These Are the Best Places to Travel in 2018
1. Queenstown, New Zealand
Why: Breathtaking views, incredible hospitality, year-round beauty.
While You’re There: Spend half of your trip at a remote luxury lodge like Blanket Bay or Matakuri, and the other half in Queenstown proper, a lively ski village with direct mountain access. Be sure to grab a burger at Fergberger (it always has a line around the block), have dinner at the cozy Botswana Butchery, and enjoy a cocktail at No. 5 Church Lane, a hip bar inside The Spire, the area’s best boutique hotel.
2. Napa Valley, California
Why: Wine, of course. The region is proving its resiliency following the wildfires, but it’ll need a tourism boost to help businesses that have suffered. Book a trip and consider it the easiest “good deed” you’ve ever done.
While You’re There: Save yourself the DUI and take the Napa Valley Wine Train instead. The area is home to a slew of incredible five-star hotels, so you’ll be well taken care of after all that wine. Among the best? Carneros Resort and Spa, Solage (an Auberge Resort), and Meadowood Napa Valley.
3. Mallorca, Spain
Why: Because Europeans have always loved it, and Americans are slowly starting to catch on. “The region has been a hotspot for over tourism protests by frustrated locals, resulting in a new cap on Airbnb and hotel beds,” says Travis Katz, CEO and co-founder of Trip.com. “The destination is likely to get more expensive, but also more fun to visit with fewer crowds.”
While You’re There: Visit Joan Miró’s studio in the hilltop village Palma, take a vintage wooden train to the quaint northern city of Soller (just 17 miles away), and spend the day at one of Mallorca’s famed beach clubs.
4. Cairo, Egypt
Why: “The experience for tourists in Egypt right now is as welcoming and upbeat as I’ve ever seen it,” says Abercrombie & Kent founder Geoffrey Kent. “The ability to see the Pyramids without the crowds won’t last long.”
While You’re There: Pay a visit to The Grand Egyptian Museum, also known as The Giza Museum. When it opens this fall, it’ll be the largest archaeological museum in the world, housing more than 100,000 ancient artifacts. Book a room at the Four Seasons on the West Bank, or leave all the planning to Abercrombie & Kent. The company's 10-day Egypt & the Nile experience includes a river cruise and visits to five cities for rates starting at $5,395.
Why: Because safari tourism is tightly controlled here, meaning you won’t be fighting a parade of jeeps to get a view of the wildlife. Also: it’s where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle fell in love.
While You’re There: Book a week at one of the area’s incredible tented camps (there are a lot of great options to choose from) for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that includes private guides, drivers, butlers, and chefs. The experiential travel company &Beyond offers a Botswana Mobile Camping Expedition that hops from one spectacular location in the country to the next.
6. Chefchaoen, Morocco
Why: Because…Instagram. Plus, it’s a calm, quieter alternative to bustling Fez and Marrakech.
While You’re There: Bring your camera. “The blue pearl of Morocco,” as it’s known, is chock full of blue-hued buildings and stunning photo ops. Don’t leave without scooping up woven blankets and vibrant hand-painted pottery.
Why: It’s still off the beaten path but you don’t need to be a travel trailblazer to go.
While You’re There: Since visitors are legally required to have a guide in Bhutan, you’ll want to enlist the help of one that knows the country well. The luxury tour operator Remote Lands offers a 14-day Classic Bhutan trip that focuses on history and culture, or the Pilgrim’s Valley Trek, which caters to adventurous travelers. The destination has a tendency to be physically demanding (think high altitude trekking) but there are a number of fancy accommodations that provide a lavish respite. Aman has five lodges spread throughout the country, and Six Senses is set to open five of their own throughout 2018.
8. Bawah Island, Indonesia
Why: Because people don’t even know about it yet, so you’ll undoubtedly be the first of your friends to go. It’s remote, but not that remote—Bawah is just a three-hour flight from Singapore.
While You’re There: The previously uninhabited tiny chain of islands is now home to an uber-luxurious private island resort, which opened in the fall. While you’re there, you can choose to do nothing—or everything. For the latter set, there’s hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, a holistic wellness center, and more.
9. Mexico City, Mexico
Why: Named the World Design Capital of 2018, Mexico City is making a wildly impressive post-earthquake comeback. Plus, it’s well placed between New York City and LA, so direct flights are easy to come by.
While You’re There: Culture connoisseurs should plan a trip to The Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Anthropology, and the contemporary-focused Museo Internacional del Barroco, while foodies should take advantage of the city’s out-of-this-world food scene. Be sure to check out perennial favorite Contramar, as well as Restaurante Nicos (go for lunch), and hire a guide to help you navigate the Mercado de la Merced. For shopping, head to the swanky El Palacio de Hierro, a luxury department store that’s chock full of local and international designers.
10. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Why: For Art Basel Cities, a spin-off of the famed art fair, which will take place for the second time ever in 2018.
While You’re There: Snag a reservation at Tegui, named one of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants this year, then grab a drink at Crystal Bar located on the 32nd floor of the recently opened Alvear Icon Hotel in Puerto Madero. Another can’t miss? Rojo Tango at the posh Hotel Faena.
11. Belfast, Northern Ireland
Why: The burgeoning city has a rich cultural heritage—and is a hit with Game of Thrones fans.
While You’re There: “No trip to Belfast would be complete without a drive out to the Giant’s Causeway along the Antrim Coast Road, one of Europe’s most scenic drives,” says Geoffrey Kent, who recommends exploring the cosmopolitan city with a local expert (A&K’s 12-day Scotland & Ireland: Stories & Legends itinerary starts at $6,495). Another can't miss: the interactive Titanic Museum.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.