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With 2017 just around the corner it is (finally!) time to make travel plans for the coming year! People ask me all the time which places I recommend for an unforgettable trip, and yes, I have plenty of favorite spots all over the globe.
To give you more specific recommendations for your dream vacation I put together a list of my favorite places in the following categories: adventure, beach, city, romantic getaway and cultural escape.
If you need travel inspiration for 2017, here are my five top recommendations in each category:
Beach getaway: Mexico
Mexico has been a favorite of mine for years, and revisiting the country two times this year only reaffirmed my love affair with the Mexican culture, the people, the food, and yes: the beaches. I still prefer the Caribbean side with its tranquil shallow turquoise water and powdery white beaches but now that I’ve visited the major vacation spots (Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita) on the Pacific, too, I can see the draw of those as well. For a relaxing beach vacation, my top two choices would be Akumal and Tulum, both on the Riviera Maya.
City break: New York
If you ask me, there is simply no better city break than New York – flights from Europe are cheap and short, and the city has so many things to offer to make for an action-packed weekend: Broadway shows, museums, the art mile in Chelsea, an unrivaled food scene, dozens of neighborhood to explore and enough iconic sights to keep you busy for days. My number one tip for anyone visiting New York is to go beyond Manhattan: check out some of Brooklyn’s awesome neighborhoods, such as Park Slope, Williamsburg or Brooklyn Heights, and if you already know Central Park, put Brooklyn’s Prospect Park on the agenda for your next visit to the Big Apple.
Romantic Escape: Tirol, Austria
I could’ve picked the usual suspects, like Paris or Venice, but I wanted to introduce you to a location that might not pop up in your head immediately when thinking about a romantic getaway. What I love about Austria’s Tirol region is that it’s great for a getaway year-round and that there are plenty of spas and spa hotels here offering relaxing couples packages including massages and other treatments, but also saunas, steam rooms and pools. The restaurant scene here is amazing, and you can walk off all of the carbs you’ll inevitably consume on one of the many mountain hikes. You can rent a cottage – and they’re super affordable, or treat yourself to a romantic stay at a lodge on top of a mountain. In the winter, you can snuggle up by the fireplace while it’s snowing outside, go snowshoeing and warm up with glasses of mulled wine when you get back.
Adventure getaway: Iceland
I never expected to love Iceland as much as I did, but the little island in the Atlantic Ocean simply blew me away. Not only does it have one of the most remarkable sceneries I’ve ever seen with its many volcanoes, glaciers, fjords, countless waterfalls black sand beaches, geysers and otherworldly landscapes, but it also offers a number of activities for adventure-seeking travelers: volcano climbs, multi-day cross-country treks, glacier treks, whale watching and northern lights excursions, quad off-roading tours – to name just a few! Even in a short week you can pack in plenty of adventures here.
Cultural vacation: Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is actually much more than a cultural getaway, but having eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in a very condensed space means cultural travelers can pack all of those in a 2-week trip around the country. You’ll get to see the ancient cities of Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya which sits in spectacular mountaintop location, the sacred city of Anuradhapura, the Golden Temple of Dambulla and the remarkable Temple Of The Tooth in Kandy. Then there’s the old town of Galle and its forts, and nature lovers will appreciate the Central Highlands with its stunning tea plantations and the Sinharaja forest reserve.
In addition to world heritage sites, Sri Lanka is also great for wildlife spotting (I recommend Yala National Park for jaguars and Pinnawala for elephants) and beaches – Marissa or Unawatuna in the south are perfect spots to wind down after a whirlwind tour around the country.