In exploring the vast world, we quickly come to the realisation that countless destinations have the ability to enrapture us. To expedite your decision-making process over which places you should prioritise visiting, publications and people alike have started the practice of compiling “best of” travel lists year after year. If you’ve ever read one of these shortlists and found the names unfamiliar, this article is for you.
The World’s Best Festivals To Add to Your Wishlist Today
Quotient’s Top Destinations to Visit in 2017
Your Ultimate Guide to Successful African Safaris
Curious about under-the-radar locations that have been selected as some of the top travel picks this year? From Kaysersberg in France to Gotland in Sweden, find out what makes these destinations worth a vacation (or several). There’s no harm in discovering what exactly it is about these places that have won them their scores of fans after all!
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Located on the eastern side of the country, San Miguel de Allende is a small city with truckloads of attraction, so much so that it was voted the world’s best city 2017 by Travel + Leisure’s readers. The place is rich with culture — part of it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site — and key landmarks include the majestic 17th-century Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel and the historic Sanctuary of Atotonilco. Partake in local festivals all year round, such as the Desfile de los Locos in June where people parade the streets in costumes, and Festival Internacional Cervantino En San Miguel in October, which is a significant cultural festival. Other choice activities in the city include luxuriating at hot springs and feasting on great Mexican grub.
Having remained a rather low-key destination until it was catapulted into the spotlight following its first place designation in National Geographic Traveller UK’s Cool List 2017, Donegal possesses a wild allure. The coast peppered with beaches and islands is one of the location’s biggest draws; the momentous sea cliffs, some of Europe’s tallest, right by the churning ocean is another. The sheer awe invoked by the dramatic landscapes found in Donegal makes it well worthy of its place on the list. Of course, the fact that it was a filming location for the “Star Wars: Episode VIII” movie doesn’t hurt its name either.
Back in April, Baku placed third on Conde Nast Traveller’s list of Emerging Destinations Around the World for 2017. Recommended for its culture, history and buzzing cosmopolitan energy, the country’s capital is a stunning amalgamation of the old and the new. On one hand, you have the Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site whose most iconic landmark is the 15th-century Shirvanshahs’ Palace, while on the other hand, you have futuristic skyscrapers and sleek seaside promenades to occupy your time with. The city with its twinkling lights makes for an especially stunning spectacle at night.
A village in the Alsace region, Kaysersberg jumped on the radar earlier this year when it was named France’s favourite village of the year. Beating 12 other villages in the vote, Kaysersberg was crowned the winner for its architecture, which includes the 13th-century Church Sainte-Croix and the impressive ruin, the Château de Kaysersberg, and charming cobblestoned streets. The latter half of the year is the perfect time to visit Kaysersberg; the season of harvest, autumn, is perfect for participating in the wine harvest, while winter brings with it a cosy and authentic Christmas Market that adds to the magic of the town.
The Baltic island Gotland placed second on Lonely Planet’s Best in Europe 2017 list earlier this year. An essential stop for history buffs, the sunny location has the honour of possessing the highest density of historical sites in the country. Add to that a quaint countryside, fishing villages frozen in time and pristine beaches, and you know you’re bound for a peaceful escapade when you journey to Gotland. With its mostly traffic-free roads, the landscape can be easily traversed on a bicycle, which further adds to the romance of the idyllic island life.
Home to the otherworldly Danxia National Geopark, a range of picturesque rainbow peaks, Gansu province was dubbed Lonely Planet’s Best in Asia 2017. The destination boasts easy accessibility and is chock full of natural wonders such as the Zhagana Stone Mountains and Yellow River. Gansu is also home to the Mogao Grottoes, acclaimed as one of the most important Buddhist art sites in the world, and the Bingling Thousand Buddha Caves, a fascinating series of grottoes with Buddhist sculptures carved into the walls. As part of the ancient Silk Road and with part of the Great Wall of China on its premises, Gansu is also a great stop for history lovers.