Top ten travel destinations for 2017
Looking for inspiration on travel hotspots for this year? Here are our top ten travel destinations for 2017 and the reasons why these amazing ports of call should definitely be on your radar…
Cuba is back on the top of the list of top destinations in 2017 for most of the big travel soothsayers. According to the Cuban Tourism Ministry, 4.1 million visitors are expected to arrive in Havana in 2017, one million more than 2016. With the resumption of diplomatic relations between the USA and Cuba, underscored by the final curtain for Fidel Castro in 2016, the fear is that this could well be the last year to see the Cold War time capsule before things change forever. How new US President Trump regards the renewed relationship with Cuba is also an unknown.
Tip: The entrepreneurially-minded residents of Havana have opened their doors to provide low cost accommodation and tourist dining options. Definitely a good way to spread the travel love and ensure your dollar filters down to grassroots level.
While there’s a lot of buzz about Ecuador up the road, our pesos are on Peru for a big year in 2017, in particular the capital Lima. Like most big South American urban centres, Lima is a little rough around the edges – but it’s better viewed metaphorically as a diamond in the rough. The city is a fabulously cultural and historic destination. It’s also one of the driest capital cities on the planet, so you are pretty much guaranteed of blue skies for your holiday. If you are heading for Cusco and Machu Picchu, Lima will probably be on your itinerary anyway, but don’t rush through here.
This one comes out of left field, but again, with renewed diplomatic ties with the USA, along with the Brits (they reopened their embassy in Tehran in 2015) Iran is back on the map for travellers. The ruling regime is very stable compared with much of the Middle East, and there are several Australian tour companies offering itineraries here – most of which have a ‘Persian treasures’ feel. Definitely worth investigating, especially if you want to be one of the first to be able to say ‘been there, done that’.
Tip: Be aware that with the recent changes to the US Visa Waiver Program, Australians who visit Iran will not be eligible for the US Visa Waiver Program and will need to obtain a visa prior to future travel to the USA.
Vietnam & Cambodia – Mekong River Cruising
There are two types of Aussies – those that cruise and those for whom it’s only a matter of time – and boutique Mekong River cruising has taken off in a big way. And what’s not to love? Combine two incredibly historic destinations – Vietnam and Cambodia – travelling along what is the lifeblood for much of the populations of both countries. Most of the cruise boats on the Mekong are pretty well appointed, so it’s a very comfortable way to explore this iconic working waterway.
Across to Europe – and Iceland has a reputation for being an expensive travel destination. However when you see just how stunning the island’s natural landscapes are, you might decide it’s actually very good value for money. This shimmering jewel of the north has so much to offer travellers: from the city life of capital Reykjavik – boasting a sublime arts, literary, music and bar scene – through to stunning landscapes, and of course, the northern lights.
Tip: The best time to see the northern lights in Iceland is from September to mid-April when nights are darkest.
The world is a scarier place than it was 12 months ago, which may see many of us turning to travel destinations that offer a higher degree of familiarity and security. Canada is undoubtedly one such destination. Our northern cousin turns 150 in 2017 and has been named the number one country to visit in 2017 by Lonely Planet. Who are we to argue? Join the celebration.
And speaking of celebrating, Finland is throwing a 12-month party to mark 100 years of independence in 2017. The official theme is ‘Together’ and there are hundreds of special events planned, many of which will take place in the perennial capital Helsinki (as if there wasn’t enough to see and do already in this amazing city!). Check out the programme here.
There’s been a buzz about Sri Lanka as a travel destination for a few years now and it’s back on our list of top ten travel destinations for 2017. The verdict is a resounding thumbs up from the jury of travellers who have already visited this island nation off the eastern coast of the sub-continent. The diversity of experiences on offer is the big draw here – from big city life in capital Colombo, to stunning wildlife viewing opportunities in natural landscapes like Yala National Park, to the sun-kissed southern beaches, and it all comes wrapped in big smiles and amazing hospitality.
Fiji generally trumps the Cook Islands for Aussie travellers, but what’s unclear is why. The Cooks offer a truly sublime travel experience, with crystal clear turquoise waters, a tranquil swim-out reef that rings much of the main island of Raratonga, and a great selection of boutique hotels and luxury villas. To make matters even better, in March 2017 Air New Zealand will introduce a Boeing 777-200 on its weekly direct flight from Sydney to Raratonga, upping the ante on comfort, particularly for business and premium economy passengers.
In the wake of global uncertainty, we can expect to see more Aussies holidaying at home this year. And there are, of course, no end to terrific domestic destinations to consider. But one we wrote about in 2016 that definitely struck a chord with readers was Newcastle.
The economic downturn that followed BHP’s departure at the turn of the millennium was the catalyst for the city’s cultural renewal, and with its superb beaches and rich colonial history, Newcastle could well be the sleeping giant of east coast tourism. A new cruise terminal, set to open in 2018, could just be the wake-up call.
Have you visited any of our top ten travel destinations for 2017? We would love to hear your tips. Please leave us a comment.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a Melbourne-based travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. Adam has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. He worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. Adam also appears regularly as a travel commentator on Sky News Business Class. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.