Top Holiday Destinations in 2019

Historic architecture of Itchan Kala, walled inner town of the city of Khiva, Uzbekistan. UNESCO World Heritage Site cover

For travellers, a new year means making new travel plans. But with the whole world to discover, it can sometimes be hard to decide on a destination for your next trip.

If you need a little help choosing, here’s a guide to the top 9 holiday destinations for 2019.

Germany for the Bauhaus Centenary

There are plenty of good reasons to travel to Germany at any time. It’s a country with massive historical and cultural significance, it has great cuisine which, contrary to popular belief, is not just restricted to sausage and sauerkraut, and it has world-class beer. But 2019 promises to be a great year to visit because of the Bauhaus Centenary.

the Bauhaus Centenary Top Holiday Destinations
the Bauhaus Centenary

A German art school operational from 1919 to 1933, the Bauhaus revolutionized art, design, and architecture by working towards the aim of bringing art back into close contact with everyday life and the community. Forgoing the traditional teaching method of teacher-pupil, the Bauhaus worked on the principle of artists working together. The movement had a significant influence on modern design, particularly in the USA where many Germans fled during the run-up and throughout the Second World War. Many exhibitions and events are due to take place to celebrate, including the 100 Years of Bauhaus exhibitions in Berlin and the Modernism is Frankfurt/M 1919-1933 in Frankfurt am Main.

2019 will also be the 30-year anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, with tours, exhibitions, lectures and festivals lined up.

Georgia for diversity in a small space

Mount Shkhara and Ushguli village Upper Svaneti, Georgia
Mount Shkhara and Ushguli village Upper Svaneti, Georgia

Often confused with the American state, more and more people are waking up to the beauty of this small country in the Caucasus. Despite being small in size, Georgia is an incredibly diverse country with a mix of amazing landscapes, from mountains and valleys to beaches and sea. It may not have been on many travelers’ bucket lists in the past, but in recent years there has been a rise in the amount of budget airline flights from Central Europe and it makes sense that western Europe will soon follow suit. So if you want to see the country before the hordes find out and descend, 2019 is the year to do it. You will find cities which completely contradict each other: Tbilisi, the capital, is a dynamic metropolis with a fantastic cafe culture and lively nightlife; Batumi is a cool, coastal city with ambitions to become the next Dubai; Sighnaghi is a sleepy town and the center of the country’s wine-making region; Borjomi is exceptionally green, being in the middle of a national park. But that’s not all: there are numerous ancient sites, such as the Vardzia and Davit Gareja cave monasteries, its cuisine easily rivals the best in the world and the people are some of the most hospitable on the planet. And don’t forget to try the wine: Georgia has the oldest wine-making tradition in the world, going back over 8,000 years.    

Taiwan for those who love nature and history

Yushan National Park Chiayi, Taiwan
Yushan National Park Chiayi, Taiwan

Another small country which is often overlooked in favor of its bigger neighbors, Taiwan has a lot to offer travelers. The capital Taipei has enough to keep any traveler busy: within one city’s limits, you have access to incredible shopping, lively nightlife, hot springs, mountain hiking, cycling, and tea plantations. But even though you could easily spend a couple of weeks getting to know Taipei, there’s so much more to Taiwan than its capital; the country is home to masses of gorgeous natural wonders, such as Taroko Gorge, one of Taiwan’s most visited sights featuring a beautiful waterfall; Yushan National Park with its many canyons, valleys, and cliffs; Sun Moon Lake, the largest body of water in Taiwan which is perfect for sailing; and Penghu, an archipelago known for its wonderful seafood and tropical beaches. Other places rich in culture, historical landmarks, and great food are Taichung, the supposed birthplace of bubble tea, Kaohsiung, famous for Love River and the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, and Tainan, the oldest city in the country and the Imperial capital.      

Japan for the Rugby World Cup and the Hidden Christian Sites of Nagasaki

Nagasaki, Japan
Nagasaki, Japan

An incredible mix of the traditional and the modern, Japan has been on many travelers’ wish lists for many a year. 2018 saw the addition of a new UNESCO World Heritage Site – the hidden Christian sites of Nagasaki made up of ten villages, the remains of Hara castle and a cathedral dating from between the 17th to 19th centuries – and with the Rugby World Cup also set to take place in September this year in various locations around the country, 2019 should be the year you head to the Land of the Rising Sun. If rugby doesn’t float your boat, there are still a multitude of reasons to visit this fascinating country. As one of the oldest civilizations in the world, Japan has many interesting and beautiful temples, shrines, and historical sites to explore, intertwined with its modern skyscrapers, shopping centers, and karaoke bars. It has amazing cuisine, there are futuristic gadgets galore and if you’re a fan of anime and manga, you’ll be in heaven. A great time to visit is spring, where you get the chance to see the world-famous cherry blossoms bloom.  

Colombia for 20,000-year-old cave paintings and a hipster capital

Cobblestone street in Guatape Antioquia, Colombia
Cobblestone street in Guatape Antioquia, Colombia

Breaking free from its reputation for being a dangerous country, Colombia has become a firm favorite on the backpacker trail since the civil war ended in 2016. In 2018, 20,000-year-old cave paintings in the Chiribiquete National Park in the heart of the Colombian jungle were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which is a good enough reason to visit on its own. However, there are plenty more. Nature is a big one: Colombia has both Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, swathes of rainforest, and mountain ranges, making it a great place for swimming, trekking, and hiking. Its cities are also worth a look. The capital Bogotá has a booming cafe and dining culture, with hipster-style coffee shops and great lunch menus. It’s also the home to the Botero Museum, dedicated to Colombia’s most famous artist who was known for his plus-sized representations of people – and it’s free to enter. Other great reasons to visit this splendid country include: Teyuna, the Colombian version of Machu Picchu; Medellin, Colombia’s city of art and learning; the salt cathedral of Zipaquira; and Cartagena, the country’s second oldest city with its stunning architecture.  

Uzbekistan for Silk Road treasures and visa-free travel

Historic Architecture of Itchan Kala, Uzbekistan
Historic Architecture of Itchan Kala, Uzbekistan

It was announced earlier this year that from February 1st Uzbekistan would be allowing 30 days’ visa-free travel for citizens of 45 additional countries, including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. If that’s not reason enough to get your flight booked, there are plenty of others. The Silk Road was an ancient network of trade routes spanning all the way from Europe to China, and some of the most important cities on the route were located in modern-day Uzbekistan. Samarkand was founded around the 7th century BC, making it older than ancient Rome. It’s famous for its mausoleums and mosques; you should definitely check out the Registan, the Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, and the Gur-e-Amir mausoleum. Bukhara was one of the most important trading centers on the Silk Road and the center is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Khiva also has a wealth of mosques, mausoleums, and historic sites to see.

The capital Tashkent is the cultural and economic center of the country and one of the richest in the Central Asian area. An enchanting mix of Islamic and Soviet architecture, you will find buzzing nightlife, modern restaurants, and one of the world’s most opulent system of metro stations during a visit to Tashkent

Argentina to see a total solar eclipse

Iguazu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina
Iguazu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina

Total solar eclipses happen quite often, usually two or four times a year; however, they are only seen from specific locations on Earth once every 100 years or so. On July 2nd this year, one is going to take place in Argentina; it will be visible from the cities of San Juan, Bragado, and Junin. So if you’re interested in both astronomy and travel, this would be a great opportunity to combine the two. And a trip to Argentina wouldn’t be just for the eclipse. July is the middle of the Argentine winter, and the snow-covered mountainous south at this time of year is the ideal location for sports such as sledding, skiing, and snowboarding. It’s also a good chance to do some wildlife spotting; penguins, seals, and orcas all make their home in the southern area around the Beagle Channel. In the north of the country, Iguazu Falls attracts the greatest number of tourists – for good reason, seeing as it’s one of the most stunning waterfalls in the world. Foodies will love Argentina with its world-class wine and prime beef and a visit to the birthplace of tango, the capital, Buenos Aires, is a must for every traveler, with its glamorous, seductive atmosphere and colorful neighborhoods. 

Switzerland for the Winemakers Festival

The Medieval Gruyere Castle, Canton of Fribourg, Switzerland
The Medieval Gruyere Castle, Canton of Fribourg, Switzerland

Only taking place every 21 years, the Winemakers festival in Vevey in Switzerland is dedicated to the tradition of viticulture. Established in the 17th century, this year’s festival will take place in a specifically-built arena able to accommodate 20,000 spectators. The festival will consist of dancers, floats, musicians, and a parade, all celebrating the culture of winegrowing. Vevey itself is known as the ‘Pearl of the Swiss Riviera’ that has another claim to fame aside from winegrowing; the superstar of silent cinema, Charlie Chaplin, made his home there for the last 20-odd years of his life. There is even a statue of him in the town. The pristine Lake Geneva is also a huge selling point of Vevey, as well as the Alimentarium, the first museum in the world to be solely dedicated to nutrition.

Of course, Switzerland has a wealth of destinations worthy of a visit, and with Switzerland being such a small country, it is easy enough to see a number of places in a two-week trip. Highlights include: Bern, the capital with its bears by the river, who are the symbol of the city; Fribourg with its great culinary and cafe culture and beautiful architecture; and Geneva, the home of CERN.

Ukraine for a cheap destination with new direct flights

Late last year, Ryanair announced that they are launching new routes from London Stansted to Kyiv and Lviv in Ukraine in summer 2019. If you’re a fan of the cities of Prague, Krakow, and Budapest, you’ll love Lviv. The Old Town is UNESCO-protected and has plenty of attractions and things to see, including a number of important churches of varying religions, reflecting the mix of people who have lived in the city over the years, and around 60 museums. It’s also a huge cultural center, with ten theatres and a stunning neo-Renaissance opera house. As an important historical trading city, many architects frequented Lviv over eight centuries; you will find examples of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Classicism around the city. Lviv also has a great reputation for coffee and chocolate.  

Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine
Pechersk Lavra in Kiev, Ukraine

What Kyiv lacks in medieval charm, it more than makes up with in character. Established as a city in the 5th century, Kyiv is a bustling capital with a long and interesting history. Its most recognizable sights is St Sophia’s Cathedral with its huge golden dome; it also has the world’s largest ensemble of 11th century frescoes and mosaics. There are many other sights to see, such as the Motherland statue, Independence Square, and Andrew’s Descent. Kyiv is also the jumping-off point for Chernobyl, the site of the world’s biggest nuclear disaster in 1986; it is possible to take a day trip to the exclusion zone and see the reactor, the nuclear power plant, and Pripyat, the closest town; it is now a ghost town, providing a freeze-frame of life in 1980s Soviet Union. 

2019 is a year of celebrations, festivals, natural phenomena, history, and culture; if you visit one or more of these destinations this year, you will get to be part of it too.

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