Where will you go in 2012?

The Bay of Fundy. (Courtesy Department of Tourism New Brunswick)

The Bay of Fundy. (Courtesy Department of Tourism New Brunswick)


, Last Updated: 10:31 AM ET

After the excesses of the holidays, some people like to start the new year with self-deprivation: Semi-starvation diets, grueling exercise regimens, austerity budgets and the like.

I, on the other hand, have always found New Year's Day a good time to sip a cappuccino, pull out the travel guides (or iPad) and daydream about my next foray into the world.

Despite having a generous holiday allotment, there never seems to be enough time to explore all the places I would like to visit in a year. So I'm always somewhat confounded by those annual Expedia Vacation Deprivation surveys, which indicate that many Canadians don't take all of their vacation time.

These folks must not experience the intense feelings of wanderlust that grip me several times a year.

And I am not alone. Canadians are very intrepid travellers. Some 32 million passengers take off or touch down at Pearson International Airport annually. And while many are travelling on business, the majority are among the 940-million leisure travellers who wander the Earth each year.

That's almost a billion people on the move. Ever wonder where they're all going? I do. And thanks to the folks at Statistics Canada and the United Nations World Tourism Organization, we know exactly where they are heading.

If you are prone to fantasizing about travel--or planning a trip this year--here are some Top 10 lists to get you thinking about new horizons. In addition to listing the most popular destinations for Canadians and other travellers, we've included details on where travel guide book publishers Lonely Planet and Frommer's think we should all go in 2012.

Bon voyage!


List compiled by Lonely Planet's travel experts

1. Uganda

2. Myanmar (Burma)

3. Ukraine

4. Jordan

5. Denmark

6. Bhutan

7. Cuba

8. New Caledonia

9. Taiwan

10. Switzerland

Uganda -Why it's no. 1

Lonely Planet veers far off the beaten path with this selection. Celebrating 50 years of independence in 2012, LP cites Uganda's beauty -from snowcapped mountains to dense jungles -and abundant wildlife such as mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, golden monkeys, rare tree-climbing lions and more than 1,040 species of birds as top reasons to visit. See ugandatourism.com .


List compiled by Lonely Planet's travel experts

1. London, England

2. Muscat, Oman

3. Bengaluru (Bangalore), India

4. Cadiz, Spain

5. Stokholm, Sweden

6. Giumaraes, Portugal

7. Santiago, Chile

8. Hong Kong

9. Orlando, Florida

10. Darwin, Australia

London -Why it's No. 1

As host city of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, this is London's year to shine. From royal palaces -Buckingham, Hampton Court, Kew, Kensington -to iconic attractions such as Big Ben and the Tower of London, to museums and galleries to the vibrant West End theatre scene to cozy pubs, the city is a four-season destination with plenty of free attractions. Look for new things to do in the once-gritty East End, which is getting a major facelift for the Games. See visitbritain.com.


World's most visited countries, according to statistics compiled by the United Nations World Tourism Organization

1. France

2. United States

3. China

4. Spain

5. Italy

6. United Kingdom

7. Turkey

8. Germany

9. Malaysia

10. Mexico

France -Why it's no. 1

From the excitement of Paris to the colourful landscapes of Provence, it's no surprise that France is the world's most visited country. History, Roman ruins, ancient monuments, walled cities, medieval castles, Norman abbeys, fabulous museums, azur waters, splendid beaches, vineyards, fine food and wine, charming cafes, and that famous French joie de vivre -enough said. See franceguide.com.


Top 10 foreign destinations visited by Canadians, from Statistics Canada

1. United States

2. Mexico

3. Cuba

4. Dominican Republic

5. United Kingdom

6. France

7. Italy

8. Germany

9. China

10. Netherlands

United States -- Why it's No. 1

In addition to being our closest neighbour, the U.S. is also one of the world's most geographically diverse countries with mountains, canyons, deserts, plains, lakes, rivers and beaches to explore. It's home to dozens of great cities and several states -- including Arizona, California, Florida, Texas -- with favourable climates, where Canadians can escape winter's icy grip. See discoveramerica.com for links to state and territorial tourism offices.


As determined by Frommer's editors, authors, international experts and readers

1. Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Canada

2. Beirut, Lebanon

3. Chongqing, China

4. Curacao

5. Fukuoka, Japan

6. Ghana

7. Girona, Spain

8. Greenwich (London), England

9. Kansas City, Missouri

10. Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Bay Of Fundy -- Why it's No. 1

Touching the shores of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and a small slice of Maine, the Bay of Fundy is home to the world's highest tides (16 metres) and was a finalist in the New 7 Wonders of Nature campaign. Twice daily, tides go from high to low, allowing 100 billion tonnes of water to flow in and out of the bay -- a process that takes six hours and 13 minutes. Both provinces have Fundy parks, hiking trails, museums, lighthouses and whale watching tours. See bayoffundytourism.com.


As determined by Frommer's editors, authors, international experts and readers

1. Adventure: Moab, Utah

2. Beach: Hanalei Beach, Hawaii

3. City Break: Chicago

4. Cruise: Tromso, Norway 5.Endangered: Aysen Region, Chile

6. Family: Great Smoky Mountains, U.S.A.

7. Food and drink: Lima, Peru

8. To get lost: Whitsunday Islands, Australia

9. Value: Albanian Riviera

10. Reader favourite: Turkey

Moab --Why it's No. 1

Located in Utah's red-rock country, this funky outpost is on the doorstep of two high desert national parks--Arches and Canyonlands --and home to dozens of outfitters that can take visitors on rafting, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking or four-wheeling adventures. After a day of outdoor play, the town offers not only places to sleep but also restaurants, pubs, microbreweries, souvenir shops, etc. See discovermoab.com.