As it does every year, TripAdvisor has announced the top ten destinations on the rise in 2018. To make the list, the travel site has pulled its list from a combination of travel reviews, online buzz and its own expertise. All in all, it’s a fairly diverse selection, with an understandable bias toward beautiful beaches. With that said, size seemed to have no bearing on a place’s selection; the African mega-city of Nairobi makes the list, as does the tiny Hawaiian town of Kapa’a. Where will your next trip be? Let this list give you some fresh ideas.
CASABLANCA, MOROCCO: The Hassan II Mosque or Grande Mosquée Hassan II on December 30, 2017 in… [+]
Casablanca, Morocco leads off the list (#10). A former French colonial post, Casablanca today is the closest thing to cosmopolitanism you’ll find in Morocco. The Hassan II Mosque is nothing short of remarkable, a beacon of strength and splendor in the blazing heat of the Moroccan desert. Make time for a day trip to the beach in Azemmour, sixty miles along the coast from Casablanca, and stay in a riad hotel while you’re there, a must in Morocco. When you’re finished in Casablanca, skip over the Strait of Gibraltar to Nerja, Spain (#9). Nerja has nearly ten miles of beaches, perfect for water activities like diving, sailing and water skiing. Nerja’s seafront promenade, Balcón de Europa, offers breathtaking views of the cliffside coves and sparkling waters of the Mediterranean below, while you’ll find inner peace at the saintly Church of El Salvador.
ROVINJ, CROATIA: View of the town of Rovinj with the bell tower of the Church of St. Euphemia… [+] Recommended For You
Rovinj, Croatia (#8) is our next stop—another seaside beauty—though this time on the Adriatic Sea. The homes of Rovinj are packed tightly together, connected by cobbled streets that lead up to the hilltop Church of St. Euphemia, whose steeple dominates Rovinj’s picturesque skyline. If you fancy some island-hopping, take off for one of the Rovinj archipelago’s fourteen islands, which sit just off of the mainland and offer some exceptional views of their own. Still within Europe, the Latvian capital, Riga, (#7) is the largest city in the Baltics and still growing quickly. Riga has made a name for itself as a regional startup hub, though it’s also invested heavily in bringing its aging infrastructure up to speed. Riga’s medieval old town, a favorite amongst tourists, is absolutely flooded with a cavalcade of bars, restaurants and cafes. Fun fact: Riga has the most Art Nouveau architecture of any city in the world, with roughly one-third of its buildings designed in that style.
SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA: Coffee grows near the summit of the active Poas Volcano about 1 1/4 hours by… [+]
Let’s jump across the Atlantic to San Jose (#6), Costa Rica’s capital built on coffee. Those with a green thumb will love the leafy Hotel Grano de Oro, a former Victorian home with a hot tub on the roof, with a day trip to the Else Kientzler Botanical Gardens to boot. Stop in to Sarchi on the way home, a town renowned for its exquisitely-painted oxcarts, before settling down for a casado and fresh pineapple juice. Many travelers to Costa Rica are so eager to get out of San Jose to explore the beaches, volcanoes and world-class wildlife that they don’t give the city a try. Who knows what you might find if you give it a chance? Gdańsk, Poland (#5) has been living in the shadow of Warsaw and Krakow for too long. A port city on the Baltic coast, one of its most redeeming features is the Long Market, where you can find world-class pierogies next-to-nothing. In fact, all sorts of shopping in Poland is significantly cheaper than its western and northern neighbors of Germany and Scandinavia, so stock up on whatever you need while you’re here. Once your belly and suitcase are full, take a stroll through the Old Town and take in the historical sights and sounds. Gdańsk is as walkable as they come, so go for a stroll and see where you end up.
HALIFAX, CANADA: The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Photo: Wolfgang… [+]
Finally, we reach North America. This one hits close to home for me, given that, when I was young, we lived just an hour from Halifax, Nova Scotia (#4), and we’ve been back countless times to visit family and friends. Halifax has long claimed the title of the most bars per capita in North America, and whether or not it’s actually true doesn’t really matter: it feels like it either way. With six universities, Halifax has a distinct, bohemian feel that draws regular comparison to San Francisco; lobster shacks and the renowned Alexander Keith’s Nova Scotia Brewery completes the look. Sail around Halifax harbor, the second-largest natural harbor in the world, before an obligatory stop at the historic Citadel Hill right in the center of town. Don’t expect quite the same from Nairobi, Kenya (#3) though. Battle the traffic and general chaos to get to Village Market Mall in northern Nairobi, then haggle your way into some bargains on Kenyan souvenirs. Get a breath of fresh air at Mount Longonot National Park, hiking the hour-long route to the top of the dormant volcano. The views from up there are to die for: zebras, buffaloes, the city from afar.
KAPA’A, HAWAII: A group takes part in early morning yoga on Coconut Beach, Kapa’a, Kaua’i, Hawaii…. [+]
Kapa’a, Hawaii (#2) means “solid” in Hawaiian, perhaps for the waves that grace its waters each morning. This small town on Hawaii’s northernmost island of Kaua’i—the Garden Isle—is a slice of heaven on earth. With a population of just 10,000, Kapa’a is certainly a good place to get away from it all, or to enjoy some nice island grub. When you’re done surfing, hike up Sleeping Giant (Nounou) for an amazing view of the island and the Pacific Ocean beyond. Just a few thousand miles west is another island, Ishigaki, Japan (#1), number one on our list. Ishigaki’s location is actually a bit misleading; though it belongs to Japan, it sits just off the east coast of Taiwan, making it considerably warmer than other Japanese isles. Overrun with sugar cane and other tropical foliage, Ishigaki is home to an endless array of secret, white-sand beaches, whose coral reefs and active fish communities come alive through the lens of a glass-bottom boat. Palm tree forests and pineapple plantations cover the island, causing many to call Ishigaki the most beautiful place in Japan.
Here’s the full top ten, in case you missed one of them:
- Ishigaki, Japan
- Kapa’a, Hawaii
- Nairobi, Kenya
- Halifax, Nova Scotia
- Gdańsk, Poland
- San Jose, Costa Rica
- Riga, Latvia
- Rovinj, Croatia
- Nerja, Spain
- Casablanca, Morocco