Wondering where to jet off to on holiday? Experts weigh in with their top recommendations of places to explore in 2019.
Words by Ferdinand Godinez
With 2019 here, it’s time to plan our next holiday destination and get those itineraries in order. New trends are emerging in the industry, with insiders already noticing a jump in bookings for off-peak seasons. The reason? Lower airfare, cheaper accommodation rates and fewer tourists to bump elbows with, so avoid upcoming public holidays where you can.
Experts agree that 2019 will see more people visit more remote and less trendy destinations to escape stress from both work and technology, while travelling for authentic food experiences will continue to thrive, with tourists opting to go for local culinary treats to get a taste of the country’s cuisine and culture.
But as they say: different strokes for different folks. So with that in mind, we ask some of the UAE’s travel enthusiasts to find out what they’ve set their sights over the next 12 months.
Natasha Amar, thebohochica.com
This little gem in the Balkans is still something of a secret, closely guarded by those who have visited and cannot help but return. The maritime town of Perast, with its Venetian palaces, cathedrals and island church, is perfect for a quiet afternoon stroll. In Risan, you have a breathtaking view of the Bay of Kotor with fjords rising from the sea. At the Lake Skadar National Park, you can experience the beauty of the largest lake in the Balkans on a wooden boat.
But perhaps the most spectacular part of Montenegro is the Durmitor National Park, with glacial lakes and alpine shores and you can zipline across the mighty Tara River Canyon.
For those who love sunshine and crystal clear turquoise waters, Malta has all the ingredients of a perfect Mediterranean holiday, plus the people are friendly and the food is delicious. This archipelago has everything from art, architecture and history to adventure and agritourism. The historical city of Valletta was the European Capital of Culture for 2018 and is home to beautiful museums and palaces.
What’s more, with over 300 days of sunshine annually, Malta is a great year-round destination.
Aarpita Kaur, holiday-factory.com
A huge chunk of visitors arrive here in July and August, the ideal months for hiking in the spectacular mountains along the northern fringe, and for relaxing along its warm Black Sea coast. However, take a trip to the great Caucasus region between January and March, and enter winter wonderland, with ski resorts in full swing. The mountains are covered in powder-like snow and are hotspots for adventurous-minded skiers.
With the new visa-on-arrival law for UAE residents, Azerbaijan and its capital, Baku, make for a great getaway. It’s famed for its medieval walled old city, which features the 15th century-built UNESCO World Heritage Site, Shirvanshah’s Palace, and the Maiden Tower.
The modern landmark Heydar Aliyev Center houses an art gallery, concert and library halls as well as a memorial gallery.
Joanna and Jeremiah Villanueva, themomentkeepers.com
With its cliff-side whitewashed houses, blue domes and doors, captivating sunsets, panoramic calderas [volcano craters] and oceans, Santorini is a fairytale-like town that looks picture perfect at any time of the year. The picturesque scenery, delicious food and friendly locals will all take your breath away. All these reasons make it one of the hottest destinations for 2019.
From the crystalline water, pristine beaches and fine white sand to fresh food and accommodating locals, this tropical paradise is a favourite for honeymooners and families.
While luxury resorts and water activities are a given, the island is also home to a couple of curious attractions like the Male Friday Mosque, erected in 1656, Male Fish Market and National Museum. Malta is becoming more popular with budget travellers, too, with some travel agencies now offering affordable packages for such groups. This reason alone will make this country a hit for travellers for years to come.
Delaine Dcosta, oftravelsandtales.weebly.com
Croatia may have lost to France during the 2018 World Cup, however, they did steal everyone’s hearts. A vacation in this little Balkan gem filled with beautiful beaches, ancient walled towns, terraced lakes and delicious food doesn’t necessarily have to cost an arm and a leg, either.
The old of town of Dubrovnik amazes with its towers and fortresses, while Hvar Town in Dalmatian islands is a celebrity hotspot because of its beaches, watersports and fishing harbour. Zagreb, the capital, is filled with old architectural structures in the form of cathedrals, art deco buildings and houses. Don’t forget to visit the Dolac Market to purchase items from local vendors, and the quirky but poignant Museum of Broken Relationships.
Covering a major chunk of South America, Argentina is particularly famous for its diverse landscapes.
Patagonia, a region in Southern Argentina, is probably one of the most beautiful places on earth and is home to the Perito Moreno Glacier. Compared to other glaciers in the world, which are retreating each day, this one is continuously growing. It’s no surprise that some people consider it the Eighth Wonder of the World.
The Caminito Street Museum in Buenos Aires is bustling with life with its brightly painted houses, stunning sculptures and street performances, while nearby Recoleta is where you’ll find a host of public gardens, art galleries, cafes and museums. Adventure seekers can venture to Tierra del Fuego National Park to hike and along the way marvel at the sight of waterfalls, lush forests, lakes and mountains.
Sam Ayles, skyscanner.ae
In 2020, the Olympics are coming to town and thanks to that, there are huge investments being made in entertainment, infrastructure and tourism, so a visit to Tokyo will reap plenty of rewards.
The bustling city is an incredibly cool place to travel, with its sophisticated railway system that connects you in record time, thanks to high-speed bullet trains. Head to the district of Harajuku where you’ll be spoilt for choice with trendy cafes. The fine-dining scene is incredible and Tokyo boasts more Michelin stars than any other city.
Opt for modern Japanese accommodation and book a capsule hotel for a unique experience. Some great capsule hotels to consider are 1 Night 1980 Hostel and Asakusa Riverside. We’d recommend visiting in the cherry blossom season – between March and May – as it’s a magnificent time to be in Japan, and the candy-coloured blooms are celebrated throughout the country with picnics and parties.
With skyscraping sights, massive museums and fashion houses galore, a visit to New York City will keep you wide-eyed from dawn to dusk.
A wave of new hotels, attractions and restaurants will open their doors next year, just as the city is hosting a line-up of new global gatherings. New large-scale developments coming in 2019 include The Shed, a multi-arts centre dedicated to global displays of visual art, design and media; and Vessel, a climbable urban landmark created by British designer Thomas Heatherwick.
Catch live music at Bowery Ballroom, Irving Plaza and Music Hall of Williamsburg. If you’d rather dance the night away, check out House of Yes, Good Room or Bembe. Spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit, but it’s really a year-round destination because there’s always something happening.