Besides loving to travel, what’s one thing travel bloggers all have in common? They all have travel goals! We all have goals of some kind. Just as runners aim to beat their previous personal best and entrepreneurs strive to make their company more profitable, those who love to explore have exploration dreams and desires . For some it’s of a local retreat and for others it’s of far off places.
Travel isn’t just something that happens. We must prepare and plan for it. Regardless where you dream to venture, resolve to make traveling a goal. Just in case you need some inspiration, I’ve compiled this article where 34 travel bloggers think we should go in 2017. Since I received so many great responses, I’ve broken it into 2 parts. Enjoy!
Kyrgyzstan – NOMADasaurus
Having travelled across Asia for two years without taking a single flight, we’ve been lucky enough to explore some really fascinating destinations. One of our absolute favourites is Kyrgyzstan, in Central Asia. With over 93% of the country covered in mountains it is perfect for travellers who love to be in nature and experience epic trekking, horse riding, mountain biking, rafting and other adventure activities. Besides the adventures Kyrgyzstan also has a detailed Silk Road history and an incredible culture that has held strong over various empires and conquerors influence. One of the best things to do for visitors to Kyrgyzstan is do a traditional yurt stay. Spending a night or two with a family, learning about their nomadic lifestyle and enjoying delicious food is a memory that is sure to stay with you forever!
Lviv, Ukraine – Foodie Flashpacker
While I know that Ukraine may not jump out as a first thought for top destinations I promise you it’s worth a visit. I was blown away during my recent trip to Lviv. The western Ukrainian town is known as the countries arts and culture capital.
While the rest of Ukraine feels very decidedly Eastern European Lviv is often compared to Prague. Cobblestoned streets, fountains, European architecture, incredible restaurants and craft beer breweries—all found at some of the lowest prices in Eastern Europe.
My Airbnb rental in the center of town was less than $25/night. Craft beer was .80/pint. A fancy steak dinner was less than $9. A daily champagne/vodka breakfast with made to order crepes and omelets was less than $4.
Lviv also is famous for their themed restaurants. The town has unique places to dine such as hidden restaurants where you have to negotiate a ninety-percent discount in advance, to S&M restaurants, to torture themed restaurants and even a restaurant with a backroom where you’re able to shoot guns at photos of former Soviet leaders!
Oh, and an entire museum dedicated to chocolate! What more could you need?
Sighisoara, Romania – LooknWalk
Sighisoara, Romania has a special place in my heart. It was the first city I have visited independently back when I was a freshman at Uni and also the place where I go back for more, from time to time.
Located in the heart of Transylvania, it is one of the few still inhabited Medieval Citadels in Europe. It is also linked – through historical evidence – with Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Dracul), also known as the (in)famous Dracula. He was born here and the house is still standing (and is currently a restaurant).
The lovely and compact Medieval Citadel can easily be tackled in a day (two is plenty). But you want to arrive in the morning so that you can climb to the viewing platform of the Clock Tower and, as you go up, see the exhibits in the History Museum.
Go even further up, taking the 176 stairs of the Covered Staircase, all the way to the Church on the Hill. Enjoy the view!
If you come here during winter and you are lucky to see some snow, the city looks like it belongs in a fairy tale. On the other hand, summer (July) brings the Medieval Festival when you feel like you just went back in time.
Lisbon, Portugal – Portugalist
Firstly, Lisbon is affordable. It’s possible to eat out in Lisbon for €5-€10 and to rent an apartment for several hundred euros per month.It’s not Thailand-cheap, but by European standards it’s insanely affordable. This affordability (and the arrival of Web Summit last year) has led to many digital nomads choosing to live here long-term. The community is nowhere near as big as Berlin, but it’s growing every day.
Lisbon also scores highly for food and drink. It has hundreds of fish dishes (365 of them are bacalhau/salt cod alone) as well as great meat dishes including Leitão (suckling pig), frango assado (piri-piri chicken), and arroz de pato (duck rice). There’s also a wonderful selection of wines, many of which are relatively unknown outside of Portugal. Some names to keep an eye out for include Douro, Dão, and Alentejo wines, as well as Vinho Verde – a light spritzy wine perfect for summer. You can try all of these at the Time Out Ribeira market near Cais do Sodre.
Then, there’s the weather. With more than 3,000 hours of sunshine every year, Lisbon has the best weather of any European capital. Summers are spent lazing around on beaches or sipping port & tonic outside cafes, and in winter it rarely gets cold or wet enough to damage your plans.
Affordable, great food, and great weather – what more could you ask of a city?
Lake Apo, Philippines – Travel Jams
Lake Apo in the city of Valencia in Bukidnon province, Philippines is among my favorite places away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The tranquil lake is located in a hilly area in Brgy. Guinoyuran, about 11 kilometers from the city proper. Awarded as the cleanest inland body of water in Northern Mindanao Region in the late 1990s, Lake Apo is perfect for rest and relaxation.
In this day and age, “getting off the grid” can be a bit of a challenge. A smart phone keeps us connected that it’s almost a pure luxury to be with no phone calls or texts, no urgent emails, no social media posts.
Almost. Because there’s Lake Apo: a tech-free paradise where there’s no wi-fi, cellphone signal is spotty, and electricity is limited.
While there are power banks and maybe data connection, when faced with such beauty and simplicity of life in Lake Apo, it’s easy to let go, forget about tech and really get off the grid. Go and watch the sunrise, swim in the lake, try water sports, run around.
Disconnect from tech; reconnect with nature. You can do just that in Lake Apo.
Bolivia – Worldy Adventurer
I first landed in Bolivia at the start of my two-year trip around South America and it was always the country that I came to love the most.
In the altiplano, in cities such as Sucre and La Paz, colourful, pleated skirts and long, neat pigtails whip past your eyes, worn by the indigenous cholitas who carry striped Andean textiles in all colours of the rainbow on their backs.
Around the edges of La Paz – one of the strangest cities I’ve ever seen – loom the frosted bulks of implausibly high mountains, ringing the horizon as the chaos of buildings spills down into the valley below.
In the lowlands, boats hollowed out of vast tree trunks putter up the brown waters of Amazon tributaries, taking you into the magical depths of the rainforest and the nearby pampas wetlands. Here, howler monkeys roar through tree canopies and capybara and caiman vie for space on the riverbanks.
Wherever you go, traditions dating back hundreds of years appear, whether the potions for everything from impotence to heart disease in the Witches’ Market in the winding streets of La Paz or the traditional snacks, such as the piles of salteñas sold from a street side store.
Although many travellers pass Bolivia up in favour of neighbouring Peru or Brazil, I personally was spellbound by this country. Yes, it’s harder to travel here because fewer people speak must English, but the rewards of choosing to have an adventure in Bolivia are incomparable.
Antarctica – The Travel Sisters
Antarctica may be a cold destination but it deserves its spot as a hot destination for 2017. The White Continent consistently shows up on many travel wish lists and rightfully so. I dreamt about traveling to Antarctica for years and when it finally happened it was even better than what I imagined. Antarctica is beautiful, stunning, breathtaking and magnificent beyond what any words can describe. Lucky visitors have numerous opportunities to view wildlife: seabirds, seals, whales and various species of penguins including gentoo, chinstrap and Adélie. Active travelers can kayak icy water, hike, cross-country ski and even camp overnight on some trips. Unless working in a research station, visits are usually only possible during Antarctic summer, from November to March, when temperatures are typically just below 32F. On the plus side, with 20 hours of daylight in the summer, there is plenty of opportunity to take in the surroundings. Often described as a once-in-a-lifetime trip, I’m hoping that wasn’t really the case for me…I would love to visit Antarctica many more times in my lifetime.
Mongolia – Ze Wandering Frogs
If you love the outdoors, big open space, wildlife, and want to discover traditional nomadic life, Mongolia is the place to go. And if you are a horse person like me, this is paradise. From galloping in the footsteps of Genghis Khan in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, observing the Przewalski horses in Hustai National Park, riding the muddy taiga north of Lake Khövsgöl to see the Tsaatan, or migrating livestock by horse in Sagsai, we felt like true Mongols. The week with the Tsaatan nomads was a unique experience, witnessing millennia-old traditions of the world’s last reindeer herders. West Mongolia’s Altai is another gem worth the long journey over the bumpy dirt roads. The region features fantastic trekking opportunities like our 8-day trek through Altai Tavan Bogd National Park and cultural events such as the Golden Eagle Festival where eagles and hunters demonstrated their skills. One of the highlights of our two-month trip in Mongolia was a weeklong ger homestay with a Kazakh family, helping with winter preparations and migrating their 300 heads of goats, sheep, cows and yaks over a 12-hour horse ride, a once-in-a-lifetime experience of an authentic nomad lifestyle. Central Mongolia offered a glance into Mongolia’s history in Kharkhorin, the ancient capital, and the Tövkhön Monastery in the Orkhon Valley and Mongolia’s oldest Buddhist monasteries. The immense valleys of the Gobi Desert stretched for hours, arid but alive with herds’ thousands strong, including wild camels spread through the vast horizon. Another fun moment was the hike in the Khongoryn Els, short but challenging, leading to the edge of pristine sand dunes.
Sintra, Portugal – The Wanders of Marty
SINTRA is an incredibly beautiful and surprising Portuguese town situated just a quick train ride from Lisbon, a perfect day trip from the capital. Famous for its Romantic architectural monuments, it will surprise you for the unexpected coloured buildings, ancient secrets and enchanted parks.
This is the “Palacio da Pena”, an exquisite palace that rises at the top of Sintra Mountains: a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal, it truly feels like the fairy tale castle you dreamt about in your childhood! The unique bright colours, exotic decorations, Moorish arches, spectacular views and the luxuriant park which surrounds it (it has 500 different species of trees from all over the world!): this palace will leave you with a sense of magic you will hardly forget!
But more magic awaits you in Sintra: Quinta de Regaleira is another beautiful palace with an incredible park: here you will find fountains, lakes with stepping stones, lions and mythological god statues, hidden tunnels, concealed symbolism and a spectacular “Initiation Well”, which will take you from the gloomy underground tunnels spiralling up to the light.
Let Sintra cast its magic spell on you and be transported into another world, even just for one day.
Etosha National Park, Namibia – Global Gadding
Namibia is a wilderness packed with fantastic scenery, enormous red sand dunes to be climbed, a barren skeleton coastline showcasing shipwrecks and my personal favourite, Etosha National Park.
The huge 5,000 square kilometre White Pan in the middle of Etosha is where the Park gets its name from, meaning “Great White Place”.
Sitting at the edge of the Pan is akin to looking into an ethereal eternity.
Etosha was designed for self drive visitors and has 6 main camps within the Park, all having their own floodlit waterholes.
With a wealth of animals including elephants, lions, giraffes, wilderbeast and the elusive rhino, you will be happily snapping away for hours.
Print off your own map showcasing the numerous waterholes within the Park, pack snacks, binoculars and a camera with a zoom lens and set off on your own adventure.
The beauty of watching animals roam across the white dusty gravel roads in front of your vehicle, chomping by the roadside on vegetation and travelling in herds in the distance is truly memorable.
Sitting at a waterhole, watching a plethora of animals coming by is mesmerising and humbling, an experience never to be forgotten.
Philippines – A Broken Backpack
I’m completely amazed by the Philippines. Who wouldn’t like it anyway? I mean, seriously. Can it get any better? More than 7100 islands, that’s what we’re talking about. Between the 50 shades of green found along the rice terraces and the clearest blues lagoons, it’s hard not to fall in love. You can’t get bored in the Philippines. There’s something for everybody; hiking, swimming, paddle-boarding, island hopping, surfing, diving, snorkeling beach bumming… just to name a few. You could challenge yourself in a three day trek across the rice paddocks in Banaue-Batad. Or you could swim with the magnificent whale sharks. Or you could also learn how to drive a quad bike around the incredible Mount Mayon (which is a volcano). Bonus: Filipinos are so friendly! In fact, they are always smiling which makes the experience ever better. You won’t have enough time either. There’s so much to discover, so much to see. You might have to come back again and this, my friend, is not even a big deal. You’d happily go back again… and again. They said it was more fun in the Philippines. I agree. And you will too.
Georgia – Cheeky Passports
Nestled within the Caucasus mountains, the country of Georgia is fast becoming a hot destination for intrepid travellers wanting to discover a different side of Europe. The country is made up of different regions, each having a distinctive character reflected in its people and cruise. From soaring mountains to a fertile heartland, deep ravines, magnificent churches and very evident wine culture, the country’s hidden secrets are waiting to be explored. Tbilisi, the vibrant capital, is home to a large ancient fortress, sulphur bathhouses, charming architecture and even trendy nightclubs. The Wild Svaneti region, home to Ushguli the highest inhabited village in Europe, is our favourite destination mostly because its remote location and untamed beauty, whilst the eastern regions are home to world’s oldest viticulture thus providing several wine-tasting opportunities. The best way to experience the country is to drive around in a 4WD which facilitates access to the more adventurous locations such as remote mountains and ancient cave dwellings. If you’re still uncertain about whether Georgia should be at the top of your bucket list, the local cuisine is among the most diverse and flavoursome we ever experienced during our travels. The country is still undiscovered by mass tourism but won’t remain a secret for much longer, so go explore it before everybody else does!
Bahamas – Getting Stamped
Put the Bahamas on the map for 2017 it won’t disappoint. The first time I went to the Bahamas I was on a Caribbean cruise and spent the day on the private island Half Moon Cay. I spent the entire day walking on the white sand beach, I literally had to run back to the ship I didn’t want to leave. The Bahamas has gorgeous white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, friendly locals, crazy tasty seafood, and the they make a mean rum punch. One month after my first trip to the Bahamas I went back again but this time to Staniel Cay another remote island. You have to take a small plane from Nassau, like so small they weigh you! I spent a week relaxing on the island where I rented a golf cart so that I could find a different private beach a day. There are some famous residents in the nearby island to Staniel Cay..the swimming pigs! Yes in the Bahamas there is a island which the locals call “Pig Island” where there are pigs that actually swim. Make sure to bring some snacks to lure these little porkers off the beach. I mean you have to make them earn the cookies. I would go back to the Bahamas in heart beat, hopefully again in 2017.
St. Petersburg, Russia – Treksplorer
Tired of dodging stag and hen parties in Prague or the backpacking hordes in Budapest? Venture into the northeastern fringes of Eastern Europe to experience a city all-too forgotten by most tourists: St. Petersburg, Russia.
Wandering through the streets and winding along the canals of St. Petersburg is like stepping back into a great 18th-century Russian novel. Much of what impressed upon Russian literary giants like Pushkin and Dostoyevsky still remains intact. From the baroque Winter Palace and the neoclassical St. Isaac’s Cathedral to the Art Nouveau buildings along Nevsky Prospekt and the ever-recognizable Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg’s a dream destination for urban wanderers. Even you only manage 24 hours in St. Petersburg, the stately architecture, snaking along the city’s waterways, will keep you intrigued for a lifetime.
Culture lovers will have their way in St. Petersburg, too. It could take days to explore the superlatively-massive Hermitage with its collection of everything from Egyptian antiquities to European art. Fans of Russian literature are hardly spoiled for choice either with literary museums dedicated to some of Russia’s most famous authors—including Dostoyevsky, Nabokov, and Pushkin—sprouting up throughout the city centre. For a quirkier and more interactive museum experience, pop into the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines for a taste of retro gaming at its best.
For all your exploration of Russia’s cultural hub, don’t forget to fuel up with some tasty grub. St. Petersburg’s developed a strong and diverse culinary scene that pulls dishes from everywhere in the former Soviet Union. If classic Russian pelmeni and borscht at Soviet Cafe Kvartirka doesn’t tickle your taste buds, try a khachapuri (Georgian cheese pie) or lagman (Uzbek lamb noodle soup) at Kavkaz.
Prague, Czech Republic – Travel from Square One
Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is also called ‘A City of a Hundred of Spires’.
We used to live in Prague for a few years and we have visited it many times since we moved away, but we are always excited to come back. This charming city never bores us as there is always something new to explore.
We love wandering the historic centre, which is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We have a few favourite spots that we like to visit when we are around.
You shouldn’t miss Old Town Square with the famous astronomical clock and ‘The Walk of the Apostles’. Charles Bridge, connecting the Old Town with the Lesser Town, is a perfect spot for some of the most beautiful and picture perfect views of Prague. Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world and you will also get many spectacular views of Prague here.
Prague is beautiful at any time of the year, each of the districts has its own magic. Christmas markets are another reason why it is worth travelling to Prague.
Prices lower than in the Western Europe, great food and cheap beer make a trip to the Czech Republic a great value holiday. After you visit Prague, it is likely that it will become your favourite city.
Crete, Greece – Planes, Trains and Formula 1
I visited Crete for the first time in May, and I was instantly captivated – from the beautiful landscape and all-shades of blue Mediterranean waters to the archaeological ruins at Knossos; from the bustling main port of Heraklion with cruise ships and regularly departing ferries to the quaint ancient harbor-side towns of Chania, Rethymno, Agios Nikolaos, and Ierapetra; from learning of the resistance of Cretans fighting against invading Germans and Italians during World War II to the haunting traditional dances telling those stories, Crete stole my heart. But more so than that, it stole my stomach. Everywhere I went, I was amazed at the fresh produce, delectable cheeses and flavorful dishes. Tasting Greek wine, locally pressed organic olive oil and rye confirmed that the simplest things are often the most delectable. Thank goodness there were so many places to visit to distract me from the delicious food in between meals. In addition to swimming in the crystal blue waters at one of the many stunning beaches, activities such as hiking the gorges (Samaria is the longest) are available. Accommodations range from budget and family-friendly to all-inclusive resorts to five-star exclusive hideaways. Crete is captivating, and a place I hope to visit again in 2017.