17 to Visit in 2017
From the dramatic vistas of the Canadian Rockies to the secret gems of Europe, these incredible trips provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Read on for our roundup of the best travel experiences for 2017.
by Tessa Marson
1. BANFF, ALBERTA
Home to a seemingly unending procession of majestic mountains, Canada’s first National Park is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. Scattered between the snow-capped peaks are glorious waterfalls, forests, valleys, meadows and bluest lakes found on the planet. Take a drive through this beautiful park and keep your eye out for large mammals such as deer and elk, which can be seen year-round from the roadside.
Lake Lousie, the “Gem of the Rockies” features captivating scenery, incredible day hikes, an attractive town, and – at the center of it all – an awe-inspiring turquoise-tinted lake. Beyond the shimmering lakeshore, you’ll find an acclaimed ski resort. Get a bird’s eye view by taking a ride on the famous Lake Louise gondola, and watch out for grizzly bears below.
With some of the world’s most spectacular mountains at your doorstep, the resort town of Banff is the perfect base for your Canadian Rockies adventure. Relax in the nearby hot springs as you watch snowflakes swirl around you, or gaze up at the stars on a cool summer’s evening.
2. COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
With its emphasis on coziness and camaraderie, Copenhagen is constantly ranked as the happiest city in the world. Visit the beautiful town centre, where pedestrians set the pace, not traffic. Two wheeling 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.
3. MADRID, SPAIN
The vibrant capital of Spain is known for its world-class art collection, buzzing café society and unsurpassed tapas scene. Spend the morning at the Prado art museum, taking in the masterpieces by Valazquez, Goya and Greco. Afterwards, make your way to the beautifully manicured Retiro Park, and enjoy a well-earned shady siesta.
4. THE CANADIAN MARITIMES
With a weathered coastline measuring 7500 km long, it’s no wonder Nova Scotia’s slogan is “Canada’s ocean playground”. Don’t miss beautiful Peggy’s Cove, and its historic lighthouse overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Journey along its rugged coastline and take in the fresh salt air, unspoiled nature and rich seafaring history of this amazing region.
PEI is a land of rich, red earth, gently rolling farmland and neat villages of Victorian homes. Here fish and lobster are still sold off fishing boats, doors remain unlocked and everyone seems to know everyone else. It has earned a well-deserved reputation for cuisine; the island is home to organic farms, mussels, fine oysters, and artisan producers of all kinds.
In New Brunswick, travel along the sea-sprayed shoreline to the amazing Hopewell Rocks. A provincial icon, these flowerpot-shaped rocks carved by the Fundy tides seem to rise four stories high at low tide only to disappear into tiny islands when the tide is high. Savour a traditional Maritimes lobster feast as you look out upon Daniels Flats.
5. STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
Situated on the Baltic Sea, this cultural, political and economic capital is an elegant metropolis. Despite being spread across 14 islands, the city is connected by more than 50 bridges, making it easy to explore. Wander the narrow alleyways and cobblestone streets the old town, Gamla Stan, to discover hidden courtyards, art galleries, and tucked away bohemian cafés.
6. SORRENTO, ITALY
Stretching along the southern edge of the Sorrentine Peninsula, the Amalfi Coast boasts a glittering string of towns set high into sheer cliffs. The rugged shoreline overlooks fishing boats gently bobbing in the harbour as tourists mull around the sunbaked beach. This area is a haven for artistic souls and intellectuals, as well as anyone looking for a relaxing Italian getaway. Perched between mountains and the Mediterranean, the spectacular setting of Sorrento adds to the allure of this attractive resort town. Terraces and villas weave their way around vineyards and lemon and orange groves that overlook azure waters. Be sure to peruse the quaint cafés and shops, as you marvel at the town’s beautiful architecture.
7. BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
Situated at the crossroads of the continent, Hungary is Europe at its most exotic . Split by the Danube River into historic Buda and cosmopolitan Pest, Budapest is the intersection of Old World charm with New World sophistication. Take a trip down the river for the most splendid vistas, including the imposing Buda Palace. Join the locals in one of the hot springs, to rejuvenate and catch up on the daily gossip.
8. BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA
From soaring Andean summits to sun-drenched Caribbean sands, cobbled colonial communities to an emerald-green jungle, its little wonder that visitors flock to Colombia. The varied terrain is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, who will find a landscape made just for climbing, diving, rafting, trekking and soaring. Cosmopolitan meets colonial in the bustling cradle of Bogotá, Colombia. The city the country’s beating heart, boasting a raucous nightlife, busy commercial centre, and vibrant cultural scene. Make your way through a cacophony of cafés, food stalls, boutiques and flower shops in the city’s historic market centre.
9. BORDEAUX, FRANCE
Home to one of the most coveted wine blends in the world; Bordeaux is synonymous with vineyards, lush countryside and quaint towns. As the largest wine-growing region in France, oenophiles will fall in love with what the locals call “la douceur de vivre” (the sweetness of living). The commercial and cultural center of southwest France is located in one of the world’s finest growing wine areas. Though the city owes is regal elegance to its 18th-century wine merchants, these days Bordeaux is burgeoning; it’s been voted one of the top three French cities for young people to live in.
10. BELGRADE, SERBIA
This country of pulsating energy is compact enough for visitors to sample both urban hedonism and the gentler pace of the smaller towns within a few days. Serbia’s often fraught history has left a treasure trove of archeological and architectural wonders. The many cultures to dominate the region—Romans, Slavs, Bulgarians, Byzantines, Ottomans, and Austrians—have left their mark in castles, towers, monasteries, bridges, and mosaics. Drift down the Danube through the beautiful Iron Gates gorge and forget what you thought you knew about Serbia. This warm and welcoming country is sure to enchant and delight with millennia old sights, picturesque villages and a thumping nightlife. Perhaps more than anywhere in the Balkans, Belgrade likes to party. A seemingly endless supply of clubs and bars line the picturesque streets of this hectic, hedonistic metropolis. Marvel at the architecture and famous landmarks, witnesses of the city’s time under the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian rule.
11. MARRAKESH, MOROCCO
From vibrant and bustling medinas to the sparse but breathtaking desert, Morocco is one of the most diverse countries in Africa. No visit is complete without bargaining in the souks, trekking through the Sahara, exploring the Medina, and sweating in the hammam. This dazzling combination of Arab, European and African influences combine to make Morocco an intense and intoxicating experience. Called the Red City because of the distinctly ochre pigment that bedecks the walls and buildings of the metropolis, Marrakesh is at once vibrant, exotic and exhilarating. Lose yourself in the bazaars of the souk, where Berber tribes once traded slaves, gold, ivory and leather, and modern tourists scour for carpet bargains and other treasures.
12. EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND
Edinburgh is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, strikingly perched on a series of volcanoes and rocky crags overlooking the sea. Wander through the Old Town’s medieval tenements along the Royal Mile, before visiting it’s iconic hilltop castle. Visitors will discover more than just tartan and whiskey; this is a land with a rich history, ready to be uncovered.
13. MAUI, HAWAII
From ﬁery volcanoes to palm-fringed beaches, technicolour coral reefs to emerald-green jungles, it’s little wonder that visitors ﬂock to Hawaii. The varied terrain is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, who will find a landscape made just for climbing, diving, rafting, trekking and soaring. Often hailed as one of the world’s most beautiful islands, Maui is a paradise with miles of perfect beaches, verdant valleys and historic villages. Reflected in the wide range of food and traditional activities, the island is home to rich culture and stunning ethnic diversity. Visitors can windsurf, whale-watch, sail, and snorkel above reefs teeming with turtles and schools of tropical fish.
14. OTAGO, NEW ZEALAND
From craggy coastlines and snow-capped mountains, to steaming volcanoes and undulating countryside, New Zealand is often hailed as one of the most stunning and majestic countries in the world. Visitors will find a fantastical landscape offering boundless diversions and adrenaline-charged activities. With its peaceful atmosphere and world-class surfing, New Zealand is the ultimate escape. Its lands are shaped by rivers and lakes, while mountain peaks dominate its skyline. The Otago region is home to some of New Zealand’s most visually appealing multi-day hikes. Try your hand at the famous Routeburn Track and take in the breathtaking scenery. Dunedin, with its vibrant student culture and arts scene, is the perfect base to explore the wildlife-rich Peninsula, where you can easily spot albatross, penguins, fur seals and sea lions.
15. BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH DAKOTA
Gently rolling prairies, rugged badlands and steep-sided canyons are what this attractive state is known for. Here the fishing, hiking, and camping are unparalleled. The unmatched beauty and free-roaming wildlife make for an unforgettable road trip. Visiting Badlands National Park is like vacationing on another planet. The 244,000 acres of colourful spires and pinnacles that dot the landscape are truly outof- this-world. The park preserves the world’s greatest fossil beds; the skeletons of ancient camels, threetoed horses and sabre-toothed tigers are among the countless species to have been discovered there. Known for its scenic beauty, historic sites, fishing lakes and campgrounds, Custer State Park offers the perfect summer road trip. This world famous wildlife destination is home to one of the largest free-roaming herds of American buffalo. Keep your eye out for big horn sheep, elk, pronghorn and burros, which can also be found roaming the prairies and hills of the park.
16. ZERMATT, SWITZERLAND
This mountainous Central European country is an outdoor playground for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. Rolling hills, clear lakes and lush forests define Switzerland as much as its sophisticated cities like Zurich or Geneva do. Famous for its cheese and chocolate, indulge in raclette and truffles after a day spent perusing posh boutiques along cobblestone streets. At the foot of the Matterhorn, Zermatt is home to some of the glitziest resorts in Switzerland, where celebrities and royals alike swish down the well-kept pistes. Board Europe’s highest cable car to enjoy the spectacular views of this winter wonderland.
17. CANCUN, MEXICO
Mexico offers enough splashy resorts, seaside fun and piña coladas to fulﬁll anyone’s sunny dreams. But travellers who dig a bit deeper will discover a melange of Mesoamerican cultures and modern indigenous tribes, Spanish traditions and abundant up-to-the minute style. Mexico’s landscapes are just as diverse, from ancient archaeological sites and colonial-era cities to shimmering blue coastlines and iconic cactus-strewn deserts. With its glitzy hotels, white-sand beaches, shimmering turquoise waters and unabashed wild side, Cancun is a town that knows how to have fun. Escape the city and visit the nearby National Park of Isla Contoy which boasts a fascinating variety of bird and plant species. Just off the coast, tour operators offer the bucket list experience of snorkelling with the world’s largest fish, the whale shark.