My Favorite Places of 2017 (That You Should Go To in 2018!)
2017 was a big year for me travel-wise. I went to a dozen different countries, countless cities, and along the way I found some new favorite places and revisited (and re-fell in love with) some old. And while I truly enjoyed almost of all of them, there are 12 that really stand out as places I loved so much I think you should add them to your own bucket list for 2018 (and beyond).
New Zealand’s South Island
In May I spent two weeks in New Zealand, driving from Auckland on the North Island all the way down to Queenstown on the South Island. If you have enough time you should visit both, but if not - the South Island was the clear winner for me. The terrain changes so drastically more frequently that I have ever seen on a road trip, keeping it exciting and giving you a wide range of different things to see and photograph. And pretty much everywhere we went or even stopped for lunch - Queenstown, Wanaka, Mount Cook, Twizel, Tekapo - were so wonderful that I recommend a visit. If you love the outdoors, do not miss New Zealand's South Island!
Also, if you are reading this thinking "but New Zealand is SO FAR!", it's really not (at least not for us West Coasters). From San Francisco, AirNZ flights leave at night so you board, eat dinner, watch a movie, go to sleep, and when you wake up you are there. Thirteen hours direct.
For more information on what I recommend seeing and doing, visit these posts:
In June I headed to Gothenburg, Sweden for a project with Gothenburg & Co., West Sweden Tourism board, Volvo Cars USA, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Visit Sweden US, and Travel Mindset. I had been to Stockholm the summer before but never elsewhere in Sweden and I went in pretty blindly since the trip was a bit last minute (at least for me). I knew I would like it based on what I saw on the official visitor site before arriving, but to my surprise I loved it more than I ever imagined. In fact, Gothenburg (and West Sweden in general) was my favorite new spot of 2017.
My mom joined me since I was graciously allowed to bring a +1 and we had such a fun time exploring together. I have a full post below on 7 reasons you should add it to your list, but to summarize quickly:
- The food. I try to eat as healthy as possible which is often hard while traveling and I also don't eat much meat. Gothenburg is full of fresh seafood, veggies, and some of the most Instagram-ready venues I have ever seen. It's not often I really rave about food, but seriously Gothenburg had some of the best food I have ever eaten. Which I guess isn't much of a surprise since they have 7 Michelin-starred restaurants!
- Everything is so beautiful. The shops, cafes, restaurants, parks, streets - all absolutely beautiful and a photographer’s dream.
- There is so much to see and do. I spent 5 full days there (more than I spend in most places) and even that was not nearly enough time.
Don't miss the full list below!
Santa Barbara, California
Since I don't have a car in San Francisco and these days I am rarely there, I don't do a lot of exploring in-state unfortunately. I have a good friend that went to school in Santa Barbara who had been saying for years we needed to visit, so in February we finally made the trek down. It's such a beautiful town and made the perfect spot for a quick 3 day weekend girls trip! I already have it on my own list for 2018.
In May I headed to Manchester, UK in partnership with Virgin Atlantic, Visit Britain, and Marketing Manchester to help celebrate Virgin launching a new direct route there from San Francisco. I, like most, am a huge fan of London and was pleased to find so many of the things I love about London (cute British facades, trendy, beautiful restaurants and bars, etc.) alive and well in Manchester, too! I was also able to visit a few soccer/football stadiums which was fun because I'm a big American football fan but didn't know much about European football/soccer prior. I also checked out Altrincham Market at the recommendation of Marketing Manchester and it quickly became my favorite market - home of my favorite avocado toast of all time (and I try them all over the world!).
More on my time in Manchester below!
While technically Gothenburg above is part of West Sweden, I wanted to specifically call out my trip to the West Sweden islands. After Gothenburg my mom and I headed out in our Volvo to explore three of the 8,000+ West Sweden islands: Tjörn, Orust, and Marstrand. We celebrated Midsummer likes the Swedes do, went to a few wonderful museums, and discovered some beautifully picturesque spots. It was one of my very favorite trips of all time and one that I absolutely recommend to everyone!
More info on my West Sweden road trip:
Stagecoach Music Festival in
Palm Springs, California
You probably see Palm Springs, California on your Instagram feed quite often, especially during April - Coachella season. Palm Springs is beautiful itself, but one of my favorite weekends of the year most years is that of Stagecoach Music Festival. Stagecoach is California's three day country music festival, taking place the weekend after Coachella and in the same venue. If you are a country music fan, there is nothing better!
photos via The Yacht Week
This year I was crazy enough to go back for round two of The Yacht Week, this time in Greece. While we went to SO MANY beautiful, off-the-beaten path spots, Hydra really stands out amongst the others. Hydra is spectacular, filled with cobblestone streets, boutique stores, and marina-lined restaurants. It is entirely wheeled vehicle-free but you can ride a donkey if you want! Don't miss Sunset Restaurant, apparently voted by many publications to have “the most beautiful view in the world”.
In July I spent a week in Italy (shocking, I know), starting with a few days in Puglia. I had never heard of it until a friend from Positano sent me some photos telling me I'd like it, so I did what any logical person would do - I headed there on a whim the following month. I visited 8 town in total, all of which I recommend, but Alberobello was easily the highlight of Puglia for me. So much so that I actually went twice! It’s famous for it’s unique trullo buildings (whitened dry-stone huts with pointed stone roofs) and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Polignano A Mare, Italy
Also in Puglia, Polignano A Mare is home to that cave restaurant you probably see all of the time on Pinterest. It is the perfect home base for those looking to explore Puglia, is totally walkable, and everything is beautiful. There's also a wonderful beach if you want to spend the day relaxing!
Amalfi Coast, Italy
There is truly no place in the world that I love more than Positano, Italy, so in July I headed back for a (long overdue) few days in my favorite place. Last time we ended up falling so in love with Positano that we never ventured outside, except a day trip to Capri. Ever since it's been a dream of mine to see more of the Amalfi Coast, preferably via scooter because what on earth could possibly be more magical? Answer: NOTHING.
Since a scooter makes it easy to get around quickly, we were able to see so many different places in just one day - Praiano, Amalfi, Ravello, Atrani, Furore, Minori, and Maiori. While I still recommend Positano above all others, if you make the trek to any Amalfi Coast town, I highly recommend you rent a scooter and explore them all. It was truly the best day of my life and one that I plan on recreating, hopefully soon :)
I went to Copenhagen for the first time in July 2016 by myself right after The Yacht Week (i.e. while extremely tired and a bit sad). I enjoyed it a lot the first time, but after going back in November I truly love it. A friend and I randomly planned to meet there since it was between Sweden (where he was) and Germany (where I was). It was cold, it was dark, it was rainy, and it was awesome. I find it sometimes hard to love a place under those circumstances, so when I do I know it's a true gem.
Copenhagen is a pricey city, but one full of so many beautiful things to see and do. In fact, never do you pass a store or enter a restaurant without thinking "wow, this is gorgeous". It's a true gem and after visiting in arguably the worst time of the year (winter-ish) and loving it, I couldn't recommend it more.
For more specific info, don't miss my list of 8 things you can't miss:
While I often try to explore the more off-the-beaten path spots, there is denying how magical Paris is. Before 2017 I had visited a few times during summer and winter but never in autumn. I figured I'd take one for the team and head back to see if Paris is worth a visit in the fall and, very surprisingly, it is ;)
MY 2018 Bucket List
So, what's on my list for 2018? Here's what I've come up with so far:
- Lisbon (again)
- Spain - San Sebastian, Seville, Barcelona
- Switzerland - Zermatt (again) + new spots!
- Oahu (I didn't go visit my family at all in 2017!)
- Santa Fe (same note as above)
- Mexico - Mexico City, San Miguel
What's on your list? Anything I need to add to mine?