The #BucketList Travel Destinations You Need to Visit In 2017
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Whether you're looking to literally run through London post-Brexit (and hopefully wave hi to Prince George), meditate on the golden-sand beaches of India, or bungee jump off an iconic bridge in New Zealand, there's plenty to explore in 2017. These are the locations American Express travel experts deem worthy of your hard-earned cash in the new year. Find the destination that intrigues you most (no shame if you choose more than one), then get your passport ready because 2017 is gonna be a big year. (Before you get started, you may also want to download these handy apps made for adventurous travelers.)
Best time to go: March
Now that there's a controversial President-elect about to be sworn into the Oval Office, interest in Canada has skyrocketed (heck, the immigration website crashed the night of the election). So make 2017 the year you finally visit our neighbor up north—just make sure you pack your raincoat, as Vancouver sees plenty of rain thanks to its temperate climate. But the weather shouldn't deter you from enjoying the great outdoors: Between the 1,000-acre Stanley Park, the Capilano Suspension Bridge, and Spanish Banks Beach, there's no reason you can't get your fill of hiking, biking, kayaking, tennis, and more. Basically, when you leave Vancouver, there's one guarantee: Your muscles will be feeling the results of all that activity, and it's likely you'll have chowed down on poutine at least once. #EarnedIt
Best time to go: April
There's one thing you can be sure of when booking a trip to Tokyo: You'll never be bored in this city. Do a quick Google search and you'll see why—there are lists upon lists of suggestions for the culturally rich center of Japan. Our favorites? Ueno Park for its myriad of museums and Ueno Zoo, Japan's first zoological garden; Tsukiji Market for sushi and shopping (in one of the largest fish markets in the world); and Sensoji Temple for a unique meditative experience. (Get in the mood with this 20-minute guided meditation to melt away stress.) Take your trip in April and you'll also be able to walk through Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden when the cherry trees are in full bloom—with more than 400 trees in just one of the three landscape gardens (you can see designs influenced by the Japanese, French, and English), it just doesn't get more tranquil.
Best time to go: May
Once you step into Reykjavik, don't be surprised if it feels like you're constantly walking in an Instagram filter—the city is naturally picturesque with its brightly colored rooftops and the skyline being dominated by Mount Esja (a mountain covered in well-marked trails perfect for day hikes, though you'll want to be prepared for snow). The city itself is great for getting in your 10,000 daily steps, as you'll want to explore places like the Hallgrímskirkja church (and climb to the top for stunning views), the Kolaportid Flea Market, and the Laundromat Café (where, yes, you really could do your laundry while enjoying a beer, coffee, or quick game of Yahtzee).
Otherwise, treat Reykjavik as your home base for adventuring through the Golden Circle, climbing Eyjafjallajökull glacier, and day spa-ing at one of the 25 wonders of the world, the geothermal Blue Lagoon. Visit in May and you'll have plenty of time to explore thanks to nearly 17 hours of daylight. But if seeing the Northern Lights is your ultimate bucket-list dream, book your trip for October or November—you'll have better odds when there are only six to eight hours of daylight keeping them at bay.
Fogo Island, Newfoundland
Best time to go: June
While some destinations are great for those who want to immerse themselves in culture and people, this remote island—located off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, Canada, on the outside edge of the North American continent—is ideal for anyone looking to escape. (I mean, the Flat Earth Society even deems it one of the alleged four corners of the earth.) And with only about 21 miles from east to west and 15 miles going north to south, it's easy to explore every inch and leave without feeling like you missed something important.
And get ready for some breathtaking scenery. It's likely you'll see caribou, beavers, foxes, and stunning wildflowers when hiking through the boreal forest region, so don't forget your camera (or, okay, your phone) on that hike. When you're done, stop for a bite at the luxurious Fogo Island Inn—or Nicole's Café if you're into a more casual experience—then plan your trip up Brimstone Head. Oh, and if you visit in late spring or summer, it's likely you'll spot a pod of migrating humpback whales while sea kayaking, or floating Arctic icebergs while hiking up Fogo Head. Not too shabby, eh?
Best time to go: July
With prices post-Brexit being about 30 percent lower than they were two years ago, according to an NBC report, now's the time to get your butt to the U.K. And once you're there, there's plenty of fit-ivities to keep you moving. Rock climbers can check out the Castle Climbing Centre, which has more than 450 roped and lead routes to traverse, while runners can log miles along the Princess Diana Memorial Walk (just look for the rose brass plates marked on the pavement), a 7.2-mile route that starts and finishes at Big Ben and takes you by Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park, and St James's Park. And cyclists, you'll want to be in town July 28–30. That way you can bring your bike (or rent one here) and participate in Prudential RideLondon, an annual three-day festival of cycling.
Best time to go: August
Attention all creative types: Mongolia belongs at the top of your must-experience list. The city of Ulaanbaatar has everything you need to get your juices flowing, and you'll meet people from all walks of life, from wandering hikers coming off Bogd Khan mountain to Buddhist monks praying at the iconic Gandan Khiid monastery. Visit in mid-July and you'll be in town for Naadam, one of the country's most celebrated festivals that centers around three sports: wrestling, horse racing, and archery. (Nab a spot at the opening or closing ceremonies and you'll see parades filled with mounted cavalry, athletes, and monks.)
If running's more your style, then mark August 2 on your calendar so you can cheer on runners conquering the Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset marathon and ultra marathon. Either way, a stop at Namaste is a requirement, as it's one of the top-rated restaurants for authentic fine dining Indian cuisine. Between the yellow daal tadka (a lentil-based dish sprinkled with red and green chilies) and garlic naan and rice, there's no way you'll leave feeling anything but satisfied.
Best time to go: September
If stateside travel is more your style—and you're not afraid of gettin' dirty—don't overlook this southwestern part of the Treasure State. Whether you're fly fishing in the picturesque 120-mile Gallatin River (it's one-third of the Missouri River), hiking in the surrounding Rocky Mountains, or exploring the nearby Yellowstone National Park (when it's only a 1.5-hour drive, how can you not?), there are plenty of outdoorsy adventures to choose from. A few other must-dos while you're in town: a day hike to Palisades Falls (pack a picnic and you'll have Insta-worthy lunch views at the 80-foot waterfall), a safe, close-up encounter with grizzly bears at the Montana Grizzly Encounter sanctuary, and a dessert stop at the chic La Châtelaine Chocolat Co. After all that activity, hey, you've earned it.
Best time to go: October
Most people will tell you to go to Paris in the summer, and while they're not wrong—there's nothing quite like walking a quiet Parisian street in the warm days of June or July—that's also peak tourist season, so you won't really find all that many quiet streets. That's why we say wait a few months and experience the City of Lights in autumn. Paris Fashion Week will be wrapping up, so you can keep an eye out for any trends that might make their way over to the athleisure world. And you'll be in town for the Montmartre Wine Harvest, a lively festival thrown every year to honor the new grape season...and the wine that will come from it. (Mmm, wine.) When you're not getting in your daily steps by exploring the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, or Notre Dame Cathedral, you can rent bikes to cruise along any of the 434 miles of bike paths in Paris or make your way to the Gardens of Versailles.
Auckland, New Zealand
Best time to go: November
It's not for the faint of heart, but if you're really looking to cross off a #bucketlist item on your list, then Auckland is the place to try bungee jumping. You can jump solo or in tandem off the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and you'll want to pair it with the Auckland Bridge Climb, as it's the only bridge-climbing experience you'll get in New Zealand and the only walking access you get to this city landmark. (Plus, let's just say the views are unparalleled.) When your heart is done racing—and your feet are back on sturdy ground—traipse through Cornwall Park, which U.S. News & World
describes as "Central Park with a New Zealand twist," or up Mount Eden, the highest dormant volcano in Auckland. It offers pretty spectacular views of the city below.
Best time to go: December
If you could only use three words to describe Goa, they'd all begin with the letter S: sun, seafood, and spirituality. Which basically means that you can expect to leave the coastal state with a full belly—one that's gotten plenty of heart-healthy benefits from spices like turmeric, paprika, and cumin—and tanned skin (though you better be wearing that sunscreen—and making sure it actually works).
Visit in winter and you'll get three #bucketlist-worthy experiences: yoga at Earth Yoga Village, where you can opt for mindful walks, intuitional dancing, or guided meditations if you prefer; kayaking or paddle boarding on the gorgeous Palolem beach; and sipping on a cold Kingfisher beer while live reggae music plays and the sun sinks into the Arabian sea. And since Goa is heavily influenced by Christianity, Christmas is an ideal time to visit Old Goa, where you'll come upon the Basilica of Born Jesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Monument, and experience a blend of Eastern and Western religious traditions.