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New openings and urban reinventions are bringing these cities to the world’s attention


WHY NOW? The liveliest city in the northwestern United States is set to be more accessible this year, with Virgin Atlantic launching direct flights from London Heathrow. As fate would have it, now’s a great time to land in Seattle, with an abundance of new openings and high profile events coming up.

The retro-futuristic Space Needle and the distant, snowcapped Mount Rainier are the manmade and natural standouts on the Seattle horizon

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT? Seattle combines a sublime location on Elliott Bay, with snowcapped Mount Rainier rising in the background, and a social and cultural scene that rarely stays still for long.

WHAT SHOULDN’T I MISS? Once you’ve had the chance to stretch your limbs after the nine-hour flight, head to the Museum of Flight where a newly opened hangar houses a line-up of historic aircraft – from a former Air Force One, to the first-ever jumbo jet, manufactured of course, in Seattle (£18; Another trusted export is the city’s music – heritage celebrated at the inaugural Upstream festival this month, set to return in May next year (tickets from £30; This sees bands from across Washington State performing amidst the 19th -century red-brick architecture of Pioneer Square. Overlooking the neighbourhood is the Smith Tower, the city’s oldest skyscraper, where you can skip bands you’re not so keen on by holing up in the Prohibition-inspired speakeasy bar (cocktails from £10; From these giddy heights, you might just spot Pike Place Market to the north. This is the city’s century-old produce market, set to reopen this summer following extensive renovation, with new stalls, art installations and a smart new viewing deck where you can eat your lunch looking across the waters of Puget Sound (

HOW DO I GET THERE? BA and Virgin Atlantic fly direct to Seattle-Tacoma airport from Heathrow (from £479;


WHY NOW? Gold was struck here in 1886, and now South Africa’s biggest city is experiencing another boom as it sheds legacies of apartheid division and urban decay. Beyond the more prosperous areas like Rosebank, home to the growing Keyes Art Mile, fringe districts such as Maboneng are transforming themselves with new bars, shops, cafés and gallery openings. Even the inner city is ridding itself of its no -go reputation of the ’90s to become a fitting heart for Johannesburg (aka Jo’burg or Jozi).

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT? Though it can’t match Cape Town’s natural setting and architectural appeal, Jo’burg has the edge when it comes to energy – not just as South Africa’s business capital, but with its mix of incomers from all over the country and beyond. Among the office blocks and flyovers you’ll find plenty of Art Deco buildings and heritage architecture, and the wildlife parks surrounding the metropolis make up for what Jo’burg lacks in beaches and mountain backdrops.

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