted with the traditional dish of guinea pig!

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