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How to spend 24 hours in these top 5 destinations

Whenever you’re getting to know a new city, it never feels like you have enough time.

We’re here to help you make the most of every hour in these five incredible cities – from dawn ’til dusk.

1. Melbourne

Morning

It’s worth the early start and slightly steep ticket price to get a bird’s eye view of the Yarra RiverEureka Tower and West Gate Bridge from the wicker basket of a hot air balloon. The daily dawn trips with BalloonMan come with photos and a time lapse video souvenir.

Afternoon

Head straight to the Queen Victoria Market for brunch so you can fuel up for an afternoon perusing the open-air stalls of fresh fruit and veg, bric-a-brac, clothes and knick-knacks. Be sure to pick up a hot jam doughnut from the American Doughnut Kitchen.

Evening

Less than 15 minutes’ walk from the market and hidden in an old bank vault is the basement bar Beneath Driver Lane, where inventive cocktails made from over 100 whiskies are served on thick leather coasters. After a nightcap or two, head back to the Mantra City Central hotel to lay your head among funky artwork and stylish décor. Prices start at £57.

2. Dublin 

Morning

Start the day with an icy dip at Forty Foot, an outdoor swimming spot on Scotsman’s Bay that’s not for the faint of heart – but legend has it that the clean, deep waters are good for your health. Deep breath…

Afternoon

You’ll need a warming pint of Guinness after that. Get your fill on a literary-themed pub crawl, hopping from boozer to boozer in the old town’s warren of streets to quotes from Dublin’s famous authors.

Evening

Catch a movie at the intimate arts-house theatre Light House Cinema, which specialises in indie Irish feature films and documentaries. It’s in the up-and-coming Smithfield neighbourhood, as is the smart Maldron Hotel (prices start at £155) – which is also just a 10-minute tram ride from the lively Temple Bar district.

3. Bangkok 

Morning

There’s a reason why a visit to the ancient Wat Pho temple complex is on every visitor’s agenda: it’s home to the 46 metre-long Reclining Buddha, a gold-plated statue that was built in 1832 and is one of Thailand’s most recognisable sights.

Afternoon

Spend the afternoon floating down the Chao Phraya River on a boat trip, which is easily accessible from Wat Pho – although you’ll get a far cheaper ticket price if you opt to explore the waterways on the Chao Phraya Express Boat.

Evening

You’ll never go hungry in Bangkok, where grilled skewers and noodle soups are proffered on every street corner. But treat yourself to a really special meal at Nahm, currently 28th on The World’s Best 50 Restaurants list, where Aussie chef David Thompson crafts masterpieces from Thai ingredients using his classical French training.

Then it’s back to your hotel to sleep off all that food. We like Galleria 12 Sukhumvit Bangkok, which is simple and clean, with a relaxing pool area, right by ASOK Station. Rooms start at £35.

4. Tokyo 

Morning

Take a calming morning stroll through the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, a 144-acre park that combines native, traditional Japanese gardens with French and English styles.

Afternoon

For lunch, ramen is a no-brainer – but head to BumBunBlauCafe, which is famous for its kakigōri, shaved ice cream desserts, drizzled with homemade condensed milk.

Evening

Make like Scarlett Johansson and get down at Karaoke Kan, the karaoke bar from Lost in Translation – which happens to be super cheap and easy to find in central Shibuya.

Then, you won’t need to travel far if you book a room at the Shibuya Excel, which (luckily) has a 24-hour front desk. Prices start at £112 a night.

5. San Francisco

Morning

A morning without brunch in San Francisco is a morning wasted. Right now, ‘millionaire’s bacon’ is all the rage – a thick, candied bacon with a hint of spicy, smoky cayenne pepper. Pair it with bottomless mimosas at Kitchen Story on 16th Street.

Afternoon

Burn off those breakfast calories on an urban hike from downtown to Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and Sutro Tower – the tallest point in the city. 

Evening

Throw all self-consciousness aside and go to a singalong performance at The Castro Theatre, where the likes of GreaseWest Side Story and Frozen are belted out by audience members dressed up to the nines – each night begins with a costume contest, so don’t let the side down.

To round off the day, spend the night at Hotel Majestic, a romantic, historic hotel that dates back to 1902 and is adorned with vintage details and antique furnishings. Rooms start at £140.

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