10 up-and-coming travel destinations
Calling all trailblazers! Sometimes a week in the islands or an all-American road trip doesn’t satisfy the adventure cravings, so we’ve pulled together ten destinations that haven’t quite hit the tourist guidebooks yet. If your idea of a holiday is all about discovering hidden gems, getting off the beaten track and diving into authentic experiences, this list is for you.
If you want a culture hit- Italy
Much more than fresh pasta, flirty locals and famous buildings (although we love all of those too!), Italy’s got cities, towns and villages perfect for even the most well-travelled culture vulture. Stay at a Tuscan farmhouse in Siena, sun yourself on Sardinia’s rugged coast or treat your taste buds with a visit to the world’s first food theme park in Bologna. Looking for somewhere probably none of your friends have been? Pay a visit to Matera, one of 2019’s European Capitals of Culture (Plovdiv, Bulgaria is the other one). The town is carved into and built on top of limestone caves, and it looks like it’s straight out of a (very) old movie.
If you love the weird and wacky – Japan
Where else could you order food from a robot, take a spa with monkeys and channel your inner Mario with a go kart road trip through the city, complete with costumes? Japan tourism has been growing for years, but the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympics will see visitor numbers fly through the roof. From the organised chaos of Tokyo and extraordinary temples of Kyoto to world-class ski fields and the bucket list cherry blossom festival, this country’s definitely proving its worthy of all the attention.
If you’re looking for bang for your buck – Bali
If you like the sound of $3 beer, $5 dinners and $50 private drivers (that’s for a whole day!) then you can’t go past Bali. The tourist traps of Kuta and Legian have long been associated with tipsy Aussies in Bintang singlets, but a bit of research and slightly extended travel time can open your eyes to the other wonders the island, and Indonesia as a whole, has to offer. Opt to venture further along the coast to super chill Canggu for beach clubs and breakfast bowls, head to the middle of the island for vegan heaven and yoga classes in tropical Ubud, or drive northwest to Pemuteran for underwater sights colourful enough to rival Great Barrier Reef.
Want to head further afield? Take a short boat trip to Nusa Lembongan for boutique hotels with a side of surfing, or go all out and fly an hour to Flores to see a truly untouched area of the country, complete with majestic manta rays and slightly terrifying Komodo Dragons. Top tip: Take a boat trip from Labuan Bajo around Komodo National Park, you’ll see an almost-dinosaur, a pink beach and alien-like islands all by midday.
If you’re all about endless good vibes – Mexico
Can’t get enough of Taco Tuesday and Tequila Thursday? Mexico is calling! Boasting golden beaches, ancient ruins and one of the world’s favourite cuisines, this country is packed with the friendliest of locals and booming fiestas all-year-round. Perhaps benefiting from an all-time high of media mentions (thanks to a certain President…), the USA’s southern neighbour seems to be jumping up wanderlists of travellers all over the globe. Water babies will love the magical underground cenotes (swimming holes), history buffs will get a kick out of Central America’s version of the pyramids and foodies will, well, probably never want to leave. The best thing is there are trips available for all types of explorers, from all-inclusive resorts or local homestays to small group adventure tours. Sign us up!
If you’re an animal lover – Namibia
National parks teeming with wildlife, deserts than look like another planet and beautifully rugged canyons have all thrown Namibia on the map for intrepid travellers, and for good reason. Etosha National Park is the most well-known safari destination, but Damaraland is absolutely worth a visit too, or look into conservation projects and wildlife sanctuaries to truly make your mark. If you’re a real pioneer, the aptly-named Skeleton Coast has got to be on your list – a harsh beach that washes up onto mountainous sand dunes.
If you prefer beanies over bikinis – Norway
From charming fishing villages and cosmopolitan cities to the stunning Northern Lights and Instagram’s most well-known hikes, this Scandinavian gem is ridiculously photogenic. The capital, Oslo, is bursting with culture, with endless museums and galleries alongside a growing culinary scene. Small-towners will love Bergen, a classic port city filled with colourful wooden houses side-by-side. If you’re looking for an adventure (and a view!) choose from the world-famous hikes to Trolltunga or Pulpit Rock, or fly to the Lofoten Islands for landscapes that will blow your mind. Heading there in winter? Don’t miss Tromso, where you’ll (hopefully) be able to catch a light show dancing across the sky.
If you want out-of-this-world views – Patagonia
With jagged mountain ranges, colossal glaciers and lakes so blue you’d think they’re Photoshopped, Patagonia is an absolute must-see. It’ll require a high level of fitness, some decent hiking gear and enough time to explore the region properly, but we guarantee the travel admin is worth it. Take on multi-day hikes, sip pisco sours with the locals, search the skies for condors or explore the growing towns of El Calafate and El Chalten. Torres del Paine has become a popular destination for active adventurers, and for good reason, but the Huemel circuit in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares is equally as stunning and definitely less busy.
If you’re intrigued by ancient history – Jordan
Historians, photographers and movie buffs alike are sure to fall in love with this Middle Eastern country. The Ancient City of Petra is the obvious hot spot, originally made famous in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989 before being voted as one of the New Wonders of the World in 2007. A night time visit will give you an extra special experience, with hundreds of candles lighting up the 3000-year-old facade. Jerash’s Roman Ruins are another must-see, as is Wadi Rum desert, with its bright orange sand dunes and rocky canyons. The structures and landscapes are mind-blowing, but what really secures Jordan’s place in a traveller’s heart is the authentic Bedouin hospitality – the friendly faces will make you always want to come back.
If you’re a beach bum – Sri Lanka
This island nation is a true melting pot, where colonial villages, Buddhist temples and Indian eateries are found amongst incredible natural landscapes. Wander through emerald green tea plantations, search for elephants in Uda Walawe National Park, hit the waves for world-class surf and climb up the dramatic cliff-face of Sirigiya, an ancient rock fortress. Just want to chill out? There’s over 1300km of coastline, which means plenty of beaches to relax on.
If you want a next level adventure – Antarctica
We’ve saved the most intense for last! Not for the faint-hearted, nor for those on a budget or those who get seasick, the journey to Antarctica is surreal to say the least. You’ll need to fly to Argentina first as most trips leave from Ushuaia in Southern Patagonia, before embarking towards the least-visited continent. It’s about 1000km through the Drake Passage to kick off the trip, keeping an eye out for whales en route, before reaching the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula. Most trips include shore landings each day for you to step on the ice, and you might come across penguin rookeries, seals and albatross. There’s no place on earth that will make you feel so far from civilisation.