If you’ve recently rolled your eyes at yet another friend-in-Iceland-insta, you’re not alone. Freaking travel hipsters. Are we tired of the travel trend? Absolutely. Are we still completely jealous of our friend? Again, absolutely.
Have no fear, we have your rebuttal, it’s here! 2016 is finally over (thank God), and down with its sinking ship goes all of the years’ travel trends. It’s officially 2017, and although you may have already dropped your new years resolutions, we refuse to let your travel plans go down with them.
In this article you’ll find 5 of the new years’ hottest countries to visit, as per some serious research. Get ready to make your friends weep with travel jealousy, as you hit (before them, mind you) the newest must see destinations.
#1. So 2016, Dominican Republic → Visit Cuba
When: For optimal weather visit December → May & for fun on New Years Eve
Where: “Havana is heaven” but it’s not all Cuba has to offer. Check out Santiago de Cuba, Camagüey, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, or Varadero.
Why: Besides being open to Americans for the first time in half a century, multiple airlines are now offering discounted flights to the island. You’ll need a better reason than “tourism” to get a visa, but it’s rich history and continually changing culture is one you won’t want to miss.
What: Get lost in Cuba’s rich culture and history by seeing the beautiful University of Havana, (alma mater of Castro and home of many historical protests), embracing the local music (found everywhere), or wander the incredible architecture. Hang out at the Plaza Vieja, eat the mouth-watering food, visit Ernest Hemingway’s house, or take in the sunset from El Morrow. There’s a literal list the size of your arm of “don’t-miss” attractions; you won’t be bored.
When: For optimal weather visit May → June, but honestly the rest of the year is fine too.
Where: Of course you can’t not see the Scottish staples of Edinburgh and Glasgow, but don’t miss the rest of this beautiful country as well. Make sure to stop and see the city of Dundee or visit the Hebrides, (especially Skye), these Scottish islands are breathtaking.
Why: I think Laura Dannen Redman stated it best; “The year 2017 marks the year of History, Heritage, and Archaeology in Scotland, which means it’s time to explore the standing stones (made famous, for better or for worse, by Outlander), discover your roots, and find your tartan. And now, with new nonstop Delta flights form New York-JFK to Edinburgh, it’s easier than ever to get there.”
What: What can’t you see in Scotland is a better question because this country has everything you’d want to explore, plus more! Its cities are draped in medieval lure, filled with a deep passion for music and art, and topped off with a contemporary food scene that would even make a New Yorker cry. Besides indulging in all that the cities have to offer you can become one with nature and hike Cairngorms National Park. Next see windswept Fort William and Glencoe, embrace the “silence” of Shetland and Orkney, and live every instagramers dream in the Ardnamurchan Peninsular.
#3. So 2016, Australia → Visit New Zealand
When: New Zealand is beautiful year round, but the popular cities book fast. *Hint, hint.*
Where: Top cities include Queenstown (duh), Mangawhai (less pressure than Auckland), Feilding, Russell, Raglan (surfs up), Hokitika (ever heard of The Luminaries?), and Wanaka (hello, Lord of the Rings!).
Why: Thanks to United, American, and Air New Zealand’s new daily direct flights this south of the equator country is easier to get to than ever. The newly opened multi-million dollar resort in Northland, and waterfront Eirchardt’s Hotel bring an entirely new meaning to the word luxury.
What: Visit the above mentioned hotels as well as Auckland superstar chef Al Brown’s new restaurant, Depot. Outside of it’s bustling city life hike Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound, the Bay of Islands, Lake Taupo, and Rotorua. Whether it’s beach, mountains, or city life – hiking, skydiving, or taking a dip in bubbling hot pools, this country has it all.
When: For peak beach weather without the crowds go in June or September. To enjoy the inland and rain forests instead, try autumn.
Where: Visit the cities of Hvar, Zagreb, and Dubrovnik, they’re incredible, but be aware everyone else will be visiting them too. Real travelers should branch out to the country’s many islands, coast, and remote fishing villages. See Trieste, barely inside Italy’s borders, and Zablace (near Split) where Brad Pitt will soon open a luxury resort.
Why: Tourism is on the rise in this newly independent country, having celebrated 25 years in 2016. Also thanks to major television (hello, Game of Thrones) it’s become quite a popular fan site. So before media totally take over the island, it’s time to get there and enjoy its untapped potential.
What: Ride a scooter around the small, mountainous island of Vis. Enjoy fresh seafood, quiet coves, and tranquil silence (bye crowds!). If wine is more your bag head to Korcula Island for the country’s famous dry white wine. See Pula, where ancient gladiators fought, walk Rovinj’s cobblestone streets, or embrace nature at Krka National Park.
#5. So 2016, South Africa → Visit Zimbabwe
When: May → August are the best months to visit for great weather and low malaria risk. On the other hand, if you hope to see Victoria Falls in full swing go between April and May; to white water raft them try August → December.
Where: This country is more for the outdoorsman and historian. So don’t miss Victoria Falls, River Zambezi, the Chinhoyi Caves, or Bulawayo. Also see The Great Zimbabwe Ruins, Hwange National Park, and Matapos National Park. Finally (there’s too many great things to add to this list!) see Lake Kariba, and Mana Polo.
Why: There’s so many reasons why you should visit, but here’s just a few to catch your eye. Besides the brand new $150 million airport in Victoria Falls, the country has taken an amazing turn to build up its tourism infrastructure. The country’s resilience is incredibly evident in its new conservation efforts, which are shown in its less-crowded safari adventures.
What: Surround yourself in the abounding nature, as mentioned above, or immerse yourself in the African culture. Amazing views abound from Lookout Cafe in Victoria Falls, or take it inside with the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. Find unique jewelry from Patrick Mavros (famous clients include Bruce Springsteen, and Kate Middleton), or other crafts at the Big Curio Open Market.
Now we’re not saying you still can’t visit destinations popular in 2016. They’re still cool, but now you’ve got the insiders secret to the new top destinations! So go forth, and report back (and tag us in a few Instagrams along the way). Also, for a final insider secret trying clicking on the above locations. Their full of exclusive interliner hotel, rental-car, all-inclusive resort, and cruise deals. You’re welcome in advance. Until next time, safe travels and keep your eyes on the skies!
Author: Emily (@ID90 Travel)
Emily is the Content Marketing Manager here at ID90 Travel. An avid non-rev flyer (she grew up in the industry), and passionate private pilot, Emily can’t get enough of all things aviation. When not writing awesome ID90 Travel content she can be found on a Texas patio, being one with nature, or annoying her ID90T co-workers with her many, many, crowdsourcing questions.