So if you’re itching to ditch your cube for an international venture or out-of-state jaunt, take a look at our top-rated trips of 2017. For guys seeking undiscovered destinations or bucket list vacations, these are just the ticket.
Machu Picchu is a bucket-list trip for a reason. And while the archaeological site jutting high along the Peruvian Andes is the crown jewel of the adventure, the journey there is just as sublime. Joining a group tour like Mountain Lodges of Peru is the way to go, because you’ll choose an adventure suited to your thrill-seeking needs. The Sacred Valley and Lares Adventure is a five- or seven-day trek through ancient Incan sites, uncrowded trails, and small mountainside communities where you can learn how local weavers and potato farmers perfect their trade. The Salkantay Trek is a week-long affair best suited for iron-legged backpackers who want majestic sprawling views of jewel-hued lakes and snow-capped mountains.
Where to stay: When you book with Mountain Lodges of Peru and join the Sacred Valley and Lares Adventure, you’ll stay in a number of luxe (you guessed it) mountain lodges nestled along the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Lares Region. Each lodge is bursting with its own treasure trove of amenities and unique flair. You can relax in Lamay Lodge’s communal hot tub while the resident llamas mosey about the yard; watch the fog roll in from the Amazon in Huacahuasi Lodge; and enjoy unexpected indulgences like welcome tea upon arrival and a hot water bottle tucked into the foot of your bed at night.
Best time to go: Mountain Lodges of Peru offers group tours from March 1 through December 31, starting at $2,400 for 5 days/4 nights and $3,100 for 7 days/6 nights. Peru’s dry season stretches from May to October, while November through April marks its rainy season (January through April is typically the wettest). It’s best to go in the dry season, since many of the steep roads and trek paths can become unnavigable with flooding.
Where to stay: For the ultimate Park City experience, Montage Deer Valley is the way to go. Located just minutes away from downtown (they offer a complimentary car service), the luxurious yet rustic resort offers easy access to the best that Park City has to offer while hooking you up with the coolest excursions—mountain biking, fly-fishing, true ski-in/ski-out access, hot air ballooning, and more.
Best time to go: Park City is an adventure-friendly destination 365 days a year. If you’re looking for the best deal, though, book your trip during summer. The town tends to be a bit quieter when ski season isn’t in full swing. Rooms will likely be cheaper and there are just as many activities—if not more—to do when the weather is warm.
Expert tip: While in downtown Park City, make sure to check out the High West Distillery—which has ski-in/ski-out access—during the winter, and the No-Name Saloon for some excellent bites and booze all year-round. Both are located right off the main street, and have that Old West charm that keep people coming back to Park City time after time.
3. Telluride, CO
Telluride is so full of life-affirming activities, megawatt natural beauty, and homey communal kindness it’ll have you questioning why you’re not living there. Pay a visit in the summertime and you can spend your days hiking and biking along the absurdly idyllic alpine landscape (fields of wild flowers, cerulean lakes), fly fishing in trout-filled streams and rivers, and rock climbing the legendary Via Ferrata (possible for all skill levels). And when you find your adrenaline ebbing, you can play the 18-hole Telluride Golf Course dwarfed and surrounded by the Rocky Mountains.
Alternatively, hit up a free concert or festival. The Summer Concert Series runs from June 21 through August 16, and Telluride plays host to more than 30 festivals. Come in the winter and you can hit the slopes for skiing, snowboarding, heli-skiing, back-country skiing—and pursuits like ice climbing, fat biking, and dog sledding. Telluride is known for being remote (it’s a small, former mining town that’s not as easy to get to as other ski resort hot spots), which means you won’t be waiting on lines for lifts or dodging people left and right.
Where to stay:Madeline Hotel and Residences takes the cake. Set in the heart of Mountain Village, the Madeline is Telluride’s only four-diamond hotel (it’s “refined, stylish with upscale physical attributes” and has a “high degree of hospitality,” per AAA). Aside from being impeccably designed and staffed, the Madeline gives you prime ski-in/ski-out service in the winter, has a spectacular Sky Terrace complete with outdoor pool, multiple hot tubs, and killer skyline views, and is close to the town’s free gondola so you can easily access downtown shops, restaurants, festivals, and concerts.
Best time to go: Any time. Telluride is unique in that the town is brimming with activities during every season. But if you want to score a bargain, visit between March and April or October and November. Crowds are a bit more sparse and you can find cheaper hotel rates, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Expert tip: Get a Flatliner, Telluride’s signature drink. It’s an irresistible concoction made of espresso, rum, and Bailey’s. Just go easy on ‘em.
If you can, book a reservation for dinner at Alpino Vino. It’s a cozy Italian restaurant huddled about 12,000 feet in the mountains (making it the highest-elevation restaurant in North America, per Telluride.com). You’ll rumble up the mountain face in an enclosed Snow-Coach, and relish in a five-course prix fixe meal complemented by one doozy of a wine list and a crackling fire. Pure bliss.
4. BodyHoliday, St. Lucia
Looking for a true fitness retreat smack-dab in the middle of paradise? Check out BodyHoliday, an all-inclusive luxury resort dedicated to your adventure wants and relaxation needs. Cloaked tropical rainforest in the Carribbean island nation of St. Lucia, this tucked-away cove is the perfect landscape to break a sweat—which is why BodyHoliday just launched its Adventure Programme. Scramble over the rocky terrain of Pigeon Island and the old military ruins along the national park, summiting Signal Peak or The Pitons—two volcanic mountains that soar 798m above sea level. If you want to get your feet wet, take the plunge at The Errard Waterfall Abseil. You’ll hike through the belly of the Edmund Rainforest, then abseil (rappel) down a 66-foot waterfall. You can also race high-speed performance yachts, scuba dive, and work out with professional athletes like former NFL wide receiver Randy Moss.
Where to stay: The BodyHoliday resort is a sanctuary in full. The rooms have a pillow menu, glimpses of the Caribbean or garden views, and complimentary tea and cookies before bed.
Best time to go: If you book between May and June, you’ll enjoy more moderate temperatures—around high 70s to 80s—according to U.S. News & World Report.
Expert tip: Take advantage of the award-winning spa. A sports massage is always a good idea.
Where to stay: If you’re going to the Caribbean for not only tropical thrills but also a relaxing getaway, the best option is to stay at Caneel Bay. Set on a “170-acre peninsula amid the lush beauty of the Virgin Islands National Park,” Caneel Bay is home to seven of the best beaches in the Caribbean and plenty of adventure.
Best time to go: Between April and June is the sweet spot to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands, when the weather is mild and there’s very little rainfall, according to U.S. News and World Report. Peak season is between December and March, when the temperatures are perfect and the evenings are breezy, but with that comes higher hotel rates and tourist-packed beaches.
Expert tip: Take advantage of Caneel Bay’s complimentary access to sailboats, ocean kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and snorkeling gear.
6. Kakslauttanen, Finland
If the hardest decision you have to make on vacation is skating over the Finnish Lapland tethered to a reindeer or a fleet of huskies, your vacation is a success. Kakslauttanen offers some kickass winter activities. Take a day trip aboard the icebreaker Sampo (available mid-December through April) as it plows through the frozen Gulf of Bothnia, then suit up in a dry suit and plunge into the icy waters. Rather stay on land? Ski or snowboard down Saariselkä’s two fells, just a 15-minute drive from Kakslauttanen. Try your hand at ice fishing. Ride through the snow-blanketed forest on horse back. Then for the main attraction, go aurora hunting. You can take a nighttime journey on sleigh, snow tank, snowmobile, or skis to try and catch a glimpse of the dancing aurora borealis. Visit in the fall or summer, and you’ll enjoy activities like gold panning, fishing, canoeing, and mountain biking.
Where to stay:Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is the perfect playground for snowy sportsmen. All of the above activities are available through the resort. You can lodge in glass igloos that open up to the night sky, Kelo-glass igloos—cozy log cabins that house a private sauna and fireplace, and lead into a glass igloo attachment—traditional log chalets, legitimate snow igloos (which hover around -3° to -6°), or a century-old house.
Best time to go: If the goal of your trip is to sneak a peek at the Northern Lights, book your stay any time between late August to late April. Note: For about 30 days in June and July, the sun doesn’t set below the horizon at all.
Expert tip: Finland is home to 39 national parks, so surrounding yourself in some breathtaking, soul-resetting nature is very easy. You’ll practically stumble into them.
7. Jackson Hole, WY
Want to go on a safari but don’t have the time or resources to get all the way to Africa? Venture to Jackson Hole, WY. Often compared to the Serengeti, Jackson Hole is home to some of the rarest, most beautiful wildlife—not to mention scenery—the U.S. has to offer. When you stay at a lodge like the Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa or the Hotel Terra – Jackson Hole, you’ll have access to adventurous summer safaris (in collaboration with naturalist Kurt Johnson) that highlight the “natural wonders of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.” Excursions like the Best of Grand Teton will take you to numerous wildlife sanctuaries and historical sights inside Grand Teton National Park, plus lunch on Jackson Lake, while the Ultimate Yellowstone multi-day package explores the upper and lower loops of Yellowstone with a chance to see grizzly bears and geysers.
Best time to go: If you book during the months of April, May, September, or October, you’ll find the best prices and the least amount of tourists, according to U.S. News and World Report. The predictably low prices come with a bit of unpredictable weather, however, as temperatures during these months can range anywhere from the low 30s to low 60s.
Expert tip: Book a tour around the Grand Teton Mountains at night to take in the wildlife at dusk and enjoy clear views of millions of stars.
8. Cappadocia, Turkey
Jonesing for some legendary thrills? Drift above Cappadocia’s mystical landscape in a hot air balloon as the sun slinks above the horizon. The valley is punctuated by crooked, swirling spires of rock called “fairy chimneys.” Its layers of volcanic ash, lava, and basalt have been sculpted over the years by earthquakes and erosion. You can book a standard, deluxe, or private hot air balloon tour, or explore this World Heritage Site on horseback. Turkey is full of hidden wonders, so if you want to feel like a true explorer, mosey through its underground cities and caves.
Where to stay: Go the extra mile and book a stay in the Ritz-Carlton Istanbul. Situated in the Dolmabahçe district, the hotel is right in the middle of Turkey’s top restaurants, historical attractions, and buzzing nightlife. You can enjoy sparkling morning views of the Bosphorus Strait waterway, and melt away the day’s activities in the spa’s Turkish Hamam. The Ritz-Carlton can even assist in booking a hot air balloon tour. Or, stay at Terra Cave. The travel-friendly hotel is affordable and even boasts home-cooked breakfast. There are four original carved cave rooms and two stone rooms.
Best time to go: The best flying weather is from April through October when the skies are clearest and wind is light, though some companies fly in wintertime, too, according to Turkey Travel Planner.
Expert tip: Book in advance as hot air ballooning is a major tourist attraction, and read reviews of the many booking companies. For example, Butterfly Balloons doesn’t fill its baskets to full capacity so you’re free to move about (max is typically 16 passengers). They also choose the take-off location depending on the conditions, and take off around sunrise for the most favorable experience.
9. Pemba Island, Tanzania
With its stunning coral reefs, abundant marine life, and close proximity to mainland Tanzania, a visit to the secluded Pemba Island (located just off the coast) is the ultimate luxury-meets-aventure travel destination. If you stay at The Manta Resort, you can get the best of two worlds by booking a safari and beach combination package. You’ll first take an East African safari in Tanzania (you can visit the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and other wildlife reserves) before spending a week at the beach back at the resort on Pemba Island.
Where to stay: The Manta Resort has everything you’ll want and need (luxurious accomodations, scuba diving, and a beachfront spa) to enjoy your time—and fit in some thrills—on Pemba Island. Standard rooms with a garden view vary between $160-$285 per person per night, while seafront villas range between $23-$425 per person per night.
Best time to go: The lightest rainfall happens between November and December, where there are usually brief showers between large stretches of sunshine, according to the resort. The heaviest amount of rainfall happens between late April and early June.
Expert tip: Stay in the Underwater Room, where you’ll be able to enjoy 360° underwater views of reef fish, octopus, and other rarely seen sea creatures from the comfort of a plush double bed, along with a private landing deck and sun roof, at The Manta Resort. ($1,500 per night, fully inclusive.)
If you want to have a go at these unconventional slopes—or dunes, rather—you’ll have to visit the remote Siwa Oasis in western Egypt. But plummeting down these steep and smooth dunes isn’t the only fun you can have in Siwa—there are also stunning ancient Egyptian tombs and temples (like the Temple of the Oracle) to visit, as well as salt lakes and nature reserves.
Where to stay: You’ll find great value at the Siwa Shali Resort, where rates go for as little as $30 per night. A stunning 200-meter swimming pool runs through the resort’s restaurant, reception, spa, and guest rooms.
When to go: The best times to visit are between the months of March and April, and from October to November, when the weather is milder and the crowds tend to be smaller.
Expert tip: Fly into Cairo, and stay at least a night or two so that you can soak up iconic world wonders like the Pyramids of Giza, along with the Great Sphinx and the fascinating Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, which houses the world’s largest collection of pharaonic antiquities.