Want to be on the cutting edge of what’s hot in the travel world next year? I’ve culled world tourism stats and checked in with tour operators to uncover nine trending travel destinations that have seen a sizable jump in bookings and visitors over the past year. Some are up-and-coming hot spots while others are classics making a comeback. Either way, you get a novel experience at these destinations on the rise, from brand-new attractions to remote trails with views few others have laid eyes on.
If you’ve been there, done that at Machu Picchu, you’re not alone. This year Peru posted remarkable growth, thanks to an increase in arrivals from its neighbors and from Asia, according to the UN World Tourism Barometer. Peru is G Adventures’ top tour destination in the world, and this year’s bookings broke 2017 records.
Tour operators continue to expand their offerings in Peru, and the latest demand is for itineraries that are lesser known and less crowded, says Dan Peltier of Skift. KE Adventure Travel recently released its 2019 Guide to Adventure, which includes an entire section on Machu Picchu alternatives that take travelers to more remote places in Peru.
If you go: Take the rugged two-day hike to Choquequirao, another lost Inca city. For a trek even farther off the beaten path, check out the Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit.
Where to stay: Casa del Sol Machupicchu is located at the entrance of the Sanctuary of Machu Picchu and boasts stunning natural views.
Deutschland shifts into anniversary party mode in 2019. Next year marks 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the city is celebrating with a host of exhibits, events, and performances. It’s the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus modern design movement, marked by events all over the country as well as the September 2019 opening of the Futorium museum and idea lab in Berlin.
Hamburg’s new opera house and Frankfurt’s recently rebuilt Old Town, both garnering international attention, are also worth the trip. A yearlong lineup of concerts in Augsburg sets music to the 300th anniversary of the birth of Leopold Mozart, father of Wolfgang Amadeus. Get there on new nonstop flights on Lufthansa from Austin to Frankfurt beginning in May.
If you go: Tour Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall Memorial, or walk the footpath along the wall that was once patrolled by border guards.
Where to stay: Berlin’s historic Hotel Adlon Kempinski is located near the city’s top tourist attractions.
Egypt is preparing its new Grand Egyptian Museum, a 117-acre museum built in view of the ancient Pyramids of Giza, for a 2020 opening. More than 43,000 artifacts—including chariots, mummies, masks, and sandals—have been returned to Egypt to make up the collection, a large portion coming from King Tut’s tomb.
Tourism is rebounding mightily in Egypt, according to UN World Tourism Barometervisitor statistics. G Adventures saw 110 percent booking increases over last year, and the country’s revenues from tourism jumped by 155 percent in the first nine months of this fiscal year.
If you go: Don’t miss touring the Giza Pyramids, the Valley of the Kings tombs, and the new Grand Egyptian Museum to see King Tut’s golden mask. Book a trip in a traditional wooden boat on the Nile River.
Where to stay: The Marriott Mena House, Cairo has jawdropping views of the pyramids.
Travelers are looking for newer, less crowded European destinations and finding them in Central and Eastern Europe—and Slovenia is one of the hottest trending destinations there. Since last year, tourist arrivals swelled 23.5 percent in Slovenia, according to the UN’s World Tourism Barometer. The country is one of Europe’s hidden pearls and a favorite among hikers.
In April 2019 the new 186-mile Julian Alps Hiking Trail is set to open, linking picturesque villages and offering views of Lake Bled’s iconic island church and medieval castle. New flights into the capital city of Ljubljana begin this fall on Aeroflot.
If you go: Sample regional culinary specialties including jota, the dry-cured Vipava Valley prosciutto, and sweet strudels stuffed with locally grown fruit.
Where to stay: Majerija is a charming farm guesthouse in Slovenia’s Vipava Valley wine region, a two-hour train ride from Venice, where you can bike between vineyards.
Geopolitical stability, new air routes, and successful marketing are paying off in Israel. This year, as the destination celebrates its 70th birthday and the U.S. embassy opens in Jerusalem, Israel is hotter than ever.
Until 2018, Israel had never seen 2 million visitors in a half-year period—and the momentum continues. According to Hotel Management magazine, 35 hotel projects have received an infusion of nearly $50 million in government grants resulting in the approval of 2,570 new guest rooms. In August, United Airlines announced new nonstop service between Washington, D.C. and Tel Aviv.
If you go: Float with surreal buoyancy in the Dead Sea’s stillness. Snag a sun lounger and relax on a beach in Tel Aviv. Wander the ancient pathways and walls of Jerusalem, observing the religious devotees of three major faiths.
Where to stay: The Royal Beach Tel Aviv is located on the Mediterranean beachfront promenade, steps away from the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
Turkey is making a comeback in 2019. Tour operators are returning, major airline routes have been restored, and travelers are regaining confidence in the stability and security of the country following the 2016 terror attacks, says Dan Peltier of Skift. Intrepid Travel has seen a 215 percent jump in Turkey bookings since last year.
The country is trying to keep ahead of the curve. In October Istanbul opened a new international airport that will be able to handle a larger passenger capacity than Atlanta’s airport, the busiest in the world.
If you go: Tour mosques, Greco-Roman ancient ruins, and colorful bazaars on Intrepid’s new eight-day Turkey Highlights tour, or go off–season without crowds on the Turkey Winter Discovery, a new 10-day itinerary in 2019.
This tiny South American wonder—home to tropical coastline, volcanoes, and Amazon rainforest—reported a 57 percent surge in tourist arrivals this year, according to the 2018 UN World Tourism Barometer. Tour companies are gearing up for the trend to continue into 2019 in Ecuador, adding new itineraries and new vessels to their cruising fleets.
The government, working to preserve its crown jewel, declared 2018 the year of fighting plastic pollution and stepped up regional policies in the Galapagos Islands to ban plastic bags, straws, and non-returnable plastic bottles.
If you go: See the giant Galapagos tortoise, rare red-footed booby, and the Charles Darwin research station on a seven-day cruise in the Galapagos Islands. G Adventures added a 16-passenger yacht to this route in response to increased demand.
In the last few years, Ethiopia has built up its infrastructure with a new light rail system, super–highway, and additional inbound flights. The country has been gradually making a name in luxury tourism, and it’s taking hold, Skift reports.
Optimism is in the air, and the new peace accord between Ethiopia and Eritrea, signed in September, signals strong tourism potential. Already, tour operators are experiencing a spike in bookings to Ethiopia, where the prime minister just announced a new cabinet that is half female and promised a more open economy.
If you go: Explore Ethiopia’s ancient civilizations on tours that hop between ancient forts, churches carved from stone, tombs, and markets where you can barter. Or get out of town and look for wildlife in the savannahs, red-rock mountains, deserts, and lush valleys.
Where to stay: The Haimi Apartment Hotel in Addis Ababa is centrally located with cozy amenities.
Earlier this year, Vietnam opened a tourist attraction that was an instant Instagram sensation: the Golden Bridge of Sun World Ba Na Hills. Held above a vast hillside by two giant moss-covered hands, the bridge has drawn visitors from around the globe.
It’s a sign of the times. The UN World Tourism Organization has tracked a steady, increasing stream of international tourists to Vietnam in recent years. To encourage the flow, the government continues to loosen restrictions on travel visas and plans to host Vietnam’s first Formula One Grand Prix race in 2020.
If you go: See the seascape of Halong Bay’s limestone islands from the deck of a traditional junk. Order a Vietnamese egg coffee in Hanoi and listen to the hum of motorbike-clogged streets. For a less–traveled destination, explore Phu Yen, Mai Chau, Quy Nhon, or Con Dao.
Where to stay: The Vinpearl Resort and Spa Ha Long has spectacular views of the Gulf of Tonkin and is located on its own private island in Halong Bay.
For more ideas, see Top Travel Destinations for 2019.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 8 New Places That Aren’t on Your Bucket List, But Should Be
- 9 Hidden Cities in Asia for Your Bucket List
- 10 Hidden Places the World Doesn’t Know About
Jamie Moore is a regular contributor to SmarterTravel. Her articles have appeared on USA Today, Yahoo Travel, Huffington Post, and WestJet.