For anyone already thinking about their holidays for 2019, up-and-coming destinations promise novel experiences, untouched natural beauty and fewer tourists.
According to global traveller data, these are the top 10 trending destinations for next year.*
Wadi Rum, Jordan
Travel by camel and camp under the stars in the remarkable desert wilderness of Wadi Rum
Described by Lawrence of Arabia as ‘vast, echoing and God-like’, the desert scenery of Wadi Rum has captivated visitors since time immemorial. The largest of Jordan’s valleys, it’s a vast expanse of burnt ochre sand, punctuated with ethereal, prehistoric rock formations. It’s this alien-like natural beauty that earnt it its other name, Valley of the Moon, and led it to serve as a film set for blockbusters including Star Wars, The Martian and the Transformers. Take a tour of this remarkable place guided by the local Bedouins, camping under the stars, hiking enormous sand dunes and riding camels at sunrise. Stay at Memories Aicha Luxury Camp for the ultimate stargazing experience.
Bacalar is famous for its 'Lake of Seven Colours', bordered by mangroves and fishermen's houses
Tipped to be the next Maldives, the town of Bacalar is the place to go in 2018 – on account of its lagoon of the same name. Also known as the ‘Lake of Seven Colours’, this extraordinary body of water appears to morph dramatically from turquoise to indigo and various other vibrant hues depending on the depth and the time of day. Bordered by mangroves, a thatched-roof pontoon and small fishermen’s houses, the lake is the perfect place to swim, snorkel, kayak or scuba dive, as well as to sample fresh, local seafood. Stay right on the edge of the lake at Casa Bakal.
Watch the sunrise or sunset over the Kasbah in the ancient fortified village of Ait Ben Haddou
Traditionally seen as the gateway to the Sahara, the city of Ouarzazate is the go-to place for excursions to Erg Chigaga or M’hamid, where red and golden sand dunes reach over 100 metres high. But it’s also a travel destination in its own right. Visit the magical Ait Ben Haddou (a fortified village) and sit on a rooftop in its ancient Kasbah, to watch the sunrise or sunset over dusty pink, earthen buildings. Then embark on a quad biking adventure, racing along dusty roads to the desert oasis of Fint, where families wash clothes by the water’s edge and donkeys roam freely. Ouarzazate has also served as the setting for movies and programmes like Gladiator and Game of Thrones, with studios located all around the city – many of which run tours that are a must for film enthusiasts. After a day out, relax on the terrace at the centrally-located Riad Ouarzazate.
Spend your days on paradisiacal beaches and your evenings at open-air, candelit restaurants in Palomino
A beachside town on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, Palomino is ideal if you’re looking for a laid-back tropical escape in 2019. Stay in a cabin on the sand just 20 steps from the sea and relish the paradisiacal beaches, spending your days sunbathing or surfing. In the evenings, enjoy dinners accompanied with live music at open-air, candlelit restaurants serving freshly-caught, grilled fish. Travellers keen for a spot of adventure can try tubing on Palomino River, spotting wildlife such as monkeys and toucans along the way. Just five minutes from the beach, Casa del Pavo Real Boutique Hostel has an outdoor pool, garden, restaurant and terrace.
Head to Mestia to hike the snow-capped Caucasus mountains and relish their hypnotic scenery
High up in the snow-capped Caucasus mountains, Mestia is a collection of hamlets that form the capital of Georgia’s remote Svaneti region. The scenery is outstanding, with a mountainous backdrop and medieval villages often shrouded in mist, their defensive towers peeking through the clouds. Hike up the Chaladi Glacier or towards the lakes at the base of Mount Ushba for some of the area’s most hypnotic views. Food-lovers will be intrigued by the local Svan cuisine – a must try is the Kubdari meat pie and Tashmijabi (cheesy mashed potatoes). Put your feet up after a day’s hiking at the perfectly-located Svaneti apartment.
Kigali is the capital of Rwanda, nicknamed 'the land of a thousand hills'
Having become considerably more accessible to travellers in recent years, Kigali is a must-visit for 2019. Encircled by a rippling, mountainous landscape, thick with forest and overflowing with wildlife, its setting is quite something. Within the nearby Volcanoes National Park, you can spot gorillas aplenty, while travellers keen to see the rest of the Big Five in the wild (lions, rhinos, elephants, buffalos and leopards) should try a safari in Akagera National Park. Within the city itself, take a motorbike-taxi to whizz between all the key sights, namely the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre – widely regarded as one of the best museums on the continent. And be sure to stop off at as many markets and local food joints as you can, trying specialities like garlicky sombe (boiled cassava leaves) and peanut chicken. Enjoy the city views and outdoor swimming pool at Pili Pili Boutique Hotel.
Canals, gabled houses and plenty of culture awaits in Leeuwarden
Voted a European Capital of Culture for 2018, the petite city of Leeuwarden is finally getting the attention it deserves as a sought-after travel destination. Culturally-inclined travellers will delight at the Fries Museum (exhibiting Frisian treasures), the Pier Pander Museum (a collection of sculptures by the eponymous artist) and the Princessehof (where you’ll find countless ceramics masterpieces). Next up, hire a bike and cycle to the city’s Oldehove (a medieval, leaning tower) and climb up it for the city views, before peddling on to the Boomsma Museum, an old, family-run distillery where you can sample local spirits. There are also numerous tours and exhibitions dedicated to the city’s most famous residents – the artist, Escher, and exotic dancer and WWI spy, Mata Hari – which are definitely worth checking out. Stay at the City Centre De Rozenboom, a guest house within a 17th-century building overlooking the Oldehove.
Crystalline, Mediterranean waters and relatively empty, white sandy beaches in Albania
The seaside village of Ksamil is a prime example of Albania’s underrated natural beauty. Located on the country’s Riviera, it’s a place where relatively empty, white sandy beaches are lapped by crystalline, Mediterranean waters. Spend a day sunning yourself on the town’s immaculate beach (where you’ll also spot three dreamy islands within easy swimming distance) and by night, head to a local restaurant for fresh seafood and generous helpings of baklava. You can also visit nearby sights including Syri I Kaltër (the Blue Eye), a lake where bubbles create colours that look like an eye, and Butrint, an ancient, UNESCO World Heritage city. Check into Hotel Mira Mare, just a 1-minute walk from the beach.
Nusa Penida, Indonesia
The steep path down to Kelingking beach is one of the island's most celebrated spots
Just southeast of Bali, this island is where in-the-know travellers will be heading for an exotic getaway in 2019. With sea cliffs that plunge vertically into aquamarine seas and gleaming white sands lined by leaning palm trees, it’s an extraordinarily photogenic and relatively undiscovered paradise. The first port of call for most visitors is Kelingking viewpoint, from where you can scramble down a steep path to a beautiful beach. Then there’s the equally attractive Crystal Bay, or natural wonders such as the Giri Putri Cave and the natural infinity pool, Angel’s Billabong. Be sure to snorkel, or perhaps try your hand at scuba diving while you’re here. Stay on a mountaintop with far-reaching views of the island at Kabeh Jati Garden Villa and Restaurant.
See mosaic-covered, vast and beguiling monuments in the city of Samarkand
One of the most prosperous stops along the ancient Silk Road and oldest continuously-inhabited cities in Central Asia, Samarkand is steeped in history and culture. Its tree-lined avenues lead up to vast, beguiling, UNESCO-listed monuments, whose grand domes and minarets have been expertly-restored in recent years. Must-sees include the gold and calligraphy-adorned Registan Square, the ribbed, blue-tiled dome of mausoleum, Gur-e-Amir, and the Bibi-Khanym Mosque. Stay in a suite decorated with traditional Uzbek embroidered tapestries at the central Jahongir Hotel.
**These 10 destinations were selected after Booking.com polled 21,500 travellers from 29 countries on where they've travelled to already and where they plan to visit in the next 12 months.