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The finest travel discoveries of 2017 – chosen by Guardian writers | Travel

Belmonte Calabro, Calabria, Italy

In the summer time, we drove from Naples by way of Campania and Calabria, then took the ferry to Sicily. Along the way in which, we broke the journey at implausible agriturismi and guesthouses however probably the most intriguing place was EcoBelmonte, Calabria’s solely albergo diffuso. This historical, car-free village was as soon as home to three,000 individuals, now there are simply 30 everlasting residents however, because of the painstaking work of Gianfranco Suriano, who grew up there, 14 of the village homes can be found for vacationers to lease. Clinging to a hillside, invisible from the highway however with views over the glowing Tyrrhenian sea, the thick-walled homes are stacked on prime of one another – and linked by twisting alleyways. On our meanderings, we sometimes got here throughout one of many aged residents, or ran into Gianfranco’s spouse Gabriella, who runs the undertaking. Most of the time we felt like we had the place to ourselves: it was each eerie and enchanting. For reduction from the scorching August warmth, we drove down the hill to the seashore – a protracted, straight stretch of pebbles shelving into clear water. Returning sizzling and sandy felt like stepping again in time to a magical village that’s barely modified in centuries.
• From €30pppn, youngsters €5, ecovacanzebelmonte.it
Isabel Choat

Shell Beach, Western Australia


Photograph: Getty Images

A seashore that’s a sight for sore eyes after the nerve-jangling drive up the North West Coastal Highway from Perth, on excessive alert for kangaroos that may bounce throughout the highway at any time. It doesn’t settle the nerves any to know you’re in a spot referred to as Shark Bay, nevertheless it seems probably the most western level in Australia is a world heritage space, home to residing fossils referred to as stromatolites (a single-celled photosynthesising microbe) and to a seashore that’s one of many pure wonders of the world. Shell Beach is made up of billions of shells, particularly cockle shells that breed unchecked as a result of excessive salinity of the water and the shortage of predators in a position to survive in all that salt. It stretches for 70km, appears to be like like an enormous salt pan and looks like an oasis on the border of the outback.
Andy Pietrasik

Lake Gaube, French Pyrenees

Lake Gaube, French Pyrenees

Photograph: Alamy

Crystalline waters, hovering mountains, wildflowers and the best-situated cafe I’ve ever visited (even topping the one at Cirque de Gavarnie which, with my two boys, I’d visited the day earlier than). We reached this lovely lake after parking the rent automotive at Pont d’Espagne and strolling previous a collection of epic waterfalls and up a steep-sided valley for an hour or so. On reaching the lake on a sizzling day, the grassy, boulder-strewn space across the cafe was excellent for crashing out, having fun with a slice of blueberry pie – a neighborhood speciality – and considering the wondrous scene. At the far finish of the lake is jagged three,300-metre Mount Vignemale, France’s highest Pyrenean summit. We walked in the direction of the height to the opposite facet of the lake the place there was one other, extra remote-feeling, space of streams, boulders and pines. It felt as if I have been within the Canadian Rockies, not a two-hour flight from home.
Adam McCulloch

Ari neighbourhood, Bangkok

Paper, Butter & Burger, Bangkok, Thailand

Paper, Butter & Burger, Bangkok

The first time I visited Bangkok, I used to be on a backpacking journey that included a
de rigueur keep in a hostel simply off the hole year-apocalypse of Khao San Road. Returning this spring, I needed to see a unique facet of it, so went to Ari, a residential district that has fewer vacationers and a ton of avenue food-style eating places, cafes and bars. It’s additionally on the Skytrain line, which means you’ll be able to zip backwards and forwards throughout town. Our base was the Yard Hostel: a contemporary area made out of delivery containers, with a courtyard bar to wind down in. In entrance of the hostel is a espresso store, in addition to the wonderful burger joint Paper Butter & the Burger. A couple of minutes stroll, on Aree Soi 2, you’ll discover Summer Street grill – a meals truck serving up enormous plates of clams, mussels and crayfish delivered recent so that you can barbecue at your desk. Or, in our case, cooked by the waiter, who took our plate away after seeing us obliterate one too many scallops on the grill.
Will Coldwell

Pendine Sands, south Wales

Pendine Sands

Photograph: Getty Images

I’ve typically discovered myself writing about discovering solitude, or area, whereas on journeys, whether or not it’s in Oregon, or Iceland, so getting away from individuals have to be a “thing” for me. I wasn’t anticipating to find the good large open in Wales, however I did – and it was on Pendine Sands. On a sunny autumn day, I walked for a couple of mile from shore to the ocean (and again, naturally) however I might have walked additional: this space on Carmarthen Bay has seven miles of seashore. And it has historical past, too: within the early 1900s its flatness and distance noticed it used for motorcycle races and land velocity report makes an attempt. The drummer in my band even realized to drive right here within the 1980s. I’m not naive sufficient to reward it for complete seclusion – the realm has loads of holiday camps and caravan parks – however there’s loads of area on that lengthy, fantastic seashore.
Robert Hull

Omunity, Bali

Omunity, Bali

Spirituality has turn out to be considerably commercialised in Bali. There are not any finish of “healers” providing to stability your chakras, however I got here throughout a spot in Singaraja within the north, removed from the vast majority of vacationers, which is the actual deal in terms of an genuine native expertise. A bit of shrine greets you as you step by way of the previous wood gates into gardens resulting in a river, with 10 rooms dotted across the pure swimming pool and yoga shala. It’s an eco-homestay: entering into the lifetime of proprietor Zanzan, his spouse and three younger youngsters. Vegetarian meals are eaten collectively, beginning with chanted blessings. Zanzan was born within the village and returned after working in hospitality, with the goal of exhibiting guests the actual Bali – so a keep contains excursions: climbing within the mountain surroundings, visiting native craftspeople, becoming a member of temple ceremonies and heading to the quiet black sand seashore close by.
• $96pp an evening, together with all meals and actions (10% low cost for ), omunitybali.com
Jane Dunford

Homestay close to the Taj Mahal

Aman Homestay, Agra, India

The Taj Mahal is fantastic however the sheer variety of coaches, tour guides and chain lodges in Agra could make it a mass-market expertise. We countered this by staying in an inexpensive homestay a brief distance from the Taj. Aman Homestay is run by Ranjana, who likes to swap life tales and categorical rueful exasperation at her ne’er do properly husband. Comfortable en suite doubles value about £22 an evening, and there’s a backyard, two tiers of balconies and the roof terrace. To make our personal approach on foot to the Taj after breakfast (lacking the dawn crowds, however earlier than the primary rush) was the proper option to get pleasure from this most gorgeous website.(Dinners on the homestay are primary; for one thing extra fascinating, Bamboo Cafe on the nook – 30 Shilpgram Road – does curries, thalis and koftas for about £1.50 a head.)
• on Facebook
Liz Boulter

The Thames beneath Greenwich

Foot tunnel beneath Thames, Greenwich.

Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

It could seem ridiculous to counsel that the Thames is a discovery of the 12 months however I don’t imply the bucolic splendours of its higher reaches. I imply beneath Greenwich. Lured in by the Silk River arts undertaking, I walked to Southend, crossing through foot tunnels (at Greenwich and Woolwich) and ferries (final one is Gravesend-Tilbury). There is post-industrial devastation but in addition luminous magnificence. At Rainham Marshes you would possibly see osprey, in Gravesend there’s the grave of Pocahontas, at Dartford railway station a plaque to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who first met there. Time issues proper and you’ll catch the Waverley paddle steamer again upriver to Tower Bridge.
Kevin Rushby

Lews Castle, Isle of Lewis, Scotland

Lews Castle in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis

Photograph: Alamy

Lews Castle overlooks Stornoway harbour on the Isle of Lewis within the Outer Hebrides. It was in-built 1847 and had many makes use of over time – non-public home, naval hospital, school – earlier than falling into disrepair. For almost 20 years it was empty. But no extra: the fort has been reworked right into a museum and lodge, the place I stayed in May. There’s a mixture of rooms and flats, a comfy bar and a grand ballroom, plus attractive woodland grounds – the setting for the HebCelt music competition every July. The museum’s centrepiece is six 12th-century Lewis chessmen items. Stornoway is a beautiful place to browse: purchase up to date tweed from By Rosie and native pottery or seaglass jewelry from Salka, then watch a band at McNeill’s. Don’t miss a Stornoway Seafari (I noticed white-tailed sea eagles, risso dolphins and otters), the prehistoric Callanish Stones and the fabulous seashores.
• Doubles from £110, naturalretreats.com
Rachel Dixon

The shrine of Difunta Correa, San Juan, Argentina

Difunta Correa Sanctuary, Vallecito, San Juan Province, Argentina

a Photograph: Alamy

In the 1840s, the husband of teenage bride Deolinda Correa was conscripted to struggle within the Argentinian civil conflict and dragged from their home within the largely desert state of San Juan. She vowed to trace him down and set off together with her child son however quickly ran out of provides and rested on a hillock. Days later, passing gauchos discovered her useless physique however have been astonished to see the infant feeding from her “miraculously” full breast. It was the primary of many miracles accredited to La Difunta (The Deceased) Correa.

It is in the midst of the desert however, for the reason that 1940s, the shrine of this semi-pagan saint has grown right into a small city, paid for by believers, with none assist from the authorities and definitely none from the Catholic Church, which shuns the entire heretical business. To non-believers like me, in fact, the entire thing appeared utterly bonkers. But might the thousands and thousands who’ve positioned plaques on the 17 votive chapels, giving thanks for the miracles they’d acquired, all be fantasists? And all these who’d left their automobiles, and three,500 motorbikes (quickly to be auctioned for the poor) in gratitude? Or the a whole bunch of footballers and troopers who’d left their shirts, trophies, uniforms and weapons? I can’t keep in mind the final time I prayed however, touched by the unshakeable religion of these round me, I closed my eyes and uttered my piece.
• visitedifuntacorrea.com.ar
Gavin McOwan

Leechpool and Owlbeach Woods, Sussex

Leechpool Woods near Horsham

Owning a canine provides me the chance to discover extra of the countryside, and one of many many different advantages is an excuse to duck out of household buying excursions. That’s how I found these historical woodlands within the High Weald of Sussex, a brief drive from Horsham.

A Google search later and we’d swapped the stalls of the Christmas market for stands of oak, ash, hazel and hawthorn; the world of piped carols for cathedral-like quiet; silver spray-painted holly wreaths for a carpet of frost-rimed leaves. You’d by no means know that half of Leechpool wooden was worn out by the Great Storm of 1987, so enveloping is the sense of seclusion. In locations, the forest paths are knotted with the roots of historical oaks – these woods have been as soon as a part of St Leonard’s Forest, a searching floor in medieval instances, and there’s a way of time travel tramping by way of the tunnels of bushes. In two hours, we didn’t make it over to the 55 acres of restored heathland at Owlbeach – the canine was busy chasing squirrels and I used to be in a portal to a different world. AP

Frioul Islands, Marseille

Onboard a Pilot Boat transiting from the Frioul Islands to the Marseille Old Port, Marseille

Photograph: Alamy

Multicultural Marseille is an underrated city-break vacation spot. I spent my birthday weekend there this 12 months and located a lot to do I missed the flight home. One of my finest discoveries was the Frioul Islands, a four-isle archipelago 4km off the coast, a part of the Calanques nationwide park. Frequent ferries name at If for the eponymous chateau, the real-life jail of the fictional Count of Monte Cristo, although it was too windy to dock after I was there. Instead, I landed on Ratoneau, the one island with bars and eating places. Saint Esteve seashore has a tempting snorkel path however I crossed the causeway to wilder Pomegues to hike amongst sea lilies and lavender. There is not any lodging on the islands in the meanwhile however the French designer Ora Ïto is popping Fort Brégantin on Ratoneau right into a lodge in 2018. RD

The Hooghly river above Kolkata

River Hooghly at sunset near Serampore

Photograph: Kevin Rushby for the Guardian

There’s an Indian government statistic that means solely 2% of the vacationers who go to India make it to Kolkata. If so, I can’t think about what tiny fraction make it up the Hooghly river to cities equivalent to Serampore, Chandannagar and Azimganj. A scarcity of infrastructure makes this 300km river journey extra of a prepare odyssey with occasional ferries however the likelihood to delve into Bengali small city life is a wealthy one. Check out the unimaginable pottery quarter of Krishnanagar, the misplaced colonial structure of Denmark’s Indian empire (Serampore) and the marginally much less decayed delights of Azimganj’s Jain service provider homes, plus palace home stays (Cossimbazar is really helpful) and handicrafts galore. KR

New Inn Brilley, Herefordshire

New Inn, Brilley, Herefordshire, UK.

Photograph: Graham M Lawrence

An awesome glamping spot close to the Welsh border, New Inn Brilley is a small guesthouse – a beautiful two-hour stroll from Hay-on-Wye – with a number of wagons and cabins in its magical backyard. Tibetan peace flags are strung between the bushes with fairy lights and indicators with Buddhist teachings all alongside the little pathways. We stayed in an previous Gypsy Wagon with a woodburner, surrounded by decking with an outside kitchen constructed of scrap wooden, and a giant out of doors bathtub. It was a bit like staying in a deconstructed shack, however how typically are you able to have a sizzling tub with a view throughout the Wye valley?
• Rooms from £70 an evening, glamping from £60, newinnbrilley.co.uk WC

Salt and Straw, Portland, Oregon

Salt and Straw, Portland

Photograph: Leela Cyd Ross

I like ice-cream, like it greater than espresso or cake, and so I used to be in my ingredient when I discovered Salt and Straw in Portland’s Alberta arts district. A single scoop of sea salt with caramel ribbons plus sizzling fudge additionally allowed me to cease and take within the day whereas I misplaced myself in a sweet-but-not-sickly second of (fro)zen surprise.
• saltandstraw.com RH

Xanthos, Turkey

Xanthos, Turkey

Photograph: Getty Images

Visitor numbers to Turkey fell dramatically in 2016 following a failed navy coup and a collection of terror assaults, and President Erdoğan’s authoritarian rule continues to discourage many. UK Foreign Office recommendation at present solely warns in opposition to travel to areas near the Syrian and Iraq borders and in the meanwhile vacationer numbers are beginning to decide up. Those who do go will discover welcoming locals, low costs and uncrowded websites. I visited Kaş and Kalkan in October, when temperatures have been nonetheless within the mid-20s. One of probably the most spectacular locations I found was Xanthos, within the Antalya province, the place the ruins of the traditional capital of Lycia sit on a hilltop and you’ll wander absorbing 1000’s of years of historical past. There’s a Roman amphitheatre, stays of a Byzantine church, mosaic flooring and infinite views to the river and over farmland to the ocean. JD

Hostal La Torre, Ibiza

La Torre Ibiza

Photograph: La Torre

A second that basically summed up my keep at Hostal La Torre this summer time was when Mark Barrott – the DJ and producer behind Balearic revival label International Feel – strolled over to our desk and proudly recognized the report he’d simply performed as “an edit of a Sade track by Sade that was never released”. If you need to get deep into the numerous and discerning sounds that underpin the island’s musical heritage, then that is most likely a great place to drop by. The stylish white-walled boutique lodge and restaurant spills down the rocks to the cliff edge and has very good views. Resident DJs Barrott and Pete Gooding – together with common friends starting from DJ Harvey to Kolsch – soundtrack the sundown with an eclectic mixture of obscurities from Ennio Morricone to Soft Machine, timing a tune to cease on the exact second the solar disappears.You can relive it thanks to 2 compilation albums picked by the residents – La Torre Volumen Uno and Volumen Dos – however nothing fairly lives as much as the actual factor.
• latorreibiza.com WC

Sandwich and Pegwell Bay nationwide nature reserve, Kent

Wide-angle view of Pegwell Bay Nature Reserve, Kent

Photograph: Alamy

I’ve spent lots of time in Kent however 2017 was my first go to to this coastal reserve south of Ramsgate; it received’t be my final. Wander alongside mudflats and marshland, near the water’s edge and also you’ll spot loads of birdlife (come in winter or spring for finest twitching potential – the reserve is understood for its waders and wildfowl). In the gap you would possibly spy seals on the estuary – you will get a ship out from Sandwich to see them – and on clear days you’ll be able to see throughout to France. Paths lead by way of longer grass and pasture, the place herds of long-haired, long-horned highland cattle graze. Afterwards, go to the Belle Vue Tavern in Pegwell, which has wonderful views from its cliff-top terrace, and good pub grub too.
• Reserve free, automotive park £1.30 a day/£2 weekend, kent.gov.uk JD

Fish market, Chioggia, Veneto, Italy

View of fisher market in Chioggia in the Venice lagoon

Photograph: Alamy

Shouty, bustling and unpretentious, Chioggia’s fish market is a type of locations the place individuals imply business and vacationers can darn properly preserve out of the way in which – or get busy shopping for. The retail market (there’s additionally a wholesale one, which begins even earlier, at 4am) is in a coated area that backs onto the Canale Vena, the place you’ll see fishing boats moored up. It’s in a constructing off town’s primary avenue, Corso del Popolo and has round 30 stalls (referred to as mògnoli). I watched the skipper of my boat casting his eye over cuttlefish, squid, lobster, crab, mussels, sole, sea bass, scallops, anchovies and extra, questioning what we should always have for lunch when again on board. Chioggia is near Venice however, apart from the beachy resort really feel of close by Sottomarina, has the energetic air of a metropolis simply going about its work. RH

Casa do Visconde de Chanceleiros, Portugal

Casa do Visconde de Chanceleiros, Portugal

Photograph: PR

Portugal noticed a increase in tourism in 2017 – and it’s the 12 months I actually fell for it, too. One of my favorite discoveries was Casa do Visconde de Chanceleiros in Pinhao within the Douro valley, east of Porto. There are many fancy lodges round right here however this 18th-century manor home is trendy but homely, not flash. Each morning, proprietor Ursula asks friends in the event that they’ll be round for her home made, three-course dinner – served on the terrace overlooking the vineyard-clad valley. There’s a sauna in an previous wine barrel, an honesty bar and the rooms are spacious, that includes a number of wooden and stone.
• Doubles from €135 B&B, chanceleiros.com JD


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