Where to go in 2017

 

Never mind the diets and resolutions, the most important thing to do in the new year is book your holidays. Our travel experts have been hard at work figuring out the top travel destinations for 2017, from city breaks in India to adventure weekends in Wales.

 

 

1.    Scotland

Scotland's tourist board has named 2017 the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. There are indeed few places in the world in which you can experience such a rich and diverse culture and history as in Scotland, from the moody streets of old Edinburgh to ancient and mysterious stone circles on isolated, windswept islands. There is a wealth of things to see including the home of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns in Ayrshire and the enchanting medieval home of the nation’s kings and queens in Scone, north of Perth

For those less interested in history, modern Scotland offers fine dining, contemporary art and a varied nightlife scene, particularly in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Elsewhere, natural wonders like Loch Lomond and the wild and lonely highlands make for romantic outdoor excursions; there’s no better place to enjoy a wee dram of Scotch whiskey than from a Scottish town surrounded by Great Britain’s tallest mountains.

 

 

 

2.    Hull, England

Hull doesn’t usually feature on tourists’ itineraries; an unfairly earned reputation has left it neglected as a destination. Next year, however, all this is set to change. As UK City of Culture, a full programme of events and exhibitions – from Shakespeare to contemporary art and museums celebrating the city’s heritage – make Hull one of the most vibrant and exciting tourist hotspots of 2017. Opening in January with a photographic celebration of Hull’s history projected onto buildings in the city centre, this year of culture will go on to include a jazz festival, a performance of Richard III, a children’s theatre workshop and much more. 

Visitors flocking to Hull to experience these events can explore the streets of its walkable old town, visit the famous Maritime Museum and the state-of-the-art aquarium – the Deep – or take in some Premier League football at the KCOM Stadium. You can also use Hull as a base from which to explore the rest of Yorkshire, particularly York, only an hour away by train, one of the country’s most beautiful cities. Years of regeneration and 2017’s eclectic cultural buffet make Hull a must-see for all visitors to the UK.

 

 

 

3.    Guadalajara, Mexico

You may not have heard of Guadalajara, but you’ll surely be familiar with its two most famous exports: mariachi and tequila. The city has become a vibrant cultural hub, boasting international film and book festivals, a flourishing Spanish colonial centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Hospicia Cabañes and arenas for bullfighting, wrestling and for one of Mexico’s most decorated football clubs. 

A short excursion outside the city will take you through striking blue agave plantations to the town of Tequila, from where the eponymous drink originates. Try a glass of the powerful local tipple over a dish of the spicy local cuisine – Guadalajara hosts a gourmet food festival every November – or as an appetiser before joining in with the city’s eclectic nightlife. All this, together with cathedrals, museums and ancient ruins, make Guadalajara a definitively Mexican city. 2017 is as good a time as any to visit.

 

 

 

4.    Brno, Czech Republic

In Brno a preserved crocodile hangs hands from the ceiling of the city hall. It is connected to a medieval legend in which a dragon terrorised the citizens before brave men conspired to kill it and had it stuffed as a symbol of the city. This kind of folklore is characteristic of Brno’s unqiue Moravian culture and heritage that sets it apart from oversaturated Prague.

Brno, a vibrant university city, may not be as flashy as the capital, but it is a quieter, cleaner and more relaxed place with plenty of untouched sights and sounds. In recent years it has undergone significant regeneration and now the city hosts various exhibitions and cultural events. The city’s skyline is dominated by its two traditional symbols: the romantic Špilberk Castle and the towering Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, with its lofty medieval spires. Rather uniquely, Brno hosts an international fireworks competition at the end of May, the Ignis Brunensis, showcasing some of the most spectacular pyrotechnics anywhere in the world.

 

 

 

5.    Emilia-Romagna, Italy

If you’ve already been to Rome, Florence and Naples you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d ‘done’ Italy. In truth, however, you’ve missed out a great deal of one of Europe’s most diverse and beautiful countries. A trip to Emilia-Romagna, a region rich in art, history and – most importantly – food, will go some way to correcting that mistake. There’s the historic city of Ravenna with its UNESCO World Heritage sites, little Rimini with its miles of sandy beaches, and Forli in the heart of the unspoilt countryside of the Tuscan Romagna.

The region is also a paradise for foodies: Tortellini, Prosciutto ham, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Ragù (the basis for Bolognese sauce – though it should never be eaten with spaghetti) all come from the region, making the food here universally superb and iconic. A visit to a Prosciutto or Parmesan producer comes highly recommended; there are few better ways to try this fine Italian food than from its source. Emilia-Romagna is truly a place to indulge yourself.

 

 

 

6.    Tunisia

Tunisia is a melting pot of cultures: spectacular Roman ruins find their home next to spiralling Turkish minarets and colonial French architecture. It has been neglected by tourists in recent years, but if you’re patient and adaptable you’ll find a maelstrom of exciting ideas and experiences. The capital, Tunis, is a particular highlight, with the sprawling medina and the ruins of ancient Carthage. Down the coast you’ll find the walled city Sfax – Africa’s own Capital of Culture – home to some of the best tea in the country at Café Diwan.

Elsewhere in Tunisia you’ll find the Great Mosque of Kairouan, one of the oldest in the world., and the magnificent amphitheatre of El Djem, an ancient relic as big as the Colosseum, without the crowds. Film buffs could even take a trip to Tataouine in the far south of the country to visit the site of Luke Skywalker’s homestead in the original Star Wars, the remains of which are still visible in the desert.

 

 

 

7.    North Wales

If you read Lonely Planet, you might have noticed that they’ve named North Wales as one of their top own destinations forof 2017. It’s not without reason – North Wales has reinvented itself as something of an adventure playground, offering zip lining, rafting, mountaineering, surfing… and golf courses. Behind the scenes, the region has quietly revolutionised its restaurant scene, and also boasts hundreds of excellent pubs in its towns and villages.

Only in North Wales can you go surfing while surrounded by mountains, as you can in the WaveGarden in Snowdonia; if that doesn’t take your fancy, you could always go trampolining in a cave or zip-lining through an abandoned quarry. It’s not only for thrill seekers: North Wales has something to offer for the more relaxed tourist, too. You can browse through independent shops in Colwyn Bay, visit renowned medieval castles in Conwy and Caernarfon – both World Heritage sites – or simply enjoy some fine dining by the Irish Sea. North Wales might not be home to the most popular destinations in the UK, but it’s done enough to make it stand out from the crowd.

 

 

 

8.    Denmark

This year, you might have heard something about hygge, the Danish art of comfort. It’s the latest in a long line of Nordic exports to the UK, ever since Nordic Noir first hit our screens several years ago. The best way of discovering what hygge really means is to curl up under a blanket with a cup of tea and roaring fire, but, failing that, you could go to Denmark and see how the natives get to grips with it. Whether it’s trendy Copenhagen or historic Aarhus, Denmark is one of the coolest places around.

Luckily for you, Denmark is a very small country, so it’s possible to stay and Copenhagen, using it as a base from which to explore Odense – home of Hans Christian Andersen – and Aarhus, or outside the cities to Legoland and the lush green Island Sea. Staying in the capital wouldn’t go amiss – it’s a haven for contemporary design, fine cuisine and excellent beer, as well as all the historical sights and museums you’d expect to find on the tourist trail. Head there at Christmas, wrap up in a Sarah Lund jumper and settle down with a cup of hot Glögg and you might just find the true meaning of hygge.

 

 

 

9.    Catalonia

Football fans will know a thing or two about Catalonia. After all, it’s the home of mighty FC Barcelona, of Pep Guardiola and Xavi. Barcelona itself is a wonderful, quirky city, combining superb beaches with excellent art museums and a weird, half-finished cathedral; a visit there wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Nou Camp – Europe’s largest football stadium – either for a game or simply for a tour of the ground. 

But Catalonia isn’t just Barcelona. There’s also Girona, a beautiful old city within reach of wild Pyrenean scenery, and if you’d rather relax and soak up the Mediterranean sun, Lloret de Marthe famous Costa Brava has long been the last word in fine beaches and luxurious resort hotels. Millions of visitors a year can’t be wrong! Whether you like wine, festivals, birdwatching, football or art, there’s something for everyone in Catalonia.

 

 

 

10.    Hyderabad, India

Hyderabad is a city of contrasts. At this confluence of cultures, languages and religions, you’ll find beautiful old mosques, Hindu temples and British colonial cathedrals bunched together with famous landmarks and superb restaurants. Elsewhere, the gleaming modern metropolis is filled with shopping malls and hi-tech industry juxtaposed with sprawling bazaars. The bustling old walled city, contains some of India’s most spectacular and underappreciated sights including the Charminar Gate and the Golkonda Fort. Hyderabadi food is also exemplary and no visit to this part of the country is complete without sampling a spicy local biryani; the street food here is some of the best in the country.

Since 2017 is the UN’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, there’s nothing more appropriate than a short trip outside of Hyderabad to the Mamanduru Forest Village, home to some unique Indian wildlife. Although you’re unlikely to spot Shere Khan prowling the undergrowth, a trek exploring waterfalls, canyons and even prehistoric rock paintings under the thick canopy of trees is still an excellent way of experiencing India’s natural beauty in an environmentally responsible way.