The hottest travel destinations for 2018
New year, new bucket list. As 2017 draws to a close, these are the hottest destinations and experiences around the world to top your 2018 travel wish list. From the windswept wilds of Patagonia, to savouring Michelin-starred delights in Portugal, whatever your travel tastes, these are the holidays to make 2018 your most memorable year yet.
Long overshadowed by Spain, this Iberian gem is finally getting the attention from sun-seeking travellers that it deserves. With over 800 kilometres of dramatic coastline, few beaches can compare to the golden sandy stretches and cerulean waters that fringe Portugal’s southern Algarve region. Here you’ll also find the new Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort — the first European hotel to open by the luxury Anantara group.
Equally as impressive as Portugal’s striking landscapes is the various histories that have left their mark across the country with ancient stone carvings, clifftop castles, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. But perhaps the richest lure of all is Portugal’s perfected local produce and Mediterranean cuisine, best savoured at any of Lisbon’s growing lineup of Michelin-starred restaurants, alongside a glass of local vino from the historic Douro region or breathtaking Alentejo.
With no shortage of bragging rights, from the cape’s dramatic coastline and the vineyard-carpeted Winelands, to the rugged plains of Kruger National Park, South Africa is no stranger to travel wish lists. This year Cape Town continues to blossom as a world-class arts and culture destination with the newly opened Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa — at 100,000-square feet, it’s the biggest public art space to open on the continent for more than a century. There’s even a new designer hotel on site, The Silo, featuring just 28 ultra-stylish rooms overlooking Table Mountain. However, right across the country you’ll notice South Africa upping the ante in travel experiences for the ‘Nelson Mandela Centenary 2018: Be the Legacy’ — a two-year program to honour its founder, Nelson Mandela, who would have turned 100 years old in 2018. With a lengthy lineup of special exhibitions and events, now is the time to see SA at its finest.
With the city of Leeuwarden named the 2018 European Capital of Culture, this thriving arts hub in the country’s north is set to host a vibrant lineup of events and experiences over the next 12 months, with fascinating exhibitions, seismic festivals, interactive theatre performances, and a special art-themed marathon already confirmed. The arts adventure continues further south in the buzzing Dutch capital of Amsterdam. Discover a treasure trove of museums, galleries, upscale restaurants, and a rich café culture, tucked in and around its canals and atmospheric lanes. Don’t leave without visiting the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, and the Hermitage Amsterdam. Here you can also indulge at the lavish new Kimpton De Witt boutique hotel, which only opened in 2017, encompassing three original Renaissance-era buildings as part of its magnificent design.
Few countries compare to the dynamic nature of Japan, making it an ever-popular (and ever-changing) destination. With a distinct blend of ancient tradition and innovative modernity, unparalleled ski resorts, and round-the-clock dining experiences, the Land of the Rising Sun never fails to impress. But Japan’s appeal isn’t restricted to its dazzling city centres, and thanks to an expanding train system, venturing outside of them has never been easier. In fact, the futuristic Shiki-Shima train launched this year, ferrying passengers between Tokyo and northern Japan in sublime private suites, with cuisine created by a Michelin-starred chef to match. If venturing south, add Kanazawa to your itinerary for a slice of traditional culture with old wooden teahouses and one of the most impressive sushi selections. Meanwhile the Kii Peninsula promises many of Japan’s most beloved experiences from hot springs to Shintō shrines, with significantly fewer crowds.
Dubbed by Lonely Planet as the number one travel destination of 2018, there’s plenty of hype surrounding the sliver of South America that is Chile, and for good reason. Bookended by the Andes Mountains and the Pacific, Chile’s landscape spans from the otherworldly Atacama Desert to colossal peaks in Patagonia. The most indulgent way to experience Chile’s outdoor splendour is at the growing array of five-star hotels, combining seclusion and magnificent views, with luxe design and culinary prowess (as well as Chile’s own world-class wine). Among several newcomers this year is Tierra Chiloé Hotel and Spa, taking pride of place on the remote southern island of Chiloé, with horse riding and local community visits, to sailing on a private yacht all part of the inclusive activities. Whether you’re taking in the scenery of Torres del Paine National Park, or sampling the top-tier restaurants erupting across cosmopolitan Santiago, Chile promises a positively memorable South American adventure.