|The 2012 travel calendar|
|January 04, 2012|
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
By Tom Hall
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.
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.
Panama City's old town is one of Central America's finest historic areas. Photograph: Alamy
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.
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/).
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.
Discover Ukraine's coastline this summer. Photograph: Alamy
August: New York City
Such is the pace of change that, like Paris and London, New York is somewhere best visited regularly. If you haven't been in the past year you won't have had the chance to admire the new 9/11 memorial, explore the latest section of the High Line or take a superhero walking tour (viator.com). The Big Apple bakes in summer, but you can at least stay in a cool spot at the new Bowery House. Many of the cabin-style rooms are small with funky shared bathrooms, making this a great deal in a hip part of New York.
It's a good year for getting to Iceland without breaking the bank. EasyJet (easyjet.co.uk) will start flying from Luton to Reykjavik from £59 return at the end of March. In addition to this and established airlines such as Iceland Express, a new carrier, Wow Air (wowair.is), is advertising flights from the Icelandic capital to Stansted.
Milan's delights for a city break need little introduction, but a shake-up of any big city's hotel scene is a welcome thing. Self-styled "eco-chic" hotel E.c.ho wears its green credentials on its sleeve. Look for 125m of solar panelling, sustainably sourced decor materials and a seasonally focused menu. The courtyard garden is home to a Renaissance chapel by Donato Bramante, who designed St Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Keep your fingers crossed for a clear night … Photograph: Alamy
Cambodia is so much more than the magnificent temples at Angkor, as a bunch of funky new openings is busy proving. As well as luxury resorts, such as Shinta Mani and Song Saa, The Plantation (theplantation.asia, rooms from £41) has just opened in Phnom Penh in 1940s colonial-style buildings set in tropical gardens. About Asia Travel (aboutasiatravel.com) can arrange cross-country packages, including private-jet transfers and sightseeing tours.
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