Do you feel like you need to take up a new challenge? Are you getting tired of visiting the same destinations in Italy, Spain and France again and again? Are you looking for new experiences, discovering unknown lands and exploring unique cultures? If so, then take a look at ABTA’s list of some of the world’s most magnificent hidden gems and learn more about the Trendiest Destinations of 2019.
Discover Bulgaria, “the true heart of the Balkans”, the land of ancient Thracian kings, spectacular rose valleys, diverse cuisine, unspoiled natural landscapes and unique cultural traditions. Explore the country’s rich historical legacy by visiting Europe’s oldest city – Plovdiv, which is the European Capital of Culture in 2019. Get lost in the vibrant city’s artistic neighbourhood Kapana, hike some of the four hills which surround Plovdiv, visit the Singing Fountains, discover its unique cultural identity by exploring the Old Town or follow the trails of the Roman Empire to the authentic Roman Stadium, Ancient Theatre or the Forum. During the winter the country is a popular ski and snowboarding destination, with the resorts of Bansko and Borovets being among the most popular. In the summer, head to the golden sands of Bulgaria’s finest beach resorts – Nessebar, Sozopol, Varna or Burgas. For authentic and truly extraordinary experiences try any of the communism heritage tours, visit the Surva or Nestinarka Festivals, explore Veliko Tarnovo’s medieval city wall, hike the splendid 7 Rila Lakes or taste authentic Bulgarian yoghurt.
2. Costa Rica
Costa Rica is an absolute paradise for nature-lovers! Visitors enjoy spectacular tropical beaches, thrilling adventures and a fascinating culture, all the necessary components of an ideal holiday. Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world as it contains about 5% of the world’s species. The lush natural environment can be experienced throughout the country and is easily accessible to the curious visitor. Unlike other countries, Costa Rica enjoys a stable political climate and strong economic development, providing visitors with a tranquil setting for their stay. It is also one of the few countries in the world with no army. If you want to experience the “Pura Vida” of Costa Rica, take a look at these trips:
3. Denver, Colorado
Discover Denver,where you can enjoy a marvellous combination of “300 days of sunshine, a thriving cultural scene, diverse neighbourhoods, and natural beauty”. A young, vibrant city at the base of the majestic Rocky Mountains, Denver’s stunning architecture, award-winning dining and amazing views are a year-round delight. The city might not be in the mountains, but the mountains still dominate its skyline. The picturesque mountain panorama from Denver is a spectacular 140 miles’ long!
4. Durban, South Africa
Go off the beaten path of Johannesburg, Cape Town and the Kruger National Park by visiting one of South Africa’s best kept secret cities – Durban. Durban’s breath-taking beachfront was completely redeveloped for the 2010 World Cup, so strolling along its brand new boardwalk is a must-do experience. If it’s too hot for a walk, you can explore the coast on an authentic Zulu rickshaw. Another popular sight is uShaka Marine World, which represents an exciting water park and a marvellous aquarium. Visit the home and press of the legendary Mohandas Gandhi, or explore the city’s unique art scene in South Africa’s first museum of African art. Explore South Africa and Durban onboard a once-in-a-lifetime voyage:
5. Galicia, Spain
Known to the Romans as the end of the world, and to the Spanish as the land of a thousand rivers, Galicia is the north-westernmost community of Spain and has the status of a historic nationality. A mountainous region, it has a jagged coastline formed by a succession of inlets, rivers and wide, rocky estuaries. Galicia has a unique and colourful folklore, as locals have inherited many of their traditions from different Celtic tribes. The region’s marvellous coastline can be described as a seemingly never-ending series of picturesque beaches and coves and plenty of small ports and traditional seaside towns.
Japan is an ever-expanding and developing Asian country with plenty of reasons to visit – from vibrant Tokyo, the more traditional Kyoto to majestic Mount Fiji and the spectacular cherry-blossoms in the spring. In 2019, you have yet another excuse to visit the land of the rising sun – the Rugby World Cup will take place there in the autumn of 2019. Not to miss is the cutting edge cosmopolitan city of Osaka, home to numerous cafes, fashionable spots and technological advancement which will amaze even the most sceptical mind. Discover Japan with:
Images of the ancient Nabataean city of Petra, carved from rock over a thousand years ago, have long been most people’s first impression of Jordan. But while Petra is indeed one of the most stunning attractions in the Middle East, Jordan offers so much more for the modern traveller. A symbolic bridge between sea and desert, east and west, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a land of mesmerizing beauty and contrasts. From the Jordan Valley, fertile and ever changing, to the remote desert canyons, immense and still. Visitors can explore splendid desert castles, gaze in awe at the haunting wilderness of Wadi Rum, or bathe in the restful waters of the Red Sea. The country is also a popular adventure destination as you can enjoy 4×4 rides, hiking, climbing and biking in the desert.
8. Madeira, Portugal
Madeira is one of Europe’s most beautiful travel locations, with many thousands of tourists returning year after year. Why? It offers not only a year-round summer climate, as well as wonderful fauna and flora, but it is also virtually crime-free and one of the safest holiday destinations in the world! From wonderful parks and gardens with exotic flowers, seascapes with blue ocean and towering cliffs, to rustic villages in quiet valleys and amazing dramatic vistas and sheer mountains, Madeira is the true green heaven of Europe. In addition to epic panoramic views, Funchal is famous for its cuisine and relaxing promenades. For travellers who love to keep active during their holidays the opportunities are endless – Levada walking, mountain walks, hiking, sailing, dolphin and whale watching, scuba diving, fishing, canyoning, surfing and paragliding.
Poland is a country with a 1000-year history, rich traditions and abundant cultural heritage. The legacy of bygone centuries includes monuments of architecture, historical mementoes and masterpieces of art. This is perfectly combined with the wealth of Polish nature and its mesmerising landscapes – a land of lakes, lush countryside and sparkling waterfalls. The traditions and culture are still etched onto the front of buildings, with brightly coloured decorations a common sight, especially around harbours. Discover the unique architecture of Polish castles and savour postcard-perfect Warsaw when it’s under a blanket of snow at Christmas. Not to miss are Krakow, Poznan and Gdansk in the north.
10. Thessaloniki and the surrounding area
Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece and a buzzing urban centre, mainly due to the thousands of students studying at the local universities. It is a welcoming and relaxing city, which will spoil you with its ancient history and amazing art scene. Different cultures have left their trails in the modern-day way of life, architecture and cuisine. Once in Thessaloniki, it is worth visiting the world-famous beaches of Halkidiki or hiking to the iconic Meteora Monasteries, located on top of high cliffs. The city is also an open-air museum of early Christian and Byzantine art, as well as home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites. Thessaloniki is best explored via the different themed routes such as the Roman Route, Religious Route or the UNESCO Route, from the time when the city was the European Capital of Culture in 1985.
Uzbekistan is a mixture of Middle Eastern heritage combined with Eastern influences, including Soviet Russian architecture and food influences from China. Uzbekistan is also home to unique and abundant wildlife, including white-clawed bears, golden eagles, lynxes, and snow leopards. Follow the iconic Great Silk Road, built for international trade, that runs through several countries and across land and sea – discover the famous cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva, through which passed many of history’s great conquerors. Uzbekistan also has plenty of beautiful mosques, mausoleums and medieval fortresses, with traditional architecture and minarets, a refreshing change from Western European civilization.
12. Western Australia
As one of the largest and most diverse regions in the world, Western Australia is never short of unique and extraordinary holiday experiences. Discover the biggest region on the continent and watch in awe as the wild desert landscape changes on your approach to the southern coast, where you’ll discover white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and ancient forests. Explore the vibrant city of Perth, where you can marvel at the iconic landmark of Wave Rock. Immerse yourself into the culture, authentic Aussie food and magnificent wine of Seaside Fremantle and Margaret River. Explore the iconic Monkey Mia and observe the playful dolphins. Experience the legendary Cable Beach on the back of a camel.