skip to main content

Top holiday destinations for 2017

Where will your summer holiday take you? Let us inspire you with holiday ideas on where to stay and what to do. Here are 10 top destinations to add to your list for 2017.

Barcelona

Barcelona

Take everything that’s best about Mediterranean cities – a wonderful beach, a relaxed vibe, months of endless sunshine – then add world-class art and culture, amazing architecture, superb food and boundary-breaking design, and you’ve got Barcelona.

Foodies will love trying out one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants at the heart of Barcelona’s gastronomic food scene; architecture fans can marvel at Gaudi’s astonishing La Sagrada Familia cathedral and the fantastical creations of Park Guell; while football fans shouldn’t miss the chance to worship at the Nou Camp, the ultimate shrine to the world’s most popular sport.

There’s plenty to tempt shoppers here too, with some of Europe’s coolest art, design and fashion emporia spread across the city; it’s also worth a trip up Mount Tibidabo for a spell-binding view over the city, watching its elegant avenues and narrow streets come to life as the sun sets and another evening of into-the-small-hours Catalonian revelry begins.

 

Barcelona

Barcelona

Take everything that’s best about Mediterranean cities – a wonderful beach, a relaxed vibe, months of endless sunshine – then add world-class art and culture, amazing architecture, superb food and boundary-breaking design, and you’ve got Barcelona.

Foodies will love trying out one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants at the heart of Barcelona’s gastronomic food scene; architecture fans can marvel at Gaudi’s astonishing La Sagrada Familia cathedral and the fantastical creations of Park Guell; while football fans shouldn’t miss the chance to worship at the Nou Camp, the ultimate shrine to the world’s most popular sport.

There’s plenty to tempt shoppers here too, with some of Europe’s coolest art, design and fashion emporia spread across the city; it’s also worth a trip up Mount Tibidabo for a spell-binding view over the city, watching its elegant avenues and narrow streets come to life as the sun sets and another evening of into-the-small-hours Catalonian revelry begins.

 

Nice

Nice

Unofficial capital of the Côte d’Azur, the gloriously glitzy city of Nice has been a playground for the rich and famous for decades. Curving elegantly around the pristine waters of the Bay of Angels, with a stretch of beach that runs all the way to nearby Antibes, there is a seamless mix of seaside and city life on offer.

Glamorous beach clubs and bars line the seafront – perfect for a spot of lunch while you watch the yachts bobbing on the light-spangled waters of the Mediterranean.

The finest way to soak up Nice is on foot: the Promenade du Paillon is a magnificent 30 acres of stunning parkland that runs from the city centre to the sea; or take a sunset stroll along the celebrated Promenade des Anglais, which runs along the seafront.

Away from the seaside, there is an impressive wealth of museums and galleries, including the Musée Matisse and Musée Marc Chagall, as well as some stunning buildings like the St Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral.

 

Nice

Nice

Unofficial capital of the Côte d’Azur, the gloriously glitzy city of Nice has been a playground for the rich and famous for decades. Curving elegantly around the pristine waters of the Bay of Angels, with a stretch of beach that runs all the way to nearby Antibes, there is a seamless mix of seaside and city life on offer.

Glamorous beach clubs and bars line the seafront – perfect for a spot of lunch while you watch the yachts bobbing on the light-spangled waters of the Mediterranean.

The finest way to soak up Nice is on foot: the Promenade du Paillon is a magnificent 30 acres of stunning parkland that runs from the city centre to the sea; or take a sunset stroll along the celebrated Promenade des Anglais, which runs along the seafront.

Away from the seaside, there is an impressive wealth of museums and galleries, including the Musée Matisse and Musée Marc Chagall, as well as some stunning buildings like the St Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral.

 

 

Sorrento

Sorrento

This civilised and chic town just at the bottom of the Bay of Naples oozes sophistication. Handsome Renaissance and Romanesque architecture, a charming Baroque old town, piquant Southern Italian food: even its tourist shops are stylish, selling the ceramics and lace for which the town is famous. But Sorrento’s greatest appeal is as a base for exploring the Amalfi Coast, quite possibly Europe’s most magnificent stretch of coastline. Breathtaking scenery, glamorous resorts, glorious weather, spectacular coast roads with plummeting drops.

Hire a car to visit the geographically impossible town of Positano, with wedding-cake coloured houses piled vertiginously around its beach, and wander around shops selling white linen dresses, chic Italian swimwear and brightly coloured art. This is also the departing point for boats to the fabled island of Capri, whose rustic beauty and dash of stylish hedonism has been attracting everyone from Roman Emperors to Hollywood stars to sample its dolce vita for centuries.

Pompeii's world-famous ruins are also within day-tripping distance (don't miss the eerie preserved body casts, caught for ever in the throes of death); the town of Herculaneum is equally worth a visit. Buried in Vesuvius’s boiling mud at the same time as Pompeii was destroyed by ash, it’s preserved in a completely different but equally intriguing way.

 

Sorrento

Sorrento

This civilised and chic town just at the bottom of the Bay of Naples oozes sophistication. Handsome Renaissance and Romanesque architecture, a charming Baroque old town, piquant Southern Italian food: even its tourist shops are stylish, selling the ceramics and lace for which the town is famous. But Sorrento’s greatest appeal is as a base for exploring the Amalfi Coast, quite possibly Europe’s most magnificent stretch of coastline. Breathtaking scenery, glamorous resorts, glorious weather, spectacular coast roads with plummeting drops.

Hire a car to visit the geographically impossible town of Positano, with wedding-cake coloured houses piled vertiginously around its beach, and wander around shops selling white linen dresses, chic Italian swimwear and brightly coloured art. This is also the departing point for boats to the fabled island of Capri, whose rustic beauty and dash of stylish hedonism has been attracting everyone from Roman Emperors to Hollywood stars to sample its dolce vita for centuries.

Pompeii's world-famous ruins are also within day-tripping distance (don't miss the eerie preserved body casts, caught for ever in the throes of death); the town of Herculaneum is equally worth a visit. Buried in Vesuvius’s boiling mud at the same time as Pompeii was destroyed by ash, it’s preserved in a completely different but equally intriguing way.

 

The statue of Henry the Navigator in the harbour lets you know that this was once a city of explorers, from where the mariners of the Middle Ages set out to discover the world. But nowadays it’s a genuine destination rather than a starting point, offering a brilliant and easy combination of city break and beach holiday.

The city itself is charming and rickety, much like the wooden trams that climb up its many hills, cutting along narrow cobbled streets. Open-air cafés offer local delicacies and strong flavours you simply won’t experience in other cities, with clams, sardines and sausages being to the fore, all chased down with delicious custard tarts and glasses of port (Please drink responsibly).

Lisbon is less than 30 minutes away from wild stretches of Atlantic beaches, such as Adraga and Guincho, perfect for getting a tan or taking on the waves with a surfboard. Sightseers should also make the short pilgrimage to the town of Sintra, where the fantastical mountaintop palace and castle will make you feel as though you’ve wandered into the pages of a fantasy novel.

 

Lisbon

Lisbon

Lisbon

Lisbon

The statue of Henry the Navigator in the harbour lets you know that this was once a city of explorers, from where the mariners of the Middle Ages set out to discover the world. But nowadays it’s a genuine destination rather than a starting point, offering a brilliant and easy combination of city break and beach holiday.

The city itself is charming and rickety, much like the wooden trams that climb up its many hills, cutting along narrow cobbled streets. Open-air cafés offer local delicacies and strong flavours you simply won’t experience in other cities, with clams, sardines and sausages being to the fore, all chased down with delicious custard tarts and glasses of port (Please drink responsibly).

Lisbon is less than 30 minutes away from wild stretches of Atlantic beaches, such as Adraga and Guincho, perfect for getting a tan or taking on the waves with a surfboard. Sightseers should also make the short pilgrimage to the town of Sintra, where the fantastical mountaintop palace and castle will make you feel as though you’ve wandered into the pages of a fantasy novel.

 

Santorini

Santorini

Thanks to its somewhat melodramatic beginnings, Santorini does breathtaking scenery particularly well. The volcanic explosion in 1450 BC that created Santorini is what gives the island its dramatic landscape – multi-coloured cliffs soar above a submerged volcanic crater and the hillsides are dotted with traditional white-cube houses.

The island is most famous for its awe-inspiring sunsets – when the sun goes down the orange glow of the mountains and the light dancing off the buildings creates one of the most astonishing sights you’ll ever see. The gorgeous cliff-top village of Oia is one of the best spots to enjoy the sunset. Many hotels overlook the vast volcanic bay (the caldera) and you’ll find yourself mesmerized as you look down and watch ships crisscross the azure waters of the Aegean. There are lots of lively tavernas all over the island and for food lovers a wealth of restaurants dishing up just-caught fish and exceptionally good wine from the local vineyards.

 

Santorini

Santorini

Thanks to its somewhat melodramatic beginnings, Santorini does breathtaking scenery particularly well. The volcanic explosion in 1450 BC that created Santorini is what gives the island its dramatic landscape – multi-coloured cliffs soar above a submerged volcanic crater and the hillsides are dotted with traditional white-cube houses.

The island is most famous for its awe-inspiring sunsets – when the sun goes down the orange glow of the mountains and the light dancing off the buildings creates one of the most astonishing sights you’ll ever see. The gorgeous cliff-top village of Oia is one of the best spots to enjoy the sunset. Many hotels overlook the vast volcanic bay (the caldera) and you’ll find yourself mesmerized as you look down and watch ships crisscross the azure waters of the Aegean. There are lots of lively tavernas all over the island and for food lovers a wealth of restaurants dishing up just-caught fish and exceptionally good wine from the local vineyards.

 

A trip to Mexico can be whatever you want to make it – want to drop anchor at a five-star beach resort? There are more than enough high-end holiday spots to choose from in Tulum (to name just one option). Want to explore ancient ruins? The remains of the Mayan cities Chichen Itza or Palenque are just two of the many archaeological wonders. From trekking through tropical jungles to getting swept up in the exhilarating buzz of high-octane Mexico City; from savouring true Mexican fare at food stalls to bartering over supposed magic herbal remedies at Mexico City’s Sonora Market (also known as witchcraft market).

Or why limit yourself to just one type of holiday? Mexico may be a huge country but it also has over 50 airports so getting around by air is easy (and far more preferable to days on a bus). One thing’s for sure: your Mexican adventure can be as diverse as the culture and history of the country itself.

 

Mexico

Mexico

Mexico

Mexico

A trip to Mexico can be whatever you want to make it – want to drop anchor at a five-star beach resort? There are more than enough high-end holiday spots to choose from in Tulum (to name just one option). Want to explore ancient ruins? The remains of the Mayan cities Chichen Itza or Palenque are just two of the many archeological wonders. From trekking through tropical jungles to getting swept up in the exhilarating buzz of high-octane Mexico City; from savouring true Mexican fare at food stalls to bartering over supposed magic herbal remedies at Mexico City’s Sonora Market (also known as witchcraft market).

Or why limit yourself to just one type of holiday? Mexico may be a huge country but it also has over 50 airports so getting around by air is easy (and far more preferable to days on a bus). One thing’s for sure: your Mexican adventure can be as diverse as the culture and history of the country itself.

 

Florida

Florida

America’s Sunshine State could easily be dubbed America’s playground – and that’s for kids and adults alike. Orlando, in the centre, is the theme park capital of the world and just further north is The Kennedy Space Centre. Cosmopolitan, half-Latin Miami is a must-visit and if you’re after posing and partying the city’s glitzy South Beach, also famous for its Art Deco hotels, is an essential stop-off.

Just south of Miami are the Florida Keys, a hundred-mile stretch of islands where you can go fishing and diving. And at the southernmost tip of the Keys you find Key West, a laidback island that’s closer to Cuba than mainland Florida. Alongside the nightlife and beach life, Florida has an intriguing mix of new and old; you’ll also find America’s oldest city in St Augustine, the first Spanish colony, established in 1565.

 

Florida

Florida

America’s Sunshine State could easily be dubbed America’s playground – and that’s for kids and adults alike. Orlando, in the centre, is the theme park capital of the world and just further north is The Kennedy Space Centre. Cosmopolitan, half-Latin Miami is a must-visit and if you’re after posing and partying the city’s glitzy South Beach, also famous for its Art Deco hotels, is an essential stop-off.

Just south of Miami are the Florida Keys, a hundred-mile stretch of islands where you can go fishing and diving. And at the southernmost tip of the Keys you find Key West, a laidback island that’s closer to Cuba than mainland Florida. Alongside the nightlife and beach life, Florida has an intriguing mix of new and old; you’ll also find America’s oldest city in St Augustine, the first Spanish colony, established in 1565.

 

“LA is a jungle,” said Jack Kerouac in On The Road, and when you spend some time in this brash, buzzing, boisterous city it’s hard to disagree. There’s the extraordinarily eccentric slice of life you’ll see boarding and blading along Venice Beach and the more sedate fun to be had on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; star-spotting on Rodeo Drive and watching the surfers on the white-sand beach at Malibu; the gaudiness of Santa Monica pier and the big-name white-knuckle appeal of the big attractions, Universal Studios and Disneyland; the outdoor malls and high-end boutiques of the sprawling Fashion District; the hikers’ paradise that is Runyon Canyon and the vast, glittering expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

A car is essential here due to the sheer scale of the place; put the top down, turn the music up and have an afternoon of pure fun touring some of Tinseltown’s most iconic locations. Hip rooftop bars and fine-dining restaurants are ten a penny, but the ubiquitous diners, drive-throughs, coffee shops and juice bars can be just as enjoyable a stop, though be warned, most of them have some sort of health-food-craze twist – this is LA, after all.

 

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

“LA is a jungle,” said Jack Kerouac in On The Road, and when you spend some time in this brash, buzzing, boisterous city it’s hard to disagree. There’s the extraordinarily eccentric slice of life you’ll see boarding and blading along Venice Beach and the more sedate fun to be had on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; star-spotting on Rodeo Drive and watching the surfers on the white-sand beach at Malibu; the gaudiness of Santa Monica pier and the big-name white-knuckle appeal of the big attractions, Universal Studios and Disneyland; the outdoor malls and high-end boutiques of the sprawling Fashion District; the hikers’ paradise that is Runyon Canyon and the vast, glittering expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

A car is essential here due to the sheer scale of the place; put the top down, turn the music up and have an afternoon of pure fun touring some of Tinseltown’s most iconic locations. Hip rooftop bars and fine-dining restaurants are ten a penny, but the ubiquitous diners, drive-throughs, coffee shops and juice bars can be just as enjoyable a stop, though be warned, most of them have some sort of health-food-craze twist – this is LA, after all.

 

New Zealand

New Zealand

New Zealand’s landscape is so other-worldly Peter Jackson famously used it as the setting for mythical Middle Earth in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy (of course, Tolkien fans can now go on Lord of The Rings tours). Comprising two islands, South and North, a trip to New Zealand should take in both if possible.

Go to South Island for the purest in natural beauty – mountains, lakes and glaciers make this one of the most scenic places on earth (an air tour is the perfect way to take in the incredible views). The Fiordland National Park has the most spectacular fiords, waterfalls and snow-capped peaks.

Among North Island’s many appeals are its active volcanoes – in Rotorua you can see spouting geysers and bubbling mud pools – and you’ll find jaw-droppingly beautiful beaches in the Bay of Plenty and Cormandel. Your trip wouldn’t be complete without delving into Maori culture – join a hangi (a Maori feast) or catch a cultural performance with traditional Maori song, dance and the infamous, rugby opponent-terrifying haka war dance.

 

New Zealand

New Zealand

New Zealand’s landscape is so other-worldly Peter Jackson famously used it as the setting for mythical Middle Earth in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy (of course, Tolkien fans can now go on Lord of The Rings tours). Comprising two islands, South and North, a trip to New Zealand should take in both if possible.

Go to South Island for the purest in natural beauty – mountains, lakes and glaciers make this one of the most scenic places on earth (an air tour is the perfect way to take in the incredible views). The Fiordland National Park has the most spectacular fiords, waterfalls and snow-capped peaks.

Among North Island’s many appeals are its active volcanoes – in Rotorua you can see spouting geysers and bubbling mud pools – and you’ll find jaw-droppingly beautiful beaches in the Bay of Plenty and Cormandel. Your trip wouldn’t be complete without delving into Maori culture – join a hangi (a Maori feast) or catch a cultural performance with traditional Maori song, dance and the infamous, rugby opponent-terrifying haka war dance.

 

As history catches up with Cuba, it is changing fast, and after the recent warming of relations with the USA, there may not be long to sample its charms before it’s swallowed up and transformed by the 21st century. The good news - for now, at least - is that visitors can still get a flavour of the way it was when Fidel Castro and Che Guevara took over. Gloriously curvaceous 1950s cars serve as taxis, rumba and salsa bands fill the pavements with music, and the crumbling pastel facades of Old Havana provide an atmospheric backdrop. Day trips to the cigar factories, where you can watch torcedors roll tobacco leaves, show a craft that has barely changed in decades.

Away from the capital, things are even more authentic. Many visitors choose to eschew hotels altogether by staying in private houses, run by the families that live there, or dining in paladares – essentially private restaurants with just a couple of tables. Of course, this is the Caribbean, so you can also expect to find some of the best beaches in the world, with the pick of the bunch being at Varadero and Playa Los Flamencos.

Cuba

Cuba

Cuba

Cuba

As history catches up with Cuba, it is changing fast, and after the recent warming of relations with the USA, there may not be long to sample its charms before it’s swallowed up and transformed by the 21st century. The good news - for now, at least - is that visitors can still get a flavour of the way it was when Fidel Castro and Che Guevara took over. Gloriously curvaceous 1950s cars serve as taxis, rumba and salsa bands fill the pavements with music, and the crumbling pastel facades of Old Havana provide an atmospheric backdrop. Day trips to the cigar factories, where you can watch torcedors roll tobacco leaves, show a craft that has barely changed in decades.

Away from the capital, things are even more authentic. Many visitors choose to eschew hotels altogether by staying in private houses, run by the families that live there, or dining in paladares – essentially private restaurants with just a couple of tables. Of course, this is the Caribbean, so you can also expect to find some of the best beaches in the world, with the pick of the bunch being at Varadero and Playa Los Flamencos.

 

Content contributed by Lindsay Frankel and Rachel Sullivan.
Published 05/01/2017