The 20 best countries to visit in your lifetime
Condé Nast Traveler has published its annual Readers’ Choice Awards, and for the fifth year in a row Italy is the No. 1 destination travelers want to visit.
The awards are based on the ratings and feedback of more than 128,000 readers — the highest level of participation in the magazine’s history.
Keep scrolling to see a ranking of the 20 best countries you should visit this year.
Source photo: Shutterstock
20. MOROCCO: The home of Casablanca is a treasure trove of spice markets, surrealist landscapes, jaw-dropping mosques, and world-class surfing. The cuisine is like none other, with a mix of Arab, African, Persian, and French flavors.
Camel caravan going through the sand dunes in the Sahara Desert. Photo: Shutterstock
19. CANADA: From wilderness camping on Vancouver Island to a stay at North America’s oldest Ritz-Carlton in Montreal, Canada offers travelers all types of experiences. A ride down the toboggan lanes in Quebec City is a must in the wintertime.
Quebec City in winter. Photo: Shutterstock
18. JAPAN: Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka are a few of the hot spots to explore in Japan. Home to more than 2,000 breathtaking Buddhist temples and shrines, Kyoto was voted the No. 1 city in the world by Travel and Leisure magazine this year.
Three geishas walk on a street of Gion in Kyoto. Source photo: Shutterstock.
17. IRELAND: From castle hotels to boisterous pubs and the greenest countrysides your eyes will ever behold, Ireland is a feast for the senses. CNT recommends renting a car and taking the world’s longest road trip on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Nightlife at Dublin’s Temple Bar quarter. Source photo: Shutterstock/Patricia Hofmeester
16. PORTUGAL: Small but mighty, Spain’s neighbor has a distinct culture, cuisine, and language. In the summer, head to the western village of Comporta, Portugal’s answer to Ibiza. And no trip to the country is complete without a glass of port wine from the Douro Valley.
Wooden footbridge to Camilo beach. Source photo: Shutterstock.
15. MEXICO: Look out Spain and Italy, Mexico’s culinary scene has entered the ring. The country logged three restaurants — Pujol, Quintonil, and Biko — on the 2015 World’s 50 Best Restaurants List. All three are in Mexico City.
Mariachi on the streets of Campeche. Photo: Shutterstock
14. NETHERLANDS: Forget why 20-somethings flock here. Go to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and other crannies of this gorgeous country for the incredible museums, unparalleled coffee, and stunning countrysides. We suggest splurging on a stay at the newly built Waldorf Astoria — a collection of six townhouses with a Guerlain Spa — on Amsterdam’s oldest and most storied canal.
Dusk in Amsterdam. Photo: Shutterstock
13. SRI LANKA: If you’re lost, this is where you can find yourself. Fill a backpack and take the island’s “charmingly decrepit” railway to wherever. Buy fritters and curry dishes from train hawkers, look out onto seemingly endless tea fields, and hop off to see sites like the Golden Temple of Dambulla and the famous markets of Pettah.
A train from Nuwara Eliya to Kandy travels through the highlands of Sri Lanka. Photo: Shutterstock
12. VIETNAM: Wandering chef Anthony Bourdain says going to Vietnam changed his life. “It just seemed like another planet; a delicious one that sort of sucked me in and never let go,” he told CNT. We’d be happy just to sip Vietnamese coffee and eat pho all day, but the adventurous can descend into the world’s largest cave, Hang Son Doong, in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.
Rice fields in Mu Cang Chai, Vietnam. Photo: Shutterstock
11. SOUTH AFRICA: Cape Town ranked No. 6 on CNT’s Readers’ Choice Awards for the world’s best cities. With the glorious Table Mountain and one of South African hotelier Sol Kerzner’s luxurious One&Only resorts, it’s certainly a draw, but the vineyards of Franschhoek and the safari lodges of Kruger National Park also beckon.
Table Mountain, one of the seven new world wonders of nature, in Cape Town. Photo: Shutterstock
10. INDIA: From the sandy beaches of Goa to the ancient Buddhist caves of Ajanta, the sites to see in the second-most populous country in the world are endless. Far from the crowds of Mumbai, northern Kashmir is often described as India’s Switzerland, where the pace is slower and the skiing is quite good.
The peaceful ebb of Dal Lake in Kashmir. Photo: Shutterstock
9. TURKEY: Go to Turkey to see the gorgeous mosques, majestic castles, and natural wonders such as Pamukkale (aka “Cotton Castle”), a plethora of white travertines filled with mineral-rich water. Also go for the newly built Soho House in Istanbul’s romantic Beyoğlu district.
Pamukkale, natural site in Denizli Province in southwestern Turkey. Photo: Shutterstock
8. THAILAND: Whether you choose to eat your way through Bangkok, island hop around Phuket, or board the glamorous Eastern & Oriental Express, Thailand will seduce you with its vibrant culture, exotic cuisine, and utopian resorts. Recently there’s been a rise in holistic health and wellness resorts, where you can detox and refuel with yoga and Ayurvedic spa treatments.
Floating food purveyors tend to their stock. Photo: Shutterstock
7. NEW ZEALAND: This is a destination for adventurers. You can rough it in a cabin with no electricity on the beautiful Great Barrier Island, submerge yourself in the healing waters of Maruia Springs, hike through volcanic terrains in Tongariro National Park, or enjoy world-class fly fishing in Queenstown, where you can also get what many say is the best burger on the planet at Fergberger.
Sheep on the mountains of the north island of New Zealand. Photo: Shutterstock
6. AUSTRALIA: Melbourne, Australia, was named the most livable city in the world by the Economist Intelligence Unit this year, so naturally it’s a great place to travel as well. CNT recently explored Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula — Australia’s answer to the Hamptons — with vineyards, beaches, and a thriving culinary scene. The peninsula is about a three-and-a-half hour drive from one of Australia’s most beautiful natural wonders, The Twelve Apostles.
Called the Twelve Apostles, these limestone pillars used to be connected to the Victoria mainland. Photo: Shutterstock
5. GREECE: CNT named Athens, Greece, one of its cities to watch in 2015. In the midst of a financial disaster, a spate of new museums, hip hotels and shops, and pop-ups are spurring a cultural renaissance in the capital city. For travelers, the turquoise waters and salty air of Mykonos will always be a draw.
A restaurant in Mykonos’ Little Venice neighborhood. Photo: Shutterstock
4. SPAIN: Since Ferran Adria’s elBulli restaurant rose in Catalonia, Spain has been the world’s undisputed epicenter of cutting-edge cuisine. Planning an entire vacation around the fine-dining restaurants you want to splurge at and the most famed tapas spots is a good idea. A Fodor’s forum suggests visiting Spain in April for the best weather. You can also catch Barcelona’s food-filled April Fair then.
Paella sizzles at Barcelona’s annual April Fair. Photo: Shutterstock
3. AMERICA: CNT readers are highly drawn to America’s gleaming metropolises, family-friendly theme parks, and beautiful nature. New York’s Catskill Mountains, Georgia’s Golden Isles, and an investment banker’s hotel passion project in Montana, The Ranch at Rock Creek, are a few of the destinations that the magazine’s editors recommend.
Autumn in the Adirondacks. Source photo: Shutterstock
2. FRANCE: The country that gave us cabaret, Champagne, and hundreds of cheese varietals is one of the most romantic places on earth. In the springtime — an excellent season for a trip to France — the editors of CNT tout Morzine for some of the most beautiful hiking you can imagine. Under two hours by car from Morzine, Lake Annecy is an enchanting detour.
The beauty of Lake Annecy in the French Alps. Photo: Mny-Jhee / Shutterstock.com
1. ITALY: Who can resist the call of pasta and beautiful people? Not many, according to the CNT readers, who’ve voted for Italy as the world’s best country to travel for five straight years. Italy is all about leisure — sip wine for hours in Venice’s Piazza San Marco, make friends with a hammock on a villa in Tuscany, or sunbathe on the cliffs of Riomaggiore.
One of the colorful villages of Cinque Terre. Photo: Shutterstock.com
Source: Business Insider, Travel