23 Places You Should Visit In 2015

Mosque in iranShutterstock.comThe Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan, Iran.

It’s time to start thinking about planning your dream trip next year. So where should you go?

We looked at major developments, cultural trends, and global festivals to find the hottest places to travel around the world in 2015.

From the Philippines to Peru, here are the best places to travel next year.

Lima, Peru, will be the foodie capital of South America.

A dish from Central restaurant in Lima.

Lima, Peru, has been slowly building its reputation as a city for foodies, cementing its status most recently when Central restaurant was named the best restaurant in the region by the Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants Awards. In total, eight of 50 restaurants in Lima made the prestigious list.

The Peruvian city is home to everything from Michelin-starred restaurants to hole-in-the-wall cevicherias that will continue to draw in foodies from around the world.

'Frozen' fans will flock to Norway to seek out Elsa and Anna's fictional Arendelle.

The Lofoten Islands, Norway.

'Frozen' has made over $US1.2 billion for Disney, and with its increased merchandising and rumours of a sequel, the 'Frozen' craze will only continue to grow. Set in Arendelle, a fictional kingdom in Norway, 'Frozen' shows a gorgeous landscape of lakes, waterfalls, mountains, and fjords. Fans of the animated film are now seeking out real-life Arendelle in Norway. The country has seen a huge growth in tourism since the release of the film, with tour operators reporting a 40% increase in sales.

Bergen, a city on the west coast, was the inspiration for the film. Voss is also popular with fans for its nearby fjords, glaciers, rivers, and lakes. With its small fishing villages and breathtaking cliff, the Lofoten Islands will also attract Frozen fans.

Iran will be the new tourism hotspot in the Middle East.

A mosque in Isfahan, Iran.

Iran is becoming a tourist hotspot, with tour operators reporting significant increases in tourists booking trips to the Middle Eastern country. Perhaps that's because of a slight thaw in its relationships with the West, or simply because of the allure of exploring a little-known tourist destination with few other tourists around.

Note that Americans are allowed to visit Iran, but they must travel with an official tour guide or get their itinerary approved by the
Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Travel within Iran is considered safe if you tour responsibly, even though the U.S. Department of State has issued a travel warning to Iran.

The country is home to ancient cities with breathtaking mosques and gorgeous natural landscapes. Popular cities with tourists are Isfahan and Tehran, but people also travel to see the ruins at Persepolis, the tombs at Shiraz, and the beaches on the Caspian Sea.

River cruises will be popular in Europe and elsewhere.

Forget the massive personality-devoid cruise ships. Everyone is looking to river cruises these days. The river cruise industry is booming. These cruises offer a more refined, intimate, and cultural experience than the behemoth ocean liners. They also allow guests to embark right in the center of the cities, and enjoy coastal scenery of the riverbanks the entire ride.

Luxury cruise ship operator Viking River Cruises has carved a niche for itself as the top river cruise ship company. It offers cruises all over the world, but its cruises are filled with unique cultural activities like lectures, language lessons, and demonstrations like cuckoo-clock-making, that are meant to shed light on the destinations visited. Even the food aboard the ship reflects the local culture, showcasing regional specialties from each destination.

Palawan in the Philippines will be the top island destination in the world.

Widely regarded for its beauty, Palawan was named the best island in the world by Conde Nast Traveller this year.

The small island is home to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, one of the new seven natural wonders of the world. It also has gorgeous beaches and clear waters that are perfect for snorkelling, diving, and swimming. With more direct flights to
Europe, America and Australia planned on Philippine Airlines, Palawan will see more international visitors next year.

Denver, Colorado, will be at the forefront of weed tourism.

Since Colorado legalized marijuana and began allowing the sale of recreational marijuana use to anyone age 21 and over earlier this year, Denver has become a tourist destination for people who enjoy the drug. These 'weed tourists' come to frequent the medicinal and recreational marijuana shops, much like oenophiles travel around the world to go wine tasting. Some tour companies, like My 420 Tours, cater to this crowd.

While there, tourists can also check out cultural institutions like the Denver Art Museum and Denver Performing Arts Center. There are also several local craft breweries.

Florence, Italy, will continue to be one of the world's best cities for travellers.

Florence is a perennial favourite, but 2015 is sure to bring even more visitors to the Italian city, since it was recently named the world's best city for travellers by Conde Nast Traveller.

It's a historic jewel box that's full of incredible art, museums, shops, and restaurants. The Duomo, the city's main cathedral, is the most iconic tourist attraction here, but there are tons of other world-famous spots, like the Uffizi museum, the Accademia (home to Michelangelo's David), and the Ponte Vecchio.

Curacao will be more accessible from North America with new direct flights.

Curacao is a gorgeous Caribbean island that's tucked between Aruba and Bonaire. But until recently, it was pretty inaccessible as there were few direct flights from major international destinations. Now that's all about to change.

Jetblue just launched non-stop flights to the island from New York twice a week, and early next year, Air Canada will launch direct flights from Montreal to Curaçao every Thursday. To accommodate these new visitors, new hotels are being built, like a Courtyard by Marriott, while others are expanding and undergoing renovations.

Hainan will be the hot new beach destination in China.

Located in the South China Sea at the southernmost tip of China, Hainan Island is one of the fastest-growing tourism destinations in the country. It has seen a huge increase in hotel room capacity in the last few years, and it plans to continue to build new hotels and increase international flights. The majority of tourists come from China and Russia, but Hainan has been embarking on a campaign to attract more international tourists.

The beaches are the main attraction here, but there are also several historic temples, tombs, and forts. It's also a big surfing destination; it has hosted the Hainan Wanning International Surfing Festival for three years in a row.

The Basque Country in Spain and France will be discovered by more international tourists.

The Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain

A region straddling northern Spain and France, Basque Country feels like its own country, with its own language, cuisine and culture. But it's not. The region hasn't registered on the mainstream tourist radar in years, but all of a sudden it seems like people are talking about it.

It's a rich region that's home to exciting museums, bustling cities, gorgeous beaches, and wine country. Bilbao is famous for its Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim museum, San Sebastian is known for its sprawling beaches, and Pamplona is known for its annual fiestas of San Fermin, also called the Running of the Bulls. But there are also lesser-known cities that are almost untouched by tourism, like Vitoria and Bayonne.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will gear up to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

The World Cup may be over, but Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is still in prep mode, while it's gearing up to host the 2016 summer Olympic Games.

The city will utilise all of the new arenas, hotels, shops, and restaurants that were built up to accommodate the international crowds who came for the 2014 FIFA World Cup last summer. But 2015 will be a relative bargain, since visitors won't have to contend with the crowds who will descend on the city for the Olympics in 2016.

Northern Ireland will get more attention from 'Game of Thrones' fans.

The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland.

Croatia saw a huge boom in tourism after the hit series 'Game of Thrones' filmed several seasons there, so it's only natural that Northern Ireland, another filming location for the show, will see similar results after season 5, which is filming there, airs. Northern Ireland doubles as Westeros, the kingdom featured in GOT. The Stangford Castle Ward Estate in County Down doubled as Winterfell and the Dark Hedges in County Antrim doubled as Kings Road.

The UK country is full of incredible natural wonders, like the Giant's Causeway and the Slieve League Cliffs, as well as ruined Medieval castles, like Dunluce Castle.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will attract hipsters and millennials.

Lawrenceville in Pittsburgh.

For years, Pittsburgh was thought of as a working-class, Rust Belt town, but that image is now actually working to its advantage as the city is undergoing a hipster transformation. The city has a huge and growing youth population, which in turn seems to be driving a growth in tourism.

The neighbourhood of Lawrenceville is the city's hipster center, with cool shops, restaurants, bars, and breweries, like the Roundabout Brewery, the Industry Public House, and Espresso a Mano.

Ljubljana, Slovenia, will be the next Croatia.

Sandwiched between Italy, Croatia, Hungary and Switzerland, Slovenia is a small country that hasn't really been discovered by tourists -- yet. It's a beautiful country with great food, historic cities, and stunning landscapes, and it's also still one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe.

Ljubljana, the capital, is one of the most underrated destinations in Europe, with a quaint Old Town, beautiful bridges spanning the Ljubljanica River, and a historic castle that towers above the city.

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