Hot travel destinations 2014

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Whether it’s emerging parts of long-established favourites, the hosts of major international events or places being opened up by new flight routes, some travel destinations in 2014 are going to be subject to more buzz than others. So where’s got the hot new hotels, where’s go see it before it changes status and where’s getting a massive cultural influx? We’ve picked out ten holiday spots likely to get people talking this year:

Words: David Whitley

  • New Zealand’s west coast

    Everyone knows about the mountains, adventure sports, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but the wild west coast is usually skipped in favour of more obvious attractions. Well, time to rectify that. This is the New Zealand of windswept fishing villages, moody dirt roads winding down through hills to the sea, hardy surfers and stunning black sand beaches. Start in Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges – the beaches at Piha and Karekare are natural wonders – and slowly wind your way south.

    Photo: David Whitley

  • Yorkshire

    The first two stages of 2014’s Tour De France will be taking place in the decidedly ungallic Yorkshire countryside. The less fit might like to try driving the route instead – taking in the spas and tearooms of Harrogate, moorland walks, arty outposts in Hebden Bridge and Haworth, plus the rich heritage and cutely independent shopping streets of York itself. The county was named Europe’s best destination at the 2013 World Travel Awards – and the variety of things to do there was a key factor in this.

    Photo: David Whitley

  • Portland, Jamaica

    Ask pretty much any Jamaican where their favourite part of their own country is, and it’s likely they’ll say Portland parish in the east of the island. The main tourist strips – Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios – are further west. But hot properties such as Geejam, Trident and the treehouses at Kanopi House are making Portland the discerning choice. It’s wetter and greener, but comes with gorgeous lagoons, Blue Mountain coffee plantations and plenty of adventure – including downhill mountain biking and river rafting.

    Photo: David Whitley

  • Austin, Texas

    Ditch all those Texas pre-conceptions – Austin is young, liberal and unstoppably cool. A busy festival calendar helps here, but it’s really the live music scene that drives the city. Walk down the key nightlife streets (of which Rainey Street with its converted houses is currently hippest) and you’ll hear live bands and DJs blasting out of pretty much every building. British Airways launches direct flights from Heathrow to Austin in March – making the buzz far easier to access.

    Photo: David Whitley

  • Porto, Portugal

    BA’s other new route is to the northern Portuguese city of Porto, which is prime affordable city break territory. It has a swoony, World Heritage-listed medieval centre, a photogenic setting on the banks of the River Duoro and that taste for the nightlife that seconds cities often pull off better than the capital. River cruises, port wine tasting and palace-hopping are great bets for plugging any holes in the weekend jaunt’s itinerary.

    Photo: Porto Convention and Visitors Bureau

  • Indonesia

    This massive archipelago of hugely varied islands doesn’t get the South East Asian attention like Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam do, but Indonesia has natural beauty in spades. Bali’s the most popular holiday island – expect plenty of resorts on the coasts and a genteel cultural focus in Ubud. But Lombok next door is the up-and-coming smart spot – with the tiny, gloriously beachy Gili Islands just off the coast the current hot tickets. New direct flights to Jakarta with Garuda – launching in June – will make getting there much easier.

    Photo: Ministry of Culture & Tourism, Republic of Indonesia

  • Panama

    August marks the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal opening. It’s one of the greatest engineering achievements of all time, but it’s also kinda sexy. Watching the giant ships pass through the Miraflores locks is mesmerising. Being on one of those ships is even better. But there’s more to Panama than the canal – the rainforests are ripe for wildlife spotting, trekking and kayaking adventures, while capital Panama City offers a heady mix of skyscraping modernity and romantic colonial grandeur.

    Photo: David Whitley

  • Nicaragua

    The Panama Canal may soon have competition – Chinese investors have mooted starting work on an alternative canal across Nicaragua in 2014. This would bring massive changes to Latin America’s volcano-studded under the radar star. Highlights include the cute islets in Lake Nicaragua, the laid-back surf town of San Juan Del Sur and the handsome colonial cities of Granada and Leon. But for wallet-watchers, the absurdly low cost of food, drinks and accommodation makes it a gloriously affordable place to mooch around.

    Photo: David Whitley

  • Riga, Latvia

    Once tarred with the unwanted stag party capital of Europe tag, the Latvian capital has been gradually smartening itself up in recent years. Pretty buildings are what Riga does best – it’s especially heavy on art nouveau architecture – but it has a rich maritime and trading history too. In 2014, the city’s creative scene gets some much-deserved spotlight – Riga is one of the two European Capitals of Culture (the other being Umea in Sweden).


  • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

    Mexico’s Caribbean coast is hardly a secret, but few Brits make it to the Pacific Coast. That should change pretty soon, with Thomson launching direct flights to Puerto Vallarta from both Gatwick and Manchester. It’s very much a resort area with the emphasis on the beach and watersports – but you don’t have to get too far inland for a dose of authentic Mexico. Jungle adventures and the Sierra Nevada mountain range are nearby for those who want more than a sunlounger.

    Photo: Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort, Thomson

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Stylist Team