If there’s anything I learned from my travels in 2016 it is that I have only just started. There are so many places left in the world for me to experience, and sometimes I’m uncertain on how to decide where I should go next. I do know that I want to travel internationally more often, and I believe everyone should visit another country at least once in their life. I hope to get to at least one of the following places in 2017.
Queenstown, New Zealand
New Zealand is highly regarded as one of the most beautiful places on earth. If you can get past the sheer beauty of Queensland, you can really start exploring why it is such a hotbed for tourists in recent months. The city is dubbed the adventure capital of New Zealand, and there’s no shortage of adventures to go on while you are there. Beautiful Victorian villas, delicious restaurants, and unique shops on every corner will have you contemplating staying for longer than your allotted vacation time.
Cape Town, South Africa
Did someone say African Penguins? After the awe factor of seeing African Penguins at Boulder Beach wears off, visitors can explore the rest of the quaint South African town. Jump on a tour bus for $35 to tour Cape Point, which is the southwestern most point in Africa. Take in an art walk or head to a local restaurant for one of the best fish dishes you can get anywhere. Thrill seekers can get the ultimate adrenaline rush by diving with over 40 different species of sharks.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
If you are fan of feeling like you are ingrained into a culture while you are visiting a city, then Belfast should be at the top of your list of destinations in 2017. The streets are lined with open-air bars and restaurants, art galleries, and local businesses. Mix and mingle with the locals for a truly authentic Irish experience. The architecture is stunning throughout Belfast, and if you venture outside of the city you will be greeted with beautiful scenery as far as the eye can see.
Athens has a reputation of being a travel destination for history buffs, but the city has been expanding past its “old city” roots into a mecca for modern art. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center is home to the National Opera and the National Library of Greece, and it is in the biggest park in Athens. Authentic Greek souvlaki is a reason to visit Athens in itself, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg that is the phenomenal food scene in the city.
Normally I would not suggest visiting somewhere so remote, but Kakslauttanen has the most intriguing activities of any city on this list. Many people have said that seeing the Northern Lights in action will change your life forever, and in Kakslauttanen you can see them from the comfort of a glass igloo. When you’re not gazing up at the sky you can set out on a reindeer safari or explore the nearby Urho National Park on a pair of ski shoes, or better yet, on a dog sled.
International travel often requires at least a full day to two days of travel, so I would suggest booking for at least 10 days in any of the cities mentioned above. You don’t want to rush around trying to see anything and consequently miss out on truly experiencing anything.