In 2016, I visited 24 countries of which 16 were new ones. 2016 has been a most exciting travel year and I’ve experienced a lot and ticked several things off my bucket list. I’ve continued my explorations of Europe, visited my beloved Faroe Islands twice and spent 3½ months travelling through new regions of Asia.
To celebrate the great travel year of 2016, I’ve put together a list of my 16 favourite new destinations of 2016. Last year, I did the same with 2015, and the Westfjords in Iceland, Svalbard, Lofoten Islands in Norway, Andorra and Poland were some of my favourites.
It has been hard choosing this year, since I’ve been visiting new places almost non-stop, but here’s the list for 2016 in chronological order – enjoy and get inspired!
I spent four days in Ireland and Northern Ireland during New Years 2015/16, which was nowhere near enough. In that time, my friend Bethann and I explored Dublin and Belfast. On my last day, after Bethann had gone to Wales, I decided to get out of the city and explore the tiny village of Howth, which is famous for its beautiful coastline. I spent an entire day walking the Bog of Frogs Loop around the coast, which was one of the best hikes I’ve done this year. When I got back to the village after the hike, I saw a seal in the ocean, which was the perfect way to end the day – he was really cute!
Howth is a beautiful place and a perfect getaway from Dublin.
In January, I spent nine beautiful days in the Hungarian capital, which I fell madly in love with! For the first time in a loooong time, I decided to travel slow and enjoyed doing a bit of sightseeing each day instead of rushing from destination to destination as I usually do. In those nine days, I got to see everything that I wanted in Budapest, and I really felt like I got to know the city well. It’s one of those places that I’m sure I’ll get back to someday – Budapest is simply too beautiful to only visit once!
My mum and I have a yearly weekend trip to somewhere in Europe, and in 2016, we went to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania! We spent two days exploring Vilnius and went on a day trip to the tiny village of Trakai, which is famous for its island castle. In Trakai, we went urban exploring at the most haunted house I’ll ever see. I enjoyed both Vilnius and Trakai and failed to choose a favourite, which is why the entire country made it to the list instead!
Pulau Belitung, Indonesia
In March, I spent two weeks exploring different parts of Indonesia, with the total solar eclipse of 2016 being my main reason for travelling there. For the eclipse, I decided to go to the remote and unknown island of Pulau Belitung, which lies in between Sumatra and Kalimantan. The tiny island was by far my favourite Indonesian destination! I spent four days there, roadtripping to one beautiful place after another with two new travel buddies. The locals on the island were some of the friendliest and most curious people I’ve ever met, and watching the eclipse with them was an experience I’ll never forget.
This year, I found my favourite city! I went to Taiwan for 6 days and decided to spend all of my days in the capital with a few day trips out to mountains nearby. From the second I stepped out of the airport, I knew that I was going to love Taipei. I’ve since travelled to many more East Asian cities, but nothing beats the special atmosphere of Taipei! The city is a lot of fun, there is so much to see, and there are countless mountains within the limits! Taipei is definitely a place that I’ll visit again!
After spending my 21st birthday in Tokyo, I flew to the northernmost island in Japan, Hokkkaido, which was my favourite place in Japan by far! For the first time in Asia, I couchsurfed and spent my three days exploring the city of Sapporo, climbing mountains and visiting Lake Shikotsu with my host. Someday, I want to go back to Hokkaido and drive around the entire Island for a month or so!
The self-governing island of Jeju Island, the biggest Island in South Korea, was a real nature gem. I spent four days there and explored most parts of the island. I saw stone pillars, high waterfalls, climbed a volcanic tuff cone, walked through a lava cave and climbed South Koreas highest mountain, the extinct volcano of Mount Hallasan at 1.950 m.! My time in Jeju Island was well spent and although it was the most touristy part of South Korea that I went to, I still really enjoyed it.
The Gobi Desert, Mongolia
When I went to Mongolia in April/May, I decided to book a 7-day tour of the vast Gobi Desert. That was one of the best decisions I’ve made all year! For 7 days, I drove through the desert with four new travel buddies, seeing all of the major sights, including sand dunes! Climbing a sand dune was so extremely tough, but getting to the top and seeing the amazing view was worth every effort. The people of the Gobi Desert were lovely and welcoming, and were by far my favourite part of the journey! I loved the trip so much that I wish it had never ended!
The Pamir Mountains, GBAO
Travelling through the Pamir Mountains along the Pamir Highway, the second highest highway in the world, in the remote Tajik autonomous region of Gorno-Badakhshan was an experience that I’ll cherish forever. Steve, who I travelled with, and I met so many amazing people, especially children, who seemed surprised to see tourists travelling through their remote area. The scenery of the Pamirs was spectacular, but the unique cultural experience is what made this trip so special to me. The Pamirs is one of very few places that I really really miss!
Read: The Pamir Highway: Osh to Karakul Lake, Karakul Lake to Murghab, Murghab to Khorog and Khorog to Dushanbe: An Epic Flight through the Pamir Mountains.
Sultan Eshkashim, Afghanistan
I don’t think I can ever say enough, how much I loved my two days in Afghanistan. Steve and I spent the two days in the tiny village of Sultan Eshkashim in the Badakhshan region, right across the border from Tajikistan. Despite the fact that we only had two days there, we experienced so much and learned a lot about the locals of this remote part of Afghanistan, where the Taliban doesn’t come. After the trip, I’ve felt like moving there several times. I’m not going to do it, but I love the thought of having a simple lifestyle like the people of Sultan Eshkashim.
Oh, Kyrgyzstan! Everywhere Steve and I went in that country, we were blown away by its natural beauty! I actually had a hard time choosing just one favourite place in Kyrgyzstan, but there was something about Arslanbob that made it just a little bit more special. We spent our last two days in the country in Arslanbob, where we explored two waterfalls, rode horses through the enormous walnut forest and saved a bird of prey! Arslanbob is hands-down one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to, and a definite must-see in Kyrgyzstan!
When I was heading back to Denmark after 3½ months in Asia, I decided to do a long stopover in Italy. My plan was to explore Milan, but when I got to Bergamo Airport and saw a picture of the old town in Bergamo, I decided to forget Milan and explore the lesser-known city of Bergamo instead! I’m very glad I did, as Bergamo really delivered despite the rain!
Read: 16 Hours in Bergamo.
The Åland Islands
Five summer days on the Åland Islands was more than enough to make me fall completely and entirely in love with the place! Steve and I met up again for a biking trip through the archipelago in early July. The days were spent biking to exciting destinations, and the nights were spent camping in forests, in meadows or by the ocean. I’m longing to go back to Åland for another active holiday!
Stóra Dímun, Faroe Islands
When I went to the Faroe Islands with Katrine in August, it was my 4th time visiting the islands. We spent 18 days there and explored a lot of places that I’d already been to (but I always love going back), but also several places that I hadn’t seen before, including the remote island of Stóra Dímun. Unfortunately, our visit to the island was in between helicopter flights, so we only had an hour, but we had time to go for a walk to the lighthouse and to visit the farm of the only family that lives there! I’m definitely going back to Stóra Dímun someday to explore more!
After moving to Copenhagen in August, I’ve been exploring new areas of Zealand and the surrounding islands. When my parents went on a weekend trip to the island of Møn in August, I decided to join them for two days of adventure! We drove around the island and visited the famous Møns Klint, the local castle Liselund Slot, the tiny island of Nyord, the old city of Stege and several archaeological sites. I loved Møn and I can’t wait to explore more of Denmark’s small islands, because I know that my own country has a lot more to offer!
Lake Mývatn, Iceland
In October, my family and I went on a so-called viking cruise to the Faroe Islands and Iceland. On the Faroe Islands, I took them to some of my favourite places, so they could get the best possible impression of my favourite country, but in Iceland we visited several places that I hadn’t seen on my two previous trips to the country. My favourite new destination in Iceland was Lake Mývatn! The lake itself is gorgeous, and there is so much to see in the areas surrounding it! Many of North Iceland’s volcanic and geothermal highlights are located here, and we spent a good day driving to all of them! There is still a lot left to see though, so it wasn’t my last time to the area.
As you can see, I’ve seen a lot of beautiful places in 2016, and I doubt that 2017 will be able to top it. I do have a few exciting travel plans in 2017 though, one of which I’m actually leaving for right now!
Next time I write a post, I’ll be in Iran! See you there! 😀