According to Aristotle, knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. And like all things paradoxical, one of the best ways to know thyself is to lose one’s self in the unfamiliar.
So whether you’re keepin’ it domestic or looking to trek the globe, here’s a rundown of some of the top destinations to explore in 2017.
It’s not every year you get placed between Trinidad and Tobago and Jordan on Vogue’s 10 Hottest Travel Destinations list, but that’s just what happened to Idaho in 2017. This isn’t Napoleon Dynamite’s Idaho – this is majestic Sun Valley; it’s the renovated, tech-savvy Modern Hotel & Bar in Boise’s Linen District.
Thrillist named Boise and Coeur d’Alene two of America’s best overlooked weekend vacation spots in America, and there’s no shortage of things to do in between, from epic road trips to seeing Ernest Hemingway’s grave.
For trip ideas, check out why Sunset calls McCall “the new great adventure town” or scope out views of the Salmon River from the Sawtooth Wilderness, a rugged section of the state that gets less than half the visitors the big national parks receive each year. If adventure is the name of the game, Idaho feels further than you might think.
When to go: places like Sun Valley hit their peak season in December to March for winter activities and June to August for summer adventures, but you can find solid off-season deals in the fall.
Travel + Leisure routinely includes Kauai in its lists of the world’s best islands, and in 2017 the island made National Geographic‘s Best Trips 2017 list as a premier nature destination. And it’s not hard to see why: the Garden Island was the backdrop to Jurassic Park and many other films over the years because of its lush, exotic locales and 50+ beaches.
The fourth largest – and least touristy – of the Hawaiian islands includes 5,148-foot Mount Waiʻaleʻale, which receives more than 450 inches of rain each year. This creates an idyllic canvas for waterfalls, meandering streams and tucked away swimming holes across the island.
On Kauai’s northwest side is the Nāpali Coast, a rugged, sheer-cliff stretch that’s accessible mostly by hike, boat or helicopter. Those looking for the ultimate Kauai adventure will find the Kalalau Trail a perfect way to get lost: an 11-mile trek through lush valleys and over steep cliffs, ending at Kalalau Beach.
When to go: The high season is from June to September, but visiting from April to May or October to November offers lower prices and fewer visitors with the same stellar weather.
Time Magazine’s Money recommends Lake Champlain for June trips in its annual Best Places to Travel, Month by Month. Cheaper hotel rates and pleasant weather make early summer a great time to go, but Lake Champlain is gorgeous throughout the year.
Within the lake are islands offering more than 200 miles of coast to explore, and if you’re staying lakeside, check out some of the more interesting digs, like the Inn at Shelburne Farms on the Vermont side of things.
The Ticonderoga Ferry shuttles people and cars between Ticonderoga, New York and Shoreham, Vermont for those who want to see as much of the country’s sixth biggest lake, and if you’re on a budget, you can still find plenty of places to get lost along the coast.
When to go: Early summer offers great prices and weather, but fall foliage offers another good excuse to visit the area.
Condé Nast Traveler named Montréal one of the best family vacation spots for 2017, and who are we to disagree? The hard-to-pin-down city offers an eclectic itinerary for families that helps keep parents and kids in adventure mode.
Aside from the standard sightseeing highlights – Notre-Dame Basilica, Old Montréal – spend some time exploring Parc du Mont-Royal and enjoy the views from the Kondiaronk lookout. Let the kids play in one of North America’s most impressive parks, which was brought to life by Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted.
Montréal has world-class dining and accommodations, so it’s easy to get a taste of the local culture even if you’re towing a gang of kids who don’t quite care yet.
If you’re hitting Montréal in the summer, check out the Montréal Jazz Fest. But if you miss it, don’t worry – there are more than 175 events going on this year celebrating the city’s vibrant history (here’s a guide to the best festivals).
When to go: it might get muggy, but visiting in the summer offers the best chance to hit all of Montreal’s highlights in comfort. Spring is a good way to avoid some of the tourist crowds, and fall offers great colors throughout the region.
It’s been more than 30 years since a Pope visited Colombia, but the 2017 World Tour of Pope Francis makes a stop there in September, making the country a comeback story of sorts – and a great place to get lost this year.
Number two on Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2017 country edition, Colombia is coming out of a turmoil that kept many tourists at bay for years. But no more: like the main character in How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Colombia has found its mojo and is now firmly on the radar for everyday travelers.
What was once considered the den of violence and civil strife is now a more open, secure travel destination for those looking at something unique in South America. The country’s taken measures to improve security for visitors, and the hospitality of many in the country make Colombia feel like a comfortable, welcoming destination. Travel + Leisure goes so far as to call the country “South America’s best-kept secret.”
The second most biodiverse country in the world, Colombia offers all sorts of environs in which to lose one’s self, from gorgeous rainforests to impeccable beaches. While it may not have the high-profile attractions of other South American countries, Colombia offers plenty to see that make it an excellent under-the-radar spot for the adventurous traveler.
When to go: weather is good throughout the year because of Colombia’s being close friends with the equator, but going in July or August, or December through March can help avoid the rainier seasons.
Iceland has been the go-to destination of Instagramers and adventurers the world over for the past few years, but with 2.3 million expected visitors in 2017, Iceland is no longer an under-the-radar destination. What’s an adventurous traveler to do?
Travel + Leisure recently named Helsinki, Finland’s capital, one of the best 50 places to visit in 2017, and Lonely Planet chose Finland as its third best destination for the year. If that doesn’t spell up-and-coming, we don’t know what does.
In 2017, Finland will celebrate 100 years of independence, and among all sorts of events, the country will welcome its 40th national park, a significant milestone for a country that ranks 65th in the world in terms of total area.
Those visiting Helsinki will find a vibrant, island-surrounded city that’s gorgeous and welcoming throughout the year. To get even further away, head up north and stay in the glass domes of the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, available during Northern Lights season from August to April.
When to go: if you’re going up north, September to March offers the best northern lights viewing, but if you’re staying down south near Helsinki, summertime is the way to go – long days, lots of outdoor activities and plenty of attractions for locals and tourists alike.
Known for being a hub both of business and local arts, Düsseldorf is a refreshing riverside city that’s consistently ranked as one of the best livable places in the world. A thriving fashion industry and jumping nightlife means there’s plenty to do for those on the prowl.
Rhine River cruises and bus tours are a great way to cover a lot of ground, but there’s nothing like walking the city to get a taste of the architecture and lively streets.
Stay in Villa Achenbach, a home built in 1907 that wears the city’s history and style on its sleeve. When you’re ready for a drink, hit what the city calls “the longest bar in the world,” a 250-plus string of bars and pubs that make up Altstadt (Old Town). God speed.
When to go: cycling fans should plan on July, when Düsseldorf hosts a time trial for the start of the Tour de France. The rest of summer is also a great time to go. Spring is less expensive with mild temps, and winters aren’t ideal because of closed attractions and cold weather.
European vacations can break the bank, but they don’t have to. For an inexpensive but trendy trip, consider Portugal’s capital, Lisbon. Named one of Forbes Best Budget Travel Destinations for 2017, Lisbon is a port city built on maritime tradition now revamping itself as an artistic hub of Europe.
Its museums, art galleries and local art scene are among the region’s best; be sure to check out the recently opened Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT), taking in the contrast between this building and the surrounding older digs on the river. In Lisbon you’ll find a refreshing mix of old and new that brings industrial heritage into the 21st century.
For a brush with history, consider the City of Spies walking tour, which highlights some of the best spy spots from World War II, when Lisbon was neutral but became a “nest of spies” due to its location and neutrality. Dining and nightlife options abound, and you’ll find hip options that offer enough entertainment – including world-class live jazz – to keep you up all night.
When to go: summer offers the best festivals, events and beach-going, but spring means milder weather that can make it more comfortable to explore the city.
“Albania retains one of the last unspoiled coastlines in the Mediterranean,” writes Rough Guides in its Top 10 Budget Destinations to Visit. Hugging the Adriatic Sea, Albania offers a mix of scenery, attractions and foodie flair that rivals any of its Balkan neighbors.
In northern Albania, check out the Accursed Mountains to roam old villages and stunning peaks in the Dinaric Alps. If you’re down south, hit some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean, including Dhërmi beach and Palasa Beach.
When to go: though summers can get uncomfortably hot on the coast, hitting Albania from May to August is the best time to explore. Winters can be rainy and the mountainous regions of the country can get extremely cold. The number of tourists that visit throughout the year is steady due to Albania’s Mediterranean weather, so arriving in summer doesn’t necessarily feel like an overcrowded time to visit.
Condé Nast Traveler included Zimbabwe in its Best Places to Travel in 2017, thanks in part to a tourism push that includes a new $150 million airport at Victoria Falls. Kenya and South Africa may be the more popular African destinations at the moment, but that means travelers looking to Zimbabwe can deal with fewer crowds and less expensive excursions into the countryside.
The country’s tumultuous past turns off many travelers, but many of today’s tourists find the country surprisingly welcoming and secure. Matador co-founder Ross Borden found this to be true during his stay, noting that Victoria Falls felt so safe that “other journalists joked it had the vibe of a US National Park in the off-season.”
If you’re into seeing big animals, book a safari – many of which start in Victoria Falls, making it easier than ever to see the Big Five and more. Beyond wildlife, there’s plenty of adventuring to be had, from sprawling national parks to the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe.
When to go: April to October is considered the prime tourism season, with wildlife viewing at its peak in the latter part of the summer. A summer trip also makes for great white water rafting and other outdoor adventures that can get rained out during the winter.