Welcome to 2018. We bet you're wondering why the hell you're sitting at your desk right now, as your other (some might say, smarter) colleagues took an extra week to lounge around eating the last of the leftovers, or to swan off overseas to top up their tan. We feel you. The real world has rolled back around—and it feels remarkably like work in 2017...
Instead of doing actual work, spend your precious brain space fantasising of the 10 places you wish you were instead at your desk RN.
#1. Whitehaven Beach
If there’s anything that screams perfect daydream material, it’s sitting on 98% silica sand while the crystal clear ocean laps at your feet. The incredible Whitehaven Beach, located a short boat ride from Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays Queensland, has all your tropical island dreams covered and then some with its mind-boggling beauty and location on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef. There’s a reason this stunning natural wonder is plastered across every Australian tourism campaign and it really needs to be seen to be believed. Plus, you could totally combine your trip to Whitehaven with a stay at luxe accommodation on nearby Hamilton Island for the ultimate island escape. Throw in a palm leaf and we’re sold.
#2. Plitvice Lakes National Park
A hidden gem more than worthy of a shout out, Croatia’s Plitvice Lake National Park is a nature-lover’s dream come true. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Plitvice Lakes National Park marks the point where 16 crystal-esque lakes flow into each through a series of waterfalls and cascades. An 18km wooden footbridge meanders through the water and butterflies do their thing all over the heavily-forested area. The water is so turquoise you’ll find yourself questioning whether they secretly dyed it and if you visit in winter, you might just find an ice-covered wonderland that would make for one sick ‘gram picture. Plitvice Lakes might also be as close as you’ll get to steeping onto the set of a real life Disney movie. Talk about magical AF.
Located in Kyoto, Japan’s cultural hub and former capital, Gion is a must-see on any Japanese adventure. Referred to informally as the geisha district, Gion is a gorgeous slice of the Japan of ages past, nestled smack bang in the middle of a bustling, thriving city that effortlessly blends modern and traditional. Think wooden buildings, winding alleyways, traditional gift shops and the chance to spot a geisha or maiko (a geisha’s apprentice) making their way between appointments at the myriad teahouses dotting the district. Gion is also home to a number of sights, including the famous Kiyomizu-dera temple which offers to-die-for views over Kyoto, if you can’t get your fill just by wandering the stone pathways. BRB, looking up when the next flight leaves for Japan.
#4. The Alhambra
Topping many a “things you have to see before you die” list, the Alhambra is, well, actually something you have to see before you die. Let’s just say, it makes sitting at your desk sound pretty dang boring. Drawing heavily on its Arabic ancestry, the Alhambra is a fortress complex located in Granada that manages to blend historical significance with stunning architectural brilliance in all the right ways. To start with, the Alhambra offers killer views over the city of Granada and the surrounding meadows. It was built primarily in the 13th century when the first king of the Nasrid dynasty decided to make the fortress the royal residence. It’s from this period that much of the architectural elements –including wooden filigree archways and that iconic central fountain – that make the Alhambra so gorgeous are from. Oh and did we mention that the aim of the architects designing the Alhambra was to cover every single space with decoration, no matter how big or small said space was. Leave work early, head to the airport, fly to Spain, go to the Alhambra, thank us later.
Ah Scotland, we might just have a tiny crush on you after binge-watching Outlander on Netflix. Which is why we just had to put Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city and voted the most walkable city in the U.K. (take that, London), on this list. Edinburgh is home to many a cultural monument, including the perfectly medieval Edinburgh Castle and the Museum of Edinburgh - which just so happens to be located inside a 16th-century house. If you’re more the type to emerge after the sun has gone down, spend your time exploring the haunted alleyways of Mary King’s Close or hit up the local pub for the best whisky you’ll ever taste. Just don’t forget to head out of town and climb Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano that also offers gorgeous views over the city below. Ugh, why can’t we be working in Scotland right now.
#6. Skaftafell National Park
And here we were thinking that the rock formations of Ireland’s Giants Causeway were impressive when Skaftafell National Park came onto the scene and blew us all away. Located in gorgeous Iceland, Skaftafell is the epicentre of the largest national park in Europe, Vatnajokull National Park, and lies on the southern edge of the breathtaking Vatnajokull Glacier. The park is a land of contrasts, promising you the chance to see everything from active volcanoes to glaciers to flat, sandy plains to glacier rivers – all in the same place. Skaftafell is also home to the Kristinartindar Peaks, a dramatic rock formation from which a waterfall plummets one metre into the lush park below. And that’s all before we get to the variety of hiking trails that wind through the 5000 square kilometres of natural beauty that the park claims as its own. Psh, who needs a job anyway, if you need us we’ll be adventuring in Iceland.
#7. Old Havana
Okay, okay, so the pinnacle of chilly northern wandering isn’t really your thing. What about the colourful, bustling, tropical flair of Old Havana, in Cuba? Old Havana is the second most populated borough of modern Havana and is contained within the original Havana city walls. It is also the best placed to be completely immersed in the Havana of long ago. This is a Havana where rumba music floats through cobbled streets, where narrow lanes meander past Cuban-Baroque-meets-Art-Nouveau buildings and where the locals sip coffee and chat like they’ve been doing for many a-year. In other words, it’s pretty wanderlust inducing. Stay in a hotel that once played host to Winston Churchill, explore the brightly hued Plaza Vieja or spend the day exploring Havana’s revolutionary past at Museo de la Ciudad. Whatever you choose, it’s got to be better than staring gloomily out the window at all the not-Old Havana you’re surrounded by. Yes, you can thank us later.
#8. Banff National Park
Located in the iconic Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park is Canada’s first national park and is home to some breathtaking examples of that alpine beauty we all know and love about Canada. Lake Louise, a turquoise pool of pure postcard perfect beauty, serves as the park’s main jumping off point before you move on to the too-pretty-to-be-real Sunshine Meadows (the name, guys, the name) or the jagged peaks of the Icefields Parkway. To help with painting the picture of how freaking incredible Banff National Park is, imagine that scene in The Sound of Music when Maria is singing her heart out to the rolling green hills around her. Banff makes that scenery look like your attempt at Pictionary after a few too many drinks. So, what are you waiting for?
#9. Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is a beacon when it comes to sought after travel destinations at the moment but the temple city of Thailand is attracting so much buzz for a very good reason. Serving as the hub of Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is the perfect place to kick back and get some much needed R&R while remaining in close proximity to activities galore. Pick from one of the many temples peeking out from behind every corner, thanks to the city’s position as the former seat of the Lanna kingdom, or spend your time wandering the backstreets and sampling the many flavours of Thai cuisine. Did someone say authentic pad Thai and grilled pork in banana leaf? Drool. Uh yeah, you can totally get away with chucking a sickie for a whole week (or four). We’ll see you at the airport.
An underappreciated hidden gem good for more than just filming locations for a bunch of hit TV shows (Game of Thrones, anyone?), Malta is well-worth an addition to any perpetual wander-lusting daydreams. Malta, an island located between Malta and the North African coast, is home to a number of historic sites that remain as evidence of its former rulers, including the Romans, Moors, French and British. The most famous of these has to be Ggantija, a temple complex on the Mediterranean Island of Gozo that is older than the pyramids of Egypt. They are also the world’s second oldest existing manmade religious structures, losing out only to Gobekli Tepe in Turkey. You can actually wander through the ruins of the complex, marvelling at the ingenuity of construction from before society was really a thing. Getting to explore the almost-oldest structure in the world AND having the chance to live your best life on a Mediterranean island? Sign us the heck up!
Ready to pack your bags and get exploring? Make sure to check out our travel page for all the destinations worth knowing about.
Image credit: Augustin de Montesquiou