On a summer's morning in 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the Roman settlement of Pompeii under layers of volcanic debris. The city remained frozen in time until a group of explorers rediscovered it in 1748. This famous site is just one of many that curious travellers can visit today, while other parts of the world are either undergoing significant changes or slowly disappearing from view.

Delve into the street art, food, fashion, trends and architecture of these fascinating destinations.

Nairobi

This year, TripAdvisor named Nairobi its top tourist destination in Africa and the third-best city in the world. It was called the fastest-changing city in Africa in the City Momentum Index.

“This dynamic city has shaken off its ‘Nairobbery’ reputation, becoming a food and fashion hotspot,” says Wilson Chifike, an overland tour guide in East and southern Africa.

The most recent edition of Nairobi Fashion Week showcased more than 100 emerging and established designers, and food tourism is growing. “With hipster cafés serving avocado on toast, to the Organic Farmer’s Market in Karen and Nyama Mama, which serves cocktails and re-imagined modern Kenyan cuisine, right up to hip nightspots such as The Alchemist, Nairobi is changing in front of our eyes,” says Chifike.

“With hipster cafes… the Organic Farmer’s Market in Karen and Nyama Mama, which serves cocktails and re-imagined modern Kenyan cuisine, right up to hip nightspots such as The Alchemist, Nairobi is changing in front of our eyes.” – Wilson Chifike, tour guide

Venice

Not only is the city sinking in the literal sense, but Venice is slowly being submerged under the weight of mass tourism and, today, more than 20 million tourists cross its bridges and canals each year.

“Venice is one of the most interesting, unique and romantic cities in the world,” says Teresa Richardson, managing director of The Travel Corporation in South Africa, which owns popular guided holiday travel brands Insight Vacations and Trafalgar and the luxury river cruise brand Uniworld Boutique River Cruises.


“Consider visiting during off-peak months,” Richardson suggests. “If you can, make sure to visit hidden treasures and local specialists, as well as being a responsible traveller in this amazing city.”

“Venice is one of the most interesting, unique and romantic cities in the world.” – Teresa Richardson, The Travel Corporation South Africa MD

Johannesburg

It’s no longer just Cape Town and the Kruger National Park that feature on international itineraries to South Africa. Johannesburg is famous for its reimagined inner-city neighbourhoods and townships, and thriving art, food and wine scene.

The Soweto Wine and Lifestyle festival, now in its 12th year, is the epitome of innovation in tourism, transcending stereotypes, according to National Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom. Catch next year's event from 5 - 7 September 2019.

Wander past the Orlando Towers in Soweto and Maboneng, Newtown and Jeppe, home to world-class street art such as Freddy Sam’s The Shadow Boxer and the Yvonne Chaka Chaka tribute.

Dublin

Ireland’s capital city is more than rain and potatoes, with culture, beautiful castles and a budding hipster food scene.

The Ireland Tourism Board is carefully crafting the city’s culinary revolution, having calculated that the culinary traveller could boost tourism revenue by up to €400-million between 2018 and 2023.

“From modernised pub fare to food trucks and delicious plant-based fare, Ireland is changing its reputation to one of a global foodie city,” says South African expat Angie Martin, a recent vegan convert who claims to have enjoyed “some of the best food of her life" in Dublin.

“… Ireland is changing its reputation to one of a global foodie city.” – Angie Martin 

Jaipur

India’s "Pink City", Jaipur was once home to the Maharaja and his royal family who lived in the blush-hued City Palace, hence the nickname. Today, it is a heady mix of old and new and is renowned for its textiles, which visitors can purchase at markets or modern boutiques.

“The clothing in India is insanely beautiful and, for around R300, you can have a beautiful cotton shirt made and delivered to your hotel four hours later,” says Loryn Holmes, regional sales manager for Pentravel KwaZulu-Natal, who visited in August. “On our Trafalgar itinerary, we were taken to a local specialist where we could buy ready-made garments or get them tailored. The hardest part was deciding which fabric to choose.” She insists: "Go with an empty suitcase.”

Petra, Jordan

Lost to time and sand, the ancient city of Petra was only rediscovered in the late 1800s. Today, it is Jordan’s top tourist attraction and one of the most revered of Unesco's World Heritage sites.

The city's origins date back to the first century, possibly as early as 300BC. Temples and tombs are carved into the region's steep sandstone cliffs, tinted a soft pink, which give the city its nickname, "The Rose City". The most famous building is perhaps the Treasury, a 43-metre high tomb carved into the rock.

Havana

Famous for its crumbling Spanish baroque architecture and pastel-coloured vintage American cars, this Cuban city was practically frozen in time in 1959, thanks to nearly six decades of travel restrictions and embargoes.

In 2006, US President Barack Obama loosened travel restrictions, and Cuba is now on many international travel companies' tour line-ups.

“Havana is a photography, music and art-lovers' paradise,” says Tarryn Liddell, an Insight Vacations tour director and a keen photographer (and Instagrammer at @tarrynliddell).

“There is magnificent street art and music played on every corner, and it’s a country where you can really hear and see the culture on the streets,” she says. “Now is a very interesting time to visit Cuba, to see how it is being dragged into modern times... [It] is like stepping back into a whole different world, and you can see the new and old worlds colliding.”

“Havana is a photography, music and art-lovers' paradise… [It] is like stepping back into a whole different world, and you can see the new and old worlds colliding.” – Tarryn Liddell, Insight Vacations tour director

Bratislava

The capital of Slovakia is quickly shaking off its grey, communist era-persona with quirky art installations.

“Visiting Bratislava was like walking into a time warp with the old-world buildings and cobbled streets,” says Nikki Deponselle, who visited on a Contiki guided holiday.

“Keep an eye out for the life-size statues dotted on random streets in the Old Town. There’s The Watcher peeking out of a utility hole, a photo-taking statue and also a Napoleon soldier resting on a bench.”

Reykjavik

Arrivals have ballooned 450 percent since 2010 and Iceland now features on almost any travel watchlist.

“The surreal landscapes of hot pots, glaciers, the Blue Lagoon and the ultra-trendy Reykjavik, with its hipster cafes, are travel bucket list dreams,” says Nicky Potgieter, leisure marketing leader for Flight Centre in South Africa.

Seoul

South Korea was rebuilt after the Korean war and is now unmistakably first world.

Home to companies such as Samsung and LG, Seoul is the country’s crown jewel and the fourth-largest city in the world. It is an intriguing metropolis of old and new and is also the birthplace of the K-Pop and K-Beauty trends we see today.

The story of ill-fated Pompeii serves as a reminder of another fact of life: change is inevitable. Although the then and now might look different, travel will always reveal the most exciting aspects of life and the places we visit.