Got the travel bug and don’t know what to do with yourself now that the holidays have ended? We know exactly how you feel. Making travel plans at the beginning of each year is a great time to start planning. We usually know when we have time off, there aren’t many family obligations until the holidays roll around again, and we need to distract ourselves from the cold Ontario weather while we lounge on our sofa and vicariously live through photographs of sunshine and beaches.
Lucky for you, we already did the research and gathered the top 10 places to visit in 2019 for those of you looking for some adventure, or simply yearning for those once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Experience both a beautiful city and Malaysia’s most stunning outdoor attractions in Kuala Lumpur. We love having an abundance of options while on vacation and the capital city fits all of our requirements. You’ll definitely want to explore the city streets to see the famous Petronas twin towers and take some gorgeous photos. There you can also shop, experience Malaysian culture at the National Museum and temples, and of course, enjoy the authentic cuisine. At Hutong or Alor Street, you will find just that—as well as fellow travelling foodies! And why not throw on a fancy outfit to visit the new Four Seasons Hotel during High Tea hours and get some Instagram-worthy shots?
If you’re the type of traveller who prefers the outdoors, the National Zoo of Malaysia might be right up your alley. Plus, you’ll find the famous Batu Caves (calling all rock climbers!) only a 15 minute drive away. It’s totally worth seeing the temples and Hindu shrines even if you prefer to leisurely stroll through these amazing underground structures. Don’t forget to, keep a lookout for monkeys!
Luckily temperatures are warm enough for shorts all year round, but if you prefer to leave your rubber boots at home, avoid visiting November through February when rain is more likely.
Lima is a beautiful city on the coast of the South Pacific Ocean, with world-class cuisines and many ancient civilization historic sites. This is easily the biggest adventure that often gets overlooked by travellers who want an audacious vacation spot. Peru’s famous mountains of Machu Picchu are a little tougher to get to because there aren’t direct flights to the nearest airport (unless you’re already in a surrounding Latin American country). However, if you’re the daring type and willing to do some domestic travelling by bus and train, the 4 hour journey to Machu Picchu makes the hiking and views totally worth it.
The city of Lima itself has plenty to offer, ranging from cruises, museums, food tastings, and even Peruvian cooking classes. Plus, rent some bikes and cruise along the Malécon for the best ocean views just beneath the beautiful cliffs.
We have a feeling Hawaii will always be on everyone’s travel list. But, this year it’s even more desirable. After the eruptions on the island last year, tourism companies are now offering volcano tours to show visitors the geographical changes such as hot lava hikes where you can get up close, or hot lava boat tours where you view it all from a boat in the ocean.
Hawaii is also known for its shockingly beautiful mountains and difficult hiking trails if you’re the traveller who likes a challenge. Not to mention, it’s great for visitors who just want great photos of scenery, beaches, and food as well.
Hawaiian culture is everywhere—go to a luau for some traditional music and hula, or drop by a local farmer’s market for some fresh island goods. For more adventure, try snorkelling or surfing on any of the island’s beautiful beaches in Kauai, Maui, or Oahu.
Venice is one of those cities that are spectacular to visit year round. Even with the cooler weather during the winter months, it’s such a romantic city. Make a trip out of it with your partner in crime, or even spend a few days in Italy’s paradise with your best friend! The city of Venice is slowly sinking, so perhaps 2019 should be the year to visit—before it gets closer and closer to going completely underwater!
If this magical destination is on your list, you obviously want to do a tour on the river gondola rides around the whole city. That’s how you’ll get to see it all, since there are no roads and only canals. And by “all” we mean the nature, architecture, the connections with the people and language, and the beautiful culture in general. Foodies, you’ll want to check out their delicious seafood and classic Italian cuisine.
Make sure to pack some water-resistant attire like boots and a light coat because when it rains in Venice, it pours…seriously it floods! Your feet will drown in a couple inches of rain if you decide to check out the Piazza San Marco Square and Saint Mark’s Basilica - which should definitely be on your to-do list.
Tourism in Turkey is making a comeback from a few minor setbacks over the past couple of years—and we’re so relieved. The country has some of the most beautiful sights and you can’t go wrong no matter what city you choose to visit.
If you like to relax and lay back in the sunshine, the Bodrum Peninsula is beach central. Visit during the summer months if you want to lounge in a bikini by the beautiful tides of the Aegean Sea. In Bodrum, as well as any city you visit in Turkey, you can walk down the village streets and discover the local food and drink hotspots (hello doner and Turkish coffee!). Enjoy the shopping and maybe even take a few hours to pamper yourself in a Hamam, such as the Oldest Turkish Bath in Bodrum. It’s less private and unlike any spa experience, you’ve ever been to—which is exactly why it stands out on our to-do list.
In Çanakkalee, the new Troy Museum is the main attraction. Troy is arguably one of the most famous cities in the world, so brush up on Homer’s Iliad before embarking on this journey through time. The new landmark allows visitors to see around 2000 artifacts dating back to 2400 BCE.
Lastly, while in Turkey, make a trip to Konya, Izmir, Ankara, or Istanbul too—all of which are well known for their beautiful mosques, great food, and even fashion. Plus you can enjoy a little bit of Turkish nightlife.
Egypt is a unique country, and if you’re going there you’ll want to experience it all. First and foremost: the ancient pyramids. The pyramids were built as tombs for the Pharaohs and their families around 4650 years ago, and we luckily have the opportunity to see them up close and personal. Maybe do a camel tour in the sand dunes near the pyramids as well? After a day in the sun, take a stroll around Cairo and scope out architecture, museums, and where the locals are eating—it will be tough to pick a spot but we guarantee you’ll enjoy them all.
Another must-see is the Nile River, which you can take a boat cruise on at any time, but we recommend one during a beautiful sunset. If time permits, make your way to Alexandria to enjoy the luxurious beaches of Egypt along the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a totally different, yet memorable experience that you’ll want to come back to again one day.
Another Middle Eastern destination sneaking its way into top tourism spots for 2019. Oman is not usually the place that comes to mind when thinking about your next dream vacation, but there is a lot to see and learn! Walk around the capital city of Muscat and you’ll be amazed by the buildings’ breathtaking architecture and friendly locals. Check out the historical sights with the most intricate designs such as the Grand Mosque, the Sultan’s Palace, and the Royal Opera House. Enjoy Omani delicacies at Bait Al Luban Restaurant, or a seven-restaurant roundup of Middle Eastern cuisine at The Cave. The nightlife is also more prominent than you would expect, and the local Souqs (shops and markets) are sure to make you shop ’til you drop.
Now for the adventure! If hiking the deserts is your style, Wadi Ash Shab is a popular outdoor attraction for both locals and tourists. While it’s a 2 hour drive from Muscat, followed by a sunny 40 minute hike in the rocky, sandy terrain, the Wadi is worth it when you reach the waterfall cave and pools of clear, blue water. Pack a bathing suit because you’ll want to jump right in!
(Picture credit Sam Gao on flickr.com)
South Island, New Zealand
Did you know Lord of the Rings filmed in South Island partly due to its extraordinary landscapes? There is a lot to see here, folks, starting with the Lord of the Rings tours! If you’re a fan, why not make 2019 the year you can finally see it all in person? And while you’re at it, make a full trip out of it by doing adventurous activities!
Take a day or 2 to explore Arthur’s Pass National Park for the most stunning views of the island. Bring a backpack full of snacks, water, and a camera and hike the trails, or hop on the TranzAlpine Express train for the full scenic view through the mountains. Step it up a notch and visit the Franz Josef glaciers and Hokitika Gorge as well to get the most out of your visit to New Zealand. You’ll see icy mountains and fresh blue waters, and at Glowworm Dell in Hokitika, the glowworms shine in the night!
This one is close to home, Toronto! Round trip tickets to BC are currently on the lower end, so take advantage if you can. Everyone raves about Vancouver but a hidden gem is just west of the big city: Vancouver Island. There’s a lot to do in several cities on the island. The capital of BC and home of the parliament building in Victoria, where there is an abundance of shopping, coffee shops, food, and sightseeing such as the remarkable Butchart Gardens.
In Tofino, the waves give an opportunity for a real surfing experience, where you can rent equipment and learn from the professionals. Kayaking and whale watching are on our list as well, and even the Hot Springs are just 45 minutes from the beach town. Plus, put on your hiking boots and make a stop in Nanaimo for provincial parks, waterfalls, and wildlife. While there is plenty to enjoy on the island, it’s also only a ferry ride away from the bustling city of Vancouver if you have the time to explore more of the west coast!
Transylvania is the place to be if you enjoy seeing history come to life—or if you simply just appreciate learning and seeing new cultures. If you’re a book nerd like us, you’ll also know that Bram Stoker’s Dracula character is based on the historical Transylvanian Prince known as Vlad the Impaler. In Transylvania, you can stop by the famous “Dracula Castle”—it’s actually called Bran Castle—and sign up for a tour of this enormous historical site to experience the astonishing stories that “dwell” within (too spooky?). If that’s your thing, you definitely won’t get bored because there are many more castles to visit during your trip to Transylvania!
Spend mornings and afternoons touring the Carpathian mountains (cautiously because they have bears!). And if you visit in the winter, stroll around the medieval cities and visit churches on horse-drawn sleigh rides. It truly feels like a city from a fairy tale. Finish off your night at a local pub and see how the Romanians drink. They’re known for their Palinka—the “Spirit of Dracula” natural plum spirit.
Cover photo credit: @hi.brb