Most of us have a list of places we'd like to visit sometime during our lifetime. These spots likely aren't on your list. But perhaps they should be.
If friends are texting photos from Iceland, and colleagues are braving the streets of Paris without worrying about terrorism, it’s normal to hanker for something different. Consider booking one of these hidden gems reported to be among the best destinations for 2016 or a lifetime.
, the world’s largest cave in the Phong Nha-Ka National Park, Vietnam.
Smithsonian magazine puts this site at the top of its 25 new places to put on your bucket list.
Everything about this recently discovered cave is big, according to Smithsonian: with 600-foot-high ceilings, the cave is 450 feet wide at its widest, and more than five miles long. A river runs through the cave, jungle sunlight shines through holes in the roof, and a rainforest has grown inside. Go to the website to see stunning photographs and a BBC video, which also will give you a sense of how rigorous a visit to this site might be.
2. Aarhus, Denmark, an up-and-coming mecca for foodies. Both The New York Times and Travel + Leisure selected the city as a top destination in 2016. Three restaurants with Michelin stars promise shining examples of Nordic cuisine. Even the Food Hall at the AoRos Aarhus Art Museum has a menu that piques curiosity with dishes like Sea Urchins with Hazelnuts and Berries and Greens Soaked in Vinegar for One Year. The museum itself is known for the Panoramic Walkway that rims the top of its structure. Other architecturally interesting buildings include Doktk1, designed to be the library of the future, and the Iceberg, a harborside apartment building. A concert hall and multiple museums are among the vibrant cultural attractions to help pass the time between meals.
3. South Georgia Island, 1,300 miles east of Argentina in the South Atlantic. To reach it, devoted travelers take a three- to five-day cruise, usually leaving from Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego and considered the southernmost city in the world. The reward for reaching this remote spot will be the chance to see up to four different types of penguins, fur seal pups, albatrosses, elephant seals, and possibly whales. Reportedly, 30 million birds nest there. If the name South Georgia Island sounds familiar, it provided refuge for Ernest Shackelton and his crew who made their way to South Georgia when they had to abandon their ship, the Endurance, on an Antarctic expedition. The magazine chose the island as one of the 20 must-see places for 2016. It described South Georgia as “one of the only places that remain as wild as when explorers like Shackleton were filling in the blank spots on the map.”
4. Ojai, California, summer music festival (June 9-12). Although the location doesn’t seem too far off-the-beaten path, the music sounds like it. The New York Times included the festival in its 2016 destinations for music lovers. Among the scheduled concerts the newspaper highlighted were: “an evening honoring Josephine Baker, led by the soprano Julia Bullock; songs inspired by the 2011 Egyptian revolution from Dina El Wedidi, an Egyptian vocalist; and from Kaija Saariaho, a Finnish composer, the American premiere of her ‘La Passion de Simone,’ which is based on the life of Simone Weil, a French philosopher.”
5. Portugal, beaches in the Algarve region. Afar, in its “Where to Go in 2016” issue, touts the 200-mile stretch between Porto and Lisbon as an “overlooked” destination for “dramatic beaches.” What many consider the largest wave ever surfed reportedly washed toward shore near the coastal town of Nazare, Afar noted.
6. Okavango Delta, Botswana, an UNESCO World Heritage site. National Geographic Traveler calls this area “Venice with wildlife.” Instead of gondolas, visitors can take guided trips in dugout canoes. Another of the magazine’s top 20 places for 2016, this wilderness sounds like it offers animal lovers the sights of a lifetime: elephants, lions, buffaloes, leopards, rhinoceros, kingfishers, and ibis.
7. Marfa, Texas, the arts and mysterious lights. This West Texas desert town has been called “Weirder than Austin” and has the chops to prove it: a motel with teepees, a cheese sandwich grill, giant outdoor sculptures, a Prada store that doesn’t sell anything, galleries, hot springs, a theater, a ballroom, music and film festivals, and unidentified flying lights that some nights flicker on the horizon. The New York Times named Marfa’s “low-key vibe that endures despite the high wattage work on view” as one of its recommended trips for 2016.
8. Siberia, tigers and trains. For those who aren’t fluent in Russian, Travel + Leisure recommends using tours to explore this very cold part of the world, which it called one of its 2016 top destinations. Among the tour operators it recommends: Natural World Safaris to see Siberian tigers in the Durminskoye Reserve; Remote Lands where you can book a trip to the world’s deepest lake, Lake Baikal; and Golden Eagle Luxury Trains’ Trans-Siberian Express running from Moscow to Vladivostok this spring and summer.
9. The Cayman Trench in the Caribbean, by small submarine. The trench is the deepest part of the Caribbean dropping down to more than 25,000 feet. An outfitter based in Honduras offers dives ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 feet. A special expedition below 1,500 feet spends five to nine hours seeking six-gill sharks. Karl Stanley, the operator of the Roatan Institute of Deepsea Exploration, shows pictures on his website of the deepest creatures that date back before dinosaurs and the sea lilies, glass sponges and pompom anemones that can be glimpsed at 1,000 feet. Smithsonian placed an expedition with Stanley on its updated bucket list.
10. Tasmania, whiskey, wine, and wilderness. When Conde Nast Traveler named Australia its number one travel spot for 2016, it said that Tasmania was one of the reasons to go there. The magazine praises Tasmania’s homegrown ciders, whiskeys, pinot and sauvignon wines, but reports beautiful wilderness and coastline are the biggest attractions. Afar suggests different ways to drink in that beauty. They include the four-day/three-night, 28-mile Three Capes Track (see the public park’s website for a breath-taking video) or a six-day hiking cruise that touches on Three Capes, Maria Island trails, and the Freycinet Peninsula (Wineglass Bay Sail Walk).