Where to go in 2018? – Marco Polo Staff Picks

Choosing your travel destination can be difficult, as there is the whole wide world to choose from. Many of us are planning our 2018 travels at the moment, so we thought we would ask around our office for some ideas, and some Insider Tips. Here are Marco Polo’s Staff Picks for your 2018 travels:

Lake Garda Marco Polo Guide

Photo credit: Ian MacDonald

LAKE GARDA

“Lake Garda is my favourite holiday destination, it has everything – the weather, the views,
the food, the wine… did I mention the food and wine?

My tip for Lake Garda: Have your first espresso immediately after getting off the autostrada
(motorway). Stop at the car park after the first hairpin bend coming from Nago heading for
Torbole and enjoy your first cup of coffee, your first aperol or your first ice cream (at the bar
on the other side of the road). The view to the south is breath-taking.”

– Ian MacDonald, Managing Director

Dresden Marco Polo Guide

DRESDEN

“Dresden city exudes a magical aura. When the morning sun glistens on the Elbe River and
highlights the silhouette of the Altstadt, even the residents of Dresden catch their breath.

As one of the most popular travel destinations in Germany (the city welcomes around
ten million visitors every year, and this figure is on the rise) it impresses its visitors
with monuments, art and culture. Yet, it is the Elbe River that defines the city’s
mood. It winds its way through the town in broad curves, passing vineyards, stately
castles and homely beer gardens, and lined by the broad Elbwiesen meadows, which
are unlike anything to be found in other large European towns these days. People meet
here to sit around camp fires, eat picnics, go for a walk, ride their bikes
or relax in the sand and watch the clouds go by… why not join them?”

– Andrew, Sales Representative for London and the South Coast

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

“This is hardly a hidden gem, but after travelling around Asia for two and a half months,
this place is the one I still dream of. Angkor Wat is simply the most stunning thing I have
ever witnessed in my life. It’s no exaggeration to say it took my breath away. Make sure
you allow plenty of time to explore the temples. The best way is by tuk-tuk; hire a driver
for the day. Or if you’ve brave enough you can rent a moped or bike – but prepare to sweat!!

Whilst in Siem Reap be sure to check out Pub Street and the Night Market. Restaurant wise
– I’d recommend New Leaf Eatery and Genevieve’s, both of which are non-profit organisations,
so you can enjoy your meal knowing you’re supporting a great cause!”

– Hayley, Digital Marketing Manager

Photo credit: Alison Floutier

CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP & SAN DIEGO

“If you’re on Highway 5 heading south from LA to San Diego, add an extra hour to your journey time to allow a stop in San Clemente. It describes itself as the ‘Spanish Village by the Sea’ and would be so easy to dismiss in your charge south to the San Diego. But an hour here, taking in the ocean views and gorgeous Spanish architecture is well worth your time. Insider Tip – you’ll see the big Starbucks sign from the 5. Use this for navigation but stop at the Zebra House Coffee Shop. The best coffee you’ll experience in California and if you strike lucky, the walls can be laden with beautiful artwork from local artists.

Coronado, the spit of land that juts out from San Diego, is Paradise with a capital P. Everyone knows it for ‘The Del’, the grand Victorian Hotel Del Coronado graced by US Presidents and Marco Polo staff alike! It’s a beautiful beach to while away a few hours and then take your sandy-self to the Babcock and Story bar on the ocean front to sip a perfectly ice cold beer and imagine Marilyn Monroe filming Some Like it Hot on the beach just in front. If you can tear yourself away, a drive round to Point Loma is well worth the view looking back across the Navy base, the principal home port of the US Pacific Fleet, and see the hotel and the whole of this gorgeous peninsula.

Insider Tip – the finest Mexican food and eye-wateringly wonderful margaritas can be found just across the road and a world away from the tourist hub of The Del. Hidden behind a row of shops, is the fantastic Miguel’s Cucina. You need to find time to linger here.”

– Diane, Sales & Marketing Coordinator

Marco Polo Guides Lisbon Largo Trindade Coelho

Photo credit: Tim Kelly

LISBON

“Ah, where do you start with Lisbon? I think I’ll have to start with food – freshly caught seafood including prawns the size of your fist and Bacalhau, a local speciality! You can’t leave without trying a Pastel de nata – a Portuguese egg tart. The most popular place to try them is Pasteis de Belem, but they’re sold all over the city. Not forgetting the wine – Portugal produces some excellent wines! Including the famous Port and Madeira, of course… but they’re found all over the country. In Lisbon, the local delicacy is a sickly sweet but surprisingly delicious liqueur called Ginjinha. It’s made from cherries and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a whole cherry in the bottom of your cup! The best places to try it are A Ginjinha near the famous Rossio Square or Ginjinha Sem Rival.

Alfama is my favourite area in Lisbon, I could wander around there for hours. And you must visit Castelo de São Jorge, Rossio Square and the beautiful Cathedral: Se! My other tip is Belem… which is a little out of the city, but worth a visit… and if you have time, take an excursion to Sintra. You won’t regret it!”

– Petra, Sales & Marketing Manager

BOSTON

Boston is ideal as a stand alone city break or as a good starting point for trips further afield in the New England area. Hotels can be ridiculously expensive so we tend to go for the better priced boutique B&Bs. Seafood is plentiful and just about everywhere from cafes, pubs to restaurants offer lobster and their famous Clam Chowder on their menus and at such good value.

For sports fans you have everything covered, The Boston Red Sox Baseball stadium where you can take a guided tour, the TD Gardens for Ice Hockey and Baseball and Patriots Place for the current Superbowl Champions, the New England Patriots for American Football and The New England Revolutions for Soccer. This is further afield and requires a train journey but great to get to see small town America as you travel by.

Boston and the New England coastline is brilliant for spotting whales and from the harbour you can easily book day trips on the many tours they offer. Duck Tours are great to get your bearings and get the low-down on the city from a local driver and they all end up on the river which is one of the best places to view Boston. Their Aquarium is right on the harbour front and worth a visit.”

– Julie, Office Manager

UTRECHT, THE NETHERLANDS

“Amsterdam is one of those destinations that everyone has to see at least once in their life, but my tip for anyone visiting Amsterdam for more than a day or two is to leave the city. It may seem counter-intuitive, but there is a lot more to see in the Netherlands than just Amsterdam. One such place is Utrecht, one of the oldest cities in the country. It’s only 20 minutes away by train, but Utrecht is still a bit of a hidden gem for most tourists.

There are canals, just like in Amsterdam and many other Dutch cities, but the canals in Utrecht have a unique feature: the canal side docks. Once used for loading trade goods, today there are countless restaurants that host their terraces on the docks.

The Dom tower is the main landmark of the city, an old church tower from the 15th century, which you will be able to see in the horizon almost everywhere in the city. The cathedral is also worth a visit, as is the old courtyard with its flowers and a maze. Entrance is free, though a small donation at the door is always appreciated.

If you are hungry or thirsty, there is plenty that Utrecht can offer. My personal favourite for a quick, inexpensive snack is the Vietnamese streetfood restaurant Kimmade, on Mariastraat. It’s a tiny little place, with seats for around 10 people, but the food is excellent. For drinks Neude is the place to be, especially if it is sunny. The square will be packed with tables and chairs and this is where the locals will be. Order a beer and a portion of fries – or bitterballen if you are really feeling the local vibe, and enjoy.”

– Senja, Social Media Assistant

What is your pick for 2018?

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Only in Dresden

Dresden exudes a magical aura. When the morning sun glistens on the Elbe River and highlights the silhouette of the Altstadt, even the residents of Dresden catch their breath. And that is especially true now that the imposing dome of the Frauenkirche once again graces the city skyline. At its foot reigns Babylonian babble: English, Japanese, Bavarian – the historic centre is firmly in the hands of the tourists. Dresden welcomes around ten million visitors every year, and this figure is on the rise. The majority are looking for a myth, for the Baroque city of Canaletto, for the ‘German Florence’, as Johann Gottfried Herder once called it. Dresden is one of the most popular travel destinations in Germany, impressing visitors with its monuments, art and culture.

Let Marco Polo show you some unique experiences to be had in this magical German city:

Dresden Marco Polo Guide

‘THE BALCONY OF EUROPE’

The Brühlsche Terrasse is 500 m long and 10 m (32.8 ft) above the Elbe, thus resembling a balcony against the backdrop of the Altstadt. Here, you can wander past the Albertinum and art academy and enjoy the view of the river, the Neustadt quayside and – inland – the Münzgasse with the towering Frauenkirche in the background.

SHIP AHOY!

A trip on one of the traditional paddle steamboats of the Sächsische Dampfschifffahrt can be one of the most memorable experiences of a visit to Dresden. On the way upstream, you will see plenty of sights.

THE ROOT OF HAPPINESS

The Elbwiesen stretching almost 30 km (18.6 miles) along the river banks make a significant contribution to Dresden’s quality of life. People meet here to sit around camp fires, eat picnics, go for a walk, ride their bikes or relax in the sand and watch the clouds go by.

VINEYARD WITH CITY VIEW

It is only 3 km (1.8 miles) as the crow flies from the Frauenkirche to the vineyard below Albrechtsberg Castle. Vintner, Lutz Müller, decants his wines from the Elbe slopes here. They are served with ‘Flammkuchen’ (tarte flambée) and a priceless view of the town.

INTO THE MORNING HOURS

The late 19th-century district to the north of the Bautzner Straße attained fame far beyond its boundaries long ago. The number of cafés, pubs and restaurants, bars and clubs is legendary. The city’s younger generation tend to meet here at the weekends, although in the meantime an increasing number of guests from other parts of the world come to party with them.

DRESDEN’S COOLEST PARTY

The street festival, Elbhangfest, takes places on the 7 km (4 miles) between Loschwitz und Pillnitz. The people of Dresden celebrate their dolce vita on the last weekend of June with theatre performances, readings, concerts, exhibitions, ‘wine villages’ and flea markets, as well as a large procession.

Buy the Dresden Marco Polo Spiral Guide.

Dresden Marco Polo Guide

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Top 10 Things To Do In Dresden

Marco Polo’s list of the top 10 things not to be missed in Dresden! Our best recommendations – from the top down – help you to plan your tour of Dresden’s most important sights. 

Dresden Marco Polo Guide

1. FRAUENKIRCHE
This church is Dresden’s historic landmark. It disappeared from the cityscape for many years after being destroyed in World War II. Since 2005, the massive dome has once again dominated the silhouette of the city’s Altstadt.

2. ZWINGER & GEMÄLDEGALERIE ALTE MEISTER
A masterwork of Saxon Baroque: three of the most important museums in Dresden are housed in the pavilions and adjacent Semperbau.

3. RESIDENZSCHLOSS
Prince electors and kings resided here for over four centuries. Today, their treasures can be admired in the Grünes Gewölbe and in the Armoury. The panoramic view from the Hausmannsturm is a must.

4. SEMPEROPER & THEATERPLATZ
This square’s unique architectural ensemble creates the ceremonious setting for one of the world’s most famous opera houses.

5. BRÜHLSCHE TERRASSE
Locals and tourists alike admire the view from the “Balcony of Europe” down to the steamers on the Elbe and Dresden’s Neustadt quarter.

6. SCHLOSS & PARK PILLNITZ
The summer residence of the Dresden royal court is one of the most unusual castle complexes in Saxony and a perfect symbiosis of architecture and nature.

7. ELBE CASTLES
Three 19th century castles on the banks of the Elbe – between vineyards and parks – seem to be straight out of a fairy tale when seen in the morning mist.

8. KÖRNERPLATZ
Relax and unwind with a stroll around the square. There are half-timbered houses, handicraft shops, two funicular railways, cosy cafés and a view of the so-called “Blue Wonder” bridge.

9. GROSSER GARTEN
The most beautiful of the city’s parks has avenues of trees, ponds, open-air stages, a botanical garden, a park railway and a car factory.

10. ÄUSSERE NEUSTADT
There are countless pubs, bars, galleries and hip shops in the liveliest quarter in Dresden and this is also where you will find the Kunsthofpassage, a series of quirky, artistic courtyards.

 

Buy the Dresden Marco Polo Spiral Guide.

Dresden Marco Polo Guide

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