Ethiopia—home to a 1,700-year-old Christian civilization, the birthplace of modern humans, and the coffee bean—is climbing back onto the international stage with an assist from China, which has gotten busy building new highways across the country and finishing a new airline terminal in the capital of Addis Ababa, seat of the African Union. It’s more feasible than ever to use Addis as a base to explore what the rest of the country has to offer. To the north, the “historical route” connects Aksum, the fourth-century home of the Ark of the Covenant, to the medieval castles of Gondar, as well as the 12th-century rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and the grass-roofed monasteries of Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile. In the south, the Omo Valley is home to a diverse and vanishing number of tribes in a landscape that’s lush and raw and the Danikil Depression, reachable by helicopter, the hottest and one of the deepest places on earth. With so much to see, make sure to take some time in Addis, too: to view the famous skeleton of Lucy at the National Museum, drink a macchiato at Tomoca Coffee, share a plate of injera, the teff flatbread used to eat stewed meat and veggies, and sample the hopping Ethio-jazz scene in one of the city’s historic night clubs.
Watch classic cars cruise past in Viñales, Cuba.
Tom McDermott, Editor at online shop and journal Huckberry, believes the colourful streets and lush countryside of Viñales, Cuba, is a destination everyone should take the time to experience in 2018.
“The surrounding countryside is incredibly beautiful, and the town square is full of live music and dancing until late into the night,” he said.
“Stay at Casa Dovales for some of the best home-cooked meals around, walk towards the Mural de la Prehistoria to find brightly painted homes nestled in the foothills, or spend some time playing cards at a local cafe and watching the classic cars cruise down the street.”
Catch a wave along the Alentejo Coast, Portugal.
Maya Goldfine, Product Editor at Huckberry, endorses the clear waves and breathtaking cliffs of Sines and Porto Covo along the Alentejo coastline in Portugal.
“São Torpes is my favourite surf spot. The beaches are empty and the waves easy to ride — and the water doesn’t chill you to the bone, which is unusual for the Atlantic coast,” Goldfine said.
“The area is just as amazing as the ever-popular Algarve coast, but far less visited, especially by American tourists. It’s definitely a locals-only vacation spot.”
Soak up some culture in Valetta, Malta.
Valetta, capital of Malta, is a highly-underrated holiday destination according to Dmitrijus Konovalovas — Co-Founder and Managing Director of travel inspiration and itinerary building website IQPlanner.
“Valetta, European Capital of Culture 2018, is offering a packed calendar of events to add to its existing charm,” he said.
Support the communities beaten down by 2017’s hurricanes across the Caribbean Islands.
As well as Valetta, Konovalovas believes there will be an upswing in socially responsible tourism in 2018.
“Given recent events in the Caribbean, we believe there’ll be a movement aimed at supporting these beloved destinations that depend upon tourism,” he said.
“Now is the time to find a well-priced Caribbean holiday and to support the region as it recovers [from Hurricanes Maria and Irma in September and October this year].”
Descend into the carved depths of Antelope Canyon, Utah, USA.
Antelope Canyon in Utah features all of the awe-inspiring natural beauty of the Grand Canyon with a fraction of the queues, according to Pablo Carrington — Managing Director of luxury independent hotel group Marugal.
“Less well-known than the Grand Canyon and much smaller, these slot canyons are spectacular and, depending on the time of day, you can visit them with no other tourist in sight,” Carrington said.
Find some peace in Tokyo, Japan.
“My favourite city on earth is Tokyo,” said Gilbert Ott, founder of air miles advice website God Save The Points.
“It’s always a good time to go there, but as they begin to prepare for the 2020 Olympics, there’s already a special buzz about the place.
“It has this reputation for being manic, but most of it is really not. It’s actually the most orderly place on earth, and you could eat dinner off the streets. The politeness of the people and culture is something you have to see to believe.”
Sail to Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia.
“The place that stole the show for me this year — and will no doubt be ruined within five years — is Nusa Lembongan,” Ott said.
“It’s a 30-minute boat ride from Bali, and it’s equally if not more beautiful but with virtually no one on it.
“Tourists are starting to find it more and more, but it remains beautiful beyond words and extremely cheap. Massages are $7 (£5.30) an hour, and a chef for the night for up to four people is less than $50 (£38) all in — dishes, ingredients, everything.”
Wrap up warm and catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights in Iceland.
Niamh Walsh, believes the trend will be “looking north” for travel in 2018.
“Whether it’s heading to Iceland to see the Northern Lights, Norway to see the Fjords, or simply a visit to Santa in Lapland, people are definitely eschewing the normal, sunny holiday destinations in favour of something more out-of-the-box,” Walsh said.
“Seeing the Northern Lights is something adventurous travellers will find easier to do in 2018. Until recently, it’s always been difficult and expensive to access many of the regions where they’re at their brightest and most beautiful.
“But with more airlines offering low-cost routes to Iceland, this breath-taking natural phenomenon will be much more accessible — and this extra special experience should not be missed.”
Spy on some of Chile’s most remote wildlife along the Terra do Fogo archipelago.
“Chile is definitely a hot spot for UK travellers in 2018,” said David Warne, Product and Commercial Director of luxury and tailor-made holiday company Wexas Travel.
“In recent years, Chile’s more remote, activity-led destinations and excursions have become a key reason to consider the country for a getaway. Patagonia and Atacama are must-see destinations, especially Tierra Patagonia — a stunning hotel set on the edge of Lake Sarmiento — and Alto Atacama — known for its spectacular views for stargazing,” Warne said.
Kayak across Lake Bled, Slovenia.
When it comes to jaw-dropping natural beauty, James Asquith, founder of app Holiday Swap and the youngest person to visit every country in the world, says travellers should look no further than Slovenia’s Lake Bled.
“Chances are that you recognise the picturesque Lake Bled, just not know it by name. Stunning in its own right all year round, with activities to suit all weather, Lake Bled is a must-see natural site,” Asquith said.
Learn all about the astonishing slave history at Whitney Plantation, Louisiana.
For Abi King, Writer and Founder of conscientious and luxury travel blog InsideTheTravelLab, Whitney Plantation on Louisiana’s Great River Road boasts incredible views and unbelievable historic sites relating to the historic slave trade in the Deep South of the US.
“Not only will you find the legendary hospitality of America’s Deep South, see beautiful bayous, and taste grits and gumbo, but you’ll gain insight from visiting the first museum to show life through the eyes of the people enslaved in the US,” King said.
Grab some tapas in Seville, Spain.
Tom Hall, Editorial Director of travel expert brand Lonely Planet, is backing the Spanish city of Seville in 2018.
“Fabulous food, beautiful architecture, great weather. No wonder Lonely Planet voted Seville the top city to visit in 2018,” Hall said.
Snap stunning holiday photos while immersed in the Azores archipelago’s wildlife on Sao Miguel Island, Portugal.
For James McClure, General Manager for Northern Europe at Airbnb, travellers should head to the island of Sao Miguel, Portugal for an idyllic holiday destination.
“Last year, I visited The Azores and stayed in a listing on Airbnb on Sao Miguel island,” McClure said. “The countryside is a beautiful mix of New Zealand, the Peak District, and Jurassic Park.
“Volcanic lakes, forested hills, hot springs, plus beautiful old cobbled streets in the towns make up this idyllic location.”