Top travel destinations by travellers

I’ve been so lucky to visit so many wonderful places but of course the world is vast and there are many places I will never get to see. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming trying to choose where to travel to so I asked fellow travellers to share the places that they have loved the most and that they think others should know about. I hope it inspires you when you’re planning your next trip.

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand by Toni of  Enchanted Serendipity

When one plans a trip to New Zealand, the usual places are considered: Auckland, Queenstown, Wellington, Rotorua etc; and whilst these places are magnificent, there is one part of the North Island which many travellers overlook: The Coromandel Peninsula.

When I first saw a particular photo on Instagram in mid-2015, I knew I had to visit New Zealand whilst I was back in Australia. This place is called Cathedral Cove (Te Whanganui a Hei Marine Reserve) and is located about a 3 hour drive from Auckland. Hahei beach and Hot Water beach are two beaches worth visiting here; especially Hot Water with natural hot springs right there in the sand. Amazing!

Cathedral Cove, however, is only reachable by boat or kayak or by walking about 45 mins to the cove. It’s a beautiful walk with scenic views, and even some beautiful pit stops along the way – namely Gemstone Bay and Stingray Bay.

If you come to New Zealand but miss this place? You’ll regret it.

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand by Toni Frazer

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand.

Finnish Lapland by  Maria of  Global Brunch

The Finnish part of Lapland has everything you need for a perfect trip into a peaceful, yet exciting, winter wonderland. Finnish Lapland is located just north of the Arctic Circle and is bursting with natural beauty. The snow-covered wilderness is the ideal place for a snowshoeing adventure or dog sledding to explore the Arctic Tundra.

The evenings in Lapland are best spent wrapped up warm by a camp fire, roasting sausages and marshmallows, whilst you wait for the Aurora Borealis to light up the Northern sky. Lapland also has plenty of cultural appeal; the Sami people are the indigenous people of Scandinavia. Experience their fascinating culture and friendliness on a visit to the northernmost region of the European Union.

Aurora Borealis by Maria of Global Brunch

Aurora Borealis lighting up the Northern Sky.

Colombia by Chris of  One Weird Globe

Travellers these days are lucky. On one level, you can go to places today that only a couple decades ago had such a poor reputation (and no tourist infrastructure) that roughing it was the only option.

Colombia hasn’t yet completely escaped from the legacy that is Narcos and Pablo Escobar and cocaine. That said, Escobar is now decades in the past, and phoenix-like Medellin has reborn. The second city now has two subway lines, a great cable car system, and plenty of trendiness best seen in the Poblado and Envigado neighborhoods. There aren’t a lot of must-see destinations here, but head to Bogota for the unique emerald museum, the fancy gold museum, and a few other oddball attractions.

Another good reason to go? The exchange rate is at what some are calling an all-time best right now. What was fairly stable at around 2,000 Colombian pesos (COP) to 1 US dollar is now around 3,300 pesos per dollar.

Columbia by Chris Backe

Columbian street art.

Český Krumlov by Christabel of  Two Nomads, One World

I got to travel to some beautiful places this year, but one that left a lasting impression on me was Český Krumlov. This fairtytale Bohemian town, located just two hours south from Prague, transports you back in time – the narrow, crooked lanes and walls of historical houses have not been changed since the town’s existence which dates back to 1309.
After a day exploring the Český Krumlov Castle and Chateau that dominates the town – it’s one of the largest castle complexes in Europe – indulge in a Czech massage. I had the best full-body honey massage at the town’s only 5-star hotel, Hotel Růže, for less than $40!

Stick to fall or winter, when the crowds die down, and you’ll feel as if you have the whole place to yourself. If you’re planning a trip to the Czech Republic, I cannot recommend it enough… there’s truly something magical about this town.

Český Krumlov

The beautiful streets of Český Krumlov.

Bulgaria by Jordan of  Beer Time with Wagner

One of the top countries on your travel bucket list for 2016 should be Bulgaria! Between the food, landscape, people, culture, and cheap prices, Bulgaria is a steal for its location and offerings. If you like hiking, skiing, and outdoor adventures, make sure to check out Seven Rila Lakes and the Balkan Mountains (one of three major mountain ranges in Bulgaria).

As a lover of culture and religion, I was in awe of Rila Monastery and the peaceful intersection of Christianity, Judaism and Islam in Sofia, the capital city. For those wanting relaxation and a beach vacation, look no further than the Black Sea. Just avoid the touristy Sunny Beach area! Make sure to check out the Rose Festival in early June as well as the ancient cities of Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo. Bulgaria’s beauty and culture are hidden European treasures!

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Turkey by Elizabeth of  Compass & Fork

No matter what your interests, you are sure to find it in Turkey. For history lovers, Turkey boosts some of the oldest and richest history in the world. UNESCO sites abound, spanning ancient Lycian Roman and Ottoman civilizations to name just a few. As the crossroads of Asia and Europe the food is fantastic and features a diverse range of dishes and influences.

For nature lovers, you can head to the mountains, the beaches or explore some of Turkey’s natural wonders, including Pammukale and Cappadocia. If you are there in April, Istanbul hosts the International Tulip Festival and the parks are beautifully planted with all colours and varieties of tulips.

Turkey has good road infrastructure, public transportation and several budget airlines making travelling around easy and affordable. The hardest part is deciding where to go.

Tulips in bloom in Emirgan Park, Istanbul

Tulips in bloom in Emirgan Park, Istanbul

Patagonia by Jaclyn of  The Globetrotting Teacher

Your eyes will not believe what they’re seeing in spectacular Patagonia! Located in southern Chile and Argentina, its natural beauty is absolutely beyond compare. No Patagonian itinerary is complete without spending time at Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina and Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. Guided ice trekking tours onto the glacier are well worth the cost and, even if you’re not a serious hiker, set aside a few days to explore and photograph stunning Torres del Paine.

Planning a trip through Patagonia can seem daunting because the distances are vast and South America does not always make it easy to get from place to place. Bus travel is common and, usually, the most direct route. Use your hotel, guest house, or hostel to help figure out logistics and, if necessary (like during the high season) get the ticket(s) for you in advance. You’ll thank yourself over and over for such an unforgettable experience!
Torres del Paine National Park in Chile

Torres del Paine National Park in Chile

Arctic Canada by Patricia of  Ze Wandering Frogs

Dog sledding and winter camping in the Arctic Circle? Who doesn’t like a frozen treat? As part of our week-long Arctic experience, we camped on the tundra at Jimmy Lake (30 miles north of Inuvik), after mushing and leading our own dog teams. Our night turned to wonder as we admired the amazing Northern Lights.These fantastic experiences were a few of our many winter adventures in Inuvik, Canada.

In the search of a herd of reindeer looking for their preferred lichens under the cold tundra, we drove our snowmobiles across frozen rivers and rolling hills. We descended an ice cave carved through the permafrost, drove over the MacKenzie River – turned ice road – up to the Arctic Ocean, and listened to traditional Inuit drumming during the Muskrat Jamboree Festival. The trip of a lifetime, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Patricia with her team of dogs, facing the open Arctic tundra.

Patricia with her team of dogs, facing the open Arctic tundra.

Budapest by Eride of  Queidue

Eastern Europe is known as the cheapest part of the old continent. One of our favourite destinations in 2015 was, without a doubt, Budapest the capital of Hungary. Besides the beautiful city centre, the historical buildings and the mix between modern and ancient atmosphere, Budapest is full of SPAs and thermal baths with water coming from natural springs containing several beneficial minerals.

Every SPA has many huge pools and every pool has a different water temperature and different levels of sulphur. Fortunately, before entering a pool you can read a plaque to know which characteristics the water has and, more importantly, the temperature! If you visit Budapest, going to a SPA is a must.

A Spa in Budapest

Eride enjoying a SPA in Budapest.

So where will your travels take you in 2016?

4 Comments

  1. January 2, 2016 / 12:19 am

    This is a wonderful idea! I think this provides a lot of inspiration from different perspectives. Great job!

    • Kirsty Marrins
      January 2, 2016 / 9:43 am

      Thank you Elaine. I definitely have more places now on my ‘must see’ list!

  2. January 10, 2016 / 8:24 pm

    Some wonderful recommendations there and all of which I’ve not been too (apart from NZ but regretfully never made it to Cathedral Cove!

    • Kirsty Marrins
      January 11, 2016 / 9:30 pm

      I know! I’ve got serious wanderlust now….

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