At Fodor's, we're always on the hunt for where to go next. From travel-worthy events (World Cup in Brazil) and buzzy hotspots (sun and scene in Corsica) to brilliant values (a Greek Isles getaway) and emerging destinations (UNESCO site-hopping in Ethiopia), 2014 is shaping up to be an epic year for travel. These are the top 25 trips we're looking to book right now-and we hope you'll join us!
Photo Credit: Peter Guttman
It's still the trip of a lifetime, 100 years after Shackleton's heroic journey
Why Go Now: With its stark and sometimes dangerous beauty, and engaging wildlife like seals and penguins, Antarctica is one of Earth's incredible untamed frontiers-and irresistible to explorers and travelers. In 1914 Sir Ernest Shackleton began his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Exploration, hoping to cross from one side of Antarctica to the other. His ship, the Endurance, sank, but Shackleton and five others rowed 800 nautical miles and then returned to rescue the others. This saga's 100-year anniversary is the perfect time to consider an Antarctic cruise aboard the deluxe Lindblad Expeditions or Quark Expeditions.
Insider Tip: Reading lists, like packing lists, are vital for this journey. Shackleton's South: The Endurance Expedition is a classic, while Sarah Wheeler's more recent Terra Incognita vividly describes the journalist's seven-month Antarctic stay. Original photographs from Robert F. Scott's and Ernest Shackleton's expeditions reproduced in In the Heart of the Great Alone convey the continent's majesty.
When to Go: November through March, the Southern Hemisphere's summer, is the window for Antarctic cruises. November is quieter (fewer visitors at sites) but colder, with impressive icebergs. December and January are popular because of the long days and baby penguins on view. From mid-February through March you see more whales-but fewer penguins.
Photo Credit: Botond Horvath/Shutterstock
Commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I in Europe's quaintest country
Why Go Now: Snuggled in between the Netherlands, Germany, and France, Belgium is sometimes overlooked on European itineraries. But its medieval cities are charming architectural treasures, and Belgian beer and chocolate are synonymous with excellence. 2014 marks the centenary of the start of World War I, and while events will occur throughout Europe over the next four years, the Flanders Field region is taking center stage. Home to several important battles throughout the war, including the very first one in Liege, there are memorials, battlefields, cemeteries, and museums ready for visitors to explore, including special exhibits and tours created just for the occasion.
Insider Tip: Due to Flanders's calm, rolling terrain, a cycling tour is the perfect way to explore and learn about the Western Front battlegrounds.
When to Go: While many museums will offer exhibits commemorating the war as early as February, the actual anniversary of the first battle is in August, marking the official beginning of the centenary.
Plan Your Trip: Start planning using Fodor's Belgium Travel Guide.
- Amanda Sadlowski
Photo Credit: fritz16/Shutterstock
Venture to an exotic and tranquil Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas
Why Go Now: The country that invented the quotient of Gross National Happiness wants you to experience its beguiling charms, but only on its terms. Closed off from the world for decades, Bhutan has only allowed tourism since 1974. Those willing to go the extra mile to come here are rewarded with a traditional Buddhist society that has also embraced modern conveniences. Visit the Taktsang Goemba (Tiger's Nest Monastery), perched on a perilous cliff, or the Jigme Dorji National Park to see the takin, Bhutan's national animal, which resembles a goat crossed with a horse. Only two airlines are allowed to fly here, so the country remains difficult to reach, although that exclusivity is part of its allure.
Insider Tip: Completely independent travel to Bhutan is not allowed. You must have a guide and go on a government-approved itinerary. There's also a minimum cost of $200 to $250 per day if you stay in the country's most basic three-star hotels. Happily, this price includes your guide, meals, and transportation (except flights).
When to Go: Spring and fall are optimum times to visit for lush greenery and popular regional festivals. Winter and summer attracts fewer travelers as you run the risk of extreme cold or the monsoon season.
Plan Your Trip: Start planning using Fodor's Bhutan Travel Guide.
- Doug Stallings
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