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Some of the coolest cities to visit in 2016

If you’re debating this year’s holiday, the hardest part is often deciding which destination will cater to your interests as well as those of everyone you’re travelling with; whether that’s with friends, a partner, or, like increasing numbers of us*, taking a trip with your immediate or wider family. This all-too-common dilemma was highlighted by recent research from American Express. For example, the study** showed that British parents are forgoing new holiday experiences, like long-haul holidays (42 per cent) or city breaks (26 per cent) due to concerns about catering for all ages. However, considering something more adventurous isn’t as difficult as you think. To help you, we’ve partnered with American Express and selected some of the most inspiring cities to visit with parties of all sizes and ages. Happy holidays!

Reykjavík, Iceland

Reykjavík, Iceland

Put your board shorts on under your thermals and visit the Geothermal Beach at Nauthólsvik. The beach is an ideal place for those of all ages to relax, with play areas to keep the kids amused while the brave members of your party take a dip in the sea. It can get down to -2 degrees in winter; warm up afterwards in a huge hot tub that stays a toasty 39 degrees all year round.

For some of the best fish you’ve ever gnawed on try Ostabudin. Ostensibly it’s a cheese shop, but downstairs you’ll find a not-so-secret gourmet bolthole where the fish of the day is justifiably famous. Changing day-to-day dependent on the catch, the friendly owner delivers huge servings accompanied by homemade bread.

For a great place to stay and/or drink, head to KEX Hostel. Housed in an abandoned biscuit factory, the chic hotel, bar and restaurant has family rooms, making it ideal when you’re travelling in numbers.

Yosemite National Park, USA

San Francisco, USA

An American city with a European vibe that wears its heritage on its sleeve as much as it embraces modern advancement, San Francisco is a city that never fails to charm. Along with the must-see attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Zoo and Gardens don’t forget to take advantage of its close proximity to the iconic Yosemite National Park, its roughly a three-hour drive from the city into the heart of the park.

This year marks the centenary of the National Park Service and, while there’s a total of 58 National Parks in the US that you might choose to visit, Yosemite certainly takes some beating. It boasts the sort of scenery that would make the wallpaper on your home computer weep with envy. 

Rolling mountains, picturesque waterfalls and endless pine trees combine for all manner of memorably excursions suitable for those of all ages, with Glacier Point in particular, providing dizzying views that the little camera on your smartphone will struggle to do justice to.

Nearby Tenaya Lodge (tenayalodge.com) is a relaxing place to stay and, after a few days’ hiking, biking or skiing – or all three – in the great outdoors, you can take time out at the Lodge’s new Ascent Spa.

And remember: once you’ve chalked off Yosemite, you’ve still got 57 National Parks to go. Happy trails.

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki is full of vibrant youngsters at the forefront of creating cutting edge art and design, living in and amongst understated art nouveau buildings and 100 year-old cafes. It’s trendy while staying true to its history and culture, and there’s plenty to keep you and a partner, friends or family entertained.

If you’re feeling a smidgen decadent book yourself into the Hotel Kamp. Having hosted royals and heads of state, this grand building is smack-bang in the middle of town so your whole party will feel suitably regal just walking through the doors.  

For a crash course in Finnish culture head to Ateneum Art Museum, which houses pieces from the ‘golden age’ of the late 19th century through to Fifties. Then visit Treffi Pub and Bistro for brunch, lunch or dinner. This recently renovated restaurant can not only put in a claim for the best burgers in the city but also the best vibe, with a bustling bar, busy pool table and regular live music nights.

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul is only just being discovered by British tourists and it’s high time. History clings to a city determinedly storming into the future, with World Heritage-listed sites and traditional wooden homes just walking distance from glass skyscrapers that pierce the skyline. 

For groundbreaking Korean cuisine, go to Jungsik. Having received two Michelin Stars it’s regularly ranked in the top 10 restaurants in Asia - a matter of pride for purveyors of Hansik (traditional cooking). If laidback is more your style Seoul is famous for its food night markets. Head to Gwangjang Market for a brilliant, tasty and authentic example of city life, where you can see local families and groups of friends shopping from the massive array of reasonably priced food stalls.

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Rotterdam, Netherlands

Rotterdam, Netherlands

Rotterdam remains an overlooked gem. With its always-welcoming locals, it’s a warm, friendly and picturesque place to take the family.

Choose the five-star Mainport Hotel for modern luxury. It is located on the banks of the river Maas with sweeping views of the city skyline which often leads to Rotterdam being referred to as Manhattan on the Maas.

Fuel your explorations with a snack from Vermeyden Deli, famous for promoting local producers amongst their more exotic delicacies. Alternatively, for a big meaty meal visit Gauchos Grill on Holland Amerikakade, an Argentinian steak joint with an unrivalled view of Erasmus Bridge, a Rotterdam icon.

Source references:

*Mintel: The Rise of Multigenerational Tourism in Europe, February 2015

**Research by American Express from 4 March to 8 March 2016 of a survey size of 2000 parents with children aged from 0 – 18 years of age

HAVE FAMILY, WILL TRAVEL 

American Express helps smooth the path for family holidays

A family holiday needn’t be a compromise – long haul, multi-destination or city trips can all be manageable and fulfilling options for every age group.  For help with making your choice, check out our mini travel guides to Long Haul Destinations, A to B Family Adventures and Emerging City Breaks, which have been designed to help you to get even more out of your trip, whoever you are travelling with and wherever it is that you’re going.

What’s more, if you’re an American Express Cardmember you have access to:

•Over-the-phone advice to get connected with an approved English speaking doctor or lawyer almost anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, with Global Assist®¹

•Discounts or complimentary wine or treats when dining at any of 400 specially selected restaurants – each one has been specially handpicked by locals²

•The opportunity to redeem Membership Rewards® points on eligible car hire with Europcar, Hertz and Sixt³

For family travel tips and to find out how we could help you on your way, visit americanexpress.co.uk/whyamex

1. Exclusions apply. American Express Services Europe Ltd. Part of our Global Assist Service. Not available with the Costco TrueEarnings Card or Harrods Card.

2. Terms and Conditions apply. More information and full Terms and Conditions can be found at americanexpress.co.uk/taste

3. Only applicable to Cards enrolled in the Membership Rewards program. Terms and Conditions of Membership Rewards apply and can be found at https://catalogue.membershiprewards.co.uk/aboutTerms.mtw. Points are not earned on American Express Travellers Cheques, Foreign Exchange and other Account Charges including Membership Rewards fees and annual Card fees. 

American Express Services Europe Limited has its registered office at Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom. It is registered in England and Wales with Company Number 1833139 and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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