As we roll into the final weekend of October, the lure of the holidays nears and so too does the promise of 2018. For many people, their plans for the new year include some travel. Travel reference site Lonely Planet has a database of writers, influencers, nomads and staff that continue to voice their adoration on various places around the world. Now in its 13th year, Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel’ is one of the leading travel guides, which reaches a global audience and is translated into 14 different languages.
“Lonely Planet has been advising travellers for 44 years,” says Alex Howard, Lonely Planet magazine’s managing editor. “We provide balance and objective opinion, and consult official government warnings regarding the safety of destinations. We genuinely believe that the destinations highlighted in ‘Best in Travel 2018’ offer unique experiences that are best discovered in the year ahead.”
The assessment is based on criteria like a place’s topicality (current events or upcoming happenings that could attract international travel), novelty (unique experiences special to the region), and “wow” factor.
“While some of the destinations are up-and-coming, others are well-traveled but have a timely angle for the year,” notes Howard.
The destination for you
When it comes to travellers actually picking a destination, Howard says it all depends on how much experience they have in a given destination.
“We find that Americans and Canadians, because they don’t have as many bordering and close by countries, tend to start by picking the country if they’ve never been before, particularly if they’re inspired by a list,” says Howard. “For example, many may have never been to South America and our number one [country] this year, Chile, might inspire them to start there. Whereas someone in London might have explored Italy up and down since it’s only a couple hour flight away, but might not have visited Matera before. The idea of ‘city breaks’ is much more prevalent in Europe.”
The top cities to travel to in 2018 never comes without contention, of course, and folks have taken to social media to express their confusion in particular about Canberra, Australia making the list. Howard defends the choice.
“Canberra is one of those great small cities that has something for every kind of traveller: families, foodies, art lovers,” explains Howard. “It offers so much in terms of history and culture and has seen a lot of revitalization in recent years. People might be surprised by how it’s changed in 2018.”
Travelling dollars are key here too, wherein many of the cities that make up the list have witnessed a revitalization or have re-emerged with new pockets of exploration and culture, and with the help of more travel (and travellers’ money) to these locations, cities will continue to strengthen. This can be especially seen with the No. 2 entry on the list.
No. 10: Oslo, Norway
2018 will witness Norway’s king and queen celebrating 50 years of marraige. Oslo’s Opera House will have its tenth birthday, so concerts and events will be booming around these milestones. “Expect fanfare and pageantry aplenty, along with a packed calendar of events – civic, culinary and cultural,” notes the report. (Yahoo)
No. 9: Guanajuato, Mexico
“I’m particularly fascinated by Guanajuato,” says Lonely Planet’s Alex Howard. “I have been to Cancun and the Yucatan, but it hasn’t cropped up on my radar before. You may recognize its distinctive colorful houses from pictures, and its Baroque architecture which recently earned it a Unesco World Heritage designation.” Flights might not be the cheapest for Canadians, but “…the Canadian dollar goes far in Mexico.” (Yahoo)
No. 8: San Juan, Puerto Rico
While the findings were reported before the devastation of Hurricane Maria (the biggest storm to hit the island in nearly 90 years), Lonely Planet opted to keep the city on the list as it will rebuild and with the help of people investing, remain a popular destination for travel. San Juan’s old and new world architecture and art combined with an energized nightlife scene and whimsical beaches were among the perks cited in the study.
Jose Izquierdo, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, said in a statement:
“Recent advancements on major tourism infrastructure, like our main airport fully operational with back to normal schedules and operational cruise ports and hotels, show a steady pace on our rebuilding path.” Futhermore, “assessment continues as we have been in constant communication with our tourism partners across the Island.” (Photo: Business Wire)
No. 7: Matera, Italy
If you’re a fan of underground caves and dwellings not visible to the sunlit eye, Matera may be your ticket to proper exploration. Matera is one of the oldest cities in the world and is continuing to increase its appeal in the restaurant and bar scene, too. There’s also a ton of festivals in the city including “Presepe Narrante Di Matera,” which features over one hundred performers and spans 5km. (Photo: Never Ending Voyage)
No. 6: Antwerp, Belgium
Antwerp’s Baroque 2018 celebration will feature “Flemish Masters along with modern talent in a calendar that spans parades, concerts, street art, multimedia shows and workshops.” Stunning architecutre and historic walking areas the like Grote Markt van Antwerpen are major attractions for travellers.
(AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
No. 5: Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Lonely Planet’s Alex Howard says Kaohsiung is his personal recommendation as its “great waterfront sights and experiences plus the light-rail system that connects the city with the adventure opportunities in the region” are big wow factors.
There’s also the Shoushan Zoo with bears to gawk at. And, if you opt to go further north into the Xiaogang Shan Recreation Area, you can view the Taiwan Strait from the brand new 88m ‘Eye of the Mountain’ skywalk. (Yahoo)
No. 4: Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg is Germany’s second-largest city and is known for its music culture, especially its electronic music culture. The brand new multi-million Elbphilharmonie concert hall, the HafenCity port and surrounding beach bars are all big lures to the city, too. (Photo: Flickr/Carsten Frenzl)
No. 3: Canberra, Australia
In 2018 Canberra’s Cartier Exhibition at the National Gallery and the Australian War Memorial are expected to draw in tourists. The latter hosts the 100th anniversay of the WWI Armistice. There’s also the cool climate wine region, which features 35 boutique wineries all within a 30-minute drive of Canberra, and Canberra’s Test cricket match at the Manuka Oval will take place for the first time in 2018. Also, the state’s holiday calendar from 2018 on will mark a “pemanent Reconciliation Day…to symbolise commitment to tolerance between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.” (REUTERS/Jason Reed)
No. 2: Detroit, USA
Many may be surprised with this insertion, but Detroit is one of the cities on the list that’s re-emerged in structure and presence. What used to be beaten down and abandoned buildings has been (or is in the process of becoming) brightened with a newfound culture of artists, businesses and opportunities. There are new sporting facilities downtown and according to Lonely Planet, “three new parks will extend the riverfront trail…plus groovy hotels will emerge from an old wig shop and a forlorn parking lot.” Money spent by travellers stays in the community and it gets reinvested. Detroit is also the most budget-friendly option on the list for those travelling from Canada (it’s a little over an hour’s flight from Toronto). “While Detroit has been nominated in past years, this is the year we really feel it’s ready to welcome international visitors. It’s recently seen news stadiums, parks, easier transportation and hotel openings,” adds Howard. (Yahoo)
No. 1: Seville, Spain
You can’t speak of Seville without mentioning its flamenco culture — it’s everywhere. There are also Gothic plazas, roads swathed in orange trees, and its once congested streets (the streets are very narrow) have slowly been restructured over the past 10 years, according to Lonely Planet’s report. In 2018, the capital of Andalucía is slated to host the 31st European Film Awards and Seville is currently celebrating its 400th anniversary of Baroque painter, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.
[Photo: Flickr/Francisco Colinet]