Looking at travel trends, achievements, new flight routes, and sustainability, Holidayguru has put together our list of the best destinations you should consider in 2019.
Some well-known classics are making a comeback, while others are still well-kept secrets. From the rustic charm of Eastern Europe to the remote, mountaintop grandeur of southwest China, these destinations are opening up to the world. What are you waiting for?
With status as next year’s European Capital of Culture, you’d be wise to plan a trip to Matera in 2019.
This ancient city is one of the oldest in Italy. While it was once the “shame of Italy” whose impoverished residents lived in cave dwellings or Sassi, it has blossomed into a tourist destination worthy of recognition (you’ll find plenty of holidays to Matera here). The city is noted for its Roman ruins and the Sassi, which were given a new lease on life now housing hotels, galleries, cafes and bars.
Check out the sculptures in the contemporary MUSMA. Visit the Domenico Ridola National Archaeological Museum, head to the Belvedere for sweeping views over the city. Take of tour of the underground Palombaro Lungo cathedral, a magnificent build of epic proportions.
Plovdiv, Bulgaria – a diamond in the rough
Bulgaria is an ideal budget travel spot – probably one of the cheapest in Europe! And this year, its second largest city is another 2019 European Capital of Culture.
You’d be forgiven for never having heard of Plovdiv before – the name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. However, you’ll soon discover why it’s been given this monumental title.
Besides sitting beside the beautiful Rhodope Mountains, this city is teeming with Roman history and architecture. Fall in love as you walk around the city’s ornate Old Town and catch a gig at the Roman Theatre. Get lost in Kapana or “The Trap”, the city’s Bohemian Quarter, with its many bars and cafes. Head to city’s hills in the evening to watch the sunset with a beer.
Bulgarians like to party but embody the concept of Aylak, the state of being supremely relaxed.
Berlin, Germany – a city geared up to celebrate
We’re well aware of Berlin’s charms but if you’ve ever been or it’s been a while, then don’t miss out on city break here in 2019.
The influential force of the Bauhaus movement will be celebrated in Germany and around the globe this year. Why should you care? Because it’ll be a near-constant party in Berlin, with some truly amazing events.
The Modernist art school moved from Weimar to Dessau and finally Berlin before closing its doors in 1933. Check out the famous Mies van der Rohe house or take the Grand Tour of Modernism to get a taste of the architectural gems around the city and further afield in Bernau and Potsdam. Expect to see mind-bending dance, theatre, music shows, club nights and art exhibitions.
August will see the return of the biggest vegan food festival in Europe, too. Check out the best things to do in Berlin.
Fanjingshan, China – breathtaking beauty in the clouds
If you’re a real risk taker, then consider this next destination!
Fanjingshan, a peak in China’s Wuling Mountain range, received UNESCO World Heritage status in June. This wondrous, finger-like formation is surrounded by fog and filled with ecological splendours. It’s home to endangered plants and animals like monkeys, salamanders and deer.
This sacred Buddhist site has three summits, thousands of feet above sea-level, which offers other-worldly views and temples.
All of these treasures are not without a bit of effort on your part! This is probably the most difficult destination to reach. Fly 11 hours from the UK to Guangzhou – northwest of Hong Kong – and then to Tongren Airport for another hour and a half. From here, it’ll be a two-hour bus ride to the base of the summit. You can travel to the top by cable car or by walking over 8,000 steps. Phew!r
Buenos Aires, Argentina – the Paris of South America
Visit Buenos Aires and you’ll come across one of the most beautiful bookstores in South America. Nestled in the Recoleta neigbourhood, the Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore is housed in a former 20th-century Classical theatre.
You’ll find a quiet atmosphere, good coffee and thousands of books under the ornate, high fresco ceilings. You can read at the cafe, which sits on the original stage or took yourself into one of the old theatre boxes.
Once you’ve crossed this off your itinerary, it’s a sexy tango with the city for the rest of your time here. You’ll love marvelling at the street art and murals in La Boca, visit the regal Plaza de Mayo with its pink-coloured presidential palace. The city’s many parks provide the perfect thinking spot so head to the Jardin Japonés and the Parque Tres de Febrero.
Take a day trip to the kitsch Holy Land, a religious theme park with plenty of spectacles and statues. No Sunday is complete without enjoying the Feria de Mataderos fete where you’ll find a market, folk music, dancing and horses.
The capital of Sri Lanka has been named the “must-photograph” travel spot of 2019.
“Instagrammable” Colombo is the gateway to Sri Lanka. While most tourists might rush off to the beaches and elephant safaris, I recommend you take some time to enjoy this diverse port city.
Architectural remnants of the country’s colonial past are mish-mashed against temples, mosques and again with the country’s building boom-produced skyscrapers. It’s a juxtaposition that invites you to look closer and appreciate its history.
Begin your trip with a walk around the Pettah market district, taking in the vibrant streets, aromatic spices and street food. A visit to the Gangaramaya Temple will leave you in awe, as you take in the Buddhist statues and orange-robed monks. Snap a picture of the optical illusion-like Red Mosque. Finish more than one evening with a sunset stroll and watch the waves roll in along Galle Face Green.
You don’t have to venture too far out of the city to enjoy the stunning landscape that Sri Lanka is blessed with. Take a train ride to Mount Lavinia Beach or enjoy a close encounter with nature in the Talangama Wetlands.
Boracay, The Philippines – the great comeback
The Philippines’ most-visited island is setting the example for paradisaical spots ravaged by careless tourists.
Borocay closed for six months in order to clean up the mess left by hard-partying beach-goers and its eco-makeover is something you’ll want to enjoy guilt-free.
Previously labelled a “cesspool” by President Rodrigo Duterte, the new and improved Boracay will have a cap on visitors (6,000 compared to 19,000 before) and beach parties and smoking are banned. Single-use plastics are out, as is all food and drink.
It may seem like a buzzkill but conscious travellers will appreciate that beautiful Boracay isn’t the hedonistic landfill of last year – you can now enjoy its crystal blue waters, coral reefs, white sands and swaying palm trees.
Athens, Greece – a rebellious spirit
Having battled bankruptcy and riots in the past decade, this country came out on top in 2018 with a record breaking 33 million tourists. Endless islands, whitewashed buildings, ancient ruins and warm hospitality has kept this country afloat.
You might have already seen the Acropolis on a school tour, but Athens is the city break you need to book in 2019. Athens. This artistic, music-obsessed and politically-minded city is quickly becoming popular with millennials.
With a cheap metro system, getting around the city is easy, but you won’t want to miss out on Athens’ diverse neighbourhoods.
Check out the graffiti and vegetarian food in Exarchia, watch a concert and drink at the Six D.O.G.S bar in the centre of the city. Go flea-market shopping in Monastiraki or time your visit to catch a festival in the former gasworks-turned-cultural centre of Technopolis.
Encompassing filoxenia, or a love of strangers, Greece will welcome you with open arms.
Transylvania, Romania – more than vampires and legends
Like some of the other destinations on this list, there isn’t a particular logic behind this choice, other than feeling that it’s time people show a place a little more love!
Medieval, mountainous Transylvania is the perfect destination for an epic escape to Eastern Europe. Did I mention it’s also incredibly budget-friendly? Though officially a part of Romania, this region was for many years Hungarian and today you’ll see plenty of different influences if you know how to look.
Cluj-Napoca and Cluj County have plenty of great sights like its historical centre, the Botanical Garden, Turda salt mine and Vadu Crisului cave.
Drive to cities like the pastel-coloured Sighişoara to see its medieval German architecture. Closer to Cluj, Head to Bistrița-Năsăud for its breathtaking lake that’s beautiful enough to rival Slovenia. Brasov County is home to fairytale towns, ski resorts, mountains and the imposing Bran Castle.
There are almost too many things to list!
Aqaba, Jordan – ancient history and azure waters
Jordan is just one of many countries in the Middle East which is enjoying a recent recovery in the tourism sector after the negative effects of war and political instability in its neighbours in the Levant.
Last autumn, low-cost carriers Ryanair, Easyjet and Norwegian Airlines announced a host of cheap flights from Europe to Amman and Aqaba.
Take this opportunity to enjoy the seaside city of Aqaba, which is perfect for sun-chasers that want a beach and watersports holiday with a twist in 2019.
You’ll fall in love with the striking sights here, and snorkelling above the vibrant coral reefs and exotic fish in a must. This spot on the Red Sea Gulf is made up of mainly private beach like Berenice Beach Club, Tala Bay, South Beach and Coral Beach.
Interested in doing some sightseeing? You can tour the ancient ruins of Tall Hujurat Al-Ghuzlan, see the date trees of the Shatt Al-Ghandour, The Martian-like desert of Wadi Rum and ancient, rock-cut Petra City – the latter of which is a sublime archaeological site, are within easy reach. Aqaba is also a great spot for continuing your trip into Palestine and Israel.
Winnipeg, Canada – Canadian coolness
Whether you’re partial to the odd spliff or just want to explore the great outdoors, Holidayguru can strongly recommend heading to Canada this year.
The city of Winnipeg, in the province of Manitoba is deeply multicultural, with a large Aboriginal community. You’ll find a full rota of events throughout the year and some superb restaurants.
Its neighbourhoods are rich and varied. Head to the Exchange District which hosts the annual Jazz Winnipeg Festival and the Fringe Theatre Festival. Come here in the summer and you’ll most likely flock to Corydon Avenue, or Little Italy, to kick back at a sidewalk cafe and eat gelati.
Have dinner at the Forks, a large and historic riverside community hub. This city is known for its arts scene, so head to the superb Winnipeg Art Gallery or the moving Human Rights Museum. Eat some tasty French food in the St Boniface quarter.
Charleston, South Carolina – southern charm at its finest
Charleston Airport will be the base for South Carolina’s first-ever transatlantic commercial flight in 2019, operated by British Airways. It’s the perfect way to open up this coastal treasure in Southern USA.
The state’s dark Colonial past is never forgotten, with several luscious, moss-covered former plantations open for tours. In Charleston, you’ll find beaches that are second-to-none, a strong foodie scene, fresh seafood and history at every corner.
There are several things to do in this coastal city. Downtown Charleston is a visit to the past, with cobblestone streets and antebellum-era houses but you’ll find a lively nightlife scene, thanks to the local college. You can soothe your soul by taking a walk along the battery at sunset. If you’re a fan of The Notebook then palmetto-tree shaded King Street will ring a bell as you check out the city’s boutique shopping.
More inspiration for your holiday!
Even just picking out all of these destinations has got me super excited about the year that’s to come! Do you think I’ve left out any cities or countries? Let me know! And just in case this wasn’t enough holiday inspiration, I’ve also picked out some more articles that I think you’ll love…
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