6 Incredible Countries You Need to Visit in 2017

top travel destinations 2017

Are you planning to travel in 2017 but haven’t yet decided where to go? Let us help!

In the past three years we have traveled through 30 countries on 4 continents. And you know what? We have enjoyed virtually every minute of our travels, in all 30 countries. Each place we visited left a distinct impression on us, every single destination had something unique to offer, something new to teach.

So, it’s really hard to pick favorites.

However, we held each other’s feet to the fire, and put our thinking caps on (thank god for thinking caps!). The result was a short list of countries we think you, dear reader, should visit in 2017.

What criteria did we use to put together this nifty list?

Well, most importantly, we have been to all six of these countries within the last 24 months. And we loved our time in all of them. Secondly, each of these countries is an affordable travel destination (since that’s what we’re all about), and can accommodate backpackers or budget travelers with ease. Every country on this list offers curious explorers a chance to get off the beaten path and discover the unexpected.

Finally, we think just about every place on this list is set to experience a tourism boom in the coming few years, so you should get in before the swarms do.

Anyway, without further ado, safe travels everyone!

Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia one of the countries to visit in 2017

Colonial fortresses on the sun scorched Caribbean coast, long beaches, dusty deserts, wet jungles, majestic mountains, verdant valleys, quiet villages, and bustling cities; virtually any landscape you can imagine can be found in this uniquely diverse country.

Colombia has it all.

We spent three months in Colombia, traveling from colonial Cartagena on the country’s northern Caribbean coast, and gaining elevation as we journeyed south into the emerald valleys of the Andean highlands and Zona Cafetera. We saw much and experienced more, and we only brushed the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

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Colombia can be visited for a brief week if you focus on either the Caribbean coast or the Zona Cafetera (otherwise known as Eje Cafetero or Coffee Zone in English), but we do not recommend trying to squeeze both areas into one short trip. Colombia is a country that is best when explored slowly, over an extended period. There is simply too much to see in a week, which makes Colombia an ideal destination for backpackers who like to go slow.

Cartagena Colombia Travel destinations 2017

But, It’s Dangerous in Colombia!

We didn’t really want to bring this up but every time we told someone we were going to Colombia they expressed concern for our well-being. Might as well discuss the elephant in the room, right? Sadly, Colombia has a reputation as being an unsafe destination to visit.

We are happy to report, however, that the rumors of Colombia’s danger have been greatly overstated. In the last decade narco-trafficking violence has been drastically reduced in most areas a tourist would ever think to visit, while the conflict between the Colombian government and the People’s Army (FARC) seems to have taken a turn for peace (finally!)

top travel destinations 2017

Our three months in Colombia were stress and danger free. We generally felt safe and welcome in Colombia, and its people treated us very well.

The further south you travel in Colombia the friendlier the locals get. As the climate cools and the scenery gets greener the disposition of the local folks changes as well, and some of the friendliest people we have met on the road were in Colombia. In Medellin it is customary to respond to a “gracias” with a hearty “con MUCHO gusto!”, and being greeted with a wide smile from strangers is no rarity.

salento colombia top travel destinations 2016

So, do not let fear prevent you from visiting Colombia. And take your time exploring it, if you can. It will be well worth it, we reckon.

Click here to see all of our articles on the awesome-sauce country that is Colombia.

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The Czech Republic

prague top travel destinations 2017

If you are a regular reader of our site, or if you follow us on social media, chances are you already know how we feel about Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. We have used every superlative in our collective dictionary to describe the City of a Hundred Spires. We love it so much we made it home for six months, just to be able to experience life as a local there.

So, what makes Prague so special?

Glad you asked.

best travel destinations 2017

You can walk around for days, weeks, even months admiring the myriad of architectural styles in Prague. You can get lost in the maze-like Old Town and discover something new each time you do so. You can take a stroll along the banks of the tranquil Vltava day or night, cross and marvel at the views from one of the river’s several bridges, visit one of the many verdant parks, or climb Petrin Hill for a panorama of orange rooftops and burnished spires.

Whatever you do, the feeling of walking around in a storybook will be hard to shake. The center of Prague is a bit like Disneyland for adults, where the sights are always amazing and the beer flows freely.

zdar vysocina czech republic

As special as Prague is, there is so much more to see in the Czech Republic than just its capital. Prague itself is a bit overrun with tourists, especially near the center of the city. It’s recommended that anyone who takes the time to visit the capital should make room in their travel itinerary to explore other parts of the country as well.

Where should you go? Take, for instance, Cesky Krumlov. It’s a rather small town that feels plucked straight from the pages of your most cherished childhood fairy tales. We highly recommend you visit Krumlov for at least a couple of days, and do so in the fall to experience a riot of colors, if you can.

Cesky Krumloc, Czech Republic - countries to visit in 2017

Or visit Karlovy Vary, famed in Eastern Europe for its thermal springs and spas. Or visit Pilsen, the birthplace of Pilsner beer. Perhaps you want to do something a bit more outdoorsy? If so, make sure to check out the Bohemian Switzerland National Park, which offers a plethora of astounding sights and fun activities.

No matter what you are in the mood for there is probably an awesome day trip from Prague that you can take to satisfy the explorer inside of you.

And if you DO decide to come visit the Czech Republic in 2017 let us know! Shoot us an email and we will be happy to give you any advice you might need with planning your trip!

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Cambodia

cambodia top travel destinations 2016

Cambodia. When we hear the country’s name strong images flash through our mind’s eye.

The genuine, wide smiles of locals. Ancient temples and the strange trees snaking up their crumbling stones, seemingly seeking to embrace or strangle them. Vast fields of golden rice stalks sprouting from the ground and swaying to and fro in a warm breeze. Calm waves lapping gently against a sandy beach. Smiling children waving at us from their pedal bikes. Monks in bright orange robes meditating in incense filled temples. Tuk-tuk drivers offering to bring us anywhere and everywhere. Rundown bars with more character than any in the western world. The faces of expats and travelers, some passing through, some unable to move on, because they too fell in love with Cambodia.

We spent three weeks in Siem Reap making friends, visiting rural Cambodian farming communities and schools with local monks, exploring the wonders of Angkor Wat via mountain bike, and even spent an evening at the Phare Cambodia Circus marveling at the talented young local acrobatic performers.

angkor wat top travel destinations 2016

In the following two weeks, we explored the area surrounding the towns of Kampot and Kep on motorbike. We spent a day harvesting rice at a farm, visited a local school founded and run by an American ex-pat for rural Cambodian children, wandered around the waterfront markets in Kep, and took a boat to the tranquil and beautiful Rabbit Island for a day of solitude.

We immersed ourselves in Cambodia, the country that quickly became our favorite destination to date, and it changed our outlook on travel. We found opportunities for travelers and expats to make a positive difference in the lives of the locals, and it was in Cambodia that we decided to focus more of our attention on responsible travel.

Want more info on Cambodia, click here for all of our articles about this glorious country, and our experiences there.

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Guatemala

lake atitlan top travel destinations 2016

Guatemala is a relatively small country filled with diverse natural beauty, friendly people, colonial towns, Mayan ruins, world-class coffee, and maybe most importantly, chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. What beats coffee and chocolate?

Guatemala was a country we had high expectations for, as many people we met before visiting praised it, and it did not disappoint. We spent nearly a month there in 2014, mostly choosing to explore the colonial city of Antigua and the small towns dotting the volcanic caldera that is Lake Atitlan.

We fell hard for Guatemala’s natural beauty. The country is full of lush greenery, fresh air, towering mountains and volcanoes, majestic lakes, and winding rivers. Hiking, kayaking, swimming, zip-lining, and even paragliding are all activities easily enjoyed in Guatemala. We recommend any and all nature lovers visit Lake Atitlan, where three massive volcanoes stand sentinel over a large ever blue lake. Likewise, Semuc Champey, a 300 meter natural limestone bridge over the Cahabón River, with multiple blue-green pools that are popular for swimming, is an incredible sight to behold.

Antigua Guatemala top travel destinations 2016

For anyone who interested in ancient Mayan ruins, Guatemala is filled with them. The most well known is the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tikal. You can read about it and other ruins here.

In addition to natural beauty and historic ruins, Guatemala also has charming towns like Antigua and Flores to explore. You can spend your time wandering around the narrow cobble stone streets admiring multicolored buildings, visiting lively markets, taking coffee and chocolate making classes, learning to speak Spanish, or enjoying fantastic Guatemalan cuisine.

Click here for all our articles on Guatemala.

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Montenegro

travel destinations for 2017

To visit Montenegro is to ask yourself “Why haven’t I visited Montenegro before?”

While Croatia gets most of the acclaim when it comes to the Balkan countries, Montenegro is just as beautiful, just as historic, comes with a much smaller price tag, and is generally filled with friendlier folks (Croatians might be getting a bit weary of tourism, and it shows).

The coastal views found in Montenegro are a match for anything you will discover in Croatia. Take the incredible town of Kotor for instance. This ancient port town lies tucked away in a corner of a spectacularly blue Adriatic bay, squeezed between massive limestone cliffs and dark azure waters. The jagged limestone stands sentinel over Kotor, severing it from civilization just enough to ensure it remains locked in a time capsule of sorts, preserved for ages as the rest of the world whizzes by.

Oh, and the views from the walls and cliffs above the town are absolutely spectacular! They have to be seen with your own two eyes to be believed.

travel destinations for 2017 - Montenegro

Charming coastal towns, and epic Adriatic views are not the only thing Montenegro offers adventures visitors. The country is a goldmine of outdoor activities, such as hiking, climbing, canyoning, rafting, and camping.

Anyone wishing to partake in the great outdoors, and wishes to do so “off the beaten path” will find a thousand and one things to do in Montenegro.

Take, for instance, the mountains of Durmitor National Park. There is nothing quite like leaving the seaside villages of Montenegro and traveling way up into the highlands. The scenery changes drastically and dramatically, placing you in unspoiled wilderness a few hours after leaving the coast.

hiking in Montenegro, travel destinations 2017
Durmitor National Park. Photo by Jarryd and Lesh of Nomadasaurus.

So, if you like sailing on azure blue waters, taking in epic vistas, or enjoying the rugged beauty of mother nature Montenegro should be way up high on your list of places to visit in Europe in 2017. You won’t have very many tourists to contend with (other than the cruise ship crowd that floats into Kotor daily), you will spend much less than in many other countries in Europe, and you will have a chance to experience a few very different climates and regions.

Guess you should go book a ticket, huh?

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Romania

visit romania
Photo by Tim Whitfield

A fascinating amalgamation of very old and new, Romania is standing on the edge of a huge tourism boom. Once known only to a few savvy travelers, the secret is getting out, and when it does the flood gates are sure to open.

From the dark shadowy depths of virgin forests to idyllic green meadows, from rolling foothills of the Carpathians to the wetlands of the Danube Delta, Romania’s landscape is inundated with vibrant color, charming character, and fascinating relics of a history steeped in human machination.

This is a country with an expansive and storied past, one that is etched symbiotically into the landscape. The remains of a time bygone are plentiful, nowhere more so than in Transylvania, where a multitude of restored medieval towns, castles, and fortified churches bring the past to the present.

peles castle romania top travel destinations 2016

We spent three months enjoying a radiant summer in Romania this year, and we are keen to go back and explore all that that we did not get a chance to see (and there is a LOT we didn’t see).

Romania is currently extremely affordable, filled with history and natural beauty, and relatively free from hordes of tourists. All this adds up to make Romania one of the most attractive destinations in Europe, in our estimation.

Click here for all of our articles and photos of the magical Romania, including our budget guide to Bucharest.

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Best Countries to Visit in 2017


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4 thoughts on “6 Incredible Countries You Need to Visit in 2017

  1. This lists are always fun aren’t they? Good looks on the “tourism boom” – especially on Columbia, which is getting muy caliente in the backpacker scene.

  2. We have yet to visit any of the places on your list but several are ones we have discussed wanting to visit to. Cambodia is extremely high up on the list, as is Montenegro and Prague – who knows perhaps we will finally visit one or two of these during 2017.

    It is also good to hear that Columbia isn’t as bad as people make out. I can imagine many countries in that region are of higher risk than others but it shouldn’t stop people from visiting – it just comes down to being sensible – things can happen in any country if you are irresponsible.

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