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If you need some inspiration for your next holiday destinations, we have 18 places to visit in the New Year.
Adventure Holiday Destinations
Langtang Valley, Nepal
2018 saw the return to the Langtang Valley in Nepal. It has been several years since we’ve been able to take trekkers to the region in comfort and safety following the devastation of the earthquakes in 2015. Now, you can return to this beautiful valley, stay in the best newly rebuilt teahouses and see the majestic holy Gosaikund Lake, an ancient site of pilgrimage for many years.
Even better for you, Exodus has announced we’ll be restricted all group sizes to a maximum of 12 trekkers for 2018 – ensuring you’ll have a smaller impact and more personal experience of this incomparable country.
Find out more: Nepal tours
Lake District, UK
The Lakes have long enchanted travellers, from the Romantic poets to loyal Wainwright walkers. But last year yet another accolade has landed – the Lakes have been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status.
The New Year will see the 2,292 square kilometres of glacier-sculpted hills, glistening lakes and scenic, narrow valleys celebrate the latest feather in their cap. It’s best explored at your own pace, with plenty of time to ponder or power through as you please; a self-guided walking adventure is just the ticket.
Find out more: UK tours
Picos de Europa National Park, Spain
2018 marked the centenary of the Picos de Europa – not that anyone should need an excuse to vanish into the twisting, high sided valleys of Spain’s oldest national park. It’s all eyes on the skies here, with the thermal air currents supporting the best of Europe’s birds of prey, with Griffon vultures and golden eagles circling the jutting crags of the limestone peaks.
Fnid out more: Picos de Europa tours
Too long in the shadow of neighbouring Spain, Portugal is having a moment in the sun. It’s been pegged for greatness by numerous travel magazines and experts, from Lonely Planet to Wanderlust magazine.
Its charm lies in the rugged Atlantic Coast, where powerful winds and thunderous waves sculpt imposing arches and giant rock stacks from the shore. Their nooks and crannies provide a safe haven for wildlife, both avian and aquatic. After, retire to the quaint cobbled streets of Portugal’s numerous old towns.
Find out more: Portugal tours
2018 marked 100 years since the end of the First World War. History buffs addicted to the outdoors should head for the limestone rocks of the Dolomites, the front line between a fascist Italy and the lumbering might of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
It’s a landscape littered with poignant reminders of the scale and ferocity of the fighting, and though these days the iron ropes of the Via Ferrata routes are for exploring the mountains rather than defending them, it remains one of the most interesting places to learn more about the conflict.
Find out more: Dolomites tours
Russiahas been headline news more often than not in the past few years, and with it hosting the 2018 World Cup that’s unlikely to change. But more and more travellers have become curious about this country, wanting to know more than what we read in the news.
There’s plenty here to tempt you – the decadence of the tsars, the history of the revolution, the wilderness of Siberia. 2018 is the time to head over and make up your own mind.
From the dramatic windswept wilds of Patagonia to the sparkling waters of the lake district, Chile has plenty to celebrate. But 2018 adds an extra reason: the 200th anniversary of independence. Exodus’ Sales Manager Jim Carder recalls, “It’s one of the most beautiful parts of the world I have ever seen – I can’t recommend it highly enough.
It’s probably the safest country in South America, with great food and wine, though the biggest surprise was the number of microbreweries and the huge selection of beers everywhere you go.” Sounds like a good excuse to raise a glass!
Find out more: Chile tours
Traditional Chinese buffet
The capital of Sichuan province is having a moment. It has been given the title of UNESCO Gastronomic City, famous for its many teahouses and its signature dish: the Chengdu Hotpot.
It’s a totally customisable affair, starting with the broth (spicy or clear) and culminating in whatever you put it – noodles, meat, vegetables, oils and spices. No wonder increasing numbers of travellers are adding Chengdu’s culinary centre to their bucket list.
Find out more: China tours
Via Dinarica, Balkans
It’s incredible to think that within living memory, it would have been impossible to contemplate the Via Dinarica. And yet today this full nearly 2,000km route is the hottest new kid on the block for European hiking, described as a “must-see” by Wanderlust and picked as a “Best of the World” by National Geographic Traveller.
Starting in Albania, whose borders were basically closed until the 1980s, and crossing into what was once war-torn Yugoslavia, this alpine route casually takes in multiple previously inaccessible countries. Aside from the history, there’s the natural splendour of the mountains – miles and miles of remote shepherds huts, rural rambling and airy mountain ridges to take in. We challenge any hiker to not feel excited about this route in 2018.
Find out more: Albania tours
Incoming tourism to Colombiahas absolutely hit the roof. In the past 10 years, the number of travellers visiting for leisure has increased more than 250%. It’s a country in rebirth, trading its old reputation for a sudden surge in popularity.
Get steamy in the hot, humid coffee plantations, lose yourself in the cobbled colonial streets of the laid-back towns or head for the coastline – Colombia is a destination that is still full of surprises. Get there in 2018, before everyone else catches on.
North Africa may not be the destination that immediately springs to mind to celebrate a decade since the death of designer Yves Saint Laurent, but the French designer loved Morocco; he lived here and chose to have his ashes scattered in the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech.
From 2018 you can visit the newly opened YSL Museum, just around the corner from the cool oasis of the Jardin, where you’ll find thousands of garments and accessories on display.
Find out more: Marrakech tours
Indian water carriers
2018 was the year of India’s Swachh Bharat (Clean India) campaign. This government-led drive is focusing on clearing India’s streets of litter, improving access to clean water and sanitation, and planting 50 million trees.
We’re doing our bit too – Exodus’ plastic reduction efforts are having a huge impact in India, where it’s unsafe for our travellers to drink the tap water. Our buses now carry huge, 20-litre water dispensers where clients can fill up reusable water bottles completely free. It’s just one of the ways we’re trying to make sure we travel responsibly – and it means our travellers don’t have to worry about buying huge numbers of tiny plastic bottles to stay safe.
Find out more: India tours
February 2018 marked the official centenary of the Republic of Estonia. The history of the last 100 years of this country, and the Baltics in general, is tumultuous, to say the least, with periods of occupation, invasion and revolution and the second world war, but the official date is set and the Estonian tourist board is kicking off what it calls an “unprecedented number of cultural events” to celebrate.
Tallinn’s whimsical spires, fascinating museums and its famous bakeries and patisseries make it the perfect place to learn more about Estonia’s identity.
Find out more: Estonia tours
2018 marked 50 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, just one day after he gave his I’ve Been to the Mountaintop speech. That motel is now the National Civil Rights Museum, dedicated to the history of civil rights. In his honour, the museum will be celebrating the 50th anniversary with special events, poetry slams and symposiums – it’s one of the best places to learn more of the legacy and man who was undeniably one of the 20th century’s greatest figures.
Find out more: Memphis tour
The Forbidden City, China
Beijing’s grand imperial palace complex of the Forbidden City is becoming more open than ever before. New rooms and palaces are opening constantly, lovingly restored. New for 2018 you can visit the Cining and Shoukang Palaces, both of which were homes to the most powerful women in ancient China, the wives and mothers of the emperor.
Most intriguing is the story of Empress Dowager Chongqing, who lived in the Shoukang Palace until her 80s. Her legacy is all around you in these beautiful rooms and gardens built by her son to honour her – though rumours that her ghost haunts these halls are probably unfounded.
Find out more: Beijing tours
Robben Island, South Africa
2018 will be 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can visit Robben Island, the tiny island off the coast of Cape Town where he was imprisoned for 18 years and isolated from his family, friends and the outside world.
The tour, often guided by previous inmates of the prison, culminates with a visit to Mandela’s cell. There’s no better place to take a moment to remember this incredible man, and all he sacrificed to make the world a safer and kinder place.
Find out more: Cape Town tours
With increasing restrictions being implemented for visitors to Machu Picchu (understandably so; the restrictions are designed to protect and preserve the site) eyes are turning towards the ‘sacred sister city’ of Choquequirao. Even less is known about Choquequirao than Machu Picchu, intensifying its mist-shrouded mysteriousness.
The site is huge, sprawling over the dense jungle-clad mountainside of the Andes. Visit before the Peruvian government commit to building the cable car they’ve been working on – a move that will undeniably make the lofty citadel more accessible to travellers. Get there now, before everyone else does.
Find out more: Peru tours
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans saxophone players
Nola is the foot-tappin’, finger clicking, beating heart and soul of Louisiana’s music scene. This iconic city turns 300 years in 2018, and aside from all its usual draws of trembling jazz drifting out of dimly lit doorways, sensational deep south food and photogenic streets with colourful buildings and people lazing on the high balconies, you can add a series of celebrations to the mix as well – if there was ever a town that knew how to throw a great party, this is it.
Find out more: Deep South tour