What would the world be without multitasking? While we tend to travel and go on vacation to escape the daily grind and the need to do two things at once, there are some places in the world where you can not only do two things at once, but even better, be in two places at the same time.
Be it straddling two continents, two countries, two tectonic plates, hemispheres, or even date lines, there are some superb destinations that are great places to visit on their own, but add this little perk, and you’ll create superb memories.
Throughout my travels I have searched some of these places out on purpose, others I stumbled across when I was already at the place, and yet others I nearly missed, but realized how special it was by sheer coincidence. And one, however tempting, I decided against participating in…
1. Taveuni, Fiji
Today And Yesterday
This is probably the freakiest place to be: with one foot in today and the other in yesterday. The International Date Line was established in 1884 and runs from the north pole to the south pole down 180 degrees. This imaginary — but hugely important — line separates one calendar day from the next and runs through the small island of Taveuni in Fiji.
But because Fiji might well have a marker board telling you that you are straddling two different dates, the country decided not to participate in the confusion it would cause and instead stay firmly in today. Imagine popping out to see your friend, but that friend lives in the yesterday.
The thing is, I moved across it from the airport to the boat that was going to take me to the island I was staying on, and I did not know! It was only by the time I was heading back after my vacation that I realized that I had stayed not only on a pretty island, but that the island could have had another date than the one I had set off from.
Pro Tip: It makes daily life easier that the date line runs through the probably least inhabited places on Earth, but if you want to catch it, exotic destinations such as Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu offer you a chance.
2. Thingvellir National Park, Iceland
The North American And Eurasian Tectonic Plates
I was staying in the ION Hotel in Thingvellir National Park in Iceland, practically sleeping on the meeting point of the two tectonic plates, which drift apart by some 0.8 inches each year. Luckily, the change is not noticeable on land, but the ION hotel offers scuba-diving and snorkeling experiences setting off from the lobby so you to be submerged right between the two plates. So cool, right? But that was exactly my problem. I was visiting in winter, and it was a little too cool for me to even consider taking off my coat, let alone anything else.
Pro Tip: Not that the water is that much warmer in summer, but at least it will be less cold on land, so, please do not miss out on this unique way of swimming between continents. There are various guided tours, so you know you’re in the right place.
3. Maldives, Indian Ocean
The Northern And Southern Hemispheres
The first time I crossed the equator, I was flying from Europe to Kenya. At one point, the aircraft made a strange movement, a little jolt, and the pilot explained that we had just flown across the equator. I thought this was a really lovely way to add a bit of excitement to the flight, but sadly, no pilot has done the same since.
I also crossed the equator in a tiny little scuba-diving boat in the Maldives. That time it was a less momentous occasion, but it is still quite lovely to cross between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, because this line, despite being sort of imaginary, actually carries so many changes with it, and not just opposing seasons.
Pro Tip: If you want fun and fuss when crossing the equator, you are best off on a cruise ship, where the crew tend to celebrate a crossing baptism.
4. Istanbul, Turkiye
Europe And Asia
I love taking the ferries in Istanbul; being out on the water is one of the greatest pleasures there is. And while you can sail down the Bosphorus past some superb real estate, or up the Golden Horn to the colorful neighborhood of Balat, you can also cross from Europe to Asia from the hub of Eminönü to Üsküdar. An hour on the ferry looking out across the truly mad hustle and bustle of boats on the various bodies of water is just lovely, and then you can have a look around Asia before heading back.
Pro Tip: If water is not your friend or you are somewhat under time pressure, you can also just drive across the Bosphorus Bridge, in which case you can cross between the continents in a matter of minutes.
5. Vaduz, Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein And Switzerland
I hopped from Liechtenstein to Switzerland and back around five times before I realized that someone was watching me somewhat incredulously. So, what? It’s not every day you stand on a narrow wooden covered bridge across the Rhine with a line halfway across the bridge marking the border between Liechtenstein — where I set out from — and Switzerland. It is simply asking you to hop from country to country, behaving like a 12-year-old.
Pro Tip: While many of the borders in Europe are easy to cross, this is definitely the most fun. No border patrol, no control, just an old bridge and a line.
6. Cape Agulhas, South Africa
Atlantic Ocean And Indian Ocean
This is probably the most famous spot where two oceans meet, roughly 2 and a half hours’ drive east of Cape Town. At Cape Agulhas, officially the southernmost point of Africa, you can actually see the oceans forming a line, with one green ocean and one darker blue ocean coming together and a line of foam highlighting the meeting. I stood for a long time at the Cape of Good Hope, thinking that this was the meeting point, before realizing it was not, as many tourists are prone to.
Pro Tip: Despite popular myth, Cape Point, 40 miles outside of Cape Town is not where the oceans meet, but it is a stunning setting, for sure.
7. Dreiländereck, Basel
Where Switzerland, France, And Germany Meet
The Dreiländereck, the corner of three countries, lies in the middle of the Rhine, off a suburb of Basel in Switzerland, and, of course, the other two countries as well. But the monument, the official marker, is in Basel, and from there you can take a boat trip exploring the Rhine and sail from one country to the next. So while you can be in two places at once in all the other places mentioned, here it is three.
Pro Tip: You can also do this on foot: cross the road from Switzerland into Germany, and then the bridge into France and back again.
Tropic Of Capricorn
I was driving along in Queensland when I came across a road sign and people posing next to it. Stopping off and heading back to see what was so special, I saw that I had crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, the line (another imaginary, but yet valuable line… ) that marks the border between the temperate zone and the tropics. There’s no obvious difference in weather, temperature, or produce grown on the fields, but I read later, and I quote from Britannica: “At the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, around December 21, the Sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn.”
Pro Tip: I caught the Tropic of Capricorn in Rockhampton, Queensland, luckily, because it mostly crosses deserted countryside. Other cities it runs through include Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia and Sao Paulo in Brazil.
9. Al Amerat, Oman
Tropic Of Cancer
Whereas the Tropic of Capricorn marks the line between the temperate and tropical zones in the Southern Hemisphere, the Tropic of Cancer has the same function in the Northern Hemisphere. This tropic runs through Algeria, Niger, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Taiwan, Mexico, Bahamas, Mauritania, and Mali, but I caught up with it when I lived in Oman. It can be found a 30-minute or so drive outside of Muscat on the main road to Sur. At the time when I lived in Muscat, there was no sign yet (unless I simply missed it?). But now, you’ll catch the sign just outside of the town of Al Atakiya, standing somewhat forlorn in the desert.
Pro Tip: And, if you are wondering, and I quote Britannica again: “At the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, around June 21, the Sun attains its greatest declination north and is directly over the Tropic of Cancer.”