Top 30 places you should visit in 2018

Looking for your next adventure? 🌍👀

Our editors’ top picks will have you discovering new trails, tasting local foods, and spotting vibrant wildlife around the world.

30Madagascar

WHY GO NOW: Spot endangered lemurs in the wild.

Madagascar, the world’s fourth-largest island, is the undisputed land of the lemurs. Located in the Indian Ocean east of Mozambique, the biodiversity hotspot is home to about 100 species of lemurs—almost all endangered due to deforestation, climate change, and other threats.

FUN FACT: Madagascar separated from the Indian subcontinent about 88 million years ago.

29Vienna, Austria

WHY GO NOW: Celebrate the Secession art movement.

Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, and Otto Wagner—three leading members of Vienna’s upstart Secession art movement—died in 1918. To mark the centennial, the Belvedere, Leopold, MAK, and other museums in Austria’s art-obsessed capital city will host special Secessionist exhibitions.

FUN FACT: Vienna’s Secession Building houses Klimt’s massive masterpiece: the seven-foot-tall and 112-foot-long Beethoven Frieze.

28Cleveland, Ohio

WHY GO NOW: Celebrate an industrial city’s revival.

Cleveland rocks: on stage in the eight theaters on Playhouse Square, at indie-music venue Beachland Ballroom, and in hip meat-lovers’ restaurants like the Black Pig and the Plum. Shop and stroll in the revived Hingetown neighborhood and Waterloo Arts District.

FUN FACT: “Rock ‘n’ Roll” was coined by Cleveland based DJ Alan Freed in 1952.

27Malmö, Sweden

WHY GO NOW: Savor global flavors.

Home to nearly 180 nationalities and over 450 restaurants, Sweden’s third largest city is a United Nations of food. Foodies flock to Malmö to sample a global smorgasbord offering everything from cutting-edge Nordic cuisine to the number one street food, falafel.

FUN FACT: Swedes relish their fika (pronounced ‘fee-ka’), or coffee-and-cinnamon bun breaks.

26Harar, Ethiopia

WHY GO NOW: Find the most surprising city in East Africa.

Tourists in northern Ethiopia rarely travel to the laid-back east, anchored by the enchantingly contradictory city of Harar. The “City of Saints” boasts 82 mosques, as well as Ethiopia’s best beer, strongest khat (an ubiquitous narcotic plant), and highest quality coffee.

FUN FACT: Hyenas are welcome night visitors in Harar, where they eat food waste and are fed by ‘hyena men.’

25Albania

WHY GO NOW: Dive in relatively unexplored waters.

Sunken aqueducts, shipwrecks, and rarely visited caves are a few of the relatively untouched treasures awaiting divers in Albania. Decades of isolation under communist leader Enver Hoxha limited development and inadvertently preserved underwater cultural heritage, particularly off the southern coast.

FUN FACT: Hoxha famously banned scuba diving to prevent Albanians from escaping.

24Sydney, Australia

WHY GO NOW: See the new-look Opera House.

A $273-million upgrade launched in May 2016 is transforming the interior of Sydney’s iconic Opera House. Improvements include state-of-the-art acoustics, a hangout-friendly foyer, and the renovated Joan Sutherland Theatre, which reopened in December and welcomes back the Australian Ballet in April.

FUN FACT: The Opera House includes one thousand rooms and has over one million roof tiles.

23Jujuy Province, Argentina

WHY GO NOW: Hang with nature-made rock stars.

Located in outermost northwest Argentina, Jujuy is home to the Quebrada de Humahuaca World Heritage site. The narrow valley is cloaked in colorful rock bands crafted over millennia. Elevate your Instagram with shots of Cerro de los Siete Colores (Hill of Seven Colors).

FUN FACT: Prehistoric hunter-gatherers (9000 BC to AD 400) lived in Quebrada de Humahuaca.

22North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii

WHY GO NOW: Support local farmers and rural life.

World-famous for its big waves, the North Shore is the rural neighbor of increasingly sprawling Honolulu. Local farms, such as Poamoho and Kahuku, are helping (as the ubiquitous bumper stickers state) “Keep the Country Country” by cultivating homegrown crops and agritourist experiences. Discover more about Oahu.

FUN FACT: At the North Shore’s Mohala Farms, guests exchange labor for lodging.

21Oaxaca, Mexico

WHY GO NOW: Discover the ancient art of natural dyeing.

Tourists are welcome more than ever in the color-rich Mexican state of Oaxaca; shaken by two powerful September earthquakes. Shop local markets for dazzlingly vibrant wool rugs and other handmade textiles dyed using fruits, insects, and other natural colorants. Discover more about Oaxaca.

FUN FACT: The most-coveted Oaxaca textiles are woven with snail-dyed purple threads.

20San Antonio, Texas

WHY GO NOW: Party like it’s 1718.

Three centuries of history inspired San Antonio to throw a big-as-Texas Tricentennial Celebration. Join the year-long party at the kickoff New Year’s Eve concert and fireworks extravaganza or at any of more than 550 scheduled arts and cultural events.

FUN FACT: The five San Antonio Missions comprise Texas’ first World Heritage site.

19Tétouan, Morocco

WHY GO NOW: Discover contemporary Moroccan art.

Traditional artisans still create carpets in this port city’s World Heritage site medina, but a grassroots fine arts movement is attracting new talent. See contemporary works at the National Institute of Fine Arts, Tétouan Museum of Modern Art, and Green Olive Arts.

FUN FACT: Rebuilt in the 15th century, Tétouan’s medina is Morocco’s most complete.

18Tbilisi, Georgia

WHY GO NOW: Experience Old Tbilisi’s authentic charms.

Development is reshaping the cityscape of Georgia’s capital city at a dizzying pace. Traditional Georgian experiences—the 24-hour sulphur baths, the plump khinkali (spiced meat dumplings), and the legendary hospitality of the locals—persevere in disarmingly disorganized Old Tbilisi.

FUN FACT: Persian, Arab, Byzantine, Ottoman, Russian, and Soviet occupations influenced Tbilisi architecture.

17Santiago, Chile

WHY GO NOW: View outdoor urban art “galleries.”

Bare walls are blank canvases for vibrant murals in Chile’s capital and largest city. Walk with Stgo Street Art Tours to see Chilean-style, street art in neighborhoods such as Bellavista, Brasil, and Yungay.

FUN FACT: The long-neglected San Miguel barrio is home to the must-see Museo a Cielo Abierto (open-air mural museum).

16Jordan Trail

WHY GO NOW: Hike a newly marked historic route.

The 400-mile Jordan Trail is a newly minted hiking path linking ancient trade routes. Divided into eight separate sections, the trail leads through Jordanian forests, canyons, deserts, and along the shores of the Red Sea. Overnight in guesthouses, home stays, and Bedouin campsites.

FUN FACT: It’s believed that Jesus, Moses, and Mohammed all walked this path.

15Dublin, Ireland

WHY GO NOW: Feel at home in ‘Europe’s largest village.’

While home to almost 1.2 million people, Ireland’s intimate capital exudes a friendly, village vibe. Stroll around to discover Dublin’s historic Georgian squares, cozy pubs, and high-tech treasures, like the new Irish Emigration Museum and revamped National Gallery of Ireland. Discover more about Dublin.

FUN FACT: One-third of the Irish population is under age 25.

14Friesland, Netherlands

WHY GO NOW: Explore a 2018 European Culture Capital.

Birthplace of Mata Hari and a European Capital of Culture for 2018, Leeuwarden is the capital of the Dutch province of Friesland. Live the Frisian life: mud walk on the Wadden Sea, buy tin-glazed pottery in Makkum, and eat cinnamon-laced sugar bread.

FUN FACT: Friesland is the birthplace of fierljeppen, or canal pole vaulting.

13RIO GRANDE DO NORTE, BRAZIL

In Brazil, where idyllic beach escapes come a dime a dozen, the northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte is ready to reveal that it’s more than another sun-and-surf getaway.

Famed for nonstop sands, sea salt products, and the world’s largest cashew tree, this region known as Brazil’s elbow is where the Atlantic seaboard makes a sensual swerve. The state capital, Natal, three hours by air north of Rio de Janeiro, reigns over a coastline that racks up some 233 days of sunshine a year. Recently, the state’s arid interior region, the historically poor sertão, has been seeing unprecedented love and investment from both the public and private sectors. The sertão is rich in local culture (clay figurines, woven palm mats) and cuisine (sun-dried beef, cassava fries). It also is the cradle of forró, a rambunctious musical blend of accordion, triangle, and zabumba drums that sends couples twirling much as it did during World War II, when the area housed U.S. troops who used the state as a “Trampoline to Victory” in North Africa. To this day, Rio Grande do Norte is one of the most welcoming, and sun-splashed, places in Brazil. —Michael Sommers

12Phnom Penh, Cambodia

WHY GO NOW: Bring big-screen backdrops to life.

Oscar buzz for Angelina Jolie’s Cambodian genocide drama First They Killed My Father is boosting interest in the Kingdom’s buzzing capital city. See cultural treasures in the Royal Palace compound. Learn about the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.

FUN FACT: The Royal Palace’s Silver Pagoda houses a diamond-encrusted gold Buddha statue weighing about 200 pounds.

11Labrador, Canada

WHY GO NOW: Visit a new Canadian national park.

Located in a road-less expanse of northern Labrador wilderness, Akami-Uapishku-KakKasuak-Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve is one of Canada’s newest and most remote national parks. Book hikes and other experiences with First Nations guides, such as Experience Labrador in Cartwright.

FUN FACT: The 4,131-square-mile park is roughly the size of Jamaica (4,411 square miles).

10BERMUDA

“I love you! God loves you!” repeats Johnny Barnes, a 92-year-old Bermudian who waves at passing scooters and cars each weekday morning at a roundabout in Bermuda’s capital of Hamilton.

“We may seem very proper,” says taxi driver Larry Rogers, “but we are also an eccentric island.” Indeed, scratch the immaculately gardened surface of this British overseas territory, and you’ll find a place brimming with personality. Every year, participants in the Non-Mariners’ Race vie to construct the shoddiest vessels to see who sinks fastest; descendants of Native Americans proudly hold powwows; and policemen and businessmen insist on wearing knee-high socks with their shorts, no matter what the rest of the world may think.

You can beat the crowd headed to Bermuda for 2017’s America’s Cup by going now, and don’t forget to say hello to Johnny.

9Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

WHY GO NOW: Help protect endangered African lions.

Ruaha, Tanzania’s largest park, is home to about one-tenth of the world’s endangered African lions. Sustainable tourism initiatives help visitors see the big cats—some grouped in prides of 30 or more—and support wildlife preservation in and around the park.

FUN FACT: The African lion population has decreased by 90% over the last century.

8Seoraksan National Park, South Korea

WHY GO NOW: Embrace the Olympic spirit.

Seoraksan is in northeastern Gangwon province, site of February’s Winter Olympic Games. While not an Olympic venue, the park boasts equally breathtaking mountainous terrain. From the Seorak Cable Car, see some of the park’s 30 peaks, including 5,604-foot Mount Sorak (Seoraksan).

FUN FACT: The park boasts the massive Great Unification Buddha, a 108-ton gilt-bronze statue.

7Baja California, Mexico

Close encounters of the ginormous marine kind are common in the waters off Mexico’s fingerlike Baja California peninsula. Baja is bordered to the west by the Pacific Ocean and to the east by the Sea of Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California), where behemoths of the sea—whales, great white sharks, and manta rays with wingspans up to 20 feet—and a variety of fish congregate.

6Banff, Canada

With its rugged peaks, meadowed valleys, and turquoise-blue lakes, Banff offers everything from mountain hikes and horseback excursions to hot spring soaks and luxury accommodations—making it an ideal destination for the 2017 celebration of our northern neighbor’s 150th anniversary of nationhood and the perfect place to escape to for answers to life’s questions.

5Malta

With its rugged peaks, meadowed valleys, and turquoise-blue lakes, Banff offers everything from mountain hikes and horseback excursions to hot spring soaks and luxury accommodations—making it an ideal destination for the 2017 celebration of our northern neighbor’s 150th anniversary of nationhood and the perfect place to escape to for answers to life’s questions.

Eager for its turn on the world stage, this tiny island nation in the Mediterranean Sea is embracing a reboot while holding fast to a formidable heritage. Storied land of the Knights of Malta, home to three World Heritage sites—including the capital, Valletta—and a recent headline-grabber as a setting for the television phenomenon Game of Thrones, Malta pivoted toward the future with the 2015 inauguration of architect Renzo Piano’s reimagining of Valletta’s old City Gate, Parliament building, and Opera House. “I like the idea of joining past and future, history and modernity,” Piano noted. So do the visitors drawn to this storied republic as it embarks on a new era.

4Papua New Guinea

Time forgot much of Papua New Guinea, or PNG, an isolated and incredibly rugged Garden of Eden. Located in the South Pacific north of Australia, PNG includes the eastern half of the world’s second biggest island, New Guinea, and about 600 small islands. For indigenous cultures in secluded villages, life pretty much goes on as it has for centuries. Recent homegrown tourism initiatives, such as the villagehuts.com lodging and travel website, are making it a bit easier for adventurers to visit PNG’s untamed rain forests—home to threatened tree kangaroos and Queen Alexandra’s birdwing, the largest butterfly in the world—volcanic fjords, and vibrant coral reefs. At Tufi Resort, new sea kayaking expeditions make it possible to paddle between out-of-the-way villages and stay overnight in local guesthouses. And Walindi Resort’s 2017 programs include live-aboard dive trips to the outlying Witu Islands and Father’s Reef, both packed with whirling schools of brightly colored big fish.

3PHILIPPINES

In every family, there’s always an odd one out—and in the clan of Asia-Pacific nations, that member would be the Philippines. This nation of  7,107 islands (about 2,000 inhabited) began as a loose grouping of Indo-Malay tribes, which endured nearly 400 years of Spanish rule, then 48 years as a U.S. territory. Today the Philippines is a mix of tribal pride, Catholic fervor, American pop-culture savvy, and tropical affability.

Most visitors don’t linger in the muggy, traffic-clogged capital, Manila, but you should explore at least one of the Spanish churches in the old, walled center of Intramuros and stroll around Manila Bay at sunset.

Then head to some of the thousands of beaches, from the pink sands of Great Santa Cruz Island to the black sands of Albay. Divers off Palawan, Apo, and Siargao islands delight in hundreds of coral and fish species. On the southern isle of Mindanao, more than 1,300 land species—including the endangered Philippine eagle—reside in Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, which recently joined northern Luzon’s rice terraces as a World Heritage site.

If the Philippines is that quirky member of the family, it also is the one that always invites you over for dinner, a uniquely Filipino fusion experience that intermingles salty, sour, and savory flavors.

2Papua New Guinea

Time forgot much of Papua New Guinea, or PNG, an isolated and incredibly rugged Garden of Eden. Located in the South Pacific north of Australia, PNG includes the eastern half of the world’s second biggest island, New Guinea, and about 600 small islands. For indigenous cultures in secluded villages, life pretty much goes on as it has for centuries. Recent homegrown tourism initiatives, such as the villagehuts.com lodging and travel website, are making it a bit easier for adventurers to visit PNG’s untamed rain forests—home to threatened tree kangaroos and Queen Alexandra’s birdwing, the largest butterfly in the world—volcanic fjords, and vibrant coral reefs. At Tufi Resort, new sea kayaking expeditions make it possible to paddle between out-of-the-way villages and stay overnight in local guesthouses. And Walindi Resort’s 2017 programs include live-aboard dive trips to the outlying Witu Islands and Father’s Reef, both packed with whirling schools of brightly colored big fish.

1GUADELOUPE ISLANDS

Guadeloupe, or “Gwada,” has one foot in France, one in the Caribbean and a rich culture all its own. Located between Dominica and Antigua, the five-island archipelago moves to the beat of Gwo-Ka, a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage art form combining Guadeloupean Creole lyrics, African call-and-response singing, traditional Ka drum rhythms, and dancing. The sound (along with the food, art, and most things Gwada) fuses the islands’ Afro-Indian, Afro-French, and Afro-Caribbean roots. Learn how the African slave trade shaped Guadeloupe’s distinctive culture at Mémorial ACTe, opened in 2015 and part of UNESCO’s Slave Route Project. The museum, built on the site of a former sugar factory, uses location-based beacon technology to track your movements and trigger powerful audio-visual displays, such as actor portrayals of slaves, slave owners, and abolitionists.

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