7 Cultural Capitals Set to Shine in 2014

by , SmarterTravel Staff
(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on December 1, 2013. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Cardiff, Caroline Costello, Colima, destination, Port Harcourt, Riga, Sharjah, Umea.

(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

A new crew of cultural capitals is stepping into the global spotlight. Up-and-coming cities and regions across the continents—from Africa to Europe to Asia—have won prestigious capital of culture nods, which honor a local commitment to design, heritage, literacy, or even sports. Happily, travelers win too. Anyone visiting reigning capitals of culture this year can expect an exciting time, to put it mildly, as locals celebrate their accolades with commemorative gatherings and once-in-a-lifetime events.


Umea, Sweden

Umea snagged the European Capital of Culture distinction (along with Riga) for 2014; this subarctic city, which was founded in the 17th century, is a fast-growing urban hub where a new cultural visitors' center, a new pedestrian subway, and major airport renovations are reshaping the burgeoning locale. Through all this growth, city planners are placing a strong emphasis on cultural preservation and the arts.

Planning a trip? Go during summer, when daylight lasts for nearly 24 hours at the peak of the season, to bask in the midnight sun. Or plan a winter trip and catch a glimpse of the spectacular northern lights.

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