2018 is already underway, but there is still plenty of time to start planning your travel adventures. If you’re hoping to explore someplace new this year, why not consider these recommendations, hand-picked by experienced travelers? These destinations have made the best-of list of folks who make a habit of adventuring, which means they must be good. I hope this curated list of 5 Top Travel Destinations for 2018 will inspire you and help you find a new place to seek adventure this year!
Brela, Croatia – Morgan Ackley at Ginger Globetrotter
Brela is located towards the north of the Makarska Riviera, along the Dalmatian coast. Pretty much anywhere along the Dalmatian coast is guaranteed to be beautiful, but I have never seen anything quite like Brela.
It is a smaller beach town, yet it is tucked right into the lower side of a mountain. This calls for breathtaking scenery. If you’re looking for amazing natural landscapes and fun in the sun, you will find it in Brela. The water is so clear you can see straight through to the pebbles 20 feet beneath.
There’s easy access to watersports, such as jetskiing, parasailing, tubing, and boating all along the beach. Or you can relax by the water and soak up some sun.
One thing that stuck out to me about Brela is that people of all ages and demographics were having a great time there. There are areas of the beach that are full of kids playing and other areas that are more for adults.
Same goes for activities. The younger crowd might take a trip down to Makarska to go to a beach club at night, while other folks would stick around for a nice dinner and watch the sunset. The hostel I stayed at actually offered activities and drove us to the top of a mountain to a delicious restaurant with the most amazing views- and horses!
Croatia in general has both delicious and affordable food. The seafood there is amazing, especially the seabass and sea bream seasoned, grilled and served whole. If you’re not into seafood, Croatia does really great meat and potatoes as well. Whatever you get is sure to be fresh and flavorful.
The Azores – Kristen Manganini at Rise and Brine
Have you heard of the Azores? This beautiful set of nine tiny islands sits in the middle of the Atlantic – and are a must-visit destination for 2018. The Azores are often called the “Hawaii of Europe.” They are part of Portugal, and are a 2-hour flight from Lisbon, and a 4.5 hour direct flight from Boston on Azores Airlines! Making them an easy vacation destination, or perfectly situated stopover between Europe and the US.
The beautiful, rugged landscapes of the Azores will keep you on the edge of your seat during your entire visit. With great food and wine, friendly locals, world-class hiking on well-marked trails and lookouts, epic whale watching trips, soft black sand beaches and hot springs all over the islands, and flowers and vistas for DAYS, you’ll never run out of exciting things to do and see.
The Azores are also one of the cleanest places I’ve ever been, and I felt very safe the entire time – they would be a great place for a solo-traveler to explore.
Before heading to the Azores, here are a few tips that will come in handy:
- It rains quite a but in the winter, so the best time to visit is May through October.
- The temperatures are pretty consistent year round, always between 65-80 degrees.
- The ferries that connect the islands only run June through September! So if you’re island-hopping by boat, make sure you check the schedule.
- There is a lot of beef and seafood, and the dairy is fantastic. Cows are an agricultural staple on the islands.
- The islands experience microclimates, so pack for rain and sun. It could be rainy and chilly in the mountains, and 10 miles away it’s sunny beach weather.
Whenever someone asks me “where should I go on vacation?” The answer is always the Azores. Will the Azores be on your short-list of 2018 destinations?
Iran – Nona Hekmat at NonaHekmat.com
My top pick for 2018 has to be Iran. I travelled to Shiraz, Si Sakht and Isfahan in March 2017 and fell in love. Seems like it was the best time of the year too. Luckily it was the Persian New Year ‘Nowrouz’ NS ‘Shiraz Week’ a celebration of the city heritage, so it was radiating with music, poetry & happy people. Entry to historical sights & gardens was free because of the occasion. To know the history of this beautiful culture makes you appreciate the artifacts much more, and don’t be put off by the mandatory rule for foreigners to visit the country by means of a tour because the tour guides are the best people to share stories you probably wouldn’t know about otherwise, it’s not costly and you want to make sure you cover all the historic sights. As for the dress code, wear comfortable clothes, cover your arms and legs, and wear a scarf over your head as a sign of respect to the culture.
Shiraz is known as the city of poets, literature, wine, flowers and beautiful women so it’s no surprise that once upon a time this was the capital of the Persian Empire. You cant miss Persepolis, Vakil mosque, Vakil bathhouse and my favourite the Pink Mosque and spend an evening at the Tomb of Hafez where people sit around playing guitar, reading his poems and indulging in Shiraz’s famous Saffron ice cream with faloodeh (ice cream), in fact, the best I had was at a little stall there. For a real authentic lunch experience goto Golshan Traditional Hotel’s courtyard restaurant.
Few days later we took a 7-hour bus ride to Isfahan. The bus was super comfy, clean and new, the ride can be tedious but we were a group of seven so we had a great road trip. Isfahan is a charming old city, they call it ‘Isfahan: Half of the World’ because so much used to happen in this part of the country. Of course you must see, Naghshe Jahan, Ali Qapu, the mosques, and more. They are all in the same area so you can cover most of it in a day or two. I especially enjoyed the Armenian Quarter restaurants and the Isfahan Music Museum, where they end the tour with a private performance. Oh and the food is to die for, so travel hungry!
Brace yourself, your neck might get strained by always looking up in awe of the amazing ceiling tiles.
For more advice & inspiration: Instagram
Montenegro – Martin & Gerieke at Travelling Twents
Lesser-explored Eastern Europe is packed with travel surprises. One of our favourite discoveries is Montenegro. Think a country 712 times smaller than the USA, blending Switzerland’s peaks, Colorado’s canyons, and Italy’s towns into an irresistible mix for nature lovers.
Please don’t limit your visit to busy Budva and the capital Podgorica. Instead, go to the Bay of Kotor (and tickle your taste buds in the excellent Galion restaurant), experience Roman charm in Perast, take a ride with Boat Milica on the vast Skadar Lake, admire the turquoise waters of the Piva Canyon, get a glimpse of the nouveau riche lifestyle at Porto Montenegro and Sveti Stefan, and certainly don’t miss out on the rugged beauty of Durmitor National Park. If you aren’t afraid of crazy driving, exploring this country by car is an unforgettable, rewarding experience.
Bosnia and Herzegovina – Rebecca Rosenberg at Operation Gone
More than 25 years after the fall of Yugoslavia and the subsequent Bosnian War, the country still wears many scars of this conflict. But that hasn’t stopped the people from welcoming tourists with open arms. In fact, Bosnians have a resiliency and dark humor about those traumatic events that’s truly inspiring and even enticing. Not to mention the landscape is absolutely stunning. Dotted with rivers, springs, waterfalls and green mountains, the country has a rugged and magical beauty.
Experience the rich mix of culture, religion and architecture in the capital city of Sarajevo, with over 200 mosques and many churches. The city’s eclectic architecture reflects the many cultures that have swept through the country from Ottoman to Austro-Hungarian to Soviet socialist, and finally, modern. In Mostar, you’ll marvel at the city’s beloved Old Bridge (Stari Most). Built in the 16th Century by the Turks, destroyed in the Bosnian war by Croats, and rebuilt in 2004, the bridge is a local treasure and a popular spot for jumping into the Neretva river! A visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina is a deep dive into history and an experience you’re not likely to forget.
See more of beautiful Bosnia on my Instagram.