Arguably, one of the best things about the start of a brand new year is planning your travel schedule for the next 12 months. Once you have learnt the art of planning your trips rather than just mindlessly tapping up cheap deals twice a year, your entire world will change. Believe us. So get your maps out, have your calendar at the ready and read on to see which of our top five destinations for 2014 gets your motor running.
1. Cape Town – best for design daredevils
Cape Town continues to shed its reputation for violence and severe racial tension. As crime levels improve, intrepid travellers are pulled in by its breathtaking natural beauty, thriving design and craft scene and consistent sunshine all year round. Officially ranked World Design Capital for 2014, the mother city is set to become more popular than ever. Must-see attractions include a visit to Table Mountain (of course) and a wander around the Woodstock Design District to soak up the indigenous design talent and invest in a few locally made artisan goods.
2. Oaxaca, Mexico – best for beach bums
Who can resist the vibe of Mexico? For 2014, it’s not all-time favourite Puerto Vallarta we’re dreaming of. We’re obsessed with the idea of visiting Oaxaca, the country’s often overlooked southeastern state. A hub for foodies- the spices available here are out of this world- colonial architecture buffs and art obsessives, the mountainous landscape is utterly beguiling. Another huge pull is the recently opened Hotel Escondido. The Design Hotel is nestled amongst a cactus forest in the miniscule coastal town of Puerto Escondido and since opening late last year, has attracted an army of beautiful surfers and new age bohemians. The sparse yet bold design of each of the 16 bungalows is totally tumblr-worthy and we hear there’s a paradisiac lagoon nearby. Let’s go now right?
3. Miami – best for culture vultures
Miami’s reputation as a born again cultural capital has been rising for some time now. Particularly if you haven’t been in a while, The Manual recommend a visit for 2014 to witness the city’s ever evolving neighbourhoods and incoming flux of diverse cultural influence thanks to its close proximity to Latin America and the Caribbean. Hot spots include the recently opened Pérez Art Museum and the wonderful Little Havana district.
4. Sicily – best for Mafia man trips
An emergence of local wineries you say? Though, the current boom in Sicily’s wine trade is just an added incentive to visit this year. Visions of sipping wine in a deserted lemon grove aside, the island is home to Mount Etna, Europe’s only active volcano that makes for an unforgettable experience. Another must-see is the rural hillside town of Savoca, featured in Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece The Godfather Part II. Once you’ve relived a little mafia glory with several drinks in Bar Vitelli, take a coastal drive and check into the Zash Country Boutique Hotel. A former winery, this Mediterranean garden design hotel won’t disappoint, especially if you want to do the whole getting lost in citrus groves thing.
5. Rio de Janeiro – best for sports fans
With the impending Fifa World Cup kicking off in Rio de Janeiro in June, sports fans would be mad not to take full advantage of the Brazilian city this year. As an extra bonus, regeneration of the beachside metropolis in preparation of the 2016 Olympics is already well underway so the city feels booming and at its best. Sports aside, the azure sea, green mountains and sky-scraping statue of Christ the Redeemer are sights to behold. If you’re planning a pre-spring break, the infamous Rio Carnival begins on February 28th.