Been there, done that?
Nah. If you think you’ve seen it all, not so fast. Not all lists were created equal and the following isn’t your typical slathering of iconic destinations you’ve been reading about as the hottest of 2017 elsewhere – far from it.
Here, we’ve compiled the places currently abuzz with newfound energy and a distinct flavour that make it uniquely happening. The places you need to see now before they become a part of some tired list next year. If you’ve got your eye on a trip or two in the near future and are looking for someplace fresh, take note of these not-to-be-missed cities, countries and travel styles.
1/ Whitehorse, YK
The new frontier! Larger than Life, Whitehorse is booming and it’s not just the summer months that see its population grow.
The Northern Lights are an annual winter draw but summers are still the best time to go. Yukon’s crystal clear lakes and rivers make for incredible arctic char and grayling fishing while hikers and cyclists love the extended daylight. Other than that, it’s music festivals, beer fests, museums and restaurants that all provide enough entertainment for the rest.
FLY: Air North year-round, directly into Whitehorse (YXY) from Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna or Ottawa.
2/ Tofino, BC
With less than 2,000 year-round residents, you may be surprised to see the town of Tofino making this list, but as Vancouver Island goes full summer, the number of visitors more than quadruple the area’s population, transforming the island into a still-under-the-radar wonderland.
Surfers have flocked to Tofino for years. So have storm watchers. With its far-west location on the island, the conditions are ideal for both. While you’re there, check out the hot springs, kayak with orcas and hike Pacific Rim National Park.
FLY: into Vancouver (YVR) and ferry over to Vancouver Island or into Victoria (YYJ) and drive. Orca Airways offers daily scheduled flights directly into Tofino (YAZ) from Vancouver and Victoria.
3/ St. John’s, NL
The oldest city in North America has always been for the young at heart. It could be that 2-block long George Street has the most bars per square foot in North America or the hilarious cod-kissing ‘screeching-in’ ceremonies, but the city’s uber-friendly disposition is really just an extension of its residents’ zany zest for life.
Completely photogenic, the pub crawl capital of the world sits on a hilly, sheltered bay, compact and totally walkable. Rocked by charismatic street musicians and a burgeoning restaurant scene, St. John’s remains one of the world’s top ocean-side tourist destinations.
FLY: directly into St. John’s (YYT) from across Canada with Air Canada or WestJet.
4/ Hamilton, ON
Toronto may see the bulk of Ontario’s tourism, but those that have left the Big Smoke for a cheaper place to live in Hamilton are ecstatic about their move. The less-visited, once too gritty city just an hour from Toronto has been undergoing a slow yet fruitful transformation of late, providing a new home for priced-out restaurateurs, artists and musicians, helping it get cooler by the minute.
Music has always lived here and there’s no shortage of establishments churning out impeccable live entertainment nightly. What’s rarely talked about though, is Hamilton’s surprisingly vast amount of green spaces, just a short drive from the downtown core. With the steel industry cleaner, the air is fresh, the rent is cheap and Hamilton is poised to become Ontario’s next big urban thing.
FLY: directly into Hamilton (YHM) with WestJet or into Toronto (YYZ) and drive.
5/ Winnipeg, MB
Why a song proclaiming to hate Winnipeg has become as popular as it has is beyond us but the fact that Winnipeg is even sung about shows just how far it has come.
With recharged ex-pats who once escaped its brutal winters and lack of opportunity returning, and of course, their beloved Jets back home, Manitoba’s wintry capital is definitely on the upswing.
The new Outlet Collection Winnipeg mall is the city’s first premium fashion outlet mall and the perfect place to hang out when it’s cold. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) is not just an important and acclaimed museum but one of the most striking pieces of new architecture in all of Canada.
FLY: Air Canada or WestJet directly into Winnipeg (YWG) from across Canada.
1/ Nashville, TN
For years now, and seemingly out of the blue, people have been flocking to Music City USA, and it isn’t for the country music. Nashville’s not-so-country-anymore hipster cool is catching on with music lovers of all genres, from bluegrass and honky tonk to rock and even country-rap. Let’s face it, this ain’t your parent’s Nashville!
FLY: Air Canada, non-stop daily from Toronto to Nashville (BNA).
2/ Austin, TX
Chill on the shores of Lady Bird Lake, in any of the city’s 300 parks or lose your mind at the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival. The ‘Live Music Capital of the World’ is endlessly abuzz with countless clubs, bars and saloons, all showcasing Austin’s brand of totally danceable tunes, no matter your taste.
FLY: Air Canada, non-stop from Toronto to Austin (AUS).
3/ Denver, CO
Get mile high in the gateway to America’s Rocky Mountains. Dive into the vibrant art and music scene, ski or snowboard or find your favourite craft beer brew pub. It’s America’s fastest growing city for a reason!
FLY: Air Canada, non-stop from Toronto or Vancouver to Denver (DEN).
4/ Burlington, VT
The town that Bernie built! As one of America’s most progressive cities, Burlington’s newfound fame can be attributed to the Sanders presidential campaign of 2016, and the movement of millennials that embraced it. It’s also the first U.S. city to run completely on renewable energy. Other than that, it’s just another gorgeous Vermont city.
FLY: via Chicago to Burlington (BTV) with Air Canada & United Airlines.
5/ Portland, OR
It’s all food trucks and brewery tours in Oregon’s ultra-friendly riverside foodie hub. Head inland for the wine region and the farm-to-table spoils of Willamette Valley or the coast for sprawling beaches and seafood. But whatever you do, make sure you do as the locals and keep it weird in Portland.
FLY: non-stop to Portland (PDX) from Vancouver or Toronto with Air Canada.
1/ Berlin, Germany
Think you can make it into Berghain? Whether you do or you don’t, gritty art-centric Berlin has something for everyone. Speak-easies, curry worst, art, fashion and style, it’s the place to be in all of Europe.
FLY: Air Canada rouge seasonal non-stop service from Toronto to Berlin (SXF).
2/ Copenhagen, Denmark
Always at the top of the world’s happiest cities lists, colourful and creative Copenhagen blends laid-back cool and cutting edge design into one deliciously digestible, bike-friendly city.
FLY: Air Canada & Lufthansa via Frankfurt to Copenhagen (CPH) – daily service.
It can be hard to find an African country stable enough to enjoy. Luckily, Namibia is safe and utterly enjoyable. It is also breathtakingly beautiful and an absolute must for any aspiring photographer.
FLY: Star Alliance partner Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa to Windhoek, Namibia (WDH).
As one of the more affordable countries in Western Europe, Portugal is blessed with both dazzling beaches and cosmopolitan cities. Delicious food and wine are plentiful and so are the good times. Go for BOOM Festival!
FLY: seasonal Air Canada rouge service from Toronto to Lisbon, Portugal (LIS).
Forward-thinking Iceland has been a progressive beacon for women’s rights and transparency in government but it’s also visually stunning and the perfect stopover on your way to the rest of Europe.
FLY: seasonal Air Canada rouge service from Toronto or Montreal to Reykjavik, Iceland (REK).
European river cruising is clearly where it’s at. Take on the Rhine, Elbe, Saone or Danube and see Europe from an entirely new vantage point. Cruises operated by Viking, Emerald, Avalon and Uniworld may not be cheap but you get what you pay for.
Escorted touring is undergoing a bit of a renaissance and is no longer just for retirees. With tour operators specifically catering to the 18-30 something crowd, travelling with On the Go Tours, Topdeck Travel and Contiki could easily be one of the best times of your life, no matter the destination. Prefer your travel on a smaller scale? No problem. Tour companies like G Adventures and Intrepid focus on sustainable travel with small group sizes, often using public transport and intimate places to stay.
Well, there you have it. Our picks for the places to be and the ways to see them in 2017.
And hey, if you’re a Virgin Mobile member, reap the rewards of your membership by taking advantage of our catchy travel discounts, hand-picked just for you.
- $25* OFF all Air Canada flights
- $50* OFF flight & hotel packages
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- $200* OFF flight & tour packages
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