With 2015 almost over it’s time to sum up past twelve months. It’s been an amazing year for me, full of new (and old) places, exciting adventures and wonderful people around. But before I start writing everything down I thought I will ask fellow travel bloggers how was this past year for them and which destinations they enjoyed the most. Their answers really inspired me to plan my next trips and I’m really glad that Poland was mentioned here too! So without any further ado here’s the epic list of most amazing places visited in 2015, borught to you by travel bloggers!
Patagonia de Chile by Jonathan of Two Monkeys Travel Group
By far the most amazing place we visited in 2015 was Patagonia de Chile. Lack of research and some poor planning led us to ‘fortunate accident’ to the Careterra Austral, over 1000 km of gravel track road winding southwards through the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen in my life. We hitch hiked the whole way, riding in the back of pick-ups, in flat bed lorries and in freight wagons. All the way we were surrounded by towering snow-capped peaks, glaciers and turquoise lakes and rivers. It was the most exposed and rewarding traveling experience we’ve ever had and one we will never forget!
Cyprus by The World Pursuit
We were fortunate enough to spend almost a month on the beautiful island of Cyprus in 2015. The country is small in size, but packs so many amazing things to do, see, and taste! There are plenty of majestic and different beaches to visit all along the coast. When you want some time away from the sand you can just head into the Troodos Mountains. Your heart will also thank you for the halloumi cheese, local wine, and fresh feta. However, our favorite thing about Cyprus was that there was sunshine every day! Truly a highlight of our 2015 travels.
Dinant, Belgium by Aileen Adalid of I am Aileen
I’ve been to a lot of amazing places this 2015 but if I have to pick only one, I guess I’ll have to say: Dinant in Belgium! For sure, not a lot of people know this gem of a town and a part of me wanted to keep it secret… but it’s beauty speaks in so many volumes that I really want to share it with you all. It may be a very small town that lies by the River Meuse in Wallonia (south of Belgium) but the charm it holds can blow you away! Quaint and peaceful, this can be quite a serene getaway especially if you’re looking for some time away from big bustling cities.
Seychelles by Sanket of Nomadic Lives
Earlier this year, an extraordinary chain of events led to me finding myself aboard a catamaran on a press trip to La Digue island in the Seychelles archipelago. The smallest of the three major islands, and at less than 4 sq. miles, one of the smallest inhabited islands in the world, La Digue is a place that’s evidently torn between remaining “stuck in time” and giving in to the lucrative temptation of the luxury tourism business. Despite the recent luxury additions, there’s still plenty working in La Digue’s favor. Arguably the world’s best beach, stunning sunsets, local transport restricted to bicycles and bull-carts, houses amidst canopies of trees, and small, intimate groups of social drunks, singing and dancing by the port on weekends. This is the kind of place that I’d probably want to settle down in, if and when I want to settle down in the first place. Certainly one of my best memories from 2015.
Flower Island, the Philippines by Stefan and Sebastien of Nomadic Boys
One of the most amazing places we visited in 2015 was Flower Island near Palawan island in the Philippines. It is a privately owned island in the heart of a pearl farm. It only has a handful of people on the island (including staff/locals) at any one time so you truly feel you’re secluded away from everything. The island is surrounded by healthy coral so there’s a plethora of tropical underwater wildlife making it a snorkelling paradise. It had everything we dream of from a romantic, chilled and secluded type holiday. And those sunsets, every evening!
Myanmar by Sharon of Where’s Sharon?
The most amazing place I visited in 2015 was Myanmar – what a place! This sounds like a cliche, but it really was how I imagined SE Asia to be 40 years ago. I visited three different parts of the country and each was quite different to the last – from the hustle and bustle of Yangon to the most temples I have ever seen in Bagan to low key Mandalay. What stayed in common, however, was the welcoming locals, the lack of tourists and the different experiences that I haven’t been able to have elsewhere. And now for another cliche – get there before it’s too late!
North Korea by Mar of Once in a lifetime journey
In August this year I boarded a plane from Beijing to Pyongyang for a week travel around the country. I had read a lot about the country and thought I had a pretty clear idea about what to expect but North Korea can trump any expectations you may have. George Orwell’s tale has become reality in this completely isolated country where the word Google has never been heard before. It was a fascinating insight into what the world would have looked like if we had all carried on independently without globalization and without competitive advantages.
Valencia, Spain by Paula of Contented Traveller
We liked Valencia in Spain a lot., though we liked everywhere we went in 2015 and we covered a lot of ground. This is a city that is often bypassed for Barcelona, Madrid or the Costa anything beaches Valencia’s are very proud of their city Valencia in Spain. They also have every right to be as this is the city where the old and the new blend seamlessly together. Its primary claims to fame now are its rice. Yes, it is the rice capital, as well as being a significant center of ceramics and also tourism is now a major factor as they suffered such a hit in the recession.I think we have chosen this city because the people were so welcoming and also because we did the paella cooking school and graduated with paella diplomas, which we have proudly displayed on our fridge. Kissing one another within a few minutes of talking is not uncommon and the chef at the cooking school was big on kissing if you did anything right ..or wrong. Being invited for lunch or dinner or coffee seems de rigueur in this unique city. Trust me, they are seriously hospitable, pleasant and single-mindedly devoted to their town.
Roraima – Venezuela by Will of The Broke Backpacker
Venezuela isn’t exactly the first place people think to go to backpack, but it’s truly one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been. The people are incredibly welcoming and helpful, and always want to assure you see the beautiful side of their country, rather than solely the turbulent political situation. The best part of this amazing country? Roraima – the highest tabletop mountain on earth. It’s a pretty arduous five to eight day trek which becomes a million times more difficult when it rains, but I promise it’s more than worth it. The views are unparalleled, easily winning the most amazing spot I visited in 2015!
South Africa in Fall by Inma of A World to Travel
Here’s something funny. To enjoy this destination in Fall, you’ll need to wait till the Spring hits the Northern hemisphere next year. Because if there’s a country that really stands out in Autumn, it is South Africa. Not only because it is still warm and filled with Fall colors, but also because Stellenbosch wineyards are at its best and the cities and nature reserves you’ll be probably heading to if you are into wildlife and safari will be uncrowded and slightly cheaper than during peak season. Rent a car and get yourself ready to road trip South Africa. You won’t regret it!
Komodo, Indonesia by Claudia of My Adventures Across the World
2015 has been a great traveling year for me, which has brought me back to my beloved Central and South America and, for the first time, to South East Asia where I visited Indonesia and Bali. Although there’s a million places worth visiting in Indonesia, I have to say that the most amazing place to me is the Komodo and Rinca Islands, which are part of the Komodo National Park. It was by far the most incredible place I have seen in a long time: just imagine a wild land where not many people live but where the Komodo dragons are the real rulers and monkeys roam happily around; pristine seas and plenty of hills and hiking trails that offer breathtaking views. No wonder this place is heavily protected by UNESCO: it is so unique!
Cuba by Alison of Green With Renvy
My trip to Cuba early in the year was amazing. Travel had been planned before Obama lifted the restrictions and so I was booked and ready when all of that took place. It was exhilarating to feel like I was on the cusp of something so important. My trip was focused on the arts and it was like stepping into a hive of undiscovered (by Americans at least) talent. Performances were raw and emotional, often leaving members of the audience in tears. Geographically I had no idea it would be so stunning. I chose this photograph because it echos so much of the travel there. Crumbling decay I never imagined could be so hauntingly beautiful. A stylist with vision hangs laundry to dry in a space on route to La Guarida, a restaurant that would have been right at home both aesthetically and gastronomically in NYC. The passion that drives Cuba’s creatives to turn so little into so much is something from which we could all learn.
The Galapagos Islands by Lance & Laura of Travel Addicts
The most amazing place we visited in 2015 was the Galapagos Islands. Off the coast of Ecuador, this string of islands is a naturalist’s dream – dozens of species that have evolved into completely endemic groups. It was here that Darwin advanced his theory of evolution by studying the unique animals he found. Both above and below the water, the Galapagos amazed us at every turn! It’s easy to see why this was the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Singapore by Patti of The Savvy Globetrotter
Singapore took me by surprise. I figured I would enjoy the island city-state enough to warrant a visit but it turned out to be the most amazing place I visited in 2015. There is no one thing that really made it my favorite but more the sum total of offerings that drew me in. With no shortage of hawker centers or culinary variety, a big part of the day was easily spent happily eating my way through the city. Fortunately, I burned that off wandering around the ethnic quarters, the waterfront promenade, and window shopping at the many shops. Even the Supertree light and sound show with the potential to be cheesy turned out to be a delightful end to an evening. Always a plus in my book, Singapore is safe and easy to navigate making getting around a breeze.
Japan by Matilda of The Travel Sisters
Japan is one of our favorite countries to visit as it never disappoints. We’ve had so many enjoyable experiences- from sumo matches to geisha spotting to bunny rabbit cafes- that still put a smile on our face. Unsurprisingly, we’ve traveled back a few times and even on a repeat visit Japan still won “most amazing place I’ve visited in 2015”. On this trip, we ventured to Jigokudani Yaen Kōen (aka Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park) to visit the famous Japanese snow monkeys. The entire experience was delightful. We loved the beautiful snow covered trails, the amazing ryokan that was home for a few days and of course, the snow monkey antics. Groups of monkeys relaxing and playing in an onsen is pretty darn adorable. Not only was this the most amazing place visited in 2015 but also one of our most memorable travel experiences ever.
Tallinn, Estonia by Laura of Savored Journeys
Estonia has a tumultuous history, to say the least. I always felt there was a lot to learn from a trip there, so I was really excited to go in June 2015. We always go on food tours when visiting a new city and the tour we took in Tallinn was one of the best we’ve ever had. The tour guide shared her life story with us as we walked. Through her moving story, we learned a lot about Estonia and its people. What an amazing and resilient country. Non only is it a beautiful city, it was one of the most welcoming we’ve ever been to. I would go back in a heartbeat.
Sofia, Bulgaria by Linda of Tripping Blonde
Amazing is defined as “causing great surprise or wonder”, and my impromptu visit to the capital city of Bulgaria turned out to be just that. Sofia is a clean, well-kept capital city that provides a safe and welcoming environment for tourists while not being over populated with them yet. It retains an old-world charm while having a laid-back small town vibe.
There’s plenty to do in this beautiful walkable city. From shopping for rose oil along the pedestrian street to drinking rakia shots at one of the many outdoor cafes, you’ll get into a holiday state of mind in no time. With beautiful architecture like the gold-plated Nevsky Cathedral or the neoclassical National Theater, you’ll be snapping photos all day long. Best of all, Sofia is a bargain for visitors because it is not yet on the Euro, so you can live it up. I found Sofia to be simply amazing.
Tunisia by Chris of One Weird Globe
Casual tourists or non-full-time travelers may have a tough time pinning Tunisia’s correct location on the map. Even as the small northern African country saw multiple terrorist threats, Tunisia remains by far my favorite travel memory of 2015. Predominately a liberal Muslim country, it’s a great chance to enjoy the beautiful mosques without the oppressive modesty requirements. Once a part of the Roman empire, its history and legacy show a blend of European influences (French is the country’s second language thanks to its more recent control)
Start with Tunis, the surprisingly first-world capital city with the UNESCO World Heritage site Carthage a short train trip away. Continue south via train to El Jem for the El Jem Coliseum, as old as the one in Rome but in better shape and with far fewer tourists around. While more distant, scenes from multiple Star Wars movies were set in the deserts in Tozeur, and Mos Espa from The Phantom Menace still exists today.
Hall in Tirol, Austria by Marcela of Fotostrasse
Hall in Tirol is a tiny city in the Austrian Alps.We went there in the end of November and it was more spectacular than we could ever imagine. The high mountains, the christmas markets, the history behind it, the food and the atmosphere will steal your heart forever. Hall in Tirol is the birth place of the first “Dollar”, that’s the fun fact of the day here. This photo is the regular sunset you’ll see from this 11.000 people city. Breath taking without a doubt, right? Another cool thing to keep in mind before going there is that the Austrian Alps were the scenario of The Sound of Music. The film is not in Hall per se, but you can get the same landscape over there.
Tatra Mountains, Poland by Jordan of Tiki Touring Kiwi
I visited many amazing places in 2015 but one of the highlights was definitely hiking in the Tatra Mountains near Zakopane in southern Poland. The mountain range is suitable for hikers of all abilities and I liked the fact that the hiking was so open, which as a solo hiker provided me with comfort knowing there was other hikers within a few hundred metres…especially when a storm came through. Hiking along the Poland/Slovakia border was definitely a highlight.
Great Wall of China by Carole of Travels With Carole
It would be difficult to top the Great Wall of China for most amazing site in 2015. It was my first visit to China, so this must-see was on my list for Beijing. I was surprised by how steep it was but was totally amazed by both its history and its present. Most surprising was the outfits some of the Japanese ladies showed up in.
Mallorca, Spain by Stu & Eloise of Am I Nearly There Yet?
By far the most amazing place we’ve visited in 2015 was Mallorca, one of Spain’s sun soaked Balearic islands. Growing up in the UK, Spain has always been asserted with sunburnt overweight Brits in football strips eating fish and chips! Forget all that though, Mallorca is EPIC! It’s so quaint and chilled, we were super lucky and stayed in an beautiful villa complete with our own pool, loads of rustic Spanish touches and amazing fruit orchard with olive and citrus tress. Mallorca has so many ancient little villages, beautiful coastlines, insanely good food, amazing cafe scene… and the WINE! We were blown away. Plus it’s only 2 hours from London. We’ll definitely be heading back!
Montserrat, Spain by Shara of SKJtravel.net
I put Montserrat, Spain, on my itinerary this spring without knowing too much about it just because I’d heard it’s a “can’t miss sight” in the region. Well, I concur! It’s a very unique place. Rising up abruptly from the surrounding plains of Catalonia, Montserrat is a wonder of geology, with rock faces in shapes to inspire the imagination. It’s an easy day trip from Barcelona to the Benedictine monastery grounds and church, and I was excited to ride a funicular to the top of the mountain. (Coincidence that funicular begins with “fun?”) At the top I chose a hiking trail that was cut into the rock face and then led up a mountain ridge for a spectacular bird’s eye view. The interior of the church is one to dazzle the eyes. The path up the stairs and to the chambers behind the sanctuary is a journey into a golden world.
Tonsai, Thailand by Nina of Where in the World is Nina?
Tonsai is my hippy haven. Complete with dirt pathways, a quiet beach, and an adventurous rock climbing scene – I’m not sure how anyone wouldn’t love it! I love this spot because it’s an oasis from your regular life. You lose track of time and can just be. The chilled out bars are fantastic, and there is a great flow arts community here. I hula hoop, so this type of community is special to me. The nearby Railay with its beautiful lagoon and absolutely stunning Phranang Cave beach is also a huge plus to have as your neighbor. I will always hold this place near and dear to my heart. It’s a must visit if you’re in the Krabi area!
Darjeeling by Rishabh of Gypsycouple
Popularly called ‘The Queen of Hills’, this beautiful hill station has a gorgeous climate all throughout the year. One of its most popular tourist attractions, the Darjeeling Himalayan railway, popularly known as the “Toy train” is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The train which takes a scenic route literally through a few village markets and offers unparalleled views of the Kanchenjunga range of the Himalayas has something to offer for young and old alike. If that is not your thing, you can always settle down with a cuppa at Glenary’s (a 100 yr old bakery & restaurant) or navigate the smaller mist covered lanes going nowhere with a special someone by your side, making Darjeeling the most amazing place we’ve visited in 2015.
Atacama Desert, Chile by Clemens of Anekdotique
I was lucky to visit tons of amazing places in 2015 from Iran to Costa Rica and Indonesia, but one that really knocked off my socks was the Atacama desert in the northern part of Chile where I have been in September this year. This area really feels like not from this planet. Known as as the driest place on earth it consists of a rainless plateau that covers almost a 1000 kilometers location stretching from southern Peru into northern Chile. I’ll probably never forget the evenings at the Salar de Atacama when the sun sets at the horizon. It’s feels like the ground is burning in the warmest reds and oranges that change every second till the earth glows in a festival of colors. Simply mesmerizing!
Bol, Croatia by Mate of Chasing the Donkey
This year we were fortunate enough to discover Bol. A bewitching town located in the south of the Island of Brac, Croatia. We knew very little about the little seaside town other than its famous beach, Zlatni Rat so we knew this would be an interesting trip. What we discovered was a town steeped in history with some amazing sights. Some of the best sights being the Blaca Monestary, built by glagolitic monks in the 16th century on the side of a cliff, the Dragons cave which is surrounded in mystery with its interesting cave carvings and of course Zlatni Rat beach. The beach is long, golden, and covered in tiny pebbles, this beach protrudes over 500 metres out into the Adriatic sea in a v-shape, surrounded by intense blue and turquoise water and faces the beautiful island of Hvar. Bol was a real surprise for us and we’ll definitely visit again.
The Market Square Underground in Cracow, Poland by Jolanta of Casual Travelers
Have you ever been to a museum that’s placed under ground, below the street level? There’s a museum like that in Krakow, Poland, underneath the Main Market Square, right in the center of town, called Rynek Underground (Podziemia Rynku). The area where the museum is located was a site of an extensive archeological dig between 2005 and 2010, and after it was over, instead of simply filling the holes back in, a museum was built around them. The Market Square Underground (Rynek Podziemny) museum showcases Krakow’s medieval history and way of life. The printed displays are not only in Polish but English as well, and the interactive touch screens provide information in other languages as well. You can learn there about medieval European trade routes and the growth of Krakow, watch short “documentaries” about life in Krakow in medieval times, and peek into replicas of medieval blacksmith or silversmith workshops. And of course, as with any archeological museum, you see plenty of objects discovered during the dig, such as medieval coins, jewelry, belt buckles, shoes, game dice and more. You can see all that for a mere $4.77 U.S. (about 4.3 Euro).
Romania by Randi of Just a Pack
In 2015 our travels took us to three continents and eight countries including Romania. We didn’t even plan to visit the country at the beginning of the year but doing so ended up being one of the best travel experiences we have had so far. We fell in love with Romania for its stunning natural beauty, its rich and varied history, its kind and hospitable people, and that fact that it is nearly untouched by tourism. We spent three months exploring and experiencing the country’s capital city and quaint towns, stunning and varied nature, and many historic castles and buildings. We were constantly pleased and impressed by the sites before our eyes and have longed to return since the moment we left. Romania is a country everyone should add to their “must visit” list.
(Photo Credit: “East of Eden. Photo by Tim Whitfield.)
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