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A Photo Tour Of Lonely Planet’s ‘Top Ten Cities To Visit in 2018’

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Lonely Planet is the largest travel publisher in the world, giving them enormous influence on people planning trips. Thankfully, they exercise great responsibility. Every year, they gather input from renowned experts and print their Best in Travel book, which highlights those parts of the world the casual traveler wouldn’t otherwise know about. This year is no different, and an array of hidden gems were lauded. We have covered their top ten regions, countries, and value locations. Now, we bring you the finale: Lonely Planet’s top ten cities to visit in 2018.

This list is heavy on UNESCO heritage and transformation. Many of the cities included have recently undergone a large-scale change that makes them a must-see when they would have previously been a must-miss. And, a few of them are in the middle of transition or even on the cusp of an upcoming one. There’s something beautiful about the regeneration of a city and its occupants. As a visitor, you get to fuel that change with your presence and with your contribution to the local economy, and in exchange, you are nourished by the pervasive hope and revival they offer in return.

All musings aside, the following list will have you planning a dope itinerary.

10. Oslo, Norway

If you want a quintessential Northern European experience, you can’t do better than Oslo. It does a great job of blending the old and the new with Akershus Fortress, dating back to the 1300s; and the regenerated Bjørvika area boasting some jaw-dropping modern Scandinavian architecture. Yet with a fjord at the bottom of the city and mountains surrounding the rest of it, you never forget how outdoorsy the region is. Plus, 2018 marks the 50th year of marriage for the country’s king and queen, meaning there will be celebrations galore. And, the year also marks the 10th anniversary of the landmark Opera House, meaning special concerts and performances.

9. Guanajuato, Mexico

Guanajuato is a popular destination during the annual international arts festival, Festival Cervantino, during which people flock to the town from around the globe. But, there’s a lot more to it than that. Located in the central hills of Mexico, the town was established as a Spanish colonial silver mining city. Because of the great wealth in the area, there are few (if any) Mexican cities that boast more colonial mansions and religious buildings. This is why it is a UNESCO World Heritage City. As the city is also home to a university, it has a vibrant youth culture so you don’t have to hole up in your hotel room when the sun goes down. You can enjoy the nightlife.

8. San Juan, Puerto Rico

This is another city heavily marked by colonialism. Visitors can experience true Puerto Rican culture among both historical buildings and modern sophistication. El Viejo San Juan, or Old San Juan, is a must-see. Walk among the architectural roots of the city. And, take time to visit El Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a 16th-century citadel considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then, hit modern San Juan, with its galleries, museums, and restaurants. Don’t miss touring the Bacardi plant or lying on the pristine beaches for the full tourist experience. Hurricane Maria impacted San Juan, but the city is rebuilding, and a thriving tourist economy will help them with that. As they move ahead, you can enjoy discounted rates on activities and lodgings.

7. Matera, Italy

Overlooking a ravine sits a warren of stone homes united by a common cream color. This is Matera. And underneath this community is a series of cave dwellings, monasteries, and churches. We know what you are wondering: can I stay in the caves? Yep. There are lodgings in the cave dwellings. And restaurants. The cuisine of the region is homey and simple, with deep flavors. Expect to enjoy some exceptional bread and charcuterie, as well as mild sun-dried peppers and handmade orecchiette and cavatelli. The city’s location on a ravine means scampering around like a little goat is an option for working off all the food and wine you’ll scarf. In 2019, the city will be the European Capital of Culture, so next year may be the last time to get in a visit before it blows up in a big way.

6. Antwerp, Belgium

People who have been to Antwerp consider it one of their favorite spots in the world, but they don’t boast about it. The city has been kept a tightly-held travel secret. It has great history for visitors to access. But lately, it has been the destination of choice for arty, hipster types; and thanks to them, you can spend a day cruising for vinyl, drinking gourmet coffee beverages, and fingering the racks at vintage clothing purveyors. A lot of this is the result of gentrification in the dockside district Het Eilandje. There are certainly issues with this, but no one can argue that the Museum by the Stream, which is located in the center of this reclaimed neighborhood, is anything other than fantastic. It’s a must-see. Plus, in 2018, Antwerp will be celebrating Antwerp Baroque, a cultural bacchanal celebrating the city’s heyday.

5. Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Taiwan’s largest port city, Kaohsiung has largely been overlooked as a choice destination. But, not anymore. A lot of what you find in the city falls into the same categories as what you would find in neighboring cities, but here they turn it up to eleven. A night market isn’t a surprising part of a trip to Taiwan, but Kaohsiung boasts the largest ones in the country. Instead of a more traditional Buddhist/Taoist destination, the city vaunts Lotus Pond, a man-made lake with temples, pagodas, and pavilions. The Tiger and Dragon pagodas are particularly cool. They are each seven stories and you enter through the dragon’s mouth and exit out the tiger’s mouth. The city is also the home to the most gorgeous metro station in the world. It has a glass mural built into the ceiling, and it’s the largest such glass installation in the world. And seriously, no trip would be complete without a stop at Funny Sex Restaurant, an eatery with a sex toy interior design scheme.

4. Hamburg, Germany

Right now, the focus is on the recent opening of the jaw-dropping Elphilharmonie concert hall, which cost €790 million to bring to fruition. But, there are certainly other locales that should be in the Hamburg spotlight. Like pretty much every other cool place, the city is in the midst of a craft beer revolution, so seek out a brewhouse, like Altes Madchen. Make time to visit Hamburg’s old meatpacking district on a Saturday morning for the Flohschanze market, hundreds of stalls selling every used item imaginable (you aren’t allowed to sell new goods here). For the cultured, museum mile is a necessary part of the itinerary. Bookended by two very different art institutions, one a venerable home to classical pieces and one contemporary art and photography focused, the mile includes five major galleries.

3. Canberra, Australia

Canberra isn’t a sizable city, in the way that Melbourne and Sydney are. But, as Australia’s capital city, it hosts a ton of people who relocate to the area to work in politics and related fields, like media. So it offers dining, galleries, craft markets, and festivals on par with what you would find in larger metropolises. Everyone is talking about New Acton, the urban precinct that flaunts edgy, hip hotels and eateries. Along with Kingston Foreshore, and the boardwalk around the Acton Peninsula it’s one of the new designer areas adding to the city’s aesthetic cred. Plus, Canberra’s wineries are certainly a draw. The countryside around the capital city has over 140 wineries. There are plenty of tours and guides that can help you go on an extended tasting without having to drive.

2. Detroit, USA

Detroit had a rough spot (during which a number of people I knew in Portland bought houses for unheard of prices and relocated). Now, all the people who bought in during that wave and the die-hards that have been there for their whole lives have revitalized the city by turning a bunch of abandoned real estate into breweries, distilleries, galleries, and sources of handmade, artisan goods. And, that in turn led to increased public works that provide places to visit and mass transit for tourists to partake of. A lot of people focus their trips on Motown and that’s hella cool, but don’t overlook Belle Isle, the gigantic island/park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the dude who designed Central Park. There’s a lot of temptation to view Detroit as the subject of ruin porn, but they have a ton of gorgeous (intact) historical buildings, as well as new structures showcasing some of the best in design.

1. Seville, Spain

“It’s always Madrid, Madrid, Madrid,” whines Seville, stomping its feet. What, after all, can cities like Madrid and Barcelona offer that Seville can’t match? Not much. But if there is anything you feel you can’t access there, its position as the capital of the Andalusia region means you can take quick day trips to nearby cities. Win-win. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you will want to hit up the Alcazar of Seville, the filming site for the House Martell on the hit show. It’s also a UNESCO site that dates back to the 10th century. For nightlife, head to Triana, a neighborhood that sits on the opposite side of the Canal de Alfonso XIII from the rest of the city. There’s a vibrant flamenco scene (the dance was born here) and you can get your fill of tapas hopping from awesome bar to bar.



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A Photo Tour Of Lonely Planet’s ‘Top Ten Cities To Visit in 2018’

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