The Best Places to Visit in 2019 Before They Get Too Popular
Fancy yourself a travel trailblazer? From up-and-coming destinations to hidden gems you didn’t even know existed, here are 15 locales to put on your radar ASAP.
Perched on the banks of the Mekong River, Vientiane is on the rise (quite literally), adding hip hotels and shops to its character-rich skyline of French colonial buildings, gilded temples, and shrines. And jet-setters are taking notice. So if you’re keen to experience the Laotian capital before the throngs of out-of-towners swarm it, start planning now. This is exactly how far in advance you should book your flights (to Vientiane or anywhere).
“It’s easy to understand why Greece is a magnet for wanderlusters from across the globe, but that kind of widespread appeal comes at a cost,” notes Christie Hudson, senior communications manager at Expedia. Want to avoid the crowds? Sifnos is a low-key alternative to Santorini and Mykonos. It still has that off-the-beaten-path charm with empty beaches and family-run tavernas. Read up on these 13 small, charming European towns you never even thought to visit.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
“I recently had the pleasure of visiting Halifax, and it exceeded my expectations,” raves Melanie Schultz, adviser at Largay Travel, an agency that’s part of the Virtuoso network. “The location is sublime, and the people are so nice.” The Titanic sank nearby, so there are many reminders, including a cemetery with gravestones of victims, and artifacts from the ill-fated ship are on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.
If your social feed needs a boost, head to Essaouira (formerly Mogador) on Morocco’s Atlantic coast. The stone ramparts, vibrant medina, winding alleyways, and blue boats are sure to earn you a lot of likes. A far cry from the frenzied pace of Marrakech, this enchanting port is happily unhurried.
The last intact Buddhist kingdom, Bhutan has long been protected by its mountainous borders. These days, it’s the strict tourism policy (read: high fees) that’s limiting entry. But if you have the financial resources to make it happen, there’s no denying a trek to this remote country is worth its weight in gold. If you can’t shell out for Bhutan, try one of the most popular travel destinations in Asia.
In contrast to the Gulf of Mexico beaches, Mérida keeps a low profile. This inland capital is steeped in Spanish colonial heritage and has a burgeoning food scene. “It’s also a terrific jumping-off point to explore the less-frequented ruins and some of the most gorgeous cenotes in the Yucatán,” reveals Haisley Smith, vice president of marketing at Virtuoso agency Brownell Travel. Or travel with the pack with these 11 popular Mexico destinations you’ll want to visit.
Brest flies under the radar for the majority of folks in the United States, who are more apt to venture farther west to Warsaw, Poland, or south to Budapest, Hungary, explains Hudson. Sadly, that means missing out on a city that has reinvented itself to become modern without losing sight of its fascinating and, at times, tumultuous past. Here’s where to find the most in-demand Eastern European destinations.
Forget Côte d’Azur—Valletta should be your next Mediterranean getaway. The sun shines about 280 days a year, and it has a pleasant climate. “English is one of the official languages, so communicating with locals is a breeze,” says Vicki Aubert, luxury travel specialist at Largay Travel. And history buffs will love the churches and well-preserved landmarks from the late Renaissance.
Wedged between Mudjimba and Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Marcoola is often overshadowed by its neighbors. Not that we’re complaining. It’s precisely because this Aussie gem hasn’t reached peak popularity that you can still enjoy uncrowded beaches, affordable accommodations, and cute cafés sans hordes of hungry vacationers. Find out about the destinations in Australia that are already popular.
Can you name Germany’s oldest city? We’ll give you a hint: It rhymes with beer (and, yes, there’s plenty of Bavarian ale, not to mention riesling, to slog back). If you like history and ancient architecture, Trier—which the Romans established as a town around 15 BC—might just be the perfect option.
“Bodrum is slowly transforming from a sleepy town to a place that draws shiny yachts and high-salaried millenials with authentic action on their minds,” says Kenneth Sause, specialist at Largay Travel. Beyond fresh fish and mezze, an increasingly dynamic culinary repertoire is attracting international attention. Come for the food, stay for the views. The spellbinding vistas are reason enough to make the journey.
Seated at the crossroads of East and West, Tbilisi translates to “warm location,” and tourists will find that to be true—from the sulfuric springs to the personable locals. “Visit now, before the rest of the world catches on to the longstanding cultural pastimes such as Khridoli, a traditional martial art still practiced,” urges Smith. Bonus: A sojourn in Tbilisi won’t break the bank. If you’re on a budget, you’ll also want to look into these 11 affordable bucket list travel ideas that won’t break the bank.
Step aside, Lisbon—there’s a new hotspot on the horizon. Hailed as “the next great European beach destination” by Forbes, Comporta is not-so-quietly generating buzz for its beautiful coastline, relaxed ambiance, and effusive hospitality. Talk about #vacationgoals. If you want to savor the wonderful cuisine and sun-kissed splendor of this seaside village, go ASAP.
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
“With many national parks seeing record visitors, it’s clear there’s an appetite for unplugging from our devices and reconnecting with nature,” says Hudson. If a tech-free escape is on your agenda, skip the usual suspects (no disrespect to Yosemite and Yellowstone) and set your sights on Harpers Ferry. Mountains, rivers, and rolling hills set the stage for outdoor endeavors. Thrill-seekers won’t want to miss 18 one-of-a-kind adventures to add to your bucket list.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
There’s more to Mexico than Cabo and Cancun. San Miguel de Allende has long lured artisans—and, of late, expats—with its creative spirit, craft markets, colonial buildings, and cobblestone streets. “As it becomes trendier, you can sense the balance of authentic and touristy is poised to tip in the coming years,” says Damien Martin, travel adviser at Largay Travel. Next, check out the most underrated travel destinations in the world.
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