By Anna Rogan
Making plans to travel in the new year? In this article, we explore lesser-known travel spots and attractions that are perfect for older travellers. So if you are ready to venture beyond your bucket list, read on!
Hot travel spots: Mexico
Given its reputation, it can be easy to dismiss Mexico as too dangerous or best suited to younger travellers looking for a party scene. While there are some parts of Mexico that should be avoided, there are other areas that are not only safe to explore but offer an abundance of cultural, historical, natural and culinary attractions. Morelia, the state capital of the Michoacan region is one such area.
Morelia is a Unesco World Heritage site that boasts 16 and 17th-century stone buildings, museums, restaurants, chocolate shops and lux hotels. But perhaps the best known attraction in Morelia is the gorgeous cathedral that sits alongside the plaza. The cathedral took over a Centruy to build, it houses a working organ with 4,600 pipes and is said to be quite spectacular when lit up at night.
Morelia also provides a stepping off point to the Michoacan region’s Monarch Butterfly Reserve. The 536-square kilometre park is the site of an annual migration of millions of spectacular monarch butterflies that have travelled south for the warmer climate. Lonely Planet suggests the best time to view the peaceful swarms of butterflies is during warmer months when they are most active.
Hot travel spots: Portugal
With new museums, an emerging culinary scene and an array of gorgeous beaches and natural wonders, it’s easy to see why Portugal was recently named in Lonely Planet’s 2018 top countries ‘best in travel’ list.
Dwarfed by neighbouring Spain, Portugal is a small nation that packs a punch. Lonely Planet suggests exploring the medieval castles, visiting the Unesco World Heritage Sites in Tomar, Belem, Alcobaca and Batalha, and sampling local seafood followed by the famous Portuguese custard tarts.
Hot travel spots: Cambodia
Considering its proximity, Cambodia has long enjoyed a good tourist trade. But with the recent release of the blockbuster film, First They Killed My Father, about life under the Khmer Rouge regime, the National Geographic travel team are predicting Cambodia’s tourist trade is about to boom.
A visit to Cambodia’s Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh will give travellers a better understanding of Cambodia’s troubled past, while spending time exploring the famous temples of Angkor will provide travellers with an opportunity to delve deeper into the spiritual history of the country. And the great news is these temples are more accessible than ever with plenty of options to explore from self-directed bicycle routes to private tour-guide led adventures.
Planes and trains
Cruises have long been popular among travellers looking for a relaxing, affordable, all-in-one holiday that provides plenty of entertainment, food and pampering options. But if you’re after something a little bit different why not try seeing the sights by sky or rail?
Nothing says old world style and glamour like a great rail journey, and the greatest and best known in the world is the Trans-Siberian that crosses Russia from Moscow to Vladivostock. Covering 9,295 kilometres, no other rail journey provides the sheer volume and variety of views and opportunities to explore.
But if considering the Trans-Siberian leaves you feeling like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, there are a number of other rail journeys that are shorter and easier without compromising on spectacular views.
Switzerland’s Glacier Express takes seven hours to travel between the alpine resorts of St Moritz and Zermatt. The views include gorges, valleys, peaks, forests and more than 90 tunnels and over 291 bridges!
Meanwhile, in our own backyard, is the Ghan spanning Adelaide to Darwin and the Indian Pacific spanning Sydney to Perth. Both journeys give travellers a unique view of the outback from the comfort and luxury that only rail travel can provide.
If you’re looking to take to the skies, you can’t beat the 12-hour flight over Antarctica for spectacular views and bragging rights. With full bar and meal service and talks from Antarctic expeditioners, it’s probably the warmest and most comfortable way to fulfil a dream of seeing this stark, gorgeous continent.
Main image: Portugal from canva.com