5 Cities Across the Globe You Should Definitely Visit

Austin, Bolzano, Budapest, Chengdu, and Reykjavik Might Not Be On Your Bucket List But You Can Still Add Them

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A panda at the Chengdu Panda Base

A panda at the Chengdu Panda Base

CHENGDU, CHINA

Also known as the City of Hibiscus, Chengdu is both a modern industrial center and a carefully preserved relic of ancient times. History surrounds the visitor in this city, where the ancient Southern Silk Road began. Stop and enjoy a cup of tea with locals, keeping in mind that you are in the birthplace of the tea trade.

Standing as the capital of Sichuan Province in southwest China, Chengdu is the only major city in the country that has never officially changed its name. This western Chinese metropolis is home to 250 Fortune 500 companies, and is the main location where Apple manufactures its iPads. Despite being a major commercial center and gateway to the West Chengdu is also a city that has taken pains to preserve its unique cultural and natural heritage.

Chengdu’s rich past is reflected in its numerous ancient temples, historical sites, and parks. Throughout the years, the city has also successfully preserved many beloved cultural traditions such as mah-jong and Sichuan opera, as well as the area’s indigenous population of giant pandas. Pandas are such an intrinsic part of the local culture that Chengdu residents are said to be living “the panda life,” a less stressful lifestyle than found in other Chinese cities. In addition to its renowned panda sanctuaries, the city also regularly features pandas in its public spaces, media, and popular culture.

These aspects of Chengdu characterize the city along with its mouth-watering local delicacies, perpetually downcast skies, and the Sichuan language, a dialect of Mandarin spoken by the city’s residents. As you stroll through the streets of Chengdu, take time to enjoy its many modern attractions as well as its unique historical and cultural relics.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND

Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital, has been steadily increasing in popularity as a tourist destination, in no small means thanks to an offer by the country’s flag carrier, Icelandair, for a free stopover when flying from the United States before continuing on to the European continent.

Over one-third of Iceland’s population lives in the capital and two-thirds live in Höfuðborgarsvæðið, the Capital Region. The country has been through a banking collapse that crippled the economy in 2008 followed by the eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajokull, which crippled air travel across the Atlantic in 2010. Visitors come for the natural beauty, to admire Harpa, the city’s impressive new concert hall, to view the aurora borealis lighting up the night sky, and to get a taste of life as a Viking.

Reykjavik offers a gateway to traditional Icelandic cuisine, Icelandic literature, and the Íslendingasögur, the sagas of Icelanders, a literary phenomenon of the 13th and 14th centuries that started with the settlement of Iceland in 870 and continued through the mid-eleventh century when the first bishop in the country founded a church at Skálaholt.

Jonathan Spira contributed reporting to this article.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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