Join or Renew and Choose Your Gift
- Offer ends Dec. 17
- Discounts on travel and everyday savings
- Subscription to AARP The Magazine
- Free membership for your spouse or partner
En español | This northern French town, 45 minutes from Calais and near the Belgian border, sank into poverty and obscurity after its coal mines closed in the 1960s. But it's been given new life with the 2013 opening of the Louvre-Lens museum, the first-ever satellite branch of Paris' famous Louvre. Located on a former mining site, the museum is in a cutting-edge glass building surrounded by a landscaped park.
This cultural capital has been trying to shake off the seedy image of bygone years, and several happenings could make 2013 a landmark year in this endeavor. First is the long-awaited reopening of the Rijksmuseum with its world-class European art; the Van Gogh Museum reopens as well. The city will also be celebrating the 400th birthday of its famous canals with festivals galore.
Brazil will soon host two major international events: soccer's 2014 World Cup, with matches in Rio and throughout the country, and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. The city is undergoing many transformations — including the renovation of its famous Maracanã soccer stadium — to prepare for both. But some things won't change (and don't need to): Corcovado's striking Statue of Christ the Redeemer, say, or the gorgeous Guanabara Bay views from the cable cars en route to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.
Paulo Fridman / Alamy
Devastating earthquakes have shaken New Zealand's capital since 2010. But now the eclectic, innovative South Island hub is kick-starting progress with developments that include pop-up bars and the Re:START shopping village. And you can still punt down the Avon River, check out indigenous plants in the botanic gardens and, in winter (June to October), ski down Mount Hutt. The city, of course, also makes a great base for further explorations of New Zealand, itself a focus since becoming a film site for The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Cliff Kent / Rex Features
For many years, Burma was a no-go zone because of its oppressive regime. But since opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi's release from house arrest in 2011 and President Obama's visit in 2012, the country has shown signs of becoming an emerging destination. The largest city, Rangoon (Yangon), has long been a culturally vibrant place where graceful colonial architecture mixes with such traditional sights as the golden Shwedagon Pagoda and the immense Lion Throne in the National Museum.
Manfred Gottschalk / Alamy
The souks (markets) of Marrakesh, medinas of Fez and the mountains of the High Atlas range always draw visitors to this North African nation. Recently, though, more attention has turned to Morocco's enticing capital, Rabat, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012. Its broad French-style boulevards and café culture blend with the buzz of its medina, where (thankfully) the shopping is hassle-free. There's also a slick new tram to its sister city, Salé.
Hemis / Alamy
Now that the civil war against the Tamils has ended, this tropical teardrop-shaped island off India's south coast is looking ahead to less-troubled times. It's a tiny nation, which means that in a few days you can take in everything from the capital, Colombo, to the beaches of Hikkaduwa to the rock paintings at Sigiriya. The lush hill-station of Kandy is a real gem. The old capital of the last Sinhalese Kingdom is home to the Buddhist Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.
Jan Wlodarczyk / age fotostock
Tourism is on the rise in Northern Ireland's capital, a quick flight from the United Kingdom and home to many good-value hotels. The state-of-the-art Titanic Experience, which opened in 2012, takes pride of place and has brought new life to the docklands where the doomed ship was built and launched a century ago. The dark days of sectarian strife are seemingly over, although you can still tour the dramatic Republican murals along Falls Road.
Ethopia's 2013 economic outlook looks promising, and its temperate, high-altitude culturally rich capital is a breath of fresh air. Must-see attractions here include the Ethnological Museum — inside Emperor Haile Selassie's former palace — and the famous Bole Road, which is filled with fashionable restaurants, clubs and galleries.
Giovanni Mereghetti / age fotostock
This Big Apple's "outer borough" is enjoying a surge of popularity. Long in the shadow of its glamorous sister Manhattan, Brooklyn has grown a stylish edge in recent years. And its renowned cultural hot spots Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and the Brooklyn Museum now have a new addition: the Barclays Center, New York's latest major entertainment hub. Gentrification is transforming even the less attractive neighborhoods, and brought with it hot new boutique hotels, hip festivals and excellent farm-to-table restaurants.
Carrie Thompson / Alamy
Members save up to 10% off best available rates at 3,800 hotels, across 88 countries and 10 distinct brands with Hilton HHonors.
Norwegian Cruise Line offers 5% off on select cruises, plus other special offers.
Members save $100 on motor coach tours with Grand European Tours.
Get exclusive member benefits & affect social change. Join Today