As 2018 winds down, it’s no harm to take your foot off the pedal for a bit.
Tis the season to chill by fire… but if you’re the type to get itchy feet, it’s never too early to start dreaming about next year’s adventures.
To help with some inspo, airbnb have compiled a list of the most popular places to travel to in 2019.
Ranging from a vehicle-free island off the coast of south eastern China’s Xiamen, to the site of Woodstock’s 50th anniversary celebration next year – most of the trending destinations are places where the increased “healthy,” more sustainable and authentic tourism will benefit residents and travellers alike.
We’re so on board with that.
So pour yourself a hot chocolate, sit back, and start plotting.
1. Kaikoura, New Zealand
295% YoY increase in bookings
Heavily damaged by a 7.8 earthquake in 2016, this coastal town on the South Island is staging a marvellous comeback with the strongest increase in both bookings and search on our list. With train and other transportation services coming back online, avid whale- and seal-watchers will find it easier to experience the town’s notable sperm whale population and historic whaling past.
2. Xiamen, China
283% YoY increase in bookings
A romantic port city surrounded by abundant islands takes the second spot on our list. Xiamen is also home to Kulangsu, a pedestrian-only, vehicle-free island just off the coast that is ideal for local seafood-loving couples. If traveling solo, learn how to bake bread at a local dessert studio or experience nightlife like a local on a pub crawl with host Cong.
3. Puebla, Mexico
240% YoY increase in bookings
Just a two-hour drive from Mexico City, Puebla provides a unique alternative to the typical Mexican beach vacation and trip to the capital city, and we’ve seen tremendous inbound growth and wanderlust despite 2017’s earthquake. Travelers can experience the best of the city’s architectural and culinary history through a cooking class with host Andrea or for the more sporty types, ring side tickets to a live lucha libre event with host Rubén.
4. Normandy, France
229% YoY increase in bookings
History buffs may be inclined to witness Normandy’s commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings next year, making it the ideal time for them to visit — perhaps withhistorian and host Johann as their guide. Only a two-hour train ride from Paris, locals and travellers can experience the region’s lush landscapes, architectural gems, and Route du Camembert, the trail named after the popular cheese.
5. Great Smoky Mountains, US
191% YoY increase in bookings
Home to America’s most visited national park due to its central location, general ease in getting there and affordability, the Smokies are calling. Two of the park’s most iconic trails (among the 800 miles of trails to choose from) are reopening after a wildfire two years ago. Nature-lovers can also revel in the varied plants and animals in the area as it’s part of UNESCO’s International Biosphere Reserve, and be interested to know it’s also home to the biggest black bear population in the eastern U.S. — prime surroundings for learning how to take photos with a pro. A year-round destination, the Smoky Mountains also have Pigeon Forge nearby, home to Dollywood, with its annual Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival getting bigger every year.
6. Buenos Aires Province, Argentina
188% YoY increase in bookings
Given the value of the US dollar relative to the peso, the province of Buenos Aires will become more and more attractive to international guests next year. Not to be confused with the capital city of the same name, the province spans the Atlantic coast with its popular string of beaches and forests, the latter of which you can tour in a restored Unimog, and towns like Tigre, characteristic of its Puerto de Frutos, or bustling craft market. Escape to the mountains in the city of Tandil, also named one of our most hospitable cities in the country — measured by the number of superhosts with 5-star reviews — for two years straight.
7. Accra, Ghana
163% YoY increase in bookings
Ghana is emerging as a global African destination and a place for spiritual journeys and self-discovery, and has seen a significant influx of international travellers to-date. With Makola Market offering its must-see colourful bazaar and the Labadi and Kokrobite beaches along the Gulf of Guinea boasting an exciting nightlife, there is no shortage of promised stimulation on this part of West Africa’s Atlantic coast.
156% YoY increase in bookings
This southern African beach getaway is home to nature galore — coral islands, the mangrove-covered Iso Island, and marine and national parks. The Indian Ocean surrounding the islands is home to 2,000 types of colourful fish prime for watching by scuba diving or snorkelling. Animal lovers can further rejoice in Mozambique’s pink flamingos, Nile crocodiles and dolphins.
9. Outer Hebrides, Scotland
147% YoY increase in bookings
An island chain of many names off the west coast of Scotland, the beautiful but rugged natural splendour of this region may seem reminiscent of the 1995 film depicting a crucial moment in Scotland and England’s history, and the recent unofficial sequel on Netflix. Wildlife really is everywhere: red deer (outnumbering humans 30 to 1!), golden eagles, and in the surrounding waters otters, whales, dolphins and more. Even the Barra Airport is an attraction as it’s one of the only commercial airports in the world where the planes land on a beach, providing a spectacle often met with applause by travellers during take-offs and landings.
10. Wakayama Prefecture, Japan
128% YoY increase in bookings
This humble region adjacent to Osaka is referred to by some as Japan’s “spiritual heartland” with more and more locals and travellers taking up temporary lodging in the 52 temples on holy Buddhist grounds in Koyasan — an experience that can include meditation, temple services, Buddhist gardens and vegetarian cuisine. If open-air baths are more your thing, Sennin-buro in Kawayu is the country’s largest. With fish markets rivalling Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji fish market, you’ll find tuna-cutting shows on daily display with the biggest tuna found in the country. Head to the area in July for the Nachi Fire Festival and arrive early to get a good view — it’s a 1,700-year-old event and considered one of the most sacred festivals in Japan.