My Favorite New Destinations of 2012

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I’ve been doing several Top 12 of 2012 lists to round out the year, and initially had a Top 12 New Destinations of 2012 list in the making.

But I decided to scrap it — 12 wasn’t a good number for this one.  I wanted to narrow it down to the destinations that REALLY floored me this year, without adding any fillers.

Here are the new 2012 destinations that impressed me the most this year:

Faroe Islands

Wild, barren, stark, isolated, and breathtakingly beautiful — I never dreamed that paradise on Earth would look like this (or feel so cold!), but that’s what the Faroe Islands were to me.  The scenery was so beautiful, I found myself constantly picking my jaw off the ground.

Don’t Miss: The photogenic village of Gasadalur, haute Faroese cuisine at Koks in Tórshavn, hiking around the island of Mykines.

Istria

This is the side of Croatia often overlooked by tourists.  Leave the coast and drive into the hills and you’ll find adorable towns covered in roses and artwork.  Inland Istria is like Italy, minus the tourists — and you won’t find cheaper truffle dishes anywhere else in the world.

Don’t Miss: the musician-filled hamlet of Grožnjan, the wild rock-slab beaches of Kamenjak, strolling through touristy but gorgeous Rovinj.

Andalusia

Andalusia is where to go to experience the romantic Spain of flamenco and bullfighting, whitewashed houses and Moorish architecture.  Though I only visited Sevilla and Granada, the region made quite an impression on me.  I could have stayed for months.

Don’t Miss: Sunset over the Alhambra at Plaza San Nicolas in Granada, the colorful mosaic-filled nooks at Plaza de España in Sevilla, indulging in free tapas in Granada.

South Africa

It’s one of the world’s most beautiful countries — and yet it’s staggeringly diverse, from white sand beaches, vineyards,  and stunning mountains to the wild brush of Kruger National Park.  There is so much to see and do for virtually every kind of traveler.

Don’t Miss: the safari you’ll remember for the rest of your life in Kruger National Park, exploring the beauty of the Cape Peninsula, enjoying the upscale side of Johannesburg.

Costa Brava

This region in Spain is the darling of the travel blogging community, and it deserves every bit of hype it gets.  A fantastically diverse region of Catalonia with incredible beauty, a wide variety of landscapes, and unforgettable food, just thinking of Costa Brava brings a smile to my face!

Don’t Miss: The bridge and small-town charm of Besalú, tasting the world’s best gelato at Rocambolesc in Girona, hiking along the sea in Lloret de Mar for the best views in the region.

Iceland

Nowhere in the world is like Iceland.  A wild, ever-changing, geyser-filled landscape with temperamental weather and a population so tiny that you need to consult a database to see if you’re related to the person you want to date.  And the adventure opportunities are endless.

Don’t Miss: Snorkeling or diving into the near-frozen neon abyss of Silfra, glacier-hiking and waterfall-spotting on the South Coast, and of course, an afternoon luxuriating in the Blue Lagoon.

Dalmatia

The tropical paradise of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast is far from undiscovered, but there may be no better place in the world to sail around for a week.  Dalmatia is filled with stunning natural beauty, party towns, secret hideaways, cool architecture, and more.

Don’t Miss: The bright turquoise saltwater lakes of Mljet National Park, cocktails on top of a tower at sunset at Massimo Bar in Korčula, the all-white town of Pučišća on the island of Brač.

Montenegro

It took very little time for me to declare Montenegro the most naturally beautiful country in Europe.  Between the gorgeous fjords, the mountainous coastline, and towns straight out of a fairy tale, I was captivated by Montenegro — and enjoyed its low prices and relative obscurity.

Don’t Miss: Whitewater rafting in Tara Canyon, hiking up to the top of the fortress of Kotor, dining in Sveti Stefan with a perfect view of the island.

Umbria

Having spent months in Italian cities, I luxuriated in the pleasures of rural Umbria — exploring tiny towns seemingly unchanged for centuries, vineyard-hopping and enjoying the wines, discovering local crafts and traditions.  AND THE FOOD WAS ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE.

Don’t miss: the medieval town of Bevagna, the views from the top of the mountain in Assisi, dining in the countryside at Terre Margaritelli.

Which of these regions would you like to visit the most?

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24 thoughts on “My Favorite New Destinations of 2012”

  1. It’s great to see Montenegro made the list! I recently met a girl from Montenegro who has her heart set on putting it on Americans’ maps. She is a beautiful person, inside and out, so I cannot wait to experience her home country; she promised to take me there.

  2. I’ve been to three of these places (Iceland, Montenegro, Dalmatia) for the first time these past year and loved them all too! I’d love to visit others too (especially Faroe Islands), maybe 2013 is the year? 🙂
    but anyway, that was such an awesome year for you and here’s to 2013 being even better!

  3. Wow, I haven’t been to any of these places!!! Iceland is at the top of the list for me. As in a MUST DO for next year. Though the Faroe Islands look great – they remind me a bit of Newfoundland. I think the only way i could afford South Africa is with an Intrepid basix camping tour and not too sure about that one…..I am not a camping kind of gal. (still recuperating from Cape Buffalo snorting and stamping all night outside my permanent tent in Kenya in the 80’s…) Eastern Europe is on the radar.

    You have had an amazing year girl and I can only imagine what 2013 will bring – can’t wait to read all about it!!! Love your blog!!!

  4. such beautiful places!, of course beign Italian i’m quite happy that Umbria is there 🙂
    I know the place and it’s really fantastic! Even tough one of the places on top of my wish list are Faroe Islands… must be spectacular! 🙂

  5. I am so delighted to see that someone so well traveled would put my home country South Africa in such a short list. Even though its far from many parts of the world, I don’t think people will regret making the trip there.
    Dalmatian coast looks like my sort of treat- hope to go there someday soon…

  6. Out of all the destinations here, Montenegro and Andalusia are at the top of my list. Montenegro looks absolutely stunning, and I could feast on the food in Andalusia for days! Sadly neither are in my plans for 2013, but 2014 maybe? Looking forward to seeing where 2013 will take you!

  7. HI Kate, being from Croatia I am glad to see you mention Istria and Dalmatia. Both are worth being discovered and quite different to each other. Best way to discover Dalmatia is also by boat

  8. I have only been to South Africa and spent almost one month there. However, i still felt sad when i left, it was really a peaceful life staying there. I am looking forward for your new trips in 2013.

  9. I think the Faroes is an unusual pick. But I think it’s one of the off the beaten path destinations that makes for a good adventure. Actually, I find your entire list to be pretty nice. Definitely not if it’s Tuesday it must be Belgium type of itinerary.

  10. I’ve got to make it to The Baltics!! Your picture sare simply incredible. I’m starting to plan a trip to Europe this summer and will definitely want to spend some time in Croatia. I’ve also been reading a lot of good things about Montenegro recently, and your pictures do a great job of selling it. Hope to cross paths one day!

    -Nate

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