The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and the wanderlust of summer is beginning to itch your feet. The only question in your mind is this: where should your journeys take you this year? Suggestions for the answer are easy to find—just check out this list of the top 5 destinations for 2013, and then let your mind wander as you make your plans to explore the world.
Long off-limits to ordinary American travelers, the door to Cuba is at long last opening. The US government has authorized tours to Cuba that focus on “people to people” connections, meaning that in addition to seeing beautiful beaches and amazing architecture, a licensed tour operator for Cuba will make sure that you meet and talk to a broad variety of ordinary Cubans, from students, artists, and factory workers to professors, priests, and policy makers. As a destination for cultural tourism, Cuba is a treasure. With everything from beaches to mountain eco-villages to salsa clubs to the home of Ernest Hemingway, the country is full of incredible places to visit--and even more incredible people who are eager to share the details of their lives.
Beautiful and mysterious, Morocco is a dream destination for everyone from hardcore backpackers to seekers of luxury. With terrain ranging from snow-capped mountains to dramatic sand dunes to peaceful beaches, Morocco is one of the few countries in which traveling for a few hours leads to a completely different world. Explore the markets brimming with incredible artisan work, visit a world heritage kasbah, dine on a delicious tajine spiced with turmeric, and you may just decide that you never want to leave!
Closed to outsiders for years, Myanmar (Burma) has finally opened its doors to the outside world to reveal a hidden land of incredible beauty. The country holds some staggering sights, including the gold-encrusted Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon and the 2,000 pagodas and temples stretching along the plains of Bagan, to name a few. The real treasure of Myanmar, however, is the traditional culture, preserved unchanged for generations. The country is certain to change tremendously in the next few years, so culturally-interested travelers should visit as soon as they can to see Myanmar as it is now, with limited influence from the rest of the world.
Greece has long been considered a primarily sand-and-sea destination for tourists, and it’s true that Greece has miles of incredible coastline and a number of gorgeous islands to attract visitors who are looking for sunshine by the shore. But with its ancient monuments and rugged mountains, Greece has plenty to offer travelers of all kinds. History and culture aficionados can visit countless temples and monuments built to honor the ancient pantheon of gods, and avid hikers can absorb the incredible scenery of the mountain peaks. In short, the attractions of Greece are truly world-class.
5. Costa Rica
Considered by many the jewel of Latin America, Costa Rica is rightly famous as an ecological hotspot with thousands of varieties of birds, insects, and plants in its incredible forest, and a wealth of marine life off its coast. It’s also a model destination for ecotourism, capitalizing on its natural resources by offering a wealth of experiences all tied to nature. Here, you can zipline through the canopy, meet a giant sloth, take a night tour through the cloud forest, tour an organic coffee plantation, and relax on the pristine beach, all within just a few days. Costa Rica is also a pioneer in the art of eco-luxury, meaning that you can get close to nature while staying in beautiful accommodations that are committed to having a low level of impact on the environment.
With incredible destinations to be found at every corner of the globe, the only decision left to make is which place to travel to first!
Diana Carlton is a world traveler and writer for Classic Journeys, an award-winning adventure travel company. Classic Journeys’ passion for local culture and authentic travel experiences have earned them being named a "World's Best Tour Operator" by Travel + Leisure Magazine and one of the "Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth" by National Geographic Adventure Magazine.