2015 Top 7 Travel Surprises (+ 2016 Preview)

2015 Top 7 Travel Surprises (+ 2016 Preview)

2015 was a crazy year in terms of travel. I visited 17 countries, 9 of which new countries I had never been. I never expected to do so much travelling, but I can honestly say it was the best travel year of my life! I decided to put together a list of the top 7 travel surprises of 2015. These are all places that far exceeded my expectations and shocked me/blew me away. I have also included a list of my (tentative) travel plans for 2016. Cheers to a new year of travel!

1. Ljubljana, Slovenia

Charming Ljubljana, Slovenia

Charming Ljubljana, Slovenia

Never had I before experienced a capital city so charismatic as Ljubljana. I wasn’t expecting much going into the Slovenian capital, as I usually don’t care too much for most capital cities these days. I’d rather visit a smaller, more unique village on the outskirts. However, Ljubljana blew me away! Ljubljana had a small town vibe indeed. The one word that comes to mind when I think of Ljubljana is charming. It was an eclectic mix of elegant/classy and bohemian/hippy, if that makes sense. The cafe culture was alive outside and it was almost impossible not to sit down at one of the trendy cafes overlooking the river. With only 1 day there, it wasn’t enough and I hope to go back soon to enjoy it more.

2. Interlaken, Switzerland (aka “Narnia”)

 

The ultimate winter wonderland in Interlaken, Switzerland

The ultimate winter wonderland in Interlaken, Switzerland

With only a short amount of time in Switzerland, we had a lot on our lists of things to see. But when traveling, sometimes you realize that plans don’t always work out the way you would like. Me and my friend Carey planned to see Jungfrau and/or Harder Kulm, yet due to the heavy snowfall, the visibility was slim to none and these activities never happened. We were a bit disappointed, to say the least, as the only 2 things we came there to see were closed. So we decided to take a paper map and explore the city. Well, we got lost and ended up walking through a park in the middle of a snow storm. We were literally in the middle of nowhere, with nothing in sight except for white powdery snow. At one point, a man on a horse rode by covered in a robe (a sort of “black knight”)and we looked at each other like, is this real life? We played in the snow and had numerous photo shoots, just the 2 of us. Something so simple brought us so much joy and it ended up being our favorite part of the trip. You know what they say, sometimes no plans are the best plans.

3. Israel and Palestine

Culture shock in Israel

Culture shock in Israel and Palestine

It was surreal to be able to stand on the same ground where Jesus once stood and to see his birthplace. The whole visit to Israel seemed like a dream and it’s something I have wanted to do my whole life. And I can honestly say that I experienced the biggest culture shock in all of my travels to date visiting this area. To see young military personnel walking around with guns was something very new to me, yet it’s a normal way of life over there. Also, the clash of multicultural people within the city walls of Jerusalem who were all living harmoniously together was incredible to see. If only those walls could speak. It was truly an eye-opening experience and I’m so glad I was able to witness it. Another huge bucket list item was also checked off for me here-floating in the Dead Sea!

YO MAY ALSO LIKE: Highlights of the Dead Sea and Masada Tour in Israel

4. Cappadocia, Turkey (aka “Mars”)

Cappadocia

Cappadocia, aka Mars

If you’ve ever been to or seen pictures of Cappadocia, I think you can agree that it is like somewhere from a different planet. The landscape is like no other place on earth and the memories made there will last forever. From eating in a local family’s house sitting on the floor, to watching the famous hot air balloons rising above the land at sunrise, these are some memories I will never forget.

5. Rovinj, Croatia

streets of Rovinj, Croatia

The picturesque streets of Rovinj, Croatia

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with Croatia, but visiting Rovinj catapulted this obsession to a whole other level. The fact that I waited so long to visit this area baffles me. The streets of Rovinj were some of the most picturesque streets I have ever seen. The mixture of Croatian, Italian, and German languages spoke in this city really surprised me, until I learned some of the history behind it. The architecture especially had a strong Italian influence and at times I forgot I was in Croatia. How could I not like a city that felt like a mixture of Croatia and Italy, my 2 favourite countries! If you haven’t been to Rovinj yet, you’re really missing out on a hidden gem of Croatia!

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Top 5 Reasons to Visit Croatia NOW

6.Hallstatt, Austria

Hallstatt, Austria in winter

The unreal village of Hallstatt, Austria

This is a place I had been dreaming to go ever since I saw pictures that actually made me think this place was fake due to its stark beauty. Usually when I give myself high expectations I am let down, 9 out of 10 times. But this wasn’t one of those times! Hallstatt might be the most beautiful/quaint/cute small village I have ever seen. The fact that it is set on a breathtaking lake just magnifies its beauty. Visiting Hallstatt was also very special since I went on my birthday and also because I’m half Austrian. Hallstatt definitely did not disappoint.

7.Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle in winter

Feeling like a princess at the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle

If you’ve ever traveled in Europe, you come to realize that extravagant castles appear to be the norm there. Once you’ve seen a dozen, you start to become immune to their grandeur. However, Neuschwanstein Castle is the epitome of a fairytale, and in my opinion it was the most spectacular castle I’ve ever seen. This was also part of my birthday trip so it was extra special. But when I arrived, it almost didn’t happen. Due to the weather, the lookout bridge with the best view of the castle was closed. But of course that didn’t let it stop me. I jumped over the fence and decided to go anyway, as many others decided as well. As a tried to take the “easy route” against my boyfriend’s wishes, I slipped on ice ad fell hard on my left shoulder. I then grabbed the bottom of the fence with my right arm, as my feet were dangling off the mountain. My boyfriend ran to my rescue and grabbed me by my left shoulder to help me up. The rest of the trip I could barely move my arm, but it was well worth it for the amazing views! I certainly felt like princess on my birthday.

Where Am I going in 2016?
That’s a very great question! So far, I only have a short trip to Reykjavik, Iceland and Bergen, Norway booked for Winter 2016. The rest is up in the air for now! However, I have a tentative plan that I hope will get put into full effect. Here it goes:

Spring 2016 wish list:

  • Portugal
  • Croatia
  • Italy

Summer 2016 wish list:

  • Latvia
  • Estonia
  • Finland

Fall 2016 wish list:

  • Norway fjords

2016 “maybes”:

  • Morocco
  • South Africa
  • South America
  • Bulgaria

I can’t afford to go to all these place, so I will probably pick just one or 2 out of this category. It’s such a hard choice!

*As with most travelers, plans can always change and new destinations will be chosen last-minute (which is what happened with Israel and Egypt last year!)

So, here’s to not knowing exactly what my plans are and the fun part of figuring that out. Happy New Years to everyone and I’ll see you in 2016!

WHAT WERE YOUR 2015 TOP TRAVEL SURPRISES? AND WHERE WILL YOU BE HEADED IN 2016? DO TELL!

51 Comments

  1. Wow these places are all amazing. That’s awesome!

    Reply
    • Thanks! They really were all so breathtaking and unbelievable!!

      Reply
  2. Looks like an amazing year! Switzerland looks fab!

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    • Oh, Switzerland was a dream!!! So glad I got to see it in the snow.

      Reply
  3. Beautiful places! I want to visit them all. This year I’m heading to Europe for the first time and I’m really happy πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • How exciting!! You should try to go to at least one of these place, they are amazing!! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  4. Hi! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having problems finding one? Thanks a lot!

    Reply
    • I have no idea what captcha is sorry haha. I’m not so good with the technical stuff..

      Reply
  5. Those Croatia pictures are stunning. Which time of year did you visit? Happy travels in 2016!

    Reply
    • Thank you!! Ive visiting all times of year actually. But I must say September is the best time of year to go!! The weather is perfect, the crowds have gone, and the prices have dropped!! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  6. As a Newbie, I am constantly searching online for articles that can aid me. Thank you

    Reply
    • Glad I could help! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  7. You just made my face turn green with envy. πŸ˜€ Your 2015 held lots of my bucket list destinations. However, I was lucky to visit Israel too in 2015 – and you’re absolutely right, the culture shock was huge. One of the best experiences so far nonetheless.

    Hope you’ll get to visit Finland this year, my home country is full of amazing things. ^^

    Reply
    • Yes, Israel was very emotional and shocking. I’m so glad I was able to experience it! And yes, Finland is on my list this year…only Helsinki though. I’m already planning January 2017 to go to Lapland, Finland for my birthday!!! I cant wait! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  8. Great list! I’ve been to some of those places – Israel and Cappadocia are particularly evocative – and now I have more to add to my wish list!!

    Katie
    http://whatskatiedoing.blogspot.co.uk

    Reply
    • Ya those 2 places were probably the most shocking and gave me that wow factor! So many more to explore in 2016 πŸ™‚

      Reply
  9. Your pictures from Rovinj reminded me so much of my time in Lanciano, Italy maaaaany years ago. It was my 2nd international trip without my parents, and I got to spend over a month there. Your pictures totally brought me back even though they’re from another country!

    I can’t believe how many bucket list items of mine you managed to check off this year. Well done! All the best in 2016 πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Ya i can totally see why it reminded you of Italy. The whole time in Rovinj I had to remind myself that I was in Croatia and not in Italy. It looks so similar its uncanny!!! I love both countries!!!

      Reply
  10. Oh wow, I just can’t decide which of those seven places I like the most, amazing photos. Cappadocia is on my bucket list for a while… Maybe I can go this year πŸ™‚ If Bulgaria works out for you in 2016, you should totally visit my sister! She bought a house and lives there in a small village called Lom Cherkovna, close to Veliko Tarnovo. People who visit them can camp in their backyard and experiencing the Bulgarian village life is quite special πŸ˜‰

    Reply
    • Oh wow, that sounds amazing!!! I love doing things that are out of the usual and going places not many people go. Can you send me her info on my FB page: http://www.facebook.com/crazytravelista. Thank you!

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  11. Looks like a great year. Can’t wait to see where you choose for 2016!

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    • Haha me too! I’m starting to plan out the whole year this month, wish me luck hehe πŸ™‚

      Reply
  12. Your photos of snow are making me miss Europe so much! I really want to visit the castle, I’ve wanted to go ever since I got my first Europe Lonely Planet guide and it was on the front page. I’ve been to the fjords, and they were so bloody awesome, so I highly recommend them! I stayed in Stavanger, which is known as the oil capital of the North Sea, but from there it’s super easy to access the fjords. One day I got the ferry up it to see from below, and then the following day I trekked up to Preikestolen which was so amazing! I totally recommend it!

    Reply
    • Ohhh thanks for the advice!!! I cannot wait to really explore Norway fully this year!!! So excited!

      Reply
  13. Cappadoccia is very high on my travel list for 2016. I hope it’s going to happen.

    Reply
    • It’s so incredible it’s hard to even explain. You gotta go!!!

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  14. Lovely year of travel for you! Nice wishlists too! Hoping to visit 3 new countries this year! πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Awesome, that’s exciting! Which countries are you planning on exploring?

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  15. These are so great!!
    And your program for 2016 is amazing!
    I wish you the best and a happy new year πŸ™‚
    Sybille β™‘

    The New New Girl

    Reply
    • Thank you and happy new year to you as well!!!!

      Reply
  16. Sounds like 2015 was an amazing year! Here to 2016 being an EPIC one!! Love your pics, great site, keep up the good work! Happy Safe Travels! Malibu Mama Loves Xx

    Reply
    • Thanks for the lovely comments!! Cheers to you! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  17. Sounds like you have an amazing year planned ahead! So glad I stumbled across your blog!

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    • Thanks! Now the challenge is actually making all these plans happen! haha πŸ™‚ Cheers!

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  18. oh wow. 17 counties is truly amazing. You sure would have had a wonderful 2015. All the pics are just fabulous. Wishes for an even better 2016 πŸ™‚

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    • Thanks so much! And you as well!

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  19. Your photos are out of this world gorgeous. You have been to some amazing places this year. 17 countries in one year?!?! wow. Good luck with your “plans” for 2016.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the support! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  20. Ah what an amazing year you had! I have dreamed of visiting some of these places; Croatia, Turkey, and Switzerland at the top. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous photos!

    xo,
    Kristie
    Kristie’s Reverie

    Reply
    • Thank you!!! I would say Croatia first-it will not disappoint! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  21. Great post πŸ™‚ I would love to visit Croatia! It’s on my 2016 wishlist

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    • Thanks!!! And if you need any tips or have any questions please let me know!! I know Croatia pretty well πŸ™‚

      Reply
  22. Your travels look so fun! I can’t tell you how jealous I am, these places look beautiful! Not to mention, you’ve been to more countries in one year than I have in my entire life!! Keep on traveling (and sharing)!

    Reply
    • Aww thanks for the kind words!!! Ya 2015 was extra special and I went crazy with the traveling haha. It all feels like a dream! I’m not sure if I can top it in 2016!!

      Reply
  23. I love your photos πŸ™‚ What kind of camera do you use? Happy New Year!

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    • Thank you and Happy New Years to you too! Believe it or not, for this article I only used pics from my iPhone 5s and 6!!

      Reply
    • Ohh and my GoPro!

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  24. I am really looking forward to all your upcoming travel pictures! πŸ™‚

    2015 was definitely a good year when it comes to travel. I celebrated the most amazing birthday ever – in Neuschwanstein. I even wore a crown πŸ˜‰ Other travel highlights were visiting the Forum Romanum and the Colosseum in Rome, a boat trip in RΓΌgen (Germany; I can highly recommend visiting this island), the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart (Germany) – as I am a biiig Porsche-fan, visiting the Disneyland in Paris, taking photos with an eagle on my hand in Austria, …. and so many other things I had the chance to see/do πŸ™‚

    For 2016 there is only one weekendtrip to my favourite city, Budapest, planned. As I am finishing university this month, my parents take me to a surprise-trip in February (here in Austria it’s usual to go on a trip when you have finished school) – I am so excited! Other places I would like to visit this year are Andalusia (Spain), CΓ΄te d’Azur and Camargue (France) and Copenhagen (Denmark). πŸ™‚

    Greetings from Austria and may all your travel plans and other wishes come true in 2016,
    Larissa πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Wow, sounds like you had an amazing year! That’s great you got to experience Neuschwanstein on your birthday as well! The only thing missing on my trip was that crown! haha. Where are you from in Austria? My mom is from Innsbruck so I am half Austrian πŸ™‚

      Reply
      • I am from Graz (Styria). It’s the second largest city of Austria. Have you been there? πŸ™‚

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        • No i haven’t! I’ve actually never even heard of it. Shame on me haha. I’ve only been to Vienna, Innsbruck, Salzburg, and Hallstatt. Hallstatt was my favourite and then Innsbuck!

          Reply

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