As 2011 draws to a close, many of us are already daydreaming of what next year’s holiday will bring; however those daydreams probably involve more exotic and exciting adventures than revisiting the same resort year upon year. If you’re ready to discover a new city, country or even continent, we’ve compiled a Top 5 list of destinations that should be unmissable in 2012, with something to suit all tastes be it a city break, sunshine holiday, long-haul or closer to home.
Oslo – Norway
If you want some serious seasonal snow and winter temperatures as low as -20°C, Oslo is the city for you. From the breathtaking fjords to the ski jump at Holmenkollen, Oslo is packed with things to see and do. The winter snow makes perfect conditions for tobogganing (and warming up afterwards with a big mug of hot chocolate), or take a stroll down Karl Johansgate to see Norway’s Royal Palace and hit the shops!
Oslo doesn’t disappoint when it comes to culture either; the setting of Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy”, some of this decade’s most popular literature, the city also houses a museum dedicated to painter Edvard Munch, creator of “The Scream” and one of Norway’s most famous sons.
The Carolinas – USA
If you’re thinking of going transatlantic, the Carolinas are not necessarily the first place you’d think of heading, but with their inimitable Southern hospitality and laid-back atmosphere, this is truly a place to chill out and appreciate life.
Traverse the boardwalks along the beautiful North Carolina coastline of Cape Fear, enjoy amazing seafood and discover the charming town of Wilmington (home of TV dramas “Dawson’s Creek” and “One Tree Hill”) or travel down to South Carolina to visit Charleston, steeped in history and named Top City in the U.S. by Conde Nast Traveller.
As well as countless sightseeing opportunities, both North and South Carolina have an array of retail outlets, restaurants, bars and accommodation to cater to all tastes.
Islands of Fiji – South West Pacific
Backpackers and luxury holidaymakers are equally well accommodated on this beautiful island group, if you’re willing to venture that bit further for somewhere less-travelled and very exotic!
Holidaymakers can catch a boat from the main island to the party islands of the Mamanucas, or to coral islands which take 30 minutes to walk around. The world’s third-largest barrier reef at Kadavu is a popular dive spot to see manta rays, sharks and beautiful coral formations, and Suva is known for its history, markets and the remnants of the British colonial empire along with bullet-strewn government buildings from the various recent coups
As far as hospitality goes, the Fijians are among the friendliest people you could meet – you’ll be welcomed with a “Bula” and a half coconut of the national drink, known as “Cava”.
Tenerife – Canary Islands
It’s not just for clubbers! Tenerife offers plenty of family-friendly attractions as well as the bustling nightlife it’s famous for.
Days out include Loro Parque, an animal adventure park featuring dolphin shows, theme park rides and animal habitats including Planet Penguin, the biggest replica of the Antarctic continent ever constructed. Tenerife is also home to Aqualand, the Canary Islands’ only Water Park and Dolphinarium with a huge selection of slides, tunnels, play areas and pools, as well as a show featuring bottlenose dolphins.
For partygoers, the clubs of Veronicas and Starcos are among Tenerife’s most popular nightlife, and there are plenty of black and golden sandy beaches on which to sunbathe and recuperate.
Ukraine – Eastern Europe
Recommended by the Lonely Planet as one to watch in 2012, historically this country has enough to keep you satisfied for more than the standard week’s holiday, not least due to the recent revolutions of 2004 and the devastating consequences of the Chernobyl fallout in 1986.
2012 will be a big year for Ukraine in terms of sport as it is set to co-host the Euro 2012 Football Championships and is in the running for the 2018 Winter Olympics. For the less sports-minded, the popular Black Sea coastline of the Crimean peninsula combines sunbathing, tropical climates and mountainous landscapes.