New year, new travel goals. As you plan your 2017 travels, consider these top destinations for each month of the year.
Already itching to use those newly replenished travel days? The Yucatan peninsula in Mexico welcomes many a long weekender in January. But don’t make the mistake of sticking to an all-inclusive resort in Cancun. Nearby Merida is chock full of music, art, cuisine, and colonial architecture, so much so that it’s been named 2017’s American Capital of Culture.
Don’t let the tail end of Southeast Asia’s dry season pass you by. Be one of the first to take advantage of the new direct flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Sihanoukville on the coast of Cambodia. The spas and resorts of Krabey Island and Koh Russei have long been hidden gems among the Banana Pancake Trail. Now you can bypass the chaos of capital Phnom Penh and get straight down to your beach holiday.
Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland is on many a travel bucket list, and there’s no reason not to go enjoy a pint or two (or ten) in capital Dublin. (If your name is Patrick or Patricia, you can even get free entry to the Guinness Storehouse on March 17.) Once you’ve had enough of the raucous Dublin crowds, enjoy a new Irish travel trend. The Skellig Ring features prominently in the new Star Wars trilogy, and forms part of a scenic drive near Killarney.
April: Papua New Guinea
Sharing an island with part of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea is about as far off the beaten path as one can stray. Filled with pristine rainforest and vibrant village culture, however, it still manages to attract a few tourists, and 2017 has a lot in store for these brave souls. Walindi Resort will begin operating live-aboard dive trips this year, and Tufi Resort now offers guests sea kayaking excursions.
Don’t let fear of terrorism keep you away from Turkey. There are plenty of destinations in the country that remain safe for travel, including the otherworldly Cappadocia. For an extra special experience, time your visit for the three-day Cappadox festival, filled with music, performance art, and outdoor events like nature walks and yoga sessions.
With the recent lifting of restrictions on travel for Americans, tourism in Cuba is still on an upswing. Wander the colorful streets of the Old Town before salsa dancing into the wee hours. Visit Havana in June for the lowest rates. The rest of the Caribbean may be entering hurricane season, but Cuba is rarely affected.
The completion of the New Ulaanbaatar International Airport this year has Mongolia poised to welcome a new generation of intrepid travelers. This quieter corner of east Asia is filled with natural wonders. Go marvel at the eagle hunters of the Altal Mountains, the double humped camels of the Gobi Desert, or the rolling steppes of the eastern countryside while temperatures are still warm in the summer.
It seems every corner of this Iberian nation is gearing up for a 2017 renaissance. Budget airlines have begun connecting New York to Porto, gateway to the northern wine country. Capital Lisbon is also a bargain and is preparing to welcome a new museum of Jewish history this year. For an August holiday, head to the increasingly popular Azores islands. From its villages to its volcanoes, this archipelago is heralded as the ‘next Iceland.’
Through the whole of 2017, Canada is celebrating its sesquicentennial – that’s 150 years since its founding. The best time to pay a visit to the Great White North? Early autumn. Temperatures are mild, but the leaves start to turn for some impressive scenery. Dig into a plateful of poutine in Montreal, go kayaking around the Vancouver harbor, or rent a car and travel the Icefields Parkway.
October: South Africa
There is no shortage of things to do in Cape Town. South Africa’s most popular tourist destination has long had a sterling reputation for its heart-pumping shark cage dives, iconic Table Mountain, and nearby vineyards. This fall, the city gets another claim to fame. The newly opening Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) stands to become the largest of its kind.
In 2016, wintertime visitors to Helsinki were greeted by the tongue-in-cheek banner: “Nobody in their right mind would come to Helsinki in November. (Except you, you badass.)” That warm sense of humor is just one reason to brave the winter chill for a visit to Finland in 2017, as the country celebrates its centennial. If it gets too brisk out to explore Senate Square and the South Harbour, you can warm up in a traditional Finnish sauna.
Not ready for snow? Make an end-of-year escape to Cartagena. This year, Colombia will welcome a papal visit for the first time in 30 years – a significant milestone in the country’s advances toward safety and stability. Test out the rave backpacker reviews yourself and explore the 16th century port city before it becomes trendy.