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4 International Itineraries for a Vacation Fit for a Royal

Town&Country shows you how to vacation like royalty in four luxurious destinations.
IMAGE GRAND HÔTEL
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Royals watchers know that the announcement of an impending royal tour brings with it a frisson that borders on obsession: Show us someone who doesn’t care about what is worn to that big state dinner, and we’ll show you someone who doesn’t have their priorities straight. Most also agree that following sovereigns through scenic destinations around the world ignites a certain kind of wanderlust.

But lust no more. Inspired by notable royal tours of the past, Town & Country and Capital One have teamed up to bring you four incredible destinations where you can recreate your own majestic vacation. From luxurious hotels to gorgeous natural wonders, these four places help you live your best, most majestic life.

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You could spend weeks in South Africa, but if you only have ten days, here are three places to experience everything the country has to offer.

Part I: Cape Town

With its dramatic coastline and otherworldly natural rock formations, the Mother City suffers from an embarrassment of riches. Views of Table Mountain don’t get much better than from a suite at One&Only Cape Town, where you can retreat to a private poolside cabana after a challenging hike up the plateaued peak.

Of course, more leisurely pursuits are also on the, ahem, table: peruse the one-of-a-kind flora (there are more than 7,000 plant species) on display at Kirstenbosch Natural Botanical Garden, follow in the footsteps of European explorers around the Cape of Good Hope, or bask in the glory of the Twelve Apostles mountain range at Camps Bay Beach.

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Photo by ONE&ONLY CAPE TOWN.

Once you’ve exhausted your adventurous streak, check out the clothing, jewelry, and decor by local South African designers on offer at The Watershed, within walking distance of One&Only, and save time to sample the international street food that makes Neighbourgoods Market one of the most dynamic repurposed spaces in the city. Round out your cultural immersion viewing works by African artists at the stylish Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art.

Part II: Cape Winelands

It’s been a few years since word spread about South Africa’s 300-plus vineyards. See what all the fuss is about on a low-key tour of the Cape Winelands, located just an hour east of Cape Town by private car. (La Motte is a good place to start.) The most extravagant place to stay is La Residence, a 16-suite stunner in Franschhoek that feels like a little piece of Versailles thanks to checkerboard marble floors, crystal chandeliers, and silk- and velvet-upholstered furnishings with gilded accents. The food is just as decadent, made with ingredients grown in the 30-acre estate’s gardens.

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Photo by GETTY IMAGES.

Part III: Sabi Sand Game Reserve

A two-hour flight takes you north to Johannesburg, where you can spend the day exploring the trendy shops, restaurants, and galleries in the up-and-coming Maboneng district. Don’t miss Arts on Main, a retail complex in a converted warehouse building.

For anyone who wants to understand South Africa's past, a visit to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg is a must. The Museum opened in 2001 and documents the country’s nearly fifty years of institutionalized racial segregation.

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Photo by GETTY IMAGES.

From there, it’s an easy 50-minute charter to Singita Sabi Sand, located in a 45,000-acre privately owned reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park. The brand is known for pairing world-class safari experiences with unparalleled service and accommodations, and its Sabi Sand properties more than live up to the hype.

The 12 suites at Ebony Lodge and Boulders Lodge have all the creature comforts you could hope for, from personal plunge pools and linen-topped canopy beds to fireplaces and outdoor showers. It’s easy to spot elephants, leopards, and rhinoceroses from the open-air main lodge, but daily game drives, guided walks, and one-on-one photography editing sessions ensure you won’t have to fight hard for bragging rights back home.

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Reigning Recommendation: Use a card like the Capital One® Venture® card and earn unlimited 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. Even better, "erase" a wide variety of travel costs, including flights, hotels, rental cars and much more.

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It’s no wonder Australia holds a special place in Royal Tour history given the country’s low-key mix of coastal cosmopolitanism and natural beauty. Here’s how to emulate sovereign whirlwind visits without the whiplash.

Part I: Sydney

For the perfect entrée into Australia’s cool yet laid-back lifestyle, grab your swimsuit and beeline to Bondi Beach, where you’ll find surfers and Instagrammers in equal measure. No visit would be complete without a dip in the famous blue-green waters at the Icebergs Club pool. End the day with a sunset cocktail in the neighboring restaurant and bar.

Of course, there’s more to Sydney than sun and sand—a sentiment made all the more apparent in Surry Hills, an eclectic neighborhood that has become a foodie mecca thanks to its multicultural past and bohemian renaissance. Stop for lunch, then make your way through the Chippendale neighborhood’s art galleries before heading back to Circular Quay to catch the ferries to Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

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Photo by PARK HYATT SYDNEY.

Missed the boat? Be sure to book a room at Park Hyatt Sydney for the best views in the city. The now-iconic hotel has a buzzy bar and prime real estate just across the harbor from the Opera House, but its personal butlers, zenlike spa (complete with aromatherapy steam rooms), and rooftop pool make it a tranquil place to regain your composure.

Part II: Melbourne

Hop on a quick 90-minute flight to dive even deeper into Australia’s cultural scene in Melbourne, where eclectic art galleries and vibrant artisan markets give you a taste of the country’s melting pot past. Graze through the colorful food stalls at Queen Victoria Market, then make your way to the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia in Federation Square to browse an all-encompassing public collection that spans colonial to contemporary art. If a more immersive experience is what you crave, consider an artist-led street art tour of the city’s graffitied laneways with Blender Studios.

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Photo by THE LANGHAM MELBOURNE.

There’s no better way to appreciate Melbourne’s cutting-edge streak than from the classically elegant rooms in The Langham Melbourne, a Southbank grande dame that does Chinese massages (thanks to its Chuan Spa) and high tea better than anyone. Book a table in advance at Attica, one of the continent’s best restaurants, for a memorable meal made with traditional and unusual Australian ingredients.

Part III: Tasmania

It would be a shame to be so close to the edge of the world and not visit Tasmania, which is just a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport. Make Saffire Freycinet your base to explore the island’s rugged landscape, from Hazards Mountain hikes to bird watching in the Great Swanport Estuary. The resort can also curate oyster-harvesting experiences at a local farm and tours of a nearby apiary with the on-staff horticulturist and beekeeping expert.

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Photo by SAFFIRE FREYCINET.

Though official royal tours are often anything but relaxing, this laid-back jaunt between Nevis and St. Lucia puts pampering at a premium.

Part I: Nevis

With its azure waters, golden beaches, and verdant hillsides, Nevis epitomizes Carribean paradise—a fact obvious to anyone who approaches the island by air from St. Maarten. You’ll feel right at home upon arrival at Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, an ultra-luxe oceanfront getaway nestled within an 18th-century sugar plantation. The pastel-hued cottages are outfitted with classic wicker furnishings and balconies overlooking the ocean, but we doubt you’ll spend too much time there given the resort’s wealth of outdoor activities.

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Check out green vervet monkeys swinging in the property’s mango trees before setting sail for a lunchtime catamaran ride, or get your adrenaline pumping while hiking Nevis Peak with an expert guide. If that sounds like too much exertion, simply claim your spot on a picturesque swath of sand before dinner in the 1778 Great House.

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Photo by GETTY IMAGES.

Part II: St. Lucia

Charter a private plane (small carriers like Leeward Islands Air Transport offer daily transfers) to whisk you from the beaches of Nevis to the dramatic Pitons of St. Lucia. Jade Mountain has become a Caribbean institution as much for its cliff-side open-air suites and infinity pools overlooking the sea as its personal concierges, who can book anything, from rum tastings and truffle-making classes to hot-stone massages and sunset cruises. Be sure to take advantage of the complimentary yoga classes—they’ll keep you limber for daily walks around the 600-acre estate.

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Photo by JADE MOUNTAIN.

There’s more to Scandinavia than snow-dusted forests, moody cobblestone streets, and storybook architecture. From cutting edge art to historic hotels and an unexpectedly fertile food scene, the Nordic capitals of Stockholm and Oslo know how to roll out the red carpet.

Part I: Stockholm

Where better to kick off your royal tour of the Swedish capital than in its historic Old Town, better known as Gamla Stan, a beautifully preserved medieval district filled with labyrinthine alleys and rainbow-hued townhouses, some of which date back to the 1300s. Set out from Stortorget, the main square, to visit the Royal Palace, the Nobel Prize Museum (in the former Stock Exchange Building) and, if the timing is right, the city’s famed Christmas market.

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Photo by GETTY IMAGES.

From there it’s just a short bike ride to the island of Södermalm, a hip neighborhood with cute cafés, thrifty vintage stores, and some of Stockholm’s best bars and dining destinations. It’s also home to Fotografiska, an avant-garde photography center that hosts rotating exhibitions by well-known and up-and-coming artists and has a sustainable restaurant overlooking the harbor and the leafy island of Djurgarden.

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Photo by GRAND HÔTEL.

If luxury shopping is more your speed, head instead to Östermalm, where Svenskt Tenn offers a covetable selection of vintage Scandinavian furnishings, jewelry-like lighting, and home décor pieces, and colorful textiles by Josef Frank. Drop your bags nearby at the five-star Grand Hôtel, an 1874 grande dame with gilded wood paneling, Bottega Veneta bath products, and unparalleled service will make you feel like royalty.

Part II: Oslo

As Scandinavian cultural hubs go, the Norwegian capital is often overlooked, for its flashier siblings Copenhagen and Stockholm. But there’s plenty to love about this unassuming port city, not least its architecture, and it’s only an hour plane ride from Stockholm.

You can walk on the marble roof of the Oslo Opera House, a sloping waterfront structure with vistas of the city’s famous fjord, but spend sunny days on Aker Brygge, a pedestrian-friendly wharf where you can sip your akevitt while admiring the harbor before venturing to the Nobel Peace Center, the 13th-century grounds of Akershus Fortress, or the Munch Museum, dedicated to the Norwegian artist behind The Scream.

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Photo by AMERIKALINJEN.

Despite its reputation for snow and glacial temperatures, Oslo is home to a surprising number of outdoor sculpture parks, from the one that sits outside the impressive Renzo Piano–designed Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, on the island of Tjuvholmen, to tourist-packed Vigeland Park. Locals seem to prefer more remote Ekeberg Park, a 25-acre retreat studded with pieces by the likes of Salvador Dalí, Auguste Rodin, and Damien Hirst.

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Head back into town to refuel in Grünerløkka, a bohemian neighborhood that now houses some of the city’s coolest restaurants and boutiques. You can sample everything from homemade dumplings to traditional dried and smoked fish at the industrial-style Mathallen food hall. Just be sure to grab an espresso at cult-favorite coffee shop Tim Wendelboe before calling it a night at Amerikalinjen, a chic boutique hotel inspired by its former life as a cruise line headquarters.

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Capital One does not provide, endorse or guarantee any third-party product, service, information or recommendation listed above. The third parties listed are not affiliated with Capital One and are solely responsible for their products and services. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com

*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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