9 of the best new flight routes to test run this year

David Whitley
Alamy Stock Photo

Prague passé? New York old news? Get ready for 2018’s new route hotspots — nine new services take off this year from the capital’s airports.

We've rounded up the best of the new flight routes to add to your travel itinerary this year. Whether it be to Ukraine, Perth or Nashville these direct flights will set your wanderlust hearts fluttering.

Perth, Australia

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Start date: March 25

Airline: Qantas from Heathrow

The first direct flights between the UK and Oz head to the capital of Western Australia. Major projects have brought Melbourne-style laneway bars to the city centre, while sister city Fremantle combines café culture and 19th-century port heritage architecture.

Margaret River, to the south of the city, is world-class for both surfing and wine tourism but boat trips to Rottnest Island for quokkas (think cat-sized kangaroos) and Penguin Island for dolphins, sea lions and, obviously, penguins are highlights.

Go for: cute critter snaps.

When to go: September to May.

Nashville, USA

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Start date: May 4

Airline: British Airways from Heathrow

The country music capital of the world has a predictably phenomenal live music scene. It’s not all twanging guitars and honky-tonks either — plenty of rock acts now record at

RCA Studio B, where the likes of Elvis and Roy Orbison laid tracks.

In recent years there has been a blitz of museum openings, including ones devoted to Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline. The new Tennessee State Museum should follow in the autumn.

Go for: music past and present.

When to go: summer sizzles with outdoor gigs.

Rimini, Italy

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Start date: March 27

Airline: Ryanair from Stansted

There are Roman ruins, a cathedral that was transformed into what

looks like a proto Taj Mahal by a besotted city ruler in the 1400s, and a museum devoted to local boy turned cinematic legend Federico Fellini. But let’s not pretend that anyone’s here for this — Rimini is arguably the classic Italian beach resort.

Not that you can expect Marcello Mastroianni here. Marvel at the number of sunbeds crammed in the sands, then pile into the superclubs at night — this is a party place.

Go for: people-watching.

When to go: forget packed July and August — try September or October.

Kristiansand, Norway

Start date: August 13

Airline: Widerøe from Stansted

In the country’s far south, Kristiansand hardly lives up to Norway’s image of dramatic fjords. But it is very pretty, and there are, by Norwegian standards, some passable beaches.

The archipelago surrounding Kristiansand makes its appeal — a host of boat tours head out around the islands. Some of these are more leisurely affairs, with hop-offs to mooch around the wooden summer houses, while others are more high- octane speed-and-stunts affairs.

Go for: messing around on boats.

When to go: August for warmest temperatures.

Lviv, Ukraine

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Start date: May 1

Airline: Wizz Air from Luton

Not far over the Polish border, Lviv has the potential to become the “new Krakow”. It’s Ukraine at its most friendly, most European and least Soviet. It’s also marvellously good-looking with pimped-up cathedrals of almost every conceivable variety, from Dominican to Armenian. There’s also one of the world’s great main squares, and an unashamedly louche café culture. On the serious side there’s plenty of Second World War history, with tours of the former Jewish sites being eye-openers.

Go for: ancient architecture.

When to go: summer for seemingly non-stop festivals.

Mahé, Seychelles

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Start: March 24

Airline: British Airways from Heathrow

Cashed-up honeymooners, rejoice — the Seychelles are the archetypal white-sand beaches and luxury spa resorts destination.

But those feeling a little more adventurous can stay in guesthouses, visit a tea plantation and hop between the islands on ferries. Praslin has the World Heritage-listed Vallée de Mai ancient forest, full of rare flora and fauna, while chilled-out La Digue is perhaps the most loveable all-rounder. It’s home to great snorkelling and giant tortoises.

Go for: beachside romance.

When to go: April and May are between the tradewind seasons, and thus great for snorkelling.

Ankara, Turkey

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Start date: June 17

Airline: SunExpress from Luton

It’s more serious and less cosmopolitan than Istanbul, yet the Turkish capital has a young energy about it — especially in the restaurant-rammed Kavaklıdere neighbourhood.

Otherwise it’s mostly museums and monuments. The Museum of Anatolian Civilisations does an excellent job of telling Turkey’s complex history, while for sheer pomposity, Ataturk’s mausoleum is hard to top. The well-preserved 9th- century citadel, inset far left, is impressive too.

Go for: worthy sightseeing.

When to go: September to October to avoid the furious summer heat.

Gaziantep, Turkey

Start date: June 20

Airline: SunExpress from Luton

Pack elasticated trousers for this one — Gaziantep is happily notorious for its food. It’s surrounded by one of the world’s biggest pistachio-growing regions, which makes for sensational baklava, while spicy kebabs and delightfully garlicky lahmacun are also treated with reverence.

Culturally, the Castle Museum is a decent bet for the last days of the Ottoman Empire but the Zeugma Mosaic Museum — the biggest museum of mosaics on the planet — is the star. Otherwise, Gaziantep is great for discovering the Göbekli Tepe (Turkish for Potbelly Hill) Neolithic archaeological site to the west.

Go for: food.

When to go: same as Ankara — early autumn is perfect.

Volos, Greece

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Start date: June 27

Airline: easyJet from Gatwick

Volos itself is endearing rather than a must-see — students keep it lively, and the archaeological and brickworks museums are decent time-passers. It’s also notorious for its tsipouradikos — taverns serving tsipouro, basically ouzo but even more potent.

But the real reason to fly here is to go to Pelion, pictured left, and its forested peninsula, sitting on the doorstep. There are a few beach resorts in the north-east — Damouchari featured heavily in Mamma Mia! and is great for sea kayaking. But it’s best suited to hikers, who have a series of blissful trails through mountains and olive groves to tackle. Pilion Walks (pilionwalks.com) faithfully plots out the best routes.

Go for: hiking off hangovers.

When to go: summer (it’s a summer-only route).

Best of the rest

Other key launches are expanding departure airport options. Perhaps the biggest is Emirates launching from Stansted to Dubai (and beyond) on June 8, while new entrant Primera is also setting up a Stansted base in the spring with direct flights to Toronto, Boston and New York (Newark).

From City airport, TAP Portugal is launching a direct route to Porto on March 25, while the pick of the new Gatwick flights are probably TUI’s to Podgorica in Montenegro and Norwegian’s ambitious low-cost route to Buenos Aires. Always factor in the add-ons like baggage.