What with all the excitement of Christmas and New Year, you might have forgotten that 2015 has the potential to be the best yet, travelwise. Twelve whole months are available, so why not make it your resolution to visit at least a handful of the spectacular destinations out there? Come on. The world is out there – you just need to introduce yourself.
Barcelona – for the partygoer
If you’re into your nightlife and party spirit, Barcelona is the best place to be. Thriving bars can be found on every street. Fascinating restaurants serving up all manner of Catalan cuisine. Cavernous clubs can be found in the form of Razzmatazz and Opium, while a free club strip provides endless party atmosphere for even the thriftiest of visitors. To top it off, Barcelona possesses an absolutely legendary gay scene.
While other cities are proud of a nightlife that peters out at 2am, this is when the Catalan partygoers are just getting started. Drinking generally starts around 11pm with the bars getting busy at midnight and the clubs opening up at 1am. Naturally, the fun doesn’t stop until 7am. For partygoers, this is undoubtedly the place to be.
However, it’s worth remembering that Barcelona also possesses an exciting and vibrant cultural scene as well. The city that inspired Gaudí has a lot of fascinating architecture – places worth visiting include Parc Guell, Casa Batlló and of course, the extraordinary Sagrada Familia.
Tokyo – for the foodie fanatic
The capital of Japan has a lot of strong points, with its bustling metropolis atmosphere combined with traditional values. Culture vultures will relish in the fact that skyscrapers are constructed around centuries-old temples and shrines.
However, if you pick one specific aspect to love about Tokyo, it simply has to be the food. Dining out in Japan is simply a completely different experience – something that you will remember for the rest of your life. You can start by seeing how the ingredients are all purchased – at the Tsukiji fish market. This extraordinary place is attended by thousands of fishermen all showing off their catches, to be bought by restaurants. You can try some of the freshest sushi in the world, but you’ll have to be quick – the market is in full swing at 6am and practically dead come 10am.
Once you’ve sampled sushi and sashimi, it’s time to introduce yourself to some other less well-known Japanese specialities. We’re talking ramen, people, and there’s a lot of it to sample. Head to Shinjuku, where you’ll find a particularly well-known strip of authentic ramen restaurants. It’s not widely advertised to Westerners, but if you finish all the noodles before the soup, you’re often entitled to another batch.
Tempura, Japanese barbecue, yakitori, okonomiyaki – the list of things to try goes on and on. And with the service in sit-down restaurants being absolutely legendary, you won’t want to go back to your own country.
Phuket – for the beach lover
Few islands can boast quite as many beautiful sandy beaches as Phuket, which sports an abundance of gorgeous coastline. Get your swim shorts on and dive straight into those turquoise waters, enjoying the warm feel of the sun on your back. After you’ve cooled off, head straight to your towel and lie there with a good book, shaded from the heat by the broad and emerald canopy from a nearby palm tree.
Sounds like bliss, doesn’t it? Travel to Phuket and you could live this little fantasy every day. Its coastal areas really are gorgeous and, if you weren’t standing there in person, you would suspect a little photoshop magic has been used to make it all the more so. It’s real, however, and so is the fantastic local culture. So get out and about and experience Phuket this year.
Lefkas – for the watersports enthusiast
For beach lovers who prefer to take more advantage of the water than the sand, you simply can’t beat Lefkas. This incredible island is legendary in the windsurfing scene as its wide sheltered bay town of Vassiliki is one of the best all-round destinations for the sport in the world. The bay itself produces an unusual weather phenomenon that, apart from a few days of the year, guarantees a calm onshore breeze in the morning that is perfect for learning. Afternoons are a different matter entirely, however, as the action picks up, allowing for speed fanatics to get out there and practice planing, helitacs, duck gybes and all sorts of other tricks.
You might also like to rent a hobie-cat, try your hand at snorkelling or just rent a board and an oar and go up and down the bay, enjoying the sun on your shoulders. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Rome – for the culture vulture
It’s hard to find a place with more cultural attractions than Rome. This incredible Italian city is an utterly incredible location for those who love their churches and cathedrals, piazzas and castles. The list of must-see sights is too long to include here but a shortlist would undoubtedly include getting a photo at the Trevi Fountain, marvelling at the inside of the Pantheon, pretending to be at a gladiatorial match at the Colosseum and exploring every nook and cranny of St Peter’s Basilica.
Beautiful Rome isn’t just about the architecture and history though. Italian culture is ever present in the restaurants, clubs, bars and just on the streets, proving that despite the fact the city brings in a lot of tourists, the residents ensure the place remains quintessentially Italian.
London – for everything
You might think we’re exaggerating, but we really think London is fantastic, no matter what you want to get from your holiday. During the summer, local businesses even go out of their way to make sure there’s a stretch of coastline you can enjoy. Admittedly, the Thames doesn’t make for the best beach, but Camden’s rooftop sandy stretch was immensely popular last year.
London’s charm can be found everywhere, from incredible landmarks such as Big Ben, the London Eye and St Paul’s Cathedral, to its vibrant restaurant scene. The West End is full of fantastic theatres that always have fantastic shows to sample. Try Wicked for some Broadway glitz and glamour, the Woman in Black for a spooky ghost story or Billy Elliot for an authentically English story.
We haven’t even mentioned the restaurants and eateries that line every street in central London. Nor have we been into the historical side of things, which you can experience through the Tower of London, the London Dungeons and many more. There are also museums and galleries aplenty, and you won’t be short of places where you can get a good drink. All of this makes London our favourite city in the world.