Where should you plan a trip in 2019? We found the places celebrating major anniversaries and other cultural events, consulted travel experts about emerging destinations, and compiled the hottest new hotel openings. It wasn’t easy narrowing this list down to just 20 places around the world, but a few key places stood out from the rest. In 2019, the Southern Italian city of Matera will be crowned a European Capital of Culture, drawing countless visitors to see its architectural and cultural heritage. The Taj Mahal will emerge from a yearlong restoration of its iconic dome. And Berlin will celebrate the centenary of the Bauhaus as well as the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Of course, these are just a few highlights. From remote safari spots and off-the-beaten-path islands to well-trodden cities with new reasons to visit, these are the locations at the top of our list for 2019.
This Southern Italy city known for its sassi (cave dwellings) is making a major comeback. For decades the caves were uninhabitable and unsanitary, but over the last several years entrepreneurs have started restoring them and transforming them into unique hotels like Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, a member of Design Hotels. Crowned a 2019 European Capital of Culture, Matera will host a dynamic roster of events throughout the year. For the opening ceremony on January 19, a series of marching bands from the region of Basilicata and across Europe will parade through the city’s streets to kick off the yearlong celebration.
The majestic Taj Mahal will emerge in 2019 from a yearlong restoration that polished its gleaming marble dome and turrets, which have been hidden under scaffolding for months. If you want to see it in all its glory, plan a visit between November and March, before monsoon season. Stay at the Oberoi Amarvilas, where every room has a view of the monument. You can wake up and do yoga in the gardens with a view of the Taj.
2019 marks two important anniversaries for Berlin: the centenary of the Bauhaus and 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. To celebrate, the opening Bauhaus Festival will be held at the Akademie der Künst on January 16–24. The renowned Bauhaus Archiv—which displays furniture and other designs by the school’s most important figures—is currently being renovated, and a temporary space will host exhibits for the centenary. It’s worth visiting some of Berlin’s UNESCO Heritage–listed Bauhaus sites, including a famous Mies van der Rohe house constructed during the last year of Bauhaus in Berlin.
Georgia’s second city may be known for its charming squares and weeping willows, but this big small town is also a hotbed of contemporary design thanks to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Travelers who want to see what it’s all about now have two new options: the Perry Lane Hotel, a member of the Luxury Collection with a gorgeous design featuring work by SCAD students, and the Alida, Savannah, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, a new boutique property in the emerging warehouse district.
Barren landscapes and sand dunes may not be what most people expect to find in Southern Africa, but they show a whole other side of the region that’s becoming much more accessible. According to George Morgan-Grenville, Founder & CEO of luxury outfitter Red Savannah, “a spate of new lodges in Namibia moves the Southern African nation further up the luxury travel hot list.” He cites Omaanda, a collection of ten Owambo-style huts in a private reserve, the British Colonial–inspired tented camp Sonop, and the luxurious, eco-friendly Shipwreck Lodge by Natural Selection, which opened on the Skeleton Coast. Just this fall, Serra Cafema Camp by Wilderness Safaris emerged from an environmentally sensitive rebuild.
Following the runaway success of Crazy Rich Asians, we predict that Singapore will be one of the top travel destinations for 2019. It comes at an apt time as the small nation-state is celebrating the bicentennial of its founding by Sir Stamford Raffles, Changi Airport recently unveiled its swanky new terminal, and the iconic Raffles Singapore is set to emerge mid-year from a top-to-bottom renovation by Champalimaud. It will join several other exciting new hotels, including the Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore in a renovated heritage building, Six Senses Duxton and Six Senses Maxwell, and three new hotels on Sentosa Island by Far East Hospitality.
The English writer Samuel Johnson famously said, “You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” More than two centuries have passed since Johnson’s era, but his words still ring true. Life in London is nothing short of invigorating, and travelers find that one visit isn’t enough to experience everything this two-millennia-old city has to offer.
This national park provides plenty of attractions to excite nature lovers, from steaming geysers to bubbling hot springs to hiking trails that stretch for miles. Plus, animal fans will appreciate a visit to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center to learn about local wildlife.
New York City
Known for its museums, theaters and restaurant scene, the sheer number of things to do in the Big Apple puts most of its U.S. peers to shame. When you need a respite from the city’s busy street life and soaring skyscrapers, retreat to scenic Central Park or the artsy High Line.
San Francisco’s culture has been affected by diverse ethnic groups and many social movements. The best way to perceive the City by the Bay’s character is to explore each neighborhood. From the Mission to the Castro, visitors appreciate each enclave’s offerings.
The nation’s capital has a lot going for it. Iconic landmarks, such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, allow you to sightsee for days. Just make sure to save some energy for an evening out – D.C. boasts a lively restaurant and bar scene.
Honolulu – Oahu
Oahu features a nice balance of urban and beach environments. And with pleasant weather year-round, there really is no bad time to visit. Waikiki Beach promises to please, but be forewarned: There’s a good chance you will be greeted by a barrage of tourists. For more elbow room, head to Kailua’s Lanikai Beach.
Travel to this South Florida city to experience a melting pot of cultures. The vibrant food and nightlife scenes are worth the trip alone, but don’t forget to visit some of the many museums that showcase the city’s unique art, history and culture.