2016 Travel Destinations – 20 places you should visit before they get too crowded
Not sure where to go in 2016? These are the hottest destinations to visit.
Avoid FOMO in 2016 and get ahead of the pack by booking a ticket to one of these destinations. They’re touted to be THE places to visit this year... and with good reason!
From hosting large sporting events and seeing huge changes in their political situations to having cinematic tie-ins with upcoming blockbusters and offering cheap flight deals from Australia, there’s never been a better time to explore the world.
- #9 in HotelsCombined's must-visit list for 2016
1. Rio, Brazil
Rio was the place to go in 2014 for the FIFA World Cup... and it’s still the place to be in 2016. From August 5 to 21 this year Rio will host the Olympic Games before continuing the tradition with the Paralympic Games from September 7-18. If you haven’t secured your tickets to either event, there’s more than enough street entertainment and vibe to get you pumped.
Looking to pip the others to the post? Visit Rio in February for a less sporty though no less festive atmosphere for the famous Carnivale which is on from February 5-9.
Who flies there from Australia? There are no direct flights from Australia to Rio. Flights that offer connections to Rio include: Emirates, Virgin Australia, Qantas, British Airways, United, South African Airlines and Qatar.
When is the cheapest time to fly? Low season to Brazil is March-May and September-November.
2. Havana, Cuba
Early in 2015 it was announced that political ties between Cuba and the US had been restored. While this opens up the doors to more Americans to enter the country, at the moment, only US citizens with a valid reason, including family visits, official US business, educational activities and religious activities, may do so.
This legislation makes Cuba a top destination for the rest of the world in 2016 for anyone who wishes to see the country before it’s overrun with US tourists.
Who flies there from Australia? Air Canada and Air China offer services to Cuba. Alternatively, you can fly into Havana, which is the most popular entry airport into Cuba.
When is the cheapest time to fly? May-November is low season. During these months, the weather is hot and humid and prone to hurricanes.
How do I get into Cuba? Australians require a tourist visa card to enter Cuba. You might consider joining a tour for easier access. Companies such as G Adventures, Intrepid, Geckos and Peregrine offer these.
- #17 in HotelsCombined's must-visit list for 2016 (Crete)
3. Greek Islands, Greece
The dollar might not be at its best, but there are still affordable locations to visit in 2016 across the pond. The Mediterranean is very much one of them. Cash in on the low Greek economy on one of its pristine islands. Santorini is a highlight with its black sands, crystal blue waters and one-in-a-million sunsets.
Our tip? Start in Athens and cruise hop through Santorini, Mykonos, Corfu and Crete; Contiki offers a specific “Greek Island Hopping Tour” package that lasts 13 days and takes you through Mykonos, Santorini and Ios.
Who flies there from Australia? To get to the Greek Islands, you can either fly direct to Rhodes, Crete, Korfu, Kos or onto the mainland (Athens). Carriers that service long-haul flights to Greece include Emirates, British Airways, Qatar, Qantas, Virgin Australia, Etihad, and Air China.
When is the cheapest time to fly? Peak periods are during the summer months of May to August. For good weather without the crowds and the pricetag, try the shoulder months of April and September.
4. Dallas to New Orleans, USA
Forget Sydney to Los Angeles, Sydney to Texas is the new route that will take you directly into the Deep South.
Carriers taking you on this journey include Emirates, Etihad, Virgin and British Airways, however Qantas is the only carrier that will get you there non-stop. On Qantas, Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth is approximately 14 hours and 50 minutes (it takes 15 hours and 30 minutes on the return) which is a good sleep for those who can or not too shabby a mark to catch 3-4 good movies.
Our tip after you land? Spend a couple of days in Texas than drive across to the heart of Creole culture: New Orleans. 2015 marked the 10th year since Hurricane Katrina, making it a spectacle to see how far the city has come since the disaster.
Who flies there from Australia? Qantas offers the only non-stop flight from Australia to Dallas. Other carriers include Emirates, Etihad, Virgin Australia and British Airways.
When is the cheapest time to fly? February to May is peak season as it coincides with Mardi Gras. Otherwise, lower seasons occur during winter (December and January).
- #19 in HotelsCombined's must-visit list for 2016 (Boracay)
5. Cebu, Philippines
There’s no denying that Thailand and Bali are still top destinations for Australians to visit, what with their enviable beaches and cheap as chips flights. Want somewhere a little less packed and more on the down-low? The Philippines is the quiet contender you’re looking for. It offers similar pristine beaches and Asian culture without the hype.
The beaches to be on are those of Boracay and Cebu and with the country’s low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific having opened up a route between Manila and Cebu in September 2014, flights to the island paradise couldn’t be more affordable.
Who flies there from Australia? Qantas and Philippine Airlines offer direct flights to the Philippines. Other carriers that service the Philippines include Singapore Airlines, Air Asia and Jetstar.
When is the cheapest time to fly? Low season to the Philippines is during the colder months of June until September. The shoulder season is May and November.
Image: Virgin Australia
6. South Western WA, Australia
Wine lovers searching for an escape among the vines don’t have to fly far for an award-winning drop. James Halliday’s top 100 nominated Apricus Hill in Denmark, Western Australia is one of the best new wineries in the country. According to Halliday, the objective of the winery is “to make a small range of single-vineyard, single-varietal wines for sale exclusively through the spectacular cellar door, with its sweeping vista.”
To make a trip of it, rent a car and drive around Esperance to see the stunning pink lake and take a dip into some of the state’s most beautiful beaches.
Who flies there from Australia? Domestic carriers like Qantas, Jetstar, Tiger Airways and Virgin Australia serve Western Australia
When is the cheapest time to fly? Low season is during the summer months of November to June. For comfortable weather, aim for the shoulder months.
Free upgrade on car hire
Get a single free upgrade on car hires of 2+ days. You’ll need it in WA.
7. London/Stratford Upon Avon, UK
A constant on everyone’s bucket list, London’s renowned for offering something for everybody and is HotelCombined’s AND British Airways’ #1 destination pick 2016. In May 2016 the city will host the European Aquatics Championships while throughout the year Stratford-Upon-Avon will be celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Take the train from London to the small township to explore the homes that Shakespeare grew up in, worked in and had his plays performed in.
Back in London, the bard’s plays will be transformed and aired as short films in his Globe Theatre, London, during April to mark the anniversary as well.
Who flies there from Australia? Flights to London generally incur at least one stopover. Carriers servicing Australia to London flights include: British Airways, Etihad, Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Qantas, Air Canada and KLM.
When is the cheapest time to fly? Shoulder to low-season to London involves the winter months of November to February.
For Aussies searching for great value international destinations, Wotif offers plenty of ways to get more "bang for your buck". For family trips, we suggest heading to Fiji where you’ll find resorts for all budgets or travel across the ditch to New Zealand, where our Australian dollar still gets you good value travel. Japan is also a growing favourite for Aussies during ski season
-Kim Stockham, Wotif Spokesperson
Image: Virgin Australia
- #2 in Wotif's must-visit list for 2016
8. Otago Region, New Zealand
Our friends across the pond in New Zealand aren’t too shabby when it comes to offering high quality tipples. January is the prime time to whet your whistle in Central Otago on the region’s best at its annual Pinot Noir celebration. Now in its 12th year, it sees 40 winemakers from the Central Otago region share their craft and knowledge with enthusiastic connoisseurs.
Those looking to make a trip of it have many options. Head north to visit the Lord of the Rings filming locations or south to catch the Aurora Australis on Stewart Island.
Who flies there from Australia? Air New Zealand, Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia.
When is the cheapest time to fly? Queenstown can be enjoyed during winter for its snow fields or summer for its landscapes. Wine lovers should visit the Otago region from January to April to take advantage of the weather. For this reason however, it is peak season for the area.
- #5 in Wotif's must-visit list for 2016
9. Quebec Province, Canada
From Montreal to Quebec City, the province of Quebec is overflowing with French charm. Quebec City is often called the “crown jewel of French Canada” and is a mandatory stop on your journey through the area. Alongside Montreal, it offers a glimpse into Old Europe without having to travel there.
Quebec is the only province in Canada that calls French its official language, and it boasts over 400 years of history. For snow bunnies, Quebec city is minutes away from four ski resorts.
Who flies there from Australia? There are direct flights to Quebec. Carriers that can get you there from Australia include Air Canada, Qantas, United, Virgin Australia, Delta and Fiji Airways.
When is the cheapest time to fly? The winter months of November to April are low-season. For shoulder dates, look to May to mid-June and mid-September to October.
10. Gaborone, Botswana
Having gained its independence 50 years ago, Botswana’s history is an inspirational one that takes them from poverty to a thriving and stable economy. This can partly be attributed to its thriving gem mining industry; in 2015 the biggest diamond this century was discovered there. The gem was 1,100-carats and was estimated to be worth $66 million.
On top of its booming economy, Botswana houses the longest continuous multi-party democracy and is one of the world’s greatest safari destinations, boasting a lush and diverse wildlife environment and seasonal floods that are sure to break cameras.
Who flies there from Australia? There are no direct flights from Australia to Botswana. Larger carriers that serve Botswana are South African Airways, Qatar Airways, Virgin Australia and Qantas.
When is the cheapest time to fly? May to September is the best time to visit Botswana as its dry season. On the other hand, the Okavango is flooded from June to October.
11. Dubai, UAE
Every year Dubai never fails to surprise as it continues to develop into a business and tourism mecca. Visit for the luxurious shopping, the warm and inviting weather, the hospitality and the architectural wonders. Whatever your budget you shouldn’t pass up spending spend some time on the man-made islands, at one of the 5+ star hotels and on the deck of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.
The first Hunger Games Theme Park is set to open in Dubai in 2016, as is the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a UAE branch of the French museum. Sporting fans with a penchant for decadence have little excuse not to make a trip to Dubai in 2016 with golf tournaments aplenty and the world’s richest horse race, the Dubai World Cup, in March.
Who flies there from Australia? There are no direct flights from Australia to Dubai. Carriers that serve this route include: Qantas, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Air India and Philippine Airlines.
When is the cheapest time to fly? Low season in Dubai is in the summer months between November to May.
12. Noumea, New Caledonia
Young and old can appreciate the beautiful vistas and warm sands and the unique blend of Pacific and French culture of New Caledonia. Being closer to Australian than Fiji and Vanuatu, it is but a hop and skip away from Australia and flights to the islands are becoming more frequent and more affordable.
Make it a relaxing escape on the beach or explore the tropical paradise and its heritage-listed landscapes as quickly or slowly as you like. You’re on island time after all. For the more seasoned traveller, cruises to New Caledonia are never few and far between. Many offer a longer journey in a more luxurious environment allowing you to drop into town for a day or join a tour whenever you call into a port.
Who flies there from Australia? Airlines offering services to New Caledonia are limited but do include Qantas, Air New Zealand, Air Calin and Air Vanuatu.
Who sells cruises to New Caledonia? Companies that offer cruises to New Caledonia include Carnival, P&O and Princess Cruises.
When is the cheapest time to fly? Low season is between January and March which are the hottest months and is cycle-prone. The shoulder months are from June to August.
In terms of searches on Hotels.com in 2015, Hong Kong is the destination getting the most traffic/searches by Aussies, with a 37.5% increase.
-Katherine Cole, Regional Marketing Director for Australia, New Zealand and Singapore for Hotels.com brand
- #15 in HotelsCombined's must-visit list for 2016
13. Hong Kong
Gourmet stopovers don’t come better than Hong Kong. Asia’s city of lights is an ideal gateway into other continents such as China or Japan while feeling a world away from each. It’s hustle and bustle, late-night hawker and fashion haven all in one.
Hong Kong is quickly growing into an arts and cultural hub. In 2015 it hosted its inaugural Art Basel exhibition which cemented itself as a premier platform to showcase Asia’s international scene. In 2016, the exhibition returns from March 24-26.
Who flies there from Australia? Direct flights to Hong Kong are serviced by Cathay Pacific and Qantas. Connecting flights are serviced by Cebu Pacific, Air Niugini, Jetstar, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia.
When is the cheapest time to fly? Hong Kong enjoys a subtropical climate and is best visited during January-February, April-May or October-November. All other months are low or shoulder season.
Image: Swiss Airlines
14. Zurich, Switzerland
Renowned for its sweeping lake and colourful culture, Zurich is making its mark on the 2016 calendar by hosting the first ever Cybathon. Held in the SWISS Arena on 8 October, this world-first event is a marathon for pilots with disabilities who use advanced assistive devices. These include robotic technologies and is a means of showcasing current and upcoming technologies and their abilities to enhance and assist in the future.
Powered legs, exoskeletons, prosthetics and brain computer interfaces are just some of the technologies that will compete in the race.
Who flies there from Australia? There are no direct flights to Zurich from Australia. You can fly via connection with Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Swiss, British Airways, Emirates, Air China, Etihad, China Eastern, Jetstar and Vietnam Airlines.
When is the cheapest time to fly? Winter is low season in Zurich, however its so close to the Swiss Alps, providing extra incentive to visit during this time.
15. Tokyo, Japan
Exoticism, ultra-modernism and sumptuous cuisine are synonymous with Japan. Each district offers something new and each vista is more picturesque than the other.
Spend a week in Tokyo and visit the bustling districts of Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinjuku. Experience a bullet train west to the traditional town of Kyoto and visit the Golden Temple and the Deer Park in Nara. Head south for a historical trip through Hiroshima or north to Hokkaido for the powder soft snow fields during winter.
Much is happening to place Tokyo as the place to go in 2016 including the first ever official Snoopy Museum outside of the USA (Tokyo, March 2016 - September 2018), a new bullet train link to Hokkaido (March 2016) and the opening of a new rollercoaster in Universal Studios, Osaka, which will feature the world's longest track and deepest drop ever for a flying coaster (Spring 2016). 2016 is also an opportune time to visit as the country builds up for the 2020 Olympics and 2019 Rugby World Cup with luxury hotel openings.
Who flies there from Australia? Direct flights to Japan include Qantas, ANA, Japan Airlines and Air New Zealand. Other carriers that offer flights with stopovers include Jetstar, Air Asia and Cathay Pacific.
When is the cheapest time to fly? Peak season is April to mid-November due to cherry blossom season and summer. From autumn through winter flight prices tend to drop.
Image: G Adventures
16. Myanmar, Asia
It's like Thailand 25 years ago: beautiful temples, food, people and historical sites that haven't (yet) been overrun by foreigners.
-Natalie Cox, Product Manager
Who flies there from Australia? There are no direct flights from Australia to Myanmar but you can book a connecting flight with Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Emirates, Jetstar, Air Asia, Qatar, ANA, Qantas and Vietnam Airlines.
Image: G Adventures
17. Belize, Central America
Next to Yucatan, Belize is easy to get to with public transport and has less tourists. It also has good weather, cheap, nice beaches and the opportunity to snorkel.
Diving the Blue Hole and, hopefully, see whale sharks during their migration.
-Prashant Rajkhowa, Product Manager
Who flies there from Australia? There are no direct flights from Australia to Belize. Major carriers that service Belize include American Airlines and Delta.
- #18 in HotelsCombined's must-visit list for 2016
18. Cape Town, South Africa
Apparently one of the best places to see penguins is in Cape Town. I also want to do a safari.
-Elizabeth Barry, Senior Writer
Who flies there from Australia? There are no direct flights from Australia to Cape Town. Flights connecting through Johannesburg are with Qantas, South African, British Airways and Singapore Airlines.
Image: Peregrine Adventures
- #5 in TripAdvisor's Traveler's Choice Destinations on the rise list for 2016
19. Moscow, Russia
This is a bucket lister for me. The city is like candy to the eyes and I long to get that picture perfect shot of Saint Basil's Cathedral.
-Stephanie Yip, Senior Writer
Who flies there from Australia? While there are no direct flights from Australia to Moscow, carriers that offer connecting flights include: Singapore Airlines, Air China, Qantas, Virgin Australia, Etihad, Cathay Pacific, Qatar and Jetstar.
20. Bolivia, South America
With every picture I see of Bolivia, it looks less and less like anywhere else on Earth... which makes it exactly the kind of place I'd like to explore. Endless stretches of salt flats dotted with islands of cacti and Mars-like landscapes contrasted with turquoise lakes, anyone?
-Alex Keshen, Publishing Support
Who flies there from Australia? Connecting flights can be made through Qantas, Air Canada, KLM, LAN, Air New Zealand and Avianca.
What do the experts say?
We asked the travel gurus from Virgin Australia, HotelsCombined, British Airways, CheapFlights and Wotif what their hit-picks for 2016 were. Here's are each of their top five destinations:
Top Destinations As Voted By The Experts
- Bora Bora
- New Zealand
- Tulum, Mexico
- Cartagena, Colombia
- Porto, Portugal
- Gatlinburg, Tennessee
- Moscow, Russia
Looking for a deal for your 2016 travel destination? Check out the ones below:
Search for flights by your budget
Set your budget for your return flights and find out where in the world you can fly
Fly to Auckland from Sydney for $225 each way.
Fly to Auckland from Sydney for just $225 each way.