2014 Vacation Destinations

A new year calls for new vacation-planning ideas. From the foods you'll experience to the arts and culture you'll encounter, going away to a new destination can be exhilarating and send your mind, body, and soul on an unforgettable journey. With some vaca ideas from Lifestylemirror.com we're excited to have these locations on our long list of places to visit!

VILLA DE LEYVA, COLOMBIA Seaside Cartagena may be trendy these days. But for weekends Bogota’s elite drive four hours to a tranquil 16th century town ensconced in a highland valley. Cobblestoned Villa de Leyva is built around the sparse Plaza Mayor, dominated by a simple whitewashed church. Park your car for good before selecting a red-tiled hacienda-turned-B&B tucked in a private courtyard. You might even wander over to the farmers’ markets on horseback.

VILLA DE LEYVA, COLOMBIA Seaside Cartagena may be trendy these days. But for weekends Bogota’s elite drive four hours to a tranquil 16th century town ensconced in a highland valley. Cobblestoned Villa de Leyva is built around the sparse Plaza Mayor, dominated by a simple whitewashed church. Park your car for good before selecting a red-tiled hacienda-turned-B&B tucked in a private courtyard. You might even wander over to the farmers’ markets on horseback.

MALTA With its mix of Semitic and western influences, the Mediterranean island nation of Malta is luring ever more discerning travelers to make the quick jaunt over from Sicily. Protected by honey-colored Knights of Malta fortifications, the elevated capital Valletta has stunning harbor views. Neolithic temple complexes dot the land, while the hilltop town of Mdna is laced with narrow alleys and the satellite island of Gozo is alluringly stark.

MALTA With its mix of Semitic and western influences, the Mediterranean island nation of Malta is luring ever more discerning travelers to make the quick jaunt over from Sicily. Protected by honey-colored Knights of Malta fortifications, the elevated capital Valletta has stunning harbor views. Neolithic temple complexes dot the land, while the hilltop town of Mdna is laced with narrow alleys and the satellite island of Gozo is alluringly stark.

DÃO REGION, PORTUGAL Gaining in reputation on the nearby Douro, Portugal’s northern Dão River region produces robust red varieties like Touriga Nacional and Jaen which enthusiasts savor at vineyards along several wine routes. Craggy gorges and medieval fortresses fill the Serra da Estrela mountain range. Converted convent hotels have opened in the old Roman city of Viseu and the hilltop town of Belmonte with a museum dedicated to the secret Jews of the Inquisition.

DÃO REGION, PORTUGAL Gaining in reputation on the nearby Douro, Portugal’s northern Dão River region produces robust red varieties like Touriga Nacional and Jaen which enthusiasts savor at vineyards along several wine routes. Craggy gorges and medieval fortresses fill the Serra da Estrela mountain range. Converted convent hotels have opened in the old Roman city of Viseu and the hilltop town of Belmonte with a museum dedicated to the secret Jews of the Inquisition.

TURKISH BLACK SEA Just a 90-minute flight from Istanbul the mountainous eastern Black Sea region—with its local specialties like gooey fondue and grilled anchovies—makes for a delightful counterpoint to the now in-vogue Turkish capital. Perched in a wooded cliff, the grand 4th-century Greek orthodox monastery of Sumela is reached via twisting roads. Tea plantations cover the lower riverine hillsides, while in Alpine-like villages travelers bask in hot springs and sleep snug in small chalet inns.

TURKISH BLACK SEA Just a 90-minute flight from Istanbul the mountainous eastern Black Sea region—with its local specialties like gooey fondue and grilled anchovies—makes for a delightful counterpoint to the now in-vogue Turkish capital. Perched in a wooded cliff, the grand 4th-century Greek orthodox monastery of Sumela is reached via twisting roads. Tea plantations cover the lower riverine hillsides, while in Alpine-like villages travelers bask in hot springs and sleep snug in small chalet inns.

TURKISH BLACK SEA Just a 90-minute flight from Istanbul the mountainous eastern Black Sea region—with its local specialties like gooey fondue and grilled anchovies—makes for a delightful counterpoint to the now in-vogue Turkish capital. Perched in a wooded cliff, the grand 4th-century Greek orthodox monastery of Sumela is reached via twisting roads. Tea plantations cover the lower riverine hillsides, while in Alpine-like villages travelers bask in hot springs and sleep snug in small chalet inns.

 

CAPE VERDE Some 350 miles off West Africa, ten islands make up the archipelago nation of Cape Verde. The former Portuguese colony was put on the map by the late singing star Cesária Évora from sparse São Vincente. Santo Antão is filled with lush valleys, while Fogo (Fire) is a soaring volcanic isle with a fine winery right inside its crater. Lovely colonial buildings in the main town of São Filipe have lately been morphing into intimate inns.

CAPE VERDE Some 350 miles off West Africa, ten islands make up the archipelago nation of Cape Verde. The former Portuguese colony was put on the map by the late singing star Cesária Évora from sparse São Vincente. Santo Antão is filled with lush valleys, while Fogo (Fire) is a soaring volcanic isle with a fine winery right inside its crater. Lovely colonial buildings in the main town of São Filipe have lately been morphing into intimate inns.

NAMIBIA A continent’s worth of natural and cultural treasures lie in Namibia in southwest Africa. Adventure travelers now fly deep into the Kalahari desert and flock to 8,000-square-mile Etosha game park to see lions, elephants, and wildebeest roam. Along the Atlantic coast, visitors tour old German colonial ghost towns, as well as admire Walvis Bay’s flamingos. After boarding down the massive Sossusvlei sand dunes, it’s time to frolic at a Swakopmund beach resort.  

NAMIBIA A continent’s worth of natural and cultural treasures lie in Namibia in southwest Africa. Adventure travelers now fly deep into the Kalahari desert and flock to 8,000-square-mile Etosha game park to see lions, elephants, and wildebeest roam. Along the Atlantic coast, visitors tour old German colonial ghost towns, as well as admire Walvis Bay’s flamingos. After boarding down the massive Sossusvlei sand dunes, it’s time to frolic at a Swakopmund beach resort.
 

MUSCAT, OMAN Dubai and Abu Dhabi are hyped. But their Arabian Peninsula neighbor, Oman, is where the savvy head for fine coastal resorts to marvel at historic forts and the traditional dhows that sail past Muscat’s Corniche. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is the third biggest in the world, while the Royal Opera House is brand new. At the legendary Muttrah Souq visitors take home handicrafts like nifty silver-filigree Khanjar daggers.


MUSCAT, OMAN Dubai and Abu Dhabi are hyped. But their Arabian Peninsula neighbor, Oman, is where the savvy head for fine coastal resorts to marvel at historic forts and the traditional dhows that sail past Muscat’s Corniche. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is the third biggest in the world, while the Royal Opera House is brand new. At the legendary Muttrah Souq visitors take home handicrafts like nifty silver-filigree Khanjar daggers.

TAIPEI, TAIWAN Since the bamboo-shaped Tapei 101 skyscraper went up a decade ago, Taipei has gone from stodgy to stylish. The city is packed with high-end shopping, dining, and upscale hotels like the new W, while the National Palace Museum houses the world’s finest collection of Chinese art. Foodies rave about night markets for their tapas-sized dishes from oyster omelettes to snake meat. Sun Moon Lake in the central mountains is the ideal getaway.

TAIPEI, TAIWAN Since the bamboo-shaped Tapei 101 skyscraper went up a decade ago, Taipei has gone from stodgy to stylish. The city is packed with high-end shopping, dining, and upscale hotels like the new W, while the National Palace Museum houses the world’s finest collection of Chinese art. Foodies rave about night markets for their tapas-sized dishes from oyster omelettes to snake meat. Sun Moon Lake in the central mountains is the ideal getaway.

DOMINICA Blissfully free of mega-resorts, the island of Dominica with its original small Carib population is as close to a pure Caribbean as exists. Recently eco-conscious properties like Jungle Bay on the south coast have sprung up in the English-speaking nation. Banana farms give way to rainforests in the mountainous terrain, while the Boiling Lake literally bubbles in a volcanic crater. Whale-watching opportunities are superb and the diving spectacular as well.

DOMINICA Blissfully free of mega-resorts, the island of Dominica with its original small Carib population is as close to a pure Caribbean as exists. Recently eco-conscious properties like Jungle Bay on the south coast have sprung up in the English-speaking nation. Banana farms give way to rainforests in the mountainous terrain, while the Boiling Lake literally bubbles in a volcanic crater. Whale-watching opportunities are superb and the diving spectacular as well.

VALPARAÍSO, CHILE Thigh-strengthening hills make Valparaíso “Little San Francisco.” Once a mighty port turned dodgy, the Pacific city is again giving out-of-towners a thrill out of riding its dozen century-old funiculars. Vibrantly-painted, tin-clad, and gingerbread houses line the steep blocks. And several fine old mansions that overlook the bay are now boutique hotels. The new Palacio Astoreca inn is filled with contemporary art and fittingly sits across from the recently renovated fine arts museum. (Lifestylemirror.com)  

VALPARAÍSO, CHILE Thigh-strengthening hills make Valparaíso “Little San Francisco.” Once a mighty port turned dodgy, the Pacific city is again giving out-of-towners a thrill out of riding its dozen century-old funiculars. Vibrantly-painted, tin-clad, and gingerbread houses line the steep blocks. And several fine old mansions that overlook the bay are now boutique hotels. The new Palacio Astoreca inn is filled with contemporary art and fittingly sits across from the recently renovated fine arts museum. (Lifestylemirror.com)