Where to next? When planning our next vacation, whether it’s a week away in a campervan along the coastline not too far from home, or an overseas jaunt of epic proportions, the places we want to go and things we want to do are so often influenced by others. What we see on TV, where our friends have been this year and enviable images we see on social media.
Each year new destinations come into the spotlight, with interesting experiences you’ve never considered before, and unique places to relax, find adventure, or delve into an exotic culture. So where are the best places to travel to in 2018, the best countries to visit, the best new experiences to be had? Read on to find out!
One of the most popular destinations for Australian travellers is the United States, with New York and Washington DC popular highlights. Cast your gaze a little further north, however, and Eastern Canada remains surprisingly underrated. Montreal, the largest city in the French-speaking Quebec province is one of the hottest destinations on our list to visit in 2018. Its distinct European charm, complete with Gothic Revival cathedral and cobbled streets, lures you in, while its hearty cuisine and bohemian flair offer an element of surprise.
While most travellers head straight for the skyscrapers of Shanghai or the Great Wall and Beijing, Zhangjiajie, in north western China is a new destination that won’t disappoint. Home to the Wulingyuan Scenic Area, this region boasts thousands of sandstone columns, some stretching 200 metres tall. The columns disguise impressive caves and are shrouded in lush forests, while between them run winding rivers, waterfalls and endemic flora and fauna.
Croatia is a party hotspot for young travellers looking for an alternative to sailing in Greece and the beaches of Italy’s eastern coastline. Further inland however, the capital Zagreb continues life away from this summer hype. Instead, what you’ll find in Zagreb is stunning 18th century Austro-Hungarian architecture and Gothic churches. The cobbled streets were made for wandering, lined with restaurants and cafes serving ever-popular local coffee right around the clock and galleries showcasing local and international talent. In summer you can expect lakeside discos and lawns filled with picnicking families, while in winter a tram ride lands you at Mt Medvednica, a winter wonderland.
If you haven’t heard about the place where Santa Clause comes from, or where you can stay in glass-domed igloos to watch the Northern Lights from your bed, then it’s a good thing you’re reading this, because Lapland, in far northern Finland is a hot topic. In winter the sun rises for only a few hours a day, but the ground is blanketed in a deep pillow of perfectly white snow, you can travel around on dog-driven sleds, and see reindeer roaming in the wild. In the summer, Lapland, which is inside the arctic circle, experiences the midnight sun, and transforms into a blooming landscape of lakes and luscious valleys.
This one is no surprise, because Iceland has been all over the news as one of the best countries to visit for the last couple of years. It’s showing no signs of slowing down, and it’s not difficult to see why. Dotted with endless, massive waterfalls, incredible geothermal springs and baths, a lake where you can snorkel between two tectonic plates, Europe’s largest glacier complete with ice caves and iceberg lagoons, visiting Iceland is like taking a trip to the moon. Plus, it’s one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights.
Once hidden behind a curtain from the world, this small Asian nation is emerging as one of the best places to travel to for everyone from backpackers to luxury river cruisers. Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a country dotted with white and gilded pagodas, mystical mountain villages and eerily beautiful undulating landscapes. It’s not just beautiful either, the locals are gentle and charming, service is attentive and flavours are a distinct journey into the country’s roots.
Lauded as one of the best places to travel in the world, time after time, Greece is showing no signs of slowing down as a tourist hot spot. If you haven’t been yet, now is definitely the time to go. Athens combines revealing ancient history with a cheerful, irreverent approach to dining and entertainment, while small businesses are pushing the capital forward in the fashion and business sectors. Head to the islands and you’ll find a veritable paradise. White washed villages, delicious fresh Greek cuisine, azure waters and myriad ways to enjoy the island life from sailing and luxury resorts to hiking and island hopping.
The last final frontier. Years ago this was a place you never even dreamed about visiting unless you were a scientist. Now, however, you can hop onboard a cruise from South America that takes you right to where the penguins live and you can dive in icily invigorating waters – all without compromising on the luxuries of a warm water cruise.
Having boomed as a surfing hot spot in recent years, Sri Lanka has now gained traction as a destination for all different kinds of travellers and is one country you should visit in 2018. Home to magical tea plantations and mountain temples around Kandy, the historic Galle Fort, and myriad tropical beaches that ooze island charm, travellers are flocking here for wellness retreats, to see elephants in the wild, and discover a unique Asian destination.
Located 180 kilometres off the coast of China, Taiwan is nothing if not intriguing. An island that in every aspect acts as its own country, and has done since 1950, but that technically remains under Chinese sovereignty. Politics aside, this is a land of outstanding natural beauty, boasting towering sea cliffs, massive forested gorges and beautiful beaches. Food is a highlight, with some of the best Japanese outside of Japan, classical Chinese style night markets and arguably the best coffee in Asia. You’ll also find a healthy dose of traditional Chinese worship, with Buddhist, Taoist and Confucius traditions well represented.
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