So here it is, brand new 2017! Where will we go this year, what will we see? Well, Outlook Traveller is here, as ever, with great travel ideas for the new year. We've got 20, in fact, and over the next few days we'll be letting you in on all the great experiences you can have this year. So read on, and start planning your trips. From all of us at Outlook Traveller, have a happy, healthy and travel-filled 2017!
SWITZERLAND IN WINTER
Go skiing or snowboarding or tobogganing. Or climb the Matterhorn in Zermatt. Or visit the new FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich. Or embark on an artsy exploration of Basel, which lies on the border area between Switzerland, Germany and France. Or explore a bit of Italy by heading to Ticino, which will soon launch the world’s longest tunnel (57km)–the Gotthard base tunnel. A holiday in Switzerland can be anything you want it to be–an adventure-packed experience or a serene holiday in the Swiss Alps. Oh, there’s much, much more than chocolate, cheese and watches. Switzerland Tourism makes it all easy, by conducting one-day ski experiences for Indian travellers and with its Swiss Travel Pass, which allows unlimited travel by rail, road and waterway through 75 Swiss towns and cities, and free admission to more than 490 museums. See myswitzerlandtourism.com
Bookish folks, take note. The original literary treat is likely to be even more special this year: 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of the Hay Festival, set in the picturesque Welsh village of Hay-on-Wye, on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park. This year’s festival will run between May 24 and June 4; the line-up of literary luminaries isn’t out yet, but if last year is anything to judge by (David Mitchell, Alain de Botton, Jeanette Winterson, Mark Haddon and many, many more big names), 2017 will be BIGGER. The Hay Festival also prides itself on its inclusiveness–take the kids! ‘Haydays’ is specially designed for children of all ages, and features talks, readings and activities for little literary types. The nearest railway station is Hereford (32km). Campsites, B&Bs and hotels are available, from as little as £ 10. Entry is free but some events are ticketed (£ 5-19) and need to be booked ahead. See hayfestival.com.
EXPLORE NEW ZEALAND ON WHEELS
Coasting on smooth roads through spectacular countryside with the love of your life... Impossible dream? Well, one that came true for Ushma and Jigar Satra, who drove around the island nation of New Zealand. For 12 days, they drove a Toyota Corolla, hired from Hertz Car Rental, beginning at Auckland airport, from where they picked up their car. They then set off through Auckland, to Paihia to enjoy the Bay of Islands, back to Auckland and off to Rotorua via Waitomo Caves. A flight to Queenstown; from there to Milford Sound and back. And then off to Franz Josef, finally to Greymouth, where the car was dropped off. Finally, a trans-Alpine train from Greymouth to Christchurch, before heading home to Mumbai. The trip cost the couple approx. â‚¹6 lakh. See vyomjourneys.co.nz.
DO BHUTAN IN STYLE
Travelling to the dreamy kingdom of Bhutan should be on everyone’s bucket list. But to do it in the most stylish way possible, hang on till mid-2017. Because that’s when super-luxury resort and spa group, Six Senses, will launch Six Senses Bhutan. Not a resort, not a spa, but a journey: signing on means experiencing five resorts in five destinations, each distinctive, each special. The journey begins in Thimphu, where the focus will be on the rich heritage of this landlocked mountain kingdom. Then on to Bumthang, for a taste of forest splendour. Next, Punakha, where the stay is in a traditional farmhouse, remodelled, of course, so that you get rustic without rough. Then, a chalet in Gangtey, and its unique bird-watching bridge. And finally, Paro, a vibrant town made special by a stay in a lodge built on the site of ruins. Launching in second half of 2017. See sixsenses.com.
TAKE A BIKE HIKE IN KERALA
Beautiful cities, coastal highways, lush countryside–Kerala has it all. While you may have already driven through the state, this time, though, get on a bike instead. Kerala Bicycle Trips (keralabicycletrips.com) has many biking tours on offer. A four-day casual trip around Munnar ($590 a person) includes a great opportunity to explore the scenic canal-bund road. Take in the palette of greens presented by the scenery around Vattavada and be captivated by the carrot and strawberry plantations surrounding Suryanelli. For the more adventurous, there’s the 10-day Spice Trail Tour (from $1,899 a person) which will have you peddling for a good 400km, experiencing everything from the diverse flora and fauna of the Periyar National Park to the breathtaking expanse of the backwaters.