Here’s a look at twelve destinations that you should consider visiting (or revisiting!) this year.
A new year means new adventures! As you start creating your 2018 travel resolutions, here–in no particular order–are 12 destinations worth visiting.
1. Northern Ireland
Bummed about waiting until 2019 to find out which (if any) Westerosi winds up on the Iron Throne? Sure, Instagram is great for getting a Game of Thrones fix in the offseason, but why not head to Northern Ireland to fill the GOT void in person? Admire the verdant castle-studded landscapes, drive under the Dark Hedges and brave the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge from which Balon Greyjoy was thrown to his death. While you’re in that neck of the woods, you’d be remiss if you didn’t visit the Giant’s Causeway. Belfast is a bustling city, and you won’t want to miss the Titanic Belfast, a museum dedicated to the doomed ship on the very site where it was constructed.
2. The Azores
A nine-island volcanic archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores are an autonomous region of Portugal characterized by breathtaking unspoiled landscapes that beckon adventure seekers. Whether you’re canyoning, boating or exploring in a 4×4, there are plenty of natural wonders that will steal your heart: Black cliffs, transparent crater lakes, sulfur springs, charming fishing villages and more. Make the most of your travels in this gorgeous part of the world by spending a couple of nights in Lisbon and/or Porto.
The Windy City is a true cosmopolitan gem: Striking skyscrapers, architectural wonders, intriguing history and the Art Institute of Chicago, home to one of America’s oldest and largest art collections comprised of more than 300,000 works. Plus, thanks to a prime waterfront location on Lake Michigan, Chicago boasts a proper beach. Bon Appetit magazine named Chi-Town its Restaurant City of the Year 2017, so bon vivants will want to start planning their meal itineraries ASAP.
If seeing the Alhambra is still on your bucket list, then make 2018 the year to check it off and head to Granada. While famous for this majestic Moorish fortress and palace, the city offers much more. Explore the Generalife gardens, stroll the charming Albaicín neighborhood, watch flamenco dancers, and absorb the city’s rich and varied history. The Moorish influences are evident everywhere in this Andalusian treasure from the stunning architecture to the cuisine.
Situated between Sicily and Tunisia, Malta exudes old-world European charm coupled with traces of ancient Mediterranean civilizations. The archipelago’s enriching cities of Mdina and Valletta should not be missed, especially with the latter being named the European Capital of Culture 2018. Plus, the island boasts some of the clearest Mediterranean waters…a paradise for beach lovers, snorkelers and divers. This is the year to visit Malta!
The timeless Czech capital is one those cities worth visiting (at least) once-in-a-lifetime. Prague’s array of architectural styles include Baroque, Art Nouveau and Modern, all juxtaposed against the nostalgic, UNESCO-protected Old Town Square. Contemporary architectural marvels include the Vlado-Milunić-and-Frank-Gehry-designed Dancing House (1992) and Jean Novel’s Golden Angel (2000). The city’s emerging art scene features such venues as DOX Centre for Contemporary Art as well as Forbidden Spot, an alternative art gallery and food market.
7. Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is a genuine cultural crossroads characterized by Chinese, Indian, Islamic and Malaysian traditions juxtaposed against modern touches like the Petronas Twin Towers. The diverse ethnicities are evident both on the city’s skyline as well as on the palate. The Batu Caves and Lake Gardens are a must see and if you feel like getting out of the city for the day, Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, Taman Warisan Agricultural Heritage Park and Putrajaya Lake are among the day trips to choose from. One of the world’s best street food cities, Kuala Lumpur is perfect for the gastronomically minded traveler.
8. Abu Dhabi
Where to begin with Abu Dhabi? Among all there is to see and do in the UAE capital is the recently opened Jean-Nouvel-designed Louvre Abu Dhabi, part of the Saadiyat Cultural District initiative. If that isn’t enough to seal the fate of the Emirate as one of the world’s emerging culture hubs, the Frank-Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum and the Norman-Foster-designed Zayed National Museum are underway.
9. Hong Kong
From fishing village to military port to international business hub, the autonomous island city of Hong Kong is a vibrant metropolis that happens to be home to the world’s most skyscrapers. The former British colony is divided into four areas: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, New Territories and the Outlying Islands. Although it’s very of the moment, traces of Hong Kong’s past can be found throughout the city.
10. New Orleans
New Orleans, which turns 300-years-old this year, is a zesty melting pot of French, African and American cultures. Yes, it does have a bit of a reputation as a Mardi Gras party town, but there’s more to NOLA than Bourbon Street, such as the picturesque Garden and French Districts. With a fascinating history, lively music scene, distinctive cuisine, voodoo legends and all-around good vibes, there’s no other city in the U.S. quite like the culture-rich Big Easy.
11. Buenos Aires
With an emerging art scene, intriguing history and a restaurant among the World’s 50 Best (Tegui), Buenos Aires offers travelers much more than meets the eye. French- and Italian-inspired buildings stud the skylines and line the vast tree-lined boulevards. Visit the Casa Rosada, which president Mauricio Macri recently opened to the public, and don’t forget to pack your tango shoes! Also, while you’re in that part of the world, consider venturing out to explore the Salta Province and the Valdes Peninsula.
The capital of Tunisia, Tunis is the perfect starting point for discovering the diverse landscapes of this enchanting North African country. From the sparkling turquoise Mediterranean to the golden sand dunes of the Sahara to ancient archaeological sites, Tunisia is the gift that keeps on giving. In Tunis, savor just-out-of-the-sea fish al fresco, discover the UNESCO-protected Medina, explore the Carthage archaeological site and admire the mosaics at the Bardo Museum. Sidi Bou Said, a must-see seaside town characterized by blue and white architecture, is a simple trip from the city.