7 Top Holiday Destinations in 2019
For some, the holidays offer a chance to escape crowded malls for quiet beaches halfway around the world. For others, the holidays mean time to indulge in the pageantry, festivities and romance of the season.
Whatever camp you fall into, we all can agree the holidays are a great time to get away and escape the daily grind. And with the season fast approaching, it’s time to start planning your next international trip. So whether you’re looking for a warm-weather getaway or a fairytale winter vacation, here are seven top destinations around the world for making the most of the holiday season.
We get it: You’re probably not wild about the chilly weather and lack of sunshine — by mid-December, Germany only enjoys about eight hours of light each day.
But what Berlin lacks in sunlight, it more than makes up for with history and culture. For starters, the city hosts nearly 80 Christmas markets throughout the city — some indoors, some under the stars — with different themes and attractions unique to each. Some host amusement park rides and family fun, most sell traditional food items and Glühwein (German mulled wine), and nearly all showcase traditional arts and crafts from throughout Germany and around the world.
Beyond the city’s heralded markets, Berlin boasts numerous museums and attractions explaining the city’s Cold War and World War II history, as well as several world-renowned art galleries. And the broader downturn in visitors means discounted hotel rates and uncrowded tourist attractions.
Even as temperatures plummet in the northern hemisphere, Sydney comes alive each summer with all kinds of fun — indoors and out.
Sydney is the capital of New South Wales, a state rich with natural wonder, so it’s an ideal home base for outdoor enthusiasts; Wollemi National Park, for instance, hosts the rare dinosaur tree — a conifer that once covered Australia millions of years ago but was thought to be extinct until it was discovered in 1994. In Sydney proper, the Royal Botanic Garden hosts thousands of colorful plants and a variety of wildlife, along with breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Even if you’re not into the outdoors, the city hosts a variety of festive holiday markets and showcases a world-famous fireworks display for New Year’s Eve.
When you imagine winter and all that comes with it — snowfall, skiing, Santa and his reindeer — you’re likely picturing Finnish Lapland. A storybook come to life.
The northern region of Finland hosts several winters’ worth of fun: Visitors can spy the Aurora Borealis, visible more than 200 nights each year, enjoy the region’s many ski resorts for both downhill and cross-country skiing, take a dog sled ride or ride with reindeer, and mingle with Santa Claus (who keeps a year-round office in Rovaniemi—the capital of Lapland). And after all that frigid fun, you can warm up in one of Finland’s famous saunas.
Seemingly every 20-something with a passport has backpacked through Southeast Asia at some point — but dismiss the region at your own peril.
Sitting just north of the equator, the likes of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia offer a warm-weather respite in the midst of winter. The real heat and humidity will arrive in spring, so take advantage of the slow season’s pleasant temperatures to explore the region’s religious sites, nosh on local cuisine, and relax on emerald beaches.
You won’t have Patagonia to yourself — the southern summer months are the height of tourist season, after all — but catch a glimpse of the craggy mountain peaks in Chile and Argentina, and we don’t think you’ll mind the occasional crowd.
November brings colorful wildflower blooms, but the likes of Torres del Paine National Park, Los Glaciares National Park, and Tierra del Fuego offer natural beauty all summer long. The region boasts dozens of photo-worthy fjords and glaciers, enough day hiking and backpacking to keep you busy for weeks, paddling opportunities on glistening mountain lakes, and more.
Costa Rica’s dry season ushers in comfortable temperatures to pair with any number of outdoor adventures: zip lining through the country’s rainforests, birdwatching (Costa Rica is home to more than 900 species), horseback riding, hiking, kayaking, surfing, and more.
And if you’re looking to let loose a bit, make time for the Palmares Fiestas, which takes place each January in the city of Palmares. The Palmares Fiestas is one of the world’s biggest festivals, with live music, stand-up comedy, a carnival, fireworks, a famous horse parade and more. (Visitors can even try their hand at bullfighting!)
Cancun, Mexico, isn’t just a spring break destination. Sitting along the eastern shore of the Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun boasts adventurous activities for weekend warriors and adrenaline junkies alike.
The city’s wide variety of all-inclusive resorts means there’s plenty to keep entertained. Visitors can hike or ride off-road vehicles through lush jungles, take a dip in scenic cenotes, relax on quiet beaches, go scuba diving with turtles, swim with dolphins, float down lazy rivers, ascend pyramids, sky their way through zipline parks, explore nature-focused theme parks, and more.
—By Matt Wastradowski