• 15 February 2018

We’ve rustled up 18 amazing must-see destinations for 2018. If you haven’t booked your travels yet – this might just be the final nudge you need to book that tour and buy that ticket…

No.1 Liverpool, Great Britain 

Move over London, Liverpool is the UK city of the moment. With an excellent variety of art and culture destinations and other world-class attractions up its sleeve, this city veritably hums with excitement. Not to mention the many Beatles-related places to see and things to do! Beautiful outdoor spaces and a proud sporting history complete the picture.

Best time to go: Most tourists visit during the late spring (mid-April to May) and summer (June to August), when the weather is best. Early autumn (September to mid-October) is less crowded, with stiff affable weather. Winter (December to February) is harsh, but affordable.

The bronze statue of the four Liverpool Beatles, found on Liverpool Waterfront (sculpted by Andrew Edwards)

No. 2 Greece

Yes, the entire country. It’s one of the best places to go if you want to relax and unwind on your holiday. Sure, there are plenty of awe-inspiring historical attractions, but the real reason to visit Greece is to do as the Greeks do. Stroll the streets of Santorini. Watch the sun set over the blue domes. Get a little silly over ice-cold glasses of retsina. And eat your fill of tzatziki, dolmades and moussaka. It’s sheer bliss!

Best time to go: Spring and early summer (mid-April to mid-June) or autumn (Sept to mid-October). This is the best time to steer clear of high season prices, long queues and unpleasantly warm temperatures.

Santorini, Greece

No. 3 Norway

The Scandinavian countries are having a moment, and for good reason. Norway is arguably one of the most spellbinding countries on earth. It’s well-known for its natural attractions. This includes the stunning Fjords, mountains and midnight sun. But it’s also renowned for a vibrant cultural life. Norwegian cities like Copenhagen and Oslo are cosmopolitan and full of stunning Scandinavian architecture.

Best time to go: June to August are known for long days and the fabled midnight sun. This is ideal for hiking, cycling or cruising. However, it is still quite cold. Between May and September temperatures are milder, and crowds fewer.

Amalienborg, Copenhagen

No. 4 Croatia

Croatia is not known as the jewel of the Adriatic for nothing – it’s absolutely breathtaking. From Dubrovnik with its dramatic medieval city walls, to the Plitvice Lakes, Brijuni Archipelago, Krka River and Island of Mljet, the country is crammed full of things to see and do. Oh, and it’s still super affordable and largely undiscovered – the perfect combination!

Best time to go: Visit Croatia over the shoulder seasons of May to June, and September to October. This is when you’ll enjoy pleasant, sunny days (great for swimming and beach-combing), with tourist facilities open, but far fewer crowds.

The walls of Old Town Dubrovnik

No. 5 Wales

Wales’ popularity as a tourist destination has been growing rapidly over the last few years, and with good reason – this southwestern territory of Great Britain offers attractions and adventures in all guises and sizes. These include epic castle tours, adrenaline-fueled zip wire excursions over sweeping lakes, festivals and fetes of all sorts, mountain summit opportunities and so much more. A festival worth looking out for is the Festival of Voice in Cardiff, which celebrates the voice in all its forms.

Best time to go: Between July and August the weather is nice and warm, with lots of festivals and events. This is when accommodation prices spike in national parks and along the coast, with the apex of the season during the August school holidays. Shoulder season starts in March, with fewer crowds and cooler weather. April to June are still fairly dry, but October can be very wet.

Wales Millenium Centre is home to many concerts and festivals, including the Festival of Voice

No. 6 Spain

What a country! Spain is one of those evergreen holiday destinations that puts a smile on everyone’s face. Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Seville, Malaga. All of these must-visit cities fall within Spanish borders. From the trendy Catalonian ambience of Barcelona, to the sleek cultural vibe of Madrid, visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to world-class cities. And the beaches! And the Sagrada Familia! And crazy Roman engineering everywhere! It’s astounding from start to finish.

Best time to go: During spring and autumn, the weather is best. April – June, September and October are the best months for travel. Summer can be very hot, especially in cities like Madrid and Seville, which lie inland from the coast.

Fountain of Cibeles In Madrid, Spain

No. 7 Portugal

Did you know Portugal is one of the longest-established countries in Europe? With its long coast and even longer history, it makes for epic journeys. Think medieval hilltop towns, bustling fishing villages, stark mountains, sunny beaches and vine-filled valleys. Modern Portugal is known for its friendly locals, excellent food, and stunning scenery that draws 11 million + visitors per year.

Best time to go: Summer in Portugal is hot and pretty crowded. The best time to visit is between March – May, September and October. The weather is still pleasant, but there are fewer lines and accommodation is often more affordable.

The Initiation Well in Sintra, Portugal

No. 8 Belgium

Visiting Belgium for its chocolate alone is a fully valid reason to make your way to this lovely country. Pair it with some piping-hot waffles and we’re about ready to apply for citizenship. However, there is more to Belgium than just delicious treats. Slap-bang in the middle of Western Europe, this compact, multilingual country combines the old with the new without breaking a sweat. From countless castles and medieval belfries, to hot and happening art museums and hip cafes, it’s a thrill a minute.

Best time to go: The best time to visit Belgium is between April to June or September to October. The spring and autumn weather is absolutely lovely and will definitely leave you feeling refreshed.

No. 9 Rhine Valley, Germany

Along the banks of the Rhine river in Germany lies a stretch of UNESCO protected land, the Rhine Gorge. This area is home to the most amazing castles, quaint German towns and of course, some of the finest vineyards and wine tasting experiences in all of Europe. It’s a place of fairytale-like wonder that has a special place in the hearts of the world’s most discerning foodies and oenophiles.

Best time to go: September and early October are some of the best months to visit Germany, especially when the warm summer days extend into autumn, known as Altweibersommer (Indian summer).

No. 10 Tuscany, Italy

A trip to Tuscany is characterised by rolling hills, vineyards and dozens of hill towns – everything you need for a quintessential Italian experience! If you want to slow down and drink in the Italian culture there is no better place to do so than in a historic hill town in the countryside.

Best time to go: Tuscany’s foremost travel months are April to June, September, and October. This is when the weather is most pleasant, but be ready to pay peak-season prices. July and August have a tendency to get very, very hot.

The quaint streets of a Tuscan hill town

No. 11 Thailand

Thailand is a great choice for travellers who like to see a lot without necessarily having to spend a fortune. Cities like Bangkok are wonderfully diverse. There are historic attractions to be enjoyed, as well as a convivial party atmosphere and lots of shopping destinations! Outside city limits, rice paddies and mountain villages await to be explored, and along the coast there are plenty of islands to choose from for that beach experience.

Best time to go: The best time to travel is during the cool and dry season between November and early April.

Two pagodas in Chiang Mai, Thailand

No. 12 Vietnam

Vietnam astounds with its natural attractions and cultural diversity. From jagged peaks and mountain passes, to verdant rice plantations and national parks with winding hiking trails, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Add to this big cities with contemporary shopping zones and plenty of opportunity to enjoy local cuisine and cultural experiences, and you can see how it landed on our must-see list.

Best time to go: February – April (spring) and August – October (autumn). The temperatures are more moderate and rainfall is lighter.

The beautiful Hoi An, Vietnam

No. 13 Jordan

Jordan is about as historic as it gets. The ancient metropolis of Petra was at its peak between 400 B.C. and A.D. 106. Then it ran empty and lay undiscovered for centuries. These days is one of the most epic places to visit if you have a love of architecture. The incredible city was literally carved into the red cliffs the region is known for. Jordan also has real-life Bedouin camps where you can spend the night, eating and sleeping as nomads do. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Best time to go: From March to may the days are warm, with cool nights; from September to February the weather is wonderful around the Red Sea, but things can get a little pricey. June to August can be on the hotter side.

Ancient architecture carved into the red stone-face

No. 14 South Africa

South Africa is the southernmost country in Africa. This is where her native name Mzansi (isiXhosa for ‘South’), comes from. The country is renowned for its natural beauty, cultural diversity and varied landscapes. Flanked by two oceans, the Indian ocean to the east and Atlantic ocean to the west, this unique geographical location makes for landscapes that are something quite unique. In fact, Conservation International identified South Africa as the 6th most megadiverse country in the world! It also happens to be a mecca for outdoor adventures.

Best time to go: South African weather is exceptional, and you can really visit all-year round thanks to its various regional climates. Cape Town has dry, hot summers – while Johannesburg has mild days during winter.

City of Cape Town lies at the foot of Table Mountain

No. 15 Montreal, Canada

From exceptional festivals (nearly 100 multi-day events per year!) and delicious food to a fascinating history and vibrant arts- and culture scene, Montreal is chock full of character. Shopping, museums, street art – you name it, Montreal has got it in spades!

Best time to go: The best times to visit Montreal are from March to May and from September to November, when the weather is milder and accommodation is not as steeply priced.

Gay Village in Montreal – colour and festivities

No. 16 San Francisco, USA

San Francisco is a wonderfully scenic city with a lot of character. Its most iconic sight is definitely the well-known Golden Gate Bridge. Other popular destinations include Alcatraz and Pier 39. Not to mention the Exploratorium and the city’s renowned cable cars! Also be sure to research the foodie scene beforehand – ‘Frisco is known to be a culinary haven. Find your favorite restaurants and weave it into your San Fran adventure.

Best time to go: September to November. Autumn offers some of the city’s warmest temperatures year-round, and there are fewer crowds.

City lights of San Francisco

No. 17 Cuba

Sandy white beaches, small hidden-away towns, spellbinding architecture, azure water and some of the best cigars the world over await in Cuba. Visitors from around the globe flock here to enjoy everything from tours on working tobacco farms to world-famous heritage sites. Likewise to immerse themselves in the verve and passion of the lively locals.

Best time to go: From December to May, visitors can expect dry, sunny days. The rainy season begins in June, and between August and October there is the chance of hurricanes.

Vintage cars in front of the Gran Teatro in Havana, Cuba

No. 18 Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu is hands down one of South America’s most epic destinations. Its great appeal is that we have no clear idea of what exactly it was used for. The 15th century Inca citadel is set high in the Andes Mountain and baffles with its sophisticated architecture. This includes dry-stone walls that fuse huge blocks without the use of mortar. Another drawing card is the panoramic views over the surrounding countryside. Buildings that play on astronomical alignments add to the intrigue.

Best time to go: The best time to visit the Inca citadel is from April to October, during the dry season . November to March as warmer temperatures with light to heavy rains.

Macchu Picchu in Peru is one of the 7 Wonders of the World

These are just 18 of the many exceptional destinations that deserve a space on our bucket list in 2018. Don’t you think it’s about time you made your travel dreams a reality? It doesn’t even have to cost an arm and a leg! Save up like a pro, take advantage of some last minute holiday deals and hit the road! The call of the wild beyond is not going to get any less persistent, we promise you that much…

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