Best holiday destinations for 2019

Eloise Barker

Title photography by Naked King / Getty Images

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November 2018

Ready to plan your next big adventure? We’ve found the holiday destinations that will be on everyone’s lips next year. Discover the best holiday destinations 2019 has to offer. Don’t worry, there are plenty of beaches to go around.

The Seychelles

Best for… paradise found

British Airways started flying direct to the Seychelles in 2018, but this fairy-ring of islands remains chronically under-explored. With mountainous jungle interiors and freshly-milled white sand beaches, each island is a variation on a tropical theme. Mahé is the biggest, pretty Praslin has hiking trails and La Digue is the relaxed one where everyone goes barefoot. Anse Source D'Argent, arguably La Digue’s most famous beach, has those gorgeous granite boulders – the ones you’ll find on the posters of nearly every Seychelles tourism campaign.

Where to stay

Constance has many outposts in the Indian Ocean, but none of its hotels are more serene than the Six Senses Zil Pasyon on the lesser-known private-island Félicité. Straddling white-sand beaches, and an eco-conscious ethic, it’s a natural beauty.

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Best for… a warm welcome

South Africa’s cities often come with great beaches and Durban’s might be the best of the lot. Set on the Indian Ocean, its promisingly-named ‘Golden Mile’ delivers excellent surfing conditions and warm waters. But to stay on the coast would be remiss. Durban makes a fantastic gateway into South Africa’s hinterland: just hire a car. The Kwa-Zulu national park is awash with historic battlefields and dotted with gorgeous wildlife parks. The supreme Drakensberg mountains are a hiker’s paradise, warranting at least a few extra days exploration.

Where to stay

Just down the road from Durban, in Umhlanga you’ll find The Oyster Box, a beloved beachfront hotel overlooking a candy-striped lighthouse. As well as a menu of sustainably-sourced seafood, the hotel puts on an elegant High Tea – and a famous curry buffet.

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Best for… a fun start-up culture

Thanks to a new direct flight with British Airways, Pennsylvania’s former steel city is in the spotlight. Now a rising tech hub, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Uber are among the many companies setting up new quarters in the city. The young and bright have followed suit, so the city is lively, youthful and growing cooler by the minute. Find the party in the craft beer bars. Heading beyond the bars, Andy Warhol Museum has the most extensive collection of the artist’s work in the world – more than nearby New York – and historic Philadelphia makes a pleasant road trip.

Where to stay

Kimpton Hotel Monaco is set in a brightened-up Beaux Arts building. Funky décor aside, it’s well-located for the city’s downtown attractions – and the sports stadiums.

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Best for… those with an appetite for the east

Osaka might be smaller than Tokyo by some margin (what city isn’t?) but Japan’s second city speaks up for itself: it’s fun, lively and has an attractive proliferation of neon-signed streets, pinball arcades and – most importantly – epic food. Spring sees the grounds of the 16th century Osaka Castle tremble with pale pink blossom, and autumn 2019 will bring a few Rugby World Cup matches to Higashiosaka Hanazono Rugby Stadium. Osaka is on the Japanese island of Honshu, and a short train ride across the island takes you to Kyoto and a slightly longer one to Tokyo itself.

Where to stay

The Hyatt Regency Osaka is just a 15-minute drive from Universal Studios Japan, and a free shuttle means you can roll up in Osaka centre with ease. Large and well-equipped, this hotel’s got everything you need – even if you have a need for a rooftop outdoor pool.

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  • Explore the sights of downtown Toronto. © diegograndi.

    Central Toronto

    The CN Tower, Toronto Aquarium and Union Station: you'll find many of Toronto's best sights clustered in the bustling city centre.

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  • You have to try takoyaki (octopus balls) in Osaka. © martinhosmart.

    A taste of Osaka

    Osaka is a fantastic destination for foodies. Dotonbori is a great district for restaurants and stalls. Look out for takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (a special savoury pancake).

    Visit Osaka
  • The Salzach River flowing through Salzburg. © DaveLongMedia.

    A musical city

    The river isn't the only thing flowing through Salzburg. Music does, too. This beautiful Baroque city was Mozart's birthplace, and the setting for The Sound of Music.

    Book a trip to Salzburg


Best for… spicing things up

Marrakech: hot, dusty, busy – and yet stirringly romantic; it’s a treat for the senses. Make 2019 the year you visit. Set in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, Morocco’s red-walled city was once an ancient fort, but now its central Medina is a tourist’s playground. Explore the area’s French history with a stroll in Yves Saint Laurent’s shady Majorelle Gardens, or delve into the souk-lined streets, resurfacing with a fistful of treasures – a vial of argan oil or a handcrafted leather belt.

Where to stay

Palais Aziza & Spa is an elegant five star that provides shady, calm respite from the city hubbub. Best of all, the spa has a traditional Hammam.

Book a holiday in Marrakech


Best for… if you like it tropical

Barbados is the quintessential Caribbean destination. The sandy beaches in the east are so beautiful they’ll make your eyes water and the rocky western shores are well worth an expedition. When Happy Hour – which normally rolls into Happy Evening – comes around, enjoy Planter’s Punch sundowners and calypso music. Soon you’ll be swaying like a palm tree.

Where to stay

Beach View is a small, self-catering hotel, which gives you the freedom to whip up your own fruit platters for breakfast or enjoy a brace of brilliant local restaurants. You can hang out at the pool or walk the short distance to one of the island’s best swimming spots: Paynes Bay beach.

Holidays in Barbados


Best for… uncovering east Canada

World travel to Canada is growing steadily; you won’t be alone in wanting to visit Toronto, the east coast’s liveable, lively city. Whilst a lot of visitors shuttle off immediately to tick Canada’s tallest tower (the CN Tower) and North America’s most powerful waterfall (Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls) off their bucket lists, Toronto’s waterfront – on the calm shores of Lake Ontario – is the place to go to uncover the heart of the city. The locals love Toronto Islands, the cluster of forested islands sprinkled over the vast lakes to the north. Befriend someone who owns a nice canoe and be on your way.

Where to stay

Great for road-trippers, the three-star Park Inn by Radisson Toronto-Markham lies just north of the city and has ample free parking.

Book a holiday in Toronto


Best for… a historic city break

Edinburgh’s streets positively creak with history, and a magnificently sturdy hilltop castle is the city’s crowning glory. The Royal Mile is all thistle-topped shortbread tins; meanwhile, Princes Street has elegant department stores. You’ll find Georgian terraces, cosy restaurants – and the odd whisky shop on quieter streets. The city’s massive arts festival – The Fringe – keeps the atmosphere electric in summer.

Where to stay

The Edinburgh Grand is an exciting addition to the city. Newly-opened in 2018, the hotel is actually a set of serviced apartments, designed to make its guests feel more like residents than visitors – and well-heeled residents at that.

Book a city break in Edinburgh


Best for… something different

Bulgaria’s ancient city of Plovdiv has been named Europe’s capital of culture in 2019, but the country’s actual capital, Sofia, also has its fair share of historical wonder. The Neo-Byzantine domes of the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the early Christian frescoes of the Rotunda of St George and the laid-back café culture make this capital worthy of discerning travellers. Have a city break on the very edge of Europe – perhaps before onward travel for some skiing in Bansko.

Where to stay

The MPM Sport in Bansko is in the perfect location for an inexpensive ski break in the Pirin Mountains. It’s right on the slopes of the most popular resort in Bulgaria, just above the lift station.

Book holidays in Sofia


Best for… alpine refinement

The hills are alive… with the sound of Salzburg. The home of Mozart has so many Baroque buildings you’d think the composer was still alive, well, and walking the streets. Austria’s gorgeous mountain city in the eastern Alps has a UNESCO-heritage Old Town and sits composedly on the Salzach River. If the weather is as scorching as it was this summer – it will be a fantastic summer hiking destination. In winter, it’s a gateway to the area’s ski resorts.

Where to stay

The five-star Sacher Salzburg spreads out on one side of the Salzach. It’s a historic hotel, but the interior renovations have made it anything but old fashioned. There’s an abundance of velvet sofas in the welcoming communal areas, and a splash of modern art on the walls.


Best for... history and beaches

Malta, marooned remotely in the middle of the Mediterranean, is more historic fortress than island. Walk in the footsteps of Templar Knights around Valetta, its formidable clifftop capital, or drive inland to pinball from one rocky hill town to the next. Malta can be a fantastic year-round beach destination too – with thousands flocking to Gozo, its neighbouring island, to swim in the Blue Lagoon. Whatever you do when you reach these scorching shores, make sure you eat as much fresh seafood as possible.

Where to stay

Hip interiors abound at The Saint John, a boutique hotel in Valetta with its own gastropub: The Cheeky Monkey serves comfort food and cocktails – for when you don’t fancy dressing up.

Book a trip to Salzburg


Best for... Gothic grandeur

Cologne is on the British Airways route map from November 2018 until March 2019: the perfect window for fans of winter markets – and carnivals. Whilst this attractive city has six Christmas markets, it also has one long carnival from late February to March; celebrations are so raucous that the event is known as the city’s ‘Crazy Days’. At any other time of year, a visit to the city’s Gothic cathedral is a must-do, as is Warhol-spotting in the Ludwig Museum.

Where to stay

Hyatt Regency Cologne is a modern five-star on the Rhine, right in the centre of the city. Rooms are allergy-free, and have private balconies.

Book flights to Cologne

  • A walk in quiet Dean Village, in the centre of Edinburgh. © Lorenzo Viola / EyeEm.

    Beyond the bustle

    Edinburgh's history has made it one pretty city. Explore Dean Village, in Edinburgh's West End, and escape the crowds.

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  • Views over the Old Town in Dubrovnik. © Morten Falch Sortland.

    A lot of terracotta

    Dubrovnik's Old Town is a maze of limestone streets and historic buildings. For views over the rooftops, don't miss a walk along the city walls.

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  • The fantastic Sydney Harbour Bridge. © Spaces Images.

    View from the bridge

    At 134 metres high, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is an iconic landmark for the city. The surrounding harbour is a great place to cruise: with the opera house on one side, and waterside mansions on the other.

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Best for… Aussie adventures

Whilst you will soon no longer be able to climb Uluru, you can (and should) still climb the Harbour Bridge in Sydney – a far more ethical, no less thrilling experience. Australia's sunny city is well known for its laid-back beach vibe, its impressive harbour architecture, and its avocado on toast. Aussies love to be outside, so head down to Bondi Beach, or just enjoy one of the most beautiful city harbours in the world.

Where to stay

Save money on an epic trip to Australia, and stay at the wallet-friendly Arts Hotel in the centre of town. Make use of the free guest bicycles to explore nearby Centennial Park.

Book flights to Sydney


Best for… fantasy cities

Italy’s beautiful Adriatic neighbour gets more and more visitors every year. With what’s rumoured to be the final season of Game of Thrones scheduled to hit our screens sometime in 2019, all eyes are turned to Croatia – on screen at least. The magnificent cities of Split and Dubrovnik have made fantastical backdrops to the HBO series – but they’re even more impressive in person. Start in Dubrovnik. This incredible walled city has attractive terracotta roofs and shining limestone streets.

Where to stay

The rather stately Hilton Imperial is just 100 yards from Dubrovnik’s Old Town, with views over the rooftops. Inside, there’s a popular restaurant and a serene indoor pool.

Discover Croatia


Best for… an island idyll

Kos is the centrepiece of Greece’s Dodecanese islands, just a stone’s throw away from the Turkish coast. Roman ruins, sugar cube houses and a golden surround of beaches mean the island is very pretty. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, was born here. It seems only fitting that travellers should return from the island feeling happy and healthy: a dose of raki, beaches and lively nightlife will do that to you.

Where to stay

Forget the beautiful beaches for a moment: there’s one reason above all others to visit Kos in 2019. Ikos Aria, the new hotel on the island, looks set to be next summer’s hottest property – so get your booking in fast.

Book a holiday in Kos

  • Toyko's skyline, complete with the famous Tokyo Tower. © Photography by ZhangXun.

    Land of the rising sun

    Tokyo's urban sprawl is dense with sights. Don't miss the Sensoji Temple, the Shibuya crossing, or the view from the Tokyo Tower – one of the city's best landmarks.

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Best for… the beach

Cancun enjoys one of the best situations in the Caribbean Sea. The city’s Hotel Zone is truly enormous – stretching far along the coast to make the most of 14 miles of sandy beaches. There’s nightlife, wildlife, and world-famous Mayan ruins just outside the resort area. Chichén Itzá is worth a day trip away from the beach to see the archaeological site’s star attraction: a famous step pyramid. South of the city you’ll find the Riviera Maya, a coastline known for its All Inclusive resorts. Now, who’s mixing your margaritas?

Where to stay

Allegro Playacar on the Riviera Maya is a four-star All Inclusive that’s got everything you need for a family holiday. Right on the beach, these Polynesian-style thatched villas are set in tropical gardens.

Book a holiday in Cancun

Las Vegas

Best for… a blowout break

Despite the saying, everyone knows what happens in Vegas is too good to stay secret. The city is a revolving door of entertainment: blackjack tables, nightclubs, 24-hour dining and stage shows from the Cirque du Soleil to Celine Dion. It’s possible to spend the nights in a neon twilight – but don’t think the fun’s only for grown-ups. High-tail it out of the city in a hire car and you’ll be able to swap mojitos for the Mojave Desert. Road-trippers can be at the Grand Canyon in half a day.

Where to stay

The newly-opened Park MGM Las Vegas (not to be confused with the MGM Grand) is next to the T-Mobile arena. It’s smaller and quieter than some of the other hotel heavyweights on The Strip, but that hasn’t stopped Lady Gaga announcing a residency at the hotel’s Park Theater, starting in December 2018.

Visit Las Vegas


Best for… extraordinary excess

At its most romantic, Dubai can offer pale red deserts, at its most traditional, it can show you an old creek running through its heart. At its most decadent, Dubai shows off the Burj al Arab: a hotel plastered in gold leaf. It’s the kind of city that needs to be seen to be believed, but even if you’ve been before, there’s always something new happening. The Museum of Illusions has just opened and next year the future will arrive – or a museum of it, at least. The Museum of the Future is scheduled to open in late 2019, and its unique design has already got architects talking.

Where to stay

Jumeirah Beach Hotel has had a full refurbishment, but its eye-catching wave-shaped architecture remains intact. Come and enjoy its privileged position on the bay: on a fabulous beach and right next to the Wild Wadi Waterpark.

Book a holiday in Dubai


Best for… the Rugby World Cup

Japan will host the Rugby World Cup in September 2019, with the massive opening ceremony held in Tokyo. Whilst the crowds scrum down in Tokyo Stadium in Chōfu, you won’t want to miss the rest of the capital. The world’s most populous megacity also has the most Michelin stars, and a culture that sits on a knife’s edge: with traditional tea houses and shrines on one side, and a high-tech future on the other. Don’t get so swept up in the city that you forget to browse: stopping in a Manga café or a unique boutique might be the highlight of your trip.

Where to stay

Make the most of the bustling Shinjuku district by booking in to the Hyatt Regency Tokyo. Set above the area’s large park, this five-star hotel has large rooms and a range of restaurants: why not start your day with a traditional Japanese breakfast?

Book a holiday in Tokyo