The hottest destinations on our radar for 2019

A new year calls for new adventures, and with this bucket list-ticking selection of destinations for 2019, you’ll be booking your next escape quicker than you can say bon voyage! From the whimsical charms of Transylvania to Mozambique’s untouched coastline, these hotspots are begging to be explored this year.

Antigua, Guatemala. Image: iStock/THEPALMER

Guatemala: Mayan ruins and mesmerising landscapes

The land of rich Mayan heritage, this Central American country is a riot of colour, culture, natural beauty and history. There’s a lot to uncover – think the glistening blue waters and volcanic backdrop of Lake Atitlán, impressive Mayan ruins in the depths of the Tikal jungle, Semuc Champey’s cascading pools and the unique streetscapes, café scene and nightlife of Antigua.

Petra, Jordan. Image: iStock/PocholoCalapre

Jordan: a sand-swept land of contrasts

From ancient cities and modern metropolises to sprawling desert scenes and the Dead Sea, the ‘Rose City’ is a country of magnificent contrasts, both old and new. History lovers will be drawn to the archaeological wonder that is Petra, home to the inspiring Treasury, while culture seekers will be at one in Amman with its cool cafés, bargain markets, lively start-ups and family-run ‘cook and dine’ experiences.

Antalya, Turkey. Image: iStock/serts

Turkish Riviera: authentic towns and sun-soaked charms

The epitome of sun, sand and sea, stealing the spotlight for summer 2019 beach breaks is Turkey’s breathtaking Turquoise Coast. From the wild mountain scenery of Fethiya to the crystal-clear waters of Antalya, there’s beguiling natural beauty at every turn, not to mention fresh local cuisine and picturesque fishing villages adding to the authentic charm.

Pemba, Mozambique. Image: iStock/Stephen Butler

Mozambique: a crowd-pleasing paradise from city to coast

Swaying palm trees, pristine coastline, vibrant marine life, colonial-style architecture, wild bushland – these are just a few of the gems that Mozambique has to offer. On the tranquil coast, snorkel, scuba-dive and island-hop until your heart’s content, and in the palm-filled capital of Maputo, kick back in a Mediterranean-style shaded sidewalk café and soak up the lively cultural scene. For a dose of inland wildlife watching, Swaziland beckons.

Brasov in Transylvania, Romania. Image: iStock/RossHelen

Transylvania: a fairy-tale trip back in time

Famously known as the homeland of Dracula, Romania’s Transylvania is less creepy and more charming than you may have imagined. With its whimsical medieval villages, fairy-tale castles coated in snow and dramatic natural scenery, it’ll feel like a romantic trip back in time. Be sure to visit the magic mountains of Prahova Valley, stroll Brasov’s enchanting streets and savour traditional treats, like salted pretzels and a (potent) shot of Tuica.

Lake Bled, Slovenia. Image: iStock/borchee

Slovenia: magical lakes and untouched natural landscapes

A Euro-trip wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the wild and wonderful charms of Slovenia. Small but perfectly formed, there’s beauty everywhere you go, from Predjama’s 800-year-old fairy-tale castle to the romantic idylls of magical Lake Bled and untouched landscapes of Triglav National Park. Be sure to savour authentic flavours at a local winery and sample the splendours of Slovenian specialities.

The Pyramids of Giza in Cairo, Egypt. Image: iStock

Egypt: a nature- and history-lover’s Eden

Discover many fascinating sides to Egypt, a country full of character; from its history and timeless treasures spanning Pyramids, the Great Sphinx of Giza and the majestic River Nile, to the beguiling landscapes offered up by the Sahara desert and Red Sea, where colourful coral and tropical fish meet pre-historic rock art. Combine scouring the bustling souks for bargains with world-class diving for a trip to remember.

Matera, Italy. Image: iStock/bluejayphoto

Matera: an ancient jewel in Italy’s crown

The majestic town of Matera is most famous for its natural caves and stunning ‘sassi’ (unique dwellings hewn out of stone). Rustic romance and rich history abound in this otherworldly UNESCO town; you’ll find churches dating back to the Middle Ages, atmospheric and intimate cave hotels – like Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita – and cosy bistros serving up delicious dishes.

Isle of Skye, Scottish Highlands. Image: iStock/miroslav_1

Scottish Highlands: for an exciting off-the-grid experience

There’s nowhere better for a back-to-nature experience than the spectacularly scenic Scottish Highlands. Its stunning landscape begs to be explored, whether with a visit to enchanting Eilean Donan Castle and the majestic fairy pools at the foot of the Cullins, or a hike around the Isle of Skye’s dramatic glimmering lochs and velvet moors.

Athens. Image: iStock/sborisov

Athens: where myths and legends meet reality

The Greek capital of Athens offers layer upon layer of ancient history that still sets hearts racing today. Witnessing the magnificent Acropolis is something that should be at the top of your list, but it’s not just about the classics here. The city has a creative and urban energy – enjoy an evening of live music at the ‘bouzoukia’, kick back in a chic café or bar, and immerse yourself in the contemporary art scene.

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