Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Cities for 2018 May Surprise You

by Richard D'Ambrosio
Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Cities for 2018 May Surprise You

Seville, Spain. Photo: Max Pixel


Barcelona residents have protested this year against the hordes of tourists that take over their city. Popular fountains in Rome need to be protected from bathers and those overly eager to snap illegal Instagram photos.

If your clients are looking to get away, and really “get away,” Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Cities for 2018 is a can’t-miss list of alternative destinations where culture, art, food and fun are still accessible on an intimate scale.

Seville tops the list
While Barcelona receives all the attention in Spain, Lonely Planet recommends Seville as its top overall destination around the globe, becoming in some eyes, the anti-Barcelona experience.

“Over the past 10 years, Seville has transformed itself. Once a traffic-congested metropolis resting on its historical laurels, Seville has bloomed into a city of bicycles and trams, keen to reinvigorate its artistic past,” Lonely Planet says in its “Best in Travel” cities edition.

The capital of Andalucía will host the 31st European Film Awards next year, the magazine notes, “and showcases its good looks in the TV fantasy drama 'Game of Thrones;'” and Seville-born Baroque painter, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, is being celebrated with half a dozen “one-of-a-kind expositions” into 2018.

Detroit takes second spot
Lonely Planet named Detroit second best city, describing the Michigan metropolis as “caffeine-buzzed” and “freewheeling.”

“Young creative types jump-started the scene,” converting abandoned buildings into distilleries, bike shops and galleries, Lonely Planet says. “This sparked fresh public works, such as the just-opened hockey and basketball arena downtown, and the QLine streetcar that gives easy access to city hot spots” and “groovy hotels will emerge from an old wig shop and a forlorn parking lot.”

Canberra's historical treasures
In third place is Sydney Australia’s overlooked sibling, Canberra where “national treasures are found round almost every corner and exciting new boutique precincts have emerged, bulging with gastronomic highlights and cultural must-dos.”

Next year, the Australian War Memorial will host the 100th anniversary of the WWI Armistice, and Canberra is establishing a permanent Reconciliation Day to symbolize commitment to tolerance between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Three-season Hamburg
Sitting on the Elbe River, Hamburg, Germany comes in fourth, featuring the new €790 million Elbphilharmonie concert hall where the “glass top shimmers like crystalline sails while the base reflects the brick aesthetic of the surrounding historic and oh-so-walkable HafenCity port area.”

For young and old, the “three-season riverfront beach bars” and nightlife rank amongst Europe’s top entertainment districts, according to the magazine.

The harbor at Kaohsiung
Filling out the top five is Kaohsiung, Taiwan, home to a wide assortment of architectural styles and a revitalized harbor area that recently added an arts center, 300,000-square foot cultural and music complex, and a night market.

A new cruise terminal is on the way as well. “Hikers can view the Taiwan Strait from the new 250-foot tall 'Eye of the Mountain' skywalk, a reminder that water is ever-present. Kaohsiung is surging with possibilities: visit before the world gets wind of it," says Lonely Planet.

Antwerp "best-kept secret"
Lonely Planet’s Top Ten also included, Antwerp, Belgium, one of Europe’s “best-kept secrets, laden with historic riches and home to world-class arts and design.”

Italy's little-known Matera
In seventh place, little-known Matera, Italy is famous for its “crown of honey-stoned houses perched above a ravine” and “a labyrinth of cave dwellings, churches and monasteries that date back over 9,000 years.”

Enchanting San Juan
Hurricane-damaged San Juan, Puerto Rico, still made the top ten, despite the devastating visit from Maria this fall. “While San Juan did not escape the wrath of the hurricane, there's no doubt that it will rebuild and remain the enchanting city it's always been,” Lonely Planet’s editors wrote.

Guanajuato's stunning cityscape
In ninth place is Guanajuato, Mexico, in the central highlands of Mexico, where local silver mines produced the wealth that built “a visually stunning cityscape of ornate churches, pretty squares and colorful houses.”

Pageantry in Oslo
Rounding out the "Best in Travel" is Oslo. Norway’s capital will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the country’s king and queen next year, replete with fanfare and pageantry. “As a bonus, Oslo’s landmark Opera House is marking its 10th birthday in 2018 with a celebratory season of concerts and performances, so you really couldn’t pick a better year to visit,” said the magazine.

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