Where to Travel in 2018: 13 of Our Favorite Destinations
We had full-on Hygge Holidays. We spent the entire week eating, drinking and sitting by the fire. This gave us time to think about what an incredible year 2017 was for us and all the places we got to see.
During our nine-month trip, we visited over 53 towns and cities. A regular question that we've been asked after returning home has always been "Which one was your favourite?" And we always give the same answer: "There is no way we could pick just one." While it seems like a bit of a cop out, honestly we appreciated every country and city for different reasons.
But when we look back, there are definitely some highlights. As we start to plan our travels for the new year, we're guessing you might be doing the same. So, we thought we'd share a few of our favorite destinations from last year. This list is not exhaustive, since we had about 15 more to add, but here's our list of where to travel in 2018, in no particular order.
Our Favorite Destinations of the Year
We know this isn't a city, but we couldn't narrow it down to just one. We visited Granada, Córdoba and Seville while we were in the south of Spain. Even though it was the hottest time of the year with over 40 degree celsius temperatures, we had the most amazing time. Granada has the Alhambra and the incredible perk of free tapas at bars and restaurants every time you order a drink. Córdoba has the unbelievable Mezquita and courtyards. Seville has incredible architecture and food (we've got a whole food guide here). So, yes, we're still dreaming about this destination.
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
After some relaxing time in San Miguel de Allende and Zihuatanejo, we spent a week in Mexico City and the experience exceeded our expectations. While you do have to consider the city isn't as safe as most, as long as you're smart and careful about where and when you venture out, Mexico City will reward you. There are plenty of beautiful and delicious restaurants and cocktail bars, as well as incredible museums and parks. We especially loved the National Museum of Anthropology (we promise you, it's not just for science or history lovers) and the Post Office.
CHIANG MAI, THAILAND
With family in Bangkok, we've spent a lot of time in Thailand. So, when we decided to head north we thought we knew what to expect. We didn't. Northern Thailand is very different from the south and with some of the best food in the country. Chiang Mai in particular is filled with artists and creatives both from around Thailand and internationally. We spent many hours at the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum. Hike up to Doi Suthep temple or venture a bit outside of the city and you'll also see some of the most beautiful landscapes Thailand has to offer.
LUANG PRABANG, LAOS
Sleepy Luang Prabang feels like you've travelled back in time. We sat by the river and ate (our usual activity), wandered around and chatted with the locals. What makes Luang Prabang so special is that it still retains an old colonial charm mixed with local cuisine and culture. Every benefit has it's trade off, of course. The town has attracted so many tourists over the last few years since it's UNESCO Heritage designation that many locals have been pushed out of the center. We wrote another post about all the reasons to visit here.
Our visit to Sapa was unforgettable. The town itself is something to stay away from if you can, as it has become over-developed, with construction, noise and dirt on every corner. We can thank us, the toursits, for that. We stayed just outside the town though, right at the beginning of the hiking trails in the recently opened Sapa Clay House. The food at this little 6-8 room hotel was some of the best we had in the country and the views were unbeatable. We spent our days hiking along the trails and taking in the sights.
CINQUE TERRE, ITALY
We know, this isn't a surprise inclusion in any list. But, there is a reason Cinque Terre continues to be a top destination. The hiking trails provide stunning views of the five towns and, with some of the easier trails closed due to floods in recent years, they also provide a serious workout. To be honest, we never loved hiking. But thanks to our time in Sapa and Cinque Terre we've changed our minds. Read more about what we loved about Cinque Terre and which towns were our favorite here.
We spent time in three towns in Transylvania: Brasov, Sibiu and Sighișoara, and we enjoyed our time in all of them. Our first stop was Brasov, a beautiful town with friendly people and plenty to see in and around the area. You can even spend a morning visiting the castle that inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Budapest is an incredibly underrated city. We'd suggest visiting this amazing city before that changes. As part of the former Soviet Union, the country isn't as wealthy as it's western neighbors. The affordability of the city has attracted a lot of artists and creatives that have made Budapest an incredible place to explore and take in the great night life and restaurants. We stayed at Brody House, where there is a regular rotation of art on display from local artists. As part of the former Austro-Hungarian empire, the city also boasts stunning architecture and sites. Check out more photos of Budapest here.
A quick train ride from Budapest, Vienna is very different from it's Hungarian neighbor. While Budapest is more gritty and creative, Vienna is very orderly and classical. The museums and art galleries are unparalleled, and somehow we didn't experience museum-fatigue. It was all too beautiful. Our favorites were the Kunst Historisches Museum (entry is a bit steep, but worth it) and the Leopold Museum. We also got to stay at one of our favorite hotels, 25 Hours MuseumsQuartier, where we could walk to any of the galleries and museums in the MuseumsQuartier within five minutes.
We were lucky enough to have a friend in Berlin that showed us what it was like to live in this amazing city (check out his creative work). Despite getting fined on the transit system (beware!), we loved Berlin and are plotting ways to move there one day. We wrote more about what we loved about Berlin here.
Only an hour train ride from Amsterdam, Rotterdam is a very underrated city (by now, you can probably tell those are our favorite kinds). During WWII the city was completely bombed and had to be entirely rebuilt. Over the years, the citizens of Rotterdam took this opportunity to introduce more art into the city, including unique architecture, galleries and museums. Some (but not all) of our favorites were Fenix Food Factory, Markthal, the Cube Houses, staying at citizenM and Museum Boijmans. Check out Weekends in Rotterdam for even more of what there is to do and see, written by locals who know what's up.
While we loved Porto, we loved Lisbon more. First of all, every corner is stunning (we put together two posts of all the photographable spots in the city). The food is incredible and the views from all the hilltops make it feel like many different towns in one. There are also so many day trips to make from Lisbon, including Sintra, Evora and Cascais. Lisbon had been on the top of our list of places to visit for the last ten years and it was hands down one of the most memorable. Oh, and if you're looking for pasteis de nata (egg tarts), Manteigaria is hands down our favorite (much better than Pasteis de Belem, and less of a hike).