TOP 10 Hottest Destinations for 2014

March 20, 2014

Saint Augustine wisely said - “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” But with so many pages to read or should I say places to visit, where do you start? To make sure you don’t miss out on the hottest destinations for 2014 here are 10 fascinating places you don’t want to miss. Whether you’re an epicurean, culture seeker, adventurer or beach lover there’s something for everyone.  

Rio de Janiero, Brazil
BRAZIL With the entire world awaiting the 2014 FIFA World Cup how could Brazil, the energetic country hosting the event, not be front and centre on every travel­ler’s radar. Brazil boasts a breathtaking coastline 7,491 kilometres long filled with secluded coves, turquoise-blue waters, lush green mountains and an astounding array of wildlife. Couple all that with a vibrant art scene, rever­berating samba beats, a rich culture, a booming economy and Brazil is one hot ticket. If you can’t make it this year then try for 2016 when Brazil will be host to the Summer Olympics.

SRI LANKA Known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean,” Sri Lanka has been on every intrepid traveller’s wish list for years but a two decades long civil war and a 2004 tsunami had travellers weary. All that changed in 2009 when the country declared peace and an in­crease in hotel development and openings swept across this jasmine scented tropical paradise. Located just off the southern tip of India, Sri Lanka is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites and beguiles visitors with its fascinating culture, pristine beaches, timeless ruins, cool hillside terrains, lush rainforests and elephant-filled national parks. It’s no wonder travellers are all abuzz for Sri Lanka. 

PANAMA CITY Dubbed the “Miami of the South,” Panama City is the thriving cosmopolitan capital of Central America known for its international trading and banking. The city boasts a diverse range of culture and architecture along with a trendy selection of restaurants, cafés, chic night clubs and art galleries, many housed in centu­ries-old buildings. What makes 2014 the year to visit Panama? This year the famous Panama Canal celebrates 100 years of connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and to celebrate this milestone the city is hosting festivities all year long like the opening of Frank Gehry’s BioMuseo. With endless celebrations, Panama City is an absolute must.

NORTHERN LIGHTS If you’re a sky-watcher and seeing the mesmerizing Northern Lights is on your bucket list then now is the time to book your vacation. NASA scientists have predicted that the solar activity is at a maximum this season, the liveliest phase in its 11-year solar cycle creating the best possible conditions for seeing a more intense, colorful display of the aurora borealis. Top places to enjoy this view include Yellowknife, Churchill and Iqaluit in Canada; Fairbanks, Alaska; Lapland, Norway; and Iceland where NASA expects the northern lights to reach a vibrant peak in December 2014. So pack your camera, winter gear and get snapping!

ALBANIAN COAST With the Euro making European travel more expensive than ever travellers are looking for more affordable alternatives this summer. Enter the Albanian Coast with its rugged beauty and gorgeous beaches minus the hordes of tourists you find in similar locals like Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. There are also fasci­nating ancient archaeological sites rem­iniscent of Turkey or Greece, as well as the laid back approach to life you find in the Italian countryside. The Albanian Coast for many is a reminder of the Mediterranean of the past and travellers are falling in love with it.

Cape Town, South Africa
CAPE TOWN If its vast history and spectacular landscape hasn’t put Cape Town on your bucket list then now’s the time to reconsider. Since the death of Nelson Mandela everyone has Cape Town on their mind. Not many cities can proudly showcase stunning natural scenery, fantastic vineyards, gorgeous hiking trails, a bustling city centre and an evolving dining scene. Named the 2014 World Design Capital, Cape Town will be celebrating all forms of design with over 450 events in the works. The city’s most famous site - Table Mountain - provides a magnificent backdrop over­looking this fascinating city and served as beacon of hope for Nelson Mandela dur­ing his incarceration on Robbin Island. Beautifully situated along the mountainous Cape Peninsula spine with the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Indian Ocean to the east, Cape Town offers horseback riding, surfing and shark cage-diving. There’s something for everyone.

MEXICO CITY It’s hard to believe that Mexico’s fascinat­ing cultural, financial and political capital is filled with undiscovered treasures, but a recent influx of stylish hotels and res­taurants prove otherwise. Mexico City is perhaps the one place in Mexico where sun and sand take a back seat to a vibrant food scene, colonial palaces, a great night­life and art galleries like the Museo Frida Kahlo. If you find yourself there on Satur­day be sure to take a stroll through Bazar Sábado that showcases some of Mexico’s best handcrafted jewellery, woodwork, ceramics and textiles. With no short­age of things to see and do, Mexico City offers endless options for an exciting urban holiday.

UCO VALLEY Often referred to as the Napa Valley of thirty years ago, Argentina’s renowned viticultural region of Uco Valley is mak­ing headlines not just for its wine scene but also for adventure travel. Located one hour south of Mendoza, its striking natural setting at the base of the Andes Mountains provides a picturesque back­drop for hiking, mountain biking and rafting. Picture dramatic landscapes, vineyards and open skies. But if adven­ture is not for you then perhaps a spa treatment followed by a glass of malbec – Argentina’s signature wine - at one of the new luxury hotels is.

PALERMO When TripAdvisor reports an increase in searches and positive feedback on Palermo you know there’s something to talk about. Once infamous for its crime scene - Sicily’s capital with nearly a mil­lion inhabitants - is now famous for its sophisticated wine scene, boutique ho­tels, historical museums, Renaissance and Baroque architecture, gorgeous pal­aces and some of the best street food in all of Italy. Try the outdoor markets of La Vucciria, Ballaro and Borgo Vecchio. Palermo is also home to Italy’s largest indoor theatre and some of the best op­era houses, as well as some incredible beaches. With plenty to see and do, this historical port city is worth visiting.

NASHVILLE With innovative chefs setting the city’s food scene a buzz, Nashville is no longer just the capital for country music fans and aspiring songwriters. It has become an inspiring haven for food lovers. Trendy restaurants like Germantown’s Rolf & Daughters, Josephine and Pinewood So­cial alone are worth the visit. There’s also great blues bars, historical buildings, big-name sports, along with the Country Mu­sic Hall of Fame and the legendary Grand Ole Opray House. So it’s time to pack your car and head out on that American road trip you’ve been putting off.

Click on the link to download a copy of my article - Top 10 Hottest Destinations for 2014 - in the new issue of Whatever Vaughan Magazine Spring 2014.  

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