For McCool Travel’s 122nd travel profile, I am happy to introduce you to Mike Ragsdale, the founder of 30A. Have you heard of 30A? 30A celebrates small-town ...
Looking for some inspiring places to visit in 2017?
Surely you have been dreaming of 2017 travel, if not already have planned some trips. I certainly have been (both). Instead of simply writing another list of places I want to go, I asked some professional travelers and travel industry influencers for their thoughts.
I asked them: “a place you want to visit in 2017 or think people should visit.”
Below are the responses from 34 fabulous travel insiders. I have linked to their main website and two of their social media accounts—so please follow them. Also many of them contributed to my inspiring places to visit in 2016 article. I wonder how many of them did indeed visit those places.
Absolutely Inspiring Places to Visit in 2017
There’s a new administration setting up shop in D.C. in 2017, so make a voyage to Iran a top sooner-rather-than-later priority. I thought I was ready for the plethora of antiquities, Silk-Road history and bazaars, dazzling tile-covered mosques, incredibly delicious cuisine, and genuinely friendly people. But nothing can prepare you for the real thing. Americans must visit as part of a group and my Iran trip was with US-based MIR Travel Corporation.
My top recommendation for 2017 is Ljubljana, Slovenia! This is a place with a rich history and totally worth exploring. There’s so much to see and do for people of all ages around the city and every day there’s a new alternative trend popping up where you’d least expect it. Think cat cafe’s, bars under bridges and graffiti paradise. There are so many wonderful things to do in Ljubljana, including bike tours, Stand-Up-Paddle through the city, caving, food tours, kayaking… and so much more. Ljubljana is thriving with green tourist attractions, beautiful parks, and environmental awareness campaigns. Within seven years, Ljubljana has created the largest sustainable impact within the shortest period of time. It’s a great green city and one of my favorites in Europe!
The “stans” have gotten progressively easier to visit over the last few years. This year Tajikistan made their visa process much easier for most developed countries allowing you to now get a visa on arrival. Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan have lifted their visa requirements for visitors from many developed countries for several years now.
I declare 2017 the year for visiting India! I’m currently traveling in the north of the country and have just experienced a wonderful Diwali holiday in South Delhi. Soon I’m off to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, Varanasi for a dose of spirituality, and Bodh Gaya to make a pilgrimage to the site of Buddha’s enlightenment. As a solo female traveler, I’ve felt totally safe here and encourage everyone to come, soon, while prices are still extremely affordable. You will come away a changed person.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2015, the German Fairy Tale Route is a 370-mile route that starts in Hanau and ends in Bremen, featuring the cities, natural landscapes, and landmarks that both celebrate the Brothers Grimm as well as inspired them. The German countryside doesn’t often get the attention it deserves, just one of many travel revelations I had during my week road tripping along the route. You should make the drive to enjoy small towns, and villages, beautiful forests and mountains, grand castles, and some of the best food in the country.
As a travel writer, the most asked question I receive is “what is your favorite destination?” I couldn’t answer that until my last two journeys with Azamara Club Cruises. I will have to name two favorites, though. First is Norway, cruising from mystical Bergen to awestriking Lysefjord, where we chased waterfalls amidst cascading fjord cliffs under a sultry summer sun. I am my happiest in nature and found Nirvana in majestic Norway. I’m in love with this Scandinavian jewel. Second is Santorini, Greece, which offers the most breathtaking views on the planet. I’ve seen millions of pictures and paintings of Santorini’s famed whitewashed buildings, domed architecture tinted every shade of blue, and pristine beaches. Finally, I got to see all this splendor in person this year while on an Azamara Club Cruise of the Greek Isles. All those pictures and paintings don’t even begin to capture Santorini’s beauty! Using your heart as your compass, I hope you find inspiration from my journeys to discover your dream destination. Safe travels and bon voyage.
Voted the best islands in the world by National Geographic, the Faroe Islands are an unbelievable chain of islands which lie halfway between Iceland and Norway, in the North Atlantic Ocean. Inspiring scenery, untamed nature, and dramatic landscapes; the Faroes are unspoiled, unexplored and absolutely unbelievable. One of the most unspoilt destinations left on earth, every scene is spectacular, and every view takes your breath away.
I’m thinking Lisbon next year, because it has eluded me many times. I’m drawn to its topography, water views, and historic street cars. Much like San Francisco, one of my favorite cities. I’d like to also see houses covered in azulejo tiles and sit in cozy cafeterias. Now that I live in Europe, Portugal is a short flight away.
I recommend visiting the Greek Islands by sea, actually sailing them. There is no better way to explore the history, culture, cuisine, and nightlife then with adventures on the Ionian or Aegean Seas. Yet one island I discovered requires exploration by land too – Crete. And with the US dollar the strongest its been in years, overseas destinations may even make more sense (and cost less cents) this year. That’s why my pick is the birthplace of democracy in Greece and when you visit, make sure you take time to explore the beauty and riches of the 5th largest Mediterranean island, Crete. I can’t wait to return and am making plans to make it happen hopefully next June.
After spending 2016 on the go at an unprecedented rate we are interested in a low-key sailing trip in the British Virgin Islands for 2017. As long as we’re having a fantasy the ship may as well come with a skipper and a chef ! The BVI’s beautiful waters, selection of islands to visit and opportunities to snorkel would make for a relaxing vacation.
Maldives is that luxury destination that lives up to the hype. With nearly 1,200 islands to explore it’s a water lovers dream. Many people think there isn’t a lot to do in the Maldives, but we spent eight days in paradise exploring its crystal blue waters. From world class diving, snorkelling with sea turtles and watching dolphins jump in the air, Maldives is teeming with marine life. For romance, stay in one of the iconic over-the-water bungalows and relax. Have a couple’s massage, walk on the beach, and indulge in candlelit dinners by the pier. Maldives is the ultimate romantic vacation.
After the turmoil of the U.S. elections, 2017 is the perfect time to tour the historic homes of Virginia where Founding Fathers and future Presidents established their visions for a new nation. Eight U.S. Presidents were born in Virginia, and the homes of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe bring history to life on an easy day trip from Washington DC.
Cuba is at the top of my list for 2017. It’s more than just a cultural experience, it’s really the closest to time traveling we can get. The whole point is to go NOW, before it gets commercialized. It won’t be a luxurious trip, and it makes for a perfect destination to go off-the-grid. But it will certainly be an experience, a historic one at that… and really, that is what we are all seeking!
New England‘s Fall foliage is amazing! The colors are brilliant—bright yellows, oranges, bronzes, and the vibrant reds blew us away. There are also charming New England towns to visit with covered bridges, quaint New England B&B’s, good restaurants, country fairs, and cute stores. Don’t miss the Kancamagus Highway across New Hampshire—truly one of the most scenic highways in America. Normally, beginning of October is best for Fall foliage in northern New England and mid-October further south—Google “peak fall foliage” to get the best predictions. Plan early because accommodations book out early and stay in the quaint B&B’s to greatly enhance your experience.
I’d love to re-visit Slovenia. A few years back I was absolutely amazed at the beauty—even in the capital of Ljubljana, where the car-free city center leads to peaceful cycling, exploring and wining/dining on the river that runs through. There’s some amazing food, including a number of restaurants focused on social initiatives and many focuses on fresh, local ingredients. The hiking and cycling day trips to places like Lake Bled and the scenic Soča Valley. Best of all, it’s less touristy than most Western European countries, which typically means it’s also more budget-friendly.
Several years ago I made my first visit to Wolf Creek Colorado, one of the cheapest ski and snowboard destinations I’ve ever visited. It’s a good-sized mountain in southern Colorado that gets few visitors but receives more snow than any other resort in the state. That means lots of powder and short lift lines, which is a hard mix to find.
Micronesia is a Federation of islands between the Philippines and Hawaii in the Pacific. The names of the main islands in the Federation evoke images of paradise, Robinson Crusoe tales, and WWII battles. But the most important reason to visit is their rich culture—particularly in Yap—and the second to none diving opportunities in Chuuk Lagoon, where over 70 Japanese ships and planes were sank at the end of WWII.
During 2016, I visited my 100th country—Iran. Fabulous hospitality and incredible architecture are just two of the many reasons why Iran is one of my favourite destinations. I only visited Shiraz, Persepolis, and Esfahan, but I’d dearly love to return to experience more of the country.
Turkey—a country with cosmopolitan cities and modern delights, it is also a site of ancient history with curious landscapes straight out of a storybook. If you go during summer, enjoy the picture-perfect coastlines. I’m excited to visit Turkey because it’s a country that sits at the crossroads of Asia and Europe with a fair bit of Middle Eastern flair.
Bolivia has long been on my bucket list, both the mysterious Salar de Uyuni in the Andes—the world’s largest salt flat—and the Bolivian desert. The 11K square kilometers of salt flats are the result of a prehistoric lake that went dry—think white salt, rock formations and catci-studded islands & apparently you can catch pink flamingos here. As for the desert, I love dry heat and it makes for damn good photography!
I just got back from Croatia, I think it should be on everyone’s MUST-do list!!!
My pick for 2017, besides Cuba, is Iceland. The reason why Iceland is so hot right now for Americans is because for a few reasons: 1. It’s never been cheaper to fly there. Thanks to the expansion of Icelandair and WOW, North Americans can get to Iceland for as low as $99 (if you pack light and don’t care where you sit on the plane). 2. Both of these airlines offer free stopovers so if you take advantage of their low fares to continental Europe consider spending at least a night or two in Iceland. 3. Iceland is probably the safest country in Europe and possibly the world. No worries about terrorism there.
My wife and I talk about missing South Korea every day for so many reasons. They include the saunas, the mountains, the people, and—most of all—the food. You want to get shocked out of your comfort zone on a rollercoaster ride of sights and smells, I dare you to visit South Korea in 2017.
Twice the size of Texas and one of the safest destinations in the world, Alaska is home to the biggest national parks in the United States. Alaska offers a world of stunning landscapes, fascinating wildlife, and life changing experiences which are best discovered thru a cruisetour (land and sea cruise combination).
India is definitely a must-visit destination for 2017! Aside from the Taj Mahal, there are so many areas filled with some of the most beautiful landscapes and rich culture. A personal favorite area is Rajasthan; where there’s incredible palaces, colorful sarees, and the most delicious Indian food you’ll ever have on the planet!
It’s been a few years since I’ve been to the American Southwest and I’m currently obsessed with Santa Fe. With its distinctive adobe architecture, Native American and Spanish influences, and vibrant arts scene there is a lot to love about Santa Fe. Oh, and I can’t forget about the food (enchiladas “Christmas style” with red and green chile) and easy access to some of the most stunning landscapes in the country. Time to get planning!
I consider Portugal to be a great value and one of Europe’s best kept secrets. It has all of the history, culture, and charm of Europe’s better known destinations but without nearly so many tourists. I suggest a (Viking River) river cruise through the Douro Valley
Most visitors to Montana’s Glacier National Park arrive in the summer to drive the traffic congested Going-to-the-Sun Road or hike crowded trails. Not in the winter. Although services are unavailable during the winter, hardy visitors will have the park to themselves while they snowshoe or cross-country ski on a snow covered Going-to-the-Sun Road. I recommend arriving by train for a stay at Izaak Walton Inn, where a rental car waits for your drive into a peaceful Glacier National Park cloaked in a blanket of white.
An ideal luxury 2017 travel escape is the Four Seasons resort in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Experience the exquisite beauty of the mystical rice fields and tropical lush landscapes. The nature, history, culture, gourmet cuisine, and the hospitality of the resort staff, will bestow a cherished travel experience.
One of our top destinations for 2017 just happens to be one of the last destinations we visited in 2016. Nevada. A state that took all of our already high expectations and blew them completely out of the water with unlimited breathtaking landscapes, small towns with big hearts, and an abundance of history and culture. Here you’ll find something to whet any travel appetite, be it nature or adventure, art or cuisine, history or architecture, and, of course, the more boisterous activity of cities like Reno and Las Vegas.
I like to go where few people go, and there aren’t many places left like that on our planet. However, in 2017 I’ll be heading to a place few humans ever go, the Ross Sea and Antarctica—a region I’ve been dreaming about for a long time. I’ve been to Antarctica before—but never this route. South of New Zealand, deep in the Antarctic Ocean, lies the Ross Sea and the least altered marine ecosystem on earth. In 2017 it will get the designation of the world’s largest protected marine reserve. Only a few companies will take you through the Ross Sea. Heritage Expeditions takes you on the famed route of the worlds toughest explorers all the way to Antarctica and the Ross Ice Shelf. It’ll be a month long journey, but I can’t imagine any more epic place to see on this globe in 2017!
China is one of the most underrated destinations in the world. They get kind of a bad rap sometimes, and culturally, China is a complete 180-degree turn in the other direction, but that’s part of what makes it such a rewarding place to travel. Everything you thought you knew about societal norms is questioned. Plus, from the east to the west, you’ll find everything from bustling cities and rooftop cocktail bars to vast plains dotted with grazing yaks and backdrops of mountains for miles. It’s a place that will challenge you at your very core.
Sydney is a city of depth and culture. The Opera House is an iconic structure. A short walk from there is the Harbour Bridge, where you can climb to the top for best views of the city. Restaurants and street markets abound, with so much else a quick ferry ride or drive away. Framed by the Blue Mountains, it’s a city to savor. Everyone should visit in their lifetime, even if only for a day.
If cuisine and the coastline are two things that appeal, then look no further than Cascais in Portugal. Home to the world famous Sintra-Cascais National Park and boasting some of the most stunning areas of natural beauty, this once hidden secret is fast-becoming one of the most beautiful regions of Portugal. This wild coastline is also a great place for lovers of seafood, with many wonderful places to dine and relax.
St Helena, the small island in the south Atlantic. The friendly ‘Saints’, a lovely capital city, Jamestown, some beautiful landscapes and some unique wildlife. The airport should now be open for business, but even if it isn’t, taking the RMS St Helena from Cape Town is part of the adventure. It also has probably the most remote gin distillery on the planet, some of the most stunning sunrises there is and Jacob’s Ladder just has to be done before breakfast.
I am certainly inspired by the suggestions from my travel friends. I have been to some of these places—but others, well, they are definitely among my inspiring places to visit in 2017.
A huge THANK YOU to those who provided suggestions for this article. Remember to follow these amazing travel experts.
May your travels in 2017 (and every year) be enjoyable and memorable.
Your turn: do you have inspiring places to visit in 2017 or think people should visit?