So you’re thinking of a grand trip in the new year, right?
How about selecting from one of Lonely Planet’s annual list of Best Countries to Visit.
The 2014 list ranks some places you’ve always wanted to go and ones you’ve never thought you’d enjoy. The list is compiled by in-house experts and the scores of travel writers who brave the globe (lucky bastards) writing for the popular guidebook.
Check them out in the list that follows (via Lonely Planet):
Take a safari to see Africa’s best wildlife, hike Mt. Mulanje, or even visit Lake Malawi for pristine snorkeling. Its national parks are some of the most spectacular in the entire continent — and it’s one country that remains off the beaten path with great deals for visitors.
Sweden’s largest city, Umeå, is the European Capital of Culture for 2014 — and just one look at the country and you’ll get an idea as to why. Sweden has seen an influx of cultural events in the past years, with greater attention paid to things other than the fjords and natural beauty.
The country’s a foodie destination — with restaurants embracing local cooking ingredients such as seafood, game, and fresh cheeses. The country’s architecture, too, is like being lost in a painting you’re not too eager to leave.
Admit it: This one has never been on your list — but it’s one country that deserves a second look. With hauntingly beautiful castles, great hiking, and festivals on a seemingly weekly basis, Scotland is a country on the upswing. Look out for whisky festivals during your stay, or take a tour of one of the country’s distilleries.
A wide selection of Scotland-crafted beers abounds at local pubs, where you can duck into after a day of wandering cobblestone streets in awe.
Icebergs breaking off into the ocean, hordes of penguins wandering at your feet, and an adventure like none you’ll ever experience again await you on this one-in-a-lifetime trek.
A number of outfitters will make sure your trip is seamless and safe, some even offering luxe accommodations on the way down south. While Antarctica is not really a country, this one makes the list as an exotic locale that is a blue and grey dreamscape for all seeking a new adventure.
Likely promoted to No. 1 based on the fact that the country will host the 2014 World Cup, Brazil is much more than its beaches. (Of course, you certainly can’t miss the beaches.) Treks to the lush rain forest are simple and a must-do, and the colorful villages that dot the country are called some of the most unique in the world.
Visit way before the 2016 Summer Olympics, because as it draws nearer the city will be buzzing with construction and hoards of tourists will bustle about eager to take in the sun-soaked country.