52 places to remind you what a wonderful world this is.
Yesterday, we published our No List, which underscored many of the challenges we face as travelers—as human beings, really—around the world. Sometimes it’s scary out there. Bad news seems to be everywhere, constantly upsetting our daily lives with fear and sadness. But resist, fellow mortal! Have hope for this extraordinary planet and its curiously charming inhabitants. This planet is, at heart, a magical place that’s worth exploring.
So, behold: our 2018 Go List.
We compiled it with the hopes that it might be a reminder to hold strong to your enthusiasm for exploration. To be a part of something enormous. To observe and experience. To allow your mind to expand and your heart to enlarge. To travel, witness life and earth, savor the varieties, and marvel the majesty. To look around you. To be alive. To get going. And to always, always, always remember what a wonderful world this is.
—Jeremy Tarr, Digital Editorial Director & Rachael Levitt, Managing Editor
This romantic desert oasis is set to be one of 2018’s most fashionable vacations.
Why It’s Wonderful: With a view of the towering Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh is a dreamy maze of spice-scented streets filled with vendors, cafes, and hidden palaces. It’s a city full of secrets and the best way to explore it is by getting lost. You never know what you’re going to stumble upon—a livestock market, a secret garden, an organic rooftop cafe, or an ancient shop filled with handmade treasures. Shopping is a draw in Marrakesh, but the city offers much more than a souk full of souvenirs. The lush Jardin Majorelle, outside the walls of the city center, is a respite from the sensory overload of the medina. La Bahia Palace and Ali Ben Youssef Medersa are a step back in time through Marrakesh’s royal past, with breathtaking architecture and attention to detail. This year, fashionistas will flock to Marrakesh to visit the long-awaited Yves Saint Laurent Museum, showcasing the designer’s home and studio in Marrakesh, and visit the home of perfumer Serge Lutens on an exclusive tour with the Royal Mansour.
Where to Stay: There are two kinds of hotels in Marrakesh: cozy riads within the walled medina and luxurious sprawling retreats in the desert brush surrounding the city. If it’s your first time visiting, stay in the medina or you’ll miss the true Marrakesh experience. Riad L’Orangeraie and Riad El Fenn are both chic options. If you don’t want to deal with the crowds or finding your way home at night through dark and windy streets, Ksar Char Bagh and the Royal Mansour are over-the-top palatial resorts that will make you feel like royalty.
Insider Tip: If you have more than two nights to spare, spend at least one exploring the Atlas Mountains. Only an hour from Marrakesh, Kasbah Toubkal is a delightfully authentic hike-in (don’t worry, it’s less than a mile) retreat with unbelievable views of Morocco’s highest peak. If you’re more interested in the desert than the mountains, Scarabeo Camp offers a luxe glamping experience less than an hour from the city.
When to Go: Marrakesh is worthy of a visit year-round, but it can get beastly hot in the summer months. Visit in late fall or early spring, when there are fewer tourists and temperatures are cooler. If you decide to visit from May to September, make sure your accommodations have a pool.
What to Read: The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Marrakesh Guide
Leave the resort to see what the South Pacific really has to offer.
Why It’s Wonderful: If you want overwater bungalows and overpriced everything, by all means, hit Tahiti or Bora Bora. But if you are looking to explore island life in the South Pacific, zip around Rarotonga, the largest of the Cook Islands, on a moped, or hop islands by boat. Visit Maori markets, hike the lush inlands, explore caves and lagoons—all at a fraction of the South Pacific costs.
Where to Stay: The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa Hotel is a large, clean, full-service resort in-line with beach resorts the world over, complete with spa and gym facilities and cultural and culinary events. But for the more adventurous travelers, bungalows, beach houses, villas, and apartments are plentiful and super affordable.
Insider Tip: If the two buses that circle the ring road aren’t easy enough for you—just flag them down, and they’ll drop you anywhere—rent a scooter or hail a tuk-tuk to get around.
When to Go: The Cook Islands doesn’t really experience a rainy season, but it can be slightly cooler in the winter (June-August).
What to Read: Leaves of the Banyan Tree by Albert Wendt
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Cook Islands Guide
Recommended Fodor’s Video
Salar de Tunupa, Bolivia
Discover otherworldly, high-altitude landscapes and salt-brick hotels in the Bolivian desert.
Why It’s Wonderful: Backpackers have been piling out onto the world’s largest salt flats, el Salar de Tunupa–more commonly known as El Salar de Uyuni–for years. It’s only now that this high-altitude corner of Bolivia is seeing an influx of quality accommodations and tours making this salty playground more accessible.
Travelers normally arrive here at the end of three days of surreal landmarks, including the blood-orange Laguna Colorada where thousand-strong flocks of James’ flamingos congregate, and the Dali-like rock formations that rise out of the desert. But the salt flats are the real stars of the show. This surreal white landscape of crisp, unblemished hexagons of salt bookended by sky-skimming volcanoes leave most feeling disorientated; a fact leveraged by imaginative tourists to snap silly, perspective-skewing photographs.
Where to Stay: If you want to stay in a salt hotel—yup, give the walls a lick, they’re salty—Luna Salada provides luxury, comfort, and heating, with views of the flats to boot. Located in a renovated old building in Uyuni, boutique B&B La Petite Porte brings a touch of French class to the town’s dusty streets. The newest trend is overnighting in a vintage American Airstream via Select Latin America, with a private chef and front-row seats to the stars.
Insider Tip: A budget-blowing private eight-day tour of the region, with nights in luxurious, converted shipping containers and fine-dining in the middle of nowhere, is available via Explora, a Chilean outfit operating just across the border in San Pedro de Atacama.
When to Go: The salt flats are at their most magical between February and March, when the rainy season transforms them into a vast mirror. Arrive any earlier (November through January) and the water can be too deep for vehicles.
What to Read: Affections by Rodrigo Hasbún
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Bolivia Guide
A unique approach to historical monuments has created one of the most peculiarly vibrant old towns in Europe.
Why It’s Wonderful: It just needs to be said–Split is weird. When you first enter town, you’ll be bombarded by the same drab, box-like architecture that so dominates much of Communist Europe, but soon you’ll see it: Diocletian’s Palace. It started oh-so-long ago as a retirement home for the Roman emperor Diocletian in the fourth century—Split was to be his Golden Girls Miami. And while most cities would either preserve their history museum-style or bulldoze it, Split has gone with a third option: to spend centuries building and evolving a millennia-old structure to create a thriving metropolis out of an ancient wonder. Diocletian’s Palace is now a vibrant maze of bars and restaurants, shops, and even apartments.
And though you’ll be bombarded by Game of Thrones tours—the cavernous main hall off the town square which is chockablock with merchants once doubled as a home for Daenerys’ dragons—resist! Instead, wander the ancient city and learn its vast history or crawl it for its food (definitely do an olive oil tasting at Uje Oil Bar). Eat as many truffles as you can stomach, and then stuff your face with gelato from one of the many, many stands throughout the palace.
In the evenings in warmer months, gather in the square and sit among, or even on, the ruins and drink until drunk at Luxor–it’s touristy, but worth it. And with wine in your belly, wander back to your hotel through a labyrinth of ancient streets and walls. You’ll feel like a happily retired emperor in a constantly evolving museum that lets you touch all the exhibits.
Where to Stay: Located less than a 10-minute walk away from the palace, the Hotel Luxe is a comfortable, modern property that can often be booked for under $100 a night. If you’d rather be right in the heart of it all and can spend a bit more, stay right on the central square at the Piazza Heritage Hotel.
Insider Tip: This town often reeks of sulfur–but, don’t worry, everything’s OK. Split is built on natural sulfur springs which were said to be the reason the rheumatic Diocletian wanted to retire here in the first place.
When to Go: May or September, when it’s warm but not over-touristed.
What to Read: Game of Thrones (just kidding!), The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Split Guide
An intriguing mix of traditional and modern Arabia on the Persian Gulf.
Why It’s Wonderful: Kuwait City has emerged from the ashes like a Phoenix. This is the place where you can find superb shopping and ambitious art museums among the blissfully quiet desert and green ocean, but all on a more manageable and less competitive scale than in the much-visited United Arab Emirates. Shopping is, like in most of the Middle East, a national pastime, and malls such as 360° offer all the designers you could wish for. Likewise, the Museum of Modern Art and many small galleries showcase Arabian talent in traditional settings. A walk along the 10-kilometer coastal walk, the Corniche, past the oh-so-Instagramable turquoise Kuwait Towers, is a relaxing way to experience the contrast of tradition and modernity that is Kuwait. Kuwait is an alcohol-free country, but instead offers plenty of superb smoothies, fresh juice, and hot chocolate cafes alongside excellent regional and international restaurants.
Where to Stay: Symphony Style Hotel, formerly the Missoni Hotel, offers rich colors and all the sumptuousness of a luxury hotel with fantastic views across the bay. Mövenpick Hotel & Resort Al Bida’a provides spacious apartments with kitchenettes, direct access to the beach, and large pools, all within easy taxi distance to the city. The latest luxury hotel in Kuwait, the Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait At Burj Alshaya, opened in 2017 and features stunning interior design.
Insider Tip: On Friday (the weekends in Kuwait are Friday and Saturday), take a 4WD trip into the desert, then spend the evening at the Al Kout Fahaheel Waterfront, a complex with dancing fountains, shops, restaurants, and great places to sit outside in the balmy weather.
When to Go: The best time to visit Kuwait is in spring or fall, as summer is too hot for comfort. Avoid Ramadan (May 15, 2018 to June 15, 2018), as you won’t be able to eat in public during the daytime.
What to Read: The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi
From blues and BBQ to the bright lights of Beale Street, Memphis is a city that feeds the soul.
Why It’s Wonderful: The birthplace of rock-n-roll, the blues, and arguably some of the best BBQ on the planet, there’s no denying the fact that Memphis is a city with a lot of soul. Even Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland, has continued to attract more than 20-million visitors over the years. First-timers and veterans alike are attracted to the bright lights and good vibes of Beale Street, where the party tends to go all night. Longtime Memphis staple, BB King’s Blues Club is the perfect place to post up for some live music. On the third floor, Itta Bena’s speakeasy-style restaurant and bar is not to be missed, while lunch or dinner at The Kitchen Bistro won’t disappoint. If you have time to spare, a trip to Shelby Farms Park, a 4,500-acre stretch of land is an oasis of boating, picnicking, and horse-back riding.
Where to Stay: When it comes to iconic hotels it doesn’t get much better than The Peabody. Dating back to 1869, this classic haunt is located in the heart of downtown Memphis. Don’t miss a chance to watch the hotels longest live-in guests, the Peabody ducks, waddle their way across the hotel lobby and into the fountain, a tradition that dates back to the 1930s. Nestled along the Mississippi River, the River Inn of Harbor Town is a hop, skip, and a jump away from the action of Beale Street. With only 28 guestrooms to choose from, all beautifully decorated to evoke a mix of southern comfort with European influence and décor, don’t miss a chance to enjoy a raspberry creamsicle and shrimp and grits in the hotel’s on-site restaurant Paulettes. If you’re looking for something a bit more modern, the Madison Hotel is located downtown and offers nicely appointed rooms along with some of the best views of the city from the hotel’s rooftop bar.
Insider Tip: While there tends to be some debate about who serves up the best Memphis BBQ, you really can’t go wrong with Corky’s BBQ or Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous downtown. Another perennially popular spot, The Bar-B-Q Shop (originally Brady & Lil’s Bar-B-Q Restaurant) on Madison Avenue is known to serve up some of the best BBQ ribs, tips, and coleslaw in town. While there’s nothing fancy about this spot, its cozy atmosphere and award-winning rubs have kept the local clientele coming back year after year.
When to Go: While Memphis is a popular city to visit year-round, every May the city plays host to a month-long International Festival aptly called Memphis in May that includes the Beale Street Music Festival, the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, and the Great American River Run. In October, the Memphis Food & Wine Festival invites local and nationally acclaimed chefs to show off their talents.
What to Read: Randomly pick up any John Grisham novel–chances are it takes place in Memphis.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Memphis Guide.
This tiny Caucasus country has an outsize wealth of history, culture, and hospitality.
Why It’s Wonderful: Armenia’s rugged mountains and fertile valleys, full of ancient monasteries and traditional villages, are an eco-tourist’s dream, and new hiking trails and apps are making it easier to explore the country’s great outdoors. Since a 6,000-year-old winery was discovered by archaeologists in Areni village in southern Armenia a decade ago, the area’s winemaking—and wine tourism—has been experiencing a rebirth. An Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown segment filmed in Armenia and set to air in spring 2018 is sure to set mouths watering over culinary specialties such as khorovats (barbecue) and tolma (stuffed grape leaves). Though it’s nearly 3,000 years old, capital Yerevan has a youthful energy, with new cafes, wine bars, boutiques, and restaurants opening by the day.
Where to Stay: The guesthouse-style Villa Hotels, with rooms in restored historic buildings decorated with local crafts, offer warmly hospitable places to stay in Yerevan and Gyumri. Newly opened Messier 53 is a sleek and contemporary addition to Yerevan’s accommodation offerings. Luxury property The Alexander, Starwood’s first hotel in Armenia, is set to open in central Yerevan in April 2018.
Insider Tip: Download the Inside Yerevan map (or pick up a print copy for free at one of the establishments listed) for young locals’ opinionated suggestions of where to eat, drink, shop, and explore.
When to Go: Spring and fall are best for outdoor exploration and regional festivals, such as the autumn wine harvest in Vayots Dzor. Yerevan’s 2,800-year-anniversary celebrations in October 2018 are sure to be exuberant.
What to Read: The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
Experience the final days of pristine nomadic life and the birth of a booming, modern metropolis.
Why It’s Wonderful: Mongolia is a land of pristine blue skies that stretch for miles, rolling mountains and steppes covered in sweet Mongolian grass, mirrored Khövsgöl Lake, and vast desert landscapes. In the countryside, where locals don their ornate brocade deel and sip airag, a fermented horse milk wine at intimate Naadam celebrations, while racks of fresh khuruud cheese dry atop gers in the arid breeze. As climate change leads to desertification and pushes nomads into the capital city, Ulan Bator, these quiet scenes of Mongolian life are quickly vanishing. While the capital is undergoing a cultural and culinary revolution, 2018 might be one of the last years where visitors can experience the subtle splendor of the Mongolian landscape and nomadic lifestyle, while also enjoying the raw metropolitan energy of a city being reborn.
Where to Stay: HS Khaan Resort Hotel, located 50 minutes outside of Ulan Bator, provides the ultimate glamping experience: traditional gers, or Mongolian-style yurts, outfitted with the finest amenities and bathtubs overlooking the grasslands. The Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel offers surprisingly reasonable, high-end comfort within walking distance of Sukhbaatar Square, while backpackers and long-term visitors will appreciate the complete kitchen and fridge available in the affordable J Hotel. Gers, ranging from simple to well-stocked, are scattered throughout the remainder of the country.
Insider Tip: Much of Mongolia’s soul lies in the countryside, so don’t hesitate to rent a Jeep and a driver to explore the vast grasslands, the remote temples of Genghis Khan’s capital at Karakorum, and the Flaming Cliffs in the Gobi Desert. Adventurous travelers may even rent a motorcycle, though there are few road signs outside of the cities. In Ulan Bator, visitors can support nomads by purchasing cashmere and yak wool products and purses made from recycled traditional Kazakh tapestries at Mary & Martha Mongolia.
When to Go: The best weather is from late spring to early fall, with July and August being the most popular dates for tourists. The official 2018 Naadam Festival–Mongolia’s national games–will take place throughout the country July 11-15 (with smaller, regional festivals throughout the year).
What to Read: The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir by Ariel Levy, Bones of the Master: A Journey to Secret Mongolia by George Crane
Ireland’s capital keeps surprising with great restaurants, a blossoming art scene, and more hotel openings than ever.
Why It’s Wonderful: No longer just the travel destination of stodgy history buffs and rowdy stag parties, Dublin has finally become the urban hotspot it always was deep down. Dublin’s dining renaissance has been in full gear since 2011, with a slew of new restaurants catering to those with a more refined palate. L. Mulligan Grocer leads the gastropub pack for hip, farm-to-table dishes while places like the Ramen Bar, Las Tapas de Lola, and Hang Dai bring some much-needed diversity to the scene. Dublin’s street art scene has flourished in recent years and galleries like Douglas Hyde, Block T, and Basic Space have opened to showcase the city’s best young artists (often from all over the globe). Drinking fans will be happy to know that Irish whiskey still flows freely here; Jameson Distillery reopened with a brand-new visitor experience in 2017 and 2016’s Teeling Distillery was the first new whiskey distillery to open in Dublin in over a hundred years.
Where to Stay: Current plans have a whopping 3,500 new hotel rooms opening in the city by 2019. New hotels for 2018 are slated to include the design-focused Aloft Dublin City (opening in July 2018) and the regal Clayton Hotel Charlemont (opening in October 2018). Until then, the trendy Generator Dublin is a great intro to the city’s street art scene while the luxurious Merrion Hotel shows off Dublin’s classy side.
Insider Tip: While Guinness is still king here, there is currently quite the craft beer revolution happening in Dublin. Breweries like Porterhouse, Trouble Brewing, and Eight Degrees are making their mark on the city, with specialty craft beer pubs sprouting up to meet the demand; stop by Against the Grain or P. Mac’s for a taste of the new generation of Irish brews.
When to Go: Irish weather is always fickle, but your best shot at some sunshine is from May to September.
What to Read: In the Woods by Tana French, Dubliners by James Joyce
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Dublin Guide
Belize is full of rich history, rewarding explorations, and natural beauty that may not be around forever.
Why It’s Wonderful: Ancient Mayan secrets are being unearthed daily at historical locales all over the country. Chances are, you will see a team of archeologists at any of Belize’s Mayan dig sites during your visit. Part Caribbean and part Central America, Belize feels untouched by the rest of the planet, making it seem like a true getaway. In today’s world, how much longer will we be able to find a destination so unplugged?
Where to Stay: In the heart of the jungle, San Ignacio Resort Hotel features top-of-the-line rooms, friendly staff, and even a medicinal jungle trail. For a coastal stay, Cerros Beach Resort is an affordable option that has quality bay-side views and diving trips. Keep an eye out for the dreamy Itz’ana Resorts and Residences, opening in 2018.
Insider Tip: If you’re the adventurous type, book a spelunking trip through one of Belize’s many palatial caves.
When to Go: With its tropical climate, the country is humid all year long. So pick a month that works for you.
What to Read: Beka Lamb by Zee Edgell, The Last Flight of the Macaw by Bruce Barcott
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Belize Guide
Prince Edward Island, Canada
Canada’s smallest province is huge on island hospitality, with superb shellfish and a growing food scene.
Why It’s Wonderful: Prince Edward Island is an irresistible combination of rolling green hills and excellent beaches and seascapes, with bountiful shellfish, a gentle pace and a lively music scene.
Never heard of Stompin’ Tom Connors? Immerse yourself in the sounds of the strumming troubadour who earned his nickname by keeping time on a square of plywood at the new Stompin’ Tom Centre in tiny Skinners Pond. Stick around for traditional kitchen parties and cèilidhs with local musicians.
Find a white, golden, pink, or red-sand beach (some sands are even said to sing) and swim in the warmest waters north of the Carolinas. Or, walk out to explore the seabed at low tide. Polish off a couple dozen world-famous Malpeque oysters, then head to Moth Lane Brewing to taste stout made with the shells by the lobster fisherman-turned-brewer.
The Culinary Institute of Canada in historic capital city Charlottetown re-opens after a $7.5 million renovation in June 2018 with a new series of full and half-day Culinary Bootcamps. The island’s most famous fictional resident, the eternal-optimist title character of Anne of Green Gables, is never far from view. Tour Green Gables Heritage Place, which sees a surprising number of tourists from Japan, where “Red-Haired Anne” has a huge following.
Where to Stay: A circa-1857 Notre Dame Convent opened as luxury Charlottetown hotel The Sydney Boutique Inn & Suites in 2017. Head for the country at The Inn at Bay Fortune, a five-star inn run by celebrity chef Michael Smith and his wife, Chastity Smith. Sleep amid the trees in TreePOD dome after relaxing in a private hot tub under the stars at Treetop Haven, also opened in 2017.
Insider Tip: Indulge in the must-have P.E.I. sandwich, the lobster roll. A favorite with locals, Lobster Barn Pub & Eatery is in idyllic Victoria-by-the-Sea, an Instagram-worthy shore village between Charlottetown and Summerside. The secret’s in the homemade mayonnaise and generous amount of shelled lobster.
When to Go: Summer is high season, although there’s lots to do late spring to early fall and the weather can be fine. Lobster seasons run May until late June and August through October. Anne of Green Gables: The Musical starts its 54th season in June. The International Shellfish Festival runs September 13-16.
What to Read: Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Prince Edward Island Guide
One of Asia’s most progressive, flourishing cities strikes a balance between nature and modernity, past and future.
Why It’s Wonderful: It’s been 30 years since Martial law ended in Taiwan, and since then, the country and its capital have gradually begun to introduce themselves to the world at large. Taipei is a city that honors tradition, as is evidenced by the temples that dot the urban landscape, some, such as Longshan Temple, date back centuries, but it also looks forward. 2018 will see a wide variety of events that paint a picture of the city’s forward-thinking vision, such as the 2018 Taiwan Cycling Festival (late September to early November), a great chance to check out Taipei’s hundreds of kilometers of riverside bike paths. The Guandu Flower Expo (running until the end of February) will have the full palette of Taipei’s natural beauty on display. For palettes of a different kind, there’s the second annual Taipei International Tattoo Show and Music Festival (August 3-5). Though still off the usual Asia backpacker trail, Taipei does boast a relatively modest flow of tourists through its varied districts, from the glitz of Xinyi to the grit of Wanhua, to the seaside beauty of Danshui and the natural splendor of the mountain trails that surround the coastal metropolis.
Where to Stay: The Taipei Marriott, a newly designed hotel in the heart of the upmarket Neihu District, is walking distance to both riverside walking and cycling paths and some of the city’s best shopping at the Miramar Entertainment Park. For something more central and close to the top nightlife spots and major attractions, the five-star W Taipei can’t be beat.
Insider Tip: For the best in cheap nighttime eats, head to one of the city’s major or minor night markets. Most tourists hit up the Xilin Night Market, the largest in the city, but don’t discount smaller ones such as Lingjiang Street Night Market, where you can find many of the same local culinary delights (pig blood cake, coffin toast, stinky tofu) while fighting off fewer tourists.
When to Go: Fall is by far the most comfortable time to visit after the intense summer heat, and before the winter damp. It’s also time to partake in a traditional Moon Festival outdoor BBQ.
What to Read: Taipei by Tao Lin
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Taipei Guide
French Flanders, France
Great seafood and that French je ne sais quoi.
Why It’s Wonderful: Often overlooked, French Flanders is a region that includes Lille and Dunkirk, cities that are all rich in culture, activities, nature, and sightseeing. Dunkirk is one of the top seaside destinations in France, with stunning beaches and over 400 shops to visit. In 2013, the city was named the French Regional Capital of Culture, inspiring the city to flourish with cultural offerings. According to the French, Lille, “Capital des Flandres,” is France’s most underrated city, even though it is the fourth largest in France and the largest in the region. Lille’s Sunday markets and annual braderie (street market) in September is reason alone to visit. In between Lille and Dunkirk, there are also dozens of hills where people can hike and enjoy nature.
Where to Stay: In Lille, stay at the heart of the city in the beautiful L’Hermitage Gantois Hotel, which also happens to be very close to the Palais des Beaux-Arts Lille, Lille’s fine art museum and France’s second largest art collection. Keep your eyes peeled for the Louis XV-inspired chairs in the rooms, designed by the famous French designer Philippe Starck.
Insider Tip: While in Lille, treat yourself to moules frites. In Dunkirk, the specialty is salty yet delicious mini crevettes (shrimp), which can be found at the Sunday morning market. Throughout the region, enjoy potjevleesch, or “potted meat,” a classic French Flemish dish along the lines of pâté.
When to Go: Visit Lille during the first weekend in September to peruse the biggest annual braderie in Europe, and visit Dunkirk between January and March for Carnival festivities. If you plan to go in the summer, make sure you leave plenty of time to enjoy the beaches.
What to Read: The Miracle of Dunkirk: The True Story of Operation Dynamo by Walter Lord
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Lille Guide
—Eileen W. Cho
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Argentina’s friendly and energetic capital is an edgy blend of Latin and European cultures.
Why It’s Wonderful: With its flair for the creative, Buenos Aires has long attracted lovers of art and design. Each fall and winter bring important events: ArteBA in May gathers the works of about 300 artists from 50 countries, and BA Fashion Week in August is a dream for fashionistas. But the city is ramping up to become an even bigger star in the art world. Buenos Aires was recently named as the first “Art Basel City” in the world, which has kicked off a multi-year collaboration with the Art Basel team, including a week of specially curated public arts programming in September 2018.
Where to Stay: Though Alvear Icon Hotel is surrounded by glass and steel buildings in ultra-modern Puerto Madeiro, a stroll through the nearby Costanera Sur nature park makes the city chaos disappear. If your trip involves perusing designer shops in trendy Palermo, the barrio’s boutique hotels, like Home Hotel or Mine Hotel Boutique, maintain the area’s cozy-chic charm. For a tranquil escape just outside the city limit, the Sheraton Greenville Polo & Resort opens March 2018.
Insider Tip: Sunday in Buenos Aires is a day for family, and the scent of asado (barbecue) is everywhere. Experience your own Sunday feast of grilled meats—and plenty of malbec!—at one of the many parilla (steakhouse) restaurants. Later, join a milonga (public tango session) with locals of all ages.
When to Go: Late spring (October – November) is best, before summer humidity and when jacaranda trees reveal dazzling purple blossoms. The city will host the third Summer Youth Olympic Games in October and the world-famous Argentine Open polo tournament in November.
What to Read: Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Buenos Aires Guide
A mecca for artists in one of America’s most awe-inspiring natural settings.
Why It’s Wonderful: You can’t help but be inspired by the New Mexico landscape so it’s no surprise that for centuries, artists have called this place home. From the abstract landscapes of Georgia O’Keeffe to the secret carved caves of Ra Paulette to the genre-defying alternate universe of Meow Wolf, New Mexico continues to nurture creative minds. At the juncture of art and nature, you’ll find funky towns like Madrid and historic haunted cities like Santa Fe. Any trip to New Mexico should include a visit to at least one otherworldly natural wonder: Georgia’s “white place” near Abiquiu, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument near Albuquerque, or White Sands National Monument near the Texas border. New Mexico truly lives up to its name: The Land of Enchantment.
Where to Stay: No visit to New Mexico is complete without spending the night in a quirky inn decorated with mission furniture and perhaps a few resident ghosts: in Santa Fe, Hotel Chimayo and Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi will both fulfill this requirement, at different ends of the budget spectrum. For foodies, Los Poblanos in Albuquerque is a farmhouse-chic hotel set on a lavender farm and organic garden.
Insider Tip: Although it may sound counter-intuitive, you can’t leave New Mexico without a visit to Ten Thousand Waves, an authentic Japanese spa in the suburbs of Santa Fe. A full-service spa, hotel, and restaurant, Ten Thousand Waves is a lovely place to spend an evening soaking and getting a massage before indulging in the most fantastic Japanese cuisine in the Western Hemisphere (and an artisanal sake menu to match) at Izanami. Order one of everything on the menu—everything here is delicious. It’s a meal you’ll think about often and as soon as you’re done, you’ll already be planning a return trip. While eating at a Japanese restaurant in New Mexico might sound like strange advice, trust us: once you’ve been asked, “Red or green?” (Referring to red or green chile; the correct answer is “Christmas,” meaning “both”) too many times to count at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you won’t need to think twice about eating here.
When to Go: Depending on what you’re looking for, New Mexico is lovely year round. Spring and fall have the best temperatures, perfect for spending your days exploring the outdoors. Two of New Mexico’s most famous festivals, Zozobra and the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, happen in fall. You may think summertime temperatures will make it too hot to visit, but daily afternoon thunderstorms cool down the air and offer one of nature’s most humbling spectacles. Winter holidays are festive in Santa Fe, and Taos Ski Valley has some of the best snow in the country.
What to Read: Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather, Georgia O’Keeffe and New Mexico: A Sense of Place by Barbara Buhler Lynes
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s New Mexico Guide
China’s remote southwest region is easier than ever to reach.
Why It’s Wonderful: Famous for its giant pandas, mountains, rivers, and mouth-numbing peppercorns, Sichuan has long lured adventurous travelers off the usual Shanghai–Beijing–Xi’an tourist trail, with its promise of natural wonders. While in the past the southwestern province has been relatively difficult to reach, Sichuan is quickly evolving into one of China’s most convenient transport hubs.
In Chengdu, the capital of the province, US travelers can now enjoy nonstop flights between Chengdu and New York aboard Hainan Airlines, as well as direct routes from Chongqing, a major port city in Sichuan, to Los Angeles and New York.
Where to Stay: If you’re unpacking in Chengdu, try the luxurious Temple House (featuring restored Qing dynasty-era courtyard buildings) or the recently opened Waldorf Astoria Chengdu, located in the heart of the city. Meanwhile, in Chongqing, the new 202-room Regent Chongqing sits near the confluence of the Jialing and Yangtze Rivers. Travelers are flocking to the Sichuan countryside as well. Hotels such as the eco-conscious Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain and the LUX* Organic Escapes (opening in 2018) take advantage of the lush environment with wellness- and nature-oriented getaways in the mountains.
Insider Tip: You haven’t been to Sichuan until you’ve tasted the famous cuisine. Harnessing mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns, dishes here tend to be fiery, colorful, and aromatic. Sit down at Qiqi Shanyu Hot Pot in Chongqing to dip vegetables and fish in a cauldron of bubbling oil.
When to Go: Spring and fall are generally the best seasons to visit Chengdu, and travelers may want to avoid the wet and rainy season during July and August. If you’re an arts and culture hound, time your visit with the inaugural Art Chengdu International Contemporary Art Fair, which runs from April 28 to May 2.
What to Read: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Sichuan Guide
Long a natural wonder, Tasmania has become a culinary and cultural powerhouse.
Why It’s Wonderful: Tasmania occupies a special place in the collective Australian imagination. When you mention the tiny island state, eyes twinkle and words like “magical” begin to tumble out. The 2011 opening of MONA (Museum of Old and New Art)—repeatedly named one of the world’s best modern art galleries—first put Tasmania on the international map, but its influence is rapidly growing. Over the last two years, capital city Hobart has experienced a culinary renaissance, with dozens of new openings from chefs drawn from all over Australia. These new locavore restaurants are the perfect complement to Tasmania’s outstanding natural produce—everything from sweet honey and smoky paprika to dry sparkling wines and creamy goat cheese. Visitors can also hike snowy Cradle Mountain or pet a wallaby on Wineglass Bay’s white-sand beach. And in 2018, you can discover another aspect to Tasmania’s diverse offerings with The Aboriginal Land Council’s Wukalina Walk, a guided four-day tour that highlights the culturally rich and ruggedly spectacular homeland of the Palawa people.
Where to Stay: The sleek new 114-room MACq1, the first hotel built on Hobart’s harbor in over a decade, has resident storytellers on hand to guide visitors through the rich history of the city. The hotel’s restaurant, Old Wharf, uses culinary creativity (and a lot of seafood) to pay homage to Tasmania’s fishing and mining pioneers–all with a view of the boats bobbing in the pretty River Derwent. Satellite Island, off the coast of Southern Tasmania, is a luxurious private island getaway and the perfect place to unplug.
Insider Tip: Take a day trip to Bruny Island to take advantage of a full range of delectable Tasmanian produce—from freshly shucked oysters to sweet raspberries—and then go wildlife spotting on the coast, keeping your eyes peeled for dolphins, seals, and migrating whales.
When to Go: Tasmania is home to two unusually intense seasonal culture festivals—Summer’s Mofo (January 12-22) and Winter’s Dark Mofo (June 15-24)—with live music, stunning visuals, and offbeat experimental performances.
What to Read: Lion: A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Tasmania Guide
Awaken a sense of freedom and adventure as you climb through four seasons in one week on the rooftop of Africa.
Why It’s Wonderful: A trip to Kilimanjaro means spending a week climbing up the 11,000-year-old snow-covered peaks to gaze out across the lunar landscape and savannah plains on the highest point in Africa. As one of the world’s highest volcanoes, Mt. Kilimanjaro is considered to be the “Everyman’s Everest”—it’s the easiest of the Seven Summits around the world. It is also considered a sky island, home to an array of unique species found only along its jungle slopes. Not only is Mt. Kilimanjaro incredibly biodiverse, but it is the center of long-term climatic studies. The famous snowcapped peaks are vaporizing at an incredibly alarming rate and that iconic picture of Mt. Kilimanjaro could all but disappear as soon as 2050.
Where to Stay: While Moshi has all the budget accommodation, the 40-minute drive to Arusha puts you in the midst of some spectacular lodges at varying budgets, with far more space and privacy on offer. Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge, an atmospheric central farmhouse, is a haven amidst a cooling forest. The luxury private cottages of Onsea-Machweo Guest House have not only an outstanding onsite restaurant, but some pretty spectacular views overlooking Arusha and Mt. Meru.
Insider Tip: Don’t let the mountain fool you: It’s still a heavy climb, so it’s important to go with a reputable operator with a strong safety record. And if you’re wanting something special, why not try a meticulously timed moonlight summit under a blanket of stars?
When to Go: The beauty of Kilimanjaro is that you can hike year-round if you like, but January through March is quiet with less snow. July through September is easier weather, but the trail is busier.
What to Read: The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway, Up the Mountain Coming Down Slowly by Dave Eggers
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Tanzania Guide
New Orleans, Louisiana
300 years later, the most unique city in America has more to offer than ever before.
Why It’s Wonderful: Over a decade after Hurricane Katrina and approaching the city’s 300th birthday, the New Orleans of today is a mix of honoring the old and welcoming in the new and different. For visitors, classic appeals like jazz, Mardi Gras, and Creole cuisine aren’t going anywhere, but new and exciting cultural attractions will delight and surprise. Food and music are at an all-time best: hot newcomers like N7and Turkey and the Wolf garner national attention alongside 100-year-old decadent Southern dining rooms and po’ boy stands, and contemporary local acts like Big Freedia, Sweet Crude, and Tank and the Bangas find a place among the brass bands and traditional jazz. With tons of smaller fall and spring festivals sharing the calendar with Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest, opportunities to let the good times roll endlessly abound.
Where to Stay: New boutique hotels in the Lower Garden District combine historic charm, modern comfort, and sense of place. Stay in an opulent 19th-century mansion at The Henry Howard, or take on The Quisby, a hip, quirky hostel pleasing not just your wallet. You don’t have to check in to the Monteleone or Roosevelt Hotel to enjoy a cocktail at their iconic hotel bars.
Insider Tip: Spend at least a day wandering the Bywater: Start with a walk in Crescent Park along the Mississippi River, then head to StudioBe’s warehouse of larger-than-life graffiti portraits. For entertainment, pick from a choice of venues and dance clubs on St. Claude Avenue. End with romantic dinner at the coveted garden tables of N7 or Bacchanal.
When to Go: The weather is beautiful in spring, when festival season is in full swing.
What to Read: Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s New Orleans Guide
San Antonio, Texas
New Orleans isn’t the only town celebrating the big three-double-oh in 2018.
Why Go Now: On May 5, 1718—yes, coincidentally Cinco de Mayo—a Franciscan priest set up shop along the San Antonio River in order to keep the French far away from Mexico. It worked! But it also laid the foundation for what would become a thriving town. And three hundred years later, San Antonio is the seventh largest city in America; a glorious concoction of Latin American, North American, and European cultures; the home of World Heritage sites, including the Alamo (remember it, damnit!); a surprisingly fun River Walk (you can buy cocktails to go!); and one of the best cuisines the U.S. of A. has to offer.
Let’s talk about that food. This is a food town. Even UNESCO thinks so—in October, the UN body awarded San Antonio with a Creative City of Gastronomy distinction for its unique culinary heritage. It’s only the second city in America, after Tucson, to receive this honor. If that’s not enough to get your stomach curious, how about this: San Antonio is the setting for the third Culinary Institute of America (after New York and Napa) and a majority of alumni remain in town, apron on, and ready to cook.
And with a massive birthday on the horizon, San Antonio is preparing to have a giant year-long bash. And this city knows how to throw a party—they literally have a Fiesta every single year (fiesta means party for all you monoglots)—and there’s every indication the city is going all out in 2018.
Where to Stay: If you like a river view and want to be in the heart of the city, the Omni del Mansión Rio is perfect. It was built as a school in the 19th century and transformed into a luxury property in 1968. Though an old school sounds creepy, it’s decidedly not. And, unlike close-by properties such as the Emily Morgan Hotel, this one is ghost-free. But perhaps the finest hotel in the city is the Hotel Emma, in what was once the Pearl Beer brewery. The hotel is named after the wife of the founder of the brewhouse, as well as his mistress, and nurse, all of whom were called Emma. So, yes, the guy was a pig, but the hotel is beautiful.
Insider Tip: Not only is the Hotel Emma fantastic, but the entire area around the former Pearl Brewery (an area called Pearl, obviously) should be explored—it’s full of restaurants and shops, plus it’s home to the aforementioned Culinary Institute. As it’s right on the River, you can buy a $10 all-day Rio Taxi pass and easily wander between Pearl and the River Walk.
When to Go: The summer months can be rough (it’s Texas, after all), but you can expect relatively pleasant weather from October to April. Plan for Fiesta from April 19-29 and keep an eye on the tricentennial calendar for special events and parties throughout the year.
What to Read: Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s San Antonio Guide
Asia’s “Garden City” stays fresh with eco hotels and meticulously renovated heritage buildings.
Why It’s Wonderful: Singapore never stops reinventing itself. Last year, the city-state unveiled its renovated National Museum. And this year? The country welcomes the highly anticipated renovation of the famed Raffles Hotel—a 19th-century grand dame and birthplace of the iconic Singapore Sling. The updated heritage building joins a long list of thoughtfully restored colonial-era buildings in the Chinatown District, such as Potato Head and Esquina tapas bar—both food and beverage meccas built inside former Chinese shophouses.
Where to Stay: The renovated Raffles will be the obvious choice when it reopens in mid-2018, but there’s also the brand new 225-room InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay on the riverfront (featuring DIY cocktail kits in the rooms), which opened this October. Nearby, the 37-room Warehouse Hotel opened in 2017 inside a row of abandoned warehouses and offers loft-like rooms with river views. Also worth mentioning are a few new hotels in the pipeline, including the Andaz Singapore on Beach Road and the ultra-luxurious Banyan Tree, where treehouses and elevated cabins will provide easy access to Singapore’s wildlife parks.
Insider Tip: When in Singapore, eat like the locals in an affordable hawker center, such as Maxwell Food Centre. Slurp up big bowls of laksa (a spicy, seafood noodle soup), dine on char kway teow (stir-fried rice noodles), or hunker down for a heaping plate of Hainanese chicken rice.
When to Go: Due to its tropical rainforest climate, the city is hot and humid most of the year. If you can, avoid the rainy season from November to January. For best weather, time the trip between February and April.
What to Read: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Singapore Guide
Fiords of New Zealand
New Zealand’s Fiordland is one of the most beautiful and rugged areas on the planet.
Why It’s Wonderful: New Zealand is blessed with otherworldly scenery, but one of the most stunning spots in the entire country is Fiordland, the country’s biggest national park, located on the southwest coast. This area has World Heritage status for its natural beauty, which includes 14 fiords surrounded by towering cliffs, waterfalls, and snow-capped peaks. Visitors can explore the fiords of Milford Sound, which Rudyard Kipling described as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” or Doubtful Sound, the deepest fiord, home to bottlenose dolphins, seals, and penguins. The best way to soak up the scenery is by boat—the new Fiordland Discovery is a luxury ship offering day and overnight trips—or by hiking along the 300 miles of trails. Intrepid travelers can also explore by scuba.
Where to Stay: The Fiordland Lodge is one of the most stylish places to stay in the area, while a budget-friendly option is the 50 hiker’s huts maintained by the government. Milford Sound Lodge is a mid-range option.
Insider Tip: Be sure to book well in advance if you’re looking to do iconic hikes in the area such as the Milford Track or Routeburn Track. If you’re doing a day trip to Milford Sound out of Queenstown, have a backup day in case of rain. Fiordland is famous for temperamental weather and gets over 20 feet of rain a year.
What to Read: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
When to Go: Try to visit in the shoulder season, from October-November and April-May, to avoid the crowds and avoid peak rates.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s New Zealand Guide
St. Petersburg, Russia
Decadence and grandeur are alive and well in Russia’s imperial city.
Why It’s Wonderful: Founded by Peter the Great in 1703 as a means for the tsar’s growing navy to gain access via the Baltic Sea, St. Petersburg, Russia is often referred to as the Venice of the North due to the city’s intricate lacework of beautiful canals, bridges, grand boulevards, and elegant baroque and classical style plazas. Couple that with ornate Italianate mansions and palaces that line the River Neva—the bloodline of the city—along with priceless works of art found in the Hermitage Museum, a world-class ballet, and the fabulous display of eggs at the Faberge Museum, and you’ll find that 300 years later, modern-day St. Petersburg is as beautiful and resplendent as ever.
Where to Stay: Accommodations in St. Petersburg are relatively affordable. If you’re looking for luxury, it doesn’t get much better than The State Hermitage Museum Official Hotel, opened in 2013. While the hotel is located across the river from the Hermitage Museum, the property’s luxurious hydrothermal pools are the perfect place to post up after a long day exploring the former capital city. If you’re looking for something traditionally Russian, the Trezzini Palace is every bit as ornate and over-the-top as you could hope for. Located directly along the banks of the River Neva, this historic property is well within walking distance to many of St. Pete’s most popular establishments including St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Hermitage Museum, and Peter and Paul Fortress.
Insider Tip: One of the most spectacular times to visit St. Petersburg is from May through July when the White Nights Festival is in full swing. While white nights may not be a concept unique to St. Petersburg, it is truly a magical time to visit nonetheless and includes daily music and art performances in Palace Square. If you happen to be visiting during this time, plan your hotel stay on or around the banks of the Neva River for optimal views of the fireworks. Whatever you do, don’t miss a chance to explore the city via canal tour, as it’s easily the best, if not the most beautiful way to experience St. Petersburg day or night.
When to Go: Summertime is invariably the most popular time to visit. Be prepared for large crowds, especially at popular sites like the Hermitage and Grand Palace. Tour companies like Viator offer a number of “skip the line” tours that are definitely worth considering. Shoulder seasons are also worth considering, as the crowds start to thin and the weather is still tolerable. Don’t overlook a winter trip though. While the weather might be cold, seeing St. Petersburg and her many monuments in covered in snow are a magnificent sight to behold.
What to Read: City of Thieves by David Benioff
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s St. Petersburg Guide
Ferrante Fever is set to put this island in the spotlight in 2018.
Why It’s Wonderful: Ferrante Fever may have dampened a bit since it swept across the world in 2015, but it’s set to heat up again next year when HBO and the Italian broadcaster RAI debut an eight-part series based on Elena Ferrante’s wildly successful Neapolitan novels. Written by the mysterious author herself, My Brilliant Friend will surely ignite a wave of interest in Ischia, the gritty-yet-seductive island off the coast of Naples where the main characters vacation in the books. Today’s travelers will find the island largely unchanged since the post-war era when the novels take place. Long known for its thermal hot springs, volcanic rock beaches, and relaxed lifestyle, Ischia lacks the over-the-top glitz of its sister island Capri—and that’s precisely why you should go. Plus, it’s a great base for exploring the rest of Italy’s glorious Amalfi Coast.
Where to Stay: Once frequented by Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor, and Richard Burton, L’Albergo della Regina Isabella channels the glamour of the 1950s, when it was founded by publisher and film producer Angelo Rizzoli. San Montano Resort & Spa—a member of Small Luxury Hotels—is the island’s only spa with sea views. With seven pools, a natural grotto, and thermal baths, it’s all about wellness.
Insider Tip: Take a boat tour with Personalized Italy and get around like the locals do. Their talented guides will show you where to find the best cappuccino, take you trekking in former volcanoes, and lead you to the beaches featured in Ferrante’s books.
When to Go: Many of the island’s hotels are seasonal, closing in October and reopening in April. Summer (especially August) can get crowded and hotels tend to book up. For fewer crowds and lower prices, go during the shoulder season, in late spring or early fall.
What to Read: The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Ischia Guide
Quito is among the most breathtaking cities in South America … and it’s not just because of the altitude.
Why It’s Wonderful: In a valley flanked by the humbling reaches of the Andes, at the foot of Volcán Pichincha, stands Quito. The Ecuadorian capital is a modern city, but it’s the history that has remained a point of fascination. Established by the invading Spanish in the mid-16th century, the historical buildings have been remarkably well-preserved. So well, in fact, that it was one of the first heritage sites ever named by UNESCO. The city is home to a dizzying number of historically, architecturally, and culturally notable sites. From the neo-Gothic glory of the Basílica del Voto Nacional to the contemporary Capilla del Hombre, an art museum and stirring monument to the suffering of Latin America’s indigenous people, it’s a city where the past is very much in conversation with the present.
In addition to Quito being a destination unto itself, it’s also an ideal base for making day trips to the Bellavista Cloud Forest, the ruins of Pucara de Rumicuccho, or Cayambe, a snow-capped volcano favored by avid mountain climbers.
Where to Stay: Overlooking the Plaza de San Francisco is the beautiful Casa Gangotena. Not only is its location ideal for exploring the city’s historic center, this boutique hotel is a historical mansion (though it’s been given an elegantly modern update).
If you prefer cozy to luxe, check in at Apart-Hotel Antinéa. Located in the heart of Mariscal District, this French-style hotel offers a charming atmosphere with easy access to nearby bars and restaurants.
Insider Tip: Imagine your gently eccentric uncle had a restaurant that he’d established inside a mansion overflowing with his personal art collection and you have an approximation of what it’s like to dine at Octava de Corpus. You’ll enjoy your meal, of course, but the real draw is the one-of-a-kind atmosphere and, in lieu of a perusing a wine menu, exploring the wine cellar with the always amiable owner, Jaime Burgos.
When to Go: Since Quito is at once very close to the equator as well as situated at a high altitude, the weather remains fairly mild and consistent year round, though it does experience a rainy season between December and March, which makes for a slightly warmer clime.
What to Read: Century of the Death of the Rose by Jorge Carrera Andrade
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Quito Guide
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston’s famed dining scene has proven its staying power and continues to diversify with the latest slate of high profile openings.
Why It’s Wonderful: In the Lowcountry, social gatherings are guided by the abundance of the season. During winter, nearly every event is an oyster roast. Come summer, backyard cookouts are likely to include a steaming table of Lowcountry Boil, piled high with seasoned shrimp and corn. Charleston’s culinary history has paved the way for a dining scene boom, including avant-garde concepts like the recently debuted 16-course ticketed dining at Sean Brock’s revamped McCrady’s or the category-redefining vittles at the newly opened Edmund’s Oast Brewing Company. During the first week in March, the region’s top chefs come together at the 12th installment of the Charleston Wine+Food festival. Make plans to visit during the 17 days of Spoleto USA in May and June, when visionaries like Philip Glass and major European opera houses and theaters bring the U.S. debuts of major works to Charleston’s historic venues.
Where to Stay: In a city already revered for its hospitality, Zero George has raised the bar among boutique Charleston accommodations with its celebrated onsite restaurant and cooking courses. 2017 brought the opening of The Dewberry, a 155-room luxury hotel located directly on Marion Square. It will soon see competition from Hotel Bennett, slated to open in early spring 2018 just across the Square, and equally ambitious in its opulence.
Insider Tip: Start your morning with an all-day rental from Affordabike on upper King Street. Your wheels will give you access to explore historic neighborhoods without worrying about a long walk to “facilities” or missing your lunch reservation—and by the time happy hour arrives, you’ll have burned enough calories to justify over-indulging.
When to Go: Festival season runs from mid-February to mid-June, with beach weather commencing in late March. To capitalize on warm (but not sweltering), dry weather when crowds have diminished and fall harvests have begun to stock restaurant kitchens, book a trip in late September and early October.
What to Read: South of Broad by Pat Conroy
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Charleston Guide
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The “Land of the Morning Calm” is abuzz with new energy for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Why It’s Wonderful: Cosmopolitan, yet steeped in ancient traditions, South Korea is home to imposing mountains, lush national parks, pristine coastlines, and a clutch of outlying islands. Amidst the peaceful surrounds, Seoul is booming with excitement as the country prepares to welcome the 2018 Winter Olympics from February 9-25. From luges and ski jumping, alpine and cross-country skiing, speed-skating, and curling, the main events will be held at two ski resorts, Alpensia and Yongpyong, in Pyeongchang County—an hour southeast of the city connected by a speedy Korea Train Express (KTX) link. Ahead of the games, South Korea opened the cloud-piercing Lotte World Tower—currently the fifth tallest building in the world at 1,821 feet tall—in Seoul, as well as two purpose-built Olympic Villages in Pyeongchang.
Where to Stay: South Korea has ushered in a growing list of high-profile hotels, including RYSE, Autograph Collection, in Seoul’s trendy Hongdao district, and the new Signiel Seoul, taking up floors 76 to 101 inside the Lotte World Tower. Around the coastline, travelers will also find a new Four Seasons on Jeju island and Jeju Shinhwa World Marriott Resort opening in 2018.
Insider Tip: There are plenty of beautiful, upscale restaurants in Seoul, such as Arirang, offering a meat-fueled menu, or Kioku inside the Four Seasons Seoul, but you can also eat amazing food on the cheap. Try the street-food paradise that is Kwangjang Market, chow down on Korean Fried Chicken in the Myeongdong District, or devour bibimbap at a little local joint like Jeonju Jungang Hoegwan.
When to Go: The country takes on an ethereal quality during cherry blossom season, usually from late March to early April, when soft pink petals blanket the countryside and urban parks.
What to Read: The Surrendered by Chang-Rae Lee, The Vegetarian by Han Kang
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s South Korea Guide
Discover the pride of a rising Estonia in its adorable capital of Tallinn, where fairytale charm meets thoroughly modern savvy.
Why It’s Wonderful: Throughout 2018, Estonia will be marking the 100th anniversary of its original independence from the Russian Empire, and no place will celebrating harder than its storybook capital of Tallinn. As the Baltic region’s fastest rising star, Tallinn has one foot in the past (with a storybook city center that’s one of Europe’s best-preserved), and another firmly in the future (as a hotbed of tech innovation).
Tallinn’s gorgeous and easily walkable Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dating from the 13th century when invading Danes began building what would become one of the area’s most important trade hubs. Tallinn’s windy cobblestone streets are lined with lively cafes and a remarkable variety of shops and boutiques. At the heart of it all is the centuries-old Town Hall Square, still one of the city’s most popular meeting points. Just above the Old Town is the hill fortress of Toompea, where you’ll get a fantastic panoramic view of the city’s red roofs. Closer to the waterfront is the wooden-housed Kalamaja neighborhood, once home to local fishermen, and now a burgeoning bohemian district.
Where to Stay: The beautiful and intimate Hotel Schlössle offers five-star luxury along a quaint, centuries-old cobblestone street in the Old Town. Also well-situated in the Old Town but a bit more affordable is the charming My City Hotel. A bit farther afield but still central is the just-opened Centennial Hotel, so named in honor of the country’s 100th anniversary of independence in 2018, and with design and art based on the past century of Estonian history.
Insider Tip: To mingle with a diverse cross-section of creative locals, head to Telliskivi, a one-time industrial complex beside the main train station that’s been transformed into a cool mini-city of shops, restaurants, start-ups, and NGOs.
When to Go: Tallinn looks even more fairytale-esque when it’s covered with snow, but Estonia’s winters are dark and cold. Summers are very pleasant, but with Tallinn’s star on the rise, be ready for crowds. Late spring and early fall are the best times to visit.
What to Read: The Man Who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirähk
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Tallinn Guide
Durban, South Africa
Get a taste of local life in South Africa’s creative capital.
Why It’s Wonderful: While most visitors to South Africa tend to use Cape Town or Johannesburg as a hub for exploring the country, Durban is the city to explore if you’re looking for off-the-beaten-path adventures. From a ruggedly beautiful shark-infested shoreline to a gritty but charming downtown, Durban is a spectacular place to discover South African culture. For adventurous types, the wild coastline is a surfer’s paradise. Snorkelers and scuba divers can face their fears in a shark dive, and adrenaline junkies can take the plunge at Moses Madiba Stadium on the largest (and scariest) swing in the world. If you’re interested in local history, museums like the KwaMuhle Museum and a newly-opened Ghandi museum will give visitors insight into Durban’s turbulent and violent past.
Durban is the creative hub of South Africa, and Station Drive Precinct is the center of it all. The former factory neighborhood has transformed into a destination for hipsters with shops, cafes, a brewery, a distillery, and even a tattoo parlor—where you can get the ultimate souvenir of your adventure.
Where to Stay: The Oyster Box Hotel in the bougie Umhlanga beachfront is over-the-top chic, with a guest list to prove it. For a hefty price tag, you can book the presidential suite and take a dip in the private pool where Khloe Kardashian and Nicky Minaj splashed around (presumably not together). They have affordable rooms too, so you don’t have to be a celeb to stay here and enjoy the views of the coast. If downtown is more your scene, the Hilton Durban has been recently remodeled, with luxe and comfy rooms just a stone’s throw from downtown’s major attractions.
Insider Tip: With a large Indian population, Durban’s food scene is probably the most interesting in South Africa. You can’t leave town without trying the local specialty, bunny chow—chicken or lamb curry stuffed into a hollowed out loaf of bread—which makes the perfect streetside snack, whether it’s noon or midnight.
When to Go: This is the beach–you’ll want to visit during the Southern Hemisphere summer when you can properly enjoy it. However, the sardine run in June, called “the greatest shoal on earth” draws visitors (and marine life) from all over the world. If you’re an avid scuba diver, then this is a bucket list opportunity to see sharks feeding on giant schools of fish.
What to Read: The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Durban Guide
For a long time, Warsaw was relegated to second-city status—no longer.
Why It’s Wonderful: Seemingly overnight, Warsaw has emerged as one of Eastern Europe’s great capitals of culture, its streets lined with chic cafés, boutiques, and cocktail bars. Though there’s no shortage of checkered-tablecloth pierogi-and-pilsner joints, the way Varsovians dine has evolved recently with the reopening of historic markets Hala Gwardii (fall 2017) and Hala Koszyki (fall 2016) as chefy hotspots—places where international-inflected meals can be cobbled together by strolling from stall to stall—and Nocny Market, a permanent night market that breathes new life into the defunct Główna railway station. The best part is, you can visit Warsaw on the cheap, thanks to competing budget airlines (Ryanair and Wizz Air) and a forgiving exchange rate.
Where to Stay: Set in a restored count’s mansion, Hotel Indigo–Nowy Swiat (opened in May 2017) is a game-changing designer property with stately balconies, sumptuous textiles, and collectible retro furniture. In early 2018, it will gain a competitor in Raffles Europejski Warsaw, the latest outpost of the luxury hotel chain, opening next to the Presidential Palace.
Insider Tip: Warsaw leaves Krakow in the dust when it comes to nightlife. Let loose at Hocki Klocki, an open-air dance party by the river (summer only) or at NIEBO, a see-and-be-seen nightclub known for its bass-heavy DJ sets and psychedelic wall projections.
When to Go: Warsaw is particularly gorgeous in the autumn when the light is dappled, the leaves are golden, and it’s chilly enough to delight in hearty Polish comfort food. Note to creative types: Warsaw Gallery Weekend, which takes place the last weekend of September, is a free-admission meeting of the minds organized by the city’s leading artists and designers.
What to Read: The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Warsaw Guide
Long side-stepped as potentially perilous, El Salvador and its myriad charms are finally being discovered by travelers.
Why It’s Wonderful: More than a quarter-century after its difficult civil war, El Salvador is finally coming into its own as a tourist destination—still off the normal beaten path for most Central American visitors, but with worlds of exciting wonder and relaxing charms awaiting. Despite a US State Department warning about travel to the country, gang-related violence is almost exclusively confined to a few dangerous neighborhoods in San Salvador, which you needn’t (and obviously shouldn’t) go near. In most other areas of the capital, and even more so outside of it, you’ll feel completely safe.
Joya de Cerén, sometimes called the Pompeii of the Americas, showcases the archaeological remains of a Mayan village buried by a local volcano more than 12 centuries ago. Tazumal, near the Guatemala border, is one of the country’s best surviving Mayan pyramids. Along its Pacific coastline, El Salvador offers excellent surfing, especially at Punta Roca and El Sunzal. In San Salvador, don’t miss the stunning beauty of the modern El Rosario Church. And countrywide, enjoy plenty of delicious pupusas, El Salvador’s national dish—thick handmade corn tortillas stuffed with meat, cheese, beans, or all three.
Where to Stay: San Salvador’s Sal & Luz is an intimate and modern boutique hotel with very friendly and attentive staff, located in a quiet neighborhood on the city’s west side. In the ultra-charming town of Suchitoto, the soothing Los Almendros de San Lorenzo offers large rooms surrounding a Spanish colonial courtyard in a fantastically restored and art-filled two-hundred-year-old home.
Insider Tip: For mild adventure, amazing views, and the chance to mingle with plenty of happy locals, hike the perimeter of El Bouqueron, the beloved volcano that serves as San Salvador’s skyline backdrop.
When to Go: December and January are the best months to visit, with landscapes still green after the end of the rainy season, which runs April to November. Surfing is best between May and August. The colorful Festival of El Salvador del Mundo, the country’s patron saint, happens in early August.
What to Read: Salvador by Joan Didion
New drool-worthy resorts and beach clubs are spurring ever-increasing interest in Bali and the islands of Indonesia.
Why It’s Wonderful: A perennial bucket list favorite, the Indonesian island of Bali needs little introduction. Beautiful beaches, lush tropical jungles, terraced rice paddies, Hindu temples, flavorful food, thumping nightlife, incredible spas, and a strong artistic tradition—Bali might be the ultimate island paradise. Improved infrastructure, new hotels, and beach clubs mean more reasons to go now. Ngurah Rai, the island’s only airport, is getting a much-needed expansion, and there’s talk of a new airport being constructed in the north next year. In addition to the picture-perfect Rock Bar perched on a rocky cliff above the crashing waves, AYANA Resort & Spa Bali recently debuted the 1960s-inspired Kubu Beach Club, where you can lounge on daybeds sipping tropical cocktails in coconuts and nibbling on satays. In Ubud—the island’s spiritual heart—Elora Hardy (founder of design firm Ibuku) is adding dreamy new bamboo treehouses to the eco-chic hotel owned by her father and step-mother John and Cynthia Hardy, Bambu Indah.
Where to Stay: For a true back-to-nature experience, ook one of the open-air bamboo suites at Bambu Indah, where you can swim in natural pools and eat fresh fruits and veggies from the garden. For beaches and air-conditioned accommodations, AYANA and its sister property RIMBA offer everything from budget-friendly rooms to luxe villas with butler service. And in Uluwatu—famous for the Hindu temple perched on a cliff overlooking the sea—wellness-focused brand Six Senses will open a luxurious all-suite and villa resort in spring 2018.
Insider Tip: Buy a beautiful Balinese sarong at one of the many shops in downtown Ubud and wear it to the Hindu temples. Both women and men—Hindu or not—cover up with sarongs and sashes when entering the temple complexes.
When to Go: The best time to visit is between April and October, which is the dry season.
What to Read: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (sorry)
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Bali Guide
The most charming town in Alaska is also (quite proudly) the weirdest.
Why It’s Wonderful: Right between Anchorage and Mount Denali, you’ll find the small village of Talkeetna, a place known as both the gateway to Alaska’s most famous national park and as the town that elected a cat named Stubbs as its mayor for 20 years. This confluence of the great outdoors and silly local tales sums up the town quite nicely (and made it the quirky inspiration behind the hit 1990s television show Northern Exposure). Today, visitors come for the multitude of outdoor activities offered (hiking, rafting, fishing, and flightseeing up to the peaks of Denali are just some of your many options) and stay for the community of artists, musicians, and craftspeople who give the town its true charm. Art galleries and handcrafted gift shops line the main streets here, with a growing assortment of brewpubs and weed dispensaries thrown into the mix. But the best part is getting to know the locals, who are happy to tell you about the annual Wilderness Woman’s Contest (which is thankfully quite self-aware and raises money for local domestic violence programs), the late Mayor Stubbs’s many assassination attempts, or how President Warren G. Harding’s mysterious death in 1923 came just days after he visited Talkeetna.
Where to Stay: Take advantage of the town’s proximity to Mount Denali and stay at Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, which comes with some of the best views of the mountain in the area (and plenty of outfitters to help get you there on a flightseeing tour). If you want to stay in downtown, check out the quirky Talkeetna Roadhouse (one of the oldest establishments in the village), and be sure to indulge in their legendary breakfast that’s been featured in several Food Network shows.
Insider Tip: President Harding visited Talkeetna in 1923 and died just a few days later, and today locals rather proudly claim it was the food at the Fairview Inn that did him in (or rather, his wife or mistress who poisoned it—yes, he brought them both along on this trip). You can still stay at the Inn, but really it’s the bar area that deserves a visit as the town’s go-to hang-out spot (with very little risk of poisoning, unless you’re an adulterous president). Part dive bar and part Alaskan cultural institution, you can count on live music and locals who love to tell tourists all of Talkeetna’s rowdy tales.
When to Go: Summertime in Alaska (June through August) has the best weather for outdoor activities, but crowds are at their largest. May and September usually still have decent weather with fewer crowds, although not all hotels or operators are open. Winter, albeit very snowy, also brings its own charms like the month-long Winterfest and a chance to see the Northern Lights.
What to Read: By Light We Knew Our Names by Anne Valente
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Alaska Guide
A hurricane survivor overflows with cultural and historical treasures.
Why It’s Wonderful: What a difference 30 miles makes. While sister island Barbuda was devastated by Hurricane Irma, Antigua got only a glancing blow in September 2017 and was able to clean up and get back to business quickly. Offering a wide range of resort options from luxurious enclaves to mass-market all-inclusives, not to mention dozens of beautiful white-sand beaches, the island is a fitting substitute in the eastern Caribbean region while other nearby popular tourist destinations recover from hurricane damage. Antigua’s historic role in the Caribbean is exemplified in Nelson’s Dockyard, a newly minted UNESCO World Heritage Site; it’s the only Georgian-era dockyard still in use anywhere in the world, and it’s still a Caribbean-wide draw for the busy sailing season from late winter to early spring. A boost in tourism for this still-beautiful place may also help get Barbudans back on their feet and back home even more quickly. Curtain Bluff, long Antigua’s grand-dame, reopened October 28 after a major, six-month renovation, offering redecorated rooms and public areas, not to mention a “beach concierge.” The intimate Hodges Bay Resort & Spa will open on Antigua’s north shore at the end of December 2017, promising luxurious suites, some with private hot tubs.
Where to Stay: Carlisle Bay offers luxurious contemporary accommodations directly on its alluring namesake beach. If you’re looking for something more down to earth in price, Siboney Beach Club is an affordable beachfront oasis on a quiet corner of Dickenson Bay. Others may be more impressed by The Admiral’s Inn, offering historical ambiance with boutique hotel comforts in a waterfront location right in Nelson’s Dockyard.
Insider Tip: Join the locals every Sunday for reggae, steel pan music, and barbecue at Shirley Heights.
When to Go: Reliably warm winters are a draw for tourists in the busy high season from mid-December through Sailing Week in late April.
What to Read: A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Antigua Guide
This Mediterranean land of sun-kissed cliffs and prehistoric temples also stars as the 2018 European Capital of Culture.
Why It’s Wonderful: A small and rocky archipelago perched in an ancient trade route between southern Europe and northern Africa, Malta has seen a long series of rulers influence its culture including the Romans, the Arabs, and finally the British before Malta gained independence in 1964. Both English and Maltese—a concoction of Arabic and Italian dialects—serve as the national languages. After the European Commission designated Valletta as a 2018 European Capital of Culture, Malta prepared a yearlong program to showcase the country’s unique heritage and contemporary art. Opening ceremonies and fireworks kick off January 14, 2018. Fans of classical music and exuberant architecture will delight in the Valletta International Baroque Festival, also in January. In addition to getting lost in the charming side streets of Valletta, the rest of Malta offers a diverse palette—from fortresses to shipwreck dive sites to pineapple cocktails on Comino island.
Where to Stay: Casa Ellul, a small boutique hotel in Valletta, offers luxury in a Victorian Palazzo. If you want closer access to beaches and nightlife in popular St. Julian, there’s the tasteful Hotel Juliani, with balconies overlooking the sea.
Insider Tip: Experience some of the best seafood Malta has to offer by visiting Marsaxlokk, a fishing village on the island’s south coast famed for its colorful luzzu (traditional fishing boats). Nearby St. Peter’s Pool is a natural site popular for swimming, cliff jumping, and slacklining. Dedicate at least a couple days to explore Malta’s quieter and less developed sister island, Gozo. You can hire a scooter when you’re there and head to the Blue Hole, an underwater cave with mesmerizing blue-green hues.
When to Go: Go in May or June if you want that summer feeling without the blistering heat (and crowds) of July and August.
What to Read: The Jukebox Queen of Malta by Nicholas Rinaldi
Go beyond the Incas in Peru’s “City of Eternal Spring.”
Why It’s Wonderful: As more people visit Peru, interest in what the country has to offer is finally branching out beyond Machu Picchu. Peru was home to many advanced civilizations before the Incas came to power, and Trujillo is the perfect place for stepping off to learn about two of them—the Moche and the Chimu. Located approximately six miles to the southeast of town are the 3,000-year-old Moche pyramids, the Huaca de la Luna and the Huaca del Sol (Temples of the Moon and the Sun). Chan Chan is a sprawling adobe complex that may be the largest of its type in the world. It is representative of the Chimu culture, one of the largest empires ever to flourish in South America. Covering more than eight square miles, mud or not, it does not fail to impress. Pre-Colombian civilizations not your thing? Trujillo is a lovely colonial city that offers many other cultural delights, as well as a temperate climate for relaxing by the beach before heading home.
Where to Stay: There’s no doubt that the best place to stay is the Hotel Libertador. Service is excellent, as is the quality of the rooms, and at half the cost that you would pay for these types of accommodations in busier tourist towns. Depending on the weather, the on-site pool just might be indispensable. Not a budget hotel but at a lower price point is the Costa del Sol. Located outside of town, its pools and outside green areas make it a particularly good choice for families.
Insider Tip: The city is known for the quality of leather shoes and sandals, so you might want to take advantage of purchasing some beautiful and unique footwear. A toy museum, el Museo del Juguete, has pieces dating back to pre-Colombian times. Trujillo is also known for its marinera dancing and its Peruvian paso horses—try to see a performance that includes the marinera as performed between woman and horse.
When to Go: Due to the mild climate, weather really doesn’t play an issue with when to go to Trujillo. Any aficionado of music and dancing will love being in this capital of the marinera during the yearly competitions in January. And the Spring festival each September is a chance to experience something like a State Fair, Peruvian style.
What to Read: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Trujillo Guide
—Maureen A. Santucci
Lost Coast, California
A visit to this isolated stretch of Northern California’s coastline is like a getaway to a long, forgotten world.
Why It’s Wonderful: If you follow California’s famous Pacific Coast Highway north, you’ll eventually come to a place where it’s subsumed into the 101, continuing north toward Oregon. But those intrepid enough to take on the single narrow road that leads toward the shoreline will be rewarded with some of the most beautiful untouched landscapes in the U.S.
The Lost Coast, which lies between the towns of Rockport and Ferndale, owes its unspoiled grandeur to a range of steep coastal mountains which made it extremely difficult to access this part of California’s northern coast. Cut off from the rest of the state and indeed the world, the Lost Coast offers an isolated retreat for those looking to lose themselves in nature. Indeed, the famous Lost Coast Trail, a 24.6-mile trek, draws hikers from all over the globe to seek adventure in this lush locale brimming with secret seaside coves, black sand beaches, and towering redwoods.
Where to Stay: If you won’t be camping along the trail, you can always check in to Brewery Gulch Inn in Mendocino. This boutique hotel offers the kind of rustic, cozy atmosphere you want from your secluded getaway to the unspoiled coast.
Or, if you’re looking for something with few frills without sacrificing a beautiful oceanfront view, there’s the Surf and Sand Lodge in Fort Bragg.
Insider Tip: Shady Dell, a part of the trail also known as the “Enchanted Forest,” is home to a grove of aptly named candelabra redwood trees. The unusual shape of the trees, which results in the branches growing in a crooked manner resembling a candelabra, is thought to be the result of the strong winds and salty air. Whatever the cause, these redwoods are a strange yet magical sight to behold.
When to Go: Backpackers and hikers looking to tackle the Lost Coast Trail will want to plan their journeys between May and October. However, it rarely gets below freezing and if you don’t mind getting a little (or a lot) wet, the trail is plenty beautiful during the rainy offseason.
What to Read: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s North Coast Guide
Romantic travel ain’t dead—not by a longshot.
Why It’s Wonderful: When you close your eyes and say Delta Air Lines, what do you picture? It’s probably an overcrowded tube of misery. Same goes for any airline, really. Journeys are nothing more than unpleasant commutes anymore, only made tolerable by gin and Xanax. It’s the Faustian bargain we’ve made to explore the world cheaply.
But what do you think of when you hear this: the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express? Perhaps you see a countess wrapped in ermine, or a monocle-eyed gentleman in tails, seated in a wood-paneled dining cabin, champagne in hand. It’s a bygone era, right? It’s just an Agatha Christie fever dream or a footnote in history, right? No! It’s real! It’s a real thing! It’s not a travel mirage! And it’s spectacular.
The original 1920s Art Deco cabins have all been painstakingly restored by its owner, the luxury hotelier Belmond. There are three dining cars and two for drinking. Single and twin cabins can be booked (per passenger price starts at £585 and that’s only from Paris to London), and for the deeper-pocketed, stunning suites are available. In March, they’ll unveil their new Grand Suites, which promises to be the finest manner in which a lady or a gentleman can wander throughout Europe.
Where to Stay: The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, obviously.
When to Go: It’s a train, go whenever you like.
What to Read: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, obviously.
This green city in northern India is a must-visit for architecture and design fans.
Why It’s Wonderful: Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, Chandigarh, India is a literal breath of fresh air. This planned urban utopia is the antithesis of chaotic Mumbai or Delhi, with organized streets and distinct architecture that mixes Brutalist, Mid-Century Modern, and traditional Indian structures. The city was built in 1949 as the new capital of the Punjab region, which was split between India and Pakistan during partition. Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier was brought in to build the government administration buildings, and the creations are unbelievable public facilities that have recently been awarded UNESCO status: breathtaking modern courthouses, avant-garde sculptures, and strangely colorful public buildings that seem at once totally out of place and also right at home in India. Beyond Le Corbusier’s Capitol Complex, the houses in Chandigarh (many designed by Le Corbusier’s cousin, Pierre Jeanneret) are picture-perfect Mid-Century Modern abodes. One of these houses, where Pierre Jeanneret lived while working in Chandigarh, was turned into a museum dedicated to the designer in 2017, with photos and furniture that transport you to the 1950s.
Outside the city center, visitors can get a taste of the Himalayas, with extensive hiking and biking trails in the 7,000-acre Siswan Forest Range.
Where to Stay: Besides the incredible architecture, the main draw for visitors to Chandigarh is the brand new Oberoi Sukhvilas, a luxury property with tented suites that come with private pools where you can eat breakfast overlooking the forest with nothing but the sounds of screeching peacocks to disturb you.
Insider Tip: Fittingly for this design hub, Chandigarh is home to a totally out-of-this-world oddball sculpture park that feels like Gaudi and Dr. Seuss went to the town dump together and decided to create a wonderland out of garbage. It is insane, awe-inspiring, and absolutely wonderful.
When to Go: Chandigarh has slightly cooler temperatures than Mumbai and Delhi, which means it’s lovely throughout the dry season, from October to April. By all means avoid monsoon season from June to September, when forest hiking and biking trails turn into gushing flood zones.
What to Read: Chandigarh Revealed: Le Corbusier’s City Today by Shaun Fynn and Vikramaditya Prakash, Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s India Guide
Native forests, coral reef-fringed islands, and a heady mix of cultures make Mauritius far more than a luxury beach destination.
Why It’s Wonderful: Gentle trade winds, fantastic year-round weather, and a host of incredible beaches are normally drawing cards for anyone considering Mauritius as their next beach vacation destination. But beyond the high-end swagger of the resorts lies an island with a diverse mix of cuisines of French, Indian, Chinese, and Creole influence and a wide range of biodiversity to enthrall visitors beyond just catching a tan. Explore volcanic mountain ranges with thick forests filled with endemic bird and mammal species, unleash your thrill-seeking side by kite and windsurfing along the dramatic southwest shores, or admire the exhibitions of the Institute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean, a platform leading the way in the development of contemporary Indian Ocean artists.
Where to Stay: Escape into the intimacy of the Heritage Le Telfair Resort and Spa, known for its seamless integration of preserved history (it dates back to 1765) and high-end tourism (and of course, an incredible spa). For something unique, skip the luxury resorts and head straight for the outstanding views at Otentic Eco Tent Experience, a glamping hotel with outdoor activities.
Insider Tip: Cruise the coastline in a rented yacht for the perfect ocean sunsets or, better yet, hire a car and drive along the east coast—drink in the sights at your own pace and stop for swims in various little beach coves.
When to Go: Mauritius is at its white-sand-cobalt-sea best from June to December. Don’t miss November’s Festival International Kréol for cultural immersion, or Diwali, the beautiful celebration of light, in October.
What to Read: Golden Bats and Pink Pigeons by Gerald Durrell
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Mauritius Guide
The Basque Country isn’t all beaches, pintxos, and Michelin stars.
Why It’s Wonderful: The Guggenheim Bilbao may have just celebrated its 20th anniversary, but the Frank Gehry-designed museum remains as relevant as ever with its timeless permanent collection of works by Rothko, Chillida, Warhol, and other major artists of the 20th century. But there’s more to this unsung Basque metropolis than modern art: Homey bars and restaurants like Pentxo—far less uppity than the pintxo bars of San Sebastián—serve soul-satisfying meals that won’t break the bank. To see for yourself how Bilbao has evolved from a gritty industrial hub into a world-class city, rent a kayak on the Nervión River and paddle past architectural marvels including the Isozaki Atea apartment complex and San Mamés stadium.
Where to Stay: Rooms awash with muted taupes and grays make the riverside Barceló Bilbao Nervión an ideal pick for travelers seeking tranquility. Those who enjoy a bit more pizzazz and local flavor should opt for Basque Boutique, an independently owned hotel in the Casco Viejo with industrial-chic furniture and exposed-brick walls. The hotel market is about to get more competitive as a 122-room Catalonia Hotels & Resorts property is set to open in late 2018.
Insider Tip: Bilbao’s proximity to the Cantabrian coast, Rioja wine country, and even Bordeaux (a three-hour drive away) makes it an ideal starting point for all sorts of excursions. Tour organizers like Spanish Journeys take the hassle out of planning while offering exclusive experiences such as visits with Idiazabal cheesemakers, wine tastings in private cellars, and cooking classes with renowned chefs.
When to Go: Shoulder season—spring and fall—are the best times to visit Bilbao if you prioritize low rates and short lines. Summer is when the city is at its liveliest, thanks to BBK Live (mid-July), a wildly popular rock music festival, and Aste Nagusia (late August), a nine-day bacchanal filled with dancing, fireworks, costume contests, and traditional Basque sports.
What to Read: Guernica by Dave Boling
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Bilbao Guide
At the end of the world, you’ll find the most majestic and varied landscapes.
Why It’s Wonderful: The Last Wilderness is aptly named: even with its strict visitor regulations, the land has experienced its share of damage from tourists (multiple fires have destroyed large swaths of native forest). Six national parks within Patagonia include mountains, steppes, glaciers, ice fields, forests, lakes, rivers, countless endemic flora and fauna, and very, very few people. The sightings are as unique as the landscape. Between climate change and a boom in interest, Patagonia seems likely to become endangered and/or overrun. Go while it’s still untouched.
Where to Stay: The Tierra Patagonia Hotel is opulent rustic luxury with incredible views and gourmet dining. For a fully immersive experience, EcoCamp Patagonia is fully sustainable and equipped with bathrooms (some domes offer options for electricity and heat).
Insider Tip: There are countless once-in-a-lifetime opportunities in Patagonia: drink from a glacier; spot pumas, guanaco, condors, foxes, and flamingos; watch avalanches; spot the famed turquoise lakes. A guide or expedition, easily coordinated with your accommodations, is the best way to make sure you hit each item.
When to Go: Peak summer months are December to February, but winds are less severe in fall from March to May.
What to Read: In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Patagonia Guide
There’s never been a better time to drink in the rich culture, traditions, and frenetic energy of Tokyo.
Why It’s Wonderful: If you’ve been pondering a trip to Tokyo, 2018 is the year to finally take a plunge. Flights to Tokyo have rarely been cheaper ($400 round trip!) and there’s a deluge of new attractions to check out. World-renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has opened her own museum in Shinjuku, and since her US exhibitions are harder to score tickets to than Hamilton, seeing her work in her city the way she intends it is not to be missed.
Where to Stay: While the movie Lost In Translation launched The Park Hyatt Tokyo into hipster “must-stay” status, we recommend opting for the Hyatt Regency Tokyo. It is better located (directly above a subway stop, next to a beautiful park, walking distance to loads of amazing restaurants), less expensive, and still very luxurious. Or, wake up with Godzilla gazing into your window at The Hotel Gracery, located in the pulsing heart of Shinjuku.
Insider Tip: Two words: Ichiran Ramen. Don’t let the fact that it’s a chain scare you off, Ichiran is the real deal and widely regarded as the best ramen in the world. Order at the vending machine, sit at the counter cubicle, and get ready to sail off into ramen heaven.
When to Go: For mild weather and smaller crowds, visit in May after Golden Week (a national holiday usually celebrated the first week of May). Christmastime is also magical in Tokyo, as Western Christmas traditions are reinterpreted through a Japanese lens to stunning effect. However, it gets cold and very rainy, so come prepared.
What to Read: The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Tokyo Guide
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
This urban metropolis is buzzing with boutique hotels, swanky cantinas, and “tequilacopters” that will drop you in the heart of blue agave fields.
Why It’s Wonderful: If the thought of your hair whipping beneath twirling blades in an agave field isn’t enough, well, we’re just getting started. In the past year, Guadalajara has bolted from the shadows of Mexico City and emerged as one of the top travel destinations in North America. For one, they’ve got Tequila—the town and the liquor for which the liquid sunshine was named. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the colonial town produces all the world’s tequila, and you can tour distilleries and throwback samples of the glorious spirit. Sober up at the pre-Hispanic ruins of Los Guachimontones, considered the place for enlightenment during the spring equinox. For mucha cultura, make March your “go” month when Guadalajara hosts Mexico’s most prominent international film festival. If margaritas and mariachi are more your thing, the Mariachi Festival dominates September, honoring 18th-century musical traditions in the city where it all began. Throw in wondrous shopping, restaurants, museums, and nightlife—and you’ll know exactly why tech companies are flocking to Mexico’s Silicon Valley.
Where to Stay: From boutique hotels to sprawling haciendas, you’ve got tons of options to choose from. In the historic center is the newly opened Alborata Boutique Hotel. This elegant, 17-room darling is dwarfed by the flashy-new NH Collection Hotel overlooking the Cathedral and Teatro Degollado. Feel noble at Villa Ganz, a 1930s historic mansion converted into a luxury boutique hotel. Located in acclaimed Colonia Lafayette, it rivals the artsy, sleek, and spiffy Hotel Demetria less than a block away.
Insider Tip: The best way to connect with locals is to dine with them at Hueso, a contemporary restaurant with a communal table running down the center. Foodies-in-the-know book days ahead at funky I Latina, where a chalkboard menu tempts diners with tuna tacos and mezcal cocktails. Don’t leave town without watching Lucha Libre ringside—Mexico’s version of WWE, where colorful masks and free-flowing Corona make for an entertaining night.
When to Go: Optimal weather is November through March, when you’ll get cooler temperatures, sunny days, and little rain.
What to Read: Quesadillas: A Novel by Juan Pablo Villalobos
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Guadalajara Guide
Gear up for winter fun and Inuit culture on the world’s largest island.
Why It’s Wonderful: Few words capture the feeling of gliding past icebergs several stories high in UNESCO-heritage Illulisatfjörd, racing Greenlandic sled dogs across frozen tundra as Inuits have done for over 5,000 years, snowshoeing up mountains with panoramic views over Nuuk, or chasing shimmering green ribbons of the Northern Lights as they unfurl across dark Arctic skies. Greenland remains one of a few places on earth that truly invoke a deep sense of adventure and remoteness.
With direct flights from Denmark and Iceland, Greenland is easy to get to, but getting from town to town still requires hopping flights or helicopters during winter and ferries during summer. In capital city Nuuk, watch skilled weavers make Greenland’s traditional Inuit dress at Kittat or trace history over centuries at the Greenland National Museum and see its well-preserved Qilakitsoq mummies.
Where to Stay: Bed down in your own wooden cabin with Nuuk Bay as your panoramic view at Inuk Hostels. For more creature comforts, Hotel Hans Egede is the only 4-star hotel in town. With straight-on views of icebergs drifting in Disko Bay, it doesn’t get better than Ilulissat’s Hotel Arctic, considered the world’s most northerly 4-star hotel, with its observation platform and outdoor igloo rooms.
Insider Tip: Greenland is all about pushing culinary limits, so while in Nuuk, dig into traditional Greenlandic cuisine such as whale meat and muskox at Restaurant Sarfalik or grab the Greenlandic tapas sampler at Katuaq Cultural House Cafétuaq. In Ilulissat, Restaurant Mamartut serves up finwhale, seal, and wolffish caught from Disko Bay.
When to Go: While Greenland truly comes alive during the summer months, if you can brave the cold, Greenland’s grandeur is best experienced during winter as Aurora Borealis dance across the skies.
What to Read: The North Water by Ian McGuire
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Greenland Guide
Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv’s backdrop makes for perfect Instagram-worthy adventures for foodies, party animals, beach bums, and families.
Why It’s Wonderful: With white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and 300 sunny days a year, why wouldn’t you want to go to Tel Aviv now? Add to the beautiful setting a culinary scene inspiring major food trends; an entrepreneurial spirit that is impacting global technological innovation; beautiful art, museums, and architecture; and it’s easy to see why Tel Aviv is one of the top destinations for 2018.
The heart of Tel Aviv is flat and compact, making it easy to experience a lot in a short time. The hands-down best way to explore the city is to rent a bike (try the Tel-o-Fun bike share) and ride along the shaded Rothschild Boulevard toward the beach promenade, ending at Jaffa for sunset and a glass of wine.
In 2018, Tel Aviv will enjoy several notable cultural openings: a White City Heritage Center showcasing the history of the city’s UNESCO-recognized Bauhaus architectural style; a Museum of Natural History which will display over 5 million specimens; pedestrian-friendly redesigns of the city’s iconic Dizengoff Square and beach boardwalk; and a celebration of Israel’s 70th Independence Day with a new interactive trail along Rothschild Boulevard.
Where to Stay: The luxurious Norman boutique hotel offers 50 rooms and suites in two elegantly restored 1920s eclectic buildings close to the city’s hotspots. If you want to be in the heart of the city, and the Norman is too flashy, try the 65 Hotel, or another of the Atlas Hotels, a well-priced Israeli boutique hotel chain with lavish breakfasts included. Two notable openings set for 2018 are The W and The Setai, both in restored historic buildings next to the Old City of Jaffa.
Insider Tip: If food is your focus—as it should be when in Israel—join a guided food tour with Delicious Israel to navigate the backstreets of Tel Aviv’s best markets and street food eats. You’ll be in good company with the locals who spend their days around the open-air Carmel Market, polishing off bowls of warm hummus and lounging in hipster cafes drinking the world’s best cappuccinos.
When to Go: Tel Aviv’s mild Mediterranean climate makes it the perfect year-round vacation spot. Israel’s 70th Independence Day means major parties on the night of April 18, while the festivities leading up to the June 8 Pride Parade are not to be missed. Watch out for Jewish holidays, when many shops and markets are closed.
What to Read: Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Tel Aviv Guide
The secret’s out: Sri Lanka may well be the perfect vacation destination.
Why It’s Wonderful: With immaculate beaches, rainforests, and national parks, plus rich traditions and intriguing cities, Sri Lanka is becoming known as the island with everything to offer. Now that the country’s civil war is over, the east and north have opened up to visitors. Cities such as Batticaloa and Jaffna are ripe for exploring, while Kuchaveli and Pasikudah, with their miles of unspoiled beaches, are earmarked for development again. Sri Lanka is also becoming a hub for adventure-lovers—named Asia’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination at the 2017 World Travel Awards, opportunities for trekking, hiking, rock climbing, sailing, diving, rafting, and surfing are on the increase. Recent years have seen the arrival of several world-class wellness retreats, inspired by Sri Lanka’s ayurvedic traditions, including Tri and Santani. With outstanding wildlife experiences also on offer, and many hotels leading the way with inspiring sustainability practices, this island paradise is positively blooming.
Where to Stay: The Heritance Kandulama near Sigiriya is regarded as one of architect Geoffrey Bawa’s most impressive achievements. In the historic fort area of Galle, Fort Bazaar is a renovated 17th-century townhouse offering chic rooms at affordable prices. In 2018, look out for boutique hotel brand Alila’s newest offering Alila Koggala, an eco-friendly design hotel on Koggala Lake in Habaraduwa, close to Galle and Ahangama Beach.
Insider Tip: There’s a thriving artisan and maker scene in Sri Lanka. In Colombo, Galle, and Kandy, look for handwoven clothes, linen, and toys as well as all kinds of artisan foods that are made at home and sold in local restaurants and markets.
When to Go: Sri Lanka has two monsoon seasons, meaning the best time to visit the south is between October and March, while the north and middle of the country are dry from January until March.
What to Read: Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje, Elephant Complex: Travels in Sri Lanka by John Gimlette
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Sri Lanka Guide
An undiscovered wealth of culture, history and natural beauty in Romania’s most well-known region.
Why It’s Wonderful: Vampires aren’t the only draw to Transylvania, a region in central Romania encased in the Carpathian Mountains. While the area is best known for Bran Castle, a Gothic fortress reputed to be the former home of Dracula (although history would argue otherwise), the sweeping mountains are filled with small villages, endless forests, and surprisingly good skiing. Brasov, encased in ancient Saxon walls, is a lively town that lends itself well to travelers of all types, as are nearby Sibiu and Sighisoara. It’s notably less crowded (and less expensive) than other Eastern European destinations, and Romanian culture and history are endlessly fascinating, particularly when you get beyond the requisite talk of blood-suckers. Nature lovers and hikers should visit Apuseni Nature Park, where vestiges of prehistoric humans have been found in its approximately 1,500 caves.
Where to Stay: Bella Muzica is a historic, three-star property situated in the heart of Brasov is over 400 years old, lending an intimate, authentic feel to your stay. Alternatively, outside the city overlooking Miorita Lake, is Hotel Aurelius, a contemporary spa resort in the popular ski town of Poiana Brasov that offers the perfect mountainside relaxation.
Insider Tip: Grab a bite to eat at Coliba Haiducilor, traditional Romania restaurant in Poiana Brasov that boasts an authentic dining experience (music included). Try one of the Romanian wines with dinner, which pairs well with the massive portions of meat consumed in the country.
When to Go: Summer in Romania is very hot, so spring and fall are the most pleasant times to sight-see. Skiers should consider December through March for snowy slopes.
What to Read: Dracula by Bram Stoker (sorry)
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Transylvania Guide
New hotels give travelers a reason to visit this island paradise.
Why It’s Wonderful: With water in hallucinogenic shades of blue and islands upon islands to explore, the Bahamas is perennially popular. But a cache of openings in late 2017 and 2018 has the nation—and in particular, Nassau—on our radar more than ever. Baha Mar, the huge casino and multiple-resort project slated to bring 2,220 rooms to Nassau’s Cable Beach, was plagued with several false starts and its own share of controversy in recent years. But it’s finally coming into its own thanks to the April 2017 opening of the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, a lavish hotel already luring the party people away from the Paradise Island/Atlantis scene. The swanky SLS Baha Mar began welcoming guests in November 2017, and the Rosewood Baha Mar is due to open by spring of 2018.
Compared to its neighbors, the Bahamas was largely spared the wrath of the devastating 2017 hurricane season. And Grand Bahama, hard hit by Matthew in 2016, has largely recovered with the re-openings of the islands anchor hotels including all-inclusive Lighthouse Pointe and boutique property Pelican Bay, among others.
Beyond the most populous Bahamian islands, there are even more wonders to explore on the myriad beaches, reefs, and fishing resorts of the Out Islands.
2017 welcomed in several new flights to the islands, including a nonstop from Frankfurt, Germany to Nassau on Condor. More open to the world than ever and increasingly world-class in its tourist offerings, the Bahamas is hard to beat for a close-to-home escape.
Where to Stay: The Island House, on New Providence Island’s quieter western end, opened in 2015 as the island’s first true boutique property and has an in-house cinema, spa, two fine-dining restaurants, and enticingly minimalist rooms. And with its collection of colorful wooden bungalows fronting the sea, Compass Point Beach Resort remains a favorite away from the mass resort scene. The biggest opening for 2018 will be the Rosewood Baha Mar, slated to bring a touch of British Colonial charm to the massive resort and casino complex on Cable Beach.
Insider Tip: Nassau’s Fish Fry at Arawak Cay is a tourist hotbed when the cruise ships are in port. But visit on a Friday evening and you’ll find a mostly local crowd tucking into freshly prepared conch salads spiked with tropical fruit and downing plastic tumblers of sky juice (a gin cocktail mixed with coconut water, nutmeg, milk, and sugar that tastes much better than it sounds).
When to Go: Junkanoo celebrations take place across the islands, but the biggest parade and bash takes over the streets of Nassau from December 26 through New Year’s Day every year. It’s the Bahamian answer to Carnival, and good music and vibes abound. Later in the year, hit the Out Islands for the All that Jazz Festival in Eleuthera in mid-April.
What to Read: Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Bahamas Guide
A variety of cruise options have made expeditions to the exotic continent easier than ever.
Why It’s Wonderful: Just 20 years ago, travel to the world’s coldest continent seemed as treacherous as trekking up Everest. Now, you can sip a gorgeous glass of Argentinian Malbec on your balcony while anchoring near Antarctica’s shores. Since the early 20th century, the White Continent has lured explorers and scientists curious to discover what lurks in the most remote—and wildest—place on Earth that’s home to 90 percent of the planet’s ice. The summer season brings a bevy of expedition vessels ranging from 50-500 passengers setting sail from South America and slipping around the Antarctic Peninsula. Still, fewer than 20,000 people step foot on the continent each year, making it one of the last frontiers for many to check off their must-visit list. Even on the most luxurious of expedition ships, you’ll feel like you’re on a true adventure. Itineraries are loose and can easily change shape depending on the weather, meaning you never know exactly where you’ll end up. One day you may be sea kayaking around volcanic Paulet Island, home to over 100,000 pairs of tiny Adélie penguins, and the next you may be spending the night camping near Neko Harbour’s landmark glacier.
Where to Stay: Unless you’re bunking up on a station with scientists, cruising from South America is your best bet in terms of making your way to Antarctica. Ships range from low-key expedition liners to luxurious yachts, with plenty of options (and price points) in between. In 2018, Norwegian explorer liner Hurtigruten is tacking on a new hybrid vessel to its fleet, the 530-passenger MS Roald Amundsen, which will act as a “base camp at sea.” For something on the more boutique side, Silversea’s recently refurbished Silver Cloud Expedition features the only Relais & Châteaux restaurant “on” the continent. Not only can you indulge in a fine dining six-course meal, you’ll be treated like royalty throughout every rough stretch of the expedition thanks to the highly trained team of butlers at your beck and call.
Insider Tip: Earn your explorer street cred swimming (or skinny dipping if you’re really brave) in the natural hot springs surrounding the ring-shaped Deception Island, a former whaling station home to an active volcano.
When to Go: Only two seasons exist in Antarctica: summer and winter. Expedition season runs from late October through March, but the best months to visit are December and January when the days are longer, penguin chicks are hatching, and humpback whales are feeding before their long migration north.
What to Read: The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Antarctica Guide
Porto has shed its reputation as a staid wine town to become a travel destination in its own right.
Why It’s Wonderful: It would be easy for Porto to rest on its laurels as a wine destination—after all, the world-famous port wine has lured a steady stream of tourists here since the turn of the 18th century. But recently, Portugal’s second city has exploded onto the scene as a hotbed of cutting-edge dining, art, and culture, giving Lisbon a run for its money (sorry, Madonna). In 2017, The Yeatman—one of the city’s top restaurants (and hotels)—turned food critics’ heads when it was awarded its second Michelin star. Casual international dining blossomed this year, too, with the opening of Portugal’s first kosher and Hawaiian restaurants, Ball Falafel and Honolulu, respectively. Souvenirs like handmade emollients—from the just-opened Claus Porto flagship store—or evocative posters from the gift shop at modern-art museum Museo Serralves, will keep Porto on your mind long after your trip.
Where to Stay: There isn’t a bad seat in the house at The Yeatman since every room of this wine-focused Relais & Château property boasts a balcony and river views. Those without a four-figure budget will feel at home at Moov Hotel Porto Centro, a cozy, quirky property situated behind São Bento railway station that’s known for its amicable personnel and affordable rates.
Insider Tip: Forego the francesinha, Porto’s sloppy signature sandwich, in favor of the pulled pork and sheep’s-milk cheese slider from Casa Guedes, a no-frills hole in the wall frequented by locals. The perfect pairing? A thirst-quenching bubbly rosé bottled specially for the restaurant.
When to Go: Visit Porto in the summer, when outlying beaches are warm enough for swimming and surfing. Fall and winter offer the best rates—and the rainiest weather. If you live in the New York metropolitan area, you’re in luck: Starting in May 2018, United will offer direct flights to Porto from Newark.
What to Read: The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Porto Guide
On the 25th anniversary of Nirvana’s In Utero and the premiere of Sleepless in Seattle, see how the city has grown to be more than a nexus of weirdo pop culture.
Why It’s Wonderful: 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of many Seattle-centered pop culture milestones: 1993’s In Utero and the end of grunge, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks’ delightfully unrealistic meet cute, and Frasier’s move here from Boston. Today’s Seattle has remnants of its bygone days, but the town has also grown up and changed even more than you have since the ’90s. (Oh, you’re not still vegan?) Run by techies and populated by musicians, Seattle might not be as clean or liberal as some locals would want you to believe, but it is filled with a unique culture and a warm hospitality that you don’t find elsewhere, not even in its oft-referenced neighbor, Portland. A visit to this eccentric haven housed amid sloping emerald hills could involve learning about rock icons at MoPOP as much as hearing an emerging R&B artist at a hole-in-the-wall venue. Oenophiles and foodies can drop in at new wine bars or cozy Peruvian eateries in Pioneer Square, while coffee, seafood, and gum walls continue to draw tourists with more traditional bucket lists.
Where to Stay: Designed by a local award-winning architect, luxury boutique hotel the Thompson overlooks Pike Place Market and is characterized by its stylish glass facade. Grab drinks at the hotel’s rooftop bar The Nest and look out onto the Olympic Mountains. For something less conventional, head to The Arctic Club. Housed in a 1900s building where men came to socialize upon their return from the Yukon gold rush, the hotel is lavish with quirky and ornate details: terracotta walrus head statues, dripping chandeliers, and steamer trunks as side tables in the rooms, honoring the explorers who were its original guests.
Insider Tip: While in Seattle, don’t miss out on taking a ferry to one of the Puget Sound islands. Spend a day at Vashon for biking and beachcombing, Whidbey for hikes and scenic drives, or Bainbridge for browsing antique shops, bookstores, and galleries. All three are rich in culture and natural beauty.
When to Go: See a diverse lineup of (mostly local) big-name and rising musical acts at Upstream Music Fest + Summit in June, which coincides with the beginning of tourist season (June through September). Summer is usually mild and not too rainy; the weather is known to change on a dime, but that’s just part of the city’s charm.
What to Read: Black Hole by Charles Burns, Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Seattle Guide.