If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know that I love a good listicle; and that I’ve been fortunate enough to have travelled to a number of places in the world during my short 26 years of living. Combine the two, and voila! This post is born.
I’m soon to turn 27 and I’ve decided to create a list of some of my favourite places in the world, with the intention of coming back to this list to see how it might have changed in a few years or more. The list of places I wish to visit only seems to be getting longer, so consider this a snapshot of my life up to now.
One of the first places I ever travelled to as a kid still ranks high on this list, and I can’t wait to see if my future travel plans change the way this collection of places looks.
I love Barcelona, so much. I first went on a day trip when I was perhaps 10 or 11 and it blew me away even then. We were staying in a small coastal town in Spain for the week, and decided to get the train to Barcelona to explore for the day. I don’t remember all that much, I just remember loving it. Fast forward ten years and I was there again with my best friend. Barcelona acted as the sandwich bread either side of our Benicassim Festival filling. It was glorious. I’ve since returned twice and get the same feeling every time. Yes there are thousands of tourists, and yes it’s now heavily overpriced. But outside of the tourist trap of Las Ramblas, it’s a city with so much to offer. And yes, I may have cried when I went into La Sagrada Familia, what of it?
Visit here if: you love food, architecture, beaches and too many tourists.
A new one to the list from this year, Rome had been high on my hit-list for a long time. Fortunately, it didn’t disappoint, and I left with that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you’ve found a place you truly love.
We studied the Romans in primary school, and being the history geek I (still) am, I wanted to visit Rome to see the Colosseum. It only took 20 years for this dream to become a reality, and I may have cried (again) when we turned the corner of a street in Rome, only to be met head-on by the Colosseum. I was caught off-guard and I became captivated. I was transported back to that little seven-year-old girl who sat cross-legged on the carpet at school, staring at pictures of Roman architecture. Of course, Rome is also pretty great when it comes to the food and drink side of things. Those Italians know what they’re doing, huh?
Other highlights included St Peter’s Basilica, getting lost in the side streets, and the food. My god, the food.
Visit here if: you love pizza, architecture, history, ice cream and selfie sticks.
I genuinely think that Medellin is one of the coolest places on earth. The city of eternal spring took me entirely by surprise in all of the best ways possible. We were three-weeks deep into our Colombian adventure and I was becoming extremely tired of Colombian beige budget food. I’d eaten enough arepas to feed a small family and it was becoming so bad that I was starting to crave traditional English food. And I never crave English food, it’s shit.
Medellin answered all of my prayers. With a diverse community, we were pleased to find a huge array of culinary delights. From Mexican to Japanese and Peruvian, Medellin had CHOICE. I don’t intend to sound snobbish – I’m far from it. But living in England, we are quite literally spoiled for choice. Three weeks in Colombia and on a budget, I’d decided to never take food variety for granted ever again.
Food aside, there is so much to do in Medellin. Parque Arvi for some greenery, Comuna 13 tour for history, and the neighbourhood of El Poblado for tomfoolery (and an epic night out). Full of locals, backpackers and freelancers, the people here are incredibly cool, too.
Visit here if: you love culture, community and walking up hills (there are tonnes)
I’ve drivelled on about my love for Miami in a previous post not so long ago, so I’ll keep this brief. I love Miami more than most places on earth. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.
On a serious note, it’s where Joelle and I spent one of our first proper holidays together, where we got engaged, and where we started our 6 month backpacking journey. It is cultural, creative and culinary. Miami in my opinion, has it all.
Visit here if: you enjoy beaches, boardwalks, and paying too much for a beer.
This one’s a little sentimental and also a little hazy. I was 16 when my mum and I visited Paris. It was a very generous and appreciated trip to celebrate the end of my GCSE’s. We stayed for three-nights in Montmartre, (accidentally) just around the corner from a sex shop, and packed everything we possibly could into those four days.
We rode the Metro, ate in small backstreet cafes and restaurants and wandered the streets of Montmartre. I could attribute my love for travel to this very trip. The freeing nature of travel became instilled in me, and I came back to the UK feeling enriched, informed and more adult. Granted, adult I was not; but it was this trip that made me realise how important it was to travel and experience other cultures. Even if my mum did shout at me for refusing to use my GCSE French skills.
Visit here if: you love history, wine and overeating.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
I’m still undecided as to whether the title of “Coolest City in the World According to Poppy” belongs to BA or Medellin. Either way, Buenos Aires is cool. So cool.
Again, I’ve rambled incessantly about this one already, so I’ll keep it brief. Argentina is amazing. The people, the food and its history make it a really interesting place to visit. The culmination of Argentinian embodiment lives in Buenos Aires. We booked for three nights, stayed for six. It’s the sort of place that’ll grab you to the extent that you won’t want to leave. Its slow pace and laidback way of living is very appealing, too.
Visit here if: you love red wine, walking tours and getting stuck behind slow moving locals.
London, United Kingdom
I am so fortunate to live on the same little piece of island as this city. I am not so fortunate to live on the same little piece of island as this city when you see how much it costs for a two-hour train journey from Manchester compared to a two-hour flight from Barcelona. Are you shitting me? Welcome to Britain. I digress…
London. Home of HRH Queenie, red busses and B*ris bikes. Also home to some of the best food in the world, incredible architecture, and a packed cultural calendar. I’ve been to London countless times, and with each visit I feel like I uncover a new area I’ve not yet visited. Favourite neighbourhoods include Vauxhall, Peckham, and Clapham, though you can’t beat a good old fashioned visit to Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Number 10.
Visit here if: you’re a culture vulture, love international food and want to try your hand at one of the most confusing underground systems in the world.
Top Tip: download the Tube Map app. You can put in your start and end point and it does all the hard work for you by working out which route to take.
Often cited as the gateway to Machu Picchu, I was shocked to learn how much more Cusco had to offer when we arrived. Granted, the first two days were spent sleeping and eating as we were hit hard by the altitude, but that aside, Cusco is b.e.a.utiful (if you don’t get this reference, there is no hope left for you).
We found tiny little restaurants with tasty three-course meals for less than a fiver, the best market I think I’ve ever been to, and cobbled streets galore. Peruvians are so kind-natured and hospitable, and to see how important local culture is to them is enough to make your heart burst. Take the city walking tour, drink too many Pisco sours, and head to a local club until the sun rises. Cusco – if done right, will not disappoint.
Visit here if: you love culture, cobbled streets, weird cuisine and feeling lightheaded every time you walk too fast.
Welcome to paradise. Serenity and tranquility is what will welcome you in Salento. Nestled within Colombia’s coffee-growing region, this small town is also home to the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in.
Hike the Cocora Valley, visit coffee plantations, and spend an evening in one of the local bars on the main square drinking cheap beer and weirdly expensive spirits.
Coffee Tree Boutique, the aforementioned ‘best hostel’ is where Joelle and I stayed. It boasts a wrap-around balcony which is the perfect place to sit and listen to the nature that surrounds you. I think we spent an entire day just sitting, reading, chatting and drinking copious cups of the hostel’s free coffee. Even thinking of this place makes me feel relaxed.
Visit here if: you need to unwind, love coffee and want to risk your life in the back of a 4×4 with 12 other people.
Another one for relaxation, Itacaré is a small-but-perfectly-formed town on Brazil’s coastline. There isn’t much to do here, but that’s the beauty of it. They say the further north you go in Brazil, the more you’ll see the chilled-out Caribbean influences and way of life. That’s definitely true for Itacaré.
I think we spent about 5 days here but they’re a bit of a blur because I kept falling asleep. It was so goddamn relaxing. On the beach, in a hammock, on top of the bed, on the floor, in the pool. Genuinely, I could not stop sleeping.
Aside from its hypnotic ways, Itacaré was home to some of the nicest people we met in Brazil, some incredible places to eat, and a beautifully quaint and colourful high street.
Visit here if: you enjoy surfing, relaxing, eating and falling asleep in random public places.
A town on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, Split has been a firm favourite for some time. Joelle and I visited in 2015, and unfortunately I’m told it has lost its charm due to the huge number of cruise ships and tour groups which now visit. Either way, Split drew me in when we visited.
From Diocletian’s Palace and Hajduk Split’s strange spaceship looking football stadium, there’s loads to do. It’s also the perfect point from which to go island hopping and to visit some of Croatia’s national parks.
Visit here if: you love history, (pebbled) beaches and fearing for your life on mountainous roads.
Cabo Polonio, Uruguay
I was conflicted about whether or not to include this one on the list. I didn’t feel as though I loved it when I was there, but it’s one of the stand-out travel moments for me thus far. So it made the cut.
Cabo Polonio is the weirdest place I’ve ever been to, period. It’s located somewhere on the Uruguayan coast, takes a 30 minute 4×4 journey to reach and is redundant of electricity. It’s also home to the largest colony of sea lions I’ve ever seen, so the entire town smells entirely of fish.
There’s one shop, a few places to eat and a lighthouse. Weed is legal in Uruguay so everything naturally flows at a slower pace there, but it seems as though the world has stopped entirely in Cabo Polonio. We stayed in our hostels new attic room. After climbing a questionably safe ladder, our room was only large enough for a double mattress and two bags. It was half-sized, so standing up straight was impossible. Entirely made of wood, there was an external door which led to a balcony of sorts, and overlooked the town’s only shop.
We cooked by candlelight, and all of the other residents in the hostel seemed to have been there for months. It was a whacky experience, and one I’ll never forget.
Visit here if: you want to cut off from the world (no phone signal or WiFi), like nature and the constant smell of fish.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
It would only be right to finish with one of the coolest places to exist on Planet Earth. Salar de Uyuni, or the Salt Flats as they’re more commonly known, are out of this world. As in, they actually look like they belong on another planet.
The three days we spent here were some of the best days of my life, without exaggeration.
I’ve mentioned it briefly in another post, but aside from the salt flats themselves, the things we experienced on our three-day tour were epic. Red lakes, green lakes, and being sat in a 40 degree hot spring with volcanic mud on our faces, glass of wine in hand, and our amateur star-gazing guide teaching us about the stars and planets we could see above us. If you’re ever even slightly near to Bolivia, do not miss this opportunity.
Visit here if: you’re a keen photographer, appreciate the beauty of the world, and want to feel like your fingers and toes may fall off from frostbite for three days consecutively.
I realise I write this at a particularly distressing time for Bolivia. I wish its beautiful people and breathtaking landscape all the love in the world.
So, that’s it. The world is an amazing place. In times of troubles and hardships, it’s easy to forget all of the wonderful places, people and lives which quite literally make this planet keep turning. We are so fortunate to live this life, so make sure you live it.