How do you plan an around-the-world trip? Check out the destinations that made up one of the most unique itineraries ever booked with Kiwi.com in its 10-year history, with bonus tips
In January 2020, a group of keen adventurers set out on the vacation of a lifetime. In just over seven weeks, five people from Australia took themselves right around the planet to seven major destinations. The trip is one of Kiwi.com’s very most unique bookings made over the last decade, and as a tribute on our 10th anniversary, we’re going to take a look at all the exciting places these avid globetrotters stopped by. Sit back and strap yourself in, as we recreate this special around-the-world experience.
January 15 — January 21: Tokyo
The group set off from Sydney on January 14, bound for Tokyo via Manila. It took them over 19 hours to make this journey all the way to the northern hemisphere, but they would have been greatly rewarded by the sheer wonderment of the Japanese capital.
A lot of people have Japan on their bucket lists, and most who make it there arrive in Tokyo. The largest city in the world by area, venture up the Skytree (which happens to be one of the tallest towers ever built), look in any direction from the observation deck, and you’ll see for yourself that the place doesn’t seem to end. Tokyo really is a world of its own, which makes it a fantastic place in which to get excitedly lost.
Anything you could ever dream of doing on vacation you should be able to do in Tokyo, but what it’s particularly renowned for is its stellar entertainment. There are the karaoke complexes, the adrenaline-charged arcades, the traditional bathhouses, and the cafés with their own offbeat gimmicks. There are clubs open every night of the week to suit any type of partygoer. There are thousands upon thousands of bars — garish and energetic or modestly tucked away down side streets. And there’s the area of Akihabara, capital of comics, if you’re into manga.
Tokyo is an absolute ride, so much so that six days is nowhere near enough time to get around everything, but even just a taste is certain to leave you with some incredible memories.
January 21 — January 29: London
17 hours of flying with a stopover in Moscow got the group to their next stop, London. The travelers were five of over 600,000 people who booked to London with Kiwi.com over the last 10 years, making the British capital our most popular destination of all time.
And they’re not alone. London welcomes over 20 million tourists every year, more than twice the city’s population. It seems that people can’t get enough of its signature double-decker buses, opportunities for afternoon tea, temperamental weather, and not to mention its myriad attractions: Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Kew Gardens, and umpteen more.
A relatively new and incredibly popular activity on offer is the Harry Potter tour at the Warner Bros. Studio — consistently rated the city’s best attraction since it opened in 2012. It’s on the outskirts of the city near Watford, but the journey is well worth it to stand on the very sets of the films’ most iconic scenes, even if you’re not a particularly vociferous Potter fanatic.
Like Tokyo, London is certainly a place where pretty much any pursuit is possible — a city very much catered to visitors. If you want something a little less conventional, how do you feel about going down the world’s longest tunnel slide? Done. Snooping around God’s Own Junkyard? Done. Embarking upon a secret dining “expedition”? Dusted.
January 29 — February 5: Oslo and Stockholm
Just a two-hour flight some 1,000 kilometers across the North Sea, Oslo was the group’s third destination. Diverse and innovative, it’s an underrated European capital, boasting many museums, plenty of street sculptures, and several trendy bars and eateries.
Oslo’s main landmark is Akershus Fortress — originally built in the 1200s for the royal family, now the site of, among other things, the headquarters of the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, as well as the Prime Minister’s office. If you’re still not convinced by the utter prestige of this historical complex, there’s even a Royal Mausoleum — the regal resting place of several Norwegian kings and queens.
You might be wondering, though — were these five people mad, vacationing in Norway in winter, especially being used to the climate in sunny Sydney? As it turns out, as long as you catch the daylight, there’s a lot that Oslo has to offer even in its coldest months.
The forested area surrounding Oslo, known as Oslomarka, can be reached from the city center in only half an hour on public transport. Oslomakra is your idyllic, stereotypically Scandinavian postcard spot, where you can go on a refreshing winter walk or get your blood pumping with some cross-country skiing. Back in the city, ice skate on the open-air rink by Karl Johans gate, before relaxing at the end of the day at the KOK floating sauna adjacent to the Opera House.
After a couple of days in Norway, the group pushed on overland to Sweden — Stockholm, to be exact. Geographically, the city center is comprised of 14 islands within the broader Stockholm Archipelago; and life here largely consists of coffee shops, fashionable people, and really, really good pop music.
Sweden is the biggest exporter of pop music per capita in the world, a breeding ground for songwriters that have worked with some of the biggest artists on the planet, and Stockholm has long been where most of the magic happens. Make sure to take yourself to ABBA The Museum, the interactive exhibition honoring the internationally chart-topping, phenomenal foursome. The club scene in Stockholm is suitably buzzing, with countless places to dance at varying degrees of exclusivity and expense, but for something classic and yet incredibly cool, try Södra Teatern. It’s one of the oldest and grandest venues in the city, with a theater and several floors of immersive party atmosphere. Don’t be daunted by its magnificent exterior — get yourself inside for an amazing night.
Take it easy the morning after with a stroll through Gamla stan, the Old Town, which is one of the best-preserved medievals settlements in Europe. Wander along cobbled streets, down narrow passageways with uniquely-shaped colorful houses looming over you, and you might even stumble across the Royal Palace — the official residence of King Carl XVI Gustaf. Fair enough — Gamla stan is a place on the lists of most tourists coming to Stockholm, but how can you blame them, when it’s so cute?
February 5 — February 10: New York
The group made it to several major world cities; after an eleven-hour trip westward from Stockholm, they arrived in New York. Home to eight million people, the Big Apple is the US’s most populous city and is one of the most culturally diverse in the world, with over 800(!) languages being spoken by its residents, of which around 37% are first- or second-generation immigrants.
Manhattan is the central of New York’s five boroughs, home to all the major sights: the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the Chrysler Building, Times Square, Rockefeller Center and Central Park. The place is whirring constantly with activity, a vast grid of some 200 perpendicular streets of bright lights, immense skyscrapers, galleries and museums, famous department stores, lively restaurants and bars, and people going about their daily lives.
The other boroughs of the city also have their own appeals and stories to tell, so don’t hesitate to branch out a bit further. Hunt for treasure at Brookyln Flea — a second-hand market that’s on every weekend, with vendors selling antiques, clothes, accessories and more. See over 6,000 different species at Bronx Zoo — the country’s largest metropolitan zoo with a longstanding ethos centered around wildlife conservation across the world. And dine at Enoteca Maria in Staten Island, whose “Nonnas of the World” initiative has a different “grandma” whip up a dish of the cuisine of their own heritage every day.
As is the case with Tokyo and London, New York is simply so huge that it’d take you months, if not years to see everything worth seeing. So whether it’s your first time to The City that Never Sleeps, or you’re a serial visitor, you’re pretty much guaranteed never to get bored.
February 10 — February 24: Los Angeles
Six hours and 40 minutes away from John F. Kennedy International Airport, our globetrotters finally landed somewhere where the weather was more temperate, with a February-average temperature of 15°C. Los Angeles, another mammoth city in the US, is known primarily as the beating heart of the American entertainment industry, and with this, the home of the rich and famous. If this is something that particularly piques your interest, you ought to check out our article on the best places to go celeb-spotting in the city.
First and foremost, Los Angeles is great for claustrophobics and people who generally like to keep a physical distance from others. Size is everything in California, and space is something that the City of Angels has a lot of, with its wide boulevards, long roads and sprawling hills that seem to go on forever. It’s a bit of a hiker’s paradise, and there are a number of long trails through Griffith Park that’ll take to you the iconic Hollywood sign. Just be sure to bring plenty of water with you, and wear proper boots.
Back down in the center of the neighborhood on Hollywood Boulevard, you’ll find all the famous spots: the Walk of Fame, the Dolby Theatre and the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, to name a few. Elsewhere in the city, there are some great museums, such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art — the location of a stunning piece called Urban Light by the late artist, Chris Burden. It’s an assemblage consisting of 202 restored streetlamps that lit up parts of Southern California as long ago as the 1920s. The Instagrammability of Los Angeles is pretty obvious, but this masterpiece has to be up there with the very best photo opportunities the metropolis has to offer.
February 24 — February 27: Honolulu
After another six-hour flight, the travelers reached the final city in their itinerary for a well-earnt Pacific Island break. The Hawaiian capital of Honolulu is home to the famous Waikiki Beach — with a zoo, an aquarium, countless shopping opportunities on Kalakaua Avenue, and of course, its three kilometers of sandy shore. Surf, snorkel and paddleboard to your heart’s content, or simply wind down under the beaming sun. Even in February, temperatures in Honolulu can reach a very balmy 29°C.
When in Honolulu, one should absolutely take the chance to see the geological wonder that is Diamond Head. An extinct volcano right on the southern tip of O’ahu, Diamond Head was named as such by British voyagers in 1825 after they noticed volcanic crystals in its sand and mistook them for diamonds. Its crater is about two square kilometers in area, some of which was the designated site of the very first US military reservation in Hawaii. Nowadays, you can climb up into the crater yourself or on a guided tour, providing you have at least half a day to spare.
And lastly, what better way to round off your own world tour than with a relaxed meal by the sea? Nico’s Pier 38 is a vibrant, affordable spot next to the Harbor, with its own fish market and an extensive menu of freshy-caught seafood, as well as meat and vegetarian options. Eat your fill, as you’ll need your strength for your 10-hour trip back to Sydney tomorrow…!
And so, on February 28, 2020, our well-traveled group of five arrived back home in Australia, enlightened by some of the best the world has to offer. Here’s to the next 10 years of globetrotting, new experiences, and hacking the system. Who knows — maybe we’ll be reliving your adventure in 2032!
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