The 2012 travel calendar
Every destination has its best time of year. So, to help you plan your trip, Lonely Planet’s Tom Hall has put together a calendar of countries best seen in 2012
So cool: September in Iceland. Photograph: Alamy
Winter sports fans and city breakers looking for somewhere new should try Georgia. The country is attracting a growing number of independent travellers who are exploring mountains dotted with historic castles and churches, beautiful towns such as Svaneti and Kazbegi, and the Europe-meets-Asia capital Tbilisi. It won’t be warm in January but skiers won’t mind: the country’s main resort, Gudaur, is a good bet for reliable snow and can be reached by road from the capital in two to three hours.
• bmi (flybmi.com) flies from Heathrow to Tbilisi with returns from £364 including taxes
This year looks set to be a great one for Oman, the fastest-growing destination in the Middle East, according to several tour operators. The beach resorts of the Musandam Peninsula are an increasingly popular combination with Dubai, while Muscat’s star as an alternative Arabian city destination is rising.
• Abercrombie & Kent (abercrombiekent.co.uk) has a seven-night Classic Oman itinerary costing around £2,395 per person
Panama City’s old town is one of Central America’s finest historic areas. Photograph: Alamy
Central America’s star turn over the past few years has been Costa Rica, but Panama has all the qualities to rival it. The country boasts brilliant beaches, the world’s most famous canal and unspoilt rainforest. Best of all, the continuing renovation of Casco Viejo, Panama City’s old town, is boosting the profile of one of the region’s finest historic areas.
• Journey Latin America’s 12-day Panama trip starts at £2,470 per person (journeylatinamerica.co.uk)
April: Titanic tours
The centenary of the sinking of the Titanic is big news for cruise operators capitalising on interest in the doomed liner. While there are cruises recreating the exact voyage (but with a happier ending), there are other Titanic-themed voyages taking place to coincide with the anniversary in April. Landlubbers can overdose on Titanic heritage in Belfast, the city where it was built, and Southampton, from where it set sail.
• Cruise & Maritime Voyages (cruiseandmaritime.com) has a seven-night “British Maritime Heritage” cruise, departing on 10 April from Tilbury and visiting Cherbourg, Cobh, Belfast and Liverpool. Prices from £499pp
The birthdates of saints aren’t normally a good reason for a holiday, but following Joan of Arc around France, 600 years on from her arrival into the world, is just that. Joan blazed a trail across France from her birthplace in Domrémy-la-Pucelle to Rouen, where she was burnt at the stake aged 19. Orléans, the site of her most famous victory, stages a week-long series of festivities in her honour (orleans.fr/fetes-de-jeanne-darc-2011/).
• The January 2012 edition of France magazine (£3.99; francemag.com) has a guide to Joan’s France written by Sophie Jackson
Germany remains Europe’s most underrated destination, and its cities are at their best in the early summer sunshine. Art fans should head to Nuremberg for the Early Dürer exhibition (der-fruehe-duerer.gnm.de), the largest collection of works by the German Renaissance artist for 40 years. You can even bring the kids back a Playmobil model of Dürer.
• Kirker Holidays (kirkerholidays.com) offers a four-night escorted trip to Nuremberg to see the exhibition, including a visit to Dürer’s house and a guided city tour, from £998pp
Article taken from The Observer, Sunday 1 January 2012 written by Tom Hall