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Favourite Travel Experiences of the Month #32 – February 2014

This month we feature major February themed articles including visiting the host city of the Winter Olympics; Sochi, as well as National Geographic’s list of worldwide February events. There are more 2014 themed ‘to-visit’ lists appearing every day, we take a look at a few of our favourites; 52 destinations to visit and Lonely Planet’s top 10 USA destinations for the current year. This months featured Holiday of the Month is the Serbian capital of Belgrade. We give our view on why it is emerging as an Eastern European favourite with great value for money and a fascinating history.

Kicking things off in our usual fashion, here are our top 10 travel experiences of this year so far:

Sochi, RussiaPhoto courtesy of Gregory Smirnov.

1. The world’s attention this month will be focused on Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Often referred to as the Russian Riveria, gaze through a beginners guide to Sochi courtesy of the Huffington Post, to see why you should visit even if you can’t make it in time for the Olympics.

2. Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in India or the New Zealand Fringe Festival in Wellington. All are happening this month and are just some of the top events worldwide in February as listed by National Geographic, do something unique this February.

3. Easily the most stunning photo gallery we have seen this year is Rough Guide’s ’20 of the worlds most impressive natural phenomena’. Astonishing shots of wildlife across the world it will be sure to have you gasping in amazement, our top snap had to be the Scandinavian Northern Lights.

4. Aeon Film features an incredible time lapse video travelling along the Panama Canal from the Pacific to Atlantic in under 5 minutes of footage. Definitely worth 4 minutes and 34 seconds of your day!

5. The USA is prominent in the world of travel and destinations across The States continue to feature in varying top travel lists. Lonely Planet go one step further with their Top 10 USA destinations for 2014, we are going to try and make it to them all over the next 11 months. courtesy of Sean Pritchard.

6. Continuing the 2014 ‘to-visit’ theme, check out NY Times’ 52 destinations for 2014. If you are likely enough to have the spare time, this will give you a weekly travel fix for the remainder of the year! A few we would like to tick off included; Seychelles, Quang Binh – Vietnam, & the Mekong River – Southeast Asia.

7. The so-called Tornado Alley of the USA’s Midwest is hit by hundreds of Tornadoes annually, its often hard to get a good shot however. BBC Future has put together a gallery of phenomenal photos taken over the last decade by local photographer Mike Hollingshead.

8. Another spectacular photo gallery we viewed this month featured 50 mind-blowing undiscovered destinations. Displaying countless inspiring photos from around the world, our bucket-list just increased ten-fold.

9. When travelling on a budget, gaining value with eating out is always a bonus. The Guardian features an article listing 6 pay-what-you-want restaurants from across the globe! From as far afield as Melbourne, Vienna and New Jersey, hopefully you will find you way to one this year.

10. With the World Cup this year and the Summer Olympic Games in 2016, Brazil is ever becoming a more popular destination with travellers from all corners of the globe. Trivago’s recent top 10 places to visit in Brazil is worth a read if you are planning a trip anytime soon.

Holiday of the Month – Belgrade, Serbia.

Serbia’s capital has not always been the subject of positive news in the past two decades, however the situation has stablised in the 21st century and the bustling city has emerged as an Eastern European favourite with backpackers. There are of course relics of communist rule still scattered throughout the city and on the surface Belgrade can seem gritty and hostile in places. The city centre however is over-flowing with cafes, restaurants and Western retail outlets, nestled between an abundance of historic architecture from Belgrades colourful past. Kalemegdan Citadel has dominated the city for centuries, the impressive fortress dates back to Celtic times, it is now a popular destination with tourists and locals alike relaxing in its park surroundings.

One absolute must-see for Belgrade is the Nikola Tesla Museum close to Tasmajdan Park and the towering Sveti Marko Church. The museum provides a fascinating insight into arguably one of history’s most important scientists, there are even interactive demonstrations of his work.

Despite its size and stature, Belgrade is an extremely affordable destination to visit, especially for Western tourists. Its renowned nightlife draws party goers from across Europe, keen to take advantage of the cheap drinks in Belgrades many bars and clubs, notably along Skadarska and by the banks of the Sava River. Serbian cuisine, like many neighbouring regions, has been shaped by various occupying empires throughout the ages, mainly Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian bringing their own cultural dishes. This gives Serbia an exciting blend of tastes for visitors to sample, often found for incredibly good value, adding to Belgrades all-round affordability.

Cathedral of Saint SavaPhoto courtesy of Brian Pocius.

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