Top Travel Destinations For 2017

30 December 2016
Read Time: 9.2 mins

2017 is nearly here, bringing with it 365 new days to fill with travel adventures. While a holiday to any of your favourite destinations is highly recommended, we've compiled a list of far flung spots that promise to deliver once-in-a-lifetime experiences worthy of the new year. Whether you're seeking a little inspiration or you're itching to book your next trip, here's our top 10 must-see destinations for 2017.

Japanese lanterns hanging from the trees Colourful lanterns adorn the trees during O-Hanami Festival during the cherry blossom season

Japan

Offering an intoxicating blend of culture and tradition; futuristic vision and innovative dining along with a population of exceedingly friendly people, Japan calls to adventurous spirits of all types.

Wander the bustling streets of Tokyo in wide-eyed wonder at the realisation of forward thinking in the form of shinning skyscrapers, quirky fashion trends and more unique shops than you could possibly explore in ten visits. And there there’s the food. The city is home to more Michelin Stars than any other, but that’s not to say fine dining is the only way to go. You’ll find just as much precision, care and flavour in a street-side bowl of ramen thanks to recipes backed by decades of experience and tradition.

While the constant buzz of the big cities proves alluring for some, the quiet escapes that come with destinations such as Okinawa will dazzle others. The largest of the south-west islands, this beautiful spot offers the food, fun and friendliness of mainland Japan yet maintains a distinct personality of its own. Nature lovers will revel in the swathe of beautiful beaches that pepper the coasts, while culture cats and aspiring historians will hit their travel stride exploring the military history, memorials and ancient castles.   

the facade of the hallgrimskirkja church in Iceland The Hallgrimskirkja church is one of the city's most famous architectural marvels

Reykjavik

The call of Iceland’s capital started as an unexpected whisper that grew steadily stronger through 2016. Now, as 2017 approaches, the pull is undeniable, enticing wanderlusters from all corners of the globe with the allure that comes with a perfect blend of natural beauty, creative cityscapes, age old Viking history and a refreshingly diverse food and nightlife scene.

For those that prefer natural pursuits, Reykjavik serves up Mother Nature’s bounty in spades. One only needs to venture to the surrounding countryside to drink in the glory of this incredible landscape. From the cascading waterfalls and gushing geysers found along the Golden Circle to the warm, milky waters of the famous Blue Lagoon, there is no shortage of outdoor adventures to be had in and around this capital city.

And for those that live to discover the local life of new destinations, Reykjavik will not disappoint. The cityscape is made up of a mix of colourful traditional buildings and ultra-modern demonstrations of cutting edge architecture. Museums and galleries, creative shopping boutiques, award-winning dining and a nightlife scene that has quickly gained a reputation for being among the best in the world ensure new experiences around every corner.

The coast of Dubrovnik Dubrovnik's charms go much deeper than the Game of Thrones filming locations.

Croatia

Thanks to the droves of loyal Game of Thrones fans seeking the real life incarnations of Kings Landing, Croatia has seen a spike in tourism through 2016. Destinations such as Split and Dubrovnik have hosted film crews since the HBO hit started and now offer multiple tours to see spots such as the Red Keep and House of the Undying in person.

Though, the allure of this Eastern European nation goes far beyond its famous filming locations, which is why it is a must see for 2017. Her cities reflect the diverse history that has shaped their borders. Marvel at the baroque buildings that pepper Dubrovnik; stroll the bars and restaurants of the Roman Diocletian’s Palace in Split; and discover the difference between Austro-Hungarian and Socialist architecture in Zagreb.

When you’re not exploring the seemingly endless well of culture and history found within the bustling streets of these incredible cities, look further afield to the incredible natural beauty that skirts the city borders. From the deep turquoise water of the Adriatic Sea to the commanding panoramas created by the Dinaric Alps, this is a landscape that invites year round enjoyment. Skiing dramatic peaks through the winter and swimming beneath waterfalls in secret waterholes in the summer, your holiday is only limited by your willingness to explore.

A view of Edinburgh's cityscape from Calton Hill Edinburgh is a beautiful city, especially when viewed from the top of Calton Hill

Edinburgh

Counted by many to be one of Europe’s most glorious cities, Edinburgh has long inspired visitors with a heady mix of history, culture and humour. From the pointed spires that pierce the skyline through Old Town to the myriad pubs offering the promise of cheerful late nights, this city is all about having a great time.

Whether enjoying the neat and trim neoclassical beauty through New Town or strolling up the cobbled street along the Royal Mile, astounding architecture provides a visual bounty throughout Edinburgh. And, should be so inclined, duck down any one of its hidden lanes to discover an unexpected surprise in the form of a cool boutique, welcoming pub or passage to yet another city sector brimming with possibility.

The likes of Edinburgh Castle, the Scott Monument and Scottish National Gallery offer the comfort of must-see icons that satisfy no matter how many times you've visited the city. Though, it's well worth peeling back the layers to be rewarded in travel experiences not soon forgotten. See a comedy show at The Stand; hike to the top of Arthur's Seat; or scare yourself silly on a night tour of the city's more nefarious nooks and crannies.

A view of San Francisco with the Golden Gate Bridge in the forefront San Francisco really is this beautiful

USA

A perennial favourite for Aussies looking for overseas adventure, the USA never fails to deliver. With 50 different states offering up a distinctly different experience, it's hard to find a holiday that can outdo the US on over-the-top excitement.

If you're looking for a city break, you can't look past the seemingly endless diversity of New York's five boroughs. Stroll the sun-dappled corridors of the MET or revel in the neon glow of Times Square. If you prefer a more laid back vibe, Los Angeles is calling in 2017. The City of Angels dazzles with the perfect blend of outdoor fun, glitz and glam and foodie adventures.

For those that seek an even more laid back holiday, San Francisco's funky, easygoing vibe is sure to please. See the bright red glory of the Golden Gate first hand, or kick back for a picnic in Alamo Park overlooking the Painted Ladies. Alternatively, escape mainland USA all together for a tropical getaway in Hawaii. This chain of islands goes big on the natural beauty and the waves!

The praca do rossio in lisbon Lisbon's Praca do Rossio is just the tip of the architectural iceberg in this incredible city

Portugal

Beautiful coastal countries don't get much better than this. Travellers will delight in a mix of stunning cities that front the Atlantic ocean, creating panoramas to rival that of the Greek Islands.

It's easy to fall for the gothic glory of Lisbon. Complete with ancient ruins, this capital city is made up of a series of undulating hills that offer distinct vantage points (known as miradouros) from which to enjoy the diversity of its amazing architecture. Explore the medieval facades of the Belem Tower; ascend the heights of the Santa Justa Lift; or get a taste for local life at Rossio Square.

Or discover the less travelled trails of Porto. Equally stunning on the architecture front, this northwest coastal city charms with an alluring mix of great food, even better wine and more sights than you could possibly soak up in a single visit. From the overwhelming 14th century grandeur of the Church of Sao Francisco to the iconic red staircase of the Livraria Lello bookshop, surprises (large and small) can be found at every turn.

An ancient statue in San Agustin Colombia's San Agustin features more than 500 ancient ruins like this one

Colombia

Rio may have been the destination du jour through 2016, but travellers should set their sights to Colombia in 2017. This South American country is all about the thrill of outdoor adventure with a staggering mix of some of Mother Nature's best work. We're talking natural icons like the untouched depths of the Amazon rainforest and lofty heights of the Andes mountains. You'll even find a dash of the Caribbean coast, unspoilt and undisturbed by the typical tourist trail.

Should you need a break from all the outdoor play, there are a handful of cities to provide needed respite. Popayan is one of the country's most impressive colonial cities, with gleaming white facades circa the 1540s. Or hit San Agustin for a dose of ancient history, with its 500-plus monoliths and statues – remnants of a long forgotten pre-Incan civilisation.

Or there's the bustling capital of Bogota. One of the largest cities in South America, it may be a little rough around the edges, but still calls to curious travellers seeking undeniable urban cool. See the old town at the heart of the city for days filled with colonial architecture, restaurants and cultural landmarks such as the Plaza de Bolivar. Or get to the ritzy northern reaches to live the high life with the well-to-do locals.  

The cable car in Bergen Ascend to the top of the surrounding hills for astounding views of Bergen and its seven fjords

Norway

While plenty of spots on our list feature their fair share of natural beauty, Norway takes it to the next level when it comes to stunning landscapes. Pure and unspoilt this land is all about enjoying the great outdoors.

Perhaps one of the country's most famous natural features, the fjords offer staggering views of soaring peaks plunging into the deep sapphire depths of the North Sea. Whether witnessing this majesty in summer or winter, standing on a sliver of the shoreline or drifting along in a boat, this is a sight that will not soon be forgotten. And when it comes to exploring these incredible natural features, Bergen provides a perfect base.

You're sure to fall in love at first sight as this coastal city immediately charms with a series of beautifully preserved wooden houses. Beyond their colourful facades and peaked rooflines, the city is brimming with things to see and do. Learn about the  Hanseatic history at the Hanseatic Museum, or check out the Byrggens Museum for unique historical insight. Ascend the heights of the surrounding hills on the Ulriken cable car for amazing views, or taste test the local fare. Bergen is a UNESCO city of gastronomy after all.  

London's Big Ben London is instantly recognisable yet refreshingly new every time you visit

London

It's no wonder London continues to reign supreme as one of the world's most visited cities. It's nigh impossible to beat the sheer concentration of history and culture found within its borders. There are staple landmarks, such as Big Ben, the Tower Bridge and London Eye, that seem comfortingly familiar even if you've never seen them before. And there are countless unexpected surprises waiting to be discovered no matter how many times you visit.

You could pick a travel category – food, history, landmarks, hidden gems, museums – and spend your entire London holiday experiencing the best the city has to offer, eventually leaving knowing that you've only scratch the surface. Or you could try a little bit of everything, knowing that a return visit to experience even more is definitely on the books.

It's this sheer volume of things to see and do that puts London on our list. No matter how many times you've been, there's still something new to explore.

The Eiffel tower reflecting in the river There must be something in the air in Paris because it's easy to fall for the City of Love

Paris

Speaking of renowned cities that continue to dazzle well after the third or fourth trip, Paris is definitely a top destination for those considering travel in 2017. The City of Love seduces with a beguiling combination of renowned architecture, exquisite cuisine and remarkable culture.

While many may flock to her borders for the likes of the Eiffel Tower and Louvre, there is much more to this great city. Each of her 20 arrondissements offers up a distinct experience, be it the intoxicating bustle of the 7th  where the Eiffel Tower, Musee d'Orsay and Rodin Museum beckon to first time visitors or the quieter 3rd where the Picasso Museum and funky style of the Marais thrill those willing to get off the typical tourist trail. Even if your time in Paris is little more than people watching from a streetside seat of one of the many famous cafes, there is untold pleasure to be had in simply existing in this marvellous city.   


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Carlie Tucker

Travelling is for discovering the unexpected. From fantastic meals in ramshackle joints to stumbling upon a best kept secret, I love those fortuitous travel moments that couldn't be planned if I tried.