Originally published as part of Viator.com’s top 50 travel destinations of 2016. Below are my four selections.
Germany in of itself is the place to be in 2016 to enjoy a variety of beer festivals across the country as the Fatherland celebrates 500 years of the Reinheitsgebot, or Beer Purity Law. The law was a series of regulations determining the ingredients in beer adopted in Bavaria, 1516. That said, Germany isn’t exclusively all barley, malt and hops. Frankfurt, better known as one of the primary international business hubs of the world, is also the gateway city to Germany’s wine country. The area surrounding Frankfurt is world renowned for their Riesling history, stretching back to the 1200s thanks to the cool climate producing an acidic grape that comes through in the wine. Back in Frankfurt, check out the Bahnhofsviertel neighborhood near the central train station. Traditionally this was a no-go zone or brothels, but now artists and restaurateurs are buying up the cheap space to revitalize the neighborhood. Across the river, get back to wine culture by checking out Lorsbacher Thal for some traditional Apfel Wein that owner Frank Winkler says, “tastes like the angels peed in it.”
Many hold a particular image of Miami within their imagination. Depending on the traveler, it all revolves around the obnoxious or incredible beats of South Beach clubs. But, Miami is actually a city of culture and arts heavily influenced by immigrating Latinos from primarily Cuba just 90 miles south of the Floridian peninsula. The Wynwood neighborhood north of downtown is without question the city’s Mecca of arts and culture that feels in many respects like a Puerto Rican neighborhood. Once an industrial hub, artists have since claimed the neighborhood by converting lofts and warehouses into everything from galleries to craft breweries. The Wynwood Walls are the greatest attraction to the neighborhood, featuring some of the world’s most accomplished street and graffiti artists. But in reality, the neighborhood in of itself is a canvas to appreciate with a number of businesses allowing artists to paint and paint again over their walls.
Everyone with a plane ticket fancies themselves a foodie. But anyone with a true appreciation for the culinary arts either has been or has Lima at the very top of their wish list. The sprawling metropolis already has three restaurants ranked as the world’s best, Central, Astrid y Gaston and Maido fourth, fourteenth and forty-fourth respectively according to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Find any number of Peruvian favorites that embrace the nation’s Andean culinary culture and diversity. Along the way, make sure to stop in Miraflores, Barranco, and El Centro for the best of the city in architecture and nightlife. Connect it all with a bike ride (or hike) along Lima’s Costa Verde where you can find everything from love birds forgetting they’re in public at Parque de Amor or surfers hitting the waves of the Pacific Ocean down below.
Panama City is fresh off hosting the Summit of the Americas where the Central American capital had a chance to show off its modern and colonial charm. Looking ahead to 2016, expect to see the Panama Canal expansion completed, allowing even larger ships to traverse the link between the seas. Throughout construction, travelers and admirers could marvel at the project at the new Expansion Observation Center in Colon. Once the project is completed, the area will be turned into another viewing point as ships enter the canal from Gatún Lake below. Traveling the canal by the old train with tracks as old as the original French effort is the best way to see all of man’s greatest engineering feat in just half a day. Spend the second half in Casco Viejo (also known as Casco Antiguo), a historic neighborhood whose colonial charm pours out of the architecture as area leaders continue to invest in the rehabilitation to bring it back to its original glory.