Finding the right place to put a pin on the map is never an easy task, even if you are a seasoned traveler. Remember when Croatia was having a moment a couple of years ago? And doesn’t it seem like everyone’s been to Cuba this year? It seems each year brings a destination that’s de rigueur, and we’ve got some predictions on what’s next. How’d we decide? A little bit of trend data from Google Flights and Google Hotel Search, plus a careful scour of the globe for what’s generally great – from budget to luxury to adventure. Here are nine cities to dog-ear for 2019.
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Ponta Delgada, Portugal
Porto and Lisbon may have gotten all of the attention in Portugal in the past, but in 2019, the Azores, and its capital, Ponta Delgada on São Miguel Island, will take center stage. While it’s also home to museums, forts, and buildings dating back to the 16th century, travelers seeking an active outdoor holiday will especially love the “Green Island.” Plan a trip for late spring/early summer – April and May are great for whale watching. June has ideal temps (and little rain) for hiking and mountain biking through its breathtaking landscapes and natural wonders, such as the thermal pools in the Furnas Valley, the volcanic crater lake Lagoa do Fogo, and the Sete Cidades Lake, one of the seven natural wonders of Portugal.
Where to stay: For budget travelers, Portugal is an ideal European destination, and Ponta Delgada is no exception: Current HomeAway options include lodging for less than $70 a night.
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Maui has landed on its fair share of must-visit lists, but its older sibling Kauai will have a moment in 2019. The more adventurous and rugged of the two islands, it’s also lush, quiet and rural, and popular for what it’s lacking: high-rise resorts and over-commercialization. We love it for its peacefulness and its wide variety of landscapes: Tropical rainforest covers much of the island (it’s nicknamed “the Garden Isle”), and it features jagged cliffs and soft, white-sand beaches. Must-see sights include the famous Na Pali Coast, accessible by an adventurous hike or boat ride, and Waimea Canyon, also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”
Where to stay: Timbers Kauai, the island’s newest luxury resort, where you can snag a full residence right on the water should you care to splurge.
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Adventure travel is on the rise for tourists of all age groups. According to Booking.com, more and more travelers are seeking to scratch such destinations off their bucket lists, and with a trip to Tanzania, you’ll get more than just one. Standing 19,341 feet above sea level, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa. It’s a challenging trek, but hikers can ascend its volcanic summit sans ropes, climbing equipment, or even previous experience (with the right guidance, of course). Combine your climb with a safari tour of the Serengeti for a truly adventurous African holiday.
Where to stay: The Secret Garden, which quite literally has a secret garden alfresco dining situation overlooking Kilimanjaro, and offers rates as low as $21 a night as of press time.
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A trip to Marrakech is not for the faint of heart. To fully enjoy it, you’ll need to embrace the chaos that is the Red City. The historic city center – the Medina of Marrakech – is a walled medieval city and UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 11th century and the Berber Empire. Get lost wandering its tangle of colorful alleyways, stopping to shop at the lively souks (markets) and bazaars. Other must-visit sites include the Koutoubia Mosque and the Bahia Palace. Temps can be brutally hot in the summer months, so consider planning your visit during the shoulder seasons of March to May or between September and November.
Where to stay: La Sultana is a luxurious and intimate respite from all the craziness, complete with heated outdoor swimming pool.
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São Paulo, Brazil
São Paulo is the biggest – and busiest – city on our list. This city of more than 12 million residents is Brazil’s financial hub and the largest city in South America. With all that said, it’s not a destination known for relaxation, but it gets high marks for its cultural experiences and energy. São Paulo’s visitors are generally drawn to its arts and culture scene, the impressive shopping, and its high-end nightlife and restaurants. Think nights on the town (à la New York City) versus days at the beach (à la Miami). Like other major metropolitan destinations, São Paolo is home to world-class museums: Our favorites include the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) and the Museu de Arte Contemporânea (MAC) in Ibirapuera Park.
Where to stay: Grand Hyatt São Paulo, which is steps from booming neighborhoods like Itaim Bibi and Vila Olímpia.
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There’s a reason the saying “Paris is always a good idea” exists. The City of Light is undoubtedly a popular destination already. As one of the most popular tourist cities in the world, it’s a frequent stop on honeymoons, family vacays, and backpackers’ trips through Europe, and travel data suggests it’s getting even more popular each year. From the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre, sure – travelers go for the art, culture, history, and food. But the reason travelers will be flocking there in 2019: new cocktail bars like Bar Josephine, the luxe spa treatments at Darphin Vendôme Institute, the reopening of the Albert–Kahn Museum and its incredible gardens, and the chance to dine at Arpège, which recently made the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Where to stay: If you’re looking for high-end accommodations and having a Rive Gauche moment, consider booking a night at the luxe Hotel Lutetia. The historic hotel – a favorite of Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway – reopened this summer after a $234 million renovation.
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San Luis Obispo, CA
Beaches, outdoor adventures, California sunshine, and wine – what’s not to love about San Luis Obispo (SLO)? Roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles on California’s Central Coast, it’s ideal for a quick weekend getaway but it offers plenty to do for those wanting a longer vacation. Hike or bike coastal trails for great views of the Pacific. Visit one of the area’s three wine regions – Paso Robles, Edna Valley, and Arroyo Grande – for tastings and culinary excursions. The city of SLO itself has museums, a popular farmers market, and Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, an 18th-century Spanish mission. When should you go? Well, SLO has great weather year-round, but September is California Wine Month. So yeah, there’s that.
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Bali is on top of travel destination lists year after year for good reason. The Indonesian island is breathtaking and gives visitors equal opportunities to explore and relax. From its ancient temples to its mind-blowing beaches, Bali’s cultural attractions and natural charm – not to mention its food – draw millions of international tourists each year, with no sign of slowing down.
Where to stay: As a destination, Bali works for every budget. You can stay in a villa for as little as $30 per night or opt for a more luxe experience at one of the island’s indulgent five-star resorts like the Viceroy Bali or the Four Seasons at Jimbaran Bay.
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A onetime home to Mozart, Beethoven, and Gustav Klimt, Vienna remains a hub of music, culture, and art. Austria’s capital is famous for its imperial palaces, including Schönbrunn and Hofburg, and its rich Baroque-era architecture. Its location on the banks of the Danube makes it a popular starting point or port of call for European river cruises. For a truly unique experience, visit in January or February, the peak of the Vienna winter ball season. More than 450 balls take place in the city with many set in the early months of the year to celebrate Carnival.
Where to stay: The Beethoven, dedicated to the maestro himself, beautifully marries its historic roots with contemporary design touches.