We spoke to bloggers and travel industry experts to find out the top destinations to add to your travel wish list in 2013.
Where would I recommend visiting in the next 12 months? The possibilities are endless, but one destination I know I’ll be returning to this year is Turkey. One of Lonely Planet’s top countries to visit in 2013, Turkey is a fabulous travel destination because of the sheer variety this vast and fascinating country has to offer. Ancient history, the incredible landscapes of Cappadocia and the relatively undiscovered eastern towns of Mardin and Midyat are just some of the reasons to visit this year.
Turkey is well loved for cosmopolitan Istanbul and the country’s stunning coastline, but beyond the coastal resorts there is also a wealth of unexplored gems in this incredibly beautiful nation just waiting to be discovered. I visited in 2012 and experienced fabulous food, the friendliest of welcomes and fantastic scenery. I’m counting down the days until I can go back!
Laura Lindsay is part of the Lonely Planet media team.
> Target Turkey with our range of travel guides and maps
This year Burma is south-east Asia’s real up-and-coming destination. It’s been described as the Thailand of old – a country that boasts all the sights, cuisine and climate but without the tourists. Isolated both politically and in terms of tourism, Burma is still a relatively unknown country. There aren’t many parts of the world that remain untouched, yet Burma is one of them.
Forget the bright lights of Bangkok, the capital city of Yangon is a stark contrast. The pace of life is much slower, yet there is still plenty to see and do. Seeing the Shwedagon Pagoda, for example, is an absolute must.
Elsewhere, you can watch the sunrise over 4,000 stupas at Bagan or stay in the floating villages at Inle Lake. Another popular spot among travellers is Kalaw, where you can trek in the surrounding hills and forests. Also, Burma has some of the world’s best unknown dive sites – well worth checking out if you’re a keen scuba diver. Whatever you decide to do in Burma, you won’t be disappointed.
A country of original infrastructure, culture and traditions, far from the electronic world. Travelling doesn’t get more authentic than this.
Paul Bondsfield is Head of Marketing at My Adventure Store.
> Backpack around Burma with our range of travel guides and maps
Iceland is a small country yet it packs a big punch. 2013 is tipped to be one of the best years to see the Northern Lights; with Iceland not only do you get to see the lights but you can also see geysers, icefalls and some stunning scenery, too.
Reykjavik is the capital, and when the white stuff falls here in winter it pretty much resembles a snow globe. There’s plenty to do in the city, and after a spell of sightseeing the places to kick back and relax are the Ice Hotel or the Olgerdin Brewery. Reykjavik is the perfect place to base yourself to go to places like the Blue Lagoon and whale-watching, and of course, you’ve got to see the geysers.
Also, with easyJet now flying to Iceland, the island nation is more accessible than ever before.
Macca Sherifi is the Travel Editor of gapyear.com.
> Be inspired by Iceland with our range of travel guides and maps
This Indian Ocean island nation’s recent history has been far from incident-free, but with civil war over its tourism industry is receiving much-needed investment. If you’ve done India and south-east Asia, there’s probably no better place to travel in 2013 – visitors can expect excellent beaches, eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites to explore and low prices (both in terms of accommodation prices and flights, especially when travelling from Bangkok).
Must-sees include Dondra Head on the southern coast, where blue whales can be seen between January and April; Arugam Bay, which offers some of the best surf in Asia; and the 17th century Dutch fort in Galle, the best example of a European-built Asian fortified city.
Overseas visitor numbers have been steadily increasing since civil war ended in May 2009, and this year’s total could break the one million barrier with British Airways launching flights to Colombo, Sri Lanka‘s capital, in April.
Charlie Gilbert is Stanfords’ Online Editor.
> See the best of Sri Lanka with our range of travel guides and maps
Your New Year goals may include stepping aboard a plane to some far-flung destination, but don’t forget those holiday hotspots that are a little closer to home in 2013.
Yes, Vegas may be the US party capital, and Florida might be hot, hot, hot, but I wouldn’t rule out a cheaper European trip that won’t break the bank – and that doesn’t necessarily mean having to discover somewhere new.
I’ve always been a big fan of Majorca thanks to its beautifully sandy beaches, stunning local markets and tasty eateries. The perfect spot for a long weekend or a relaxing fortnight with the family, it really does offer something for everyone.
If you’re planning on holidaying anywhere near Magaluf, make sure you pay a visit to the famous Pirates show. It came highly recommended when we visited nearby Alcudia a few years ago, and it’s undoubtedly still as fun today. An all-singing, all-dancing show featuring acrobatics, stunts and a whole lot of audience participation, it’s loads of fun for kids and adults.
Away from the larger, more established resorts are the likes of Pollenca and its coastal sister town Puerto Pollenca – both located in the unspoiled north-east. The former is the place to go to get away from it all and experience some authentic Spanish culture, while the latter is there when the beach and the warm waters of the Mediterranean start calling.
Travellers will find it more convenient to travel to Majorca this year thanks to Vueling, Spain’s second-largest airline, launching new flights to Palma from Heathrow just in time for the 2013 summer season.
Lauren Holder is a freelance travel writer.
> Make the most of Majorca with our range of travel guides and maps
Prepare to be astounded in Ethiopia, the birthplace of humanity, in 2013. Explore ancient rock-hewn churches and towering stelae in the north. Take part in the Ethiopian festivals of Genna and Timkat and experience Christianity as it was practised centuries ago. Trek to the source of the Blue Nile and come face-to-face with gelada baboons in the Simien Mountains. For adrenalin seekers, trek to the Danakil Depression, one of the hottest places on Earth, and witness a volcanic eruption.
In the south, meet the enchanting tribal people of the Omo Valley, experience market day in the villages and take a boat ride on the Great Rift Valley lakes looking out for crocodiles, hippos and birdlife. The spectacular Bale Mountains are a trekker’s paradise and are also home to the endemic mountain nyala and rare Ethiopian wolf, while nearby the dramatic Sof Omar Caves will leave any traveller breathless.
This part of the world may be challenging at times, but the rewards are immeasurable.
Rahul Aggarwal is a Director at Travel The Unknown.
> Explore Ethiopia with our range of travel guides and maps
Millions of tourists head through Malaga each year en route to the famous Costa resorts of Marbella, Fuengirola, Benalmedina and Torremolinos – but for a change in 2013, head east rather than west from Malaga to the tranquil beauty of Salobrena. With a 10th century Moorish castle overlooking this quaint Spanish village, this is a destination that remains relatively untouched by large-scale commercial tourism.
Salobrena boasts five beaches separated by ‘El Penon’ or ‘the rock’, a large outcrop of sandstone that’s also adjacent to a number of fabulous beach-side restaurants where the local seafood dishes are supreme.
The town is a popular destination for Spanish holidaymakers and can get busy during August in particular – but nowhere near as hectic as the more established resorts. Beaches are popular both day and night with sun worshippers and in the evening with many local anglers.
Day trips to local markets in and around Frigliana and Orgiva are well worth the effort and Motril, Almunecar and Salobrena itself offer ample dining and shopping opportunities.
Ian John is a freelance travel writer.
> Discover more of Malaga and its surroundings with our range of travel guides and maps
Everyone who travels to Indonesia goes to Bali. But if you want incredible beaches all to yourself, encounters straight out a documentary and a healthy slice of adventure, try Sulawesi.
This K-shaped island is severely under-travelled and yet it offers a huge range of experiences to suit every visitor.
Enjoy world-class diving in Bunaken or Wakatobi, both of which offer ample opportunity to swim with sea turtles and observe some of the most varied and colourful coral in the world.
Culture vultures should head to the central region of Tana Toraja, where tourism revolves around burial caves, baby graves in trees and elaborate, week-long funerals.
And for the perfect beach getaway you really can’t do better than the Togean Islands, a genuine paradise where the living is slow and the scenery is stunning.
Beirut-based journalist and photographer Venetia Rainey writes for The Independent, The Telegraph and Reuters.
> Sample the best of Sulawesi with the Periplus Folded Map