The 17 Hottest Travel Destinations for 2011

Sri Lanka

Sunset in Sri Lanka by Dave Bouskill

What will be the hottest destinations for 2011? The New York Times has made its predictions, and so have Lonely Planet and Travel + Leisure. Now the top travel bloggers have their say as to where you should be planning to go this year. Here are 17 destinations you don’t want to miss!

Sri Lanka from Dave and Deb of The Planet D: Finally at peace after over two decades of war, this island paradise is ready for tourism. The people are friendly and the island has yet to suffer from over-development. It has everything you could hope for in a vacation destination: beautiful beaches with an excellent surf, jungle trekking and tea terraces, historical sites and a rich culture. We were there in 2010 and it is at the top of our list of favorite countries.

Fernando de Noranha, Brazil from Andi of My Beautiful Adventures: This tropical island off of Brazil that boasts exotic beaches and spectacular diving. Brazil is quickly becoming a super power of the world and because of that more and more people will be traveling there and looking to see the best of what the country has to offer. I have never been here before, but look forward to visiting for my honeymoon in May!

Iceland from Johnny of Johnny Jet: I think Iceland will be a hot spot in 2011 since Delta is adding service there on June 1 from JFK. Also it’s much more of a bargain since their economy crashed a couple years ago and it’s on everyone’s radar after the volcano erupted. I was there five years ago but I haven’t been back — hopefully this summer.

Mexico from Rick of Midlife Road Trip: I’m thinking that economics will determine the travel hot spots in 2011 as travelers will be more mindful of their travel budgets. Resorts in countries like Mexico with super-depressed economies tend to offer some amazing deals. Since Mexico’s natural beauty and exquisite cuisine are unscathed by her economic woes, I can’t think of anywhere you’ll get more bang for your buck without having to spend a fortune to get there. I haven’t been to Mexico since 1999 but hope to return sometimes in the fall of this year.


Panama by Ayngelina Brogan

Libya from Gary of Everything Everywhere: They are opening up the country for tourism in 2011. I haven’t been there but would love to go.

Panama from Ayngelina of Bacon is Magic: At the bottom of Central America, Panama was often an afterthought for most travelers but is becoming more popular as people flock to Colombia. It has warm tropical weather, amazing beaches and while it uses the US dollar it is still very cheap. A highlight for most travelers is sailing from Panama to Colombia and passing through the amazing Bocas del Toro.

Nepal from Barbara of Hole in the Donut: My hot spot for 2011 has to be Nepal, not only because I love it so much, but also because relatively few North American travelers have been there. It is a stunning country that offers a variety of travel experiences including trekking, cultural homestays, exquisite historical sites, welcoming people, and extremely affordable prices. Additionally, the government of Nepal has designated 2011 as Nepal Tourism Year and they are pulling out all the stops to promote the country, although sadly, most of their advertising will be aimed at Europeans, Australians, and other Asian countries (as opposed to Americans), simply because that’s where the bulk of their tourists currently come from. My favorite spot in Nepal is Pokhara, a mid-sized town that sits on the shores of Phewa Lake, with the nearby Annapurna Himalaya range framing the lake. I spent three months there in 2010 and will be retuning for another couple of months this year.

The Arctic from Brendan van Son of Brendan’s Adventures: I think that the Arctic is going to be a hot (can’t avoid the anti-pun here) destination for 2011. Antarctica has turned into a hot spot over the past couple of years and people keep trying to push the limits of tourism. Look for trips to the Arctic from places like Scandinavia to start taking off.

Eastern Europe from Joanna of Kaleidoscopic Wandering: Get there before it becomes Western Europe and the prices go up!

Havana, Cuba from Melvin of Traveldudes: I recommend that travelers visit Havana for as long as it’s the way it is now. Who knows how long “Big Daddy” and his brother will stay in power? There were already a few changes in the last year and there will be more to come. Also, the US may change its policies to allow its citizens to travel to Cuba. If this happens, I know a lot would use the opportunity. This will bring about more changes as well.

But even without Americans, Havana is a popular destination also for Europeans and the rest of the world. The Old Town is beautiful in color, but the other districts are unique in atmosphere and have even more to recommend to independent travelers. I was there five years ago and recommended Havana to friends and all came back totally happy that they went.


Shanghai Nights

Stratford-upon-Avon, England from Heather of Heather on her Travels: In the UK Stratford-upon-Avon is hot right now – of course it’s always been a well visited tourist destination as the birthplace of Shakespeare, but the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre has just re-opened after a massive 4 year redevelopment and so I think a lot of culture lovers will want to check it out. I visited recently and loved the new theatre and am planning to get back to see one of the Shakespeare productions.

Shanghai from Angela of Travel Calling: I think Shanghai will be one of the most popular travel destinations this year, and not just because it’s the year of the Rabbit in China (which brings peace and prosperity!), but because the city is exciting, vibrant and ever-changing. Chinese people are also very friendly: they strike up a conversation with anybody, even foreigners who don’t speak a word of Mandarin! I’ve been living in Shanghai since July, and despite my initial culture shock (which made me almost leave before even starting my language course), now I love it every day more and more. I’ve already extended my visa for another six months.

Qatar from Anna of Frill Seeker Diary: I’ve got my eye on two countries this year: Brazil and Qatar. After the World Cup put South Africa back on the map, there’s no saying what it’ll do for these places.

Medellin, Colombia from Jason and Aracely of Two Backpackers:  As budget travelers/ backpackers, we found Colombia to be a large country with much to explore. White sand beaches, national parks active with monkeys, coffee plantains and vibrant cities. Medellin specifically is great for the budget traveler because of its proximity to other exciting cities and regions in Colombia, the modern metro rail system, and its upscale restaurants and nightlife in El Poblado. Arts and literature can be found throughout the city with its many architecturally design-focused libraries, and the sculptures of Fernando Botero Angulo found throughout the downtown area. December is an amazing time to experience the endless lights and holiday design exhibits along the Medellin River. We visited Medellin in December of 2009 and stayed for two weeks.

Southeast Alaska from Abi of Inside the Travel Lab: One of the most exciting trips I went on last year was on a “test drive” of an “un-cruise.” Giant cruise ships had never interested me much, but I’d always longed to kayak my way through remote parts of Alaska, watching the clouds roll past on the horizon and feeling stillness all around me. Whale watching was also at the top of my list. InnerSea Discoveries launches their “un-cruise” this summer, taking no more than 45 people at a time on an adventure that hikes, kayaks, treks along bear tracks and watches whales as the sun sets. I’d love to go and do it all again — this time taking my husband with me.

Georgia from Audrey of Uncornered Market: I agree with the NY Times on Georgia, but for different reasons. People are looking for more “off-beat” areas to travel and Georgia has it all: rich history, incredible sights (churches, architecture, etc.), nature, culture (some of the friendliest people in the world) and fantastic food. But it’s not too far away from Europe.

The area mentioned in the article (Mestia, Svaneti) might be an up-and-coming area for skiing, but it is a fascinating place culturally and historically and the best way to experience it is through trekking and staying with families along the way. Also, Tbilisi (the capital) is one of our favorite cities in the world. There’s such a spirit to the place and its people (actually thought about buying real estate here!). We visited for six weeks in 2007.

Malaysia from Andy of Sharing Travel Experiences: I assume London will bleed the Royal Wedding hurrahs for as much as they can. Who doesn’t love a good Royal occasion? But I see Malaysia as the tourism dark horse. They’ve been spending loads on tourism infrastructure and while yes, many backpackers and regular travelers know of its virtues, your average 9-to-5’er hasn’t. And while I haven’t been, I’ve done my homework, and it’s worth the long flight. Good food, interesting history, and a beautiful backdrop are just a few reasons. Regardless, here’s the hot news: break out of that same ol’ same ol’ vacation rut, and go somewhere new in 2011. That is what is hot.

25 Responses to The 17 Hottest Travel Destinations for 2011

  1. Michael Hodson January 24, 2011 at 4:31 am #

    great list of great places!

  2. craig zabransky January 24, 2011 at 4:41 am #

    definitely a few of these are on my list. I might add Guatemala (I leave Friday :)
    stay adventurous, Craig

  3. Anonymous January 24, 2011 at 5:20 am #

    Love this list — but, where is New Zealand?!

  4. Andi Perullo
    Twitter: andiperullo
    January 24, 2011 at 5:22 am #

    Such an awesome list of places!!! Cuba is ALWAYS hot! :)

  5. leslie January 24, 2011 at 5:47 am #

    Great picks! My personal favorite is Fernando de Noranha, Brazil, which has the most beautiful beaches I’ve EVER seen. Medellin is also a fun city to explore.

  6. Barbara Weibel January 24, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    Hi Liz, and thanks so much for including my prediction. There’s some other great ones in there as well. Will be interesting to see if we’re right.

  7. Anonymous
    Twitter: heathercowper
    January 24, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    I’ll also second Gary on Libya – as a tourist destination it was persona non grate since the Lockerbie disaster, but relations are starting to mellow now and I’d love to go too and explore what it has to offer

  8. Traveling Canucks January 25, 2011 at 12:45 am #

    Great list – some interesting destinations. I think we’ll probably see a lot more Brazil in the coming year. With the Olympics and World Cup on its horizon, Brazil is primed to be the next tourist hotspot – especially for North Americans.

  9. Sarah Wu January 26, 2011 at 5:13 am #

    I haven’t see Mexico yet and I would love to visit some day.

  10. Sophie
    Twitter: SophieR
    January 27, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    Lots of good spots here! I’d add Lebanon as well!

  11. Brendan van Son January 28, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    There are a lot of good spots on this list for sure! A fun trip would be to try and hit them all up in one year :)

  12. Nancy R January 31, 2011 at 5:23 am #

    Wow, a lot to see!! How exciting!! Off to the bucket list, they go! :-)

  13. Ben Alcock February 6, 2011 at 4:50 am #

    What? No mention of Fakations in this 2011 list?

  14. Michael Hodson February 6, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    really good list of places here

  15. Natalie - Turkish Travel
    Twitter: turkishtravel
    February 7, 2011 at 5:32 am #

    Great list but Turkey should be on there!!

  16. Kelly Harmon, TRAVEL February 7, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Oh wow, love the travelers’ perspectives… always subjective, but what a fun list. Can’t help but lean towards a few of my favorites, but glad to see my 2011 travel plans are “trendy.” : )


  17. Angela
    Twitter: angelacorrias
    February 8, 2011 at 5:43 am #

    Great list, thanks for including my prediction, so difficult to pick only one! I’m very curious to see which places will be the most tackled this year :)

  18. Lindsay
    Twitter: _TheTraveller_
    February 12, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    I want to go to ALL of these places even more than I did before now!

  19. Leigh Barnes
    Twitter: LCBarnes
    February 15, 2011 at 5:50 am #

    Great post. I would love to make it to Libya.

  20. Jerri
    Twitter: jerrigirl
    February 16, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    Great list. I wanna go to all of them!
    Jerri recently posted..Destination Details- Austin- TX the SXSW Interactive 2011 Edition

  21. John February 26, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Oh dear Gary! Hope the latter part of the year turns out better in Libya and a peaceful end appears out of the conflict.
    John recently posted..FriFotos- Mountains

  22. Abby
    Twitter: abbytegnelia
    March 14, 2011 at 3:19 am #

    This post came out great, girl! No one knows travel better than you. I love that photo of Dave’s, too. And Ayngelina’s of course. :)
    Abby recently posted..Weekend in Napa

  23. Nicole @ WomanSeeksWorld
    Twitter: WomanSeeksWorld
    April 15, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    Great list, Ive been looking for something like this that highlights some not so obvious destinations…thanks!
    Nicole @ WomanSeeksWorld recently posted..Love Your Sport Love Melbourne!

  24. Sofia - As We Travel April 27, 2011 at 7:50 am #

    Exciting places, will keep some of them in mind for future travels.

    I hope Malaysia will be on more people’s travel itineraries, I’m always surprised how few people seem interested in exploring that country.

  25. Cole @ Four Jandals
    Twitter: FourJandals
    October 17, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    Some cool places we still have to travel to. Cannot wait to try and knock them all off, unfortunately it wont be this year
    Cole @ Four Jandals recently posted..Ice Climbing in the UK

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