If you are keen to be a travel trendsetter, then you need to be heading to the Japanese island of Ishigaki.
It is the No1 trending destination in the world for 2018 in the annual TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards for destinations on the rise. But three European spots did make the Top 10.
Ishigaki, an island in Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture is home to a varied landscape including sandy beaches, rare coral, mountains and mangrove forests.
Award-winners were determined by the year-over-year increase in positive TripAdvisor traveller ratings for accommodations, restaurants and attractions, and increase in booking interest, across destinations worldwide.
This year there is a good world spread among the winners with the top three destinations each located in separate continents – Asia, North America and Africa.
In both the world and Europe lists, Eastern European destinations are clearly piquing travellers’ interest with three of the region’s destinations in the world top 10 and five in Europe’s top 10.
Topping the Europe list this year is Gdańsk in Poland, followed by Riga in Latvia and Croatia’s Rovinj in third place. Croatia’s rising popularity shows no signs of slowing with two destinations in the Europe top 10 this year – Rovinj in third and Zagreb in sixth place.
Hayley Coleman, TripAdvisor spokesperson, said: “While this year’s results show a broad spread of the world represented, with winners located in five different continents, it’s Eastern Europe which is dominating as a 2018 hotspot.
“For UK travellers this is great news – with Eastern Europe so close it’s easy to pop over for a weekend trip at pretty low cost. For example, you can book a hotel in Gdańsk for an average of £47, and a round trip airfare will set you back as little as £116.”
Travellers’ Choice Destinations on the Rise — World:
Ishigaki in Japanese, means “stone wall”. Contrary to its name, Ishigaki is an island in Okinawa and is therefore surrounded by water. Home to sandy beaches and coral reefs, the destination is a popular diving spot. Also great for food lovers, Ishigaki is known for its soba noodles – called Yaeyama soba – made of flour instead of the more traditional buckwheat.
- Average annual Ishigaki hotel price: £114 per night.
- Highly-rated value hotel: ART Hotel Ishigaki – Low TripAdvisor pricing from £87 per night in June.
Travellers find this small town, nestled at the base of Nounou (the Sleeping Giant) Mountain on Kauai, tourist friendly with its diverse array of hotels, shopping centres and restaurants. The Kinipopo Shopping Village is a favourite among visitors for its fun eateries and small keepsake shops. Fans of watersports will have plenty to do with options for kayaking and waterskiing.
- Average annual Kapaa hotel price: £185 per night.
- Highly-rated value hotel:Aston Islander on the Beach – Low TripAdvisor pricing from £132 per night in June.
Known as the safari capital of Africa, Nairobi is an energetic, modern city that serves as a fascinating introduction to both wildlife and nightlife. Music clubs pulse with life, shops and markets bustle, and a mélange of restaurants will tempt your palate in this former Maasai watering hole. Top sights include the Karen Blixen Museum, Giraffe Centre and the black rhinos of Nairobi National Park.
- Average annual Nairobi hotel price: £80 per night.
- Highly-rated value hotel:Best Western Plus Meridian Hotel – Low TripAdvisor pricing from £60 per night in June.
Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, is a port city known for its maritime history. These days it is also well known for its arts, theatre and culinary scene as well as a strong craft brewing culture. The city famously has more pubs and clubs per capita than almost any city in Canada.
- Average annual Halifax hotel price: £106 per night.
- Highly-rated value hotel: Comfort Hotel Bayer’s Lake – Low TripAdvisor pricing from £64 per night in June.
Known as one of Poland’s most beautiful cities, Gdańsk is a port city located on the Baltic coast. Long Market at the centre of the city is one of the main tourist attractions with its colourful facades and home to shops and restaurants.
Interestingly, Gdańsk is a hub for the world’s amber trade. Boutiques throughout the city sell it, making Gdańsk the ideal destination for those who have a particular fondness for the precious fossilised resin.
- Average annual Gdansk hotel price: £47 per night.
- Highly-rated value hotel:Smart Hotel – low TripAdvisor pricing from £46 per night in June.
- Airfare found on TripAdvisor: As low as £116 roundtrip from Gatwick.
San Jose del Cabo is located on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula and boasts beautiful beaches and stunning colonial architecture. Not to be confused with its sister town, Cabo San Lucas which is known for its wild nightlife, San Jose del Cabo offers a much more relaxed pace.
- Average annual San Jose hotel price: £49 per night.
- Highly-rated value hotel: Boutique Hotel Casa Orquideas – Low TripAdvisor pricing from £48 per night in June.
The Latvian capital and the largest city in the Baltics, Riga is a fascinating mixture of proud Latvian tradition and influences from various neighbouring countries. Riga’s Art Nouveau centre has won UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.
The Old City has an abundance of bars and restaurants and can easily be explored on foot while the New Town is easily reached by an efficient and modern bus and tram network.
- Average annual Riga hotel price: £50 per night.
- Highly-rated value hotel: Hotel Monte Kristo – Low TripAdvisor pricing from £46 per night in June.
- Airfare found on TripAdvisor: As low as £84 roundtrip from Gatwick.
Rovinj is a Croatian fishing port on the west coast of the Istrian peninsula. The old town, a beautiful tangle of steep cobbled streets and piazzas, sits on a cliff face, with houses packed closely together right down to the seafront. South of the old town is Lone Bay, one of the area’s pebble beaches. The 14 islands of the Rovinj archipelago set just off the mainland are perfect for an afternoon of exploration.
- Average annual Rovinj hotel price: £81 per night
- Highly-rated value hotel:Pansion Comfort Exclusive – Low TripAdvisor pricing from £49 per night in June.
- Airfare found on TripAdvisor: As low as £115 roundtrip from Gatwick.
The resort of Nerja is nestled along southern Spain’s Costa del Sol. Its seafront promenade, Balcón de Europa offers stunning views of the Mediterranean and surrounding mountain and below it, travellers can find sandy beaches and cliffside coves.
One popular attraction at the seaside town is Cueva de Nerja, a cave which boasts unusual stalactites and stalagmites, also known for its Palaeolithic paintings.
- Average annual Nerja hotel price: £72 per night
- Highly-rated value hotel:Apartamentos Pepe Mesa – Low TripAdvisor pricing from £56 per night in June.
- Airfare found on TripAdvisor: As low as £58 round trip from Gatwick.
Casablanca is a port city and the commercial hub of western Morocco. Fans of architecture will be in heaven at the sight of the mix of Moorish style and European art deco buildings.
The city – famous for the movie of the same name – is also home to Hassan II Mosque, the largest mosque in Morocco. The city also has a thriving art and culture scene – many of Casablanca’s historic Art Deco villas have been reborn as galleries and museums.
- Average annual Casablanca hotel price: £75 per night.
- Highly-rated value hotel: Art Palace & Spa – Low TripAdvisor pricing from £69 per night in June.
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