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My 5 top destinations for 2013

It’s that time of year when all the lofty travel publications put out their Top Picks for 2013…

But, I’m going to do my own recommendations based on the places I’ve visited this year and the ones I would genuinely recommend to my friends. I’ve been to 10 countries and 25 cities in 2012 and have done a huge variety of experiences from driving a river boat to visiting ancient sites, carousing in big cities and pottering in small ones.

I lay awake last night deciding which 5 destinations would be my recommendations for travel in 2013. It was hard and I had to cull some pearlers, but here they are:

Murray River, Australia

Unforgettable Houseboat

Pulling in to a general store on the Murray River

We did this at end of summer, flew to Adelaide and drove to the river, then up it. It was such fun that we’re booking again for 2013 to take a group of 10 friends. We’ll get a big 6-berth boat and while the boys battle over who will be captain, I will be lounging on the top deck with my Kindle and sunhat. The river is wide and slow. Some might get bored, others will enjoy the serenity. Here’s my series of photos I took back in March >>>

Istanbul, Turkey

Yeni mosque sunset

Sunset from the Galata Bridge over Yeni Mosque

I took my first trip to Turkey this year and spent 3 days in Istanbul and loved it so much this must be on the list for travel in Europe. The history, the markets, the views, the culture, the food, I loved it all and filled my boots (read: suitcase) with plenty of classy gems from the Grand Bazaar (glass lamp shade, ceramic bowls, leather pouf cushion) and the Spice Market. Here’s the blog I wrote about 5 things to do in Istanbul >>>

Delphi, Greece

Delphi, Greece

Delphi, the navel of the world

Of all the ancient sights I saw and clambered over during my cruise from Istanbul to Nice, Delphi was my favourite. The reason being that it is so well preserved. It isn’t as famous as Olympia or Pompeii and it’s much smaller than they are, but that just means you can take your time and explore the place. Here you’ll find the Doric columns of Apollo’s temple, a treasury building, an amphitheatre looking over the valley below and etchings of laurel wreaths chiselled into stone blocks, along with texts that our Greek guide translated into English.

Dubai, UAE

Dubai beach

The beach in front of the Westin Hotel, Dubai

This made my list for 2013 because I was surprised that there is more to this emirate than wealthy sheikhs and fast cars. While there is all that, and the world’s biggest shopping mall, the world’s tallest building and a ski field in a shopping mall with black diamond runs (!), there is a cool vibe around the water which is edged in great restaurants, a burgeoning art scene, traditional spice markets and souks, sand dunes in the desert a few minutes away and gentle beaches for whiling away a morning. Here’s my blog on 6 things to do in Dubai >>>

Moorea, Tahiti

Moorea dive

Helmet diving in Moorea

Ah the dilemma for 5th place… This one was tricky but I’m going for Moorea because it’s in our back yard and you can choose to do it in high glitz style or rustic and independent. We hired a car for the week and explored the tiny 60km island, finding beachside restaurants and enjoying fresh pain au chocolat each morning from the local (and quite down market looking) general store. Snorkelling, sunning and staying in an overwater bungalow are the ways to relax, or book a helmet dive, a motu picnic or swim with dolphins. Here’s my Moorea blogs for more info to entice you >>>

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!