Travel

Ten countries to discover next year

November 11, 2012

An arial view of Madagascar’s capital city Antananarivo. — Picture courtesy of ©snowblurred/shutterstock.comAn arial view of Madagascar’s capital city Antananarivo. — Picture courtesy of ©snowblurred/shutterstock.comLONDON, Nov 11 — Lonely Planet  recommends 10 overlooked countries to visit next year, from Sri Lanka to Ecuador.

Sri Lanka

With the conflict over, Sri Lanka is on the cusp of a tourism boom. The destination is still affordable, but you can expect prices to spike in the next few years. Points of interest include a Dutch fortification from the 17th century in Galle, a city that has earned a spot in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Montenegro

Nestled between sea and moutain, Montenegro has a great diversity of landscapes to offer. Points of interest include its five national parks, including Durmitor, which boasts ski slopes, as well as Tara canyon, the deepest in Europe (1,900m).

South Korea

A great destination for outdoorsy types, with plenty of opportunities for golf, fishing and trekking. Points of interest include a bike ride that goes through the demilitarized zone and opens two Sundays every month.

Ecuador

Next year, the country will inaugurate its brand new railroad network after the old one was devasted by El Nino in the late 1990s. Rail is a great way to get around in the country, from the capital Quito to the picturesque coastal town of Guayaquil, or towards volcanoes Cotopaxi and Nariz del Diablo. Points of interest include the handycraft market of Otavalo, near Quito.

Slovakia

In 2013, the city of Kosice turns into a Cultural Capital of Europe. A slew of events will take place over the year, from the city’s castles to its amphitheater. The surrounding moutains also boast affordable ski resorts with modernized infrastructure. Points of interest in the country include capital city Bratislava and national parks Poloniny and Slovak Paradise.

Solomon Islands
A haven for nature lovers and divers, the islands and their waters offer plenty of opportunities to go trekking, volcano climbing, kayaking and surfing. The archipelago stands out among Pacific nations for its efforts to preserve its flora and fauna. Points of interest include an impressive number of sunk ships for divers to explore.

Iceland

The increasingly popular tourist destination is famous for its night life, its outdoor activities (the country boasts a number of hot springs, fjords and volcanoes) and the stunning spectacle of Northern Lights. Things to do when include a road trip around the Ring Road to discover the island’s various landscapes.

Turkey

With a slew of new low-cost flights between Europe and the South-East of Tukey, tourists can venture outside of classic tourist spots Istanbul and Antalya. Mardin and Midyad, for instance, offer sightseeing of Ottoman heritage sites. Points of interests include the neolithic site of Göbekli Tepe (12,000-year-old) and the Abraham path, where visitors can walk in the footsteps of the Prophet from his birth town, Harran.

Dominican Republic

A hotspot at the dawn of the new millennium, the Dominican Republic is trendy again, thanks to the development of luxury hotels in the region, once considered a budget destination. Points of interest include Damajagua’s 27 falls, a great location for trekking, climbing and dipping.

Madagascar

The country’s wide array of breathtaking landscapes is a great location for tight budgets, but prices could go up after next year’s presidential election. The island’s biodiversity has always been a hit with nature lovers. Things to do on location include watching lemurs or whales in their natural habitats, and discovering the canyons, cliffs and waterfalls of Isalo national park.

These destinations are featured in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2012. — AFP-Relaxnews