Two British places top National Geographic Traveler's best trips of 2016

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Sejal Kapadia Pocha
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Congratulations to us. We've pretty much made it to the end of the year and now it's time to start planning where we can escape to over the next 12 months. 

Thankfully, every year, the National Geographic pool together their editors around the world to work out which destinations are going to be the hottest places to visit in the next year and it's a pretty great place to start.

Alongside the Masurian Lakes of Poland and Brazil's Rio Grande do Norte - an alternative to Rio de Janeiro - two British sights also made the cut. 

Specifically, English landscape architect Lancelot Brown's gardens were hugely favoured by the panel and the city which topped the list was Glasgow. 

“This year’s Best of the World list truly represents travel’s superlatives,” said Maggie Zackowitz, National Geographic Traveler editor in chief.

We pick ten of the most interesting off the list and highlight the experts' top tips for each escape. They'll have you packing your bag imminently...

Capability Brown's Gardens, UK

Eighteenth century landscape designer Lancelot Brown's parks in the UK are the travel equivalent of Jane Austen's books. He reshaped formal British gardens into "rolling green parklands across the length and breadth of the country" with "sparkling lakes, softly sloping lawns, winding paths, and carefully framed views". He was known for telling his patrons that their grounds had great "capabilities" which earned him the nickname Capability Brown.

National Geographic Traveler's top tip: When visiting any Capability Brown garden, remember this phrase: "Forget flowers and think trees." Brown's natural landscape designs feature vast, undulating parkland and mature trees (not formal flower beds) to create views on a monumental scale.

Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil

OK, Brazil doesn't lack beaches. They come come "a dime a dozen", as the National Geographic puts it. But rather than flying to Rio de Janeiro, head further north to the state of Rio Grande do Norte which is increasingly becoming a hotspot thanks to private and public investment in the area and its 233 days of sunshine a year. 

National Geographic Traveler's top tip: Don't miss "the world's largest cashew tree", o maior cajueiro do mundo, in Pirangi do Norte. It's a ginormous tangle of tentacle-like greenery covering nearly two acres. 

Glasgow, Scotland

"If Edinburgh is the blue-blooded aunt at Scotland's tea party, then Glasgow, just 45 miles to the west, is the T-shirt-clad cousin kicking over the kettle on the way out." We couldn't have put it better ourselves. From music to art, Glasgow is a laid-back cultural hub and since 2016 is Scotland's self-proclaimed Year of Innovation, Architecture, and Design, the western city it is where you want to be. 

National Geographic Traveler's top tip: Don't miss The Turner Prize, Britain's most esteemed contemporary art exhibition and award at Tramway, Glasgow's former streetcar terminus. The prestigious award is in Scotland for the first time, culminating on January 17.

Masurian Lakes, Poland

Forget the Great Lakes of the USA. The region of Masuria in Poland boasts over 2.000 lakes as well as large forests and historic towns. It's a paradise for sailing, windsurfing and outdoor activities. The travel magazine says, "Always popular with Polish vacationers, the region remains a quintessential example of the simple pleasures of traditional country life."

National Geographic Traveler's top tip: Do try sękacz, a knotted, sweet cake shaped like a spinal column and baked on spit - the culinary pride of Giżycko (located between Kisajno and Niegocin Lakes).

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The 520-square-mile Big Island park - often called "the world's only drive-in volcano" - is home to Kilauea, one of two volcanoes in the region that are among the world's most active. It currently produces 250,000-650,000 cubic yards of lava per day, enough to resurface a 20-mile-long, two-lane road daily. Next year, marks 100 years of the park.

National Geographic Traveler's top tip: Be sure to buy a souvenir at the Volcano Art Center Gallery located near the Kilauea Visitor Center where every handcrafted piece for sale "interprets the park through art". 

Eastern Bhutan

““You are the first foreigner we have seen in 22 years,” said a surprised monk welcoming an American trekker to his mist-shrouded outpost near Mongar.” That's one of the anecdotes from the National Geographic team who have travelled to the far-flung region of Bhutan. But the number of hotels has tripled over the past decade as the once isolated country opens to more visitors. 

National Geographic Traveler's top tip:  "Khoma, a remote village in northeastern Bhutan's Lhuentse district, is known for its intricately woven kishuthara (silk brocade) fabric. The complex silk-on-silk art form is passed down from mother to daughter (only women weave in Bhutan) in Khoma, where weaving is the primary source of income."

South Georgia Island

The land is a British overseas territory in the southern Atlantic Ocean which is home to hundreds of thousands of penguins and a hundred-mile-long expanse of peaks and valleys. “It’s complete sensory overload,” says Eric Wehrmeister, a Lindblad videographer on the National Geographic Explorer, one of the few passenger ships that visit this remote isle. It's one of the few places in the world that remain as wild as when explorers first discovered it.

National Geographic Traveler's top tip: "This British Overseas Territory is still reachable only by ship, and the five-day cruise from Ushuaia is strenuous, with summer temperatures in the 20s F. But brave it and you’ll see mountains no human has climbed"

Winnipeg, Canada

The city was put on the map this year thanks to FIFA Women’s World Cup and the opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in 2014. "Winnipeg is a whistle-stop on rail and road trips across Canada...But this unpretentious prairie city proves itself worthy of more than a glance from a train window," says the magazine.

National Geographic Traveler's top tip: "Use the efficient Winnipeg Transit public bus system. Routes connect the airport to downtown (5:50 am until 12:49 am), where you can ride the free Downtown Spirit."



Explore the old churches of Manila before whisking off to some of the thousands of islands in the Philippines. It was noted for its friendly people, wildlife and it's World Heritage Sites including The Banaue Rice Terraces - a 2,000-year-old area carved into the mountains of Ifugao by ancestors of the indigenous people. It's commonly referred to as the "Eighth Wonder of the World". 

National Geographic Traveler's top tip: "Play and stay in, on, and above the water at Apulit Island, one of four El Nido Resort properties in northern Palawan. Guests arrive by boat and stay in traditional Filipino cottages (50 total) set on stilts above the water."

Okavango Delta, Botswana

In the last few decades conservationists have reversed the near collapse of this balanced ecosystem due to European and American hunters in the 1900s. Now it's one of the places to see the Big Five of the traditional African safari: elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros.

National Geographic Traveler's top tip: To maximize game-viewing opportunities, plan an itinerary including overnights at two or more safari lodges in different parts of the delta.

The full list of National Geographic Traveler's Best Trips 2016:

(In alphabetical order)
Capability Brown’s Gardens, Britain
Côte d’Or, Burgundy, France
Danube River
Eastern Bhutan
Glasgow, Scotland
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hokkaido, Japan
Masurian Lakes, Poland
New York City
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil
San Diego/Tijuana
South Georgia Island
Tangier and Smith Islands, Chesapeake Bay
Winnipeg, Canada

Visit for more details on each destination.

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Sejal Kapadia Pocha

Sejal Kapadia Pocha covers stories about everything from women’s issues to cult foods. She describes herself as a balance between Hermione and Luna Lovegood.