Continental shift: Low-cost longhaul flights
Budget airlines have historically struggled to sustain transatlantic routes, but over the last couple of years, they finally seem to have made it work – and are adding more routes for 2018 to prove it. Norwegian has been the big success story with its flights to New York and California. In March it launches from London Gatwick daily flights from to Chicago and three times a week to Austin, and will begin flying four times a week to Buenos Aires in February.
Lesser-known player Primera Air brings extra competition to the Big Apple route in April when it launches daily flights from Stansted Airport to Newark Airport, from Birmingham to Newark Airport. It’s also adding flights three times a week from Stansted to Boston in May, and to Washington DC in August.
And the Icelandic airlines continue to make crossing the pond cheaper and more fun with free Reykjavík stopovers starting this spring. The America-via-Reykjavík routes – which start in the UK from various airports, including Belfast, Glasgow, Manchester, London Gatwick and London Heathrow, then with a layover – either a few hours or several days – are increasingly popular. Icelandair launches new flights four times a week to Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas and San Francisco. And Wow is adding Cleveland and Detroit four times a week, and Cincinnati and St Louis five times a week – all from Reykjavik.
Culture capital: Malta
This sunny island’s Unesco-listed capital Valletta takes on the European Capital of Culture mantle for 2018, putting on a slew of events that will help the nation transform its fuddy-duddy image. This year, new flights (launched December 2017) from Ryanair twice weekly from Belfast, and from April once a week from Belfast with Jet2 will help bring in the extra visitors, lured to the historic Crusader island by the cultural programme, striking modern architecture, a growing Ibiza-style party scene, and a host of new boutique hotels alongside the revamped grande dame, the Phoenicia Hotel.
Growth spurt: Iceland
There’s been a growing buzz lately around Iceland and its otherworldly adventure, as travellers realise exchange rates are no longer so alarming. Airlines have responded to demand with new flights from the UK, and Icelandic stopovers en route to the States are on the increase as Reykjavik-based Wow and Icelandair add more affordable USA routes. The country’s biggest attraction, the geothermal Blue Lagoon, doubles in size in 2018, while the country’s newest hotspot is set to be the northern town of Akureyri, recently connected to the capital with Air Iceland Connect flights several times a day starting this month.
New route: Almeria, Spain
The coastal delights of southern Spain are hardly news to UK visitors, which must make Almeria its last undiscovered corner. Long swerved in favour of easier to reach spots, the Andalucian province and city will finally open up from March with a new direct twice-weekly flight from Heathrow with BA. Cool hotels, gorgeous beaches and tranquil nature reserves beckon.
New Indian Ocean direct: Seychelles
It’s been ten years, but finally the Indian Ocean nation is to get direct flights from the UK again – and the BA flights will be twice a week to the island of Mahé in the Seychelles. Stay on Mahé, or take one of the many flight or boat connection from here to get to one of the archipelago’s 114 other islands. William and Kate hired the exclusive North Island to themselves for their honeymoon, but there are new members of the luxury line-up, too: the gorgeous year-old Six Senses Zil Pasyon and, opening in March 2018, the castaway-chic Four Seasons Desroches, set on 14km of untouched sands.
Chart-topping city: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
So happening it’s already been rechristened ‘Nowville’ by American GQ, Tennessee’s capital Nashville will reel in more Brits from May 2018, thanks to new five-weekly BA flights direct from Heathrow. Food and music scenes are alight right now (you’ll find far more than country on the local live-music circuit), and hip stays are popping up all over. Fans of TV’s Nashville show won’t be the only ones enjoying the USA’s latest alternative city break.
Longest non-stop: Perth, Australia
As of March 2018, the longest non-stop flight from the UK will be the stonking 17-hour flight from London to Perth, operating daily with Qantas, the first connection between Europe and Australia that doesn’t require a touchdown and refuel – and it’s on a spacious Dreamliner, too.
Even better, this western Australian city is increasingly trendy, thanks to its newfound taste for nightlife. Previously deserted laneways are now alive with cocktail bars and noodle joints, while new hotels – the smart Intercontinental and trendy Tribe – up the city’s bed-count. And don’t stop there: drive south to the gorgeous Margaret River wine region, or north to the pristine Ningaloo Reef.
Published February 2018. Information correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.
Want to know which destinations are hotting up? We crunched the numbers and looked at the data to bring you 2018’s hottest travel trends.