The best destinations to visit each month in 2018.
This sliver of South America celebrates 200 years of independence from Spain in 2018; visitor numbers are already increasing thanks to a new non-stop airlink from Heathrow to Santiago, launched by BA this year.
January is an ideal time to visit the country, when the climate is primed for adventure. A good place to start is the 1,500 mile Route of Parks. T
he ambitious, if somewhat controversial project (land has been bought and donated by an American philanthropist), will link 17 of Chile’s national parks, tracing the backbone of the Andes from the Lake District down to glacier-glistening Patagonia and the wilderness of Tierra del Fuego, via a highway (chile.travel).
Discover the World has a week-long Carretera Austral self-drive along part of the proposed route from £786pp including accommodation and car rental but not flights (discover-the-world.co.uk).
A new route that stitches together Tasmania’s natural assets – including a seaside town named after its nearby penguin colony, Cradle Mountain, untamed rivers, sand dunes, temperate rainforest and the wilderness of the west coast – launches on 18 February.
Operated by World Expeditions, the Great Tasmanian Traverse is a proper adventure.
The guided, 38-day trip takes in the island’s long-distance walking trails, mountain ascents, river rafting, yachting, bushwalking and a light aircraft ride. It costs from £8,500pp excluding flights (worldexpeditions.co.uk).
You could round off this once-in-a-lifetime trip by flying north-west to the mainland, which will be linked by the first non-stop flight from the UK when Qantas launches a new 17-hour, Heathrow-Perth service on 25 March (qantas.co.uk).
The UK will gain its first non-stop link with this Indian Ocean archipelago on 24 March. British Airways will operate the twice-weekly, 10-hour route from Heathrow, bringing the islands’ allure into sharper focus and offering a tropical alternative to the Maldives or Mauritius (britishairways.com).
Renowned for luxurious private island hideaways such as North and Fregate Islands – where rooms can go for 6,000 Euros a night – the Seychelles also has a network of guesthouses that give a flavour of its multifaceted culture. The 115 islands are home to giant tortoises, rare birds and some of the world’s largest seabird colonies. Spectacular marine life thrives offshore (seychelles.travel).
Next year’s joint European Capital of Culture is Valletta, the pint-sized capital of Mediterranean Malta.
Events are already underway, but balmy spring temperatures will encourage visitors to linger outdoors and appreciate the headline projects that include Muza, the new museum of art and outdoor theatre; an old abattoir reborn as the Valletta Design Cluster; the restoration of 19th-century covered market Is-Suq tal-Belt; and revitalisation of the formerly seedy Strait Street.
A fireworks festival on 13 April will decorate the night sky, followed by the International Music Festival, Robotics Olympiad and more. All set to a backdrop of a 17th-century walled city enhanced by Renzo Piano’s sharp-edged architectural innovations (valletta2018.org).
British Airways (ba.com) launches another long-haul route from Heathrow to Nashville in Tennessee this month, putting country fans within easy reach of “Music City, USA” and the Ryman Auditorium, which has hosted the legendary Grand Ole Opry, as well as the Johnny Cash Show (visitmusiccity.com).
2018 is also the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System (trails50.org), with special events around the country.
A particularly poignant route will be the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama – the 54-mile route traces the series of marches for equal voting rights led by Dr Martin Luther King Junior in 1965; 2018 will mark 50 years since his death.
There’s a busy summer on the horizon in Greece, with a flurry of new flights and hotel openings.
Ryanair (ryanair.com) will have just reinstated flights to Chania in Crete, British Airways will have started its new route from Heathrow to the island of Kefalonia and easyJet (easyjet.com) will be flying from Gatwick to Nea Anchialos near Volos on the mainland as well as Luton to Thessaloniki, a springboard for the idyllic beaches of Halkidiki.
New hotels include the adults-only MarBella Nido Suite Hotel and Villas (marbellanido.gr) and Ikos Dassia (ikosresorts.com) in Corfu.
The Abaton (abaton.gr) and Thomas Cook’s Casa Cook (casacook.com) will be in-demand additions to Crete, while Calilo (calilo.gr) will bring quiet sophistication to Ios. The Gennadi Grand Resort (lindoshotels.com) in Rhodes is being built to meet environmental standards.
It has been a decade since Liverpool was crowned European Capital of Culture and the city has reaped long-term benefits from its year in the spotlight. It is acknowledging this legacy with a year-long programme, Liverpool 2018 (visitliverpool.com/2018) that really cranks into action over the summer.
China’s Terracotta Army will be in residence at the World Museum, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race concludes on the Mersey – 11 months after sailing off from Liverpool – at the beginning of the month and the Biennial gets underway on 14 July.
Tate Liverpool is also celebrating its 30th anniversary with a special exhibition of 30 artists’ work, including Turner, Mondrian and Hepworth (tate.org.uk).
In the post-Mugabe era, tourism could play a key role in Zimbabwe’s road to economic recovery, bringing hard currency into the beleaguered African nation. The country offers superior viewing of Victoria Falls compared to the Zambian outlook, as well as wildlife-rich national parks with healthy populations of lion, elephants and hippo – August is an optimum viewing time, with low rainfall and comfortable temperatures.
Expert Africa (expertafrica.com) offers a variety of safaris using small, independent operators. It’s “back-to-basics” Hwange Bush Camp Safari costs from £1,043 for four days, excluding flights, with Victoria Falls add-ons from £333.
Northern Spain produces some of the world’s best-known wines, not least Rioja.
To the west, Galicia is the region of the moment, with Bierzo making a name for itself on the world wine map.
Next door, little-known Ribeira Sacra (ribeirasacra.org) is a real up-and-coming gem. It is at its most dramatic in the 500m deep Sil Canyon, which is peppered with historic monasteries and viewpoints. September sees the start of the grape harvest; get involved at Fazenda Pradio, a family-run, modern winery that offers tours, tastings and accommodation from €105 per night (fazendapradio.com).
Visit Japan in autumn to witness the annual spectacle of “koyo” leaf-peeping and master martial arts.
The Japan Ninja Council is planning to open a training academy in 2018, as well as a museum dedicated to the history and culture of the be-robed, covert agents (ninja-official.com) in the Sumida district of north-east Tokyo near the Ryogoku sumo district.
Historically, ninja worked for samurai as spies as far back as the 12th century, but came to the fore in the 15th-17th centuries in Iga Province, where there’s now a ninja school and museum (iganinja.jp/en). You can also experience the latter part of this period at the Edo Wonderland theme park just outside Nikko, which offers a ninja skills experience.
In a climate of security anxiety, tourist numbers to Egypt have fallen sharply in recent years. However, the government is making a bid for their return with the unveiling of the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza this month.
The clue is in the name: when complete, it will be the largest archaeological museum in the world. Located 2km west of the Giza pyramids, its walls will align with the Great Pyramid of Khufu and Pyramid of Menkaure.
Inside, visitors will be able to inspect 50,000 artefacts including Tutankhamun’s tomb collection and an excavated ancient solar ship. In addition to the priceless antiquities, the museum will house a conservation centre and several gardens (gotoegypt.org).
December Mexico This summer, it was announced that a Mayan city – discovered as recently as the 1990s – will open to the public in the state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan peninsula in 2018.
The archaeological site dates back to 300BC and is bigger than the sprawling and well-trodden site of Chichen Itza, to the north, with two structures soaring to more than 40m tall.
Infrastructure improvements are underway to upgrade access and promote nature tourism in and around the site, which is shrouded in a forest reserve. It can be accessed from the border city of Chetumal, which sidles up to Belize, as well as the coastal resort of Tulum (visitmexico.com/en).
While an opening date is yet to be confirmed, it is likely to be welcoming visitors by the end of the year. Virgin Atlantic (virgin-atlantic.com), Thomas Cook (thomascookairlines.com) and British Airways (ba.com) all fly from Gatwick to Cancun.
This article first feature on our sister site the i.
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