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The Most Popular Destinations of 2017: Readers’ Choice

by Brook Wilkinson | November 21, 2016

As a new year approaches, many websites dust off their crystal balls and take a stab at predicting the hottest destinations for 2017. Here at, we don’t have to guess. That’s because we’re at the front lines of travel, hearing about where our readers want to go before they’ve even booked the trip. Our list requires no psychic powers, just some good old-fashioned number crunching. Based on the 1,000 trip requests our travelers have filled out so far for trips they plan to take next year, here are the top ten most popular destinations for 2017:

10. India

Flower Market at the end of the Mumbai by Dawn tour

Flower market, Mumbai. Photo: India Beat

Nature and culture, history and modernity, India has it all: the mega metropolises, the iconic sites of the Golden Triangle, the sleepy backwaters of Kerala…. The biggest challenge our readers face is figuring out what to focus on. The good news is that, with an entire subcontinent to choose from, there’s a part of India with a pleasant climate during every month of the year—even in summer—so timing need not be an issue.

9. Japan

Tsukiji market, Tokyo. Photo: Context Travel

Tsukiji market, Tokyo. Photo: Context Travel

Some readers are drawn to Japan for its history, others for its hyper-modern culture, but the one draw that everyone can agree on is the food. Travelers are asking for unique-to-Japan dining experiences and to sample multiple cuisines. On their wish lists are everything from stylish sushi restaurants to casual izakaya joints to hole-in-the-wall eateries that serve only one dish and have spent decades perfecting their recipe for ramen, tempura, or grilled eel.

8. Argentina

Horseback riding in Mendoza, Argentina

Horseback riding in Mendoza, Argentina Photo by C. de Uco

What appeals most about Argentina right now is its dramatic natural beauty and wide range of travel experiences within one country. The activities that most interest readers are hiking the wilds of Patagonia in the south, ogling Iguazu Falls in the north, and tasting their way through Mendoza’s wine country in the west—and the good news is they can do it all in just ten days.

7. France

View over the River Seine, Paris, France

View over the River Seine, Paris. Photo: Bruno Abatti/Unsplash

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Nice have not at all dampened our readers’ enthusiasm for France. (Nor should they. Wendy explains why in these articles on why not to cancel a trip to Europe and how to decide where it’s safe to travel). Travelers headed to France in 2017 are focused on Paris and Provence in particular and are focused on celebrating honeymoons and other milestones there.

6. Spain

Shell House, Marbella, Spain.

Shell House villa rental, Marbella, Spain. Photo courtesy Gary Edwards.

Families will be flocking to Spain in 2017, lured by charming villages, the coastal combination of culture and beaches, colorful art, delicious food, and reasonable prices. Many are opting to stay in a villa, in order to enjoy ample space for a big group to spread out.

5. Australia

Kayaking Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Kayaking Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Tourism Australia/Delaware North Companies

Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef come up again and again in our readers’ requests for Australia trips—but what’s unusual is that we’re seeing greater interest in more remote parts of the country that are not on the typical traveler’s itinerary, especially the last pristine, remote corner of the outback in Kimberley, Western Australia, and Darwin, the gateway to Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory.

4. African Safaris

Plains game, Shumba camp, Zambia

Plains game Shumba camp, Zambia. Photo by Wilderness Safaris

Many of our 2017 safari-goers are honeymooners ready to splurge on over-the-top lodges and camps. Wildlife viewing is obviously the major draw for any safari—but, among our readers, Victoria Falls comes in a strong second, perhaps because nearby bungee jumping, gorge swinging, rappelling, and whitewater rafting make this area popular among adventurers of all ages and levels.

3. Cuba

Vintage cars in Old Havana, Cuba. Photo: Michael Petit

Vintage cars in Old Havana, Cuba. Photo: Michael Petit

“Seeing the authentic Cuba before it changes” continues to be a prime motivator for trips to the island. The travelers we hear from are most focused on avoiding the tourist crowds, lines, and overbooked hotels—symptoms of Cuba’s painfully stretched infrastructure. They’re looking for trips that include music, art, food, honest interactions with local people, and super-savvy guides. Based on our data, there’s no chance of Cuba’s popularity cooling off in 2017.

2. Italy

St. Peter's Basilica, Rome. Photo courtesy Context Travel.

St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome. Photo courtesy Context Travel.

From toddlers to teens, kids will be headed to Italy in droves come 2017.  They’re most drawn to Florence, Rome, the Lakes Region, and Sicily—all areas with family-friendly cultural activities and cuisines. Since certain regions and cities in Italy match certain interests better than others, read our guide to Italy for different ages.

1. United States

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park, Utah. Photo: NPS Photo by Jacob W. Frank

2017 is the year for the U.S. to be rediscovered as a wilderness destination: Hiking is the most requested activity for 2017 trips, and avoiding crowds is a huge priority. National parks are at the top of people’s must-visit lists, along with perennial tropical favorite Hawaii, for its combination of natural beauty and beachy indulgence.

For the savviest trip-planning help to these destinations, reach out to the appropriate destination specialist on Wendy’s WOW List, or click to Ask Wendy.


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

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