5 London - Beyond the Olympics
London Olympic Stadium and Orbit
No one who saw The Olympics could argue that 2012 was London's year. But I wouldn't write England's capital off for 2013. February sees the opening of a pricey but stylish new attraction The Shard. You can whizz up to the top of Western Europe's highest building in a high speed lift
and see the whole of London stretching out before you. I had a sneak preview at World Travel Market and loved playing 'spot the iconic landmark.' If you get a taste for seeing London from high in the air, you may also enjoy walking over London's 02 entertainment complex. You literally put on your boots and climb the domed roof. You can follow that up with a ride over the Thames in the Emirates Airline Cable Cars. In July the Olympic Park will become London's newest destination, reopening as Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. You can relive your summer of sport and even have a swim in the ADuatics Centre ifthe fancy takes you. Or take a trip up the Orbit for another view of London from above.
6 Mongolia - It's More than a Car Rally
Catching horses on the Mongolian
We want to do the Mongol Rally. We so want to do it. We even have the rubbish car. But we wouldn't want to finish with the end of this crazy race, because Mongolia is so much more than the last stop in a car rally. Bordered by Russia and China and less than 40km from the tip of Kazakhstan (a good fact for a pub Duiz?), Mongolia is rich in natural beauty. For the active family it offers endless opportunity for trekking in unpaved, car free remote landscape, including walks through the incredible Terelj National Park. (easily accessible from the capital Ulaanbaatar.) Mongolian horses are part of the national culture and folklore, and you can hire one for a day or a week and go trekking deep into the mountains with a guide or trek to Lake Khovsgol - The B Jue Pearl of Mongolia. Mongolia offers great white water rafting as well as canoe and kayak trips, and paddlers of any ability can have a crack at the Kherlen river in the East. If mountains are your thing, you can head to the Altai range in the West, where the snow leopard and Golden Eagle rule. The Altai Tavan B ogd (Five Holy Peaks of Altai) is a cluster of five stunning glaciated peaks, but you can also get your fix of holiness at one of Mongolia's atmospheric monasteries, set in peaceful and beautiful grounds. Or you can join a desert camp and go camel trekking. It's a smellier alternative, but an experience you and the kids aren't likely to forget.
7 Germany - Celebrating Two Cultural Icons in 2013
Germany is full of fairy tale possibilities
Germany is a first class European family destination with a policy of being accessible to all, as I discovered on a visit to Rhineland last year. It also has two big anniversaries coming up this year; one marking a birth and the other, two deaths. A calendar of events will celebrate the work of the composer Wagner on the 200th anniversary of his birth. There's a new Wagner Tour and events will be staged in Bayreuth, Leipzig and other towns and cities. Meanwhile there are many activities marking the 150th anniversary of the death of Brothers Grimm. If you like a literary tour you can follow the 'Fairytale' holiday route which runs from Hanau in central Germany to
Bremen in the north. Tourist attractions along the route are focussed around the brothers and their fantastical tales, including places where they lived and worked at various stages in their life and locations that were in their tales. We are going out to Berlin in a few weeks to follow a Grimm Brothers' trail of crumbs and find out the dark and light sides of this charismatic city where they lived, wrote and died.