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Musings, Travel Tips

Where to Travel in 2016: My Top Picks & Wishlist

With the end of 2015 fast approaching and no new destinations on the docket this year, I’m already thinking ahead and scheming where to travel in 2016.

Basing myself in Europe for the foreseeable future means I’ll probably limit myself to the European continent and anywhere else within a few hours by air for the sake of maintaining my sanity (you probably know pretty well by now that sprouting roots somewhere is my heart’s true desire), but that doesn’t mean I’m not dreaming of farther-flung destinations as well.

This list is a combination of both places I’ve been to and highly recommend to you as great travel destinations for 2016, and places high on my list of priorities to tackle in the new year.

Without further ado (and in no particular order), my travel destination wishlist and top picks for 2016:

Top City Picks

Wroclaw, Poland

I was fortunate enough to travel to Wroclaw, Poland this year on my tour of Eastern Europe, and what a pleasant surprise it turned out to be!  I’d go back in a heartbeat given the chance.  And this year will be the perfect time to do so, as Wroclaw has been designated a European Capital of Culture in 2016.  Cultural events and exhibitions will be taking place throughout the year, giving visitors an in-depth look at Wroclaw’s significance in Europe’s history.Main Market Square, Wroclaw, Poland

San Sebastian, Spain

San Sebastian, Spain, is known far and wide as a must-see destination for foodies, and BONUS!  It’s also been designated a European Capital of Culture for 2016 alongside Wroclaw.  I can only imagine the fun and festivities this beautiful seaside town will be hosting in the coming year, but I know I want to be a part of it.

Tokyo, Japan

Having never set foot in east Asia, I’m both fascinated and intimidated by it.  The cultures there seem unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  The excitement and energy of a big, modern city like Tokyo is something I just know I’d love, and I’m itching for a bit of good old-fashioned, knock-you-on-your-ass culture shock.

Image via Dave Powell at ShootTokyo

Via Dave Powell, ShootTokyo

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is one city I regrettably didn’t have time for this past summer, but one I know I would have loved.  In fact, maybe it’s better that I didn’t go, because it would have made narrowing down my choices of where to live even harder.  But I’ve seen the photos and read the travel tales of this vibrant destination, and it’s one I plan to make time for sooner rather than later.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin has a growing reputation among the digital nomad community as an ideal base, which is a large part of its appeal to me.  The cost of living is low compared to many other parts of Europe, and it’s home to a robust community of expats.  Not to mention incredible street art, food, beer, music–need I go on?!

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen often loses points among travelers for its reputation as an expensive travel destination, but you just can’t deny its beauty and charm.  I’d love to see it for myself.

London, England

My stopover in London this summer was such a tease, and I’ve been dying to give the city some proper attention ever since.  It’s one of those classic destinations that draws visitors in droves every year–and for good reason.  It doesn’t hurt that I’ve made friends with loads of Londoners over the years and would love the opportunity to catch up with them on their home turf.

House of Parliament, London

Top Country Picks

The Philippines

If you’re a travel blogger, there’s a good chance you’ll be headed for the Philippines next year as Manila was recently announced as the host city for 2016’s TBEX Asia.  And travel blogger or no, the Philippines has SO many draws, including some of the most pristine beaches I’ve probably ever laid eyes on (in photos, of course) and verdant countryside that could make the Scottish Highlands weep with envy.  Despite all the time I’ve spent in Southeast Asia, the Philippines have so far eluded me, and I hope to change that soon.

Mexico

Being the food connoisseur professional eater that I am, Mexico is at the top of my list.  Oh, did you not know Mexico was an amazing food destination?  My god, is it ever–I’ve had to practically mop up my saliva after reading posts like this one. Mexican beaches hold some appeal to me, but not anywhere near as much as the big cities do with all of their culture and music and food and…you get the idea.

Norway

Why Norway?  To see the northern lights, of course!  There are certainly other places to do so, but this will probably be one of my most convenient options in 2016.  And I could even drop in on Heart My Backpack who’s currently based in Trondheim–bloggers tend to make amazing tour guides if I do say so myself!  You’ll show me around, right Silvia?!

Myanmar

How I’ve managed so much time in Southeast Asia without stepping foot in Myanmar is baffling to me.  I was even still living in Thailand when the country re-opened its borders back in 2012, and I failed to capitalize on the opportunity.  Sadly, I fear that Myanmar is a place best visited in its early years of open borders, before it succumbs to inevitable Westernization.

Cuba

As with Myanmar, I’d love to visit Cuba while it’s still more or less untouched by Western influence, and now that border relations with the US have ‘normalized’ to some degree, I fear that influence won’t be far behind.  I don’t travel the world in search of new locales to enjoy a Starbucks coffee or a McDonald’s burger, believe it or not, and I’d love to know Cuba before these major corporations take over.

Montenegro

Oh, Montenegro!  I fell so hard for this diminutive Balkan country this summer and think it should be at the top of everyone’s travel wishlist.  I know I’ll be back one day, if not in 2016.Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

I’m sure new destinations I haven’t even considered will soon be on my radar, and when all is said and done, I’m sure my 2016 travels will look absolutely nothing like this, but it’s always fun to daydream!

Pin It!Where to travel in 2016: Thirteen destination ideas

Where are you planning to travel in 2016?  I’d love to hear which destinations are at the top of your wishlist.

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37 Comments

  • Reply Katie November 15, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    So many of these are on my wishlist, too! The Philippines and Berlin are all but definites (Berlin would be my first stop in Europe — ever!!), and San Sebastian, Cuba and Mexico are all potentials in the mix for my travel plans next year. I’m forever trying to convince one of my best friends back home to road trip down to Mexico with me. Maybe this will finally be the year!
    Katie recently posted…Getting Close to Australia’s Most Dangerous Animal at Broome’s Crocodile Park: A Conservation Success StoryMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis November 20, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      That’s awesome that you already have some things planned for next year! For me, most of these are still purely wishes. It could turn out that I go to entirely different places than this list, but I guess that’s part of the adventure! Enjoy your travels!
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Maui DreamingMy Profile

  • Reply Mani @ A New Life Wandering November 15, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    What a great list! It’s not typical at all. Tokyo is super high in my wishlist too. I’ve been to Berlin and can definitely recommend it; one of my favorite European cities alongside London, which is maybe my favorite European city.
    I have heard very mixed reviews about Prague.
    And just like you said Copenhagen left me wanting more. All I can remember is yes, how beautiful it is and how expensive too. And I hate to say this, but it also felt shallow like it was missing some cultural depth but I’d be willing to give it a second chance.
    I might be biased but I HIGHLY recommend Mexico, and definitely the cities. I was surprised about what you said as people usually travel to the beach places, but the cities often overlooked for tourism, like the capital have SO much to offer, it’s the food and cultural mecca.
    Norway is also in the top of my wishlist.
    Mani @ A New Life Wandering recently posted…Featured On Not So British! Blog – Read My Full Interview!My Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis November 20, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      I’ve also heard mixed things about Prague! Lately, anyway. A bunch of my friends studied abroad there in college and thought it was amazing. Interesting thoughts on Copenhagen, I will be curious to see how it compares. And yes, while I love beaches and I’m sure the ones in Mexico are stunning, it’s the cities that really hold the draw for me. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! Can’t wait to see where I end up 🙂
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Maui DreamingMy Profile

  • Reply Joella November 15, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    Haha I think Silvia is going to be getting a loooot of visitors next year. I also want to visit Norway next year. I’m still not sure if I’ll make it back to Europe in the summer or not, but I’m hoping to tie it all in with a friend’s wedding back home in the UK. I’m excited about going to Nicaragua in Jan (which I know you’ve been to- I have read your archives haha) but also just exploring more of the US. I was blown away by my trip to Joshua Tree last week and I really want to get to more of the National Parks. Also happy to see you have Japan and Myanmar on your list which are two of my absolute favourite countries! I would love to go back to both of those but it probably won’t be next year…though I can wish! We went to Myanmar in 2013 and it was amazing- but I’m sure it will still be amazing for years to come. I know people always say to travel to places before they get “spoiled”, but I’m not sure I always agree with that. I mean, you can only know it as you know it and go when you can go. I’m sure people could say the same about places like Korea, Japan, China, Peru, etc- but they are still awesome places to visit now, even with the Starbucks and McDonalds. Places change but we can only experience them as they are when we go, it doesn’t mean it’s worse just because there are more modern things. And maybe that’s better for the local people too. If any of that makes sense… my point is- I don’t think people should get too hung up on visiting everywhere before everyone else haha. 🙂 Also- and this is turning into an essay now- did I completely miss when you said you were going to live in Europe?? Where?! 🙂
    Joella recently posted…Joshua Tree UnpluggedMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis November 20, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      Sounds like you’ve got some good stuff planned! And I love what you say, that you “can only know it as you know it and go when you can go.” ABSOLUTELY true, and a good reminder that whenever I make it to any of these places, it will still be special. Chiang Mai has changed a TON since I lived there but it’s still awesome, and I would never suggest people don’t visit just because it’s different from how I knew and loved it.

      I’ve only kind of sort of mentioned basing myself in Europe…and I haven’t officially announced anything yet. Trying to figure out the right way to do it, but the flights are already purchased! I leave in three weeks! 😀

  • Reply Isabel November 15, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    Yes to all of these!! And take lots of alkaseltzer with you because Mexican food can get very heavy if consumed in large quantities 😉
    Isabel recently posted…The 50 Most Visited Tourist Attractions In The WorldMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis November 20, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      Hahaha duly noted, thanks for the tip! 😉

  • Reply Kiara Gallop November 16, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Cuba is definitely on my itinerary next year (I’ve booked the tickets so no going back!), but I’m also hoping to make it to Myanmar later on in the year, in conjunction with a well overdue return to my beloved Thailand. I’ve visited Tokyo some years back and I can thoroughly recommend it. All the ‘neighbourhoods’ (which are the size of towns anywhere else) are so incredibly different from each other. I loved Asakusa (one of the oldest parts of the city with lots of traditional ryokans and the beautiful Sensoji temple) but you must visit Shinjuku if you want some of that knock-you-on-your-ass culture shock you speak of. And as for Prague – despite its popularity it’s still one of my favourite European countries 🙂
    Kiara Gallop recently posted…Andalusian Adventures: Discovering CórdobaMy Profile

  • Reply Kiara Gallop November 16, 2015 at 10:29 am

    “Countries” **face palm** I meant to type “cities”! Should really not try to multi-task whilst typing comments! 😉
    Kiara Gallop recently posted…Andalusian Adventures: Discovering CórdobaMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis November 20, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      Hahaha multi-tasking never ends well! 😉

  • Reply Lauren Lalicon November 16, 2015 at 10:32 am

    As a Filipino, I definitely recommend that you go to the Philippines. Absolutely gorgeous country with absolutely delicious food! I’m biased, of course, but I had an absolutely brilliant time in the Philippines. Also, good point about Myanmar. I never thought about that window of time when a country opens up and Westernization hasn’t penetrated its culture. I’ll definitely put Myanmar on my list of destinations to go to one day!
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    • Reply Leah Davis November 20, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      The Philippines are gorgeous, but I’ve actually heard really REALLY awful things about the food there. Any specific dishes to recommend?! I hope I can make it there soon! 🙂

  • Reply Jen November 16, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Great list. I have a few of these on my own list, especially Cuba! It was on my list this year but I didn’t quite make it. Definitely next year!!

    • Reply Leah Davis November 20, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      Ah, what a shame! Next year it is! 🙂

  • Reply Rachel November 16, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    You definitely have to spend some time in London! I’ll be visiting Prague next month, I can’t wait! Haven’t started planning 2016 travels just yet since I still have another big trip to get through before the year is over, but I know Europe will definitely be on the agenda!
    Rachel recently posted…Festive Cookies for the Zombie ApocalypseMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis November 20, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      I haven’t really started planning either, actually, but there’s a possibility of making it to London early in the year! It might be my first stop of 2016! Where you headed this year?
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Maui DreamingMy Profile

  • Reply Steph of Big World Small Pockets November 16, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    Good choices here, although I’m surprised not to see anywhere in Latin America outside of Cuba and Mexico featuring!
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    • Reply Leah Davis November 20, 2015 at 3:27 pm

      Ah yes, I had a feeling someone would notice! That’s mostly just because I’ve already spent a great deal of time in Latin America and since I’ll be based in Europe, it won’t be as easy to reach those countries. I just don’t imagine it happening in 2016, but who knows!

  • Reply Rebecca November 17, 2015 at 6:01 am

    Great list! San Sebastian is amazing – as a professional eater you will die with all the choices. Japan is a must! As is the Philippines – I highly recommend Palawan which is stunning. For me next year, as we’re living in Buenos Aires at the moment, we have planned lots of travel around South America – Patagonia, the north of Argentina, the Galapagos, Brazil beaches and then Cuba before the masses arrive. Happy travels! 🙂
    Rebecca recently posted…Sri Lanka in picturesMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis November 20, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      Amazing itinerary for 2016! Those are many of the places I didn’t get to go while traveling South America. Especially jealous of the Galapagos! Happy travels to you too!

  • Reply Rachel November 19, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    Ahh yes, Mexico doesn’t get nearly enough attention in the right places! Oaxaca and its food are phenomenal! Thanks! Also, I’m hoping to get to the Philippines next year too! Since I got my dive certification in Colombia, everybody has told me it’s the place to go! And YOU have made me want to go to Montenegro so bad.
    Rachel recently posted…Realizations, Lessons, and Ramblings from One Month of TravelMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis November 20, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      Yeah there IS great diving in the Philippines! I think it’d be hard to go wrong diving in Southeast Asia though, so many good spots 🙂 I’m glad I could turn you on to Montenegro, it’s such a gem!
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Maui DreamingMy Profile

  • Reply Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki November 23, 2015 at 2:01 am

    Cuba is high on our list and I so agree, I would love to visit before things change.
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  • Reply Paul November 25, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Excellent list – Prague, Myanmar, Philippines, and Cuba are on my list as well! I was at TBEX Asia in Bangkok, and it was amazing, so definitely hoping to make ’16 in Manila. As for a few I’ve been to on your list – Tokyo is totally amazing and one of my favourite places, but really expensive; Copenhagen was great, and the people amazing, same for Norway. Enjoy knocking these off your list – you have exciting times ahead!
    Paul recently posted…Texas Three Step: Step 1 – Spurring on San Antonio’s FiestaMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis November 29, 2015 at 12:30 pm

      Thanks Paul, I really hope I can pull off at least a few of these! I’ve heard Tokyo is really expensive, and that’s probably one of the reasons I haven’t been yet. Same could be said for Copenhagen and Norway. Short trips should be doable, I hope!
      Leah Davis recently posted…Friday Snapshots: Thanksgiving in the US of AMy Profile

  • Reply Silvia November 26, 2015 at 9:37 am

    Of COURSE I’ll show you around! And hunt for the Northern Lights with you 🙂
    Silvia recently posted…5 Norwegian TV Shows that Prove Norway is CrazyMy Profile

  • Reply Carina @timestowander November 26, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Great places! Berlin is an awesome city, you should definitly go there. It is creative, fun and there are so many different cultures. Probably going to spend New Year´s there.
    I´m going to be staying in Madrid for half a year next year and while there, I hope to be able to explore lots of places in Spain (Toledo, Barcelona, Granada and so on), such as travel to Morroco, Lisbon and Gibraltar. And I´m going to meet my American hostfamily in London next summer. So exited to see them, and that it is in London is a big plus.
    Also, I´d love to take a few weeks for Scandinavia in the late summer/ early fall. I´m just hoping it will all work out.
    I´m focusing on Europe, as while I traveled a lot in the US within one year I noticed how little I´ve seen of the places in Europe, that are so close.
    Safe travels to everyone and hopefully all travel plans for 2016 will come true.
    Carina
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    • Reply Leah Davis November 29, 2015 at 12:23 pm

      Great plans Carina! Sounds like you’ve got lots of cool places coming up. My goal for the next year is to explore Europe more extensively as well. Happy travels!

  • Reply Kerri December 6, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    Leah, Cuba is awesome and you are so right to want to get there before it changes. It’s started to now though, with reduction of some of the barriers that were implemented by the US, so don’t leave it too late. I went there two years ago and it was fabulous.

  • Reply Tamason Gamble December 8, 2015 at 3:34 am

    So many great suggestions. We visited San Sebastian just a few moments ago and loved every moment and would highly recommend it to others, likewise we visited Cuba nearly 12 years ago and always tell people how much we feel in love with the country – so much so I would love to go back before it changes too much! 🙂
    Tamason Gamble recently posted…The Free Market Existentialist: Capitalism without Consumerism (William Irwin)My Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis December 10, 2015 at 11:46 pm

      Seems like everybody wants to jump on the Cuba train this year! Hope I can see it soon, it sounds so amazing! 🙂

  • Reply Paola Ysabel December 29, 2015 at 5:33 am

    Happy to hear that you have the Philippines on your list! 🙂 As a Filipino, I highly recommend visiting El Nido, Palawan! The islands and beaches are gorgeous. For a scenic countryside tour, I hear that Batanes province boasts of a view that is worthy to be in a movie! It would be great if your trip destination coincides with a major festival. We Filipinos go all out with the decorations, parades, food, and much more!

    As for food, I recommend chicken/pork adobo and the “kakanin” (sticky rice delicacies!). If you’re feeling adventurous, try the “balut” (“a developing duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in the shell”)

    Enjoy! 🙂
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    • Reply Leah Davis December 29, 2015 at 6:08 am

      Hey Paola! Thanks so much for all the great tips! I’m looking forward to the day I visit the Philippines! Maybe this year, who knows! 🙂

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