It’s a new year, and that means new opportunities for travel around the world. While some vacations are almost timeless—relaxing on the beach, taking a cruise, or touring the City of Lights—there are always new destinations that should receive your consideration. From novel ways to explore familiar destinations to hidden gems that are more accessible than ever before, here are our five travel recommendations for 2017.
Don’t let recent security concerns stop you if you want to visit France, one of the world’s most prestigious cultural capitals. However, if you want to bypass Paris or the French Riviera for any reason, this year you are in luck: we would recommend the central city of Lyon and the newfound wine region of Jura in Franche-Comté. Lyon is the third largest city in France but is often forgotten in favor or Paris or Marseilles; visit Lyon for fantastic food and the historical Old City. To the north on the border with Switzerland is the isolated and little-known region of the Franche-Comté. Daring gourmands and wine enthusiasts are in for a stunning surprise due to the combination of striking mountain scenery, exquisite cuisine, and unique wines.
Chile and Peru
Isolated behind the forbidding Andes Mountains and often ignored for more tropical destinations on the other side of the continent, travelers should reconsider Chile and Peru in 2017. Chile has a growing international reputation for wine, and tourists can treat themselves to the “Chile Wine Trail” in the Maipo Valley, Colchagua Valley, Casablanca Valley, and Aconcagua Valley. Bohemian adventurers will love the quirky and colorful city of Valparaiso, complete with colorful houses and the former home of famed poet Pablo Neruda. In neighboring Peru, famous mountain trails offer unparallel views and the magnificent ruins of the Inca Empire. But most people don’t know that the capital city of Lima is now home to three of the best restaurants in the world (Central, Maido, and Astrid y Gaston) that are only the highlights of a delightful culinary and cultural scene. This year don’t think Rio—think Lima and Santiago.
The growing popularity of the Camino de Santiago means that now is the time for interested travelers to take the first step on a journey of 500 miles. Spain is always a popular destination for tourists, but the Camino de Santiago connects travelers to the traditional culture and spiritual power of Spain in a whole new way. The traditional pilgrimage route starts in Oviedo in northeastern Spain (where it joins other routes leading from France and England) and ends in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, housing a shrine that contains the remains of St. James the Apostle. Travelers should follow the route on foot (exploring the region on the way) in search or spiritual growth and renewal in a time of growing uncertainty.
Canada has a multitude of opportunities for travelers in 2017. Not only does the current exchange rate make travel and accommodations cheaper, but the country is also one of the safest and friendliest destinations in the world. Tourists might want to take a second look at Ottawa during a year of celebrations in honor of the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. At the same time, Montreal is turning 375—most of them as a cultural and musical hotspot. If you want to take a step off the beaten path, we would recommend kayaking in Haida Gwaii, hiking in the Rocky Mountains, and exploring the charming seashore of Nova Scotia.
Cambodia and Laos
Thailand has received the bulk of eager tourists in Southeast Asia, but Cambodia and Laos now offer excellent alternatives to the crowded beaches of Phuket and Koh Samui. For the first time in 2017, there are now direct flights from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to Sihanoukville in Cambodia. Isolated and craggy bays, beautiful beaches, aquamarine waters—the narrow coastline of Cambodia, squeezed between Thailand and Vietnam, remains largely unspoiled by large numbers of tourists. Next door in landlocked (and overlooked) Laos, a surge of international interest has seen new hotels and accommodations opening around the capital, Vientiane. The charming city combines French-inspired cuisine and architecture with stunning Buddhist temples and monuments. In 2017, skip the crowded beaches and take a trip to Sihanoukville and Vientiane.
Avoid the beaten path and follow new roads to new destinations—it’s a new year full of awesome escapes.