Best new travel discoveries of 2019: Places to go and things to do

The mid-20th century British travel author Eric Newby once wrote that people travel simply because they feel compelled "to find out what is over the seas, over the hills and far away, around the corner, over the garden wall…'' We're driven, he added, by amusement, sheer curiosity and a romantic, reasonless longing for something else.

That's the restless spirit that energises Traveller's wandering writers. So when we asked them to nominate the year's best finds, we weren't surprised at the cascade of suggestions that resulted. It's immensely satisfying that, despite their having seen great chunks of the world, our contributors are still finding hotels, cruises, meals and other experiences that fill them with enthusiasm and delight.

From the remotest island in the Andaman Sea to the cosy capital of New Zealand, the steamy South American rainforest to New York's urban jungle, we're keen to share our best finds of 2019. We hope you're inspired to keep peeping over the garden wall. - Brian Johnston

FOOD AND DRINK

BEST FOOD DELICACY

SNOW CRAB IN KINOSAKI, JAPAN

A winter visit to onsen (hot-spring) resort Kinosaki has an added pleasure as snow crabs are harvested from the Sea of Japan. At $200 a crab, none of the delicacy is wasted, from innards to tender, fluffy meat. Try it sashimi style, grilled, boiled or in a hot pot. Sometimes a simple vinegar dip is all you need to complement the ocean flavour of this succulent seasonal extravagance. See visitkinosaki.com

BEST WINE EXPERIENCE

COGNAC PRODUCER, FRANCE

Bordeaux is a wine-focused cruise region, but a shore excursion with Uniworld – available on its Connoisseur Collection cruises – shows what else can be created from its famous vineyards. A visit to Rémy Martin in Cognac demonstrates how cognac is created and how barrel ageing affects flavour, and finishes with a tasting of three cognacs, accompanied by an informative master blender. The smooth, fruit and woody XO is a triumphant finale. See uniworld.com

BEST BEER

REAL ALE, ENGLAND

Yes, it's flat and it's probably warm, too. But "real ale", or cask ale, is small-batch British beer the way it's supposed to be drunk. Part of the fun is the venue: find a pub in Britain that boasts the "Cask Marque", an award bestowed upon venues that serve quality cask ale, and you'll find a cosy and friendly place for a pint. The other part of the fun is the beer itself: no filtering, no pasteurisation, no carbonation. Just flavour. See cask-marque.co.uk

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BEST RESTAURANT REINVENTION

ROOM 4 DESSERT, BALI

Ubud's famous dessert-driven restaurant has been transformed. It's now five times larger than before and much more stylish, with half the number of seats and a huge garden from which chef Will Goldfarb and his team harvest many of their raw materials. Degustation dinners are movable feasts, during which you get to sit in every part of the restaurant in turn, savouring dishes such as the Dancing Flower tarts, made with marigold and lotus flower root. See room4dessert.com

BEST BAR

BEN FIDDICH, TOKYO, JAPAN

Tokyo can often feel like it has an infinite number of options for a night out, from dive bars to Michelin-stars, but you'll be hard-pushed to find anywhere more inventive than Ben Fiddich. This cocktail bar is tucked away in an unremarkable tower block in Shinjuku, but inside it feels like you've stepped into the mind of eccentric alchemist and barman Hiroyasu Kayama. In more ways than one, his creative drinks are mind-blowing, many made with herbs and spices which he selects from an impressive display of jars. It's not cheap, but unless you really overdo it, you won't forget your visit. See facebook.com/BarBenfiddich/

BEST FOOD EXPERIENCE

SKETCH, LONDON, ENGLAND

Sketch London.

Sketch London.

It's been London's most fashionable restaurant since 2003, but this year Mayfair's theatrical complex of imbibing and dining, Sketch, added a third Michelin Star to the two previously awarded its Lecture Room and Library fine diner. Elsewhere in the Grade II listed Conduit Street townhouse, whether its afternoon tea in the pink velvet booths of the Gallery, the everchanging art installations, or the much-Instagrammed egg-shaped pod loos, restaurateur Mourad Mazouz and legendary French chef Pierre Gagnaire keep surprising and delighting. See sketch.london

BEST FARMERS MARKET

ST-JEAN-DE-LUZ, FRANCE

On any given morning in St-Jean-de-Luz, a pretty seaside town in the south of France, you could call past the market hall and pick up a delicious array of produce. On Tuesdays and Fridays, however, the place truly comes alive, as a large farmers' market pops up with everything from oysters to fresh vegetables, cheeses to cured meats, baked goods to foraged mushrooms on sale. This is the absolute best of French produce. See saint-jean-de-luz.com

BEST BREAKFAST

BISSARA SOUP, TANGIER

The breakfast of champions in the north of Morocco is bissara, a hearty split-pea soup that sticks to your ribs and fills your stomach and very quickly becomes an early-morning addiction. The best place to eat it is in the sprawling marketplaces of Tangier, where workers gather in nameless little eateries to dip dense bread into thick soup topped with glugs of fresh olive oil and set themselves up for the day. Delicious. See visitmorocco.com

BEST FESTIVAL

WELLINGTON ON A PLATE, NEW ZEALAND

Wellington on a Plate.

Wellington on a Plate.

Any city can host a two-day festival, but only in Wellington does the feasting last for 31 days. Held in August each year, you'll need your stretchy pants to survive "Dine Wellington", a two-week extravaganza showcasing the city's best chefs, followed by "Burger Wellington", a two-week binge of buns, barbecue sauce and more than 200 types of burgers. "Cocktail Wellington" runs for the whole month, while Beervana is held over two days at Wellington Stadium. See visawoap.com

BEST EATING NEIGHBOURHOOD

GRACA, LISBON

Here's the great thing about Graca, the historic and friendly neighbourhood perched atop one of Lisbon's seven hills: not only does it have a local feel, but it also makes you feel like a local. Spend a few days here wandering the streets, calling in at the bakeries, checking out the shops, taking in the views, eating at the restaurants and drinking at the bars and you'll become part of the furniture – and that's a very good thing. See visitlisboa.com

BEST RESTAURANT

CABBANES, MYKONOS

It is best known as a party island but Mykonos is also home to some fine restaurants, none better than Cabbanes at the Myconian Villas. Arrive early enough to savour the sunset with your pre-dinner drink, then be prepared for an elegant succession of dishes – from sea bass carpaccio with cucumber granita to grilled prawns with pickled watermelon. The emphasis is on local ingredients; even the salt comes from the nearby island of Delos. See myconianvillas.gr

STAYS

BEST DESIGNER CHIC

ALILA YANGSUO, CHINA

Alila Yangshuo sits three kilometres outside Yangshuo on the Li River, in a region of southern China renowned for its humped-mountain scenery. The former old sugar factory has been spectacularly renovated and integrated with stylish contemporary additions, including a cave-like spa and water-pump pavilion turned private dining venue. By day the swimming-pool terrace scintillates. The old brickwork looks gorgeous at night against softly spot-lit karst outcrops, reflected in dark ponds. See alilahotels.com

BEST SAFARI CAMP

HOANIB VALLEY CAMP, NAMIBIA

Deep in Namibia's Kaokoland Desert, an end-of-the-earth kind of place peppered with Himba tribal settlements and desert-adapted lions, elephants and giraffe, sits this remarkable camp. Six sophisticated tented rooms huddle in a natural amphitheatre, backed by towering mountains and fronted by empty plateaus. This year-old camp is 100 per cent solar-powered, staffed 90 per cent by local villagers and run in conjunction with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. It epitomises the very cool things being done in Namibia with sustainable tourism. See benchafrica.com

BEST OVERWATER VILLA

LIKULIKU LAGOON RESORT, MALOLO ISLAND, FIJI

Likuliku Lagoon Resort

Likuliku Lagoon Resort

Suspended above a coral reef teeming with tropical fish, the 10 overwater villas at the adults-only Likuliku Lagoon Resort are coveted by loved-up couples who like to dip their toe in the water without ever having to go far to do it. Watch colourful sea creatures through windows in the lounge room floor. Cavernous bathtubs rest beside windows framing the bay. And balcony ladders allow guests to lower themselves into the sea for a swim or snorkel. See likulikulagoon.com

BEST PALACE HOTEL

TAJ FALAKNUMA, HYDERABAD

From the moment you arrive in a horse-drawn carriage amid a shower of rose petals, everything about your stay at the elegant marble palace of the Hyderabad Nizams is memorable. Take one of the free tours to ensure you don't miss any of the eye-popping details, from the stained glass windows to the baroque ceilings, the fabulous frescoes to the antique ivory snooker table – on which you can actually play a game. See tajhotels.com

BEST NEW VENICE HOTEL

PALAZZO EXPERIMENTAL

It breaks all the rules, from its left-field location on the Fondamenta Zatteri to its strikingly contemporary interiors, but that hasn't stopped the Palazzo Experimental becoming Venice's most talked-about hotel. The eye-catching design reinvents Venetian traditions – from those elegant arches to the stripes from the gondoliers' shirts – while the buzzing restaurant and the intimate bar are attractions in their own right. The lovely garden out the back is an added bonus. See palazzoexperimental.com

BEST BOUTIQUE HOTEL

LA TANGERINA, TANGIER

The rogue's gallery of artists, musicians, spies and runaways who called Tangier home in the mid-20 th century were known as "The Tangerines", and you get the feeling those former residents would heartily approve of the boutique hotel that now bears their name. La Tangerina is a stunning colonial-style property in the heart of the Tangier kasbah, a refurbished mansion that has 10 rooms laid out over four floors, each with a unique layout and expertly chosen fittings. See latangerina.com

CRUISES

BEST ON-BOARD FESTIVITY

WHITE NIGHT PARTY, AZAMARA

On cruises of seven nights or more (and weather permitting), the White Night deck party is the most relaxed, enjoyable evening at sea: sociable without being raucous, accompanied by live music, and catered with an extravagant barbecue buffet. As ice sculptures melt, steaks and seafood sizzle and the ship's officers mingle. Dancing ensues for those in the mood. Remember to pack your white clothes or you'll feel left out. See azamara.com

BEST CRUISE SHIP FOOD

OCEANIA RIVIERA

Oceania Cruises' fleet of six luxurious medium-sized ships is consistently awarded for its food afloat and on Oceania Riviera you see why in the little things: authentic croissants made with French butter on the breakfast buffet, a perfect espresso in a proper cafe setting, or a fresh power bowl from a new and extensive plant-based menu. And then you see it in the big – like remarkable specialty restaurants that are included in the fare. You'll want to try them all. See oceaniacruises.com

BEST ENVIRONMENTAL ADVANCES

HURTIGRUTEN'S MS ROALD AMUNDSEN

In July 2019, the world's first hybrid cruise ship had its maiden voyage, likely launching a new era in cruising. The Roald Amundsen is powered by light marine diesel fuel, with eight lithium ion battery packs that kick in when extra power is needed, cutting out spikes in fuel use and reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by an estimated 20 per cent. In 2020 the Roald Amundsen will sail in North America, South America, Antarctica and through the Northwest Passage. See hurtigruten.com.au

BEST RIVER CRUISE SHIP REFURBISHMENT

SANCTUARY NILE ADVENTURER

Sanctuary Nile Adventurer, Presidential Suite

Sanctuary Nile Adventurer, Presidential Suite

The Nile is one of the world's great rivers, so it's only fitting that your river cruise ship matches the magnificence of the surroundings. Refurbished in September, the 32-cabin Sanctuary Nile Adventurer blends modern luxury with ancient heritage. While the contemporary colour scheme of azure, sandstone and burnished gold sets the mood, it's the sumptuous cabins, extensive sundecks, day spa and private cabanas around the pool that make the experience fit for a pharaoh. See sanctuaryretreats.com; benchafrica.com

BEST NEW EXPEDITION SHIP

THE GREG MORTIMER

The Greg Mortimer
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The first cruise ship to be fitted with the revolutionary X-Bow hull, the 126-passenger Greg Mortimer is Aurora's first purpose-built expedition vessel. The polar-rated X-Bow offers smoother sailing and increased fuel efficiency while the ship's design reflects 27 years of expedition experience. Innovative features include virtual anchoring, hydraulic viewing platforms and a floating activity marina. Stylishly appointed with spacious balcony cabins, outdoor jacuzzis and a sauna, the GM sets a new benchmark for expedition cruising. See auroraexpeditions.com.au

AIRLINES AND AIRPORTS

BEST FLIGHT

BUSINESS CLASS, JAPAN AIRLINES

In the bland world of air travel, JAL's business-class cabin still retains a sense of Japanese-ness, especially in its faultless service and outstanding in-flight meals. Even if you request a snack, you're served delicate grilled tuna with braised radish and steamed rice. The main meal is prettily arranged in ceramic bowls, bento-style: fragrant miso soup, grilled salmon, sukiyaki chicken and pickles. Everything just right, as you'd expect of Japan. See jal.co.jp

BEST NEW LOUNGE

Qantas First, Changi Airport, Singapore

Qantas new first class lounge for Singapore Changi Airport. Images supplied. Renders. tra15-online-qantaslounge

Qantas's collaborator David Caon alongside hospitality designer, Kelvin Ho have masterminded a wonderful new First Lounge at Changi. Enter a serenely simple space in which spending time reveals details such as bespoke finishes, fine furniture and unique objets d'art. Then there's that food by Neil Perry and service by Sofitel. Considerable thought has gone into creating an intimate, very personal and uplifting experience. You may find it hard to make your connection. See qantas.com

BEST AIRPORT HOTEL

TWA HOTEL, JFK AIRPORT, NEW YORK

People walk through the lobby of the famous winged TWA terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport Wednesday, May 15, 2019. The Eero Saarinen-designed terminal has opened as a hotel. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Photo: AP

Airport hotels are rarely exciting; JFK's new TWA Hotel is the exception. Housed in Eero Saarinen's former TWA terminal, the 512-room property is a joyous celebration of the golden era of Jet Age travel. Guests check-in at airline-style counters while an old-fashioned mechanical flight board clicks through fictional departures. Facilities include three restaurants, four bars (including a retro cocktail lounge in a 1958 Lockheed Starliner aircraft) and a rooftop pool overlooking the runway. See twahotel.com

BEST DIRECT FLIGHT

LATAM SYDNEY TO SANTIAGO

LATAM business class.

LATAM business class.

Two years after introducing a non-stop service from Melbourne to Santiago, LATAM has finally given Sydneysiders the same convenience. Operating three times a week on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the non-stop flight shaves off around three hours over the indirect service via Auckland (which still operates on the remaining days). Using the latest 787-9 Dreamliner, the new flight arrives earlier in Santiago, offering passengers more same-day connections to the rest of South America. See latam.com

BEST DEPARTURE

AUCKLAND INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

If only every airport looked like this. Auckland Airport is investing $1 million every working day towards building one of the best airports in the southern hemisphere and one that is capable of handling 40 million passengers a year. A refurbishment of its restaurant precinct also earned it top honours at the 2019 Airport Food & Beverage Awards in Dallas. There's even a pizzeria here deemed the best in Oceania. Accessing the Pacific Islands has never been so easy. See aucklandairport.co.nz

PLACES

BEST OLD TOWN

GDANSK, POLAND

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Those who remember Solidarity and its dockworkers' strike may expect a grim industrial town, but long before the anti-communist movement Gdansk (or Danzig) was a proudly independent Hanseatic port that flourished on Baltic Sea trade. The handsome old town fuses German and Scandinavian architectural styles and has a rich history, but also a lively restaurant scene and local life not yet side-lined by the tourist hordes. Buskers provide a festive feel. See gdansk.pl

BEST SMALL ISLAND

SUMILON ISLAND, THE PHILIPPINES

This tiny (24 hectare) island was The Philippines' first marine protected area (since 1974 it's existed as a marine sanctuary). Just a 10 minute boat ride from Cebu, day trippers travel to its famed sandbar. But stay in the island's only resort and you'll have the rest for yourself. There's four iconic dive sites here, though there's pristine coral straight off the beach. Enjoy sunsets over Cebu, then eat under the stars. See bluewatersumilon.com.ph

BEST REMOTE ISLAND

PILAR ISLAND, MERGUI ARCHIPELAGO, MYANMAR

DCIM\100MEDIA\DJI_0010.JPG Pilar island vista
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Guests have to earn the pleasures of Awei Pila Resort in the remote Mergui Archipelago, but it's worth it. A 2.5-hr voyage from Kawthaung, southern Myanmar delivers you to jungle-cloaked Kyun Pilar Island and its sole resort. You're on an almost untouched Andaman shore, faced with wicked choices: to swim, dive, snooze, hike or hit the spa? Accommodation is in 24 luxurious, yurt-style, beachfront suites while a very talented resident Italian chef conjures the meals. See memories-travel.com

BEST NEIGHBOURHOOD

SANT ANTONI, BARCELONA

Forget the touristy Gothic Quarter and the pickpocket magnet of Las Ramblas: in Barcelona, head directly to Sant Antoni, the city's best neighbourhood. Here you'll find traditional vermouth bars spilling out onto the tree-lined streets, modern cafes that do a decent flat white, restaurants that range from the old-school to the avant-garde, and one of Barcelona's best markets. And Sant Antoni is still walking distance from most of the city's main attractions. See barcelonaturisme.com

BEST WILD TOWN

TOFINO, CANADA

Think Byron Bay's the ultimate surf town? Then you obviously haven't been to Tofino. Nestled on a peninsula between old-growth rainforest of UNESCO-listed Clayoquat Sound and the Pacific Ocean, Tofino is located on the wild, west coast of Canada's Vancouver Island. Bears roam the beaches, and orcas and seals patrol the seas, but locals surf Canada's best waves year-round. There's a vibrant arts scene, while Vietnam War draft dodgers live in its forests. See torusimtofino.com

BEST ISLAND

MOOREA, FRENCH POLYNESIA

Young woman in white bikini swimming in a coral lagoon iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted.

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Tahiti has the famous name but ought to be avoided; Bora Bora is gorgeous yet pricey and over-polished. Moorea, though, ticks every castaway dreamer's box. Pyramidal mountains fang the sky (especially around spectacular Opunohu Bay), lush jungle erupts, and the island is ringed with a lagoon in opulent shades of electric blue and cobalt. Slip into the warm waters and find yourself among coral, tropical fish and friendly sting rays. See tahititourisme.com

BEST SMALL TOWN

GETARIA, SPAIN

High on Spain's rugged north coast, nestled between San Sebastian to its east and Bilbao to its west, lies the charming village of Getaria, a port town with far more than meets the eye: some of the world's best seafood is caught and cooked around here – most notably at Elkano, current number 30 on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list – and there's also a museum dedicated to Getaria's favourite son, the designer Cristobal Balenciaga. tourism. See euskadi.eus

BEST WILDERNESS

GUYANA'S INTERIOR

The only English-speaking country in South America is gradually opening up to more tourists. While the coast looks certain to undergo rapid development following a large oil discovery, Guyana's interior offers some of the most unspoilt jungle anywhere on the continent. American community tourism projects offer the chance to see giant otters, sloths, jaguars, bird-eating spiders and harpy eagles. Elsewhere, there's the magnificent Kaieteur waterfall, the world's largest single-drop by volume. See wilderness-explorers.com

BEST SUBURB

GETSEMANI, CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

Few visitors stray from Cartagena's picturesque but touristy historic centre, which is a pity because the neighbouring suburb of Getsemani is where you'll get a real taste of the city. During the day, it's a sleepy warren of pastel-hued mansions and graffiti-lined alleyways. At night, it transforms into a riotous alfresco party with bands in every plaza. If you get the urge to dance, it's also home to the city's best salsa clubs. See Colombia.travel

BEST COASTAL HUB

TANGIER, MOROCCO

This former hangout for Matisse, Kerouac, Burroughs, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones has re-emerged in the last decade as one of the world's most exciting destinations. You can feel the influences of the world in Tangier: the Romans at ancient grave sites; the Arabs in the old medina; the Portuguese in the walled kasbah; the French in the tattered colonial architecture; and those beat poets and musicians in classic venues like Café Hafa and the Gran Café de Paris. See visitmorocco.com

EXPERIENCE

BEST MODERN ARCHITECTURE

LA RIOJA WINERIES

You arrive in Spain's La Rioja region expecting to be impressed with the wine, and yet what sticks in the memory the longest is the buildings that house those world-famous drops. There are some seriously impressive works of modern architecture here, from Frank Gehry's ribbon-like hotel at Marques de Riscal, to Santiago Calatrava's undulating and almost pixelated bodega at Ysios Winery, to Zaha Hadid's decanter-shaped tasting room at Lopez de Heredia. See lariojaturismo.com

BEST WINTER ACTIVITY

JUNGFRAU, SWITZERLAND

JUNGFRAU REGION - Jungfraujoch mit Sphinx und Aletschgletscher.

Jungfraujoch with Sphinx and the Aletsch glacier.

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With 200 kilometres of groomed heaven and limitless backcountry potential spread across two valleys and three ski resorts, the Jungfrau Ski Region ranks as one of Switzerland's biggest. Add in a further 50 kilometres of sledging runs, plus scenic helicopter flights along the Eiger North Face, kayaking on Lake Brienz, year-round skydiving and paragliding, backcountry snowshoeing and an outdoor ice skating rink in Interlaken's Höhematte Park, and you'll soon understand why there's lots of winter fun to be had here. See jungfrau.ch

BEST BIKE RIDE

LON LAS CYMRU, WALES

Traversing Wales from Cardiff to Holyhead, this little-known 400-kilometre route may well be the UK's best multi-day bike ride. Setting out from the Welsh capital, it detours east to book nirvana in Hay-on-Wye, then crosses the grain of the country to hit the coast at the seaside holiday town of Barmouth. Along the way, it passes through Wales' two most spectacular national parks, Snowdonia and Brecon Beacons, and has the magic of barely touching a busy road for its entire length. See cycle.travel/route/lon_las_cymru

BEST RETREAT

A ZEN RETREAT AT DAI BOSATSU, NEW YORK

The Catskill Mountains, in upstate New York, are riddled with surprises, and one of the best is an authentic Zen temple that would not look out of place in Kyoto. Several times a year, the Zen Studies Society runs a three-day introductory retreat here for US$250. This is not a New Age holiday: it is kesa robes, formal meals, and hours-long zazen sitting starting before sunrise. The austere meditation can be a shock, but the experience is ultimately sublime; you will leave lighter. See zenstudies.org/dai-bosatsu-zendo.

BEST BACK-DOOR TOUR

GRAND EGYPTIAN MUSEUM TOURS, CAIRO, EGYPT

The world's largest archaeological museum will finally open in October 2020 – so say Egypt's spin doctors. But if you can't wait, take a private, back-door tour of the museum's laboratories to breathe the scent of history, as some of the 100,000 relics, including priceless mummies, undergo delicate cleaning and restoration. The tours are not cheap, but they're rare and getting rarer. Word is they'll cease when the GEM opens. Yalla! (Let's go!) See abercrombiekent.com.au, gem.gov.eg

BEST POLAR ACTIVITY

SNORKELLING IN ANTARCTICA

Snorkelling in Antarctica.

Snorkelling in Antarctica.

It's a bizarre experience – tumbling off the side of a zodiac into near-freezing water. But thanks to a dry suit and neoprene accessories, it's nowhere near as uncomfortable as you might think. Why do it? To get an entirely new perspective as you snorkel around the eerie blue glow of submerged icebergs and watch penguins become fizzing torpedoes underwater. Aurora Expeditions offers polar snorkelling on its voyages to Antarctica and the Arctic. See auroraexpeditions.com.au

BEST RAIL JOURNEY

ROYAL WINDSOR STEAM EXPRESS, UK

Running every summer from June to September, this new weekly sightseeing service between London Waterloo and Windsor revives the nostalgic era of steam travel. Pulled by a Mayflower B1 Class steam locomotive, the train offers three classes of travel in elegant, reconditioned carriages. Splash out on Pullman Class and you'll enjoy a champagne brunch in an opulent wood-panelled dining carriage while the train chugs its way from the capital towards Windsor Castle. See royalwindsorsteamexpress.co.uk

BEST PREHISTORY MUSEUM

HALLE, GERMANY

The town of Halle, halfway between Berlin and Dresden, has several hidden treasures, but it's the state prehistory museum, the Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte Halle, that is the standout. If you're impressed by the super-sized skeletons of aurochs and giant elephants, and the reconstructed faces of people who died 8000 years ago, you'll be blown away by the one-of-a-kind Sky Disc, a beautiful Bronze Age disc – weighing a massive two kilograms - that is actually a sophisticated prehistoric farming calendar. See landesmuseum-vorgeschichte.de/

BEST SNORKELLING

HAVELOCK ISLAND, ANDAMAN ISLANDS

It's rare to step off a beach and enjoy world-class snorkelling, but that's exactly what's on offer at Havelock Island in the remote Andaman Islands. Just metres from the beach you will come face-to-face with butterfly fish, giant parrotfish, large schools of snapper and fast-moving rays, but nothing beats swimming with the turtles that frequent the area and lay their eggs on the beach. The place to stay is the Taj Andamans overlooking the beach. See andamantourism.gov.in

BEST UNDERGROUND ART

NAPLES, ITALY

Given its rather dubious reputation, visitors to Naples are often surprised by the city's many charms. Perhaps the most unexpected is the city's metro, which has been blessed by an arts program that few other destinations can match. Some of the artists, such as William Kentridge, are world-renowned, others are less well-known, but it is always entertaining to discover what awaits when you alight your train. It might be digital portraits, sculpture installations, pretty botanical prints – or something else altogether. See visitnaples.eu

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