Already thinking about your travel plans for 2016? Of course you are! Lucky for you, we’re following all the latest travel trends—and 2016’s hottest destinations have just been announced.
Every year, Lonely Planet publishes a list of the top destinations to visit in the New Year, and 2016’s has just been unveiled. This list can get pretty quirky, sub-categorizing down into the best places to see awesome mustaches, the best places to meet mythical beasts, and more. Lonely Planet is basically every backpacker’s Bible, and it’s clear why!
But, if you’re more interested in the bread and butter of Lonely Planet’s best places to visit in 2016, stay tuned! I’ve called out the best places on their list, so you can focus in on the crème de la crème of 2016 travel.
Best Country: USA
While the Lonely Planet list for top countries includes many appealing nations like Botswana, Japan, Latvia, Australia, Poland, and Fiji, coming in at number three is one of my personal favorite countries to travel through—the good ol’ USA. Americans are notorious for skimping on international travel, but really, it’s so awesome here that failing to leave is totally understandable.
I’ve spent a ton of time exploring the US, and I can tell you firsthand—this country is ridiculously diverse. From the people to the landscapes to the cities, no two places in the US are the same. One of my favorite spots is in and along Florida, where I recently road tripped through the Keys. I drove down the Overseas Highway—a destination in itself—and saw incredibly colorful architecture and historical sites like the Hemingway House.
But it doesn’t end with our coastlines! This country is filled with cities, each with its own unique character. From Chicago with its hot dogs, historical Wrigley Field, and homey spirit, to New York with its skyscrapers and never-ending hustle, urban America is something every traveler should experience.
The real kicker, though? Our national parks. The American West is full of them, and they’re ridiculously impressive. Check out the Grand Canyon, the California Redwoods, or Arches National Park, home to over 2,000 natural stone arches. Amazing!
Best Region: Bavaria, Germany
Lonely Planet named some fairly obscure regions in its 2016 list, including Transylvania, Romania, West Iceland, Valle de Vinales, Cuba, and St. Helena, British Territories. However, for me, Bavaria stands out as a visited favorite.
This southern German region looks like it walked straight out of a fairy tale. It’s home to mystical forests, storybook castles, and a smattering of medieval towns. I’m kind of surprised I’ve never caught Sleeping Beauty stumbling down a cobbled, Bavarian lane!
Bavaria is most famous for Munich’s Oktoberfest and Nuremberg’s Christmas market, but this region doesn’t just dazzle with its events. It’s filled with museums—the few days I spent in Munich last summer weren’t enough to see them all!—gorgeous scenery, and pretzels bigger than my head. (Not kidding. You’ll need some beer to wash those down.)
The coolest thing in Bavaria? Back to that storybook charm, it’d have to be the fairytale castle Neuschwanstein. Set against the edge of a mountain, and flanked by a slightly more humble abode, Schloss Linderhof, this castle is about as picturesque as it gets. Auf Wiedersehen!
Best City: Kotor, Montenegro
Lonely Planet named some surprising cities this year! Quito, Dublin, Rotterdam, Nashville, and Rome all made 2016’s list, but which city is the best? Kotor, in the tiny nation of Montenegro, would have to be my pick. I visited the historic little town this past summer, and let me tell you—you’ve got to go visit.
Tucked away from the open sea on the Bay of Kotor, Europe’s most southerly fjord, the historic city of Kotor lures in cruise shippers and other tourists to its Stari Grad. The old town is covered in churches, shops, bars, and restaurants—but it’s the city’s historic fortifications that are the real draw. I made the daunting 1200-meter ascent up the city’s defensive walls to check out the view of the Bay of Kotor, and it was amazing. All 1,350 steps to the top are absolutely worth it!
Which places on Lonely Planet’s 2016 list are you planning to visit next year? Let us know in the comments!