The Gallipoli Peninsula in north-western Turkey, about 300km from the capital Istanbul, has long been a place of pilgrimage for Australians and New Zealanders. But interest in the destination is expected to increase this year with the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the April 25 Anzac landing.
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More than 50,000 Aussies and Kiwis are expected to attend official Anzac Day celebrations at Gallipoli but those who do not have a ticket are advised to avoid travelling to Gallipoli around that time. However a range of coach tours and special centenary trips make it possible for visitors to see Gallipoli’s memorials and battlefields all year long.
Winner of the National Geographic reader’s choice award for the best trip to take in 2015, the Faroe Islands are a group of 18 islands situated about halfway between Iceland and Norway. On March 20 they will become one of only two places in the world (the other is Svalbard) where it will be possible to witness a total solar eclipse. On that day at precisely 9.41am the Islands will be plunged into total darkness as people from across the world gather together with Faroese locals to witness the rare event. After the eclipse there will be a variety of cultural- and musical events, as well as opportunities to try local Faroese foods.
Singapore, a favourite stopover for Australian travellers, celebrates fifty years of independence in 2015, and was voted the top country to visit in 2015 by Lonely Planet. Its heritage buildings, hawker centres, green spaces and glitzy shopping malls have been luring travellers for decades, the travel guide publisher says. But a slew of new developments, including the Marina Bay entertainment precinct and a crop of swanky new hotels, is taking Singapore to a whole new level for visitors. To coincide with its golden jubilee, Singapore is opening a number of new attractions in 2015, including the National Art Gallery and the Singapore Sports Hub, which will host the 28th Southeast Asian Games. While tucking into a plate of chilli crab at Lau Pa Sat will never go out of style, Singapore’s fine dining scene is taking off, with local restaurants beginning to get international recognition.
BOSNIA AND HERZOGOVINA:
Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the most picturesque countries off the beaten path but thanks to the war that ended in 1995 it’s still flying very much under the radar – which makes now the perfect time to visit. Here you’ll find lush green landscapes, unspoilt nature, incredible views, and enchanting forests that are home to wolves and wild animals. In the south there’s a small stretch of coastline with crystal clear waters. Another bonus for travellers to Bosnia and Herzegovina is that food and living costs are incredibly cheap. The village of Blagaj southern Bosnia and Herzogovina also provides easy access to Mostar, Dubrovnik (Croatia), and Budva (Montenegro).
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Along with its neighbours Tonga and Vanuatu, this climate-change-challenged South Pacific nation has been named among the top ten ethical destinations by Ethical Traveler. The list includes destinations that are doing the most to promote human rights, preserve their environment and support social welfare as well as offering natural beauty, outdoor activities and meaningful interaction with the locals. Visitors to the ten islands that make up Samoa will also experience picture postcard beauty including volcanic mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, pristine beaches, blue lagoons and people proud of their cultural heritage. The markets of Apia, Samoa’s capital and largest town, offer a colourful slice of everyday life.
According to an analysis by Flight Centre, which compiled a list of hotspots based on booking data, customer inquiries and travel industry offers, the Chilean capital is set to be one of the most in-demand destinations of 2015. Santiago, which is now accessible by direct flights from Australia on Qantas, may not have the party vibe of Rio or Buenos Aires but it has something to offer the whole family. With the Andes to the east and Pacific to the west, visitors can hike, swim, sip coffee in a funky cafe and dance all in one day. Santiago is also a hub for museums, theatres and a flourishing arts scene.
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana US:
A decade on from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is back and on the list as one of the top ten cities to visit in 2015 by travel book publisher Rough Guides. And it’s being recognised not just as a tourist destination, but one of the world’s most exciting places for music and Creole cuisine. There are now more than 1400 restaurants in the city and the music scene is back in the swing of things, especially in the Upper Ninth Wards Musicians Village, which was built to rehouse performers displaced by the storm. But while you can still party in the French Quarter and the Marigny till dawn, just minutes away are neighbourhoods that are still struggling to rebuild. New Orleans might have been let down by nature and the government after Katrina, but its vibrant heart remains strong.
Five years ago on January 12 a devastating earthquake rocked Haiti, with destructive aftershocks rippling out for weeks after. Recovery has been slow but tourism is starting to return to this fragile fragment of the Caribbean, described by its tourism ambassador as “Latin America with an African twist”. Several tour operators have introduced small-group tours to the world’s largest Creole country, including companies specialising in adventure tourism. Classic Caribbean beaches, dazzling birdlife, rum distilleries, voodoo folklore are all drawcards, as well as the remains of the early 19th-century Sans Souci Palace and the World Heritage listed Citadelle Laferriere – the largest fortress in the Americas.
National Geographic Traveler includes the soulful island home of Napoleon Bonaparte in its list of must-see places for 2015. Two hundred years after Napoleon suffered his final military defeat, his birthplace of Corsica – also called “Island of beauty” — is stubbornly resisting its own cultural Waterloo. Though this Mediterranean island has deep, historic ties to Italy and has been part of France since 1769, its 300,000 inhabitants retain a fierce pride in their own unique culture, including the Corsican tongue.
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Corsica has numerous walking trails, including the 17-day GR20, the best known of Europe’s long-distance footpaths. May-June and September-October is the best time for hiking, biking and horse riding, but book your holiday for July-August if lazing around on beaches and water sports are more your thing.
No list of top travel destinations is complete without a perennial bucket list location. Lying some 950 kilometres off South America’s coast, this Ecuadorian archipelago has been drawing nature-lovers to its remote shores ever since Charles Darwin set foot on the islands in 1835. Once a haven for pirates, the Galapagos Islands are home to an astonishingly diverse collection of flora and fauna, including the famous Galapagos giant tortoise and other species that are found nowhere else on the planet. Today, 97 per cent of the archipelago’s land area is protected by a national park but visitors can get close to wildlife on guided boat tours, scuba expeditions and hikes.