If an international vacation is in the cards for you in 2019, these countries should definitely be on the short list. All of these selections are fascinating, complicated and naturally beautiful places to visit. One perk of being up-and-coming is that they come mostly without the crowds of tourists. Check out our picks for unexpected places that you may not have considered in the past – but you should definitely have in your sights for 2019.
The capital of Montevideo is a colorful, vibrant city with many open markets and an extremely diverse populace. Uruguay is also home to Tannat, a thriving wine region. Do some trekking in Tacuarembo or wander through the streets of Colonia del Sacramento.
When to Go: Summer in Uruguay is from December to February, though the rest of the year is mostly mild as well.
Bhutan charges a $250 USD surcharge per day. That may seem like a lot, but in fact, we think it’s worth it for what you get in return. Bhutan is simply one of the most beautiful, mysterious and challenging places on the planet. Go for the stunning Himalayan landscapes and stay for the warmth and hospitality.
When to Go: October to December is ideal weather, with late spring months of April and May running a close second.
This little archipelago of 115 islands off the coast of east Africa is a challenge to get to, which may be why it’s not a place that sees a ton of tourism. If you’re looking for a romantic getaway and a place to unplug, the white, pristine beaches of the Seychelles coupled with unparalleled privacy pack a huge punch!
When to Go: Either April and May or October and November will avoid the less comfortable, more humid months.
Mongolia’s position between Russia and China, and overall nomadic culture makes it remote and unknowable for off-the-beaten path travelers. Stark landscapes and a feeling of travel to another time offer major bang for the buck!
When to Go: Avoid high season months of July and August for the best deals. May, September and October offer great shoulder season prices.
You might be a little surprised to see a Mexico town on a list of up-and-coming destinations. After all, Mexico has been catering to hordes of tourists from the States for decades! But Bacalar is situated in a cozy little corner of the country near the Belize border. Visit the Cenote Azul swimming hole, the local Mayan ruins and the Fort of San Felipe to get the full Bacalar experience!
When to Go: Mid-December to mid-January is the busiest time of year (translation: more expensive), so to avoid the higher costs, aim for early-December or April.
Travelers who like their vacations with a side of impressive wildlife will be more than thrilled with Sri Lanka. It has nearly 6,000 wild elephants and the world’s largest population of leopards in the world. Setting creatures aside, Sri Lanka also offers many dazzling landscapes. For a once in a lifetime experience, we recommend taking one of the many scenic train rides across the country. Colombo to Jaffne is probably the best of the rides.
When to Go: It depends on which parts of the country you plan to see. The western and southern coasts are best visited December to March, and the east coast is ideal from April to September.
Turkey sits at the exact intersection between Europe and Asia, and the weight of history feels intense. Turkey’s architecture is a stunning feast for the eyes, from Istanbul to Cappadocia and beyond. Add in some sensational beaches and you’re guaranteed a thoroughly submersive trip into history and culture.
When to Go: The height of tourist season is June to August, so go during April and May when the weather isn’t too hot and the crowds are light.
Every couple of years, someone writes a great piece essentially stating how amazing Jordan is, but why don’t more people travel there? We agree. It’s a photographer’s dream, a culinary delight and a captivating shopping destination. The mind-blowing scale of the ancient city of Petra is enough to make the trip, but don’t forget the Dead Sea, Amman and the protected vast desert of Wadi Rum.
When to Go: March through May provides the most temperate weather, with June to August bringing sometimes uncomfortably high temperatures.
People who visit Paros inevitably come away with the impression that it’s Greece’s best kept secret. We’re not sure how much longer that will be the case, especially if word gets out about the beaches, nightclubs and ancient monuments. On Paros they come without the crushing crowds of the rest of the country.
When to Go: Spring and fall are by far the best time to visit – the weather is fine, and the crowds are away.
This tiny archipelago packs a ton of variety into its footprint. Malta’s strategic importance throughout history shows in its architecture and museums in the capital of Valletta. Get out to the island of Gozo for more outdoor activities like hiking its scenic hills and lazing away the hours on its beaches. They speak Maltese in Malta, but English is also widely spoken and understood (good news for tourism)!
When to Go: In September, heat is still oppressive so mid-autumn might be the very best time to visit.