1. Georgia Destinations
Judges’ Choice Award – #1 Destination in Europe
Possibly the world’s greatest hidden travel gem, Georgia packs includes many things to do inside a compact country Destinations. The stunning Caucasus mountains give the Alps a run for their money, Tbilisi’s bohemian Old Town makes Prague’s seem positively pedestrian, and Georgia’s wine scene is currently enjoying a moment of global recognition (about time too, as wine was invented here). Plus, Georgia is an extraordinarily affordable travel destination – where else can you enjoy a European-style vacation on a South East Asian vacation budget?
When to Visit: April to October
2. Nova Scotia
Judges’ Choice Award – #1 Travel Destination in North America
Nova Scotia is the Rorschach inkblot of travel – and, no, we’re not just saying that because it literally looks like one on a Destinations map. What makes Nova Scotia so impressive to travelers is that it takes on the personality of those who dare to explore it. Looking for a blissfully serene escape? Try blending your own wine at one of the regions many wineries, or soaking in its many picturesque coves. Seeking roaring adventure?
Try surfing the world’s highest tides on Nova Scotia’s 13,300 kilometers of pristine coastline, hiking one of its many remote trails, or exploring some of the best road trips in Canada. The bottom line: whatever your travel goals are, you can probably find them in Nova Scotia.
When to Visit: June to October
3. The Cook Islands
Judges’ Choice Award – #1 Travel Destination in Oceania
Cook Islands Rarotonga Resorts
Cook Islands Destinations Rarotonga Resorts Someone better tell the Maldives to move over, because intrepid beach lovers have found a new paradise in the pristine azure waters and powdery white sands of The Cook Islands. Mix in a little Polynesian tradition and abundant marine life, and you can see why this South Pacific archipelago is ready to contend for the title of the world’s best island destination. But the best reason to visit The Cook Islands? It’s a country that appears to be taking the charge of responsible development seriously, setting aside over 1 million square kilometers of marine conservation area, leading the world in its renewable energy targets, and focusing its development efforts on eco-tourism. Bravo!
When to Visit: May to October
Judges’ Choice Award – #1 Travel Destination in Africa
Rwanda’s tourism scene is most famous for the opportunity to come face-to-face with the world’s most enrapturing creature on one of its spectacular mountain gorilla treks Destinations. But Rwanda’s conservation success story is about more than just gorillas: Akagera National Park offers the chance to see the Big Five on a more traditional safari, while Volcanoes National Park invites you to explore its fire-spewing namesakes. And with the World Economic Forum recently naming it the safest country in Africa and RwandAir slated to open direct flights from JFK to Kigali, it’s a great time to travel to Rwanda.
When to Visit: Mid-December to early February; June to September
Judges’ Choice Award – #1 Travel Destination in Asia
Kyrgyzstan is the kind of travel destination that you might suppose is best reserved for hearty adventurers. And you’d be half right: adventure IS practically the middle name of this Central Asian country Destinations. But if Kyrgyzstan had a different first name, it’d be simply “culture.” The traditions of the Silk Road are still alive and well here, and you don’t need to spend weeks hiking remote mountainsides to access that culture thanks to the remarkable programs of the Kyrgyz Community Based Tourism Association. On the other hand, if you’re even the least bit interested in hiking, you’d be crazy to pass up some of the most beautiful trails on the planet Destinations.
When to Visit: Northern Kyrgyzstan – June to September; Southern Kyrgyzstan – March to October
Judges’ Choice Award – #1 Travel Destination in Latin America
A relatively small country that’s been eclipsed by its more popular neighbors, Ecuador has much more to offer than its flagship Galapagos Islands. On the mainland, you’ll find an almost unbelievable diversity of landscapes – mist-covered mountain tops, active volcanoes, wildlife rich rain forests, sandy windswept beaches, and lush mangroves all call out for adventurers. Meanwhile, Ecuador’s capital in the clouds is quickly becoming an attraction in its own right. Wander Quito’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site or enjoy a dining and nightlife scene that’s rapidly drawing attention across the continent Destinations.
When to Visit: December to May