Cuba had its moment as a hot travel destination, but the beauty of travel is that there's always another hotspot emerging. In fact, there are lots of hotspots—from lesser-known European cities like Lisbon and Cardiff to more far-flung spots like South Korea and Australia. Pack your passport and sense of adventure and check out these up-and-coming travel destinations.
Peru gets most of the attention, but Chile is the South American country to keep your eye on. In the capital of Santiago, new boutique hotels like Luciano K are springing up, the Barrio Italia, with boutiques and design shops, is the hip new neighborhood, and cutting-edge restaurants like Boragó have received global accolades. The city is also the launching point for eco-adventure trips to the Atacama Desert.
With the recent opening of the Bürgenstock Resort, Lake Lucerne in Switzerland is once again on travelers' radars. The complex, once a jet-set resort in the 1950s, has been totally transformed. Set on a bluff, it offers breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding mountains, and it features four hotels, 12 restaurants, a golf course, and a state-of-the-art spa. The jewel in the crown is the recently opened Bürgenstock Hotel, featuring 102 rooms and the Spices Kitchen & Terrace.
There's plenty going on in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. Game of Thrones fans know that the hit HBO show has filmed here—there are numerous themed tours available—and the Titanic Quarter, the former shipyard where the ill-fated liner was built, is now a buzzing area with the Titanic Belfast museum and the just-opened Titanic Hotel. You can also take a driving tour along the coast to see the famous Giant's Causeway rock formation.
Urban renewal projects like Skygarden, a highway transformed into a High Line-like linear park, are adding some much-needed green space in the South Korean capital. There's also the ultra modern Dongdaemun Design Plaza mall, as well as the 14th-century Gyeongbokgung Palace. The trendy Insadong area has craft shops, tea houses, and Korean barbecue and kimchi restaurants.
There's a lot happening in Hamburg, Germany's second-largest city. The striking new Herzog and de Meuron-designed Elbphilharmonie concert hall is making waves with its ultra modern design. Museum-wise, you can visit the traditional Kunsthalle, or see a contemporary exhibit at the Deichtorhallen, housed in two restored 19th-century market halls. Plus, set to debut this fall is the five-star Fontenay hotel on Lake Alster.
Motor City is definitely getting its groove back. The new QLine streetcar just started running, the old Detroit Fire Department headquarters has been turned into the trendy Foundation Hotel (its Apparatus Room is helmed by Michelin-starred chef Thomas Lents), and in the works is a spanking-new arena for the Red Wings and Pistons. Plus, craft breweries like Urbanrest Brewing Co. are popping up all over town.
If you haven't been to Wales yet, you're definitely missing out. In the capital of Cardiff, two hours by train from London, you can visit Cardiff Castle and the futuristic-looking Wales Millennium Centre, an arts complex in the redeveloped Cardiff Bay area. Dine in restaurants like Clink, the Potted Pig, and a soon-to-open steakhouse from top British chef Marco Pierre White in the brand-new Hotel Indigo.
This sultanate on the Arabian peninsula gets overshadowed by Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but look for that to change. In the capital of Muscat, there's the new National Museum of Oman, as well as the Royal Opera House and the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque (open to non-Muslims). The Al Bustan Palace is still one of the world's most lavish hotels, and a new coastal resort from Kempinski is set to open by year's end.
Though not as known as Sydney and Melbourne, there's much to recommend in the coastal town of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. In terms of hotels, there's the swanky Mayfair, and there's a Sheraton and a Sofitel in the pipeline. Dining-wise, Orana, from chef-owner Jock Zonfrillo, is garnering top honors across Australia, as are other culinary hotspots like Africola and Penfolds Magill Estate in nearby Magill.
If you like Mexico's Cabo San Lucas, but want something a little more laid-back, then Todos Santos just might be the place for you. This bohemian beach town (an hour north of Cabo on the Baja California peninsula) has art galleries, craft shops, and great surfing strands. Stay in the just-opened Hotel San Cristóbal, a 32-room boutique hotel on Punta Lobos beach from hip Austin-based hotelier Liz Lambert.
While often overshadowed by Dubai, Abu Dhabi is poised to attract plenty of global attention when it cuts the ribbon on a new branch of the Louvre museum this November. Designed by noted architect Jean Nouvel, the ultra modern domed building will showcase both ancient and contemporary art. Additionally, a new water taxi service that'll take tourists to the city's top attractions, including the Louvre, is expected to launch soon.
Cape Town, with its mountain and sea panoramas, has always been known as one of Africa's most beautiful cities, and now, as an added incentive to visit, it has just debuted the largest contemporary art museum on the continent. The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, housed in a former grain silo, is devoted exclusively to African art and artists. Also within the building is a posh 28-room boutique hotel called The Silo.
A brand-new museum has opened in Marrakech. The Musée Yves Saint Laurent, housed in a desert-hued contemporary building, is dedicated to the history of the iconic fashion brand, and it honors founders Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. Visitors can expect plenty of couture garments and accessories on display. While you're in the Rose City, you can also visit the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square and shop in the medina.
Nature lovers should put Newfoundland, one of Canada's Atlantic provinces, on their travel radars. March through June, massive ice floes can be seen in "Iceberg Alley" (from Greenland to the North Atlantic), and there's also whale watching, hiking, and bird-watching. The top place to stay is the architecturally stunning Fogo Island Inn, and award-winning Raymonds is one of Canada's top fine dining restaurants.
Madrid and Barcelona get more attention, but don't overlook Seville. Top attractions include the Seville Cathedral and Alcazar Palace, which was recently seen in Game of Thrones. You'll find contemporary works at the Andalusia Contemporary Art Centre, and the recently opened Mercer Sevilla, housed in a former Andalusian palace, is a gorgeous boutique hotel with modern interiors and a rooftop pool and bar.
As the designated European City of Culture for 2018, you can expect a lot of buzz to be centered around the capital city of Valletta. There will be festivals and special exhibits throughout the year, as well as the unveiling of MUZA, a new national art gallery and a new public square, Piazza de Valette. You can also check out the city's historic sites, which include the Saint John's Co-Cathedral, dating back to the 16th century.