Where to next? That is always an important question for those who love to travel. We present five destinations that are relatively unspoilt but totally fabulous.
Fads and trends come and go like the tide. A two-week stint in Santorini may have been your dream holiday a couple of years ago, but this year, do you really want to be battling throngs of selfie-obsessed beachgoers for your secluded spot in the sand?
This is the year for unique trips, full of authentic interactions and hands-on experiences, equating to a journey that is meaningful to you on a personal level, not just to your adorning army of social media devotees. That means visiting places that most people could not even point to on a map, let alone have visited.
To help you plan your year of travel ahead, we have compiled a list of underrated destinations.
1. Puglia, Italy
Puglia is the southern region in Italy that makes up the heel of Italy’s “boot”. Often overlooked for more well-known Italian destinations, Puglia is rustic & real and has been slowly creeping onto the bucket lists of savvy travellers over the past few years. Check out Salento and enjoy the amazing Puglian cuisine - anything with olive oil and tomatoes will delight your palate.
2. Lofoten Archipelago, Norway
Known for its dramatic scenery, this unspoiled polar paradise is wild and untamed, just like the intrepid travellers it attracts. You can ski and hike, gaze over the mystic Norwegian Fjords, or, should you come at the right time, enjoy the natural spectacle of the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights). After you have explored the uniquely Scandinavian landscape, take to the seas and tour the islands that make up the archipelago, keeping an eye out for the pods of orcas that have started to come back to the islands in recent years.
Where to stay? Anker Brygge Hotel Vagan is a traditional hotel with a wonderful sauna for warming chilly toes after a day facing the elements, while the rooftop terrace offers the ideal vantage spot for watching the Northern Lights.
Strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe, Jordan is a mystical country that has enticed visitors with its unforgiving desert landscapes and captivating history. The best kept secret in Jordan is Wadi Rum, also known as The Valley of the Moon, where the red desert sheers up into Seven Pillars of imposing sandstone and granite. And no luxury holiday to Jordan is complete without a visit to the city of Petra, often described as the eighth wonder of the ancient world.
Where to stay? For somewhere near to the idyllic Red Sea beaches of Jordan, stay at the Kempinski Hotel Aqaba Red Sea, and when in the capital of Amman, there are not many hotels better than the Four Seasons.
Nestled between Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia is best known for the vast and eerily beautiful temples of Angkor Wat. However, there is plenty more to Cambodia for the discerning traveller. And with luxury resorts having opened in some of the lesser-known regions – such as the new Six Senses on Krabey Island, the Alila Villas on Koh Russey, and Rosewood’s property in Phnom Penh – "now" is the perfect year to discover Cambodia.
Where to stay? In Siem Reap, it has got to be either the Belmond La Residence d’Angkor or the Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor.
As one of South America’s most diverse and exciting nations, Bolivia has played second fiddle to neighbouring Peru and the well-trodden Machu Picchu for far too long. But not for much longer as this rocky country is finally getting the credit it deserves thanks to its other-worldly scenery – such as the Salar de Uyuni salt flats – and a burgeoning cultural and gastronomy scene. The cultural capital, La Paz, is the world’s eighth-highest city but it is currently emerging as one of the hottest foodie capitals in the world.