Every travel website and their mother has a “best places to visit in 2018” post, with a bunch of FOMO-inducing destinations and colorful photos to go along with them. These are always really fun to read, but with places like “middle of nowhere, Siberia” and “10 hours away from the nearest city, Madagascar,” these are often not really super practical or feasible for the average young professional.
So, this year, I decided to put a reality check on our 2018 travel list for Jetfarer and bring you 25 amazing destinations that you can see in 3 days or less. Still FOMO-inducing and awe-inspiring, we chose the most compelling weekend trips based on places we’ve either been ourselves or places we’ve researched that deserve a shout out. Of course, since all of you are reading from all over the world, I didn’t factor in travel time, but hopefully (along with all of the cheap flights tips and weekend travel resources on this site) you’ll be able to get creative and see some of these for yourself in 2018. Vamonos!
1. Lake Bled and Triglav National Park, Slovenia
Situated near the Italian and Austrian border amongst the mighty Julian Alps, Lake Bled and the surrounding Triglav National Park are the bucket list items you didn’t know you had. Perhaps you’ve seen photographs of a tiny castle island in the middle of a peaceful lake surrounded by mountains? If so, that’s Lake Bled in all its charm and tranquility. Nearby, in Triglav National Park, you can find idyllic pastures, glassy lakes, and snowcapped mountains. The best part? Slovenia doesn’t break the bank – with a budget of £100 a day, you can live large (and drink plenty of wine) in this beautiful Eastern European country.
2. Banff National Park, Canada
Any “best of” travel list for 2018 would be amiss without mentioning Canada somewhere. Why Banff? Although it has made thousands of appearances on the bougiest of Instagram feeds, Banff is an easy 1.5 hours from Calgary, Canada, making for a relatively simple weekend road trip to arrive there. In the park, you can find dozens of hiking trails for all skill levels, a small town, and breathtaking mountain views around every turn. You don’t need to be a camping expert to visit, either – there are plenty of cabins and hotels to stay in around and inside the park.
3. Trinidad and Tobago
Just a short hop and a skip from the United States and parts of Central and South America, Trinidad and Tobago offer sparkling blue beaches, lush rainforests, and a laid-back atmosphere. Larger Trinidad boasts many of the area’s main activities, or you can hop to smaller Tobago for pristine beaches. Lucky for you, it’s fairly easy to visit both islands in one long weekend trip!
For more information, check out this guide to Trinidad by Paulina on the Road.
4. Tokyo, Japan
No matter what kind of traveler you are, there’s something for everyone in Tokyo, Japan. Eat your way through Tsukiji Fish Market, shuffle through the crowded streets of Shinjuku, or find some peace and serenity in one of the city’s many parks. It’s a photographer’s dream, with sparkling neon lights and city views to die for. Even if you do nothing but spend the entire weekend people-watching, Tokyo is the place to be.
5. Napa Valley, California, United States
Are you a wine lover? Enjoy beautiful rolling hills and verdant landscapes? Then Napa Valley, California might just be your kind of weekend getaway. With dozens of vineyards speckled across the valley, and reachable within just a few hours of the San Francisco metropolis, Napa Valley is a relaxing and classy way to spend a few days off.
6. Chefchaouen, Morocco
This budding Moroccan city is getting Instagram famous for a reason – it is almost entirely blue! (I’m getting some flashbacks from a popular, addictive 90s song…) Known appropriately as the “blue city,” Chefchaouen is a feast for the senses. Located 4-6 hours from many major Moroccan cities, this isn’t really a feasible weekend trip from anywhere outside of Southern Europe or Morocco, but if you’re in the vicinity, it’s certainly worth the haul.
Want to check out this blue destination for yourself? Here’s an awesome guide to Chefchaouen by The Blonde Abroad.
7. Lisbon, Portugal
If you’re a fan of incredible cuisine, delicious wine, and a city that doesn’t sleep, Lisbon is a fantastic option for a weekend trip. There’s a ton going on in the streets of this lively and vivacious city, including live music, street art, and a budding food scene ranging from street eats to fancy digs. Best of all, Lisbon is much less expensive then some of its European counterparts, making it a budget-friendly and accessible location for most weekend warriors.
8. Budapest, Hungary
If you’re looking for some of the most unique nightlife in the world, head to Budapest, Hungary for a weekend. In its world-famous ruin bars, Budapest boasts incredible and colorful bars and clubs in formerly abandoned or condemned buildings, decorated of course with art from local artists. Ruin bars like Szimpla and Instant, in their junkyard-chic glory, are incredibly interesting “upcycled” hangouts.
9. Boulder, Colorado, United States
Recently named the happiest city in the United States, Boulder has something for just about any kind of traveler. If you enjoy the outdoors, jump on one of the city’s various hiking trails. Love beer? Try out some of the city’s breweries. Or, alternatively, rent a bike and explore the area on two wheels. You’ll surely find surprises waiting for you in this city full of character and charm.
Want to learn more about Colorado? Read Olga’s post on why the best time to visit Colorado is now.
10. Maine, United States
If the thought of a coastal getaway suits your fancy, Maine might just be the ideal weekend vacation spot for you. With its homegrown businesses in Portland, to its beautiful New England shoreline, Maine is one of the East Coast’s best kept secrets. Head to Maine in the summer for the best weather for swimming, boating, and more, or check it out during the fall for vibrant colors and amazing photography opportunities.
11. Jericoacoara, Brazil
For the adventure lover, the beach oasis of Jericoacoara in Northeast Brazil takes the cake. In this almost utopian town (called “Jeri” by locals), there are no roads or highways, and it takes an hour in a 4×4 to arrive from the nearest bus dropoff. However, once you arrive, amazing seafood, lovely live music, and all kinds of water sports await. Take a day to go kitesurfing, lounge around in a beach hammock, or explore the dunes in a buggy. If you forget what time it is (which is easy here), look to the “sunset dune,” which fills up with townspeople as the sun turns gold on the horizon. Look no further than Jeri for a perfect weekend respite.
12. Mexico City, Mexico
I know, I know. Everyone and their mother is talking about visiting Mexico City these days. And, despite a few natural disasters that hit the area this year, Mexico City is as vibrant as ever. With over 100 different museums, incredible street food, bumping nightlife, and several easy day trips, Mexico City is easily one of the most underrated cities in the Western Hemisphere. To make things even better, Mexico City’s airport is a hub for AeroMexico and services several other airlines, making it extremely accessible from almost anywhere.
Interested in planning a trip to this lively city? Here are some things you should know before visiting Mexico City.
13. Melbourne, Australia
With its beautiful beaches, lively streets, and quirky aesthetic, Melbourne is quickly becoming a hotspot on the Australian radar. Take a weekend to explore the city and wander its many fascinating neighborhoods. Or, alternatively, drive the nearby Great Ocean Road, which boast stunning coastal views unlike any other.
14. Hoi An, Vietnam
If you’re hanging around in Southeast Asia, Hoi An, Vietnam is the perfect place for a weekend getaway. With its historic streets, nearby beaches, and stunning floating lanterns lining the city’s river, it’s a romantic destination to get away from the bustle of Asia’s cities. Rent a bike and explore the area on wheels, or just walk around, admiring the historic sites, sampling some food, and trying on a few handmade clothing and footwear items. Hoi An is a wonderful place to simply unwind.
15. Staycation, Your City
This one’s pretty self explanatory, but it deserves to be said. Get out and spend a weekend as a tourist in your own city! This means staying in a new boutique hotel or a chic Airbnb, doing “touristy” things, and treating yourself for a bit while seeing your city with new eyes. Give it a try this year!
16. Marfa, Texas, United States
Deep in the deserts of West Texas, amidst rolling tumbleweeds and howling coyotes, lies a small town full of creatives and artists from all over the world. Is it a mirage? No, it’s Marfa, and it is fabulous. With a handful of local restaurants, a bunch of cute boutiques and B&Bs, and a few really weird art installations, this place will have you simultaneously smiling in awe and shrugging in confusion at every turn. You’ll need a car to get there from any metropole in Texas, but once you’ve arrived, it’s the perfect place to get some sunshine and unplug for a few.
17. Edinburgh, Scotland
For the history buff who also enjoys getting outside, Edinburgh might just be your dream weekend destination. With the famed Edinburgh Castle, as well as many other historic monuments and buildings, there’s so much to learn about European history here. If you’d rather get outside, there are an abundance of nearby hiking trails including Arthur’s Seat and Calton Hill. And, of course, no trip to Scotland is complete without a proper Scotch tasting, right here where it all began.
Want to learn more about planning a trip here? Check out Nicola’s post on traveling in Edinburgh.
18. Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, Chile
If you’re visiting Lonely Planet’s #1 destination for 2018, you can’t miss a weekend trip to the sister coastal towns of Valparaiso and Viña del Mar, located just an hour away from Santiago. With its historic charm and spectacular views, it’s hard not to spend a day getting lost in the cobblestoned alleys of Valparaiso (lovingly nicknamed “Valpo” by Chileans). If you’re more of a beach person, hit the sand in neighboring Viña del Mar, enjoying fresh seafood and beautiful marine life while you’re there. While in Chile, you can’t miss this amazing weekend trip!
19. Asheville, North Carolina, United States
With its proximity to nature trails and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Asheville is a great place to learn about the South. The famed, lavish Biltmore Estate is here, which is especially beautiful around Christmastime (as it’s professionally decorated!). It is also home to a beautiful, walkable downtown area with many local restaurants, craft breweries, and boutique shops.
20. Havana, Cuba
Cuba isn’t new to tourists, but it is starting to attract all kinds of different people from across the world to its colorful streets. Home to mojitos and dirty dancing, Havana has a history and culture unlike any other in the world. Take a vintage taxi to some of the nearby beaches, or put on your dancing shoes for a night on the town (live music included!). Havana boasts a walkable Old Town center and buildings with beautiful, antiquated charm. A short flight from Florida, Mexico, and many other Caribbean destinations, Cuba is an easy weekend getaway worth the jump.
21. Copenhagen, Denmark
Cosmopolitan. Charming. Colorful. Needless to say, Copenhagen, Denmark is an incredible city to spend a weekend. With several international budget airlines flying to Copenhagen’s Kastrup airport (cheap flights galore, even in the summer!), and easy access by public transit to many areas of the city, Copenhagen is just as easy to access from the East Coast of the United States as it is from some parts of Europe. Get your walking shoes on and prepare to see this lively city by foot!
22. Dubai, UAE
If you’ve been lurking around social media, you’ve probably seen photos of ridiculously tall skyscrapers sandwiched between a desert and the beach. Yup, you guessed it – that’s Dubai. As a major layover destination, it’s the perfect place for a “weekend” style itinerary, and many people extend their time between flights to tour the Burj Khalifa, hit the beaches, or see some of the gorgeous temples in the city.
23. Antigua, Guatemala
A small, colonial town located next to an active volcano, Antigua is the charming counterpart to bustling Guatemala City. Known for its amazing coffee, delectable chocolate, and volcano hiking activities, Antigua is a perfect 2-day itinerary for any kind of traveler. Best of all, you can take a shuttle directly to Antigua (~1-1.5 hours) from the Guatemala City airport.
24. Cape Town, South Africa
For the city-loving hiker, Cape Town boasts the best of both worlds – towering mountains next to beautiful beaches, with the city sprawled in between. This South African hotspot offers unique culture, adrenaline-pumping adventure activities (abseiling, anyone?!), and impeccable wineries. Oh, and did we mention it’s drop dead gorgeous?!
If you’re planning a jaunt to South Africa, check out The Travelling Pinoy’s recommended things to do in Cape Town.
25. Glamping, Anywhere in the World
“Glamping” is the new camping…or is it the new five-star hotel experience? Welcome to 2018, where these luxury camping establishments are popping up more frequently than ever before, all over the world. Want to visit the Sahara Desert? There’s a glampsite for that. Trying to head to Machu Picchu? Stop for a night of glamping on the way! Interested in an African safari? No worries, there will be glampsites galore.
What’s the allure, you might ask? You can tap into your outdoor-loving self with the luxury of ensuite bathrooms, plush bedding, and chef-prepared meals with wine pairings. And no, you don’t have to set anything up yourself – it’s all done for you.
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