Wow – it’s mind-blowing to me that it’s almost 2016! Time flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it? This past year has been filled with a LOT of travel (and a ton of hard work)… 2015 had me traveling to eleven countries (really!?).
One thing I didn’t do so great at this past year? Checking off my dream destinations from my 2015 travel bucket list. In fact, out of my top 15 travel picks for 2015, I only visited a few. Despite doing a lot of traveling this year (both domestically and internationally), 2015 threw me a curve ball when it came to my travel plans… basically everyone I know decided to get married. I traveled to a slew of weddings (including three destination weddings… in three different countries). While not a complete failure, I was able to check three destinations off my 2015 list: I road-tripped around the country of Ireland, visited the super cool Pacific Northwest city of Seattle, WA and frolicked around the fjords of Norway. Additionally, I also have an epic trip on the books to another one my 2015 destinations planned for early 2016 (it’s a surprise!) and there’s a strong possibility that I’ll be checking off several more throughout 2016 (better late than never, right)?
A new year brings a new wanderlust wish list, so here are my top 10 travel destinations for 2016:
I got a small taste of this slice of the globe on my trip to France. After exploring Annecy in the French Alps, we headed to nearby Switzerland to briefly explore the Geneva area and Chateau de Chillon. I’m a sucker for mountain and lake views. The short day trip turned out to be a tease and I’ve wanted to return to the Swiss Alps ever since.
Ever since traveling to Egypt, I’ve been fascinated with exploring more of the Middle East. It’s a magical region filled with rich, diverse culture that I’m itching to experience more of. For the past couple years, Jordan has remained number one on my Middle Eastern travel bucket list. I’d love to explore the ancient city of Petra, float in the Dead Sea and camp in the Wadi Rum desert.
Sri Lanka has recently gained some popularity and is becoming a hot spot with world travelers. I’m excited to explore the country’s ancient cities and hopefully catch a glimpse of the wildlife that Sri Lanka is well-known for (elephants, leopards, whales and sea turtles).
My trips to San Juan Island and Banff have given me a sample of some of the scenery I might expect to experience when I visit Whistler in British Columbia, Canada. Although a popular ski town, I’d like to visit Whistler outside of its winter peak season so that I can hike and catch a glimpse of the bright aqua glacier lakes.
The Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic has been a long-standing Caribbean favorite due to the island’s world class all-inclusive resorts and gorgeous beaches, but “the DR” has a lot more to offer world travelers than just a luxury beach vacation! Santo Domingo, the oldest city in the “New World,” is brimming with culture and epicurean delights, and the island also touts the twin peaks of Pico Duarte and La Pelona, which you could spend several days hiking.
My trip to Bosnia & Herzegovina solidified that my obsession with the Balkan countries is well-founded. (Hint – it’s very likely I’ll be exploring more of the Balkans in 2016). The country of Albania has fascinating history and culture and also offers stunning mountain scenery and beaches. Albania seems to be one of the last “undiscovered gems” in Europe and is less traveled by Western tourists, which makes visiting soon a high priority for me.
Ahhhh, I cannot stop looking at photos of this gorgeous east African archipelago. Obviously, Zanzibar’s beaches are crazy beautiful, but I’m also interested in exploring the cobbled alleyways of Stone Town and some of the islands’ other villages. As an added bonus, a trip to Zanzibar would likely mean a visit to Tanzania… which could mean another safari (an experience which I positively adored while in South Africa)!
Sydney is a metropolitan city with a ton to do and see. I’d love to explore its unique neighborhoods, climb the harbor bridge and take a dinner cruise to watch the sun set over the iconic opera house. Of course, no trip to Sydney would be complete without taking a surf lesson at Bondi Beach and walking the coastline to Coogee.
Walla Walla, Washington
There’s no way this year’s bucket list could possibly be complete without a wino-tourism destination. My trip to Seattle made it abundantly clear that I am in dire need to explore more of the beautiful Pacific Northwest… so why not tie in some vineyards and wine tastings while I’m at it?
Door County, WI
The last of my top 10 travel destinations for 2016 is Door County, WI. I know what you’re thinking… where the heck is Door County and why would anywhere in Wisconsin make your top 10 list? Well, you can take the girl out of Wisconsin, but you can’t take the Wisconsin out of the girl. I’ve already written about why I’m obsessed with my hometown of Milwaukee, but I’d love to re-explore more of the state, particularly Door County. The iconic county is located on the state’s eastern peninsula (if you picture Wisconsin as your left hand, Door County would be located at the tip of your thumb), and is absolutely gorgeous. I’ve visited the area as a child, but have been dying to get back as an adult.
What are your top travel destinations for 2016?
CC images from Flickr: Murren HDR(2) by Gianlucca1996; Jordan- 18C-031- the monastery & inside by Dennis Jarvis; Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka by Muhun Sathasivam; Whistler Summer 2013 by GoToVan; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (23) by Ben Kucinski; Valbona Albania by Les Haines; Zanzibar by Fabio Di Lupo; Sydney Sunrise by Jason James; Walla Walla by Jameson Fink; Lake Michigan Sunrise 2 by Elvis Kennedy.