Most On-Trend Destination: Turkey
With the popular new James Bond movie, Skyfall, it’s no surprise that Istanbul is on the list of top destinations for 2013. Celebrated as the cultural heart of Turkey and distinguished as the only city located on two continents, Istanbul served as the backdrop and second lead in the latest Bond flick—elevating the city to star-status by highlighting its rich culture and heritage alongside the iconic James Bond. The souq is the most famous and one of the largest covered markets in the world, with a labyrinth of 61 streets and over 3,000 shops, so you’re in for an ultimate shopping experience here. Take in the splendor of the Bosphorus, tour the city’s hip restaurants, bars and galleries, stand in awe in front of its mosques, have a whiff of a narghile in Tophane or a sip of Turkish coffee at a sidewalk café.
Look beyond Istanbul and the coastal resorts and take advantage of new low-fare airlines to see points beyond. New low-cost airlines are opening up the southeast of Turkey, and excellent bus services make getting around easy. Explore the historic old towns of Mardin and Midyat, feast on fantastic food in Gaziantep and see the recently uncovered ruins of Göbekli Tepe near Sanliurfa. Experience the Turkish section of the recently inaugurated Abraham’s Path walking trail, where accommodation is in simple Kurdish homestays, a long way from the tourist buzz of the coast or Istanbul’s Old Town.
Turkey saw 31.5 million visitors in 2011, an increase of almost 10% compared to 2010 and the UN World Travel Organization named it as the world’s 6th most popular tourist destination in 2011.
The country’s tourist infrastructure has grown as well, increasing by 67 percent in the last ten years. By 2015 Turkey’s hotels will offer 370,000 rooms for a wide variety of budgets.
Turkey’s cost of living continues to remain low—50-60% below the cost of living in the UK!
Istanbul has also been applauded for its role on the international art scene—in 2011 the city launched two multimillion-dollar contemporary art spaces.
Get There Before the Crowds: Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is the most visited city in the southern hemisphere and is known for its natural settings, carnival celebrations, samba, Bossa Nova, balneario beaches such as Barra da Tijuca, Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon. Some of the most famous landmarks in addition to the beaches include the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer ("Cristo Redentor") atop Corcovado mountain, named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World; Sugarloaf mountain (Pão de Açúcar) with its cable car; the Sambódromo, a permanent grandstand-lined parade avenue which is used during Carnival; and Maracanã Stadium, one of the world's largest football stadiums.
Not an inexpensive destination, but if you’re thinking about a visit, 2013 is the time to go before the city gets completely out of your economic reach for a couple of years with the arrival of major sporting events such as the football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016. Rio de Janeiro will also host World Youth Day in 2013. For a traveler, this means the city is under rapid transformation to unfold some of the best services to visitors, but once the goal is accomplished prices will go up.
Best Centrally-Located Domestic Destination: Put-in-Bay, Ohio
Put-in-Bay, albeit an unlikely destination for many, is starting to gain a lot of traction amongst tourists looking for a closer-to-home Caribbean. The highlight for the 2013 season celebrates 200 years since the victory over the British with the Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial Re-Creation. Put-in-Bay, a village nestled in the north side of South Bass Island on the freshwater of Lake Erie, is legendary amongst many midwesterners. The Lake Erie Shores and Islands region also has the perfect weather for growing grapes, which makes it ideal for wineries. Not Napa Valley, not France, but right here on the north shore of Ohio. Heineman’s Winery and been in operation since 1888 and the Put-in-Bay Winery is no slouch either. And last but not least, perhaps what this village is most famous for. Taverns. And lots of them. Most notably, the Roundhouse Bar. This establishment has been serving up libations since 1875 and continues to do so every year with an enthusiastic vigor. Whether it’s dressing up the entire building as a pumpkin for Halloween or kicking off the beginning of the season by turning on the small Whiskey light that sits perched above the entrance, these islanders always find a reason to celebrate. Other perks:
- Within driving distance of major cities including Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Philadelphia, among others.
- Caribbean style, laid back atmosphere without breaking your budget. Has been referred to as the "Key West of the Midwest."
- Minutes away from the world renowned family destination, Cedar Point amusement park. America's roller coaster capital.
- Excellent dining with an eclectic mix of shops and outdoor activities such as parasailing, kayaking, cave tours, biplane rides and helicopter tours.
- The Bicentennial Battle of Lake Erie Reenactment in late August through September 10th includes Tall Ship fleet tours, national speakers, marching bands, fireworks, concerts and other historical activities.
- Christmas in July at the Bay sees the entire island decorated to the hilt in Christmas garb for the island's largest summer celebration. Live music, costume contests & lots of adult refreshments.
- August 13th brings in the annual Bartender Olympics. Visitors and locals alike line the streets to watch their favorite servers take part in a float parade and compete in Olympic style events.
- On June 28th Pyrates invade the island for a four-day family festival of pyrates, folklore and fun for the 5th annual Put-in-Bay Pyrate Fest.
- New Years at the Bay on September 14th transforms the entire downtown into a casino complete with parlor games and a countdown to midnight.
- The Island Wine Festival on October 5th lets visitors sample over 350 island and domestic wines on a relaxing day of good food and great wines.
- October 12th brings an Oktoberfest celebration, island style. German food and live polka music give island visitors a taste of the German culture.
Battered tragically by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and wracked by civil war from 1983 to 2009, many areas of the country have remained off limits to even the most intrepid traveller. Now the bitter conflict is over, investment is fueling the tourism industry, and visitor numbers are steadily increasing. Prices are affordable, and with low-cost flights from the convenient travel hub of Bangkok, Sri Lanka is emerging as one of the planet’s best-value destinations.
An island country in the northern Indian Ocean off the southern coast of South Asia. Sri Lanka is Southeast of India and northeast to the Maldives. It has been called The tear drop of India because of its shape and location and is known as "The Pearl of the Indian Ocean" because of it's natural beauty. It is also known as "The nation of smiling people." The island contains tropical forests and diverse landscapes with high biodiversity.