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17 Places to Go in the Last 17 Weeks of 2015

U.S. News & World Report logo U.S. News & World Report 01-10-2015 Sery Kim
Exterior view of the famous Sultan Ahmet or Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. © Leonardo Patrizi/Getty Images Exterior view of the famous Sultan Ahmet or Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.

There are only 17 weeks remaining in 2015 -- have you checked off all the destinations on your bucket list yet? Far-flung countries, remote islands, nearly barren landscapes untouched by humans... when you think of penultimate trips, it's difficult to know where to begin. But destinations where your friends will gasp at the beauty of your photos is a good start. For the remaining 17 weeks of 2015, here are the 17 best places to travel.

Dolomites, Italy

Beautiful Dolomites landscape in summer, Italy. © Getty Images/Moment RF Beautiful Dolomites landscape in summer, Italy.

This mountain range in northeastern Italy, believed to shelter some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes in the world, also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage site. Even if you're not an experienced climber, you can still explore the breathtaking scene on several via Ferrata (iron way), carved paths created during World War I. Be advised: base-jumping and free climbers abound.

Istanbul

It's easy to fall in love with this former capital of the Ottoman Empire. Both the history of the European side (Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Spice Market) and the trendy, up-and-coming Asian side (Istanbul Modern, the Karaköy district), ignites the soul with a sense of grandeur made all the more magnificent by the Bosphorus. If you're looking to splurge, consider the Four Seasons Bosphorus. Trust us, its hammam (Turkish bath) and al fresco restaurant are worth the hefty nightly rate.

Antarctica

Adelie Penguins in Antarctica © Getty Images/Fuse Adelie Penguins in Antarctica

Planning a trip to the southernmost continent can seem like a daunting task. Seabourn makes it a little easier with its Antarctica & Patagonia Experience cruise. Expect five-star interiors, sublime foods (Thomas Keller of French Laundry will be the chef de cuisine this fall), as well as plenty of opportunities to see those adorable and equally magnificent penguins.  

Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain, Mongolia

UNESCO included this site in the Khentii mountain range in its 2015 class of World Heritage inductees. Go see what all the fuss is about. For Genghis Khan aficionados, this site is believed to be the place of the Great Khan's birth and burial. While you're here, stay at the gorgeous Terelj Hotel in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar.    

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon predates other modern European capitals like Rome by centuries, and it has diligently stewarded countless pieces of prized Roman architecture. Take a hot air balloon ride in the gorgeous weather to survey them before making a pilgrimage to Hotel Da Estrela for its Michelin-starred Eleven restaurant.

Hong Kong

A helicopter ride provided by one of the top hotels in Hong Kong, the Peninsula, lets you soar over the tower-studded skyline, while the arresting (and ridiculously cheap) street food will provide ample fuel for endless days and nights. Don't leave without trying cha siu bao (steamed buns filled with sweet and savory cha siu pork).

Milan

The Octagon is the domed central space in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a 19th century glass covered retail arcade, a landmark of Milan. © Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images The Octagon is the domed central space in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a 19th century glass covered retail arcade, a landmark of Milan.

Home to the World's Fair this year, Milan's formidable historic past (Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper" is hidden away here) seamlessly melds into its commercial present. Fuel up with one of the best breakfast buffets in the city at Carlton Hotel Baglioni, the only hotel opening directly onto the cobbled fashion district of Milan, before spending absurd amounts of money on impeccable Italian fashion.

New York

With sweeping views of Central Park, enjoy drinks at The Roof at the Viceroy (if you ever wanted a taste of the insane singles scene in NYC, this is where it converges) before lingering over dinner at the lovely gastronomic JUNI. If money is no object, combine amazing views and food from the delicious Wayfarer at the Quin.

Seoul, South Korea

More than 10 million Koreans live in the sprawling capital city known for its hyper-connectivity and incredible food. Indulge in a laundry list of superlatives, including one of the world's largest metro systems and Korea's largest underground shopping area, COEX Mall.

Mendoza, Argentina

Perched on the southernmost tip of Latin America, Argentina is a country filled with a rich culture currently most notable for its wine. If you're a true oenophile, head to the Vines of Mendoza, just one of 1,500 wineries in the Mendoza region. While you're at it, take some time to admire the Andes Mountains -- the winery sits at the base of the mountains and offers an unparalleled 180-degree view.

Costa Rica

Rio Celeste Falls in Costa Rica © Getty Images/Flickr RF Rio Celeste Falls in Costa Rica

Buttressed by the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica is an exquisite Latin American jewel. Stay at Nayara Hotel & Gardens, perennial winner of enough travel awards to fill one of the country's many mystical caves. Connected to Arenal Volcano National Park by a simple 250-foot bridge, each of Nayara Springs' 16 villas boasts their own plunge pool.  

Muscat, Oman

Compared to its luxury-obsessed neighbors like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Muscat is relatively modest. But what it lacks in superlatives and excessive glitz, it makes up for with a beautiful coastline and ancient charms. Plus, Oman remains captivatingly safe, despite the current political environment. For timid explorers, consider the Shangri-La Barral Jissah Resort, which offers a variety of fine-dining restaurants on site.  

Mexico City

Densely populated Mexico City is a rising foodie hot spot, with numerous epicurean events throughout the year, including the upcoming Wine & Food Festival. For those more interested in art and history, the Aztec Empire's ancient pyramids in Teotihuacan are just a stone throw's away, as is the former home and current museum dedicated to Frida Kahlo.  

Losinj, Croatia

This tiny Croatian Island of 7,500 residents sits in the northern Adriatic Sea, connected to the outside world by an even tinier bridge. Visit for its stunning cerulean waters and charming atmosphere, and stay at the newly opened, former grand residence Boutique Hotel Alhambra.

Mauritius

Mauritius, Le Morne Brabant © Sylvain Grandadam/Getty Images Mauritius, Le Morne Brabant

This miniscule island sitting about 1,200 miles off the southeast coast of Africa is home to soft white sands and barely touched aquamarine waters. Kick back and relax at the luxurious St. Regis Mauritius with a refreshing cocktail, or get your heart pumping with some epic kitesurfing.  

Congo

The Okapi Wildlife Reserve is home to some of the most threatened species of primates and birds, as well as about 5,000 of the 30,000 okapi surviving in the wild. Plan an adventure to this breathtaking landscape to see waterfalls on the Ituri and Epulu rivers, while keeping your eyes peeled for the traditional nomadic pygmy Mbuti and Efe hunters.

Singapore

The opportunity to eat a plate of authentic char kway teow (flat rice noodles) is reason enough to visit Singapore. But the fact that its botanic gardens are an important center for science, research and the conservation of the famous rubber plant don't hurt either.

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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