2015 is quickly drawing to a close. We are always in travel planning mode, cooking up our next adventures. But it’s also nice every so often to reflect back on a year well spent, one full of passport stamps and adventures on the road. This year Julie nearly made her goal of 10 new countries (looks like she’ll close in at 9), so we have plenty of memories to peruse.

Here, in no particular order, are our favorite destinations of 2015, those places that we’re heartily recommending to the many people who ask us, and even those people who don’t.

     1. Oslo, Norway

Oslo is the sleeper destination on this list. We had no clue how much we’d love our visit there, and what a lovely surprise the whole place would be. Yes, it is very expensive. There is no getting past that, which is why Oslo gets lost amongst European cities, but there is so much to see in its compact urban center. From stunning, super fresh local seafood, to interesting museums, beautiful architecture (especially the Opera House), and the calming lakes and forests surrounding Oslo, that make you feel a million miles away from the city, but are accessible via the metro system. A place definitely worth saving a few extra dollars to explore.

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Norwegian seafood

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     2. Seychelles Islands

No surprise here. We can’t stop talking about this epic vacation we took in March, and I’m pretty sure the world is sick of us talking about it. But holy hell. If you can make it work in your life, a visit to these remote islands will NOT disappoint. Add on a fantastic small villa hotel, a nearby beach with good snorkeling, daily sunsets to die for, and you’ve got yourself heaven on earth. We look back on this week with rose-colored glasses for sure, so let’s not forget that time we got stranded at a bus stop in a torrential downpour, and the few times we walked up the steepest hill we’ve ever seen.

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     3. Moab, Utah

If we had to pick a single highlight from our three week roadtrip across the good ‘ole US of A, Moab is at the top of our list. ‘Glamping’ at Moab Under Canvas was unforgettable, as was delving into the red rocks of Arches National Park, and we had this amazing outdoor brunch as we headed out of town that was down home and delicious. It was one of the places that made us realize again just how beautiful America could be. God’s country, for sure!

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hidden gem hotels

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This year, we also went to a few destinations without each other, so here are each of our favorite solo trips:

Julie: Moscow

Julie fulfilled her dream of seeing a ballet in the famous Bolshoi theater, so her trip to Moscow makes the short list. Her few days in Moscow with friends (2 of them locals, which helps with the whole city navigation and different alphabet situation) were amazing. In addition to eating at one of the top 20 restaurants in the world, she got a taste of the delicious world of Russian cuisine, including honey cake and tiny ice cream cones from the Soviet era. You can read all the details of her thoughts on Moscow and ballet, or just make an appointment at your nearest Russian visa office, get a crazy full-page visa and head on over yourself.

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Drew: Himos and Hanko, Finland

I attended not one, but two stag parties (Euro speak for a bachelor party) in rural Finland. They were ridiculous, outrageous, exhausting, and strangely educational. When you are the lone American among thirty-plus Finns, you can learn a lot culturally. I received a quick, swift understanding of sauna culture, which mostly involved being completely naked for hours on end, around a large group of men, while consuming copious amounts of alcohol, and alternating between a jacuzzi, boiling hot sauna, and a freezing cold pond. It was definitely the first time I went from sober to intoxicated without wearing an article of clothing. They were trips that I will never forget, and experiences that I still laugh about with my Finnish friends. I still find myself saying, “Remember that time in Himos…”

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Finnish sauna

What were your favorite destinations you visited in 2015?

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  • December 11, 2015

    Fantastic photos as usual!Since I am still working around vacation days, I am usually a stay-in-the-us traveler but this year I visited Tokyo ( my first time to Asia) and took a cruise to Mexico – both outstanding destinations. And I haven’t been to Moab but I spent a week in Southwestern Utah visiting The Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and the stunner of Zion National Park. Can’t recommend Zion enough – totally floored me!

    • December 11, 2015

      We are heard nothing but great things about Zion. We stopped at Moab purely as a halfway point between the Grand Canyon and a wedding we were attending in Aspen, CO. Such an amazing part of the US. Arches is a smaller park, but still a stunner!

  • December 13, 2015

    Nice list guys 🙂 You’ve done well in 2015. We’ve stuck to exploring one country this year (with a minor exception of a side trip to Russia for one of us) and must say that we are itching to have a go abroad again!

    • December 13, 2015

      Thanks! We are lucky to be located in London now. A short hop on a low-fare carrier can bring us to dozens of countries across Europe.

  • December 13, 2015

    You guys have compiled an awesome list! The Seychelles is high on my list of dream destinations! My favourite trips in 2015 were: Istanbul (mainly the friendliness of the people and beauty of the city), Sri Lanka (safaris and hikes), and Meteora (monasteries on top of the hills are magical!).
    Dominique recently posted…Saarbrücken – Day TripMy Profile

    • December 13, 2015

      Jealous about Sri Lanka. We were thinking of heading there in March, but decided last minute to stay in Europe and explore Slovenia and northern Croatia. It is still probably on the top of our “must-see” destinations. The Seychelles are pretty amazing, and worth the rather long trek to the middle of nowhere in the Indian Ocean. Beautiful island, and fantastic people.

  • December 13, 2015

    You’ve had a pretty spectacular year! I’m itching to visit Norway in 2016, and seeing Oslo on your list just motivates me even more.

    It’s so hard to choose, but I’d have to say Reykjavik tops my list for 2016. I’ve loved my time in South America for the last few months, but I’m so drawn to Scandinavia.

    Can’t wait to see what 2016 brings for you as well!

    • December 13, 2015

      We have yet to go to South America, which is crazy. Norway is really pretty, especially in the summer with about 22 hours of sunlight per day. I too am weirdly drawn to the Nordic region, and have loved the time spent in Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. Not great winter destinations though, unless you like darkness and winter sports!

  • December 19, 2015

    9 countries is quite impressive! I’d only vowed to at least get 1 passport stamp a year and almost didn’t accomplish that, except for a last minute Thanksgiving trip to Panama!
    Leigh recently posted…3 Days in PanamaMy Profile

    • December 20, 2015
      Julie

      To be fair, the 10 new country goal only started once we lived in London in proximity to sooooo many countries! We’re running out of new places, so for next year I’ll probably dial it back a little. (and BTW, would love to go to Panama sometime…I’ve heard great things!)

  • December 21, 2015

    Wonderful trips and photos! I was surprised by how much there was to like about Oslo too (although slightly less re the food and the prices!)
    LC recently posted…Afternoon Tea in London: An Honest ReviewMy Profile

    • December 22, 2015

      Thanks! We actually loved the food in Oslo, though we ate nothing but seafood and shellfish for 3 days. The cost? Well, that did suck!

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