While the world might feel like it’s getting smaller, the list of places we want to visit just keeps growing. And with a new bright and shiny year of adventures ahead of us, we’re already compiling our picks for places to go. But the world’s a very big place, and sometimes even we need a bit of help in narrowing down our choices.
Last year, we wanted to go where the action was; this year, we want to stretch our travel legs and explore places that are just starting to get some buzz. And so, we combed through countless top 10 lists and travel predictions to come up with our own 2015 travel wish list that speaks to our love of being a bit unconventional. Some of our chosen destinations are because 2015 is a noteworthy year, some are just because we don’t think these fine cities get enough attention. But most of all, this year, our travel wish list is about taking the road less travelled.
There’s no doubt, there’s something exotic about Morocco. Bypass Casablanca and head to Morocco’s coastal city: Essaouira. With its alleyways, fortified wall, and fishing port, Essaouira made the Telegraph’s top 20 list thanks to its laidback vibe that makes it an escape from bustling Marrakech (note to Marrakech: we love you, too). Who could resist strolling through souks, exploring hidden nooks and crannies, and taking the time to savour some strong Moroccan coffee?
Lithuania is packed full of beauty and culture, and the Baltic city of Vilnius is a designated UNESCO site and set to join the Eurozone in 2015. In Europe’s largest baroque town, ancient meets modern. Lonely Planet knows Vilnius is where its at, with its stunning hilltop views peppered with Catholic and Orthodox church steeples, and cobbled alleyways with artists’ workshops. We’re adding to our itinerary a stop at Napoleon’s favourite church and a thorough investigation of the city’s craft beer scene.
Travel+Leisure included Chile in its 2015 favourites list, thanks in part to eased visa restrictions for American travellers. Apart from that, we just love the rugged beauty and adventure to be found in the country. And Santiago is typically at the centre of it all. It’s a launching pad for those headed off into the wilds, from Patagonia to Atacama, but it’s also a vibrant, cultured destination in itself, from the bohemian Bellavista neighbourhood to the gorgeous architecture of La Alameda. This is a city that has been under-appreciated for years, but that is now coming into its own, with a serious cool culture factor.
Vietnam has been getting lots of buzz on top 2015 lists, from CNN to TripAdvisor, but we’re singling out HCMC for its vibrant present and complicated past. This year marks 40 years since the fall of Saigon, and Vietnam has come a long way. Fuelled with the energy of a million motorbikes, Ho Chi Minh City is a centre for commerce and culture. From boutique hotels to simple guesthouses and world-class restaurants to street stall eats, this is a city of contrasts. Discover colonial architecture and historic buildings like Reunification Palace and the Opera House, explore hidden alleys, visit local markets, and feast on bahn mi and street beer.
Let’s call this one our wild card. While lots of African countries are popping up on lists (Namibia, Tanzania, and Botswana have been on people’s lips recently), Uganda, and its capital of Kampala, is sorely neglected, which is a shame. This dynamic, thriving city is filled with hawkers, shoppers — and, yes, traffic. Visit historical sites like Nakasero and Owino market, the Taxi Park, and Bunganda Kingdom palace and parliament. Skip the typical African safari; instead, we want to head here to gain an understanding of the country’s historical challenges and recent economic growth, and the inspirational initiatives local entrepreneurs have taken to build their city.
Where will 2015 take you? Let us take you where you want to go!