1. Lisbon, Portugal
Hailed by some as “the new Berlin”, the Portuguese capital is an animated and dynamic city with a creative young population, a thriving startup scene and tons of independent businesses and family-run restaurants. In recent times it has reinvented itself without losing its identity, reinvigorating its diverse neighbourhoods while keeping the essence of historic Lisbon, and with its high quality of life and relatively low cost of living, it is pegged to be among Europe’s best value destinations of 2017.
2. Seoul, South Korea
A 24-hour megacity abuzz with eclectic shopping, fiery street food, the latest in high-tech gadgets and the pulsating sounds of K-pop, Seoul is a constantly evolving city, at the cutting edge of fashion, technology and now urban development, with ambitious projects to soften the urban landscape and make it greener and more welcoming. Areas like Cheonggyecheon, a former highway that was demolished and replaced with an almost 11-kilometre stretch of park and waterway, as well as the Seoul Skygarden (due for unveiling in late 2017), are testament to the transformation of the city in recent times, while other areas, like the Bukchon Hanok Village perfectly preserve Seoul’s past and its centuries-old buildings and traditions.
3. Queenstown, New Zealand
The birthplace of the bungee jump is no stranger to pushing the envelope when it comes to adventure, and 2017 will see the unveiling of the Nevis Thriller, the newest attraction in an area already rich in extreme experiences, the self-proclaimed “world capital of adventure”. But Queenstown is a city that everyone can enjoy at their own pace, where adrenaline-junkies can push their heart rates to the limit, while those who prefer a more leisurely experience can indulge in the sophisticated dining and arts scene, let loose with the lively pub culture and find tranquility in the city’s breathtaking natural surroundings.
4. Denver, United States
With both natural and cultural offerings and more sunny days each year than Miami, Denver offers cosmopolitan comforts with fresh mountain air. It is the effortless combination of city life and the great outdoors that gives the city its distinct character, with abundant tree-lined paths and cycle routes and close proximity to the majestic Rocky Mountains. The re-invigorated city centre is alive with fantastic museums, galleries, shopping, food markets and craft breweries in artsy districts like RiNo (River North) and LoDo (Lower Downtown), all connected by an increasingly popular light-rail system. 2017 will also see the birth of the Ski Train, a direct link from central Union Station to the ski resort of Winter Park in the Rockies.
5. Hamburg, Germany
Locked in an endless battle for attention with Berlin, Hamburg has a lot going for it. For starters, it has a slicker, more sophisticated feel than Berlin – but still has plenty of bite – and it is just as cosmopolitan and culturally engaging (not to mention much more pedestrian-friendly). Cutting-edge architecture and ambitious redevelopment projects keep yielding fabulous results, like the reinvigorated Speicherstadt, HafenCity district and river promenade. The new Elbphilharmonie Hamburg concert hall, built over a historic brick warehouse, will celebrate its inauguration in January, 2017, making this an exciting time to discover all this city has to offer.
6. Mexico City, Mexico
As the largest metropolitan area in the Western hemisphere – a megalopolis of over 20 million people –Mexico City is a swirling vortex of culture, innovation and synergy. Its beautifully preserved colonial buildings surround reinvigorated public spaces alive with street art and food, and cutting edge culinary and arts scenes thrive thanks to an enterprising generation of young creatives. Finally overcoming its ill-deserved reputation as a dangerous city (the crime rate is lower than some US cities), the Mexican capital is an exciting, layered and rewarding travel destination, and one of our favourites for the coming year.
7. Aarhus, Denmark
It’s not easy getting yourself noticed with a city like Copenhagen always stealing the spotlight, but Denmark’s second city shines bright in its own right, and 2017 is the year Aarhus finally and decisively steps out from under Copenhagen’s shadow. The city boasts world-class museums and exciting new public spaces, such as Dokk1 – which houses areas for exhibitions and conferences, as well as Scandinavia’s largest library – and the country’s world-renowned flair for design is showcased in waterfront properties and developments like the award-winning Iceberg. It’s small wonder that Aarhus was named 2017 European Capital of Culture, as well as 2017 European Region of Gastronomy.
8. Perth, Australia
A combination of big city comforts, perfect weather and a laid-back approach to life make Perth one of the most livable cities in the world. It is a youthful, energetic and cosmopolitan city, and in terms of entertainment, nightlife and cultural activities it can stand up to even the fiercest competition. When it comes to food, however, Perth raises the bar, boasting fabulous beachfront restaurants, succulent seafood and some of the country’s best vineyards. It may be one of the world’s most remote cities (separated from Sydney by 4,000 km of Australian Outback and many hours’ flight from other cities in Oceania), but a good public transportation system allows visitors to explore the city’s surrounding beaches, bush and greenery in mere minutes, and this year there’s simply no excuse not to visit.