As of April 5, nearly 76% of Americans 65 and over have had at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Viewed by some as a freedom pass, they are eager to resume planning trips that had to be put off in 2020.

Vaccinated seniors find joy in planning travel again

Liz and J.B. Wright have been busy over the past year in Virginia: puzzles, curbside pickup, painting rooms at home, video chatting with family, watching after one of their grandchildren. But all the action was close to home, and three of their four grandkids were growing up in other states.

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6 alternatives to America's most popular national parks

If you've been to Yellowstone during peak tourist season, you'd think the national park system has an overtourism problem. But it's not that too many people are going to the parks - it's that too many people are going to a specific few parks at the same time. Last year, just six parks brought in a quarter of the entire system's 237,064,332 visitors.

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  • In Japan, pandemic deals fatal blow to arcades

    Game arcades in Tokyo have been falling like dominoes amid the coronavirus pandemic, left no choice but to close after what for some have been decades in operation.

  • Facing pandemic economic woes, Nepal reopens to adventurers

    Adventurers looking to scale Nepal’s Himalayan peaks and trek its mountain trails can finally do so for the first time in seven months, as the country reopens to foreigners even as the coronavirus pandemic has left it short of hospital beds.

  • Is Hawaii ready for visitors? Scenes from one reopened island

    Cue the ukuleles. Hawaii is reopening for tourism. But this is a different Hawaii. On these islands, you mask up first, then hang loose.

  • ‘The Japanese Sake Bible’ will turn sake novices into experts

    For 1,000 years, rice brewed and turned into booze has generally been referred to as sake, and for three of those years, Osaka-based author Brian Ashcraft has researched the mysteries of Japan’s national drink.

  • US troops are eligible for Japan’s ‘Go To Eat’ discounts at off-base restaurants

    A Japanese government campaign that kicked off Oct. 1 provides a 25% discount at participating eateries.

  • Cruises from Singapore to nowhere may follow similar air travel trend

    If boarding a flight to nowhere to live out the good old days of travel is not attractive, how about a round-trip cruise sailing to nowhere?

  • US troops may soon qualify for generous travel discounts through Japan’s ‘Go To’ campaign

    U.S. military personnel and their families in Japan may be eligible for half-price deals on bullet train tickets, hotels, meals and other tourist activities starting next month, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

  • Tokyo’s own Harry Potter theme park slated to open in 2023 on Toshimaen site

    A theme park based on the Harry Potter films is scheduled to open in Tokyo in 2023, companies developing the park announced Monday.

  • Hawaii considers 'resort bubbles' for visitor quarantines

    Three Hawaiian Islands are considering creating "resort bubbles" so that visitors can quarantine with a vacationlike experience at hotel properties.

  • The Maldives is reopening and, yes, even Americans are allowed

    Here’s some good news for those frustrated by the lack of travel options in the Covid-19 era: The Maldives is reopening to international visitors on July 15. And, yes, that includes U.S. citizens.

  • Relive summertime memories with a Coca-Cola Orange Vanilla

    Remember the summer sound of an ice cream truck, a crumbled dollar exchanged for a Creamsicle and the refreshing, mellow flavors of orange and vanilla hitting your taste buds?

  • Virus-era Japan: Karaoke in masks, roller coasters but no screaming

    Singing your heart out at karaoke boxes may never feel the same in Japan in the coronavirus era.

  • Pandemic knocks out large sections of Hawaii’s economy

    In normal times, Roland Chang and his three sons start their day at dawn, picking up tourists in Waikiki and driving them to the ocean for a boat ride to see dolphins and turtles swimming in clear blue waters. Four nights a week, the family’s band performs Hawaiian music and popular songs at a hotel. Their friends call them workaholics. To them, it’s a routine. Or was, until the coronavirus pandemic landed in Hawaii.

  • Thailand’s Phuket beckons when travel resumes

    Phuket, a place I’ve visited more than a dozen times since childhood, is the best of all worlds, somehow squeezed onto a picturesque island that’s just a puddle-hop flight from my home in Bangkok.

  • Eight decades after surprise attack shut down Waikiki Beach, the coronavirus has done the same

    Official measures taken to suppress the spread of the coronavirus have turned this famed tourist destination into a ghost town.

  • Birthday climb in Bali timed to reach summit at sunrise

    I decided for my birthday I would like to hike a volcano. In Bali. In the dark, so I could see the sunrise from the mountaintop. As one does.

  • Dive into the deep tranquility of Tahiti

    This rain — relentless, chilling, downright vengeful — wasn’t in the brochure. I am sitting on the gunwale of a dive boat off the French Polynesian atoll of Fakarava about to back-roll into a tropical sea famous for its abundance of sharks. I’m with two other divers and a guide in Tumakohua Pass, one of the two major breaks in this necklace of coral where the ocean feeds a 37-by-14-mile lagoon.

  • Mother, daughter bond on trip to Japan’s Kyushu Island

    In 1984, the day after I graduated from college, I was itching to get out of my provincial life in Portland, Ore. I left to take a job as an English teacher in a place called Kagoshima, Japan, on the country’s volcano-strewn southernmost main island of Kyushu. Kyushu calls itself the Land of Fire and Water. I’d, however, never heard of it.

  • Shows canceled as virus outbreak spooks Asian entertainers

    Concerts and shows are being canceled, not just in China but across much of Asia, as a virus outbreak that has killed more than 300 people and reached more than 20 countries spooks the entertainment industry.

  • Does Coke’s new seasonal flavor in Japan fizz, or fall flat?

    Japan’s food and beverage industry boasts many seasonal, novelty flavors, whether it’s a cherry pie-flavored drink from Starbucks or chocolate fries from McDonalds, and some can be better than others.

  • Why the Cook Islands should be included on everyone’s vacation bucket list

    The Cook Islands — a cluster of very tiny atolls and reefs in the vast expanse of the South Pacific — have never been on my bucket list of travel destinations. Their image as a tropical island paradise conjures up endless (and therefore boring) white sandy, palm-lined beaches with nothing to do but soak up the sun.

  • Maintaining constant vigilance: How to travel safely amid civil unrest in Hong Kong

    As protests proliferate around the world, more travelers will have to face this tough question: Should you visit a destination experiencing unrest?

  • This restaurant opened by an airline will cater to your secret love of plane food

    Just what everyone thinks when they’re digging into an airline meal: Man, I wish I could order this even when I’m not flying. At least that’s how AirAsia, a low-cost carrier based in Malaysia, hopes its customers feel. This week, the airline opened the first restaurant inspired by its in-flight food offerings at a mall in Kuala Lumpur.

  • You can stay at a Japanese hotel for $1 -- if you live-stream almost everything

    The voyeurs around the world logged onto a YouTube stream on a recent Wednesday, hoping to see a random hotel guest scurry about their room. Instead, the viewers were greeted with an empty manager’s chair and a whiteboard registering mutual disappointment: The guest canceled tonight ... "Life happens," reflected a user named Ruinga, as messages in Turkish, English and Danish mingled with Google Translate-aided Japanese. "A quiet night will have to do."

  • Hiking trail reopens, a year and a half after Kilauea's eruptions and 60,000 quakes

    The popular Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park recently fully reopened, a year and a half after Kilauea erupted and more than 60,000 quakes rattled the volcano's summit. The shaking last year damaged much of the park, including the popular four-mile loop from the rim of a crater to its floor. Now visitors will see something new along the way: large boulders that tumbled down during the seismic shaking, a park release says.

  • Staying in a Japanese temple is an extraordinary experience

    A typical visit to Japan for many tourists consists of a few days in Tokyo, a train over to Kyoto, maybe Osaka. You stay in a hotel full of amenities, or, if you’re on a budget, you might be staying in a capsule hotel or hostel.

  • Cuddle Australia’s cutest creatures during your next trip or deployment Down Under

    Before I traveled to Australia, the extent of my knowledge about the land Down Under consisted of koalas and kangaroos. So, I figured, what better way to start a vacation than to meet the beloved creatures at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary near Brisbane?

  • More than just a drink: ‘Japanese Whisky’ takes a deep dive into spirit’s Far East history

    Ashcraft writes that to “truly understand Japanese whisky, you must understand Japanese culture. The country’s whisky tradition is a reflection of everything from national identity and industrialization to art and even religion. It’s more than just a drink.”

  • Singing its praises: Singapore should have been Asia tour’s grand finale, not its first stop

    A 30-foot-long, red and yellow cloth dragon with daggerlike white teeth blocked our way as my wife, Shirin, and I strolled down Singapore’s famed Orchard Road, a tree-lined boulevard known for its upscale stores and hotels. Drums beat rhythmically as a dozen men maneuvered the undulating dragon along the broad sidewalk. This symbol of strength, power and good luck in Chinese culture was part of the lingering festivities following the Chinese New Year 10 days earlier. As we paused to watch the colorful show, I thought to myself, “You have to expect the unexpected in Singapore.”

  • In Japan, tourists are fueling a boom in personal translation devices

    Takehiko Fujita wouldn’t be able to do his job selling eye drops and pain relievers without his pocket translator. Instead of an app, language dictionary, or call-in translation service, the clerk in a Japanese drugstore uses Pocketalk, a 25,000 yen ($230) device made by Sourcenext Corp. that looks like an oval puck. The gadget translates phrases to and from 74 languages, helping Fujita communicate with customers from Sweden, Vietnam and other countries.

  • Finding Fiji (and each other)

    We could never be lonely on Matamanoa Island, in the Mamanuca Archipelago, in the central South Pacific. If we needed company, the resorts’ other guests were on hand, not to mention our family, three generations of us on vacation together.

  • Hawaiian island of Kauai has become a world-class golf destination

    Hawaii has some of the most beautiful and memorable golf courses in the world. And the quiet island of Kauai may have the most picturesque courses on the islands — or anywhere else.

  • Tokyo exhibit in Odaiba demonstrates construction equipment, educates visitors

    An exhibition featuring heavy machinery used at construction sites is being held at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in the Odaiba area of Koto Ward, Tokyo.

  • Well-traveled historic section of Japan’s Old Tokaido Road invites visitors to step back in time

    The long history of Japan is told in many historic sites around the country — and at sightseeing spots along Hakone Hachiri in Kanagawa and Shizuoka Prefectures, visitors can step back in time to experience what it was like to travel the country almost 400 years ago.

  • Walking on fire the focus of Buddhist festival in Tokyo

    At a festival near Yokota Air Base, ascetic monks walked barefoot across hot embers to rid themselves of bad luck and evil spirits.

  • How a trip to Japan can provide what’s missing back home

    Whenever I fly a long distance I read a book or two rather than watching the in-flight movies and TV shows. Without realizing it, the two books I brought on my recent trip to Japan, neither of which mentions Japan, helped me understand why I was going there again.

  • Learning to make Nepalese dumplings with help of Backstreet Academy

    Dil Kumari Maharjan looked at my misshapen dumpling and said with a deceptive smile, “You made an American momo.”

  • Discovering hawker food in Singapore, a culture worth preserving — and devouring

    There’s little that can prepare an outsider for the onslaught of food in Singapore. Every stroll through this city shrouded in tropical heat is interrupted by open-air food centers, coffee shops and restaurants vying for your stomach’s attention. Dining out is a way of life in Singapore.

  • Bali an idyllic island struggling to maintain its identity

    Given the situation, I was moving as fast as I could. I was walking cautiously on a foot-wide earthen berm separating water-soaked rice paddies. A big cross-body garbage bag banged against my hip as I clutched a 6-foot pole with a pointed metal tip. Rivulets of sweat ran down my back as I speared yogurt cups, candy wrappers and plastic bags. And then I lost my balance.

  • From war to wonderland: Solomon Islands still whispering secrets 75 years after WWII

    If it weren’t for the potholes, cavernous pits slowing us down on the road to Honiara, in the Solomon Islands, I might have missed the sign, “Dolphin View Cottage.” But Andrew, our guide, knew the road by heart.

  • Seeking the wild side of Maui? Easy; it’s everywhere

    I wanted to find wild Maui — so naturally, I piled my family into a rental car for a five-hour drive on a narrow road with single-lane bridges and curves so sharp that I sometimes lost sight of the pavement.

  • Tattooed bathers in Japan find their way to welcoming sento

    Following an increase in the number of foreigners visiting Japan, operators of bathing facilities throughout the country are facing difficult decisions as to whether they should accept foreign customers who have tattoos.

  • Go to Kobe for the beef, stay for the pork buns and European cityscapes

    Located just one hour by train from Kyoto and just 30 minutes by train from Osaka, Kobe offers the perfect mix of vintage allure and 21st century excitement.

  • Nature nurtures at inn near Hilo, Hawaii

    If you arrive here on a moonless night, you can hear the water before you can see it rushing to seek its lowest point, as water always does. At first, it sounds like a hose that’s been left on, but as you try to track down the source, it begins to sound like a horrendous water main break.

  • How to travel the new, $800 billion Silk Road

    Thanks to more than a trillion dollars of prospective investment, led by China’s $800 billion Belt and Road Initiative linking countries stretching between East Asia and Europe, the Silk Road is rising again.

  • Soaking up an Alaskan adventure, unswayed by the rain

    A torrential downpour lulled me to sleep the night before my all-day kayaking expedition in the waters around Fox Island off Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Through the cracked windows of my log cabin, I watched the waves slap the slate beach as rain pounded the roof. I had come to southwestern Alaska with three friends to cap off the summer with an ocean adventure.


    Getting creepy and kooky at Yokota Air Base

    A theater troupe hopes to get folks into the Halloween spirit with a snap of their fingers during free performances of “The Addams Family” musical at the home of U.S. Forces Japan in western Tokyo.

  • Beyond the beach: Take your taste buds on a tour of Kauai

    Floating on the waves and hiking through the jungle are must-do activities on Kauai. But to better commune with the westernmost of the well-populated Hawaiian Islands, I also wanted to taste the local bounty. Fortunately, there are great ways to savor what makes Kauai unique without breaking the bank at gourmet restaurants.

  • New Zealand’s popular Milford Sound extends from mountaintops to the deep sea

    We were on top of the world at the bottom of the world, encircled by a 360-degree panorama of mountain peaks. My husband and I had reached Key Summit, the pinnacle of a half-day hike in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park. I wanted to lollygag and drink in the views, but the weather had other ideas. The temperature plummeted about 30 degrees and a blustery wind threatened to whisk us away. Andrew and I started back down the path. With bent heads, we pushed through the wind — extreme for us, but weather as usual for a Kiwi.

  • A breathtaking Himalayan journey to ’the rooftop of the world’

    Tibet. Nepal. Bhutan. The names rolled of my tongue like a timeless Himalayan mantra. I was itching to go, but after decades of solo rambling, I was done with handling tricky logistics. Let someone else — preferably an established tour company — arrange flights, guides, hotels, baggage and, most important, assorted visas and travel permits.

  • Okinawa’s Tokashiki Island a snorkeler’s paradise with beautiful beaches

    Just a quick ferry ride from Naha, Tokashiki Island is part of the Kerama archipelago and is famous for its white, sandy beaches and diverse marine life.

  • In Japan, boat tours of fanciful formations

    “Everybody, that is Fukuro [owl] rock. It’s a work of art created by nature,” said pleasure boat guide Yoshiteru Mizuguchi, 79, as he pointed to a rocky area sticking out into a blue sea. Passengers aboard the boat, the “Pearl Queen,” exclaimed, “It’s the spitting image!”

  • Defense Department-owned Hale Koa pumps $14M into its new pool area

    The Hale Koa Hotel’s swimming pool complex on Waikiki Beach, including its popular Barefoot Bar, is getting a $14 million makeover.

  • Waikiki Beach is only two miles of Oahu. The rest is well worth checking out.

    The towers of Waikiki Beach cast such long shadows over Oahu that it seems daunting, in the mind’s eye at least, to escape them when weighing a visit to Hawaii’s most populous island. But it can be done, and we did.

  • Hawaii is about to ban popular sunscreen brands to protect its coral reefs

    From Banana Boat to Coppertone, major sunscreen brands will soon have to revamp their products or stop selling them in Hawaii. State lawmakers passed legislation in May that would ban skin-care companies from selling and distributing sunscreens on the islands that contain two chemicals deemed damaging to coral reefs. The bill is opposed by various companies and business associations and even some dermatologists, who worry that the ban may discourage people from wearing sunscreen at all.

  • All aboard Hello Kitty: Pink bullet train debuts in Japan

    A Hello Kitty-themed “shinkansen” bullet train has debuted in Japan. Adorned with the cartoon icon inside and out, it’s a dream ride for fans of the internationally popular character.

  • Explore an abandoned Chinese village now engulfed by nature

    Blanketed with greenery, the ghost town is perched atop cliffs looking west into sea mists obscuring the horizon. Abandoned homes ravaged by weather and creeping vines stand silent but for the surf, the whine of mosquitos, and birdsong. This is Houtouwan — “Back Bay” in Mandarin — an abandoned fishing village engulfed by nature on the far eastern island of Shengshan, 90 kilometers off the coast of Shanghai.

  • It’s leisure as usual for travelers to Hawaii despite lava flow

    While the photos and videos of the popping, churning, spewing lava from Kilauea volcano look post-apocalyptic, officials with the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau say that the danger zones are isolated to private, residential areas and they don’t expect an impact on travelers. "Really, almost 90 percent of the island is unaffected," says Ross Birch, executive director of the Hawaii Island Visitors and Convention Bureau.

  • The Maldives’ new star villa is underwater

    On a recent trip to the Maldives, my itinerary was planned around a single hotel amenity: a bungalow with a two-story waterslide. In the luxury-friendly Maldives, more than anywhere else on Earth, it’s extravagant design features rather than location or good restaurants that make a hotel.

  • Hiking the authentic Great Wall of China, without the crush

    Tires crunch the gravel as our driver turns around and makes his way back down the narrow access road, leaving my fiance, his mother and me alone in front of an empty building. The air is cool and fresh, and a few white clouds move briskly across the blue sky. Beijing, with its more than 20 million inhabitants, gleaming skyscrapers and intermittent layer of smog, is a safe 50 miles to the south. All being well, we’ll see the driver again in about four hours, at our pickup location.

  • Alaskan illuminations

    Where were they? The hour was closer to midnight than noon, and the sky above the small Alaskan town of Talkeetna was as black as a bear’s button nose. Several stars twinkled their encouragement. Before stepping out in the minus-numbing-degree air, I had checked the Aurora Forecast. The rating was a 5, which the Geophysical Institute described as meaning “Auroral activity will be high.” I had even brought along my lucky charm, Aurora Dora. So I ask again: Where were they?

  • Solomon Islands: A deep dive, and WWII artifacts

    If a remote South Pacific destination with lots of World War II artifacts and world-class diving appeals to you, check out the Solomon Islands. This 992-island archipelago sits northeast of Australia, about 6,100 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Most of its 550,000 citizens are Melanesians and almost everyone speaks English.

  • Blossoming cherry trees serve as reminder of allies’ colorful history

    More than 100 years ago, Japan sent more than 3,000 Japanese cherry trees to Washington. In 1982, that symbol grew even greater meaning.

  • Cambodia up close: River cruise on the Mekong makes for immersive experience

    "Life is not staying still," Vuthy spoke softly to me, like a kind older brother. "It is moving from one place to the next." I followed his rhythmic breathing -- in, out -- inhaling the lotus air and untangling my own breath from the outside Cambodian breeze, flowing in through the open temple doors.

  • A wintry windfall in Japan's heavenly ski region

    There are 195 countries in the world, many that can be envisioned before ever stepping foot on foreign soil. And then there's Hokkaido, a destination within a destination that will take every preconceived notion you have about Japan and crumple it into a little ball. In its place will be snow, more snow and the champagne powder that has turned sleepy farm towns into the next big thing since Whistler.

  • A region on New Zealand’s North Island is the Southern Hemisphere’s take on Yellowstone

    I’d been warned about the stink. It hit me the instant I stepped off the plane in Rotorua: a mix of bad egg and warm sewer gas that has earned this city on New Zealand’s North Island the nickname "Sulphur City" -- or, less kindly, "Rotten-Rua." I sucked in a deep breath and smiled. That subterranean scent meant I would soon be soaking in curative hot springs, smothering my body in primeval goo and exploring a land of burping mud pots, prismatic pools, boiling rivers and shooting geysers.

  • Disney family magic wanes in Hong Kong as Macau's lights dazzle

    When Chinese tourists choose a family travel destination, Hong Kong Disneyland would seem like a logical choice. But it's the nearby gambling hub of Macau that has all the momentum.

  • Fiji pride: Where paradise is more than sand and sea

    If Fiji was nothing more than sand and sea, palm fronds and flowers, it wouldn’t matter which South Pacific beach resort you visited. Every vacation would be just another ho-hum adventure. But after 15 years and as many visits to this 333-island nation, I’ve got a pretty good idea why each destination promises a unique experience. What’s the secret? It’s the Fijians themselves, proud to be Fijian and proud to show you their country.

  • Aloha, partner: Riding the Hawaiian range

    Concho wants to gallop. I can tell. He's a horse, after all, a headstrong one, and rippling green hills spread in every direction. Every so often, a break in the clouds reveals the barren summit of Mauna Kea to the south. But galloping is still a little ways outside my skill set, so with a twinge of guilt I pull the reins to keep my mount at a slow trot. He makes his disappointment clear with a snort and a toss of his head. The pace does make it easier to soak in the landscape of the 300-acre Dahana Ranch in the upcountry of Hawaii's Big Island.

  • Beyond the musts: 3 free sites off the beaten path in Maui

    If you’re visiting Maui, a few sites are musts. You must visit Haleakala. You must enjoy the dancing — and the food — at the Old Lahaina Luau. You must walk through the branches of the Banyan Tree in Lahaina. And don’t drive past the Maui Ocean Center, especially if you love turtles. My husband and I had two weeks on the island paradise, so we could afford to indulge in some of the sites less traveled. Once we’d seen the “must” places, we dove deeper into the island’s history and wildlife.

  • Proposal aims to reduce Mt. Fuji climbers by up to 25 percent

    Japan's Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures proposed reducing congestion on Mount Fuji by 12 to 25 percent per day during the peak period by lowering the number of climbers using two of the mountain's four trails.

  • After their town was relocated, they found an uneasy truce with the Pyeongchang Games

    One by one Friday, in new living room after new living room, the television sets flicked on in this village of 12 homes, just in time to watch the opening ceremony for an Olympics that had changed everything here. "Live," it said in the upper right corner of Nam Jae-hwan’s television screen, and he sat down with his wife on a linoleum floor.

  • During Japan's tourism boom, try these off-the-grid locations

    Travel to Japan showed double-digit growth in 2017 from 2016, so you’ll want to take advantage of this development and escape the crowds by hitting the stunning countryside.

  • Tokyo studios photograph clients as samurai and courtesans

    Studios where visitors can have themselves dressed and photographed as samurai warriors or high-ranking Japanese courtesans are becoming increasingly popular in Tokyo.

  • Famous Maui road leads to enchanting, rarely visited Kahanu Garden

    Kahanu Garden was to be one of our two stops along the Hana Highway. The site would be the best of all worlds for us — native plants and flowers for me, and history for my husband.

  • Singapore: The world's newest great cocktail capital

    For a place that’s known to be quite conservative, Singapore offers cocktails that have a tendency to make your heart race.

  • World’s largest, most lavish Starbucks opens in Shanghai

    Starbucks once made waves with the indulgent sizes of some of its drinks, such as the Trenta, which contains a staggering 31 ounces of joe. Now, as part of the company’s aggressive expansion in China, the Seattle-based coffee retailer opened its largest store in the world: a nearly 30,000-square foot compound that does much more than simply serve coffee.

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  • Banned almost everywhere else in Europe, U.S. tourists are finding their way to Croatia

    The "Pearl of the Adriatic" had waited 28 years for a direct line to America, and when it arrived, it was historic.

  • Iceland wants to restart tourism — for the well-off

    A new escape route has emerged for anyone looking to circumvent second-wave lockdowns. Earlier this month, Iceland quietly rolled out changes to its remote-work visa program for citizens beyond the European Schengen Area. Americans-and any foreign national not required to have a visa to enter Iceland-will be allowed to stay in the Land of Fire and Ice for six uninterrupted months, even while the country’s international borders remain largely shut.

  • When can Americans travel to Europe again? Experts weigh in

    The closure of European borders to American tourists in March, with no clear end, has been one painful facet of the pandemic. Six months later, Americans are starting to travel again, but international destinations are still limited.

  • Oktoberfest Play List: 10 songs you’d hear in Munich beer tents

    One thing has always taken me a bit by surprise at Munich’s Oktoberfest celebration — and no, I’m not talking about the humongous size of the beer steins. (Although, granted, they are something to behold.) I’m referring to the soundtrack I hear as I make my way through the Spaten-Franziskaner-Brau, Hacker-Pschorr and Paulaner brewery tents.

  • Hope for the future of Edinburgh’s canceled festivals remains high

    Francesca Moody is spending August the way she always does: in darkened rooms in Edinburgh, watching some of the best new theater and comedy the world has to offer.

  • Cows grazing in open Alpine fields can be hazardous for hikers

    To Reinhard Pfurtscheller, the land he farmed high in the Austrian Alps was always a slice of paradise. He’d wake up in a cabin more than 300 years old, cows already wandering the flower-speckled meadows, snow-capped peaks all around. “There’s nothing more beautiful,” he said.

  • Draguignan days: There’s more to this city in Provence than the American military cemetery

    The town of Draguignan in southeastern France is a little off the beaten track. While it is in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region — think St. Tropez and other popular Riviera destinations — hordes of tourists don’t make their way there.

  • Masks and social distancing aren’t Rick Steves’ idea of an enjoyable travel experience

    Travel has changed considerably since European travel expert Rick Steves published his first guide, “Europe Through the Back Door,” in 1979. In the time it took Steves to write 50 guidebooks, host 10 seasons of “Rick Steves’ Europe” on TV, start a public radio show, release a mobile app for audio tours and grow a company that guides 30,000 people through Europe each year, he’s adapted to innumerable changes to the industry.

  • This may be the moment for a micro cruise

    If you’re a traveler for whom the close quarters of a cruise ship dining room, swimming pool or casino are the stuff of pandemic nightmares, it might be time to consider a micro cruise. Voyages on these extremely small ships — as few as four passengers and often no more than 20 — offer many of the joys of traditional cruising but with virtually no risk of exposure to crowded ports, tour buses or lido decks.

  • Rome restaurants ready for visitors, but things will be a little different

    As Italy opens up to its residents, Europe and eventually the rest of the world, businesses in Rome are trying to figure out how to navigate an Eternal City without the daily traffic of tourists and full offices. The centro storico, Rome’s historic center, has long relied on tourism to support many of its restaurant and food services.

  • Crowded UK beaches stir virus concern and official warning

    Summer heat saw crowds of daytrippers descend on U.K. coastal resorts, leading one southern town to declare a major incident and Health Secretary Matt Hancock to warn that he could close beaches to head off any potential new round of coronavirus cases.

  • Its outbreak over, Slovenia’s mountains and food culture are calling

    For as long as I can remember, my refuge in troubled times has been nature — the wilder, the better. Particularly the mountains, thanks to girlhood adventures with my mum in Austria’s Dachstein Group and Italy’s Dolomites. Whenever I return home, even almost two decades later, my mud-caked hiking boots are slung in Mom’s trunk and our flasks are filled before I can even unpack. Walking is our mother-daughter jam. It’s where frustrations are vented, the world is put right, and we can return a bit lighter.

  • Europeans emerging from lockdowns find a conspicuous absence of Americans

    The coronavirus and accompanying travel restrictions have forced a distance between Europe and the United States unseen since the dawn of commercial air travel.

  • Europe travel

    Largest all-women surrealist exhibit in Frankfurt extended through July 5

    “Fantastic Women,” the terrific new show at the Schirn exhibit hall in Frankfurt features 260 works of 34 artists from 11 countries, and is billed as the largest-ever exhibit dedicated exclusively to female surrealists.

  • Southern Europe mulls how to get tourists back as beaches, nightclubs sit empty

    The Mediterranean resort town of Ayia Napa is known for its boisterous parties. Each summer, thousands of young foreign tourists pack the dance floors of its nightlife district after a day at the beach. But the pandemic silenced the exuberant Napa Strip district as the island nation of Cyprus went into a lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Now nightclub owners wonder when social distancing rules will be eased enough for the party to resume — and what those new parties will look like.

  • A lockdown a la Nice

    Nice, France, is a city on hold. Its hotels are boarded up, its restaurants are shuttered, and its residents are confined to their homes 23 hours a day.

  • On Europe’s slow trains, the rewards are right outside your window

    The day before our vacation in France, I asked my three children what they were most looking forward to. Was it the swimming, the sunshine, the beach or — and I would have put my house on this — eating ice cream every day? “The sleeper train,” said the oldest. His brother quickly concurred. And the 3-year-old? Also the train.

  • The quieter corner of the isle’s rugged West Coast is better explored on foot

    I bounced the rental car slowly up the narrow, one-lane road and pulled up near the only other car in the unpaved parking area. My family and I tumbled out and looked up at the very, very long mountain path that disappeared into the cool mist.

  • Ruhr region of Germany embraces a new and different future by finding uses for shuttered mines and factories

    The Ruhr region in Germany has turned its industrial heritage into an asset and is inviting the world to enjoy the results.

  • Chefs in Sweden’s Malmo make exquisite dishes out of what’s locally available

    Most days, chefs around the world call their distributors to order food items for the days ahead. They might order seasonal produce, or a standby ingredient for a signature dish. Not so for Erik Andersson Mohlin. He’s at the whim of his distributors. Regular menu items are as relevant to the chef-owner of Spill as a vintage Burgundy is to a fast-food joint. You see, every dish on the nightly menu is made with ingredients that were destined for the rubbish bin, often because they’re bruised or slightly overripe. But here in Malmo, a port city in Skane, Sweden’s southernmost province, one distributor’s trash is a visionary chef’s treasure.

  • UPDATE: Holland’s spectacular spring flower show is canceled

    When 40 bulb growers from the Lisse area got together in 1949 to hold a flower exhibit at a 15th-century Dutch hunting estate called Keukenhof, they probably didn’t realize that their gathering would plant the seed of what was to become one of Holland’s biggest attractions.

  • Spirit tourism: Britain sees spike in visits to distilleries

    Many people these days are thirsting not just for a drink but for knowledge about where it comes from. “Spirit tourism” is booming across the United Kingdom, with artisanal brands and micro distilleries popping up and many global brands distilled here.

  • Naples restored from dangerous afterthought to tourist-worthy hub

    On a trip to this thrumming city about 15 years ago, art historian Michael Stoughton hoped to visit a famous Baroque church in the Sanita neighborhood. An Italian friend said no — the area was too dangerous. If you must, the friend added, then take a taxi and make the driver wait for you.

  • London offers winter warmers with a festive flavor

    Mulled wine, warm spiced cider and hot toddies have long been British staples during winter. Whiskey expert Ross Dennis at Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery explains that the hot toddy comes from Scotland.

  • Following the DNA trail through Sweden

    Smoke billowed out of a hole at the center of a grass-covered tepee as I passed plates of cured moose sausage, flat bread, cheese and cloudberry jam to the seven other strangers gathered in this traditional Sami home in Sweden’s northernmost Lapland region.

  • Thirty years after its fall, Berlin Wall Memorial is a chilling reminder of the past

    Thirty years ago on Nov. 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. Today the best place to see what life in the shadow of the Wall was like is at the Berlin Wall Memorial.

  • Ukraine’s Chernivtsi a charming city of architectural gems

    Tucked in the southwest corner of Ukraine, Chernivtsi is a cheerful city that graciously marries the glories and sorrows of centuries past with vibrant Eastern European urban life today.

  • London’s bookstores punctuate the city

    The first time I went to London, I asked a friend who lived there for bookstore recommendations. “Well,” he said with a pause, “that depends. What kind?” I was too embarrassed to admit I didn’t realize I had to specify. But given that I was in the center of the English-speaking literary world, it was an entirely reasonable question.

  • Best places to try a spicy, sweet mulled wine

    Gluehwein takes cheap red wine and makes it palatable by adding ingredients liked citrus fruit and many of the spices you find in gingerbread. Literally “glow wine”, it’s heated and served warm, but don’t be fooled: the alcohol hasn’t been burned off and it can make you plenty tipsy and unable to safely drive a car.

  • Escape Venice’s tourist crush with a trip to Vicenza, home of Renaissance great Palladio

    If you want to break away from the crowds that make Venice a poster child for the term “overtourism” and you love architecture, there is one place you must go: nearby Vicenza, a showcase for the work of the renowned Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. Palladio, who lived from 1508 to 1580, drew inspiration from the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome, transforming these models into masterpieces that influenced everything from English country houses to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

  • Battle tested: For military history buffs, France’s Sedan delivers

    Although Sedan is somewhat removed from France’s main tourist routes, a visit to this industrial town near the Belgian border is a must for military history buffs.

  • This U.K. hike is sublime. Just avoid the bombs, tides and quicksand.

    The path crosses a still-active military test-firing zone, pelted with bombs since World War I.

  • White-hot Refshaleoen: Meet the trendiest neighborhood in Europe you’ve never heard of

    The Oxford Dictionary defines hygge as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment.” The Danish concept has become so popular that it made the dictionary’s word of the year shortlist in 2016. I first discover the true meaning of hygge at La Banchina, a 16-seat farm-to-table pescatarian restaurant overlooking Copenhagen Harbor.

  • Heat wave arrives in Europe, just in time for tourists

    The recent record-smashing heat in parts of Europe is running smack into the continent’s peak tourist season, adding crowds of visitors to the sweltering mix as cities try to care for their most vulnerable residents. Parts of France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland, Switzerland and the Czech Republic have seen temperatures soar into the 90s and even past 100 degrees Fahrenheit -- at least 20 to 30 degrees above normal. The extreme heat was expected to last into the weekend in some areas.

  • Seeing Paris, baguette by baguette

    I am in love with the art and heritage of French bread. Fortunately I’m not alone. Each year one chef is chosen in the Grand Prix de la Baguette de tradition francaise, an accolade bestowed each April for the past 25 years. The winner goes to a handcrafted baguette that beats out dozens of entrants from across Paris and tops a list of 10 finalists; all compete for a cash prize of 4,000 euros ($4,900) and -- most importantly -- mass recognition for superior artisanal baking.

  • One-day bike races have a passionate following in France, and amateurs can pedal the same route

    In a remote corner of northern France, three farm fields intersect. On a cold morning in mid-April, the crops that border a narrow crossing of rough-hewed cobblestoned paths barely reach ankle high. But three pop-up bars are doing a brisk cash-only business, and it’s clear that some of the hundreds of rowdy, flag-draped cycling fans who have gathered here have been drinking for hours.

  • Leonardo devotees flock to artist’s hometown of Vinci

    There are no more maps available. But it’s not a problem, says the woman at the front desk of our hotel. She takes out a piece of paper and rapidly sketches the almond-shaped town — just a couple of curved streets around the castle walls, with an “X” at the church and a dot at the museum ticket office. “I’m a descendant of Leonardo,” she jokes as she hands it over. That’s probably not the first time someone has used that line in Vinci, Italy, a hamlet perched among the Montalbano Hills known for producing Chianti, artichoke-scented olive oil and a certain genius who was born here in 1452.

  • The North remembers: In Northern Ireland, 'Game of Thrones' leaves a lasting legacy

    The Europa Hotel was once known as the most bombed hotel in Europe, but on a Friday morning in April, it's bustling with tourists and weekenders enjoying a hearty breakfast buffet. Almost no one recognizes Conleth Hill, the actor who plays Varys, the bald eunuch and royal adviser whose cunning enabled him to survive nearly eight seasons on one of TV's bloodiest shows, "Game of Thrones," without ever lifting a sword. The anonymity (aided by the reappearance of his thick, silver hair) doesn't appear to faze him. Here he's just another local who lives an hour away in Ballycastle, the seaside town where he grew up.

  • A solo quest to find the source of the mighty Rhine

    It's a solitary quest, indulging a fantasy of being reincarnated as a 19th-century explorer discovering the source of a mighty river. That the Rhine has been well-mapped for millennia doesn't matter; there are still personal discoveries to be had.

  • Here's why it's worth hiring an expert to plan your family trip to Italy

    Do you enjoy travel planning? Are you exhilarated by spending weeks or months scrutinizing every possible hotel, restaurant, tour, train schedule and other specifics of your vacation? If so, this story is not for you.

  • Make Reims a pit stop on the way home from Normandy

    Reims is in the middle of France’s Champagne country. Many of the bubbly’s makers have their headquarters here and vineyards surround the city. But Reims is probably best known for its magnificent Cathedral of Notre-Dame.

  • In London, eat your way through the history and future of Britain’s iconic dish

    Frank Dobson Square, a brick-paved chunk of East London, has seen better days. Its centerpiece, Dobson’s 1951 sculpture “Woman With Fish,” was vandalized beyond repair and removed in 2002. Those sitting on the benches around the square — who number three, including me, this Thursday morning — have only its former home, a forlorn metal plinth, to look at now. I haven’t come to see the sculpture, though, or its plinth. I’m searching for something else, something that records this locale’s unique place in British history. This is where the world’s first fish and chip shop, Malin’s, was founded in the early 1860s.

  • Touring the French Riviera on foot reveals what ships, buses would never let you see

    Warned of absurdly high cab fares, I shrugged off another warning about Nice — its robbers and pickpockets — and decided to walk to my hotel from the train station.

  • Relaxing in Spa, the Belgian town that started it all

    “Thirsty?” asks the flight attendant as she hands me a blue bottle. I twist the cap and sip the crisp, slightly acidic water. One look at the label, Spa Reine, and I wonder if the advertising gods are tracking me. Spa. That’s where I am headed. No, not to the spa — to the Belgian town.

  • Connecting past, future on a pilgrimage to Vienna’s Jewish Quarter

    On an unseasonably warm night the week August turned into September, every table at Pizza Quartier on Vienna’s Karmelitermarkt was filled. Pizza after pizza emerged from the wood-burning oven as parents sipped white wine while half-watching children -- mine included -- playing elaborate games of tag in the 19th-century market square. Come morning, it would be packed with the organic food vendors, pastry makers and florists that dot this little corner of Vienna’s Second District, Leopoldstadt.

  • Centuries of history come to life on a verger tour of Westminster Abbey

    I am a cathedrals nut. In France, in England -- and anywhere else I can follow a tall spire to a historic cathedral. Often, I design a cathedrals itinerary. And when I'm in London, I never pass up Westminster Abbey, one of the greatest.

  • In Albania, age-old traditions and Mediterranean beaches on the cheap

    Outside, the cicadas loudly buzzed and the scent of sun-baked oregano wafted through the car window. We descended from the clouds onto the Albanian Riviera. A pearl-like string of beach towns extended south toward the Greek border. The Albanians can be a party-loving bunch with electronic club music shaking up the beach clubs until the wee hours.

  • Ancient Sibenik’s latest rebirth marks it a Croatian leisure capital

    It’s just past noon as I gaze at the Adriatic Sea from St. Michael’s Fortress, a medieval bastion atop the old town of Sibenik, a coastal city that sits poised roughly at the center of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. Late September bura winds have cleared the skies, making the horizon crisp and the sea cerulean. I can smell cypress trees and hear the rustle of the soft sea-scented breeze. Only a handful of other visitors stroll around the fortress, looking out over the Sibenik Channel, the islands of the archipelago and the rooftops of the old town below.

  • Travel highlights in Europe for 2019

    Was your New Year’s resolution to take advantage of your time stationed in Europe by traveling around the continent as much as possible? You’re in luck, as the year 2019 is shaping up to be yet another great one for tourism.

  • Berlin leaves its mark on this visitor

    In the shadow of the ruined spire of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, a platoon of protesters lifted banners and voices in outrage. Their grievances were with the policies of Recep Erdogan, the president of Turkey, who would be arriving in Berlin the next day for a state visit. Erdogan would tie up traffic during his stay, which coincided with mine, rather as happened during the visit of the last dignitary who came to Berlin the same moment as I had, the Dalai Lama -- but for very different reasons.

  • gallery

    German exhibit gives an in-depth look at the life of an American icon

    Who was Marilyn Monroe? A new exhibit at the Historisches Museum der Pfalz in Speyer, Germany, tries to answer the question with clothes, photos, letters and close to 400 items from her estate.

  • Turkey’s terrain, people, history make colorful trip

    I’ve either been pixie dusted or turned into Barney Rubble. Everywhere I look, towering rock “fairy chimneys” dot Turkey’s fantastical wonderland of Cappadocia. I’ll also explore mystical age-old cave churches, sleep in a “cave hotel” that entombs guests and wine, and scoot-duck-gasp my way through a spooky ancient underground city, one of dozens burrowed here. And wait until I dreamily float over it all in an Oz-like flame-breathing balloon.

  • In Edinburgh, ceilidh dancing is a great way for travelers to reel in new friends

    The cheerful melody bellowed from the accordion across the dimly lit room, filling me with jittery anticipation. Holding a hand of each stranger on either side of me, I bounced in a circle to the left and then to the right, doing my best to remember the steps that had just been explained.

  • Prague, Vienna and Budapest -- by road instead of river

    It’s no surprise that central European river cruises are booming. Gliding along the Danube or the Elbe through the countryside, perhaps topside with a glass of wine, is a lovely image. But my wife Eileen and I instead chose a "road cruise" from Budapest to Vienna to Prague last September. And we’re glad we did.

  • A hiker explores his father’s homeland peak by peak

    My son, Marc, and I had tromped through shin-deep snow for several hours, and by the time we reached the blustery top of the peak, we couldn’t see more than 25 feet because of a whiteout.

  • Berlin memorial to murdered Jewish victims of Nazis an unsettling must-see

    On Nov. 9, 1938, the paramilitary Nazi thugs of the Sturmabteilung attacked Jewish synagogues and shops across Germany. It was the first large-scale incident in what would lead to the death of six million Jews throughout Europe. To remember the dead, Germany created the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in central Berlin near the U.S. embassy.

  • A new river line hopes to redefine cruises for millennials

    Boris, a U Host, stood before a group of river cruisers relaxing in the U Lounge, a gathering space seemingly designed by Alice’s Wonderland of Furnishings. He wore all black, as if he had just rolled in from a night of chasing the White Rabbit around Paris. While he spoke, hands wrinkled with age and smooth with youth lifted glasses of riesling to their lips. Then arms slowly began to rise in response to his question.

  • Sweet discoveries: Nothing compares to eating fresh stroopwafels in Amsterdam

    My introduction to stroopwafels, the gooey caramel waffle sandwich from the Netherlands, was in a small village in the south of Spain, where I live. A Dutch couple had opened a small bakery tucked among the winding cobblestone streets. One morning, I stumbled into their store and watched as they cut a slab off a log of fragrant dough, pressed it with a waffle iron, separated the top disk from the bottom, spread the inside with caramel sauce and put the halves back together.

  • Italy’s Dolomites a pleasure to explore in the offseason

    I had two challenges to overcome when planning a late-May trip to Northern Italy’s Trentino-Sudtirol region: a major snow year and the offseason. The first meant that the thousands of miles of trails in the rugged Dolomite mountains were still buried. The second meant that many of the high-alpine refugios, famed for hearty food and rustic lodging, were closed between winter and summer. One more thing — I arrived in the rain, and the forecast called for more storms throughout my trip.

  • In Germany, two delightful destinations for dachshund lovers

    Outside the Dackelmuseum in Passau, Germany, I dropped to the cobblestone pavement to greet its four-legged ambassadors, year-old siblings Moni and Little Seppi. The black-and-tan short-haired dachshunds sniffed me, then Little Seppi reached up to gently lick my face. A kiss so soon? I felt special, though I’m guessing I was one of hundreds he’d smooched since the Dackelmuseum, or Dachshund Museum, opened in April.

  • Tour company helps hikers go it alone, with local support, along Spanish coast

    Serendipity — an unexpected delight — is the word that comes to mind when describing the seven-day hike my wife and I recently did in the wild and undeveloped northwest coast of Galicia, Spain. Simply put, anyone who is adventurous, loves traveling to Europe and is fit enough to do 10-mile hikes should seriously consider doing this hike.

  • Trying on a farmhouse in Northern Italy for size

    Framed by a mountainous horizon, the farm fields are littered with hay bales, both round and rectangular, and I’m reminded of the Virginia Piedmont, where I grew up. Such a gentle, pastoral landscape seems imprinted in my spiritual DNA, and is the real reason I’ve journeyed here, to Northern Italy’s Piemonte region: to discover whether the two places have more than similar names in common.

  • europe travel

    Sibiu, Romania: On the vampire trail to Dracula’s castle — and so much more

    Sibiu is the place to start a journey through Transylvania, but there’s plenty more to discover wandering through the city.

  • In Seville, Spain, young chefs are creating the next generation of tapas

    The first time I encountered tapas, I was 6 and didn't like them. My head was level with a huge wooden bar, and all I could see was a school of shiny silvery fish languishing near slices of bread. I've grown some since then; my head clears the bar most days. Meanwhile, tapas have become an international phenomenon.

  • In the south of France, a city is still ruled by ancient Rome

    A funny thing happened on the way to the Airbnb. As we dragged our suitcases along the cobblestones in the southern French city of Nimes, we saw a gladiator on a cellphone. The helmet-wearing warrior, looking straight out of ancient Rome, winked at my kids and kept marching toward the amphitheater.

  • video, gallery

    Visiting American WWI sites a century after conflict ended

    A century after World War I, you can visit the places where the Americans fought and died. The landscape is still pockmarked with craters from artillery shells. Monuments honor those who fought. And white marble crosses and Stars of David, in well-groomed cemeteries, mark where many of those killed still rest.

  • In Slovenia, a ski and a swim make an unusual pairing

    As an American expat happily living in Slovenia for many years, I love exploring my adopted country and looking, more deeply than perhaps even locals do, into what makes it such a wonderful place to visit and reside. One line I hear frequently, and which guidebooks like to boast about, is that the country is so compact, with such a diversity of terrain, that you can ski in the morning and swim in the ocean in the afternoon. Would it be any fun? Only one way to find out.

  • Forget spritzes, shopping and fancy hotels. The best part of Lake Como is being on it.

    “Mom! Do you have the permit?? WHERE IS THE PERMIT???” I yelled above the engine of our custom Cantiere Ernesto Riva motorboat while zooming along Italy’s Lake Como. I had just gotten comfortable in my captain’s perch. Then, a gust seemed to sweep away the paperwork required for taking out this stunner of a boat, at a whopping $190 an hour.

  • You ate what?! A fearless foodie’s foray into the bouchons of Lyon

    Andrew picks up his beer and leans back against the red banquette seating at Le Romarin, a tiny bistro-bar in the heart of Lyon. Over the next 48 hours, we’re planning to eat our way across this famously gastronomic city, but something is worrying him. “I’m looking forward to the wine,” he says. “I’m looking forward to the cheese. I’m just not sure about the innards.” Most people would see his point. Not me. I love offal.

  • The next ferry you board might run on batteries

    Not far from Norway’s North Sea oil rigs, shipbuilders are assembling some of the first ferry boats ever to be powered entirely by batteries.

  • Northern Ireland’s lake lands: Rain, history and the Mellons

    We stood at the bar of the grand Lough Erne Resort, looking out at the driving rain. “You see that lake out there,” mused the barman wryly. “That was a field this morning.” This was my first trip to Northern Ireland’s lake lands in the western region, two hours by car from Belfast and a slightly longer drive from Dublin.

  • Europe Travel

    Switzerland-Italy train ride traverses different worlds

    The new Gotthard Base Tunnel is a 35-mile stretch through a mountain of granite. The scenery transforms from mountainous Alpine stretches to palm tree-dappled Mediterranean landscape. Even the outside temperature is a few degrees warmer than it was where the tunnel starts.

  • Medieval meets modern in charming Kilkenny, Ireland

    On a sunny Friday afternoon in April, the sleepy city of Kilkenny, Ireland, began to wake up. Chattering students filled the sidewalks, their book bags slung across school uniforms, many of the boys carrying the short, hockey-like sticks used in hurling. Locals hurried through Butter Slip, a narrow passage between two streets where butter vendors set up stalls in medieval times. And shoppers ducked into the small stores that share a main street with a 17th-century merchant’s house and an 18th-century town hall building that was served as a customhouse.

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