So hot right now – a digest of where to go in 2011

It’s a January tradition – newspapers and websites pontificating on the next big thing in travel, giving readers the inside scoop on where and what is hot for the year ahead. Trouble is, it’s pretty exhausting wading your way through the welter of various “where next” lists, so, as a public service of sorts, below’s our brief digest of the hottest tips for the year ahead.

The New York Times puts Santiago in Chile on the number one slot, with the major new arts venues Centro Gabriela Mistral and the Museo de la Moda, as well as April’s lollapalooza festival, all good reasons to check out one of Latin America’s rising urban stars. A bit further down its list, the Gray Lady also has nice things to say about the Danube, saying that from the water is the best way to check out the “majestic scenery, outrageously great wine regions and castles”.

Lonely Planet meanwhile, goes for the somewhat controversy-free choice of New York as the hottest city for 2011, but also includes the slightly more out of the way Iquitos on its top ten, crediting Peru’s jungle capital with having “an addictive, round-the-clock energy” as well as a strong arts scene. Hanoi too is a popular city choice, the Sydney Morning Herald saying Vietnam’s capital has scrubbed up pretty well for a city that is 1,000 years old this in 2011. USA Today reckons Vietnam is one of the best countries to travel to if you’re in search of a bargain; another great-country-great-value pick is Ethiopia.

For other countries, meanwhile, Albania and Brazil both get plenty of love from Lonely Planet, the latter benefiting from preparation for the 2014 soccer world cup and 2016 Olympics.  In fact, Rio is definitely an across-the-board favourite, with Frommer’s and the Scotsman newspaper in the UK both happy to talk up Brazil’s capital of cool. Another UK newspaper, the Telegraph, plumps for Montenegro, citing the country’s dramatic coastline and mountainous hinterland as evidence that the time to visit is now.

Syria also makes Lonely Planet’s top ten countries list, for its Ottoman palaces, souks and Bedouin hospitality. Syria’s neighbour, Jordan, is tipped by the UK’s Observer newspaper to pick up a lot of Petra-fied tourists thanks to the introduction of budget airlines to Amman in March.

The rugby world cup puts New Zealand in the spotlight for many a publication, as does a significant anniversary – it’s 100 years since Hiram Bingham rediscovered Machu Picchu, and with centenary celebrations taking place, many publications agree that 2011 is the perfect time to visit the Incan ruins and the walk there is the trek to do in the year ahead. Who are we to disagree?

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