The hottest new travel destinations for 2017: Best cities to visit

So many destinations, so little time. For most travellers, it's not a case of if you'll go next year; it's not a case of when you'll go; it's only a question of: where?

Where do you choose for that dream holiday? Where do you select for that once-in-a-lifetime adventure, that relaxing getaway, that ski trip, that road trip, the culinary tour de force?

For 2017, the Traveller team has put together a few answers. Next year, it will be all about great experiences, all about immersing yourself in a destination, living like a local, of "doing" rather than just seeing.

It will be about trekking in Guatemala, and fine-dining in Cape Town; it will be about haggling on the streets of Fes, and taking a siesta in Seville. It will be a year in which travellers rediscover some of their favourite destinations, places such as Canada, Japan and France, while also setting their sights on countries that are relatively new to the tourism world.

See also: Countries with the worst and best reputations revealed

Of course, there are no wrong answers when it comes to travel, no bad decisions in choosing a destination. Every country, every city, and every town offers something fascinating and unique. But if you need inspiration for 2017, this is where it begins.

DUBAI, UAE

Why you should go: There's always something new opening in Dubai: it's this is a city that's obsessed with having the biggest, the fastest, the highest and the richest of just about everything, so it pays to keep up. But even still, 2016 was a bumper year for new attractions in this booming emirate.

The Dubai Opera, an opera house planned to rival Sydney's version, opened in August with a concert by Placido Domingo. The $US1 billion indoor theme park, IMG Worlds of Adventure, threw its doors open at around the same time, treating guests to film-and-TV-themed attractions across an area the size of 28 football fields. And now Dubai Parks & Resorts, a mega-theme-park consisting of four interconnected parks – Motiongate, Bollywood Parks, Legoland Dubai, and Legoland Waterpark – has also opened. That should be reason enough for a stopover in 2017, even if you don't take into account the regular spate of hotel and restaurant openings across the city.

Don't miss: You can't turn down the chance to take a ride to the top of the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. From the observation deck, 555 metres above the ground, the world looks like a kid's toy.

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When to go: October to May.

More: visitdubai.com.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM

Why you should go: Brussels has always been unfairly maligned. It used to be thought of as dull, which was never right. And now, following the March terror attack on its airport, it's also thought of as dangerous. But even that isn't true. Brussels is, by and large, a safe place to visit (DFAT's travel warning is "exercise a high degree of caution"), as well as being a thriving cultural hub, and a city that could use a little love.

Don't miss: Give the Manneken Pis, depicting a naked little boy urinating into a fountain's basin, a miss and instead devote an afternoon to exploring Brussels' antiques stores, which are filled with bits and pieces from around the world.

When to go: April to September.

More: visitbelgium.com.

SEVILLE, SPAIN

Why you should go: Part of southern Spain's tapas-and-siesta belt (a gloriously food- and sleep-obsessed grouping of Andalusian cities that includes Granada, Cadiz and Cordoba), Seville is a pleasure to visit at any time. Its fiendishly winding streets are filled with tapas bars calling out to the lost and hungry, and the Real Alcazar, a royal palace used on Game of Thrones, is worth a visit to the city alone.

Don't miss: Go on a tapas crawl from the touristy old town to the more local-friendly Triana neighbourhood.

When to go: Autumn or spring. In 2017, the Feria de Abril, a festival of dancing and drinking, is from May 2 to 7.

More: visitsevilla.es.

 

A photo posted by SPAIN 🇪🇸 (@ig_spain_) on

MANCHESTER, BRITAIN

Why you should go: It's always a surprise to find that the home to two of the world's most famous football teams, as well as countless of the world's most famous bands, is a city of only half a million people, a place you can walk around in a day. Manchester is a dream to navigate, a compact place full of classic architecture, museums, live-music venues, cafes, comedy clubs, pubs, and a lot of football fans.

Don't miss: The city comes alive when there's a Manchester football derby – United v City. Even if you don't get tickets, it's worth being around.

When to go: Summers are best.

More: visitbritain.org.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA

Why you should go: Adelaide has been quietly transforming itself over the last decade, morphing from a city of churches and little else into a city of great restaurants, great bars, and world-class events. You only have to look at the success of the Womadelaide festival, or the inevitable migration of the Barossa Valley's gourmet scene, to understand that Adelaide can hold its own.

Don't miss: The line-up for the 2017 iteration of Womad is yet to be released, but it's sure to be a calendar highlight.

When to go: Year-around. Next year's Womad is from 10 to 13 March.

More: southaustralia.com.

TOKYO, JAPAN

Why you should go: Tokyo will always be hot, because there's just so much to do. It's a city of a thousand neighbourhoods, each one distinct and worthy of exploration. You could spend a week just checking out all of the bars in Ebisu, or the fashion boutiques in Harajuku, or strolling ancient lanes in Asakusa, or feeling like a local in Yoyogi-Uehara, or taking in the bright lights of Shinjuku. Every return visit rewards you.

Don't miss: Spend a night eating and drinking at the Ebisu Yokocho, a covered alleyway filled with bars and restaurants.

When to go: Year-around, although November to February is cold.

More: jnto.org.au.

See also: Why you should always go back

STONE TOWN, TANZANIA

Why you should go: There are very few African cities that are tourist attractions in their own right, and don't act as mere stepping-off points for more famous attractions. But Stone Town on the island of Zanzibar is the exception. With a mixed history involving the Portuguese, Arabs, native Africans and more, plus a stunning oceanfront location and a couple of recent high-end hotel openings – including a Park Hyatt – Stone Town is looking good for 2017.

Don't miss: The nightly waterfront markets are always abuzz with tourists and locals dining on fresh-caught fish and "Zanzibar pizzas".

When to go: June to October.

More: tanzaniatouristboard.com.

See also: Where you'll find a restaurant with its own island

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA

Why you should go: While most international visitors to Cambodia concentrate on the ruins of the Angkor kingdom in the north, or the beaches in the south, there's plenty to like about the country's ramshackle capital. Phnom Penh ain't pretty, but it is fun: the restaurant scene is growing, the coffee is good, and expats and locals alike hit the pubs and bars most nights to fight off the humidity with cold drinks.

Don't miss: Get a taste of colonial-era PP with a drink at the Foreign Correspondents' Club (fcccambodia.com).

When to go: November to February.

More: tourismcambodia.org.

See also: Why this must-see Asian city is a magical mess

LOS ANGELES, USA

Why you should go: A few years ago the only reason you would have gone to downtown LA is if you were on a business trip, or you were lost. These days, however, the city is transformed, with art galleries – the Museum of Contemporary Art, the brand-new The Broad – plus fresh food at Grand Central Market, green space at Grand Park, and restaurants at the L.A. Live precinct.

Don't miss: Catch a show at the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, a venue that was the harbinger of downtown LA's revival.

When to go: Year-round.

More: discoverlosangeles.com.

See also: Lonely Planet names world's best places to visit in 2017 

LA PAZ, BOLIVIA

Why you should go: First there was Buenos Aires, then Lima, and now… La Paz? As unlikely as it sounds, this chaotic Bolivian city is becoming South America's hottest foodie destination. For the best in upmarket cuisine, try Gustu, a fine-diner opened by Claus Myer, one of the co-founders of Danish restaurant Noma, and run by Kamila Seidler, recently named Latin America's best female chef by 50 Best. For something more traditional, grab a saltena – a soupy empanada – from Pacena La Saltena, a kiosk that's famous city-wide.

Don't miss: A meal at Gustu will be up there with any you'll have in Lima or BA (restaurantgustu.com).

When to go: Spring or autumn.

More: bolivia.travel.

See also: The 8 most beautiful countries are also the most dangerous

 

Houses for days 🏡 Video by @christian_foto Hi am Christian Rodriguez and I posting this video during my assignment in Bolivia for @natgeotravel. La Paz is the seat of government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. The city, located in west-central Bolivia, 68 km (42 mi) southeast of Lake Titicaca, is set in a valley created by the Choqueyapu River and sits in a bowl-like depression surrounded by the high mountains of the altiplano. La Paz an elevation of roughly 3,650 m (11,975 ft) above sea level. Due to its altitude, La Paz has an unusual subtropical highland climate, with rainy summers and dry winters. Christian Rodriguez @christian_foto for @natgeotravel and I will develop a story about "Locoto" in Bolivia during my assignment.

A video posted by South America (@southamerica) on

MEMPHIS, USA

Why you should go: Memphis is always a great city to visit – however, 2017 will be a particularly notable one for this city of soul. Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the passing of Memphis's favourite son, Elvis Presley. The King's former home-turned-museum, Graceland, will host a week of events around August 16, including nightly tribute concerts, panel discussions, and a candlelit vigil to mark the passing of one of the true greats.

If you can't make it in August, there's still plenty of reason to head to Memphis next year. Spend a few long evenings in the blues bars of Beale Street, or check out the hipster revival in suburbs like Binghampton and South Main, or just gorge yourself on Tennessee barbecue. Whatever you choose, you'll be wooed by the wild spirit and friendly nature of Memphis.

Don't miss: There's so much musical history here, from the famous Graceland to Sun Studio, where Elvis recorded, to the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum downtown.

When to go: Next year, the 40th anniversary celebrations will make August the best time to visit (see graceland.com).

More: memphistravel.com.

KOTOR, MONTENEGRO

Why you should go: While the tourist hordes have well and truly descended upon the old city of Dubrovnik, in neighbouring Montenegro there's a small amount of solace in Kotor. While the latter city shares the stunning waterfront location, ancient city walls and winding alleyways of its Croatian counterpart, Kotor still carries with it the feeling of untouched charm, particularly if you avoid the July-August holiday rush.

Don't miss: Climb the 1350 steps of Kotor's city wall to enjoy a spectacular vantage point on St John's Hill.

When to go: Summer is beautiful, though popular. Try autumn or spring.

More: visit-montenegro.com.

 

하 굉장히 빡치는 하루였당 존경은 바라지도 않지만 존중은 좀 받고싶당

A photo posted by Hyun-gon Cho (@leishmania00) on

LEIPZIG, GERMANY

Why you should go: The city affectionately known as "Hypezig" has transformed in the last few years from being a bleak, industrial East German hub into a hotspot of creativity. Reflecting its history as the home of Mendelssohn, Bach and Wagner, Leipzig is now host to a new wave of musicians, artists and designers, giving it the feel of a smaller Berlin.

Don't miss: Catch high art at the Gewandhaus, Leipzig's main concert hall, or view pop art at the Baumwollspinnerei, an industrial area turned arts district.

When to go: May to September.

More: leipzig.travel.

FES, MOROCCO

Why you should go: While political unrest plagues much of northern Africa, Morocco remains a safe, stable exception, making this an ideal time to visit the country, and in particular the ancient city of Fes. Fes seems like it's changed very little in the past few hundred years – its sprawling medina is still packed with shoppers and onlookers, hawkers and touts, the air filled with scents of spice and the screams of merchants peddling their wares.

Don't miss: Spend the night in one of Fes' riads, the old mansions that have been turned into boutique hotels.

When to go: Year-round.

More: visitmorocco.com.

 

A photo posted by @juliadeitzy on

HONG KONG

Why you should go: It was 20 years ago next year that Hong Kong was returned from Britain to the Chinese; however, this city-state still marches to the beat of its own drum. While official celebrations will mark the handover, for most of Hong Kong's residents 2017 will be business as usual: sumptuous meals at the city's tens of thousands of restaurants; long nights in upmarket expat bars; and shopping, shopping, shopping.

Don't miss: Grab a dim sum breakfast at Lin Heung (linheung.com.hk), a restaurant that falls somewhere between a pleasant dining experience and all-out warfare.

When to go: October to April.

More: discoverhongkong.com.

See also: 20 reasons to visit Hong Kong

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO

Why you should go: Somewhere in among the horror stories of drug cartels and petty crime, the truth about Mexico City got lost – and that truth is that this place is oozing culture and charm. For examples, check out the boutique hotels and smart eateries in La Condesa district, or the huge Diego Rivera murals in the Bellas Artes gallery, or the former home of Frida Kahlo in Colonia del Carmen, or even the Zocalo, the city's main square.

Don't miss: Spend a few nights at the Red Tree House, a B&B-style hotel that's one of the friendliest places you'll ever stay (theredtreehouse.com).

When to go: March to May.

More: visitmexico.com.

See also: The world's best cities with the worst reputations

PAPHOS, CYPRUS

Why you should go: This entire town, the mythical birthplace of the Greek goddess Aphrodite and the former home of Roman nobles, is UNESCO heritage-listed, but that's not the only reason to visit. In 2017 Paphos is one of two European Capitals of Culture (with Aarhus in Denmark), an honour marked with a full year of cultural events, many of them free.

Don't miss: The Paphos Archaeological Park houses ruins of several Roman villas that have large mosaics intact.

When to go: Paphos is great year-round, although summer is most popular.

More: visitpafos.org.cy.

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