It’s that time of year, when we reflect back on the year. We like to take stock of our travels in an attempt to remember and appreciate how lucky we are to travel as much as we do. This year was top notch for travel, we set foot in nearly 20 countries! You’ll understand why selecting just five fantastic vacation destinations was no easy task. (Here’s our list from 2015, if you’re interested.)

After some tough negotiations, we finalized our list. Don’t worry Berlin, and Rome. You might not be on the list but we still love you.

skopje-11-min
balkans road trip drew hike

1. Kotor, Montenegro

We stumbled upon this gem of a city purely by accident. Our original plans for our Balkans road trip called for us to head further south on the Montenegrin coast, closer to the Albanian border. At the last minute, we decided to shave a few hours off our drive from Dubrovnik, and Kotor fit that plan perfectly.

Luckily for us, Kotor was amazing.

The walled city is packed with history, and we enjoyed hiking to the old fortress above the city for a bird’s eye view of the majestic Bay of Kotor. There were lots of cats, an attempt at mussel farming, and plenty of wandering around the back alleys within the historic walls.

kotor bay
kotor bay

kotor bay

kotor montenegro

 

2. Slovenia

It’s a little unfair to name a full country as a highlight but Slovenia definitely deserves the unique distinction.

We went to Slovenia twice in 2016, once as part of a vacation in the spring and then again in September to visit another area. The reason we keep sending all of our friends this direction is because it’s as beautiful as Switzerland and Italy but without the steep price tag to go with it.

We love the small capital city, Ljubljana, but found other highlights glamping at Lake Bled, eating at a restaurant just weeks before it became world famous, and meeting the team at Big Berry later in the year.

Top 5 Vacation Destinations: 48 Hours in Ljubljana

Top 5 Vacation Destinations: Lake Bled, Slovenia

Top 5 Vacation Destinations: Julian Alps, Slovenia

Top 5 Vacation Destinations:: holiday in slovenia

Top 5 Vacation Destinations: holiday in slovenia

 

3. Nashville, USA

We’re wrapping up the year on a US road trip, a swing through the south. We felt the need for BBQ and Southern hospitality. We haven’t had a chance to write about it yet, but we just adored our time in Nashville, Tennessee, so it snuck onto the list of our top 5 vacation destinations.

Nashville has really emerged in recent years as a great culinary destination and we can see why. Tacos, hot chicken, and swanky high-end restaurants all have found a home here. We ate like kings, watched live music, and checked out the real estate listings, because it’s just that amazing.

We’ll definitely be back to explore more. And soon!

Top 5 Vacation Destinations: Nashville, Tennessee

Top 5 Vacation Destinations: Nashville, Tennessee

Top 5 Vacation Destinations: Nashville, Tennessee

Top 5 Vacation Destinations: Nashville Hot Chicken at Hattie B's

4. Papigo, Greece

Papigo was yet another surprise on our autumn road trip. We booked at a hotel last minute, purely because this town had a few properties with really strong online ratings and we just had to see what the fuss was all about.

And boy, are we glad we did.

Papigo is a tiny village in northwest Greece, nestled upon a hilltop in the Vikos–Aoös National Park. We were surrounded by jagged cliffs, and tree-filled valleys. We hiked along one of the many trails through the valley, enjoyed some of the best food of the entire road trip, and squeezed into a wetsuit for white water rafting.

Best of all, we got to experience amazing Greek hospitality at Hotel Papaevangelou. We couldn’t recommend this funky, charming hotel any more highly, with its maze of white stone and slate buildings and owned the gregarious George, always smiling and always happy to see you.

Top 5 Vacation Destinations:: papigo greece houses

Top 5 Vacation Destinations:: papigo greece hike

Top 5 Vacation Destinations: papigo greece view

Top 5 Vacation Destinations:: papigo greece julie wetsuit
Top 5 Vacation Destinations:: papigo greece drew wetsuit

5. Lake District, UK

After years of hearing that we just had to take a trip to the Lake District, we finally gave in and headed 5 hours north of London for a long holiday weekend. The train may have been overbooked (standing for 3 hours was not a highlight), and the weather may have been rubbish (you don’t go to the Lake District for sunshine), but we still fell in love with this area.

The Lake District is home to arguably the best walking trails in the country, from casual strolls along the lakes, to more intense, vertical hikes. We didn’t actually pack the correct hiking gear and paid the price with soaking wet boots and clothing, but we wouldn’t change a thing. We also had one of the best meals of the year on our weekend away, which always helps boost a location in our eyes.

Actually, given the dramatic train ride up, and the massive hiking disaster, the fact that we still count the Lake District in the top five should tell you something.

Top 5 Vacation Destinations:: Lake District, UK

Top 5 Vacation Destinations:: Lake District, UK

Top 5 Vacation Destinations:: Langdale Hotel, Lake District, UK

Top 5 Vacation Destinations: Lake District, UK

 
2016-highlightspin-min

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  • December 15, 2016

    A varied list of destinations, which is always a good sign! I’ve heard wonderful things about Nashville too, hope to make it there someday. And you’ve further convinced me to head straight to the Lake District when I’m back in the UK!
    LC recently posted…The Best Reads of 2016My Profile

  • December 16, 2016

    Oh, the food in Nashville looks so good! I agree about Slovenia, it’s a gem. We usually go camping on lake Bohinj (near Bled) or in the Trenta Valley, both beautiful.
    I’ve been wanting to visit Lake District for a while now, but some other destination always ends up being more important or convenient for us. Not giving up on that one! 🙂

    Anja

    • December 18, 2016

      that’s exactly how we were with the Lake District. It’s just far enough away to be inconvenient and makes a weekend trip not totally worth it. Having finally gone though, it was totally worth it!

  • December 18, 2016

    You guys had quite a year, that’s for sure! I keep hearing more and more about Slovenia, definitely will have to consider getting there someday. All the best in 2017.
    ADAM DOOLITTLE recently posted…Festive Examples of How To Decorate Your RV at ChristmasMy Profile

    • December 18, 2016

      Slovenia should be on everyones travel list. Simply one of the prettiest countries in Europe!

  • December 18, 2016

    You 1 post gave me knowledge for 5 destinations. I have a couple of them on my bucket list. Hopefully, I will visit one of those next year.

  • December 18, 2016

    What a wonderful list and congratulations on all your travels. So glad to see Greece on the list as it is one of my favorite places even though I have only been to Athens, Naxos and Amorgos.

    Nashville looks like the kind of place I would love to visit. Love the colours and there seems to be a rustic charm to the place and full of Amicana references too.

    All the best for the year ahead.

  • December 18, 2016

    You guys have been to so many amazing places this year! I haven’t been to any you described above as your favourites! I have to change that I guess 🙂
    Dominique recently posted…Grindavík – A Visit to the Blue LagoonMy Profile

  • December 18, 2016

    Such a great choice of destinations. Lake District is so different from the others like Slovenia and Montenegro, though it seems as exotic. The photos are extraordinarily attractive.
    Punita Malhotra recently posted…100cobbledroads wins the Versatile Blogger AwardMy Profile

  • December 18, 2016

    Slovenia looks amazing and your photos look to show it off well. Being from the U.S., I’m pleased to see you included Nashville. Nashville has become a foodie destination, which mixes great with music. I hope your 2017 recap looks as stunning as this does.

  • December 18, 2016

    What a fun list, I’m impressed you could narrow it down to just 5. I keep hearing (and reading) about Slovenia – I feel like I need to get there before it becomes the next Croatia!
    Leigh | Campfires & Concierges recently posted…Colorado Hot Springs WeekendMy Profile

  • December 18, 2016

    What a cracking list and great experiences. Slovenia is such a beautiful country and I have more of it to see. Love Greece too but haven’t been to this place. Note – add to list. hope you have many more great travels next year.

  • December 19, 2016

    I’m so happy to see Nashville made the cut! Next time you swing through here, let me know and I’ll play tour guide =)
    Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate recently posted…Planning an Epic Road Trip Through the AlpsMy Profile

  • December 19, 2016

    I like that these aren’t the typical top destinations but they all do seem very nice! I heard a lot about Kotor being a wonderful place to visit. Happy travels in 2017! 🙂

    • December 26, 2016

      Kotor and the Bay of Kotor is simply stunning. Great place to explore!

  • December 20, 2016

    Happy new year guys! Sounds like you had an amazing year – each of these destinations you’ve mentioned are still on my bucketlist – dying to get to Slovenia and Greece in 2017! Here’s to an even more amazing year to come 🙂 XX

    • December 26, 2016

      Same to you! I’m sure 2017 will be an exciting travel year for you too!

  • December 20, 2016

    I went to Nashville this year and I loved it a lot. NExt year, I want to try to go to Slovenia.

  • December 20, 2016

    Nashville is one of my favorite foodie cities in the U.S. Glad you think so too! What a year you had! I’m hoping to visit Slovenia next year. Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Carmen’s Luxury Travel recently posted…Vacation at Vail Resorts- Ski the Slopes in Beaver CreekMy Profile

    • December 26, 2016

      Slovenia is one of our favorite destinations in all of Europe. Totally underrated and incredibly beautiful.