Emerging, Classic, & Disappearing: 18 Places You Need to Explore This Year

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro

Emerging

The sounds of Afro-Cuban jazz wafting through the streets of Old Havana, Cuba.

Watching as a majestic humpback whale breaches off the bow of your ship on a fjord in Greenland.

A quiet early morning walk around the ancient temples in Bagan, Burma.

All of these experiences are well within your reach in 2016. Here are our top 6 picks for new and emerging destinations to visit in 2016:

1. Albania

This under the radar gem is sure to become increasingly popular in the coming years. Boasting incredible beauty, a growing food and art scene, and gorgeous beaches, Albania has everything you could ask for in a European vacation. And according to Outdoor Magazine, it is also an up and coming hotspot for adventure travelers.

2. Cuba

Cuba burst onto the scene in a new way this year, with President Obama re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and implementing further relaxed travel regulations. American’s previously barred from visiting the island nation can now travel there under fewer restrictions than ever before.

There are still some measures you need to take, however. See our article on traveling to Cuba for a comprehensive look at all you need to know before going.

3. Greenland

As Iceland’s popularity continues to grow, some have been seeking a similiar less-traveled to destination, and Greenland has answered. With gorgeous ice fjiords, hiking, whale watching, hot springs, and of course the Northern Lights, it has all the allure of Iceland without the crowds. Given its remote location Greenland is still rather expensive to visit, but if you can, the trip is well worth making.

4. Namibia

Namibia is quickly becoming a popular travel destination, as stability increases and tourists begin to flock in larger numbers to the African continent. As pointed out in a recent article from CNN, Namibia provides a quintet of wonderful experiences, including getting to know the indigenous Himba people, adventure activities (ever wanted to snowboard down a sand dune?), and incredibly beautiful landscapes.

5. Guatemala

From visiting ancient Mayan ruins, to exploring dense forests, to learning about coffee from local growers, there is much to discover in Guatemala, another country rapidly increasing in popularity. (This wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that it’s a Star Wars filming location, of course).

For those who enjoy the activity and vibrancy of Costa Rica but are seeking a more undiscoverd landscape, Guatemala is the perfect choice.

6. Burma (Myanmar)

While Burma was never technically closed to tourists, its political regime deterred many from exploring. Now with a new regime in place, welcoming outsiders in a way not seen before, Burma is poised to become Asia’s next big tourist destination. You might want to explore the local art scene, or visit the many beautiful temples dotting the skyline.

Because mass tourism to Burma is SO new, be prepared to face a few logistic challenges. However these challenges also mean a more authentic experience for the traveler who is up for exploring this ancient kingdom.

Classic

For many experienced travelers, the desire to go somewhere new and different is ever present. But we think there’s much to be said for rediscovering the classics as well. Especially if you travel there in a different way than you had before, or at a different age and place in life. There’s no telling what new and wonderful facets will be revealed to you!

One of the best parts of returning somewhere is the chance to explore beyond what first time travelers tend to focus on seeing. Going on a repeat visit, you feel less pressure to see the tourist attractions and have more time to wander the side streets and visit smaller towns.

Here are our picks of Classic Destinations to visit in 2016:

1. Italy

Romantic, full of history, and possessing some of the best local cuisine in the world, Italy is an old standard worth rediscovering over and over. You might want to explore the smaller wine regions or visit quaint coastal towns. Wander the cobblestones with a gelato in hand and absorb everything Italy has to offer.

2. Antarctica

We’ve chosen to call Antarctica a classic trip for its sheer intensity, and the fact that it still requires specific modes of transportation. It’s impossible to visit unless on a cruise or scientific expedition, but the number of operators offering trips there is steadily increasing.

3. Brazil

It’s no surprise that a country as large as Brazil offers some of the most classic trips in the world. Marvel at the sheer intensity of Iguazu Falls, or float down the mysterious, majestic Amazon on a river cruise. The possibilities are endless, and one of the best ways to ensure you’ll see at least one if not more of these classic sites, is to visit with a guided tour.

4. Turkey

The alluring sights and sounds of Istanbul, the beautiful countryside, countless ancient sites…Turkey is one of the most incredible places to visit, worth returning to again and again. Illustrating a fascinating amalgam of East and West, Turkey will always reveal something new to tourists exploring the bazaars, cafes, and ancient streets to their hearts content.

5. China

A visit to China will introduce you to spectacular sites such as the Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors, and the Forbidden City. It is best to visit with a guide, as the language barrier can be a challenge for non native speakers, and they will allow you to truly immerse yourself in this beautiful country’s history and landscape. Check out our article on 16 Days in Southern China to get some ideas!

6. Tanzania

What could be a more classic trip to treat yourself to than an African safari? Delight in the spectacular landscape, dotted with impressive wildlife in their natural habitat. Local guides will know the best places to go for wildlife spotting and you will come away having had a truly unforgettable experience.

Disappearing

It is a sad truth that there are some areas of the world under very real threats, from forces such as global warming. In some places, native ways of life are slowly disappearing. In some, increased popularity means limited times to visit for a more natural view.

All of the six destinations below face challenge and uncertainty. While mass tourism has some unintended affects, it can also help raise awareness of the issues facing these areas as more people are introduced to these threatened wonders of the world. If you decide to visit, and we hope you do, there are many wonderful operators who integrate sustainable travel practices into their tours that can take you there.

1. The Galapagos

The Galapagos with its delicate, historically significant ecosystem is a place to see now, as it makes its way off the endangered list, where it was placed in 2007. The plant and animal population that inspired Darwin’s Theory of Evolution are now being carefully preserved, in efforts to prevent extinction.

2. Mongolia

As the generation born after the fall of communist rule comes of age, more and more are moving away from their ancestors nomadic way of life. The population of those who still continue their native traditions is steadily decreasing. Most tours to Mongolia will focus on showcasing the native Mongolian way of life, but even this is becoming more difficult as urbanization expands.

3. Iceland

Iceland may not sound like an inviting place, given its name, but in fact it attracts thousands of visitors every year. Especially with the surging popularity of films and television shows shot in this remote location. The rugged natural landscapes are now dotted with enthusiastic tourists seeking out that exact Game of Thrones shot, and their numbers continue to grow. To see Icelands truly pristine nature, and avoid the crowds, our tip would be to visit during the off season.

4. Botswana

In travel, it is an unfortunate catch-22 that increased popularity can often threaten the natural landscape and wildlife that drew visitors there in the first place. Many efforts are in place to keep the stunning Okavango Delta, where many tours spend time, preserved and safe from poachers and other adverse influences.

5. Madagascar

Similarly to the Galapagos, Madagascar showcases a number of rare species in need of preservation. The famous lemurs are on the decline as massive deforestion is on the rise. This is especially worrying for the 615 brand new species discovered between 1999 and 2010. Tourism will help as more and more people become aware of the plight faced by the island’s several endangered animals.

6. The Maldives

The inviting pristine blue waters and beckoning white sands found on the Maldives are what continue to draw travelers to this little piece of paradise. But rising water levels and harmful greenhouse gases mean that in a matter of years things could look very different. After positive outcomes from the 2015 Paris Climate Summit, however, things look hopeful. Visit now in order to see a place preserved in time.


Visit Stride Travel for trip inspiration and tours to these and hundreds of other destinations around the world: StrideTravel.com

This post originally appeared on the Stride Travel Blog.

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