19 travel destinations to visit in 2019

Where should you travel this year, and why? We’ve picked our top destinations for travel in 2019 based on a number of factors including, amongst others; countries celebrating 2019 events and anniversaries, places with worthy new developments in accommodation, art and culture, destinations that are the talk of everyone in the ‘travel know’ and, some less well-known locations that we think you should visit before they become mainstream. These are the places you need to know, and go:

Tokyo, Japan. Image credit: Sorasak

Tokyo, Japan. Image credit: Sorasak

Japan

Why 2019? No guide to places to visit this year would be complete without Japan. It’s host to the Rugby World Cup 2019 and the World Olympics in 2020. The former will span almost the entire country, allowing opportunity for rugby fans and joining travellers to explore many parts of the country, including Tokyo,  Yokohama, Kobe, Sapporo and many more. See the full Rugby World Cup fixtures schedule here. Of course, even if you’re not interested in sport, Japan is ever-green on the traveller’s wish list. Discover more about the country’s capital with our Insider’s Guide to Tokyo.

  • Are you attending the Rugby World Cup? Here’s how to explore Japan while you’re there.

-Katie Silcox

Bibi Xanom Mosque, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Bibi Xanom Mosque, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

Why 2019? Uzbekistan is one of the hottest emerging destinations of the year. It boasts the richest cultural heritage on the Silk Road, including extraordinary UNESCO World Heritage Sites, yet still feels unexplored. From 1 February 2019, Uzbekistan will be visa free for most European nationals, and Uzbekistan Airways is adding additional flights to UK airports this summer. The high speed train network is being expanded, so you can travel from Tashkent to Samarkand and Bukhara, then onto the walled museum city of Khiva, with ease. If you want to get even further off the beaten track, add the ghost town of Moynaq, the world-class Russian avant garde art collection in Nukus, and the archaeological sites around Termez to your itinerary.

- Sophie Ibbotson

The Maldives. Image credit: Mohamed Nashah

The Maldives. Image credit: Mohamed Nashah

The Maldives

Why 2019? For many, the Maldives have long been a dream destination, alas with prohibitive prices for some. In 2019 many budget-friendly options are opening up, allowing more travellers to realise their dreams. No longer only open to those with cash for a 5* all-inclusive hotel, today you’ll find some surprisingly impressive resorts at budget-friendly prices.. Over-water villas from Holiday Inn? Yes indeed. Guesthouses? Yes, that too. Airbnb in the Maldives? Absolutely. We only advise that you do your research before booking, as some of the more local accommodations lend themselves to local laws - no bikinis and no alcohol. But search well and we’re sure you’ll find something to suit.

- Katie Silcox

The Azores. Image credit: Ferdinand Stohr

The Azores. Image credit: Ferdinand Stohr

The Azores

Why 2019? We’re slightly reluctant to mention The Azores, as it seems to be a destination that has flown under even some of the most seasoned traveller’s radars, and we’d like it to stay that way. But go now, and thank us later. This autonomous Portuguese region sits in the Atlantic Ocean, between the USA and Europe (a less than 5 hour flight from New York, and a 2.5 hour flight from Lisbon). A UNESCO world heritage site, it’s made up of 9 volcanic islands with hot springs, lakes formed from volcanic craters, and a lush-green environment. Be sure to try the locally-produced coffee and wine.

- Katie Silcox

Azadi Tower, Tehran, Iran. Image credit: Alireza Heydarifard

Azadi Tower, Tehran, Iran. Image credit: Alireza Heydarifard

Iran

Why 2019? As the 40th anniversary of the Revolution approaches, there’s no better time to see the real Iran for yourself, away from what the media portrays. Increasing numbers of tourists have given way to an easier visa-obtaining process. You can run around the funky rooftops of Yazd, gaze at the dizzying, tiled domes of Esfahan’s exquisite mosques, steep yourself in the epic history of Persepolis, stargaze from a Silk Road caravanserai, camp out with nomads, and discover the otherworldly landscapes hidden in every corner. While we can’t possibly list all the amazing things this fascinating country has to offer, we can say that it’s by far the Iranian people and their renowned hospitality that will leave the most lasting impression.

- Find out more about life in Iran.

- Pontia Fallahi @mypersiancorner

Sri Lanka. Image credit: Oliver Sjostrom

Sri Lanka. Image credit: Oliver Sjostrom

Sri Lanka

Why 2019? 2019 is Sri Lanka’s year. Incoming tourism to this beautiful island has increased by nearly 80% in the last 10 years, since the end of the country’s civil war. With more visitors comes additional infrastructure, accommodation and activities, allowing you to tailor your travels. Will you go on safari? Relax on the beaches of the south coast? Explore Colombo, the country’s capital? Hike some mountains? Delve into the culture at Buddhist Temples? Sri Lanka offers all of this, and so much more. Visit our complete travel guide to Sri Lanka to find out more.

- Katie Silcox

View of Rwandan countryside from Bisate Lodge

View of Rwandan countryside from Bisate Lodge

Rwanda

Why 2019? 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. It’s a time to reflect on the tragedy, but also to celebrate the dramatic reconciliation and reconstruction process which has taken place in the intervening years. There is a link between tourism, conservation, and the country’s recovery: tourism now provides 11% of Rwanda’s jobs, and the profits are funding the expansion of national parks and protection of the endangered mountain gorilla population. In 2019, we’ll see the opening of two more luxury lodges in breathtaking settings: Singita Kwitonda Lodge will open in August, and the first guests will be able to check in at One&Only Gorilla’s Nest - an exclusive front-row seat to Africa’s oldest national park - by the end of the year.

- Sophie Ibbotson

The Bauhaus Archive Museum of Design, Berlin. Image credit: Wen Chen

The Bauhaus Archive Museum of Design, Berlin. Image credit: Wen Chen

Germany

Why 2019? Destination Germany is inviting culturally minded travelers and design aficionados to explore Bauhaus; the birthplace of Modernism, via a series of exhibitions, conferences and events. The Staatliches Bauhaus, commonly known as the Bauhaus, was a German art school. Bauhaus design practices utilize the true nature of materials and live by ‘form follows function’ principles. While only operational for 14 years, from 1919 to 1933, the minimalist movement lives on. In 2019, the Bauhaus’ centenary year, we may well see a resurgence of Bauhaus design and definitely expect to see increased travel to Germany.

- Bethany Silcox

View from Victoria Peak, Hong Kong. Image credit: Ryan Mcmanimie

View from Victoria Peak, Hong Kong. Image credit: Ryan Mcmanimie

Hong Kong

Why 2019? 2019 sees landmark developments to Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District – a dramatic harbour-front site for music, performing and visual arts. The destination, pegged as the largest cultural initiative of its kind in the world, is being developed in stages and 2019 sees the opening of the long awaited M+ Museum; a 40,000 square metre venue that will house the Uli Sigg collection, one of the world’s largest collections of contemporary Chinese art. To date, Hong Kong’s art market has grown to the third-largest in the world, behind New York and London with a focus on investors, the luxury sector, and internationally imported galleries. The M+ Museum is set to expand Hong Kong’s public offering and keep propelling the city to the forefront of the global art scene.

-Bethany Silcox

Kuna Yala, Panama. Image credit: Pablo Garcia Saldana

Kuna Yala, Panama. Image credit: Pablo Garcia Saldana

Panama

Why 2019? Panama, founded in 1519, turns 500 this year. But forget 500 years, things here have rapidly changed in just the last 20. Ancient structures now meet towering glass skyscrapers. Areas previously considered too dangerous to visit are open and thriving. The capital, Panama City, has evolved into a charismatic place to explore - particularly the old town, Casco Viejo, (a UNESCO world heritage site) which is home to charming hotels as well as plenty of coffee shops, bars and restaurants - fancy Italian? Peruvian? Sushi? Panamanian? This is where you’ll find it. A number of notable hotels have also recently opened, including Cental America’s first W hotel; W Panama.

- Katie Silcox

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar. Image credit: Florian Wehde

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar. Image credit: Florian Wehde

Qatar

Why 2019? Qatar is host to the next Fifa World Cup (2022) and preparations are well underway, including the rapid rise of new buildings and facilities from some of architecture’s biggest names. Added to the skyline in 2018 was Reem Koolhaas’ National Museum of Qatar, and 2019 will see Jean Nouvel’s National Museum of Qatar inaugurated. New stadiums to host matches have been designed by from Norman Foster and the late Zaha Hadid. Hadid’s conceptualisation of her stadium was designed to reflect the shape of a dhow - a traditional fishing boat in the region. While in Qatar, be sure to visit Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art and the nearby souk, for a taste of a more traditional life.

- Katie Silcox

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark

Denmark

Why 2019? Can a restaurant be reason enough to visit a country? Yes, actually, we think it can. Enter Noma; initially launched in 2003, dubbed the best restaurant in the world by an influential global panel of chefs and critics, Chef René Redzepi took a risk in 2017 to close, relocate and reinvent the restaurant. Ineligible to be ranked in 2018, 2019’s best restaurants list is hotly anticipated. If fine dining is not your thing (or if you can’t get a table), the once industrial area of Refshaleøen now offers street style cozy restaurants and cool bars. Pair good food with exquisite Danish design, the cosiness of hygge and the perspective of lagom and you’ll start to understand why Denmark is regularly listed as one of the happiest destinations on earth.

- Find out more in our Insider’s Guide to Copenhagen, Denmark

-Bethany Silcox

Cartagena, Colombia. Image credit: Ricardo Gomez Angel

Cartagena, Colombia. Image credit: Ricardo Gomez Angel

Colombia

Why 2019? 2018 saw big-name hotels launch in Colombia, including Viceroy Cartegena and Grand Hyatt Bogata. Sustainable travel is the name of the game for 2019 as eco-lodge, Cannúa, opens doors in Antioquia, in April. Not due to hotels alone, Colombia has become one of Latin America’s unmissable hotspots; inspirational street art fills Bogota’s vibrant city walls, traditional bandeja paisas are served in the historic alleys of La Candelaria, and an emerging craft beer scene offers pizza with a wide variety of cervezas to sample. Beyond the capital, hit the salsa clubs of Cali or soak up Cartagena's night vibes - a popular colonial town which heats up as the sun falls. And don't miss Tayrona, a national park offering beautiful rainforest and idyllic coves - here, there are even options to spend the night in a hammock listening to the sound of the waves.

- Victoria Roberts

Pamporovo, Bulgaria. Image credit: Vlad Tchompalov

Pamporovo, Bulgaria. Image credit: Vlad Tchompalov

Bulgaria

Why 2019? Bulgaria’s second city, Plodiv, is the 2019 European Capital of Culture. One of Europe’s oldest inhabited cities, this accolade is well-earned thanks to ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. Plodiv’s artistic quarter, Kampana, spills over with galleries, cafes and boutique stores. 2019 will see more than 500 events put on in celebration of this title, including open air theatre, music performances, and street-food fairs. Outside of Bulgaria’s cities, there are plenty of unspoiled landscapes to explore.

- Katie Silcox

The Pyramids, Egypt. Image credit: Fynn Schmidt

The Pyramids, Egypt. Image credit: Fynn Schmidt

Egypt

Why 2019? Egypt is creeping back onto traveller’s radars after a slowdown in tourism caused mainly by a series of terror attacks widely publicised in western media. Over these years, the once buzzing tourism industry saw a decline, but is steadily growing again. Those who visited in the last few years, not only boosted local economy giving important business to hotels and tour guides who had seen decreased profits, but were also rewarded with quieter visits to the main tourist sites. Visit now, before Egypt’s tourism boom is back in full flow- there's less chance of other pesky tourists ruining your perfect shot of the pyramids. We can’t guarantee no photo-bombing camels though!

- Katie Silcox

Old Tbilisi and the Narikala fortress, Georgia

Old Tbilisi and the Narikala fortress, Georgia

Georgia

Why 2019? There’s never a bad time to visit Georgia, but 2019 is looking an especially good year. New historical drama Gentleman Jack will broadcast on BBC 1 this spring, and the heroine Anne Lister lived in Poti and died in Kutaisi. Tbilisi’s effortlessly cool Hotel Stamba will be unveiling its glass-bottomed rooftop swimming pool, suspended above a five-storey atrium, and the award-winning Rooms brand -a member of Design Hotels -will be opening a new ski hotel at Bakuriani. Plan your trip to coincide with one of this year’s big events: Tbilisi Fashion Week is in April and October, the Black Sea Jazz Festival is in July, and in October you can join the Driving with Zoe classic car rally driving across the Caucasus from Batumi to Baku.

- Sophie Ibbotson

Puerto Rico, Image credit: Joey Pilgrim

Puerto Rico, Image credit: Joey Pilgrim

Puerto Rico

Why 2019? Puerto Rico is on the rise following the devastating Hurricane Maria, in 2017. Tourism money is an important way to assist the country’s rebuild - but this isn’t about aid or assistance; Puerto Rico is offering big bang for your buck. Many hotels and restaurants are back in action, and 2019 sees numerous festivals spring to life including the San Sebastian Street Festival, a Jazz Fest and Festival de la Piña. They’re in good company, too, as January also sees worldwide musical phenomenon, ’Hamilton’ returns to the stage.

- Katie Silcox

Camels trekking in the Ethiopian highlands, Dallol, Ethiopia. Image credit: Trevor Cole

Camels trekking in the Ethiopian highlands, Dallol, Ethiopia. Image credit: Trevor Cole

Ethiopia

Why 2019? In 2018, Ethiopia was Africa’s fastest growing economy, thanks to industrial and foreign investments. Improved road, rail and air connections allow for greater inbound tourism - and oh, does Ethiopia have a lot to offer those who make the effort - with a history, culture and landscapes unlike any other country. Visit the famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, explore the maze of colour in Islamic city, Harar, and watch as people travel from both Ethiopia and neighbouring Somalia to trade camel, cattle and goats at Babile Camel Market. Stand tall with inspiring views over the Simien Mountains. Discover the vibrant capital, Addis Ababa; where traditional markets meet boutique stores and a thriving nightlife . And this isn’t even close to scratching Ethiopia’s surface. Book your international flights with Ethiopian Airlines, and you’ll receive discount on internal flights too.

- Katie Silcox

Toronto skyline. Image credit: Dawson Lovell

Toronto skyline. Image credit: Dawson Lovell

Canada

Why 2019? The Canadian landscape has been cause for recommendation for many years (and long may that remain), but in 2019 the cities of Toronto and Calgary have grabbed our attention for cultural reasons. Architectural icon, Calgary Central Library opened in late 2018. The striking structure, designed by globally-renowned practice Snøhetta and local studio Dialog, connects Downtown Calgary and the developing East Village neighbourhood; a growing cultural area that includes theatres, galleries, and more. Meanwhile in Toronto’s MOCA, formally the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, has reopened after a three-year, $13 million expansion. The Toronto Biennial of Art (a biannual 90-day contemporary art exhibition) launches in September 2019, another landmark move in Canada’s position on the cultural map.

- Bethany Silcox

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