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Best Places to Travel in 2017

December 23, 2016

If one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2017 is to travel, and you’re not sure where to go, National Geographic has picked 21 destinations worth considering. Whether your thing while travelling is nature, big cities, food or culture, this list has it all, including a Canadian destination. So pack your bags, grab your travel documents (including your travel insurance policy, just in case) and get ready to explore the world.

“We think this year’s list represents a carefully curated selection of forward-leaning places that reveal the bright future of travel,” said George Stone, National Geographic Traveler editor in chief. “This list is all about exploration and discovery. It’s not just about where to go, but why to go now and how to make 2017 a year of enlightenment through travel.”

National Geographic’s Places You Need to Visit in 2017

If you love to embrace the beauty of nature and wildlife, then you’ll want to consider these 7 destinations.

Kauai, United States

Kauai, Hawaii

Why go?
Sea cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and hiking paths with unbelievable views.

When to go
April to November for hiking and beaches; December to May for whale-watching.


Finland

Finland

Why go?
Finland’s 40 national parks, 12 wilderness areas, and six national hiking areas are sanctuaries for travellers in search of some quiet.

When to go
February to early May for skiing; June to August for hiking, biking, kayaking, and virtual daylight 24 hours a day; September to March for the northern lights.


Baja California, Mexcio

Baja California, Mexcio

Why go?
Bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Sea of Cortez on the east, marine life including whales, great white sharks and manta rays gather.

When to go
November to July for scuba diving trips among giant manta rays; mid-December to April for whale-watching.


Banff, Alberta

Banff, Alberta

Why go?
With mountains, valleys and turquoise lakes, there is so much you can do in Banff, from hiking and horseback riding to enjoying a hot spring soak.

When to go
May to October for biking; July to mid-September for hiking; and mid-November to mid-May for winter sports.


Cloud Forest, Ecuador

Cloud Forests, Ecuador

Why go?
As a biodiversity hotspot, the cloud forest of Ecuador is home to hundreds of birds. It’s a birder’s paradise.

When to go
Year-round since the daily weather forecast (95 percent humidity, average temperatures in the low 20s C, and some rainfall) rarely varies; mid-June to early October is the drier season; expect daily rain from February to April.


Via Dinarica, Western Balkans

Via Dinarica, Western Balkans

Why go?
In 2017, after years of expansion, the beautiful 1,200-mile Via Dinarica trail will be completely mapped with highlights from a growing community of hikers.

When to go
January to mid-March for ski touring and snowshoeing; May to September for hiking and biking.


Tiger National Park, Central India

Tiger National Park, Central India

Why go?
If birds aren’t your thing, then maybe cats are. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s tiger population resides in India.

When to go
October 15th to March is peak tourist season. To encounter fewer people and more tigers, visit during the sizzling summer (April to June) when temperatures regularly hover near 40 C. Most parks are closed during monsoon season (July to mid-October).


Cities

If you prefer the hustle and bustle of the city, then these urban destinations are worth a look.

Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech, Morocco

Why go?
A visit to the city’s famous souks (marketplaces) is in order, where you’ll find brightly coloured spices, rugs and lamps.

When to go
March to May and October to November for comfortable temperatures and lighter crowds.


Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain

Why go?
Spain’s capital city lays claim to more than 60 museums, a nightlife scene that carries over into the day, and plenty of parks and gardens where you can unwind and relax.

When to go
May to June and September to October for generally dry weather and mild temperatures.


Anchorage, United States

Anchorage, United States

Why go?
This city combines urban activities with nature. And, with nearly round-the-clock daylight in summer, you can pack a weekend’s worth of activities into a day including fishing, glacier hiking, and surfing the bore tide along the Turnagain Arm.

When to go
November to April for skiing, dog sledding, and the northern lights; mid-June to mid-August for nearly 20 hours of daylight per day.


Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

Why go?
Palaces, markets, art galleries, music, nightlife and food—especially street food like spicy rice cakes and Korean fried chicken.

When to go
March to May for beautiful spring blooms like cherry trees, azaleas, and chrysanthemums; September to November for comfortable temperatures, clear skies, and fall foliage.


Moscow, Russia

Moscow, Russia

Why go?
The Kremlin, Red Square, and St. Basil’s Cathedral remain the most popular attractions, but if you go beyond the city centre, you’ll find galleries, architectural gems and museums.

When to go
May and October for lower rates and lighter crowds; June for FIFA Confederations Cup Russia soccer matches; June to September is peak tourist season.


Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

Why go?
Located on the Caribbean coast, Cartagena is rich in history (about 3,000 years’ worth), music, food and open-air courtyard cafes.

When to go
December to March for little chance of rain and lots of celebrations, including Cartagena’s International Film Festival.


Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg, Germany

Why go?
Hamburg boasts having about 2,500 bridges—more than Venice, Amsterdam, and London combined. They’re a sight to see.

When to go
May to September for mild temperatures and outdoor festivals, including the annual Hamburg Port Birthday; December for Christmas markets.


Culture

If you want to immerse yourself into the culture of another land, then these destinations will serve something unique.

Malta

Malta

Why go?
Located on the Mediterranean Sea, Malta is home to three World Heritage sites, including the capital, Valleta.

When to go
February for Carnival week; April to May and September to October for comfortable temperatures and fewer tourists; late May to September is high tourist season but also hosts traditional village festas, and three-day weekends celebrating feast days of various saints.


Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea

Why go?
With homegrown tourism initiatives like villagehuts.com, taking in the rain forests, volcanic fjords, coral reefs and the myriad of cultures of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is easier than ever before.

When to go
May to October for hiking and the best weather; June to early November for top cultural events such as the Goroka Show, PNG’s biggest tribal folklore fest; December to March (wet season) for surfing.


Chengdu, China

Chengdu, China

Why go?
Kung pao chicken, twice-cooked pork, tea-smoked duck, ma po tofu, hotpot, and more. Chengdu has been designated a UNESCO “City of Gastronomy,” because it is “the cradle and center of Sichuan cuisine.”

When to go
September to early November for fall foliage; but avoid National Day vacation week, or Golden Week, (October 1 to 7), China’s peak period for domestic tourism.


Canton Uri, Switzerland

Canton Uri, Switzerland

Why go?
Canton Uri has everything you’d expect from Switzerland: cowbells, cheesemaker huts, snowcapped peaks, wildflower meadows, and gondolas.

When to go
Year-round for hiking, festivals, and scenic train trips; May to August for biking, lake sports, and hiking to Alpine farms; December to April for skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and winter fat-bike riding in alpine resort areas.


Guadeloupe Islands

Guadeloupe Islands

Why go?
Located between Dominica and Antigua, the sound, food, and art of Guadeloupe fuses the islands’ Afro-Indian, Afro-French, and Afro-Caribbean roots.

When to go
December to May for the best beach weather—blue skies and high temperatures around 30 C; January to March for Carnival; July for two of the islands’ top music events.


Georgia, United States

Georgia, United States

Why go?
In one word: music. Rock on throughout 2017 at one of Georgia’s 75 music festivals.

When to go
Year-round for live music; March to October for outdoor music festivals; July to December for the monthly Songwriter Series concerts, scheduled to return in 2017.


Cradle of Humankind, South Africa

Cradle of Humankind, South Africa

Why go?
Step back two to three million years at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site. Located an hour outside of Johannesburg, the Cradle provides a subterranean window into human evolutionary history.

When to go
June to September (winter) for clear skies and temperatures ranging from 4 C to 19 C; October to March (summer) is typically wetter but warmer.


Where in the World Will Your Travels Take You?

Canadians are typically known as being a well-travelled bunch. But as adventurous as we are, every adventure comes with a risk. The Government of Canada strongly encourages travellers to “Say Yes to Travel Insurance!” because: “Your Canadian insurance is almost certainly not valid outside of Canada. Your provincial or territorial health plan may cover nothing or only a very small portion of the costs if you get sick or are injured while abroad.” They continue to say, “The Government of Canada will not pay your medical bills.” Travel health insurance covers you almost anywhere you want to go, and you’ll want to pack your coverage right alongside your passport.

Whether you’re travelling abroad for business or pleasure, travel insurance isn’t a “nice-to-have”; it’s a must-have. So before you head out on your next adventure, make sure you’ve got the coverage you need and compare travel insurance quotes and policies.