January 16, 2019
When the urge to travel hits, pay attention. A little wanderlust could be a sign that that you’ve been getting a little too comfortable in your routine and it’s time to challenge (and maybe even humble) yourself with a new experience. Travel is a way to grow, to learn and to gain perspective – so where to next?
We’ve rounded up 9 destinations that are catching the eyes of travellers as top places to visit in 2019, or are bucket-list experiences just waiting to be ticked off this year.
1. Sri Lanka
In Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel 2019,” Sri Lanka snagged the top country spot – so now’s the time to see what it’s all about. It’s not a huge country, so you can cover a lot of ground while you’re there. The Central Highlands’ tea plantations are a famous sea of green that are part of the Great Global Bucket List (make sure to have a sip while you’re there), but there’s more to Sri Lanka than tea. Stay in a rainforest eco-lodge, bike to the ruins at Anuradhapura, or catch waves on the beaches of Hikkaduwa.
2. Northern Lights in Canada
Part of what makes seeing the Northern Lights so special is that they’re not guaranteed; there’s even an aurora forecast to help with predictions. You’ll need to head to the high-latitude regions for a chance to see them. Two prime spots are Yellowknife (NWT) and Whitehorse (Yukon) from mid-August through to mid-April. Stay at a remote lodge far away from the city lights, and pair your visit with snowshoeing, a visit to the Takhini Hotsprings, and a campfire with s’mores.
Morocco’s Atlantic Coast made Fodor’s 2019 Go List, and you might be surprised to find sweet right-hand surf breaks dotting the coastline near towns like Essaouria (west of Marrakech) and Taghazout. For most people, though, deserts are what they picture when they imagine Morocco; if you’ve ever wanted to ride a camel in the desert (at sunset, perhaps?), this is the place to make it happen. Eating slow-cooked tagine meals, hiking in the Atlas Mountains, and visiting action-packed markets like Djemaa El Fna in Marrakech are just a few of the must-do experiences. Make sure to include littler-known Meknès in your visit – it’s one of Lonely Planet’s top cities for 2019.
A lot has changed in Colombia over the last few years, and this country is now on travellers’ radars. Visitors have a huge range of landscapes to explore – everything from Caribbean coastal cities and tropical rainforests to grassy plains and snowy peaks. With so much variety, how do you decide where to go? A couple of ideas: Fodor named the old city of Cartagena (in the north) on their 2019 Go List, and San Gil is known as the adventure capital of Colombia, with whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, mountain biking and paragliding. From a practical standpoint, it’s also got some logistical benefits, which is why Travelzoo included Colombia on their list of “2019 best bets: where Canadians should travel next.”
5. Grand Canyon National Park
Happy birthday, Grand Canyon National Park! This park turns 100 in 2019, which is an adorable blip in the existence of the 6-million-year-old Grand Canyon itself. When you go, take the time to hike into the actual canyon. Most people snap photos of the view from above, but to really experience the inner canyon, hike on of the park’s Corridor trails, like Bright Angel, South Kaibab or North Kaibab, and stay overnight at one of the campgrounds.
“I love the Grand Canyon,” said MEC Ambassador Bruce Kirkby, “It’s such an iconic spot in North America.”
Bruce has been to more than 80 countries, so he’s one to trust when it comes to calling something iconic.
6. Everest Base Camp
Everest Base Camp isn’t a casual hike. It takes time to acclimatize, you’re dealing with altitude, and there’s plenty of prep to tackle before you even arrive. But all that effort is what makes the achievement of reaching Base Camp worth it – this is a trek that’ll change you. The word “epic” gets tossed around a lot in travel writing, but the scenery here is one place where it’s actually justified. When you’re done your trek, take time to take in Kathmandu – it’s on Lonely Planet’s top cities list for 2019.
8. Mount Kilimanjaro
It’s the tallest peak in Africa, and you could be on top of it to watch the sunrise from the summit. It’s a physically and mentally challenging trek to the top, and it might make you wonder: is it worth the time and energy? If you ask anyone who’s done it, the answer is likely going to be a big yes. Conquering Kilimanjaro is on the Telegraph’s list of “greatest travel adventures in the world” and it’s a bucket-list experience for many people.
9. New Zealand
Is it the mountains and black sand beaches? The glow-worm caves and glaciers? Some of the best stargazing on earth or the adventure-country reputation? Whatever the draw, people are clearly pumped about travelling to NZ. Airbnb has Kaikoura (on the South Island) on its list of “trending destinations for 2019,” and the South Island is also home to Kawarau Bridge, the birthplace of modern bungee jumping, which is on Condé Nast Traveler’s “adventures to have in a lifetime” list.
If you can, carve out some time to explore somewhere new this year. A mega adventure is bound to change the way you look at the world, but even a mini-adventure can shake up your routine and your outlook.
Top photo: Panoramic Milky Way at Lake Pukaki, NZ, part of the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve.