From the sun-drenched islands of Croatia to the hidden wonders of Jordan, these irresistible destinations should be on your wish list for 2019.
Become a Latin Lover in Argentina
It is not hard to fall in love with Argentina’s enticing capital Buenos Aires, with its elegant boulevards, ornate cafes and colourful neighbourhoods, such as San Telmo, where every house is painted a different colour. However, look beyond the city and you will find no shortage of other inviting destinations.
Lovers of fine food and wine should head to Mendoza, the country’s premier winegrowing district. Known for its rich red malbecs and aromatic white torrontes wines, Mendoza is also home to some of the country’s best restaurants, including 1884 by Francis Mallmann, Argentina’s most-lauded chef.
Prefer spectacular landscapes? Try the Lakes District, where pristine lakes are surrounded by verdant forests and soaring mountains. It offers superb hiking and sailing in summer, and excellent skiing in winter. Or head further south to enjoy the dramatic landscapes of Los Glaciares National Park, including the mammoth Perito Moreno glacier which covers 250 square kilometres.
DON'T MISS: The most spectacular sight in Argentina is Iguazu Falls, a series of almost 300 cascading waterfalls plunging 70 metres to the ground. Perched on the border with Brazil, this is one of South America’s greatest natural wonders.
Make a splash in Croatia
When it comes to picture-perfect coastlines, Croatia is hard to beat. The turquoise waters of its Mediterranean shore are sprinkled with hundreds of islands, many of which are scalloped with beautiful beaches just made for relaxing.
As alluring as these crystalline waters are, there is plenty to explore on dry land as well. The country’s most famous attraction is the magnificent walled city of Dubrovnik, but Croatia has a host of other Instagramworthy destinations, including the UNESCO World Heritage-listed city of Split, where a jumble of shops, bars and restaurants has sprung up in the ruins of a palace built by the Roman emperor Diocletian.
Historic hill towns such as Motovun and Groznjan are among the country’s most delicious destinations, with their rolling vineyards and distinctive regional cuisine (they are favourites with Italian travellers, who know a thing or two about good food). Head to the Mirna Valley in autumn to try the area’s most famous product, the aromatic truffle.
DON'T MISS: A strong contender for Croatia’s best beauty spot has to be the Plitvice Lakes. With 16 forestrimmed lakes, linked by a series of cascades and 18 kilometres of wooden footbridges, it is one of Europe’s most underrated sights.
Soak up the seasons in Japan
What is it that makes Japan such a compelling destination? Is it the neonlit buzz of Tokyo, the ancient charm of Kyoto, or the avant-garde imagination of Naoshima, the art island where a time-worn village has been turned into art installations? Food fans would argue that Japanese cuisine has to be the highlight of any trip. Whether you are slurping up bowls of ramen, settling in for an exquisite multicourse kaiseki meal, or sampling snacks in a laidback izakaya, Japan offers a dazzling array of dining experiences.
However, if there is one the thing that lifts Japan above most other destinations, it is the fact that there is no wrong time of year to travel there. Whether you are hitting the ski slopes in winter, experiencing one of the colourful matsuri, or festivals, that take place every summer, or drinking in the dazzling beauty of the autumn leaves or spring blossoms (the famous cherry blossoms are just the start), you will find that any time is a good time to visit Japan.
DON'T MISS: Japan’s onsens, naturally-heated mineral baths, are a great way to relax. Many onsens have ryokans, or traditional inns, attached, which make a memorable alternative to a hotel.
Go time travelling in Jordan
For a country that has existed for less than100 years, Jordan has a lot of history. Take Petra, for example, Also known as the Rose Red City, this set of World Heritage-listed ruins was originally built by the Nabateans, a vanished people who inhabited this site as far back as 9000BC. The buildings carved into sandstone cliffs are not the only spectacular sight here: the dramatic approach through a kilometre-long gorge is also unforgettable.
More adventures lie in store in the atmospheric Wadi Rum desert, where you can hike up towering cliffs and overnight in Bedouin camps. Even this harshly beautiful wilderness has plenty of history: the area’s rocks and canyons are littered with tens of thousands of petroglyphs dating back 12,000 years. Round out your trip with a visit to the crusader castle of Karak, enfolded within mighty walls, where you can take a spinetingling tour of the dungeons.
DON'T MISS: Jordan is home to one of the most impressive Roman ruins around. Hidden beneath the desert sands for centuries, the ancient city is remarkably well preserved. You can walk along colonnaded avenues, wander through temples and even take a seat in the amphitheatre.
Go wild in India
Think of India and most of us conjure up images of its colourful, chaotic cities, filled with glorious temples and mighty monuments such as Agra’s Taj Mahal and Delhi’s Red Mosque. However, there is more to this magnificent country than its urban hubs, including some simply spectacular landscapes. Travellers looking to explore India’s wild side have plenty of destinations to choose from. For a mountain high, head to the former kingdom of Ladakh.
Perched amid the Himalayan peaks, Ladakh’s jagged mountain ranges and serene Buddhist monasteries offer magnificent backdrops for high-country hiking. (Don’t miss pictureperfect lakes such as Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri.) In the country’s deep south, Kerala is the place to go if you like the sound of jungle hikes where you might spy monkeys, Asian elephants and giant squirrels, or simply cruise through the tranquil backwaters on a houseboat.
DON'T MISS: Hankering for some safari action? Make your way to Ranthambhore National Park, the tiger-spotting capital of the world. The park’s attractions aren’t limited to tigers however, you may also spot jackals, spotted deer and wild peacocks. Once a maharajah’s hunting ground, the park is dotted with ancient temples and hunting pavilions.