As the yearis racing to an end, most travel websites contrive lists of top destinations toexplore in the 12 months to come, and here is ours. 2012 has seen the proclamation of the New7Wondersof Nature (which sparked our utmost interest), and 2014 will bring a wave of crowd-inducingsport undertakings to some popular spots on the global tourist map (whichsparked the red alert). What’s in between is 365 days to enjoy the beauty ofthe planet (before it’s too late) and a series of fabulous cultural events scheduledfor 2013. Don’t waste time. Stay openand travel safe!
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is definitely not a budget destination, but if you’ve beentoying with the idea to visit, do it now, before the city gets completely outof your economic reach for a couple of years to come after 2013. Big-timeevents such as the football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016basically mean two things for a traveler – the city is under rapidtransformation to unfold some of the best services to visitors, but once thegoal is accomplished and crowds start to flood the Estádio do Maracanã, the prices will go up with supersonicspeed, too. Conclusions? Stick a pair of hard-wearing sandalsin your rucksack and roam the hills of Rio before the expenses hit the ceiling,but just in time to enjoy the fresh development.
Every timeis a good time to drop by Amsterdam as the city never lets go of itsinvigorating blend of artistic air, laid-back spirit and spicy envelope. But2013, with a prospect of numerous coinciding anniversaries, is the best timepossible for a cultural buff to spend a couple of days hanging around the CanalRing, which, by the way, celebrates its 400th birthday next year. For the 160thtime the Amsterdamians will sing happy birthday to Vincent van Gogh and enjoythe 40th year of his brilliant museum’s operation. The famed Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra celebrates its 125thanniversary and the Rijksmuseum (with Rembrandt, Vermeer and Durer on stock!)re-opens after a 10-year refurbishment. And that’s only part of the agenda that’sbound to be overflowing with open-air celebratory events. And partying inAmsterdam can hardly be rivaled…
Komodo National Park, Indonesia
Following its newly gained status as one of theNew7Wonders of Nature, Indonesia’s Komodo National Park has seen a substantialupsurge in tourist numbers, with 40,000 adventurers visiting the secluded spot lostbetween two oceans only in the first quarter of this year. Despite greatefforts to retain the pristine, intact character of the place, tourism andinconsiderate human practices will most certainly affect its shape at somepoint. This is to say you should hurry up before the indigenous Komodo dragons resort to cannibalism or get poached to extinction.The park includes the three largerislands Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as a number of smaller ones, for atotal area of 1,817 sq. km, so there’s surely a lot to be done around. Just togive you a hint – Komodo is said to be one of the most exhilarating divespots in Indonesia.
If you’relooking for a splendid hiking experience, bucolic charm, dramatic landscapesand bargain ski packages, Slovakia – with its High Tatras – is the place to go.But 2013 is a special time to visit as the nation blows 20 candles two decadesafter the separation from its Czech neighbor. This means that beer willflow like a river and the whole country will be engrosses in a year-longanniversary party with myriad cultural events on the agenda. Meanwhile, in thelower lands, the city of Kosice shares with Marseille the honors of 2013European Capital of Culture, with an artistic concoction of events to spillonto the city’s most atmosphericlocations, such as the Košice Castle or the freshly restored amphitheater. Happy birthday, Slovakia!
The scene in the latest Bond flick when Daniel Craigwhizzes on top of the Grand Bazaar on a motorcycle has stuck in our minds somuch that Istanbul has instantly jumped on our travel bucket list for 2013. Thesouq is the most famous and one of the largest covered markets in the world,with a labyrinth of 61 streets and over 3,000 shops, so you’re in for anultimate shopping experience here. If you’re a die-hard fan of 007’sadventures, splash out on a night in Çırağan Palace Kempinski, a brilliantfive-star hotel that provided setting for a photocall and press conference heldto mark the filming of Skyfall. If not, take in the splendor of the Bosphorus,tour the city’s hip restaurants, bars and galleries, stand in awe in front ofits mosques, have a whiff of a narghile in Tophane or a sip of Turkish coffeeat a sidewalk café.
When it comes to trekking andoutdoor activities, Nepal has for years occupied the rankings of topdestinations for travel, but it’s high time to pass the baton, for instance toSouth Korea. Without bragging, thecountry spreading on the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula has graduallydeveloped i
nto a splendid recreation spot, brimming with opportunities for hiking,fishing, sailing, scuba-diving, horse-riding, golfing, and a lot more – all backdroppedby amazing historical and cultural heritage.
Although South Korea is not entirelynew on the tourist radar, only few people realize that places such as Songnisanand Seoraksan National Parks are a craggy paradise for rock climbers andsome serious trekking enthusiasts, and Jeju Island, which has been proclaimed one of the New7Wonders of Nature, is a little piece of hiking heaven for those lessadventurous, but still eager to hit an otherworldly trail. Make sure you don’twait until 2014, when theXVIIAsiad held in Incheon attracts hordes of sport fans and tourists from all overAsia.
Petra is astunning example of how Nature and Man can cooperate to produce a wonder beyonddescription. The vast, rose-red city, carved into the sheer rock face more than2000 years ago and turned into an important trade hub on the silk route is byfar one of the most stunning remnants of the bygone era and an unforgettablesight to behold – pinkish in the daylight and scintillating with golden spotsof fire at night as thousands of candles are showing you way to the Treasury. Thesite faces numerous threats, including collapse of structures, erosion,flooding, improper restoration and unsustainable tourism, and although effortsare made by Petra National Trust, UNESCO and ICOMOS to promote the conservationand preservation of the Petra site, the deterioration process is unlikely to becompletely halted, so time is mostcertainly not on your side.
Yukon is one of those few places today still unaffectedby tourism and settlement, that’s for sure, but its solitary charm as well asits glacial wealth are gradually beginning to melt. Climate change and agrowing interest in the territory’s mineral deposits are slowly biting into theheart and soul of this impossibly beautiful Canadian jewel, so if you have anunfulfilled plan to hike the ice-clad stretches of Yukon, you’d better nothesitate too long. TheNorth Klondike Valley and the Bullion Plateau are good places to start.
Every travel ranking of thissort is bound to have at least one honeymoon getaway, and so it does this time,too. Except that it’s not the all-time favorite Philippines, but the Seychelles,spanning an archipelagoof 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar. Although the island country is not really undiscovered, it still offerspristine charm and an intimate sense of privacy, complete with high standardsand a varied accommodation offer for all budgets. From cute little B&Bsand small hotels to the mind blowingprivate island resorts like Fregate Island Private – the Seychelles make for adream newlyweds’ vacation spot. It is here, on North Island, that PrinceWilliam and his lovely wife spent their honeymoon, so if you want to start off yourhappy union royal style, don’t wait until everybody comes up with the sameidea.
Hugged bythe sparkling Mediterranean waters and the gentle hills of the Massif de l’Etoile, theancient sea port of Marseille is soon about to offer tourists a lot more than naturalbeauty and historical air. The city has won the race to become the EuropeanCapital of Culture in 2013 and judging by its geographic positioning on acultural crossroads, we may expect a vivid display of the Euromediterraneanartistic heritage. On January 12, the inauguration ceremonies will have thecoast come alive with sound and light, and for the months to come, the wholeProvence region will brim with new galleries, street entertainment, breathtakingcircus performances, exhibitions, openair concerts, sport events, street food festivals and a lot more.
Anything caught your attention? Let us know what you’re planning for 2013 and stay tuned for more travel inspirations!