It’s that time of year again: winter is in sight and thoughts turn to next year’s holidays! So where will be hot and happening in 2014? Feel free to add your own predictions in the comments section below…
Three little magical words will ensure Brazil is even hotter in 2014 – FIFA World Cup! To be honest, the countdown has been on since the London 2012 Olympics closed last summer. The whole country gets a piece of the action as there are 12 host cities; from Manaus in the Amazon region, right through to buzzing Rio de Janeiro on the Atlantic coast. If football isn’t your thing (or you don’t fancy paying way over the odds for accommodation) then consider heading to Brazil either before 12 June or after 13 July. And those travellers who do make the journey can expect upgraded tourism facilities and infrastructure in the twelve cities; Brasília, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Fortaleza, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Salvador, Recife, Cuiabá, Manaus, Natal and Curitiba.
The city of Riga has somewhat of a reputation as a 24/7 party capital, but 2014 will see it shine culturally, historically and architecturally – thanks to its hosting of the prestigious European Capital of Culture 2014, along with Umea in Sweden. Riga is one of the three Baltic capitals – Tallinn in Estonia and Vilnius in Lithuania are the other two. Latvia has a colourful history and finally gained independence in 1991. The last few years has seen a fervent restoration programme which will really make this Baltic gem shine in 2014. The historic old town area of ‘Vecriga’ amply displays the wealth accrued from Hanseatic trade between the 13th and 15th century, which today results in a highly coveted UNESCO World Heritage Listing. Don’t miss the awesome Jugendstil Art Nouveau architecture across Riga.
Slowly but surely Tokyo is returning to international travellers must-visit lists and I predict that next year will see a real interest in Japan as a whole – thanks largely to the country being in the news for all the right reasons. Not least the fact that Japan has just been handed the honour of hosting the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. By 2020 Tokyo will be the largest city on earth with nearly 40 million residents! And if I had to choose just three standout sights (tough call) it would have to be the exquisite Cherry Blossom the turns the country pink and gently scented each springtime; the magnificent Sensō-ji Buddhist Temple in Asakusa and the truly authentic (often imitated) sushi and sashimi.
Cape Town, South Africa
Firstly did you know that every two years one city gets to sport the prestigious title of World Design Capital? And did you know that the World Design Capital in 2014 is Cape Town in South Africa? Under the title ‘Future Capital of Design’ the city will proudly display its heritage, diversity and creative spirit. This is our prediction for on of the hottest travel destinations for 2014!
Dubbed ‘The City of Palms’, Colima in Western Mexico owes its name to the abundance of coconut and banana palms that dot the city. Colima will shoot to international attention next year as its hosts the annual American Capital of Culture 2014. The serene city is one for adventure freaks, nestled within a lush valley it’s the perfect hiking and mountain biking destination and the two (count them) volcanoes that shoulder the city are ideal for climbing and spotting birdlife. Watch out for active Volcan de Fuego and admire the snow-capped elegance of Volcan Nevado de Colima. As with many sites in this next of the woods, Colima is blessed with its fair share of pre-Hispanic archaeological sites and cultural nuances. The YouTube video below goes some way to capturing the breathtaking natural beauty of Colima.
The second European Capital of Culture City for 2014 is the small but perfectly formed city of Umeå in northern Sweden. It’s largely explored by mainstream tourists, but hosting the highly coveted culture honour next year will place it firmly on the map. Umea is a young vibrant city which grew around its university status, which it gained in 1965. The large population of students ensures a lively arts scene, authentic shops and eclectic markets. As you’d expect there’s only to do culturally too: wander the intriguing Friluftsmuseet, aka Gammlia Museum district which is home to the Bildmuseet, Maritime and Vasterbottens Museums. Curiously, all the staff wear period Swedish dress which only adds further to the atmosphere. Take in the modern art of the Umedalen Skulptur and enjoy one of the many events and festivals taking place throughout 2014. Music, film and sports fans will really appreciate the variety of events on offer: each September the Umeå International Film Festival entertains and the House of Metal Festival is perfect for all metal and rock music fans! Summer 2014 sees the special U x U (you by you) festival and October brings the annual Umeå Jazz Festival.
The Central American country of Honduras is the eco-destination for 2014. Outdoor adventurers can enjoy horse-riding, hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, rafting, golf and birding. In fact Honduras is dubbed the “toucan capital of the world” thanks to the huge variety of both toucans and other endemic birdlife to be found here.
Scotland’s second city, Glasgow, hosts the 2014 Commonwealth Games in July and August. A former European Capital of Culture, Glasgow’s heritage spans from the boom of the industrial revolution and the opulence of the Victorian period. Today the city is a curious blend of old and new. Don’t wait until summer to visit; there’s something going on all year round. Don’t miss the superb Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, catch a show at the Royal Concert Hall and admire the Charles Rennie Mackintosh masterpiece of the Glasgow School of Art.
Hoi An, Vietnam
We’ve been harping on about how exciting Vietnam is for about four years now and once again it’s topped the fastest growing currencies list, which indicates it’s getting more and more popular. My personal favourite is the pretty city of Hoi An which lies in the central Quang Nam Province. Hoi An has grown from a traditional trade port and today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don’t miss the pretty Japanese Covered Bridge which dates back to the 1500s, stroll the Old Town streets in the evening which are thankfully free of traffic and shop for local silks and gifts – I bought loads of silk scarves and local paintings on my trip!
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
A recent survey from the UK’s Post office revealed that nearly half the population has made a bucket list and topping the list was a desire to travel the world. And the number one bucket list destination? The awesome Great Barrier Reef in Queensland! Did you know that the scuba diving capital of the world, aka the Great Barrier Reef, is larger than the Great Wall of China? This great wonder of the natural world spans an impressive 2,000km (1,240mi) and is home to vibrant coral and seemingly endless shoals of colourful fish. Why not make 2014 the year you finally get to experience this wonder first hand!
By Julie Bowman