Lonely Planet has released its hotly awaited Top 10 Cities list for the year, and incredibly, the number one city is located smack bang in Andalucía! Read on and be inspired to book your ticket, pack your suitcase and fly, catch a train, or drive to one of these happening cities with the love of your life.
10. Oslo, Norway
The year 2018 will go down in history in Norway, since much fanfare and a packed calendar of activities are being planned to celebrate the King and Queen’s 50th wedding anniversary. Oslo’s iconic Opera House turns 10, meanwhile, thus heralding a season of concerts and performances to be remembered.
The magic of Norway goes beyond historical commemorations; this country actually took pole position in the United Nations’ World Happiness Report, followed by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland. The main factors measured by the UN were: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance.
It is often said that Norway maintains its ‘joy factor’ not because of its booming oil industry, but in spite of it. Here, oil is produced slowly and proceeds are invested in the future, without the mad rush to spend it in the present.
Oslo is a bustling yet safe city with a low crime rate and a useful law called ‘allemannsrett’ (or ‘all men’s rights) – which allows everyone to access all uncultivated land, with no restrictions whatsoever.
Norway is primarily visited for its natural wonders – the fjords, Trolltunga (‘troll’s tongue’: arguably one of the number one photo ops in the world) and kjeragbolten (a boulder between two vertiginous cliffs you can actually stand on), yet Oslo itself is amazingly green and lush, with views to serene hills which rise above the city and numerous verdant areas in which to simply enjoy a mindful afternoon.
Must-see attractions include the Viking Ship Museum (featuring ninth-century Viking ships), the Vigeland Park (the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist), Frogner Park (a truly impressive park boasting Norway’s biggest collection of roses and a total of 14,000 species of plants), and Akershus Fortress (a medieval castle built to defend Oslo against attackers, as well as a royal residential palace and prison).
To savour the best of Norwegian cuisine, head to Maaemo: a three-Michelin star restaurant serving new interpretations of old classics, under the guiding hand of whiz chef, Esben Holmboe Bang and his talented team, comprising chefs from 18 different countries!
9. Guanajuato, Mexico
This UNESCO World Heritage Site, a former silver-mining town, has served as inspiration for the fictional Land of the Dead in Pixar film, Coco. Its visually stunning landscape comprises churches, rainbow-hued houses, and quaint squares, ensconced in a verdant valley, leading countless travel sites to deem it ‘the most beautiful city in Mexico’.
Words Marisa Cutillas
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