Whether you travel for the thrill of adventure, to explore unchartered territories or to post enviable pictures on Facebook and Instagram, put these destinations on your 2015 bucketlist:
Valletta, Malta: Fort Saint Elmo reopens for a birthday
The ancient capital of the Mediterranean island nation of Malta is the smallest of European capital cities and 2015 marks 450 years since it was founded. The fortress city was a refuge for soldiers returning from the Crusades.
Over and above Valletta’s birthday celebrations in 2015, the world heritage site boasts Baroque architecture, cathedrals with intricately caved stone vaults, palaces, restored 17th century buildings and stair-step streets which bring you remarkable views of the harbour below.
In 2015 the star-shaped Fort Saint Elmo reopens its doors after being closed to the public for years. Visitors can relive the 1565 Great Siege of Malta by ambling across the fort’s ramparts. An open-air theatre and a new entrance to the city are also great highlights for visitors in 2015.
Yangon, Myanmar (Burma): Get in now before tourism really takes off
So, for intrepid travellers to Asia who want be ahead of the tourist hoards, what is the new Vietnam? Well that was Laos. So what is the new Laos? Now, that would be Myanmar.
For nearly five decades, up until 2011, Myanmar (aka Burma) was internationally isolated on account of being ruled by a military junta. For the past few years though, tourists have been cottoning on to the treasures that Myanmar holds, and 2015 might be your last chance to have the true “untouched by tourists” experience. 2014 saw approximately 3 million visitors visit Myanmar, up from 2 million visited in 2013 and 1 million in 2012. By comparison, neighbouring Thailand receives almost 3 million a month, and more and more of them are hopping across the border.
The former British colonial capital city, Yangon is filled with red-robed monks, leafy avenues, gold pagodas and fin-de-siècle architecture. Locals can be found at tea shops on every corner of the city and thousands of pilgrims from around the country are drawn to the Shwedagon Pagoda Festival in March.
The Shwedagon Pagoda (pictured above) is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, sitting 99 metres tall atop Singuttara Hill, dominating the skyline. The city is said to host the greatest amount of colonial period buildings in Southeast Asia.
Tórshavn, Faroe Islands (Denmark): 2015 Solar Eclipse
While it is believed that the Vikings first discovered the Faroe Islands, there are stories of an Irish abbot, St. Brendan, who went in search of the promised land of the saints when he chanced upon these “islands of sheep and paradise of the birds” sometime between the years 512 and 530.
The 18 Faroe Islands are roughly shaped like an arrow, and a walk through narrow passages and between picturesque black-tarred houses with white windows and green grass roofs in the old town of Tórshavn will send you back to the Middle Ages. The town which overlooks a harbour full of colourful boats, is unique not only in the Faroes, but in the world as it exists almost exactly as it did in the Middle Ages, never burning to ash like its Nordic timber-built counterparts.
The Faroes are a beautiful destination year round but in 2015 on March 20, there will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for visitors, a full solar eclipse visible from the Faroe Islands. The last solar eclipse visible from the Faroes was 60 years ago.
New Orleans, USA: Ten years on from Katrina, let the good times roll
2015 marks ten years since Hurricane Katrina shook the major United States port, and the city has never been more alive. A mixture of European, Caribbean, African and other historical influences, unique cultures, food and music blend together in this city.
New Orleans’ unofficial motto is “laisser les bons temps rouler” (let the good times roll) and the city’s jazz clubs, night markets and fantastic festivals promise to burn especially bright this anniversary year. At the Mardi Gras in February, the celebrations will roll from parades to parties and spread across the entire city.
The French Quarter is the oldest neighbourhood in New Orleans most famous for Bourbon Street, a street dedicated entirely to drinking establishments from The Old Absinthe House to Johnny White’s Hole in the Wall and Molly’s at the Market, the only businesses in the city to stay open throughout Hurricane Katrina and the weeks that followed.
Zermatt, Switzerland: Matterhorn anniversary
One cannot call himself or herself a serious mountaineer, hiker or skier until they have conquered the Matterhorn Mountain of the Swiss Alps. The Matterhorn is hypnotic in its majesty, reigning over the town Zermatt in such a way that it does not allow for a single photograph to be taken without it being in the centre.
And 2015 marks 150 years since the first and tragic conquest of the peak which made Zermatt famous and resulted in a rush of tourism. British climber Edward Whymper reached the top in 1865, however only 3 of the 7 climbers survived the descent. Since then brave climbers have come from all around the world to tackle the classic Swizterland climb.
Today, well-kept pistes welcome skiers all year round while others can be found with mouths wide open as they take Zermatt in, in all its glory.
Faroe Islands: Shutterstock.com/Roland Zihlmann
New Orleans:Shutterstock.com/Jorg Hackemann
Zermatt: Shutterstock.com/Krissanapong Wongsawarng