When we imagine the perfect trip, most of us picture breathtaking vistas or vibrant cultures of places from all over. But we often overlook a destination’s scent (unless it hits us on the nose). While trite, the suggestion to stop and smell the roses still has its merits. A strong scent can have lasting effects, thanks to the placement of our olfactory bulb’s placement in an area of the brain most associated with memory. Here, five far-flung destinations with scents you’ll never forget.
Cheese, Please: Via Sprinz, Central Switzerland
Sometimes following your nose can lead you to the footsteps of generations long ago. And one of Switzerland’s authentic varieties, Sbrinz — nothing like what North American’s have dubbed Swiss Cheese — has a history of folks trailing its scent since the Middle Ages. What’s now known as the Via Sprinz is a route through Central Switzerland where the hard cheese was once traded. Today, travelers traversing this well-worn path will find themselves going through some of Switzerland’s best mountain passes. And, yes, you’ll pick up the scent of cheese at a handful of restaurants and dairy farms along the way.
Floral Showers: Japan
Japan is a bucket list-worthy destination any time of the year, but if you can plan to visit after the New Year, that’s when the country’s iconic cherry blossoms flourish in full. Hanami, or flower viewing, lures locals and visitors alike to Japan’s many parks, where a traditional picnic under the trees is traditional. Wait for a subtle breeze to sweep through the park and you’ll experience a floral shower of petals — and perhaps catch a whiff of the sakura‘s subtle fragrance.
Subtly Spicy: Sri Lanka
You won’t discover a more compelling commodity in Sri Lanka than Ceylon cinnamon, the spice that Portuguese colonists discovered. While certainly not the island’s only export, the cinnamon tree plantations waft a welcome scent over the influx of tourists who’d arrived for the island’s beaches and rainforests. Travelers can take immersive tours through fragrant groves of cinnamon trees and learn how the spicy bark has been used throughout history in both culinary and medicinal purposes.
Fresh Fields: Grasse, France
While it can’t stake the claim to perfume’s origins, France has long been associated with the art of scent. So it makes sense for scent seekers to head for the hilly town of Grasse on the French Riviera, which has a history in perfume making that leads back to the 16th century (and is now known as the perfume capital of the world). Travelers can tour a handful of parfumeries in Grasse, but the best olfactory experience exists at the roots and doesn’t require joining a group — the town is surrounded by lush fields of jasmine, lavender, orange-blossom, centifolia rose, and more. We suggest setting aside some time for frolicking in them.
Flower Power: Portland, Oregon
The rose has few fans more devout than the city of Portland, Oregon. The city’s fascination stems foremost from one late local, who, fearing World War I’s bombings would wipe out rose varieties throughout Europe, convinced the city to establish a haven for the endangered species. Today, The International Rose Test Garden is one of the best embodiments of why Portland’s monicker is the” City of Roses.” There, a trove of over 550 varieties at 7,000 strong awaits you.