Travel has the ability to change us. With every new destination comes a new perspective through which to see the world – and new experiences that we’ll carry with us for a lifetime.
As 2019 comes to a close and we embark upon a new decade, we here at 10Best are looking back at some of the most interesting, exciting and inspiring places we’ve visited this year. These are destinations where the landscapes moved us, the cuisines expanded our palates and the people touched our hearts.
Portugal captivated our editors this year with its intriguing history, delicious cuisine, iconic tiled facades and its relative affordability. It’s a small country that packs plenty for visitors to experience ranging from stunning cliffs and beaches, like those found in the Algarve, to a world-class wine region, such as the Douro Valley.
With direct flights from many cities in the United States, Portugal is an easy-to-reach European destination.
Adventure lovers will find some of the best outdoor experiences in Chile’s Aysén, a region in Northern Patagonia filled with pristine forests, jagged mountains, glaciers and lakes. The wilderness of this region is like no other.
One of the best places to experience the best of what Aysén has to offer is the Cerro Castillo National Reserve which travelers say might be the next Torres del Paine.
This private game reserve located in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal gives visitors the chance to see the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo). Planning a safari can be complicated and Thanda Safari takes care of that for guests, with bookings that cover everything from lodging to meals through the game drive.
You’ll not only get a chance to experience wildlife encounters, but you’ll also learn valuable photography skills as well as interesting tips on how to track the Big Five.
Wait – there’s a tropical island off the coast of Texas?! Yes! South Padre Island is a beach getaway that offers up lots of adventure and education. In addition to miles of pristine shoreline, the island gives visitors an opportunity to explore natural habitats and wildlife.
The SPI Birding, Nature Center & Alligator Sanctuary and the nearby Sea Turtle, Inc. teaches visitors the importance of protecting natural habitats and allows them to encounter wild birds, alligators and sea turtles.
In recent years, Dubrovnik has gotten some attention thanks to its iconic medieval walls and Adriatic shoreline being used as the backdrop for King’s Landing on HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” But even if you’re not a GOT fan, this picturesque destination has something that everyone can enjoy.
Just outside the fortified walled city, travelers can explore the nature of Mljet National Park, enjoy the cuisine of the Pelješac peninsula and see gorgeous views of the Adriatic Sea from the top of Mount Srd.
The Faroe Islands have captured the attention of travelers over the past few years, which is why our experts say the capital, Torshavn, should not be missed. Travelers often come to the Faroe Islands for the breathtaking views, but what they’ll find in Torshavn is a culture that has been shaped by the archipelago’s natural beauty.
Torshavn is home to the National Gallery of the Faroe Islands where visitors can explore works by some of Faroes’ most renowned artists. Visitors can also dine at Koks, a remote two-star Michelin restaurant with a menu featuring local ingredients that are sometimes foraged.
While the crowds head to the Philippines’ Boracay and Palawan, 10Best photographer and contributor, Dave Stamboulis, recommends going north to the lesser known, but just as beautiful Ilocos Norte.
The coast along Ilocos Norte is a sunbathed escape for travelers looking for a peaceful beach getaway. Whether you want to surf the waves at Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud or just sit along the beach, Ilocos Norte is the perfect place for any beach holiday.