Whether you’re looking to experience the Aurora Borealis, bask on a beautiful beach, or discover world culture, the nine places to visit in 2019 offer a range of experiences that appeal to diverse travel styles. From the otherworldly landscapes of Iceland and Scotland, to the cultural treasures of Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Bangkok, or beyond to the remote islands of the Maldives, these destinations reveal vast northern landscapes, colorful marine sanctuaries, and storied antiquities. Every year, new destinations join the global travel conversation. Here are nine new places to explore in 2019.
Iceland offers the epitome of winter travel; visit Reykjavík, and experience Iceland’s version of hygge (the trending Danish concept of indoor winter leisure), discovering cozy eco cafés fueled by geothermal heat where you can curl up with a book and a warm sweater, or soak in the ever-popular steaming waters of the Blue Lagoon. Leave the city limits, traveling the northern coastal roads across lunar volcanic landscapes illuminated by the Aurora Borealis, or take the famous Golden Circle route and see the breathtaking Gullfoss Waterfall. Visit Vatnajökull Glacier to explore the haunting ice caves, known for their blue roofs of ice, formed entirely by frozen meltwater—naturally-sculpted works of art.
From wild experiences to cultural treasures, Sri Lanka offers a little of both. At Yala National Park you can take a safari in search of wild elephants and leopards, and end your ride at a 2,000-year-old Rock Temple of ancient pagodas and shrines. Combine your vacation with service by volunteering at an elephant sanctuary, giving back to these magnificent creatures and the people who work to conserve them. Whether you’re looking to meditate at the Dambulla Cave Temple or rebalance at a beautiful seaside resort, Sri Lanka is stunningly diverse.
Vietnam has undergone a renaissance, opening new luxury resorts and boasting several recent additions to the UNESCO World Heritage list. Natural treasures on the list include the towering islands of Halong Bay and the incredible biodiversity of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Sites of cultural significance include the Imperial Citadel in Hanoi, the Citadel of the Ho Dynasty, Hue, Hoi An Ancient Town, and the My Son Sanctuary.
If you’re looking for a remote island escape, the Maldives offers a unique balance of nature, spiritual experiences, and exploration. Enjoy an Ayurvedic spa treatment and let time-honored wisdom and teachings help you re-balance your mind and body. In a world where coral reefs are increasingly threatened, the Maldives remains one of the few places on earth where you can dive this underwater wilderness.
From romantic seaside villages where the seafood is as fresh as it gets (and the wine just as good), to the beauty of Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, Portugal blends natural beauty with cultural abundance. Lisbon offers 16th century history in the Belém district, iconic trams that navigate steep picturesque streets, and a flourishing culinary scene. With some of the best weather in Europe, seaside Porto delivers old world charm, beaches, and cafés.
Costa Rica has been discovered, and it’s no wonder—it’s home to some of the best surf beaches in the world, beautiful cloud forests, stunning volcanoes, and a culture that embraces conservation. A vacation in Costa Rica can take you from the depths of the forest, to the heights of an active volcano, to the sunsets of a pristine beach—all in one week. Surfers flock to Tamarindo for its perfect waves, and sun-lovers can find a stretch of sand to bask in the sun.
Travel to Thailand for the world-class cuisine and discover Bangkok’s sacred temples. Admire Wat Arun’s intricate spire made of Chinese porcelain and colored glass. Enter Wat Traimit to admire the magnificent Golden Buddha. Then, visit Wat Phra Kaew, known for its Emerald Buddha, crafted from a single block of jade. Find a delicious snack at the floating market, where vendors drift by in boats selling their wares.
Beyond Edinburgh’s stately Royal Mile and breathtaking castle on a hill, you’ll find Scotland’s wilder side. From the new Snow Roads Scenic Route through the highest elevations of the Cairngorms, to the St. Kilda islands of the Outer Hebrides, an UNESCO World Heritage Site accessible only by boat, northern Scotland can indeed feel like the edge of the known world. Just a train ride north toward Skye takes you through otherworldly landscapes, charming villages where the signs are written in Gaelic, and where rugged coastlines await those who ride to the end of the lines.
If you’re looking to dive in the Caribbean, the Cayman Islands offers some of the most pristine diving spots in the Caribbean Sea, and the world. Swim with wild stingrays, dive shipwrecks, and explore tropical marine sanctuaries. Top marine destinations include Stingray City, the Kittiwake Shipwreck, and Eden Rock & Devil’s Grotto.
Ready to plan your first trip of 2019? Contact your travel agent today to get started.