Best Places to Travel in 2014

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BANANA PANCAKE / Alamy

New hotels and tours, emerging food scenes, and special events make these places the hottest travel destinations in 2014.

Cape Town, South Africa

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There’s never been a better time to visit Cape Town thanks to a proliferation of edgy boutiques, independent galleries, and forward-thinking restaurants like Test Kitchen by Neighbourgoods Market, where biltong (cured meat) is topped with plum-cured foie gras. And the buzz is spreading: StumbleUpon noticed that Cape Town is one of the top 10 destinations generating interest among its community of 30 million users. The city has been designed the World Design Capital for 2014, with more than 450 events in the works. It’s also an opportunity to pay tribute to the late Nelson Mandela with a visit to Robben Island, where he spent 18 of his 27 years in prison.

Best Places to Travel in 2014

Cape Town, South Africa

There’s never been a better time to visit Cape Town thanks to a proliferation of edgy boutiques, independent galleries, and forward-thinking restaurants like Test Kitchen by Neighbourgoods Market, where biltong (cured meat) is topped with plum-cured foie gras. And the buzz is spreading: StumbleUpon noticed that Cape Town is one of the top 10 destinations generating interest among its community of 30 million users. The city has been designed the World Design Capital for 2014, with more than 450 events in the works. It’s also an opportunity to pay tribute to the late Nelson Mandela with a visit to Robben Island, where he spent 18 of his 27 years in prison.

BANANA PANCAKE / Alamy

Best Places to Travel in 2014

On Nicaragua’s Little Corn Island, the fresh lobster is cheap; the hammocks plentiful; and the pace slow. Factor in a new hotel and spa with 16 oceanfront cabanas, and vacationing here is more blissful than ever.

It’s just one of the places that will appeal to travelers seeking what’s new and notable in 2014. They remind us that there are still discoveries to be made, even in seemingly familiar destinations—and that with travel, too, timing is everything.

Consider Iceland, where NASA expects the northern lights to reach the vibrant peak of an 11-year solar cycle in December 2014. For prime views, book a stay at the Ion Hotel, where the bar has dimmable lights and wraparound windows, or a small-group tour with storm chaser George Kourounis that includes volcano hikes and glacier treks.

Culture seekers, meanwhile, will be drawn to Cape Town, which has more than 450 events in the works as part of its World Design Capital designation in 2014, along with hip boutiques and forward-thinking restaurants. StumbleUpon revealed that Cape Town is one of the top 10 destinations generating interest among its community of 30 million users.

Palermo, Sicily, is another destination capturing the collective imagination. TripAdvisor has noticed a recent uptick in searches and positive feedback—and we’ve noticed compelling reasons to visit, like a surprisingly sophisticated wine scene and affordable independent hotels.

Of course, you don’t need to cross international borders to find a worthy vacation spot for the New Year. Enterprising chefs have congregated right in Nashville, where you can hop from Germantown’s Rolf and Daughters to Josephine, a new farm-to-table spot in the emerging 12South neighborhood.

Find out the rest of our picks for the best places to travel in 2014—and share your to-visit list in the comments below.

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