The South American country has made our hot list for the second year running, and was picked as Lonely Planet’s top destination to see in its annual Best in Travel list. Santiago has also been named as one of National Geographic’s top 21 places you need to visit in 2018, and been given a string of other awards for its city, ski and adventure attractions. With everything from stunning colonial architecture to vineyards and the amazing landscapes of Patagonia, this is one country which really does have something for everyone.
One of the world’s smallest countries, Malta packs in a surprising amount — temples older than the pyramids, some of Europe’s best diving, year-round sunshine and some high-profile festivals. With Valletta as European Capital of Culture for 2018, there’s expected to be music, film and art events to add to the history and relaxation.
The 2018 World Cup is putting the world’s largest country into the spotlight — and for fans attending the matches, Russia has waived visa fees too. So whether you’re a football fan or not, it’s a good excuse to book a trip, skip the usual offputting bureaucracy and discover the country’s cities and culture.
The North of England
There’s plenty to keep travellers firmly in the UK next year as well, with some major events in the north. Liverpool is welcoming the Terracotta Warriors to its World Museum from February to October, the first time they’ve come to Britain, along with events, exhibitions and performances to celebrate a decade since being European Capital of Culture.
On the other coast, the Great Exhibition of the North in Newcastle Gateshead is running from June to September, with art, design, science and industry featuring among the exhibits. Other cities will also be helping celebrate too; Manchester’s own events will include The Story of the North in 100 Objects, in the run-up to the Great Exhibition itself.
The new flights
- Perth, Australia
The biggest travel news of the year is the first direct flight from the UK to Australia starting in March — at 17 hours long, the new Qantas route saves at least three hours on the current fastest option. And as well as opening up Western Australia and Perth, one of the world’s most isolated cities, it’s also set to get easier to hop on to Melbourne and Sydney too.
- Buenos Aires, Argentina
Low-cost long-haul has been gaining in popularity over the past few years thanks in part to no-frills airline Norwegian. After its bargain transatlantic fares proved a big hit with UK travellers, the airline is launching a direct service to Buenos Aires in February — a great option whether you’re searching for Jewish heritage and kosher food, great wine or a taste of gaucho culture.
- The Seychelles
Another new addition for March, with British Airways launching a twice-weekly direct flight from Heathrow to Mahe, making the islands of the archipelago more accessible. And with over 100 to choose from, you could even use the time you save not having to change planes on the way to island hop once you arrive. Discover mountain rainforests as well as giant tortoises, along with the famous white sand beaches and glorious coral reefs.
- St Helena
If you love to travel off the beaten track, it’s hard to beat the isolated British Overseas Territory of St Helena. The volcanic island has been called the Galapagos of the South Atlantic. Best known as the place where Napoleon spent his last six years, it’s also home to whale sharks along with rare birdlife and hundreds of other endemic species. Previously you had to take a five-day Royal Mail ship voyage from Cape Town but new weekly flights from Johannesburg have brought this unspoiled spot a little closer.
- South Africa
July 2018 marks 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela and there will be events taking place throughout the year to celebrate and honour his legacy. As well as existing options, such as visiting Robben Island and townships in Cape Town and Johannesburg, tour operators are also launching new itineraries to mark the anniversary such as a seven-night trip from Western & Oriental, Following the Footsteps to Freedom — Nelson Mandela’s South Africa.
The Indian Ocean island is celebrating 50 years of independence in March, after more than 300 years of colonial rule by the Dutch, French and British. Along with its mix of cultural influences and colonial history, there are activities galore, from kitesurfing to hiking and wildlife encounters — far more than the idyllic white sand beaches and turquoise seas you’d expect from the area.
- America’s Deep South
2018 marks both 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in Memphis, and the 300th anniversary of the founding of New Orleans, a city which needs no excuse for a party. Add in new flights to Nashville with British Airways and the opening of the new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, it’s the perfect time to visit whether you’re tracing civil rights history, the birth of rock’n’roll, the roots of jazz or a little of all the Deep South has to offer.
- Northern France and Belgium
At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Armistice brought an end to the First World War. And while the past few years have also seen anniversaries of other notable dates from the Great War, there will be more events commemorating the end of the conflict across Northern France and Belgium. Travel companies are also offering special tours of the area to discover both the battlefields and memorials, as well as hearing the Last Post at Menin Gate. Insight Vacations has a four-day coach tour.