Last year I gave you a list of 21 places that experts agreed were the top travel destinations for 2017. This year I’m going to provide you with 13 places (plus one honorable mention) to plan a visit to for your 2018 vacation. I compiled dozens of articles on the top places to travel for 2018 from the most reputable travel sources to provide you with a comprehensive agreement from the experts on where you should take your next vacation.
Rather than 20 places like last year, there was a definite top 13 consistently mentioned by experts. There were three steadfast repeats from last year’s list: Scandinavia, Portugal, and Morocco. This year’s Scandinavia recommendations are more focused on the cities of Copenhagen and Oslo, rather than the countryside like last year’s recommendations. Portugal has been a mainstay on these lists since 2016 – still affordable and providing the old-world charm expected of Europe along with beautiful beaches and scenery. For Morocco, Marrakech still tops the list of recommended stops, but this year adds the “hippie” port town of Essaouira.
Without further ado, here are your top travel destinations for 2018:
#13) The Atlantic Islands Off the Coast of Africa, specifically: Canary Islands (Spain); Saint Helena, (United Kingdom); and Cape Verde – While the Canary Islands have long been on the radar of well-traveled island-seekers, Lanzarote is becoming a more desired location among the seven islands, as it offers affordable lodging, delicious food, and old-world culture.
For a blend of Brazilian, African, and Iberian cultures, head to Cape Verde, a 10-island archipelago with a special musical heritage.,For those seeking something still unspoiled by tourism, but within reach, Saint Helena, a tropical mountainous paradise began its first commercial flights in late 2017.
Recommended Itinerary: Sail on the luxurious, small cruise line, Ponant’s 9-night Canary Islands and Cape Verde itinerary in November 2018. Starts at $4600.
#12) The Baltic Region, specifically: Tallinn, Estonia; the Archipelago Sea, Finland; and, Poland – The Baltic Region (states surrounding the Baltic Sea) is still relatively under-the-radar for American travelers, but is set to become more popular in the coming years. Londoners already escape to Tallinn, Estonia for the weekend to explore the well-preserved medieval town center and enjoy its stylish nightlife and food scene.
With increased air routes to Finland, the Archipelago Sea is a lovely place to vacation while avoiding the crowds of Helsinki in the summer and Lapland in the winter. How can we forget Poland? Poland is an affordable and inspirational destination from Krakow to Gdansk.
Recommended Itinerary: For an introduction to the cities of the Baltic States, take an 8-day tour with Tauck. Tauck’s World Discovery 8-Day Baltic States tour will take you through Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Summer 2018. Starts at $3790.
#11) Jordan – No stranger to such lists, Jordan has long been a favorite for well-traveled history buffs making a pilgrimage to Petra. Aside from its growing luxury accommodation availability, Jordan’s main attraction for 2018 is its newly marked 400-mile trail flowing along the Great Rift Valley.
Recommended Itinerary: For those interested in an active trip that may not involve the full 400-mile trek, take an 8 –day Intrepid Travel Trek Jordan tour, which will allow plenty of opportunities to hike throughout some of the most iconic sites of Jordan. Spring and Fall 2018/19. Starts at $1380.
#10) Morocco, specifically: Marrakech and Essaouira – Morocco came in at #8 of 20 in last year’s list highlighting Marrakech, Tamuda Bay, and Soura. This year, the coastal town of Essaouira was added. From surfing to cooking classes, this town is as vibrant as Marrakech but far less touristed. And, I get to go there! Stay tuned to my Facebook and Instagram accounts in March while I travel to Morocco for the first time!
Recommended Itinerary: I personally chose this itinerary for myself, because it looks like it’ll be everything I’m looking for on my first trip to Morocco. G Adventures’ 8-day Moroccan Desert Adventure includes a camel ride into the sunset, sleeping under the stars in a Berber camp, and a cooking class in Essaouira. Available all-year (but I recommend spring or fall when it is not too hot). Starts at $722.
#9) Ireland, specifically: County Clare and Northern Ireland – I’ve been happily planning multiple Ireland trips this year for clients to all parts of the countr(ies), but the inclusion of Northern Ireland on this list is particularly welcome to me. Belfast and Giant’s Causeway are both sites that I would be sad to miss on any trip to the Emerald Isle.
Recommended Itinerary: One of the best ways to see Ireland is to take a “self-drive” tour, complete with castle and Bed & Breakfast stays. Authentic Ireland provides a lovely 10-Night Wild Authentic Ireland self-drive tour that covers the mid to northern half of the isle. Available all year. Starts at $1998.
#8) The Bahamas – I know what you’re saying…” what is so special about the Bahamas?” Well, for those that have already been and are all-inclusive aficionados, the Baha Mar complex will be complete with the opening of the Rosewood Baha Mar resort, which is expected to be luxuriously grand. Also, as the Caribbean recovers from a disastrous hurricane season, every visit helps on the islands’ road to recovery.
Recommended Itinerary: Aside from staying in one of the new Baha Mar properties, I believe one of the best ways to see the Caribbean is through…you guessed it, a cruise! I know a lot of about cruises and I believe there is a cruise for everyone. If you are interested in a Caribbean cruise, get in contact with me so I can match-make you and the perfect cruise!
#7) South Korea, specifically: PyeongChang – The site of the 2018 Olympics, PyeongChang, South Korea is sure to be on every sports fanatic’s bucket list for this year. Aside from the beautiful mountainous landscape, there are also Buddhist temples in the area.
Recommended Itinerary: For any world-class sporting event, I recommend traveling with a company that specializes in sports event ticket/ vacation packages, because they can provide the best logistic support and often provide event tickets that include exclusive access. Sports Traveler offers a Mountain Cluster Package, which gets you right in the middle of the Olympic games action. Feb 2018. Inquire for pricing.
#6) Mauritius – Mark Twain said, “Mauritius was made first and then heaven, heaven being copied after Mauritius.” Sapphire blue water, white sand beaches, and luxury resorts in the Indian Ocean, just east of Madagascar; Mauritius is a multi-cultural island with a burgeoning fine-food scene.
Recommended Itinerary: I don’t know why you would go to Mauritius if not to enjoy the beautiful beaches, fantastic food, and luxury resorts; therefore, I recommend staying at the 5-star Lux* Belle Mar. Inquire for pricing.
#5) Portugal, specifically: Lisbon, the Azores, and the Alentejo Coast – Another repeat destination from the 2017 list. Last year, Portugal was ranked #5 out of 20. A new addition to the list of places to check out in Portugal for this year is the Alentejo Coast, a surfer’s paradise.
Recommended Itinerary: Perhaps not for everyone, but a dream for avid-cyclists, a 7-day bike tour of the Alentejo Coast with inGamba is a great way to see the vistas of Portugal’s Riviera. Includes a bike, all food, lodging, and guides. April and October 2018. Starts at $7450.
#4) Cities of Scandinavia, specifically: Copenhagen, Denmark; and Oslo, Norway – Last year’s #1 destination of 20 was more focused on the countryside of Scandinavia. This year, we recommend visiting the urban location of Copenhagen and Oslo. Travel to Copenhagen has increased by 80% in the last decade in no small part due to the world-famous Noma restaurant. For those with a foodie’s palette and an eye for design, Copenhagen is a paradise. Oslo’s Grünerløkka is considered by many to be the coolest neighborhood in Europe for its colorful streets, unique shops, and great coffee and cocktails.
Recommended Itinerary: Throw Stockholm, Sweden in the mix and take a trip with Abercrombie & Kent on a small group luxury journey. A&K’s 10-day Scandinavia small group luxury journey is limited to 18 guests and visits Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Oslo, enjoying the food, architecture, and natural scenery. May – October 2018. Starts at $8995.
#3) Southeastern Europe, specifically: Slovenia; Solta, Croatia; Serbia; Montenegro; and, Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina – Near and dear to my heart and high on my bucket list are the Balkan/former Yugoslavian states. This last year I went to Slovenia and fell in love. There is indeed something for everyone there. My husband often reflects on the beautiful landscape of Bosnia-Herzegovina when he visited more than ten years ago. I am really itching to go to the beautiful beaches of Montenegro, myself! These countries offer a fantastic fusion of cultures and awe-inspiring natural landscape that are sure to please everyone!
Recommended Itinerary: I have personally traveled with Roundabout Travel, and they provide an amazing experience. I say if you haven’t been yet, go for it all and see the highlights of the Balkans in two weeks with Roundabout on their 14-day Big Balkan Tour. You’ll see Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Montenegro. Private tours offered throughout the year. Starts at €4060.
**BONUS: Check out my quick video about Slovenia! **
#2) Malta, specifically: Valletta – This quiet group of Mediterranean islands is a lovely mix of blue waters, colorful fishing villages, unique architecture, delicious food, and happy people. Valletta, in particular, is representing as the European Capital of Culture for 2018 and will host a variety of programs to celebrate the honor.
Recommended Itinerary: Allow me to design for you a completely customized trip to Malta, with five days on Malta Island (including Valletta) for sightseeing and nightlife and three days on Gozo Island for some quiet relaxation. The best times of year to go, if you ask me, are May and September.
#1) New Orleans, Louisiana, USA – Why this year for “The Big Easy” you say? Well, it turns 300 in 2018! Also, 13 years after Hurricane Katrina, this resilient and vibrant city is going strong. There will be special events all year throughout the city from art fairs to concerts to parades. Oh, and let’s not forget the food. That is enough reason for me!
Recommended Itinerary: While you could easily entertain yourself in New Orleans for weeks on end, make it a trip for a long weekend. Stay four nights in the French Quarter with activities such as a Ghosts & Spirits Tour, a Whitney Plantation Tour, a Dinner on a Jazz Cruise, and, many more… The best time of year to visit is February to May for comfortable weather and celebrations, or December and January to avoid the crowds. 4-night tour packages start at $900.
Honorable Mention: Egypt – Times have been tough for Egypt since the Arab Spring, and many travelers have put off their plans to visit for security reasons. I am one of them. However, there are a couple reasons travelers may be excited to go to Egypt in 2018. Reason one: The Grand Egyptian Museum, a monument two decades and $1 billion in the making, is set to partially open in 2018. The museum will showcase the treasures of the Pharaohs, including the golden funeral mask of Tutankhamen. Reason two,: it’s quite cheap to travel there at the moment. The Egyptian pound’s value is low, making your US dollars go a long way.
Recommended Itinerary: Definitely go to Egypt with a trustworthy travel company. To ease your fears and/or that of your loved ones, work with a trusted travel agent to make sure you are taken care of from start to finish. One of my trusted travel partners, African Travel, provides lovely Egypt itineraries. Their Royal Egyptian tour involves 3 nights in Cairo and 4 nights on a luxury Nile River Cruise stopping for monuments like the Great Pyramids of Giza along the way. To avoid the desert heat, travel in November through March. Starts at $3895.
That concludes our list this year. Which destinations would you have included?
**For more info on any of these destinations, check out my Top Destinations for 2018 Overview. **
If you’re ready to start planning your 2018 vacations to one of these amazing destinations, start by filling out our trip planning form.
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