A new year means a whole new set of destinations to discover. As the world shrinks thanks to widening global travel, there are very few places that are out of reach these days. Funnily enough, it’s some old favourites that are back in fashion as the top destinations to visit in 2015, according to Lonely Planet.
Founded more than four decades ago by married couple Maureen and Tony Wheeler, Lonely Planet has since gone on to become the largest travel guidebook publisher in the world. The company’s first booklet, Across Asia on the Cheap, was written by the couple in their home, but nowadays the company employs a staff of 200 authors and has printed more than 120 million books in 11 different languages. We had a peek inside their recently released Best in Travel 2015 to uncover the must-see destinations of the coming year.
Top Country: Singapore may come as a surprise inclusion for some, but the sovereign city-state and island country marks its Golden Jubilee this year and is set to celebrate 50 years of independence in style. More than 50 per cent of Singapore’s area is covered by greenery, which blends with skyscrapers, rooftop pools and penthouse bars to create an incredibly beautiful and modern garden state. The country is fast becoming known for its fashion and dining scene and 2015 will see the addition of the National Art Gallery and the Singapore Sports Hub, which will host this year’s Southeast Asian Games. In addition, there improvements planned for Changi Airport, which was named the world’s best airport in 2014. A visit to one of Singapore’s 50 parks and four nature reserves is a must for any visitor, while Marina Bay and its 3.5km waterfront promenade has become an entertainment hub for all the family with integrated resorts, theatres, parks, restaurants and bars. Be prepared to spend though, as Singapore is wildly expensive. The country is super-clean and litterbugs can face on-the-spot fines.
Top City: The capital of America, Washington DC is another list-topping inclusion that will be marking an anniversary this year. This time it’s the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, who was shot by John Wilkes Booth at the city’s Ford’s Theatre. The president’s now famous top hat and the pistol that fired the deadly shot will both be on display as part of the remembrance events. Eleven of America’s Smithsonian Institution museums and galleries can be found on the National Mall in Washington DC, while the Capitol Building, the White House, the National Archives and dozens of famous memorials never fail to draw visitors in their thousands. If history and heritage isn’t necessarily your thing, the city also offers a vibrant bar and restaurant scene and is becoming renowned for its wide variety of ethnic eats.
Top Region: Visiting a region as opposed to one certain city or resort is great because it enables travellers to get a wider sense of a country’s cultural offerings. The Gallipoli peninsula in northwestern Turkey, close to Istanbul, was the site of a major Allied campaign in the First World War and consequently offers many battlefields and monuments to visit. Troops first landed at multiple locations on the peninsula in 1915 and the Turks will be commemorating the 100th anniversary with several events and parades. Going back even further in time, the region is the reported site of the ancient city of Troy, with the ruins – complete with reconstructed wooden horse – open to visitors. The town of Eceabat is also found in the region, offering the chance to visit the fortress of Kilitbahir. However, it’s not just the history buffs who are catered for in Gallipoli, the area is also rich natural beauty and boasts stunning vistas ranging from green pine forests to sea views.
Best Value destination: Following a revolution in 2011, Tunisia was blighted by travel warnings, but these are slowly being loosened as political stability returns and the Government looks to revive the country’s tourism industry. As a result, prices will remain low and crowds relatively few, giving those who do travel to the country the chance to visit the incredibly compact and cosmopolitan city of Tunis, with its souqs mosques and museums, amid a relaxed atmosphere. The country is also home to numerous set locations from the Star Wars films, as well as Roman remains in the north of the country. In short, it is North Africa’s complete package.