10 Fantasy Spring Break Ideas

Caroline McCloskey
10 Fantasy Spring Break Ideas
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Spring break is just around the corner, and while we’ve all heard of the typical destinations like Cancun and Miami, we can’t seem to stop daydreaming of where we might go if we could travel anywhere our heart desired.
From lagoons in Iceland to elephant rides in Bali, we’ve scoured the globe for truly unique, sense-stimulating destinations, and the ideal itineraries to go with them.
Tell us where you are daydreaming of going in the comments below.
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Reykjavik, Iceland

You can leave your sunscreen at home for this trip! Iceland may not be on a typical spring breakers list, but the small country actually has more to offer than you may think.  For serious adventure seekers, Iceland's other worldly landscape is one of the best reasons to visit as the island itself is really just one big adventure park. Besides the adorable puffins, among its sites are massive waterfalls, ancient icebergs, giant geysers, and if you're lucky you might even see the aura borealis or Northern Lights.  

Suggested Itinerary: 

1. Although it is located outside of Reykjavik, you mustn't leave Iceland without a dip in the Blue Lagoon. The outside temperature probably won't reach over 50 degrees in March, but the geothermal spa located in a lava field in Grindavik has comfortable temperatures to swim in all year round. The mineral-rich waters are rumored to have curative powers and are great for the skin, so go ahead and slather some of the silica mud on your face and body for a nutritious, skin-softening mask. With other spa amenities and an in-lagoon bar, it's no wonder this is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. For more information visit bluelagoon.com.

2. Spend some time in picturesque Reykjavik where the shopping and nightlife is outstanding. Sometimes dubbed the "Nightlife capital of the North" Reykjavik has a thriving live music scene. The large nightclub, NASA, is one of the leading venues for music in town so make sure to check it out.

3.The restaurant Fjorubordid serves traditional Icelandic cuisine like fresh lobster and roasted lamb. Photographs on the walls chronicle celebrity guests such as Better Midler and Martha Stewart. For more information visit fjorubordid.is.

4. Drive, hike, or horseback ride through the Thingvellir National Park. Because of its splendid views and Viking Age sites, it is one of the most frequently visited tourist sites in Iceland. The stunning waterfall, Gullfoss can be found there as well as the spouting geysers, Geysir, and Strokkur that are close by.   

5. You will be floored by the awesome beauty of the Snaefellsjokull National Park. There are many attractions and scenic overlooks, but the 700,000-year-old stratovolcano and glacier there is a must-see. 

Ubud, Bali

It's understandable that anyone would want to spend much of their time relaxing on Bali's pristine beaches or enjoying their resort's many spa amenities, but you should certainly schedule some time to explore more of what Bali's rich culture has to offer. Ubud is a town in central Bali that is regarded as the cultural center of Bali and feels far removed from the tourist hub of Kuta.

Suggested Itinerary:

1. Besides the Ubud Palace, or the Puri Saren Palace, which has must-see popular nightly traditional dance performances, no trip to Bali would be complete without a trip to see at least one of its temples. Pura Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung is Bali's largest and most sacred temple site. It is actually a complex of 23 temples that can easily be explored on a day trip from Ubud.  

2. Go on a trek through the forest atop an elephant at the Elephant Safari Park. Not only a refuge for this protected and threatened species, but a comprehensive all round elephant experience. Help feed and wash the animals, take a day or night safari ride through jungles, beautiful rice paddies, ancient temples, or tranquil Balinese villages. 

3. Enjoy a refreshing drink and one of the best views in town at Paula's Rice Terrace Cafe. It's located at one of the most photographed locations in picturesque Bali. Birds fly below you as you sit high above the rice terraces that gently roll out into the distance. The food is a mix of local Balinese and Western favorites. The long list of ice cold beers and frozen drinks are designed to be a respite from the heat. 

4. If you're looking for some more excitement, the nearby town of Kuta is the place to go. Although it is crawling with tourists and peddlers, it also has plenty of excellent shops, bars, and restaurants. It is one of the best surfing areas in Bali as well. Bali Learn to Surf is the country's first professional surf school and accommodates surfers at ever level. For more information visit balilearntosurf.com.  

5. Many visit Bali for its promise of relaxation and rejuvenation. It is especially well known for its yoga and meditation retreats. A popular spot in Ubud is The Yoga Barn, a full service yoga studio and holistic healing retreat center. With plenty of diverse programs and classes they provide an inspiring environment for practicing yoga, whether it's your first time or you're advanced in your yoga practice. For more information visit theyogabarn.com.

Marrakech, Morocco 

If you're itching to visit a truly unique and sense-stimulating city, then Marrakech it is. Although just an hour's ride on the ferry from Spain, it seems very far from Europe with a deeply traditional, Islamic way of life. The city is also Morocco's capital of chic, attracting the rich and famous from Europe and beyond. Like all Moroccan cities, it's a town of two-halves. Visit the north Medina for a thriving network of souks and hagglers and the south Medina for the Jewish quarter and the glittering remains of the sultan's palaces and gardens.

Suggested Itinerary:

1. Shop for souvenirs at the fantastic central square, Jemaa El Fna, for a nightly carnival of local life. It is the highlight of nightlife in Marrakech packed with storytellers, musicians, dancers, and even snake charmers. The souks here are markets where you can find almost anything you need from shoes, to kaftans, to spices, to tea, among many other items.     

2. When in Japan, visit the hot springs, when in Turkey, you visit the Turkish baths, and when in Morocco, you visit the hammam. Visit a private or hotel spa like Les Bains de Marrakech for a more upscale and costlier version; or visit a public hammam where you'll find locals. A visit to the hammam is a bathing experience that includes a scrub which you can opt to do yourself or have the help of an assistant.  Inside the hammam, it's hot and steamy--all the better to open up your pores.  You get doused with warm-hot water,  followed by a lathering of black Moroccan soap, and a scrubbing-down so intense and exhilarating, you'll leave with new skin.  For more information visit lesbainsdemarrakech.com.  

3. Add a camel ride to your list of things to do while in Marrakech and discover the way of life, as it once was in a city so rich in culture and tales of the past. Being one of the top activities in Marrakech it is actually found on the outskirts in the desert dunes of La Palmeraie.  Once you are accustomed at some level to sitting between two humps, it really begins to feel like the most natural way to view the calm, red, dusty landscapes that border the extremes of the inner city.  

4. Enjoy a magic stroll near, yet so far from the bustling city in the Majorelle Gardens (pictured), one of the most visited sites in Morocco. They were first designed by French painter, Jacques Majorelle who settled in Marrakech in 1919. In 1980, Yves Saint Laurent  and business partner Pierre Berge purchased and restored the gardens. Today, the lush green trees and exotic plants pop against the bright blue Berber museum found at the gardens, which upholds its Moorish charm with a hint of Art Deco.  For more information visit jardinmajorelle.com.  

5. There are two cooking schools that run classes out of hotels, neither of which is cheap, but both offer a complete experience of food culture in Morocco. The Maison Arabe Cooking Workshops begin in the market where you'll learn about Moroccan spices and foods. The lesson continues in the kitchen where you'll learn how to prepare traditional Moroccan dishes like tajines, couscous, pastilles, crepes, and more. For more information visit lamaisonarabe.com.

Photo: Jonathan Prime/Jonathan Prime

Mahé​, Seychelles

Found in the Indian Ocean east of mainland Southeast Africa and north of Madagascar are the 115 postcard-pretty islands of the Seychelles. Their claim to fame is their pristine white beaches peppered with immense boulders and framed by the warm, clear ocean often seen gracing the covers of magazines. And the best part about the Seychelles' beaches is the fact that they are never crowded. The capital and major marketplaces are found on the largest island, Mahé where easy days on empty beaches are scented with cinnamon trees and frangipani. 

Suggested Itinerary:

1. There's really no avoiding Victoria. The Seychelles' tiny capitol acts as the transportation hub for all of Mahé—the airport is nearby and many bus and ferry services can be found there. The many transportation services make it a convenient layover point, but many recent visitors and travel experts alike recommend staying for a day or two to experience the city. The city has an air of hustle and bustle, but not enough to break it of it's ambiance. You can join in on the action at the Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market where vendors have been selling fish and fruit since 1840. For many though, the highlight of a visit to Victoria is time spent at the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens.   

2. While in Victoria, you'll also find a smattering of local mom and pop restaurants serving up everything from fresh seafood to Creole cuisine. One such foodie paradise is Kaz Zanana right in the heart of Victoria. The restaurant offers a tranquil retreat from the downtown scene in a charmingly restored Creole townhouse where latin-inspired flavors reign supreme. They are known for their homemade desserts and for serving the best lunch in town.

3. If you're looking to spend the day on one of Seychelles' most famous beaches, complete with rustling palms and gigantic boulders, make your way to Anse Source d'Argent.  If you feel like you've seen this sandy stretch before, you probably have—Anse Source d'Argent has been used as the backdrop for numerous advertising campaigns like Bacardi Rum and Campari. And once you set your eyes on this picturesque shoreline along the southwest coast of La Digue you'll understand why. 

4. Today, people flock to the Seychelles for the soft white sands, but in the 18th century, the islands were a hub for the spice trade. For a taste of the islands' history, spend some time touring Le Jardin du Roi. Sitting on Mahé's southeast coast, this old spice garden is still steeped in aromas of vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and a variety of other spices.  Experience the scents and scenery as you wander through the gardens, visit the onsite museum, get up close to giant tortoises, go on a guided hike, enjoy a flavorful meal at the restaurant, then pick up some spices to take home with you at their shop.  

5. Just about all of Mahé is covered in luscious forest. See squadrons of tropical birds and fruit bats patrol over thick, Jurassic forest that reaches to the 2,700 foot summit of Morne, Mahé's tallest peak. The best way to explore is to take a half-day hike along one of the many trails within the Morne Seychellois National Park. If you choose only one walk, spend 45 minutes reaching the summit of Morne Blanc, perhaps the finest view in the Indian Ocean.

Cartagena, Columbia 

The city of Cartagena is part of the re-emerging country of Columbia as well as a buzzing center of the southern Caribbean. The tropical city is pulsating like a salsa party, drawing well-heeled Latin Americans and European socialites to its restored Columbian mansions, fancy fusion restaurants, and Old World-style plazas. It's a perfect place for some spring break excitement with dance festivals keeping the city swinging after dark and techno dance clubs keeping revelers up till dawn.  

Suggested Itinerary: 

1. A popular restaurant for locals is La Casa de Socorro, a casual, open-air diner. It proudly serves and represents Cartagena's Caribbean heritage with seared seafood like shrimp and crab claws with coconut rice and red snapper with fried plantains. If you have the chance you must try the fresh-squeezed lemonade and mind-blowing salsas. For more information visit restaurantelacasadesocorro.com.  

2. After dinner, head over to Cafe Havana, a nightclub with the sort of strong cocktails that inspire former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to get down. The decor is very much Hemingway's Cuba and the local liquor Aguardiente loosens up the crowd as well as the skilled salseros living it up on the dance floor to the live Latin jazz bands. For more information visit cafehavanacartagena.com.  

3. There are few reasons to leave the old city, but one of them is to climb the massive Castillo de San Felipe, a huge fort built over the 17th and 18th centuries by the Spanish, strategically placed to defend the city against pirates after New World treasures. Visitors enjoy a panoramic vista of the city and exploring the many hidden tunnels that you can can take in with or without a guide.  

4. The three must-see museums are all within a block of each other and can be seen in under 30 minutes each. The Museo de Arte Moderno showcases the work of artists such as Columbian native Dario Morales. The Gold Museum is housed in a Baroque mansion and exhibits jewelry that eluded the Conquistadors. And if you have a strong constitution, check out the Palacio de la Inquisición, where rusted instruments of torture document the Roman Catholic Church's efforts to root out heresy in the New World.  

5. This stunningly beautiful city also has its quiet side. White sand beaches and crystal-clear water are just a short hop away.  And being blessed with Caribbean sunshine, pretty much every day is a good day to go to the beach in Cartagena. The Laguito area has been a Mecca for spring breakers and visitors on the hunt for a bargain.  The best stretch of beach there is maintained be the Hilton Hotel. Or take a day trip to Islas del Rosario only an hour away, which features even nicer beaches away from the crowds. 

Photo: Zuan Carreno

Hamilton Island, Australia 

Hamilton Island is the leading island resort destination in the Whitsunday Islands, part of Australia's great Barrier Reef. It is the only island in the Great Barrier Reef with its own commercial airport, with short direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Cairns, making it a great place to go for your entire stay or to accompany a visit to one of Australia's bigger cities. Either way, there are lots of things to do on Hamilton Island with gorgeous scenery to match. 

Suggested Itinerary:

1. Take to the skies over the Great Barrier Reef and the amazing Heart Reef (pictured) before experiencing a seaplane water landing on Whitehaven Beach, arguably the most beautiful in Australia. For more information visit hamiltonisland.com.au.  

2. Snorkel or dive the Great Barrier Reef and see what abundantly spectacular marine life the reef is famous for. Take a guided tour around selected moorings around Bait Reef, the closest of the outer reef locations. For more information visit hamiltonisland.com.au.  

3.The Hamilton Island Wildlife Park provides the perfect place for you to get up close and personal with several Aussie icons. It boasts a one of the only places in Australia where you can cuddle a koala (even Oprah Winfrey recently hugged one of the precious marsupials at the Park). Other unique Australian animals to be seen include kangaroos, dingoes, wallabies, and more. For more information visit wildlifehamiltonisland.com.au.  

4. The calm winds and tranquil waters surrounding Hamilton Island are perfect for sailing. Learn the basics at the Whitsundays Sailing School and then you are ready to explore these magnificent islands or enjoy a romantic lunch out on the crystal clear waters. For more information visit sunsail.com

5. The uber popular restaurant Bommie is the mecca of fine dining on Hamilton Island. The elegant restaurant features modern Australian dishes including plenty of seafood and fantastic views of the marina. Make sure to book a reservation in advance at the restaurant as it tends to fill up quickly and turn up before sunset if you want to assure an amazing dusk view seat in the deck bar area.

Bangkok, Thailand 

Offering dazzling temples, night markets,and idyllic beaches is Thailand's capital, Bangkok. No visit would be complete without a glimpse of its famous nightlife with all of the shopping, street food, and rooftop bars, including the tallest in the world, Sky Bar, which appeared in "The Hangover Part II", that anyone could hope for. Bangkok simply never ceases to amaze. 

Suggested Itinerary: 

1. The colorful, floating markets near Bangkok are familiar to many through the ubiquitous photos in tourist guides and travel books. The boats are piled high with tropical fruit and vegetables, coconut juice and local food cooked in floating kitchens found right on the boats. To enjoy the atmosphere without haggling over prices, try relaxing on a guided boat tour of Damnoen Saduak market, the most popular market in Thailand.  

2. If there is one must-see sight in Bangkok, it's the dazzling Grand Palace, undoubtedly the city's most famous landmark. There are many temples and other impressive buildings within the palace complex. Built in 1782 and once home to the Thai King and the Royal court it continues to lure visitors in with it's beautiful architecture and intricate detail.  

3. Boredom will have trouble finding you in the bustling city of Bangkok, particularly because the food is so great. From street food to fine dining, Bangkok has a sensational culinary scene worth exploring. Try Zense, a modern rooftop restaurant and lounge.  With selections ranging from Thai to Italian there is something for everyone. For more information visit zensebangkok.com. 

4. Yes, Bangkok is very busy, fun and lively, but sometimes it's nice to get away from the bustling city and relax. There are amazing beaches outside of the city like the beautiful Phuket, Krabi, Ko Phi Phi, and many more. If you're not willing to travel so far there are several wonderful beaches much closer to the city center. Koh Samet, for example is definitely a beauty to behold, with perfect white sands and crystal clear blue waters along with a ton of beach activities like windsurfing and snorkeling. 

5. When visiting a country famous for its massages it's almost silly not to make a stop at the spa. It's a cultural experience and an indulgence in one! Also known as "the lazy man's yoga," a Thai massage benefits the entire body and has a firm base in traditional Thai holistic philosophy and roots in ancient teachings. The Divana Divine Spa is one of Bangkok's best. Aside from Thai massages the menu is extensive, ranging from caviar and collagen massages to crystal treatments. For more information visit divanaspa.com.

Photo: LOOK Die Bildagentur der Fotogra/Alamy

Mykonos, Greece

Greece's most famous cosmopolitan island, Mykonos, is a whitewashed paradise in the heart of the Cyclades. Beaches on the south shore of the island have the best sand, views, and wind protection, but are exceedingly popular. A few, including the famous Paradise beach are known as party beaches. Others, such as Platis Gialos and Ornos, are quieter and more popular with families. Also make sure to visit the tiny archeaological gem of Delos, just a short boat trip away. Wherever you choose to spend your time, the backdrop of the azure blue Aegean Sea and the prevailing air of nonchalance has the power to disarm even the most discerning of travelers. 

Suggested Itinerary:

1. There are several ways to tour the island. You can go by car, scooter, or bicycle with a tour guide or just use a map. But what better way to explore the awe-inspiring coastal scenery and incredible life of South-East Mykonos than by powerboat. With GoDive Mykonos, you can explore the amazing marine life and beautiful beaches not accessible by car. Mykonos is also one of the few Greek islands where you can actually dive. With GoDive you can swim or dive into the caverns of Tragonisi, in reefs with Ancient Amphoras's or the around sunken ships. For more information visit and godivemykonos.com

2. Explore the charming, narrow streets of Little Venice, one of the most romantic places in all of Mykonos. There you will find Greek trinkets, boutique shops, art galleries, and fabulous food. Situated precariously on the edge of the sea, the town is replete with elegant old houses once belonging to distinguished sailors, that have now been converted into chic bars.  

3. As we all know, Greece has plenty of historical sites, and the city of Mykonos is no exception. The Agricultural Museum of Mykonos holds artifacts dating back to 426 B.C., and you will see stunning sculptures, art, and other items recovered from the "Purification Pit" within the museum.

4. At Psarou beach, head to Nammos taverna for lobster and cocktails. Typical Greek fare and an excellent wine selection accompany a great location and ambiance. By day you can sunbathe and by night, the spot turns into a trendy bar with candles and daybeds on the beach. For more information visit nammos.gr. 

5. Can't do a list about Mykonos without talking about the world-renowned Cavo Paradiso. You must at least once experience the great parties and events that take place from 1 to 8 a.m. You should probably rest before you go, because you will not stop dancing, jumping, and having a great time all night.

Amsterdam, Netherlands 

Amsterdam's name goes between famous and infamous with its broad spectrum of recreational and cultural sights. But there is much more to the essential Amsterdam experience than the activities that make it one of the most tolerant cities in the world. Come here to find everything from specialty shops, to galleries, to authentic cafes, to museums, and much more. Spring break is the perfect time to see the tulips and rent a bicycle to discover the city on its most favorite means of transport.  

Suggested Itinerary: 

1. Taking a tour of the canals from the water should be at the top of your to-do list. There's no better way to truly get a feel for the quaint 17th century houses and charming curved bridges. There are several choices as to how you see the canals whether it's a candlelight dinner cruise, a daytime cruise, or the hop-on, hop-off "canal bus" that you can board at various sights throughout the city, like the Hermitage and the Rijksmuseum.       

2. Speaking of the Rijksmuseum, which holds such masterpieces as Rembrandt's The Night Watch and Vermeer's Kitchen Maid, there is no shortage of incredible museums and galleries to see in Amsterdam. The Van Gogh Museum is dedicated to the works of Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries while the Rembrandt Museum and Anne Frank House are also of note.

3. If you don't wish to leave town, yet would like to see one of the famous Dutch windmills, take a break at the only surviving 18th-century windmill in town named De Gooyer.  At the base of this particular windmill is the famous bar and cafe, Brouwerij 't IJ. Here, wares from award winning local brewery 't IJ can be sampled. The place can get crowded with locals and in-the-know tourists.   

4. Another icon of Amsterdam is the tulip, and the most popular place to buy them and other flowers is the Bloemenmarkt. It is the world's only floating flower market, with 15 florists and garden shops permanently ensconced on the barges along the southern side of the Singel canal, once the medieval city moat.  

5. Take a stroll in De Wallen, Amsterdam's red light district, if just to see what all the fuss is about, and perhaps learn that there's more to this fabled district than the typical tourism it attracts. Nestled in Amsterdam's Oude Zijde (Old Side), its lattice of narrow streets also contains museums, restaurants, and boutiques as well as the medieval Oude Kerk (Old Church), Amsterdam's oldest Parish church.

Photo: unknown

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 

Rio de Janeiro, or simply Rio, has long been associated with its magnificent beaches, yet there's much more to experience in this metropolitan city. Thousands will be headed there this summer for the World Cup games and again for the summer olympics. Needless to say, Brazil is a very popular destination at the moment, so the place is being spruced up and the beaches swept clean. Even if you can't make it until after their famous Carnival, Rio has a myriad of nightlife possibilities and impressive sights to see year round.      

1. Made famous by the well-known bossa nova song, "The Girl From Ipanema," this beach is a must-visit while in Rio. Settle into a rented beach chair, buy a bag of the crunchy snacks called Biscoitos Globo, and catch a bit of the amazing hybrid of soccer and volleyball known as futevolei. While sunbathing you'll witness the famous view of the Brazilian beach with Sugar Loaf Mountain in the distance.  

2. Take a bus from Ipanema to the 19th century train station of Cosme Velho. Then take the cog railway to the top of Corcovado Mountain where the iconic landmark Christ the Redeemer stands. The 125-foot tall statue of Jesus Christ is widely recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the World as well as the world's tallest art-deco sculpture since it debuted in 1931. The sweeping panoramic views, too, make this a must-see attraction in Rio. 

3. Santa Teresa is a bohemian hilltop neighborhood that is considered Rio's artsy anti-beach. You'll observe sidewalk mosaics, palatial mansions, and artsy galleries. Take the tram called a bond and stroll the twisting streets filled with great little restaurants and unusual shops filled with unique treasures rather than the typical tourist souvenirs you can find everywhere.  

4. Get a taste of the Amazon at the restaurant Espirito Santa right in Santa Teresa. Even Rio natives find Amazonian cuisine to be a mystery and this romantic restaurant has exposed locals and visitors alike to new flavors. The Amazonian chef prepares inventive dishes like piranha soup and steamed tambaqui among other Amazonian fish. Here, or at least while in Brazil, be sure to try a caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail. For more information visit espirito.com.br.        

5. If you're looking for traditional Brazilian rhythms go to the nightclub-filled district of Lapa just a downhill walk from Santa Teresa. For a spot more on the mellow side try Scarilégio where an easy going crowd dances to live Samba music. For more information visit sacrilege.com.br.    

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