Need some ideas on where to travel in 2016? Here’s a few of our recommendations based on travel market research, booking data, and tips from our very own Flight Centre Travel Experts.
Canadians have long benefitted from a lack of competition from the United States market due to a tourism embargo to Cuba which has helped keep demand low and prices reasonable. But with the recent re-opening of the US embassy and direct flights now originating from US soil, it is expected that the tourism embargo will be lifted sooner rather than later. When the US market does open up, demand will skyrocket and with it so will prices. More than just a beach destination, Cuba also has a fascinating history to accompany its natural beauty. The sense of urgency by Canadians to experience all that this Caribbean island has to offer before the US market opens up, is making Cuba THE place to go in 2016. Search for flights to Cuba here.
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.
Travel Tip: If you’re looking for something more off-the-beaten path, both G Adventures and Intrepid Travel offer immersive trips throughout the country which includes everything from visits to coffee plantations, bustling cities, beachside towns and rural homestays.
Once the heart of an empire that ran from India to Brazil, Portugal has experienced a renaissance that has put it firmly on the map of must-see countries in Europe. From its capital Lisbon, down to the white sand beaches of the Algarve, Portugal offers visitors a great chance to see yet another side to Europe. The capital city of Lisbon combines ancient and modern in both its architecture and culture. More relaxed than many of the other European capitals (and a little more affordable too) it’s easy to stay a while here as there is so much to see and do. From friendly locals to a lively nightlife to stunning natural settings, Lisbon will not fail to impress.
Travel Tip: If you’re flying with SATA Airlines, you can get a free stopover in the Azores islands en route to Lisbon. These islands are known as Europe’s best kept-secret with nine exotic islands to offer.
Known as “the land of fire and ice”, Iceland is considered by many as one of the most naturally beautiful countries in the world. Trekking across the highlands you’ll encounter glaciers, active volcanoes, thermal hot springs, steaming lava fields, thundering waterfalls, steep cliffs and snow-capped mountains. A stay in the capital city of Reykjavik offers a picturesque harbour front with a thriving live music scene and local delicacies such as lamb soup, lobster, fermented shark and puffin. And just a 40 minute drive from the city is the famed Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa located in a lava field, and one of the most visited attractions in the country.
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. If you’re feeling active, consider doing the Landmannalaugar route across the Southern Highlands.
Still reveling in the success of hosting the World Cup last year, Brazil will once again be in the world spotlight as it hosts the 2016 Summer Olympics—the first time ever a South American city has held the honour. And if their annual Carnival is any indication of how well they throw a party, spectators will be in for an experience of a lifetime. From the mighty Amazon in the north to the awe-inspiring Iguazu Falls in the south, the largest country in South America is teeming with things to do and see to impress even the most discerning traveller.
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.
Already one of the world’s most visited destinations; London shows no signs of letting up in its popularity. A fantastic blend of both old and new with fast-paced action and world-class style, every turn of the head reveals something iconic: the River Thames, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus and the London Eye just to name a few. It is home to some of the world’s best museums and art galleries, and is also a dynamic hub for music, visual arts, fashion, theatre and food. Despite its reputation for being an expensive city, its accessible public transit system combined with a number of historical sites free to the public, makes it a very affordable place to visit. And of course, you can always find cheap flights to London with Flight Centre. So jump on the Tube (mind the gap) and find out for yourself why more than 15 million people make London a must-stop every year.
Travel Tip: One of the best ways to experience all the icon landmarks of London is by water. Hop on a City Cruise on the Thames River to see all the major sites in a short amount of time.
Positioned on the Rim of Fire, this volcanic archipelago of islands is home to 128 million people. Japanese culture is a mix of ancient tradition and modern influence. Vast, contemporary cityscapes mingle with sacred temples, imperial palaces and floating shrines. Japan’s bustling economy has made it a world leader in technology and machinery, yet nature-lovers will adore the country’s forested hillsides, active volcanoes and snow-peaked mountains. Cities such as Tokyo or Osaka offer all the ultra-modern present-day comforts from department stores and oxygen bars to bright neon entertainment districts.
8. Utah, USA
With five of the most iconic national parks in this state alone, there is no off-season in Utah! Spring and summer means unique camping sites with endless hiking and biking trails, while in the winter Utah is home to The Greatest Snow on Earth® boasting over 1270 cms of snow on average per season. It is an outdoor adventurer’s delight highlighted by remarkable landscapes, vast canyons and stunning rock formations. Combine that with a thriving restaurant scene, numerous cultural attractions and luxury spa resorts and you have the makings of a truly world-class destination.
It’s proximity to Canada means easy access with direct flights from Vancouver and Calgary and only one stop from other major Canadian gateways—get here soon, you’ll be glad you did. Browse our USA deals here.
9. New Zealand
No longer the second choice to Australia when visiting ‘down under’, New Zealand’s popularity has surged in recent years thanks to the country’s landscapes being showcased in Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” films. The “Real” Middle Earth offers 29 distinct regions ready to be explored across its 2 main islands, each presenting something both adventurous and cultural. Its natural beauty will astound you, its cities will entertain you and its people will welcome you. And if the notion of going there seems like half a world away, Air New Zealand flights are available daily from Vancouver just brought this amazing country well within reach.
Travel Tip: If you’re a movie buff, ask a Flight Centre Travel Expert about 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.
Journey to Spain and revel in the passion and tradition this remarkable country is famed for. Food, fiestas and flamenco, Spain is alive with culture consisting of World Heritage sights, remote villages, bustling cities and thousands of kilometres of coastline. The restaurants and bars come to life late in the evening with wine and tapas and the regional food is as spectacular as it is varied; seafood, meats and local cheeses make Spain a gourmet’s dream. The country is also awash in history with many World Heritage Sights including the ancient city of Cordoba and the holy pilgrimage sight of Santiago de Compostela. Whether it’s culture, cities, beaches, food or just a taste of the passion and fiesta that is Spain, don’t miss it.
Travel Tip: Experience the beautiful (and less crowded) beaches and cities in Northern Spain. Cities like Santander have beautiful stretches of bike lanes and walking paths for taking in the scenery. We recommend: This 11 Day Northern Spain guided vacation with Trafalgar.