Doling out your vacation days can be tough. Whether you live in the United States, where companies don't legally have to give workers any paid-vacation days, or in the European Union, which by law has to give employees at least four work weeks of paid vacation, chances are you're often thinking about how you'll use them. Though even short vacations can give travelers the same benefits of a longer getaway -- reduced stress and new perspective, to name a few -- being able to shut off from work and daily responsibilities for two weeks may be just what the doctor ordered. And while we'd argue that any destination could be stretched to a 14-day retreat, there are some places that simply can't be explored in less time. Take a look at our picks for the 10 destinations truly worthy of your full two-week vacation.
By now, nearly everyone has heard of the stunning Indonesian island of Bali. The tropical destination has it all: stunning beaches popular for surfing and partying, cultural sites that include stunning Hindu temples, rice paddies and coffee plantations that can be explored, and plenty of hotels to match every budget. Given that there are so many cities worth exploring in Bali, a two-week stay is easy to fill. Travelers can spend time practicing yoga in Ubud, reveling with backpackers in Kuta, and getting pampered at luxury properties in Nusa Dua.
The beachfront Samabe Bali Suites & Villas is a luxury resort located atop a cliff a five-minute drive from central Nusa Dua. Its 81 rooms are elegant and stylish, all featuring a mix of contemporary and traditional Indonesian decor, deep soaking tubs and separate showers, sound systems, and balconies offering expansive ocean views. Aside from a private beach, there are a wonderful spa, two top-notch restaurants, a gorgeous infinity pool, a kids’ club, and tons of daily activities to keep guests occupied.
Find out which locales are right for you: Top Destinations in Bali for Every Type of Traveler
Most travelers heading to Peru are likely going there to see the magnificent Machu Picchu — a UNESCO World Heritage site that was an Incan citadel dating back to the 15th century. While there are trains that take visitors there, opting for a four-day hike on the Inca Trail is the choice for adventure-seekers. You’ll want to take a couple days before setting out on the trail, though. Spend a day in the capital of Lima — known as the gastronomical capital of the Americas and offering a lively nightlife — and in the charming town of Cusco, which has ample archaeological ruins and Spanish colonial architecture. Even after that, you’ve just barely scratched the surface of what the country has to offer; there’s still Lake Titicaca, Tambopata National Reserve, and surfing along the coast. Trust us, you’ll want at least two weeks.
The Westin Lima Hotel is located on the outskirts of San Isidro, offering tourists an upscale, resort-like feel. The hotel features a full-service spa, a sleek indoor pool, a large fitness center, and multiple dining options, including a chic bar and a restaurant with a popular breakfast buffet. It’s also home to the largest meeting facility in Peru, making it a popular option for business travelers.
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A must-stop on any tour of Southeast Asia, Thailand is a budget-friendly country with a plethora of gorgeous beaches, cultural sites, and delectable cuisine. This is another country where a two-week stay will require sacrificing some popular spots. Fret not, though — 14 days will still provide a good introduction to the country. Topping our list of attractions are the breathtaking Phi Phi Islands, floating market in Pattaya, temples in Bangkok, snorkeling in Phuket, and cooking classes in Chiang Mai.
Located south of the bustling Patong area, Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort is an upscale property suitable for both families and couples. The property is large, offering 416 rooms and 54 suites, all of which have a sophisticated design, large walk-in showers, and minibars. Extensive resort features consist of two huge swimming pools, a beautiful beachfront, full-service spa, and daytime activities. A wide range of restaurants and bars are on-site, and both half- and full-board packages are available.
Find out which locales are right for you: A Complete Guide to the Most Popular Destinations in Thailand
Though it’s had some financial turmoil recently, Greece is still a popular vacation destination — and for good reason. Whether you’re a history buff, beach bum, or late-night partier, Greece has a city geared toward you. There are hundreds of islands to visit, but some worthwhile spots include the jaw-dropping Santorini, party-hearty Mykonos, and family-friendly Corfu. Of course, the Parthenon and Acropolis in Athens should not be skipped. Whichever islands you choose to add to your itinerary, expect to enjoy the country’s typical whitewashed buildings, stunning blue waters, and delicious Mediterranean fare.
Santorini is beautiful, luxe, and romantic, and Canaves Oai Hotel is a stellar representation of the island. It’s one of the most upscale and exclusive properties there, offering just 18 rooms — all of which have furnished terraces with stellar views of the Aegean Sea. Some of the suites have private pools, plus there’s a well-sized public pool with an adjacent restaurant and bar. Spa treatments can be arranged in rooms, and there’s an on-site wine cellar for tastings.
A central region of Italy, Tuscany is home to dozens of cities, the most well-known being Florence. The Tyrrhenian Sea borders its western coast, and nearly two-thirds of the beautiful area is composed of rolling hills. So how can travelers fill their days in Tuscany? Art lovers can spend multiple days strolling through museums in Florence, architecture buffs can take cheesy pictures outside the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and foodies can feast on seafood in Livorno and sample wines at an agriturismo. If in need of further relaxation, book a stay at one of the spa resorts utilizing the area’s thermal springs.
One of Florence’s iconic hotels, The St. Regis Florence is a luxurious, classically styled property overlooking the Arno River. Housed in a historic palace designed by Filippo Brunelleschi of Duomo fame, the hotel has magnificent interiors filled with coffered ceilings, gilt mirrors, frescoes, and chandeliers. The 99-room property have swish marble bathrooms with showers and separate tubs, iPod docks, and robes. High-end amenities consist of a full-service spa, fine-dining Italian eatery, and a 24-hour gym.
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Both a popular honeymoon destination and family-friendly vacation spot, Hawaii offers a laundry list of recreational activities. Each of Hawaii’s six major islands — the Big Island, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, and Oahu — has a distinct appeal. Oahu is the most populated, offering the world-famous Waikiki Beach and stellar surfing at North Shore; Kauai is more rugged, packed with stunning natural wonders such as Waimea Canyon and Wailua Falls; and Maui has the scenic (and notoriously winding) Hana Highway as well as the world’s largest dormant volcano. Travelers should be sure to attend a traditional luau to fully dive into the aloha spirit.
Grand Wailea Maui, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is an upscale property with direct access to gorgeous Wailea Beach. Set on 40 acres, the resort is huge, housing 780 rooms with balconies, multiple pools — with waterslides, a rope swing, and baby area — a top-of-the-line spa with a hydrotherapy circuit and extensive treatment list, and daily activities such as yoga classes, snorkeling and scuba lessons, and luaus.
Situated at the continent’s southern tip, South Africa has a diverse landscape and attractions to keep all ages occupied. Its heart and soul is Cape Town, which itself offers hiking at Table Mountain, roaming penguins at Boulders Beach, and a museum documenting the apartheid. Outside of Cape Town, there are the Nelson Mandela Museum in Johannesburg, nearby wildlife conservation Lion Park, and of course, guided safaris throughout — from rustic, camping experiences to luxury glamping getaways.
Certainly a top luxury option, the One&Only Cape Town is a jaw-dropping property built along a canal that’s a five-minute walk from restaurants, sights, and shops. The 131 rooms are enormous and have all the expected amenities, including Nespresso machines, bathtub, and balconies with fantastic views of the marina or Table Mountain. A vast spa and outdoor pool are on a private island that extends out into the waterway, plus there are quality dining and drinking options on-site.
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For those that agree an ideal getaway is keeping active outside or appreciating nature while lounging on a hammock, Costa Rica is a perfect vacation spot. The Central American country has tropical rainforests where travelers can spot wildlife and go zip-lining, active volcanoes, sandy beaches suitable for surfing, numerous hot springs, yoga and wellness retreats, and colonial architecture in San Jose, to name a few. Sustainable tourism is widespread, making it a popular pick for eco-minded travelers. The country has several regions that offer varying experiences, but instead of choosing one, pick a few to really make the most of the trip.
To best take advantage of all Costa Rica has to offer, stay at the luxurious Springs Resort and Spa. Occupying a whopping 165 acres, the resort has 28 hot springs pools, some of which are surrounded by the rainforest, and a 14,000-square-foot spa and fitness center. The 74 rooms have a rustic-luxe design and Arenal volcano views. Multiple restaurants and an array of facilities and activities — rock-climbing, kayaking, a wildlife sanctuary, and horseback riding — appeal to guests of all ages.
Find out which locales are right for you: 9 Destinations You Can’t Miss in Costa Rica
Even if you only have two weeks to visit Australia, there’s no need to rule out the country down under as a good amount of it can be seen in that time. Itineraries will vary between beach-lovers and culture-seekers, but some popular suggestions include scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, paragliding over Sydney, attending a cricket match in Melbourne, and admiring the red rocks in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Quality time with koalas or spotting kangaroos is also on many tourists’ sightseeing list.
The views of Walsh Bay and the famous Harbour Bridge from the quirky, luxury Pier One Sydney Harbour, Autograph Collection hotel are breathtaking. The 189 rooms are modern and bright, featuring iPod docks and coffeemakers, as well as sofa beds and waterfront terraces in some. Hotel features include an excellent restaurant and bar with panoramic views of Walsh Bay, a small fitness center, and in-room spa treatments.
Japan, and specifically Tokyo, are more expensive than other spots in Asia, but it’s worth paying a bit more for the unique culture, renowned dining, and historical attractions. There’s a ton to do and see in the island nation, but here are some top places to start: climb Mount Fuji, eat sushi and shop the colorful Harajuku neighborhood in Tokyo, visit a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, and soak in a hot spring in Izu. And if you fancy felines, definitely make time to go to a cat cafe.
The 380-room Shinjuku Granbell Hotel is an upscale property located in the middle of the vibrant nightlife district of Shinjuku. The vibe here is contemporary and hip, thanks to designer interiors, swish murals and artwork, and a trendy rooftop bar with scenic views of the city. Sleek rooms have ample toiletries, iPod docks, and tea- and coffee-making facilities.
We love Away luggage, and thankfully, they offer a larger carry-on size option with all of the awesome features that the regular size has, which is ideal for your two week vacation.
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