Travel writer Gino offers a diverse selection of beautiful holiday destinations, and provides reasons to visit them next year.
Washington D.C., USA
This America state is one of the most easy to navigate in the US, with monumental surroundings and plenty to offer the book lover. The largest collection of Shakespeare paraphilia lies at the Folger – a suitable sight for the 400 year anniversary of the playwright’s death in 2016. Whilst Clinton and co make their prolonged race to the White House in 2016, you can touch down in 8 hours 30 minutes from London Heathrow. America’s first black president steps down, its first national museum dedicated to African-Americans opens its doors – and ten floors. The NMAAHC will be an apt celebration of the power and richness of diversity and strength of the people.
Despite being renowned for its tourist hotspot Copenhagen and its delectable pasties, Denmark has much more to offer. Its second-largest city, Aarhus is relatively unknown, however the university city at the centre of the ‘world’s happiest country’ is the ultimate combination of contemporary cool – take the ARoS art gallery, the oldest public art museum in Denmark outside of Copenhagen – and medieval delight – check out the Den Gamble By, an open-air town museum located in the Botanical Gardens. Venture to the Viking Museum to learn how Denmark’s growing tourist destination was founded. Not one to miss, Aarhus has as many cobbled-brick streets as the Lego bricks for which it is famous. Be sure to stop by the Lagkagehuset bakery for an unforgettable pastry treat.
Rose-pink macaroons are delicate, but this ‘pink city’, or ‘la ville rose’ as the French would say, is bold. Toulouse is perhaps so underrated that to consider it as a holiday destination seems slightly odd, despite it being the home of both Airbus and European Space. The capital of the craggy Pyrenees, Toulouse is a focal point for French ballet, opera and orchestra. The medieval old town is elegant and graceful, where architecture, food and canals unite. In 2016, it will defintitely come to life with the hosting of the UEFA European Championship at the refurbished Stadium de Toulouse.
Mozambique is an increasingly prosperous nation in Southern Africa whose capital city – Maputo – mirrors the energy, hope, and inspiration of the people.
It is a melting pot of cultures, with broad colonial avenues and palaces splashed with African character. Stalin-esque concrete adds a grit whilst French lattice ironwork lends beauty to the fabric of the core, where street vendors and markets congregate. Catch a Chapa (pronounced ‘sha-paa’) bus to dart from downtown Maputo to the nearest beach. Here, the will to relax seems to evaporate from the gleaming Indian Ocean, aided by a reliable tropical climate. Also consider visiting the sprawling elephant reserve, botanical gardens, and citrus-squeezer-esque Catholic Church (quite literally – see photo above!)
Cushioned by bushy greenery, the tight white brick and red roof tiled buildings surround the meandering Ljubljana River. This is Sloevnia’s capital city, university centre, and outdoor capital, the hotspot certainly has a lot to offer. The imperial Tivoli gardens are an ideal, peaceful escape from the bustling, busy nature of Ljubljana’s main streets. The castle within these grounds stands proudly next to the iconic fortress crowning Mount St Mary, which is a popular hiking spot in the warmer months. As night falls, Ljublijana swaps its cafes and museums for an electric party scene. It is a hybrid of the best European and Slovenian traits.
In the fiery south of this boot-shaped nation there is a city alive through the spirit and spontaneity of its locals. Dripping like mozzarella in the midday sun, Naples has been the capital of a Mediterranean kingdom for 600 years. Swimming amongst dolphins and a thriving port in a vivid history and vibrant culture, it is a must-visit. Away from the atmospheric Unesco World Heritage centre, the Bay of Naples gravitates towards the solemnly majestic Mount Vesuvius, where close inspection brings you upon the ruins of Pompeii – a breathtaking and engaging experience.
As fast as an ICE Deutsche Bahn train, Leipzig has been revived as a popular travel destination by its burgeoning arts and cultural scene taking over once ghostly factories, and set in stone by a refurbished Saxon heritage. The Leipzig Riverside Forest is a remarkably preserved nature reserve with traditional folk-tale-like quality, reminiscent of Disney movies and idyllic theatrical classics. Alternatively, techno dominates the music scene, and heightens the exuberance and imagination of the city’s younger population. There are a vast range of pubs, clubs and bars offering something for everyone.
One of the UK’s oldest national parks is home to an ancient landscape which looks as it is has been thrust straight out of the Ice Age. With glorious, sweeping valleys, surging mountainsides, and a cornucopia of lakes, forests, and wildlife, Snowdonia offers an abundant array of activities that include hiking, kayaking, and sightseeing. Nearby Welsh villages offer steam railways, heritage museums, and mine exploration. Yet these aren’t the only peaks to be found in North Wales, as Surf Snowdonia makes waves in 2016 with the world’s first inland surf lagoon – an artificially exhilarating oddity amongst the nourishment of the natural environment.
The pulse of the yen in the Lujiazui financial district, the salute of the Huangpu River at the Bund waterfront, and the concoction of architectural styles and statements make Shanghai the global giant it is today. Be sure to ascend to the inspiring view points at the top of the Oriental Pearl Tower, and delve into the depths of Shanghai’s spectacular street food by trying their exquisite dumplings. China’s renowned metropolis will soon be complemented by a new Natural History Museum, set amongst a traditional Chinese garden of elegance and serenity.
Nelson, New Zealand
Nelson’s airport has little international connections – making a venture to this part of New Zealand – and the world’s most picturesque landscapes – thrillingly authentic. Nelson is the gateway for the Tasman National Park, where long days of daring adventures, including canoeing and cycling, are easily spent soaking in the wildly mesmerising coastline and parkland. Follow the Tasman trail along the turquoise coast, savor the organic serenity of Neudorf Vineyard, and warm your heart and mind with boutique handblown glass workshops. Nelson and its nature have been hiding for too long, so be sure to give it a visit.