It’s official – 2019 is here, and many of us find ourselves asking, “Where to next?”
In answer to this question, Airbnb has scoured through mountains of search histories, booking receipts and wish-list data to reveal the top 19 trending destinations for 2019.
From a vehicle-free island off the coast of Chinese port city Xiamen, to the site of Woodstock’s 50th anniversary celebration this year, these destinations are sure to delight seasoned and amateur travellers alike.
Following a global trend, the home-sharing site is seeing growing interest in destinations found off the beaten path – in particular, places where increased ‘healthy,’ more sustainable and authentic tourism benefits both residents and international visitors.
Whether this means supporting environmental sustainability in Calabria, Italy; helping rebuild communities after the earthquake in Kaikoura, New Zealand; or supporting the local economy of emerging capitals like Accra, Ghana – tourists want to make a difference during their travels.
Without further ado, here are Airbnb’s top 19 trending destinations for the year ahead:
Kaikoura, New Zealand
295% YoY increase in bookings
Torn to pieces by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2016, this coastal town on the South Island is staging an impressive comeback with the strongest increase in both bookings and search on Airbnb.
Home to a colony of energetic New Zealand fur seals and a notable sperm whale population, Kaikoura is a base for wildlife experiences on land, by sea or in the air. Explore the town’s Maori history at Fyffe House and the museum, or do a farm tour to get up close and personal with some of the sheep New Zealand is so famous for.
283% YoY increase in bookings
Surrounded by abundant islands, Xiamen is a relaxed and romantic port city located on China’s southeast Coast, across a strait from Taiwan.
If you’re someone who hates traffic but loves trying local seafood, Xiamen’s pedestrian-only Kulangsu island is the place for you. Home to the world’s longest elevated cycling path, a flourishing creative scene, bustling nightlife, and a range of delicious restaurants serving up freshly caught seafood, Xiamen is fast becoming China’s new capital of cool.
240% YoY increase in searches
Despite 2017’s earthquake, tourists continue to pour into Puebla. Located just two hours from Mexico City, this hidden gem provides a unique alternative to the mainstream Mexican beach vacation, and it’s worth much more than a day trip.
Bursting with rich architectural and culinary history, must-see sights include the Great Pyramid of Cholula, Amparo Museum and stunning Puebla Cathedral – plus 365 other churches.
229% YoY increase in bookings
Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, Normandy is set to receive an influx of international visitors in 2019 – particularly history buffs. From its medieval towns and white soaring cliffs, to its renowned monuments and museums, Normandy has something to suit all tastes.
Culinary lovers will delight in the region’s tourist circuit offering, including the ivory and spice trail, fruit trail, cider trail, and famous Route du Camembert, named after the popular cheese.
Great Smoky Mountains, US
191% YoY increase in bookings
Straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains are a year-round destination home to America’s most visited national park and more than 1,300 kilometres of trails.
Renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life and South Appalachian mountain culture, the National park hosts more than 10 million annual visitors – that’s more than the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Yellowstone combined.
- Buenos Aires Province, Argentina
- Accra, Ghana
- Outer Hebrides, Scotland
- Wakayama Prefecture, Japan
- Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley, US
- Santa Catarina State, Brazil
- Batumi, Georgia
- Winnipeg, Canada
- Pondicherry, India
- Calabria, Italy
- Andalusia, Spain
Here’s what the rest of the list looks like:
Looking for even more inspiration? See how Airbnb’s top travel picks compare to Lonely Planet’s list of the best cities to see in 2019.