I often hear about traveling off the beaten path.  And I agree that is great.  However, I love Capital cities and never really feel like I have been to a place until I have visited the Capital. Here are a few reasons why…

  1. Museums:  The capital is where the politics and history of a country is officially documented.  Like people, nations continue to evolve.  But a capital reflects the current “truth” of the country.  If you are then lucky enough to travel outside of the capital, it is great to be able to compare and contrast what you learned. 
  2. Old Town:  Most, but not all, Capitals have historic significance, are one of the country’s oldest cities and have a historic portion of town that can’t be found anywhere else. 
  3. You are there anyway:  Let’s face it, unless traveling regionally overland, the Capital is where the airport is and where you will most likely get the cheapest ticket.  You might as well spend a little time there. 
  4. The capital is usually the melting pot of a country.  No matter how long your stay is, you will never be able to see everything.  And so in the capital you have the greatest chance of getting a taste of parts of the country you are unable to visit. 
  5. In most cases, the capital has been picked for a reason.  It often reflects the historical capital which was probably chosen for natural defenses and proximity to water.  Or even if it has been chosen more recently, then just the location itself has significance and meaning to the history and culture.

At the time I am writing this, I have been to 90 countries.  Of those, I have not been to the capital of 9 (China, Nicaragua, Montenegro, Poland, Georgia, Haiti, Brazil, Australia, and Croatia).  And there is a logical reason for all of those.  And of the 81 I’ve been to, there is really only one I wouldn’t recommend – San Jose in Costa Rica.  But even though I didn’t love San Jose, it did give me an appreciation that what I had heard from locals elsewhere in the country was true – Costa Rica is not about the cities, it is about nature! Because there are so many amazing spots in Turkey, I don’t ever tell anyone they have to go to Ankara, but to understand modern Turkey you really should go there for a day.  And I am torn about on Manila.  And while I don’t think it needs more than a day, chances are you have to fly through here anyway and so there is no reason not to spend a night to see Rizal park and Intramuros.

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