The hottest holidays for 2019
The must-see destinations this year
Why: If the temples, traditions, skylines, Zen gardens, mountains and beaches weren’t attraction enough, Japan plays host to the Rugby World Cup in Osaka in 2019 and will host the Olympics in 2020. See the neon cityscape of Tokyo, visit Senso-ji, the city’s oldest Buddhist temple, tour the tranquil gardens and tea houses of Kyoto, visit Ryoanji’s Zen rock gardens and the temples and shines of Nara. Activities don’t stop there with sub-tropical beaches, treks, trails and powdery ski slopes a plenty.
Book: Experience private tea house ceremonies, city market tours and sushi-making classes on a guided or part-guided tour. Lightfoot Travel runs an eight-night luxury trip covering Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto and Yokohama. www.lightfoottravel.com
Why: With bountiful natural wonders Sri Lanka has been voted the top travel destination for 2019 by Lonely Planet. Including the 300-strong elephant gathering at Minneriya National Park, spectacular hiking trails, ancient Buddhist monuments. Plus a rad surf scene, miles of unspoilt beaches and mesmerising train routes through the Hill Country’s tea plantations, .
Book: Improved transport links have made independent travel much easier while the island’s luxury hotels ensure visitors can relax and recharge. Established in 1864, the Galle Face Hotel is an elegant base for a Sri Lankan adventure. Expect croquet matches on the lawn and Pimm’s evenings on the oceanfront chequerboard terrace (the hotel was the destination for the first ever overseas shipment of the iconic British summertime drink). Her Majesty the Queen stayed at Galle Face when she visited Colombo in 1954 so you’ll be following in refined footsteps.
Why: This year marks the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana. To mark the milestone anniversary, landmark sites such as the Cuatro Caminos Market; the Central Railway Station and the Castillo del Morro lighthouse are being brought back to their former glory.
Book: If you want more than a fly and flop holiday, World Expeditions’ Cuba Adventure itinerary covers the island’s verdant Viñales Valley in the west to the colonial town of Trinidad in the east. www.worldexpeditions.com
Why: With more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other country in the world (now 54 in total) there’s no better time to revel in La Dolce Vita. This year the ancient town of Matera will be taking the mantle of 2019’s European Capital of Culture, plus a series of events planned throughout the country to mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci’s death in May,
Book: Located south west of Bari, Matera is home to The Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches. You can explore an intricate maze of houses, churches, monasteries and hermitages built into the caves. Then head south to the glittering grottos, trulli villages, gin-clear waters and sandy beaches of Puglia. Sherpa Expeditions has beginners walking tours in Puglia while city breaks in Venice and Rome are the ideal way to experience the museums and events commemorating Da Vinci. www.sherpaexpeditions.com
Why: This short-haul gem is off the beaten track, exceptionally good value and celebrates its 300th anniversary in 2019. It boasts snow-capped mountains, wineries, fairy tale castles and no crowds!
Book: Nestled between Austria and Switzerland, and an easy hop to Germany, together, the four countries meet at the heart of Europe in Lake Constance, known to locals as ‘Bodensee.’ Enjoy life by the lake or head inland and visit charming hilltop villages, castles and towns. Fly return from London to Zurich from £56 per person. www.bodensee.eu