Cultural tourism destinations: where to go in 2017

Cultural tourism destinations: where to go in 2017

You’ve just rung in the New Year, following your choice of superstitions and promising to yourself that you will not overlook one single resolution.

I wish you the very best for the year ahead. If you’re wondering where to travel in the next twelve months, let me inspire you with the best destinations for cultural tourism in 2017.

Denmark and Cyprus, home of the 2017 European Capitals of Culture

City graffiti in Aarhus (Photo by Mikkel Schmidt) | Best Destinations for Cultural Tourism in 2017 @tripprblog
City graffiti in Aarhus (Photo by Mikkel Schmidt)

In 2014, the European Capitals of Culture project turned 30 years old.

It’s quite an achievement to continuously promote Europe’s cultural richness and diversity. Something, I believe, most of the Europeans are proud of and that we gladly celebrate.

The beauty of this project is that it always takes us on a beautiful cultural journey to lesser-known cities, steering us away from big urban clusters, and introducing us to new destinations.

In 2017, the show stars were the cities of Aarhus (in Denmark) and Pafos (in Cyprus).

Booking.com
Booking.com

Portugal, a cultural melting pot

Whaling Museum in the Island of Flores Azores | Best Destinations for Cultural Tourism in 2017 @tripprblog
Whaling Museum in the Island of Flores Azores

After being nominated by Lonely Planet as one of the Best in Travel for 2017, if you’re thinking of postponing a trip to “Europe’s West Coast” this year, you might be missing out.

Culturally diverse, mouth-watering mixed-influenced cuisine and some of the best wines produced locally are just some of the reasons that will pique your curiosity.

If you’ve been to Portugal before, it’s time to explore the less crowded areas like the Azores or the Southwestern Alentejo. They have become more popular over the years, but mass tourism hasn’t hit them yet (and we hope it never does).

Germany, 500 years of the Reformation

The Castle Church in Wittenberg where Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door | Best Destinations for Cultural Tourism in 2017
The Castle Church in Wittenberg where Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door (Photo by Greger Ravik)

Five-hundred years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Castle Church’s door in Wittenberg and triggered a ripple effect that would forever change the course of religious history.

Although the official date isn’t until the 31st of October, Germany celebrates this revolutionary act, and the man behind it, throughout the year with all sorts of cultural and historical events.

This includes the Luther 500 Festival, which will take you on a tour of Wittenberg (the center, of course, of the Reformation), Eisleben (birthplace and death place of Martin Luther), Wartburg castle in Eisenach (Luther’s hiding place from 1521 to 1522), Erfurt (where he studied), Torgau, and Leipzig.

Canada, 150th anniversary of its foundation

Basilique Notre Dame de Montréal, Montréal, Canada by Annie Spratt | Best Destinations for Cultural Tourism in 2017 @tripprblog
The Basilique Notre Dame is one of the must-sees in Montréal (Photo by Annie Spratt)

I can’t think of a bad thing when it comes to Canada. Sweet maple syrup, killer mountain lake views, and a Prime Minister we’d all love to adopt as our own.

Known as one of the countries with the most polite people globally, Canada celebrates the 150th anniversary of its foundation in 2017.

Keeping the country’s cultural heritage and diversity in mind, Canada will have 150 celebrations happening across the country, including the National Aboriginal Day (June 21st), Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day: Fête Nationale du Québec et de la Francophonie Canadienne (June 24th), and Canadian Multiculturalism Day (June 27th).

Finland, 100 years of independence

The Kiasma Museum in Helsinki (Photo by Steven Spassov) | Best Destinations for Cultural Tourism in 2017 @tripprblog
The Kiasma Museum in Helsinki (Photo by Steven Spassov)

2017 also marks the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence, and the country planned a year jam-packed with cultural activities.

Focusing on “leaving a mark by working together,” the Finnish government has even invited locals to apply and submit their own ideas for projects celebrating the centenary.

The list of confirmed events includes a tour by the Sibelius Academy and Juilliard joint symphony orchestra, the Stories of Finnish Art – the Ateneum collection on tour, the exhibition Echoes – 100 Years in Finnish Architecture and Design, and Gypsy Lives – Home and Back, an exhibition on the culture of Finnish Gypsies.

Latvia, winner of the Intangible Heritage Tourism Award 2016

The Riga Street Food Festival is one of the most popular events | Best Destinations for Cultural Tourism in 2017 @tripprblog
The Riga Street Food Festival is one of the most popular events (Photo by Karlis Dambras)

Cultural tourism is on the rise, and it won’t be just another travel trend. As people become more aware of preserving local customs, there has been a rise in tour companies providing full cultural immersion experiences.

If done well and with sustainable growth in mind, cultural tourism is extremely valuable. It’s not a coincidence that UNWTO has declared 2017 as the international year of sustainable tourism for development, with cultural values, diversity, and heritage as one of the five key areas to promote tourism.

The Turaida Museum Reserve for preserving the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Latvia won the first prize of last year’s edition of the Intangible Heritage Tourism Awards. That’s a sign that this Eastern European country is doing it right.

Popular events in Latvia include the Riga Street Food Festival (January), the Celebration of Metendiena mask festival, and the fair “Savor the Flavor at Valmiermuiza” (February).

Rwanda, harnessing the power of cultural tourism

Women performing a local dance in Kigali, Rwanda (Photo by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo) | Best Destinations for Cultural Tourism in 2017 @tripprblog
Women performing a local dance in Kigali, Rwanda (Photo by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo)

Africa has been the preferred tourist destination for wildlife seekers, but there’s a lot of room to grow in attracting cultural tourists, and the locals working in the tourism industry are paying attention to all the signs.

Rwanda is one of those countries, ready to showcase the very best in local culture and heritage. There’s no shortage of traditional ceremonies and customs, traditional food, arts and crafts, and events and festivals to make you want to start planning your trip.

With the gruesome memory of the 1994 genocide in their recent past, Rwandans are now focused on moving forward with new heritage tourism projects.

India, a classic cultural tourism destination

Inside Adalaj stepwell, one of the top places to visit in Ahmedabad
Inside Adalaj stepwell, one of the top places to visit in Ahmedabad

There’s a reason why most people who return from India never say, “I’ve been to India.” With a rich culture that changes from city to city (even those within the same state) and even more diverse cuisine, India is a country you will never entirely “been to.”

A trip to India is a trip of the senses. From the chaotic traffic to the street markets, feeling the pulse of one of the world’s most ancient civilizations will change you forever.

The best way to feel incredible India is to go with the flow and visit more offbeat destinations, but culturally diverse, like Ahmedabad (home of the Mill Owner’s Association Building, designed by Le Corbusier) and Diu (a former Portuguese colony in the state of Gujarat with as much charm as Goa but without the tourist crowds).

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