A picture-perfect trio of islands lapped by turquoise waters, the Maltese archipelago has all the charm of nearby Sicily with far fewer tourists. Valletta, the tiny nation’s capital and a UNESCO World Heritage site, feels like something plucked straight from Westeros. The historic walled city dates back to 1565, and has a vibe that’s Mediterranean with a North African twist. This underrated destination is finally stepping into the global limelight as a 2018 European Capital of Culture. To celebrate the occasion, the city has planned more than 140 projects and 400 events throughout the year. The festivities begin on January 20, with contemporary dance, a choral symphony, and acrobatic performances across the city’s four main squares. Should you miss the grand opening, swing by in February for Carnival, or in June for the Malta International Arts Festival and the Valletta Film Festival. —Diana Hubbell
The jewel of the Adriatic Sea, Croatia is home to more than 1,200 islands, but travel between them has long been dictated by expensive yacht charters and sluggish public ferries. In 2018, that’s set to change, now that UberBOAT, from the popular ride-sharing app, has launched on-demand transfers and private tours along the Dalmatian Coast. Hit the high seas in the direction of Šolta, a hilly isle a mere nine nautical miles from Split (the second-largest city in Croatia).
Those who think they’ve seen and done it all in the Bahamas should think again. Baha Mar, the multibillion dollar hotel and casino development on Nassau’s Cable Beach, will be fully up and running when Rosewood resorts launches there this spring. (Baha Mar’s Grand Hyatt and SLS properties are already drawing visitors with their sophisticated, contemporary rooms.) On neighboring Paradise Island, the iconic Ocean Club resort is under new management with Four Seasons. And at Atlantis, the adults-focused Cove resort now has an outpost of Sip Sip restaurant, Julie Lightbourn’s Harbour Island favorite, while the family-friendly Coral Towers debuted a new lobby, guest rooms, and pool courtesy of star hotel designer Jeffrey Beers. And T+L’s World’s Best winner Kamalame Cay has added stylish beach bungalows — stand-alone suites that start at a whopping 450 square feet and feature private verandas and outdoor showers. —Jacqueline Gifford
The Big Easy turns the Big 3-0-0 this year, and in this city where the good times roll, the parties will be epic — think citywide art shows, supersized Mardi Gras parades, and a festival of lights using landmark buildings as backdrops. Thirteen years after Hurricane Katrina, there is much to celebrate: The Central Business District, once a dead zone after dark, now crackles at all hours thanks to four new hotels (the Ace, Troubadour, Catahoula, and NOPSI), each with its own rooftop bar. The neighborhood is also home to new restaurants like Maypop — a Vietnamese-Creole joint from acclaimed chef Michael Gulotta. Another area coming to life is the three-mile riverfront, where a renovated Spanish Plaza will reopen this spring. More riverfront updates, including a new Four Seasons Hotel, will roll out in the next few years. Toast the tricentennial at the Sazerac House, a French Quarter museum dedicated to the official cocktail of New Orleans, opening later this year. —Allison Entrekin
While São Paulo’s concrete sprawl doesn’t offer the verdant beauty or mythic beaches of Rio de Janeiro, its thriving art and food scene has in recent years transformed what was once just Brazil’s financial capital into its cultural epicenter. Stroll the city’s gritty alleyways and avenues to see where celebrated street artists Os Gemeos and Eduardo Kobra got their start. São Paulo’s Art Biennial, which is second to Venice’s in longevity, kicks off in September 2018 and showcases contemporary talent, both international and homegrown. For a truly immersive experience into Brazilian fare, don’t miss Alex Atala’s D.O.M., named one of the best restaurants in the world. Atala champions native ingredients — from priprioca root to ants, often foraged from the Amazon region by the chef himself — and weaves them into his inventive dishes. The arrival of luxe hotel brands is another signal of the city’s burgeoning cosmopolitan status. The prestigious Oetker Collection, with only nine other properties (in glitzy places like Seychelles and the Côte d’Azur), recently opened Palácio Tangará, a gorgeously appointed mansion set in leafy Burle Marx Park, a welcome oasis from the city’s high-rises. The Four Seasons will also debut a new property in mid 2018, marking the brand’s first foray in the country. —Karen I. Chen
Over the past few years, South Korea’s Gangwon Province has shed its sleepy past and come into its own as a prime winter-sports destination — a transformation that will take center stage during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics (February 9–25). Ahead of the big event, the region will debut a new high-speed rail line that will whisk travelers from Incheon International Airport to the resort town in just 70 minutes, making it easier to access the Taebaek Mountains’ panoramic pistes and tourist-friendly attractions. Powder hounds will want to lodge at the InterContinental Alpensia Pyeongchang Resort, which commands a prime location at the foot of the Alpensia ski slopes, steps from two Olympic-class runs, and is one of a handful of hotels built for the games. Break from all the outdoor action at the Ocean 700 indoor water park, complete with wave pools and tubing rides. —Talia Avakian
It’s one of the world’s great wine capitals, and like any great vintage, Mendoza is only getting better with age. Start your tasting tour in the Uco Valley, where Casa de Uco’s vineyard-view eco-villas will debut this year. Head down the road to to Vines of Mendoza’s Winemakers’ Village for small-production wines from the likes of Corazón del Sol and SuperUco, and to dine at winery Bodega Monteviejo, where renowned Spanish chef Nadia Harón cooks up Mediterranean-tinged fare inspired by the wines. In Maipú, wineries like Club Tapiz and Trapiche are giving visitors a true taste of the local terroir, using produce grown on the vineyard grounds in their restaurants. Back in town, plot your return trip over a pie at Francis Mallman’s year-old pizzeria, Orégano. With new direct flights from Lima, Panama City, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo, and low-cost carrier Norwegian Air plotting dozens of new routes, tacking a Mendoza stop on to your next South American itinerary will be a breeze. —Sorrel Moseley-Williams
The project culminates in September with a week of public arts programming developed by Cecilia Alemani, chief curator of the High Line in New York. Then, in October, 4,000 teen athletes from more than 200 countries will flock to the city for the Youth Olympic Games. The southern Villa Soldati neighborhood has seen significant development in anticipation of the events, with new housing, parks, and sports venues that will breathe life into the area well after the Olympians return home. Should you miss out on the world-class athletes, drown your sorrows in a world-class meal. Tegui, an eight-year-old restaurant in trendy Palermo, was recently named one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants — the first time an Argentinean spot has made the list in 15 years. —Sorrel Moseley-Williams
Holiday Weekends: During most times of the year, you can get away with last minute vacation planning, but major holidays like New Year's, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Christmas often mean sold out airline seats and hotel rooms, so it's a good idea to do your research and reservations ahead of time. People often postpone trip planning because it's difficult to decide where to go and what to do. Browse our ideas by month section which includes suggestions for every month of the year as well as Valentine's Day, Mothers & Fathers Days, fall foliage trips, 4th of July events and other trip ideas for families and couples.
With its recent 150th anniversary celebration, pop-culture cred (Drake, Ryan Gosling, and Justin Bieber have Canadian roots), and charismatic prime minister, the Great White North has finally begun to receive the international recognition it deserves — and Toronto has been preening itself for this lead role. Luxe properties and forward-thinking restaurants have been popping up across the city: there’s Queen Street’s historic Broadview Hotel, which reopened in the burgeoning East End with guest-room details like vinyl turntables and burgundy velvet drapes, and the stylish Bisha Hotel downtown, where the likes of Lenny Kravitz and celebrity chef Akira Back have lent their design and culinary expertise. In stereotypically modest Canadian fashion, Brothers Food + Wine — one of the city’s most exciting new openings — is housed inside a tiny, nondescript space just above the Bay Street subway station, but dazzles with seasonal dishes like crispy steelhead trout with braised gem lettuce and yogurt-and-caper sauce. Next up: in Spring 2018, the Museum of Contemporary Art will move into a century-old former factory in the Junction Triangle. —Jennifer Salerno
Move over, Croatia. Long overshadowed by its neighbor to the northwest, Montenegro is ready for the spotlight. The ancient city of Kotor is already attracting plenty of visitors, like the celebrities vacationing at luxurious boutique hotel Forza Terra, just outside the medieval walls, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of cruisers who’ve arrived with companies like Viking, Celebrity, and Princess. The swank marina Porto Montenegro is thriving in the formerly sleepy coastal town of Tivat, and the complex’s Regent hotel unveiled an expansion in 2017. Nearby, luxury development Luštica Bay is slated to open this summer, with plans for villas, a golf course, and a five-star Chedi hotel. Further west on the Bay of Kotor’s jagged coastline is the site of the country’s most anticipated arrival, the One&Only Portonovi, which will be the brand’s first European outpost when it opens this summer. Plans for the resort, situated on a 60-acre site overlooking the Adriatic, include 140 villas and residences, a tennis club, and a spa. —Meredith Bethune
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