The World’s Architectural Travel Gems

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Does your dream vacation involve gazing at ancient ruins, walking along a streetscape traversed by Roman sandals or drinking wine in a timeless Tuscan café? Then an international voyage should be on your agenda. A plethora of architecturally rich cities and areas truly offer food for your soul. And there are guides who will personalize your trip down to the type of wine you want with your crème brûlée!

One such travel partner is Martin Randall Travel, who offers themed architectural tours to every corner of the planet, with a mission of helping deepen their travelers’ understanding and enhance their appreciation of the varied civilizations around the world. They will handle any hotel and travel arrangements, and much more, while making sure you are in the center of it all, whether you’re in London or Prague.

Or develop your own travel plans by discussing them with experienced travelers through online groups such as Fodors Travel Talk Forums. The originators of the well-known travel guides allow members to share advice and information; many members post trip reports that can give current data and experiences to inform the traveler seeking up-to-the-minute guidance.

Recent research studies by Cornell University psychology professor Thomas Gilovich indicate that we experience the same increase in happiness when we buy something and when we go traveling. However, the happiness falls over time with things, but the memories of our traveling experience can supply us with happiness hormones for much longer! Every new memory becomes a real source of joy that stays with us our whole lives.

Tuscany, Italy
If you don’t want to go as far as the heroine in Under the Tuscan Sun and purchase a villa in Cortona, Italy, you can still visit one of the most extraordinary hill towns in Tuscany, San Gimignano. This city has become known as a place to experience a living country town amongst many 13th-century hundred-foot stone tower houses. Nearby Volterra, San Miniato and Siena also provide breathtaking vistas. Many tours are led by historians who will entice your imagination.

Prague, Czech Republic
For adventurous spirits who appreciate an atmosphere of unique charm and unmatched structure, Prague is waiting. Nicknamed City of a Hundred Spires, it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Historic sites include the Gothic Charles Bridge, and Church of St. Nicholas in the Lesser Town is the most visited baroque church in the area. Or visit the Palace Gardens or Petřín, featuring a lookout tower rivaling the Eiffel Tower, and Prague Castle. They are very welcoming to visitors!

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Fancy visiting 90 islands linked by 400 bridges and more historic buildings and sights than any other city in the world? Visit Europe’s Amsterdam and discover treasure troves of design. Most of its historic buildings and streets have remained unaltered since the 19th century.

Barcelona, Spain
With a well-balanced mix of historic architecture, Barcelona is home to many buildings dating from medieval times. Experience the stunning Basilica of the Sagrada Family, the Picasso Museum and the La Boqueria Market.

The World of Ancient Greece
Plunge into the clear crisp romantic Greek waters as Meryl Streep did in Mama Mia! Greece is also the architecture buff’s utopia! Any architecture and history lover must visit Athens once in her lifetime. Some of the oldest European civilizations developed on the Greek islands, filling the islands with unique archeological sites. Theatres and other sites are more than 5,000 years old. The Acropolis and Temple of Olympian Zeus exude the golden age of Athens, and feeling the echoes of great philosophers, orators and artists is unforgettable, romantic and stirring.

United Kingdom
The lore of Westminster Abbey, Saint Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London bring thoughts of writing a diary in the hallway; countless authors have been inspired by this lovely place. And Princess Diana’s mystique is in all our minds, created by palaces with history so rich it goes beyond saying. In Great Britain, practice your British accent first and then drink in the lore. With 240 museums and sights and buildings, there is no end to the visual mystique.

Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires offers a 19th century convent, the 1555 Malabia House in Palermo Soho, that now has bed and breakfast rooms. Imagine sleeping in beds women slept in and prayed in a century ago. And there are wonderful places to eat and explore, including a sought-after restaurant called Tequi, hidden by local graffiti. Explore!

West Germany
The castles of this historic region are amazing to explore. Start with Koblenz’s Festung Ehrenbreitstein and then wear your walking shoes to the other three castles in the St. Goar region and the academic treasures of Heidelberg before finishing at the castle-hotel in Neckarzimmern, the Burg Hornberg. Don’t forget the local wine!

So pack your bags! Wherever your imagination takes you, let it grow and bloom. And remember, you won’t be the same when you return home.■

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