AVOID the crowds on your travels this year with our ultimate guide to the hippest holiday destinations.
We’ve compiled a list of ten untapped gems with insider tips from locals, travel advice and general tips so you can holiday this year hassle-free!
1 — Valletta, Malta
Getty You might recognise Valletta from Game of Thrones
The low-down: You might recognise this honey-coloured city from Game of Thrones, where it’s doubled as King’s Landing.
“Valletta is packed with beautiful waterside buildings and remnants of its colourful Mediterranean history,” says Lonely Planet travel expert Tom Hall.
“And it’s a 2018 European Capital of Culture, so there’s a year-long calendar of events, concerts and exhibitions.”
The city attracts a super-cool music crowd, with summer’s Isle of MTV and Radio
DJ Annie Mac’s Lost & Found Festival, where Diplo and Jamie xx will headline.
Check out Italian architect Renzo Piano’s impressive City Gate area, then hit The Harbour Club, a jazz bar and restaurant inside an old fort.
Here’s how to double your annual leave in 2018
When to go: April, to miss the crowds and enjoy temperatures in the 20s.
Fly away: Flights start from £34 return (Ryanair.com).
2 — Buenos Aires, Argentina
alamy This party city is loved for its all-night clubs and the stylish bars
The low-down: This party city is loved for its all-night clubs and the stylish bars of hipster ’hood Palermo, where you’ll also find plenty of fashion boutiques, street art, galleries and bohemian coffee shops.
“It’s the city that never sleeps!” says Emily Mikus, South America expert at tour company G Adventures. Handily, budget airline Norwegian launches a direct flight to the Argentine capital in February, making it cheaper than ever to visit.
Other must-dos include taking a guided tour of La Boca, where houses are brightly painted in primary colours; dining on top-quality but purse-friendly steaks; and watching sultry street tango in San Telmo.
When to go: Late June/early July – it’s winter in Argentina but they’re football-mad and the city comes alive during the World Cup.
Fly away: Flights start from £563.70 return (Norwegian.com).
3 — Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Getty You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to fine dining, wine and cheese tasting, craft beer and coffee
The low-down: Where do hip Melburnians escape to at the weekend? Australia’s best-kept secret. “Drive 80 minutes from the city to Mornington Peninsula and you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to fine dining, wine and cheese tasting, craft beer and coffee,” says Flight Centre’s Leanne Broutta.
“Rolling hills offer sweeping views to the water, and you’re never far from a village with quiet, pristine, slightly wild beaches.”
Fifty-acre Point Leo Estate combines a restaurant, tasting room and sculpture park, while new boutique hotel Jackalope sits next door to a vineyard.
Leanne’s tip? “Book a spot at the Peninsula Picnic in March. The festival has pop-ups from local restaurants and wine producers, a farmers’ market and live music.”
When to go: March, to enjoy sunny autumn.
Fly away: Flights to Melbourne start from £508 return (Skyscanner.net).
4 — Detroit, USA
Getty – Contributor You’ll find new parks, some of the country’s best art museums, and fabulous street-food in Detroit
The low-down: “Detroit is America’s bounce-back city,” says Tom.
Eminem’s hometown famously went bankrupt in 2013 following decades of decline, but creatives and artists have since moved in, turning vacant lots and abandoned industrial buildings into everything from craft distilleries to urban farms.
Now it’s the US capital of cool: restaurants serve fusion food like Japanese tacos at a fraction of the price you’d pay in New York, colourful murals brighten up Downtown, and there’s a vinyl record store on most blocks.
And with Detroit known as the birthplace of techno, the Movement electro festival is the place to catch acts before they blow up.
Plus, you’ll find new parks, some of the country’s best art museums, and a fabulous street-food destination at the city’s Eastern Market, Tom adds.
When to go: Late May, to join the party people at Movement.
Fly away: Flights start from £424 return (Airfrance.co.uk).
5 — Cambodia, Southeast Asia
Alamy Cambodia remains extremely affordable
The low-down: The Cambodian coast is blissfully undiscovered, which means gorge beaches and sparkling seas at a bargain price. “Unlike some of its neighbours, Cambodia remains extremely affordable,” says G Adventures Asia expert Lianna Kuchmak. But for how long?
In 2018, several luxury hotels will open, including a Six Senses resort on private island Krabey and a crop of Alila beach villas on the island of Koh Russey.
It’ll be the “new Thailand” before you know it, so get in there fast before everyone else gets the memo. Seaside retreats like Kep and Koh Kong are, for the time being, affordable.
Gritty capital Phnom Penh is fizzing with a newly cool cafe culture and speakeasy-style bars like Miss Wong. And then there are the temples of Angkor Wat, a collection of incredible ruins in the jungle, perfect for playing at Indiana Jones.
When to go: October, for the start of the dry season.
Fly away: Flights start from £603 return (Malaysiaairlines.com).