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Where To Travel In 2017, According To AWOL Writers

Where To Travel In 2017, According To AWOL Writers

And just like that, we’re crossing the ‘T’s and dotting the ‘I’s on 2016. As we’re putting the final touches on this year, we figure it’s the perfect time to start planning our trips for the year ahead. The aim? To make 2017 the best travel year yet.

When we went searching for holiday inspiration, we figured our well-travelled group of writers and contributors would be the best people to ask – so we did. Here are 15 cities, countries and regions that AWOL writers think you should be adding to your 2017 bucket list. Happy travels.


Photo: Wikipedia Creative Commons

Tropical beaches dotted all over the country? Tick. Friendly locals who speak amazing English? Tick. A fascinating fusion of Indigenous, Spanish, Chinese, and even American cultures? A big tick for that one. If you’re not yet convinced, three of the Philippines’ tropical islands were awarded in the top five Conde Nast Traveler best islands survey this year – and that’s just scratching the surface. Whether you’re backpacking to Boracay, honeymooning in Palawan or carving up the surf on Siragao Island, The Philippines has you covered. Chelsea McIver


Photo: Kate McCabe

Nicaragua will surprise and delight you. Don’t miss the chance to go volcano boarding in the beautiful city of Leon, party on a “pool crawl” in the surf town of San Juan del Sur or play soccer on a black sand beach with locals on Ometepe (a double volcano island in the middle of a lake – a complete marvel of nature). You won’t regret a trip to Little Corn Island, a carless Caribbean hideaway with a community feel, world-class scuba diving, beaches to die for, cheap lobster and fresh mangos falling from trees. Kate McCabe



Smack bang in the middle of South America, you’ll find Bolivia – a landlocked country that’s home to some of the most otherworldly landscapes on earth. From the Amazonian rainforest, to the dizzyingly high capital of La Paz, to the sky-high salt flats of Salar de Uyuni – complete with geysers, flamingos and multi-coloured lakes – the remarkably cheap country is a photographer or budget traveller’s dream. Bolivia also has South America’s largest percentage of Indigenous people, so be sure to meaningfully engage with the culture by using local guides. Taryn Stenvei

Hydra, Greece

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Photo: Sonia Taylor

Since the ’50s, Hydra has been the darling of the art, literature and film world. A favourite of the late Leonard Cohen, today it’s home to world-class contemporary art spaces like Slaughterhouse, and is considered the latest stop on the international art circuit. But it’s still a step back in time. This small Greek Island in the Argo Sarconic gulf is the only one where motor vehicles aren’t welcome – instead, there’s a donkey rank. The charming port town is full of stone mansions and houses, huddled like an amphitheater between the base of arid hills and the glittering waterfront, dotted with boats. Just 1.5 hours from Athens, you’ll stroll down whitewashed polished stone passageways bursting with bougainvillea, tavernas and fruit markets, past jewellery boutiques and restaurants serving local fare. You’ll take speedboats to the various pebbled beaches, sipping on your freddo cappucino (iced coffee) from your lounger. You’ll feel fabulous, because everyone and everything on this iconic island is. Sonia Taylor

Medellín, Colombia

Photo: Kate McCabe

The city that was once the most dangerous in the world is now a hip metropolis. Medellín, Colombia’s second largest city, is loaded with trendy new hostels, cafes, brunch spots and a bustling nightlife. The public transport system is an attraction in itself complete with cable cars, outdoor escalators and even slides (yes, really). Jump aboard and you’ll be rewarded with 360 views of the sprawling mountainous city, and be sure to keep yourself fuelled with tasty street empanadas. Kate McCabe



From the cosmopolitan allure of art deco cities to vast spans of untouched nature, Norway, like most of Scandinavia, is a beautiful and rich country. Norway’s main drawcard is its stunning natural landscape (spotlessly preserved since it is also one of Europe’s most sparsely populated countries). Its famous fjords make for deep blue masses of water cutting between epic cliff faces. Though expensive, its cities are also a joy to explore, boasting modern architecture and lively food and drink cultures. While there, be sure to stay at their world-famous hiking huts, see the Aurora Borealis in winter and hang out in the cool capital Oslo. Michelle See-Tho

Glasgow, Scotland


If arts, architecture and music excite you, Glasgow will too. Speckled with the stunning art nouveau buildings of Charles Rennie Macintosh, Glasgow is the UK’s only UNESCO city of music. It has arts schools, galleries and museums galore and thanks to its working-class, shipbuilding history, most are still free. Legendary clubs like King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut – where Oasis was “discovered” in 1993 – are going strong and while clichés suggest haggis and deep-fried Mars Bars are local specialities, times have changed. Several of Glasgow’s smaller music venues are vegan restaurants too. Kate Hennessy

Launceston, Tasmania

Photo: Tourism Tasmania

Launceston has never received as much of the spotlight as Hobart, but Tasmania’s second city has always been quietly confident in letting its appeal speak for itself. In this riverside metropolis, heritage architecture, a blossoming foodie scene, and the spectacular Cataract Gorge – just 1.5 kilometres from the CBD – combine to create a city that’s charming, epicurean and best explored on foot. And then there’s Launceston’s undeniable talent for art and design, most obviously communicated to visitors through its world-class museums and galleries, many of which have been given a new lease on life in recent years. Be sure to sit down for dinner at Black Cow Bistro for a menu of premium Tasmanian beef paired with a hearty red from nearby Tamar Valley. Shaun Busuttil

Chefchaouen, Morrocco

Photo: Fred Dunn/Flickr

My travel hotspot for 2017 (and somewhere that has been on my personal bucket list for years), is the totally Instagrammable blue city of Chefchaouen in Morocco. Faded blue walls and steep staircases abound in this otherworldly escape from the craziness of Marrakesh – and I hear the food is amazing there too. Morocco has been slowly rising again on many must-do lists and it’s become a hot destination for the bloggerati of late, so I’m planning to go in January before prices edge me out too much. Did I mention that they have amazing food? Bianca O’Neill


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Photo: Kate McCabe

Montenegro has been touted as the next Croatia, and for good reason. Go for the Mediterranean holiday you’ve been craving, without the price tag. Indulge your taste buds with homemade brandy and raki, flaky bureks, fresh market olives, seafood and cevapi (a delicious kind of skinless sausage). You’ll spend your days admiring cliff top vistas and lounging on pebble beaches. For partygoers, the coastline is packed with beach clubs. For adventure types, hike into the world’s second deepest canyon. And for nature lovers, visit a flock of majestic flamingos nesting across wetlands. Kate McCabe


Photo: The Rock Restaurant

Tanzania is nudging its way to the top of my 2017 bucket list. Between the awe-inspiring wildebeest migration at Serengeti National Park, the restaurants in unusual places, and the so-on-trend-it-hurts accommodation options like glamping, safari lodges and underwater hotel rooms, Tanzania keeps popping up again and again, firmly securing its spot on my radar. Taryn Stenvei

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Alex looking off towards the beach in the Gold Coast



With the land of poutine, icewine and maple whisky celebrating several big birthdays, 2017 promises to be a watershed year for Canada. To mark the 150th anniversary of Canadian Federation, Parks Canada has granted free access to all national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas for the year. Whether you want to hike the epic trails of British Columbia’s Yoho National Park or spot Atlantic Puffins in the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, 2017 is the year to make it happen. With Montreal turning an impressive 375 (Montreal, you got old) be sure to include this French-influenced city in your travel plans, too. Jo Stewart

The Australian Outback


While city folk are busy chasing trends, the Outback has been quietly developing some extra sizzle (and I’m not talking about 50+ degrees temperatures). Fly to Alice Springs to watch camels race in the iconic Camel Cup or humans pretend to be boats during the Henley on Todd Regatta, head to north east Arnhem Land as guests of the Yolngu people for art, ancient storytelling and dance at Garma Festival, find good-as-gold pubs and underground hotels on a road trip around Outback NSW, or go straight up the middle of Oz on The Ghan. Whichever way your experience it, the Outback offers all the time, space and serenity that the city can’t. Jo Stewart


Photo: Taryn Stenvei

I’ve made no secret of my feelings for Lisbon. Portugal’s capital is an unpolished mosaic – tangles of backstreets spill up its seven cinematic hillsides, intricate tiles sheet entire facades, and nature devours some abandoned buildings while others are immaculately restored. Pair this with its relative cheapness, its fascinating history and food that manages to strike the balance between hearty and fresh, and you’ve got – in my opinion – the best city in Europe. Visit during June’s Festival of Popular Saints for freshly grilled sardines from street stands, and be sure to take the day trip to Sintra, where the fairytale town rises up out of the pine forest like a dream. Taryn Stenvei


Photo: Kate McCabe

Almost criminally underrated, Slovenia offers waters as blue as the Caribbean and mountains as impressive as The Rockies – and that’s no exaggeration. Beyond the green capital of Ljubljana and the picture-perfect Lake Bled, Slovenia only gets better. A must is the Julian Alps where you can hike to a mountain-top meadow filled with so many butterflies, bumblebees and wildflowers that it rivals a Disney movie. It’s also a top spot for skydiving, paragliding and canyoning. I highly recommend camping or glamping your way along the jaw-dropping Soca River. On the trail, you’ll devour forest berries, fresh-caught trout, homemade goulash and rustic potatoes. Kate McCabe

(Lead image: Hydra by Sonia Taylor)

Book your 2017 adventure with Qantas.

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