Some places are shaping up to be extra-hot and spicy this coming year, either because there is something particularly special happening in the next 12 months, something has changed for the better, or it is just damned good timing! 2012 held plenty of memorable events and reasons to celebrate – 2013 has the potential to be every bit as exciting – especially if you travel to one of the destinations that we recommend here.
So, read on and consider whether you can resist the lure of one of these potential holiday winners:
Brazil – The South American powerhouse is shaping up for the 2014 Football World Cup, followed in quick succession by the spectacle of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Unless you are planning to attend one of the aforementioned events, it makes sense to hotfoot it there now, before prices start ascending and before commercialism makes its presence known too forcibly. Highlights in this vast country include the ‘jaguar zone’ in the wildlife-haven of Pantanal’s Cuiaba River. You can also visit the legendary beaches and sample the Festival season if you have the energy to keep up!
San Francisco – If you are a fan of the supernatural, this could be the destination for you. The fearsome reputation of the prison Alcatraz continues to this day, despite it having been emptied of living prisoners 50 years ago in March. Night tours are available from Alcatraz tours and take in the disturbingly sinister atmosphere of the reputedly haunted Cell House. It is also an opportunity to see the iconic Golden gate Bridge all lit up on your way there.
Amsterdam – It is lucky enough to be celebrating a plethora of anniversaries this year – the 400th birthday of Amsterdam’s Canal Ring, the 160th anniversary of Van Gogh’s birthday and the 40th anniversary of the museum dedicated to his life and works. These momentous occasions will no-doubt be celebrated in style by the party-loving Dutch. August is the time to go if you want to experience the Grachtenfestival, where canal boats play host to concert performances.
Corsica – If the winning ways of cyclist extraordinaire Bradley Wiggins has ignited your love of cycling, or you just want a holiday on a beautiful island off the coast of France – then Corsica could be for you. 2013 is an exceptionally good time to go, as it is due to be the host of the centennial Tour de France in June, with the first leg’s route bound to challenge and entertain as it traverses a gruelling ride through mountain passes and along coastal paths.
Mexico – The Mayan calendar’s apocalypse predictions were obviously slightly misinterpreted….but the whole affair has drawn worldwide attention to the unique and atmospheric temple zones of Chichen Itza, Tulum and Palenque. Now that the believers have vacated the area once again, it is a good time to enjoy the ruins at the dawn of the post-Mayan calendar era!
Cuba – Cuba is on the verge of titanic political and social change (which has brought relief from the strict travel restrictions of the past for Cubans this month). Experience some latin-american spice with a mojito-fuelled samba by night and some colonial architecture by day. Havana, Santiago de Cuba and Baracoa are all vibrant cities that include all of the above and then some.
Kashmir – If you have been frustrated or intrigued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel warning for the Kashmir region of India, the recent lifting of this warning will be music to your ears. If you’d never considered travelling there previously, there are plenty of reasons that you may be persuaded: there are unexpectedly lush green hills and tranquil lakes – the chief attraction being Srinagar’s beautiful Dal Lake, where you can hire a houseboat or go for a jaunt in a colourful shikara (wooden ship). Other ‘things to do’ are a visit to an ornate mosque or a trek over the many mountain paths.
Finland – Apparently, it is a widely accepted prediction that this year holds the promise of the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights) being more spectacular, colourful and vibrant than at any other time in the decade. A good spot to hopefully catch the famous natural phenomenon, will be the remote Finnish Lapland town of Kilpisjarvi, where there is the potential for regular and jaw-dropping coloured skies.
Malawi – There are of course, numerous options of where to go on safari in the large and diverse African continent. If you are heading to Malawi on the hunt for the elusive wildlife ‘top 5’, then a good base could be the Majete Wildlife Reserve, as a group of lions were introduced in 2012 – and make up the last animal in the famous five – rhinos, elephants, buffalo, leopards – plus the jungle royalty – lions.
Londonderry – The Northern Irish city (also known as Derry) was ranked in Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities to visit this year worldwide. As well as the everpresent charms of renowned architecture, numerous museums and sites of interest, the historic walled city at its centre, and a chance to take a trip to the Giant’s Causeway – this year there is even more to entertain. It is the UK’s 2013 City of Culture and will play host to numerous concerts, literary events, dance competitions and also art’s Turner Prize.
Iceland – The charms of the intriguing and enigmatic land of geysers, glaciers and trendy hangouts in Reykjavik are pretty obvious, but sometimes overshadowed by the high cost of buying things once you are there. The impact of this has lessened at the moment due to the krona being devalued by a currency crash. However, this is only a temporary reprieve, so now is a good time to go, and hang on to more of your hard-earned cash.
South Korea – You may just want to visit the now globally-famed Gangnam area to see for yourself the inspiration for Psy’s relentless dance hit eulogising the attractions of that particular district. Or, you may want to cast your eye further afield in this beautiful country, and visit some of the incredible beaches or the hot spring of Busan. It also boasts a successful arts scene, trendy cuisine and the opulent craziness of the capital Seoul.
England – Yes, 2012 was undoubtedly a vintage year to have a staycation, but 2013 also has a quintessentially-English anniversary of its own to celebrate. That is the 200th anniversary of the much loved classic novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Suggested pilgrimages include a visit to Chatsworth House in Derbyshire (Mr Darcy’s Pemberley in the BBC series) or a leaf through original manuscripts in Oxford’s Bodleian Library.
If you are lucky enough to be heading abroad this year, don’t forget to arrange your travel insurance before leaving the UK. We have a range of travel insurance policies that are designed to offer you great cover at a competitive price. We are happy to answer your questions about which policy option would best suit your individual needs and we aim to provide the essential insurance safety net that gives you the peace of mind to really enjoy your holiday in 2013 and beyond…