We’ve finally reached that time of year where we look back on our travels and ask ourselves ‘where to next?’ Ease your Wanderlust with our top 5 recommended cities to visit in 2018…
1. Santa Marta, Colombia
Known to be the oldest city in Colombia, sunny Santa Marta isn’t usually the first choice of destination to explore when visiting northern Colombia, but is well worth a visit for lovers of sun, sea and sand. One of the best things to do is walk down to the famous El Rodadero beach and take a swim in the Caribbean sea. You’ll also find plenty of tasty street food stalls nearby as well as beer, empanada and ice cream sellers on the beach (what’s not to love?). Santa Marta is also known for its buzzing nightlife and local rooftop restaurants which are a must-do on your visit. Head to the popular Parque de los novios, a colonial plaza located in Santa Marta’s historical centre where some of the best restaurants and bars can be found around the plaza.
Top tip #1: Don’t miss out on the trek to the Lost City in the Sierra Nevada mountains (which is about 100km away from Santa Marta). When you travel to South America and someone mentions the word ‘trek’ or ‘trail’, you instantly think of Peru and the iconic Machu Picchu, but what many keen globetrotters forget to add to their travel bucket list however, is the adventure-filled 4-5 day trek to the ancient ruins of Colombia’s Lost City. Taking on the trek is an added bonus if you get the chance to take it on during your visit to Santa Marta. The trek to the Lost City in Colombia requires you to pack light and invest in a good pair of sturdy hiking boots. It’s a toughy but the feeling when you climb those last 1,400 steps to the top is incredible!
2. Tirana, Albania
A hidden gem in Europe, Albania’s capital city of Tirana is rich in tradition, history and a growing cafe culture which is what makes it one of Europe’s most up and coming cities to explore in 2018. One of the most visited areas to explore is Blloku, where you’ll feel at home if you’re a coffee lover due to its growing number of trendy bars and boutique coffee shops (Don’t fancy coffee? Visit Colonial cafe for the best cocktails in town!).
Top tip #1: If you’re only in Tirana for a short time, make sure to cross Skanderbeg Square off your list of places to go. It’s not only the main plaza in the centre of town, but an iconic spot to visit if you want to catch any of the year round concerts and events that take place in the city. Visiting in the festive period? Head to the square and get into the Christmas festivities where you’ll find everything from Christmas trees to a festive funfair. Sure, Paris and Rome are beautiful cities in their own right, but why not visit the undiscovered instead?
3. Oaxaca City, Mexico
Two words: Street food. This colourful and mountainous city (also pronounced wah-hah-ka) is home to some of Mexico’s tastiest foodie delights. Oaxacan cuisine commonly consists of corn, but you will also find a wide variety of culinary choices. One of the most famous dishes to try for example, is mole which is a rich sauce made with different spices that comes in different colours and is served with meat and rice. Something else to try is the famous Oaxacan hot chocolate which is made with pure roasted cocoa and contains added cinnamon and almonds. Served hot, drink as you wander through the local markets (I’m already hungry just writing about it!)
Top tip #1: Visit Barrio de Xochimilco, a popular neighbourhood where you’ll find a local farmers market on weekends.
Located around 6-10 miles south of the city, the ex-monastery of Santiago Apostal is another great spot to discover for a taste of old Mexico due to its gothic style architecture and historical background that dates back to the 1500’s, which makes it the perfect place to explore and take photographs.
4. Kyoto, Japan
The city of Kyoto has everything you would want from a Japanese travel adventure. From picturesque Buddhist temples to traditional Geisha dancers (also known as Geiko women), it’s no surprise this continues to be a popular city to visit in Japan and a definite bucket list destination that deserves a mention. Probably the most famous site to see of all, the Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of Kyoto’s most visited for its iconic brightly coloured torii shrine gates and is free to enter. On top of this, one of the best things about Japan is its speedy Shinkansen bullet trains which run with speeds of up to 320km/h, making travelling around the country and popular cities like Kyoto a doddle. You can journey to the Fushimi Inari Shrine by catching the train at Inari Station which is located on the Nara Line of West Japan Railway Company.
Top tip #1: The Kyoto National Museum is a three floor museum worth visiting for its alluring exhibitions and archeological treasures. Opening hours are from 9:30am to 5pm and entry is around 520 Yen.
Travelling across the Japanese landscapes that surround the city of Kyoto and experiencing the traditional architecture that you come across on every corner is enough to make any traveller feel like a part of Japan’s culture. With plenty of tasty food to try and neighbourhoods to discover such as the Gion district (known for its lively daily entertainment), you’ll never get bored of the endless options of things to see and do.
5. Ushuaia, Argentina
When travelling to Argentina, many adventure seekers tend to go for common spots such as Buenos Aires, but what about a trip to the end of the world? The town of Ushuaia is located at the most southern point of South America and not only acts as a gateway for many nearby polar expeditions, but offers plenty of activities to sink your teeth into. A good place to visit is the nearby ‘end of the world’ museum, or Museo del Fin del Mundo and learn about the town’s indigenous history.
Top tip #1: Don’t miss out on the main reason to visit Ushuaia, which is for the Tierra del Fuego National Park. Famous for its dramatic natural scenes and forests.