It’s no wonder Lonely Planet chose Bordeaux as the best city to travel to in 2017. The city has been revitalized with the restoration of much of its neoclassical architecture, making it the largest urban UNESCO World Heritage site. Add to that some new stuff: the striking Miroir d’Eau (above), pedestrian-only boulevards, and an easy tramway system. Capitalizing on its storied wine culture, the new Cité du Vin, a veritable wine playground for adults, opened in 2016. When you combine all of this with an exceptional dining scene, Bordeaux is a not-to-miss destination for the coming year.
It’s bucket list time for 2017! If your idea of travel bliss includes idyllic natural beauty, dynamic cities, and fabulous food, here is the list for you. Some of these places made the list because I can’t wait to visit them again. Others are places I’m either planning, or longing, to go. All of them are trending destinations.
Here are my picks for the travel bliss experiences to put on your bucket list for 2017, in no particular order.
Medieval hilltop villages rising into limestone cliffs from sweeping dark rivers, prehistoric cave art and Renaissance castles. These are just some of the reasons to visit the Dordogne, a ultra-charming region in southwest France. Then there is the richness of the local produce, from truffles to walnuts, and a slow-food gourmet culture to savour. The region has been a long-time vacation getaway for the French and the British, but is only now being discovered by North Americans.
Regularly voted as one of the world’s happiest countries, Denmark is a shoe-in for the bliss list. Trending this year is the “hygge holiday”. Pronounced ‘hyoo-ga’, this Danish term embodies a culture of coziness. It’s how the Danes deal with the darkness of winter – – a little candlelight, a cuppa something warm, and good company. Copenhagen is chock full of style and beauty, not to mention sixteen Michelin-starred restaurants. It’s a place I’m hoping to visit in 2017.
The land of ice continues to be a hot spot for travelers. It’s a country of unbelievable natural beauty from its massive waterfalls, ice caves, glaciers and hot springs to the northern lights. The unique landscapes, friendly easy-going people, and extremely low crime rate make it ideal for a holiday in the great outdoors. Accommodations can be expensive, but flights to Iceland are cheaper than ever. Take a road trip in Iceland, and you’ll easily fall for this country like I did in 2016.
Think flamenco, tapas and intricate architecture. Andalucia is the Spain of story and song and I’ve been drawn to it for awhile now. This southern region brings together the highest peaks of the Iberian Peninsula in Sierra Nevada, volcanic deserts and pristine areas of coastline. Andalusia’s age-old history has left behind a wealth of artistic culture from the Alhambra in Granada to the Great Mosque of Cordoba and the old town of Seville, all World Heritage sites.
Only 43 kilometres long and 12 kilometres wide, Tobago is the smaller of two islands that comprise the nation of Trinidad and Tobago in the southern Caribbean.
Known for its wide sandy beaches and aquamarine bays, Tobago is an idyllic place to kick back and relax. The attitude is decidedly mellow. It welcomes tourists, without being touristy. In short, it’s a perfect winter escape and I can’t wait to return.
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Brazil was the big hit last year due to the summer Olympics, but this year Chile takes centre stage. Torres del Paine is best known for its soaring granite pillars, but the park is also home to azure lakes, forest trails, roaring rivers and one big glacier. Overall, the country has 36 national parks and some of the most impressive environments on earth from the stark beauty of the Atacama desert to the mountains of Patagonia. New boutique hotels and restaurants have been springing up in the capital, Santiago and Chile’s wine tourism scene is booming.
After the easing of travel restrictions, Cuba was abuzz last year. But, at least if you’re looking at the Instagram photos, many visitors are not yet venturing beyond the crowded capital of Havana. There is much more to see, including the lush and traditional tobacco- growing region of Viñales where horse-drawn lorries replace vintage cars as the local mode of transportation. Don’t miss heritage cities like Cienfuegos and Trinidad, known as one of the finest colonial towns in the Americas. And, although built for tourists, Varadero is of the most gorgeous and affordable beaches to visit anywhere.
Namibia is also a country of otherworldly natural beauty. It’s home to the world’s oldest desert, the Namib, where you can climb sand dunes that drop to the sea at the Skeleton Coast. In Damaraland, you’ll find the few elephants on earth that have adapted to the desert. At the same time, Etosha National Park is one of the best places to see wildlife. Rich in Africa’s wildlife from big cats to giraffes, zebras and rare rhinos, it should be added to any dream safari list.
I may be a tad biased on this one since Canada is my home country. In my books, the Canadian Rockies are the big must-see (it’s where I grew up). But there’s a long list of gorgeous scenery to enjoy including the autumn colours in Ontario and Quebec, the coastlines on all three shores, and the eerie badlands of Alberta. In 2017, Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a year-long party, and entrance to all National Parks will be free. An added bonus – the current exchange rate makes it a very affordable destination.
One of my goals is to see more of my own country this year. Dream trips would include a ride on the famous Rocky Mountaineer or stays at the remote Clayoquot Wilderness Resort in British Columbia or the world-best Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland.
What must-see destinations would you add to the 2017 list?
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