Exceptional places to visit in 2016

04/01/2016 12:03

Written by Bradt Travel Guides

"As 2016 dawns, it’s time to start planning this year’s trips. Bradt’s known for being ahead of the game, so we’ve challenged our authors to champion their recommendations for the year ahead. We hope you’ll find their suggestions a little different from the ‘what’s hot’ ticklists of beaches and bars that are so frequently bandied about in the travel press. It’s certainly an eclectic list, one that’s typically ‘Bradt’, ranging from peaceful corners of Britain to emerging destinations you’re unlikely to have considered before. And each suggestion is supported by a passionate call to action from an expert who knows the place well. Happy New Year – and happy travels during the year ahead!" Adrian Phillips, Managing Director Bradt Travel Guides

[Alentejo] [Basque Country] [East Devon] [Equatorial Guinea] [Iran] [Ivory Coast] [Senegal] [Shropshire] [St Helena]

Alentejo

Marvao Castle Alentejo Portugal Europe by ARoxoPT ShutterstockMarvão's 13th-century castle is one of the region's must-visits © ARoxoPT, Shutterstock

Alentejo - Exceptional Places

Crumbling castles perched on craggy hilltops, Roman temples, swathes of sweeping, empty beaches, fine food, wonderful wines, wild hill walking in pristine nature – Portugal’s Alentejo region is a travel treasure waiting to be discovered. Yet while crowds pack the coast of southern Spain, rush around the French Riviera and crawl over the castles of Croatia the Alentejo remains empty. But 2016 is the year all that will change: flights to Lisbon and Faro – both an hour’s drive away – are plummeting in price, with British Airways, RyanAir and easyJet all offering new Portugal routes. And after Travel Supermarket and the Daily Mail declared Portugal the best-value western European destination, travellers in the know are discovering that a holiday in the Alentejo offers Mediterranean sightseeing and luxury at a fraction of the price of the rest of Europe, far from the madding crowd… Alex Robinson

Basque Country

San Sebastian Spain Basque Country by Botond Horvath ShutterstockSan Sebastian – a European Capital of Culture for 2016 © Botond Horvath, Shutterstock

Basque Country - Exceptional Places

No-one needs an excuse to visit the Basque Country, straddling the western Pyrénées and offering a fascinating concoction of cultures: Basque, Spanish and French. In a region yet to fully exploit its tourism potential, it is the everyday nuts and bolts of Basque living that provide the main attractions for visitors: world-class cuisine, unspoilt beaches, and in the many mountains of the interior, hiking and biking Basques seize the great outdoors with gusto. There has never been a better time to visit than 2016, as beautiful San Sebastián puts on its best clothes to welcome the world as it enjoys its status as European Capital of Culture. A city already famed for its setting, renowned for its festivals and its restaurants sparkling with Michelin stars, just got a whole lot better. Murray Stewart

East Devon

Ladram Bay Jurassic Coast East Devon by L.Trott ShutterstockLadram Bay © L.Trott, Shutterstock

East Devon - Exceptional Places

It’s all change in East Devon. Long considered the sleeping partner of holiday hot-spots North and South Devon, it’s emerging gloriously into its own with the opening in Spring 2016 of Seaton Jurassic, a celebration and exploration of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. This exhibition is not about dinosaurs, it’s an interactive exploration of life on earth, from its very beginnings to the present day, focusing on Seaton’s marine world. It’s going to wow adults as much as children. Hilary Bradt

Equatorial Guinea

La Basílica de la Inmaculada Concepción Mongomo Equatorial Guinea by Oscar ScafidiLa Basílica de la Inmaculada Concepción in Mongomo is one of the largest and most highly decorated cathedrals in all of Africa © Oscar Scafidi 

Equatorial Guinea - Exceptional Places

The recent drop in global oil prices has meant a renewed focus from Equatorial Guinea's government on diversifying the economy and developing the tourism sector, which can only be good news for new visitors in 2016. It is becoming easier to secure a tourist visa, and for the first time there are organised tour groups offering package excursions to Bioko Island. Where else in the world can you view sea turtles nesting, trek up an extinct volcano or clamber over 200-year-old colonial ruins, and be the only tourist in sight? Time is also running out to visit Oyala, the incredible new capital city, before it is completed. Wandering around a futuristic, totally empty city surrounded on all sides by jungle is a truly surreal experience that could be yours in 2016! Oscar Scafidi

Iran

Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque, Esfahan Iran Maria OleinikA view across the pond at the Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque, Esfahan © Maria Oleinik

Iran - Exceptional Places
Iran will change you. Still mysterious and waiting to be discovered, it is nothing like you ever imagined. This is however slowly changing. With more tourists and flights starting from 2016, now is the time to experience Iran’s hospitality, ancient sights, nature and very safe and comfortable travel. Hop on a bus and venture across the lush green forests of the North, down some of world’s best skiing in Dizin, via Tehran and deserts of central Iran towards to the jewel of Esfahan and Shiraz all the way to the turquoise blue waters of the Persian Gulf, and you will never be the same again. Maria Oleynik
 

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast, Alex Sebley© Alexander Sebley

Ivory Coast - Exceptional Places

Having fully regained stability with its peaceful elections in October 2015, Ivory Coast has well and truly re-opened to the world. Visitors are drawn to its remarkable tribal arts and crafts (particularly Korhogo weavings and Baoulé masks) and the vibrant reggae, Afrobeat and traditional folk music scenes, which are the envy of the continent. Its food is a delicious blend of French haute cuisine and traditional African ingredients and techniques. Ivory Coast's nature is as alluring as its culture, whether you want to sunbathe off the cream-hued beaches of Assinie, trek through the crimson savannahs of the north or scale the sublime Mount Tonkoui for panoramic views of Liberia and Guinea. In the Comoé, Tai and Marahoué national parks, it's possible to glimpse leopards, lions, chimpanzees, aardvarks, antelopes and 500 bird species. Tom Sykes

Senegal

Fish market Dakar Senegal by elisabethandi DreamstimeDakar's Marché de Poisson © Smandy, Dreamstime

Senegal - Exceptional Places

With postcard-perfect beaches, a lively arts scene, and some of West Africa’s most indulgent cuisine, Senegal is an intoxicating destination no matter when you visit, but 2016 is nonetheless poised to be a bumper year. With the former visa requirements scrapped as of 2015, travellers today are freer than ever to pitch up and take advantage of Europe’s nearest winter sun destination at the drop of a hat (or jacket). Long-neglected colonial mansions in Saint-Louis are being restored into charming boutique hotels, a new restaurant seems to open up almost every week in Dakar, and the 2016 calendar of music, art, and traditional festivals is, as usual, packed to the proverbial gills. From the river islands of Casamance to the sun-baked plains of the north, there’s never been a better time to revel in Senegal’s tropical charms. Sean Connolly

Shropshire

Stiperstones Shropshire UK by Andrew Roland ShutterstockStiperstones National Nature Reserve is one of the wilder, more remote-feeling parts of Shropshire © Andrew Roland, Shutterstock

Shropshire - Exceptional Places

Ssshhh . . . don’t tell anyone, but while the rest of the world wasn’t looking, Shropshire has quietly stolen the hearts of discerning weekenders. England’s largest landlocked county is easily overlooked by holidaymakers – but that’s certainly to its advantage. This is the county to visit for quiet, peace and space: the land of AE Housman’s ‘blue remembered hills’; where medieval English/Welsh border disputes have left a legacy of castle ruins on the ancient landscape. The county town Shrewsbury, birthplace of Charles Darwin, lends a touch of the cosmopolitan, while in September the hilltop town of Ludlow hosts Britain’s best-known food festival, and the Ironbridge Gorge, epicentre of the Industrial Revolution, is now honoured as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thanks to its rich history, walking potential and increasingly exciting gourmet scene, Shropshire offers pretty much everything for a perfect holiday. Marie Kreft

St Helena

Sandy Bay St Helena by Paul Tyson St Helena TourismThe view over Sandy Bay © Paul Tyson, St Helena Tourism 

St Helena - Exceptional Places

Remote, volcanic, and dramatically beautiful, St Helena has the feeling of an island forgotten by time.  It may have been catapulted into the limelight with the bicentenary of Napoleon’s exile, and the impending arrival of the first commercial plane, but things move slowly on this British outpost.  Dolphins, whales and whale sharks cavort in its waves, still watched by only a handful of visitors; St Helenians stop in the street to chat; and you’ll often have the challenging postbox walks to yourself.  Flights start in 2016; why wait? Tricia Hayne


Have we missed somewhere? Are you heading somewhere exceptional in the next 12 months? Let us know! Either post a comment below, tweet us @BradtGuides, or write on our Facebook page 

Back to the top


Post Comments

There are no comments on this article yet.


Submit Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment. Click here to log in.