Rough Guides Reader Awards 2017: the winners

After weeks of voting, the results for our 2017 Reader Awards are in. Here at Rough Guides HQ, we’ve been busy sifting through hundreds of entries to bring you this: the people, places and experiences that have shaped your year in travel.

Thanks to all who took part – now on to the winners…

⋆ Coolest city right now ⋆

WINNER – Osaka, Japan

You crowned buzzing Osaka the coolest city of 2017, favouring it over the likes of Santiago and Bristol.

Pounding nightlife, glittering canalsides and an ever-diversifying food scene all help this city’s cool credentials. Oh, and did we mention it’s the birthplace of ramen noodles?

If that’s not enough, be sure to check out all the other reasons Osaka should be on your travel radar.

RUNNER-UP – Santiago, Chile

Narrowly pipped to the post by Osaka, Santiago‘s thriving arts scene and spectacular location earned it second place.

Oft overlooked in years gone by, seen as a mere base for exploring Chile‘s natural sights, the capital has now entirely reinvented itself.

And a new direct flight route from the UK means it’s even easier for British travellers to come and enjoy the city’s cultural offerings.

⋆ Most underrated destination ⋆

WINNER – Porto, Portugal

We think lovely Porto has lived in Lisbon‘s shadow for too long, and our readers obviously agree. You voted Porto the most underrated destination of 2017.

Rising visitor numbers and new flight routes suggest the city won’t be a secret for much longer.

Whether it’s for its delicious local wine, burgeoning food scene or local creatives, Porto is sure to be big news next year. Watch this space…

RUNNER-UP – Georgia

The little-touristed country of Georgia is your runner-up.

With its wild, mountainous landscapes and dramatic coastlines, it’s little wonder that Georgia is opening up as an adventure travel destination to watch. The rugged Caucasus range offers great trekking, while the compact capital, Tbilisi, with its fantastic modern art museum, is also starting to get noticed.

Make the trip before the rest of the world does too.

⋆ Back on the radar ⋆

WINNER – Lake District, England

Glasses clinked around the UK when the Lake District became Britain’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site in July. And now you’ve voted it your favourite back-on-the-radar destination for 2017.

Never truly off the radar, the sprawling Lake District sees millions of hikers, boaters and birders each year – but the accolade served as a gentle reminder of all the national park has to offer. So pull on those hiking boots and make the most of the Great British outdoors.

RUNNER-UP – Jordan

The enchanting Middle Eastern country of Jordan takes the runner-up spot.

The new Jordan Trail, which launched in 2017, beats a 400-mile path through some of the country’s wildest parts, putting it firmly back on the map. Add to that the time-worn temples of Petra and the vast expanses of Wadi Rum and it’s no wonder that Jordan is top of your travel lists once more.

If you’re planning a trip, be sure to read our guide to the destination.

⋆ Most exciting event of 2017 ⋆

WINNER – Solar Eclipse, USA

This year’s solar eclipse, touted as one of the greatest in American history, was your favourite event of 2017.

Millions of people across the States, from west coast to east, turned out to gaze up at the eclipse, whose path extended across the entire country.

If you missed it, fear not: the next eclipse will be in 2024 and you can always make do with the stars until then…

RUNNER-UP – Canada’s 150th celebrations

Canada‘s 150th celebrations came a close second for your favourite event of the year. Festivities bubbled away for the entirety of 2017, at their most explosive on July 1, Canada’s national day. The celebrations focused around the capital city, Ottawa, which saw towering robots pound the streets and a fine-dining restaurant suspended in the sky.

If you’re inspired to take a trip next year, here are the most beautiful places to visit (also voted by you).

⋆ Most welcoming country ⋆

WINNER – Scotland

Ever a favourite with Rough Guides readers, Scotland came out top as the world’s most welcoming country.

Sure, Scotland has some pretty epic scenery and some buzzing cities to boot, but it’s the people that are the real drawcard here.

Whether you’re propping up a bar in Edinburgh or trekking the hills of Glen Coe, you’re sure to feel a warm Scottish welcome from whomever you meet.

RUNNER-UP – Canada

Canadians are famously friendly and you voted them second only to Scotland for their ability to give a warm welcome.

It’s really not surprising: Canadians have got plenty to smile about. The country’s wide open spaces and winding coastal highways make for some of the planet’s greatest road trips, while its cities are some of the most creative and forward thinking in the world. It’s time to start planning that trip – you’ll be received with open arms.

⋆ Ultimate solo travel destination ⋆

WINNER – New Zealand

New Zealand took the top spot as your ultimate solo travel destination for 2017.

Friendly locals, cool cities, a huge range of budget accommodation and some truly awesome scenery make New Zealand every bit the backpacker’s dream.

So, rent a vehicle and take to that open road – you’re sure to make some friends along the way.

RUNNER-UP – Vietnam

A backpacker’s rite of passage, Vietnam is your runner-up for best solo travel destination.

Vietnam’s rice paddies, paradisiacal beaches and frenetic cities are the perfect mix for the curious independent traveller.

If you’re planning your first Vietnamese adventure, check out our top tips for backpacking the country and make some time to venture from the most touristed spots during your trip.

⋆ Most overrated attraction ⋆

WINNER – Mona Lisa, Paris

Leonardo da Vinci’s famed Mona Lisa draws art lovers from the world over – but according to our readers, it doesn’t quite live up to the hype.

You voted this 16th-century oil painting, which hangs in Paris‘ Musée du Louvre, 2017’s most overrated attraction. Perhaps it’s because of the jostling crowds – or perhaps you’ve just given up guessing the reasons behind Mona Lisa’s mysterious smile. She must know something we don’t.

RUNNER-UP – Manneken Pis, Brussels

Brussels‘ Manneken Pis is your runner-up for the most overrated attraction. The bronze statue, which dates back to the 17th century, depicts a small boy urinating into a fountain basin below.

The famous figure has a curious backstory, so perhaps it’s size that’s the issue here – Manneken Pis is little more than 60cm tall, so you can barely get a glimpse of him amidst the thronging crowds. If you’re keen to take a peek, be sure to leave the selfie stick at home.

⋆ Top of the bucket list ⋆

WINNER – Northern Lights

You voted the Northern Lights as the top item on your bucket list.

Adventurers travel the world over in pursuit of this elusive light display, from Iceland to Canada to the very northern reaches of Scotland. And it’s easy to understand why.

Wherever you are in the world, after waiting in the bracing cold for hours, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of seeing those first ribbons of light trickle across the sky.

RUNNER-UP – Machu Picchu, Peru

Just behind the northern lights, Machu Picchu is second on your travel wishlist.

Most often reached via the Inca Trail, this 550-year-old citadel is a truly spectacular sight. The Inca ruins are nearly 8000ft above sea level, tucked within dense forestland and between soaring Andean peaks.

If you’re planning a trip, remember the popular (and busy) Inca Trail is not the only route to the site – opt for an alternative trek to shake off the crowds.

⋆ Favourite destination of 2017 ⋆

WINNER – Scotland

Yes, you guessed it. Scotland, a perennial favourite of Rough Guides readers, is your number one destination for 2017.

Previously, you named it the most beautiful country in the world – but it’s not all about appearances. This year the Edinburgh Fringe Festival celebrated its 70th year and Glasgow emerged as a foodie destination to watch.

Whether you’re exploring the capital or discovering Scotland’s little-visited corners, you’re guaranteed a memorable trip.

RUNNER-UP – Iceland

Just pipped to the post by Scotland, Iceland is your runner up.

Tourist numbers to the country have soared over the past couple of years, and our readers are certainly feeling the love for this Nordic nation. Bubbling geysers, thundering waterfalls, glossy lakes – Iceland’s scenery is truly out of this world, and its compact, colourful capital is the perfect base from which to explore it. If you’ve not made the trip yet, what are you waiting for?

Our three lucky prize winners will be announced very soon – keep an eye out for the big reveal…

Images top to bottom (left-right): Pixabay/CC0; Narong Jongsirikul/Shutterstock; Pixabay/CC0; Claudio Sepúlveda Geoffroy/Flickr; artem evdokimov/Shutterstock; Clark and Kim Kays/Flickr; Ronan Shenhav/Flickr; Pixabay/CC0; Alejandro Roman Gonzalez/Flickr; Pixabay/CC0; digidreamgrafix/Shutterstock; Pixabay/CC0; Michael Muraz/Flickr; Pixabay/CC0; Pixabay/CC0; Michael Matti/Flickr; Pixabay/CC0; Pixabay/CC0; gaetan.gr/FlickrJose Luis Hidalgo R./Flickr; Pixabay/CC0; Pixabay/CC0; Pixabay/CC0; Pixabay/CC0; Pixabay/CC0; YuriFineart/Shutterstock; Kirsty McWhirter/Flickr; Pixabay/CC0

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