Everyone would love to see into the future, and our 2013 Rising Star list is just the crystal ball you've been looking for. Read on to find out which destinations are primed to take off...and then start shopping for plane tickets.
The "City of Eternal Spring" is blessed with excellent weather, vibrant arts and culture - its Botero museum dwarfs the one in Bogota - thanks to the investment of recent mayors. The days of drug cartel violence are long gone, with chic new restaurants and hotels in their place. A little known fact is that Medellin is also a major tango destination.
Medellin is Colombia’s second largest city and the country’s shining example of how it is making ... read more
huge strides into a brighter future. Once the murder capital of the world, it now moves to a beat dictated by progressive industrialism and its hard-working, hard-partying locals. Medellin, moreso than Bogota, is a green city with a modern look about it. There are green areas near to where you’re likely to spend your time (El Poblado), and thanks to the warmer weather you’re far more likely to be able to enjoy these spaces than in Bogota. As far as your night out goes, going out in Medellin offers a good selection of restaurants, bars and clubs. They’re largely situated around the same area and aren’t generally ‘happening’ until the weekend, but still great fun. Paisas are famous for their warmth and generosity and you’re unlikely to leave without agreeing that they’re some of the nicest people you’ve come across. The downside of the culture? Medellin is one of the plastic-surgery capitals of the world and, as you might expect from a city with that title, things can be a little superficial and people rarely dress in a way that diverts from the norm. Still, Medellin’s weather and warm people make it an unforgettable experience. Any traveller coming to Colombia with a few days to spend in a city will love Medellin and see it as somewhat of a paradise. No doubt this is why so many of them end up living there.
Recommended hotel: The Charlee
Ghana is a famously friendly country, but you may not know it also has Africa's most quickly growing economy. Accra, its capital, demonstrates this with new hotels like the Marriott Accra and a rising tide of tourism. Hit upscale area Osu's for gorgeous African prints by day and fun nightlife after hours, or spend your day sunning at Labadi beach. Don't miss the abundance of fresh produce, including rivers of coconut water.
Akwaaba! The Ghanaian capital, Accra, is a chaotic-but-intriguing representation of modern Ghana. ... read more
While it lacks some of the hospitality and beauty of the rest of the country, it serves as the business and international hub as well as the jumping point for domestic travels. It is a city full of contrast, with street food and gourmet meals, glitz and poverty, traditional wraps and designer brands all being presented side by side. Accra offers an intense yet fascinating look at modern Ghana, and so long as you can see past the mess, you can even learn to love it.
Recommended hotel: Golden Tulip Accra
With its stone houses built around vine-draped courtyards, and winding streets, Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, has a lively, Mediterranean atmosphere. Epicureans will be in heaven; this is where wine-making was invented 8000 years ago, and the cuisine sports a mix of Mideast and Eastern European flavors that's unique and exciting. There has been recent unrest in the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia, but Tbilisi remains safe for travel. Go now, before everyone else finds out.
This wonderful city is a hidden gem of Europe. This is Prague or Krakow 20 years ago and is on the ... read more
verge of a major expansion in tourism. Having escaped its unstable paste, Tbilisi has everything you'd want in an urban European destination -- a beautiful old town, excellent restaurants, good night life, and easy access to best-in-class cultural and natural attractions.
Recommended hotel: Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel, Tbilisi
This post-industrial city is on the way to a new age of glory. Online magazine Belt is leading the Rust Belt Chic conversation of young creatives taking back the post-industrial city. Feel like a night out? Explore the East 4th Street district. Stroll down Euclid Avenue, once known as Millionaire's Row, and perhaps soon to be again... Le Meridien is opening a new hotel in two historic buildings here in 2016.
Once a city that you drove straight through on your way to Chicago or Pittsburgh, Cleveland has ... read more
cleaned itself up pretty nicely over the past 20 years. Boasting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, good bars and concert venues in the "Cleveland Flats" area, and an adorably tiny Little Italy, Cleveland is no longer the city that polluted its central river so much that it caught on fire. Yes, the city loved LeBron James for a while, but hey, everyone makes mistakes.
Recommended hotel: Renaissance Cleveland Hotel
Its Roman bath house, a castle, and the largest Gothic cathedral in Europe make York a wonderful destination for history buffs. Its top-notch restaurants and hotels, as well as the upcoming Tour de France in 2014, make it a rising star.
Having spent much of my angst-y period in high school reading Emily Brontë and Jane Austen, I jumped ... read more
at the chance to spend six months in York to see the English countryside with my own two eyes. Despite the grey and fogginess that seemed to pervade every nook and cranny in the country, York was even better than I imagined. First of all, for such a tiny place, the serpentine cobble-stoned streets that make up much of the city feel never-ending. I often went wandering around town just to get lost in a new place. Secondly, even though the city gets pretty quiet at night (except for three nightclubs populated by a regular college crowd), you could spend a lifetime trying to visit every pub in town. And third, York is packed to the brim with history, from Nordic Viking villages, to Roman artifacts, to royal castles. The takeaway message here is: screw London. York is where it's at.
Recommended hotel: Hotel du Vin York
Brooklyn and Portland had better shuffle over and give Oakland some hipster room. Once plagued by a violent reputation and best known for its Oakland A's, this East Bay city increasingly centers around the Uptown, one of America's hippest neighborhoods.
I love Oakland. It is culturally diverse and is the perfect location to commute back and forth to ... read more
San Francisco from. Oakland has the famous Lake Merritt Theater, Jack London Square, China Town, Oakland Zoo, Children's Fairyland, and so much more. Oakland is a great place to visit. It's just unfortunate the public school system in Oakland is failing.
Recommended hotel: Waterfront Hotel, a Joie de Vivre hotel
As host of the 2014 World Cup, São Paulo is about to become a whole lot more visible on the international scene. Travelers are discovering the incredible restaurants (you'll find more Italian descendants here than anywhere besides Italy), growing art gallery scene, and the host of a fabulous Pride parade each October in the world's 7th largest city. Good luck getting close to the Arena Corinthians stadium for a game, however - second round tickets sold out in seven hours!
Definitely the best and the worst city to live in Brazil at the same time. Chaotic from dawn to ... read more
dusk, littered and filled with criminals but can beautiful if you know when to slow down. You will find everything here, at almost any time of the day. Fancy some thai food at 3am? A pint of Extra Cold Guinness at noon? You will find.
Recommended hotel: Hotel Unique
Join an early morning t'ai chi along one of Hanoi's lakes or sip coffee on a patio cafe under a tree-lined street. Later, wander through wide boulevards and French colonial architecture while dodging motorbikes (some carrying entire families ... and their chickens) and assessing street vendors. Confront the chaos to uncover its unique Asian-European flavor.
A scenic city with green landscapes, a misty lake, cafes, and European-style buildings, Hanoi has a ... read more
mix of Southeast Asian frenetic chaos with moments of calm serenity.
Recommended hotel: Sofitel Metropole Hanoi
Did you know that Houston has the United States' second-largest theatre district? Many visitors don't think they'll fall in love with Houston, but come to love the city despite the heat and concrete. Houston's new restaurants go beyond BBQ to compete on a national level, and there's a new 30,000 square foot paleontology wing at the Natural History Museum, perfect for traveling with kids.
Houston can be a gnarl of traffic on a hot, humid, Texas day, but this coastal city offers some ... read more
great food and interesting cultural experiences. Check out the museum scene inside the loop, then head to the Heights for interesting experimental performance work.
Recommended hotel: Four Seasons Hotel Houston
Just 45 miles from Poland, Lviv's gorgeous architecture, exciting nightlife, year-round calendar of festivals from coffee drinking to klezmer, and brand-new hostel scene, win it a place on the list of Rising Stars. Perfect for adventurous backpackers.
Lviv's historic centre is well-deserving of its place on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Recommended hotel: The Kosmonaut Hostel
More and more people are relocating to Brisbane due to its affordability and tropical climate. “Brissie” is full of interesting districts like the CBD, mixing historical sites and world-class shopping, and the South Bank, full of edgy cafes and restaurants. 2014 will see a star-studded international tennis tournament and the G20 summit.
Brisbane is a well-known up and comer on the Australian scene. One of the fastest growing cities in ... read more
the world Brizzy is just starting to come into it's own on the international scene behind it's big sisters Sydney and Melbourne. A smaller much more manageable city Brisbane is a nice alternative to the big girls.
Recommended hotel: Emporium Hotel
Kuala Lumpur has quietly become one Malaysia’s most popular and accommodating tourist locations. Talk about bang for your buck; some of the cheapest five-star hotels in the world can be found here. Excellent food like saree and banana leaf rice can be found on any street corner.
Kuala Lumpur (KL to the locals) is a sultry yet sanitized mish-mash of Indian, Chinese and Malay ... read more
cultures. For a predominantly Muslim country, it's wildly tolerant (pork products are readily available in Chinatown), easy to scoot about capital city with lots of distractions including outstanding nightlife, cinemas, cultural events and massage parlors galore.
Recommended hotel: Traders Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
This isn't the Jersey Shore you've seen on TV. Cape May is a historic seaside town, with Victorian houses to match. Always a favorite for East Coast locals, it was largely untouched by Hurricane Sandy and is being rediscovered more widely. Go to soak up the historic seaside atmosphere, stick your toes in the sand, and maybe scour the beaches for Cape May Diamonds, clear quartz pebbles that wash down from the Delaware River.
The Jersey shore, and especially Cape May, is one of our family's favorite summer getaways. Dotted ... read more
with beautiful and ornate old Victoria homes and hotels, this seaside town offers wide beaches, great dining and activities for children and adults. It's a lovely place to relax and breathe in the salty sea air.
Recommended hotel: The Virginia Hotel
Heavily bombed during WWII, Osaka makes up in edibles what it lacks in architecture. An Osakan saying is kuidaore, or “eat yourself into ruin,” which you can do with okonomiyaki, or self-cooked food, block sushi, octopus dumplings, and much more. Eating aside, visit the Amemura shopping district incubates many Japanese trends by day or try karaoke or clubbing by night.
Osaka offer a bit of everything to the traveler: temples, shopping, museums, aquarium, castle, and ... read more
fascinating neighborhoods for walking. Oh, and great food too! I loved the mix up of architecture and mash up of the ancient and new.
Recommended hotel: The Westin Osaka
Toronto is a thriving multi-cultural center filled with skyscraper banks, corporate headquarters and a world-renowned arts and entertainment industry. World-class restaurants and the imposing CN Tower make for adventure. With dozens of farmer’s markets, cultural fairs and the Toronto International Film Festival, tourists are invited to blend in and enjoy Toronto's joie de vivre lifestyle.
Toronto is one of my favorite cities in Canada. Located on Ontario Lake, it's big and beautiful ... read more
without being overwhelming or ostentatious. There are tons of cultural outlets--theater, music halls, museums, dance companies, opera, symphonies, film festivals--as well as professional sports, great restaurants, bars and nightlife, boutique and bargain shopping and plenty of green spaces too. All that, plus it's one of the most racially and culturally diverse cities in the country. Honestly, if it weren't so cold in the winter, it would be on my short list of places to live.
Recommended hotel: Gladstone Hotel
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003, 'Valpo' is quickly rising through the ranks of desirable South American destinations. Book into one of the new boutique hotels like Palacio Astoreca, then hit the town. Browse the art at the Museo de Bellas Artas, reopened in autumn 2013 after 15 years, follow in poet Pablo Neruda's poetic footsteps, or hop a ubiquitous wooden (and probably artfully painted) funicular to help you traverse the steep cerros (hills) of this historic, artful port city.
Take a short bus ride (~1.5 hrs) from Santiago, and spend a night in Valpo. It's a cozy, beautiful ... read more
town full of "cerros" (hills). You could easily spend an afternoon wondering through los cerros, marveling at the colorful old houses and street murals. Valpo also houses one of Pablo Neruda's homes, so if you're the literary type, Valparaiso is a real gem.
Recommended hotel: Hotel Casa Higueras
A laid-back atmosphere and the availability of amenities usually only found in larger cities make Santa Barbara a great place for vacationers looking to hit the beach, surf or enjoy high quality dining options and local wineries. Leave LA to aspiring starlets and head here instead.
Red-tile roofs, California mission style, miles and miles of beaches, and a happening wine country. ... read more
Santa Barbara is one of my fave weekend getaway spots because it's so easy to explore. You hardly need to plan anything -- just reserve a hotel room down by the waterfront or if you want to save money, a motel uptown along State St. Spend a day cycling along the beaches, or follow the Urban Wine Trail and browse eclectic indie shops downtown. Wake up the next day, have breakfast at D'Angelo's Cafe (where Iron Chef Cat Cora likes to eat), then head up to the wine country of the Santa Ynez Valley or explore Santa Barbara's petite, but interesting museums, historical places & botanical gardens.
Recommended hotel: Bacara Resort and Spa
A thriving port city and industrial center in years past, Cardiff has gone cosmopolitan, with lots of green space, and a spiffed up waterfront packed with cafes and restaurants. The Wales Millennium Center offers top-notch opera, ballet, and musicals, or catch a game at the Millennium Stadium. Try your hand at learning some consonant-heavy Welsh, too. Pob lwc! (Good luck!)
The capital of Wales is a cosmopolitan city with lots of shops, bars and restaurants to enjoy. There ... read more
are plenty of things to see and do and it is well worth a visit.
Recommended hotel: The River House Backpackers
After Lebanon's destructive civil war, tourism all but disappeared from Beirut. The 'Paris of the East' is once again the focal point of the region's cultural life. The redesigned historic city center, marina, pubs and nightlife districts have once again rendered it an international tourist destination. Travel warnings for nearby spots like Tripoli and the southern suburbs necessitate some caution, but savvy travelers will be able to enjoy the sights just the same.
A city of contrasts and paradoxes sculpted by this small country's tragic and often bloody history. ... read more
As you arrive in Beirut's city centre, or stroll down the corniche you could almost imagine this is where the Middle East meets Paris or Miami, but then you turn a corner and weapon damage to buildings jolts you back into realising that things haven't always been as happy, confident and outgoing as they appear. But it's nevertheless a compelling destination and a thriving, cultural and cosmopilitan city reflecting its status as a crossroads for western and Middle Eastern influences. For the time being, the music and laughter hasn't stopped but the place is the geo-political equivalent of the San Andreas fault.
Recommended hotel: Le Gray