RTÉ Travel's Ed Leahy looks at some great places to discover.
Despite all the talk about Rio de Janeiro for the upcoming World Cup and Olympics, the real star of South America is the vibrant capital city of Argentina, Buenos Aires. Wandering the city streets, you may think you have landed in a Spanish-talking Paris, such is the grandeur of this colonial masterpiece. Learn to tango, pay homage to Eva Perón at the Casa Rosada or the Recoleta graveyard, wander about the colourful La Boca region or take a stroll down to the majestic River Plate. Nightlife is one of the city's greatest attractions, where a sumptuous Argentinean steak and a full-bodied Malbec prove the ideal dinner companions. Football is a religion in these parts so a trip to the Bombonera to watch Diego Maradona's beloved Boca Juniors or city rivals River Plate should be very high up on your to-do list.
While Belfast enjoyed a renaissance in 2012, Derry City steals the spotlight up north in 2013 with a year-long cultural calendar to look forward to. The always-entertaining Fleadh Cheoil says goodbye to Cavan after three great years and heads further north to the Maiden City, while a whole host of concerts, including the fantastic Other Voices sessions, are planned for Derry throughout the year. Street festivals and historic exhibitions will also showcase the Walled City and one of the major events will be the hosting of the art world's prestigious Turner Prize later in the year. Amidst all that culture, make sure to get out and about and walk the walls of Derry, or if you are feeling energetic, what better way to explore the old town than to partake in the Walled City marathon in June. Meanwhile, Derry is renowned for its hectic pub scene and nightlife and what's more cultural than a pint of stout and a bit of craic down the pub?
Escape to the beautiful Caribbean island of Barbados for a luxury sunshine break, where blue skies and turquoise seas blend beautifully. Barbados is one of the most westernised of the islands and boasts exciting nightlife throughout. A small, easily explored island, you'll spend your days lazing along white sandy beaches, and your nights swaying to the rhythm of the island, eating freshly caught barbecued fish, sipping cold beer or rum cocktails. A wide range of watersports is available along each varying Bajan coast, while a trip into the capital Bridgetown will give you a glimpse of Caribbean life. Try to catch a cricket match at the world-renowned Kensington Oval, take a tour of the island's interesting colonial past, or perhaps splash out on a round of golf at the exclusive Sandy Lane resort. But make sure to enjoy a night out with the locals at Oistins Fish Market - your taste buds will thank you - before enjoying the street show into the early hours.
Nothing prepares you for a trip to Tokyo. A city like no other, the culture shock cannot be explained, only experienced. But it's all good and you will spend the first couple of days with eyes wide open, marvelling at all this unique city has to offer. Neon lights, stunning skyscrapers, serene city spaces; keep moving, taste the food, watch the people, sing a karaoke tune, it never gets boring. After a few days you might find time to visit some of the top attractions, whether getting up with the sun to visit the world famous Tsukiji Fish Market, pay a visit to the Meiji Shrine or the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, or experience the excitement of a Sumo wrestling night. The Roppongi area is great for nightlife, although you may have to get creative to find the best bars, as some are located half-way up city skyscrapers. And make sure to get out of the city on the ultra-fast bullet train; the entire country is accessible thanks to the high-speed system. Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima should all be explored.
A central European country no bigger than Northern Ireland, Slovenia is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty and is easily accessible due to the compact nature of this green and pleasant land. The capital city Ljubljana is the perfect starting point, with amazing architecture, history, people and food. Second city Maribor is the gateway to the country's wine region and adventure holiday areas, while the stunning Lake Bled and surrounding alpine areas are matches for similar sights throughout Europe. Piran and Portoro ž take you out to the Adriatic coast, while Spa towns can be found inland. The Postojna cave is one of the country's top tourist attractions and one of the largest and most impressive in Europe. Travelling around by car will allow you to see the entire country in a week, while the journeys will prove just as rewarding as the destination. A special mention for the local beer Lasko - it's all about the purity of the Slovenian water apparently.
This east coast region of Spain may soon become one of Europe's newest nations. The ever-interesting city of Barcelona is just one of many tourist destinations on offer throughout Catalunya. The Costa Brava boasts endless sandy beaches and the lively resorts of Tossa de Mar and Lloret de Mar. The Pyrenees border the north of the region, while some excellent vineyards can be explored throughout the region, Catalunya being the birthplace of Cava sparkling wine. The historic city of Tarragona will fascinate, while the northern town of Figueres is home to the remarkable Salvador Dalí museum. And if you are looking for a stylish seaside break after a few hectic days in Barcelona, the resort of Sitges is located just south of the city.
The United States remains the top long haul holiday destination for Irish holidaymakers. And while many stick to the east coast cities of Boston and New York or the Sunshine soaked Florida, the ultimate holiday experience awaits on the west coast's most southern state. California offers every type of city break, seaside destination, cultural quarter or outdoor experience and what better way to explore than to take a self-drive holiday along the Pacific Coast Highway. Plot your way from the Spanish city of San Diego through Orange County into the Los Angeles area before escaping into the scenic Santa Barbara or the winelands of Santa Ynez. The coast road travels north through Big Sur, Santa Cruz and Monterey before reaching one of the world's great cities, San Francisco. Travel inland for national parks, lakes and even ski resorts. Just make sure you add a few extra days to your holiday as there really is an awful lot to see spread over the vast Californian countryside.
The City of London put on a spectacular show as the Olympic Games arrived in the summer of last year. But regular visitors to London will be glad to see the city get back to normal following a hectic few years preparing for the big event. The Olympic legacy can now be enjoyed as a rejuvenated city is ready to be rediscovered, with several regenerated areas in east London now added to the already endless list of attractions on offer. London is basically a city full of small, pretty towns, so why not explore some outside the city centre on your next trip to the English capital? The ever-popular Portobello region in west London never fails to impress, while Camden Town to the north of the city, Greenwich in the south-east and the many scenic spots along the Thames will always provide a great day out.