Top 10
urban breaks

The Best Of The Best
 

OPERA IN YOUR LIVING ROOM
– MUSICA A PALAZZO –VENICE, ITALY

Opera in your living room

 

The Musica a Palazzo is a travelling opera show and each act is set in a different hall of one of the most fascinating Venetian palaces: Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto. Depending on which night you attend you could see one of three performances. The most popular being ‘La Traviata’ by Giuseppe Verdi, which has strong links with Venice. During the first scene the small audience are actually playing the role of the Violetta’s guests (Traviata): she drinks a toast with them and among these she will meet Alfredo.

SECRET CINEMA
– LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

Secret cinema

 

From grassroots film screenings in abandoned London buildings, to large-scale productions in some of the most spectacular spaces worldwide, Secret Cinema has created 360-degree participatory worlds where the boundaries between performer and audience, set and reality are constantly shifting. Witness immersive screenings such as ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and watch live light sabre fights as actors play out the films scenes, choreographed to perfection.

BEACHES, BARS & FAVELAS
– RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

Beaches, bars & favelas

 

The city of colour and the largest country in both South America and Latin America. With some fantastic increases into the infrastructure thanks largely to the hosting of the recent World Cup and Olympic Games. Rio De Janeiro is now a place synonymous with passion, bright colours, coffee and of course football. Outside of the carnival season you can still experience some of the most incredible sights known to man. From the Statue of Christ to the peaks of Sugarloaf Mountain, you have the Botanical Gardens and the incredible mosaic-tiled stairwell known as the Selaron Steps. At night the Brazilian slums, the Favelas, with a diorama of twinkling lights, coat the hills between the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana exuding a mythical fairyland aesthetic. A tour will take you through one of the Favelas called Rocinha, which has gradually become more pacified over the years. The rich live in the valleys and the poor in the hills. Tours will include visits to the local schools, cafes and amazing photo opportunities.

ABANDONED CANAL SYSTEM
– CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

Abandoned canal system

 

Cape Town is a coastal city in South Africa. It is the second-most populous urban area in South Africa after Johannesburg. The city is famous for its harbour, and for landmarks such as Table Mountain and Cape Point. Due to the city's unique geography, it is possible to visit several different beaches in the same day, each with a different setting and atmosphere. There is a whole bunch of activities you will have the luxury of doing without having to fend off fellow tourists. One of them being the Abandoned Canal System. The tunnels used to supply the company gardens and passing ships with fresh water from Table Mountain. Later it became such a pleasant “Gentleman’s Walk” that it was named “Little Amsterdam”, but by 1895 the rivers got too dirty and unpleasant that they were arched and forgotten about. Now the tunnels once again only convey fresh water from Table Mountain and some Spring Water into the ocean.

BRIDGE CLIMB
– SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Bridge climb

Photograph: BridgeClimb Sydney http://www.bridgeclimb.com

One of Australia's largest cities, is best known for its harbourfront Sydney Opera House and hubs of waterside life. One of the only places in the world where kangaroo meat is entrenched into the local cuisine. Famous also for the extravagant New Year celebrations. On the stroke of midnight, dazzling fireworks erupt from barges on the water, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. You might have seen Sydney Bridge on your bucket-list but did you know you can climb it too? You’ll ascend the arches of the Bridge and enjoy the iconic views of Sydney, situated in one of the most beautiful harbours on earth. Throughout your climb, your Climb Leader will entertain you with stories about the history of the bridge, from its construction, to its opening in 1932, right through to its place in day-to-day local celebrations.

RIDE SHOTGUN
– NEW YORK, USA

Ride shotgun

 

New York City is a global city, renowned for its abundance of art, it's exorbitant fashion boutiques and its fast pace defining the term New York minute. At night the city is brimming with potential, coining the phrase the city that never sleeps. It is home to some of the biggest tourist attractions such as Times Square, Central Park, Niagara Falls (shared with Ontario) the Statue of Liberty, to name a few. If you're looking for something bespoke and always fancied doing a heroic shoulder-roll over the hood of a NYPD car, you can patrol the city of New York with a real NYPD policeman thanks to the Ride Along program. You'll need to fill out a few forms a few weeks in advance and sign a waiver that basically means you could be used as a human shield in a hostage situation. But what better way to tour the city?

THE JAZZ AND SOUTHERN CUISINE
– NEW ORLEANS, USA

The jazz and southern cuisine

 

Louisiana can be found in the southern regions of the United States and New Orleans is their biggest city. A place rich with diversity, thanks to the descendants of free mixed-race families of the colonial and early statehood periods. Louisiana has a unique musical heritage tied to Dixieland jazz, blues and Afro-Caribbean rhythms. Few people appreciate that in the early 19th century New Orleans was the site of the first opera house in America. However, it's traditionally known for its amazing southern cuisine and being the home of Jazz, spawning some of the world’s most famous Jazz pioneers. Catch a performance in any number of Jazz Bars in the evening and make sure you check out other significant cultural landmarks such as the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum and the Gates of Guinee.

RELAX LIKE A ROMAN
– BADEN, GERMANY

Relax like a roman

Photograph: CARASANA

Baden has been famous as a lively curative resort since Roman times and boasts impressive ostentatious buildings and thermal spas to help offer relief to sufferers of rheumatism and circulatory diseases. Notable people such as Goethe, Nietzsche and Dürrenmatt sought out the Baden thermal springs in which to relax. Bathing is carried out in the public thermal baths nowadays, wellness packages being more common in the private baths. Today, the spa quarter with its numerous hotels is an oasis of tranquility. Baden is a lively beehive of activity with a diverse and rich cultural offering. International festivals and the Grand Casino rank among its highlights.

ASIAN ADVENTURE
– SINGAPORE

Asian adventure

Photograph: Gardens by the Bay

Often referred to as the Lion City or the Little Red Dot, is a sovereign city-state in Asia, and the world's only island city-state. The country prides itself on its stability and security. The nightlife is legendary around the bars in Clarke Quay whilst many visitors indulge in the thriving rooftop bar scene soaking up the incredible views over the iconic skyline. Thanks to the hybridization of the Chinese, Malay and Indian ethnicities, the cuisine is a curious mix and a wonderful reflection of the city's multiculturalism. (e.g., the Peranakan cuisine, a mix of Chinese and Malay cuisine). The must-see landmarks of Singapore have to be The Esplanade, a performing arts centre fronting Marina Bay and the Supertree's located in the Gardens by the Bay. The 18 man-made tree structures are 25-50m tall, supporting vertical gardens and connected by an aerial walkway and have a startling alien-like quality to them.

GET SOME GOOD FORTUNE AND SEE DA VINCI'S INVENTIONS COME TO LIFE!
– MILAN, ITALY

Get some good fortune and see da vinci's inventions come to life!

 

Milan is known for being the capital of Design and Fashion. You will of course encounter the Gothic Duomo di Milano cathedral and the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent (home of The Last Supper) but there are far more exciting facets and hidden gems to the city of Milan. You will get happily lost in the cobbled Milan back streets encountering some amazing ateliers and fashion boutiques. The Leonardo Da Vinci museum brings many of Da Vinci's conceptualized sketches to life with life-size models suspended from the ceiling and in animated form. If you wish to gain good fortune, check out what the locals do to a mosaic bull in the magnificent Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the famous arcaded mall next to the Cathedral.

• Experiences by Peter Brooker. A blogger and travel addict who has discovered the secrets of many cities, all for your pleasure.

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