The start of a new year provides the opportunity to add to your bucket list of destinations, and in the interest of helping you do that, we rounded up some of the best spots to visit in 2018.
Glide along the rivers of Ninh Binh, Vietnam, or wander the cobblestone streets of Tbilisi, Georgia — there’s no shortage of countries to discover.
Keep scrolling to see 50 places that should be on your radar this coming year.
Ninh Binh, Vietnam
Known as the “Halong Bay on Land,” Ninh Binh is a small city in Northern Vietnam. Its proximity to Hanoi — 60 miles to the south — is the reason that many overlook the scenic destination.
Nestled into the country’s Red River Delta, Ninh Binh boasts impressive topography that includes mountains, limestone cliffs, and forests. Glide along the river in a traditional boat, explore caves in Cuc Phuong National Park, or visit the ancient temples and palaces in Hoa Lu.
Lake District, Cumbria, England
The Lake District is precisely what you’d imagine when you think of the English countryside. Rolling hills, serene streams, and moss-covered stones. This scenery has served as inspiration for countless famous writers, like Beatrix Potter.
The area makes up England’s most popular national park, attracting around 18 million visitors per year. However, it wasn’t until this summer that the Lake District was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is home to the country’s tallest mountain (Scafell Peak) and its deepest and longest lakes (Wastwater Lake and Windmere Lake).
Named the “Restaurant City of the Year” by Bon Appétit magazine, Chicago is a hot destination for foodies. Must eats include the Au Cheval burger — which is frequently named among the best burgers in the country — deep dish pizza from any number of the city’s institutions like Lou Malnati’s or Pequod’s, and anything from Alinea — which is considered one of the best restaurants in the country. The city also saw the opening of the first-ever Nutella Cafe this year.
Besides its buzzing dining scene, Chicago has plenty of other tourist draws: beaches, ballparks, breweries, comedy clubs, museums, and music festivals. Trivago also named the Langham Chicago the best five-star hotel in the US for 2018. Just do yourself a favor and avoid going during the brutally-cold winter.
Mexico City, Mexico
There’s a lot more to Mexico than beach resorts. The county’s capital, Mexico City, has been named the world design capital for 2018, meaning that the city will host plenty of exhibitions and events, as well as designers and architects from across the globe.
Mexico City’s history, which spans multiple civilizations, is another big draw, Waliszewski says. He says Americans will be hard pressed to find another destination with so much culture that is just a quick direct flight away from the US.
Ellen Carpenter, editor in chief of Ink‘s publications for United Airlines, Hemispheres and Rhapsody, says that the city also boasts an “amazing high-low mix of food — insanely delicious and cheap al pastor tacos on every block as well as two World’s 50 Best restaurants, Pujol and Quintonil.”
Unlike many of its other Asian neighbors, Kazakhstan doesn’t often find itself on traveler’s bucket lists. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have plenty of draws. The country’s capital, Astana, is a fascinating city that looks almost futuristic with its tent-shaped shopping mall, glass pyramid, and a 100-meter tall tower that’s often compared to a lollipop. The recently-built Hazrat Sultan Mosque is a sight to behold, too.
The country’s former capital, Almaty, is just as glitzy and glamorous; many say it’s reminiscent of a European city. For those looking for the outdoors, there are snow-capped peaks and hiking trails bordered by tranquil lakes. Aksu-Zhabagly and Kolsai Lakes National Park are both worth a visit.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
In the last year, the dollar has increased a whole 13.5% in Argentina, which means that if you’re looking for a rich cultural experience that won’t break the bank, thisLatin American country is a good bet.
Konrad Waliszewski, founder and CEO of travel app, TripScout, recommends Buenos Aires in particular.
“Buenos Aires is a cultural epicenter: delicious food and wine, sexy tango dancing, vibrant music, beautiful architecture, world class art, highly caffeinated yerba matte, and vivacious people,” Waliszewski says. “You will experience the best of Latin American and European culture all in one place. It’s a city with all the best indulgences.”
Waliszewski thinks Tbilisi is a city that is too often overlooked by most travelers.
“Tbilisi sits at the intersection of East and West, and you can feel the old trade route influences throughout this Medieval town,” he says. “Cobbled streets,centuries old churches and wine cellars, and breathtaking views are found around every corner.”
“With a unique blend of post-Soviet dilapidation and emerging modernization, and a short drive away from pristine lakes and majestic mountains, I believe that Tblisi is the most underrated travel destination in the world.”
According to Carpenter, the Caribbean should be everyone’s “top destination” next year. She says that the common assumption is that Hurricane Irma wiped out the whole region, but in reality, 70% of the Caribbean was unaffected.
Antigua is one such example, plus, Carpenter points out that any tourist dollars spent there will also help Barbuda, its sister island which was hit hard by the hurricane. Be sure to hike up to Shirley Heights for stunning panoramic views. You also won’t want to miss Nelson’s Dockyard — ideal for yacht spotting — and the numerous pristine beaches across the island.
New Orleans, Louisiana
It’s never a bad time to visit NOLA, but this year the party capital is celebrating its tricentennial — or 300th anniversary. That means that 2018 will bring plenty of special events, concerts, parties, and fireworks.
New hotels like The Ace and The Henry Howard, as well as the $10 million renovation of the historic Pontchartrain Hotel, will make a trip here more luxe than ever before.
Bon Appétit also named Turkey and the Wolf, one of the city’s sandwich shops, the best new restaurant in the country. Go for the fried bologna, and then stop by the famed Café du Monde for beignets.
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the first time this year, Ahmedabad dates all the way back to the 1400s, when it was founded by Sultan Ahmad Shah. The city — which is still walled to this day — offers a glimpse into life during a time when sultans ruled. Its architectural wonders include the Bhadra citadel, the fort city, and countless mosques, tombs, and temples.
Even Ahmedabad’s current residents still live in traditional homes in gated streets.
Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia
Considered one of the last truly wild places in Southern Africa, Zambia is the ideal destination for adventure seekers looking for an uncrowded safari experience. King Lewanika Lodge just opened in Liuwa Plain National Park, and it’s the park’s first ever permanent camp. The lodge is named after King Lewanika, a member of the Lozi tribe who was the first to declare Liuwa a protected area back in the late 1880s; it has remained untouched since.
Try to time your visit so that you’re there in early April, when the Kuomboka Festival occurs — a time when thousands of Lozi people gather at the end of the rainy season to watch their king move his compound from the floodplain to higher ground. 2018 marks one of the first years this festival is accessible to tourists.
Nosy Ankao, Madagascar
An astounding 90% of the mammals found on Nosy Ankao — a secluded private island sanctuary that’s part of the Loky Manambato Protected Area — are not found anywhere else. Guests who stay at the island’s new and first luxury development, Miavana, can choose from lemur walks, helicopter tours, whale watching, and scuba diving.
Miavana’s 14 private villas border crystal clear waters, and the five-star eco resort even has its own museum filled with fascinating artifacts from the island.
Emilia Romagna, Italy
A culinary gem that’s often overshadowed by other regions in the country, Emilia Romagna sits in northeastern Italy with Bologna as its capital. Thanks to its strategic location between the River Po and the Apennine Mountains, Emilia Romagna is one of Italy’s most fertile regions.
Wander through the cobblestone streets and enjoy the scenery of the region’s small medieval villages, then tour the authentic restaurants of larger cities like Bologna and Modena. Don’t forgot Parma — the birthplace of both Parmesan cheese and Parma ham. Bologna is also home to the recently-opened Eataly World, a massive food-themed park.
New Mexico is slowly creeping onto travelers’ radars, but not so much that it will be packed with tourists. Known as the “Land of Enchantment,” the southwestern state’s scenery is characterized by desert sands, red rocks, adobe homes, and eye-catching Native American art.
Fans of the outdoors will love sights like Carlsbad Caverns National Park, and the White Sands National Monument, while art junkies will enjoy exploring Santa Fe’s many galleries and museums. The city was also named one of the best in the worldby travelers in 2017.
Go in early October for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, when the sky becomes filled with brightly-colored balloons.
Seville — the capital of Spain’s southern Andalucía region— has traded heavy traffic for bicycles and trams in recent years, making it an enjoyable city to visit and get around. Lonely Planet also named it the No. 1 city to visit in 2018.
Seville is known for its beautiful Moorish architecture, and this year it’s celebrating the 400th anniversary of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, a baroque painter and Seville native. The city is also hosting the 31st European Film Awards, and will appear in the upcoming season of “Game of Thrones.”
Portugal is every bit as much of a hotspot as Iceland. American Express Travel reports that planned travel to the country is up 86% year over year for the first quarter of 2018. And that’s probably because Portugal offers a plethora of things to do, from the postcard-like beaches of the Algarve to the red-tiled rooftops of Lisbon, a city whose medieval past is well-documented through castles and cathedrals.
There’s an endless array of seafood and other local delicacies to enjoy throughout the country, and the friendly locals and safe atmosphere make for a great solo travel destination. If wine is your vice, don’t miss Porto, the birthplace of port wine.
Antwerp is highlighting its roots and its copious examples of Baroque style with Antwerp Baroque 2018, a celebration of architecture, art, and the city’s most famous artist, Peter Paul Rubens.
The celebration will bring together some of the most prominent Flemish masters of today. The program includes everything from parades to exhibitions to streets art and concerts.
Malta’s capital, Valletta, will be the European capital of culture in 2018, which is a great excuse to go see this well-preserved city. It was founded in the early 16th century and to this day remains a breathtaking time capsule from that time period.
With a total of 320 monuments on a tiny peninsula with an area of just 136 acres, Valletta was called “one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world,” by UNESCO (the city is also a world heritage site). Don’t miss the grand master’s palace, the city gate, and St. John’s Cathedral.
The country itself is a small archipelago situated in between Sicily and the North African coast, bordered by the clear waters of the Mediterranean — which means that you’re never far from the beach.
La Paz, Bolivia
La Paz bears the unique distinction of the highest administrative capital in the world. The city sits more than 3,500 meters above sea level on the Altiplano Plateau in the Andes Mountains. One ride on the Mi Teleférico — La Paz’s aerial cable car system — will give you a glimpse of the gorgeous scenery that surrounds this densely packed urban setting.
This spot is especially well-suited for the budget-conscious traveler. Lonely Planetnamed it one of the best value places to visit in 2018, saying that travelers can easily keep spending to under $30 per day. And even if you do end up at the trendy hotels, restaurants, and cafes that are springing up all over the city, you still won’t spend nearly as much as you would in most other big cities around the world.
Tatra Mountains, Poland
Commonly known as Poland’s Alps, the Tatra Mountains are just as beautiful as the real Alps, but a lot less pricey. The Tatras are part of Eastern Europe’s Carpathian Mountain chain, bordering both Slovakia and Poland.
Poland is home to Kasprowy Wierch mountain, one of the most popular ski destinations in the country. The cable car that takes you to the peak has been in operation since the 1930s, making it one of the oldest in Europe. And if you’re looking for aprés ski, there’s Zakopane, a resort town filled with charming wooden chalets that sits at the base of the mountain.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The Louvre’s first ever branch outside of Paris opened its doors to the public in early November 2017, and it’s impressive to say the least. Perched on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island overlooking the serene Persian Gulf, the museum will have 700 exhibits. The building itself is an architectural wonder, with a 180-meter dome that’s made of around 8,000 metal pieces, which allow beams of sunlight to stream into the museum during the day.
The UAE capital offers other attractions for travelers — both contemporary and more traditional. The iconic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the largest in the world, boasting 82 domes. The Qasr al-Hosn palace is the oldest stone building in Abu Dhabi. Families will love Ferrari World (home to the world’s fastest roller coaster), and Yas Waterworld.
Singapore is a melting pot of numerous Asian cultures set against a backdrop of ultra-modern skyscrapers, swanky hotels, and crowded markets that offer some of the best street food you’ll ever eat. One of its food stalls was even awarded aMichelin star.
Splurge and stay in the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, if only to get a breathtaking view of the city’s skyline from 57 floors up. You’ll also want to visit one of Singapore’s six bars that landed on this year’s list of the 50 best bars in the world. Manhattan, the bar located in the Regent Hotel, was named the top bar in Asia.
Sweden is by no means cheap, but the dollar has increased 4.6% in the last year, making it more affordable than it’s been in the past. The Scandinavian nation is also a very well-run country: it ranked in the top 10 of the World Economic Forum’s annual competitiveness report, which analyzes country’s economies and their level of productivity.
Thanks to the country’s high-quality infrastructure, it’s easy to hop around Stockholm’s 14 islands. And English speakers won’t run into any barriers here — most locals speak English and almost every sign is written in both Swedish andEnglish.
If you’re looking to explore the countryside, go at the end of June, when you can join in on midsummer celebrations — a holiday that prompts Swedes to leave the city in droves.
This southwestern Chinese province has become much more accessible in the last year, thanks to Hainan Airline’s addition of non-stop flights between Chengdu and New York City. There’s also non-stop service between Los Angeles and Chengdu.
Ideal for adventurous eaters, Sichuan claims some of the spiciest dishes the country has to offer. Many are enhanced with chili oil and the famous, fiery Sichuan pepper.
Besides exploring the food, visitors will want to spend some time outdoors catching glimpses of the region’s giant pandas and breathtaking mountain vistas. Jiǔzhàigōu National Park and Yàdīng Nature Reserve are good places to start. If you’re more of a cultural buff, go see a Sichuanese opera — a unique form of art that includes masks and fire-breathing — or head to Leshan to see the world’s largest stone Buddha statue.
Durban, South Africa
An hour flight from Johannesburg, the oceanside city of Durban remains unknown to many travelers. But that doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of things to do. In fact, Fodors included the city on its “Go List” for this year.
Surfers will love the area’s rugged coastline and big waves, while risk takers will want to try shark diving. Instead of bungee jumping, the city’s ultra-modern Moses Mabhida Stadium offers a ride on the world’s largest swing.
Families will enjoy taking advantage of uShaka Marine World, a theme park and aquarium all in one. There’s also the Durban Botanic Gardens, which are full of beautiful, exotic plants. Station Drive Precinct, a neighborhood that was once full of factories, and is now a hipster Mecca filled with artsy cafés and boutiques, as well as a tattoo parlor, brewery, and distillery.
Spike Island, Ireland
Essentially the Alcatraz of Ireland, Spike Island was named Europe’s top tourist attraction by The World Travel Awards 2017.
Off of Cork, the (now evacuated) prison island was once a military base, spread over 100 acres. The are no cars on the island, only the old prison, as well as the ruins of Victorian houses and cottages, as well as stunning views of Cork Harbour.
Finland’s legendary wilderness (40 national parks, 12 wilderness areas, and six national hiking areas) is the perfect spot for adventurers, and one of the best places to see the Northern Lights (near the Arctic Circle they can be seen almost 200 days a year).
It’s the perfect alternative to the increasingly crowded Iceland.
According to the 2017 MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index, Bangkok was the fastest-growing city in the world in terms of number of visitors. In other words: tourists are flocking to this Thai city, and for good reason.
The perfect tension between old and new, traditional and modern, Bangkok is famous for its adventurous street food, beautiful floating markets, and many stunning palaces and temples.
Canada was named Travel and Leisure’s 2017 Destination of the Year.
The country is huge and has plenty to offer — from bustling cities filled with innovative art and creative food like Vancouver and Toronto, to European-flavored towns like Montreal and Quebec, to the great outdoors in Whistler and Alberta.
Music lovers should head to Hamburg, home to the brand new Elbphilharmonie, a concert hall on the city’s bustling harbor that opened in January 2017. By the time you visit, you may even be able to snag tickets to a concert.
The stunning glass and brick building cost a whopping $850 million, and took more than a decade to build, but the acoustics are said to be the some of the best in the world, designed by renowned Japanese acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota.
New York City, New York City
From excellent food to incredible shopping, world class museums and unforgettable shows, New York City is always a good idea.
However, it is also home to the world’s best restaurant, per a list titled The World’s 50 Best Restaurants that comes out annually. Eleven Madison Park was rated number one on the planet this year, thanks to its incredible haute cuisine, and even more incredible presentation of said cuisine. Chef Humm’s signature roasted duck is not to be missed.
It seems like travel bloggers have recently discovered the stunning indoor courtyards and intricate mosaic doorways that Marrakesh is famous for, so it’s time to visit before the city gets overrun by tourists all posing in the exact same spots.
Even better, October 2017 saw the opening of a new, 43,000-square-foot museum dedicated to fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent’s work — featuring everything from sketches to gowns and accessories.
Magic Mountain, Vermont
Small but mighty, this resort prides itself in its laid back vibe and community feel — as well as its challenging expert trails, tree skiing, and “real black diamonds.”
According to Liftopia‘s latest Best in Snow Awards, which incorporates feedback from thousands of skiers and snowboarders to determine the most popular ski resorts in North America, Magic Mountain is the number one ski resort in the country, taking home the title of “Overall Best in Snow.” Those surveyed called it “the best kept secret in the Northeast” and “a true skier’s mountain.”
If your Instagram feed looks like a giant ad for Iceland, you’re not alone. The island country is having a moment, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
In fact, thanks to cheap flights and layovers on airlines like Icelandair and Wow Air, it’s no wonder that over 1.8 million visitors flock to the stunning island nation every year.
From volcanic deserts and steamy springs to icy glaciers and black sand beaches, the beautiful country is the perfect destination for outdoor lovers.
According to Business Insider’s expert curated list of places to travel next year, Senegal will be the next west African hotspot.
“Senegal is another emerging west African destination, thanks to its great beaches for surfing, music venues, culture, and food,” one travel expert proclaimed.
When people think of safaris in Africa, they often think of Botswana or Uganda. However, Malawi is an off-the-beaten-path safari destination that also boasts white sand beaches— mostly along Lake Malawi, Africa’s third-largest lake.
Thanks to a lion reintroduction program at Majete Wildlife Reserve, and the conservation efforts of African Parks’ 500 Elephants program, in which 500 elephants were moved to Malawi, Malawi should be on top of any bucket list for wildlife watching.
While still not exactly a piece of cake, getting to Antarctica will be a heck of a lot easier in 2018. LADE, Argentina’s state-owned airline, will begin having regular commercial flights there, meaning that visitors can hop on a 90-minute plane ride rather than a lengthy cruise to see the beautifully icy continent.
Cuenca, Ecuador, took home the title of South America’s Leading City Break Destination as per the World Travel Awards. While lesser known than Quito, Cuenca, which dates back to the 16th century, is equally beautiful, and a similarly colonial city. In fact, its historic center, filled with cafés and galleries, is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Quayaquil is also worth a visit. While often dismissed as a necessary layover en route to the Galapagos islands (another must-visit), a refreshed riverfront, as well as new hotels and restaurants popping up all over town are enticing visitors to spend more than just one night.
Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia
The sparsely populated Raja Ampat Islands are still a hidden gem in Indonesia, and the ideal spot for underwater enthusiasts.
In the heart of the Coran Triangle, the islands host three-quarters of the world’s coral varieties, with a backdrop of lush jungles and white-sand beaches, as well as hidden lagoons and caves to explore.
Lima has become a culinary powerhouse in recent years, featuring a whopping three restaurants on the Diner’s Club World’s 50 best restaurants list. When you aren’t eating fresh ceviche, or Chifa, distinctly local Chinese-Peruvian fusion cuisine, or taking a walk along the steep cliffs of the city’s waterfront parks, there’s gorgeous colonial architecture aplenty, museums filled with artifacts, and even the vestiges of an ancient civilization to explore in the middle of the city at Pucllana Temple.
Paris is a timeless destination, but 2018 sees a few additions that make it a must-visit. A new, immersive art experience called l’Atelier des Lumières will open to the public in April, and already has people the world over buzzing with excitement.
Later that year, the LVMH Theme Park— a $70 million steampunk themed park created by the fashion house that owns Marc Jacobs, Fendi, Louis Vuitton and other luxury brands — also makes its debut.
Pyeongchang, South Korea
Pyeongchang is hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics, making a visit this year a once-in-a-lifetime trip. The XXIII Olympic Winter Games will take place February 9 to 25, at two of the area’s main ski resorts, Alpensia and Yongpyong.
Norway is celebrating 50 years of marriage between their king and queen, making 2018 a great year to visit its capital.
Currently, there’s a lot of buzz surrounding the city’s unrivaled coffee culture, but the 1,000-year-old city is also filled with trendy Scandinavian design, stunning architecture, fascinating museums, and hip new spots, especially along its newly revitalized waterfront.
And since the city’s opera house is also turning 10, there will be plenty of cultural events and performances. Hurry before word spreads — Oslo’s sleek new airport has already increased tourism.
Chile is becoming more and more of a hotspot for travelers.
There’s Parque Patagonia in Patagonia, a wilderness area that opened in 2016, the Atacama Desert, which boasts new sunrise balloon rides, and the remote and rugged Terra do Fogo archipelago, which is filled with wildlife.
Even better, Chile is celebrating 200 years of independence in 2018, meaning that there are bound to be cultural events and activities aplenty.
The tiny, remote island state of Tasmania is often overlooked, but that’s changing thanks to a bevy of new restaurants, vineyards, breweries, and distilleries. While a vacation here can be spent sampling the exports of one small local producer after the other, a ticket to the annual Taste of Tasmania will do the trick, too.
In 2018, The Aboriginal Land Council is launching the Wukalina Walk, a new, four-day guided showcasing the culture of the Palawa people.
Taipei may not be as popular as other large Asian cities like Tokyo or Beijing, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less exciting.
Some of the country’s best street food can be found in Taipei’s multiple night markets or just outside of the city in Jiufen, a former mining village nestled into the mountains.
Experience the country’s culture at the National Palace Museum or the National Revolutionary Martyr’s Shrine, or get outdoorsy with a trip to the Yangmingshan National Park or Beitou Hot Spring.
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The world’s largest coral reef and the largest living structure on the planet, the Great Barrier Reef is incredibly rich and diverse, and home to hundreds of animals and plants.
Unfortunately, it has decreased by more than half its size because of rising temperatures in the past 30 years. Coral bleaching thanks to acid pollution is another concern, leading scientists to predict that the reefs could be completely gone by 2030.
Snorkel or scuba dive among this natural wonder before it’s gone! And if you want to help, there are plenty of science groups and even a a turtle rehabilitation centerthat welcomes volunteers.