Brightest attractions for the coming year

The newly opened visitor centre at Patrick Pearse’s Cottage lies in the heart of the Gaeltacht area where Irish is still a vibrant, living language in use by the locals. As well as paying tribute to one of the key figures of the country’s revolutionary history, it celebrates the local history and cultural impact of the native language. Set in the middle of an incredible windswept landscape, it’s a chance for visitors to experience an often hidden part of Ireland.

Go back to the source of the world’s favourite pick-me-up

ithin sight of the countryside’s magnificent hills and mountains.

Get a taste of the future as the world’s first

by exploring the Coffee Route. El Salvador’s dense coffee forests are opening up to tourism and are full of exciting opportunities for extreme sports, wildlife spotting and a chance to cultivate the beans themselves, all w3D printing restaurant (foodink.io) embarks on a world tour this year after a successful pop-up in London. Combining fine dining with the latest in technology, the results are visually stunning gourmet feasts. If you can’t book in for a full meal, you can visit during the day to taste the snacks and learn how the printers work.

If hiking the Bernese Alps isn’t enough of an adrenaline rush for you, it’s time to tackle Schilthorn Mountain’s new Thrill Walk. You’ll need nerves of steel to cross the tightrope with nothing but a net between you and a drop of nearly 3000 metres, but you’ll be rewarded with priceless views and stunning photos from the observation deck.

The world’s biggest Lego store (lego.com) is now open in Leicester Square and is a must-see for young and young-at-heart travellers. Covering a whopping 914 square metres over two floors, it’s a huge treasure trove for fans of the building bricks that have sparked a love of construction and creativity for decades.

Travel resolutions

Next time you’re stuffing a pair of impractical shoes and a bumper-size shampoo into your bag, stop to consider the feelings of future you: the one sporting a sweaty back patch and a face riddled with regret. The ‘I’ll manage’ attitude dissipates in a flurry of expletives as you drag your luggage up a broken escalator, straining your bicep and stubbing a toe in the process. Worth it? Not so much.

Stick to it: Downsize: restricting suitcase volume soon hinders overpackers. Prioritise: it’s OK to take three paperbacks if you’re willing to forgo the laptop. Enlist a ruthless packing buddy who won’t give in to the words ‘but I neeeeeed it!’.

 

Take better pictures

Sick of returning home from a trip with thousands of hastily snapped images that you’ll never have the time to sift through and edit, let alone share? Whether you’re shooting for social media, an online portfolio or the family album, investing a little time and effort can take your creations from amateur to incredible.

Stick to it: Read up on how to take a decent smartphone snap; enrol on a photography course; join a photographer’s meetup while you’re on the road; or take a tour that combines travel and tuition.

 

Stop putting it off

Family, finances, your career… even fear. There are plenty of factors that prevent people from travelling – but when valid reasons become comfortable alternatives to taking a risk, it’s time for a reality check. You have one life on this planet. Stop making excuses and start making plans.

Stick to it: Whether you long for a round-the-world extravaganza or simply a weekend away, it’s not going to land on your lap. Identify your true barriers to travel and tackle them head on. Strapped for cash? Start saving. Option paralysis? Consult the experts. Worried what your boss will think? Propose a trip that will boost your résumé.

Amazing year for travel

Two museums dedicated to the iconic French designer are opening in Paris and Marrakesh.

When a trip involves Marrakesh or Paris, two of my favourite cities, I’m always excited. But add Yves St Laurent to the mix – the man who introduced ‘le tuxedo’ for women and whose influence on the catwalk today is still undeniable – and I’m storming the departure gates. This year two new museums are opening, celebrating the designer’s incredible legacy. His former Paris atelier, which is being refurbished to its former glory, allows visitors the opportunity to get a sense of his work process, while also immersing themselves in the city of haute couture. Or take a trip to Morocco to drink in the electric blue of the designer’s Jardin Majorelle, which he bequeathed to Marrakesh, and where the new museum will display his work. But why not make both pilgrimages? I know I will.

So much of St Petersburg’s allure lies in its wealth of history. But for me, New Holland Island, with its focus on public space and the arts, is a perfect addition to Russia’s cultural capital. The project seems poised to bring a burst of modernity to the historic city, providing a place for locals and travellers to go skating, visit food carts or even see a concert – the perfect way to kick back after a long visit to the Hermitage. Strolling onto the formerly restricted naval island will not only provide an interesting insight into the city’s past, but also a glimpse of its future.

As I’m a devoted follower of Prince’s music, the opening of his Minnesota estate Paisley Park is one of the most exciting new developments in travel for 2017. Fans of the iconic performer will no doubt be aware of the unique spirit and impressive output of His Royal Purpleness, who used the 65,000 square-foot complex as his creative sanctuary. From recording a string of hit records and feature films to the manufacturing of clothing for upcoming tours, everything was done on site either personally or under the watchful eye of the industrious perfectionist. Following his death, Paisley Park has grown to represent sheer creativity and artistic opportunity. The idea of getting a first-hand look at the inner sanctum of one of music’s most enigmatic characters will no doubt excite and inspire many travellers and music fans alike.

Ultimate romantic honeymoon

From cruising across turquoise lagoons to hiking otherworldly coastlines, exploring ancient temples and well, just doing nothing at all, these island escapes offer something for everyone. Find your perfect slice of honeymoon paradise.

This chunk of France, afloat in the Mediterranean, deserves its monicker: L’île de Beauté. The rumpled, maquis-cloaked interior – where you can easily forget the world – tumbles to perfect golden crescents, some touristy, some seemingly unfound. There’s wildness if you want it (the hiking is some of Europe’s best), but also fine food and indulgent retreats, not least Domaine de Murtoli (murtoli.com) – possibly the continent’s most romantic hideaway.

Why pick one island when you can have 30? That’s about how many specks of wonderful white sand make up this Indian Ocean archipelago. Among them is Ibo, home to the 16th-century Portuguese trading settlement of Ilha de Moçambique – a must-see. After a dose of culture here, sail between the islands – remote Vamizi, luxe Quilalea – stopping off on nameless cayes for lobster barbecues en route.

Huahine, a 40-minute flight from Tahiti, is Polynesia at its most sublime (and that’s quite a feat). Slopes of tropical abundance sink into eye-searingly blue lagoons; there’s culture aplenty, including the highest density of marae (temples) in the territory; and opportunities abound for snorkelling, horse riding, surfing or doing nothing at all.

This tiny speck of pines on Ontario’s Kawawaymog Lake can only be reached by canoe, and is ideal for two. There’s a cosy cabin with a second-floor deck and outdoor dining table ideally placed for sunset; a floating sauna bobs in the shallows. Other than that, it’s you and the wilderness.