While the pandemic that hit the world has brought all of our travel plans to a standstill, it has not managed to dampen our curiosity. People are still looking for places to satiate their itchy feet in the new year. And so it’s time to upgrade your bucket list for 2021, the year to make up for all the missed road trips, hikes, adventures, and laughter. Here’s a curated list of the top places to travel to in 2021.
One unanimous learning from the year 2020 has been to embrace wellness and spirituality above the materialist things. Kyoto, being the emblem of spirituality amidst nature, becomes our top place to explore this year. From Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, to cherry-blossom viewing to zen gardens, there is so much to experience in this capital city.
This American island state will redefine the word tropics for you if you haven’t already been here. This au natural paradise is made of every shade of the earth, where you can not only indulge in water sports such as surfing and diving but also sink into its ambience underneath the bright sun. Maui’s surreal topography will allow you to be one with nature.
The enchanting land of Ladakh doesn’t warrant an introduction. It’s been on top of many explorers’ list for a long time now. The scenic beauty of this Himalayan kingdom is celebrated, especially among photographers, for its jaw-dropping beauty. You can explore it via a road trip from Manali for the full experience.
Even though Maldives became the most trending vacation spot by the end of 2020, it is due to this hype that excited more people to visit this piece of heaven in the Indian Ocean. Maldives has plenty of upcoming new hotels with modern amenities for the discerning travellers of today. Besides its luxurious accommodations, it is the many hues of blues and greens that really sells.
Tanzania, East Africa
After a year of being cooped up at home, it is only natural that we’d like to witness everything that makes this planet a humble abode, especially the rich fauna. If you’re planning to take a trip this year, a wildlife safari through Tanzania’s many national parks should be on your list.
A year of work from home may have given us more time to grow from within, but there’s nothing better than the charm of an ancient destination in a modern world. We suggest a combined trip to the green three in Southeast Asia — Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos — for enriching cultural immersion in 2021. From the many gastronomical jaunts to the soul-salving temples via cycles, make sure this year is full of activities and learnings.
Are any bucket lists even complete without a Nordic destination? We think not. A land once noted (still is, though not much) for Arctic expeditions is now a hub to cultural events such as music festivals against the chilly fjords and craggy peaks. Tromsø is a dreamlike wonderland famous just for its colourful streets but also hiking, sailing, and spotting the elusive northern lights aka aurora borealis.
The capital city of Ireland, Dublin runs on its hedonic treadmill where their beloved Guinness acts as a social lubricant, among other drinks. This city from the Vikings’ past is not just known for exhibiting archaic architecture in the form of museums, institutions, and castles but also natural beauty in the form of coastal getaways and botanic gardens.
Al Ula, Saudi Arabia
Al Ula became one of the upcoming tourist destinations in 2019, but given the shut-in year of 2020, 2021 marks its comeback to our radar. This Middle Eastern delight, with more than 7,000 years of human history and built heritage, is an oasis in the desert. Its sepia-toned ambience and historic structures are all the more reason to visit for those perfect Instagram pictures.
Scotland, United Kingdom
Scotland, like its environment and its surroundings, is evergreen. A must-visit on every travellers’ list — it is where the myths of the loch ness monster reside, and the reality of superb seafood thrives. From the Scottish Highlands (as seen in the series Outlander) to its iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct (as seen in the Harry Potter series), there’s something cinematic about Scotland.
All images: Courtesy Getty