Top 10 destinations for 2017
For the ninth year, we have captured what's hot on the travel scene. This year we have a lot of well estabilised tourist destinations, which still don't get the attention they deserve. The list is of course based on dubious rumours, crazy speculations and a wee bit of travel experience.
This is Globe Spots' Top 10 for 2017. What are you waiting for?
We all imagine the Seychelles to be an endless string of picture-perfect white beaches fringed by leafy palms and exquisitely turquoise water whose waves gently lick big round boulders. And yes, the Seychelles are one of the few destinations on the globe to actually live up to their reputation as paradise on earth. But the small island nation is more than just stunning beaches. There are giant tortoises, endemic plants, and, of course, normal people who go about their daily life. Sure, it's über expensive if you want stay in one of the luxury bungalows on water you see in tourist brochures. Well, even if you just want an ordinary "boring" bungalow on land, it'll still cost more per night than a whole holiday elsewhere, but thankfully there are cheaper BnBs and supermarkets around for those who are not on a honeymoon. But let's face it, the Seychelles will never be a discount destination and maybe that is the way to protect this little paradise from the hordes of ignorant tourists.
Nepal has always been number one when it comes to high mountains and renowned treks, but the devastating earthquakes in 2015 took a toll on Nepal. Infrastructure was heavily damaged, entire villages were swept away by landslides, and many of Katmandu's buildings and fine temples were left in ruins. The first wave of relief has now eased out and things are very slowly getting reconstructed, so why not put your money where it’s the most needed? The snow capped mountains are as magnificent as always and most of the trekking trails are again open.
For many people the main reason to visit the Caribbean is beaches - and that's exactly what Antigua and Barbuda have. It's said that Antigua has "a beach for every day of the year", and though we haven’t counted them there are certainly plenty of fine beaches to choose from. Whether you want deserted, well-developed, off-the-beaten-track, close to town, you-name-it, there will be a beach for you. But not everything on Antigua is about beaches. There are a few colonial leftovers - Nelson’s Dockyard even recently made the UNESCO World Heritage list - and as the coastline is ever changing, there are also rocky peninsulas, coves, and cliffs which are all perfect for a bit of exploration, if you get beached out.
Tourism agencies expect of surge of interest for this otherwise little known country. Could you guess why? It appears the new First Lady of the United States is behind the unexpected popularity. Her country of origin has sparked the curiosity of many people wanting to see for themselves what Slovenia is all about. But whatever the reasons that get you there, we say it’s a great and easy destination to explore. The country is so small you could be having a stroll in the old streets of Ljubljana, go downhill skiing in the Julian Alps, and stare into the horizon at the Adriatic Sea, all within a day. But take your time! There are plenty of activities to choose from and the masses probably won’t be rushing in that fast anyway.
Having shaken off the worst effects of Ebola, Guinea is once again ready to welcome those few intrepid travellers who make it here. Those who do will find surprises not usually associated with West Africa and a few of the hassles that normally are. Guinea offers world-class hiking, an endless show of magnificent waterfalls, paradise islands, vivid village markets and a lack of infrastructure few other countries can rival. On the coast, Conakry mostly offers horrendous traffic, corrupt officials and a stand-out nightlife. Further upcountry the splendid scenery of the Fouta Djallon is home to great hiking and waterfalls. And to the east is dense jungle hiding the source and course of Africa’s third longest river, the Niger, as well as elusive wildlife and a beautiful mountain range bordering both Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia.
Denmark is more cosmopolitan and less traditional than its Scandinavian counterparts. The capital Copenhagen is a smorgasbord of fine historical buildings, leafy parks, and characterful neighbourhoods, all interconnected by bicycling lanes. It's the world epicentre for minimalist Scandinavian design and Nordic food. But don't limit your visit to Copenhagen for the cities of Aarhus, Odense and Roskilde, just to mention a few, are definitely also worth a visit. And since Denmark is small and all the major islands are connected by bridge, travelling is fast - though expensive. Of course it's best to visit Denmark in summertime when the days are long and warm, however the dark winter is a great opportunity to experience the famous "hygge" and the Danes' fetish for contemporary interior lighting.
Ireland has long been a favourite destination for many travellers. Green countryside, rugged coastline and great pubs seems to be a perfect combination. But why skip Northern Ireland? Just outside Belfast are some of the prettiest stretches of coast on the whole island. Further north you will find surreal rock columns (Giant's Causeway) which are not found elsewhere on Ireland. The small capital of Belfast is not flooded with drunk tourists like Dublin, but oozes history and tragedy. Titanic was built here and there is now a fine museum. But the best history lesson is probably done by walking the streets and looking at the political murals dating back to the 1970-80's, when Protestants and Catholics turned Belfast into a war zone. And of course, any day in Northern Ireland should end at the local pub.
Many tourists to Cyprus don’t get out of the resort area, which is understandable as the beaches and Mediterranean Sea are very alluring, but why miss all the other good stuff Cyprus has to offer? There is a surprisingly diverse collection of sights including ancient Roman ruins, elaborated painted churches, and green cedar forests. Add to that, a chance to visit one of the few countries left on the globe that are still split into two separate parts. The North is like travelling through the countryside in Turkey, while the South is modern and slick like the rest of Western Europe. But don't limit your stay to only one part, mix and match to get the best out of Cyprus.
We haven't heard from a single traveller who has been to Vanuatu and not liked it. Vanuatu is just full of adventure and wild stuff, which you will be hard pressed to find elsewhere. There is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, where from the crater rim you can see straight into the erupting magma. There are tribal villages, where they still live in palm thatched huts, some you can stay in. There is a wicked Cargo Cult, with worshippers who parade once a year (the 15th of February) with bamboo rifles. Or what about peeking over a cliff into a bay with waters full of sharks. Vanuatu is one of those few places on the globe where culture and nature are abundant and fellow travellers are not.
Puerto Rico is US territory, but this Caribbean island certainly doesn’t feel like continental US. It's pure Latino in culture, as well as language. Historical Old San Juan with its cobblestone streets and colonial buildings receives hordes of cruise tourists every day, but it still remains authentic and darn charming. Those curious enough to look beyond San Juan and the resorts will be rewarded further with a rich nature. The interior is covered in tropical rainforest, while the coastline is dotted with sandy beaches with even more (and prettier) beaches on the tiny islands offshore. And in the evening do as the locals, grab a cold drink and enjoy some pulsating beats.