The Everywhere List: Kensington Tours’ Top Travel Destinations for 2019
The world is a pretty big place, and deciding where to go in the year ahead can be a daunting task. But fear not, traveler-to-be! Kensington Tours is here to help. We tasked our skilled team of Destination Experts to select the best places to explore in 2019 and whittled down their selections into a handy list. Here, in no particular order, are your ten new favorite places:
England’s Lake District
Beloved by some of English literature’s leading lights, the scenic Lake District is easily one of the most beautiful parts of Great Britain. While nature-seekers flock to its 885-square-mile (2,292-square-kilometer) national park, its pastoral setting beckons to the more leisurely set, too. Around Windermere, dozens of cozy and luxurious boutique resorts await, while the region’s contributions to the imagination are captured at the World of Beatrix Potter attraction. Elsewhere, you’ll find lush lake-strewn valleys to romp through, a seemingly endless array of footpaths through the forests, and traces of the region’s Roman heritage at the remains of Hadrian’s Wall. The ideal gateway to further adventures in neighboring Scotland and Wales, the Lake District is the perfect balm to the bustle of London.
The Basque people have vigorously defended their region from outsiders for centuries. Once you’ve laid eyes on its rugged Pyrenees foothills and the Bay of Biscay’s crashing surf, you’ll quickly understand why. Straddling northern Spain and southwestern France, Basque Country is a world apart from both countries. The local cuisine is among Europe’s best-kept secrets; don’t leave without getting your fill of marmitako, lamb stew, and pintxos, a local twist on tapas. Charming San Sebastián and Moorish-accented Ronda, home to an impregnable mountaintop fortress, are worthy destinations on their own, but the whole region works well for travelers visiting nearby Bordeaux, Biarritz, and Bilbao as well.
Stepping onto the world stage from its troubled past, Colombia’s bewildering bounty of natural treasures, culture-rich historical sites, vibrant cities, and picturesque beaches leaves it poised as the Latin American destination of the future. Nature remains raw and largely untrammeled here; sun worshippers have the choice of beaches bordering the Pacific and the Caribbean, the enveloping Amazon jungle welcomes travelers with an adventurous streak, the distant ruins of Ciudad Pérdida – more than 600 years older than Machu Picchu – is a magnet for history lovers, and Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona boasts some of the world’s most majestic coastlines. The urban environments are equally impressive, with Medellín, once the kingdom of the cartels, emerging as a thriving hub of culture and modernity with a hint of colonial grandeur.
Argentina enters the new year as one of the most pocketbook-friendly destinations in Latin America. The Argentine peso’s favorable exchange rate against the US dollar and the government’s decision to abolish a value-added tax on hotel rooms are luring travelers south to discover the country’s many delights with more cash to spend on luxuries and activities. Whether those savings translate into an estancia stay on the rugged Patagonian plateau, an exclusive tour of stunning Iguassu Falls, private tango lessons in Buenos Aires, or a couples getaway to a Mendoza winery is up to you.
Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands
The Galápagos Islands, perhaps the world’s best-loved all-natural wildlife park, is always a hit with families, but you don’t need to have kids to appreciate what makes these isolated Pacific islands so special. The volcanic archipelago’s landscape is continually changing, and its unbeatable variety of endemic species – giant tortoises, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, and sea lions, to name a very precious few – are so easy to find no one goes home disappointed. Landside, Ecuador offers the traveler an equally astounding set of options, from UNESCO-protected colonial architecture in Quito to a flamboyant culinary scene to cloud forests that provide shelter for all manner of exotic birds.
A continent-sized playground built for outdoor adventure, natural splendor, and urban thrills alike, Australia is the rare destination with the potential to satisfy literally everyone. There really is no place quite like it. The landscapes are impossibly vast and visually arresting, the beaches are long and majestic, the wine is potent and plentiful, the wildlife is captivating, and the cities boast a dazzling fusion of flavors from all over the world. It’s a place given to incredible sights – the sun rising over Uluru, the mind-blowing enormity of the Great Barrier Reef, the iconic sails of Sydney’s Opera House glimpsed from a boat jetting around the scenic harbor – that stay with you forever. Prepare to be overwhelmed in the best possible way.
Make 2019 the year you finally introduce yourself to Zimbabwe. After decades of mismanagement and corruption, the southern African nation is coming into its own as an emerging travel superpower to rival its neighbors. In anticipation of demand, dozens of new lodges and upscale safari camps are popping up around the must-see locales – the Hwange and Mana Pools national parks, Lake Kariba (the world’s largest artificial lake), and legendary Victoria Falls, among others. Blessed with rushing rivers, UNESCO-protected archaeological sites, and plenty of scenic spots to spot the Big Five, you’ll wonder how such a fascinating and picturesque land remained an insiders-only secret for so long. One trip will leave you asking, “Where have you been all my life, Zim?”
Turkey’s biggest attraction in the coming year isn’t a monument, a national park, or a freshly unearthed archaeological site, but it’ll become a landmark nonetheless. Istanbul’s as-yet-unnamed new airport is on track to become the largest and most advanced facility of its kind in the world, transforming the city in particular and Turkey as a whole into a massive transit hub bridging Europe and Asia. With the airport still under construction, there’s no better time than now to discover Turkey before the rest of the world catches on. A place where ancient meets modern, religious meets secular, and East meets West (often in the same place), there’s something comforting in Turkey’s contradictions. From Cappadocia’s “fairy chimneys” to the enormous Byzantine dome of the Hagia Sophia to the mouthwatering aroma of a kebab straight from a streetside vendor, even the exotic feels more than a little familiar.
No longer merely “India Lite,” the island nation of Sri Lanka, a formerly overlooked land of beaches and Buddhist temples, is attracting serious attention as an emerging luxury hotspot. Improved domestic carrier service is opening up the country to exploration; connecting the eight far-flung UNESCO sites – including Sigiriya, the majestic 5th-century fortress perched atop a 660-foot (200-meter) column of rock – and pristine beaches has never been easier. Five-star luxury properties are beginning to pop up in Colombo and the towns around Sigiriya, and with 833 miles (1,340 kilometers) of coastline, it’s only a matter of time before word about Sri Lanka’s pristine beaches gets out. Beat the crowds and experience it for yourself this year.
Africa’s southern tip — a seamless blend of raw nature and urban sophistication — is ready to rebound from a troubling year tourism-wise with renewed vigor. Fears of widespread drought curtailed travel to Cape Town in 2018, but a striking collective commitment to water conservation helped the country’s reservoirs recover. A land filled with wonder awaits returnees. Venture to the eastern border with Mozambique to explore Kruger National Park, the massive 6.2-million-acre (2.5-million-hectare) safari playground filled with just about every creature you could imagine. And then there’s Cape Town itself, the sparkling gem of a city at the foot of majestic Table Mountain. A diverse array of top-flight restaurants are more than enough to keep foodies satisfied, and the nearby Stellenbosch wine region offers great relief from the heat after a few days in the bush on safari.
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