For the travel-loving tech junkie, the chance to visit some of the world’s top technology hot spots can give your holiday a unique twist. We’ve picked out five top destinations where you can hang out with tech entrepreneurs, try out future gadgets before they go on sale and even hitch a ride into space.
Geneva – Switzerland
The Swiss city may be best know for its artisan watchmakers and chocolatiers, but Geneva is now home to many of the world’s top scientific minds thanks to the Large Hadron Collider located at CERN just outside the city.
Visitors can book a three hour guided tour that, at one point, crosses an international border and takes in the impressive machinery at one of the particle accelerators. There’s also a museum covering the history of the project and an exhibition about the invention of the internet. This really is the place to “get-your-geek-on”.
Seoul – South Korea
If you like the idea of holidaying in the city of the future, the South Korean capital is probably the closest you can get. Seoul’s citizens enjoy citywide Wi-Fi access, including the city’s subway system, with the fastest speeds anywhere in the world. At Samsung’s D’Light exhibition store in the Gangnam district (yes, the one from the song) you can get a glimpse of Samsung’s vision for the future including prototypes of future products and huge monitors displaying pictures and messages from visitors.
For a real experience of the city of the future visit Songdo, a brand new “Smart City” scheduled for completion in 2015. Songdo really embraces the idea of the internet of things with the city’s information systems integrated over wireless networks and citizens plugged into their data via their smartphones. Personalised public transport alerts, an automated system of rubbish collection pipes in every home and sensors that can detect the weather and control building temperatures are just some of the benefits of this smart city built from scratch.
Las Vegas – USA
Technology might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Las Vegas, but Sin City is fast becoming a destination for tech junkies thanks to the CES expo that takes place every January. If you want to get your hands on the next generation of gadgets then CES is the place to go. As an added bonus, Vegas also boasts one of the world’s most high tech hotels at the Aria Resort and Casino. The 4,000-room complex includes motion sensor controlled air-conditioning and lights as well as keyless room entry.
For the real high-fliers (literally) Las Vegas provides a once in a lifetime thrill. Based nearby in the Mojave desert Virgin Galactic will be offering commercial flights into space starting later this year. This incredible project is on the cutting edge of travel and could eventually allow us to travel to the other side of the world in just a few hours. For now, though the trip is only available for those willing to pay a cool $250,000 (around £146,000).
San Francisco – USA
The undisputed Mecca for 21st century tech junkies has to be Silicon Valley in San Francisco’s Bay area. Some of the key landmarks include the headquarters of Google and Apple as well as the garage where HP was famously founded. Most of these places aren’t open to the public but you can wander the campus like grounds, get your photo taken with the famous Android statues at Google HQ and visit the Apple Company Store, the only place in the world that sells Apple logo t-shirts, caps and accessories.
But the main attraction San Francisco offers is the chance to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers in the tech world. The city’s bars and cafes attract the cream of tech talent and top investors, so if you’ve got a burning idea for an app or gadget you just need to know where to look. The Summit Café for instance was set up by a venture capitalist firm and doubles as incubator for tech start-ups as well as a place to get a good coffee. You can even get a drink in the bar in Redwood City where the prototype iPhone 4 was famously found and sold to Gizmodo. Who knows what you might find?
Akihabara – Tokyo, Japan
Known as electric town to locals, Akihabara is the hub for electronics in one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world: Tokyo. If you’re looking to do a bit of gadget shopping on your holidays this is the place to come. With many items tested here before they go on sale, be on the lookout for a sneak preview of the next big thing.
The area is also a hotspot for fans of video gaming and manga with hobby shops and cosplay cafes around practically every corner. The vibrant posters, statues of video game characters and manga-themed cafes make Akihabara a cultural experience like no other. Taking a stroll through its streets is like stepping onto the set of a science fiction movie, especially at night when countless neon signs light up the streets. It’s no wonder they call it electric town.
Chosen your destination? Now the real planning begins! Check out the O2 Gurus’ pick of the best holiday planning apps.
Have you been on a tech-themed holiday? Which of our picks takes your fancy? Let us know on our Twitter @O2.
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