Here’s the other half of the recommendations from the New York Times on the destinations you ought to consider visiting this year.
- Gabon, West Africa – Culture and wildlife without crowds. Hippos surfing waves, elephants strolling sandy beaches, gorillas, sea turtles, whales, Gabon is a politically stable African country with abundant wildlife and lodges opening for tourists.
- Athens, Greece – Their debt crisis continues but the art scene has expanded. The renovated National Museum of Contemporary Art opened in a former brewery while the Renzo Piano designed Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center opened last year. In 2017, Athens will also co-host “Documenta,” an influential art exhibition.
- Northwest Puerto Rico is a new destination for surfers and foodies. A handful of NYC exiles are defying the island’s troubles and turning the tiny town of Isbela into a tourist hotspot that draws escapees from east coast winters.
- Chiang Mai, Thailand – There’s an avalanche of art waiting for you in Thailand’s northern second city and much more to do. Visit the local market, walk around the lake, inexpensive massages, cooking schools, and the rescued elephant sanctuary are all worthwhile.
- Napa Valley, California – This 29-mile strip has long been regarded as the country’s classic wine region. This year will see a new generation of openings. There will be fresh life with the addition of hotels, restaurants and bespoke breweries.
- Puerto Escondido, Mexico – An artsy enclave on the southern Oaxaca coast. In recent years, this former fishing village, with its palapa-lined beaches, has seen the opening of a stylish new Hotel Escondido and a number of haute Mexican restaurants, as well as a new arts complex.
- Sedona, Arizona – Sun-soaked luxury amid the energizing red rocks with a plethora of art galleries, restaurants of every variety, and now a growing wine industry. Great for hiking, meditating and relaxation.
- Madrid, Spain – Adding to the world-famous museums are the international variety of dining experiences that go way beyond tapas. The Spanish capitol is a visitor’s delight.
- Ketchum, Idaho – While the low-key town of Ketchum, home to Sun Valley’s ski slopes and Ernest Hemingway’s gravesite, remains more papa than Prada, new developments suggest a more prominent future while still retaining its unvarnished charm.
- The Maldives is off the southeastern tip of South Africa. The island chain may be sinking, but the beautiful entire archipelago has applied for UNESCO biosphere reserve status. With 25 new hotels, it’s a great place to visit.
- Calabria – It’s the toe of the Italian boot and making a name for itself in food and wine circles. Known for spicy dishes and outstanding fare outside of Rome or Tuscany.
- Antequera, Spain – A Spanish version of Stonehenge in the southwest Andalusia region is an archaeological gem to celebrate. Believed to be over 5,000 years old, these will preserved monuments, along with two nearby mountains, have received World Heritage status.
- Lofoten Islands, Norway – One hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle and 2-1/2 hours by plane from Oslo is an idyllic haven for outdoor adventurers and artists. The craggy mountains make it a favorite with hikers, cyclists, kayakers and surfers, as well as a good point (in December) to view the Northern Lights.
- Ibera Wetlands, Argentina – 3.2-million-acre wetland in northeast Argentina is still off the radar but the government and NGO’s are involved in extensive rewilding project that is repopulating the area with plants and animals, including jaguars. When complete, it will be a national park and the largest protected area in the country.
- Istria, Croatia – Long overshadowed by Dalmatia in the south, the Istria region is gaining new attention thanks to hotel developments and Istria’s other attractions include Roman ruins, fresh truffles, great wines and incredible seafood.
- Placencia, Belize – Eco tourism expands in southern Belize. The laidback beach town offers access to the Belize Barrier Reef, prime waters for seasonally diving with whale sharks.
- Langtang Region, Nepal – A once crumbly town 40 miles north of Katmandu is springing back. Intrepid now offers a 15-deay Hamang Heritage Trail Trek through Alpine terrain, verdant midlands, rustic villages and monasteries and includes part of the Langtang National Park with an opportunity to meet the Tamang people.
- Bozcaada, Turkey – The wing-hugged sliver of an island in the Dardanelles is delightfully secluded. A short plane hop from Istanbul and a leisurely ferry ride gives you a slower way to see Turkey. Covered in vineyards and coves, ancient ruins and two beaches. The downtown is traffic free.
- Birmingham, Alabama – Nicknamed “The Pittsburgh of the South” seems apt anew with the revitalization of the Avondale neighborhood, where artists, restaurateurs and young entrepreneurs are taking over brick warehouses and Queen Anne cottages.
- Sacred Valley, Peru – Not as well known as Cusco or Machu Picchu, the valley is a treasure of Inca history and ruins, salt mines and a thriving textile industry, as well as rafting on the Urubamba River.
- Laikipia, Kenya – This central region of Kenya is part of a 900,000 protected area for elephants, lions and cheetahs. Game drives and lodges abound and home to the Samburu and Massai, colorful and culturally fascinating tribes.
- Busan, South Korea – An underrated second city has become a design hot spot. The Jeompo Café District, a once gritty industrial area, has been transformed into a creative hub packed with boutiques selling local handcrafts and a former hospital reopened as an atmospheric art space.
- Portland, Oregon – Booming Portland keeps getting better. The city’s incredible food scene has some notable new players, including a new food hall. Also features a new high-tech bike-share program and a recently-opened light rail that whisks visitors across the eye-catching Tilikum Crossing Bridge and into destination neighborhoods like Sellwood-Moreland.
- Budapest, Hungary – This post iron curtain city is a majestic European capital which revels in modernity. The two halves of Buda and Pest are equally charming and exude a youthful energy. Accommodations and food are all top drawer and the Jewish “Cathedral” and museum are an outstanding visit.
- Ryukyu Islands, Japan – This archipelago of 160 islands stretches from the southern tip of Japan to 70 miles off Taiwan. This is the Japan you’ve never heard of and features UNESCO heritage sites, 1,000-year-old cedars, the “living fossel” Amanie rabbit, ancient temples, white sand beaches and crystal-clear diving spots.
Could be a great year for travel; lots of interesting destinations to visit.