10 holiday hotspots for 2017

Follow the cool cats to this year's hippest destinations

After the festive season is done and dusted, there is not much else to get us through the final cold months of winter except looking forward to the summer ahead. So while the nights are long and dark, what better time to start thinking about your next jet-setting adventure in search of sun and fun?

Here’s a sneak peak at the destinations the tour operators are expecting to make a splash in 2017. You can expect plenty of sun, plenty of adventure – and one or two surprises.

Dubai, UAE

So what exactly is it that makes Dubai one of the world’s most talked about tourist destinations? Perhaps it is the year round sunshine, with an average temperature of 33oC. Or maybe it is the eye catching futuristic cityscape, complete with the world’s tallest building, lined with beautiful white sand beaches. And then there is shopping, with the world’s largest shopping mall just one of dozens of options for those looking to indulge in a little retail therapy.

This glitzy Middle Eastern jewel is hardly a well kept secret on the travel map. But with the number of daily flights increasing all the time and airfares falling, Dubai is poised to shake off the millionaire’s playground image and make a name as a serious mainstream holiday destination.

Portugal

Portugal’s Algarve region has long been one of Europe’s most popular destinations for affordable summer sun, at the expense of interest in the rest of the country. The country’s two major cities in particular – capital Lisbon and Porto – have had to stand in the shade of continental rivals like Barcelona, Paris and Berlin.

However, 2017 could be the year all that changes. Boasting a heady mix of history, culture, pretty architecture, fine food and drink, and being very conveniently located on the beach, both cities are perfect options for either a short city break or a beach holiday with the mod cons of a vibrant modern city on hand.

Lisbon, Portugal

Montenegro

Croatia’s stunning Dalmatian coast has well and truly put the Balkans on the map as a holiday destination. Located just to the south, Montenegro has much the same to offer – hot summer sun, beaches, dramatic mountainous backdrops, and very reasonable prices.

Montenegro’s tourist scene centres around the staggeringly beautiful Boka Bay, location of the towns of Tivat and Kotor [lead picture], a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A few kilometres up the coast is the bustling resort of Budva. All three boast beautiful Medieval old towns to rival the cobbled mazes of Dubrovnik, and easy access to mountain adventure or boating trips out on the Adriatic Sea.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s gorgeous Black Sea coast is just ready to explode as a major holiday destination. Scorching summer sun, attractive prices and family friendly resorts all add up to make Bulgaria a serious option for 2017. For the younger party crowd, Bourgas is geared up to rival the Mediterranean islands for uninhibited fun, while for those with gentler tastes, the sights of Varna and mud springs of Pomorie offer a perfect mix of culture and relaxation.

Paphos, Cyprus

As a holiday destination, Cyprus’ Paphos is little known compared to the likes of Ayia Napa, Larnaca and Limassol. But as the 2017 European Capital of Culture, Paphos is expecting to grab some of the limelight. A Unesco World Heritage Site with a magnificent castle and archaeological park, Paphos is the mythical birthplace of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, making it a fine choice for those looking for some romance on holiday.

The Azores

This cluster of volcanic Portuguese islands, which sit nearly halfway across the Atlantic between Europe and North America, have seen tourist numbers increase by a third in the past year, and more of the same can be expected in 2017.

Natural beauty and a warm year round climate – average temperatures never dip below 20oC – are the main attractions. If volcanic peaks and craters, dramatic fjords, soaring cliffs and bubbling hot springs sound like your thing, The Azores will be right up your street.

North Wales, UK

Yes, you read that right. According to no lesser authority than Lonely Planet, North Wales is the fourth top holiday tip for 2017. And when you take a look at its credentials, it is not hard to conclude that the north of the Principality is as ready as anywhere to cash in on the staycation trend.

Blessed with sleepy historic towns and villages nestled along a rugged coastline, and one of Britain’s great upland regions in Snowdonia National Park, North Wales has turned itself into an adventure holiday hotspot. Surf Snowdonia features an artificial surf lagoon with the world’s longest man made waves, while at Penrhyn Quarry you can tackle the world’s fastest zip line. Or perhaps bouncing on giant trampolines down an old slate mine is more your thing?

The Skellig Ring, Ireland

Remember that final scene in Star Wars: The Force Awakens? The one where Rey travels to a wild rock on an oceanic planet and finally finds Luke Skywalker? That was filmed on Skellig Michael, one of two rocky islets off Ireland’s County Kerry coast known as the Skelligs.

Once a place favoured by monks seeking to escape worldly distractions, the Skelligs are set to feature even more heavily in the next installment of the Star Wars saga. With the wild beauty of the Kerry coast receiving such enormous exposure, tourism is expected to boom. The Skellig Ring, the coastal stretch near to the islands, is arguably the most unspoilt in Ireland, and Star Wars fans looking for a glimpse of The Force in these romantic lands can expect the warmest of welcomes.

The Skellig Ring, Ireland

Perak, Malaysia

This north eastern Malaysian state offers a rich alternative to the well known attractions of metropolitan Kuala Lumpur and holiday hotspot Langkawi. In the interior, wild jungle and temple topped hills hide the chic colonial cafes and boutiques of hip state capital Ipoh. On the coast, idyllic Pangkor Island rivals Langkawi as a sun seeker’s paradise, with the option to learn about the local wildlife on fascinating nature walks.

Chile

From the unusual shape of this long, thin South American country, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was named after a chilli pepper (ahem…). Little talked about as a tourist destination to date, Chile is starting to make it onto the radar of adventure seekers and lovers of the great outdoors.

Few countries can rival Chile’s diversity and stunning natural beauty – it has everything from the world’s driest desert in the North to the unspoilt sub-arctic pampas of Patagonia in the south, the soaring snow-capped peaks of the majestic Andes to more than 2,500 miles of Pacific coastline.

With direct flights from London Heathrow to its capital city Santiago launching in January, Chile is just waiting to be discovered.

Get booking!

So there you have it – for up and coming holiday destinations, 2017 will have something for everyone, whether you want to spread your wings and taste the spirit of adventure in far flung climes, or prefer to find something new and exciting closer to home. Whether it is glitzy cities, romantic islands, bustling resorts or the great outdoors you are after, we hope our list has given you some pointers to get started on your search. But don’t delay – get planning that holiday and make 2017 a year to remember!

Paul Newham is a freelance writer and part of the blogging team at Red Robot Media. Based in the UK, his eclectic interests include travelling, playing guitar, books, foraging for wild foods and cricket.

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Paul Newham

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