Where do you want to travel in 2019? That is the question I asked myself at the beginning of the research process for this series. As you might expect, the honest answer to the question was, where do I not want to travel?
Planning and compiling the Best Travel Destinations for 2019 series was much easier said than done. In short, the process of narrowing down destinations was done by identifying those celebrating major anniversaries or other cultural events, looking at the tourism statistics and new flight routes, consulting with travel experts, and closely following the current travel zeitgeist. The trends of other industries, such as architecture, design, entertainment, and technology, as well as the recovery process from natural disasters, all played key roles in my selections for the top destinations in each part of the series.
Part 1 of 3: Top City Travel Destinations of 2019
Part 2 of 3: Top Country Destinations of 2019 (Release TBA)
Part 3 of 3: Top Budget Destinations of 2019 (Release TBA)
Top City Travel Destinations for 2019
This years list takes you around the globe so get your passports ready!
- Auckland, New Zealand
- Mexico City, Mexico
- Berlin, Germany
- Shēnzhèn, China
- Miami, USA
- Kathmandu, Nepal
- Agra, India
- Nairobi, Kenya
- Yerevan, Armenia
- Tbilisi, Georgia
- Santa Barbara, California
- Saint-Jean, Saint Barthélemy
- Meknès, Morocco
- Jackson Hole, Wyoming
- Santiago, Chile
If you know where you’re going in the new year, share your travel destination picks with me on social medial using #TopDestinations19 or by email. Sign up to receive updates on the release of Part 2 – 3 and other post about travel.
Auckland, New Zealand
It goes without saying, New Zealand has always been a great destination. However, 2019 is set to be an exceptionally great year to visit. Air New Zealand has recently added the first and only direct non-stop flight from the American Midwest between Chicago O’Hare and Auckland. Take this opportunity to head down under and visit the country’s less developed South Island.
Auckland is the beating heart of New Zealand’s music industry and has recently been inducted into the UNESCO Creative Cities network. There are year-round anchor festivals celebrating the diverse culture of the city, including Tāmaki Herenga Waka showcasing Māori artists and heritage, Music in Parks free outdoor concerts,and the Going Global Music Summit. In 2019, the city is celebrating the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook’s voyage that literally put New Zealand on the map. The Tuia Encounters 250 is the nationwide commemoration celebrating the dual heritage of the country. SO/ Auckland by Sofitel is the trendiest hotel for its artistic and musical melting pot characteristics. The hotel is bursting with local energy and a great way to play in style. The new Park Hyatt Auckland hotel is slated to open in March. This 5-star hotel will bring a new level of luxury to Auckland. Despite having room for three times as many guests, due to large suites, open spaces, and even a moat, it only has 195 rooms.
Auckland also serves as a great base for adventure seekers and nature lovers. The South Island has six of the ten Great Walks of New Zealand. The Great Walks are popular trekking tracks developed and maintained by the Department of Conservation. The newest track opens in 2019. It crosses the Paparoa Range, through alpine tops, limestone karst landscapes and thriving rain forest. After consuming the breathtaking views and Seussian flora, the adrenaline junkie will have the chance to bungee jump or skydive in this beautiful environment. After all the action, retreat to the architecturally dynamic lodge, The Lindis,for a high-country experience within the untouched beauty of the Ahuriri Valley, New Zealand. The wine lovers will want to head to New Zealand’s wine country. The Marlborough Lodge recently opened a new spa – the perfect place to unwind after touring the vineyards and wine tasting.
Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City is the largest and most populous metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere. Also known as Distrito Federal, this is the country’s economic and cultural hub. As the capital of Mexico, it is home to the offices of the federal government. As you travel through this city, you will see remnants of centuries of architectural design and artistic movements. The pre-Hispanic buildings and colonial cathedrals stand in contrast to the modern wonders such as Museo Soumaya. In2018, Mexico City was the first North American city named the World Design Capital by the World Design Organization. Mexico City was chosen for the designation for its passion and enthusiasm during the design phases for blending old and new in innovative health, communications and security programs, a bike sharing system, urban gardens, parks and playgrounds. In addition to the efforts by city through design, there is an amazing slate of events and festivals slated for next year.The annual Ambulante Film Festival will be in Mexico City from May 2 – 16. The theme of the program is optical illusions and justice. For art lovers, the contemporary art festival ZONA MACO will take place February 6 – 10. This festival exhibits the city’s best and most prestigious contemporary art galleries. For the best cultural experience, go to the Festival del Centro Histórico. This festival will display a diverse array of cultural events; dance, music, art, theater and opera are just some of what you can expect. This usually takes place in March over 2 weeks. The National Football League also announced its return to Mexico City for the third and final game of the existing agreement between the league and city. The game will take place at the Extadio Azteca stadium during the 2019 NFL regular-season. Date and time will be announced by the NFL.
Next year marks two important anniversaries for the capital of Germany, Berlin: the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Bauhaus and 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The 100 Years Bauhaus Festival kicks off nationwide with concerts, the atre, dance, film, workshops and lectures, demonstrations, games and festivities. It takes place on January 16 – 24 at Akademie der Künst. The purpose of the Bauhaus Festival is celebrating the foundation of Bauhaus(School of Building) and promote creative atmospheres of exploration and research, learning and teaching, joining in and thinking ahead. The theme this year is the relationship between humankind and machine. More information and tickets are available here. Throughout the year until November 9th, a large number of events will be held in Berlin that will deal with the topics of reunification, the construction of the Berlin Wall, the division of the world during the Cold War, and overcoming the Peaceful Revolution of 1989. In August 1961, the Communist government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, or East Germany) began construction of a wall between East and West Germany. The point of the wall was to keep Western “fascist” from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state. However, it largely served as a way to prevent defections from East to West. The Berlin Wall fell when the East German Communist Party announced citizens of the GDR could cross the border whenever they pleased on November 9, 1989. The Berlin Wall is one of the most enduring symbols of the divisive Cold War.
Shēnzhèn is a megacity in southeastern Guangdong Province, China. This modern metropolis links Hong Kong to China’s mainland. In the past, Shēnzhèn was known as the cheap nightlife alternative to Hong Kong. Now, this innovative mega city is the ‘Silicon Valley’ of China. With design and tech companies drawing China’s most creative people, Shēnzhèn has a booming indie-music scene, fun cafes and restaurants, developing craft brewing industry and a new arts district located within former warehouses. Within a former electronics factory compound, heritage art village OCT-LOFT is the focal point for the burgeoning art and design scene.
Welcome to Miami! Bienvenidos a Miami! In addition to the beautiful beaches and bustling nightlife, the Magic City has seen a recent transformation into a center for the arts and a foodies paradise. The Design District, featuring beautiful new architecture which includes the Museum Garage and the Institute of Contemporary Art, plus some great public art and expanded cultural programs, has become a magnet for culture travelers. Rejuvenating downtown Miami continues to be a major focus with the recent completion of the $305 million science museum. If you are looking for a year-round tropical paradise and great city attractions, that is located in the lower 48 of the United States, this will be the hot destination for 2019.K
In 2015, two significant earthquakes struck the country of Nepal and surrounding regions. This natural disaster killed thousands of people and destroyed villages, towns, and the city of Kathmandu. In the past three years, the mood has changed and this great city in completely focused on reconstruction and rejuvenation. There is still work to be done on restoring the historic monuments and sites that were crumbled.The city that was infamous for traffic problems, smog, and noise is making moves during the rebuilding process. Overall, these moves are making the city more livable than it has been in several decades. In the alleyways of the old city, you will even find reliable electricity and wi-fi as a result. Getting to Kathmandu can be tricky, but once you are there it is very affordable. Take this opportunity to learn the culture of Kathmandu and perhaps start your trek to the Mt. Everest Base Camp.
Emerging from a yearlong restoration that has the marble dome and turrets polished, all of which has been hidden under scaffolding for much of 2018, is the Taj Mahal mausoleum in the Indian city of Agra. Plan your visit between November and March, before the monsoon season, to see the beautiful architectural gem in all of its glory. Located just 600 meters from the Taj Mahal is the Oberoi Amarvilas luxury hotel. Every room of this hotel has uninterrupted views of the ancient mausoleum. Imagine waking up, drinking coffee or doing yoga in the gardens with a perfect view of the Taj. N
The possibility of a safari vacation is becoming more achievable for all Americans in 2019. Previously, getting to Kenya was difficult because it would require multiple connections. Kenya Airways has recently started offering direct flights from New York’s JFK airport to Nairobi. Additionally, this spring, Delta will also start flying direct from Atlanta to Nairobi. As a result, Nairobi has never been this easy to visit and I believe you should go before it becomes the new destination hotspot. The Fairmont hotel has three locations in the country. In Nairobi, the Fairmont The Norfolk will showcase vibrant city culture exhibitions from by Kenyan artist and designers. After exploring the city, go on a safari or check out the Kenyan beaches.
Possibly Europe’s best kept secret, capital city Yerevan is the heart and soul of Armenia. This 2,800-year-old city is full of charm and breathtaking sites of the new and old around every corner. There are wide and leafy boulevards lined with cafes and wine bars. Armenia was part of the Soviet Union up until it disintegrated in 1991. You will still find the derelict factory buildings and grim, Russian dormitory style blocks surrounded by abandoned vehicles, tankers and machinery scattered in the suburbs. Despite that, you will be enchanted by this developing European gem when you look past it all to see the 5,165m Mount Ararat’s snow capped peak off in the horizon. The people in Yerevan are some of the most hospitable in world. Hospitality is as much a lifestyle as it is a choice for the residents. Walking through the open food markets, you will likely end up taking gifts from the vendors. Yerevan lights up every night with great nightlife. In the evenings, there is illuminated dancing fountains at Republic Square. Visit the Cascade area to experience professional folk dancing by a group called Karin. Also known for wine and brandy, you will quickly realize the Yerevan people like their alcohol. This upcoming year will feature festival after festival, from wine and food celebrations to the city’s monumental birthday.
In 2017, Anthony Bourdain called Georgia “a place you should absolutely visit if given the chance” on a episode of Parts Unknown in which he traveled to Tbilisi. He was ahead of the curve but Geogia is catching on as the next destination hotspot. Previously, when you said you were going to Geogia most would assume the state not country. That is changing as the country is moving into the mainstream. As a curious and adventurous traveler, you will really enjoy Tbilisi for many reasons. Possibly its global pro-Western mentality, the 8,000 year old wine making techniques, and / or the chacha. Before you explore everything awesome this city offers, check into the Stamba Hotel, a former Soviet-era publishing house that has been transformed into a boutique hotel. People are raving about this 42-room Georgian oasis.