20 November 2018
2018 is drawing to a close and now is a good time to look ahead and start thinking about what the new year will bring. Whether you’re looking for some fun in the sun or want to enjoy some of the world’s most incredible experiences, narrowing down a wealth of exciting options can be a daunting task.
So, we’ve put together a list of 10 incredible places across four continents, drawing on the expertise of our Travel Counsellors to reveal the hottest destinations for 2019. We shared with you numbers 10-6 last week, but read on to discover the top five.
Iceland is a country like no other. Straddling the landmasses of Europe and North America, this cool land is a hotbed of natural wonders that has travellers flocking in their thousands to enjoy. Reykjavík is the country’s gateway and accommodation hub where you’ll find attractions aplenty including Lutheran church Hallgrímskirkja, which has an observation deck with unparalleled city views, and Videy Island, with art installations such as Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace Tower and Richard Serra’s Milestones.
But it is in nature where Iceland really comes into its own, and one of the country’s most popular attractions is the Golden Circle – a route laden with incredible sights, including the exploding hot springs at Geysir, awe-inspiring Gullfoss Waterfall and Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s also the Blue Lagoon, where you’ll be able to pamper and relax in a naturally-heated, radiant blue spring.
“Iceland is amazing, with incredible landscapes and friendly people. It’s a different kind of holiday destination and you can visit at any time of year as there is plenty to do when it’s both cold and warm. I would recommend a summer trip to Iceland when the hours of daylight are much longer and driving conditions are perfect for a tour of the country’s untamed east in a rental car.”
With an eclectic mix of religion and cultures, world-class temples, rich and varied wildlife and an emerging surf scene, there has never been a better time to explore Sri Lanka than in 2019. Discover the tea plantations that blanket miles of hillside in the south and combine a tour with a tasting session, a stay in a plantation home and a visit to the factories where the leaves are processed.
Uda Walawe National Park is one of many in Sri Lanka but is also home to the Elephant Transfer Home, an orphanage and rehabilitation centre for orphaned and injured elephants. Go on a trek through the park and you will come across these beautiful creatures in their herds, as well as a high density of bird life. Among the multitude of other attractions, there’s Sigiriya, a rising rock formation surrounded by beautiful jungle, villages and farmland, must-do scenic train journeys and flavoursome food, much of which is suitable for vegetarians.
“One of the best parts of my trip to Sri Lanka was the climb of over 1,200 steps to the top of Sigiriya, also known as the Lion Rock. Considered the eighth wonder of the world, Sigiriya was built in the 5th century by King Kasyappa. We arrived on a feast day and there were huge crowds, so the climb took about two hours. The views from the top of the rock were incredible and I experienced a huge sense of achievement – I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone."
Once described by Winston Churchill as the “Pearl of Africa,” Uganda is a wildlife-rich destination in East Africa and with stability restored and a safe environment for foreigners to visit, 2019 is the perfect time to go. Trek to see the majestic mountain gorillas of Uganda, one of the world’s most endangered animals, or head out on safari and spot zebras, springbok, lions and rhinos.
In addition to these animal encounters, there’s Murchison Falls National Park, which offers great mountain hiking opportunities, boat trips on Lake Victoria and the Source of the Nile in Jinja, as well as the opportunity to have one foot in each hemisphere along the Ugandan section of the equator.
“Uganda has so much to offer visitors. Seeing the elusive mountain gorillas, who share 99% of our DNA, is one of the country’s most incredible experiences. If that isn’t enough, there is so much other incredible wildlife from the tree-climbing lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park to the crested cranes, which are the national bird of Uganda.
“I was there in June and combined it with running the Uganda International Marathon, which raised money for the local projects in Masaka and helped to leave a lasting legacy, enabling communities to get out of poverty and create a sustainable future for themselves.”
From deserted plains to towering peaks and exciting activities to breathtaking treks, Alaska is waiting to be discovered. This spectacular Arctic wilderness has dramatic mountains, glaciers and fjords, as well as historic frontier towns where you can hear tales of the Great Gold Rush.
Denali National Park is one of its most enticing attractions, with over 18,000 feet of ascending rock, ice and snow presiding over six million acres of wild land, where visitors can enjoy dog sled rides in the winter, beautiful lakes in the summer and wildlife encounters year-round. Alaska also offers opportunities to spot wildlife including whales, otters, bears and eagles and, when night falls, keep your eyes cast to the heavens for a glimpse of the shimmering Northern Lights.
“Alaska has so much great scenery and wildlife. You can do either an adventure tour and fly there, or try a luxury or expedition cruise and discover this incredible land that way. If I send any of my customers to Alaska, I always recommend a helicopter tour. Not only is it a great way to see beautiful Alaska, but they’ll also experience landing on a glacier and going for an icefield walk. There’s little else like it.”
Our number one destination for 2019 is Italy’s dazzling Amalfi Coast, a place where rugged scenery meets rich culture to provide one of Europe’s greatest holiday locations. The centrepiece of this UNESCO-listed coastline is Amalfi, a town with medieval architecture, winding alleys and steep steps, fronted by a cluster of pretty, colourful villas which spill down the cliffside to the fishing port and beach below. Amalfi, with its café culture and authentic local food, is a fantastic base to explore the region, which features gems such as the 13th-century Cathedral of St Andrew, with its mix of European and Arabic architecture, and cosy, coved beaches including Fiordo di Furore and Lanino Beach.
Naples and Pompeii are both within a 90-minute drive, and day trips to them are highly recommended. Head to the birthplace of pizza, Naples, for incredible homemade food and the Herculaneum, an excavated town buried by the same eruption of Vesuvius which destroyed the larger Pompeii. While also bigger, Pompeii is more popular, and you can visit its fascinating ruins on a half- or full-day tour. If you enjoy beaches, but you’re also culture conscious, then the Amalfi Coast is the perfect destination for a 2019 getaway.
“The Amalfi Coast is very popular, and for good reason. I’d recommend spending a couple of nights in Sorrento, a couple of nights in Capri, then going on a self-drive along the Amalfi Coast stopping off in Amalfi, Positano, Praiano, Ravello, Maiori or Minori along the way.
“Popular attractions are the waterfalls of the Valle delle Ferriere, the beautiful beaches along Maiori and Minori, which are not far from Amalfi Town, or taking a ferry out to the Blue Grotto in Capri – so don’t forget your swimwear.”
If you would like to book one of these incredible destinations for 2019, contact your Travel Counsellor.