Where to go in this year?
According to you, dear reader, you’d go as far-flung and as often as possible! We asked you last year to tell us a bit about your travel habits. Here are a few interesting facts that you’ve shared:
-almost 42 per cent of you told us that, in the past two years, you’d taken at least two trips out-of-country;
-and more than 34 per cent of you had taken four or more trips outside Canada.
As to what’s next, more than 74 per cent of you are intending to book another out-of-country trip in the next year. We’re with you on that. And, 38 per cent of you cited different cultures to experience as your key criteria when choosing a destination, while 70 per cent of you tend to visit new countries whenever possible.
So, with that insatiable wanderlust in mind, I’ve asked some of Canada’s well-known travel experts to weigh in on the top 3 places they’re going next. To this, I’ve added my own top 3 destinations. (Spoiler alert! We’re still in love with our own backyard.) Of course, we wouldn’t dare limit you to just these hot spots. Travel is not always about the destination; it is also about bucket list experiences, making memories and forging new connections. All of these things prove to score high on the happiness quotient.
And celebration. Consider this my list of greatest hits: Did you know that New Orleans celebrates its 300th birthday in 2018? The Big Easy is set to welcome one and all with its genuine and unique spirit for a big birthday blowout. Or, that in 2017, Hong Kong commemorated its 20th year of its historic handover back to China, as a Special Administrative Region, with 2018 as a springboard to the next 20 years and beyond? And Greece, the comeback classic for the past few years, continues to shine as the jewel in the Mediterranean, through its well-honed hospitality and its deep connections and historical influence that helped to shape the democratic world. New Orleans, Hong Kong and Greece should be on every foodie, history and culture buffs’ list this year.
Travel, a sense of adventure and discovery, and making new friends make us happy. Makes sense to me. So don’t wait. Get inspired now to just go where you want to go.
Scroll through for 18 places to go in 2018.
The Travel Expert: Vivian Vassos, executive editor and Zoomer’s travel editor
1. Spring in The United Kingdom
After a year of heartbreak and havoc, the Brits are back – again. Springtime in The United Kingdom is a magical time: the English gardens are already in full bloom, the heather is on the moor in Scotland and Northern Ireland and Wales are well into getting their green on. But this year, love is also in the air, with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding after which they’ll be moving into their apartments at Kensington Palace, above; Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is celebrating 70 years of marriage to Prince Philip, and Wills and Kate, the darlings of the royal family, welcome their third child. www.visitbritain.com
2. Summer in Canada – especially Newfoundland & Labrador
Some say the people of Newfoundland & Labrador are the most welcoming, friendly people on earth. We celebrated that spirit through the Tony-nominated hit play, Come From Away, last year, and the good will has yet to fade. In fact, this year, escorted tour company Globus is celebrating its 90th birthday with 172 itineraries around the world. And guess which one is the bestseller in Canada? The 12-day Newfoundland and Labrador tour. With that in mind, here’s a little tour of the province, from an insider, James Saunders, who has escorted this tour and countless others during his 30-plus years as a Globus tour director:
Five things to delight and surprise you about Newfoundland and Labrador (even if you are a Canadian!)
- The people. According to Saunders, the number one attraction is the people. “Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans, I’ve found, can see the humour in everything. The humour is constant – and that’s before they start being funny.”
- The history. “Canadians are the only people in North America who can claim a Viking heritage. I’ve found our clients especially enjoy the Viking settlement recreation in L’Anse aux Meadows in northern Newfoundland.”
- The wildlife. “Our passengers, who are mainly from cities in southern Ontario, all seem to be intrigued by the whales and moose and are thrilled to see them – though black bears are, when we are lucky enough to spot them, a big hit too.” Bird life, particularly the entertaining and endearing puffins, are also popular with Globus travellers.
- The food. Particularly fish and chips. “Sure you can get fish and chips anywhere but it seems somehow special in Newfoundland. Fish and chips with a pint of beer? The best in the world. Nothing comes close.”
- The music. “It’s good old-fashioned kitchen party music, complete with squeezebox, a fiddle or two, maybe a guitar. It’s often completely spontaneous, no rehearsal required, and our guests love the distinct sound which is such an important part of life there.” For many years in Newfoundland and Labrador, he points out, your own entertainment was the only way to go.
Globus’ 12 day Newfoundland & Labrador tour has proven so popular that the company is offering 20 departures between June and September this year, and has added a new week-long Colorful Newfoundland itinerary with nine departures, also between June and September. Find out more at www.globusjourneys.ca or see your travel agent.
Interested in ancestry? Read one editor’s quest to rediscover her roots in Newfoundland here.
3. Christmas in Salzburg or Vienna…
…or anywhere in Austria, for that matter. December 24, 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the first time the carol “Silent Night! Holy Night!” was sung in public, after being written near Salzburg, above. According to our friends at Austrian Airlines, the carol is now sung by approximately two billion people in more than 300 languages the world over. The carol is designated UNESCO world heritage and a world peace song. The cultural treasure will be in the spotlight, with trips and special events tracing its origins, no doubt, top of many music and travel-lovers’ itineraries. You may even get to fly on one of Austrian Airlines’s planes, christened Silent Night, just before Christmas 2018.Tip: Book now. www.stillenacht.com/en/
www.wien.info/en; www.salzburg.info/en; www.austria.info/us; www.austrian.com
The Travel Expert: Wolf Paunic, president of the guided tours company Trafalgar Canada
“In 2018, I am very much looking forward to exploring South America. Each country has its own unique character and cultures; it truly is an experience involving all senses and is a test of one’s knowledge of world history.” What we like is that Paunic, and Trafalgar, offer top-of-the-line as well as budget-minded ways to travel to South America. The three countries Paunic is most keen on exploring:
Crisp, like the mountain air above Santiago, the vibe in Chile, above, feels alive the moment you arrive. It’s so easy to lose oneself in the peculiar geography, the valleys full of vineyards sloping to Valparaiso (a favourite of mine), and the home of Pablo Neruda, the best poet of South America. The Andes between Argentina and Chile, are playground of many gods – and home to superb skiing in July and August. www.trafalgar.com/can/tours/best-of-south-america?season=Summer+2018
With the feel of a refined, very 19-20th century Europe, intertwined with gaucho culture, matte tradition, and excellent wines, Argentina is a beautiful place to go. Compare the tradition and the feel of Samba, against the passion and the tragedy of tango. Add Évita, elegant Palermo and Recoleta, and the delta of Tigre for a memorable journey. Combine Argentina with Brazil on this wallet-friendly tour: www.costsavertour.com/can/tours/south-america-samba?season=Summer+2018
Culture and history buffs will love the amazing harmony and clash of advanced and powerful civilizations in Peru. Cuzco is a gem in the Andes; between Machu Picchu, above, late Titikaka, Ica and Nazca lines, one is wondering through a maze of cultures and unique experience. And Lima boasts fantastic foodie scene.
On a budget but still want to travel? Explore Peru for less with a Cost Saver tour: www.costsavertour.com/can/tours/peru-explorer?season=Summer+2018
Or explore all three countries, plus Brazil: www.trafalgar.com/can/tours/icons-of-south-america?season=Summer+2018
The Travel Expert: Johan Astrom, vice president, Go Ahead Tours, part of the EF Educational Tours travel company
In 2108, Astrom is hoping his list will inspire more people to go and explore beyond the mass tourism areas:
7. Puglia, Italy
Italy has attracted travellers for centuries but there is still a corner to be explored by international travellers, in the heel of the boot, Puglia, above. Over the past couple years it has been visited by Madonna, Tom Hanks and Prince Charles, to name a few. Take the opportunity to visit Puglia before everyone finds their way here enjoying ice-cream in Polignano a Mare, Alberobello, with its Trulli houses, the beaches of Maldive di Salento and the baroque town of Lecce. Puglia is where I’ve spent most of my summers for the past 10 years and I love the region for the crystal clear sea, the strong wine, the fresh food, the picturesque villages and the people. It’s a true gem! Explore Puglia and Southern Italy: www.goaheadtours.ca/PGI.
8. Vietnam and Cambodia
Thailand has attracted Canadians over the past 20 years to enjoy hospitality, beaches, good prices and beautiful scenery. If you want to experience something less developed for tourism and that is just about to get established as a common destination you should visit Vietnam and Cambodia. These countries are well known in history due to the horrific wars but they have so much to offer in terms of history, food, people and natural beauty. From the truly amazing Angkor Wat in Cambodia to the rice fields, Vietnam’s historic central area, chaotic Ho Chi Minh City and charming Hanoi. These countries have it all and it’s now that you should visit, while they are still true to their history and culture. Explore Vietnam & Cambodia: www.goaheadtours.ca/VTC.
Over the past five years Scandinavia has boomed for Canadian travellers as they embark to experience the stunning fjords of Norway, the quaint back streets of Copenhagen, a classic Smørrebrød and Aquavit snaps or a real Danish, the pastry. Bring your walking shoes and explore all 14 islands, which Stockholm is built on, Venice of northern Europe, or go further and visit the 24,000 islands of its archipelago. See how many of the 1,430 rooms you can visit at the Stockholm Royal Castle, part of the “Old Town” dating back to the 13th century. Also, while in Stockholm, don’t forget to enjoy the local food such as meatballs, Wallenbergare and, of course, herring. And ensure to enjoy at least one “Fika” a day with fresh cinnamon buns or other delicious treats! Explore Scandinavia: www.goaheadtours.ca/SCA.
The Travel Expert: Stéphanie Bishop, managing director, Globus family of brands (Globus and Cosmos escorted tours, Monograms independent travel packages and Avalon Waterways river cruises), Canada:
10. Sicily, Italy
Get off the beaten path in Italy. This year we’re offering more ways to explore Italy, getting you into enchanting medieval towns and colourful villages. Go deep into the “heel” of the boot or through Sicily, sampling home made pastas and local specialties. All in the company of new-found friends and guided by a Globus group Tour Director. www.globusjourneys.ca.
11. India‘s Golden Triangle
If independent travel is more to your liking, our Monograms tours are totally packaged and stress-free! For my vacation I recently experienced India’s Golden Triangle with Monograms, taking in Delhi, Agra (home of the Taj Mahal) and Jaipur. Loved that we were met and escorted everywhere with a fun and knowledgeable Local Guide. Private tours of main attractions made it super special and we didn’t have to worry about a thing!
www.monogramstravel.ca. And if group travel to India would be more your thing, Globus currently has an amazing offer on our India Escape tour.
12. Europe’s rivers
A European river cruise with the pleasure of staying active at every port of call. On Avalon Waterways’ Active Discovery cruises, available on both the Rhine and Danube Rivers, you can partake in optional guided group cycling, hiking and even canoeing tours; or taste authentic cultural immersion. Meet vintners and other local producers, have a go at creating your own masterpiece at a fun painting class or enjoy culinary-themed walking tours. Visit www.avalonwaterways.ca for all details and latest special offers.
The Travel Expert: Brad Ford, president, Insight Vacations Canada
Europe never disappoints, says Ford, and Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland and Montenegro are always on his list. But this year, he’s hoping to travel further afield:
Scandinavia really impresses with dramatic landscapes and brilliant modern cities. Norway will be next! I am quite excited at the thought of taking The Flåm Railway through the mountain peaks, waterfalls and fjords of this stunning country, into Geiranger village, above, home of the legendary Geiranger Fjord. Hiking trails and kayak discoveries ensure I can keep active and fully appreciate the incredible beauty of the spectacular Norwegian outdoors. www.luxurygoldvacations.com/ca/trips/timeless-scandinavia-summer-2018
The unique Japanese history and culture are quite unlike that of North America, spread out over contrasting, ultra-modern cities and unexplored wildernesses. Japan has long been on my shortlist of nations to discover further, and the new Luxury Gold 11-day journey through Japan catapulted this nation to the top of my list. The care and attention to complex social ritual and etiquette is incomparable. I am intrigued by the idea of being treated to a VIP performance by a samurai warrior in front of Aoba Castle, and appreciating the 2,000 year-old art of sushi-making in a private class. www.luxurygoldvacations.com/ca/trips/majestic-japan-summer-2018
This South American country has been at the top of my list to revisit for a few years, and 2018 is my year. I’ve been lucky to visit Rio de Janeiro on business, and I look forward to riding the cable car to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain for the iconic, dizzying views, traversing to the perch of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain, and strolling the golden sands of Copacabana Beach with a caipirinha in hand. I can’t resist a good samba, and I know I’ll enjoy learning a few more words and phrases of the colourful Brazilian Portuguese. www.luxurygoldvacations.com/ca/trips/classic-south-america-summer-2018
The Travel Expert: Nino Montagnese, Managing Director at Air Canada Vacations
I recently visited Cuba and have been many times before. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to continue to go back year after year. The Cuban people are so welcoming and the service you receive is impeccable. Varadero and Holguin have beautiful long beaches with turquoise waters that are simply a slice of Cuban paradise. There’s also the charming Havana known for its art, culture, colonial architecture and rich history. Essentially, there’s a little piece of something for everyone. http://vacations.aircanada.com/en/vacation_packages/destinations/Cuba
17. Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena is a lively city that attracts beach enthusiasts, foodies and travellers looking for a cultural adventure, and has started to make its way onto many travel bucket lists. You can walk along the cobblestone streets to feel the romance of this centuries-old colonial city or dance the night away with its vibrant nightlife scene. Either way, you’ll be enchanted by its old town beauty. The best time to go is now, until April. http://vacations.aircanada.com/en/vacation_packages/destinations/Cartagena
I encourage people to discover some of the fascinating medieval cities of the Balkans. Croatia is definitely a top destination for 2018. It has legendary monuments and hidden gems like its islands in the Adriatic and the stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park. Zagreb, for example, has a deep respect for history with its medieval towers and has beautiful open-air markets. Air Canada Vacations just added 3 new tours to Croatia in our Europe Your Way Collection, so there are many opportunities for travellers to explore this scenic country.