Top Destinations to Travel to in 2021
Editor at Large Ignacio Maza is always in search of what’s next in travel. Here are his 2021 picks. As we venture back out or dream of that next overseas trip, this curated list of peaceful escapes, both near and far, will foster your where-to-go-next wanderlust.
Closer to Home
Soak up three hundred years of history as you explore Georgia’s oldest city and its wonderfully preserved historic district. Explore Savannah’s collection of 20 squares, each distinctive and unique. Discover beloved Forsyth Park (which dates back to the 1840s), and marvel at the much-photographed Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Savannah’s Sistine Chapel. Stroll the cobblestoned riverfront streets, shop at Fancy Parker’s for delicious homemade treats, taste the fried chicken at The Olde Pink House, and Dine at The Grey, a former Greyhound station. Dive into Savannah’s vibrant art scene, from contemporary galleries to the Telfair Art Museum, the oldest in the southeast. Revel in the vibrant nightlife or relax by the sea at nearby Tybee Island, just 20 minutes away.
LOS CABOS, MEXICO
Mexico’s sunniest destination beckons with endless adventures between two seas. Discover Cabo Pulmo Marine Preserve, the northernmost coral reef in the Pacific, and snorkel with tropical fish and friendly sea lions. Hike the Sierra de la Laguna in search of mountain springs or try mountain biking through remote landscapes. Explore the art galleries of San José del Cabo, including the opportunity to meet resident artists. Visit the picturesque village of Todos Santos, capped with farm-to-table “BajaMed” cuisine at Jazamango restaurant. Stay at legendary One&Only Palmilla, at a newly opened design-forward resort, or mix it up with beachside glamping at Isla Espíritu Santo, just steps from the sea.
The state with magnificent and dramatic landscapes is a nirvana for outdoor enthusiasts and home to the ‘Mighty Five’ National parks, including Bryce, Zion, and Arches. Mountain bike the Slickrock trail, raft the Green River, or hike the Buckskin Gulch slot canyon. In winter, head for Park City, America’s largest ski resort, or catch the latest independent films at the world-famous Sundance Festival. Drive through Monument Valley, a backdrop for countless western films, and visit Goulding’s Lodge for a time capsule of the Old far West. Visit the Bonneville Salt Flats for otherworldly Instagram posts. Stay in mountainside luxury at Montage Deer Valley, or in a dreamy tent at Amangiri’s recently opened Camp Sarika in Utah’s south, an unparalleled experience.
Although it is one of the smallest states in the USA, Vermont has much to offer. Drive through America’s most colorful fall foliage, with the highest concentration of colorful maple trees in the country. Tour a working farm. Experience every winter sport imaginable, with the most snow in the East. In spring and summer, hike, bike, fish, canoe, or swim in Lake Champlain. Sample some of the best artisanal cheeses in the U.S., try the purest maple syrup ever, and get a taste of ice cream heaven at the Ben & Jerry’s factory store. Stay at acclaimed resorts like The Equinox or charming boutique properties like The Pitcher Inn. For the ultimate experience, stay at Twin Farms, Vermont’s five-star luxury retreat, with individually decorated cottages set within a magnificent 300-acre estate.
ST. BARTS, FRENCH WEST INDIES
The Caribbean’s answer to St. Tropez is back in business after two hurricanes. This tiny island, measuring only nine square miles, has a loyal following of visitors. Rent a jeep, pack a picnic, and explore the beautiful beaches, including Colombier, Salines, St. Jean, or Gouverneur. Experience the region’s most sophisticated dining scene at see-and-be-seen restaurants like L’Isola, Maya’s and Le Sélect. Explore the charming small boutiques of walkable Gustavia. Sail to nearby Forchue Island for a day of sea adventures. Stay in newly renovated, beloved resorts like Eden Rock and Guanahani (both looking better than ever!). Fly Tradewinds’ upscale air service from San Juan and arrive in style.
VANCOUVER ISLAND, BRITISH COLUMBIA
Great adventures and Canada’s warmest temperatures await in this 300-mile long island. Start in Victoria, oldest city in the Pacific Northwest, tasting fresh coastal menus and marveling at superb craftsmanship of First Nations art at the Royal BC Museum. Surf Tofino’s beaches, hike one of five provincial parks, snorkel with seals, or paddle the Sayward canoe circuit. The Cowichan Valley ‘’gourmet trail’ beckons with artisanal cuisine and the Duncan Farmers Market. Spot Orcas and Humpback whales as you kayak off the coast. Walk through old-growth forests and don’t miss the giant and endangered Douglas Fir trees of Cathedral Grove. Soar in a seaplane above Nanaimo’s spectacular setting. Stay at five-star Wickaninnish Inn, a luxury tent at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, or in a modern treehouse at Qualicum Beach.
Join the bicentennial celebrations, marking Peru’s independence from Spain in 1821. Visit untrammeled Arequipa, the white colonial city, staying at the new Cirqa hotel, and continue to the awe-inspiring Colca Canyon, which is 13,000 feet deep. Hike the Cordillera Blanca, the second highest in the world after the Himalayas. Explore the enigmatic ruins of Chan Chan and Kuélap, remnants of brilliant pre-Columbian cultures. Surf at Cabo Blanco, or perhaps sail to the Ballestas Islands, Peru’s Galápagos. Stay on the shores of Lake Titicaca high in the Andes in a stylish Relais & Chateaux lodge. Sail down Peru’s Amazon basin in a luxury riverboat, searching for piranhas and pink dolphins. Don’t miss Lima’s world-class museums, outstanding shopping for silver and native handicrafts, and its acclaimed restaurants, serving innovative dishes and the freshest ceviche. A world beyond Machu Picchu awaits!
This wild, alluring, wonderland (three times the size of Texas), should be on your 2021 radar. Start in Perth, blending urban cool and natural beauty, and its new WA Museum. Visit the Margaret River Wine Region, hopping between award-winning wineries, forests, and restaurants. The new Kalbarri Skywalk, located 300 feet above the Murchison River Gorge, will leave you breathless. Hike the outback with an aboriginal guide and learn about Dreamtime legends. Fly low over the Buccaneer Archipelago by seaplane and continue with an exhilarating jetboat cruise on the horizontal waterfalls in Talbot Bay. Catch the sunset riding a camel on Cable Beach. Marvel at ancient rock art. Stay in understated luxury at the ultimate outback homestead of El Questro, an estate spanning over seven hundred thousand acres, or at Sal Salis, the ultimate seaside safari camp, for thrilling swims with whale sharks off the Ningaloo Reef.
The Mediterranean island of year-round summer has it all: historic cities like Palermo and Siracusa, a glorious countryside, ancient archaeological sites, turquoise waters, and enchanting villages lost in time like Noto and Modica. Taste some of Italy’s most delicious cuisine—the legacy of Greeks, Phoenicians, Arabs and Spanish—especially the seafood, pastas, and traditional desserts like cassata. No Sicilian meal is complete without a glass of Nero D’Avola, the island’s best-known red wine. Laze on a beautiful beach, hike an active volcano, or get lost driving through the island’s fabled interior. Elevate your sojourn with a behind the scenes visit to Palermo’s Teatro Massimo, a bespoke cruise to survey the Sicilian coast at your leisure, or a private evening stroll through the Valley of the Temples after closing hours. Stay at Taormina’s Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, Palermo’s newly renovated Villa Igiea, or at palatial Seven Rooms Villadorata.
Africa’s next destination is land-locked Zambia—unspoiled, safe, and home to bountiful wildlife. Visit legendary and uncrowded national parks like Lower Zambezi, South Luangwa, and Kafue (Zambia’s largest). Marvel at the sheer abundance of leopards, elephants, lions, and 700 bird species. Enjoy walking safaris, canoe adventures, fishing, spotting hippos along the Zambezi, and game drives day and night. Visit the Bangwelu Wetlands in Northeastern Zambia, Africa’s best-kept wildlife secret, home to black antelopes, Shoebill storks, and other rare species. Stay at premier lodges like Chiawa Camp, Puku Ridge, or Time + Tide Chinzombo for an unforgettable experience. End your journey with a thrilling helicopter or microlight flight over magnificent Victoria Falls, twice the height of Niagara.
Europe’s rugged, spectacular northern frontier is calling. Start your explorations in hip Oslo, Europe’s green capital, with trendy restaurants, indoor skiing at SNØ, and Scandinavia’s boldest architecture, including the new Munch Museum and Opera House. Hike one of Norway’s thousand-plus fjords, ride scenic train journeys, or climb the new Vøringfossen staircase bridge, built over a waterfall. Catch the midnight sun or northern lights in the Lofoten Islands. Visit Røros—the World Heritage Site is home to a large concentration of wooden buildings dating back to 1644. Taste Norway’s freshest menus at Bergen’s Lysverket or dine at Under, in the country’s southern coast, shaped like a concrete bunker half-submerged below sea level. Stay at Oslo’s classic Hotel Continental, an Arctic Hideaway, a sea cabin on Manshausen Island, or at Norway’s coziest hotel, 292 Aurland.
New itineraries, more options, and next-generation expedition ships with creature comforts make this the perfect time to visit the white continent—the coldest, highest, driest, and windiest on earth. Antarctica’s otherworldly scenery and rich wildlife will amaze you, with countless seals, whales, birds, and over five million penguins. Explore natural wonders and giant icebergs as you explore by zodiac, kayak, and walks ashore. For an unexpected thrill, take a dip in the hot springs off Deception island’s Pendulum Cove. Next year presents a rare opportunity to catch the total eclipse of the sun in December 2021. If you wish to skip the Drake Passage crossing, fly direct from South America to Antarctica on Silversea’s new Air Bridge.