2017 Travel Bucket List

2016 was a crazy year. I started an international masters program based in Paris, visited nearly twenty countries, and also commuted between Chicago and Detroit for over six months. As a result, I pretty much lived on planes and had far too many airport lounge dinners. It was a wild ride, and I learned a few important things along the journey. Namely, I am still, after all of these adventures, terrified of flying (I know, more on that another time!), there is no better feeling than arriving someplace new for the very first time, and home is still my favorite place in the world. I also learned how much I love exploring new places and that there are so many new destinations I want to experience.

Every new year brings the chance to up the country count and explore more of the world. Below is the list of destinations on my 2017 bucket list. If you’re planning any wild adventures this year I hope this list will give you some inspiration.

Seoul, South Korea

  Roman Daudrich / FlickrRoman Daudrich / Flickr

Centuries at the center of Korean politics, business and art have made Seoul a traveler’s paradise. Seoul is home to some of the nation’s most elaborate palaces and temples, including popular Gyeongbokgung. Fine art fills the galleries of the Samcheongdong district and the Seoul Museum of Art, while traditional Korean dance graces theatres across the city. Of course, Seoul’s younger residents love pop culture, fashion and nightlife as much as anyone. You’ll find trendy cocktail bars and even Irish pubs attract as many Koreans as international travelers. –Frommer’s Seoul

Chefchaouen, Morocco

  Isabel Perez Marin / FlickrIsabel Perez Marin / Flickr

Beautifully perched beneath the raw peaks of the Rif, Chefchaouen is one of the prettiest towns in Morocco, an artsy, blue-washed mountain village that feels like its own world. While tourism has definitely taken hold, the balance between ease and authenticity is just right. The old medina is a delight of Moroccan and Andalucian influence with red-tiled roofs, bright-blue buildings and narrow lanes converging on busy Plaza Uta el-Hammam and its restored kasbah. Long known to backpackers for the easy availability of kif (cannabis), the town has rapidly gentrified and offers a range of quality accommodation, good food, lots to do and no hassles to speak of, making it a strong alternative to a hectic multicity tour. This is a great place to relax, explore and take day trips to the cool green hills. –Lonely Planet Chefchaouen

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Ole Steffennsen / FlickrOle Steffennsen / Flickr

Many people say that San Miguel is a bit like a Mexican Disneyland for foreign (mainly American) retirees and visiting chilangos those from Mexico City. While there is a certain contrived fairy tale feel to the place – and not a colonial brick out of place in its historic center – it is, nevertheless, a beautiful city, with colonial architecture, enchanting cobblestone streets and striking light (especially popular among photographers and artists). Regular festivals, fireworks and parades dominate the local scene. –Lonely Planet San Miguel de Allende

Santa Barbara, California

Jeff Muth / FlickrJeff Muth / Flickr

It’s been called the American Riviera, and Santa Barbara delivers the gracious good life amid sun-splashed stucco and red-tile roofs under swaying palms. A pitch-perfect climate doesn’t hurt: This California gold-coast community is serendipitously tucked between Pacific beaches and the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains. Feel the cooling ocean breeze on sandy beaches or browse the boutiques lining downtown State Street. Say hello to the giraffes at Santa Barbara Zoo before relaxing over a meal at a waterfront restaurant. –Frommer’s Santa Barbara

Bergen, Norway

Oleksiy Mark / ShutterstockOleksiy Mark / Shutterstock

Surrounded by seven hills and seven fjords, Bergen is a beguiling city. During the early Middle Ages, it was an important seaport and a member of the Hanseatic League, as well as Norway’s capital– a heritage that can still be glimpsed in the beautifully preserved wooden houses of Byggen, now protected as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Colourful houses creep up the hillsides, ferry-boats flit around the fjords, and a cluster of excellent art museums provide a welcome detour in case Bergen’s notoriously fickle weather sets in. Meanwhile, a large student population ensures the city has a buzzy bar scene and nightlife. –Lonely Planet Bergen

Sri Lanka

Ultrapanavision / FlickrUltrapanavision / Flickr

There’s more to Sri Lanka than Buddhist temples and palm-fringed golden beaches. Dotted with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the island has verdant jungle, an average of eight hours sunshine a day and superb tea, ideally sipped in a colonial-style guesthouse overlooking a hillside plantation. In the west, five-star resorts have sprung up alongside chic shacks on beaches where stilt fishermen make their daily catch and surfers catch a wave. On the south coast sleepy Galle Fort’s chic boutiques and annual literary festival are a blueprint for the future. –Frommer’s Sri Lanka

Mendoza, Argentina

Jan Beck / FlickrJan Beck / Flickr

A bustling city of wide, leafy avenues, atmospheric plazas and cosmopolitan cafes, Mendoza is a trap. Even if you’ve (foolishly) only given it a day or two on your itinerary, you’re bound to end up hanging around, captivated by the laid-back pace, while surrounded by every possible comfort. Ostensibly it’s a desert town, though you wouldn’t know unless you were told – acequias (irrigation ditches) that run beside every main road and glorious fountains that adorn every main plaza mean you’ll never be far from the burble of running water. Lively during the day, the city really comes into its own at night, when the bars, restaurants and cafes along Av Arístides fill up and overflow onto the sidewalks, with all the bright young things, out to see and be seen. –Lonely Planet Mendoza

Corfu, Greece

David / FlickrDavid / Flickr

Elegant Corfu Town (also known as Kerkyra) leaves you spellbound from the moment you wander its cobbled streets aglow with evil eyes and redolent with sandalwood, past old ladies bedecked in widow-black robes measuring their afternoons with worry beads, washing strung from balconies. Corfu means ‘twin peaks’ – the town is bookended by two hills, on which two massive fortresses were built to repel the aggression of five successive Ottoman sieges. Besides some fascinating museums, there are plenty of upscale shops and some of the region’s top restaurants to savour. – Lonely Planet Corfu

Austin, Texas

Ian Aberle / FlickrIan Aberle / Flickr

Austin, where it’s not unusual for perfect strangers to strike up a conversation, prides itself on giving all comers a warm welcome: punks and honky-tonkers, environmentalists and SUV drivers, cowboy boots and Birkenstocks. In spite of being the Texas state capital and home to the University of Texas, Austin maintains its small-town feel and green spaces. Whether you’re looking for posh shopping or line dancing, you’re welcome to “”do your thing”” in Austin. –Frommer’s Austin

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