10 Unforgettable Destinations for 2011

by Guest Blogger on January 24, 2011 · 27 comments

The following is a guest post by Ayngelina. If you’d like to guest post on Go Backpacking, please read our submission guidelines.

Iraqi Kurdistan

A view from within Iraqi Kurdistan.

With the holidays behind us and resolutions long forgotten, it’s time to turn our attention to the year ahead.

To provide a bit of inspiration we’ve chosen 10 unforgettable destinations along with thoughts from experienced travel bloggers to let you know what you can expect.

Despite being locations all over the world, they have one thing in common, you’ll have a fantastic story to share when you return home.

1. Iraq

Northern Iraq is an area that travelers are slowly starting to enter as stability increases in the region. While it isn’t for the novice, it is considered a safe area to visit.

Anil Polat of foXnoMad has recently visited and written extensively on the safety and his experience in the region.

As one of my followers on Twitter said, northern Iraq isn’t as dangerous as you’ve heard but not as safe as you’d like. So many of the things I read about the place were inaccurate and just about everything I had preconceived was wrong too -  if that isn’t a good reason to travel and see things firsthand, I don’t know what is.

Check out foXnoMad’s post What’s it like to travel in Northern Iraq

2. Croatia

With a sprawling coastline and castle-dotted hillsides, Croatia is quickly becoming a favourite destination among budget travelers. While in the heart of the Balkans, the country has all the charm of Italy to the East. Caroline of Caroline in the City fell in love with the familiarity this European destination:

I love Croatia because it has all the things you love about Italy– winding cobblestone streets, breathtaking ocean views, delicious food– without the hefty price tag.

Check out Caroline in the City’s post: I left my heart in split

Crusader castle at Krak des Chevalier in Syria

Crusader castle at Krak des Chevalier in Syria.

3. Syria

One of the larger states in the Middle East, Syria receives mixed reactions due to its conflict with the United States. However, those who choose to see past political conflict find a country rich with history.

Jonathan from Retrospective Traveller was taken with the one of many historical sites in Syria:

Syria is like a pop-up book of history with it’s ancient ruins, castles, medieval souqs, beautiful mosques, and of course, Damascus – one of the oldest cities in the world. It was the Roman ruins at Resafa, Bosra, and Palmyra that attracted me to Syria, but it was the mighty Crusader castle at Krak des Chevalier that blew me away…

Check out Retrospective Traveller’s post: Up at the KraK of dawn… Krak des Chevaliers that is!

4. Nicaragua

The days of Nicaragua’s violent and revolutionary past are long gone, making way for a new era of peaceful politics. Wedged in between popular Guatemala and Costa Rica, Nicaragua provides a beautiful landscape for a budget traveler’s dream price.

Michael from Go See Write visited the area and was pressed to find any faults:

Nicaragua has some of the friendliest people in Latin America, photogenic cities, a good variety of activites, and although some of the roads are horrible, the magnificent sunsets make up for any negatives.

Check out Go See Write’s post: Trip to San Juan del Sur

5. China

With the world’s largest population and the diversity to match, traveling in China can be intimidating for even the experienced traveler. Organized tours throughout the country are becoming more popular and independent travelers are finding it easier as the country grows its tourism industry.

Due to its vast size and population, Monica of A Pair of Panties and Boxers found the country appropriately complex and summed up the essence of traveling there:

Traveling through China is like being in two places at once – the past & the present.

Check of A Pair of Panties and Boxer’s post: Have You Failed to Seize an Opportunity In Your Travels?

6. Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a country often misunderstood, evoking images of barren landscapes and food drops. But Ethiopia is a land of extremes and there is so much more to see.  However, it is not for the faint hearted; traveling can be difficult but also rewarding for those seeking adventure.

Dave and Deb from The Planet D shared their thoughts on the misconceptions of Ethiopia:

When people think of Ethiopia, they still envision famine and drought. But go there and it will surprise you.  The Great Rift Valley and the Blue Nile River runs through the country filling it with rich vegetation and abundant wildlife.  A mountainous land, Ethiopia offers remarkable scenery accentuated by its landscape like the Blue Nile Gorge seen here.

Check out The Planet D’s post: What it’s like to Cycle in Ethopia on the Tour d’Afrique


Che Guevara's legend lives on in Cuba.

7. Cuba

Many are flocking to see this forbidden island before the US embargo is lifted. Whether you travel to a resort, or make your way independently, the people will surely leave a lasting impression

Andi from My Beautiful Adventures comments on the undeniable energy in Cuba:

Surrounded by tropical heat, the beat of salsa music, dilapidated architecture, and the constant presence of political unease; in Cuba I had the constant feeling that something was just about to occur, because in a place so full of uncertainty the only thing that was for sure was that something inevitably would happen.

Check out My Beautiful Adventures’ post: Cuba Day 4, Part 2

The Andes in Venezuela

Amongst the Andes Mountains in Venezuela.

8. Venezuela

One of the more controversial destinations, particularly for Americans, travelers continue to visit Venezuela. Although the country is in ruins, with its infrastructure falling into disrepair, the vast amounts of oil that the country is blessed with continues to keep the country together.

Marcello from Wandering Trader was born in Venezuela, and has lived around the world. He warns that due to the collapsing economy, the dangers of the country and most importantly its capital, are very real.

If visiting Venezuela extra precautions should be taken including not wearing jewelry or fancy shoes, traveling in groups, and very rarely going out at night unless you are in a big group. The desperation in Venezuela is dire but if you are willing to arise to the challenge some of the highlights include Margarita Island, the Angel Falls, and the cozy city of Merida.

Check out Wandering Trader’s post: Top 5 Venezuela Attractions

9. Czech Republic

If the Czech Republic were a person, it wouldn’t be old enough to legally drink in the United States. Yet somehow this young country, particularly its capital of Prague, quickly became a darling of European travel. Tourists spend days wandering from cathedral to castle basking in one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

Chris from The Aussie Nomad recently visited Prague noted its popularity:

Prague is cheap, fun and amazingly beautiful. By day you can explore Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and wander the streets getting lost in the city. Then by night, enjoy the various pub crawls and night life that so many backpackers are fast discovering. Nearby you will also find the ghoulish Bone Chapel in Kutna Hora, a day trip worth your time of day.

Check out The Aussie Nomad’s post: Kutna Hora and the Bone Chapel

Glaciers in Antarctica

Antarctica's landscape is filled with towering glaciers of blue ice.

10. Antarctica

Antarctica is a land of legend, folklore and extreme. It’s a dream destination for many who count passport stamps and want to push their next adventure. But unlike the early explorers, getting to Antarctica is much easier if you have a bit of extra cash to spend.

Brendan from Brendan’s Adventures recent trip lived up to his expectations:

Some people come to Antarctica for penguins, others come so that they can tell others that they’ve been to all 7 continents, but no matter what their reasons for coming may have been, it is the sheer beauty of the experience that will have them talking about it for years.

Check out Brendan’s Adventure’s post: Antarctica: A Preview

So what about you? Where are you heading this year?


About the Author: Ayngelina left a great job, boyfriend, apartment and friends to find inspiration in Latin America. Read about her adventures at Bacon is Magic and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

All photos are courtesy of the respective bloggers.

About the Author:

is the author of 233 posts on Go Backpacking.

This post was written by a guest contributor. Please reference the author's byline in the post above for more information. If you would like to guest post on Go Backpacking, please read our submission guidelines. For information on advertising opportunities, go here.

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Categories: Antarctica, China, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Features, Iraq, Nicaragua, Syria, Venezuela
Post tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Amaya Williams January 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm

I thinks it’s a bit of a stretch to say that Venezuela is ‘in ruins’. Sure the country is suffering from government mismanagement and violence is a real concern, but Venezuela continues to function. I’d steer clear of Caracas, but visitng the Andean region or the vast central plain of Los Llanos poses no great risk for the average traveler.


Andi Perullo January 24, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Awesome post!!!


Charles McCool January 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Definitely 10 great places to visit. I am heading to Morocco in March and I would like to visit Romania (among everywhere else!).


Erin January 24, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Nicaragua is the country I’m most looking forward to in Central America – we’ll be there in a few months. A number of these places are on my list for the future as well. Croatia is beautiful (although it still doesn’t stop me wanting to visit Italy!) and the Czech Republic has lots to offer beyond Prague.


Casa Silas B & B August 31, 2011 at 3:11 am

Have you made the trip to Nicaragua. If you need any info, drop me a line. I’m here in Granada with a little B & B. I’d love to here from you. You’ll love Nicaragua!


noelle January 24, 2011 at 4:06 pm

i’m going to cambodia and visit angkor wat in march, so excited!


Kirsten Alana January 24, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Every single one of these are “on my list”. What a great bunch of places!!


Andrea and John January 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Some interesting destinations featured here! We’re headed to two in 2011: Croatia for a month and Czech Republic.


traveltosun January 24, 2011 at 7:39 pm

10 great places everyone would definitely love to visit sometime.
We plan to visit Paris this summer and hopefully some lovely beaches in southern France too.


Anonymous January 25, 2011 at 1:00 am

Great piece Ayngelina! Don’t think I’ll make it to any of them in 2011 but I’m crossing my fingers for 2012 :)


Traveling Canucks January 25, 2011 at 1:02 am

Great post! I like how you included info from travel bloggers that have visited the areas and have some good info to report. We’re looking forward to Central America this spring, likely Belize, Guatemala, Nicauragua and Honduras. Happy travels in 2011!


Dave January 25, 2011 at 2:52 am

Belize is an awesome little country — I highly suggest some beach time on Caye Caulker, and if you’re into adventure, check out the activities like cave tubing in the jungles around Caves Branch. And Tikal in Guatemala is one of my favorite ruins in the world!


Dtravelsround January 25, 2011 at 1:44 am

Ahhhh, the lovely Croatia. This list made me smile. Now, I have some more places I want to visit, too!


Dave January 25, 2011 at 2:53 am

I can see the headline now: “Goodbye Vegas, Hello Iraq” :)


Foodie International January 25, 2011 at 2:18 am

I’m already booked for Mali, Gambia, Senegal, Western Sahara, Cape Verde and the Canary Islands plus a ski trip to the Dolomites! As usual, I’m committed to three summer months in Tuscany, and I’ll probably celebrate a mid-milestone (read: 5s) bday weekend in Istanbul. My travel goals are to get to Georgia, Syria and Palau. All for some good international eating, of course!!

Will you be hitting all these spots in 2011? I may even do Antarctica (along with South Georgia) in Jan ’12!


Dave January 25, 2011 at 2:55 am

Wow, you’ve got some interesting destinations ahead of you. I’m curious to visit Syria as well, but first I have to tackle the rest of South America.


Ordinary Traveler January 25, 2011 at 3:47 am

I really want to visit Cuba and Croatia! I almost went to Nicaragua this December, but went to Dominican Republic instead. I figure Nic is going to be part of my Latin American adventure, so it can wait until then.


Ayngelina February 2, 2011 at 3:56 am

Nicaragua was by far my favourite country in Central America, you won’t be disappointed.


Michael Hodson January 25, 2011 at 3:52 am

honored and glad to be included in this great post — well done!


Sophie January 25, 2011 at 9:59 am

Such interesting choices! Iraq especially – there are even direct daily flights from up here in Scandinavia, so no reason not to go really.

St Helena is high on my list. But it’s a very long boat ride (still no airport which makes it all the more appealing) so my kids will need spome persuading.


Stephen January 26, 2011 at 3:33 am

Syria is a great place to travel. One of my favorite countries. Period. Few tourists, interesting history and sites, and amazingly friendly and hospitably people.


Nancy R January 31, 2011 at 6:06 am

Great that there are more choices to choose from. All ten places sound great.


Traveling Ted February 3, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Nice list of destinations. Nicaragua is an intriguing destination for me. Somewhat close and inexpensive.


Casa Silas B & B August 31, 2011 at 3:14 am

Hola Ted, Have you made the trip to Nicaragua. If you need any info, drop me a
line. I’m here in Granada, Nicaragua with a little B & B. I’d love to here from
you. You’ll love Nicaragua!


WanderingTrader February 16, 2011 at 10:32 pm

cuba is on the top of my list… no doubt abt it


Bryan Haines July 6, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Great set of countries. Was in Venezuela two years ago. The infrastructure was great – but drug related violence was a concern for everyone. All the locals we talked to had kidnapping stories – but were released unharmed. Guess thats kind of some peace of mind. Would love to go back – the people and landscape was amazing.


Bryan Haines July 6, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Great set of countries. Was in Venezuela two years ago. The infrastructure was great – but drug related violence was a concern for everyone. All the locals we talked to had kidnapping stories – but were released unharmed. Guess thats kind of some peace of mind. Would love to go back – the people and landscape was amazing.


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