If you’re in a vacation rut and want this year to be different, you might be looking for a new spot to go. Maybe you’ve decided to skip the annual extended family trip to Door County in hopes of using that vacation time on yourself. As travelers prepare to plan their trips in 2019 and beyond, they turn to the internet as a reliable encyclopedia of catalogs listing up-and-coming destinations for every taste and budget.
One of the latest lists comes courtesy of travel hospitality company Airbnb, which rounded up 19 of its best and most recommended destinations for 2019 and future trips. The company based its list on a combination of criteria, including Airbnb searches, growth forecasts and additions to users’ “wish lists,” coming out with a compilation that skews heavily toward off-the-beaten-path towns and regions. Airbnb’s news release on the topic highlights travelers’ increasing focus on sustainable and authentic tourism, as well as users’ interest in visiting and helping communities that have experienced recent hardships or disasters including earthquakes and wildfires. From beach destinations to mountain getaways to urban hubs, they all have one thing in common: There are some epic places to rent in each one. Here’s the lowdown on where to find the best Airbnbs in the most popular destinations on the site.
1. Kaikoura, New Zealand
The small southern island town of Kaikoura is a household name nowadays but not for the right reasons; the town was badly hit by a 7.8-magnitude hurricane, and subsequent tsunami, in November 2016. Things are on the up now, though, and the country’s Coastal Pacific Railway just reopened after a two-year closure. If New Zealand is on your bucket list of places to visit, you can contribute to the local rebuilding efforts with your tourist dollars by making Kaikoura part of your itinerary. You likely won’t be alone, either; year-over-year searches for lodgings in Kaikoura are up 210%, and Airbnb bookings are up nearly 300% since the tragic quake. If you’re up for making the journey that far down under, some stunning rentals are available. Kaikoura has a range of rentals available, from trucks converted into tiny homes to a house with beer bottles built into the foundation.
2. Puebla, Mexico
Puebla is the new destination in Mexico for those who want something a little different from the sun-seeking Mayan Riviera experience. Just a few hours’ drive from the capital Mexico City, this large cultural hub was traditionally visited on a daytrip from the city. Yet with a 206% increase in Airbnb users adding Puebla to their travel wish lists, things are about to heat up. Featuring colorful row houses, delicious food, and 365 churches, you won’t be short on photo-friendly settings. The regional Talavera pottery can also be bought as a reminder of your time in the region. If you’re interested in history, make sure you add a visit to Cholula to your itinerary, considered to be the oldest city in America. Puebla is an incredibly cost-effective destination with comfortable accommodation available for around $50 per night. To stretch your budget further, many lofts are also available to rent for around $30 a night.
3. Batumi, Georgia
While the last few years have seen a growing interest in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, 2019 is Batumi’s time to shine. This seaside resort on the Black Sea had long been a popular spot to vacation for members of the former Soviet Union. These days, it has a wider — and more Western — appeal. With a 200% year-on-year increase in searches for accommodation in Batumi, you’ll want to visit this emerging hotspot before it loses its local charm. There are only 160,000 permanent residents and lots of development, so make sure you check out the lively Old Town before it’s too late.
Despite its growing reputation as a resort getaway, prices for Airbnbs in Batumi are incredibly affordable. Seriously, where else in the world can you get a (nearly) beachfront apartment for less than $20 a night?
4. Normandy, France
The coastal region of Normandy in western France has held a special place in the hearts of historians, being the location of the famous Normandy landings. 2019 will be the 75th anniversary of these landings and may be part of the reason that year-on-year bookings are up 229%. However, Normandy has a lot more to offer than war stories. The Normans have had an indelible mark on history, from the Bayeux Tapestry to the beautiful abbey of Mont St-Michel, with countless churches and cathedrals in between.
5. Xiamen, China
If you’ve heard of this town in China, chances are, you’ve flown through it. Deemed a UNESCO heritage site in 2017, it exhibits a fusion of architectural styles, combining sandy beaches with European-style mansions. Historically, it was an important site for Sino-foreign exchange. These days, you can pick up some delicious seafood on the traffic-free island, visit the world’s largest piano museum, or see some of its 600 heritage buildings. With a 283% increase in bookings through Airbnb over the last year, you won’t be the only visitors seeking a slice of Xiamen.
6. Great Smoky Mountains, USA
With a huge diversity of wildlife and some of the most beautiful waterfalls anywhere in the United States, the Great Smoky Mountains are the country’s most-visited national park. Originally established in 1934, the park — well known for its foggy mornings — consists of a long ridgeline of forest on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. Whether you want to see black bears, wander the extensive forests, camp in the wilderness, or swim in a waterfall, the secret is out; searches for accommodation in the area are up 190% year-on-year.
Another destination that’s gaining a reputation is Uzbekistan, which last year loosened up its visa regulations. This resulted in a huge increase in travel interest as the country saw a 165% increase in wishlist additions on Airbnb in 2019. Thanks to reasonable train connections throughout the country, a week’s stay can encompass several cities, meaning you can experience 12th-century mosques, towering minarets, and brutalist Soviet architecture all in one trip.
Travelers are starting to look beyond Taiwan’s capital city of Taipei to the rest of the island, and there’s definitely something in the water with a 100% increase in wish list addition for the Taiwanese provinces over the last year. Whether it’s visiting the beautiful old street in Daxi in the Taoyuan region, with its traditional storefronts, or trying tasty tofu delicacies, the lesser-known provinces of Taiwan have a lot to offer.
9. Accra, Ghana
Did you know that Accra is one of the best surfing destinations in Africa? With a 163% increase in bookings here, also the capital city of Ghana, many have apparently figured it out. This destination on the West African coast is not for everyone, however. Its sticky, heaving streets have been known to tire even the hardiest of travelers. For those willing to stick it out, though, you’ll have an experience to remember. Whether it’s checking out the beaches, local seafood delicacies or thriving fashion scene, this city certainly never sleeps.
10. Wakayama, Japan
If you’re keen on ramen, you need to visit the Wakayama prefecture in Japan, just an hour from Osaka. Ide Shoten’s Wakayama ramen was once voted Japan’s most delicious store, and the city has seen a spate of visitors ever since. Maybe that’s why the city has seen a 128% rise in year-on-year bookings. That said, the increase could also be due to Wakayama’s stunning scenery, which includes the Kumano Kodo hike. The hike was originally a pilgrimage route that led to three major Japanese shrines: Hongu Taisha, Nachi Taisha, and Hayatama Taisha.
Featured Image Source: Pinterest
Got the travel bug yet? Which of these places would you visit first? Tell us in the comments!