Even though it’s halfway through 2014, there is plenty of time left to book an amazing trip this year.
We looked at major developments, cultural trends, and global festivals to find the hottest places to travel around the world in 2014.
From Croatia, the E.U.’s newest member, to Tokyo, the site of the 2020 Olympic Games, here are the best places to travel this year.
Over the past few years, Croatia has been attracting more and more tourists, but now that it's officially a member of the European Union it's about to undergo a serious tourist boom.
Travellers love the famous beaches, gorgeous views of the Adriatic coast, historic architecture, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Croatia is also famous for its fresh Mediterranean-style food and wine.
Game of Thrones fans will love visiting the country to relive scenes from the TV show, which was filmed in Dubrovnik, Split, and other picturesque places.
And best of all: It's still one of the cheapest destinations in Europe -- especially if you avoid the peak tourist season in July and August.
This is already a huge year for Brazil, as the country is gearing up to host the 20th FIFA World Cup this month. Matches will take place in 12 cities around the country, from Brasilia and Rio to Salvador and São Paulo. Just two years later, Rio will host the 2016 Olympics.
As a result, the country has been undergoing massive construction projects as it prepares to welcome the millions of tourists and athletes who will descend on the country over the next few years.
That means cleaning up the notoriously dangerous favelas in Rio, building new stadiums around the country, and upgrading hotels and restaurants to accommodate the crowds. While Brazilians have complained about the rapid development with mass protests last summer, many people believe that these changes will improve the country.
Ever since Beyoncé and Jay Z very publicly vacationed in Cuba in April 2013, the small Caribbean country has been on the forefront of American travellers' minds.
Cuba has been off-limits to Americans since the '50s, but it's now easier to visit the small island than it has been in decades, thanks to more relaxed travel restrictions and an increase in tour operators offering legal ways to see the country. That means that more and more Americans are travelling to Cuba now, with over 170,000 travellers visiting the island country already this year.
And tourists who are venturing there are finding that the country remains incredibly beautiful, and often untouched by the outside modern world.
For most people, a luxury safari is a once-in-a-lifetime trip -- and Botswana's Okavango Delta is the ideal place to experience one.
Between the floodplains of the Okavango Delta and the woodlands of Chobe National Park, Botswana is home to tons of animals, including elephants, buffalo, rhinos, zebras, giraffes, lions, hippos, leopards, and more.
For a truly memorable experience, stay in Mombo Camp and Little Mombo Camp in the Okavango Delta, which was recently ranked the best hotel in the world by Travel + Leisure. Located in the Moremi Game Reserve, the hotel, which is made up of two camps, offers unparalleled luxury in the thick of the wild. There are outdoor plunge pools, al fresco dining areas, and plenty of decks for wildlife viewing. Even the luxury tents have open windows for viewing the wildlife. It's not cheap though: Rooms in the tents start at around $US1,750 per person per night, including daily game drives, food, and drink.
When the announcement came that Tokyo would host the 2020 Olympics, all eyes turned to the bustling Asian metropolis. Now the city is expecting a major tourism boom, even though the games are still six years away.
Japan's capital city has high-end hotels, luxury shops, hip neighborhoods filled with secret speakeasies, and the most three-Michelin-starred restaurants in the world.
Thailand may be undergoing a coup, but that doesn't mean that tourism is down. In fact, Thailand saw a record 27 million visitors in 2013.
Life in Thailand seems to be returning to normal, and tourists in Bangkok don't seem to feel the impact of the coup. And while some are dissuaded from booking a trip to Thailand now, others say that now is the best time to book a trip.
Thailand's capital city continues to develop its tourism infrastructure. Several new hotels are set to open in Bangkok in 2014, including the Radisson Blu Plaza Bangkok and the Hyatt Place Hotel.
With its centuries-old temples, modern nightlife and restaurants, and incredible food,
it's easy to see why Bangkok is a favourite city for tourists from around the world. The city caters to everyone -- and every price point. Whether its from a street vendor or an expensive upmarket restaurant, the food in Bangkok is incredible. There's also a wide variety of accommodations from cheap hostels and budget hotels around Kaosan Road to high-end luxury properties, like the Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok.
The Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef system off the coast of Queensland Australia, is one of the world's greatest natural treasures. It's a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
It's teeming with colourful marine life, including whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and more than 1,500 fish species, that visitors explore by scuba diving, snorkelling, swimming, or boating.
However, the reef is in danger of disappearing, due to overfishing, overboating, pollution, and climate change. Environmental groups are fighting to protect the reef, but some say it may be too little too late, as almost half the Great Barrier Reef has died in the last 50 years.
That means that visitors who dream of one day snorkelling or diving in the reef should do it now, while it's still active. While there, stay at the Qualia hotel on Hamilton Island, overlooking the Great Barrier Reef, which was recently named the world's best hotel by Condé Nast Traveller.
Austin, Texas, is currently undergoing a major hotel boom that could add more than 3,200 guest rooms over the next three years. Several funky hotels have recently opened, including the restored 20th-century Hotel Ella, and more are in the works, including the 322-room Hotel Van Zandt and the innovative boutique Hotel Zaza.
Makes sense that the city is building hotels at a record pace, as it has to keep up with the growing number of tourists. Over 8.6 million tourists visited Austin in 2013, and more are expected for 2014.
The city's slogan is 'Keep Austin Weird,' and residents make sure that stays true by keeping the city's culture quirky and eclectic. Austin is a cultural hub with live music performances, film screenings, and readings all over the city every night. It hosts the annual Austin City Limits Music Festival and the music, film, and interactive SXSW Festival. Last year MovieMaker Magazine named Austin the No. 1 city for filmmakers.
For those who can afford it, space travel isn't that far away. Sir Richard Branson has announced that he expects to launch the inaugural flights of his commercial space venture, Virgin Galactic, by 2014.
For now, though, only wealthy people will have the privilege of venturing into space -- flights aboard the spacecraft cost $US250,000 per person.
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