The best transport discoveries of 2017 – selected by Guardian writers …

Belmonte Calabro, Calabria, Italy

In a summer, we gathering from Naples by Campania and Calabria, afterwards took a packet to Sicily. Along a way, we pennyless a debate during illusory agriturismi and guesthouses nonetheless a many intriguing place was EcoBelmonte, Calabria’s usually albergo diffuso. This ancient, car-free encampment was once home to 3,000 people, now there are usually 30 permanent residents but, interjection to a perfected work of Gianfranco Suriano, who grew adult there, 14 of a encampment houses are accessible for tourists to rent. Clinging to a hillside, invisible from a highway nonetheless with views over a stimulating Tyrrhenian sea, a thick-walled houses are built on tip of any other – and related by rambling alleyways. On a meanderings, we spasmodic came opposite one of a aged residents, or bumped into Gianfranco’s mother Gabriella, who runs a project. Most of a time we felt like we had a place to ourselves: it was both scary and enchanting. For service from a boiling Aug heat, we gathering down a towering to a beach – a long, true widen of pebbles shelving into transparent water. Returning prohibited and sandy felt like stepping behind in time to a enchanting encampment that’s hardly altered in centuries.
From €30pppn, children €5,
Isabel Choat

Shell Beach, Western Australia

Photograph: Getty Images

A beach that’s a steer for bruise eyes after a nerve-jangling expostulate adult a North West Coastal Highway from Perth, on high warning for kangaroos that can rebound opposite a highway during any time. It doesn’t settle a nerves any to know you’re in a place called Shark Bay, nonetheless it turns out a many western indicate in Australia is a universe birthright area, home to vital fossils called stromatolites (a single-celled photosynthesising microbe) and to a beach that’s one of a healthy wonders of a world. Shell Beach is done adult of billions of shells, privately cockle shells that multiply violent due to a high salinity of a H2O and a skip of predators means to tarry in all that salt. It stretches for 70km, looks like a immeasurable salt vessel and feels like an oasis on a limit of a outback.
Andy Pietrasik

Lake Gaube, French Pyrenees

Photograph: Alamy

Crystalline waters, mountainous mountains, wildflowers and a best-situated cafeteria I’ve ever visited (even commanding a one during Cirque de Gavarnie which, with my dual boys, I’d visited a day before). We reached this pleasing lake after parking a sinecure automobile during Pont d’Espagne and walking past a array of epic waterfalls and adult a steep-sided hollow for an hour or so. On reaching a lake on a prohibited day, a grassy, boulder-strewn area around a cafeteria was ideal for crashing out, enjoying a cut of blueberry cake – a internal speciality – and considering a opposite scene. At a distant finish of a lake is angled 3,300-metre Mount Vignemale, France’s top Pyrenean summit. We walked towards a rise to a other side of a lake where there was another, some-more remote-feeling, area of streams, boulders and pines. It felt as if we were in a Canadian Rockies, not a two-hour moody from home.
Adam McCulloch

Ari neighbourhood, Bangkok

Paper, Butter Burger, Bangkok

The initial time we visited Bangkok, we was on a backpacking outing that enclosed a
de rigueur stay in a hostel usually off a opening year-apocalypse of Khao San Road. Returning this spring, we wanted to see a opposite side of it, so went to Ari, a residential district that has fewer tourists and a ton of transport food-style restaurants, cafes and bars. It’s also on a Skytrain line, definition we can zip behind and onward opposite a city. Our bottom was a Yard Hostel: a complicated space done out of shipping containers, with a yard bar to breeze down in. In front of a hostel is a coffee shop, as good as a extraordinary burger dilemma Paper Butter a Burger. A few mins walk, on Aree Soi 2, you’ll find Summer Street griddle – a food lorry portion adult outrageous plates of clams, mussels and crayfish delivered uninformed for we to griddle during your table. Or, in a case, baked by a waiter, who took a image divided after saying us erase one too many scallops on a grill.
Will Coldwell

Pendine Sands, south Wales

Photograph: Getty Images

I’ve mostly found myself essay about anticipating solitude, or space, while on trips, either it’s in Oregon, or Iceland, so removing divided from people contingency be a “thing” for me. we wasn’t awaiting to learn a good far-reaching open in Wales, nonetheless we did – and it was on Pendine Sands. On a balmy autumn day, we walked for about a mile from seaside to a sea (and back, naturally) nonetheless we could have walked further: this area on Carmarthen Bay has 7 miles of beach. And it has history, too: in a early 1900s a flatness and stretch saw it used for motorbike races and land speed record attempts. The drummer in my rope even schooled to expostulate here in a 1980s. I’m not genuine adequate to regard it for sum privacy – a area has copiousness of holiday camps and sight parks – nonetheless there is copiousness of space on that long, smashing beach.
Robert Hull

Omunity, Bali

Spirituality has turn rather commercialised in Bali. There are no finish of “healers” charity to change your chakras, nonetheless we came opposite a place in Singaraja in a north, distant from a infancy of tourists, that is a genuine understanding when it comes to an authentic internal experience. A small tabernacle greets we as we step by a aged wooden gates into gardens streamer to a river, with 10 bedrooms dotted around a healthy swimming pool and yoga shala. It’s an eco-homestay: stepping into a life of owners Zanzan, his mother and 3 immature children. Vegetarian dishes are eaten together, starting with chanted blessings. Zanzan was innate in a encampment and returned after operative in hospitality, with a aim of display visitors a genuine Bali – so a stay includes excursions: hiking in a towering scenery, visiting internal craftspeople, fasten church ceremonies and streamer to a still black silt beach nearby.
$96pp a night, including all dishes and activities (10% bonus for couples),
Jane Dunford

Homestay circuitously a Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is smashing nonetheless a ideal array of coaches, debate guides and sequence hotels in Agra can make it a mass-market experience. We countered this by staying in a inexpensive homestay a brief stretch from a Taj. Aman Homestay is run by Ranjana, who loves to barter life stories and demonstrate pitiable annoyance during her ne’er do good husband. Comfortable en apartment doubles cost about £22 a night, and there’s a garden, dual tiers of balconies and a roof terrace. To make a possess approach on feet to a Taj after breakfast (missing a morning crowds, nonetheless before a categorical rush) was a ideal approach to suffer this many overwhelming site.(Dinners during a homestay are basic; for something some-more interesting, Bamboo Cafe on a dilemma – 30 Shilpgram Road – does curries, thalis and koftas for about £1.50 a head.)
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Liz Boulter

The Thames next Greenwich

Photograph: Martin Argles for a Guardian

It competence seem absurd to advise that a Thames is a find of a year nonetheless we don’t meant a bucolic splendours of a top reaches. we meant next Greenwich. Lured in by a Silk River humanities project, we walked to Southend, channel around feet tunnels (at Greenwich and Woolwich) and ferries (last one is Gravesend-Tilbury). There is post-industrial extinction nonetheless also radiant beauty. At Rainham Marshes we competence see osprey, in Gravesend there is a grave of Pocahontas, during Dartford railway hire a residence to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who initial met there. Time things right and we can locate a Waverley paddle steamer behind upland to Tower Bridge.
Kevin Rushby

Lews Castle, Isle of Lewis, Scotland

Photograph: Alamy

Lews Castle overlooks Stornoway gulf on a Isle of Lewis in a Outer Hebrides. It was built in 1847 and had many uses over a years – private home, naval hospital, college – before descending into disrepair. For scarcely 20 years it was empty. But no more: a residence has been remade into a museum and hotel, where we stayed in May. There’s a brew of bedrooms and apartments, a cosy bar and a grand ballroom, and beautiful woodland drift – a environment for a HebCelt song festival any July. The museum’s centrepiece is 6 12th-century Lewis chessmen pieces. Stornoway is a poetic place to browse: buy contemporary tweed from By Rosie and internal pottery or seaglass trinket from Salka, afterwards watch a rope during McNeill’s. Don’t skip a Stornoway Seafari (I saw white-tailed sea eagles, risso dolphins and otters), a prehistoric Callanish Stones and a fabulous beaches.
Doubles from £110,
Rachel Dixon

The tabernacle of Difunta Correa, San Juan, Argentina

a Photograph: Alamy

In a 1840s, a father of teenage bride Deolinda Correa was chosen to quarrel in a Argentinian polite fight and dragged from their home in a mostly dried state of San Juan. She vowed to lane him down and set off with her baby son nonetheless shortly ran out of haven and complacent on a hillock. Days later, flitting gauchos found her passed physique nonetheless were dismayed to see a baby feeding from her “miraculously” full breast. It was a initial of many miracles accredited to La Difunta (The Deceased) Correa.

It is in a center of a dried but, given a 1940s, a tabernacle of this semi-pagan saint has grown into a small town, paid for by believers, nonetheless any support from a authorities and positively zero from a Catholic Church, that shuns a whole heretical business. To non-believers like me, of course, a whole thing seemed totally bonkers. But could a millions who’ve placed plaques on a 17 votive chapels, giving interjection for a miracles they’d received, all be fantasists? And all those who’d left their cars, and 3,500 motorbikes (soon to be auctioned for a poor) in gratitude? Or a hundreds of footballers and soldiers who’d left their shirts, trophies, uniforms and weapons? we can’t remember a final time we prayed but, overwhelmed by a unshakeable faith of those around me, we sealed my eyes and spoken my piece.
Gavin McOwan

Leechpool and Owlbeach Woods, Sussex

Owning a dog gives me a event to try some-more of a countryside, and one of a many other advantages is an forgive to steep out of family selling excursions. That’s how we detected these ancient backwoods in a High Weald of Sussex, a brief expostulate from Horsham.

A Google hunt after and we’d substituted a stalls of a Christmas marketplace for stands of oak, ash, hazel and hawthorn; a universe of piped carols for cathedral-like quiet; china spray-painted holly wreaths for a runner of frost-rimed leaves. You’d never know that half of Leechpool timber was wiped out by a Great Storm of 1987, so enveloping is a clarity of seclusion. In places, a timberland paths are curled with a roots of ancient oaks – these woods were once partial of St Leonard’s Forest, a sport belligerent in Gothic times, and there’s a clarity of time transport tramping by a tunnels of trees. In dual hours, we didn’t make it over to a 55 acres of easy heathland during Owlbeach – a dog was bustling chasing squirrels and we was in a portal to another world. AP

Frioul Islands, Marseille

Photograph: Alamy

Multicultural Marseille is an underrated city-break destination. we spent my birthday weekend there this year and found so many to do we missed a moody home. One of my best discoveries was a Frioul Islands, a four-isle archipelago 4km off a coast, partial of a Calanques inhabitant park. Frequent ferries call during If for a eponymous chateau, a real-life jail of a illusory Count of Monte Cristo, nonetheless it was too breezy to wharf when we was there. Instead, we landed on Ratoneau, a usually island with bars and restaurants. Saint Esteve beach has a tantalizing snorkel route nonetheless we crossed a causeway to wilder Pomegues to transport among sea lilies and lavender. There is no accommodation on a islands during a impulse nonetheless a French engineer Ora Ïto is branch Fort Brégantin on Ratoneau into a hotel in 2018. RD

The Hooghly stream above Kolkata

Photograph: Kevin Rushby for a Guardian

There’s an Indian supervision statistic that suggests usually 2% of a tourists who revisit India make it to Kolkata. If so, we can’t suppose what small fragment make it adult a Hooghly stream to towns such as Serampore, Chandannagar and Azimganj. A skip of infrastructure creates this 300km stream debate some-more of a sight odyssey with occasional ferries nonetheless a possibility to excavate into Bengali small city life is a abounding one. Check out a implausible pottery entertain of Krishnanagar, a mislaid colonial design of Denmark’s Indian sovereignty (Serampore) and a somewhat reduction unkempt delights of Azimganj’s Jain businessman houses, and residence home stays (Cossimbazar is recommended) and handicrafts galore. KR

New Inn Brilley, Herefordshire

Photograph: Graham M Lawrence

A good glamping mark circuitously a Welsh border, New Inn Brilley is a small guesthouse – a poetic two-hour transport from Hay-on-Wye – with several wagons and cabins in a enchanting garden. Tibetan assent flags are strung between a trees with angel lights and signs with Buddhist teachings all along a small pathways. We stayed in an aged Gypsy Wagon with a woodburner, surrounded by decking with an outside kitchen built of throw wood, and a large outside bathtub. It was a bit like staying in a deconstructed shack, nonetheless how mostly can we have a prohibited bath with a perspective opposite a Wye valley?
Rooms from £70 a night, glamping from £60, WC

Salt and Straw, Portland, Oregon

Photograph: Leela Cyd Ross

I adore ice-cream, adore it some-more than coffee or cake, and so we was in my component when we found Salt and Straw in Portland’s Alberta humanities district. A singular dip of sea salt with caramel ribbons and prohibited fudge also authorised me to stop and take in a day while we mislaid myself in a sweet-but-not-sickly impulse of (fro)zen wonder. RH

Xanthos, Turkey

Photograph: Getty Images

Visitor numbers to Turkey fell dramatically in 2016 following a unsuccessful troops manoeuvre and a array of apprehension attacks, and President Erdoğan’s peremptory order continues to daunt many. UK Foreign Office advice now usually warns opposite transport to areas tighten to a Syrian and Iraq borders and during a impulse traveller numbers are starting to collect up. Those who do go will find welcoming locals, low prices and uncrowded sites. we visited Kaş and Kalkan in October, when temperatures were still in a mid-20s. One of a many considerable places we detected was Xanthos, in a Antalya province, where a hull of a ancient collateral of Lycia lay on a hilltop and we can ramble shower adult thousands of years of history. There’s a Roman amphitheatre, stays of a Byzantine church, mosaic floors and unconstrained views to a stream and over farmland to a sea. JD

Hostal La Torre, Ibiza

Photograph: La Torre

A impulse that unequivocally summed adult my stay during Hostal La Torre this summer was when Mark Barrott – a DJ and writer behind Balearic reconstruction tag International Feel – strolled over to a list and proudly identified a record he’d usually played as “an revise of a Sade lane by Sade that was never released”. If we wish to get low into a sundry and perceptive sounds that underpin a island’s low-pitched heritage, afterwards this is substantially a good place to dump by. The stylish white-walled boutique hotel and grill spills down a rocks to a precipice corner and has glorious views. Resident DJs Barrott and Pete Gooding – along with unchanging guest trimming from DJ Harvey to Kolsch – soundtrack a nightfall with an heterogeneous brew of obscurities from Ennio Morricone to Soft Machine, timing a balance to stop during a accurate impulse a object disappears.You can relive it interjection to dual gathering albums picked by a residents – La Torre Volumen Uno and Volumen Dos – nonetheless zero utterly lives adult to a genuine thing. WC

Sandwich and Pegwell Bay inhabitant inlet reserve, Kent

Photograph: Alamy

I’ve spent a lot of time in Kent nonetheless 2017 was my initial revisit to this coastal haven south of Ramsgate; it won’t be my last. Wander along mudflats and marshland, tighten to a water’s corner and you’ll mark copiousness of birdlife (come in winter or open for best twitching intensity – a haven is famous for a waders and wildfowl). In a stretch we competence view seals on a bay – you can get a vessel out from Sandwich to see them – and on transparent days we can see opposite to France. Paths lead by longer weed and pasture, where herds of long-haired, long-horned highland cattle graze. Afterwards, go to a Belle Vue Tavern in Pegwell, that has extraordinary views from a cliff-top terrace, and good pub muck too.
Reserve free, automobile park £1.30 a day/£2 weekend, JD

Fish market, Chioggia, Veneto, Italy

Photograph: Alamy

Shouty, bustling and unpretentious, Chioggia’s fish marketplace is one of those places where people meant business and tourists can damn good keep out of a approach – or get bustling buying. The sell marketplace (there’s also a indiscriminate one, that starts even earlier, during 4am) is in a lonesome space that backs onto a Canale Vena, where you’ll see fishing boats moored up. It’s in a building off a city’s categorical street, Corso del Popolo and has around 30 stalls (called mògnoli). we watched a skipper of my vessel casting his eye over cuttlefish, squid, lobster, crab, mussels, sole, sea bass, scallops, anchovies and more, wondering what we should have for lunch when behind on board. Chioggia is tighten to Venice but, aside from a beachy review feel of circuitously Sottomarina, has a sharp-witted atmosphere of a city usually going about a work. RH

Casa do Visconde de Chanceleiros, Portugal

Photograph: PR

Portugal saw a bang in tourism in 2017 – and it’s a year we truly fell for it, too. One of my favourite discoveries was Casa do Visconde de Chanceleiros in Pinhao in a Douro valley, easterly of Porto. There are many imagination hotels around here nonetheless this 18th-century estate residence is stylish nonetheless homely, not flash. Each morning, owners Ursula asks guest if they’ll be around for her homemade, three-course cooking – served on a patio unaware a vineyard-clad valley. There’s a sauna in an aged booze barrel, an probity bar and a bedrooms are spacious, featuring lots of timber and stone.
Doubles from €135 BB, JD

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