Here Are Lonely Planet's Top 9 Regions To Visit In 2018

The ultimate travel bucket list.

Cover image via Franci Ferjan/Slovenian Tourist Board

1. Belfast & the Causeway Coast and Glens, Northern Ireland

Castle Ward, County Down is the main location for Winterfell and the surrounding lands of the North.

Image via Authentic Ireland

The Dark Hedges is said to be the most photographed location in Northern Ireland and appears in Season 2 of Game of Thrones as The Kingsroad.

Image via The Planet D

Inch Abbey was where Robb Stark was proclaimed as the King of North.

Image via The Whole World Display Ground

These two spots in Northern Ireland are a must visit for Game of Thrones fans, especially since Belfast is home to Titanic Studios where the show is shot at. The Winterfell Locations Trek promises an immersive experience with Stark cloaks, gambesons, peascods, and LARP swords for hire.

Discover Ireland says the morning trek starts at Winterfell to one of the Walder Frey's Twins, past Robb's Camp in the Riverlands and the location of Brienne's confrontation with three Stark soldiers. The afternoon session includes Tollymore Forest, to the bridge where the Starks found a dead direworlf and her pups.

More details here.

2. Alaska, USA


Image via Getty/Travel+Leisure

A fishing lodge in Pelican, Alaska.

Image via Lisianski Inlet Lodge

A campground by the Wonder Lake in Alaska's Denali National Park.

Image via The Manual

Nature junkies will fall head over heels with this place. With stunning sceneries, grizzly bears, gigantic glaciers, and national parks the size of a few countries, Alaska is a nature lover's haven.

It truly allows you to be a part of the wilderness. If you're not pressed for time, fly out to a remote lodge of your choice, and basically do whatever you want. Kayak, trek, fish, watch bears snatching salmon out of gushing waterfalls, eat amazing Alaskan cuisine, or just sit by the campfire and read a book. 

If you want to rough it up a little bit, Alaska has plenty of campgrounds and RV parks, where you can pitch your tents close to snow-covered mountains or by tranquil lakes and explore the surroundings at your own pace. 

More details here

3. Julian Alps, Slovenia

Triglav National Park is centered on Mount Triglav, the highest peak in the Julian Alps.

Image via Pension Silvia

Bled Island, Slovenia.

Image via Slovenian Tourist Board

Lake Bled in winter.

Image via Franci Ferjan/Slovenian Tourist Board

Situated in Central Europe, Slovenia is a small country that's nestled between Croatia, Hungary, Austria, and Italy. It is everything the European postcards promise, from snow-clad Alps, dazzling emerald-green rivers, and charming little villages steeped in centuries worth of history and culture, without the crowds you may encounter in Austria or Switzerland.

If you're already in the region, ditch the flights and drive into Slovenia instead. It's only a few hours away from cities like Venice and Zagreb! The view and experience will be worth every minute spent on the road.

Julian Alps is the crowning jewel of Slovenia. Its glacial lakes and stunning hiking trails will mesmerise you. Lake Bled in particular is very popular among tourists, but it is definitely not overrated. Take the pletna (tradtional wooden boat) ride to the tiny Bled Island in the middle of the lake to see the beautiful Assumption of Mary Church and ring the church bells. Legend has it that it can make your wishes come true!

More details here

4. Languedoc-Roussillon, France


Image via Camping de Sources

Gérard Bertrand winery in Languedoc-Roussillon.

Image via Winerist

Saint-Nazaire cathedral, Béziers.

Image via French Tourism Board

Ask anyone who's been to France and they'll tell you it has to be in your bucket list, especially the South of France. 

Destination expert Anthony Peregrine says Languedoc-Roussillon is wilder, earthier compared to Côte d'Azur and Provence, and the chances of bumping into other tourists is pretty low. Explore the picturesque villages in Uzès and Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, wander around the vineyards in Corbières, or take a stroll along the Bay of Collioure to your heart's content.

With some of the finest wine and cheese in the world, one hardly needs more reasons to visit Languedoc-Roussillon! Oh, if you're wondering how to pronounce the name of this breathtaking place, here's how.

More details here.

5. Kii Peninsula, Japan

Kumano River

Image via Jenny Zarins/Condé Nast Traveller

Kumano Hongū Taisha, a Shinto shrine in Kii Peninsula.

Image via Jenny Zarins/Condé Nast Traveller

An onsen in Kii Peninsula.

Image via Jenny Zarins/Condé Nast Traveller

Located about 600 kilometres from Tokyo, Kii Peninsula is described as Japan's spiritual heartland. Holy mountains, Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, sacred rocks, onsens, and mountainous trails make up most of this slice of heaven on earth. 

If you're in need of a nature and spiritual retreat, Kii Peninsula will soothe and rejuvenate your body and soul. 

More details here

6. Aeolian Islands, Italy


Image via drcooke/Getty


Image via Sunsail

The seven islands—Vulcano, Lipari, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli, Filicudi, and Alicudi—of the volcanic Aeolian archipelago are UNESCO-protected sites, situated off Sicily's northeastern coast.

Stromboli is home to one of the three active volcanoes in Italy and it's absolutely breathtaking. For the best viewing experience, hike up the Sciara del Fuoco viewpoint on a still night and watch the bubbling red lava erupt and stream into the sea.

If you're longing for some peace and quiet, head to Filicudi, one of the two most western and least visited islands by tourists in the archipelago. Measuring just nine square kilometres, Filicudi is home to the Hotel La Canna which has only 10 rooms, where you can wake up to the view of sparkling blue waters and the warmth of the Italian sun.

More details here.

7. Southern USA

French Quarter, New Orleans.

Image via Christian Heeb, Laif Redux

Rivershack Tavern in New Orleans serves pretty amazing crawfish.

Image via Rivershack Tavern

The National Civil Rights Museum is located near the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968.

Image via Clio

A treasure trove of history, music, and comfort food, the Deep South is the birthplace of the civil rights movement, country music and jazz, fried green tomatoes, chicken fried steak, corn pone, shrimp and grits, and so many other amazing things.

Binge on Southern cuisine, check out the Civil Rights trail, and soak up the beauty of The South. 

More details here.

8. Lahaul & Spiti, India

The Ki Monastery in Spiti Valley.

Image via Arjun Menon/Condé Nast Traveller

The snow-covered mountains of Lahaul.

Image via India's Invitation

The Tangyud Monastery in Spiti.

Image via Arjun Menon/Condé Nast Traveller

Lonely Planet describes Himachal Pradesh's Lahaul and Spiti as among the most spectacular and sparsely populated regions on Earth.

With scenic mountain villages and medieval monasteries, Lahaul sits on the Leh-Manali bus route and is perfect for trekking, hiking, and adventure drives.

Its lesser known neighbour, Spiti, borders Tibet in the east, Ladakh to the north, and Lahaul and Kullu to the south. If you're staying, skip the hotels and pick the homestays in Spiti as they are a great way to discover and familiarise yourself with the local culture. The rooms are spacious and most come with views of the Himalayas! 

More details here

9. Bahia, Brazil

Salvador, Bahia.

Image via Emily Cass/Just Globetrotting

Itacaré, Bahia.

Image via Discover Brazil

Carnival celebrations in Salvador.

Image via Getty/Condé Nast Traveller

Candy coloured colonial buildings, gilded churches, and lively festivals with African beats are synonymous with Bahia.

Condé Nast Traveller has a whole bunch of insider tips for Bahia's capital, Salvador, which is one of the oldest colonial cities in the Americas and a must visit place in the state. 

Creative Director and Head of Design for Diesel, Wilbert Das suggests staying in Pelourinho, the historic neighbourhood in western Salvador. "Blend in with the population. Don't flash your expensive stuff and you will have an incredibly good time."

More details here.

Explore Lonely Planet's other Best In Travel 2018 destinations here

So, which region are you going to visit? If you have any other spots that you think is worth a mention, share with us in the comment section down below!

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