New year, new travel itinerary. According to a recent survey conducted by Avoya Travel, 100% of surveyed travel agencies anticipate sales will match or exceed last year’s record-breaking numbers. Thanks to social media, we can all get a first-hand look at everyone’s adventures and learn about new places through their photos, giving us all a higher dosage of wanderlust than ever before. While some locations are always on the top of our list no matter how many snapshots we see on Instagram, others are in desperate needs of a replacement (haven’t we ALL been to Iceland by now, even if it was just vicariously?).
Whether it’s a new reason to go to a classic destination, or somewhere equally as cool without the crowds, there’s plenty of reasons to get out there and explore the world. From countries celebrating anniversaries or cultural events, to the newly rebuilt Caribbean Islands, to luxury hotels adding to emerging cities skylines, to destinations you’ve never even heard of. This year will offer more opportunities- and excuses- to travel than ever before. So make sure your passport is valid and your bank account is ready, because these 25 destinations are not to be missed.
Known for warm weather, beautiful beaches and friendly locals, Jamaica has been a popular vacation destination for a long time. But after Hurricane Maria slammed most of the Caribbean in September 2017, Jamaica was left largely untouched, drawing travelers away from popular nearby islands still rebuilding from millions of dollars in damage (Reuters). According to Liberty Travel, several luxurious hotels have popped up over the past year, which include top-tier amenities like world-class spas, multiple infinity pools and private beaches.
24 Havelock Island, The Andaman Islands
Travel + Leisure calls this the perfect destination for those dreaming of running away to a deserted island. The Andaman Islands are filled with unspoiled beaches, clear waters and mangroves filled with coconut trees. While many of the islands remain uninhabited or off-limits, Havelock Island became more accessible in March, when five-star hotel Taj Exotica opened. Days on this island are spent swimming amid the coral, hiking through the forests and relaxing on the beach. Havelock Island is less developed than it’s more well-known counterparts…for now, so go before that changes.
23 London, England
London is a popular place to visit every year, but 2019 will be a particularly good one for the city’s tourism revenue. Baseball, AKA America’s favorite pastime, is coming across the pond with a New York Yankees vs. World Series Championship team Boston Red Sox game at London Stadium (CNBC). For most travelers, the game is a great excuse to take a trip they may have otherwise passed up. And since both major cities have airports that offer direct flights, there are sure to be lots of baseball fans around the city this summer.
22 Mykonos, Greece
The Greek island of Mykonos is another destination many travel buffs are already familiar with. However, Lindsay Lohan is about to bring in a whole new crowd, thanks to an upcoming MTV reality show about her latest business venture, Lohan Beach House. According to Vogue, documentary-style program will follow the former actress and her team as she runs her club in Mykonos, as well as her other two locations in Athens and Rhodes. If the show strikes a chord with audiences, there’s no doubt people will want to head to Greece to scope out Lindsay and her staff.
21 Old Quebec City, Quebec
If you want to go to Europe without actually having to travel all the way to Europe, look no further than Quebec City. The cobblestones streets are line with 17th century architecture that look like they came straight out of a storybook. Any history buff will find plenty to see, as its home to North America's first Anglican Cathedral, first French-speaking university, and the oldest newspaper (Time). Old Quebec is also perfect for foodies, with plenty of great restaurants serving up anything from burgers and milkshakes to upscale French fare.
20 Zadar, Croatia
Before you search for flights to Croatia’s most popular city of Dubrovnik, you’ll definitely want to hear about this lesser known historic city on the northern Dalmatian coast. Zadar is still relatively undiscovered, with rich history and undisturbed beaches. Legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock started coming here in 1964, describing the sunsets as “the most beautiful in the world.” He wouldn’t even make a movie here because he didn’t want people to know about it. In celebration of the amazing sunlight, an artist decided to build a solar-powered dance floor called the “Monument to the Sun” on the edge of Zadar’s waterfront (Luxury Travel Advisor).
19 Helsinki, Finland
The Scandinavian cities of Stockholm and Copenhagen have become very popular over the past few years, for travelers looking to try a new city, look no further than the nordic country of Finland's capital. Known as the daughter of the Baltic Sea, Helsinki offers travelers the perfect mix of rich history with a modern, lively attitude. The Helsinki design district encompasses an area of 25 streets lined with over 200 destinations, including fashionable stores, antique shops, art galleries and restaurants. The best time to go is the summer, when the city experiences the natural phenomena of 24 hours of sunlight (Chasing The Unexpected).
18 Obonjan Island, Croatia
Travel + Leisure described it best: come for the yoga, stay for the rave. A tiny speck in the Adriatic Sea, Obonjan Island has been dubbed the new Ibiza in the world of trendy island vacations. Until recently, this place was completely uninhabited. Developed in the 1970s as a camp for Croatian boy scouts, it sat abandoned until a British music festival organizer began the project of turning it into a summer resort destination. Along with the traditional beach activities like sunbathing and swimming, travelers can participate in yoga and reiki by day, and European DJ-led dance parties by night (Travel + Leisure).
An eco-friendly movement is making its way to Aruba’s idyllic white sand beaches and turquoise waters. The country’s government has ramped up efforts to boost local farming, chefs have begun using more locally grown ingredients, and more hotels have turned towards more environmentally friendly operations. There are also eight bike-share stations around the island, available to locals and tourists alike. If you’re still not sure you’ll like it here, keep in mind that Aruba attracts more repeat visitors than any other Caribbean destinations (Travel + Leisure).
Southeast Asia’s best-kept secret is officially out. The country has seen tremendous growth over the last decade, not only in economic factors such as infrastructure and public transportation, but also with the additional of luxury hotels and resorts. Add that to the country’s cultural treasure and pristine beaches, and you have a new foolproof vacation destination. Cambodia, which also made Tripadvisor’s list of top destinations for 2018, is just getting started. Over the next year, several more luxurious properties will pop up, adding even more options for travelers (Robb Report).
15 Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville might have to consider changing its name to BACHville, as the city’s become number one destination for bachelorette parties (excluding Las Vegas), according to Buzzfeed News. And with what seems like an endless supply of bars, brunch spots and group-centered activities such as pedal taverns and free yoga classes, it’s not hard to see why. Tennessee’s state capital offers plenty of history and unique sights to check out, but let’s be real, this is where you go to have fun with your friends. Cheers!
14 Barcelona, Spain
With so much variety of what to see and do, it’s no surprise Barcelona was voted one of the top European cities on Conde Nast Traveler’s annual reader’s pole. From beaches to mountains, historic to contemporary, there’s something that suits every type of traveler. According to Free Money by Vice, flights are at their lowest prices- as much as 30% from peak season- in January, so act fast if you want to get the best deal on your flight to Spain.
13 Brisbane, Australia
Typically overshadowed by the nearby cities of Melbourne and Sydney, Brisbane is starting to gain some attention of its own. The city has been shifting since mid-2018 when the W Brisbane opened, the first luxury hotel launch in the city’s downtown district in two decades. The city’s Fortitude Valley neighborhood is also evolving, with one hotel opening and another relaunching after a $39 million upgrade. Brisbane also features miles of scenic riverfront, pristine parks, and-most importantly- a Koala Sanctuary. (Travel + Leisure).
12 Sedona, Arizona
If bachelorette parties and bars that open at 10AM aren’t quite your speed, the scenic town of Sedona may be a better fit. Nestled amongst the stunning red rocks in the Verde Valley region of Arizona, Sedona has become a popular destination for travelers looking get in touch with nature from the comfort of a luxury accommodation. Having become somewhat of a haven for rest and recreation, resorts here offer plenty of options for visitors ranging from spa treatments to desert hikes (Insider Travel).
11 San Juan, Puerto Rico
After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, the entire island was left without power and clean water for almost a year. Over a year later, the US territory has come a long way in its recovery and ready to once again welcome visitors. According to the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association, more than $1.9 billion has been invested into new development, with $125 million going directly into San Juan. Since the hurricane, 132 hotels are now open, with another 11 anticipated to reopen by January (USA Today).
With 54 countries to choose from, planning a trip here can be overwhelming if you aren’t focused on the kind of vacation you’re really looking for. If you’re a history buff, check out Cairo, Egypt to see the pyramids and the Nile River. For an urban feel with beautiful beaches, check out Cape Town, South Africa. If you want to come face-to-face with elephants, lions and other animals in their natural habitat, head to Tanzania for a safari in Serengeti National Park (US News).
9 The British Virgin Islands
Another Caribbean location hit hard during the 2017 hurricane season ready for a comeback. After losing more than 90 percent of its tourist attractions, BVI has made a remarkable recovery, with nearly every attraction and accommodation ready for the 2019 season. The island’s tourism board recently announced a slew of product enhancements, resort re-openings and expanded ferry services (Travel Pulse). BVI is known for its crystal clear water, so make sure to go in the spring before underwater visibility declines in the summer months (Travel + Leisure).
8 Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena, is a place where you’ll feel stuck between the past and the present. This city is vibrant, loud and crumbling alongside South America’s Caribbean coast. The main tourist attraction is the walled Old Town neighborhood, where the seaside Spanish-Colonial style buildings have either been restored or left to crumble, filled with a mix of mom-and-pop stores and trendy restaurants. If you get tired of walking around, hop on a chiva bus: colorful wooden-frame trucks that will take you on a tour of the city (The Points Guy).
7 The Faroe Islands
Mark my words: The Faroe Islands will be the new Iceland. At least on social media. Located only an hour away by plane, the lush archipelago is composed of 18 volcanic islands with soaring mountains and black sand beaches. Similar to Iceland, the Faroe Islands also have 22 hours of daylight in the summer, leaving travelers with plenty of time for exploring. The capital city of Torshavn has all of the idyllic charm of any other Nordic capital, but with a smaller population, making for a more relaxing trip (Elle).
6 Merida, Mexico
Centrally located within the Yucatan Peninsula, Merida is ideal for travelers looking to explore beyond Mexico’s resort-packed beaches. Merida’s culture is a blend from the ancient Maya civilization dating back to 2600 B.C. and Spanish conquistadores, who colonized the area in the 16th century. The city features colorful colonial architecture and clean stone streets, filled with a variety of restaurants, shops and art galleries. Several boutique properties have started popping up, ranging from budget-friendly to luxurious suites, making Merida the perfect destination for any budget (Forbes).
5 Kyoto, Japan
If you are interested in traveling to Japan, you have to make a stop in Kyoto. Just a bullet train ride away from the capital city of Tokyo, the smaller city of Kyoto is considered by many to be the cultural and historic center of Japan. It boasts ancient mountainside temples, lively markets and scenic streets. You can also. For a visit that will give you the most impressive views, go during the spring season when the sakura (AKA cherry blossom) trees are in bloom (Tripzilla).
4 Perast, Montenegro
Nestled in the foothills of Mount St. Elijah on the Andrian coast, Perast can hold its own against its European counterparts. This Balkan village has become known for attracting clientele looking for the glamour and scenery of Monaco but with a more laid back and affordable charm. Perast features 17th century stone architecture and Venetian palaces scattered amongst cobblestone streets. Waterfront accommodations here are much less expensive than more popular destinations, making it ideal for those trying to find the seemingly impossible: a luxurious vacation at an affordable price (Journiest).
3 La Digue, The Seychelles
East of Africa in the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles have been a popular destination for those living in the southern hemisphere for awhile now, but have only recently started picking up steam for tourists hailing from North America. While there are several islands to choose from, the island of La Digue is quickly becoming the fan favorite. Known for its pristine beaches, the island features granite boulders on the west coast and calm, shallow waters on the east coast. La Digue is also known for its diverse wildlife, which can be seen at the Veuve Nature Reserve (Easy Voyage).
2 Fort Lauderdale, Florida
According to Forbes, Ft. Lauderdale is having a modern-day renaissance. Travelers who are no longer interested in the rough and tiring city of Miami have helped transform this city from a sleepy beach town to a luxurious getaway destination. And the miles of sandy shores lined with palm trees pack a fraction of the crowd. Since The Conrad Hotel opened in late 2017, more new luxury resorts and hotels have made their way up the coastline, including the Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences. (Forbes).
The city-state of Singapore has been on every international traveler’s radar for years now. It’s clean, safe and filled with beautiful sights and rich culture. But thanks to the best-selling book turned hit film Crazy Rich Asians, Singapore has shot up to the top of everyone’s list. The movie’s producer told CNN “the movie is a love letter to the food, culture and beauty of this area.” If you’re inspired to take a Crazy Rich Asians themed trip, stay at the historic Raffle hotel-the same one the characters did in the film-which reopens in mid 2019 following an extensive renovation (CNN).
sources: Tripadvisor.com; Reuters.com; Travelandleisure.com; Cnbc.com; Buzzfeednews.com; Thisisinsider.com; Usatoday.com; Travel.usnews.com;; Travelpulse.com; Time.com; Luxurytraveladvisor.com; Chasingtheunexpected.com; Forbes.com; Thepointsguy.com; Tripzilla.com; Journiest.com; Easyvoyage.com; Cnn.com