Come up close to British Columbia’s beauty on a road trip. Photo by Jason Mrachina / CC BY 2.0

The sheer vastness of the world makes the plethora of places available to venture to and embrace almost overwhelming. As you start devising eager plans and anticipating your trips for the year ahead, know that certain destinations will be particularly enticing to travel to in 2017 for various reasons; an incredible celebration or occasion may be due, or new openings of long-awaited attractions and rides may finally be upon us.

We at Quotient hope these meticulously selected travel picks will inspire you and give you that extra nudge to discover more places in the coming year. Here’s to bucket list strikeouts in 2017 and to falling in love with travelling all over again!

The Aarhus Cathedral will host several art events in 2017. Image credit: Henrik Bentsen via VisitAarhaus

The Aarhus Cathedral will host several art events in 2017. Image credit: Henrik Bentsen via VisitAarhaus

Aarhus, Denmark
Often overlooked by tourists passing through Scandinavia, Aarhus is finally getting the attention it deserves as 2017’s designated European Capital of Culture. One of Denmark’s oldest cities, Aarhus has come a long way, growing from a Viking settlement to become a vibrant cultural hub and shopping mecca. Facets of its past remain preserved in a historic Latin Quarter and the Old Town, presenting a romantic matrimony of old and new.

A grand illumination parade through the streets of Aarhus on 21st January kicks off its year of festivities, which will include a smorgasbord of musical and art performances held at the iconic Aarhus Cathedral and Musikhuset. Combat tournaments with medieval warriors at Spøttrup Castle, fireworks over Silkeborg Harbour, and Northern Europe’s largest book fair dedicated to Nordic crime literature will all be held as part of the celebrations. 

Photo by Jeff Wallace / CC BY 2.0

British Columbia’s natural sights astound time and time again. Photo by Jeff Wallace / CC BY 2.0

British Columbia, Canada
Canada has much to rejoice about this year with the country’s 150th anniversary and the 75th anniversary of the Alaska Highway, one of the most favoured routes for road trips in North America, happening simultaneously.

As part of the celebrations, entry to the country’s national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas will be free in 2017. Where better to take advantage of this generous offer than in the province of British Columbia? Arguably one of the most breathtaking places in the world with its mountains, beaches and abundant forestry, the destination is home to a whole slew of nature and relaxation spots.

British Columbia is also the start point of the Alaska Highway, which takes adventurers to Alaska. With a new CD by local artists released to commemorate the highway’s anniversary and an abundance of natural wonders to marvel at during the drive, travellers can anticipate a dream-like journey rich with sights and sounds.

Image credit: JR West

Artist impression of the observation car in the Twilight Express Mizukaze. Image credit: JR West

Central Japan
Typically favoured in spring for the delightful visuals of fluttering pale pink sakura petals or in autumn for fiery maple leaves that ignite a certain wanderlust, Japan has long been a favourite amongst many.

This year, be one of the first to board the Twilight Express Mizukaze, a luxury sleeper train launching 17th June that takes you through scenic spots around the Sanyo and Sanin region. Luxuriate in utmost comfort in the vehicle fitted with suites, a dining car stocked by in-house chefs and an observation deck. Passengers also have the opportunity to disembark and explore their surroundings as well as visit exclusive sites typically closed to tourists.

JR East will also begin operating a new luxury train in Spring 2017. Although details of the vehicle’s route have yet to be released, its indulgent amenities, which include a rear lounge car partially made of glass and a deluxe suite car with two stories, already make this train one to watch for.

Over in Saitama, the first Moomin theme park outside of Finland will open. Situated around Lake Miyazawa, the attraction allows visitors to delve into a wonderland alongside the adorable cartoon characters and bask in the region’s beauty at the same time.

 Image credit: Petrie PR

Artist impression of the Belmond Lilas, where passengers travel in the utmost comfort. Image credit: Petrie PR

Champagne, France
Blessed with sprawling vineyards and world-famous wine cellars, Champagne is paradise for wine connoisseurs. But look beyond indulging in its eponymous sparkling wine; a leisurely cruise along its rivers and canals unveils the much-overlooked history and attractiveness of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Set to make its maiden voyage this summer, the Belmond Pivoine — part of the Belmond collection of luxury hotels, cruises and trains that includes the famous Orient Express — lets you cruise along the River Marne from Meaux to Châlons-en-Champagne in the lap of luxury with plush cabin suites, personal service and pampering meals on board. You also get to alight for excursions to vineyards and historic locations such as the Château Vaux-Le-Vicomte, a mansion so lavish it drew the ire of Louis XIV, and the city of Reims, where kings of yore were crowned.

Also launching at the same time is the Belmond Lilas that will traverse the Canal de la Marne au Rhin in Alsace, taking you past castle ruins, small villages and the city of Strasbourg as it journeys from Krafft to Arzviller. Both barges will begin operating in the summer season.

Image credit: Petrie PR

Artist impression of the Belmond Andean Explorer, South America’s first luxury sleeper train. Image credit: Petrie PR

Cusco, Peru
South America’s first luxury sleeper train will make its debut in Peru in May 2017. The Belmond Andean Explorer runs from Cusco to Puno and Arequipa, allowing passengers to disembark and explore iconic spots such as Lake Titicaca and Colca Canyon. En-route, soak in the glorious sights from an open-air deck and refresh yourselves at the two Dining Cars, which serve seasonal dishes prepared by the Belmond Hotel Monasterio.

Peru has also risen to the forefront as a culinary destination in recent years, having taken home the award for World’s Leading Culinary Destination, bestowed by the World Travel Awards, since 2012 for its inventive and delectable food. This year, Chef Martínez of Central, the fourth-placed restaurant on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 list, will be opening an eatery in Cusco. Dubbed Mil, the new place will be situated in a pre-Incan site where diners can feast on dishes concocted with local produce while surrounded by nature.

Artist impression of Legoland Waterpark, one of Dubai's many family-friendly attractions. Image credit: Riva Creative

The entrance to Motiongate, one of Dubai’s new theme parks. Image credit: Riva Creative

Dubai, United Arab Emirates
One of the world’s richest cities, Dubai’s status as an upcoming tourist destination was only bolstered when five new theme parks burst onto its scene late last year. Opened in August 2016, IMG World of Adventure, the world’s biggest indoor park, was soon joined by Legoland Dubai, Legoland Waterpark, Motiongate and Bollywood Park, the world’s first Bollywood theme park.

Two new attractions are also slated to unveil in the city this year, offering even more opportunities for sightseeing. The Dubai steps is a 100-metre-high structure that will consist of 500 steps culminating in a lookout point, while the Dubai frame is a 150-metre-high attraction designed to imitate a window frame.

From Dubai, hop over to the nearby city of Abu Dhabi, which is slated to finally welcome the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Having been anticipated for years, the museum that is supported by the iconic Louvre in Paris will exhibit both local and international works. 

Photo by LWYang / CC BY 2.0

Jamon Iberico is a type of cured ham that is one of Spain’s most famous food exports. Photo by LWYang / CC BY 2.0

Huelva, Spain
With generous coastlines, fertile farmlands and a lengthy history of preoccupation under vastly different conquerors, Spain’s excellence in and passion for cuisine certainly did not come about by accident. For bona fide gourmands, there’s no better Spanish place to be at this year than the Andalusian city of Huelva, which will rise to the occasion as the Spanish Capital of Gastronomy in 2017; expect to indulge in the finest local seafood and be pampered with world-class jamon.

Elsewhere within Andalusia, treat your taste buds to top-quality fruit and vegetable, including possibly the world’s most aromatic asparagus, as well as delight in products such as olive oil and vinegar. And have we mentioned the famed Sherry as well as red and white wines rapidly gaining international acclaim?

Spend your vacation exploring outstanding Moorish palaces, learning ham carving from one of the best cortadors in the country, munching tapas like a local, tasting Sherry wines aged for over 30 years, and giving your best shot in a private flamenco class.

Image credit: British Library

Medieval manuscripts depicting the fantastical creatures of Harry Potter will be displayed in an upcoming exhibition. Image credit: British Library

London, United Kingdom
The United Kingdom, production powerhouse of classic novels that have enthralled children and adults alike, pays tribute to some of its most famous fictional characters and their authors in 2017, which has been aptly christened the Year of Literary Heroes.

Twenty years after the release of the first Harry Potter book, Potterheads can view never-before-seen treasures from J.K Rowling at a special exhibition in the British Library, which will begin in October, and indulge in familiar tunes from the movies at live orchestra concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in May.

Beyond London, widespread celebrations are being held throughout the year in commemoration of the 200th death anniversary of Jane Austen; exhibitions, picnics and special tours will take place at Chawton and Wincester in Hampshire, where the Pride and Prejudice author used to live.

With 2017 also being the 125th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes publication, there’s no better time to visit the museum and pub of Scotland Yard’s most famous detective. 

Maldives remains one of the hottest tropical destinations. Image credit: Stevie Mann, SJR

The Soneva Jani is one of several new resorts that have opened in Maldives in recent times. Image credit: Stevie Mann, SJR

Maldives
Just when we thought Maldives was losing its shine as a beach paradise with international attention seemingly focused on the Caribbean, the prized escapade in the Indian Ocean continues its relentless pursuit of luxury travellers who prefer to lounge in privacy at secluded island resorts and be pampered with the finest amenities and first-class service.

Some of us have not quite stopped raving about the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, the brand’s first on a private island and gorgeous to a fault but, well, just days after the November 2016 opening, Maldives said hello to Soneva Jani with villas boasting slides from the upper floor direct into the lagoon (yes, that Soneva) and then welcomed Four Seasons’ exclusive-use Maldives Private Island Voavah at Baa Atoll, designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. And, more will be unveiled in the coming months, including the Italian Baglioni Resorts Maldives and Kandima Maldives with its very own art studio and marine biology school.

With the slew of developments, it won’t be just honeymooners and couples on a romantic getaway who are tempted; families will find the turquoise waters, calming atmosphere and, in some cases, dedicated kids’ activities, irresistible.

Image credit: Transstroy

The new Krestovsky Stadium is slated to host blockbuster events. Image credit: Transstroy

Saint Petersburg, Russia
Newly-crowned World’s Leading Cultural City Destination, Russia’s second-largest city is destined for a sparkling 2017. Its spanking new 68,000-seat Krestovsky Stadium will welcome football fans for the FIFA 2017 Confederations Cup in June as the venue for not only matches but also the opening and closing ceremonies. St. Petersburg, also fondly referred to as the Venice of the North, is also the first Russian host of the World Travel Awards Europe Gala Ceremony around September and venue host for the 2018 World Cup, which can only mean the city will be in tip-top condition throughout the year.

Events aside, St. Petersburg’s lustre as the imperial capital for over 200 years has never diminished. For a glimpse into Tsarist opulence, soak in the artistic riches of the Hermitage, admire intricate egg gems at the Fabergé Museum and enjoy a classical performance in the birthplace of Russian imperial ballet. Better yet, book out a monumental palace and feast on a menu of the tsars, with dishes served on exquisite porcelain.

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