With the new year upon us, it means a whole new year of travel ahead! If you’re looking to get out and do some exploring in 2015, here are 10 destinations every Canadian should add to their bucketlist along with some helpful tips on what we recommend experiencing when you’re there.
After hosting the FIFA World Cup in Rio, all eyes are on Brazil which is set to host the upcoming Summer Olympics in 2016. As the largest country in South America, there’s no denying that Brazil abounds with culture, geography of epic portions and beaches (more than 2,000 to be exact). Also home to Iguazu Falls, this awe-inspiring sight is where 250 spectacular waterfalls plunge into the river on the border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Some travellers even say that Niagara Falls has nothing on Iguazu (gasp!). To compliment their already popular daily service to Sao Paulo, Air Canada’s new thrice-weekly Toronto to Rio flights will operate overnight in both directions, maximizing one’s time at destination and avoid connecting through Sao Paulo as it previously required.
Travel Tip: When in Rio, rent a bike ($7 CDN first hour, $2.50 each additional hour) and ride through the neighbourhoods and the fantastic paths along dozens of kilometers of beachfront.
Quickly becoming ‘The New Costa Rica’, this country has so much to offer. Bordered by oceans on two sides; the Atlantic Caribbean which stretches along its eastern shores and the Pacific to the west, Nicaragua will leave you wanting to come back for more.
Travel Tip: Be sure to check out Ojo de Agua , which is a beautiful fresh water thermal spring pool on Ometepe.
The Azores Islands
Merely a 2 hour flight from Portugal, or a 5.5 hour flight from Toronto, the Azores is quickly becoming one of the top 10 destinations to experience in the world. With nine exotic islands to offer, the Azores archipelago has plenty of fascinating things for visitors to see and do. The island of Flores, in particular, with its hidden waterfalls and subtropical vegetation, offers tranquillity and escapism. These islands are mild with moderately temperatured throughout the year (their winters only get down to about 14 degrees). And with more affordable flights being offered from Canada, you’ll want to add this destination to your list of things to experience in 2015.
Travel Tip: Head to Sao Miguel island and try a traditional meal called Cozido which is cooked in the ground for 6 hours using the earth’s natural heat!
Want to see Hobbiton for yourself? Middle-earth is closer than you think! With direct flights from Vancouver, companies like Air New Zealand have made it even easier for us to visit this beautiful country. With its snow-capped mountains, sparkling blue oceans and bustling modern cities, New Zealand entices visitors with some of the most diverse landscapes in the Southern Hemisphere.
Travel Tip: If you’re a movie buff, be sure to check out our Hobbit movie themed packages which include your flight, accommodations and fully guided tour through the movie sets of Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit.
If you’ve explored Central and South America in the past 20 years, chances are you may have skipped over conflicted Colombia. What has long been a ‘not-the-safest’ destination to visit is finally showing some stability as it continues to open up to the tourism it deserves. The country is huge, culturally and geographically diverse and offers visitors everything from sprawling cosmopolitan cities in the highlands of The Andes, to the Amazon rainforest, as well as both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. It is also biologically rich and belongs to a group of 17 of the world’s ‘megadiverse’ countries which have been designated as such for harbouring the majority of our planet’s animal species. As of January, 2015, Sunwing Vacations will operate direct flights between Toronto and the old city of Cartagena and will package their air with all-inclusive, 7 and 14 day stays at either the Las Americas Resort and Spa or the Occidental Grand Cartagena. If you’re looking for something more off the beaten path, Intrepid Travel offers a rather immersive trip called Cafe Colombia which includes visits to coffee plantations and rural homestays.
On the verge of major change, this Southeast Asian country was hot in 2014, and will continue to be in 2015. Areas previously off limits are now opening and available to the public for exploring. A visit to Burma is to experience the South-East Asia of twenty years ago, full of rarely seen sights and generations of stories just waiting to be told.
Travel Tip: Experience the best of Burma on a tour with Intrepid Travel, which takes you to visit Yangon and Mandalay, explore Bagan and trek through the mountains.
A country that has something to offer every type of traveller, we’re not lying when we say that South Africa really has it all. Whether you seek adventure, adrenaline, romance, food and wine indulgence, or something family-friendly, this country will not disappoint. South Africa’s tourism market is expected to continue to strengthen in 2015 with improved infrastructure across the industry playing its part in improving travellers’ experiences. South Africa is also becoming a foodie hotspot; growing its reputation for great local cuisine and world-class wines.
Travel Tip: Known for its “Big Five” – you can also experience ‘The Marine Big 5′ down the coast in Gansbaai where you can experience Great White sharks, Whales, dolphins, seals and penguins.
Whether you choose to stroll the bazaars of Istanbul, cruise the Mediterranean or fly over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon, there’s something for everyone in Turkey. 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings and despite the Anzac Cove Dawn Service in Gallipoli being completely sold out, many tour operators are still accommodating those who want to pay tribute via a number of options. 2015 is also the 80 year anniversary of the Aya Sofya Museum.
Travel Tip: There are 36 underground cities in Cappadocia. The deepest being Derinkuyu and the widest being Kaymakli. Be sure to do some exploring underground and experience them for yourself!
With it’s many glaciers, thermal hot springs, spectacular geysers, active volcanoes, stunning waterfalls and snow-capped mountains, Iceland is indeed the original ‘land of fire and ice’. Known for its epic views of the Northern Lights, a trip to Iceland isn’t complete without visiting one of their most popular attractions in the country, the Blue Lagoon.
Travel Tip: One of the best ways to experience Iceland is by taking a road trip. We recommend doing the Road Trip to Vik which is full of hidden gems and allows you to travel on your own time.
Located on the east side of the Adriatic Sea, to the east of Italy, this European country is also bordered by Slovenia, Hungary, Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro. Sailing is the best way to see the coastal islands and networks of small archipelagos. Most charters leave from Split or the surrounding area on the North or the South circuit. Talk to a Flight Centre Travel Consultant about finding the right tour or sailing trip for you.
Travel Tip: For one of the best views of Split, be sure to walk up to Maryam Point in. It’s a beautiful spot and there is even a restaurant close by for a quick drink or meal.