In the holiday world, 2017 was all about sun-seeking and outdoor adventures as holidaymakers flocked to the Mediterranean and African islands, as well as the Caribbean.
Now that the year is coming to a close, we’re taking a look back at the most popular holiday destinations of 2017 and what makes these show-stoppers so popular. Let the nostalgia begin!
In the world of holidays, Spain is favourite among almost everyone – it’s reliable, close to home and makes for the perfect family escape.
Holidays in Spain come in every shade, from party-crazed Ibiza and its world-famous clubs, to culture-soaked Barcelona, and the shores of Tenerife buzzing with families. But no matter where you go, you know exactly what you’re going to get. Out here, sun, sand and endless tapas, not to mention a fair deal of nightlife and culture are always on the menu.
With more than 200 inhabited islands to Greece’s name, it’s no wonder this Mediterranean destination was one of 2017’s most popular holiday spots. Much like Spain, Greece is all sun and sand, with thousands of years of history and myth spread across its stone buildings, museums and ruins.
A wide berth of islands means unique adventures on each – little Lesvos’ proximity to Turkey gives it distinct Middle Eastern flavours, while Crete cosies up to the African coastline and drinks up that endlessly warm climate. But then, there are islands like Mykonos and Santorini, where whitewashed buildings peaked with blue roofs are Greek to their core.
Mexico is consistently on the rise to holiday stardom. Its ancient Mayan ruins coupled with the party-heavy shores of Cancun and luxurious resorts of Puerto Vallarta keep things totally unpredictable but amazing all the same.
In this half of the Americas, you can easily spend your afternoons setting up shop on a white sand beach, then head out to the waves for snorkelling or into the jungle for a ziplining adventure. You might just stumble upon the iconic flat top of ancient Chichen Itza.
Cape Verde is one of those destinations whose name you might be surprised to find on this list – that is, if you’ve never been here before. If you’ve experienced the Sahara-desert shores in Sal, city-sized All Inclusive resorts and the windy waves of Boa Vista, one of the world’s most popular windsurfing destinations, adding Cape Verde to a best-of holiday list is a no brainer.
The Cape Verde islands sit off the coast of Africa and boast a hot climate that follows suit. That said, holidays here are all about the beach – when you’re able to peel yourself away from your massive resort’s pool scene – you can spot humpback whales and loggerhead turtles or sip a fruity cocktail.
Cyprus might be small in the grand scheme of Mediterranean destinations, but this tiny island packs a punch. To its name are no less than 59 Blue Flag award-winning beaches, an insanely popular party haven in the form of Ayia Napa and an impressive array of ancient ruins scattered across its storied shores.
What’s more is, Paphos was named a European Capital of Culture for the year of 2017, bringing events like concerts and art exhibits to Cyprus, but Cyprus’s oldest city Larnaca is a close second to its famous sister. Out here, you can explore underwater shipwrecks, hit the castle or spread out on the low-key beaches teeming with families.
With Turkey, you’ll get classic Mediterranean beach holidays with a unique twist. And by unique twist, we mean ancient ruins, mountainous landscapes and a whole lot of street food waiting around every corner. Turkey’s Antalya region – also known as the Turkish Riviera – is among the country’s most popular holiday offerings for its eye-popping shores backed by luxurious hotels.
Elsewhere, for as many historical sites as Turkey boasts – there are 13 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – there are just as many diving spots, bustling bazaars and Turkish baths to round out the full holiday experience.
The Dominican Republic is packed with all the same white sand goodness we’ve grown to expect from the Caribbean, but with the diversity an island of this size affords. For just as many afternoons spent on the desert-island beaches, there are national parks, coral reefs and outdoorsy wonders of the natural variety waiting to be explored.
To get out beyond luxury resorts and endless stretches of palm-lined shores, there’s the 27 waterfalls – whose name kind of gives its content away – the aqua blue Hoyo Azul just a few minutes off from Bavaro and the rum-soaked streets of Punta Cana. They might not literally be rum-soaked, but Punta Cana’s wealth of bars and the Dominican Republic’s close relationship with locally produced rum means they might as well be.
Another of the Mediterranean’s finest – Portugal adds a splash of class to this beachy collection and a worldwide reputation to match. The vibrant shores of the Algarve are ranked among the best in the world, while Madeira is known equally as the birthplace of the sweet synonymous wine.
Like much of the Mediterranean’s destinations, holidays in Portugal are all about the beach, no matter where you go. Laid-back Porto Santo is a largely undeveloped island loved for its peaceful villages, while Madeira is sweeping greenery.
The Algarve, on the other hand, is a little more cosmopolitan. As a well-versed tourism town, it’s got everything a holiday needs, from beautiful Blue Flag beaches to zoos, waterparks, national parks and its fair share of party towns.
Jamaica is one of those holiday destinations that need no introduction – reggae rhythms, spicy cuisine and sweetly-coloured houses in historic cities like Falmouth and Montego Bay are iconic in their own rite, but they’ve got nothing on Jamaica’s beaches.
Palm trees as far as the eye can see and white sand for days come standard out here. The Seven Mile Beach in Negril is regarded as one of the most gorgeous in the world, while Boston Bay is known for its windsurfing and kitesurfing potential. We’re confident this Caribbean spot will top holiday lists for years to come.
Morocco and its vibrant cities are bustling on the surface, but tucked down side streets are hidden oases in the form of peaceful medinas and gardens that seem miles away from the country’s urban energy.
Busy Marrakech is Morocco’s beating heart, much-loved for its endlessly-packed souks and Jemaa el-Fna square. But for quieter holidays, holidaymakers head in the direction of Agadir, the country’s beach haven. It’s remarkably modern and family-friendly, with hints of its past in the form of historic kasbahs.
With 2017 coming to an end, you’ll be rushing to plan your 2018 holiday and with all these fantastic destinations on offer, it would be impossible to refuse.