Planning a vacation but not sure where to go? We came up with a list of fabulous destinations that are trending this year. Here are our top destinations to visit this year.
Despite being the fourth largest island in the world, this remote island is still a largely undiscovered destination and one to deliver a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you are looking for an adventure, this wild and untamed island should be on top of your bucket list. Isolated for 65 million years, the remote island boasts 200,000 endemic species, including nearly 100 species of lemur. And who does not love those cute lemurs! And with over 300 miles of glorious unspoiled coastline and the fifth largest reef in the world, Madagascar also delivers wanted beach time. Dive the depths of the Indian Ocean surrounded by rays, turtles and sharks, or observe humpback whales from the shores of Ile Sainte Marie and watch sea turtles laying their eggs on Nosy Iranja’s beaches. Madagascar delivers something for everyone and is truly a destination to write home about.
For the ultimate adventure/beach vacation, pair Mozambique with Madagascar and you are guaranteed an ultimate bucket list worthy experience. The coastal country is undergoing a tourism renaissance since it became the first African country to decriminalize homosexuality and make itself a destination for everyone. You will love relaxing and unplugging at the Azura Benguerra Island, a stunning 18 villa property located within a Marine National Park and surrounded by unspoiled beaches that stretch for miles. During your stay on this paradise island, you will set sail at sunset on Azura’s own dhow and watch the dolphins swim around playfully (and hopefully see an endangered dugong – one of only 250 left in the Bazaruto Archipelago); snorkel off two-mile reef and then climb a massive dune for spectacular views of the marine reserve before enjoying a lazy lunch on Pansy Island – all part of the magical Azura island experience. Don’t wait for the rest of the world to discover this magical place and book your trip now.
For years, this beautiful sunny country has been overlooked by scores of travelers to Europe, despite its bounty of offerings – beaches, world renowned wines, historic cities and even Disney-like castles. This year promises to elevate Portugal to one of the top places to visit. Start with Lisbon, the good-time city with an amazing art scene, charming vintage boutiques and grandly faded old houses. Artists, architects and designers are flourishing here – poke around the higgledy-piggledy streets of the now-hip Barrio Alto and Principe Real neighborhoods, and for every charming junk shop and vintage emporium there’s a contemporary new gallery space housed in one of its grandly faded old houses. Graffiti is even funded by the government here. After you have your fill of the emerging foodie scene (a must try is the two Michelin star Belcanto restaurant), head to Douro Valley, Portugal’s best new wine destination. The historic and UNESCO World Heritage Site Douro Valley is one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world, with the Douro river meandering its way toward the Spanish border flanked on both sides with terraced vineyards. And now you can stay at the newly opened luxurious Six Senses Douro Valley, housed in a renovated 19th century manor house.
“It’s ludicrous this place exists and everybody doesn’t want to live here.” (Anthony Bourdain). Colombia is no longer the country of crime and drugs. This incredible country is undergoing a renaissance and travelers are flocking to experience buzzing Medellin, enchanting Cartagena, the country’s lush coffee region or hike to the Andes or find a slice of paradise on the white sand beaches. Colombia is packed with fantastic places to see and things to do. Stay at the hip and funky W Bogota Hotel when exploring Bogota and at the magnificent Casa Pestagua in Cartagena. Known as the “most beautiful house in Cartagena” Casa Pestagua belonged in the seventeenth century to the Count of Pestagua, a rich and powerful aristocrat who gave his name to this mansion with its impressive colonial architecture. This luxury hotel is bound to make you royal!
Sri Lanka has been a trending destination for a few years as it continues to grow in popularity. We love this country for its versatility – it offers something for everyone – couples, families, solo travels, adventure travelers. You can go on a yoga and surfing retreat, visit ancient Buddhist cave temples or rolling hills of tea leaves and frolic on the many secluded beaches. Sri Lanka also surprises us with the fabulousness of its luxury hotel and villa offerings and unrivalled customer service. We love the zen-like Amanwella hotel overlooking the Indian ocean. For a taste of Sri Lankan culture, visit this fascinating country in July/August and attend the annual ten day festival, Kandy Perahera. It takes the form of a striking procession which includes elephants, whip-crackers and various types of dancers, such as fire-dancers and Kandyan dancers, all of which are decorated with vibrant colours and bright lights. The Perahera is a historical Buddhist celebration unique to Sri Lanka, which pays homage to the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha, usually housed in the Temple of the Tooth.
You may have heard that Greenland is the new Iceland. While it may not be as developed as Iceland, it certainly is the next great destination offering fantastic glaciers, aquamarine rivers feeding thousands of waterfalls that flow into the enormous Icefjords and whale watching. It is one of the best places to see spouting whales in their natural habitat and if you are adventurous and lucky enough, you may just be able to see polar bears in the wild. And this March, Greenland will be home to the 2016 Arctic Winter Games, where along with skiing and ice hockey, participants will compete in ancient games such as the finger pull and kneel jump. Before you leave this winter wonderland, don’t forget to buy a “tupilak” the inuit version of a voodoo doll.
For a warmer climate, head to Spain, a country that has a ton of upcoming exciting events. Art fans head to Malaga, a seaside town in Spain’s exotic Andalusia region. This birthplace of Picasso has recently emerged as a new cultural capital and has seen the opening of three brand new museums including a five-year pop-up of the Centre Pompidou, housed in a futuristic building on the beautiful waterfront and exhibiting works of 20th and 21st century artists. After Malaga head to Barcelona via the new high-speed train to help this colorful city mark the 90th anniversary of the death of its beloved architect, Antonio Gaudi and be one of the first to visit the Unesco World Heritage Site Casa Vicens when it opens as a public museum. Finally, Spain also has a lot to offer to foodies. Head to San Sebastian, the 2016 European Capital of Culture and enjoy the many Michelin Starred restaurants that call the Basque country home. Finish with a side trip to the country side and stay at the Frank Gehry designed Marques de Riscal Hotel in the Rioja country and enjoy wine from the Marques de Riscal winery – the oldest in the Rioja
Thanks to the Summer Olympics due to take place in Rio de Janeiro in a few months this is one of the hottest tickets in town right now. And it became even more visitor-friendly when the Brazilian government announced it is waiving the mandatory visas for Americans traveling to Brazil this time. As you can imagine, Rio de Janeiro will be packed with Olympic visitors. Thankfully, Brazil is a huge country with a ton of exciting places to see. One top destination is Iguazu Falls located on the border of Brazil and Argentina. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a stunning example of nature’s beauty and a must see. If it’s beaches you want, head to Costa Verde, the 350-mile “green coast” between Santos and Rio de Janeiro.
Cambodia is one of the favorite destinations for many. It wowes with its culture, history, nature, beaches and ancient temples, case in point Angkor Wat. It is also constantly evolving and Angkor Wat no longer is the only must-experience attraction. The capital, Phnom Penh, is currently seeing a number of design-minded projects created to educate on the Khmer Rouge history. Siem Reap, home of the immense Ankgor Wat, is emerging as a foodie destination. Cambodia is also a fantastic beach destination. For an ultimate experience, stay at the Song Saa Private Island Retreat located on a remote private island off the coast of Cambodia offering ultra-luxurious villas, food worth writing home about and a fabulous spa.
Last but not least – Cuba. The destination that seems to be on everyone’s bucket list and is undergoing tremendous changes. You want to go there before it is taken over by big chain hotels and the charm it is known for disappears. One of our favorite places in Cuba is Trinidad, the UNESCO World Heritage Site city, known for its colorful architecture and fantastic beaches. If you are interested in the world famous cigars, head to the village of Vińales and explore the (yet another – UNESCO World Heritage site) the lush valley. You can experience first hand the making of the world’s finest cigars or learn about local organic farming. Finish off with a stay in Havana where you will drink intoxicating mojitos and dance the night way in the capital’s many salsa clubs.
To plan these or many other fantastic vacations, contact your Classic Travel agent.