Best holiday destinations for 2018: where are the experts travelling this year?
Discover the top destinations from those in the know
Picos de Europa, Spain
Many Brits feel like they know all there is to know about Spain. A veritable juggernaut of the European tourism sector, it's a land of rich red wines, beautiful Mediterranean beaches and dry heat. Right? Well, not quite.
The region is “rather less visited by us Britons, which is a peculiar state of affairs when you consider the abundant virtues on show”, writes Daily Telegraph Travel Deputy Editor Ben Ross, who speaks of it “staggering, razor-sharp peaks, endless hiking paths and adjacent Atlantic beaches that are reminiscent of the best bits of south Cornwall.”
Up here, it’s a different world. Boasting lush green rainforests instead of dusty plains, the Asturianu language instead of Castilian, and cider - or “sidra” - instead of wine, the Picos de Europa is one of the most peculiar and rewarding corners of the continent, just a stone’s throw from the UK yet enticingly alien to those left cold by the typical Spanish getaway.
The region is underdeveloped and sparsely populated, so be sure to toss your road map away and get your hiking boots on for some of the most breathtaking vistas Europe can offer.
The rise of “New Nordic” cuisine has put Sweden on the map for travelling gastronomes. And not just the capital, Stockholm, which has a myriad of award-winning restaurants such as Folii and Tegelbacken, but also the far north of the country. According to Georgina Hancock, product and marketing director at Discover the World “the north of the country is gaining gastronomic momentum. Even in its 28th year the Icehotel in the north of Swedish Lapland continues to innovate, now offering an exciting new ‘chefs table’ experience that gives guests access to amazing fine dining (from Michelin chef Alexander Meier) whilst being 200km north of the Arctic Circle.”
Located near the Taj Mahal, the Mughal Museum has been co-designed by our own David Chipperfield. "This modern marble palace is due to open any day now," says Geoffrey Kent, CEO of luxury travel experts Abercrombie & Kent. "I’m very keen to see it." Most visitors to Agra quickly "do" the Taj, before heading elsewhere. Now, Kent says, there's reason to linger for longer. The museum will explain how India's most famous building was erected, and its romantic backstory.
Tourism in Patagonia – a wild region of mountains, lakes, forests and glaciers covering southern Chile and Argentina – has recently witnessed airport upgrades and new reserves. And 2018 is expected to be a defining year. "January’s long-awaited inauguration of the 1,500-mile Route of Parks will further Patagonia's appeal," believes Gordon Steer, UK manager of adventure operator World Expeditions. Linking 17 national parks, this rebranded section of Chile's Carretera Austral highway is ideal for driving odysseys.
Already one of the hottest tickets thanks to its mountain gorilla-watching potential, Rwanda is now extra tempting thanks to new direct UK flights and high-end camps such as Bisate Lodge. And that's not all… "I can’t wait to try out the countries debuting watersport activities," says Chris McIntyre, managing director of safari specialist Expert Africa. "Perhaps a few days kayaking by banana tree-terraced Lake Kivu, then north for – after the gorillas – some canoeing along the Mukungwa River's gentle rapids, passing beautiful birdlife."
"Egypt has appeared on my hotlist before," admits Geoffrey Kent. "But it's back because this ancient country is buzzing with renewed confidence. The tourist experience right now is as welcoming as I've ever seen it." As well as the soon-to-open St Regis Cairo hotel and Grand Egyptian Museum, set to partially debut in May, Kent cites Egypt's position off the travel radar – temporarily at least. "The opportunity to see legendary sites such as the pyramids without crowds won't last long, though," he cautions.
"Client feedback has been so overwhelmingly positive ever since we introduced the Baltic states trips – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania –two years ago that I’m desperate to go myself," reveals Steer. Highlights include distinctive Stalinist architecture, animal-rife wetlands and wild, wondrous beaches. What's more, all three countries celebrate centenaries of statehood next year, with a commemorative €2 coin in the works. "2018 seems an especially great year to visit," concludes Steer. World Expeditions' sister company UTracks offers cycle tours.
Been living under a stone? If not, you'll probably know that a certain dictator has finally been forced out. "I’m incredibly excited to visit Zimbabwe after Mugabe's resignation, but before the safari crowds inevitably return," reveals McIntyre. I'll try some of the camps opening in Mana Pools National Park in order to track large game on foot, and finish at Hwange Bush Camp – a new property, which epitomises a trend of "back-to-basics" residences, places whose chief focus is the skills of some of Africa's foremost guides."