These 21 diverse destinations provide plenty of inspiration for your 2017 vacations.
“This special issue (December/January 2017 issue) takes readers on a globe-spinning journey to 21 of the world’s best destinations,” says George Stone, National Geographic Traveler, editor in chief. “We think this year’s list represents a carefully curated selection of forward-leaning places that reveal the bright future of travel. This list is all about exploration and discovery.”
The 21 diverse destinations provide plenty of inspiration for your 2017 vacations.
Best Culture Destinations 2017, National Geographic Traveler
1. Malta: The tiny republic, home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites, looks to the future with new buildings by noted architect Renzo Piano.
3. Chengdu, China: Come for the food. UNESCO designated Chengdu as a “City of Gastronomy” as it’s the center of Sichuan cuisine. Stay to see the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base.
4. Canton Uri, Switzerland: The destination offers mountains, meadows, glacial lakes and drives through the Alps or for the hurried, a 17-minute high-speed train ride through a 35-mile mountain tunnel.
5. Guadeloupe Islands: Part of the French West Indies, the five Guadeloupe islands have a unique sound: Gwo-Ka, a mix of local Creole lyrics and African singing and drums. The islands also feature beaches, rainforests and reefs.
6. Georgia, United States: National Geographic Traveler focuses on Georgia’s music and the new stars building on the legacies of James Brown and Ray Charles. The state hosts 75 music festivals in 2017.
7. Cradle of Humankind, South Africa: The 180-square-mile site is among the world’s richest for hominid fossils. Learn about human origins at the site’s Maropeng Visitor Centre.
Best Nature Destinations 2017, National Geographic Traveler
1. Kauai, United States: Canyons, cliffs, waterfalls, and forests lure nature lovers to Kauai.
2. Finland: Reindeer safaris, snowshoeing and the spray of Northern Lights in Lapland are part of Finland’s charms.
3. Baja California, Mexico: Diving in the marine parks delivers close encounters with elephant seals, white sharks and manta rays with wing spans of more than 20-feet.
4. Banff, Alberta, Canada: Banff National Park offers woodland hikes, turquoise-blue lakes, rugged mountain peaks as well as hot springs soaks and upscale accommodations.
5. Cloud Forests, Ecuador: Hundreds of jewel-colored hummingbirds and other species fly through the fog-shrouded slopes of Chocó’s cloud forest.
6. Via Dinarica, Western Balkans: When hiking the 1,000-mile Via Dinarica, trekkers can stay overnight in shepherd settlements and small villages.
7. Tiger National Parks, Central India: Madhya Pradesh national parks are home to many of India’s wild tigers.
Best Cities 2017, National Geographic Traveler
1. Marrakech, Morocco: Sandstone buildings aglow in sun, snake charmers in Djemma el-Fnaa square, the winding streets of the souk and the intricate ceramics of El Bahia Palace are just some of Marrakech’s charms.
2. Madrid, Spain: Madrid is a cosmopolitan city with parks, gardens and more than 60 museums, including the noted Museo del Prado and the Reina Sofia. Enjoy bars serving tapas and Michelin-starred restaurants.
3. Anchorage, Alaska: Anchorage offers pubs and restaurants within a 30-minute drive of Alaska’s wilderness where fishing, hiking and spotting brown bears are just some of the adventures.
4. Seoul, South Korea: Explore the shops of flashy Gangnam, sample the street food in Gwangjang Market, take in panoramic city views from the N Seoul Tower and walk through Bukchon Hanok Village, site of more than 900 traditional Korean homes and guesthouses.
5. Moscow, Russia: Along with the classic Moscow of colorful domes, Red Square and the Kremlin, find contemporary Moscow at Winzavod, a former wine-bottling factory turned art center, and other galleries.
6. Cartagena, Colombia: Stroll the walled Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site laced with colonial mansions.
7. Hamburg, Germany: Speicherstadt, a port warehouse district, is part of HafenCity, a large inner-city development project that includes the new Elbphilharmonie, a concert hall complex.