In honor of the new year, when the whole curious, beautiful world seems to loom expectant with possibility, we asked 22 travel experts: “Where’s the best place you’ve ever been?”

Those we spoke to — among them, the founder of Tiny Atlas Quarterly magazine, the director of the world’s largest adventure travel company and an affordable travel pro — travel constantly and, like all frequent nomads, struggle with this deceptively simple question: How to choose just one?? But after a little hedging and some flip-flopping, they each landed on the one place most etched in their brains — destinations (and experiences) that range from visually astounding to physically challenging to, in some instances, utterly life-changing.

Photo courtesy of Uxua Casa Hotel & Spa in Trancoso, Brazil

1. Trancoso, Brazil: “Trancoso, Brazil is the perfect combination of wild and untouched nature, very warm people and chic accommodations and restaurants. Brazilians do it better!” — Zoie Kingsbery Coe, founder of family travel firm Kid & Coe (Photo via Uxua Casa Hotel & Spa)

2. Gokyo Lakes, Nepal: “Hands down, Gokyo Lakes in Nepal. It’s an understated gem among the endless beauty of the Himalayas. Not many Everest Base Camp treks go through this region (ours do!), but it is wholeheartedly worth a detour however you travel.” — Leigh Barnes, North America Director of Intrepid Travel

Amsterdam by JeniFoto/Shutterstock

3. Amsterdam, Netherlands: “I absolutely adore Amsterdam, and here’s why: It’s a beautiful bite-size European city, so it is a wonderful introduction to the continent for first-timers to Europe. Filled with art, canals, cobblestones and flowers, it has all the history of Paris and Rome, but it’s not overwhelming and is very easily walkable (or bikeable). Everyone is friendly and helpful, and most people speak English, so it’s easy to ask for directions or recommendations. Trains and buses are very accessible, which make day trips to smaller towns convenient and fun. I once spent an afternoon at a cheese market in the town of Gouda, which was a blast.” — Juliana Dever of Clever Dever Wherever (Photo via JeniFoto/Shutterstock)

4. Hanalei Bay, Kauai: “I don’t think I have a favorite place because I love going to new places so much! But if you were to say to me, ‘you can have a house anywhere in the world,’ I would pick Hanalei Bay, Kauai. Warm water, good surf, healthy tasty food and a gorgeous location.” — Emily Nathan, founder of travel magazine Tiny Atlas Quarterly

Rock Islands around Pianemo, Raja Ampat by Miniloc/Shutterstock

5. Raja Ampat, Indonesia: “Raja Ampat is a series of islands in the remote western region of Indonesia. They require a bit of work to get to — a couple buses, two flights and two boat rides — but they’re well worth the long journey! The diving is amazing — Raja Ampat has the most pristine underwater marine life I’ve ever seen. But even if you don’t dive, all the island piers have the most stunning coral reefs right under the dock! Visit Arborek village for top-notch snorkeling, Sawinggrai village to feed the fish or hike Pianemo for a view out over islands that create the shape of a star.” — Sher, photographer and editor behind Sher She Goes (Photo via Miniloc/Shutterstock)

6. Swiss/French Alps: “Trekking the Alps’ Grand Randonnée 5 [GR5] from Geneva to Chamonix is one of my favorites. It was great exercise. It was well-marked (no need for a guide). We booked and stayed in huts each night, with better food than you’d get in a restaurant — the huts/refuges were all on local farms and meals were home cooked. The views were tremendous, as you might imagine from the Swiss/French Alps. And then you end up in Chamonix, the quintessential French ski village. Perfect!” — Clem Bason, CEO of hotel search site

Florence, Italy by Cristina Gottardi/Unsplash

7. Italy: “Italy is a journey to the crossroads where culture, cuisine and community come together. Some have called it La Dolce Vita, but after traveling to Tuscany, Sicily, Sardinia, Venice, Rome, Florence and Trento, I’ve realized that it’s more than a simple motto. It’s finding meaning in the mundane, it’s elevating the everyday, it’s having harmony and happiness without needing a reason. It only takes one day of soaking up Italy’s sun-kissed scenery to discover that La Dolce Vita is more than a Fellini film. In Italy, the sweet life is the way of life.” — Monique Soltani, journalist and travel-show host (Photo via Cristina Gottardi/Unsplash)

8. São Tomé and Príncipe, Africa: “São Tomé and Príncipe, a tiny two-island nation off the west coast of Africa. You get there via a flight from Portugal or continental Africa or a ferry from Cape Verde. It’s a place where the tourism industry is so small that you get to experience life as a local really quickly. The food is all fresh and locally grown or fished (conch, homemade chocolate, jackfruit off the streets). As a solo female traveler, I’ve always felt incredibly safe there. If you’re looking to travel off the beaten path, this is a surefire way to do it.” — Beth Santos, founder of women’s travel community Wanderful

Ljubljana castle, Slovenia by Tomas Kulaja/Shutterstock

9. Slovenia: “Slovenia is absolutely stunning — the culmination of Germanic and Austrian cultures making way to a Venetian-style coastline. It’s rustic, charming, sophisticated and, at the same time, alternative: Hip, artsy coffee shops shoulder up to bavarian sausage stands across the cobblestones from old-world cathedrals. Ljubljana, the capital, is pedestrian friendly and a foodie haven. It’s affordable, the public transportation is second-to-none and it’s safe. Even serial travelers will stop in awe of this country’s beauty!” — Megan Lee, director of meaningful travel site GoAbroad (Photo via Tomas Kulaja/Shutterstock)

10. Leon, Nicaragua: “Leon, Nicaragua has always topped my list of destinations. The city is ‘right sized’ for tourists, so you can get around the center by foot, but it’s big enough that you won’t get bored. I love the sheer variety of activities: You’ll find everything from volcano climbs to museums to a beach 20 minutes away. But best of all, it’s inexpensive, so you can enjoy great meals and experiences at a fraction of what they might cost elsewhere. Just beware: Most hotels in this hot city don’t have air conditioning!” — Becky Pokora, blogger behind The Girl and Globe

Dominica fruit stand by Shannon West/Shutterstock

11. Dominica: “Right now I’d say the Caribbean island of Dominica. It still feels largely undiscovered, the people are kind and every scene is Instagram-worthy.” — Kristin Kellogg, founder of online travel magazine and creative agency Border Free Travels (Photo via Shannon West/Shutterstock)

12. The Maldives: “I have several favorite places! The most beautiful beach/snorkeling destination I’ve been to is the Maldives. Overwater bungalows and fantastic snorkeling make this an unforgettable trip. Other places I love include Mumbai, India because it’s like no place on Earth, and Paris, France for its eternal beauty and charm. But one of the most rewarding trips I take is going home to see my 86-year-old grandmother. I relish every moment we spend together, watching old movies, dancing to music and eating our favorite foods! Life can be lonely when you get to be her age, and seeing her smile makes the trip so worth it!” — Emily Jablon cofounder of affordable travel tips site Million Mile Secrets

El Calafate, Argentina via Travel Coffee Book

13. Patagonia, South America: “We recently visited the Patagonia region of South America. A remote destination, Patagonia is uncrowded, stunningly beautiful and a great place to explore nature. If you like hiking or glaciers, you will not be disappointed.” — Elizabeth Rudd, cofounder of Compass & Fork (Photo via Travel Coffee Book)

14. Paris, France: “Every time I travel, I fall a little bit in love, so choosing a favorite place is nearly impossible. If I have to pick just one though, it would have to be Paris. It sounds so cliché, but there is just something so magical about Paris. The buildings, the gardens, the food, the wine. I could spend every day of my life wandering her streets and be very happy.” — Meaghan Murray, editor of The Stopover

Part of the Taj Mahal complex, by Spot

15. India: “I just got back from India, and I am already planning to return. The country is filled with so much beauty, the culture is unique and interesting, and the exchange rate is great for budget travelers. I only had the chance to tour the golden triangle (Delhi, Agra and Jaipur), which is barely just scratching the surface, but I’m already looking into visiting south India.” — Tesa Torrente, blogger behind Travel Where to Next (Photo via

16. Antarctica: “Antarctica. Quiet, unspoiled, pristine and a million shades of white. I live in Oregon, and people say it is green — a million types of green. Antarctica is like that: white with tints of pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.” — Marcia Miller, president of tour-company You Go Girls!

Cappadocia, Turkey via Travel Coffee Book

17. Cappadocia, Turkey: “So far, it’s Cappadocia, Turkey. We travel to explore the unfamiliar and we haven’t been to many places as otherworldly as Cappadocia. It’s a magical, alien-like place.” — JB Macatulad, cofounder of Will Fly for Food (Photo via Travel Coffee Book)

18. Chobe, Botswana: “The best place I’ve ever been is Chobe, Botswana. Part of this is thanks to the fact that I stayed at an amazing lodge settled on the Chobe River, but it’s mostly because of the awe-inspiring sight of African animals in the wild.” — Kimberly Tate, founder of Stuffed Suitcase

Temples of Bagan, Myanmar by Martin M303/Shutterstock

19. Myanmar: “Personally, my favorite place in the world is Myanmar. It’s a country full of smiles, age-old traditions, fragrant foods and a wealth of cultural sites and temples. Whether you like hiking, exploring ruins, wandering through markets or simply relaxing on white-sand beaches, Myanmar has it all.” — Daisy Cropper of Insight Guides (Photo via Martin M303/Shutterstock)

20. Europe: “I really love Europe travel. There’s a ton to see and experience, making the hardest part deciding where to go. But, what’s especially great about traveling in Europe is the ease at which you can see a number of places in one trip. Flights between countries can be scored cheaply on budget carriers such as Norwegian and Wow Airlines. In one trip I went from Amsterdam to Prague to Copenhagen paying very little for flights. Plan where you’ll start and end and how much time you have and then shop around for flights between countries. If you’re flexible, you can put together a really cool itinerary without spending much more than you would have had you stayed put in your original destination.” — Amanda Festa, editor of travel deals publisher

Lipari Island, Aeolian Islands, by Andrey Bayda/Shutterstock

21. Aeolian Islands: “The Aeolian Islands is a volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea north of Sicily. The largest island is Lipari (the islands are sometimes referred to as the Lipari Islands or Lipari group), but the other islands include Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi, Panarea and Basiluzzo. I loved being there because it’s a place where time seems to have stopped. You have all the colorful and fragrant vegetation, the crystal sea and the amazing food of Sicily, but you feel more free and wild.” — Elena Bisio, cofounder of Foody (Photo via Andrey Bayda/Shutterstock)

22. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania: “It’s tough, but I’d probably have to say Mount Kilimanjaro. Kilimanjaro challenged me mentally and physically in a way I’ve never been challenged before. It forced me to look life directly in the eye and make redefining changes. Six months after my first summit of Kilimanjaro, I quit my job and started WHOA Travel with my best friend, all because of this mountain. I have since summited it SEVEN times, inspiring more women to take on its peaks and to share in this journey together. I guess you can say this mountain is miraculous and magical — and I keep going back for more!” – Allison Fleece, cofounder of women adventure company WHOA Travel

Where are you dying to go this year? Find more inspiration on Instagram @Spot and @BritandCo!

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