Planning this year’s vacation and not sure where to start? This simple guide will put you on the right track. We asked some of the world’s best bloggers and travel writers to share their tops tips for 2017 – and they came back with some surprising recommendations…
An award-winning travel writer and guidebook author, Mike has traveled to over 100 countries. Here’s why Scotland is his top pick for 2017.
“The world won’t fail to take notice when T2, the highly-anticipated Trainspotting sequel, arrives at the end of January. The content may be outrageous and acerbic, but Edinburgh’s medieval core of Gothic wynds and crooked steeples has never looked better on screen.
“Add to that the capital’s enduring Edinburgh Festival, which hits its 70th year this August, and a hefty splash of tartan thanks to Visit Scotland’s year-long History, Heritage and Archaeology jamboree, and it’s looking pretty peachy for ruddy-faced Scots on both sides of the Brexit debate.
“That’s not forgetting the recently-introduced North Coast 500, a Route 66-style road trip across the Highlands; the country’s new Gin Trail; the opening of the Queensferry Crossing, the world’s longest cable-stayed bridge; and the 200th anniversary of Rob Roy, which’ll put the spotlight on Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.”
Travel enthusiasts Kach Medina Umandap and Jonathan Howe have been travelling the world since 2013. This year, they recommend taking a trip of a lifetime to Antarctica.
“While the unknown is a huge part of what makes a cruise to Antarctica so exciting, one thing you know for certain – it will be one of, if not the most, unforgettable journey of your lifetime! It is one of the few remaining refuges of pristine and unspoiled nature on the planet.
“There is no another place like Antarctica in the world, with its great towers of ice protruding from dark crystal waters and the inhospitable beauty that only a select few have the qualities and skills to survive in – none of them human!”
Europe’s hidden gems
Blogger and adventurer Clare Thomson is a big fan of slow travel. She recommends taking the time to explore some of Europe’s lesser-visited corners.
“My travel tip for 2017 is to hunt out some of Europe’s undiscovered gems. I think travellers will be looking for more authentic experiences this year, to find those lesser-known, more laid-back destinations. The kind of places where you can find wonderful local food, stunning countryside and perfect beaches without the crowds and the tourist-trap prices of the busier resorts.
“In Greece, you can find laid-back perfection on lesser-known islands like Folegandros, Sifnos and Tinos. In Italy, avoid the crowds on the Amalfi Coast and Capri and head instead for the charming Cilento Coast and the island of Ischia. And in France, swap the Côte d’Azur for the picturesque delights of the villages in the south west.”
The Travel Hack is a blog where contributors share adventurous tips, with a healthy dose of style thrown in for good measure. In 2017, founder Monica Stott recommends a trip to beautiful Budapest.
“It’s a beautiful city with a magical charm. There’s nothing better than spending the day sightseeing and then warming up in the city’s steaming thermal baths or with a big bowl of comforting goulash. [Budapest] has a great mix of old and new, with a really modern feel among the old buildings and beautiful architecture.
“Budapest is also really affordable, with lots of budget airlines flying there – and there’s lots of affordable accommodation so you can step it up and get somewhere much more luxurious than normal.”
Nichola West over at Global Mouse Travels shows how easy it can be to travel with a family. Her top tip for the year ahead? Northern Italy.
“I can’t recommend Northern Italy highly enough for a family trip (or any trip!) away. The Italian lakes are beautiful and the perfect tonic – it’s impossible not to see them and feel your shoulders start to relax.
“The cities around this area are wonderful too, from the hustle and bustle of Milan to the absolute beauty of Verona which is my favourite Italian city. It’s easy to get over to Venice for the magical feel of this watery land too. Throw in the hospitable Italian welcome and delicious food at every turn, [and] it really is the perfect break!”
A travel addict and sun seeker, blogger Stephanie Holmes explains how Venice has something to offer everyone in 2017.
“The backdrop to countless movies, the romantic setting to an endless number of books and one of my top picks for where you should travel in 2017: Venice. One of the most romantic cities in the world, [it] has something to offer everyone. Whether you are traveling alone, as a couple, or with your family, from the moment you arrive at the train station and walk out onto the large plaza into the heart of bustling Venice, you will be spellbound.
“It is at that exact moment that you realize you have arrived in the most unique city in the world. Made up of more canals and bridges than streets, it’s the perfect place to wander, explore, immerse yourself in the winding cobblestone alleys and get lost.”
Dodecanese Islands, Greece
Leading travel writer Mark Hodson recommends seeking out some of the smaller Greek islands, where prices are lower and crowds are less bothersome.
“Greece is going to be popular this year, but if you want to avoid the crowds and squeezed prices, you should seek out some of the smaller islands. I’ll be heading to the tiny Dodecanese islands of Nisyros, Tilos and Symi in the south-east Aegean. They are far too small for the big cruise ships (Tilos has a population of just 200) and ferry services are sporadic. The best option is to join a gulet cruise with a specialist company. Highlights include a hike into the spectacular volcanic cone on Nissyros and cocktails in the neoclassical harbour on Symi.”
Having visited more than 80 countries, Eric Stoen from Travel Babbo takes his kids along on every new adventure, opening their eyes to what the world has to offer. He suggests a trip to Naxos in 2017.
“We highly recommend the Greek island of Naxos. It’s a short ferry ride from Mykonos and Santorini but it couldn’t be more different, as there are no cruise ships that stop in Naxos and it’s not a party island. Rather, it’s a family-friendly destination that never feels crowded, perfect for a week or two of beach relaxation, Greek culture and excellent food. We prefer to stay on St. George Beach, since the water is shallow and perfect for kids and the beach is within walking distance to Naxos Town, but you can’t go wrong no matter where you stay. We’ll be back again this summer!”
Odessa and Belarus
Berlin-based travel writer Nicky Gardner is the co-editor of Hidden Europe magazine; whenever she has a few days to spare, she’s inclined to hop on an eastbound train from the German capital. Find out why she picked Odessa and Belarus as her top spots to visit in 2017.
“The fracture line between western and eastern Europe acts as a deterrent for some travellers. But many of the up-and-coming destinations for 2017 are in territories well east of the traditional European travel hotspots. Odessa has eclipsed Genoa as a chic port city, and visitors to the Black Sea resort are rarely disappointed. Long gone are the days of dour Soviet service, and today Odessa makes a great choice for a first visit to Ukraine.
“Or why not venture to Belarus, where there’s still a touch of Soviet style in the monuments and street art? For a first taste of the country, make for Hrodna or Vitebsk, both amiable mid-size cities. Vitebsk was the home city of artist Marc Chagall. Belarus, like Ukraine, offers great value for money and, being off the beaten track, visitors still get a warm welcome. If heading for Belarus, take along a copy of Nigel Roberts’ excellent guidebook. The third of edition of Belarus was published by Bradt Travel Guides in 2015.”
Suze Renner, a food, style and travel blogger, gives her take on everything luxury, from top restaurants and places to visit. Iceland is her top pick for the year ahead.
“My top tip for 2017 would be to visit Iceland – the landscape has an undeniable charm and if you’re lucky you’ll see the northern lights! The food is delicious, Icelanders have a wicked sense of humour, and natural wonders such as the erupting geysirs will leave you thrilled.”
Keen traveler Ross Fraser writes about his trips over on The Luxury Editor. Thailand is his favourite place to hang out in 2017, and here’s why:
“My recommended destination for 2017 in Thailand; it’s a hands-down winner for me. The land of smiles has never failed to disappoint me over my many years exploring the country. Thailand is a great introduction to Asia if you haven’t been before: people are helpful, the sun is shining and nothing is too much trouble. Start your adventure in the sprawling metropolis of Bangkok and visit the city’s many tourist attractions, do a bit if shopping while you are there and immerse yourself in the city’s chaotic culture.
“Then make your way down to one of Thailand’s islands for some beach relaxation – I love Phuket which is peppered with beaches and hidden coves meaning you can often have an entire beach to yourself if you book a villa on the island. You really will feel like Leonardo Dicaprio in The Beach.”
Canada’s National Parks
An experimental luxury traveler, Matt Long has visited more than 70 countries and shares his adventures with thousands of readers everyday.
He says: “2017 is a special year in Canada. There are lots of anniversaries going on, including the 150th birthday of the Canadian Confederation and the 100th anniversary of the country’s impressive national parks system. From coast to coast, these parks are some of the most beautiful places on the planet and two in particular – Banff and Jasper – rank among my favorite travel destinations.
“This is the best year to explore Canada’s national parks because, in light of this celebration, all parks will be free to visitors for the duration of the year. Take advantage of this rare chance to see the best of Canada’s natural treasures for free. Some highlights of Canada’s National Parks include: the Icefields Parkway, Maligne Lake, Bay of Fundy, Gros Morne, Kootenay, Prince Edward Island and many, many more.”
A strong sense of wanderlust has taken Angie Silver all over the globe. Her top recommendation for 2017 is South Africa.
“South Africa is one of my favourite countries and certainly a great place to visit this year. Explore the history, beautiful scenery and eat incredible food in Cape Town and take the short drive to the Winelands to enjoy some fantastic local wines. If there’s time, discover the nature and wildlife along the Garden Route before finishing with the experience of a lifetime – a safari in Kruger Park or Sabi Sands.”
Join fashion-obsessed Bonnie Rakhit on her travels as she shares luxury style tips all over the globe.
“Last year I traveller to 34 destinations in 15 different countries and I ticked off one of my all-time bucket list destinations: Havana. Cuba has been on my agenda for years and after spending just a few days in the vibrant city I completely fell in love with the colourful, crumbling facades of the buildings, the buzz in the streets and the impromptu street parties, which just seemed to explode into life from literally nowhere.
“It totally lived up to all of my expectations and then some. What I especially liked was the laid-back vibe and the way in which the city hasn’t quite caught up with the modern world yet. With plans to build a whole raft of new luxury hotels, and global chains keeping a close eye on the city, I highly recommend visiting now before the true authenticity of this incredible place is lost. There’s still time!”