Photo: Jeff Gunn
We just announced our picks for the most intriguing destinations for 2019. This year, we dove a little deeper and looked at unique destinations with intriguing sites and experiences. The list is divided into four segments including domestic and international destinations and offers something for every travel style. You’ll find the complete list here.
First, our focus is on seven newsworthy destinations: The Caribbean, Egypt, Saskatoon, Germany, Southwest England, Atlanta and Vis, Croatia. Here’s why they’re our top picks for 2019.
After a year of devastating hurricanes in 2017, the Caribbean islands are back in business and ready to welcome travelers. The Caribbean encompasses one million square miles, so many of the islands like St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Aruba, Jamaica, and Grand Cayman escaped the wrath of the storms. But for those that didn’t, the welcome mats are out, and your tourism dollars will help as they continue to rebuild.
Hurricane Maria delivered a big punch to Puerto Rico, but in San Juan, there’s very little sign of Maria’s damage. Resorts are open, the bars of Old San Juan are serving up spirits to the late-night crowds and the sunsets never left. Also, the team from the New York City restaurant, Serafina, has opened the 96-room Serafina Beach Hotel.
If you want to contribute beyond the dollars you spend on rum cocktails, consider voluntourism. Para La Naturaleza will connect you with unique experiences that let you see the country while helping with recovery efforts. Join the PLN guides on a nighttime hike to the island’s northernmost region to document the population of the native endangered crested toad. Or embrace your inner archeologist with a field dig excavating pre-Taíno artifacts in partnership with the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture.
With its unparalleled cultural and archaeological heritage, Egypt has been attracting visitors for millennia and now it’s back on the map as a safe destination. From Giza’s monumental pyramids to Luxor’s colossal Valley of the Kings and the incomparable river Nile, this country is generous with its riches. The party continues after dark with non-stop nightlife in Cairo.
For an excellent overview of Egypt’s treasures, join one of the many river cruise expeditions along the Nile. Journey from Cairo to Giza to gaze upon the ancient Pyramids and the iconic Sphinx. It’s an enchanting land with wonders old and new and filled with marvels and myths.
When it comes to arts and culture, Saskatoon is happening. The city recently celebrated the opening of Canada’s newest contemporary art museum. The Remai Modern houses works by renowned Canadian and international artists as well as the largest collection of Picasso linocuts, and it aspires to be a world-class attraction that draws tourists to this urban center of Saskatchewan.
Winding through the city center, the majestic South Saskatchewan River forms the Meewasin Valley. Along the riverbank, the Meewasin Trail is dotted with leafy trees as it extends more than 37 miles from downtown paths to forests and, further north, to Mendel Island where you’ll find an abundance of wildlife. You could easily spend a day walking, cycling and picnicking along the trails.
From the bucolic Black Forest with its many traditions to the traditionally different state of Bavaria where castles rise against the backdrop of soaring mountains and pristine lakes—there’s much to see in Germany. In 2019, there’s even more happening and much to celebrate. Numerous cultural and art events are planned throughout the year and November is the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall marking the reunification of Germany. For a more active remembrance, join 100 Miles of Berlin for a run along the Wall Trail—the former patrol path of the GDR border troops in a large circle around western Berlin.
Next year is also the 100th anniversary of Bauhaus with centenary programs planned throughout the country. The Bauhaus Opening Festival kicks off the nationwide celebration in Berlin with concerts, installations, puppet and street theatre, dance and film, workshops and lecture demonstrations, games and festivities.
England’s Southwest Peninsula consists of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset, each county unique in character. The region includes two stunning coastlines with 650 miles of coastal paths to explore, four world heritage sites, and numerous areas of outstanding natural beauty.
Rich in folklore, including the legend of King Arthur and Glastonbury Tor, and many other traditions and customs, Southwest England is an off the beaten path place of discoveries. Along the spectacular Jurassic Coast, rocks record 185 million years of the Earth’s history. Stretching from west to east along the coast, iconic towns and stunning natural sites share the story of this spectacular and unique World Heritage Site.
Recently, Atlanta was ranked as one of the top cities in the USA for recreation. The designation is partially due to the Georgia Aquarium—the largest in the Western Hemisphere. There are also 300 green spaces, the Fox Theatre, Coca-Cola World and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Hollywood has taken notice of Georgia’s capital city too. Box office blockbusters like Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp were all filmed in Atlanta. And where the movies go, new restaurants and hotels follow.
The Greek island of Skopelos played the fictional island of Kalokairi in the original Mamma Mia, but this time around for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, the tiny yet stunningly beautiful island of Vis in Croatia took the stage. Having been a Yugoslavian military base until 1989, Vis was relatively isolated until recently. A 2 ½ hour ferry ride from the mainland, this 35-square-mile island is dotted with 17th-century Venetian architecture and rocky beaches and is surrounded by the bluest of waters.
Explore the foodie scene in Vis like a local with a meal in a local household. Located in the Vis interior, family households scattered throughout the rich fertile fields and partially settled villages open their doors to guests for a home-cooked meal.
Traditionally prepared meats, fish, vegetables, goulash, and grilled sardines are a few of the culinary gems offered. Wash it all down with homemade brandy or wine while getting to know your hosts.
More to come …
Next, we’ll share more about the destinations we’ve chosen for the Diving Deeper category so keep a lookout.
This article first appeared on TravelSquire.com.