When I started blogging about my travels, I wasn’t sure where my little part of the internet was going to take me. The kind of adventures I would be sharing, the stories that would unfold and the memories I would create. It has been a whirlwind journey over the past twenty-five years of travel (yup, my mum travelled while she was pregnant with me) and I feel so grateful to have seen so many spectacular places in the world.
There have been so many surreal, “pinch me” moments that will stay with me for a lifetime, but up until now, I feel like my worldwide tour, discovering city by city, country by country has been one spectacular journey. I decided it was time to showcase eight of my favourite breathtaking landmarks that belong to the world, and the ones I have been so lucky to have been able to discover too.
1. Taj Mahal, India
The Taj Mahal sits as one of my favourite all-time experiences. I remember it so vividly, I was 14 years old, and I remember my mum telling me that it would be the most exquisite landmark I would ever visit. I think it meant more to me as it took me back to a piece of my heritage and Indian roots. My mum was right, it was one of the most utterly decorative and magnificent buildings ever. The history behind this masterpiece is the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, built it in memory of his favourite wife (yes, he had many). Today the Taj Mahal remains as the jewel of Muslim culture and art in India. Also standing as one of the most universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage. Magnificent landmark, right?
Tip: Best time to visit is during India’s winter months, and visit first thing in the morning.
2. Niagara Falls, Toronto
The Niagara Falls is to falls, as the Great Wall of China is to walls. There are simply no words to describe how spectacular mother nature can be. As you step close to the water’s edge, you hear the thundering of water as it gushes down at high speed, like the sound of a thousand galloping horses. The noise is somewhat deafening, yet so peaceful. As you watch all the various shades of blue mix together, you just want to dive in and be at one with nature. However, you do get the opportunity to get up close and personal with the falls by riding the Maid of the Mist and it’s definitely worth experiencing.
Tip: Best time to see the Niagara Falls is during the summer months. During the winter months, the falls are known to freeze.
3. Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi
Visiting the Sheikh Zayed Mosque was a landmark that was high up on my travel bucket list. I purposely organised a two-night detour from our India and Dubai trip, to squeeze in the opportunity to visit the absolutely majestic mosque. For me, the most remarkable experience was to walk through the inside, which welcomes over 40,000 worshippers each day. We purposely picked to visit on a Friday, known as Jumma to Muslims and is an auspicious day of the week. Hearing the Maghrib (evening prayer) prayer call as the sunset over the white-washed elegant facade was a real tear-jerking moment.
Tip: Best time to visit is late afternoon, catching both daylight, sunset and night all in one trip, plus allowing you to get onto the last pre-Maghrib tour.
4. Dolomites, Italy
Before I went on a ski trip to Cortina, the closest I had ever got to see the Italian Dolomites was via my screensaver on my Macbook. The iconic, snowcapped mountains are known to have the most dazzling mountainscape known to man. However, until you see it for yourself, you can only imagine, right? As we flew into Venice, we flew directly above the mountains, bringing the whole plane to a pin drop silence as fellow passengers ogled out of the window with complete awe. It’s a whole other experience seeing the mountains directly from your hotel bedroom window and actually getting the opportunity to ski on the mountains itself. It was an experience I will never forget anytime soon.
Tip: Visit during the winter months/ski season to see the mountains in their true white snow-capped glory.
5. Eiffel Tower, Paris
Paris, oh Paris. The city of love and lights. A city that I hold close to my heart, second to London, which has been my home for the past six years. Coming to Gare Du Nord, and sauntering the streets of Paris, you can spot the Eiffel Tower at any point in the city. It’s a tribute to the energetic city, plus the view from it is pretty spectacular. No trip is complete without having a picture or visiting with the tower itself — it’s almost like going home and not stopping in to see your mother. It’s the done thing.
6. Statue of Liberty, New York
When anyone thinks New York, you automatically think of the Statue of Liberty. The statue was a gift from France after the American Civil war came to an end and the French historian Edouard de Laboulaye proposed that France create a statue to give to the United States in celebration of that nation’s success in building a viable democracy. It’s now the most monumental landmark of the city and America.
Tip: To get the best picture of the Statue of Liberty, take the boat across to see the Statue of Liberty, and you will get a full shot. Getting up close and personal will prevent that.
7. Burj Khalifa, Dubai
Dubai’s landmark, the Burj Khalifa sits as the world’s tallest building across the globe and has exceeded many other records too. At over 828 metres (2,716.5 feet) and more than 160 stories, Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world, tallest free-standing structure in the world, has the highest number of stories in the world, has the highest occupied floor in the world, the highest outdoor observation deck in the world, an elevator with the longest travel distance in the world and the tallest service elevator in the world. Crazy, huh? The sunsets from The Burj Khalifa are like no other, especially as you’re almost immersed in the sky while it sets. It’s almost being like in a fairytale, making it the perfect place for a proposal or celebrating a special occasion, as we did for my mum.
Tip: Instead of visiting the observation deck, visit the world’s tallest restaurant, Atmosphere and enjoy the view, with a seat, a few cocktails and nibbles for a similar price as the tickets.
8. The Shard, London
I couldn’t leave London out now, could I? The Shard quickly became my favourite London landmark after it opened to the public. Not only does it give you the most beautiful panoramic views of London, but it also houses two of the restaurants and a gorgeous five-star luxury hotel too. If you haven’t tried the afternoon tea at Aqua or been for dinner at Hutong, you’re missing out. If you’re looking for something a bit more romantic, how about a staycation at the stunning Shangri-La London, with pre-dinner drinks at GONG followed by dinner at Ting.
Tip: Don’t go up to the observation deck, instead enjoy a nice drink, meal or afternoon tea at one of the outlets within the Shard. You get the same view and an experience all in one for a similar price to an observation deck ticket.
What is your favourite landmark out of my top eight?
Until next time…