It’s a new year and the perfect time to book a dream vacation. Here are nine destinations you won’t want to miss in 2019.
This year, one of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders celebrates its 100th anniversary as a designated national park. The Grand Canyon, with its vast and beautiful landscape, receives over 6 million visitors each year. Spanning one-mile deep, 277 miles long and 18 miles across, the immense canyon offers numerous lookout points. The West and South rims are easily accessed from Las Vegas. See the Guano Point and head out on the Skywalk, a glass bridge with views of the canyon floor from 4,000 ft. (1.2 km) in the air! Or, take a day trip to the South Rim and enjoy a scenic, two-and-a-half mile hike on a paved trail. The North Rim is a popular destination from both Las Vegas and Sedona and features hiking, helicopter tours and open-air Hummer tours at sunset.
While London is a must-see destination any year, current exchanges rates make this typically-expensive city more affordable. (Pro tip: While rates may fluctuate, planning your 2019 vacation now will ensure great savings.) Start your visit with a scenic river cruise on the Thames to get the lay of the land. Then experience the city from the air in the iconic London Eye observation wheel. See popular attractions from a vintage open-top bus before stopping for fish and chips. Take a day tour that includes St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and the Crown Jewels and then dine on tea and scones at Harrod’s. Harry Potter fans will love the London Warner Brothers Studio Tour where you learn about the making of the movies. (For the true Harry Potter fanatic, there is also a two-day journey through the U.K. on the Hogwarts Express.) Music lovers will relish a week-long tour of England’s most famous rock ‘n’ roll sites from London to Liverpool to Manchester. While Downtown Abbey fans will delight in a day trip from London to Highclere Castle and Bampton Village where much of the series was filmed.
LOS CABOS, MEXICO
Located at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico, Los Cabos provides the beauty of the desert mixed with the relaxing waters of the Sea of Cortez. Famous for its miles of breathtaking beaches, this popular spot is booming this year with new upscale hotels. Enjoy staying in luxury accommodations, dining at trailblazing restaurants, and participating in a wealth of outdoor activities. Swim and interact with friendly dolphins at the Cabo Dolphin Center or the Dolphin Royal Swim Plus. From December through April, experience whale watching on a boat tour that gets you up close to these amazing creatures. Or, head out on a snorkeling trip to Land’s End in a glass bottom kayak. For land activities, try an ATV adventure on the beach, explore Cabo’s backcountry on a guided tour or go ziplining over the Baja desert.
Malaysia has been an Instagram sensation recently thanks to the newly repainted stairs at the Batu Caves. While the sight of 272 rainbow-colored steps ascending to a mystical cave is amazing, it’s just one of the country’s many fascinating landscapes. Travel to the top of the sky-high PETRONAS Towers and venture onto the sky bridge for an amazing observation point of Kuala Lumpur. Paddle onto the Selangor River to see the world’s largest firefly colony dance across the night sky. Or, head to Langkawi for unforgettable island scenery. Thanks to its newly renovated airport, Langkawi is more convenient to get to than ever. Enjoy island hopping through this breathtaking archipelago, explore a rainforest or ride Langkawi’s iconic cable car for unprecedented views of Thailand and Indonesia.
From late August through early April, Alaska is one of the best destinations for viewing the Northern Lights. Also known as the Aurora Borealis, this colorful spectacle is created in the night sky when electrically charged particles from the sun collide with the earth’s atmosphere. Not only is visibility high in Alaska, but there are lots of unforgettable ways to see this dazzling phenomenon. Experience watching the Northern Lights from a steaming hot spring. Then head to the Ice Museum of Chena with its ice sculptures, beautiful candelabras and a bar where you can enjoy an Appletini served in a glass made of… you guessed it: ice. Take a seven-day journey to the Arctic Circle for optimal viewing conditions and take a train to the top of Denali, the highest mountain in North America. Or, enjoy a guided hike on the famous Matanuska Glacier, a dazzlingly blue ice flow that is over 250 years old.
With more than 45 national parks, white sandy beaches and plenty of opportunities to spot the “big 5” animals, it’s little wonder this East African country makes the top of bucket lists each year. Furthermore, getting to Kenya is now easier than ever thanks to Kenya Airways launching its first direct flights from New York City this past October. If your dream vacation includes going on safari, there are options for everything from two-day wildlife viewing journeys to 21-day adventures. Visit the renowned Masai Mara game reserve and see lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras and hippos. At Lake Nakuru, witness millions of flamingos that inhabit the area. Or, head to nearby Tanzania for the unforgettable experience of climbing Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest freestanding mountain.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Dubai has been a top destination in recent years thanks to its luxurious accommodations and larger-than-life attractions. But nearby Sharjah is growing in popularity as well these days. Just a 20-minute drive from Dubai, this “Pearl of the Gulf” features world-class museums and some of the most well-preserved heritage sites in the area. Enjoy a day tour to the city’s top attractions including the King Faisal Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the Emirates, and the Souk Al-Markazi, a shopping treasure trove of carpets, jewelry and handicrafts. Abu Dhabi is also not to be missed–with its stunningly beautiful Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Ferrari World amusement park and the recently opened Louvre Abu Dhabi museum. To top off an unforgettable stay in the U.A.E., ride camels through the Arabian desert on an overnight safari that includes a decadent barbecue.
Australia is full of extraordinary natural scenery and the sacred red rock landscape of Uluru is no exception. Also known as Ayers Rock, Uluru has been gaining notice in recent years thanks in part to the massively popular Field of Light installation by artist Bruce Munro. Extended to run through December 2020, this installation features 50,000 glass spheres which light up the desert as darkness falls. There are many day trips to Uluru to witness this amazing display, including treks by camel or Segway. Or, spend several days in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park on a camping trip featuring luxury tents in private bush camps, campfire meals and informative tours from aboriginal guides.
Centrally located and brimming with Old World elegance, Vienna is an ideal launching point for a European vacation. Once the de facto capital of the Holy Roman Empire (for 1,000 years), this cultural hub offers exquisite dining, beautiful architecture and an abundance of attractions. Visit the ornate Vienna State Opera, the Burgtheater and the Schonbrunn Palace on a half-day guided tour. While at the Schonbrunn, catch an enchanting concert featuring the works of Mozart and Strauss. Take a walking tour through the heart of Vienna that includes the world-famous Lipizzan stallions and the Albertina Museum, home of da Vinci’s original sketches for The Last Supper. Or, discover Austria’s renowned wine region with a bike tour through the Wachau Valley. From Vienna, you can also embark on day trips to Prague, Bratislava and Budapest. No visit to this romantic city would be complete without a cruise on the legendary Danube.
For more travel ideas in 2019, visit tours4fun.com.