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Best of the best

We looked at 26 ‘best places to go’ lists – and these destinations got the most kudos

By John Bordsen
Travel Editor

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  • What lists were compared?

    Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Countries, Top 10 Cities, Top 10 Regions, Top U.S. Destinations (www.lonelyplanet.com)

    10 Best Ethical Traveler destinations (www.ethicaltraveler.org)

    Fodor’s 25 Places to go in 2013 ( www.fodors.com)

    Top Destinations by Melanie Nayer (via www.boston.com)

    Top Luxury Destinations by Melanie Nayer (www.melanienayer.com)

    Rough Guide (www.roughguides.com)

    Top travel destinations by Travelzoo (www.travelzoo.com)

    Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald ( www.smh.com.au)

    Best Trips – National Geographic (http://travel.nationalgeographic.com)

    G Adventures Travel Bloggers Top 13 (www.travelpulse.com)

    Top 10 Destinations for 2013 Flightcentre ( www.flightcentre.com.au)

    Hottest Travel Destinations of 2013 by Travel + Leisure ( www.travelandleisure.com)

    Top Travel Destinations, Best Cities and Best Places to See in Europe 2013 lists by Beautiful Amazing World (www.beautifulamazingworld.com)

    Best Travel Destination, 2012-2013, www.squidoo.com

    Top Budget Travel Wish List Destinations for 2013, www.mytravelmoney.co/uk

    10 Best Budget Destinations for 2013, Budget Travel ( www.budgettravel.com)

    10 Exciting Travel Destinations to Explore in 2013 ( www.puretravel.com)

    Europe’s 10 Hottest Destinations for 2013, CNN; Great Travel Destinations for 2013, www.thejoysoftraveling.com

    10 Recommended City Travel Destinations for 2013, www.metromarks.com

    Top Travel Destinations for 2013, www.opentravel.com



December always brings a downpour of lists ranking the best places to vacation in the upcoming year.

We pared 26 lists from newspapers, magazines and websites and compiled a list of the places most often mentioned – a Best of the Best.

While several all-U.S. lists were included, there were no domestic destinations that received more than three mentions. The closest to home, by the way, were Charleston – (No. 2, Great Travel Destinations by thejoysoftraveling.com) and Kiawah Island, S.C. (No. 7 on a Top Destinations list travel journalist Melanie Nayer compiled for the Boston Globe).

Londonderry/Derry, Northern Ireland

Appeal: A bit of a detour from the traditional trip to the British Isles, with less-visited (but bustling) cities, beautiful countryside, culture and history. And it’s affordable.

Rankings: No. 2, Best Places to See in Europe by beautifulamazingworld.com; No. 2, Top Budget Travel Wish List Destinations by mytravelmoney.co/uk; No. 4, Top 10 Cities by Lonely Planet; No. 7, Best Budget Destinations by Budget Travel. Note: Belfast listed No. 8. Europe’s 10 Hottest Destinations by CNN; Ireland is No. 6 for Top Luxury Destinations by melanienayer.com; Ireland among unranked top 13 destinations by travelpulse.com; Ireland listed among unranked 25 Places to Go by Fodor’s.

Details: www.discovernorthernireland.com

Istanbul

Appeal: Bustling metropolis is cosmopolitan and historic, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia.

Rankings: No. 1, 10 Recommended City Travel Destinations by metromarks.com; No. 3, Best Places to See in Europe 2013 by beautifulamazingworld.com; No. 4, Europe’s 10 Hottest Destinations by CNN; No. 5, Top Travel Destinations by opentravel.com. Note: listed among unranked 25 Places to Go by Fodor’s; Turkey listed among unranked Top 13 by travelpulse.com and ranked No. 8 for Top 10 Countries by Lonely Planet.

Details: www.goturkey.com

Rio de Janeiro

Appeal: Brazil is economically booming, and vibrant, exotic Rio is sprucing up to be host of the 2016 Summer Olympics. You can fly there direct from Charlotte on US Airways.

Rankings: No. 1, Sydney Morning Herald; No. 1, Top Destinations by puretravel.com; No. 1, Exciting Travel Destinations to Explore by opentravel.com; No. 1, Top Travel Destinations by opentravel.com; No. 9, thejoysoftraveling.com. Note: Brazil listed among unranked Top 13 Destinations by travelpulse.com.

Details: www.rcvb.com.br (click U.S. flag for English-language version).

Marseille, France

Appeal: Second-largest city in France basks in Mediterranean climate, antiquity and its designation as European Capital of Culture in 2013.

Rankings: No. 2, Best Trips by National Geographic; No. 9 (Cote d’Azur) by flightcentre.com.au) No. 10, 10 Recommended City Travel Destinations by metromarks.com; No. 10, Top Travel Destinations by opentravel.com; No. 13, Hottest Travel Destinations by Travel + Leisure. Note: listed among unranked 25 Places to Go by Fodor’s.

Details: www.marseille.fr (click U.S. flag for English-language version).

Myanmar/Burma

Appeal: Improving human-rights situation helps spur tourism industry in exotic, little-visited corner of Southeast Asia.

Rankings: No. 2, Sydney Morning Herald; No. 5, flightcentre.com.au); No. 7 (Bagan, Myanmar) Best Trips by National Geographic. Note: listed among unranked top 13 destinations by travelpulse.com; listed among unranked 25 Places to Go by Fodor’s.

Details: www.myanmartourism.com

New Zealand

Appeal: Well-developed tourism infrastructure beckons those looking for an active vacation (hiking, etc.), wineries – and more than a whiff of the filmed-there “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit.”

Rankings: No. 1, flightcentre.com.au); No. 6 Top 10 Cities (Christchurch, N.Z.) by Lonely Planet; No. 6, 10 Recommended City Travel Destinations (Christchurch) by metromarks.com. Note: New Zealand listed among unranked top 5 destinations by Travelzoo; listed among unranked top 13 destinations by travelpulse.com.

Details: www.newzealand.com/us

Amsterdam

Appeal: Canals and historic architecture are matched with fantastic museums showcasing artists (there’s one devoted just to van Gogh) as well as one honoring Nazi victim Anne Frank. Amsterdam (including its famed red-light district) has always been a big draw for tourists.

Rankings: No. 2, Top 10 Cities by Lonely Planet; No. 2, Top Travel Destinations by opentravel.com; No. 9, 10 Recommended City Travel Destinations by metromarks.com; No. 9, Europe’s 10 hottest destinations by CNN; No. 11, Hottest Travel Destinations by Travel + Leisure. Note: Listed among unranked 25 Places to Go by Fodor’s.

Details: www.iamsterdam.com/en

Slovakia

Appeal: Once the eastern, rural and remote end of Czechoslovakia, Slovakia is a rapidly Westernizing EU country that’s still a bargain. Just fly to Vienna – the Slovakian border is about 30 miles east. Two-thirds of the country is a rugged draw for hikers and skiers.

Rankings: No. 3, (Kosice, Slovakia) Travel Hot List, Rough Guide; No. 4, Top Travel Destinations by opentravel.com; No. 5, Top 10 Countries by Lonely Planet; No. 8, Best Budget Destinations by Budget Travel.

Details: www.travelslovakia.sk.

The Philippines

Appeal: Unlike much of East Asia, the archipelago nation is relatively inexpensive while still pretty exotic.

Rankings: No. 1, Best Travel Destination (Boracay Beaches, the Philippines) by squidoo.com; No. 6, Hottest Travel Destinations by Travel + Leisure; No. 8, Top 18 Regions (Palawan, the Philippines) by Lonely Planet; 9. (Boracay Island, the Philippines), Best Budget Destinations by Budget Travel.

Details: www.philippinetourism.us

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