Best Destinations for The Cultural Traveller 2021

Are you tired of corona? We want to travel! I hope you are all well and staying safe – wherever you are. 

You haven’t heard from me for a while, since not only corona is keeping me from travelling. In September, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so I haven’t even travelled my own country. So unfortunately, I didn’t get to visit any of the destinations I recommended last year in Where To Go in 2020 for the Cultural Traveller. I did actually drive past Bonn, but the numbers where so high there we didn’t stop.

But things are looking better  and I hope you – like me – are starting to plan more realistically about travelling in 2021. In Europe a digital COVID-19 Certificate should make travel more easy. 

But let’s get to it: I haven’t taken any regards to the handling of the virus or the health care system in the respective countries. Everything change so fast anyway, so check before you go.  Here you find a carefully researched and selected top destinations for 2021 for great cultural experiences that will enrich you. For sure, we need some inspiration after staying home for so long.

Where to go in 2021 for the cultural explorer:

NOWHERE

Sure that’s a possibility, but let’s quickly ignore it, since travelling is all about dreams. And we’ve already tried it.
My daily corona- walk

CULTURE CAPITALS OF EUROPE

Well, nothing is as it used to be. I always have this years European Culture capitals on the list. But due to no one travelling last year because of the stupid virus, the EU has prolonged the cities of 2020 until April 2021 and moved this years city until next year.

Rijeka. From Wikipedia

I already recommended Rijeka, Croatia and Galway, Ireland in last year’s recommendations (read here), and can only repeat those recommendations. For 2022 it will be Novi Sad in Serbia, and I’m looking forward to hopefully go there next year.

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN

One place, I did go in 2020 was the fourth largest city in Sweden. The red rooftops on the 19th century buildings, great museums, delicious local and organic food and different neighbourhoods all make up a perfect weekend trip. Except for the weather…

From Wikipedia

WHY GO NOW?

Firstly, in June 2021 – this month – the city turned 400 years old. Congrats! Secondly, the Swedish harbour city plan to be fossil independent in 10 years. This aim earned it Lonely Planets Best in Travel 2021 as most sustainable city stay.

And if Corona has made you eager to avoid the huge, cramped cities, Gothenburg is less crowded compared to the (wonderful by the way) capital Stockholm. 

WHAT TO SEE!

Well, the museums are pretty good. You can easily find sustainable clothes for your shopping bag, enjoy the art museums Nordic paintings, take a canal boat or climb the stairs for the old fortress for a great view of the city. And as always in Sweden make sure to have “fika”. Most tourists head for Haga, but try to wander off as well.  See special activities during the jubilee here. Like Corona flowers in the channel or The Ghost Ship and the Sea change, which is the 11. version of the city’s International Art Festival.

ALULA, SAUDI ARABIA

I had never heard of it before, but now I’m hooked. If you enjoyed Petra in Jordan this is the place for you. (And I’m definitely that person!)

Madein Saleh. From Wikipedia

WHY GO NOW?

I can’t remember, where I first read that travellers are rediscovering this ancient city now. But it probably has something to do with Saudi Arabia becoming easer to access and that only last year an important cultural site reopened to the public after a long archeological investigation. I love excavations. Like a time capsule.

Also, I usually don’t include new hotels in my list, since that’s just boring, but the famous French architect Jean Nouvel is going to built an underground cave hotel here. So if hotels is your thing wait a little longer (2024) to visit this magnificent place. 

Old town

WHAT TO SEE!

What not to se! One of the oldest cities in the Arabian Peninsula and home to Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Like Petra, built by the Nabateasn (an ancient Arabic) A land rich in historical, geological and geographical significance, this ancient city, once at the crossroads of The Silk Road and The Incense Route. OOhhhh, I love it. 

WINNIPEG, CANADA

Ballet, theater, classical music. You name it, Winnipeg has it. Well almost. It’s the cultural cradle of Canada! I haven’t been to Canada (yet) so not sure how much weight that gives. 
From Expedia

WHY GO NOW?

In 2021, Canada will see the opening of the world’s largest collection of Inuit art in a new museum: Qaumajuq. According to the museum itself “Qaumajuq is the first of its kind in the world”. That sound promising. The name means : “It is bright, it is lit” – and we definitely need some of that.

Last year, it was also the 150th birthday of the city. But due to COVID-19 most events has been postponed. So check it out. 

From Tourism Winnipeg

WHAT TO SEE!

You should see the museum obviously. The building of Qaumajuq  resemble an ice-berg. Inside until March 22 INUA is the inaugural exhibition with works created by over 90 Inuit artists from across the northern Canada. There are more to see like the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, the award winning Manitoba Museum and the huge natural area FortWhyte Alive with bisons, birds and beer. Apparently the food is good too.

GYEONGJU, SOUTH KOREA

Gyeongju was not on my radar as a top destination for 2021. But I’ve only heard good things about SK and Gyeongju caneasily be reached from Busan. The city is known as a “Museum without Walls”. You had me at “museum”. Temples, grottoes and small villages and once the 4. largest city in the world!

From Hotels.com

WHY GO NOW?

Gyeongju is selected as one of the 3 South East Asia’s Culture City for 2021. This title is due to the many archeological excavations and the city is of course also a World Heritage Site. And that means world approval stamp. 

WHAT TO SEE!

As the former capital of  the old Silla empire, the 2000-year old city is full of historical buildings. Like the Bulguksa Temple or Temple of the Buddha Land. This roofed beauty is a World Heritage Site from 528. Or how about one of the oldest astronomical observatories in Asia: Cheomseongdae. If you need some peace after all that cultural stuff, head for the National Park and hike some of the trails. 

Wolji Pond. From Hotels.com
Sadly, travelling across the world is probably not a possibility soon. But maybe you live closer than I do…

CAIRO, EGYPT

Okay, so last year I also included Cairo and the museum. But since everything has skipped at last one year this one rejoins the list.  Because (maybe) finally this year the long awaited new Grand Egyptian Museum will open. Oh yeah, and there are pyramids!

Free image

WHY GO NOW?

After 10 years of delays, the long awaited GEM is opening in the final quarter of 21. At least partly. We know that something is happening, since this year an impressive extravaganza parade of royal mummies was moved from the old museum to the new one. Try google the video with music. Complete with goldenhaired fan-bearers, golden specialdesigned cars and everything.

 When the museum opens, you can enjoy al the gold from the tomb of Tutankhamen has been shined up for you, and a new airport and metro line will make it super easy to get there. And when it does I’m there!

Grand Egyptian Museum

WHAT TO SEE!

The Museum! Historic Cairo is in itself a World Heritage Site, so you’ll be cultural just by walking around taking in the smell and drinking tea – in the City of the Dead for instance. I would choose to see the fortress built by Saladin, the famous Muslim sultan of the Middle East. He is the founder of the Ayyūbid dynasty, and fought against the Christian Crusaders, and is most famous for capturing of Jerusalem. And did I mention pyramids? After a few days, when you had enough of the chaotic traffic, jump on a train to Alexandria as well. For the library, you know.
Luxor

If you find ancient Egypt as fascinating as me, head to Luxor or ancient Thebes: Must-See Temples & Tombs In Valley of the Kings!

After so much hardship – and what feels like 2 missed years of travel – I hope you can find back to the joy of exploring and discover all the beauties of the world’s cultures. I’m trying. 

I promised my mom Cairo is up as soon as the country is open for vaccinated Danes. Happy travels!

The only trips in 21 so far is the trips to the hospital. Not one I recommend.