Now that it's the start of the year, everyone's available vacation days are back to their full potential. Whether you live in the United States, where companies don't legally have to give workers any paid-vacation days, or in the European Union, which by law has to give employees at least four work weeks of paid vacation, chances are you're already thinking about how you'll use them. Though even short vacations can give travelers the same benefits of a longer getaway -- reduced stress and new perspective, to name a few -- being able to shut off from work and daily responsibilities for two weeks may be just what the doctor ordered. And while we'd argue that any destination could be stretched to a 14-day retreat, there are some places that simply can't be explored in less time. Take a look at our picks for the 10 destinations truly worthy of your full two-week vacation.
By now, nearly everyone has heard of the stunning Indonesian island of Bali. The tropical destination has it all: stunning beaches popular for surfing and partying, cultural sites that include stunning Hindu temples, rice paddies and coffee plantations that can be explored, and plenty of hotels to match every budget. Given that there are so many cities worth exploring in Bali, a two-week stay is easy to fill. Travelers can spend time practicing yoga in Ubud, reveling with backpackers in Kuta, and getting pampered at five-pearl properties in Nusa Dua.
Find out which locales are right for you: Top Destinations in Bali for Every Type of Traveler
Most travelers heading to Peru are likely going there to see the magnificent Machu Picchu -- a UNESCO World Heritage site that was an Incan citadel dating back to the 15th century. While there are trains that take visitors there, opting for a four-day hike on the Inca Trail is the choice for adventure-seekers. You'll want to take a couple days before setting out on the trail, though. Spend a day in the capital of Lima -- known as the gastronomical capital of the Americas and offering a lively nightlife -- and in the charming town of Cusco, which has ample archaeological ruins and Spanish colonial architecture. Even after that, you've just barely scratched the surface of what the country has to offer; there's still Lake Titicaca, Tambopata National Reserve, and surfing along the coast. Trust us, you'll want at least two weeks.
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A must-stop on any tour of Southeast Asia, Thailand is a budget-friendly country with a plethora of gorgeous beaches, cultural sites, and delectable cuisine. This is another country where a two-week stay will require sacrificing some popular spots. Fret not, though -- 14 days will still provide a good introduction to the country. Topping our list of attractions are the breathtaking Phi Phi Islands, floating market in Pattaya, temples in Bangkok, snorkeling in Phuket, and cooking classes in Chiang Mai.
Find out which locales are right for you: A Complete Guide to the Most Popular Destinations in Thailand
Though it's had some financial turmoil recently, Greece is still a popular vacation destination -- and for good reason. Whether you're a history buff, beach bum, or late-night partier, Greece has a city geared toward you. There are hundreds of islands to visit, but some worthwhile spots include the jaw-dropping Santorini, party-hearty Mykonos, and family-friendly Corfu. Of course, the Parthenon and Acropolis in Athens should not be skipped. Whichever islands you choose to add to your itinerary, expect to enjoy the country's typical whitewashed buildings, stunning blue waters, and delicious Mediterranean fare.
A central region of Italy, Tuscany is home to dozens of cities, the most well-known being Florence. The Tyrrhenian Sea borders its western coast, and nearly two-thirds of the beautiful area is composed of rolling hills. So how can travelers fill their days in Tuscany? Art lovers can spend multiple days strolling through museums in Florence, architecture buffs can take cheesy pictures outside the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and foodies can feast on seafood in Livorno and sample wines at an agriturismo. If in need of further relaxation, book a stay at one of the spa resorts utilizing the area's thermal springs.
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Both a popular honeymoon destination and family-friendly vacation spot, Hawaii offers a laundry list of recreational activities. Each of Hawaii's six major islands -- the Big Island, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, and Oahu -- has a distinct appeal. Oahu is the most populated, offering the world-famous Waikiki Beach and stellar surfing at North Shore; Kauai is more rugged, packed with stunning natural wonders such as Waimea Canyon and Wailua Falls; and Maui has the scenic (and notoriously winding) Hana Highway as well as the world's largest dormant volcano. Travelers should be sure to attend a traditional luau to fully dive into the aloha spirit.
7. South Africa
Situated at the continent's southern tip, South Africa has a diverse landscape and attractions to keep all ages occupied. Its heart and soul is Cape Town, which itself offers hiking at Table Mountain, roaming penguins at Boulders Beach, and a museum documenting the apartheid. Outside of Cape Town, there's the Nelson Mandela Museum in Johannesburg, nearby wildlife conservation Lion Park, and of course, guided safaris throughout.
You might also like: 10 Amazing Hotels in Africa to Add to Your Bucket List
8. Costa Rica
For those that agree an ideal getaway is keeping active outside or appreciating nature while lounging on a hammock, Costa Rica is a perfect vacation spot. The Central American country has tropical rainforests where travelers can spot wildlife and go zip-lining, active volcanoes, sandy beaches suitable for surfing, numerous hot springs, and colonial architecture in San Jose, to name a few. Sustainable tourism is widespread, making it a popular pick for eco-minded travelers. The country has several regions that offer varying experiences, but instead of choosing one, pick a few to really make the most of the trip.
Find out which locales are right for you: 9 Destinations You Can't Miss in Costa Rica
Even if you only have two weeks to visit Australia, there's no need to rule out the country down under as a good amount of it can be seen in that time. Itineraries will vary between beach-lovers and culture-seekers, but some popular suggestions include scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, paragliding over Sydney, attending a cricket match in Melbourne, and admiring the red rocks in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Find out: Melbourne vs. Sydney: Which Australian City is Right for You?
Japan, and specifically Tokyo, are more expensive than other spots in Asia, but it's worth paying a bit more for the unique culture, renowned dining, and historical attractions. There's a ton to do and see in the island nation, but here are some top places to start: climb Mount Fuji, eat sushi and ramen in Tokyo, visit a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, and soak in a hot spring in Izu. And if you fancy felines, definitely make time to go to a cat cafe.