These are my top 11 travel destinations of 2017. I am so fortunate to get the chance to do a lot of traveling. I value it highly and consider it life enhancing. This is a collection of my best travel experiences of 2017 in hope that it may inspire you to travel to these destinations too.
It includes best places to stay, best for foodies, history and nature lovers, most thought provoking, the most surprising, the most romantic, the grandest, the coolest, the best value, my favourite adventure and which travel destination was the biggest surprise. I finish with my absolute favourite travel destination of 2017!
So, if you are looking for some travel inspiration or wondering what top places to holiday in 2018, I hope this gives you some ideas.
PIN for later!
Vienna was incredibly grand and kicks off my top travel destinations of 2017.
The Grandest area of all is probably the Belvedere quarter with it’s vast palaces, gardens and parkland, including the Karlsplatz gardens where you can see the famous Karlskirche.
As stunning as the Palaces are it’s not my favourite part of this grandest of cities. That would be the Stephansdom and the Hofburg Quarters.
The Stephansdom quarter contains the soul of the city and is the place to head to if you are sightseeing old Vienna. The streets contain it’s Medieval layout and are therefore, narrow and winding.
It is dominated by the gorgeous Gothic Stephansdom church whose spire and tiled roof can be glimpsed between them.
The Hofburg Quarter is still the most fashionable area of Vienna and is crammed with elegant shops, art galleries and dazzling coffee houses. You can visit the court churches and the Imperial Crypt with elaborate tombs of the Hofburgs.
But my favourite place was the Prunksaal, the largest Baroque library in Europe and one of the most beautiful in the world.
Finally, it is the grandest place to eat cake we went to last year (think temples or cake cathedrals haha!)
This would be our recent trip to Rouen.
It’s a largely overlooked city. Surprising considering it’s the capital of Normandy, France.
The historic centre has been getting a restoration. With many key streets now pedestrianised and the cathedral getting a much needed clean, the answer to Is Rouen Worth Visiting? is a resounded ‘Yes!’ and therefore is in my top travel destinations of 2017.
Best for history lovers
It has to be the compact and practically perfect Florence! This historic city has an incredible story to tell, great food and a gaggle of top notch sights to see.
Still unsure? Check this post out – What Florence Is Famous For?
My favourite adventure
As a special 50th birthday treat my husband booked 3 vintage cars on our trip to Montepulciano. Driving Alpha Romeos through Southern Tuscany might just be the most wonderful thing I dreaded doing.
Hiring vintage soft-top cars to power along dusty tracks through Tuscan vineyards, some without seat belts (or I suspect suspension) turned out to be hugely exhilarating and memorable.
With our kids driving behind with their partners it turned out to be one of the most exciting outings of last year.
Best for Nature lovers
This would be the day we spent in Central Park in New York. There are parts that are filled with wildlife. Just follow the folk with binoculars!
The park covers over 150 square blocks so it is big enough to keep you busy for hours. It started out as an uninspiring site of quarries, pig farms, swamp land and shacks. It took 16 years to transform it into a beautiful park. It’s easy to forget you are in a busy city when birds tweet all around.
Pienza! It has streets called ‘kissing’ and ‘love’, some of Romeo and Juliet was filmed here and it is considered a perfect example of Renaissance architecture. That makes it a very romantic and beautiful place to visit and has a firm place in my top travel destinations of 2017.
The views are simply stunning and walkways surround the town. So looking onto the Val d’Orcia (which is on the list of UNESCO’s World Cultural Landscapes) is a very romantic stroll.
Chelsea Market and the High Line, New York – I mean New York is one of the coolest cities right? But, I really loved this area in particular.
Chelsea Market is a famous food hall with historical connections to food production.
The High Line is a city park developed from a historic freight rail line that used to cut through the city blocks.
Chelsea Market and the High Line are very close to one another so it makes sense to explore both in the same day.
You could enjoy a foodie experience walking along the corridors of Chelsea market sampling a taste of something delicious. There are less tables and chairs than there used to be, but there are still some up for grabs. In the warmer months there are activities and music on the High Line.
Best for foodies
Tuscany of course! But in particular the Private Cooking Class and Private Chef Dinner – both of which were unforgettable experiences.
A professional Tuscan chef arrived at our villa with grocery bags overflowing with the freshest, tastiest local ingredients Tuscany has to offer. Once we all settled into the kitchen, we were taken step-by-step through the creation of an entire Tuscan menu.
Having a private chef dinner in a Tuscan villa, where the regional cuisine is world class, has always been a bit of a dream. So we organised a private Tuscan chef to come to our holiday villa and cook an amazing Tuscan meal, from scratch before our very eyes, served and cleared while we relaxed with the wine from the surrounding vineyards.
Incredible WINE experiences include:
Wine Tasting Near Honfleur – La Cave (France) & Avignonesi Wine Tour And Lunch, Tuscany
For us, it was Dubai.
The hotel resorts are simply incredible and you get so much for your money. Many resorts have beach or marina views – and you can pretty much guarantee the sun.
There are also so many things to do outside the hotels that are free or not too expensive – Things to do in New Dubai outside your hotel
But sightseeing historic Dubai can cost you nothing. You’ll see the ancient way of life come to life. Visiting the souks selling spices, fabrics and gold where haggling is considered a sport. Crossing the salt water Creek in a traditional wooden boat (small charge). Gazing at the ancient and crumbling fort and drinking iced tea in a traditional Arabian Tea House.
Things to do in Old Dubai is more exciting to me than New Dubai’s resorts and beaches and deserves a place on my best travel destinations of 2017.
Most thought provoking
It was Lower Manhattan in New York that I really found thought provoking. It is the area that had been so devastated by the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Wall Street is a short distance from ‘ground zero’ so we jumped out of the uber here, wanting to see the famous ‘Charging Bull’ statue that has become the unofficial mascot of Wall Street.
It is very much a thing to see and is surrounded by crowds most of the time. Recently a bronze statue of a girl stands opposite the Bull intended to highlight the need for more women in finance. She stares defiantly at the masculine bull.
The standout travel destination of 2017 for me was our time in Montepulciano, Tuscany.
It’s not one thing in particular because other Tuscan Hill Towns also have so much to offer –
Montepulciano is full of elegant Renaissance palaces, ancient churches, charming squares and hidden corners. It has some of the best views we found on our trip, boasting vast panoramas all over the wonderful Val d’Orcia and Val di Chiana valleys that surround it.
As you drive towards this historic town it resembles a painting for an opera backdrop, so perfect are the positioning of it’s buildings upon the peak of the hill.
We also stayed in the area. Our villa – Villa Montepulciano – was an exceptional place to stay. In the morning you can watch the horizontal light beams bounce across the vineyards and lighting the hill town nearby.