Three top destinations for 2018

Elephants in Zimbabwe © iStock
Zimbabwe hopes to see a stampede of new visitors

With former president Robert Mugabe gone, a new wave of optimism has swept over Zimbabwe, says Christopher Wilmot-Sitwell of luxury travel agency Cazenove+Loyd in the Financial Times. New lodges are springing up and tour guides are returning. “Zimbabwe has always had spectacular landscape and amazing game viewing; now its people want to show it off again and they deserve the world’s support.”

Increased stability is also attracting investment in tourism from elsewhere in southern Africa. Botswana-based Machaba Safaris is opening Verney’s Camp in Zimbabwe’s Hwange national park this year, while South Africa’s Great Plains Conservation is launching three new camps in 2018.

A city built for music lovers

“The primary sensual appeal of Nashville, Tennessee, is sonic,” says Rich Hall in The Sunday Times. Take the WSM radio mast, built in 1932, for example. It gave the city the twang that made Nashville the country-music capital of the world. Fair enough, that might not be your thing. “But Nashville without country music is like a merry-go-round without a calliope. It defines the lifestyle.”

To see just how, head to Robert’s Western World for cowboy hats and cold beer. The session musicians have the time of their lives reviving country classics on stage. “If your feet don’t start tapping, you’re probably dead.” Just don’t ask them to play Sweet Home Alabama. You’re in Tennessee.

Music aside, “what makes Nashville so exceptional is that it’s so goddamn friendly”. So much of America blurs together these days, but Nashville stands out. And with British Airways set to introduce the only direct Europe-Nashville flight from London in May, getting there will soon be easier.

Get set for a party that lasts all year

Ever since Valletta was founded by the Knights of St John following the Great Siege of 1565, Malta’s citadel capital has punched above its weight in history and art, says The Sunday Telegraph. This tiny Unesco world heritage city of painted balconies and baroque facades is one of the European Capitals of Culture this year (see Valletta2018.org). Preparations have left the fortifications and palazzi “glowing”. The tourist map has gained fortresses and museums, sparkling interiors (especially at St John’s Co-Cathedral) and a new National Art Gallery (Muza) due to open in the Auberge d’Italie later this year.

One of the most anticipated openings in 2018 is the luxury boutique Iniala Harbour House overlooking the Grand Harbour – where a “spectacular sea pageant will play out” on 7 June. “The Maltese know how to party – and everyone is welcome at this year-long festa.”