Your next adventure awaits. Warning: Our list of dream-worthy destinations may cause an expansion of your travel plans for the year.
With 2,140 miles of coastline, including the stunning spectacle of karst-dotted Halong Bay, Vietnam’s natural beauty and richly fascinating history and culture combine to nudge it to the top of many a traveler’s wish list. Explore the ancient streets of Old Hanoi, lined with paper lanterns, and spend the night on a private junk. Take in the atmospheric merchant houses, temples and cloth markets of Old Hoi An. Discover the legends that unfold through the country’s famous water puppetry, a mesmerizing tradition. Sample the fresh cuisine, including its renowned pho, as you bring the exotic country into focus.
In this country founded by Vikings, Nordic music, literature, dance,and cuisine form the basis of local culture. The nation’s geologic and volcanic activity lends the island much of its considerable natural beauty, with deep-cut fjords, vast glaciers, black sand beaches, shooting geysers and steaming lava fields offering an otherworldly landscape. Marvel at the dramatic waterfalls, plunging from great heights into crystal-clear ponds, or soak in soothing thermal pools. Sample Iceland’s bounty, fresh from the earth and sea, including organic lamb pastrami, wild salmon,and lobster.
A rugged island of sun-kissed coves, wildflower-dotted fields, family-run vineyards, and the ancient ruins of 12 civilizations, Sicily offers travelers the true soul of Italy. From the Grecian drama of Selinunte’s seaside temples to the quiet of Oasi Naturale di Vendicari’s secluded bird sanctuaries, it presents a cultural heritage and natural beauty as rich as Mount Etna’s volcanic soil. Delight in sumptuous meals scented with fresh jasmine, ripe tomatoes, rosemary, mint,and basil, paired with robust wines of the region.
If any nation knows the joys, rewards, and meditations of active adventure, it’s Australia. The walkabout was invented here, and you will soon understand why. Aussies are blessed with some of the most magnificent natural beauty in the world, the kind meant for long strolls and endless exploration. From the dramatic plateaus, cliffs, valleys and eucalyptus forests of the Blue Mountains in Sydney’s backyard to the celebrated rock-sculpted coast of the Great Ocean Walk outside Melbourne, Oz is an adventurer’s paradise.
From the secluded mountainsides of Minho and the scenic wine terraces of the Douro Valley, to the medieval trails and seaside cliff paths of Alentejo, Portugal boasts one of the most robust and fascinating histories in Europe. Visit to trace ancient shepherd trails, terraced farmland and traditional stone villages with breathtaking mountain vistas as your backdrop. Pause to sample local wines, visit with vintners, and savor the rustic farm cuisine and succulent seafood that have put Portugal on the gastronomic map.
See where mountains erupted from the tundra, and where glaciers clawed their way across the landscape, scratching deep fjords into the coast and scouring archipelagos from the sea. Wildlife and marine life flourish here in this land of extremes. Expect wondrous sheets of topaz ice, brown bears fishing for salmon and humpback whales breaching in the distance. Navigate narrow fjords where secret beauty is revealed to those who travel by small ships. Find your way to Russian cathedrals, Tsimshian villages, and a greater understanding of why they call Alaska the Great Land.
7. Death Valley, California
The largest national park outside Alaska, Death Valley National Park in California spreads over 5,000 square miles of desert and mountains. It’s a landscape of striking contrasts, where snow lingers on peaks during winter, the occasional downpour brings forth a sea of wildflowers, and the dark sky offers stargazers a glittering treasure trove. Craft a perfect stay, filled with history and adventure, as you play golf below sea level or explore salt flats, ancient geological formations, chiseled canyons and the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, Badwater Basin.
Croatia holds many secrets, a seductive blend of rich history and stunning beauty. Its Dalmatian Coast, the legendary home of history’s most itinerant traveler, Marco Polo, is heralded as one of the world’s most breathtaking coastal treasures. More than 1,000 islands are scattered through the region, providing snapshots of generations-old lives built on fishing, stonecutting, farming,and wine-making. You’ll want to sample the fresh bounty of the sea, savoring plump oysters and octopus salad paired with the famed wines of the region. As you explore remarkably preserved Old Towns kissed by the Adriatic sun – Dubrovnik, Hvar, Brač,and Korčula – you’ll appreciate how gently the passage of time has treated these rustic places.
How to Explore on Foot
For more than 38 years, Country Walkers has provided active, immersive, and unforgettable travel experiences on five continents. They offer two distinct ways to explore: scheduled, small-group Guided Walking Adventures and independent Self-Guided Walking Adventures. On tour, guests enjoy superb local cuisine, first-class guides, fine accommodations, and authentic cultural and natural encounters. Visit countrywalkers.com or call 800-234-6900 for more information.
How to Explore on a Tour
Holiday Vacations is one of America’s most reputable tour companies, with more than 44 years of experience. As a nationwide provider of air, rail, motorcoach and cruise guided vacations to more than 65 destinations worldwide, their packages are inclusive of all airfare, fine hotels, meals and must-see attractions. Expert tour directors handle all travel details, assuring you a carefree and memorable vacation. Visit holidayvacations.com for more information.
How to Explore by Bike
VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations offers more than 55 deluxe, small-group bicycling, walking, and barge & sail vacations in 27 different countries and 10 U.S. states. It is the value leader in active biking vacations and has been rated among the “World’s Best Tour Operators” by the readers of Travel + Leisure for six years. Each trip includes all accommodations, many meals, two expert local trip leaders, unique sightseeing and cultural activities, and full van support. Unlike other companies, VBT also includes round-trip international airfare from more than 30 U.S. cities and select Canadian cities for all overseas vacations. Visit vbt.com or call 800-245-3868 for more information.For more travel experiences to Beautiful Places on Earth™ available from Xanterra Travel Collection® and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.