Am I a travel adviser? No. Have I traveled to any of the places on this list? Nope.
Quitting smoking, staying fit and healthy: the new year is all about making resolutions, they’re fun to make but extremely difficult to maintain. Maybe traveling more in 2016 tops your list, but with so many places worth visiting, deciding where you want to go in 2016 can be a tough call.
I started working on this list in mid-December last year and actually thought I will have the list ready before New Year, it was a great deal of reading and watching travel videos. Just think of all the cities from almost every continent and cultures from every walk of life, despite their differences, these places have a few things in common: they possess a diverse one-of-a-kind attractions, iconic sights, distinctive landscapes and food. Finally, I have done the difficult work for you by narrowing down the best places to travel in 2016.
A city with a uniquely preserved historical center that is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. It’s whimsical charms and bohemian allure attract thousands of visitors to Prague every year. The end of the Velvet Revolution in 1989 brought in investments and boomed tourism. You could spend an entire day wandering at the Prague Castle or the Old Town Square and Astronomical Clock, and devote the evening for a wholesome dinner at a classic inn. Prague’s best bars are found in cellars, where historic pubs set the scene for a night of traditional tippling.
Marrakesh – Better known as the “The Red Morocco City” is a marketplace where Berber tribes sell their goods and seek entertainment. Exploring the intimate piazzas, palaces, historic mosques and zigzag alleyways of the old Arab town can easily consume a day. Find inner peace at the tranquil Jardin Majorelle or infrequent getaways to the ville nouvelle (new town) for dinner and drinks can be indulging. Marrakesh has earned the status of Moroccan chic capital, attracting the rich, famous and royalty like a magnet.
The third-largest city in Japan, popular for its good food. Osaka boasts the invention of the conveyor-belt sushi. You will frequently hear the phrase kuidaore (‘eat ’til you drop’). Although the city sometimes look like an endless stretch of concrete boxes, it makes up for it with some architectural structures and fascinating cultural gems, good ecological riversides and busy shopping areas. The real highlights to explore include the Osaka Castle, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyūkan and the nighttime scenery of the Dōtombori area.
4. Siem Reap
Siem Reap is best known for its gateway to the temples and ruins of Angkor Wat. The ancient structures in this rural beauty of Cambodia contained within one of the largest religious complexes in the world. Siem Reap has transformed itself as the center of the city’s backpacking trade, chic hotels, world-class gourmet food, and lavish spas. Learn the art of cheerful haggling and bargaining at the Angkor Night Market, a crowded stretch of shopping stalls, food vendors, and bars.
Attracting travelers for hundreds of years, unbroken views divulge the city of Lisbon in all its glory with the ancient Moorish ruins and white-domed churches leading into the steep and narrow cobblestone streets. Bread and wine are traded for gossips and wonderful stories at patio bars, while fado singers continue performing in the background. In other areas of Lisbon, bohemian restaurants and late-night clubs come to life while roadside boutiques sell goods from antique to cutting-edge.
The city vibrates with life, and there is definitely no other city in Spain to speak of its chic style and sheer energy. It has long had a reputation of being the modern capital with its world-class art museums and galleries, designer restaurants and bars, and branded shops. Some of the must see attractions include Antoni Gaudí’s fanciful church of the Sagrada Família, the deteriorating mansions of the picturesque Gothic Quarter, and the city’s most famous street, La Ramblas – a broad pedestrian boulevard crowded until the wee hours.
This is an archipelago of 200 or more unspoiled limestone and volcanic islands, covered in thick bright green forest, surrounded by greenish-blue color lagoon. Without doubt, diving and snorkeling tops the “things to do” list here, with truly world-class dive sites. Divers vow Palau’s magical seascape, captivating wrecks and impressive marine life – some people even refer to it as an “underwater Serengeti”. When you are done with the underwater marvels, try other activities – Kayaking and extreme off-road driving adventures are extraordinary.
Santoríni, the largest island in this mini-archipelago of Greece boasts it’s vibrant colored houses sliced in pumice layers on the cliff around sapphire waters of the Aegean Sea. The awesome views narrate a history so flamboyant that legend hangs as fact upon it. Here you’ll make the time stand still as you gaze and wander the black sand beaches. Oia is a picturesque town popular for its sunsets, overlooking two sides of the sea. Santoríni’s dry white wines are world-class, making it the perfect supplement with seafood served in the many restaurants and tavernas.
9. San Juan
The cheerful city of San Juan is the best known starting-point to explore the real culture and heritage of Puerto Rico. Learn its grassroots from the lively district of Old San Juan (El Viejo San Juan). Do not forget to visit the national monument, El Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a 16th century citadel which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then take a swim at the Luquillo or Carolina Beach, and tour the world’s most awarded rum and Spirit plant – Bacardi.
10. Western Australia
Western Australia (WA) is no doubt Australia’s last unexplored region. ‘Up north’, you will find magnificent photogenic landscapes. There’s impressive and attractive ravines and waterfalls at Karijini National Park, and the Coral Bay offers amazing white sand beaches and a rich marine life. The Southwest has equally wonderful beaches, wide continuous area of wildflowers and lush green forests swarming with life. World-class surfers carving waves at Margaret River is frequent, while winemakers craft expensive wines complemented by the town’s hip restaurants and bars.
Everyone has their own idea of where their ideal vacation will take them. I have observed that majority of the people from Maldives, where I hail from, hesitate traveling and exploring new destinations. I worked in the airline industry for eight years, a lot of them travel to Colombo, Bangalore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Dubai and recently trending Istanbul and other Indian cities. I agree that Maldivian passport holders have visa limitations traveling to many countries, but considering the amounts of money Maldivians spend abroad, they can actually save up to visit these places during the year-end vacation. Remember, travel gets expensive to those who have expensive tastes.