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Where to go in 2018? What to see before the next Auld Lang Syne?

We've got you covered. Here are the most tantalizing destinations you should consider visiting this year.

1. Detroit

Let's begin with something that potentially sounds crazy. Go to Detroit? Me? No thanks. But hold your horses. Things have slowly begun to turn around in Motor City since its rock bottom bankruptcy back in 2013.

Mural in Detroit's Eastern Market
A mural in Detroit's Eastern Market.@Detroit1/Unsplash

The utter ruin of the municipality and the precipitous collapse of the housing market have, ironically, fuelled a bit of a renaissance in what was once the first city of American industry. A small army of creative entrepreneurs have descended on the core of Detroit, turning rubble heaps into breweries, cafes, and art galleries.

The recovery is far from complete; most of the city remains uninhabited or mired in disrepair, and you'll likely want to stick to downtown. But there are at least some glimmers of hope, and a few tourist dollars here and there couldn't hurt!

If live performance is your thing, Detroit's Woodward Avenue boasts a string of modern theatres; it's also home to the Detroit Institute of the Arts. You can check out the modest Motown Museum to pay tribute to a great era in American music and culture, visit historic Fort Wayne, or whet your appetite in Greek town.

2. Antwerp, Belgium

For some reason, Antwerp isn't particularly popular with sightseers, but maybe that will change in 2018. If you've ever wanted to visit Belgium's second city, this is definitely the year to do it.

Looking down from the Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp Belgium
Photo taken from the summit of the Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp. Thomas Konings/Unsplash

Antwerp is celebrating its legendary history of art and architecture with a yearlong festival called Antwerp Baroque 2018. The schedule includes a wide array of events that blend the classical with the ultramodern; the ghost of the city's artist laureate, Peter Paul Rubens, will mingle with contemporary masters, street artists, and parade-goers.

If you're into art, Antwerp 2018 is calling. Read more about what the city has in store here.

But even if art doesn't tickle your fancy, this jewel beset in the inlets of the Scheldt River is worth a visit for the sake of its breathtaking baroque architecture alone, to say nothing of the farm-fresh food and Belgian beer!

3. Iceland

Iceland's name may evoke polar wastes, but it's become something of a hotspot for tourists in recent years. And why not? This tiny, sparsely populated volcanic island has everything a visitor could want.

Mountain with snow
Iceland is famous for its untamed, picturesque landscapes. Robert von Niman/Unsplash

The vulcanism that created Iceland (and which has rendered wide swathes of it uninhabitable) has also bestowed incomparable natural beauty. From mountains to volcanic natural hot springs, you won't want to forget your camera! And that's to say nothing of the northern lights, which are eminently visible here and present the most breathtaking nocturnal shows.

Apart from the vistas, Iceland is also rich in cultural history. Originally settled by wayward Scandinavians in the 9th century, the Viking legacy is well in evidence in the capital, Reykjavík. Take a step into the past at the Arbaer Open Air Museum, The National Museum of Iceland, or the Settlement Exhibition. Or if you want to visit perhaps the strangest display on earth, venture to the Phallological Museum, which displays... well, many of the distinguished male reproductive organs of the animal kingdom. Only in Iceland.

2018 is the perfect year to visit. Since Iceland suffered its own financial crisis in 2008, it's been repositioning itself as a tourist destination. As a result, it's never been cheaper (or easier) to fly from North America to Iceland. But go soon! The Icelandic government is actually instituting a new tax on tourism on July 1, 2018 that will raise the cost of travelling here by an estimated 4%.

Want to learn more? Check out Headed To Iceland? Here Are 12 Things To Include In Your Itinerary.

4. Chile

2018 is Chile's 200th birthday. Even so, you may be wondering why you should visit the longest, narrowest country on earth, which snakes its way down the southwestern coast of South America. Well...

Looking down at Santiago, Chile
Santiago, Chile. Pablo García Saldaña/Unsplash

That's their capital city, Santiago, nestled in the Andes, hugged by verdant, hikeable foothills. Sold yet?

If not, consider that its status as the longest country in the world means that Chile hosts a diversity of climates and regions. In the north, you can see the Atacama desert, the driest in the world. In the mountainous east, there are rafting, hiking, and natural geothermal spring excursions. In the west, you can visit the brightly-coloured ports and villages along the Pacific coast.

If you're a wine enthusiast, you won't want to miss the heart of the country either - specifically the Colchagua Valley. Chile has emerged as an prolific exporter of wine, and there's no better place in the country to enjoy a nice red wine pairing under the stars.

Looking for more information? Try 5 Adventures That Await You In Chile.

5. Malta

Take it easy, Sam Spade: The Maltese Falcon is pure fiction, and you're not gonna find it on Malta. But you will find much else to your liking.

Narrow avenue of the Maltese capital, Valetta, winding toward a hint of the Mediterranean.
One of the characteristic narrow avenues of the Maltese capital, Valetta, winding toward a hint of the Mediterranean. Reuben Farrugia/Unsplash

Sitting directly to the south of Sicily, Malta is not one island, but an archipelago. 'Malta' is both the name of the largest of the three inhabited islands, and the name of the country as a whole.

Although diminutive (with a modern population under 500,000), Malta's central location in the Mediterranean and its natural harbors have long made for an attractive place to settle and do business. In fact, Malta is home to some of the oldest standing structures in the world, ancient temples, some of which date from as long as 5,600 years ago. That makes them even older than the pyramids!

The very boulevards and alleys of Valetta exude the more recent legacy left by the Knights Templar who once occupied the islands. But Malta is also famous (in summer) as an agreeable place to enjoy water sports. Diving, snorkelling, sailing, laying on the the beach - whichever you prefer, Malta has you covered.

The reason you want to put Malta on your itinerary this year is because the capital, Valetta, is the European Cultural Capital for 2018. That makes 2018 the ideal year to make the journey; you're guaranteed to learn something surprising about Maltese history, art, and culture - if not her imaginary falcon.

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