With the Canadian dollar starting to look a little more optimistic, travellers in Canada might want to start thinking about taking a few more trips abroad this year and next.

Earlier this year, KAYAK released a list of trending destinations for 2017 and beyond, reflecting metasearch data gathered on Canadian users on their site. Whether you’re planning some last-minute summer travel or wanting to save a bit of money with off-peak travel in the fall, here’s a hand-picked selection of trendy cities for you to consider daydreaming about!

Where Canadians are travelling

From the mountains passing through Colombia to the myriad of markets in Morocco, to the pristine shores of the Philippines islands, Canadians seem to be flying out a little further for some adventure. But like any major travel destination in the world, it’s nearly impossible to distill all the treasures that each city promises its visitors and locals alike. That’s why we’ve chosen just a few essentials to get you started on your trip to trending destinations.

Tip: When planning your trip, check out our travel advisories page to see if your intended destination(s) have any current official warnings issued by authorities. If any exist, read up how travel advisories might impact your travel insurance

The following list is by no means an exhaustive one, but rather a quick peek into what each place uniquely offers the curious Canadian:

Casablanca, Morocco

Morocco Casablanca mosque interiors
A view inside the ornate interiors of the Hasan II Mosque

What the city’s known for
Despite its iconic name, it’s hardly the setting you might recall from the 1942 Hollywood classic. Morocco’s largest city is today a modern economic and financial hub teeming with industry and activity. You’ll find an interesting blend of Art Deco, as well as Moorish (Mauresque) and French colonial architecture, which reflects the influences that have shaped the city’s culture over the centuries.

Best time to visit
In general, the cooler months between November and May are ideal for travel in and around Morocco. 

Language(s) spoken by locals
Arabic, French and Berber

A few things to check out
Hasan II Mosque is Casablanca’s most recognizable landmark, being the third largest mosque in the world (after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia) and an architectural feat in itself. Quartier Habous, also known as ‘New Medina’, is a great introduction to souks (Arabian bazaars) and a bit of local Moroccan culture.

Local dishes to try
Tagine is a Northwest African dish named after the earthenware pot in which stews are slow-cooked; zaalouk is made from cooked eggplants, tomatoes and various spices. Of course, you’ll find plenty of couscous served everywhere—and that’s not such a bad thing. Just bear in mind these food faux pas when you’re offered some tea in Morocco!

Festivals or events to catch
Throne Day (currently held on July 30 each year) is a national celebration commemorating the current Moroccan king’s ascension to the throne and is marked by a speech, followed by some festivities. 

Daytrip ideas
The celebrated city of Marrakesh (or Marrakech) is a 2 ½ hour journey south of Casablanca; it lends travellers an even more authentic taste of traditional Moroccan culture. While historical landmarks dot the area, you’ll also find the country’s largest souk here. If you have the opportunity to go further afield, you might feel inspired by our guest writer’s account of their Moroccan adventures—including an unforgettable trip through the Sahara.

Havana, Cuba

central Havana Cuba street Habana vieja
A walk down a street full of character in Habana Vieja, the city’s heart and soul

What the city’s known for
As Cuba’s vibrant capital, Havana treats your eyes with its colourful building facades and vintage American cars that appear to be stuck in time. You’ll find plenty of evidence of the country’s cultural flavour and artistic sensibilities in historic sites, plazas, cathedrals, monuments, museums, theatres, live music venues, and even on simple street corners. 

Best time to visit
Any time from December to April, May or June will give you drier weather, while August through October are the least ideal times to visit due to occasional hurricanes. Note: Here are additional tips for seniors to consider when travelling to Cuba. 

Language(s) spoken by locals
Spanish

A few things to check out
Most travellers enjoy wandering around Old Havana (Habana Vieja), both the centre of the city and a UNSECO World Heritage Site. The area boasts plenty of character thanks to the distinct, often derelict Spanish colonial architecture. A good way to sample home-cooked local cuisine is to visit several paladares, intimate restaurants run by families from their own homes.

Local dishes to try
Although you probably won’t find those famed ‘Cuban sandwiches’ that are so popular in areas like Miami, you might find medianoches in Havana instead. One of the country’s national dishes is ropa vieja (Spanish for “old clothes”), which is shredded flank steak simmered in a tomato-based sauce and typically served with rice, beans and/or plantains. Of course, delicious seafood dishes can be found just about anywhere, too. 

Festivals or events to catch
Cubans certainly know the meaning of ‘fun’ as there’s no shortage of cultural events to check out in Havana. The Havana International Jazz Festival has become one of the world’s premier music festivals, while cigar aficionados can partake in the weeklong Habanos Cigar Festival each February. The International Cuban Dance Festival will appease those who constantly fight the urge to dance some salsa. 

Daytrip ideas
Being an island, there are a number of beaches just within an hour’s drive from Havana, like Playas del Este (known as the ‘Havana Riviera’) and Jibacoa, both to the east. Varadero is the largest resort in the Caribbean, found on a 20 km-long stretch of peninsula just 2 hours outside of Havana.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon Portugal tramway
Lisbon’s sometimes sloped streets are made easier to traverse with its vintage tramway system, still in operation.

What the city’s famous for
Situated on Portugal’s coast, the city’s infrastructure was forever shaped by the great earthquake of 1755. As you walk through narrow streets paved up and down Lisbon’s hilly topography, you won’t help but notice all the history present in the churches, castles, museums and pastel-coloured buildings or blue tile azulejo-adorned exteriors.

Best time to visit
Both periods of March to May and September to October typically offer cheaper travel rates and less crowds than in the summer, while still keeping travellers comfortably warm.

Language(s) spoken by locals
Portuguese and English

A few things to check out
Alfama is the oldest neighbourhood in Lisbon, still intact despite the massive earthquake that devastated most of the city. Miradouros are several viewpoints spread throughout the districts that yield sweeping panoramas of either the coastline or layers of red-tiled buildings rolling over hills. Baixa is where you’ll find some great shopping while Bairro Alto is where you’ll find the city come alive at night. 

Local dishes to try
When in Portugal, one should try its national dish bacalhau. Thanks to its convenient port location, there are also plenty of other fresh seafood options, if dried salted cod isn’t your thing; dishes like polvo à lagareiro—grilled octopus drizzled with olive oil—can be so simple yet will leave quite the impression on the diner. You can top your meals off with Portugal’s favourite dessert, pasteis de nata, or egg custard tarts. 

Festivals or events to catch
The Festas dos Santos Populares (Popular Saints’ Festival) is celebrated throughout June; it peaks mid-month when the focus shifts to St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of Lisbon. During this time crowds partake in eating, drinking and merry-ing in street parades and festivities. 

Daytrip ideas
The picture-perfect Azenhas do Mar, found along the Atlantic coastline to the west, is just under an hour’s trip from Lisbon, while the little fairytale-like town of Sintra, perched high up on the mountains is close by. If you enjoy visiting castles and immersing yourself in a bit of medieval history, read about the great castles in Southern Portugal.

Manila, Philippines

quaipo church manila market black nazarene
Market-goers crowd outside Manila’s historic Quiapo Church, which houses the shrine of the Black Nazarene (a miraculous dark-skinned statue of Jesus Christ)

What the city’s known for
Its nickname ‘Pearl of the Orient’ evokes a romanticized picture of old Manila, one rich with natural resources, all surrounded by unique topography—the envy of many nations. But today, with a population of over 12.8 million, Manila is a mixed modern metropolis with obvious hints of its storied past and the gateway to over 7,000 islands in the Pacific.

Best time to visit
November to May are typically dry months in the Philippines, while the rainy season (accompanied by typhoons) lasts from June to October. Note: Christmas time is a big deal for Filipinos, so it makes for a very festive and unique—and hectic—experience! 

Language(s) spoken by locals
Tagalog and English

A few things to check out
Intramuros is a historic area that dates back to the Spanish colonial period of the country’s history. Known as the ‘Walled City’, much of it was destroyed by Japanese and American forces during WWII, but many significant structures today stand right next to ruins. Binondo is a district recognized as the world’s oldest Chinatown, established as early as the 16th century. Ever-busy Makati is a major business district, with plenty of upscale commercial appeal as well as trendy entertainment and nightlife. 

Local dishes to try
Filipino cuisine is uniquely influenced by Spanish and Chinese cultures, thanks to its long immigrant history. While many consider the indigenous adobo (not to be confused with the Hispanic marinade of the same name) to be the national dish, lechon (suckling pig roasted over a charcoal pit) and the dessert halo halo are also iconic. And of course, for the adventurous palate, balut—we’ll let you Google that on your own. 

Festivals or events to catch
Though there are many festivals held in Manila throughout the year, the intense religious procession of the Black Nazarene—a wooden statue that originated from Mexico in 1606—by far draws the largest crowd every January, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. 

Daytrip ideas
About 1 ½ hours south of Manila, you’ll find the active Taal Volcano surrounded by Taal Lake. After a short boat ride to the base of the volcano, you can trek through trails that eventually reward you with a turquoise lake-within-a-lake to swim in or simply admire. If you enjoy some good waves and can fly down to the southern island of Mindanao, try surfing or skimboarding in Mati. Being surrounded by tropical water, the Philippines is the perfect place to go scuba diving, so find out how travel insurance can cover you while underwater.

Bogota, Colombia

bogota cathedral primatial cathedral
The Primatial Cathedral in Bolivar Square is one of Bogota’s more impressive landmarks

What the city’s known for
Situated 2,640m above sea level along the Andean cordillera is Colombia’s booming capital. As one of the most populous cities in Latin America, Bogota offers an exciting place for travellers to explore, despite the country’s dated reputation of being unsafe to travel to. Tourism in Bogota and other cities like Medellin and Cartagena have become an increasing trend for those wanting a long-overdue taste of Colombia. 

Best time to visit
Most of the rainfall happens in the spring and summer months, so December to March will typically promise travellers drier weather. Bogota’s relatively high altitude tends to bring in cooler air as well, so you might want to layer up!

Language(s) spoken by locals
Spanish

A few things to check out
The district of La Candelaria is the historical and cultural heart of Bogota. Here you’ll find a mix of architectural styles that take you back to Colombia’s colonial period, with churches, museums and cultural centres to visit—the famous Museo del Oro or Gold Museum has some of the most impressive displays of, you guessed it, gold. If you were to make your way up the hill of Cerro Monserrate via cable car, you’d be treated to a sweeping view of downtown Bogota and its urban expanse. 

Local dishes to try
One of Colombia’s national dishes is bandeja paisa, a culinary product of the country’s indigenous, Spanish and African heritages—and a favourite among meat-lovers. Ajiaco, found almost anywhere around Bogota, is a soup typically prepared with chicken, potatoes and a distinct herb known as guasca. 

Festivals or events to catch
Carnival de Bogota celebrates the city’s founding on August 5 and 6 each year; this street celebration is not unlike the ones that famously take place in Latin American and Caribbean nations (most notably in Rio). Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro is a bi-annual performing arts event held in the city and is said to be the largest of its kind in South America. 

Daytrip ideas
About an hour’s journey north of Bogota is the town of Zipaquira, where you’ll find the famous Catedral de Sal (Salt Cathedral), a colourfully-lit church built 200m underground in a salt mine. To get a coffee plantation experience, you can visit places like Hacienda Coloma in the town of Fusagasuga, about 2 hours southwest of the capital. 

No matter where you decide to go this year or next, you’ll probably want to come up with a well-balanced game plan to make the most out of your experience—even if you’re the type of traveller that ‘goes wherever the wind blows’. As these cities continue to trend among traveller’s bucket lists, great deals and opportunities might appear periodically, so keep your eyes open and your passport nearby!

Tip: Even when you purchase all-inclusive travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print to fully understand your travel insurance policy

Are there any destinations you’d like to go but don’t see here? Share your suggestions below!

Happy travels,

Justin

  • http://www.tugo.com TuGo

    Hi Gary,

    Thanks for the tip! Also, a great point about travelling healthy and with medications. Did you know that Morocco is one of the 10 countries where travellers are most likely to get food poisoning? http://blog.tugo.com/en/blog/10-places-travellers-most-likely-get-food-poisoning-infographic/

    Do you have any more travel or culture related tips? We would love to hear some of your Moroccan travel experiences.

    Cheers,

    Shweta

    • Gary Long

      Hi Shweta,
      Actually, yes, I might have. Though there were many beautiful things to see, and the cultural stops were fantastic, I will say that the Berber street venders were the most “in your face” that I have ever encountered. They don’t take no for an answer, actually will put their merchandise on you without your permission, hound you incessantly, and even if you do buy from one (and don’t forget to barter) the others just think that is a sign you will buy from them too. Be prepared to see things that by western standards appear so unhealthy, it is no wonder that Morocco has the reputation you mention.
      The traveller needs to look past the apparent low level of income to see the beauty of the countryside and the night and day differences between the tourist venues and real life in the cities. The High Atlas Mountains were a highlight of our trip, with our stop at a Berber household for tea.
      It was amazing to be there and see the exotic cities that I have heard and read about since being a child, but I don’t think I’d go back. But that might have something to do with the 5 days of gastrointestinal disruption I experienced while there. But, that’s another story.

      • http://www.tugo.com TuGo

        Hi Gary,

        Great insider tips! We understand how poor health can disrupt our travel experiences, but even then Morocco sounds like an awesome travel destination – full of culture and diversity.

        Thanks for sharing your story with us! 🙂

        Happy travels,

        Shweta