Any holiday plans for 2016? You could play it safe and visit old favourites such as Spain or France – our top two visited countries in 2014, with more than 12 million and 8.8 million visits by Britons respectively*.
But if you want to try something new, leading travel guide publishers Lonely Planet and Rough Guides have compiled their 10 top countries to visit in 2016, which might just make you rethink your plans.
“It’s taken Latvia 25 years to shrug off the fetters of communism but this Baltic treasure looks ready to shine,” says lonelyplanet.com. On offer are unspoilt forests and beaches, renovated castles and cosmopolitan culture in capital Riga.
London to Riga direct, 2 hours 45 minutes
Less well known than neighbouring Croatia or Greece, Albania is waiting to be discovered, says roughguides.com. “Those who go will find fascinating UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the ancient Greek city of Butrint, pristine beaches on the Ionian coast, gorgeous mountain lakes, Ottoman architecture, and friendly locals to point you in the right direction for discovery.”
London to Tirana direct, 3 hours
According to lonelyplanet.com: “Recession-defying Poland has superpowers – while the rest of Europe descended into the doldrums, visitor numbers here climbed and there’s no end to the boom in sight as Wrocław prepares for a stint as European Capital of Culture 2016.” Highlights include striking architecture in historic cities such as Krakow and Wrocław, the golden sands of the Baltic coast and picturesque Tatra mountains.
London to Wrocław direct, 2 hours 5 minutes
If you’re lucky with the weather, Snowdonia, the Gower Peninsula and Pembrokeshire coast are among the most wonderful places on Earth. It’s “one of the finest natural playgrounds in Europe,” says roughguides.com. “Many still underestimate this small country, often overshadowed by its neighbours. But these are exciting times for Wales – the country is winning accolades for its extraordinary beauty and remarkably preserved historical sites. Culture vultures, foodies, festival junkies, adventurers, hikers and extreme sports enthusiasts will be spellbound here.”
For nature lovers, it doesn’t get better than this. Says lonelyplanet.com: “Greenland has the world’s lowest population density, but those that brave this chilly chunk of the planet are not short of diversions: see the midnight sun glimmer on glaciers, sail among breaching whales, dogsled the tundra, watch the Northern Lights dance across the ice sheet.”
Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq, 4 hours
“The world is waking up to Romania’s wonders,” says roughguides.com. “There are multicoloured medieval cities, the forest-clad Carpathian mountains and, in Bucharest, a brilliant capital city with excellent dining and nightlife.” Architecture, wildlife and history – Romania has much to explore.
London to Bucharest direct, 3 hours 15 minutes
(All flight times are approximate. Other UK airports serve certain destinations.)