Albuquerque, United States
Albuquerque may not be at the top of every traveller's ticklist, but if you find yourself touching down in this sprawling Sun Belt city, there's plenty to keep you occupied. A hub since the age of the conquistadors, this sprawling Southwestern city has combined Spanish and Native American influences dating back to long before the birth of the United States. Once regarded simply as the gateway to Santa Fe and Taos, Albuquerque is now becoming a destination in its own right, tempting travellers with Native American art, excellent food and the spectacular annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Travel the fabled Route 66 by trolley-bus, bike or car to find the beautiful adobe buildings that date back centuries; follow rambling trails and dine on distinct chilli-topped cuisine that is wholly New Mexican.
When to go
Though Albuquerque is warm and mild most of the year, October is the perfect time for temperatures and the beautiful festival of hot-air balloons. Avoid the city in August, when brief, but intense rain storms roll through.
PlanesAlbuquerque International Airport is in the southern corner of town, and offers flights to Chicago (www.united.com), Baltimore (www.southwest.com), Los Angeles (www.aa.com) and other major US airports. There are not currently direct international flights, so the easiest route is to fly through Houston (www.united.com).
TrainsAmtrak’s Southwest Chief line, which cuts through the American West, makes a stop in Albuquerque. The historic line travels from Albuquerque on to Kansas City, then Chicago.
AutomobilesDriving in New Mexico is fairly easy, and the best way to see the desert landscape. Since the city is so large, there is usually ample parking. There are several rental kiosks at the airport, and a few in town.