Lonely Planet names top 10 cities for 2012

Earlier this week popular travel guide publisher Lonely Planet announced their selections for the top 10 cities to visit in 2012, with a few obvious choices making the list. For example, London, which will host the 2012 Olympic Games, was unsurprisingly given a nod, while Hong Kong and Orlando, two perennially popular destinations, earned the distinction as well. Other cities making their way into the Lonely Planet spotlight include Santiago, Chile; Muscat, Oman; and Cádiz, Spain, each of which is lauded for their cosmopolitan flair, cultural diversions, and vibrant nightlife.

Adventure travelers looking for a great base of operations will want to take particular note of the inclusion of Darwin, Australia on the LP list. Located in that country’s Northern Territory, the city of 125,000 is praised for its buzzing art scene, great cuisine, and laid back atmosphere. What was once a remote frontier town has grown into a fantastic urban destination that remains below the radar for many travelers. At least for now.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find a lot to love in Darwin and the Northern Territory in general. The place is well known for its fantastic fishing, with anglers visiting from around the globe to try their hand at landing the famed barramundi. Near by Litchfield National Park offers fantastic hiking and camping, not to mention some of the most amazing waterfalls and freshwater pools around, while a visit to the Tiwi Islands immerses travelers in Aboriginal culture. Other featured activities include sailing, backpacking, and swimming, with plenty of great outdoor destinations available to indulge the whims of even the most adventurous travelers.

And once they’ve finished exploring the Northern Territory’s wild side, visitors can return to Darwin and take a stroll through an art museum or wander the popular Mindil Beach Sunset Market. Afterwards they can sit waterside and enjoy a world-class meal, complete with fresh seafood and smooth wines, before taking in the city’s eclectic nightlife or retiring to a comfortable hotel for the evening. Who says that adventure travel doesn’t allow you to spoil yourself too?

Joining Darwin, and the other cities already mentioned, on the Lonely Planet list are Bangalore, India; Stockholm, Sweden; and Guimarães, Portugal. To view the complete list and read why the cities were chosen, click here.

[Photo courtesy Tourism NT]