Iran recently reported a two hundred percent rise in the number of tourists arriving from Europe – the result, perhaps, of thawing relations with the West. The country was once a key stop on the hippie trail that snaked between Europe and South Asia and still has plenty to offer foreign visitors, not least ancient Persian history, heaving bazaars, towering minarets and rippling mountain scenery. Travel warnings are in place for Iran, however – check your home country’s advice before booking.
While its neighbours India and Myanmar are both firmly on the tourist trail, for many travellers, low-lying Bangladesh is still a bit of an enigma. Those who go can expect to find frenetic cities, the world’s longest beach and swampy mangrove forests that teem with birds and reptiles. Some of the world’s last surviving Bengal tigers are found here too. Travelling in Bangladesh is still slow and challenging, but visit this year to discover this beguiling country before the secret gets out.
Five years on from an earth-shattering natural disaster, Haiti is gracing the pages of travel magazines once again. New tours are being launched, taking in everything from art and rum to voodoo, and in 2014 the country appointed a new Minister for Tourism who is putting community-based projects at the heart of her plan. If all that wasn’t enough, American Airlines is now operating a direct route from Miami to the city of Cap-Haïtien, along the country’s cove-studded north coast. Note that some areas of Port au Prince are unsafe for travellers, so check official travel advice before you go.
With a culture and civilization that stretches back for millennia, and more sublime beaches than you could hope to visit in a lifetime of summer holidays, it’s no surprise that Greece became one of the early superstars of the package holiday industry. When the brutal economic crisis began to bite in 2009, however, its good fortune seemed to fade. But in just about every other sense, Greece remains a rich nation, and one that’s welcoming much-needed tourists with open arms – and lower prices.
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Successive bouts of political turmoil spooked the tourists and today, many Egyptians are still struggling to make ends meet. But there are plenty of reasons to visit: places like Cairo and Sharm el Sheikh are considered safe to visit, as are Luxor and Abu Simbel, home to some of ancient Egypt’s finest temples. Go now for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the pyramids without crowds spoiling the view, and you’ll be helping local people to get back on their feet in the process. Certain areas of Egypt are unsafe for tourists, so check official travel advice before you go.
In 2015, it’s time to look beyond Tanzania and Kenya when organising an African safari. Wild and fertile Zambia is also prime safari territory, and new airline routes are set to make visiting even easier. Explore the rich Luangwa Valley, where lions and elephants roam the plains, and to try out one of the luxurious new bush camps, where cold sunset beers are served around crackling fires. Feeling brave? Leave the 4WD behind and sign yourself up for a guided walking safari between two remote camps.
It might be dwarfed by its South American neighbours, but Uruguay shouldn’t be overlooked. The country has been quietly cultivating a reputation as one of the region’s best wine producers and small, independent vineyards are beginning to welcome thirsty tourists. Heading east to laze on the sweeping sandy beaches that face the South Atlantic provides the perfect contrast; purpose-built platforms along the coast offer views of the annual whale migration, which takes place between July and November. Need another reason to go in 2015? Air Europa is operating direct flights from Madrid to Montevideo.
Although it came within a cat’s whisker of breaking apart, Europe’s most populous kingdom is still very much united. And why shouldn’t it get a place on our list of the top countries to visit in 2015? Few nations on Earth can offer so much in a single, manageable package. With a week here you’ll have time to squeeze in world-class restaurants, ancient landmarks, rugged highlands, epic beaches and cutting-edge cultural hangouts. All that and more before you even set foot in London – one of the world’s most exciting and innovative cities.
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Malaysia hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in 2014, but tourists are still arriving in their droves. And who can blame them? The country offers a silky-smooth introduction to Southeast Asia, with modern metropolises like Kuala Lumpur and Penang giving way to gleaming white beaches and cacophonous tracts of jungle. Pay a visit to Sarawak’s proboscis monkeys or dive into a kaleidoscopic world of marine life on a scuba trip to tiny Sipadan Island – just don’t forget your camera.
Visit Canada for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which takes place in summer 2015, and you should definitely stick around for the Pan-American Games in Toronto, which are scheduled to start a few days later. Both events provide the perfect excuse for a road trip around Canada’s jaw-dropping east, whose sweet-smelling pine forests and friendly coastal communities seem to burst into life during summertime.
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