National Geographic's Must-See Trips of 2015

  • Corsica
  • Koyasan
  • Tunis
  • Sark
  • Hyderabad
  • Zermatt
  • Faroe Islands has looked into National Geographic Traveler for must-see places of 2015. From India's literary hub to Switzerland's mountain majesty, these amazing destinations will lure you into an unforgettable trip to cherish for the lifetime.

1. Corsica: Napoleon's Soulful Island Home

The birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, Corsica, despite being part of France since 1769, still maintains deep, historic ties to Italy.  This Mediterranean island populated by 300,000 people has preserved and takes great pride in their own unique culture, including the proverb-rich Corsican dialect. The island numbers approximately three million annual visitors who arrive mostly to enjoy the undeniable pleasures of the coast. Another must-see attraction of the island is historic La Maison Bonaparte, in the city of Ajaccio. But to really feel the soul of Corsica travelers must go inland. There you will find olive groves, quiet villages dotting the slopes, isolated valleys and vast swaths protected by the Parc Naturel Régionale de Corse, which occupies over 40 percent of the island. Forests of oak and pine boast picturesque hiking trails that lure outdoor enthusiasts with pristine natural beauty and wildlife. 

2. Koyasan, Japan: Let There Be Enlightenment

Celebrating its 1,200th anniversary in 2015 Koyasan is considered as the austere heart of Japanese Buddhism. This monastic complex located not far from Osaka was founded by revered scholar-monk Kobo Daishi in 816 and served as the headquarters for his Shingon school of Esoteric Buddhism. These days Koyasan remains one of Japan's most pristine sanctuary which embodies purity and a masculine side of Japan's world without the hostesses and Hello Kittys of Kyoto. 

When in Koyasan make sure you attend a crack-of-dawn fire ceremony, where a priest burns wooden wish-tablets to the boom of a taiko drum and the sprinkling of herbs and oils on blazing flames. You may choose to stay in one of the temples to see and experience everyday monastic life from within. Wake at dawn to join morning chants swirled by cymbals, gongs, and incense. At night, hard working monks who started the day hand-scrubbing wooden hallways skillfully cook vegetarian meals in front of visitors.

This site is legendary. It is believed that Kobo Daishi is still alive here, sitting in eternal meditation in an elaborate mausoleum. Through the centuries, the country's most rich and powerful have erected palatial sepulchers here as well. At night, a mysteriously lantern-lit trail runs through the moss-covered stones, telling the story of majestic ancient Japan.

3. Tunis, Tunisia: New Day in North Africa

For a dizzying aerie mount Byrsa Hill, in upmarket suburb of Carthage in Tunis, where you can enjoy watching the incredibly beautiful sun set into the bay. From the Light Bar at the Villa Didon, you can see Phoenician streets winding beneath and, down on the water edge, a Roman naval port. Inland, the ancient medina and the colonial grid of the early 20th century French city tell chapter by chapter the history of Tunis, with conquest, resistance and flux, from mythic Dido to the Jasmine Revolution of 2011. 

Before the revolution many tourists used to skip the city's layered charms on their way to the Sahara or the Mediterranean beach resorts of Hammamet and Sousse. These days a new breed of travelers comes to Tunis to discover the area's past, and feel the cultural energy.  Among the most recent attractions that has been added to a diverse cultural scene of Tunis is the international electronic music festival Ephemere. Galleries such as Selma Feriani and Hope Contemporary welcome art lovers in the neighborhoods of La Marsa and Sidi Bou Said, and the Bardo, the antiquities museum of Tunis, has reopened with an impressive new wing.  

4. Sark, Channel Islands: Tradition's Last Stand

In Sark, you will get several centuries back. This year the locals will celebrate the 450th anniversary of feudalism, which was abolished only in 2008. On this tiny Channel Island off the coast of Normandy time flows like molasses and old ways have not gone yet. The two banks operating in the island are not equipped with ATMs, the unpaved roads have no street lights and cars are prohibited. Signposts give distances in walking minutes, as this unhurried place is perfectly suitable for walking or cycling, or riding in a horse-drawn carriage. Stroll along picturesque country roads edged by fieldstone walls and storybook cottages, past foxgloves, bluebells and hundreds of other wildflowers, spotting butterflies, seabirds and Guernsey cows.  The sea caves of Gouliot Headland, where you can find anemones is the destination. As well as La Marguerite Cottage, where you can purchase duck eggs from Sue Adams's streetside honor box or Venus Pool, good for a swim at low-tide. Or, perhaps, La Coupee, to walk the thin track atop an isthmus 300 feet above the sea. During the day a visitor's choices are plentiful. But late at night, there's just one: the sky. Sark is the first island certified by the International Dark-Sky Association. 

5. Hyderabad, India: A Diamond Is Forever

Stories of city's poetic past are entwined with strings of programming code in Hyderabad that was home to one of the richest men in the world, Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last ruling nizam of Hyderabad. This southeastern India city now serves as a seedbed for many global IT brands. In Cyberabad (as it's also often called) you can hear the muezzin's call above the traffic noise generated by old Urdu scholars and young software engineers alike. Here, the peripheries of HITEC City are guarded by ancient boulders, and new rooftop bars rim lakes and gardens. The luxurious Taj Falaknuma Palace hotel sits atop a hill overlooking the Old City, where Irani cafés prosper side by side fifth-generation pearl merchants and the finest fountain pen makers. 

A good Muslim ruler was supposed to be a skilled writer as well a warrior; the city's founder, Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, is known as the first person who published anthology of Urdu poetry. The later ruling dynasty, the Nizams, provided support and sponsorship to poets within their court. For a glimpse into the city's literary legacy consider attending a mushaira (poetry symposium). If you happened to visit the city in January don't miss a chance to attend Hyderabad Literary Festival. In February there is Deccan Festival, during which the most passionate performances are accompanied by qawwali, an 800-year-old form of Sufi music. For another chance to witness qawwali visit Chowmahalla Palace, the recently renovated residence of the Nizams. The court poet Mulla Vajahi once wrote that Dakhan—Hyderabad—is the diamond, the world is the ring. The ring's splendor lies in the diamond.

6. Zermatt, Switzerland: Peak of Perfection

What makes 1.5 million people visit this first-class travel destination annually is the site itself. Zermatt is the only village on the Swiss side of the Matterhorn. It has been drawing millions of travelers ever since British adventurer Edward Whymper climbed the mythical 14,692-foot peak 150 years ago, on July 14, 1865. Today car-free Zermatt sees a never ending procession of tourists searching for cow souvenirs, sunbrowned hikers and climbers, and the ultra rich who don't spare hundreds of thousands of dollars on Swiss watches. But what unites them all is the desire to capture the irresistibly beautiful and majestic nature. And even though the Matterhorn is hardly the highest peak in the Swiss Alps, it's definitely the most photographed one in the world thanks to its nearly perfect triangular shape.

For the best view of the sunrise awakening of the mountain head to the Kirchstrasse bridge, located just a short walk from most hotels. For those who are not so adventurous to use a climbing rope to get to the summit there is a quicker and less risky way - via a helicopter ride with Air Zermatt which is an amazing experience.

7. Readers' Choice Winner: Faroe Islands

This year National Geographic encouraged the online readers and followers to participate in creating their Best Trips list. Travelers were asked via Twitter, Facebook, and Intelligent Travel blog to nominate one place using the same criteria like sustainable, culturally minded, authentic, superlative, and timely. And the winner is the destination which captures the thrill of discovering a remote site. 

The Faroe Islands have always been an amazing place to visit, regardless the time of year you choose to go. But on March 21, 2015, there will be a full solar eclipse visible from the Faroe Islands. For most people, a full solar eclipse will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it should be quite magnificent. When the full solar eclipse was visible from the Faroe Islands 60 years ago, on June 30, 1954, it looked like some kind of apocalypse. Suddenly in the middle of a very bright day it became pitch black. But a few minutes later, the day was bright again, and life kept on going.