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Want to make your co-workers insanely jealous? Just casually drop "I’m holiday making in the Maldives this year" into conversation, preferably in the dead of winter. Or better yet, go there without mentioning it to anyone—then send them a "Wish you were here!" postcard.
Bali is a living postcard, an Indonesian paradise that feels like a fantasy. Soak up the sun on a stretch of fine white sand, or commune with the tropical creatures as you dive along coral ridges or the colorful wreck of a WWII war ship. On shore, the lush jungle shelters stone temples and mischievous monkeys. The “artistic capital” of Ubud is the perfect place to see a cultural dance performance, take a batik or silver-smithing workshop, or invigorate your mind and body in a yoga class.
Dubai is a destination that mixes modern culture with history, adventure with world-class shopping and entertainment. Catch a show at the Dubai Opera, see downtown from atop the Burj Khalifa and spend an afternoon along Dubai Creek exploring the gold, textile and spice souks. If you’re looking for thrills, you can float above the desert dunes in a hot air balloon, climb aboard a high-speed ride at IMG Worlds of Adventure or skydive over the Palm Jumeirah.
The Zanzibar Archipelago, located in the Indian Ocean 15 miles off the coast of Tanzania, is a breathtaking spot to escape from the world. You’ll enjoy clear, turquoise-blue water; shallow sandbars perfect for wading; and many small, nearly deserted islands virtually unvisited by tourists. Explore the World Heritage Site of Stone Town, Zanzibar City’s old quarter. Or just go beach to beach between tiny fishing villages—each one's better than the next.
Glamourous Santorini is deliciously different. Geographical newness is in part to thank. The island’s popular black volcanic Perissa and Kamari beaches are big draws, as is its arguably most famous Red Beach near Akrotiri (which is the place to go for archaeology buffs). Santorini curves round a giant lagoon in the Cyclades islands, offering stunning views from sky-high towns, eclectic cuisine, lovely galleries, thriving nightlife and excellent wines.
If the mention of Mykonos doesn’t immediately bring to mind bright white buildings, turquoise skies and tanned bodies lining golden sandy beaches, you’ve been living under a rock. The most popular Greek Island in the Aegean Sea is all about energy and attracts a diverse and upscale crowd that thrives on its stylish nightlife. During the day some privacy can be had in the more secluded north beaches, but the south beaches are all party. Ski, jet-ski, windsurf, horseback ride, parasail or just save up your energy for the evening ahead, like most of your fellow travellers in Mykonos.
Once known for smog, traffic and tacky architecture, Athens is a city reformed thanks to fortunes brought by the 2004 Summer Olympics. Spotless parks and streets, an ultra-modern metro, new motorways, an accessible airport and all signs in perfect English make the city easily negotiable. Meriting more than a stopover en route to the islands, sophisticated Athens sites include many pillars of Western history, from the Acropolis to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, as well as treasures in the National Archaeological Museum.
Corfu is studded with whitewashed houses, Byzantine churches, and the remains of Venetian fortresses and Greek temples. Wander the ancient streets of the Roman village of Kassiopi or explore the central Esplanade of the eponymous Corfu Town. For a DIY spa experience, lather yourself in mineral mud on the shore of the Canal D’Amour. Legend has it that the waterfalls of Nymphes used to attract the mythological beauties of the same name, who would flock to the village to bathe in the pristine waters.
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