New York City may be the greatest city in the world (or so we say), but that doesn’t mean New Yorkers can’t find fun elsewhere. Whether you’ve exhausted all the best places to visit in New York State, need a break from Manhattan’s sleepless lifestyle, or are simply in the mood for something more than day trips from NYC, these international cities for 2017 will provide some fodder for any New Yorker’s upcoming travel plans. From sand dune bashing in Abu Dhabi to spa surfing in Geneva, this list pulls together a little something for everyone.
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Cities New Yorkers must travel to in 2017
Cape Town, South Africa
If you’re stuck in a cold weather slump and seeking a reprieve from the less than tempting temps, Cape Town is a safe (and satisfying) bet. Known for its varying types of terrain, from mountains to beaches, vineyards to wildlife reserves, the diversity of surroundings verges on surreal. Head to Foxy Beach to fawn over the packs of penguins, wander out to a local vineyard to go wine tasting, snap pictures of the colorful town of Bo-Kaap, brave a traditional braai (barbecue), seek out a safari on a nearby game reserve, or take a more leisurely stroll down the ever-popular waterfront Sea Point Promenade. The ambitiously adventurous can attempt rappelling down Table Mountain on the world’s highest commercial abseil or brave a bout of cage diving with sharks. If cultural fare is more your concern, the Museum of Contemporary African Art will soon be opening for the culture aficionados in the coming year.
A boon for business travelers, Geneva is often underrated in that it’s frequently tagged as a city suited for more professional trips. Yet underneath the seemingly sterile facade, there’s a whole different world to discover. Wander into Plainpalais, one of Switzerland’s biggest flea markets, to drum up everything from vintage clothing and jewelry to eclectic household goods. If hunting down adventure of another sort, take quick bus ride from the city to hike up into the legendary mountain, Salève—made famous by Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”. If seeking to satiate your inner (or outer) artist, catch the tram over to Carouge, the Italian-established area swarming with bohemian types and jam-packed with indie vendors of all sorts. A relaxing reprieve is never far away, as spas and baths run rampant throughout the city. Stroll into La Reserve, the African-inspired five-star hotel set slightly away from the city, known for its indoor/outdoor pool offering swimmers a stunning view of Lake Geneva, for a truly luxurious leisure stay. All of this spa-ing is sure to work up an appetite, so take advantage of the impressive fondue and raclette offerings around the city, such as Le Gruyérien, which serves melted Gruyere and Vacherin Swiss cheese year-round. Does one really need anything else?
Another ideal destination for those in need of an escape from a seemingly endless winter, Sydney is both a scenic setting and a cultural center. With all the excitement of New York City, and less of the smog, the city is a slightly more laid-back urban option. For the best views stick to walking along the water’s edge. Head south from Harbour Bridge over to Hyde Park Gardens, over to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, through the Botanical Gardens and to the famous (and Instagram-ready) Opera House. If you’ve a hankering to check out the more historical side of the city, The Rocks, you can peer into the Sydney of 1788, or traipse down to Darling Harbour—a local favorite for international food and unbeatable views. Day trips are an easy way to see a bit more of the surroundings. Take a seaplane to a Pacific Ocean-side resort, like the luxurious Jonah’s, or head to the Northern Beaches, making sure to take advantage of the seaside cuisine like crayfish and oysters. Decadent food, breathtaking views, stimulating culture and the inimitable Australian attitude make Sydney the renaissance man of cities.
Seoul, South Korea
From touring remnants of an old dynasty to embarking on adventurous modern dining tours, South Korea’s capital city flaunts a formidable assortment of sensory stimulants. The fact that the major airport includes a bathhouse is the first sign that Seoul is a must-see city. From there, it wouldn’t be a trip to Korea without a taste of the eponymous barbecue. If you can make to the neighborhood of Mapo, you’ll come upon Dwaeji Galbi & Dwaeji Jumulleok Alley (literally “Rib & Pork Sirloin Alley”), the most famous spot for the Korean specialty. Music more your jam? Indulge in the electronic music scene at any one of Seoul’s many semi-secret venues—like SKRT Soeul or Faust—and get a true sense of the city’s music scene. If you fancy a more traditional take on the city, try Insadong, a historical neighborhood with a vibrant art scene, filled with specialized stores selling traditional Korean goods (clothing, paper, pottery) and streets riddled with artists setting up shop. Round off the trip with a bit of a nature fix at the very accessible Bukhansan National Park, a natural island of sorts, situated in the center of surrounding urban areas. Not only does the park sport stunning nature scenes, but more than 100 temples and monks’ cells are tucked away within.
Situated in the increasingly popular country Portugal, Lisbon is a true gem, filled with rich history, alluring architecture, and a slightly modern flare. Take Tram 28, the adorable and brightly-colored trolley-esque means of transportation, around to traverse the city and see the sights. For a peek back into the Lisbon of old, visit the elevated Alfama, a quaint, cobblestone-laden neighborhood known for its picturesque architecture, maze-like streets and comfortingly traditional shops and restaurants. While you’re here, don’t miss St. George’s castle, which sits atop Alfama’s highest peak. To continue the historical theme, head to Belem, a district overflowing with culturally significant architecture—from vast stone forts to detailed monasteries. While the sights are certainly worth the trek, you’ll need a bit of down time after gallivanting around the cobblestones and castles. The Baixa district, smack dab in the heart of Lisbon, offers an array of open air restaurants—opportune spots for visitors to come by bacalhau, an original Portuguese salted cod dish, and a must-try while there.
New York’s quirky, slightly more chaotic Asian sister, Hong Kong is perfect for anyone who’s not quite burned out of city life, but is seeking a tantalizing, almost overwhelming twist. The walkable city is exactly what you make of it—whether you’re in the mood for a bougie getaway or a more casual, local adventure. Upon landing, dim sum (the real stuff) for brunch is a must. When exploring the city, keep in mind that it is divided into two main sections—Hong Kong Island and Kowloon—the latter which can be compared a bit to Brooklyn. To get the best experience, do both. Start on Hong Kong Island, and take a walk around Soho (yes, just like NYC) with rows of shops occupied by local brands. Take the MTA as you meander to Sai Ying Pun, an increasingly trendy neighborhood filled with handmade fare. While you’re there, stop by Teakha, known for their hojicha—a burnt green tea with a smokey, nutty taste or head over to Sheung Wan to stop into Mrs. Pound, a speakeasy with a cult following. When it’s time to venture to Kowloon, jump on the Star Fairy from central to Tsim Sha Tsui. Though quick, the ride is a great chance to drink in the iconic Hong Kong skyline from an unbeatable vantage point. Kowloon Park is a bit of a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, while Mong Kok provides the charming frenetic energy for which Hong Kong has come to be known. Make sure you make it to The Peak, another opportune point from which to view the city from above. For a final calming retreat, take a day trip to Cheung Chau island, where no vehicles are allowed. Walk or bike around the nature-filled island and enjoy a fresh seafood meal. Wrap up your trip with High Tea, a remaining influence from the British Colonial times, at most of the big name hotels, from the Ritz and Mandarin Oriental to the Four Seasons.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, is a rapidly growing tourist destination overflowing with opulence of all sorts. Whether desperate for down time in a luxe resort, a visit to the glamorous Emirates Palace or a more tumultuous 4x4 tour of the local sand dunes, you’ll have a chance to take advantage of the one-of-a-kind amenities scattered across the T-shaped island. If automobiles are your thing, stay at the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, located at the center of Yas Island and including an F1 race-track—a prime viewing location for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The art aficionados will love the recently opened Louvre Abu Dhabi, filled with galleries housed beneath a lace-like dome that appears to float above the surrounding waters. If you’re in the mood for something a bit more experimental, Masdar City is a zero-carbon, technology-driven, development which runs entirely on energy gathered by sun and wind (no cars allowed!) Wrap up your visit with a trip to one of the beautiful local beaches and take in the unbeatable weather.
A hop, skip and a jump (flight) away from NYC, Toronto is cool without knowing it. Obviously famous for its friendly, outgoing residents, the city cites much more than a kind demeanor. As Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary, Toronto steps into the limelight as a cultural hotspot with more than 100 cultures and 130 diverse languages. In fact, more than 50 percent of Toronto’s population is from outside the city. For the first time, visitors will be able to explore the upcoming opening of Under the Gardiner, the new waterfront establishment, while the aesthetic-minded will appreciate the re-opening of the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto this coming fall 2017. For those more interested in food than fine art, walk over to the Old Town—Toronto’s historic district—for the incomparable St. Lawrence Market. Filled with vendors of all sorts, it’s most widely recognized for its fairly cheap, locally made cuisine. The Drake Hotel houses a whole host of art, live music and specialty cocktails for the more hipster-minded, while those looking to elevate their stay with a little luxury can try out the two new hotels—Hotel X and Bisha—opening this coming year. Don’t leave the city without seeing the vintage relics at Fort York, the most historic site in Toronto on which the city was actually founded.
If the neurotic nature of NYC is proving overwhelming, Denver is a classic destination for a discernible reason. Nature-lovers who miss the college scene will appreciate this chill city widely recognized for its friendly personalities and casual atmosphere. The Denver International Airport boasts direct flights from all major NYC airports, making a quick weekend refreshingly convenient. Sitting adjacent to the Wild Wild West, of sorts, there is an unlimited expanse of outdoor activities at your fingertips. Walk through the three-kilometer Mile High Trail in City Park, kayak in Confluence Park, go whitewater rafting just 30 minutes away in Idaho Springs or zip-line through the air for some unbeatable views. If day-trips are your thing, Estes Park, the official backcountry gateway to the Rocky Mountains, is about an hour-and-a-half drive from the city’s center. For a luxurious twist, try the stunning Park Hyatt Beaver Creek resort and spa, which verges on fantastical with its mountainside location and stunning, almost castle-like structure. If you stick to the city, linger in the newly revamped Union Station, which has become its new heart, for expansive museums, rich historic districts and a taste of the ever-evolving culinary scene.
New Orleans, Louisiana
While we’re all aware the The Big Easy is a must-do destination for Mardi Gras, there’s much more to New Orleans than meets the (drunken) eye. The epicurean landscape alone could warrant a one-off trip, with everything from local Creole favorites like Mr. B’s Bistro, Mandina’s and Neyow’s Creole Cafe to more buzzy launches like Seaworthy from the teams behind Grand Banks and the Ace Hotel, Altamura in the old 19th century Magnolia Mansion or Shaya from James Beard Award winning Chef, Alon Shaya. The famous French Quarter, the oldest neighborhood in the city, is a one-of-a-kind, picturesque setting filled with iconic restaurants, music clubs and unique boutiques. Stay overnight at the Andrew Jackson Hotel, a vibrantly colored historic townhouse, for a comforting blast from the past, or swing by an old-school jazz club to hear the city’s signature sound. For a bit of greenery, The Fly and Audobon Park offer ample outdoor space for those in search of some open air, or try strolling the six-mile stretch of Magazine Street for some serious shopping.
Prague, Czech Republic
The “city of a hundred spires” is known for its epic views, ornate architecture and technical structures, but Prague’s appeal goes far beyond its surface appearance. That said, kick off your trip by taking in the city from the Old Town Hall’s observation deck before moving on to other cultural experiences. With a rich music scene, classical fans will enjoy the Rodolfinum or any of the countless churches, while those seeking a bit more modern fare can indulge their interests at clubs like Roxy or Akropolis. For those in search of something slightly more eclectic, check out the Toy Museum showcasing a vast display of international toys from the 18th through 20th centuries and actually situated within the Prague Castle or stay aboard the floating hotel, Botel Admiral, for a nautical nighttime experience. Though the bars tend to get a bit touristy, considering the city’s unmistakable popularity, U Sudu and Popo Cafe Petl tend to sport a slightly tamer clientele. Finish up your trip with a visit to one of the hundreds of parks and gardens, the oldest of which was founded in the Middle Ages.
No “best cities” list would be complete without Barcelona, a city touted for its alluring mix of history, culture, and, well, good old fun. The key goal is to avoid the tourist traps into which one can easily fall. The nightlife is unrivaled, from the old-school style Marula Café to the eclectic electronic music of Razzclub, one could spend the entire trip solely taking in the late night scene. At the center of the old city sits the Gothic District, a safe bet for a scenic stroll, replete with awe-inspiring architecture providing a true step back in time. Also amusing for their architectural allure are the works of Antoni Gaudì scattered through the city. For something a bit more street-level, walk through the many markets—from the Mercat del Born to El Quim—for block and blocks of local vendors and fresh foods or dine out at favorite such as Cafe De L’Academia or Martìnez. When you need to rest your weary feet, you can’t go wrong at the boutique Hotel Primero Primera or the 5-star Hotel Majestic for cushy accommodations and a ...majestic brunch, filled with cannelloni, shellfish, pastries and more.