Top 16 Cities to Visit in 2016

by Tessa Marson

We’re passionate about travel here at CAA North & East Ontario and it shows in all of the places we’ve been lucky enough to visit.  Since our team of travel-savvy professionals have logged more air miles than most, we thought we’d put our heads together to come up with a short list of the best places to see in 2016.  From the dramatic vistas of Scandinavia to the secret gems of Europe, these incredible destinations are truly one of a kind.  Read on for our roundup of the best travel experiences this year.

1. Reykajavik, Iceland

Home to half of the country’s population, this cosmopolitan capital is a colourful site of houses painted in light colours, topped with vibrant roofs. Explore the city by bicycle or hike one of the numerous trails that lead to magnificent views of the surrounding mountains. Join the locals for a soak in the famed Blue Lagoon, a natural geothermal pool set in a large, dramatic lava field. Day trips can be taken from the city to the surrounding mountains, glaciers, volcanoes and hot springs.

2. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Hemmed by densely-forested hills, the National Park in mainland Croatia is home to an incredible ribbon of lakes and more than 90 gushing waterfalls.  Boardwalks snake past the moss covered travertine, allowing you to step into this bewitching water-world.

3. Flam, Norway

The little village of Flam is surrounded by unique vistas that make it an absolute must-see: roaring waterfalls, deep valleys and mountainsides that rise improbably from the water.  Take a ride on the legendary Flam Railway for awe-inspiring views of the area.

4. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long has been given a fitting moniker, a name that, when translated, means “where the dragon descends into the sea.” Here, thousands of limestone peaks rise dramatically from the emerald waters. It’s a breathtaking view, one perfect for photo ops. Spend a night on a traditional junk boat and marvel at these intense outcrops in the early morning mist.

5. Prague, Czech Republic

Built on nine hills along the Vltava River, Prague is one of Europe’s best-preserved cities.  Wander through the Staré Město (Old Town) and get lost in its maze of cobblestone lanes and hidden passageways.  Peruse the old market square and watch the setting sun glint off church domes.

6. Barcelona, Spain

This cosmopolitan seaside city is famous of its art nouveau architecture, bohemian bars and unabashed wild side. Stroll the cobblestone lanes of the Gothic Quarter, stop in the designer shops and cheer on the country’s national pride, FC Barcelona.

7. Positano, Italy

Carved into the high craggy cliffs, this jewel of the Amalfi coast overlooks blue and white fishing boats gently bobbing in the harbour, colourful parasols that dot the sand and beach-clad tourists mulling around the pastel-painted town. Positano is a haven for artistic souls and intellectuals, as well as anyone looking for a relaxing Italian getaway.

8. Interlaken, Switzerland

In the shadows of the Jungfrau Mountain, nestled between the glittering lakes of Thun and Breinz, lies the quaint town of Interlaken. Adrenalin seekers flock here for the vast array of offered activities, including bucket-list thrillers like hang-gliding and skydiving.

9. Siem Reap, Cambodia

This city is the gateway to the ancient Khmer empire and the world’s most famous temples. Here, intricate towers stand high above the surrounding jungle. Don’t miss the floating villages that dot Tonlé Sap, a massive freshwater lake. Explore the Archaeological Park at sunrise and take in Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious sculpture. You may also want to hire a tuk-tuk to get around the city easily and explore its many corners.

10. Lagos, Portugal

This area is home to idyllic grottoes, fascinating rock formations and wide golden beaches. Hidden between the rocky outcrops, quiet coves make for a relaxing escape from the sun, sand and surf.

11. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Along the myriad of canals houses slant at impossible angles and houseboats gently bob. While notorious for its red light haunts and coffee shops, Amsterdam is so much more than the illicit playground it is made out to be. Wander through the old centre and the “Grachtengordel” (canal ring) to discover hidden courtyards, secret gardens, and tucked away bohemian cafes. Cycling here is a ways of life; take a cue from the locals and rent bicycles to explore this ethereal city buzzing with bonhomie and originality.

12. Tulum, Mexico

Swim in the shadows of ancient Mayan ruins when you visit this bohemian beach paradise. While Tulum has seen a surge in popularity of late, it still maintains a relaxing atmosphere.

13. Vienna, Austria

The city is attractive, elegant and full of romantic grandeur. It is one of the most musical in the world, nourishing the likes of Beethoven, Strauss and Mozart. Spend an afternoon enjoying the cities signature creamy coffee and cake, and listen as the angelic notes of a choir drift across the courtyard.

14. St-Émilion, France

This delightful hilltop town presides over one of the region’s richest wine districts.  Wander through the cobblestone streets and visit the many bakeries, restaurants and—of course—wine stores. Quench your thirst for a glass of the red stuff beneath 13th century cloister ruins.

15. Grand Anse, Seychelles

Framed by gigantic pink granite boulders and perfectly positioned palms, this is truly a laid-back tropical paradise. The island is encircled by a reef, which keeps the water calm and excellent for snorkelling adventures.

16. Berlin, Germany

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, this city of glamour and grit has become a multicultural, creative hub.  The key areas of the city are delightfully compact, making it easy to get around on foot, bike or public transportation. Visitors flock to this metropolis for the shopping, entertainment and nightlife.