Returning to work after the Christmas break isn’t easy for anyone. But with a brand new holiday allocation at your fingertips, there are a few rays of hope to cling onto.
So here’s some inspiration if you’re planning travel adventures and weekends away in 2018.
New flight routes, exhibitions and exciting developments are putting these seven places on the map.
1. BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
Best for: Urban discovery
Why: Once considered territory only for backpackers and career-break travellers, South America is now a very feasible option for a shorter holiday. Along with sampling some of the country’s finest steaks and Malbecs at parrillas such as Don Julio, admire the ornate beauty of the Teatro Colon opera house or learn about the history of tango at the Carlos Gardel House Museum.
2. PICOS DE EUROPA, SPAIN
Best for: Hiking
Why: One hundred years ago, this stretch of peaks linking Cantabria, Asturias and Castilla y Leon was designated the first national park of Europe. Just 20km from the northern coast of Spain, it’s regarded as one of the most scenic wilderness areas in the country. Limestone mountains, cloud-reaching forests and tumbling glaciers make up the nearly 500kmsq terrain, which is ideal for easy, multi-day hikes. Aside from the landscapes, there’s also the possibility of seeing golden eagles, wild horses and (if you’re really lucky) the Cantabrian brown bear.
3. DUNDEE, SCOTLAND
Best for: Art and design
Why: Excitement is mounting for the new V&A Museum of Design Dundee, which is expected to open in the late northern summer and is part of an ambitious $A1.7 billion development of the city’s waterfront.
The first museum of its kind in Scotland will house a permanent collection tracing the country’s design heritage – from Charles Macintosh, the inventor of waterproof fabric, to Ian Callum’s creative input at luxury car manufacturer Jaguar – along with world-class touring exhibitions. In 2018, the city also celebrates its links with Mary Shelley, whose Gothic classic Frankenstein was first published 100 years ago. Explore streets described in her book on a walking tour with Dark Dundee tours.
Best for: Wildlife
Why: Although it’s frequently overshadowed by neighbouring safari giants Zambia and Tanzania, this small, friendly and politically-stable country is gearing up to be a world-class wildlife destination.
Last year, the world’s biggest ever translocation of elephants took place, successfully restocking the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, and next year there are plans to reintroduce lions into Liwonde National Park with the help of Leonardo DiCaprio’s charitable foundation. But even without the big cats, Liwonde is a natural treasure. Watch elephants swim across the park’s Shire river on a boat safari and fall asleep listening to hippos snuffling in the undergrowth.
5. LIVERPOOL, UK
Best for: Culture
Why: With 12 months of cultural events planned for this dockside city, there’s good reason to visit year round. One of the biggest talking points is the impending arrival of the Terracotta Army from Xi’an.
For more than 2,000 years, these statues guarded the tomb of China’s First Emperor and, from February 9 until October 28, they’ll form part of a major exhibition at the World Museum recounting one of the world’s greatest archaeological discoveries. Other highlights in the arts calendar include a return visit from French puppeteers Royal De Luxe as part of the city’s celebrations to mark 10 years since being European Capital of Culture, The Liverpool Biennial of contemporary art (July 14-October 28), and Tate Liverpool’s 30th birthday celebrations.
6. NASHVILLE, USA
Best for: Foodies
Why: Whether you’re a country music fan or not, Tennessee’s capital ripples with intrigue. Sure, cowboy boots still tap to irresistible riffs in crowded bars, but the appeal of the city renamed “Nowville” by American GQ is so much broader. A dynamic food scene runs from gritty Southern fare to classy gourmet creations, and the reinvigorated neighbourhoods of 12 South and East Nashville are shaping up to be hipster magnets.
7. AKUREYI, ICELAND
Best for: Adventure
Why: A wilderness within easy reach, Iceland’s popularity grows every year. Now second timers are venturing beyond Reykjavik and heading north for similarly striking waterfalls, geothermal pools and lava caves – only without the crowds. Iceland’s second city Akureyi is the gateway to the Arctic North, where highlights include Europe’s most powerful waterfall Dettifoss, lava formation Dimmuborgir and Myvatn Nature Baths – a far less touristy alternative to the Blue Lagoon.