Countries to visit
There’s a whole world out there – put these inspiring destinations at the top of your travel wish list. Chosen by Peter Greenberg, travel editor of CBS News and presenter of The Travel Detective, Simon Calder, journalist and senior travel editor of The Independent, High Life contributor Mark Jones and Alain de Botton, philosopher and author of The News: a User’s Manual.
Australia remains top of the wish list for 2014: vast, diverse and endlessly surprising, it’s hard to get enough of. The landscape is harsh, but sublime, as well as awe-inspiring. A trip into the great red desert restores perspective like few other places.
Greek tourism has survived the country’s economic storms well, and new hoteliers, chefs and winemakers are attracting a fresh breed of traveller. Try Mykonos and Santorini – the most spectacular of the Cyclades Islands.
Once perceived as blue-rinse territory, Malta has the weather and DJs of Ibiza, without the price tag. There are huge open-air clubs and Ministry of Sound and Creamfields both rock up to Maltese Music Week.
The world’s greatest sporting event in 2014? North of the Equator, there’s only one contender: Glasgow, for the Commonwealth Games. Scotland’s biggest city has the chance to put Edinburgh (host in 1986) in the shade.
For too long overshadowed by the achievements of its neighbours China and Japan, the time has come to discover South Korea as a tourist destination. It has beautiful landscapes and a people of unrivalled generosity.
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It’s a race between here and Colombia for the ‘sublime-Latin-American-country-putting-troubled-recent-history-behind-it’ vote. Nicaragua gets it because they are beginning to make cigars to rival Cuba’s.
Top city breaks
With the world’s eyes on Rio for the football and exciting culture hubs growing all over the world, a city break is a must for 2014. Chosen by architect Zaha Hadid, The Sunday Times’ travel editor Stephen Bleach, critic and author of The Golden Door: Letter to America AA Gill and High Life contributing editor Jane Dunford.
Rio de Janeiro
This is Rio’s time in the spotlight, as the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games loom. Rio juxtaposes seascapes and peaks, modernity and history, urban forests with crowds on the beaches.
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The self-proclaimed ‘live music capital of the world’ (home to the SXSW festival) has transformed from sleepy state capital to international trendsetter. It even has its own Grand Prix, yet retains its quirky character.
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With last year’s Asian debut of Art Basel and a growing crop of Western gallery outposts such as White Cube, Gagosian and Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong is now one of Asia’s most important cultural hubs.
Turkey’s awhirl with the competing forces of democracy, Islam, capitalism and rampant economic growth. You can feel all that energy in Istanbul – the tensions and contradictions lead to tremendous creativity. One to watch.
Cape Town’s got the natural beauty, but Jo’burg is buzzing with the most exciting live music scene in southern Africa. There’s also a burgeoning art scene and foreign investment has brought some world-class hotel openings.
All the best bits of India rolled into one, Mumbai is the place where India’s dreams are tied up, and home to some of the world’s best street food. To watch the world whizz by, there’s no place like it.
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In preparation for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the city has begun to realise plans that express Japan’s capabilities and optimism. These projects will reflect the very Japanese belief that progress and tradition are not conflicting ideas, but can coexist – as seen in the new National Stadium in Tokyo.
It’s building the Louvre and the Guggenheim, and world-class hotels and restaurants are popping up everywhere. Abu Dhabi is also a great jumping-off point for the incredible Musandam peninsula, a short drive away.
The ski scene has its own trends, and 2014 is no exception with destinations from the classic to the curious. British Olympic skier Chemmy Alcott picks the slopes she’s excited about.
Whistler Blackcomb, Canada
Four years ago, Whistler hosted the last Olympic and Paralympic Games. The hundreds of kilometres of undulating terrain are still hard to beat.
Massive developments in ski-lift infrastructure mean even more of the Alps are accessible. And with the connection to the Haute-Savoie, you can ski endless days on different terrain.
While the Olympians are on the epic slopes of Sochi, head east to Bulgaria. The mountains, a drive from Sofia, are inspiring and daunting in their size.
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Nevis Range, UK
Despite the success of the past few winter seasons (people were still skiing there in June last year), Scotland remains a forgotten snowy haven with great off-piste back corries.
Come the end of the ski season 2014, Verbier will be the place to be for die-hard ski fans and party animals alike.
I’ve heard that this part of the Himalayas is great for those seeking adventure somewhere different. There’s a gondola, which takes you up to 4,000m, and the back country terrain is fantastic for experienced skiers.
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And if you’ve just got back from space…
Canadian astronomer Commander Chris Hadfield spent five months on the International Space Station and made headlines with the viral YouTube video of him singing David Bowie’s Space Oddity; here, he shares his travel to-do list for 2014. His book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth is out now.
The waters that surround the Bahamas stand out from above like nothing else on Earth. A wonderfully elegant example of how many shades of blue are visible within our spectrum.
From space, there is no terrain more rugged, battered and beautiful than the Outback. When you fly over, you can see every colour and hue imaginable, reflecting against the hull from below.
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