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18 world's best places to visit in 2018 (In pics)

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7 January, 2018 17:17 PM



18 world's best places to visit in 2018 (In pics)

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Planning your 2018 vacation and starting to think about just going back to that place you went last year with the OK-ish beach and the mediocre cocktails?

C'mon, you know you can do better.

CNN Travel has been looking to the year ahead to pick some of the best destinations worth visiting in coming months.

Check them out below and find the inspiration for your next adventure.

Cape Verde Islands
What do you get when you blend Brazilian, African and Iberian influences in a place already blessed with incredible weather and scenery? The Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa, which are finally coming into their own as an exotic vacation destination.

The Cape Verde islands are known for music, culture and gorgeous beaches:Samuel Borges Photography/Shutterstock

The 10-island Atlantic archipelago -- around 570 kilometers (350 miles) west of Dakar -- mixes pristine beaches and outdoor adventure with a unique homegrown culture, a melting pot simmering since the 15th century when Portuguese navigators came across the uninhabited islands.

The islands are best known for music, a melodic heritage that borrows from all three of its mother cultures and that provided one of the sparks of the modern World Beat sound. Despite its small population, Cape Verde has spawned five distinct musical genres including morna -- the national music and dance.

Botum Sakor National Park, Cambodia
Stretching across the southwestern corner of Cambodia, Botum Sakor is the largest national park in the country, with ecosystems ranging from dense evergreen rainforest to coastal plains and grasslands.

Cambodia's largest national park is home to varied ecosystems: Courtesy Shanti Mani Wild

Within it lies the Southwest Elephant Corridor -- a 700-square-mile area that's home to Cambodia's largest population of Asian Elephants as well as villages, waterfalls, rare birds and saltwater crocs.

Recently, a crop of eco-oriented tented camps, all promising eco initiatives and low-impact accommodations have sprung up.

Malta

Valletta, the capital of Malta, has been named Europe's Capital of Culture for 2018, and the timing couldn't be better.
Located between Italy and Tunisia, Malta exists at a crossroads that makes for a fascinating history.

Malta's capital, Valletta dates back to the 16th century: Sean Gallup/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images

Within a 20-minute bus ride, you'll feel like you've journeyed from ancient Greece to the Middle East and back, and you're as likely to find a bowl of Sardinian-style pasta as a doner kebab.

Serbia

The jigsaw puzzle of countries that once made up Yugoslavia have, in recent years, become some of Europe's most talked about destinations, particularly the Adriatic coastlines of Croatia and Montenegro. Serbia has somehow lagged behind.

Not for long though. Visitors are beginning to descend on this largely undiscovered corner of the region, lured by terrific scenery, rich history, incredible value for money and a lot of cheese.

Nevis

These days, anyone with a Spotify account can probably tell you that Alexander Hamilton was born in the Caribbean before coming to the colonies. But how many can tell you which island he was born on?
That would be quiet, lovely Nevis (that's pronounced NEE-vis), which is not as well-known as its larger twin, St. Kitts.

Banff, Canada

Few destinations have the year-round appeal of Banff, located in Alberta, in the Canadian Rockies. As the country emerges from its highly touted 150th anniversary, the timing is ideal to take in the natural beauty of the oldest national park in Canada.

If you're lucky, a visit to Banff will be rewarded with a sight of the Northern Lights: From Travel Alberta

Whether passions tend toward skiing and snow-shoeing or kayaking and mountain hiking, Banff is unrivaled for all lovers of the great outdoors. Though Banff National Park welcomes four million visitors each year, it never really feels over-crowded, save perhaps for the peak months of July and August.

Nagano, Japan

Nagano, a land of chilled soba noodles, steaming onsen hot springs and perfectly powdery snow, hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics, but is only now emerging as an international travel destination.

Many new hotels are opening in Nagano -- including KAI Alps, pictured, a luxury inn-style Ryokan: From Hoshino Resorts/KAI Alps

Spurred by the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, a series of new and improved hotels have emerged in the mountains around the city, among them the revamped Risonare Yatsugatake, which celebrates winemaking and evokes Italian mountain villages.

Puebla, Mexico

About 100 miles south of Mexico City is Puebla, the country's fourth-biggest city.

Puebla is Mexico's fourth largest city, known for its great food culture and architectural delights: Getty Images

Though locals have long known about poblano food culture (mole and the chalupa were both invented here) and dazzling architecture (ornate Baroque churches and the country's oldest public library, for starters), a few key new hotel openings will bring international tourists to this charming, underrated city.

Essaouira, Morocco

Somewhere among the ancient towns and cities of Europe and northern Africa there's probably still at least one beautiful old port that hasn't been conscripted into backdropping for "Game of Thrones." Essaouira isn't it, but unlike other prime locations, it's largely escaped the fantasy series' tourism Midas touch.

Perth, Australia
Oft overlooked in favor of Sydney and Melbourne, Perth seems to have finally hit its stride.

Perth has great food, pristine beaches and the Swan Valley wine region is only 30 minutes away: Paul Kane/Getty Images

For starters, the coastal city is better connected than ever, gearing up to welcome the first direct flight linking Australia to Europe next year -- a 17-hour Perth-London flight operated by Qantas.

Rwanda

The small, central African country has been surfing a tide of good news stories in recent years as it distances itself from a troubled past with glowing accounts of its amazing volcanic landscape, clean streets, stable government and efforts to preserve endangered mountain gorillas.

May 2017 saw Rwanda gamble on doubling the price of gorilla trekking permits to $1,500, making it up to three times the price of some permits in neighboring Uganda. The plan is clearly to corner a more upscale market, catered for with the opening of new premium lodges, including One&Only's Nyungwe House, and help supercharge the country's tourism economy.

Crete
How do you like your Greek gods? Fantastical heroes of ancient legend, or sun-kissed beauties atop powder-soft beaches? Either way, Crete has you covered. Heraklion, the Cretan capital, was Europe's fastest-growing tourism destination of 2017.

Crete in Greece is blessed with sunshine, cultural history and archaeological treasures: From Greek National Tourism Organization

Those visitors are coming to Greece's largest, most diverse island to enjoy 3,000 square miles of mountains, valleys and sandy shores lapped by the Aegean and Libyan seas -- as well as 3,000 hours of sunshine a year.

PyeongChang, South Korea

Those in the know might be lamenting the loss of one of Asia's best-kept ski secrets, but the snowy spotlight is about to hit PyeongChang, a little-known mountain region in South Korea's east.

Not to be confused with North Korean capital Pyongyang, PyeongChang is hosting the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, which will take place from February 9-25.

Even if you can't make it to any of the sporting events, you should still add it to your winter vacay shortlist.

Lisbon, Portugal

It's no secret that the capital of Portugal offers Mediterranean skies, Atlantic surf and hilly, cobbled streets with panoramic views of red roofs and houses in shades of yellow, pink and blue.

But in 2018 this famously relaxed and convivial city has more to celebrate than usual. From May 8 to 12, it'll host the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time, having at last won the honor after 53 years of trying. The long-running festival of kitschy fabulousness and bonkers spectacle is a Euro institution and will be watched on TV by some 200 million viewers worldwide, while thousands of diehard fans will flock to the host city for one heck of a party.

Cajamarca, Peru

A favorite Inca stopover along the old Cusco-to-Quito Royal Highway -- complete with natural hot springs and fatefully large quantities of gold deposits in its surrounding hills -- Cajamarca still hasn't quite hit its full stride with international tourism the way it has over the centuries with indigenous emperors, Spanish conquistadors, environmentally challenged mining corporations and the odd Chachapoyas-bound trekker.

That's good news for travelers who find their way to this lofty (over 9,000 feet), resolutely villagey Northern Highlands charmer with its colonial edifices, cobblestone streets, time-warped central plaza, sigh-worthy Andean backdrop and -- who would've thought -- one of the wilder annual parties in South America.

Yunnan, China

Anyone who's visited China's southwestern Yunnan province before won't need much persuading to go again. Down by the country's border with Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and the region of Tibet, Yunnan delivers everything from snowy mountains to sub-tropical rainforest.

The cascading rice terraces of Honghe Hani are among Yunnan's attractions: Chieu Luu/CNN

There's the cascading rice terraces of Honghe Hani, the ethereally colored waters of Blue Moon Valley and some of the world's deepest gorges -- little wonder it's said to have inspired mythical "Shangri La."

Asheville, North Carolina

It was put on the map by a Vanderbilt, but this Western North Carolina mountain town now has world-famous art, a hopping farm-to-table scene and an expanding brewery culture to mark it out.

And 2018 sees this visual and actual feast backdropped by some world-class sports.

The monumental glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly will take over the Biltmore Estate from mid-May through October 7, including works being created for the 8,000-acre estate still owned by the descendants of George W. Vanderbilt.

New Orleans

New Orleans has serious roots.
Deeper than the Mississippi. Older than Antoine's, Café du Monde and Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop. Longer than a Drew Brees pass.
Broader and more crazily spun than a cypress swamp draped in Spanish moss. Stronger than the stiffest Hurricane, or Sazerac.

2018 marks the tricentennial of New Orleans: Shutterstock

And bigger than the sum of its nearly 300 odds-defying years. In 2018, The Big Easy will celebrate its tricentennial in top festive form -- and beg two obvious questions:

1. How has a fabled French-then-Spanish-then-French-then-Louisiana-Purchased gulf-adjacent outpost remained this positively buoyant after all it's weathered over the last three centuries, beginning with the hurricane that decimated it four years after it was founded in 1718.
2. Where's the next big party happening?

 

Source: CNN


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