UNESCO World Heritage Sites: A Few of Our Favorites

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designates the places it deems to be of immense value to humanity as World Heritage Sites. That value can be cultural, natural, or a combination of both. A listed property could be a church, a palace, a fortress, an abbey, a historical city center, a park, or even an entire region. UNESCO promotes and protects the places they designate to be World Heritage Sites.

There are 1007 World Heritage Sites in 161 countries. Of those, 779 sites are “cultural,” 197 are “natural,” and 31 are “mixed.” Italy has the most World Heritages Sites in the world, followed closely by China, Spain, France and Germany. It’s very difficult to become a World Heritage Site; Scandinavia’s prime Viking fortresses, Egypt’s ancient remains of Alexandria, Italy’s Etruscan city of Volterra, and France’s D-day beaches are all still on the waiting list!

Go-today makes it simple for you to visit the top World Heritage Sites with a guided tour or a sightseeing pass.  Read on to learn about six of our favorite World Heritage Sites in Europe.

France: The Loire Valley

Travel to France

This fertile river valley was once home to the crème de la crème of France’s royalty and nobility who constructed their hunting lodges, fortresses and fairytale castles near the banks of the Loire. In addition to its “chateaux,” this truly beautiful area, which is commonly visited on a daytrip from Paris, is also known for its wineries, fruit orchards, ornate gardens and historic towns.

Click here for more information on traveling to France.

Germany: The Palaces and Parks of Potsdam

Potsdam_Sanssouci Palace

Nothing showcases Prussian splendor more than a visit to Fredrick the Great’s Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam, which was built to rival France’s Versailles Palace. A day trip to Potsdam, which is located in a lake district 22 miles southwest of Berlin, is incomplete without spending time in Sanssouci’s magnificent landscaped gardens.

Click here for more information on traveling to Germany.

Austria: The Historic Center of Vienna

The city of Vienna has been the capital of the Hapsburg Empire, the Austrian Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire – and it shows. Known for its classical music legacy and amazing medieval and baroque architecture, today Austria’s capital city is nothing short of elegant. Its entire historic core, which includes the Hofburg Palace complex and St. Stephen’s Cathedral, is a World Heritage Site.

Click here for more information on traveling to Austria.

Italy: The Cinque Terre

While stretches of the Italian Riviera undoubtedly ooze glamor, the five “cinque” coastal towns that comprise the dramatically scenic Cinque Terre actually form part of a national park. Depending on the time of year, travel between the largely car-free towns of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore can be done by rail, boat or on foot as the park has extensive hiking trails. Travelers pinched for time can also visit the Cinque Terre on a day trip from Florence.

Click here for more information on traveling to Italy.

Iceland: Þingvellir National Park

A chief attraction on South Iceland’s Golden Circle, Þingvellir National Park (frequently spelled ‘Thingvellir’ in English), is officially registered as a cultural World Heritage Site for having been the setting of the Althing or Icelandic Parliament from 930 until 1798. That being said, the park’s incredible geology merits a visit on its own. As the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet inside the park, visitors encounter wildly spectacular landscapes.

Click here for more information on traveling to Iceland.

The United Kingdom: The Tower of London

936867_94791670 tower

For history buffs, it doesn’t get any better than this. Commissioned by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, the Tower of London has witnessed some of the biggest events in British history – including the execution of three English queens. Today visitors traveling to this riverside palace are greeted by London’s iconic Beefeaters before seeing the Crown Jewels, which have been housed in the Tower for centuries.

Click here for more information on traveling to England.

To travel to the world’s most interesting World Heritage Sites please book online or contact one of our reservation specialists at (800) 227-3235. If you’re interested in traveling with a group, please contact our Groups Department at (800) 290-6685.


2015 Travel Inspiration: Europe and Central America

deals to GreeceWith Tax Day just behind us, many of us are looking forward to soon receiving a little something back from Uncle Sam.  Are you in search of inspirational ideas on where to invest your tax refund?  In travel.  After all, you worked hard in 2014, so why not treat yourself to an awe-inspiring trip in 2015?  Want three more great reasons?  1. If you’re considering vacationing in Europe – the Euro is unbelievably weak at present and might even inch closer to parity with the US dollar later in the year.  2. If you book a go-today vacation before April 30, 2015, you can take $100 off any air-inclusive vacation using the promo code of TAXTIME15 – and that’s per person.  3. There’s a school of thought that travel might actually be beneficial to your health.

If you’re starting to concede that a fabulous trip is the way forward, read on for five ideas of where your tax-refund travel adventures could take you.


Traveling to the Amalfi Coast

The town of Amalfi, the Amalfi Coast

Where to go: Italy is home to some of Europe’s most sublime scenery.  Decide if you prefer a cultural urban experience, a relaxing countryside experience – or a combination of both.  If this is your first time to Italy, you can’t possibly go wrong with the trio of Rome, Florence and Venice.  If you’ve already seen the must-see sights and still find yourself craving more of Italy – seek out one or two of its beautiful spots like the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre, the Northern Lake District or an off-the-beaten corner of Tuscany.

What to see: Some of the world’s most impressive architecture, art museums, cathedrals and archaeological sites: Greek, Etruscan and Roman.  Lovely squares, medieval hill towns, vivid Mediterranean beaches and a downright unforgettable ambience.

What to eat: While each region in Italy has its own authentic specialties, every visitor to Italy should partake in fresh seafood, traditional pasta and rice dishes, cured meats, pizza and gelato.  Other favorites (of this blogger) include bean soups, steak (Florence), black truffles (Umbria), arancini (Sicily) and burrata (Puglia).  If you’re interested in Italian cuisine, taking a cooking class or market tour in Italy is a great way to learn about regional dishes.

What to drink: Exceptional wines (including sweet, sparkling and port-like wines); liqueurs like amaretto, limoncello, and fragolino; vermouth (hello Martini!); grappa – and heavenly coffee.

What to buy: Italy isn’t known as a fashion capital for nothing.  Fashionistas in search of la moda italiana will want to visit Milan and Florence (and go on outlet tours).  However, when shopping in Italy, there is more to experience beyond Ferragamo, Armani, Prada, Valentino, Gucci, Versace, Fendi and Dolce & Gabbana.  Florence in particular is famed for its leather markets.  Elsewhere in Italy you’ll find gorgeous pottery (Tuscany), great antiques (Rome) and exquisite glassware, lace and handcrafted masks (Venice).  Last but certainly not least, food products like olive oils, wines, hard cheeses and balsamic vinegars make for great souvenirs.

Click here to see all our travel packages to Italy.


vacation deals to Greece

The ancient Acropolis at sunset, Athens

Where to go: Even if ancient Greek temples, archaeological sites and fantastic Byzantine architecture aren’t your thing, everyone should plan on spending a night or two in Athens.  From there many history buffs choose to spend more time on the mainland – often to visit the superb ancient sites of the Peloponnese peninsula – before cruising to Greece’s magnificent islands.  If you intend to island hop while in Greece (and you should), Mykonos, Santorini, Crete and Rhodes are all popular choices. If time is pressing but you still want an island experience, make a day trip from Athens to the car-free island of Hydra.

What to see: Greece has something for everyone: history addicts, foodies, shoppers, sun worshippers, etc.  Obviously your interests should shape your itinerary.  There are 17 World Heritage Sites in Greece as well as several fantastic museums in Athens.  The Acropolis Museum for one is a must-do.  In addition to Greece’s ancient and medieval sights, one of its best attractions is simply the Aegean Sea and its host of mesmerizing islands.

What to eat: While you’ll find chic, innovative cuisine in many restaurants in Athens, we’re fans of Greece’s informal tavernas.  Cozy, lively and often serving up tasty, grandma-prepared dishes, tavernas are a staple of Greek cuisine.  When you dine in one, go for a good mix of the many wonderful appetizers called mezedes.  You’ll also find a wealth of meat (lamb in particular) dishes along with fantastic seafood, salads, olives, yogurts, fresh cheeses and terribly good sweets, which are often made of honey and nuts.

What to drink: Drinking ouzo is a national pastime in Greece.  This aperitif can be consumed straight or on the rocks.  Wineries located on the island of Santorini and on the Peloponnese peninsula produce some very respectable wines for you to sample while in Greece.  We must also say that the Greeks do amazing things with iced coffee, and if you plan to visit Greece over the summer, sipping a foamy, iced café frappe while gazing at the beach is an essential activity.

What to buy: jewelry, pottery, olive oils, honey, leather goods, wines and spices.

Click here to see all our travel packages to Greece.


Travel to France

Chateau de Chenonceau, the Loire Valley

Where to go: When deciding where to travel in France, truth be told – it’s hard to pick a bad spot.  Favorites with American travelers include Paris, Provence and the French Riviera (the Côte d’Azur), the Bordeaux wine region, the Loire Valley and the Normandy beaches.  If you’re a foodie at heart, get thee to Lyon!

What to see: France has almost 100 official National Monuments and a whopping 39 World Heritage Sites.  In addition to its many cathedrals, palaces, castles and abbeys, France is also home to phenomenal museums and truly beautiful scenery; there’s a reason why so many artists, writers and musicians have found inspiration and settled in France.

What to eat: French cuisine varies dramatically by region and season.  In Alsace you’ll find very German-like food (sausages and sauerkraut).  Alpine regions of France are very generous with the cheese and potatoes and serve amazing winter dishes like raclette, fondue Savoyard and tartiflette.  Farm-filled Normandy is hailed for its butters, cheeses (camembert) and creams.  Provence is very Mediterranean, so think tomatoes, salads, goat cheeses, seafood and olive oil.  A good way to summarize French cooking methods is the following: in the North – butter, in the South East – olive oil, in the South West – duck fat!

What to drink: France produces some of the world’s most prestigious wines.  Top regions include Bordeaux, Burgundy (Bourgogne), the Rhône Valley, the Loire Valley and Languedoc-Roussillon.  Sparkling wines are also extremely popular with those produced in Champagne being one of the country’s biggest exports.  Other ideas: Normandy makes very good ciders, and you can find excellent local beers in Alsace.

What to buy: perfumes, soaps, lavender sachets and clothes – and again food and wine products make great souvenirs.

Click here to see all our travel packages to France.


cheap deals to Ireland

Muckross House, Killarney National Park

Where to go: After a couple of days in Dublin, most travelers seek out Ireland’s spectacular natural landscapes.  Popular areas include the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula, Connemara National Park, The Burren, the Wicklow Mountains, MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and the Aran Islands.  And don’t forget Northern Ireland’s famed sights like the Glens of Antrim and the Giant’s Causeway.  To best capture this island’s immense beauty, many traveling to Ireland rent a car and base themselves in castle hotels, bed & breakfasts or farmhouse properties.

What to see: Ireland is rich in Neolithic archaeological sites like the Newgrange monument; located in the fertile Boyne River Valley, it is older than Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza!  Other excellent cultural sights in Ireland include the monastery of Clonmacnoise, Trinity College Library (Dublin), Kylemore Abbey and Kilmainham Gaol (Dublin).

What to eat: At present Ireland has a frankly delicious, farm-to-table culinary phenomenon going on.  Throughout the country you’ll find traditional Irish classics, pastries and dairy products made with the freshest of ingredients.  In its cozy capital city of Dublin, you’ll find truly fine, innovative dining along with cheery, casual spots.

What to drink: Beer and whiskey.  If you want to learn more about Ireland’s famous brew, Guinness, tour the brewery in Dublin.  Whiskey fans will be pleased to encounter distilleries all over the island.  Popular ones to visit include Jameson, Tullamore Dew and Bushmills.

What to buy: Ireland’s woolen knitwear is legendary.  Other classic choices include Belleek Pottery and Waterford Crystal.

Click here to see all our travel packages to Ireland.

Costa Rica

Cheap deals to Costa Rica

Sunset in Costa Rica

Where to go: Despite being the same size as a combined Vermont and New Hampshire, Costa Rica is a Hercules of biodiversity, and as it’s compact, you can relax on its picture-perfect beaches (Caribbean and Pacific), trek to active volcanoes and explore rainforests – all on the same vacation.

What to see: Outside of San José’s fantastic cultural attractions, popular natural areas to visit include Arenal National Park, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve and Manuel Antonio National Park.  Are you an active traveler?  Soak in hot springs, raft down the Savegre River, go birdwatching, zip line through the Arenal Rainforest – or take a boat trip to Damas Island!

What to eat: While its cuisine is decidedly not fancy (rice, beans, fish, meat, ceviche, yuca, tasty little meat pies, fried plantains, etc.), Costa Rica does have a mighty cornucopia of exciting tropical fruits.

What to drink: With all those great fruits, it’s no surprise that Costa Rica has some pretty rockin’ juices.  What else?  The fresh coconut water is divine.  Beer and rum are very popular alcoholic beverages.

What to buy: pottery, furniture, carved masks and coffee.

Click here to see all our travel packages to Costa Rica.


We hope these travel ideas have given you food for thought on how to best use your tax refund.  Regarding our current $100 promotion, below is the fine print:

  • Use the promo code TAXTIME15 to take $100 off any air-inclusive vacation.
  • That’s $100 off per person.
  • You must book by April 30, 2015.
  • This promo isn’t valid for custom group bookings, it can’t be combined with other offers and it can’t be used on existing reservations.

How can you book?  Online at go-today.com or over the phone (free of charge) at (800) 227-3235.


The Best Day Trips from London: 8 Fantastic Ideas

Day trips from London

Leeds Castle, Maidstone, Kent

As a tourist destination, London can consider itself fortunate.  Not only is its center jam-packed with cool attractions, but beyond its periphery, London is surrounded by fantastic places to visit.  We’ve blogged before on London’s cornucopia of first-rate draws: outstanding museums of art, design and history; historical palaces that once housed Henry VIII, Queen Victoria and Princess Diana; impressive cathedrals; great shopping; seriously fun pubs; amazing theatre performances; spectacular gardens; and world-class concerts and sporting events.  Our point: there are so many things to do in London that you’d be hard-pressed not to find something you love.

As we’ve mentioned before, if you intend to visit London you’ll be pleased to know many of its best places to visit are free (exceptions: must-see attractions like the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey).  For travelers spending a week in London, many folks want a town and country experience, which means spending a day or two outside of England’s lively capital.  Therefore, this post is for those of you who want to find out about the best day trips from London.  Some of these lovely spots lie on London’s outer edges, while others make for longer, exciting escapes.  We’ll tell you what to see and how to get there.  Without further ado, here are eight great day trip ideas:


Kew Gardens

sightseeing in London

The Palm House, Kew Gardens, London

We all know the British have a fierce reputation for their green-thumbed skills.  If you’ve ever wanted to experience English gardening at its finest, this is your chance.  Kew Gardens lie along the banks of the River Thames just 10 miles west of London, making this an easy, relaxing day outside of the big city.  The gardens epitomize the English landscaped gardens that became fashionable all over Europe in the 1700s.  The 250-year-old Royal Botanic Gardens, as they’re officially known, are so impressive that they’ve been made an official World Heritage Site.  Spread out across 300 acres, the gardens are home to an extensive arboretum, the Azalea Garden, the Rhododendron Dell,  art galleries, the Waterlily House,  pretty cottages, beautiful ponds, a treetop walkway, and perhaps most famously – Victorian glasshouses.  Check out this video if you’d like to learn more.

How do you get there?

To reach Kew Gardens from London take the London Underground to Kew Gardens Station.  If you intend to travel a lot in London by tube, considering getting a reusable Visitor Oyster card that you can add money to as needed.


Day trip to Stonehenge from London

Stonehenge, a World Heritage Site

The origins of this marvelous prehistoric site remain a great mystery to scholars.  Dating back over 5000 years, the massive size of the stones and their precise layout have long puzzled archaeologists.  For example, how did the builders manage to transport the stones over 150 miles?!  Some scholars believe that pagan inhabitants constructed Stonehenge as a religious or spiritual temple connected with the summer solstice.  Numerous burial mounds and the magnificent stone circle at nearby Avebury make this area extremely rich in Neolithic heritage.

To learn more about theories on Stonehenge, click here.  Many visitors often combine a visit to this fascinating World Heritage Site with the historic cities of Salisbury, Winchester and Bath.

How do you get there?

For preservation reasons, access to Stonehenge is complicated.  It is best to visit Stonehenge on a guided tour from London.

Highclere Castle

day trips from London

Highclere Castle, the filming location of Downton Abbey

With the current popularity of the Downton Abbey television series, it’s no surprise that a visit to its filming location has become one of London’s most popular day trips!  Located 70 miles west of London in the county of Hampshire, Highclere Castle still serves as the home of the current Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.  A visit to this amazing Victorian castle features its exquisite interiors as well as its 1000 acres of beautifully landscaped parkland.  To learn more about the making of Downton Abbey at Highclere Castle click here.

Tours to Highclere Castle often take visitors to the village of Bampton, which is used on the show as the village of Downton, as well as to the university city of Oxford.

How do you get there?

It is possible to take the train or bus to the town of Newbury, and from there you can catch a taxi to the castle (roughly 15 minutes).  However, because of the castle’s popularity and limited opening days, we recommend signing up for an official Downton Abbey sightseeing tour from London.


day trips from London

The Roman Baths, Bath, England

Another historical English gem is the city of Bath, a World Heritage City.  Located in the pretty county of Somerset, Bath has been accommodating tourists for over 2000 years.  When the Romans arrived they were delighted with the natural springs in the area and began to construct temples and sophisticated bathhouses.  While the medieval era was not kind to Bath, in the 16th century its status as a spa resort took off!  The construction of impressive theaters cemented Bath’s reputation as a playground for aristocrats during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.  Today visitors travel to Bath to see its beautiful Georgian architecture, its exceptional Bath Abbey, and of course the ancient Roman Baths.  While it is certainly a long day, when making a day trip to Bath from London, travelers often stop en route to visit Windsor Castle or Stonehenge.

How do you get there?

If you intend to solely visit Bath, you can take the train from London’s Paddington Station (roughly 90 minutes each way).  If you’d like to combine Bath with Windsor Castle, Stonehenge or Avebury it’s best to sign up for a guided day trip from London.

Leavesden – Warner Bros. Studio Tour —The Making of Harry Potter

day trips from London

Learn all about the making of Harry Potter.

Traveling just 20 miles outside London will take you from the land of muggles into the magical world of wizards, Death Eaters, goblins, dementors and dragons.  That’s right.  This is your chance to see the incredible sets used in the Harry Potter film series.  Enter the Great Hall, see Ollivanders wand shop on Diagon Alley, sip a frothy Butterbeer or ride a broomstick!  (Tip: if you’re embarrassed about how terribly exciting this sounds, you can always pretend you’re going for your child.)

How do you get there?

To travel from London to Leavesden take a combination of public transport options, an inexpensive shuttle bus, or a pre-arranged sightseeing tour.

Hampton Court Palace

sightseeing in London

Hampton Court Palace, Richmond upon Thames

As river travel was frequent centuries ago in and around London, you can see why so many English kings, queens and aristocrats chose to construct their fabulous palaces along the banks of the River Thames.  Hampton Court Palace is one such place, and history fans cannot err with a visit to this extravagant, historical palace.  There are two main eras associated with the look of the palace.  The first dates back to the 16th century to the Tudor reign of Henry VIII who along with his many wives and head advisor, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, called Hampton Court home.  That just wasn’t grand enough for William III and Mary II, who commissioned a baroque palace adjacent to the original Tudor structure.

Entry to the palace also includes access to its scenic environs: 60 acres of beautiful gardens, 750 acres of parkland and a 300-year old, seven-foot-tall maze that spans half a mile!

How do you get there?

Located in the Borough of Richmond, the palace is considered part of Greater London and is easily reached by underground.

The Cotswolds

day trips from London

Hidcote Manor Garden lies near Chipping Campden.

If you’re hoping to capture that postcard image of charming English villages, the Cotswolds are for you.  Why is this area famous?  Because it’s particularly pretty – and rather timeless.  While larger cities like Bath, Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford are found along the Cotswolds’ edges, the interior is primarily composed of smaller villages and market towns comprising historic manor homes, crafts shops, cozy pubs, beautiful gardens, stone cottages, antique stores and lovely inns.  The scenery is simply refreshing and a world away from London.  Popular places to visit in the Cotswolds include Cirencester, Chipping Campden, Stow-on-the-Wold, Cheltenham, Burford, Bibury and Broadway.  While it does make for a long day, it’s common to combine a visit to the Cotswolds villages with Warwick Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon or Oxford.

How do you get there?

While you can take the train from London to this area of England, once you get there – to fully appreciate the Cotswolds, you need to drive.  If however you prefer to sit back and relax instead of dealing with a rental car, it’s best to sign up for a day tour from London. 


Day trips from London

Canterbury Cathedral, Kent

Our last suggested day trip from London lies 60 miles east in the county of Kent.  While it might not be as popular as some of the other day trips we’ve suggested, it definitely merits a visit.  The city of Canterbury is incredibly historic, and its prize jewel is its cathedral.   As seen in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, the city has been a major pilgrimage site since Thomas Becket’s murder took place inside the cathedral over 800 years ago.  In fact Canterbury’s beautiful Christ Church Cathedral along with the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church (the oldest church in England) form a World Heritage Site.  The city is also home to interesting Roman and Norman ruins.  On a day trip, Canterbury is often combined with Leeds Castle and the spectacular White Cliffs of Dover.

How do you get there?

Canterbury is easy to reach from London by train or bus or on a sightseeing tour.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the many possible day trips from London!  If you’d like to learn more about London hotels, London sightseeing, our vacation packages to England, or our current London & Highclere Castle Groupon Deal – please check out our website or give us a call at (800) 227-3235.  If you’re interested in traveling to London with a group, please get in touch with our Group Department.

Happy travels!