4 major cities we love to visit on our adventures
28 February 2020
Every city in the world has its own unique charm and character—from Japan’s quirky capital to Nepal’s spiritual base, these cities have plenty to offer visitors and provide a glimpse into local life. Many of our adventures include day tours to give participants the chance to explore and discover the cities they are traveling to, with the help of knowledgeable tour guides. Inspired ground operators and tour guides are always keen to share their insights into the people, places and culture of their hometown.
Today we will share our top 4 cities, what makes them special and what you can do while you’re there.
Cusco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular cities for travellers in Peru. It is known as the gateway to the Inca ruins and Machu Picchu, but the city itself is definitely one to explore before you head off on the trail. Walking the narrow, cobbled streets under archways you’ll find many cafes, restaurants and markets to peruse. The city has a rich history and is well known for its glorious Spanish colonial architecture. Even a quick stroll around the square is a chance to admire the intricate stonework and charming detail of some of the city’s finest buildings.
The Plaza de Armas is Cusco's colonial centre, set against the Cusco Cathedral and several churches. If you can spare the time, the cathedral and the Church of the Companion of Jesus are worth visiting. Inside, you’ll find the cathedral's impressive collection of art from the Cusco School—influenced by both indigenous and European art styles.
The city sits at an elevated height of around 3,400 metres above sea level. To prevent altitude sickness, locals suggest drinking mate de coca, a herbal tea offered in many of Cusco’s restaurants and cafes.
Our Nakasendo Trail adventure takes participants on a journey through Japan’s ancient history. Along the way, we pass the city of Tokyo. Many travellers choose to stay for several days to a week for the chance to explore every inch of this fascinating city. A unique blend of traditionalism and modernity, Tokyo has many landmarks to visit including Tokyo Station, Skytree, The Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower, Nihonbashi Bridge and the Earthquake Memorial.
Tokyo is a city of contrasts offering something for everyone, whether you’re fascinated by the kawaii culture in fashion capital Harajuku or interested in exploring ancient temples including Sensoji Temple and Meiji Shrine. Shopping districts like Shibuya, Ginza, Akihabara and Asakusa are also popular for tourists who come to Tokyo for a unique shopping experience.
While you need at least a week to scratch the surface of what Tokyo has to offer, if you can only spare a day or two, we recommend visiting the Shibuya Crossing, Harajuku district and a stopover at the Tsukiji Fish Market, where you can sample a range of delicious fresh seafood, prepared to your tastes.
Kathmandu is the heart of the Himalayas, where our Annapurna and Everest Base Camp treks often begin or end. If you happen to spend more than a day here, there are plenty of things to do to keep yourself occupied.
You can spend the day visiting some of the temples and Buddhist or Hindu historic sites north of the square. There are multiple cafes, restaurants and shopping strips along the way, giving a glimpse into the daily lives of urban Nepalese people. Notable temples include Swayambhu (Monkey Temple), Pashupatinath, Budhanilkantha and Changu Narayan temple.
If you are curious about traditional Nepali cuisine, keep an eye out for anywhere that serves momos—these are either meat or vegetable-filled dumplings served with a spicy lime relish sauce. Delicious!
Florence is Italy’s renaissance town, home to some of the country’s most impressive cathedrals, churches and museums. Our Tuscany adventure begins in Florence where you have the day to explore this captivating city. If you’re looking for something to do, we recommend beginning in Piazza della Signoria, the famous historical centre where you can admire several important statues including a copy of Michelangelo's David (the master copy is kept in the Accademia Gallery). Be sure to visit Uffizi Gallery—Florence's most popular and important museum, which houses a number of renaissance masterpieces by artists Michelangelo, Botticelli, da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio and many others.
You won’t want to leave without first visiting the Florence Cathedral (also known by the name Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore), named in honour of Santa Maria del Fiore. The vast Gothic structure was built on the site of the 7th century church of Santa Reparata.
Florence is a city that has inspired artists and writers of every generation around the world. Mark Twain once observed Florence in his autobiography, writing; “this is the fairest picture on our planet, the most enchanting to look upon, the most satisfying to the eye and the spirit. To see the sun sink down, drowned on his pink and purple and golden floods, and overwhelm Florence with tides of color that make all the sharp lines dim and faint and turn the solid city to a city of dreams, is a sight to stir the coldest nature, and make a sympathetic one drunk with ecstasy.”