Every year, the trends in the travel industry make some regions and countries more popular than others. In the city-breaks segment, there are some cities that stand out by their attraction to urban travellers. In this blog post, I will combine my personal views and the industry’s recommendations. So here are the best 18 cities you must visit in 2018!
1. Vienna, Austria
The capital of Austria is a city you must visit in 2018. With its baroque buildings and limitless palaces, visit Vienna this year. The best time to visit is in January and February for the Balls season, I will be there as I want to experience this traditional Austrian celebration.
2. Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi is an economic hub in East Africa and the capital of wildlife so it’s a perfect place to have a business meeting on top of a brand new skyscraper and a have a safari in the afternoon at the outskirts of the city. I visited in 2017 and I strongly believe it’s a place that is becoming even more popular!
3. Baghdad, Iraq
Baghdad was barely recovering from the US invasion in 2003 before it found itself targeted by ISIS in 2014. By the end of 2017, the Iraqi government declares victory on ISIS. Although, the country remains dangerous, 2018 offers a small window to visit Iraq. The country is full of undiscovered gems like spectacular mountains, vibrant cities and welcoming and generous people! I wish I could visit soon!
4. Sevilla, Spain
This city has long been on my must-see. But in 2018, I have a feeling it will be my first time there! Lonely Planet recommends it on its annual Best in Travel release. From Andalusian vibes to friendly and vibrant nightlife, the city reinvents itself and reclaims its rich artistic past.
5. Ostrava, Czech Republic
With an ever growing number of visitors, Ostrava is on the way to become a must-see in all euro trips. It hosts a tremendous number of cultural and artistic gatherings such as Colours of Ostrava taking place between 18 to 21 July 2018. This year’s headliners are Ziggy Marley, Beth Ditto and more international names to be announced! The festival takes place on a historical industrial site known as Dolni Vitkovice.
6. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
The country is opening up for tourism as the government now allows online applications for Kyrgyzstan e-visas for a huge number of nationalities (including Moroccans). So it’s now easier to visit this landlocked Central Asian country and explore its rich culture and untouched nature.
7. Jerusalem, Israel/Palestine
Whether you think Jerusalem is the capital of Israel or the capital of Palestine, you must absolutely visit this year. I am sure on the ground it will feel like it’s a city for all. The city is eternally there and for all whether Muslims, Jews, Christians or any other people. I plan to visit in April 2018 so I will let you know how it goes then!
8. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
The Saudi kingdom is finally opening up to the rest of the world and soon tourism will flourish in this country. Jeddah is a good starting point as it is fairly open for now but hopefully Meccah and Medina will be open to non-Muslims too in the same way as the Vatican is open for everyone.
9. Valparaiso, Chile
Valparaiso has been described as a “wonderful mess”. It is a seaside city full of street art and colourful alleys. It is now an emerging hotspot for travellers and soon in 2018 will be a must-see on any trip to Chile!
10. Kazan, Russia
All eyes will be on Kazan this year as it is one of the host cities of Russia’s 2018 FIFA World Cup. The city is known for its interesting mix between Slavic and Tatar cultures. The city is dominated by colourful houses, mosques and cathedrals standing peacefully side by side. The World Cup is an excellent opportunity to visit!
11. Tallinn, Estonia
The Estonian capital is one of the Baltic states most advanced city. It is hub for many tech start-ups and now hub for travellers. The Old Town is full of cute cobblestone streets, amazing viewing points and great choice of restaurants and places to eat.
12. Black Rock City, USA
Black Rock City is actually an ephemeral city that you can only visit between 26 August to 3 September 2018 for the Burning Man Festival. The city comes alive every year as it is built by the festival goers. Once they leave, the city disappears until the next year. You will experience the unforgettable at the Burning Man Festival, in the heart of the Nevada Desert. I always wanted to visit before but I never had an opportunity to purchase a ticket. I think it is just becoming more commercial as it is invaded every year by an elitist audience. So 2018 is the year before it’s (too) late…
13. Cluj-Napoca, Romania
From Baroque buildings to Bohemian cafes, Cluj is a must-see in Romania. Tucked in the northern side of Transylvania, the city is known for a vibrant nightlife and numerous music festivals.
14. Denpasar, Indonesia
Denpasar is the capital city of the Bali Province in Indonesia. Travel guides usually underestimate its potential on what it has to offer. However, the massive tourism growth the city has experienced in 2017 proves that it is the perfect hub to start a trip around Bali in 2018. Denpasar is full of museums, palaces and friendly local population.
15. Heraklion, Greece
While Santorini or Mykonos experience overcrowding, Heraklion is a great alternative in Greece. The city has its share of tourism but will experience further growth in 2018. Heraklion is also host of the Palace of Knossos, Museum of Archeology with remains dating 3000 years back and well-preserved Byzantine churches.
16. Al Hoceima, Morocco
Al Hoceima has known protests for over a year. The Moroccan Government tried to calm the situation down by further investing on tourism throughout 2017. It seems to work! The city is on the spotlight due to the protests but it remains safe and accessible to visitors. Locals are very friendly and have a Western outlook on life compared to Moroccans from other regions. With its pristine beaches, Al Hoceima is definitely the Mediterranean pearl of Morocco!
17. Hamburg, Germany
With a vibrant nightlife and exceptional architecture, the maritime metropole of Germany is now directly competing with its other German sister: Berlin. Hamburg has been ranked as a city to visit by Lonely Planet’s 2018 Best in Travel.
18. Minsk, Belarus
Belarus might be known as the last dictatorship in Europe but it is not known for its beautiful capital city and charming culture. Minsk is truly a place where the Soviet era is still dominant as the city still maintains a Soviet look especially with the statue of Lenin. Lately, Belarus became visa-free for 5 days for a selected number of nationalities. In 2018, it is set to be extended to 10 days visa-free!