10 Best Destinations of 2017

The year 2017 was for us the year of the great change, during which we decided to face this fantastic family project. From February until the end of November we were traveling the European continent, by car, camper, motorhome, bicycle, and on foot. We saw our son grow among forests, mountains, lakes, towns, and cities. We saw our dog running on the beach, in deserts, and mountains. That’s why, as it was such a special year, we decided to choose the 10 best travel experiences of 2017 for you to add some to your 2018. Some are activities, some are specific places.

So without further ado, these are the best travel experiences of 2017. Enjoy them!

 

1. ICELANDIC LANDSCAPES

Thingvellir National Park Iceland

When we decided to put together this top 10, we did not doubt for a moment which would be the number one position. As we have repeated many times in our articles about this fantastic European island, Iceland has the most amazing natural landscapes we have ever seen. From geysers to volcanoes, from glacial lagoons to black sand beaches, from immense waterfalls to boiling water lakes, and the incredible Thingvellir National Park. At each step, Iceland amazed us more.

Glacial Lagoon, Iceland

There are hundreds of pictures of landscapes of Iceland, but if we put them all, this article was going to be endless. So if you were left wanting to see more, be sure to see our article about the 60 reasons to visit Iceland. It was without a doubt the most unforgettable European experience of the year, even with the story of that day in which Iceland almost blew us away. Haven´t you read it yet? Read it by clicking here.

2. EUROPEAN AUTUMNAL ROADS

La Rioja Spain

We had never toured Europe during autumn. We had always chosen spring as a shoulder season, and sometimes we faced the cold winter and even the masses of tourism in July. So this time we left our motorhome road trip for the months in which the heat was leaving room for the cold. It was a great choice. Not only because the climate was more pleasant in order to sleep in the vehicle and to walk the streets, and because the places began to be less crowded, but also because the colors in the trees transformed a simple road in a moving painting.

We had never seen so many shades of red, yellow, orange, brown. Walking on these autumnal roads was a sensory pleasure. And not to mention the feeling of walking through an autumn forest feeling the noise of the thousand leaves under our feet. La Rioja, in Spain, was one of the most beautiful places to enjoy the colors of autumn on this road trip through villages and vineyards (click to read).

Autumn forest

 

3. BY BIKE AROUND AMSTERDAM

Holland is the land of canals, mills and … bicycles. That’s why nothing better than a city break from the bustling Amsterdam on a day around the Dutch capital. Read more about that getaway by clicking here…

Getaway Around Amsterdam by bike

After long days on the road, this getaway to Dutch rural lands, and so close to its capital, was a refreshing and relaxing adventure. Hours of bucolic landscapes, straight out of a Van Gogh painting, between canals, country houses and postcard towns such as Broek in Waterland and Monnickendam. Nothing better than the rural wind on our faces to disconnect from the frenetic pace of the city of Amsterdam.

Broek in Waterland

 

4. PORTUGAL AND THE ALGARVE

It was difficult to choose a place among so many of those we traveled on our 10-day road trip through Portugal (read it here), but the Algarve region took the first place. Maybe it was because we came from the cold and wind of Iceland and having the opportunity to rest on paradisiacal beaches was a pleasure. But beyond that contrast that we had to live, the Algarve region is magical, with its white houses villages, its beaches full of small coves and yellow cliffs that hide in their caves, other jewels to be found.

Algarve, Portugal

Algarve, portugal

 

5. BARDENAS REALES, FIRST MOTORHOME STOP

Beyond its natural splendor and its somewhat exotic beauty in a country where you do not expect to see a desert of these characteristics, Bardenas Reales, in Navarre, Spain, had a different meaning for us since it was the first stop on our 90 days motorhome road-trip. It was the first time we stopped our house with wheels to prepare the first lunch with a view. An unforgettable feeling in a year full of new experiences.

Motorhome around Bardenas Reales, Navarre, Spain

In addition, the natural park itself is spectacular. You can read a little more in these two articles that we dedicated to it, one through our son´s eyes (Of caves and deserts) and another through the selection of the 5 Natural Wonders in Spain to disconnect.

 

6. HIKING IN CROMARY

You can say that a simple walk in a corn field should not be in a top 10 of the best travel experiences in Europe. But when that walk awakens in us the desire to start seeing travel in a totally different way, then it becomes a “before and after” in your traveling style. If we talk about Cromary, it is possible that almost 100% of our readers will not know what we are talking about. And it is understandable, we did not know about this small French town in the High Saona region either until the motorhome took us right to its doors. The town itself is not a great thing, it is a small and friendly place, but its natural surroundings gave us an unforgettable walk where the only thing that mattered was the moment itself.

Cromary France

The path took us through cornfields, forests, and fields surrounded by mountain ranges. We started in broad daylight and ended up at night, surrounded by cows that were ready to sleep. It was there that we began to realize the importance of “slow travel”, a concept that we recommend in this article: Slow Travel, why do we recommend it?

There was no specific place to go. There were no historical monuments or souvenir-shop-postcards-landscapes. It was a walk made to enjoy each step as a family. And that simplicity was transformed into an unforgettable experience.

Cornfields in Cromary, France

 

7. LAKE GARDA: LIMONE SUL GARDA

There are small towns that remain in our memory for their beauty and their environment. In Lake Garda, that Italian region full of such places, there is a small and somewhat unknown town (compared to its neighbors Sirmione and Bardolino, for example) which is called Limone sul Garda. Climb to the highest point of the village and then descend along the river to its mouth in the sea, and you´ll have a wonderful walk. And not to mention enjoying its crystal clear waters to cool off during the summer heat, surrounded by mountains.

Lake Garda, Italy Lake Garda, Italy

 

8. HIKING HOCES DEL DURATÓN

Perhaps because of its immense natural beauty, perhaps because it was our last destination with the motorhome. Be that as it may, this Spanish Natural Park has earned a place in our top 10 for the beautiful walks that it gave us in order to discover its charm, its cliffs, its forests, and the river that accompanies everything. You can read about this beautiful place in the article A weekend getaway from Madrid: las Hoces del Duratón.

Hoces del Duraton, Spain Hoces del Duratón

 

9. FUENTE DÉ: ENJOYING SNOW FOR THE FIRST TIME

Reaching the foot of a mountain, getting on a cable car that rises 753 meters in 4 minutes, and reaching 1823 meters above sea level to enjoy magnificent views of the Picos de Europa National Park, should be more than enough to put this place on the top 10. And if we add that it was the first time our son saw the snow, then there is no doubt about it. That’s why we also wanted to dedicate this photo gallery that you can enjoy in this article: Of Rocks and Mountains.

Fuente De Picos de Europa

Fuente De, Cantabria

10. THE HISTORICAL EMOTIONS

A trip to Europe means, in addition to a pleasure for the senses for its landscapes, a journey through time. That’s why we could not leave out of this top 10 those places that impacted us emotionally for everything that happened there. Places like Normandy and its landing beaches (read this article about the D-day and the heroes of Point du Hoc) or Poland and its rebuilt cities after the devastating Second World War (as our son tells in this article Of Colors and Dwarves).

Pointe du Hoc

Also places with happier stories, like that of the Asturian Indianos who returned to their native country after having triumphed in their American adventure (of whom we spoke in this article of The Best Ultimate Road Trip through Asturias and Galicia), or places of legends like Toledo and The Legend of Abdul-Walid. Be happy or impactful stories, Europe is an endless book full of stories to learn about all the centuries of human history.

Ribadesella

 

As we said at the beginning, the year 2017 marked a before and after in our lives. It was the year in which our blog was born and we understood that there is no greater happiness than that of following a dream, and even more, if it can be done as a family. How many of these places do you know? We would love to know about it with your comments below. If you still do not know any of them, we invite you to add them to your 2018 trips. Happy holidays and happy trips!


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Written by Pie & Pata
Happy is he/she who enjoys family travel.