Olympic glory, major celebrations, and out-of-this-world trips—welcome to the most intriguing places to visit in 2018. It will be a year packed with reasons to ditch the daily grind and expand your horizons.
The Best Places to Visit
These 5 travel destinations are going big in the new year, welcoming world-stage events, major openings, and more.
The new year heralds big things in Orlando. In 2018, Orlando will get new flight routes from Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, and Spirit, further expanding flight options from cities around the country. Hotels slated to open in 2018 include the boutique Delaney Hotel, Universal Orlando’s on-site Aventura Hotel, and the waterfront Margaritaville Resort Orlando.
Orlando’s biggest attractions are getting bigger, too, with the addition of Fast & Furious—Supercharged at Universal Studios, Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, plus new and improved rides at SeaWorld Orlando and LEGOLAND Florida. And earning its place on WalletHub’s list of best “Foodie” cities in the U.S., Orlando will debut Circo Orlando, a new Le Cirque group restaurant; a new Jose Andres tapas spot; and more fine dining options.
Minneapolis is ready for its time in the spotlight. The city will host a free 10-day Super Bowl Live festival leading up to Super Bowl 52 on February 4, 2018. The festival is open to the public and includes concerts, attractions, and an interactive NFL theme park. Minneapolis will also welcome the Summer X Games, the WNBA All-Star Game, and the NCAA Volleyball Championships in 2018.
And while sports festivities will come and go, the city is set to unveil more permanent reasons that makes it a great place to visit as well, including the rebuilt 12-block Nicollet Mall, as well as new public amenities and green spaces courtesy of the massive Minneapolis Big Build project.
Situated in the Mediterranean Sea between the mainland of Europe and Africa, Malta is set to be one of the decade’s most engaging European Capitals of Culture. Valletta, the nation’s capital, will be the official host of the year-long celebration, but the entire island of Malta—and neighboring Gozo—will get in on the festivities.
Rooted in the tradition of the festa—the village feast—Valletta 2018 delivers 12 months of festivals, music, theater, traditional celebrations, and hands-on experiences. Come for Carnival, fashion week, the maritime festival Pageant of the Seas, the international arts festival, or one of dozens more major events that make it a standout place to visit throughout the year.
You’ll find a vacation and inspiration in the Netherlands in 2018. New U.S.-Amsterdam service from Delta and KLM—plus direct Eurostar high-speed train service from London, starting in the spring—make a visit both easier and, likely, more affordable. And while Amsterdam is a perennial favorite, the real reason to head to Holland in 2018 is Friesland, the northern coastal region that’s set to shine as an official Capital of Culture.
With more than 45 major international events and hundreds more local programs, visitors looking for creativity on display should set their sights on the city of Leeuwarden and the surrounding countryside. Giant puppets, environmental art, a city-wide Rube Goldberg machine, and arts festivals meant to inspire and surprise—the creativity of the Dutch will be on keen display.
If you don’t yet know how to pronounce Pyeongchang perfectly, you will soon. The host city of the Winter Olympics in the mountains of South Korea seems remote, but offers an accessible (about three hours by shuttle) and compelling place to visit beyond Seoul, the country’s capital city. Visitors can take advantage of discounted rail passes to explore the South Korea in February and March, and with direct flights from American, Asiana, Delta, Hawaiian, Korean, and other airlines, there are plenty of route choices.
Once you’ve watched the Olympics, you can even live your own athletic adventure at one of the nearby ski resorts that will be open for recreational skiing. And with the long-awaited opening of Seoullo 7017, it’s a good time to stop in Seoul as well. The converted former highway is now an elevated public park flanked by cafes, shops, and performance areas.