The new year is coming and with it a whole host of new travel opportunities. 15 travel bloggers predict the travel hotspots you won’t want to miss in 2018.
So, 2017 is almost over – would you believe it? I hope that it’s been a year filled with adventure, escapades and some memorable travel moments.
Whether it has or hasn’t, now is the time to start looking ahead to the hottest travel destinations for 2018. Because planning your next adventures is almost (but not quite) as fun as going on them.
Fifteen travel experts have chosen one up-and-coming destination that is set to make it big in 2018.
From extreme deserts to far-flung islands and chic cities, these are the coolest travel destinations for 2018.
1. The Atacama Desert, Chile
2018 is going to be the year of experiences. What better experience is there than driving around a high-altitude desert in a colourful campervan, stargazing at some of the world’s most dazzling night skies and flitting between spectacular sight after spectacular sight?
Part of the South American Altiplano, the high altitude means crystal-clear conditions for stargazing – it’s one of the best places in the world for it after all. Other showstoppers include the other-worldly Valle de La Luna, El Tatio Geysers (the largest geyser field in the southern hemisphere) and the flamingo-filled Laguna Chaxa.
Julianna, The Discoveries Of Intrigued? Read more about my road trip around the Atacama Desert.
2. Koh Lanta, Thailand
Koh Lanta is the perfect island getaway.
This Thai island boasts miles-long white sand beaches along the coast and a stunning tangle of tropical rainforests on the island’s interior. It is much flatter than surrounding islands and has reasonable roads that run 24km from north to south, making it perfect for touring around on a motorbike.
Despite its growing popularity, Koh Lanta hasn’t been overdeveloped like so many of the other islands in Thailand – at least not yet. You should put it at the top of your bucket list for 2018.
Ko Lanta hits the sweet spot between remoteness and crowds. There are plenty of relaxing beaches to enjoy to yourself, but you can still find a pumping party on the sand if that suits your mood.
Even with Lanta’s more chilled out vibe, basic services like water, electricity, and WiFi are easily accessible.
If you want to have it all on vacation – sunbathing on beautiful beaches, world-class diving, spectacular sunsets, fun beach bars, jungle hiking, eating delicious Thai food with friendly locals in their Old Town fishing village – then Koh Lanta is where it’s at!
Kristi Evans, Travel Love Fashion
3. El Nido, The Philippines
Be sure to put the Philippines on your 2018 travel bucket – more specifically El Nido.
The Philippines has over 7,000 islands but our favorite spot and one of the coolest for 2018 is El Nido in the Palawan.
Jump on a boat tour and explore the nearby islands. Lay on beaches only accessible by swimming underwater through caves only accessible at low tide.
Crazy landscapes and epic turquoise colored water are to be expected. You could easily spend a week in El Nido as there are tons of day tours that visit different islands.
At night head back to El Nido town. There are good restaurant options and happy our beach bars to watch the sunset. It has that great beach town vibe and fun nightlife.
Worried about the language barrier? One of the many bonuses of the Philippines is that that almost everyone speaks perfect English, so it’s easy to get around and communicate with the locals. The Philippines is super cheap so you can have the vacation of your life for a relatively low price.
Hannah, Getting Stamped
Taiwan is slowly starting to come to the world’s notice. Light years from its reputation of political upheaval and cheap industry, Taiwan today is a country with plenty to offer visitors.
A cultural blend of Chinese and local Taiwanese traditions, the island nation is renowned for its modern cities, beautiful landscapes and incredible street food.
The first port of call is normally the capital Taipei, with its temples, museums and memorials to the Chang Kai-Shek era of Taiwanese history. The National Museum is home to an incredible collection of Chinese art, while extravagantly-decorated Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist temples hide down every side street.
Taiwan’s night markets are not to be missed, with every conceivable foodstuff on sale, including traditional oyster omelettes and the notorious “stinky tofu” which everyone must try at least once!
Hiking is popular in this mountainous country, and a venture out of the capital to Taroko Gorge or the Alishan mountains is essential to appreciate the landscape, while hot springs abound amongst the volcanos.
A high-speed bullet train links the cities of the east coast, and it is easy to rent a local sim card at Taipei airport to take advantage of all the technology Taiwan has to offer.
Currently popular with Asian tourists but less so those from the west, Taiwan is slowly gaining in popularity. Get there in 2018, before the rest of the world catches up!
Jill, Reading the Book Travel
5. Tbilisi, Georgia
Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, is an up-and-coming destination that’s going to be big in 2018. Located in the Caucasus, right in the middle of Europe and Asia, the country is known to many but also completely unknown to others.
What makes this city so unique is the mixture of European and Asian styles. Add to that narrow cobblestone streets, carved wooden balconies, oriental natural spring bathhouses, modern architecture that pops up on the background of ancient landmarks and very diverse cuisine and you’ll see the appeal.
Some of the must-see attractions of the city include Narikala Fortress dating back to the 4th century with its gorgeous panoramic views of the Old Town; Mother of Georgia statue situated right next the Narikala Fortress and the Betlemi district full of old residential houses with coloured wooden balconies Tbilisi is famous for.
You should also see the archaeological treasures at archaeological treasures at the National Gallery to learn more about the jewels citizens of Colchis Kingdom wore since 3rd century BC and visit the natural hot springs to rejuvenate your skin.
Georgia was recently named as the oldest wine producing country in the Guinness World Book of Records. So if you are a wine enthusiast and would like to try how Georgian makes its wine with ancient traditions, then you shouldn’t miss tasting some fine wines in the city’s many wine bars.
Baia, Red Fedora Diary
6. Durban, South Africa
Durban is the warmest place to be on the East Coast of Africa with a gorgeous coastline of golden mile beaches and a subtropical climate. Besides being voted as one of the best surfing spots, this coastal city has many attractions and unique places of interest.
Durban is home to the 5th largest aquarium in the world – uShaka Marine World. The world’s tallest bungee swing is found at the Moses Mabhida stadium which is recorded in the Guinness book of Records.
Beyond the beach, North of Durban you will find Gateway, the largest shopping mall in the Southern hemisphere, the mall even offers a skate park designed by Tony Hawk. A little further North you will find Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve which is home to a huge selection of African animals, including the famous big 5.
If you travel South of Durban, Aliwal Shoal is considered one of the world’s top diving spots. A 30 minute drive north you will get to the Valley of 1000 Hills it is a tranquil and very scenic with a diverse variety of culture attractions include: Phezulu Safari Park which offers Game drives, a Cultural village, Crocodile & Snake Park just to mention a few. Treat yourself to a true African experience by taking a township tour, tasting homemade African beer and shopping for homemade crafts.
Liza, Soul Drifters
7. Valencia, Spain
Valencia has been gaining popularity for a while now and I think 2018 might really be the year the world discovers this beautiful Mediterranean city.
I fell in love with Valencia and will call it home in 2018 because it simply offers it all: a beautiful historical city center, an incredible city park, a long white sandy beach, great food, lots of events all year round and near perfect weather. What more could you need?
Oh and did I forget to mention it is Spain’s third largest city yet a much cheaper destination than Barcelona or Madrid? If you are looking for a city break in Europe then I highly recommend visiting Valencia!
Sanne, Spend Life Travelling
8. The Azores
The Azores are part of Portugal, but a two-hour flight away from the mainland and a little lesser known. I think the Azores are going to blow up as a tourist spot in 2018 for a few reasons.
Firstly, the Azores are breathtakingly beautiful with a lot of relatively untouched nature to explore. Driving through the island can be dangerous because you’re so tempted to look at the scenery as you’re driving along. The Azores has been called the Hawaii of Europe – that should give you an indication of what to expect.
Secondly, it’s not a super touristy place. You can enjoy the solitude of the natural wonders a bit easier than most of mainland Portugal. On one hike we took, we only encountered 2 other hikers the whole trail!
Thirdly, it’s really affordable – especially for Europe. Rental cars, accommodations, wine, and just about everything else was reasonably priced. For backpackers and those on a budget, there are plenty of free attractions to keep you busy too.
I almost don’t want to tell anyone about it so it can stay unspoiled and quiet forever, but I know people will catch on quickly!
Sarah, Suitcase Six
9. The Faroe Islands, Denmark
The Faroe Islands should undoubtedly be on your travel list for 2018.
Consisting of eighteen diverse islands with the most dramatic and awe-inspiring landscapes, journey to these islands and you will think you stepped into another world.
You’re best off renting a car to explore the Faroes. Then use it to venture to some of the island’s hotspots. You’ll love Sandoy for its low-key and off-the-beaten-path nature spots. Head to Eysturoy for its mammoth mountains and hills. Hikers should head to Vagar to stretch their legs. You should certainly travel to Streymoy for its diverse landscapes -it’s home to my favorite city Tjørnuvik.
If you’re into hiking and scenery that’ll take your breath away, definitely put the Faroe Islands on the top of your list.
Megan, Megan Starr
10. Gangneung, South Korea
The Olympics might be the only reason you’ve heard of Gangneung in South Korea. Held in the neighbouring counties of Pyeongchang (펑창) and Gangneung (강릉), delegates from more than 80 nations are being sent to compete in the February 2018 Games.
Although it’s only 2.5 hours by bus from Seoul, Gangneung is new to international tourism, but the small coastal city has long been a popular domestic destination for both Koreans and expats.
In the winter time it sees plenty of snowfall on the surrounding mountains and is popular for skiing and snowboarding. The region’s fresh seafood is a year-round pull, as well as the family-friendly fairs and miles of coastline.
Some of the most popular warmer-weather activities are beach camping, hiking to mountainside temples, and visiting local farms. Famous foods in Gangneung include jjambbong (짬뽕, a spicy seafood-based soup) and dubu (두부, fresh tofu). Some of the best-attended festivities in Gangneung include coffee, beer, and Korean culture festivals, each of which attracts thousands of visitors every year.
When you decide to visit, no matter what the season, don’t forget to bring along an open mind and some international pride.
Max, Dame Cacao
The capital of Lithuania – Vilnius – has welcomed many travellers in the past, but the rest of the country still remains a well-kept Eastern European secret. Which is a pity, as it definitely has a lot to offer to every traveller.
The country has a very decent public transport system, so you can easily travel around without a car. The distances will be manageable, providing you with enough time to explore, even if your visit is only a couple of days long.
One of the highlights to be included in your itinerary is Curonian Spit – a stretch of land beaches between the Baltic Sea and the lagoon. Go there to explore fishermen villages and white sand.
Another place to visit is Trakai, the old capital with a medieval castle on an island. It is a perfect destination for a day trip from Vilnius. While in Trakai, don’t forget to taste “kibinai”: a traditional savoury dough pastry filled with meat.
Vilnius is one of the greenest cities in Europe, but the rest of Lithuania is even greener. Check out the treetop path near the town of Anyksciai, from which you can see a never-ending sea of green, interrupted only by the river and lakes. And of course leave some time to visit Druskininkai – a little resort town, famous for its spas and medical mud. Get muddy and healthy!
So here you have it: long empty beaches, forests walks, cozy villages, relaxing spas, great food and vibrant towns. And the best of all – the feeling of discovering some secret treasure.
12. Sofia, Bulgaria
Bulgaria is taking the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and Sofia was designated as the European Capital of Sport 2018, which means there will be a lot of fuss in the Bulgarian capital in 2018. Although Sofia Airport is well connected to most European major cities, the city remains an off-the-radar destination for most tourists.
The first impression of Sofia? A hodgepodge of Communist-era crumbling buildings, up to date shopping malls with big international brands, and a mix of traditional taverns and hipster cafes to discover as many local culinary delights as possible.
While the main attractions in the city are not particularly spectacular, Sofia has its secret places that may seem like nothing special until you hear their amazing stories. Recently renovated, the catacombs of the Saint Sofia Basilica will take you underground for a maze tour back in the past. At the Dolls Museum, you can see an impressive collection of more than 3,000 dolls and if you feel really inspired, you can craft your own doll at the end of the tour. There is also a church believed to make wishes come true.
The fact that there’s a 2,290-m (7,513-ft) high mountain peak accessible for hikers only a 30-minute drive out of the center of the city makes it even more luring. Cherni Vrah (literally translated as The Black Peak) is an unlikely easy hike (you cover most of the way up taking the chair lift) with a cozy tea house at the end.
Scotland was voted the most beautiful country in the world in 2017 and I am sure this will attract many visitors in 2018. It is hardly a surprise. I spent 2 weeks exploring the country in the summer and was amazed by the scenery.
You will find wild beaches, gorgeous lochs surrounded by mountains, numerous waterfalls, amazing wildlife and romantic fairytale castes. Who wouldn’t want to visit this country?
Scotland is like heaven for outdoor enthusiasts. There are many mountain peaks you can conquer. Besides hiking, the country also has many kayaking and cycling opportunities.
During our campervan trip, we focused on exploring Glencoe, the Isle of Skye, Loch Lomond and the Loch Ness area and did quite a lot of hiking.
Unfortunately, what they say about the weather is true – it’s likely you’ll have some rain during your stay but it’s not really an issue if you prepare for it. Also don’t forget your camera, as you will want to snap pictures every second of the gorgeous scenery you will be surrounded with!
Eniko, Travel Hacker Girl
14. Lugano, Switzerland
Lugano is one of the spots that travellers should be looking at for 2018. I went on a road trip from Brussels to Lugano earlier this year and loved it there. It’s a beautiful city – clean, neat and with spectacular Alpine views.
The Lugano Lake was splendid with its crystal sparkling water. Framed by mountains, it makes for a majestic view of the city center.
Climb up until Mont Bré to see an incredible panoramic view of Lugano, Pennines Alps, and The Bernese Alps. It’s onlya 20 minutes drive from the center to the hilltop.
Afterwards, take the funicular to Monte San Salvatore located in the Lepontine Alps 912 meters above Lake Lugano and climb up to the highest peak of the Alps (the Cathedral). You’ll be rewarded with the best 360-degree panorama view of your life.
Alexine, Lexie Anime Travel
15. Nagaland, India
Starkly different to the rest of India, get ready to be astounded by Nagaland, in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas.
The calm surroundings hide an array of wildlife and an interesting political history. You’ll find countless elephants, monkeys, arrays of bird species, age-old myths and enriched history.
Come winter, visit during the hornbill festival to witness the ethnic tribes in their well preserved finery and listen to their traditional music.
Visit post Monsoon – the state is best explored on foot, with dense lush landscape and gleaming valleys. There are few tourists, meaning you can soak up the views of the wilds of the Himalayas in peace and quiet.
Madhurima, Orange Wayfarer Ready to pack your suitcase and not sure where, this interactive quiz for travel ideas will do the trick. If you’re looking for more bucket list destinations, read my full collection of tips and ideas to inspire your next trip.Love this? Save and share on Pinterest!