With more than 30 locations, we offer students the chance to study abroad in a number of unique and dynamic locations—and TripAdvisor agrees!
Out of the 25 international locations that made TripAdvisor’s annual Travelers’ Choice Destinations for 2015, we offer study abroad programs in a whopping eight of them (and six of them are in the top 10)!
To honor these eight cities that were highlighted for their incomparable cultures and marvelous scenery, we’re sharing a list of must-visit neighborhoods, restaurants, and landmarks that past IES Abroad students and travelers have recommended to us.
Blue Mosque - Named for the blue tiles on the walls of its interior, this historic attraction was built around 1609 and contains a tomb inside that houses its original founder.
Hagia Sophia - Hagia Sophia, meaning “holy wisdom”, was rebuilt three times with the help of more than 10,000 people. Considered Istanbul’s primary mosque for 500 years, Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1934.
Grand Bazaar - Test your bargaining skills at one of the world’s oldest covered markets. With more than 3,000 shops covering 61 streets, last year alone the Grand Bazaar attracted almost 100 million visitors
IES Abroad Student inside Istanbul’s twinkling Blue Mosque.
Photo by IES Abroad
Tower Bridge - Completed in 1894 and initially disliked for its Victorian Gothic design, today this bridge is one of the most famous in the world and remains an undeniable landmark of London.
Piccadilly Circus - Named after the 17th century frilled collared shirts called “piccadils”, this neighborhood and intersection housed London’s first illuminated billboards.
British Museum - Egyptian mummies and the Rosetta Stone are just two of more than 80,000 historic objects that draw tourists to this museum from around the world. As impressive as that may sound, these 80,000 objects make up just 1% of the British Museum’s entire collection!
IES Abroad students leaping for joy in front of London’s Tower Bridge.
Photo by Bailey Mueller | Berlin, Summer 2011
Villa Borghese - Once a private vineyard, Villa Borghese now houses an art museum, a theatre, and a lake. Between fountains, statues, and once “secret” gardens, this beautiful park is a romantic reminder of 17th century Rome.
Castel Sant’Angelo - Originally built between 123 and 129 A.D. as a mausoleum for Roman Emperor Hadrian, this massive monument has served many purposes throughout time, including a prison, a fortress, and a museum.
Colosseum - Once home to four centuries of wild animal fights, gladiator combats, and even simulated sea battles, this colossal structure now only retains a third of its original structure. Even so, it remains an unrivaled international tourist attraction.
Photo by Eduardo Bent Robinson | Madrid, Fall 2012
#8 Buenos Aires
Botanical Garden - Built in the early 20th century this garden contains 5,500 species of plants, as well as two gardens that pay tribute to the pervasive influence of French and Italian culture in Buenos Aires. Interestingly enough, this park has also become a drop off spot for people who no longer want their cats!
Malba (Palermo) - Malba, The Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires, aims to educate the public on the depth and diversity of Latin American art beginning in the 20th century. Stop by this museum not only for the modern art, but also for the cultural center, which hosts regularly changing film exhibitions and activities.
Teatro Colón - Rated the third best opera house in the world by National Geographic, the Teatro Colón saw its era of paramount success in the early to mid-20th century. Recent renovations were finished in 2010 and greatly celebrated, hopefully re-instilling an appreciation and love for this historic theater.
Photo by IES Abroad
Montmartre - Built upon and named after a large hill in a northern arrondissement, the Montmartre district is historically associated with the Moulin Rouge and as a former home to artists such as Picasso, Degas, Matisse and Renoir. On your walk through the area, make sure to visit the top of the hill, where the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur holds claim to the highest point in the city.
The Louvre - The most visited museum in the world, the Louvre is a must-see for anyone visiting Paris. First a 12th century fortress, the Louvre became a museum in 1793 with increasing amount of works added during the following reigns. The museum contains not only French works, but has departments for Egyptian, Islamic, and Roman artifacts and work, as well.
La Crêperie Josselin - Acclaimed by students and travelers alike, this crêperie boasts savory galettes, which you follow with Crêpe de Froment, and gargle down with bowls of cider. Come hungry and leave full, all for a low price.
Montmartre in the evening.
Photo by Grace Bilodeau | Paris, Spring 2014
#10 Cape Town
District Six Museum - The District Six Museum commemorates the Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town, which experienced the forced removal of more than 60,000 of its South African residents during apartheid. The museum shows respect for those who lost their homes and communities during this removal, and carries a current mission of rebuilding houses and uniting community.
Table Mountain - This natural attraction, is a (you guessed it!) mountain with a flat top that overlooks Cape Town and is the shining star of Table Mountain National Park. The mountain, referred to as a syncline, is flat because it was originally the bottom of a valley. Tourists can choose to hike or cable car their way to the top for stunning views of the city.
Muizenberg Beach - Want to surf, swim, or just lounge on a relaxing beach? Come visit Muizenberg—originally Cape Town’s finest swimming beach. While you’re at it, save some time to ogle at the colorful Victorian beach houses, visit the Rhodes Cottage, and tour the Muizenberg Railway Station, too!
A successful Table Mountain hike.
Photo by Erik Johnson | Cape Town, Spring 2010
Parc Güell - Built by Eusebi Güell and Antoni Gaudi between 1900 and 1914, Parc Güell’s architecture reflects Gaudi’s interest in organic shapes and whimsical design style. Visit the top of the park to get your view of Barcelona while lounging on intricately-tiled benches.
Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic) - Have a free afternoon? Head to this part of town to get lost in winding streets fraught with history. Visit the Museu d’Història de Barcelona for an underground view of Roman ruins, or search out the exact location where Columbus told the King and Queen of Spain about the New World. This part of Barcelona truly brings history to life.
Montjüic Castle - While it is a popular attraction now, this castle has a much darker history as a military fortress and political prison (home to many executions). Even with its impressive views of the city, this castle is still muddied by memories of repression and struggle.
Photo by Cassondra Eng | Barcelona, Summer 2014
Darling Harbour - Just 10 minutes outside the main city, any time spent in Sydney requires a visit to this waterfront district. From shopping to clubs to an array of wonderful restaurants, come spend the evening in this funky, lively precinct!
The Rocks - Located in Sydney’s city center, this area was first considered a slum up until the late 19th century. Today, The Rocks is a popular tourist destination with souvenir shops, historic pubs, a weekly market, and walking tours.
Coogee Beach - Stroll along Coogee, one of Sydney’s most coveted beaches, and stop along the way for snacks at a café or bar, to watch surfers, or for clothing deals on Coogee Road. You can also catch a film at the Ritz Cinema, a heritage listed Art Deco cinema built in 1937.
Coogee Beach by sunset.
Photo by Michael Rizk | Sydney
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Sources: Wikipedia, BlueMosque.co, Hagiasophia.com, AViewonCities.com, BritishMuseum.org, VisitLondon.com, ItalyGuides.it, Rome.info, History.com, Letsgo.com, TIME.com, timeout.com, DistrictSix.co.za, Capetown.travel, Barcelona-Tourist-Guide.com, GoSpain.About.com, Forbes.com, BCN.cat, LonelyPlanet.com, Sydney.com