Every year, we publish Best in Travel, Lonely Planet's picks for the top destinations of the coming year. It's a long, involved process and, like laws and sausages, you probably don’t want to know what goes in to it. But at the end, a string of sparkling authoritative lists emerges representing what Lonely Planet authors, editors and staff believe to be the very best in travel for next year.
This year is no different, and Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2012 is hot off the presses (not to mention available on the iBookstore). Actually, there is one difference this year – we wanted to hear what you think will be 2012’s hottest destinations. After hundreds of nominations for cities and countries and over 3000 votes for the finalists, the results are in.
And the winner of the Best in Travel Readers’ Choice award 2012 is…Iceland
Clearly, in the view of voters, this is Iceland’s year for travellers. And with a showstopping (and plane-stopping) volcano, better affordability than ever for travellers and a pilot rock star (check out our Robert Reid's interview with Iron Maiden lead singer Bruce Dickinson), it's not hard to see why. But enough analysis from us, here’s what the voters had to say:
'Incredibly friendly, amazingly beautiful and one hell of a good time. Bars followed by geothermal hot springs.'
'Iceland is the place to be in 2012 to see incredible displays of nature! The country of Iceland is currently experiencing two "maximum cycles": One to do with increased volcano activity and another to do with the increased aurora activity for 2012.'
'Its back-country areas are still largely undiscovered by the tourist hordes and it hosts a unique event...the transit of Venus, which starts before sunset on June 5 and ends after sunrise on June 6. Nowhere else does this happen!'
'The wonders and creativity of nature at its best – untouched by humans...to this point. Geothermally heated pools to refresh the soul, literally seeing the rift valley between the American and European geological plates, visiting glaciers, seeing a real volcano, walking on terrain that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world...AND who wouldn't want to see a puffin!!'
'It has so much on offer, and so untouched compared to some parts of Europe.'
'The nightlife is legendary and the numerous coffee houses and small museums are all situated within walking distance in the downtown area. For people who want to escape the hustle-and-bustle of city life, major natural attractions (like the Golden Circle route and the volcanic Reykjanes Peninsula) are as close as a 45 minute bus or car ride from the city centre. The city has also invested in cultural attractions, like the new Harpa concert and conference centre, and a number of new hotels and hostels. Location helps too: it's just a 5 hour flight from NYC and 3 hours from London.'
'It's hip, it's cool, it's small but offers everything that large cities do. Good hotels, good food, good nightlife, good music and the nature is only few steps away. And it's finally affordable to go there.'
And what of the other top 10 cities and countries?
Here's how the cookie crumbled. As you can see, Iceland was a clear winner.
Readers' Choice: Top 10 cities (by % of the vote)
Readers' Choice: Top 10 countries (by % of the vote)