Is there one destination in the world that you always find yourself thinking about? Maybe it’s the city you eventually moved to or a destination that you’ve only visited once but you didn’t get enough of? Even bloggers who have traveled the world near and far have that one “happy place” they just can’t get off their mind. I’ve asked the following 15 travel bloggers to share their “Happy Place” with you. I hope you enjoy reading about the places they love and choose to add some of these destinations to your travel bucket list!
Sydney, Australia by Emma of Paper Planes & Caramel Waffles
Ever since I was little, Australia has always grabbed my attention. In every photo I saw, it looked like such a colourful place. From the turquoise blues of the coast line to the rusty red colour of the centre, I knew it was a country had to visit. Little did I know, I would fall in love with this country and Sydney would be the place that stole my heart. During my year in Australia, I was meant to travel a bit but I ended up spending 80% of my time in Sydney. This city had everything I ever wanted in a location. From the addictive city buzz to the gorgeous beaches and the weekend market in The Rocks to brunch in Newtown, I loved it all. There’s not been one other place on this planet that has matched up to Sydney so far. If you know a place that can make my heart skip a beat like it did whenever I caught sight of the Sydney Opera House or the Harbour Bridge, or if you know of a place that makes me stop and stare like I did when I caught sight of Bondi Beach from the end of the coastal walk, I’d love to know about it! My heart is still in Sydney and until I find somewhere that is better, it will remain my happy place.
Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina by Ariana of The Bosnian Aussie
There is once place on this planet that takes my breath away each time I visit. No matter how many times I see Mostar, its beautiful old bridge and stone cobbled streets buzzing with locals and tourists, I am in awe of this magical place. The city seems as if it was taken straight out of a fairytale book. Bazaars look oriental, and it might feel as though you have been transported to Istanbul; Bosnia was influenced heavily by the Ottoman empire. Mostar is famous for its Old Bridge. The word “Mostari” literally means bridge keeper. The original bridge was built in 1557. Sadly in November 1993, Croatian forces bombarded the bridge for days; eventually causing it to collapse into the river below.The new “old bridge” was rebuilt by hand to its former glory. You might be lucky to catch a local guy jumping off the bridge. No, he isn’t trying to kill himself, its a local sport in Mostar, dating back hundreds of years. They even have an annual competition held in July. Brave visitors can test their courage by jumping off themselves. Of course, training is provided by the local divers for 25 euros. There is so much to see and do in mostar, and the best view of the whole city is at the Koski Mehmed Pasa Mosques minaret tower. A claustrophobic climb up 89 steps in the tower will give you amazing 360 views of the city that will leave you wanting more. Mostar was under siege for 18 months, and still shows signs of war, but the spirit of the locals, their generosity to help out, and their ability to maximise every single day of the tourist season is easy to feel. Every trip to Europe, should include a trip to Mostar and its surrounds.
If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a hundred times, “My Happy Place” is definitely Seville, Spain. In 2006 I studied abroad there and it was the first time I ever left my home country. The beauty and passion of such an electric, vibrant city immediately drew me in. I was a quiet and self-conscious person before going there, and after three months I was dancing flamenco with friends, flirting in Spanish and never saying no to a fresh pitcher of sangria. I returned in 2010 to live in Seville as an au pair for a while, giving me a new perspective of not just the non-stop party, but the true culture and ‘duende’, or soul, of the city. From the rugged Guadalquivir River to the biggest gothic cathedral in the world, Seville has it all. Did I mention the FOOD? I could eat tapas of cured ham, crusty bread and olive oil in an outdoor cafe all day. And I did just that, many times! I’m moving to London this summer with my British husband, and I can’t wait to be so close to Seville again. It will be wonderful to return on the regular and soak up that beautiful Andalusian sun!
Byron Bay, Australia by Lizzy at Rose on a Globe
The first time I went there I was 20 and it was only for 3 days. I was staying in an old surf workshop in the middle of field a walk away from town, that was the first time I ever looked up to the sky and saw such an abundance of stars in the sky, the milky way was glowing white, I knew this place was special. I returned 6 years later with a job working as a surf photographer, I left my boyfriend in Sydney and headed out to a place called ‘the arts factory’ which is an alternative hostel in the byron jungle. I moved in a teepee with a Canadian girl called Seashell who smelt like tea tree oil and weed, this soon became my favourite scent! haha. I was working 4 hours a day on the beautiful ocean snapping surfer shots and lapping up the sunshine before heading back to the jungle overnight and getting involved in hula hooping, sunset drumming circles, singing, fire spinning and tight rope walking. I essentially became a hippy. There is just something about that place, the town has a magical pull and an array of beautiful minded and talented people. I felt like I could do anything, say anything, wear anything, be who I truly was without feeling embarrassed or scared, I tried new things and spoke to everyone, I made life long friends, I surfed, I watched the dolphins, I didn’t use Facebook or have a tv or wifi, I felt connected to people and nature. It made me let go of pain I had been holding for too many years and revaluate who I was and what was important to me. I might just have to add it also had the best chicken burger I have ever had in my life! Bello porto burgers, its worth going there just for that! It was a beautiful time and a beautiful place. It is my goal to work my way back to that place and make it my home.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic by Tiana and Shannon of Power Couple Life
Our happy place is Punta Cana. We have been several times, and we know so many locals and have many friends there, that it feels just like home. The weather has never let us down, the drinks are amazing and the vibe is something we can’t feel anywhere else. The white sand beaches, clear blue water and friendly people make it a place everyone falls in love with. From the delicious Dominican food, to the affordability you just can’t beat it.
Montmarte, Paris, France by Katie of The Hostel Girl
My Happy Place is the one city that I know I can return to and have “my spot” at my local bar and favourite café. Travelling to new places can be mentally exhausting so I try to return to Montmartre in Paris at least once a month to remind myself what it feels like to have roots like normal people. How many of us travellers can walk in to a bar and be handed our favourite drink straight away? The man in the photo knows my favourite brand of whiskey, my favourite cocktail, and exactly how I like my espressos. Then, just a five minute walk towards Gare du Nord is one of the best bakeries in town, and the joy I feel when the lady on the counter remembers my usual order is only dampened by pastry guilt and a slight worry for my waistline. On my first trip to Paris way back in 2012 I hated it. But over the years I have got to know the city more, and the city has got to know me, and slowly we’ve become pretty good friends. Paris is always on my mind… and I’m sure I’ll be seeing her again soon!
Iguazu Falls, Brazil/Argentina by Hayley of Lovepuffin Travel Blog
Batanes, Phillippines by Aileen of I am Aileen
Joyabaj, Guatemala by Sky of Sky vs World
My happy place, the one place that I can never get out of my head, is the first place I ever visited internationally – Joyabaj, Guatemala. It’s a small town located in the highlands of Guatemala, a few hours from every major destination in the country. The only reason I discovered the town was that a teacher of mine had grown up there and led a school trip. By tourist standards, Joyabaj is nothing special. There’s a local Thursday and Sunday market in the town square but it’s aimed at the locals, not foreigners. There’s a beautiful church but there’s a lot of those in Central America. What makes Joyabaj so special is the locals. Never before and never since, even as I travel through Central America, have I met people as kind as those in Joyabaj. People who willingly opened their homes to a cautious American girl, prepared the most delicious food, and were patient with my painfully horrible Spanish. It’s because of them, my Guatemalan family, that I’ll be returning in a few months. For most, there may not even be a reason to visit but for me, Joyabaj is home.
Paris, France by Madison of Gap Year Girl
Riding the bus, squished between native Parisians coming home from work, groaning about the crush of people and laughing through the heat, I realize that this city defies all expectations. Supposedly an over-romanticized spot full of stuck-up locals and expensive food, the Paris I saw didn’t match the one in my head. I am convinced it is not a real city: no skyscrapers, extremely clean, green spaces abound. The Seine, the blood of the city, runs through the center bringing life to the tree-lined roads and stalls of antique books. Sit at a cafe for three hours. Sip cappuccinos and nibble away at a baguette, which will taste better than any bread you have ever consumed before. Get lost among the streets of art nouveau buildings and marvel at these buildings that look more like impeccable iced cakes than houses. Visit Monmartre that rests a bold white against the blue of the sky. Dawdle in the boutiques and funky shops in the left bank. Spend an hour considering a Degas sketch and cursing the tourists (even if you are one). There is no doubt that I could live here. I spent one week and ever since my heart has been tied to this place. I know that I will return many times in the future, if only to taste the hot, buttery croissants in the morning.
New York, New York by Meg of Dopes on the Road
New York City will always have my heart. While I’m not technical a native, having moved to NY when I was in high school, there is something about the Big Apple that makes me want to be the best me I can be. Maybe it’s the constant competition or the feeling of smallness, either way I know I can always come back to NYC and find myself exactly where I should be.
Sanibel & Captiva Island, Florida by Melissa of KC Girl Travels
Without doubt, my favorite place in the world is in Southwest Florida on the islands of Sanibel and Captiva. To get there, you’ll fly into Fort Myers and then you’ll need a car to drive over the causeway onto the islands. I’m convinced the $6 toll to go over the bridge worth every cent. Once paid, it seems you feel all your problems melt away as you drive over the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico with the sunshine beaming through your windows. Sanibel is listed in the “1000 Places You Should See Before You Die” because of the amazing shelling on its beaches. The word “breathtaking” seems so inadequate to describe the awe you feel seeing millions of perfectly shaped shells piled up on the beaches. The gulf waters are warm and calm and the beaches here are more peaceful than party. I was lucky enough to live in this area for four years—so it still feels like home. My secret for an inexpensive visit: grab a sub from the Publix grocery stories before you cross the causeway and have a lovely picnic on the beach. For a more pricey day, go to the tourist trap “The Bubble Room” or to “The Green Flash” on Captiva. Finish up your day at the Mucky Duck beach bar on Captiva where you can enjoy a beer or a cocktail with a little umbrella all while watching Mother Nature deliver a spectacular sunset.
Toronto, Canada by Andrea of No Money, Will Travel
It took me six flights, twenty nights, and more than 6,472km to realize that Toronto is my happy place. In leaving, I realized that my hometown, the “New York” of Canada, is more than just glass condos and business suits. Toronto is a geographically diverse city with beaches, parks, creeks, trails, and even a farm in the downtown core! On the surface it is a “cold” city (and not just because of its below freezing temperatures). If you break down your barriers, and let Toronto in, you will realize that it is a city ready to embrace you with open arms. From Little Italy to Greektown, from Chinatown to Salsa on St. Clair; Toronto is a multicultural city that embraces its heritage, passing on the legacy of various cultures. Whether you are in Roncescvalles looking to binge on Polish pierogis or in the Bathurst area hoping to spot a hipster, you will never get bored because you will always feel like you belong. Toronto is my happy place because when I’m there I am a global citizen, getting the best of both worlds.
Granada, Spain by Kirstie of Venga, Vale, Vamos
I’ve been to forty-five countries and countless cities and adored living in two other parts of Spain, but still nothing comes close to my first geographical love, Granada, Spain. It was only one summer month I spent there studying at the age of seventeen, but it latched onto me and has never let go. Revisits, photos, and songs of the stunning Andalucían city instantly transport me back to that teenage sense of freedom, mystery, and enthusiasm for an entire world yet to be discovered. Granada is Moorish shops in the lower Albaicín, brimming with exotic treasures and the scent of incense. It’s gypsy caves and white stucco abodes in the hills of the Sacromonte. It’s a solo flamenco guitar echoing through quiet cobblestone streets. It’s experiencing new foods in crowded tapas bars while fellow patrons shout for their favorite fútbol team. Granada is the city that turned me into a traveler, and, for that, even though I only lived there for a month, it will always feel like home.
Luang Prabang, Laos by Alli of The Vintage Postcard
“Sabaidee!” “Special priiiiiiiiice?” “Ladyyyy . . . special priiiiice for you!” Walking along the streets and everywhere I turned were friendly locals smiling at me, warmly gesturing to their stall of clothing, crafts, or food. Now enjoying a period of relative prosperity, Laotians warmly welcome visitors and are happy to share their culture and traditions with you. Luang Prabang is a quaint and colourful village in Laos, teeming with saffron robed monks and vibrant night markets. The atmosphere in this UNESCO World Heritage town is very relaxed and friendly. While strolling the streets, you can’t help but take a few deep breaths to soak everything in. Though many of the restaurants in Luang Prabang offer a huge range of decently priced options, there is one little alley near the night market that can’t be beat. For 10,000 kip ($1.30) you can choose from a plethora of vegetarian dishes and load up your plate with as much noodles, veggies and spring rolls as possible. In addition to the friendly people and great food, I really enjoyed the spirituality that encompassed the town as Buddhism has always fascinated me. I love how all about giving and providing the locals are with one another. The greatest example of this in the town is the daily morning ritual, where locals and visitors will wake at the break of dawn to provide alms to the monks. By giving, it is believed you will lead a more fortunate and blessed life. Luang Prabang (and Laos as a country) is a beautiful, humble and unassuming place. I’d love to return to this very happy place of mine someday and hope you get the chance to visit, too!
Where in the world is YOUR Happy Place?
cc Flickr photo credit: Sunset over Iguazu by SF Brit.