Expert Opinions: 16 Places Everyone Will Be Talking About in 2016

This time of year, you’ll see a lot of lists telling you where you should travel in 2016. And while we get a thrill from reading them all, the truth is that when it comes right down to it, it doesn’t matter where you go. We just want you to travel — to the next state, to the next country, to the next continent. See the world! That said, it’s a big world and the options can be overwhelming, so to help you narrow down your list, we asked the most well-traveled people we know to share their picks — the Yahoo Travel Explorers. Based on their own extensive experiences on the road this past year, these are the places they think real travelers will be talking about next year…including you.

Now get out there, and let us know how it goes! Happy travels!

Alberta, Canada

Alberta, Canada, is home to Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Lake Louise, and more. (Photo: Bilie Cohen)

The strong U.S. dollar makes it 30 percent cheaper to travel to Canada, and Alberta in summer or winter is as beautiful as it gets! From Banff and Jasper to Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta has great outdoors and great cities!
Lee Abbamonte

Asbury Park, New Jersey
Asbury Park is undergoing a complete revival since Hurricane Sandy. It´s once again becoming the cultural epicenter it was before the riots in 1970. Its Roaring Twenties landmarks are being restored and the historic music venue the Stone Pony (Bruce Springsteen’s old stomping ground) was saved from demolition and expanded to host large outdoor concerts. New independent boutiques and coffee shops are popping up monthly, while downtown and the beachfront are peppered with new and noteworthy restaurants and bars like Pascal & Sabine, Bonney Read, Porta and the Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten, which has around 100 varieties of beer and a large roof deck. The popular watering hole Johnny Mac just built a large outdoor bar lined with food trucks, and the iconic 1960s Asbury Lanes bowling alley is being refreshed. The House of Independents theater venue is under construction on Cookman Ave., and the design team behind the New York Ace Hotel is salvaging the derelict Salvation Army building to open the Asbury, a 110-room hotel with a rooftop lounge. The perfect place for the crowds to crash when they flock to the Jersey Shore next summer.
—Nora Walsh,Patchwork Compass

Bhutan
As it become more accessible to visitors with increased options for accommodations and better infrastructure, this country is all set to rise up the global wishlist of countries to visit. That Bhutan values its Gross National Happiness more than its GDP says a lot about the people and its king. 2016 might be the last year to experience Bhutan’s pristine beauty, mystic monasteries and welcoming people before it’s overrun with tourist hordes.
—Rishabh Shah, Gypsy Couple

Cape Town, South Africa

Enjoying the view in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Tausha Cowan, The Globe Getter)

The dollar is incredibly strong versus the rand right now and there are great flight deals, so you can get incredible value for your money. Cape Town is up-and-coming as a design, fashion, and food destination, with lots of young talent and energetic entrepreneurs. The beaches are gorgeous, the wine country is beautiful, the natural scenery is stunning — and you get a buzzy city right in the heart of it all. I think (and hope!) that more people will discover it in 2016.
—Christine Amorose, C’est Christine

Cuba
With all the travel rules changing the focus on Cuba, 2015 was significant — but in 2016 it’s likely to explode. It’s especially interesting to those travelers who still want an authentic experience trying to get there before the rush of American tourism changes it forever.
—Susan Portnoy, The Insatiable Traveler

Related: The Most Beautiful Historic Hotels of Havana

Guatemala
Often overlooked for its more popular neighbors Mexico and Belize, Guatemala offers something for everyone! It’s a nature lover’s paradise with numerous volcanoes, including one of the most active in all of Central America. For a truly unforgettable experience you can climb Pacaya Volcano and roast marshmallows en route! Also, not to be missed is Lake Atitlan, cited as “the most beautiful lake in the world” by German explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. Culture lovers won’t want to miss Tikal, the ancient Mayan citadel situated in a rain forest with cheeky monkeys hanging from trees. You’ll also want to explore the beautiful city of Antigua, famed for its Spanish colonial buildings and surrounded by volcanoes. And finally, the people! Guatemala is THE place to see Mayan traditions still being carried out, from the traditional clothing the women still wear today, to weaving techniques passed on through the centuries.
—Laurel Robbin, Monkeys and Mountains Adventure Travel Blog

Indianapolis

(Photo: Sherry Ott, Ott’s World)

It’s the 100th running of the Indy 500 this May! However, Indianapolis isn’t just about fast cars, it has tons more to offer. The Indianapolis Cultural Trail has miles and miles of well maintained biking and running lanes that takes you through the best parts of the city. Plus Indy is home to some of the most stunning museums and public outdoor art around. It’s hard to believe that this increasingly hip town is nestled among corn in the Midwest!
—Sherry Ott, Ott’s World

Related: The Home of the Indianapolis 500 Is a Great Place to Slow Down

Iran
Although travel warnings still exist, the recent Iran nuclear deal and removed sanctions means that the country is opening up more to travelers. And travelers are curious to see what this country that many of us know so little about — aside from what we see on the news — is really like. With 19 UNESCO sites (the most in the region), incredible Persian architecture, and renowned hospitality ,Iran will surprise even the most experienced of travelers.
—Audrey Scott, Uncornered Market

Related: First Cuba, Now Iran? Tourism is Booming in the Most Unlikely Places

Kassel, Germany
This city located in the German state of Hesse may not be on everyone’s bucket list, but it should be. After many years, the new Brothers Grimm museum just opened, and it’s the perfect starting point to explore the natural areas surrounding Kassel that originally inspired the Grimms. Kassel is also home to the massive estate known as the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, one of the strangest yet also most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage sites you’ll ever visit.
—Matt Long,LandLopers

Related: Secrets of the World’s Most Spectacular Fairy-Tale Castles

Myanmar

Myanmar’s Shwedagon Pagoda is a sacred site not to be missed. (Photo: iStock/Xavier Arnau)

Still somewhat new to tourism, Myanmar can feel off-the-beaten-path in many ways, and with the election win of Aung San Suu Kyi, there are high hopes for the continued advancement of the country. Now is the time to go, before the crowds descend and the prices rise. It’s a simply stunning country with friendly locals and tea shops around every corner.
—Pamela MacNaughtan, Savoir Faire Abroad

Santa Clara, California
If you’re visiting San Francisco or driving the Pacific Coast Highway, detour through Santa Clara, California, home of the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium, the host site for Super Bowl 50. See more than 400 rose bushes in bloom in the Santa Clara University Mission Garden, take the kids to the Great American Amusement Park, and make sure to sample California’s signature dish — an In-N-Out Burger. The city’s got a friendly, small town feel even though it’s located in Silicon Valley.
—Catherine Bennett Kopf, The Open Suitcase

Santa Fe, New Mexico
With its adobe architecture style, world-class galleries, dining, skiing, museums and even opera, Santa Fe will be the place to be in 2016. With the same vision that put Santa Fe on the map for “cultural tourism” in the 1920s, Santa Fe continues to have these amazing attributes today. It has also been named best small city in America by Conde Nast, Named Best City to Travel to for Christmas by Travel + Leisure, Top 10 Food Cities in the Country by Travel + Leisure, Voted as #1 Best Destination For Outdoor Enthusiasts and #4 for BEST ART Festivals by USA TODAYS 10 Best readers. Santa Fe is THE place to be in 2016.
—Cacinda Maloney, Points and Travel

Related: Beaches That Are Even Better in the Winter

Romania

Built in the late 1800s, Romania’s Peles Castle was the world’s first castle with locally produced electricity. (Photo: iStock/Octavian Floren Babusi)

This is a place that is loaded with so much natural beauty it will blow your mind. Get swept up in the tale of Dracula and visit the stunning castles of the area, like Peles Castle, which was the first in Europe to have central heating, electricity and a vacuuming system! The capital Bucharest was once called the little “Paris of the East” and you can see why in the exquisite architecture throughout the city. Or you can sit back and relax in one of the many secret garden bars around the city. Romania has something to offer every sort of traveller - and you won’t be left disappointed.
—Meagen Collins, Five Dollar Traveller

Skellig Michael, Ireland

(Photo: Gary Arndt, Everything Everywhere)

Why? It was a filming location for the new Star Wars movie and rumors are it will be in episode 8 as well.
—Gary Arndt, Everything Everywhere

Related: 8 Star Wars Movie Locations You Can Actually Visit

Sydney, Australia
With the U.S. dollar being so strong, it’s a great time to have a more-affordable-than-usual vacation in Oz. Also, the Sydney food scene is only getting better: The Noma Australia pop-up launches early next year and more chefs are opening interesting new restaurants. Throw that in with gorgeous beaches and friendly people, and it’s a perfect time to visit.
—Tausha Cowan, The Globe Getter

The United States of America
Real or perceived terrorism; inconvenient flying experiences (pricing, security, delays, cancellations, sardine-can seating, paranoid airline industry or forced union decisions); and a climate of fear will resurrect America as a cool, viable destination for the Uncle Sam set. The return of relatively cheap gas clears the way for lengthy, meandering road trips — a hallowed tradition here, because, let’s face it, we only have one-and-a-half true walking cities (New York and San Francisco-ish).
—Bruce Northam, American Detour

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