When it comes to singling out the best vacation spots and compiling our annual year-end list of the places we’re most excited about in the coming months, narrowing down the field is easier said than done. We pore over press releases, tourism statistics, and our overflowing spreadsheets of hotel openings, restaurant debuts, and new flight routes. We consider the anecdotal evidence: Where are our friends and families going on vacation? What vacation destinations are we seeing on Instagram? Which places seem to be part of today’s travel zeitgeist? And, as always, we turn to our network of travel experts for vacation ideas — trusted writers, hospitality professionals, the travel advisors that make up T+L’s A-List — to see where people are actually going, and which places are the ones to watch in the coming year.
This year’s list of the best vacation spots spans the globe, from exciting southern hemisphere cities like Santiago, Chile, and Brisbane, Australia, to harder-to-reach regions like Langkawi, Malaysia and the Danish Riviera. There are the new capitals of culture — Nairobi, Kenya, home to a emergent design scene, or Panama City, with a deluge of forward-thinking restaurants and bars — and the tourism destinations that are back in fighting form after natural disasters or human conflict, including Puerto Rico, the Turquoise Coast of Turkey, Egypt, and Montecito, California. And, of course, there are the destinations that we haven’t heard much about, but certainly will soon — places like India’s remote Andaman Islands, or the art and history-filled emirate of Sharjah, in the U.A.E., or the under-the-radar wine scene in Etyek, Hungary.
After all, isn’t dreaming about places totally new to us — and seeing old favorites in a new light — why we travel in the first place?
Here are Travel + Leisure’s 50 best places to travel in 2019. If you already know where you’re going in the year ahead, share your vacation destination picks with us on social media with #TLBestPlaces.