BY MARYELLEN KENNEDY DUCKETT of National Geographic Magazine
Looking for your next adventure? Our editors’ top picks will have you discovering new trails, tasting local foods, and spotting vibrant wildlife around the world.
In Ethiopia, Harar’s old town is a maze of alleys lined with colorful walls.
WHY GO NOW: Find the most surprising city in East Africa.
Tourists in northern Ethiopia rarely travel to the laid-back east, anchored by the enchantingly contradictory city of Harar. The “City of Saints” boasts 82 mosques, as well as Ethiopia’s best beer, strongest khat (an ubiquitous narcotic plant), and highest quality coffee.
FUN FACT: Hyenas are welcome night visitors in Harar, where they eat food waste and are fed by 'hyena men.'
Jujuy Province, Argentina
WHY GO NOW: Hang with nature-made rock stars.
Located in outermost northwest Argentina, Jujuy is home to the Quebrada de Humahuaca World Heritage site. The narrow valley is cloaked in colorful rock bands crafted over millennia. Elevate your Instagram with shots of Cerro de los Siete Colores (Hill of Seven Colors).
FUN FACT: Prehistoric hunter-gatherers (9000 BC to AD 400) lived in Quebrada de Humahuaca.
WHY GO NOW: Experience Old Tbilisi’s authentic charms.
Development is reshaping the cityscape of Georgia’s capital city at a dizzying pace. Traditional Georgian experiences—the 24-hour sulphur baths, the plump khinkali (spiced meat dumplings), and the legendary hospitality of the locals—persevere in disarmingly disorganized Old Tbilisi.
FUN FACT: Persian, Arab, Byzantine, Ottoman, Russian, and Soviet occupations influenced Tbilisi architecture.
WHY GO NOW: See the new-look Opera House.
A $273-million upgrade launched in May 2016 is transforming the interior of Sydney’s iconic Opera House. Improvements include state-of-the-art acoustics, a hangout-friendly foyer, and the renovated Joan Sutherland Theatre, which reopened in December and welcomes back the Australian Ballet in April.
FUN FACT: The Opera House includes one thousand rooms and has over one million roof tiles.
WHY GO NOW: Discover the ancient art of natural dyeing.
Tourists are welcome more than ever in the color-rich Mexican state of Oaxaca; shaken by two powerful September earthquakes. Shop local markets for dazzlingly vibrant wool rugs and other handmade textiles dyed using fruits, insects, and other natural colorants. Discover more about Oaxaca.
FUN FACT: The most-coveted Oaxaca textiles are woven with snail-dyed purple threads.
WHY GO NOW: Celebrate the Secession art movement.
Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, and Otto Wagner—three leading members of Vienna’s upstart Secession art movement—died in 1918. To mark the centennial, the Belvedere, Leopold, MAK, and other museums in Austria’s art-obsessed capital city will host special Secessionist exhibitions.
FUN FACT: Vienna’s Secession Building houses Klimt’s massive masterpiece: the seven-foot-tall and 112-foot-long Beethoven Frieze.
North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
WHY GO NOW: Support local farmers and rural life.
World-famous for its big waves, the North Shore is the rural neighbor of increasingly sprawling Honolulu. Local farms, such as Poamoho and Kahuku, are helping (as the ubiquitous bumper stickers state) “Keep the Country Country” by cultivating homegrown crops and agritourist experiences. Discover more about Oahu.
FUN FACT: At the North Shore’s Mohala Farms, guests exchange labor for lodging.
WHY GO NOW: Savor global flavors.
Home to nearly 180 nationalities and over 450 restaurants, Sweden’s third largest city is a United Nations of food. Foodies flock to Malmö to sample a global smorgasbord offering everything from cutting-edge Nordic cuisine to the number one street food, falafel.
FUN FACT: Swedes relish their fika (pronounced ‘fee-ka’), or coffee-and-cinnamon bun breaks.
WHY GO NOW: Hike a newly marked historic route.
The 400-mile Jordan Trail is a newly minted hiking path linking ancient trade routes. Divided into eight separate sections, the trail leads through Jordanian forests, canyons, deserts, and along the shores of the Red Sea. Overnight in guesthouses, home stays, and Bedouin campsites.
FUN FACT: It’s believed that Jesus, Moses, and Mohammed all walked this path.
WHY GO NOW: Feel at home in ‘Europe’s largest village.’
While home to almost 1.2 million people, Ireland’s intimate capital exudes a friendly, village vibe. Stroll around to discover Dublin’s historic Georgian squares, cozy pubs, and high-tech treasures, like the new Irish Emigration Museum and revamped National Gallery of Ireland. Discover more about Dublin.
FUN FACT: One-third of the Irish population is under age 25.
WHY GO NOW: Spot endangered lemurs in the wild.
Madagascar, the world’s fourth-largest island, is the undisputed land of the lemurs. Located in the Indian Ocean east of Mozambique, the biodiversity hotspot is home to about 100 species of lemurs—almost all endangered due to deforestation, climate change, and other threats.
FUN FACT: Madagascar separated from the Indian subcontinent about 88 million years ago.
WHY GO NOW: View outdoor urban art “galleries.”
Bare walls are blank canvases for vibrant murals in Chile’s capital and largest city. Walk with Stgo Street Art Tours to see Chilean-style, street art in neighborhoods such as Bellavista, Brasil, and Yungay.
FUN FACT: The long-neglected San Miguel barrio is home to the must-see Museo a Cielo Abierto (open-air mural museum).
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
WHY GO NOW: Bring big-screen backdrops to life.
Oscar buzz for Angelina Jolie’s Cambodian genocide drama First They Killed My Father is boosting interest in the Kingdom’s buzzing capital city. See cultural treasures in the Royal Palace compound. Learn about the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.
FUN FACT: The Royal Palace’s Silver Pagoda houses a diamond-encrusted gold Buddha statue weighing about 200 pounds.
WHY GO NOW: Celebrate an industrial city’s revival.
Cleveland rocks: on stage in the eight theaters on Playhouse Square, at indie-music venue Beachland Ballroom, and in hip meat-lovers’ restaurants like the Black Pig and the Plum. Shop and stroll in the revived Hingetown neighborhood and Waterloo Arts District.
FUN FACT: “Rock 'n' Roll” was coined by Cleveland based DJ Alan Freed in 1952.
WHY GO NOW: Discover contemporary Moroccan art.
Traditional artisans still create carpets in this port city’s World Heritage site medina, but a grassroots fine arts movement is attracting new talent. See contemporary works at the National Institute of Fine Arts, Tétouan Museum of Modern Art, and Green Olive Arts.
FUN FACT: Rebuilt in the 15th century, Tétouan’s medina is Morocco’s most complete.
Seoraksan National Park, South Korea
WHY GO NOW: Embrace the Olympic spirit.
Seoraksan is in northeastern Gangwon province, site of February’s Winter Olympic Games. While not an Olympic venue, the park boasts equally breathtaking mountainous terrain. From the Seorak Cable Car, see some of the park’s 30 peaks, including 5,604-foot Mount Sorak (Seoraksan).
FUN FACT: The park boasts the massive Great Unification Buddha, a 108-ton gilt-bronze statue.
WHY GO NOW: Dive in relatively unexplored waters.
Sunken aqueducts, shipwrecks, and rarely visited caves are a few of the relatively untouched treasures awaiting divers in Albania. Decades of isolation under communist leader Enver Hoxha limited development and inadvertently preserved underwater cultural heritage, particularly off the southern coast.
FUN FACT: Hoxha famously banned scuba diving to prevent Albanians from escaping.
San Antonio, Texas
WHY GO NOW: Party like it's 1718.
Three centuries of history inspired San Antonio to throw a big-as-Texas Tricentennial Celebration. Join the year-long party at the kickoff New Year’s Eve concert and fireworks extravaganza or at any of more than 550 scheduled arts and cultural events.
WHY GO NOW: Visit a new Canadian national park.
Located in a road-less expanse of northern Labrador wilderness, Akami-Uapishku-KakKasuak-Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve is one of Canada’s newest and most remote national parks. Book hikes and other experiences with First Nations guides, such as Experience Labrador in Cartwright.
FUN FACT: The 4,131-square-mile park is roughly the size of Jamaica (4,411 square miles).
WHY GO NOW: Explore a 2018 European Culture Capital.
Birthplace of Mata Hari and a European Capital of Culture for 2018, Leeuwarden is the capital of the Dutch province of Friesland. Live the Frisian life: mud walk on the Wadden Sea, buy tin-glazed pottery in Makkum, and eat cinnamon-laced sugar bread.
FUN FACT: Friesland is the birthplace of fierljeppen, or canal pole vaulting.
Ruaha National Park, Tanzania
WHY GO NOW: Help protect endangered African lions.
Ruaha, Tanzania’s largest park, is home to about one-tenth of the world’s endangered African lions. Sustainable tourism initiatives help visitors see the big cats—some grouped in prides of 30 or more—and support wildlife preservation in and around the park.
FUN FACT: The African lion population has decreased by 90% over the last century.