The 20 destinations that will be especially hot this year.

The Ancient City of Sigiriya, in central Sri Lanka, is built into the slopes of a granite peak called the Lion’s Rock.

Leopard spotting in Sri Lanka.

The Northern Lights as seen in arctic Finland.

The new Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology in Lisbon.

Hot air balloons flying over the ancient temples of Bagan.

One of many pretty cobblestoned streets in Valletta, Malta.

The snow-capped mountain of La Veronica, in Peru’s Sacred Valley.

.Inside the Vank Cathedral in Isfahan, Iran
Photographer: Guenter Guni/Getty Images/iStockphoto

IRAN

For intrepid travelers, the question is not whether to visit Iran; it’s how to get there before an influx of tourists taints the experience. This is no casual undertaking. The visa application process is lengthy and complex; citizens from the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. must be on escorted tours; and travelers have to abide by a government dress code. 

Take our word for it, though. The hassle is worthwhile. Since 2015’s historic nuclear deal was brokered, several companies have launched itineraries and major European airlines have resumed their flights.

On trips such as Cox and King’s Heart of Persia, you’ll get to roam the desert bazaar of Kerman, ogle Moorish palaces and mosaic-tiled mosques in Isfahan, and see ancient sites like the royal city of Persepolis, which dates to roughly 500 B.C. “These are the kinds of sites that you can’t find elsewhere—and which, in places like Afghanistan and Syria, have been tragically destroyed,” said Brian Allen, Asia specialist for Mountain Travel Sobek, which has been leading tours to Iran for four years

Then there’s the legendary Persian food and hospitality. “There is a cultural norm in Iran that guests are from god,” Allen said. “I frequently hear people say they’ve been all over the world and never received a welcome like they got there.” 

As always, please check your government’s travel alerts website (like this one for the U.S.) before going to a country that shares complex diplomatic relations with your own

When to go: Late October or early November, when the climate is just right for outdoor sightseeing
When not to go: Iranian holidays clog the streets with traffic, and Ramadan makes a trip extra-complicated; this year, avoid the last two weeks of March and the month of June
Whom to call: George Morgan-Grenville of Red Savannah

Nightfall on Villa Marie, one of the stunning new hotels in St. Barts

Gorillas on view at Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

The Herzog & de Meuron-designed Elbphilharmonie arts complex, in Hamburg

.The pristine shores of Tayrona National Park, on Colombia’s northern coast

.This year, you can have the pyramids of Giza all to yourself

Turks and Caicos’ signature blue waters, as seen from the new Sailrock resort

Hoshinoya’s Kyoto property—an idyllic urban oasis

An aerial perspective of Madagascar, which some refer to as the “Galapagos of Africa

The Cauliflower Jaffa Style at Barbary, one of London’s hottest new restaurants

.The aerial cableway that leads to the top of Table Mountain.CAPE TOWN

Nathan Phillips Square, a public plaza that anchors Downtown Toronto

A look at the soon-to-open Aman Shanghai
The newly-christened Faena Forum, in Miami Beach