Which destinations should you visit in 2014? While every place is worth visiting (at least once to see for yourself), every year there are a few destinations which are special.
As you make your travel plans for 2014, consider picking one of these 5 ideal countries.
The Latvia capital city of Riga is a designated “European Capital of Culture” for 2014. This means there is a full program of special events happening. Of course Riga is worth visiting any year. The old town is easy to explore on foot and a wonder to the eyes. Plus Riga boasts the largest collection of Art Nouveau buildings in Europe.
The rest of Latvia is within reach including historic towns and the scenic coastline of the Gulf of Riga (such as Jurmula) and the Black Sea. Pick Latvia for a cultured European holiday in 2014.
2014 is the homecoming year for Scotland (sort of like the homecoming in Ireland in 2013), so much is planned throughout the country. That means you’ll be able to attend a wide variety of one-time-only Scottish heritage events.
Consider basing yourself in the top city of Edinburgh (read 36 Hours in Edinburgh), especially during the jam-packed August festival season (a must for culture lovers any year!).
No trip to Scotland is complete without a driving tour of the Scottish Highlands. Did I mention there will be castles and whisky? While there is little guarantee you’ll see the famed loch-ness monster, you will not be bored on a family vacation to Scotland this year.
There are endless reasons to add Japan to your travel bucket list, however 2014 may offer an economic one. Japan has always been an expensive country to visit compared with the rest of Asia. So you’ll be happy to learn that the Yen has weakened considerably versus the US dollar, hitting 5-year lows. That plus the recent economic stimulus initiatives happening is making the country of Japan more affordable than in recent times.
So whether you imagine yourself exploring the mega-city of Tokyo or strolling among the gardens and temples of Kyoto (with epic views of Mount Fuji in between), add Japan to your vacation list for 2014.
Hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016 (in Rio) means that Brazil is undergoing huge development projects. Come to Brazil (check out Fodor’s Guide to Brazil) in 2014 to experience what’s new from the fabulous beaches to the colonial cities to the diverse rainforests. Just avoid the time of the World Cup if you are not a soccer, or should I say football fan.
Many visitors combine a visit to Rio de Janeiro with an Amazon River cruise or a trip to the unbelievable (trust me!) Iguaçu Falls (also spelled Iguazu) along the border with Argentina. Plan your entire trip on Facebook with the Visit Brazil by TripAdvisor.
The passing last year of Nobel Peace Prize winning Nelson Mandela (read the book or watch the film autobiography Long Walk to Freedom) brought South Africa to the global spotlight. It reminds us of how much has changed since the days of Apartheid in addition to all that this magnificent country has to offer the traveler.
South Africa has always been a place to “visit before you die” destination (try the Rough Guide to South Africa) for the people, culture, and wildlife. Fortunately for overseas visitors their currency has been depressed leading to significant bargain prices when you convert from RAND to US dollars (or your own currency). You can benefit from huge discounts off not just hotels and foods but also 5-star safari lodges in the bush.
For a first trip to South Africa, consider a stay in a private safari lodge in Kruger National Park (Simbambili is a highly-rated value-priced choice) along with a visit to Cape Town. The big city of Johannesburg is the best place to learn about the history of the anti-apartheid movement and Nelson Mandela.
For stunning views you can go on a self-drive along the Whale Coast and popular Garden Route to where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean. Just remember to roll up your car windows to keep out the wild monkeys along the southernmost Cape of Good Hope!
When your goal is to take more time off for travel, choosing the right destinations can make your vacation budget go farther and offer once-in-a-lifetime travel memories.
What countries are on your vacation list for 2014? Add a comment to tell us how you plan to optimize your vacation time off to visit destinations that are tops this calendar year.
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