While some countries like France and Italy will always be popular destinations to visit, other countries come and go as their popularity changes over time. Whether it is because of new sights available for tourists, growth in popularity, or a bigger tourism campaign to bring more visitors, some countries and cities come out of their under the radar status and become the next “big thing” to experience.
Every year we see a shift of exciting destinations around the world that should make it onto our bucket lists, and 2018 is no exception. Here I’ll share with you four cities and countries that will either be hot next year, or you’ll hear a lot more about them on your social media.
This small city of 90,000+ people is one of the best-kept secrets in California. Located just a few hours north of San Francisco, Redding has served as a perfect pit stop on the way north to Oregon, Washington, or Canada – and vice versa. But Redding is more than a pit stop; it deserves at least a few days to discover all it has to offer.
One of its most stunning sights is the Lassen Volcanic National Park, which is like Yellowstone’s younger brother in that is has everything Yellowstone has, except geysers. Oh, and there’s one more thing it doesn’t have; the crowds! You can find all four types of volcanoes in existence on earth right there in Lassen as well as some stunning alpine and volcanic landscapes that are excellent to hike and camp for days.
There are over 100 miles of bike and hiking trails in and around Redding and several lakes for you to relax or enjoy watersports. Among the most famous lakes is Whiskeytown; famous for its beauty and gold rush history.
One of the continent’s most overlooked countries has been slowly shaping itself to become one of the best outdoors and adventure destinations in the world. The country is 2,650 miles long yet never more than 150 miles wide, and for the most part, flanked by the Andes on the eastern side. This creates a variety of ecosystems, topographies, and biodiversity that range from the driest place on earth to subpolar islands, and stunning fjords and mountain peaks.
Chile has 36 national parks, with Torres del Paine National Park being one of its most stunning. You can go hiking for days or weeks and never get bored as the park creates its own microclimates, giving you a different landscape every day. And of course, there’s the mysterious Easter Island, which is just a 5-hour flight from Santiago. Why not head there and see firsthand the origins of the moai and the Rapa Nui culture?
Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia
As the homeland of the famous nomadic warlord, Genghis Khan, Mongolia still keeps alive and well the nomadic culture. Anywhere outside Ulaan Baatar, you’ll see pastoralist nomads riding their horses, tending to their yaks, or simply camping with their ger (yurt) that sporadically dot the desert landscape. Flocks of sheep, goats, and Bactrian camels also graze the landscape as if this were an entirely unspoiled landscape. Well, it is!
In Ulaan Baatar, though, the nomadic culture is less apparent as it is a well-developed city. You can find several high-end hotels and restaurants, as well as budget accommodation to cater to every need. And, if you think Mongolia is hard to reach, you’d be surprised. Ulaan Baatar is well connected with the world – especially now that it has a brand new state-of-the-art airport that’s capable of serving even more passengers.
The best time to go is during the annual Naadam Festival, which has been recognized by UNESCO as a unique and vibrant parade of athletes, monks, and musicians. The festival is held every July.
You’ve probably noticed that everyone and their mother has been to Iceland this past year or so. While this stunning country is no longer a secret, it is still a destination you must add to your 2018 travel plans if you haven’t been there already. Iceland is said to be the land of fire and ice, and rightly so. Giant white and blue glaciers cover 14% of the country, and beneath some of them, active volcanoes silently push their might via hot springs, geysers, and lava channels.
The Icelandic landscape is something that looks as if imagined for a fairy tale. Bright blue lagoons surrounded by snowcapped mountains, black volcanic valleys, and green moss covered volcanoes are just a fraction of the almost surreal settings you’ll see there.
A few things you shouldn’t miss doing there is trying the rotten shark, relaxing in the Blue Lagoon, and visiting waterfalls like Seljalandsfoss, Godafoss, Dynjandi, Skogafoss, and Svartifoss.
Which other under the radar destination would you recommend adding to this list?
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