A perfect day in Boston

Bostonians like their freedom. The city’s rebellious reputation dates back to the days of its founding by a group of religious freethinkers fleeing the dictates of the English crown. A century or so later, the same flicker of freewill sparked the War for Independence and fired up a new nation. Nowadays, this nonconformist spirit manifests itself as an unwillingness to follow traffic regulations. Rule number one for the perfect day in Boston: don’t even think about driving a car around here.



Rent a bicycle from Urban Adventours and join the cavalcade of commuters cycling along the Charles River.  Cruise east along the Esplanade, a green masterpiece designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. On warm days, Bostonians migrate to this popular park to sunbathe, picnic and feed waterfowl. Take a break at the Longfellow Bridge to take in a fantastic view of the Boston skyline.

Cross the river at the Museum of Science and pedal back on the Cambridge side. Here, the campus of the Massachusetts Institute for Technology is recognizable by its classical architecture. Between the Walker Memorial and the Hayden Memorial Library, you can catch a glimpse of Alexander Calder’s impressive sculpture La Grande Voile.


Continuing west along the river, you will reach the campus of Harvard University, apparent from the many spires and steeples on the horizon. Lock up your bike so you can browse the bookshops and boutiques of bohemian Harvard Square. While you’re here, take a tour of the historic university campus: try the unofficial `Hahvahd’ Tour for laughs.

12 noon

All that time on your bike has made you hungry. Have lunch at Clover Food Lab (cloverfoodlab.com), a modern fast food joint that serves amazing, fresh, local, often organic vegetarian fare. Go for a chick pea fritter and rosemary French fries, finished off with a hibiscus iced tea, and you won’t be disappointed.



Make your way back into the city centre (if you are too tired to ride, you can take your bike on the subway, known as the ‘T’). You’ll spend the afternoon following the Freedom Trail – a great introduction to revolutionary Boston.

The red-brick path starts at the Boston Common and winds its way past 16 sites that earned this town its status as the birthplace of America. Stroll along the 2.5-mile trail, which follows the course of the conflict: from the Old State House, where Redcoats killed five men during the so-called Boston Massacre; to the Old North Church, where the sexton hung two lanterns to warn that British troops would come by sea. The Freedom Trail ends at Bunker Hill, a monument to the eponymous battle.


Retrace your steps back across the Charlestown Bridge and into the North End, an Old World enclave that has hardly changed in the last century. Italian immigrants and their descendants have held court in this warren of narrow, winding streets since the 1920s. That makes it a perfect choice for dinner. Snag one of a dozen candlelit tables at Pomodoro and feast on fried calamari and seafood fra diavolo (with spicy tomato sauce). For dessert, enjoy a cannoli and a cappuccino at Caffé Vittoria.  é

Late night


Walk or taxi back downtown for after-dinner drinks at the Highball Lounge (highballboston.com), Boston’s coolest, quirkiest retro bar. Pick up one of the red plastic View-Masters to browse the menu of creative cocktails, some of which are garnished with rubber duckies. Munch on tater tot nachos and challenge your companions to a game of Jenga. It’s sure to make you feel like a kid again (but even better, since there’s alcohol).

The towns where travellers lose track of time

It was only supposed to be a couple of days; time enough to check out the temple you’d read about, pick up some bargains in the market, and mosey round the town before you head off to the next stop on your travels.

Yet somehow it’s a week later and not only are you still there, but you can’t see yourself leaving anytime soon. You have a favourite bar where the staff greet you like an old friend, and the receptionist in your guesthouse has a look of weary bemusement at your daily request to stay for just one more night.

You’re not alone: whether it’s a fortnight’s holiday or a year-long adventure, many travellers on a multi-destination trip find themselves spending longer than intended in one place. Here are our picks of some of the top spots in which to lose track of time, plus the reasons why they’re so damn hard to leave.

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia – too serene

Ubud is the perfect place for weary travellers to restore their mental and physical wellbeing. With ornate Hindu temples, colourful offerings and flowering trees on every street, the town has retained a spiritual and tranquil atmosphere despite its popularity. Fantastic spas offering affordable treatments are plentiful, making it a good spot for recovering after partying in some of Bali’s lively beach resorts.

What to see and do

The Pura Taman Saraswati temple, set behind a pond crowded with lotus blossom, makes the perfect backdrop to catch a traditional Balinese dance performance. Take a walk in the Sacred Forest Monkey Sanctuary but be warned, if you’re carrying any food your serenity won’t last long with those cheeky primates around.

Antigua, Guatemala – too much to learn

Heading to Antigua to brush up on your Spanish or take your first steps in learning the language? Then prepare to be amazed, not just by the town’s renowned Spanish schools but also the cultural richness crammed into its colourful and characterful streets. Packed with religious sights, museums and galleries, Antigua’s historical significance has earned it Unesco World Heritage Site status. If that wasn’t enough then Antigua’s colonial beauty and captivating setting will soon have you under its spell.

What to see and do

There are dozens of Spanish schools to choose from, the oldest of which is Proyecto Lingüístico Francisco Marroquín. Pay a visit to the sunshine yellow church of La Merced and the abandoned Convent of Las Capuchinas.

San Sebastian, Spain – too tasty

While many of us have sampled the delights of a pub crawl or two in our time, eating at multiple venues in one evening is a more unusual concept; a trip to San Sebastian, however, will make it seem like the best way to eat on the planet. The region is famous with foodies for its pintxos; delicious, snack-size delights often enjoyed with a regional wine, such as rioja or txakoli.  Pintxos bars are typically small and bustling, with a steady flow of punters having a quick bite before heading to the next venue. Travellers will find the lively atmosphere just as addictive as the food itself.

What to see and do

Lazy days can be spent on the city’s two superb beaches, family-friendly Playa de la Concha and surfer’s favourite Playa de Gros, before evenings in foodie heaven. Borda Berri and Bar Goiz Argi are just two of the many pintxos bars worth checking out.

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile – too much to see

From vast salt pans to giant sand dunes, and spouting geysers to snow-capped mountains, the diverse and spectacular scenery around San Pedro de Atacama will wow even the most seasoned of travellers. The surrounding Atacama Desert is such an inhospitable environment that many travellers won’t have anticipated just how much there is to see and do around San Pedro, but once they find out they’ll be in no rush to leave.

What to see and do

Watching the sunset at the Valley of the Moon as it sets the neighbouring Andes ablaze is the town’s most popular activity,and a stargazing tour is a must-do in a place regarded as having the best night sky for astronomy in the world.

Luang Prabang, Laos – too relaxed

After a spell in some of Southeast Asia’s chaotic towns and cities, lovely Luang Prabang offers welcome relief. Leisurely days are spent wandering around temples, cycling the quiet streets, and relaxing in characterful cafés. Opt for a guesthouse with a balcony overlooking the Mekong, kick back in a hammock, and watch the river as it meanders around the town. You’ll be so relaxed you’ll barely notice as the days turn into weeks.

What to see and do

Check out the town’s star attraction, the picture-perfect monastery complex of Wat Xieng Thong, and be sure to catch the night market, a delightfully calm place to buy some local goods.

Brighton, England – too eclectic

Traditional, family-friendly British seaside resort or fun and edgy party paradise? Brighton has many faces and you’ll end up keen to see them all. This is a town for fish and chips and walks on the beach, for vintage shopping in North Laine, hedonistic nights in lively bars and vibrant exhibitions, shows and festivals, including one of the best Pride events in the world. Whatever your flavour, you’ll find it in Brighton.

What to see and do

The Royal Pavilion should be top of your list – with its unique mix of regency glamour and Far East style, it is the perfect reflection of eclectic Brighton. The independent shops and boutiques of The Lanes (visitbrighton.com/shopping/the-lanes) are also well worth a look.

Queenstown, New Zealand – too much fun

There are few countries on earth which embrace outdoor adventure like New Zealand and nowhere epitomises its thrill-seeking spirit more than Queenstown. Where others see merely picturesque scenery, a Queenstowner sees a natural playground. Rivers are for jet boating down at high speed; hills are for leaping from with a parachute strapped to your back; bridges are merely platforms to bungee jump off. The fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down either. With more bars per capita than anywhere else in the country you’ll soon discover why Queenstown’s nightlife is legendary.

What to see and do

Kawarau Bridge Bungy is the original, whilst Nevis Bungy boasts one of the highest jumps in the world at a whopping 134 metres. Ride the Skyline Gondola to Bob’s Peak and luge your way down, take a spin on a jet boat on the Shotover river or try white water sledding.