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AARP’s Top International Destinations for 2017

  • Snorklers in Hamilton Bay off Bermuda, Top International Destinations
    Carl & Ann Purcel/Getty Images

    Bermuda

    En español | Dig your toes into Bermuda’s pink-sand beaches and cheer on Oracle Team USA as they defend their championship title at the 35th America’s Cup, May 26-June 27. Afterward, explore Crystal Caves and revel in the clear blue waters with some fishing, snorkeling or diving.  Sample tasty Bermudian and other ethnic cuisines, such as celebrity Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Marcus’, a Caribbean-inspired soul food restaurant located at the newly renovated Fairmont Hamilton Princess and Beach Club while sipping a Dark ‘nStormy, the country’s national cocktail, made with locally crafted Goslings Rum.

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  • Pedestrians Stroll Past Shops and Cafes in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Top International Destinations
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    Belfast, Northern Ireland

    Belfast is booming with new businesses, including art venues, restaurants and open-air bars.  Book a walking tour through Seedhead Arts to see how colorful street art has flourished in the Cathedral Quarter. Grab a Guinness at the 200-year-old pub, the Crown, or take a guided tour of Crumlin Road Gaol, a Victorian era prison refurbished into a music and events space, and enjoy a meal at the unique Cuffs Bar and Grill. For a finer dining experience, the Michelin-starred Eipic serves innovative seasonal dishes. End your trip on a nostalgic note with a stay at the new Bullitt Hotel, inspired by the Steve McQueen film.

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  • Ferris Wheel and Fountain at night in Bordeaux, France, Top International Destinations
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    Bordeaux, France

    There’s good reason Saveur magazine calls this world-renown wine region in France “the next great food destination.” The Gironde riverfront, which has become a major focus in the city, draws crowds to the culinary scene with new restaurants like the Michelin-starred La Grande Maison and popular Garopapilles. Explore Cite du Vin, touted as the “Guggenheim of wine,” an $85 million dollar museum that wrapped up a 15-year-renovation project last spring and features exhibitions, shows, movies and seminars about wines from around the world. Round out the journey with a visit to the City of Light. Thanks to a new high-speed train line, a side trip to Paris takes just over three hours each way.

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  • Resort in moonlight in Oman, Top International Destinations
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    Oman

    Oman is one of the oldest civilizations on the Arabian Peninsula, but it’s the new resorts turning heads these days. Stay in a beachfront villa at the Six Senses Zighy Bay Resort located on the Musandam Peninsula, or experience awe-inspiring views of the Al Hajar Mountains from a suite at the Alila Jabal Akhdar Hotel. Golfers will want to book a stay at the Kempinski Hotel in Muscat, which boasts a Greg Norman-designed PGA golf course named Golf Digest’s second-best course in the Middle East. Families will flock to the Majarat Oman, a $120 million indoor theme park, expected to open this year. 

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  • Tourists enjoying Rue Saint Paul Street in Old Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Top International Destinations
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    Montreal

    Canada rings in its 150th anniversary with a treat: Free admission to the country’s parks, including its shining jewel, Banff National Park. Take advantage of the freebie and RV with the grandkids on that long-promised road trip. Or, for a more urban alternative, visit Montreal, also celebrating a milestone anniversary (its 375th!) with Les Hivernales, a winter festival through March, La Grande Tournée du 375e, a deep dive into the city’s neighborhoods (May-September) and many free events like a concert at the foot of Mount Royal. Montreal’s accessible metro system and Gray Line’s hop-on, hop-off bus tours make it easier to immerse yourself in the culture and try out hot new restaurants such as Marconi and Le Virunga.

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  • Double Rock Arch on the Taranaki Coast of New Zealand's North Island, Top International Destinations
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    Taranaki, New Zealand

    Grab your bags and head on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to this secluded region, ranked second in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel. Nestled on New Zealand’s western coast, Egmont National Park has more than 20 hiking and walking trails, and includes the wheelchair accessible East Egmont Trail. If you’re not a camper, check out nearby New Plymouth, which features the Puke Ariki Museum and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. March travelers can catch the World of Music, Arts and Dance Festival (WOMAD) at Brooklands Park.

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  • Cyclists in Alentejo, Portugal, Top International Destinations
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    Portugal and the Azores

    Fine wine and charming villages are just two reasons you should take advantage of the cheaper airfares available on TAP Portugal and head to Lisbon. Take in the new Museum for Art, Architecture and Technology and experience the artist and architectural revival of the city after a major redesign of 31 of the city’s plazas. While in Portugal, hop on over to the Azores – a small archipelago of nine volcanic islands off the coast. Visitors can sample savory food and spirits in Sao Miguel, paddle the two crater lakes of Sete Cidades or hike to the top of Mount Pico, the highest point in Portugal, and experience the indigenous traditions found in Terceira’s quaint villages.

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  • Yachts docked in Harbor Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Top International Destinations
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    Kingston, Jamaica

    Get your groove on at the One World Ska and Rocksteady Festival, a reggae-fest featuring scores of bands, held at Hope Gardens, the largest botanical garden in the Caribbean. After working up an appetite, try Tracks & Records, a new restaurant owned by Olympic Gold Medalist Usain Bolt, that serves authentic Jamaican cuisine and spiked shakes, including the Shot the Sherriff, Bedroom Bully and Night Nurse. Budget conscious visitors can stay at the Courtyard Marriott, the city’s first new hotel in a decade. Cap off your trip with a little beach time: Take a two-hour road trip down the newly constructed $730 million North-South Highway to Ocho Rios. 

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  • African Bush Elephants drinking near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Top International Destinations
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    Zimbabwe

    Time to add Zimbabwe back on your must-see list. The country has taken precautions to protect the elephant population at Hwange National Park, the country’s largest national park, and with a continued crackdown on poachers, this game reserve has once again become a popular destination for travelers looking for a less-crowded and, according to Conde Nast Traveler, more affordable place to witness the Big Five (elephants, lions, Cape buffalo, leopard, rhino) in their natural habitat. The country has invested in its tourism infrastructure, too, with a new $150 million airport in Victoria Falls – one more reason to visit the famous waterfall wonder of the same name.

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  • Ancient Ruin Of Ollantaytambo In Peru, Top International Destinations
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    Sacred Valley, Peru

    Machu Picchu crowds a bit too much for you? Try the other sites in Sacred Valley. It satisfies curiosity about Incan culture, especially if you stay at the eco-friendly Explora accommodations located on an old corn plantation, and it includes more than 20 activities for guests who want to explore the area by foot or bike. The more relaxed tourist can grab a gourmet lunch on the Andean Explorer, a new sleeper train that allows passengers to experience great views along its route between Cusco to Puno. Beer lovers will want to make a special trip Cerveceria del Valle Sagrado, a craft beer brewery in Pachar that serves an array of award-winning beers. 

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  • Top Ten International Destinations For 2017
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