No time? Visit one of these cities for a burst of culture

How would you spend 1, 3 or 5 hours in your dream city? We’ve curated the best things to eat, see and experience at your destination, so you can get out there and explore.

1-Hour: Cairo

Take a mini Nile Cruise

One of the best ways to experience Cairo’s sights is to go out on a felucca, Egypt’s traditional sailing boats that have been trawling the Nile for millennia. Since the 1930s, family-run business Dok Dok Felucca has been operating private trips between Tahrir Square and Cairo University Bridge. These mini-cruises are ideal for travelers short on time. There’s no need to reserve in advance; you can just show up.

Embark around sunset, when the wind whips up, for a truly atmospheric journey, as neon signs highlight the skyline of palm trees and high-rises. Zööba, in Zamalek, is well worth a detour for a refreshing take on traditional Egyptian fast food.

Once you’re back on dry land, Conrad Cairo is just a short taxi ride away. Overlooking the Nile in the heart of bustling downtown, the hotel boasts river views from every room.

Conrad Cairo
1191 Nile Corniche, Cairo, Egypt

A felucca on the Nile, Cairo

A felucca on the River Nile, Cairo

3-Hours: Cartagena

Discover the birthplace of Magical Realism

“Cartagena de Indias is the undisputed queen of the Colombian Caribbean coast,” says Juan José Llanos, Concierge at Conrad Cartagena, and he’s not the only one to be charmed by the city.

The novelist, journalist and screenwriter Gabriel García Márquez spent a brief yet influential period of time studying as a journalist in the Caribbean port city. Years later—after a succession of acclaimed novels and a Nobel Prize in 1982—he chose Cartagena as the location for the Gabriel García Márquez Foundation for New Latin American Journalism (FNPI), founded in 1994.

Today, you can walk in his footsteps on the Route of García Márquez tour, led by the historian Marelvy Peña-Hall. Dressed in the traditional white of Cartagena locals, Marelvy glides you through the city’s streets to the palm-shaded university courtyard (where the author took up his pen) to the doorstep of colonial-era homes that set the stage for Love in the Time of Cholera. If you’re not up on the work of García Márquez, the charming Ábaco Bookstore and Café has a corner dedicated to the man.

Conrad Cartagena
Anillo Vial, Km 12, between Manzanillo del Mar and Punta Canoa,
Cartagena, 130007, Colombia


Route of García Márquez

Ábaco Libros y Café
Calle de la Iglesia at Calle de la Mantilla,Cartagena, Colombia

Discover more of Cartagena’s highlights.

Colonial house in the Walled City of Cartagena

 Colonial house in the Walled City of Cartagena

5-Hours: Beijing

Explore forbidden fruit

There are at least as many ways to visit the Forbidden City as there are rooms, and that’s 9,9991/2. Why the fraction? According to Chinese numerology, a 10,000-room palace could only belong to a celestial emperor.

The former palace served as the royal residence to 24 Ming and Qing emperors between 1420 and 1924. No one could access these grounds without permission from the emperor, which makes the Forbidden City one of Beijing’s most compelling attractions.

Arrive as early as possible—gates open at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday to Friday. To move at your own pace, opt for the Palace Museum’s official audio guide, narrated by none other than 007 himself, Roger Moore. Alternatively, book one of Context Travel’s intimate, scholar-led three-hour morning tours. Their fascination with the place and its illustrious inhabitants is infectious. Conclude the outing with a lunchtime cooking class at Black Sesame Kitchen on Zhonglao Hutong, just 10 minutes on foot from the southern exit (call ahead and someone will guide you down the alley to their charming siheyuan courtyard). Eat what you create, or let the professionals do wok duty by joining one of the nightly ten-course communal dinners paired with two wines.

After a day of exploring the city’s ancient secrets, Conrad Beijing is a 30-minute drive away and is a flawless combination of Chinese tradition and modern affluence.

Conrad Beijing
29 North Dongsanhuan Road, Chaoyang, China, 100020

The Forbidden City
4 Jingshan Front Street, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 1000064


Black Sesame Kitchen
3 Heizhima Hutong, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100007

Ancient royal palaces in the Forbidden City

Ancient royal palaces in the Forbidden City

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