If your New Year’s resolution is to travel more, we’ve got you covered with our top destinations to visit in 2018.
From the ochre-red outback near Darwin, Australia and swimming with the rare Hector’s dolphins of Akaroa, New Zealand, to the quirkiness of Portland, USA, these are our picks of the destinations you need to put on your 2018 bucket list. Make sure you book your flight and airport transfer soon though, before everyone else catches on that these are the destinations to visit in 2018.
1. San Antonio, USA
Texas is more than just BBQs and cowboy hats, and San Antonio is here to prove it. Colourful markets, boutique craft beers and a city teeming with French, Spanish, German and indigenous influences; the whole world is in the palm of your hand in San Antonio. Admire the scenic path along the popular River Walk, which links shops and restaurants with picturesque waterways, immerse yourself in San Antonio’s Spanish history at The Alamo complex, or hire a bike and explore the city by two wheels.
Don’t miss: A trip to Downtown San Antonio for a foodie adventure. Everywhere you look you’ll find gastronomic delights and wonderful restaurants to sate any appetite.
Nearest airport: San Antonio International Airport
2. Lake District, UK
You’ll definitely want to pack your camera for this trip, as the Lake District in northwest England is, simply put, stunning. Glistening lakes, lush rolling green hills, staggering fells and blooming wildflowers create a spellbinding landscape that will enchant anyone who visits the UK’s most popular National Park. Home to 12 of England’s largest lakes, this region attracts adventure-seekers, bushwalkers, watersport enthusiasts and sightseers to its mesmerising countryside. And after all the adventure-seeking, you have to try some Gingerbread from Grasmere – it was invented here in 1854!
Don’t miss: Hiking up the highest peak in England, Scafell Pike. Accessible to anyone with a reasonable amount of fitness (and common sense – like wearing sensible shoes!), this hike will reward you with fantastic views and the smugness of being able to say that you’ve conquered England’s tallest mountain.
3. Akaroa, New Zealand
Just over an hour from Christchurch lies the delightful, French-influenced village of Akaroa. This little piece of New Zealand paradise boasts European-style architecture, galleries, picture-postcard blue waters and dramatic rolling green hills. Go sailing in the bay and spot the fur seal colony playing in the sheltered rocks, or try local seafood at one of the many cafés and restaurants.
Don’t miss: Swimming with the rare Hector’s dolphins, the smallest dolphins in the world and found only in this part of New Zealand.
Nearest airport: Christchurch Airport
Akaroa in New Zealand’s South Island is a stunning combination of clear blue waters and lush rolling green hills.
4. Detroit, USA
This once almost-abandoned city may surprise some as a must-visit for 2018, but Detroit is certainly going through a creative revival thanks to the young artists and entrepreneurs that now call the Motor City home. Inventive restaurants, independent breweries, artisan markets, museums and swanky cafés are taking over the abandoned buildings and vacant lots, and Detroit is teeming with a raw, new energy, like an urban phoenix rising from the ashes and rubble. It’s not the most cosmopolitan city, and is still a little rough around the edges, but that’s what we love about it.
Don’t miss: Indulging in a little bit of jazz at Detroit’s longest-running jazz club, the Baker’s Keyboard Lounge.
Nearest airport: Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
5. Darwin, Australia
Australia’s Top End is an exciting blend of ochre-red Australian outback, World Heritage National Parks like Kakadu and Litchfield, indigenous culture and Asian influence. One of the best locations in Australia to witness a gorgeous sunset, Darwin will tempt you with beach markets, a warm tropical climate, harbourfront shopping and delicious Asian-fusion dining.
Don’t miss: A jumping crocodile river experience. Watch wild crocodiles jump right out of the river in front of you as experienced guides tempt them with meat… From the safety of a caged boat, of course.
Nearest airport: Darwin International Airport
6. Isle of Skye, Scotland
Discover the natural beauty that awaits you on the Isle of Skye. Scotland’s second-largest island is a wonderland of astounding jagged mountains, grand castles, wild landscapes and charming, colourful harbours. The name Isle of Skye comes from Norse language, which translates to ‘Cloud Island’, a reference to the mist-cloaked Cuillin Hills.
Don’t miss: A visit to the Talisker Distillery, the oldest working distillery on the Isle of Skye, to sample the sweet, full-bodied single malt whisky.
Nearest airport: Inverness Airport
7. Canberra, Australia
Australia’s capital city cops a lot of grief for being a place known only for government buildings, Parliament House and museums, and generally loses out on the tourism front to bigger, more popular coastal cities like Sydney and Melbourne. But Canberra is quickly gaining some seriously cool cred. The National Gallery of Australia is the country’s cultural institution and will delight art-lovers with world-renowned exhibits, while wine connoisseurs will find heaven in the more than 30 cellar doors all within 30 minutes of the city centre. Soar high above the city in a hot air balloon, spotting famous Canberra landmarks from the air, then refuel at one of the many gourmet cafés and restaurants that are putting Canberra on the culinary map.
Don’t miss: Trying a freak shake. These crazy dessert-come-milkshakes adorned with everything from whipped cream, chocolate bars, biscuits, donuts, candy, sprinkles, popcorn and fairy floss originated in… yep, Canberra!
Nearest airport: Canberra Airport
You can’t visit Canberra without trying a ‘freak shake’ – a decadent milkshake topped with everything from biscuits to whipped cream and candy.
8. Dunedin, New Zealand
Dunedin is one of the best kept secrets of New Zealand’s South Island. Seasonal cuisine sourced from land and sea, award-winning restaurants serving up regional delicacies, and a vibrant café scene alone makes the city worthy of a foodie pilgrimage. Plus, the wide array of parks, family activities and gorgeous stretches of beach make Dunedin the perfect family holiday destination.
Don’t miss: Creating your own delicious chocolate masterpiece on a tour of Dunedin’s Cadbury World Factory.
Nearest airport: Dunedin Airport
9. Portland, USA
Quirky Portland is the ideal destination for travellers who want something a little bit different for their next holiday. Artisan coffee, farm-to-fork dining and more than 600 food trucks offering all sorts of street food will whet your appetite, while those who seek outdoor adventure will find it through kayaking, canoeing and cycling (Portland is one of America’s most bike-friendly cities!).
Don’t miss: Channeling your inner scientist and visiting the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, where you can catch a movie in 4D or get your hands dirty with a science lab experiment.
Nearest airport: Portland International Airport
10. Lennox Head, Australia
Often overshadowed by its famous neighbour, Byron Bay, nearby Lennox Head is a delightful coastal town with all the charm of Byron, but without the hordes of tourists. Home to popular surfing beaches, Lennox Head is also a base for paragliding and whale watching. Take a relaxing dip in Lake Ainsworth, coloured dark by the surrounding tea-trees, enjoy expansive sea views from the Pat Morton Lookout, and delight in fresh fish and chips right on the beach. A stone’s throw away from the Heritage-listed Nightcap National Park, Lennox Head has a little bit of something for everyone.
Don’t miss: Packing a picnic lunch and heading out to one of the many stunning waterfalls in the area. Trek down the scenic walk to Minyon Falls, sit under the cascading water at Killen Falls or jump into the swimming holes at Whian Whian, all shorts distances from Lennox Head.
11. Ballintoy, Northern Ireland
If you’re a fan of the HBO series Game of Thrones, parts of Ballintoy in Northern Ireland are bound to look familiar. Ballintoy boasts beautiful scenery, so it’s little wonder this was the location for many scenes from the blockbuster television series. Steep cliffs, rocky shores and an abundance of Atlantic wildlife make Ballintoy the perfect location for walking, and the quaint village and harbour steeped in rich history will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Don’t miss: A trip to the UNESCO-listed Giant’s Causeway, an incredible formation of 40,000 basalt rocks formed from ancient volcanic activity.
Nearest airports: Belfast Airport