1.Mostar, Bosnia, and Herzegovina
Why go now: Mark 25 years of peace
What to know: Partially destroyed during the Bosnian War (1992–1995), history-rich Mostar still bears scars of the past. Numerous buildings in the Old City, developed as a 15th-century Ottoman frontier town, have been rebuilt or restored in the 25 years since the Dayton Peace Accords established relative calm in the western Balkans. Wander around and you’ll pass newly renovated apartments next to buildings riddled with bullet holes. Local and international artists regularly decorate the abandoned structures with colorful murals. Mostar’s most tangible image of peace is the 16th-century Stari Most (Old Bridge), rebuilt in 2004. It connects the city’s predominantly Christian Croat west side with the mainly Muslim Bosniak east. —Barbera Bosma, managing editor, Nat Geo Travel Netherlands
When to go: May How to go: Visit Mostar as part of a 12-day National Geographic Journeys “Discover the Balkans” trip, offered in partnership with G Adventures.
2.Guizhou Province, China
Why go now: Step into villages almost untouched by time
What to know: Historically one of China’s most isolated and undiscovered provinces, southwestern Guizhou is gaining global notice as a cloud computing and big-data center. The mountainous region’s plentiful water and cool climate are draws for Apple, Huawei, and other tech powerhouses that have established or are building facilities in the provincial capital, Guiyang. This buzz around bytes has improved access to the entire province, including the traditional villages of ethnic minority groups, such as the Bouyei, Dong, and Miao. In eastern Guizhou’s indigenous villages, in particular, days unfold at a slow pace and people continue farming and textile traditions—such as spinning, embroidery, and batik—practiced since the sixth century. —Lu Yi, managing editor, Nat Geo Travel China
When to go: April–May How to go: The Guiyang–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway connects the megacity of Guangzhou (northwest of Hong Kong) with Guizhou province, including station stops in ethnic regions.
Why go now: Escape the Olympic crowds naturally
What to know: Less than three hours by train from Tokyo, home of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, Tohoku should get a gold medal for best unknown travel wonderland. Comprising the six northernmost prefectures on Japan’s main island of Honshu, this region features pristine forests, gorges and crater lakes, thousand-year-old temples and shrines, and venerable local festivals—yet less than 2 percent of international travelers come here. Walk the Michinoku Coastal Trail, which runs for 620 miles from Aomori to Fukushima. The latter was devastated by the 2011 tsunami, and the newly opened trail is a stirring symbol of the area’s rebirth. For skiers, Tohoku regularly records some of the planet’s heaviest snowfalls, and resorts such as Appi Kogen are exhilaratingly uncrowded.
When to go: Year-round How to go: Base yourself at Koganezaki Furofushi Onsen, in Aomori, which offers 70 rooms and an open-air hot spring with views over the Sea of Japan.
4.National Blue Trail, Hungary
Why go now: Take a hike on a lesser-known European path
What to know: Despite its lack of soaring peaks (the highest is 3,327-foot Mount Kékes), Hungary is a dream hiking destination thanks to the country’s National Blue Trail. Meandering about 700 miles from Irottko Mountain, on the western border with Austria, to the northeastern village of Hollóháza near Slovakia, the Blue Trail (Kéktúra in Hungarian) is a wonderfully diverse web of paths labeled with white-and-blue-striped waymarkers. Originating in 1938 and recognized as Europe’s first long-distance trail, it’s part of the nearly 6,500-mile European long-distance walking route E4, which begins in Spain and ends (with ferry connections) in Cyprus. So, while you could use the Blue Trail as a launchpad for an epic, cross-Europe trek, Hungary’s historic route is best experienced as a singular destination. —Tamás Vitray, editor in chief, Nat Geo Travel Hungary
When to go: August–September How to go: Get a Blue Trail passport to earn stamps at checkpoints along the route. Collect all 147 stamps and receive a coveted Blue Trail Badge, or complete one of the three stretches awarding section-hike badges.