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It’s the annual list that keeps getting bigger! For 2019 we tapped our global team of writers, bloggers and wanderers and asked them to join us in determining which destinations are likely to trend hardest in the coming year based on new hotels and attractions, easier access, shifts in global perception and more. Here they are, in no particular order. We’re guessing the list is going to illicit strong reactions. Please share them with us in the comments (just be nice, OK?).

RELATED: 18 best places to travel in 2018

Siren Hotel, Detroit

The Siren Hotel, Detroit

1. Detroit, Michigan

You’ve heard it for a while now: “Detroit’s making a comeback!” While scrappy, adventurous travelers have long been hip to the city for its cool bars, art scene and ruin porn, we really do think this is the year that Motor City’s going to reel in a much wider swath of visitors. There are great new hotels to check out—hip properties like the Siren, Shinola and Element are among them—plus, cool new attractions coming soon like the riverfront beach and entertainment area, Atwater Beach; and huge expansion of Hitsville U.S.A., aka the Motown Museum, which has a $50 million overhaul in the works. The biggest sign of a revival yet, though, is that Ford just bought and plans to renovate the ruins of Michigan Central Station—itself a symbol of the city’s downfall and now, perhaps, its revival.

2. Douro Valley, Portugal

Seems like everybody’s talking about Portugal these days, right? It’s not just your sunny, scenic imagination. Tourism was up 10% last year, and is expected to increase even more in 2019. The airline TAP Portugal is one driver behind the influx, offering dozens of new direct flights from the US. The country’s also still a bargain compared to many other European destinations. Though Portugal’s home to many worthy destinations, we really have our eyes set on its Douro Valley for the coming year. Part of the area’s surging popularity comes thanks to new river cruises, but really with the area’s gorgeous winding river bends—which reveal terraced vineyards and even a hilltop castle here and there—it’s a wonder this peaceful corner of Europe hasn’t taken off sooner.

Costa Careyes, Mexico

3. Costa Careyes, Mexico

Along the Costalegre, Mexico’s rugged coast between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, is the high-end bohemian enclave of Costa Careyes. This tucked-away community boasts villas, casitas and bungalows, all overlooking Playa Careyes, one of the most sought-after kayaking, swimming and diving beaches along the coast. For years it was rumored that a new airport would bring mass tourism to the coastline. It seems 2019 the plans will be picked up again, meaning that Costa Careyes will soon be accessible to more than travelers veering off the beaten path. In fact, a massive luxury development, the Zafiro Master Plan, is expected to follow. This is still some years out, so get to this heavenly hideaway now. For more off radar places in Mexico, click here.

Photo by Krista Simmons

4. Milos, Greek Islands

The spotlight has shown brightly down on Santorini and Mykonos over recent years, and as a result, the famed Greek islands have become overrun. With tourism reaching off-putting levels, it’s time to seek out the more secluded sandy shores of neighboring islands—like Milos. Part of the Cyclades, beautiful, laid-back Milos is home to some of the best beaches in Greece, each one more picturesque than the last. Jump off the white, lunar-like cliffs surrounding Sarakiniko Beach or lay out on the tranquil golden shores of Tirades Beach, where you might be the only one in sight. With mesmerizing volcanic terrain, relaxed seaside tavernas and quaint boutique hotels, the island has all the components of a storybook Greek island escape—sans the crowds. Check out some great video of Milos here.

5. Alaska

There’s no place like Alaska with its dramatic, white-capped mountains, and unspoiled lakes and rivers. The state known as the Last Frontier is a wilderness- and wildlife-lover’s dream, promising sightings of caribou, brown bears, sea lions, bald eagles and more. But that is, unfortunately, not the only reason we’re recommending you plan your northward journey in the coming year. Climate change has had a noticeable effect on the 49th State, with glaciers receding and permafrost melting; it’s also affected the habitats and food supplies of the animal living there. The good news for visitors is that several new cruises will begin operating in Alaska in 2019, including offerings from NorwegianCunard and others, which will make it easier to take in the stunning scenery and majestic wildlife in all its current glory.

6. Chennai, India

India has experienced a huge surge in visitors in recent years—the number has quintupled to 10 million over the past two decades. This comes thanks to a flux of domestic travelers, as well as major government initiatives such as introducing e-visas, and making major investments in airports and historic attractions. In particular, the colorful capital of India’s Tamil Nadu state, Chennai is a city you should visit now, if only to beat the crowds. The city offers memorable attractions like Fort St. George and Kapaleeshwarar Temple, and it’s known as the gateway to vibrant destinations like French-colonial Pondicherry and spiritual Madurai. While Chennai (known as Madras under British rule) is not yet connected to North America nonstop, you can easily get there via flights from Frankfurt or London. Get there now.

7. Yunnan, China

Over the past few years, Chinese cities have dominated every list of the fastest-growing tourist markets. And while much of that growth comes from domestic travelers, global travelers are also venturing beyond Shanghai and Beijing to discover less-traveled regional gems. Yunnan Province is one of them, and it stuns with its diversity, offering jungle excursions around the Mekong River, Insta-ready rice terraces in the southeast and, to the north, dramatic snowcapped mountain peaks. And now is a great time go: The Kunming–Dali High Speed Train, a bullet train that just opened this summer, now makes it even easier to get around the province.

North Cascades National Park, Washington

8. North Cascades National Park, WA

Have you been to a National Park lately? They’re as gorgeous as ever but oh, the crowds… Great Smoky Mountains National Park, for example, saw a record 11 million visitors in 2017. Doesn’t really sound like a good bet for being alone with nature, does it? But don’t give up on the parks—just make a date with some of the less traveled gems. While most of the less-visited parks are in Alaska, the North Cascades is just a few hours outside of Seattle. Known as the “American Alps,” the park promises true wilderness, with snow-topped mountains, sizable glaciers, winding rivers, lakes and dramatic valleys, and there’s a good chance you’ll spot wolves, lynx, moose, black-tailed deer, bobcats and more.

catskills, new york

9. Catskills, NY

The Catskills is definitely having a second heyday of sorts. In mid-century, this scenic mountain region blanketing southern New York, used to be the “it” place to spend summer. Unfortunately, years of decline followed and left behind dilapidated buildings and a quiet countryside. Fast forward to today where a wave of revitalization is sweeping through one small town after another. Think hip and charming small inns like the Dylan Hotel and Graham and Co., and Brooklyn-esque eateries like Shindig and Peekamoose. This new era of development, coupled with outdoor activities galore, is making the Catskills one of the most desirable destinations in the USA—all over again!

western wilderness, Tasmania

10. Western Wilderness, Australia

For decades, Tasmania (or Tassie as it’s locally known) was joked about as a cultural backwater, but this island floating off the mainland’s southern coast is now exacting revenge. Spend a day or two in the lively capital Hobart exploring the Salamanca Market and wandering the historic streets of Battery Point. But quickly make a beeline for the thrilling Western Wilderness, a coastal region chockers (to use Aussie slang) with rivers, waterfalls, forests and tiny towns. This lush region looks more like New Zealand’s South Island than it does the Outback. Get there before the crowds.

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Maldives

11. Maldives

Sorry honeymooners, the Maldives are no longer your exclusive playground. Thanks to an influx of hotels aimed at families (JOALI Maldives), millennials (Hard Rock Hotel Maldives opening June 2019) and the value minded (Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort), this tropical nation made up of ring-shaped corals has finally opened itself up to the rest of us. And why shouldn’t we all get to enjoy it? Blessed with near-perfect weather during its dry season (November–April), a vibrant local culture and the allure of over-the-water thatched bungalows and underwater adventures, it’s high time the rest of us get to explore this Atlantis-like paradise.

Saguaro National Park

12. Tucson, AZ

One of the biggest trends we’re anticipating in 2019 is a surge in wellness travel, as more and more people seek ways to increase their mental and physical well being while on vacation. Tuscon is a great place for that; it’s one of the nation’s premiere wellness destinations and home to heavyweight retreats such as Miraval Life in Balance Spa, Canyon Ranch Resort Spa and Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, among others. But even if you don’t have a ton of bucks to drop, the city can feel like an oasis of tranquility. Find calm Hiking Saguaro National Park and marveling at tens of thousands of gangly cacti, experience spiritual wellness at the Mission San Xavier del Bac or melt away in a nearby hot spring.

Pitons, St Lucia

The Pitons, St. Lucia

13. St. Lucia

In 2018, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation identified St. Lucia as the fastest-growing Caribbean tourism destination this year, and we can see why. Of course, perfect weather and idyllic soft-sand beaches are a given, but there’s plenty more to explore. Be sure to set aside time for hiking the Piton Mountains, soaking in a fine mud bath at Sulphur Springs and snorkeling Pigeon Island. Next year, visitors can look forward to easier arrivals and departures, too:  St. Lucia’s airport is undergoing a massive overhaul that will increase capacity to more than 1 million passengers. Notable new hotels are slated to open in 2019, too, including the Fairmont St. Lucia at Sunset Bay and a new Sandals resort at Gros Islet. Hear more about the island’s drive-in volcano and other attractions here.

Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

14. Ethiopia

In 2018, Ethiopia announced a landmark peace deal with its neighbor Eritrea, which makes 2019 the perfect year to visit. In the country’s boomtown capital Addis Ababa, get a feel for Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity at picturesque Medhane Alem Cathedral, taste the world’s best coffee at Mercato Market or explore a sadder chapter of history at the Red Terror Martyrs’ Museum. Make your 2019 Ethiopia trip an even bigger adventure with excursions to the historic underground rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, or the “Door to Hell” Erta Ale Volcano in the extraterrestrial Danakil Depression region.

patagonia, argentina

15. Patagonia, Argentina

Argentina’s peso has been in free-fall for almost a decade, and 2019 doesn’t look like it will be a much better year for the currency. This isn’t great news for Argentinians, but it’s a blessing for travelers, particularly those who want to visit notoriously expensive (and famously gorgeous) Patagonia. Base yourself in the cozy town of El Calafate, an adventure hub within day-trip distance of stunning Perito Moreno glacier, or head all the way down to Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city and a jumping-off point for cruises to Antarctica (which will still be expensive in 2019).

leeward coast, oahu, hawaii

16. The Leeward Coast, Oahu

Thanks to its geographic diversity, the Aloha State isn’t really one vacation destination; it’s more like a dozen. Case in point: Most of the masses who descend upon Waikiki have no idea the Leeward Coast, an enchanting slice of Oahu just 30 miles west of Honolulu even exists. Anchored by two mega resorts—Disney’s Aulani and the Four Seasons Oahu—the Leeward Coast offers a much needed city break in the form of jagged mountains blanketed in lime green fauna, secret beaches only locals know about and charming small towns that provide stark contrast to the congested capital. Thanks to plate lunches and mid-range hotel options, it need not break any banks. For more Hawaii travel, click here.

Artic Ice Hotel, Lapland, Finland

Arctic Ice Hotel, Finland

17. Finland

Interested in chasing the Northern Lights, but over the tourist rush to Iceland? So are we. Finland is the underrated Scandinavian country of your dreams, and Finnair’s stopover program rivals that of the Icelandair’s with free stays ranging from 5 hours up to 5 days—your call. In Finland, opt to visit the Sauna Gondola in the Arctic Circle (it’s exactly what it sounds like), pick berries while hiking a local forest, get your holiday mojo on at Santa’s Village Rovaniemi, and of course, spend at least 2-3 days in design-centric Helsinki. As for those Northern Lights, try viewing them from your very own luxe lodging at Arctic TreeHouse Hotel. Each “tree house” is outfitted with floor-to-ceiling windows, which means you don’t even need to leave your bed for a front-row, nighttime viewing. For more on Finland, click here.

Worth Avenue, Palm Beach, Florida

Worth Avenue, Palm Beach

18. Palm Beach, FL

In February, Miami’s South Beach Wine and Food Festival will expand into Palm Beach County for the first time, increasing the profile of this Atlantic coastal community that’s already popular among sunbathers and culture vultures. 2019 also brings the opening of superstar surfer Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch Florida waterpark in Jupiter, golf entertainment venue Drive Shack in West Palm Beach and a handful of swanky hotels, including the yoga-and-meditation-centric Amrit Ocean Resort & Residences on Singer Island. While you’re in town, don’t miss Downton Abbey: The Exhibition on display at CityPlace through April. For more Palm Beach travel, click here.

Academy Museum, Los Angeles, Wilshire

Academy Museum | Photo: Courtesy of Finn Partners

19. Los Angeles, CA

The next several years will be huge ones for the City of Angels. The much anticipated Lucas Museum of Narrative Art broke ground in Exposition Park in March and is scheduled to be complete in 2021. Meanwhile the Inglewood Stadium, future home of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, is on track to open summer 2020. As for 2019, the big news is the opening of the new Academy Museum, angling to be the world’s premiere institution devoted to the art and science of the movies. It will land at Wilshire and Fairfax in a Renzo Piano-designed Death Star-like bubble and will add to the area’s museum-campus feel which already includes LACMA, the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, and the Petersen Automotive Museum. If you’re willing to wait until 2023, you can even visit via subway! For more Los Angeles travel, click here.

Tagged: Africa, Alaska, Arizona, Asia, Australia, California, Caribbean, China, Europe, Florida, Greece, Hawaii, India, Los Angeles, Michigan, Midwest, National Parks, New York, Portugal, Southwest

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Orbitz Travel Blog Editors

Orbitz Travel Blog Editors

We're the editors of this travel blog, brought to you by Orbitz!

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