New hotels and tours, emerging food scenes, and special events make these places the hottest travel destinations in 2014.
Best Places to Travel in 2014
Finland’s thoughtful aesthetic tradition is influencing Helsinki’s recent wave of innovative thinkers and avant-garde landmarks. In May 2013, Kulttuurisauna, the first public sauna to open in decades, made its debut on the Helsinki waterfront. With a minimized carbon footprint and sturdy tree-trunk columns, the building is a spare, primitive temple to communal bathing. Finland hasn’t received the amount of attention that Denmark and Sweden have for New Nordic Cuisine, yet Helsinki’s chefs and foragers are every bit as active and adventurous. Splurge on the multicourse “journey” with wine pairings and prepare for fresh, seasonal dishes such as cauliflower with Finnish caviar, lamb with beetroot, and organic licorice with white chocolate and black currants at Olo. —Heather Smith MacIsaac
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.
Related: Best Places to Travel in 2015
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.
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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.