Best 7 Places to Travel in 2018

January 10th, 2018
Aerial View of the Vernazza Village in Cinque Terre, Italy.

Aerial View of the Vernazza Village in Cinque Terre, Italy.

Zicasso has spoken with travel experts from around the world, as well as seasoned wanderers, adventurous vacationers, and luxury nomads to uncover the Top Seven Destinations to visit in 2018 - along with a bonus destination for those looking for something distinct - whether traveling with family, friends, a lover, or on your own. 

Every travel experience offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore unique interests and discover new destinations. Whether an enduring favorite of tourists or a location hidden from the beaten path, a city in the midst of reinvention or an entire country known for its culture, cuisine, and history, the best travel experiences combine the right place and the right time for an immersive discovery and meaningful vacation. A brand-new year offers a new opportunity to visit a rising hot spot, wander the streets of a well-known city, or uncover the unique charms of a famous national park yet to be visited by you.

 

Italy

Ponte alla Carraia Medieval Bridge on the Arno River. Florence, Italy. 

Italy’s famous diversity consists of more than just different types of pasta; Local dialects, regional history, artistic treasures, renowned climates, and cherished landscapes also define Italy. The timeless destination has drawn tourists from around the world for millennia, interested in viewing the glory of Rome or the pristine waters on the Amalfi Coast, the rambunctious Carnival in Venice or the fashion-forward designs of Milan. Villages decorate gold and green hillsides and snow blankets the jagged slopes and summits between the Adriatic, Tyrrhenian, and Ionian seas. The Western European country needs no introduction as one of the most culturally wealthy regions of the world with nearly 50 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The Italian government recently committed 300 million Euros to over 200 different renovation projects meant to save neglected monuments and complexes around the country, including the medieval walls of Siena and sections of the canals in Venice. This year, the city of Florence will unveil the half-mile long Vasari Corridor after a two-year long renovation. It will once again allow visitors to follow the footsteps of the Medici family in the secret passageway connecting the Uffizi Gallery to the Pitti Palace on the opposite bank of the Arno River.

Best Time to Visit Italy: Italy is one of the world’s few destinations tourists can visit at any time of year while still experiencing its entire splendor. While summer brings large crowds and hot days to the popular cities of Rome, Venice, and Florence, as well as vacation days to local Italians, the time of year also provides great beach getaways in Southern Italy, including Sicily. Cities like Milan may look gray in the winter but the Italian Alps, Dolomites, and Apennine Mountains provide ski and snowboarding paradises. Otherwise, April to June and September to October have moderate temperatures, smaller hordes of people in the famous cities, and plenty of regional festivals for you to experience. 

Click here to check out the types of experiences in Italy we could curate for you. 

Spain

Plaza de España on a sunny day. Sevilla, Spain. 

Spain is a country often represented by its most famous cities of Barcelona and Madrid, but one that has so much more to offer. As one ventures through the various regions of Spain, the distinctiveness of art, music, landscape, and culture becomes more apparent, such as the persistent traditions of Catalonia and the particular heritage of Basque Country. The southern regions display Moorish influence ingrained in the lifestyle and architecture, while the majority of residents of Galicia continue to speak ancient Galician. Spain goes beyond the paella, tapas, and sherry it is famous for and hosts a famous dressage school, medieval towns, Roman ruins, and world-class beaches, as well as restaurants that have collectively earned over 170 Michelin Stars.

The different styles of Spain’s unique regions quickly fascinate visitors, with outdoor cafes in charming plazas, fabulous artwork, and magnificent palaces. Spain feels less like a uniform country and more like a collection of villages united by familiar passion, devoted to enjoying life in the timeless settlements perched on hilltops, overlooking the cliffs of the Atlantic Ocean and along the urban coastal walkways in view of the Mediterranean Sea, and in the spirited music accompanying Flamenco. As Spanish politics in 2017 highlighted the distinct differences between Catalonia and greater Spain, 2018 is the perfect opportunity to experience the characteristics crucial to the essential culture of local communities, larger regions, and the majesty that makes Spain unique from other Western European countries.

Best Time to Visit Spain: When visiting Spain, the most important elements to consider are weather and events. While locals and tourists enjoy the warm weather of summer, the climate around the southern coastline and in the hills can reach unfavorable temperatures, and you are more likely to find other visitors from the around the world instead of local Spaniards, who are also on vacation. Fewer tourists explore Spain in the winter and more events can provide you greater cultural experiences. Colder weather might be conducive to touring large cities like Barcelona or Madrid but damper spending time on the beach. Beachgoers can enjoy the sand and sun from May to June and again from September to October, while the cultural tourist can appreciate smaller crowds and less oppressive heat outside of July and August.

If you are interested in browsing some of our Spain tours and offerings, click here

Egypt

The Giza Pyramid Complex. Giza, Egypt. 

Like Italy, tourists have traveled from around the Mediterranean to visit Egypt for thousands of years, from Roman emperors and Greek philosophers to British archaeologists and even Napoleon. The Nile River flows from the waters of the Mediterranean into the Sudan and beyond, flooding regularly and imparting the country with the contrasting images of desolate desert and fertile oases. The result is layers of culture captured in the divergent symbols of the pyramids and mosques. Most tourists visiting Egypt think only of the masterful architecture of ancient civilization without realizing the coastline of the Red Sea hosts some of the most popular snorkeling and scuba diving destinations in the world.

The region also possesses remnants of Roman and early Christian occupation. In 2017, archaeologists uncovered five major relics including a statue of an ancient pharaoh, a funerary garden, the remains of a Middle Kingdom Pyramid, eight mummies, and a tomb left untouched by time and thieves. This year brings the opening of the long-anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum, which encompasses a total area of 5.2 million square feet, which is located less than two miles away from the Giza pyramids. The museum cost in excess of 1 billion dollars, spans over 3,000 years of history, and displays more than 100,000 artifacts including the body and golden funeral mask of Tutankhamen.

Best Time to Visit Egypt: The desert climate of Egypt allows visitors to explore different destinations year-round. However, the summers grow incredibly hot, especially near Luxor and Aswan in the south. Areas close to the Red and Mediterranean seas provide reprieve from the summer heat between July and early September with the best weather occurring between October to April. Although Egypt consists of mainly desert, rain can fall heavily in the popular cities of Cairo and Luxor in January. 

If looking to get away to the sands of the Sahara, click here for more inspiration. 

Morocco

Chefchaouen, the Blue City of Morocco. 

Morocco is a breathing storybook, attracting travelers with promises of a live-action 1,001 Arabian Nights. While only an hour ferry ride from Spain’s southern coast, and despite decades of Spanish and French colonial rule, Morocco feels magical in its culture. Modern cities like Casablanca and the capital of Rabat exude a cosmopolitan ambiance connected to the outside world, while the historical city centers Fes and Marrakech are rooted in the traditions of the past and the heritage of former kingdoms. Traditional marketplaces fill with traders, merchants, teashops, and hidden alleyways representing conventional life.

The countryside embodies the rich history and culture of Morocco in the snowcapped peaks of the High Atlas Mountains, the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean, lush oases away from the desert hills, and iconic sand dunes rolling across the Sahara Desert. The advent of social media, especially the growth of Instagram, has brought renewed interest to the northern village of Chefchaouen, which is known as the Blue City. The village perches beneath the peaks of the Rif region with bright blue-washed walls boasting Moroccan and Andalucian influences. The village has maintained a quiet reputation among backpackers and travelers searching for the unfamiliar and has since become a paradise cherished for its relaxed ambiance and photogenic setting of blue walls emerging from the mountainous terrain.  

Best Time to Visit Morocco: The optimal seasons for you to explore the diverse scenery and engaging culture of Morocco is between April and May, as well as September to November.  The fluctuating landscape of Morocco makes the best time of visit wholly dependent upon your most sought-after activities. Marrakech and Fes are best visited between April and May due to the smaller crowds and comfortable weather. The coastal city of Essaouira has cozy temperatures and a relaxing ambiance in the summer because of the uninterrupted breeze. In the winter, the temperatures fall dramatically, especially in the Atlas Mountains, northern Morocco, and the Sahara Desert, while summers in the desert can sky-rocket to more than 115 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Click here for more Morocco travel inspiration and possibilities.

South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa. 

South Africa shines with the iconic scenery of the African continent, mesmerizing visitors with golden savannahs, yawning gorges, and the quiet allure of secluded deserts.  Luxurious lodges situated inside private game reserves and national parks offer views of Africa’s famous “Big Five,” which features lions, cape buffalos, leopards, rhinoceroses, and elephants. The coastline also provides access to the stunning perspectives of nature in the form of gorgeous beaches, coral reefs, penguins, and great white sharks along the Atlantic and the Indian oceans. South Africa is the only country on the planet with first-class safaris and world-class experiences focusing on national food and wine. While known primarily for the wildlife, the cultural history of the country embodies centuries of European colonialization, from the Portuguese to the Dutch, and the Germans to the British.

Apartheid remains a topic of conversation in the museums and art galleries around the country, promoting ways to hold the difficult discussion with others, whether residents of, or visitors to, South Africa. 2018 will see the first full calendar year of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art in Cape Town, which is the largest museum of Contemporary African art in the world spanning more than 102,000 square feet over nine floors. This year also marks Nelson Mandela’s Centennial, which the Nelson Mandela Foundation has chosen to celebrate with a two-year program honoring its founder in the form of educational, athletic, and artistic exhibitions around the township of Soweto. The township has evolved from a place of forced habitation to a symbol of pride brimming with historical significance adding to the important cultural makeup of South Africa.

Best Time to Visit South Africa: The popular country at the southern tip of the African continent remains predominantly sunny year-round, however, you quickly notice when the cold sets in. The southern hemisphere reverses the seasons of the northern hemisphere with midwinter occurring between June and July and midsummer happening between December and January. Tourists predominantly visit South Africa to view big game, which is best experienced between May to September during the dry season, while the northern regions receive ample amounts of rain between November and February. However, the rainy season is great for birding, while July to November offers the best opportunity to see whales. Essentially, South Africa is a year-round destination, whether you’re eager to experience the diverse culture of the different regions or interested in viewing the varieties of wildlife.   

Want to come face to face with the exotic wildlife of South Africa? Click here to see the types of experiences we offer. 

Argentina

A Gaucho, an Argentinian Cowboy, herding sheep with Lanin Volcano in the background. Argentinian Patagonia. 

Argentina could top the list of places to travel no matter the time of year, arousing interest with the famous and seductive rhythm of tango, superb grilled meats, passion for soccer, and a legendary gaucho culture. The scenery encompasses harsh deserts and humid jungles, navigable estuaries, endless pampas, the rugged peaks of the Andes Mountains, and the breathtaking glaciers of Patagonia. The country maintains a connection to its European influence as revealed in the architecture of cities like Buenos Aires, as well as in the enticing world-class wines produced in the region of Mendoza. The northeastern tip of the country leads you to the thrashing whitewater of Iguazu Falls along the Brazilian border while the southernmost tip offers access to cruise ships departing from Ushuaia and continuing to Antarctica.

Argentinian Patagonia hosts some of the world’s finest chocolate production, as well as views of Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the world’s few glaciers that is expanding instead of receding. The cosmopolitan capital of Argentina turns into a center of even greater activity in 2018, hosting the inaugural Art Basel Cities program, which will elevate the city’s sturdy reputation in the global art scene to monumental proportions by supporting local artists through international exposure. 2018 also delivers the Youth Olympic Games and the G20 Summit to the city, the latter of which brings together the leaders of global political and financial sectors.

Best Time to Visit Argentina: Like South Africa, the seasons in Argentina are reversed from the northern hemisphere, with midsummer occurring in December and January, while midwinter winter takes place between June and July. Porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) leave the city behind in the summer to bask in the sand, sun, and waters of the coastal resorts and beach towns. The summer offers the best opportunities to hike, cycle, horseback ride, and visit the glaciers and pampas of Patagonia, as well as climb aboard a cruise ship to Antarctica. The winter months offer the best temperatures to visit Iguazu and the desert of the northwest. With the exception of the frigid temperatures of Southern Patagonia in the winter, Argentina is a destination you can easily visit and enjoy year-round.  

Embark on an adventure of a lifetime in Argentina. See more adventures and activities you can explore by clicking here

Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls at sunset, Zimbabwe. 

There is no skirting around the two most prevalent issues associated with Zimbabwe, those of Robert Mugabe and the seemingly endless hyperinflation. However, when you move beyond the decades of political turmoil and economic woes, the country is working toward reclaiming its former title as a premier safari destination in Africa. Many visitors to the country agree it is one of the most safest and friendliest corners of the African continent. The capital, Harare, embodies sophistication with tree-lined boulevards filled with restaurants and cafes brimming with vibrant life. Locals offer newcomers genuine kindness and the safari scenery is unparalleled in its natural beauty hidden away from the greater world.

The national parks bring you to the shores of Lake Kariba, along the slopes of the Eastern Highlands, or near the hidden waterholes of Hwange where cape buffalo and elephants congregate, as well as other members of Africa’s “Big Five.” While national parks in other countries overflow with tourists during high season, Zimbabwe’s safari sector has focused on quality rather than quantity, where the level of remote activity feels exclusive and personalized to your experience. More than just the wildlife, Zimbabwe recently opened a brand-new airport at Victoria Falls, making one of the world’s Seven Natural Wonders even more accessible. The steep gorge forged by the flow of the Zambezi River provides entertainment for thrill-seekers and lovers of the landscape with activities like bungee jumping, abseiling, gorge swinging, and hiking, while the Matobo National Park maintains Africa’s largest collection of rock art, with some of the paintings dating back more than 3,000 years.

Best Time to Visit Zimbabwe: The different wonders of Zimbabwe have diverse seasons during which you will have the best experiences. The low rainfall and mild temperatures of May to October, encompassing the entire winter of the southern hemisphere, offers the best time for game-viewing. But the temperatures rise dramatically in September and October. The summer rainfall gives more power to the Zambezi River, creating a more dramatic blanket of water at Victoria Falls occurring between the months of April and May. If you prefer to whitewater raft on the Zambezi River, the rapids are best exposed between August to December. Birders or those more interested in culture should visit between November to March when the migratory birds return to the countryside and the climate maintains a comfortable temperature to explore heritage and cultural history. 

A hidden gem of the African continent, Zimbabwe is on the rise as a premier safari destination. Click here to see the types of trips you would be able to experience in Zimbabwe. 

Bonus: Sri Lanka

A herd of elephants in a jungle river, Sri Lanka. 

While decades of civil war have diminished the tourism industry in Sri Lanka, visitors are on the rise in search of the fabled landscape known for endless beaches, legendary tea fields, colorful cuisine, ancient ruins, and wild herds of roaming elephants. Sri Lanka has fascinated tourists for nearly a millennium since Marco Polo visited in the 13th century and successive waves of Indian, Arab, and European traders, adventurers, and colonialists searched for rare spices, precious metals and stones, and retreats along the waters of the Indian Ocean. Few countries in the world could fit eight UNESCO World Heritage sites into an area less than 25,500 square miles.

The idyllic island features pristine beaches untouched by development, lowland jungles rich in wildlife, including large populations of Asian elephants, leopards, and endemic birds, as Misty highlands are home to lush tea plantations. More than two millennia of recorded history dates back to the ruins of the early Sinhalese civilization, and the country also supports the world’s oldest refuge of Theravada Buddhism. In 2018, Sri Lanka will see another rise in active tourists interested in discovering the luxuries of the resorts along the southern coast, the ancient life of the world’s oldest living human-planted tree, hundreds of elephants gathering at a waterhole, the relaxed pace of village life, Dutch and Portuguese architectural design, and mythical temples sheltered in caves or protruding from prominent peaks.

Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka: Like all of the best destinations to visit in 2018, the best time to visit Sri Lanka depends on your preference for activities and experiences. The best time to visit Sri Lanka for beaches and dry weather is between December and March. There are two distinct monsoon seasons that should be avoided, depending on the region. The southwestern provinces experience heavy rain between May and September, while the wet season between December and February blankets the northeast. Blue whales and sperm whales travel along the southern coast of Sri Lanka between December and March. November provides gorgeous weather around the entire country with the resort and beaches of the south remaining quiet on the shoulder of the rainy season. Although heavy rains help soften the heat and the humidity of the tropical climate, you most likely wouldn’t want to sunbathe on the sand during a monsoon!  

Interested in learning more about the type of itinerary you could undertake to Sri Lanka? Read more here