moments of discovery 2017
2017 is a whole new year to embark on life-changing journeys all around the globe. To help you choose new destinations to discover in the next 365 days, we've compiled our expert picks of ten must-see spots for the year ahead. Scroll down to see our list.
1
Australia
What you’ll fall in love with:
Both country and island continent, Australia is an awe-inspiring destination that's as unique as it is remote. It's here that some of the world's most striking natural wonders spring to life in vivid color, from the copper-red sands of the Outback to the bright pink coral of the Great Barrier Reef. And, while the Land Down Under's landscapes never get old, simply seeing the architecture of Melbourne and Sydney makes a trip to the South Pacific more than worth it. Unparalleled scenery, welcoming locals, that charming Aussie accent—try as you might, it's almost impossible to put your finger on just one thing that makes this breathtaking destination so memorable.
Why go now:
To see one of the world's most impressive natural treasures: the Great Barrier Reef. This UNESCO-listed wonder is full of brilliantly hued coral that has begun to bleach due to the warmer water of recent years. If you want to see it at it's best, 2017 is the time to go.
What our travelers say:
"I expected snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, admiring Ayers Rock, and seeing the beautiful Opera House to be fantastic, and they were! The Olgas were majestic and the beauty of the Outback was amazing. Sydney, despite being a huge city, was a wonderful surprise. It has clean, safe streets, well-kept parks, and Darling Harbour is delightfully inviting."
Nancy, traveler
Explore Australia on tour
Pictured above:
The Great Barrier Reef
2
United Kingdom
What you’ll fall in love with:
From the lochs and legends of Scotland and Wales to the regal splendor of England and the rebel history of Northern Ireland, this group of islands off the northwest coast of Europe has a lot to offer. Here, bucolic landscapes dotted with medieval castles and fringed by dramatic coastlines give way to cosmopolitan cities filled with world-class museums and ancient cathedrals. Whether you're rubbing elbows with charismatic locals as you tip back a pint, scouting for Nessie or the Royal Family, or discovering the area's deeply rooted theater tradition, the UK is the place to soak in history that has helped define the world.
Why go now:
To enjoy the best exchange rate in years now that "Brexit" has become a household term and the value of the pound sterling has dramatically dipped. Visiting the UK has never been more affordable for North American travelers.
What our travelers say:
"From a beautiful train ride along the North Sea to stunning scenery at Stonehenge in England and Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, my trip to the United Kingdom and Ireland was nothing short of amazing. It's something I will remember for the rest of my life."
Michelle, traveler
Explore the United Kingdom on tour
Pictured above:
Stonehenge, one of England's UNESCO World Heritage sites
3
South Africa
What you’ll fall in love with:
With its captivating cities and premier wildlife viewing, South Africa is in a league of its own. This multifaceted country sits in the southernmost reaches of the African continent, where diverse ecosystems are home to a wide variety of animal life. While you may go for the opportunity to spot the Big Five in private game reserves and national parks, there is so much else about this unique destination that shines. Top-notch vintages such as Pinotage and chenin blanc are produced in the country's Winelands, and a deep-rooted culture comes to life in cosmopolitan Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Why go now:
To unwrap the many reason's why South Africa has been nicknamed "The Rainbow Nation." As one of Africa's most diverse travel destinations, the country is the ideal place to seek out new experiences, uncover diverse cultures, and truly embrace our call to have more moments of discovery in 2017.
What our travelers say:
"Visiting South Africa was the culmination of a long-held dream. Mountains, valleys, lakes, forests, and surf crashing on the shore coupled with exotic wildlife made for the trip of a lifetime. The country is beautiful, the people are friendly, and the exchange rate is very good. What are you waiting for?"
Joseph, traveler
Explore South Africa on tour
Pictured above:
Colorful beach huts in Cape Town
4
Norway
What you’ll fall in love with:
There's a lot to love about Scandinavian countries, and Norway is the place to find it all. It's here that the world's steepest and narrowest fjords weave their way through a dramatic landscape of sheer cliffs, immense glaciers, and tumbling waterfalls. And, the country's natural wonders are only rivaled by the man-made. From the vibrant, UNESCO-listed Bryggen wharf in Bergen to a progressive architecture scene, there's so much that's uniquely Norwegian to admire.
Why go now:
To get to know the locals, who are as friendly as ever, which might explain why Norway clinched the number four spot on the World Happiness Report in 2016. Visit this year to soak in extra joy.
What our travelers say:
"Scandinavia was visually stunning, with some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Europe: pristine waters, towering mountains, and green everywhere you look. In addition to the physical beauty and temperate conditions, the Scandinavians were very friendly and almost everyone spoke perfect English."
Barbara, traveler
Explore Norway on tour
Pictured above:
A Scandinavian village along Nærøyfjord
5
Puglia
What you’ll fall in love with:
Authenticity presides in every corner of this Southern Italian region, which dominates Italy's boot heel. Stroll down time-worn paths in fascinating cities such as Bari and Lecce, getting swept up in the slow-paced life the locals known as Pugliese enjoy. As you explore the region, its extensive history, miles of sun-drenched beaches, and the conical homes of Alberobello will capture your imagination. But, it will be the region's unpretentious charms—and mouthwatering cuisine—that win your heart.
Why go now:
To enjoy a quieter, off-the-beaten-path locale before others catch on without sacrificing any of the things that make Italy a show-stopper: exquisite food, stunning views, and a healthy dose of la dolce vita.
What our travelers say:
"Southern Italy is lovely. It's so different from other Italian regions we've visited in the past. The Sassi di Matera cave dwellings and the trulli houses in Alberobello were places I had looked forward to seeing for years. But, there are many more nice surprises in Puglia, too!"
Irene, traveler
Explore tours to Puglia
Pictured above:
A seaside view in Puglia
6
Japan
What you’ll fall in love with:
Few countries blend ancient customs with modern-day innovations as seamlessly as "The Land of the Rising Sun." It's on this dynamic island that you can find your zen during an authentic tea ceremony in Osaka and step inside shrines built by powerful emperors in Kyoto. Or, cast your eyes to the horizon, where Tokyo's soaring skyscrapers and iconic Mount Fuji anchor the skyline. And, if you want to discover some of Asia's most delicious cuisine? Dip in to a warm bowl of Ramen or roll up some fresh sushi, two classic Japanese specialties.
Why go now:
To enjoy the build up to the 2020 Olympic Games. Japan will play host, earning the country even more well-deserved attention from curious travelers looking to soak in its palpable history while getting swept up in the exciting whir of present-day.
What our travelers say:
"I have been dreaming of visiting Japan since I was in high school and nine years later, I was finally able to make it happen. The people, culture, and food were just amazing. Venturing to this part of the world was humbling and incredibly breathtaking. I would recommend this trip to anyone with an open mind and an eagerness to explore a culture that is different than their own."
Emily, traveler
Explore Japan on tour
Pictured above:
A shrine in the Fushimi Inari complex
7
Canada
What you’ll fall in love with:
"The Great White North" has something for everyone. In Toronto, Ottawa, and French-speaking Montreal, hip eateries and fascinating museums can be found around every corner. The best part of visiting these culturally rich cities? The urban hustle and bustle does nothing to diminish how friendly and safe this country is. And, for those more inclined to set off into the wilderness, peaceful solitude can be enjoyed in more rugged areas and impeccable national parks. Nature lovers, rejoice as you journey off the beaten path in the rural Maritimes, stare out at the otherworldly hue of Lake Louise near Banff, or gaze up at the staggering Canadian Rockies in Jasper.
Why go now:
To celebrate the country's 150th anniversary of Confederation. Canadians will be marking the milestone all year long with exciting events that pay homage to the country's national heritage.
What our travelers say:
"My wife and I just returned from our amazing trip to the Canadian Rockies, where we enjoyed the incredible beauty of the mountains and turquoise lakes. We also saw an impressive variety of wildlife. While rafting on the Athabasca River, we heard elk bugling.”
Bob, traveler
Explore Canada on tour
Pictured above:
Maligne Lake in Alberta's Jasper National Park
8
Croatia
What you’ll fall in love with:
Sitting pretty on the glittering shores of the Adriatic is Croatia, a storybook destination with Old-World charm. The country's red-roofed homes sit in stark contrast to the vivid blue of the ocean in seaside Dubrovnik and Split, and some of Europe's most spectacular Roman architecture remains impressively well-preserved. There is even more intrigue to be found inland, where you can admire art in the capital city of Zagreb, and stroll past lush greenery and ethereal waterfalls in the UNESCO-listed Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Why go now:
To discover an often-overlooked gem that's worthy of a second glance. While Europeans have flocked to this stunning country for years, Americans are only slowly taking notice.
What our travelers say:
"I'm still poring over my photos and journal entries from my time in Croatia because I can't believe what a wonderful experience it was. The scenery up the Adriatic coast, historic villages, friendly people, castles, and beauty of Plitvice Lakes National Park will all live in my memory. It is a beautiful country."
Judy, traveler
Explore Croatia on tour
Pictured above:
The red rooftops of Dubrovnik
9
Andalusia
What you’ll fall in love with:
Andalusia, Spain has an allure all its own. The rhythms of flamenco pulse through the region and rugged mountains give way to roaring ocean and sweeping plains. The ingredients that are gathered from the earth and the ocean make for an unmatched culinary scene that reflects influences from a colorful past. And, whether you're digging in to a plate of flavorful tapas or shaking off the Spanish heat with a bowl of chilled gazpacho, a drizzle of first-rate olive oil and a glass of sherry from Jerez will round out your meal. From the Moorish architecture of Seville and Granada to abundantly fresh flavors, there is so much to admire in this spellbinding region.
Why go now:
To escape the busyness of Spain's larger cities while settling in to a more relaxed region that's just as lovely. And, of course, to discover its culinary scene, which is seeing something of a revolution as new restaurants serving authentic dishes continue to crop up.
What our travelers say:
"I wanted to discover more about the beautiful country of Spain, and boy, was I in luck. Every day was joyful, informative, and fun. I walked along charming streets in historic cities such as Granada and Ronda. I relaxed in the sun-soaked town of Marbella on the famed Costa del Sol. And, I soaked up the local culture at a flamenco show and every time we ate. From paella and tapas to decadent desserts and fine wine, each dining experience created fond memories."
Ralph, traveler
See it on: Grand Tour of Spain
Explore Andalusia on tour
Pictured above:
Authentic Spanish tapas
10
Chile
What you’ll fall in love with:
This narrow country traces South America's western coast and sits distinguished as one of the most scenic destinations in the world. From north to south, vast Chilean landscapes of immense beauty shine a light on nature as it should be: untouched. Nowhere is this more true than in the country's storied Patagonia region. In Torres del Paine National Park, jagged mountains shoot skyward from grasslands grazed by wild horses. Blue-tinted icefields stretch as far as the eye can see. And melted snow inches from towering peaks to meet jewel-toned lakes.
Why go now:
To explore one of the world's up-and-coming adventure capitals. Whether you're taking a cable car ride, hiking to waterfalls, or cruising along a glacier face, Chile's natural landscapes provide the perfect outlet for exciting experiences. Not an adventure-lover? Not to worry. The country's astounding vistas are just as impressive no matter how you view them.
What our travelers say:
"Chile is a country of striking natural beauty. From its unspoiled wilderness and beautiful coastline to picturesque ice fields, glaciers, and mountains, this destination is a must-visit for any outdoor enthusiast."
Lael, Go Ahead Director of Product Development
Explore Chile on tour
Pictured above:
Torres Del Paine National Park at dusk