AS January comes around, it is natural to start thinking about your 2017 getaway.
Whether you’re dreaming of whizzing down snowy mountains or mingling with monkeys, our top travel destinations for 2017 are far from average.
Banff National Park, Canada
Party hats at the ready!
Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday, so expect a year of exciting events across the country.
Perhaps the best present of all is free entry to its stunning national parks.
National Geographic Travel has put Banff, Canada’s first park, on its Best Trips 2017 list.
With emerald blue lakes, rugged mountains and 2,500 square miles of spectacular nature with bears, elk and lynx, it really does make a trip of a lifetime.
It’s also a winter sports paradise in the snowy months, with up to 9m of the white stuff falling each season.
When to go January-March for snow bunnies or June-August for sunshine.
Fly there 9 hrs, from £329 return.
Coming fifth in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2017 list, this may not be your typical foodie destination, but if you love your grub, Nepal could be for you.
There’s local wine-tasting and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s award-winning Sisterhood of Survivors project in Kathmandu, where you can learn to make momos (dumplings) with female survivors of human trafficking.
Fill up on feel-good food while giving back to the country after the devastating effects of the 2015 earthquakes it’s worked hard to recover from.
“Nepalese cuisine takes inspiration from India and China. Feast on momos and dal bhat [rice and lentils] and take advantage of stops on long bus rides to try local street food snacks like samosas and pakoras,” says G Adventures’ Asia expert Lianna Kuchmak.
The best thing? You can walk it all off with a once-in-a-lifetime Himalayan hiking experience.
“Check out the unique temples [stupas], too – Swayambhunath in Kathmandu is swarming with monkeys!” adds Lianna.
When to go October-December.
Fly there 11 hrs 20 mins, from £374 return.
Red wine lovers, this is for you.
The £63million Cité du Vin museum, nicknamed the “Guggenheim of wine”, opened last summer and offers one heck of a multi-sensory experience.
Meanwhile, from July a new train line means it’ll be just two hours from Paris.
“Eat oysters from Marché des Capucins and explore the Dordogne nearby by staying in wine villas,” says Lonely Planet’s editorial director Tom Hall.
When to go May-September.
Fly there 1 hr 45 mins, from £22 return.
With new roads and glitzy hotels being built, plus better links, tourism is a big focus for this country, so beat the crowds by going sooner rather than later.
“It’s the most underrated place in the world, with an incredible history and wildlife,” says Tom
“Expect to see gelada monkeys and wolves. And the incredible churches of Lalibela carved out of rock and the medieval castles of Gondar would be world-famous if they were elsewhere.”
Don’t miss the injera bread.
“It’s giant, lemony and looks like a pancake – they can be as big as 4ft square!” adds Tom. “Also, stop over in Dubai for a touch of luxury en route. ”
When to go September-March.
Fly there 7 hr 20 mins, from £410 return.
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Third of Brits say that travelling and exploring the world is their top priority for the coming year
TOP TIPS FOR TRIPS
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The Skellig Ring, Ireland
Listen up, Star Wars fans – fancy walking in Mark Hamill’s footsteps on a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
Scenes for The Force Awakens were shot in the south-west of Ireland and will feature in this year’s movie, too.
“Mark also pulled a pint in The Moorings pub in Portmagee!” says Lonely Planet’s Tom.
“Think puffin-spotting, gorgeous little villages and exploring the blue flag beach at St Finian’s Bay, plus the local chocolate is great. It makes the perfect half-term adventure.”
Fly there 1 hr 30 mins, from £23 return.
Aarhus has not only been named European Capital of Culture this year, it’s also made National Geographic Traveller’s Cool List.
“It’s cosy, friendly and everything is in walking distance,” says René Mammen, a Michelin-starred chef in the city.
“Visit Moesgaard Museum and go for a walk in the forest surrounding it. In the summer, swim in the sea at Den Permanente. For a caffeine hit, head to La Cabra and Great Coffee. The Dokk1 building is a really cool place to visit with lots of playgrounds and kids’ activities. For wine, order a glass at S’vinbar, while St Pauls Apotek is great for cocktails.”
When to goMay-September.
Fly there1 hr 40 mins, from £29 return.
Cape Town, South Africa
The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa – the continent’s first major contemporary art museum – is set to open at the V&A Waterfront in September.
Plus, the city is still great value for money.
“Hiking up Lion’s Head is best at sunrise, and you’ll get 360-degree views of Cape Town, Table Mountain and the Atlantic coast,” says Chris Duncan, Africa expert for G Adventures.
“Catch a summer sunset concert at the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, where you can bring your own drinks. And breakfast at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock is also highly recommended. Stop by eclectic shops along Long Street, Main Road, Simon’s Town and Kalk Bay. Staying in a vintage Airstream trailer at Grand Daddy’s Rooftop Trailer Park is also a neat experience.”
Oh, and the vineyards are a short drive away if you want to escape the city.
When to go October-April.
Fly there from £408 return.
British Airways has just launched the first direct route from the UK to Chile.
“Head to San Pedro de Atacama for volcano hiking and a mix of Chilean, French and Italian-influenced food,” says Rachel Uberti, Chile expert at Intrepid Travel.
“Torres del Paine National Park is where you’ll find rheas, condors and flamingos. With lakes, glaciers and mountains, you’ll be in awe.”
“My faves are chorilla – fries, sliced beef and fried egg, and manjar – Chile’s dulce de leche,” says Rachel.
“And don’t miss choripan – chorizo in a baguette with chimichurri.”
When to go October-December.
Fly there 14 hrs 40 mins, from £738 return.
The Azores, Portugal
New low-cost flights have seen these volcanic Portugese islands rocket in popularity, with a 31% increase in tourism last year.
“It’s the new Iceland, but milder,” says Tom.
Plus it’s far less-travelled, with wildlife just as good as the islands’ colder counterpart.
Spot dolphins, island-hop or relax in the hot springs.
“Try cozido – meat and veg stew cooked underground in a volcanic field,” adds Tom.
When to go June-September.
Fly there 3 hrs 52 mins, from £110 return.
Snowdonia, North Wales
You don’t have to fly halfway around the world for adventure.
“With beaches and mountains, this part of Wales is getting a reputation for adrenalin sports,” says Tom.
Not only does Zip World offer the world’s fastest and Europe’s longest zip line, there are also giant trampolines in caverns and a man-made surf bay.
“Then you can head to the pretty village of Portmeirion and spend a day riding the steam trains, or head deep down under the earth for a mine tour,” he adds.
“There’s a growing food scene in the small town of Criccieth, too.”
Drive there No passport needed!
Hotels in 2060
What to expect, as predicted by futurist Dr James Canton of San Francisco’s Institute for Global Futures*
Programmed with special talents, skills, languages and information, they’ll help make your hotel stay exceptional.
Everyone will just pack hand luggage – 3D printers will createanything from new shoes to pharmaceuticals on site.
Yep, choose your own dreams for your hotel stay. You’ll get access to neurotechnology to program them to a theme – and you could even learn a new skill.
Move over, facials – think treatments based on DNA analysis with illness and ageing prevention treatments and mind-refreshing drugs.
When you check in, your fingerprint will confirm who you are and facial recognition will let you into your room. Plus, a travel avatar, like a personal version of Apple’s Siri, will help manage bookings – searching, designing and booking all your trips.
Fancy a trip to Machu Picchu? Forget local excursions – you’ll be able to experience fantasy worlds without stepping outside.
*In partnership with Hotels.com