A king's palace, a princess's castle, and underwater habitats make the cities on Lonely Planet's just released 2012 Best in Travel list famous. The guidebook publisher announced their picks of the top 10 cities to travel to in 2012, and the destinations may surprise you.
Not surprisingly, however, is the city across the pond that takes the number 1 spot: London. From the royal wedding to the upcoming Olympics, London is the most-talked about town right now. The only U.S. state on Lonely Planet's list is Orlando (we're surprised, too, but given the recent news of new hotel developments in Disney World, including the world's largest Four Seasons resort, it's possible Orlando is making a comeback).
"As always, our shortlist has some known gems and a few to raise a quizzical eyebrow, but each one is poised for greatness in 2012," according to Lonely Planet's website.
So, travelers, pack up and plan ahead -- if Lonely Planet knows what they are talking about, these cities will be the place to be in the coming year:
- London: The Olympics are riding into town and a whole swath of the capital is being transformed in the process.
- Muscat: Oman is firing on all fronts to attract international visitors, expanding everything from its museums to its resorts. Muscat is the focus for the revamp, with cultural events, luxury accommodation and aquatic activities taking center stage.
- Bengaluru (Bangalore): This South Indian metropolis packs in the best brews, the scrummiest cuisines, and the liveliest arts and music scene, not to mention the hippest population you could hang out with.
- Cádiz: Once a year, sleepy Cádiz undergoes a Superman-like transformation and hosts Spain’s most raucous carnival – a 10-day bender of drinking, singing and dancing.
- Stockholm: This is as seductive a capital city as can be imagined – cozy yet cosmopolitan, wilfully alternative and effortlessly picturesque.
- Guimarães" This northern Portugal city is breathtakingly beautiful, as recognized by its place on the Unesco World Heritage List, yet mysteriously it doesn’t figure on the radars of many foreign visitors.
- Santiago: Culture and sports have come to the fore and new museums have opened to acclaim. Visit Santiago and you’ll feel the buzz.
- Hong Kong: Enjoy views of skyscrapers marching up hills from the Star Ferry, before challenging your senses at a wet market or divining your future at a temple. Go shopping, gallery hopping and check out the bars of Soho. Explore walled villages or go hiking on Asia’s most breathtaking trails.
- Orlando: This should be a great year for Orlando as it’s hosting the 61st NBA All-Star Weekend. The hippest sporting event in the USA , it brings much of the basketball and music worlds together for slam-dunk contests, after-hours parties and concerts, as well as the all-star game itself.
- Darwin: Today, Darwin is the triumph of Australia’s Top End. Beat the crowds to the redeveloping Waterfront Precinct with its wave pool, bars and wharf eateries; or score some brilliant Indigenous art before East Coast galleries snap it up and charge double.
Readers: What city would you add to this list?
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