Christmas is well and truly over and the January blues have officially arrived. With heads crammed in textbooks, and a promise of imminent snowstorms, thoughts are turning to where and when we can get our next sunshine fix. From budget breaks to extravagant getaways, here are Concrete’s top destinations for 2014!
If you want to explore somewhere more exotic this year, why not head to sunny South America? A continent home to the Amazon rainforest, bordered by Atlantic and Pacific oceans and with breath-taking views of the Andes, South America offers stunning scenery, exotic wildlife and a rich history.
2014 is a World Cup year, with Brazil being this year’s colourful host destination. Lonely Planet rated Brazil the number one country to visit this year, but potential holiday goers and football fans have been warned about soaring prices. Those with student-sized budgets should not be disheartened. With enchanting jungles and 8000km of coastline, there are Eco lodges and Pousadas (literally translating as ‘place to stay’) available all over the country. If heading to Manaus for England’s opening match, why not explore Pousada Uacari, a floating lodge in the heart of the world’s greatest tropical rainforest!
Explore the markets of Cusco or hike the Colca Canyon, a highly popular tourist attraction, which is more than twice the depth of the Grand Canyon! Other options include a visit to the floating Islands of Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America, or a trip to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. Voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, exploring the 15th Century Inca site is an incredible experience. You can vary the intensity of your visit too; from week-long treks to regular bus rides to the top! Alongside spectacular scenery, there are tours of Pisco distilleries (a particularly lethal grape brandy), chocolate museums and the opportunity to try local delicacies such as Guinea pig or Alpaca.
If you are tempted by an island getaway but worried about the cost, check out the South East Asian hidden gem of Indonesia. A recent decrease in the value of the Indonesian rupia against the pound has led to a decrease in prices of almost 20% since 2013!
As the best-known island of the Indonesian archipelago, and recently named the best value long-haul destination, Bali has been recognised as one of 2014’s cheapest holidays. Relax on the beach, or in an infinity pool for those with a little extra cash, before burning off the Betutu (spiced chicken) you had for dinner at a full moon party.
If you feel more at home within a bustling city, Jakarta may be more up your street. A second airport has recently opened with flights from London (from May 2014) making it much more accessible. There are plenty of museums, zoos, parks, malls and ‘Ancol’, a huge complex containing a water park, Sea World and theme park; there is really something here for everyone!
For those not wanting to venture too far from home, Europe has many top holiday destinations. Lonely Planet has rated UK locations such as the sleepy seaside town of Folkestone and the rugged moorlands of Yorkshire “top global places”, with Scotland being rated the third best country in the world to visit this year.
A trek along The John Muir Way in East Lothian will make you forget how close to home you are. The walk features volcanic remnants, the largest freshwater lake in Britain and picturesque villages. For something slightly more exotic, the Outer Hebrides is an island chain off the West Coast. Described as a “real buzz destination” by Wilderness Scotland, it allows an island-hopping experience without travelling too far afield. Enjoy mountain scenery, wildlife, turquoise beaches, and a view of the incredible Northern Lights in the summer.
Already firmly established as a favourite amongst many travellers, Croatia remains a hotspot for 2014. Capital Zagreb is often referred to as one large outdoor café, but away from city life, Plitvice Lakes National Park contains many beautiful lakes and waterfalls.
For a scenic drive, hire a car and take the Adriatic highway, which provides views of towns built upon slopes and rich blue bays alongside jagged cliffs. No licence? No problem! Many organised bus tours take the same route, with most stopping for traditional slow cooked Croatian cuisine along the way, or even a spot of wine tasting. Local varieties include Teran wine with a robust berry flavour, or Maraschino, a liqueur made from cherries.
If that isn’t enough to tempt you, why not head to the coastal city of Dubrovnik which is where King’s Landing is filmed for the television series Game of Thrones.