Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
With this year’s Rio carnival expected to be the biggest yet and the city gearing up to host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, this year may be the perfect time to visit Rio. This vibrant party city was recently claimed by MasterCard to be the world’s most up-and-coming city destination for international travellers, so visit now before costs begin to soar. The gargantuan statue of Christ the Redeemer guards Rio from the mountain of Corcovado and is definitely worth a visit and the powdery beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema are also a must. Hike up Morro da Urca and visit the ancient fortress Fortaleza de São João, for breath-taking views and a chance to absorb the infectious buzz of the city.
The city of Antalya, on the south-western Mediterranean coast of Turkey, is one of the world’s most visited tourist centres. Average hotel prices have fallen significantly since last year and it’s possible to land an all-inclusive package in a top beachfront resort for brilliantly low prices with a leading online operator such as Co-op Travel. Offering tourists world-class beaches and facilities, beautifully preserved natural surroundings and traditional and contemporary culture, Antalya is a fantastic destination, particularly in early or late summer. Visit Neolithic ruins at Catalhoyuk Mound and enjoy the old city of Kaleici, with its churches, mosques, Turkish baths and bazaars.
Dominican Republic, Caribbean
Christopher Columbus knew he was onto a good thing when he landed on the Dominican Republic in 1492 and today it is one of the most popular tourist hotspots. The country has eight international airports, sun, sea and sand and is surprisingly good value for money. Visitors are lured in by immaculate white sandy beaches, national parks and protected areas, ecotourism, rich history, art, music, dance and the warmth of the local people. Learn about the history at Puerto Plata and the San Felipe fortress, take a boat trip to the Gri Gri Lagoon marine caves, visit the Brugal Rum Distillery or white-water raft, shop, or just quaff a Cuba Libra as you look out to sea.
Off-limits for years due to the ravages of civil war between 1983 and 2009, the north and east of Sri Lanka is open for business. Investments are attracting visitors back to unspoilt traditional villages, pristine beaches and tranquil waters. Recently named along with Spain as the best value holiday destination for 2013, the exchange rate is 16 per cent stronger than a year ago. Accommodation often comes in the form of guesthouses and beach huts, although there are pricier options available. The country is steeped in culture and it’s easy to see the sights in a short space of time.
Historic Dubrovnik, the ‘pearl of the Adriatic’, attracted 20 per cent more Britons in the first eight months of 2012 than in the same period in 2011. Croatia will become the 28th member of the EU in July, so look lively and book your trip before prices rocket. Explore the medieval city walls for views of the old town and out to sea, visit the fascinating Rector’s Palace and City Museum and Maritime Museum, or even take the cable car to Mount Srdj for stunning vistas, a day trip to the island of Korčula and a chance to explore the Adriatic coast by sea kayak.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil