The football World Cup final takes place tomorrow at 3am NZ time. Whoever you're cheering on, here's a rundown of the finalists' attractions for travellers.
Number of visitors per year:
89 million in 2017.
Most famous tourist attraction: The Eiffel Tower, naturally — nothing symbolises France to the rest of the world quite like the Iron Lady. She welcomes almost 7 million visitors a year, making it the most visited paid monument in the world.
Best off-the-beaten-track spot: Located in the Normandy region on France's northern coast, Etretat is a village with dramatic white rock formations. It's no surprise that this natural beauty drew plenty of Impressionist painters.
Top restaurants: With such an incredible culinary heritage, it's hard to know where to start. France made two appearances in the top 10 of the World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards this year. Be sure to seek out Mirazur in Menton for dishes inspired by the French Riviera, or Arpege in Paris, where vegetarian dishes take the main stage.
Best beach town: There are too many to narrow it down to just one — take your pick from everything the South of France has to offer.
Best city break: Obviously Paris doesn't need an introduction, but there are plenty of lesser-known cities in France that are worth your time. For a start, try France's capital of gastronomy, Lyon — in fact, it may even be the food capital of the world. There are more restaurants per head than any other city in France, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to feast.
Best countryside retreat: Head to the region of Provence in mid-summer and you'll be treated with glorious views of blooming lavender fields. The village of Sault is the flower's capital village, with plenty of beautiful back country to explore around it.
Top hotels: The Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is set on 7ha of Mediterrean gardens, with famous past guests including Pablo Picasso and Elizabeth Taylor. In Paris, you can't go past La Reserve — Hotel & Spa, just off the Champs-Elysees.
Rooms come with a dedicated butler and the hotel has a Michelin two-starred restaurant.
Must-try food: Go for the classic — you've got to try a proper French baguette when you visit. With so many artisanal bakeries, you'll have no trouble finding a good one. Be sure to nibble at it as you walk away, for extra Parisian points.
Must-try drink: Champagne gets its name only if it's actually from Champagne — so you may as well down a few glasses of bubbles while you're there.
Essential luggage item:
If you can, take a smaller suitcase — large bags are a pain in the Metro.
Place to avoid: The most touristy areas. Check out the must-sees, then venture out to find hidden, local spots.
Number of visitors per year: 18.5 million last year
Most famous tourist attraction:
Dubrovnik's old town has experienced a recent tourism boom, thanks to its portrayal as King's Landing on
Game of Thrones
. Visitors can book a
Game of Thrones
-themed guided tour, or go it alone.
Best off-the-beaten-track spot: Vis, the most remote of the central Dalmatian islands, has a fascinating history. Used as a military base for the Yugoslavian army, it was cut off from foreign visitors from the 1950s until 1989.
Top restaurants: Pelegrini in Sibenik is considered Croatia's best restaurant, with mind-blowing Croatian cuisine — but you'll need to book well in advance. In Rochasvinj, Monte is Croatia's one and only Michelin-star restaurant.
Best beach town: Croatia's most famous beach — and one of the most beautiful in the world — Zlatni Rat in Brac is referred to as the Golden Horn because of its distinctive stretch of golden pebbles reaching out into the Adriatic.
Best city break: Croatia's capital, Zagreb, has plenty of historic charm and it's great for first-time visitors. It's small so everything you'd want to see is just a few trams stops away.
Best countryside retreat: An hour and a half from Zagreb, the rustic town of Rastoke is surrounded by stunning natural beauty and numerous crashing waterfalls. The outdoor activities here are endless — horseback riding, river rafting, or canyoning — you name it.
Top hotels: Relax by the sea at Hotel Monte Mulini in Rovinj — it's surrounded by a centuries-old protected nature park. Or check in to Villa Dubrovnik, for five-star luxury, unrivalled views and a private beach.
Must-try food: Peka is meat (usually lamb, veal or octopus) cooked with vegetables in a metal dish under the hot coals of an open fireplace — almost like a Croatian hangi.
Stuffed capsicums are a favourite in winter and lamb on the spit has been a favourite cooking method for more than 8000 years.
Must-try drink: A traditional Croatia liquor, rakia is made from fermented fruit, with the most popular variety made of plums. If you try it, be sure to learn how to say cheers in Croatian: "Zivjeli!" (zhivyelee).
Essential luggage item: A decent daypack for day trips, hiking and photo expeditions.
Place to avoid: Opatija. Although it was an exclusive resort in the 19th century, it doesn't even have a proper beach — it's all concrete.