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You know you're going somewhere this year. Bag ultimate bragging rights and book your trip to one of these hot spots around the globe

The View from The Shard, London: The city’s highest and most vertiginous views become accessible to the public on Feb. 1. The View from the Shard is a observation area that spans levels 68 to 72 of the Shard, the pointy 310-metre high Renzo Piano-designed skyscraper, the tallest building in Western Europe. A glass-enclosed deck will offer 360-degree views across a 64-kilometre radius. If you’re in need of a stiff drink after the sky-high experience, head a few floors down to the bar of soon-to-be-opened Shangri-La London, the five-star brand’s first hotel in the U.K. Tickets for the View from the Shard start at $30 (£18.95) and must be purchased in advance.

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

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Fogo Island, Nfld.: Dot-com millionaire Zita Cobb is spearheading the renaissance of her native Fogo Island, breathing fresh air into the community’s cultural heritage and drawing interest from travellers who never would have considered the tiny floating speck in northeast Newfoundland. Established in 2006, her Shorefast Foundation has been hard at work supporting local entrepreneurs through micro-loans, funding artists and developing an inn that is set to open this year. Fogo Island Inn ( is the work of architect Todd Saunders, a Newfoundlander living in Norway. When complete, the multimillion-dollar boxy structure will house 29 ocean-view rooms, hand-crafted furniture, rooftop hot tubs and saunas, plus an art gallery, library and cinema for both locals and guests.

Mike Wert/The Canadian Press

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Amsterdam: It’s the year of milestones in Amsterdam and the city plans to whoop it up. This month, join in the fun by skating along the postcard perfect, UNESCO-listed canal ring that was constructed 400 years ago. In April, the Rijksmuseum reopens after a decade of renovations to show off its Rembrandts and Vermeers in new exhibition halls. Vincent van Gogh turns 160 in March, and although his namesake museum turns 40, it is also in the midst of a makeover (to see the artist’s colourful works, go to the temporary exhibit at the Hermitage Amsterdam). Other landmark birthdays include the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (125), the Artis Royal Zoo (175), and Felix Meritis cultural centre (225), which translates into special concerts, lectures and exhibits. More details at


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Colombia is evolving into a safer, more refined tourist destination. Crime rates are significantly improved, and while the country is less well-trodden than bordering Ecuador, Peru and Panama, it offers everything from beach getaways to colonial city stays (for a bit of both, check out the recently opened Casa San Agustin,, in Cartagena de Indias). Bogota couple Santiago and Camilla traded in city life to open up Hacienda Bambusa ( near Armenia, a peaceful hideaway surrounded by coffee plantations, sleepy villages and lush rain forests. But if you need more action, join sports fans at the 2013 World Games in Cali, a city that was considered a no-go zone in years past.


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Hobart, Tasmania: Australia’s rugged island outpost has a new sophisticated side. The year-old Museum of Old and New Art (MONA for short) is the unlikely epicentre; a vast subterranean space carved out of an ancient sandstone cliff to display multimillionaire David Walsh’s private art collection. Artsy Antipodeans flock here like kids do to Disneyland, immersing themselves in the surrounding estate that is home to a micro-brewery, a winery, a restaurant and a boutique hotel. This month’s main event is MONA FOMA, a seven-day festival that showcases international musicians (David Byrne and St. Vincent, Bickram Ghosh, Elvis Costello, and more). Come back in June to see Theatre of the World, an exhibition put together by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and curator Jean-Hubert Martin, formerly of Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

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Pienza, Italy: The Tuscan hills are awash with upmarket holiday villas, but there are few modern boutique hotels that put you in the thick of village life. Former Sony Music executive-turned-hotelier John Voigtmann is changing that with the spring opening of La Bandita Townhouse ( in Pienza. If the minimalist luxury vibe of Voigtmann’s first hotel, La Bandita Countryhouse, flows through his new 12-room venture, the guest book will fill up quickly. Pienza itself is a charming Renaissance village, within an hour’s drive to Siena and Cortona, and only a half hour to southern Tuscany’s famed wine capitals, Montalcino and Montepulciano.

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Bahia, Brazil: Brazil is priming for an epic close-up. If you want to beat the tourist hordes and inflated hotel prices, now is the time to visit, before the crowds descend for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. And Bahia, in northern Brazil, is the place to find barefoot eco-friendly beach luxury at its best. The seaside village of Trancoso is home to Uxua Casa Hotel (, a stylish nine-villa bolthole that was built mostly by hand from recycled wood and designed by the creative director of Italian fashion brand Diesel. Along the more rugged white sand Corumbau shoreline is Fazenda Sao Francisco (, a cluster of bungalows that run on solar power and recycled water, and are decorated with a natural combination of wood, straw, tiles and terra cotta materials.

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Stockholm, Sweden: On May 7, after a four-year delay, the new ABBA museum opens on the leafy Stockholm island Djurgarden. It will be a permanent exhibition within the new Swedish Music Hall of Fame, and perhaps the ultimate homage to the seventies-era band whose tunes can still be heard blasting in the bars and clubs of Sweden’s capital. Band member Bjorn Ulvaeus played a role in its development, making sure the bedazzling displays of costumes, guitars, lyrics and musical mementos appealed to hard-core fans in a contemporary way. Patrons can put the museum’s cheesy tagline – “Walk in. Dance Out” – to the test by singing Dancing Queen alongside life-size holograms of the group.

Visit Sweden

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East Africa: Hoteliers in East Africa are unveiling new accommodations for the well-heeled traveller. Opening in March, Hemingways Nairobi ( is the first five-star hotel in the Kenyan capital and delivers such luxe amenities as personal butlers and running coaches who have trained with Olympian sprinters. In Tanzania, you can recover from an early morning game drive with a rubdown in the spa at Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti (, the brand’s first foray into sub-Saharan Africa. And on a much more intimate scale, Zambia’s recently opened Potato Bush Camp is a good choice for glamp-ers. Its four riverside tents are outfitted with ensuite bathrooms, outdoor hammocks and private plunge pools.

Potato Bush Camp

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Quito, Ecuador: Much needed infrastructure improvements will make it a lot more pleasant to travel to (and through) Quito. The Ecuadorian capital has long been a launch pad for trips to the Galapagos Islands and into the surrounding highlands, but severely congested city roads and an outdated inner-city airport has made travel difficult. Years in development, a new airport is slated to open in February. It has advanced navigation systems, one of the longest runways in the world, and sits 18 kilometres outside of the city centre, which will no doubt cut down on the endless traffic jams. If you have the time, spend at least two nights in Quito’s cobblestone colonial quarter which has a few notable boutique hotels (La Casona de la Ronda Hotel, Casa Gangotena) and an emerging arts scene.

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