All eyes are on the new Viceroy Cartagena. Labelled Colombia’s first six-star hotel, this glam getaway boasts an infinity pool and terrace bar with 360 views of the city

Want to know where you should have your next big adventure? Then take a look at the hottest countries on the travel radar

 

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FINLAND

Why: The Finns will be popping open a bottle or two of Salmari vodka to celebrate 100 years of independence. There are numerous events planned throughout the country, but we’re sure that they will be throwing a few parties at the new national park in Hossa. Plus the Northern Lights are also said to be at their peak throughout 2017.

Stay: Hotel Kamp, which overlooks the harbour, has been a favourite with Finland’s glitterati since it threw open its doors in 1887.  Only a short walk from the Finnish Museum of Contemporary Art, it is a must visit for any culture vulture.

Eat: Chef & Sommelier won a Michelin-star thanks to its hunter-gatherer chef who whips up innovative dishes in his kitchen. Expect such dishes as pike and dill, wild rice and herbs and rye bread laced with rosemary.

Explore: One of Finland’s biggest celebrations is Helsinki Sauna Day on 11 March. On this day Finns throw open the doors to their saunas to visitors. Book into the newly launched Loyly sauna (www.loylyhelsinki.fi). You are encouraged to take a dip in the icy sea water before you book into its traditional smoke sauna.

 

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CROATIA

Why: Well, for one thing, you won’t be short of places to stay as 50 new hotels and resorts are opening across the country in 2017.

Stay: Perched on the cliff face you’ll find the super stylish Villa Dubrovnik. Built from the famed grey Brac stone, this natural meets nautical five-star hideaway provides the perfect place to get away from it all.

Eat: Take a seat on the roof top terrace of Restaurant Dubrovnik. Enjoy an array of Mediterranean dishes while looking out over the Medieval alleyways.

Explore: Take a boat tour to Lokrum Island or Elaphiti Islands. Or climb into a kayak and go for an adventure yourself.

 

Local Vendors sell fruit and baked goods on the side of the street in Cartagena Colombia

COLOMBIA

Why: You could say it’s because 2017 marks the first papal visit for 30 years, or you could say it’s thanks to an addiction to Narcos and Netflx… Either way, this South American country is on everyone’s list this year.

Stay: All eyes are on the new Viceroy Cartagena. Labelled Colombia’s first six-star hotel, this new glamorous getaway boasts an infinity pool and terrace bar with 360 views of Cartagena.

Eat: Follow in the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain and take a seat at La Puerta Falsa. Here they serve up traditional Colombian dishes including tamales and chocolate complete (hot chocolate with cheese) for breakfast.

Explore: Grab your camera and explore the picturesque neighbourhoods of the Old City and Getsemani. The walled Old City is a colonial architectural gem. Filled with picturesque churches, plazas and bougainvillea decorated balconies – it’s a real treat for the eyes. While the former red light district of Getsemani has become a whirl of dance halls, graffiti art and boutique hotels.

 

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NAMIBIA

Why: Not only will you have the chance to discover some of the world’s most phenomenal landscapes, such as the Skeleton Coast, but thanks to the Namibian dollar being pegged to the weak South Africa Rand, it’s more financially viable too.

Stay: At the Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp. Featuring seven tents that are the last word in luxury, a swimming pool (yes, in the desert) and

Eat: Dine on delicious dishes whipped up by the chefs in the camps colonial-style dining room.

Explore: The Skeleton Coast is the home of the famed desert lions. The camp is the home of legendary researcher Dr Flip Stander who has been studying these animals for the past 30 years. You can visit the research centre and join game drives along the coast or in the desert.

 

RWANDA

Why: There are less than 800 gorillas left in the wild. If you want to show your support for these creatures you need to go now.

Stay: At the new Bisate Lodge. Just 12 guests will be able to stay within this eco-luxe lodge within Volcanoes National Park. It comes complete with jawdropping views and a wine cellar.

Eat: Enjoy a vintage or two from the Bisate Lodge wine cellar while you dine on dishes created by the resort’s own chef.

Explore: Pull on your hiking boots and hike through the undergrowth to see some of the world’s most famous animals – the mountain gorillas of Rwanda. Once you’ve lived out your David Attenborough moment with the gorillas, you can tour nearby villages, see the twin lakes of Buhondo and Burera and the lava tunnels of the Musanze Caves.

 

Ein Fischerboot auf dem Mekong River bei Luang Prabang in Zentrallaos von Laos in Suedostasien.

LAOS

Why: When Barack Obama recently arrived in Laos he was the first American president to do so and this immediately put the country on everyone’s radar. So no surprise that there are new flights being launched and hotels being built in the country.

Stay: At the new Rosewood Luang Prabang that opens in 2017. Apart from the villas you’ll find five luxury tents that come with private dining areas and wrap-around decks.

Eat: Book a table at Khaiphaen, an NGO Friends International restaurant training school. They provide restaurant training for marginalised youths and the Lao dishes that they serve up are delicious.

Explore: You can explore the forest that surrounds your hotel with its river and waterfall or take a 10-minute drive into the historic city of Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

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MONGOLIA

Why: There’s no stopping Mongolia in 2017. They are opening a new state-of-the-art airport and the Shangri-La is launching a USD$500 million hotel complex. While you might not be bothered about checking out Mongolia’s new Hard Rock Café, you will be pleased to know that thanks to the airport and new road through the countryside, you will be able to cover even more of this beautiful countryside.

Stay: At the Three Camel Lodge in the Gobi Desert. Here you will have the chance to experience the traditional nomadic lifestyle, before the rest of the world arrives. This eco-lodge features an array of five-star gers (tepees).  You can spend your evenings relaxing in the resort’s screening room or spa, or just looking up at the stars.

Eat: The resort’s own Bulagati Restaurant serves up Mongolian and Western-style dishes in an authentic oversized ger, similar to those used by the Great Khans centuries before.

Explore: Go hiking across the dunes, saddle up and ride across the desert, or take the chance to find out more about this beautiful country when you meet the locals nomads.

 

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IRAN

Why: Since international sanctions were lifted on Iran it has made it the hottest travel ticket in town.

Stay: On one of the new Golden Eagle Luxury Trains that have created new itineraries between Moscow and Tehran. So you don’t just get to see one part of this beautiful country, you can go on a whirlwind tour of Ifahan, Persepolis, Shiraz and Tehran. Choose from one of three luxury cabins to stay in, which feature ensuite bathrooms, LCD Tvs and king size beds.

Eat: Forget about grabbing a dried-up sandwich at the train station, expect gastronomic specialities such as black sturgeon and red pacific salmon on board this travelling hotel.

Explore: Tour the city of Isfahan, famed for its silver filigree, stop at the ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire, Persepolis and then take a tour of the gardens of Shiraz.

 

Boudhanath Stupa in the Kathmandu valley, Nepal

NEPAL

Why: Trek Nepal, build Nepal. Tourists are being encouraged to set foot once again in one of the most famous cities on Earth.

Stay: If you would rather stay a little further out of Kathmandu and breath in more of that fresh mountain air, book at stay at Dwarika’s Resort Dhulikhel. This mountain retreat enables you to get back to nature without leaving those little luxuries behind.

Eat: Sayapatri Restaurant offers delicious Nepalese food as well as jawdropping views of the Himalayas from its terrace.

Explore: If you haven’t got time for one of the treks, and you’ve already enjoyed a treatment or two at the Dwarika Resort Dhulikhel, take a helicopter ride over Mount Everest. After coming all this way you need to see it before you go home.

 

Byron Bay, NSW, Australia. 10/1/2016 Photo credit - James Horan/ Destination NSW

AUSTRALIA

Why: Move aside Switzerland, Hong Kong and Miami, Sydney is set to become an art capital of the world. Not does the city already have the Biennale of Sydney, but it’s about to launch The National: New Australian Art from March to July 2017 at three cultural institutions within the city – The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Carriageworks and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.

Stay: The Old Claire Hotel, a boutique retreat that stretches across two iconic heritage buildings.

Eat: The Old Clare Hotel is home to the Automata run by chef Clayton Wells and Kensington Street Social owned by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton. And if that’s not enough, you should also take a seat at Auto.Lab, which features guest chefs in the kitchen.

Explore: Once you’ve taken a look at the works at The National: New Australian Art event, take a trip to Byron Bay, which is turning into a mini art gallery itself thanks to the proliferation of wall-to-wall street art.

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