Ah, the beginning of the New Year and one of the favourite times for travel writers worldwide. This is the season when we can opinionate on the best places in the world to visit in the coming year.
Of course, it doesn’t make any diiference – few travellers are likely to say “No, I’ll skip Paris this year as it’s not trending well”. Rather, we have a chance to reminisce about where we’ve been, wish about where we’d like to go, and guess or extrapolate from what’s happening where.
At least, that’s what all the other travel writers do. Here at WYZA we have our finger on the pulse and here’s the definitive list of 25 places (in alphabetical order) that should be on your travel plans for 2017.
This tiny British Territory is just two hours east of New York by air and combines history with scenery. In June it hosts the America’s Cup. A flower in the Botanic Gardens gave John Lennon the name for his last album: Double Fantasy.
Image: Facebook / Bermuda Tourism
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is just one reason the whole of Canada is so popular right now. From Vancouver Island to the Rocky Mountains, the cross-culture of Quebec and the wild Maritimes province, there’s a lot to explore.
New flights from Santiago to Puerto Natales by LATAM (previously Lan Chile) make Torres del Paine National Park much more accessible. The beauty remains constant.
Cape Town, South Africa
The heart of hipster culture in Africa, Cape Town has the great backdrop of Table Mountain – and exotic African wildlife isn’t far away.
The floodgates are opening and tourists are flooding in but, so far, post-Fidel Cuba has retained its unique charm and culture, especially if you venture outside Havana.
If you wish to experience a really different part of the world, visit Ethiopia, which has its own calendar and form of writing. North of Kenya, it is the source of the Blue Nile and has some amazing places to see.
Image: Facebook / Travel Ethiopia
December 6, 2017 marks 100 years of Finnish independence, so a lot of events are planned throughout the year. Finnair is encouraging Australians to fly through Finland to Europe and its Business Class is both excellent and affordable.
If you haven’t been to Hawaii since Don Ho was around, be prepared to be surprised. The food scene is booming with a fusion of Asian, western and Polynesian influences, Waikiki Beach is gleaming and the shopping is better than ever. The aloha hospitality begins with Hawaiian Airlines ex Sydney and Brisbane.
Interest in travel to Iceland has never been higher. It’s not just for the remarkable scenery and the otherworldly volcanic landscape but also the incredible Icelandic people who love to party.
This intriguing nation has always been best explored by train and now there’s a new bullet train: Hokuriku Shinkansen to Kanazawa on the Sea of Japan. In June the Twilight Express Mizukaze from Kyoto south to Shimonoseki will rival the service standard of the legendary Orient-Express.
There’s a lot more to Madagascar than lemurs, but do you need more? Changes to the climate and environment suggest that you should not wait too long to visit. There are new direct flights from Johannesburg, too.
While always fascinating, Mongolia hasn’t been an easy country to travel to or around. This year Ulaan Baatar will open a new state-of-the-art airport. There are even paved roads out to Mandalgovi to the south and Lake Khövsgöl in the northeast now.
The staple destination of North Africa – there’s more to Morocco than Marrakesh, although it remains a highlight. The markets, the desert and the people keep the allure strong.
Well and truly ‘discovered’ now, Myanmar is now ready for second and third visits beyond the Mandalay-Yangon axis. The people are among the world’s most hospitable and Shwe Dagon pagoda is a wonder of the world.
Recovering from the 2015 earthquake, Nepal welcomes visitors with open arms. From Mt Everest down it has the world’s most spectacular scenery.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Botswana’s Garden of Eden offers some of the richest wildlife viewing imaginable – and in unexpected comfort at exceptional safari lodges.
The newly expanded Panama Canal opened in June 2016 greatly increasing the range of vessels, including cruise ships, that can use it. The engineering, the jungle and cities along the cruise route make this a great trip.
Our close neighbour continues to draw in many Australian visitors and Queenstown exemplifies why. Whether winter or summer, the list of activities in this perfectly scenic destination provides endless enjoyment.
India is developing rapidly but the timeless grandeur of Rajasthan – from Jaipur (the “Pink City”) to the Great Thar Desert – is inspiring. It’s a kaleidoscope of colour and you can stay in grand palaces.
Whether crossing much of the globe on the Trans-Siberian Railway or simply exploring the cultural wonders of St Petersburg or Moscow, Russia is wonderful. Go this year as the FIFA World Cup is on there in 2018.
Can a fellow primate be a destination? Half of the mountain gorillas left in the wilds of East Africa live in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. Rwanda is also the safest mountain gorilla viewing destination.
Maybe it was James Bond and Skyfall or perhaps it was Glasgow’s Charles Rennie Macintosh but there’s definitely a lot of interest in visiting Scotland at present. 2017 is Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archeology.
The number of visitors to the Solomon Islands continues to rise as more people discover the spirit of Pacific culture in what is still a relatively unsophisticated form.
Image: Facebook / Visit Solomon Islands
At the end of 2016 the longest train tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel between Milan and Zurich opened. It’s 57km long. But take the time to explore Switzerland by train and on foot – there’s more than cheese and chocolate.
Image: Facebook / MySwitzerlandAUS
Victoria Falls is well worth exploring and you have the choice of staying in Zimbabwe or in Livingstone on the Zambian side. The Zambezi River and the falls can be just the prelude to scenery, wildlife and cultures of Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Where are you planning to travel to this year?
(Feature image: Facebook / Visit Solomon Islands)