Wednesday, June 12, 2024

10 trend-setting travel destinations around the world: Where to go in 2024

Way.com explores 10 destinations for the traveler looking to get off the beaten path.

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shadow of plane over tropical beach

Orbon Alija // Canva

Tired of planning your vacations to the same old tourist traps? This is your chance to turn into a travel trendsetter. Way.com gathered data from Booking.com's list of trending travel destinations for 2024 to compile an exciting mix of hidden gems and unique experiences. So, where will your adventures take you this year?  

#1 Beppu: The hot spring capital of Japan

Beppu, Japan cityscape with hot spring bath houses with rising steam

Sean Pavone // Canva

Here's something to warm you up: Imagine soaking up the nutrient-rich waters of an onsen (or hot spring) and cozying up in a traditional ryokan (Japanese tatami mat-laden inns). Plan your trip to Beppu-shi now and experience it for real. And hurry; globetrotters' interest in this spa resort destination is about to get hotter than a freshly erupted geyser! 

Why Beppu? 

Beppu boasts over 2,000 hot springs, the most in all of Japan. The 8 Hells of Beppu is an otherworldly landscape of turquoise pools, bubbling mud pots, and steam vents that hiss like angry dragons.

Beyond the soak, look forward to breathtaking views from Mount Tsurumi and plenty of other activities in and around this trending travel destination. Beppu is a great base for exploring other Kyushu gems like Yufuin (a cute mountain town) and Kumamoto Castle. 

Getting there   

Oita Airport is closest to Beppu; flights depart from Tokyo and Osaka. Beppu is only 25 miles or a 45-minute bus ride from there. Taxis and rental cars are also available. 

Road trip? Fukuoka is just 90 miles or a two-hour drive from Beppu. If you land in Tokyo or Osaka, the train is a better option and the best way to travel around Japan. 

Where to stay

Beppu has everything from traditional ryokan to modern hotels. Stay in the Takegawara Onsen district for an authentic experience. Check out the Suginoi, Kamenoi, or Amane Resort Seikai for luxury stays. Yamada Bessou is the top pick for traditional ryokan hospitality. Kappo Ryokan Sennari and Beppu Showaen are also popular. 

Best time to visit 

Beppu is magical year-round! The subtropical climate brings relatively warm winters, pleasant springs, and hot summers. Spring and fall are the best times for hiking and exploring the region. 

Rain is common throughout the year; June and July are the wettest months. However, winter (December–February) is Beppu's least crowded season. Cherry blossoms paint the town pink in April. But summer (June–August) dials up the heat with high humidity levels.  

 

#2 Vlorë, Albania: Balkans' best-kept sea-cret

Vlorë, Albania, Lungo Mare near city center

BakalaeroZz Photography // Shutterstock

Albania's hidden gem is ready to seal its place among the world's top trending travel destinations. Sun-drenched Vlorë on the cusp of the Adriatic and Ionian seas offers ancient ruins, vibrant nightlife, and beaches that rival the Greek Isles at a fraction of the price.

Why Vlorë? 

The Albanian Riviera is a budget-friendly haven for beach bums, history buffs, and adventure seekers. You'll find plenty of beaches in and around Vlorë, like Radhimë and Gjipe. Zvernec Island, with its 13th-century monastery and hidden coves, or Sazan Island, a former military base turned national park, are great options for day trips. 

Step away from the waves to explore Vlorë's old town. Check out the Muradie Mosque's Ottoman grandeur, the bustling bazaar, and more. Bonus points for learning Albanian phrases like "faleminderit" (thank you). 

Getting there

Fly to Tirana International Airport (TIA) from London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, or any other major city nearby. Then, hop on to a Hermes Airport "shpk" bus or take a taxi down the coast (around a 2.5-hour drive) to Vlorë. 

Feeling nautical? Ferries from Brindisi (Italy) dock in Vlorë, making it a perfect pitstop on your European island-hopping spree. 

Where to stay

Budget-friendly guesthouses and hostels are plentiful around the old town, while swanky beachfront resorts line the Riviera. Vacation rentals are ideal if you are looking for a larger space with sea views.  

For ultimate relaxation, choose the luxurious beachfront resorts with private pools, spas, and gourmet dining. Or take it up a notch and treat yourself to a secluded boutique villa with personalized service. 

Best time to visit

Vlorë has a delightful Mediterranean climate, with sunshine for over 300 days a year. Tourism picks up in the spring, especially toward the end of May. Peak season (July–August), with average highs around 82 F, is best spent on the beach. 

Shoulder seasons (May–June and September–October) are pleasant and less crowded. The chance of rain increases slightly in the fall, but October usually remains dry. In the winter, though snow is rare, rainfall is frequent.

#3 Mérida, Mexico: Escape to a Yucatan oasis

sunrise in Merida, Yucatan peninsula

lunamarina // Shutterstock

Mérida is a cultural chameleon, blending Mayan heritage with colonial history and modern culture. It's high time you added this trending travel destination in the Yucatán Peninsula to your wish list.

Why Mérida? 

The "White City" of Yucatán is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Americas. You can't miss the region's past in its historic downtown, Dzibilchaltún, and more must-see sites around Mérida. 

Cenotes (natural sinkholes) that dot the Yucatán Peninsula are also worth a day trip from Mérida. Go snorkeling or diving, or simply relax on the edge and soak up the sun.

Don't forget to explore Mérida's unique cuisine that fuses Mayan, Spanish, and Caribbean flavors. Wash it all down with a refreshing Jarritos or a local craft beer. 

Getting there

Mérida International Airport (MID) welcomes flights from the U.S. and Canada. You can snag round-trip deals for around $300–$800.   

An ADO bus or taxi from the airport can take you straight to the city center. Taxis are faster and readily available outside the terminal; expect bargaining. 

Where to stay

Budget travelers can try the guesthouses and hostels (some are converted colonial mansions). Nomadas Hostel and Hotel Medio Mundo are popular. Mid-range boutique hotels like Casa San Ángel or Hotel Merida Medea are your next options. 

Feeling fancy? Stay in a restored hacienda with sprawling gardens and plunge pools. Rosas & Xocolate Boutique Hotel & Spa and Hacienda Temozón are great choices. Check out Casa del Balam (a restored Mayan mansion) or Hacienda Xcanatun too.  

Best time to visit

Mérida basks in sunshine year-round; keep the tropical heat in mind. April and May are the warmest, with temps soaring to the 90s F. June, July, and August are warm and humid, with frequent showers. December is pleasant and brings festive cheer with holiday markets. 

December to March is the peak season, so expect higher prices and crowds. September to November, the shoulder season, is still warm and sunny, with occasional spells of rain.

 

#4 Portland, USA: Oregon's quirky crown jewel

Waterfront Park with Hawthorne Bridge on the Willamette River in downtown Portland, Oregon

ARTYOORAN // Shutterstock

Set your sights on a U.S. city that's equal parts laid-back charm and vibrant energy. But what sets this trending travel destination apart? The FLOSS–Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal, and Sustainable–lifestyle. Think farm-to-table, bike paths, and much more that make the planet happy. So hygge! 

Why Portland? 

Portland is perfect for everyone–whether you love food, beer, culture, or nature.  

The culinary scene is a palate-pleaser–try the farmers markets, food trucks, and beer fests. The city proudly shows off its "Keep Portland Weird" motto with quirky murals and bookstores. The galleries and museums are equally fascinating. And there's plenty of family-friendly fun too.  

Beyond the city tour, you can hike the sprawling Forest Park, kayak the Willamette River, or climb Mt. Hood nearby. Check out the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge and bike trails, too. 

Getting there

All major airlines operate flights to Portland International Airport (PDX) from other parts of the country and a few international destinations.  

For road trippers, Portland's conveniently located off I-5 and a must-stop on your West Coast journeys.  Amtrak's Coast Starlight train is another option–enjoy a scenic ride from Los Angeles/Seattle to Portland's Union Station. 

Where to stay

Downtown Portland is ideal for first-time visitors. The Royal Sonesta Portland Downtown and The Mark Spencer Hotel are quite popular. The upscale Pearl District is perfect for luxury seekers and foodies; the Heathman Hotel offers a refined stay with stunning views.  

Eastside offers quirky, hipster vibes; the Jupiter Hotel is a converted mid-century motor lodge with trendy rooms. Try McMenamins Kennedy School and Tiny Digs micro-homes for a unique experience. 

Best time to visit

Mild temperatures and fewer crowds make spring (April–May) an ideal time. Summer (June–August) is packed with outdoor festivals and attracts the maximum number of visitors. Check the city's calendar for interesting events and plan your trip around them. 

For cozy coffee shop vibes and fall foliage views, visit during September and October. Winter (November–March) is the rainiest season with a chance of snow, but hotel rates are lower.

#5 Valkenburg, Netherlands: Medieval magic meets trendy vibes

Valkenburg Castle above the town of Valkenburg aan de Geul in the Netherlands.

Steve Allen // Shutterstock

Hidden in the rolling hills of Limburg, Valkenburg isn't just another pretty Dutch town. Yes, it's got cobbled streets and a fairy-tale castle on a hill. But adventure, nature, food, and festivities await you at this trending travel destination.

Why Valkenburg? 

Step back in time with a visit to the iconic Valkenburg Castle ruins or explore the labyrinthine caves beneath the town. You can't miss the timeless Dutch architecture as you wander through Markt Square.

Ditch the city grid and enjoy the lush countryside? Hiking, biking, and kayaking down the Geul River will keep you busy. Or unwind in the town's many parks and gardens. 

Valkenburg's sprawling Thermae 2000 has pools, saunas, steam rooms, and more for a relaxing break. And when you need to refuel, seek out the city's Michelin-starred restaurants, cozy cafes, and lively pubs.  

The town likes to party and comes alive with festivals around the year. Keep the Christmas Market and Carnival on your radar. 

Getting there

Valkenburg is easily accessible by train from Maastricht or Amsterdam.  

You can fly into Maastricht Aachen Airport from various European cities. Trains depart every 15 minutes, and the short ride to Valkenburg takes only 10-15 minutes. You can also reach Maastricht by train from Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Utrecht. International trains are also run from Belgium and Germany.   

Flights to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) are available from New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto. A road trip from Amsterdam to Valkenburg will take you about 2.5 hours.  

Where to stay 

Boutique hotels, cozy B&Bs, modern apartments, and quirky hostels–take your pick. Here are a few popular options: 

The Hotel Valkenburg by Mercure is right below Valkenburg Castle, while the Dormio Wijnhotel offers spacious apartments and family-friendly amenities.  

Hotel Botterweck is a good budget-friendly option. But if you don't mind splurging, check in at the Château St. Gerlach, Schaloen Castle, or Hotel 't Huuske. 

Best time to visit 

Spring (April–May) and fall (September–October) are great for exploring the Limburg countryside. Prices and the crowds are also lower than in summer.  

Any time of year is perfect for pampering yourself at Thermae 2000, though summer offers additional outdoor pool activities. 

Winter (December–February) transforms Valkenburg into a white wonderland with its charming Christmas Market. But the festive season is also peak visiting time.

#6 Buenos Aires, Argentina: Paris of South America

Crowds at the traditional San Telmo Market in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

R.M. Nunes // Shutterstock

A vibrant, pulsating hub of culture, history, and downright fun, Buenos Aires easily finds a spot in this year's top trending travel destinations. It is a melting pot of European elegance and Latin American zest. Get ready to explore the city's cobblestone streets and its buzzing nightlife.

Why Buenos Aires? 

The food scene is out of this world–steaks, empanadas, dulce de leche … yum! And let's not forget to tango! But don't tire your feet out before exploring the iconic Obelisco and colorful streets of La Boca. Art lovers will also love the countless galleries and museums. 

Buenos Aires' Porteños (the locals) are some of the friendliest folks you'll ever meet. Don't be surprised if you are invited to a spontaneous asado (barbecue) or a maté (traditional Argentine tea) session in the park. 

Getting there 

Most major airlines offer non-stop flights to the city's Ezeiza Airport. Taxis and rental cars are easily available from the airport or you can hop on a bus from Terminal B.  

The city has an extensive public transportation system and walkable neighborhoods. It is also bike-friendly. The Subte (subway) and Colectivo (bus) are the most affordable. Taxis and ride-sharing services are also available. 

Where to stay

You'll find plenty of options to suit every budget. Palermo and Recoleta are popular neighborhoods for travelers, offering a mix of trendy cafes, leafy parks, and vibrant nightlife.  

San Telmo is one of Buenos Aires' oldest neighborhoods. You'll find budget-friendly hostels and boutique hotels in historic buildings here. But if you want to be in the city's heart, Microcentro is the place to stay.  

Best time to visit

Buenos Aires enjoys a mild climate year-round, but if you want to avoid the crowds and high prices, visit in the spring (September to November) or fall (March to May).  

While it's not beach weather, winter is still pleasant for a visit, with fewer crowds and lower hotel rates. 

Summer (December to February) can get hot and humid, but it's also when the city comes alive with outdoor festivals and concerts.

#7 Chemnitz, Germany: European capital of culture 2025

City Hall and Market Payce, Chemnitz, Saxony, Germany

inspi_ml // Shutterstock

Chemnitz is more authentic and affordable than the popular German cities. Shedding its under-the-radar status, this dynamic city in Saxony will host year-long cultural events, exhibitions, and performances in 2025. But why wait? Head to one of 2024's prettiest trending travel destinations now!

Why Chemnitz? 

Chemnitz was once an Industrial Revolution powerhouse. Its architectural legacy is alive in its red-brick factories, grand theaters, and museums. To delve into the rich culture, explore hidden galleries, vibrant street art, or world-class events. 

The rolling hills of the Erzgebirge mountains render Chemnitz's natural beauty. So, don't forget to hike through the forests, visit the villages, or take a scenic train ride. You'll also find delicious local eats and cultural experiences that won't break the bank. 

Getting there 

Chemnitz is easily accessible from major European cities.  

Fly into Dresden Airport (DRS) or Leipzig/Halle Airport (LEJ) and take a regional train or bus to Chemnitz. You could also take a direct train from Berlin or Munich, enjoying the German countryside views.  

Once in Chemnitz, take advantage of the city's convenient public transportation system, including trams, buses, and a trolleybus network.  

Where to stay 

The Dorint Kongresshotel offers elegant rooms, a spa, and a rooftop restaurant with panoramic city views. But check out the Chemnitzer Hof or Alexxanders Hotel & Boardinghouse for a unique stay in historic buildings.  

The Mercure is budget-friendly and close to the Chemnitz Opera House. The c/o56 Hotel is another option. Try the B&B Hotel or the Super 8 by Wyndham if you want just-the-basic and lower rates. The family-run Pension Savoy guesthouse is also popular.  

Best time to go 

Pleasant spring, perfect summer, vibrant fall, or festive winter–go any time!  

Get the best out of Chemnitz in summer with festivals, outdoor activities, and more. Don't mind the cold and crazy for a white Christmas? Block your travel calendar for December–February. 

If you're interested in experiencing the full range of cultural events and programs, 2025 will be the peak year but expect higher crowds and prices.

 

#8 Rotorua, New Zealand: Maori spirit x geothermal magic

orange and green Champagne Pool in Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, Rotorua, New Zealand

Natalia Pushchina // Shutterstock

Craving an adventure beyond the ordinary? Rotorua isn't any other trending travel destination–it's simmering, bubbling, and erupting with reasons to visit! The city is renowned for its geothermal wonders and rich Maori heritage.

Why Rotorua? 

Rotorua sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, with geothermal parks like Te Puia, Whakarewarewa, and Wai-O-Tapu. Don't miss the Pohutu Geyser! It erupts up to 100 feet several times a day.  

More adventures await you in the form of white-water rafting, ziplining, hiking volcanic craters, or mountain biking. For something more unique, take a day trip to the nearby Waitomo Caves, which are lit by thousands of glowworms.  

On the other hand, Maori villages like Tamaki are your gateway to traditional haka and waiata, local history and customs, and hangi cooking. After your adventures, hot spring experiences like the Polynesian Spa are perfect for soaking away the busy day.  

Getting there

Get a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) before your trip. Fly to Auckland and hop on a short domestic flight or train to Rotorua. Air New Zealand operates daily flights. 

InterCity buses depart frequently from Auckland CBD and the airport; the ride takes about 4 hours. Also, check out sightseeing bus tours, with stops at Waitomo or Hobbiton Movie Set.  

Prefer a rental car? Road trips take around 2.5 hours via State Highway 1. For an extra 30 minutes, the Thermal Explorer Highway (State Highway 5) offers a scenic drive. 

Where to stay 

Stay in a traditional whare (house) with locals at the Tamaki Māori Village, Whakarewarewa, or Te Ra O Waitangi to gain firsthand insights into Māori traditions. But if you prefer modern comforts, book your rooms at the Pullman Rotorua or the Regal Palms Resort. 

Haka House is a popular budget-friendly hostel with dorm beds/private rooms and a communal kitchen. Another similar option is the Rotorua Central Backpackers. 

Best time to visit 

Summer (December–February) brings warm weather and longer days, while spring (September–November) and fall (March–May) are pleasant with fewer tourists.  

June to August are winter months; you can ski on nearby Mt. Ruapehu. Don't forget to pack warm layers–the thermal activity can be deceiving! 

#9 Panglao, Philippines: A slice of paradise

Seascape from the wayer on a sunny day at Balicasag Island Cliff near Panglao, Bohol, Phillipines

yuanj // Shutterstock

Ah … the quintessential tropical beach getaway! How could we not have one on 2024's trending travel destinations list? Discover Panglao Island before the crowds do. It's the perfect blend of relaxation, adventure, and cultural immersion for wanderlust-stricken souls. 

Why Panglao? 

Panglao is the jewel of the Philippines' Bohol province. Miles of pristine coastline boasts powdery white beaches like Alona, Dumaluan, and Danao. You can do more than sunbathe on these shores–watersports and nightlife are well within reach.  

Beyond the beach, Panglao's Chocolate Hills and Bohol Tarsier Sanctuary offer adventure. A cruise down the Loboc River or village tours add a touch of Filipino culture. Don't forget to savor fresh seafood and local delicacies like adobo. Explore the local markets for hand-woven baskets and shell jewelry.  

Bonus: Add the neighboring Balicasag Island, renowned for its world-class diving and snorkeling experiences, to your trip. 

Getting there 

Fly to Manila and then take a short domestic flight to Bohol Panglao International Airport (TAG). The flight time from Manila to Panglao is about 1:15 hours.  

Some airlines offer direct flights from Los Angeles or San Francisco to Cebu City (CEB). From there, you can take a ferry to Tagbilaran, the capital of Bohol, and then a taxi to Panglao. 

Where to stay 

Panglao is increasingly focusing on eco-tourism. Choose from a variety of eco-friendly resorts and activities that minimize environmental impact. Support local communities by visiting authentic homestays. 

You'll find several upscale resorts for a comfortable beachfront stay on the island. Solea Coast Resort Panglao, Marilou Resort, Panglao Regents Park Resort, and Henann Resort Alona Beach are some of the top-rated options.  

Best time to go

The best time to visit is during the dry season, from November to May, when the skies are clear and the waters calm. However, it's also the busiest and most expensive season. 

The shoulder season (June–November) is still warm, with occasional rain showers. October is usually the wettest month, and the beaches may not be as pristine. Check out annual events like the Bohol Sandugo Festival and the Panglao International Music Festival.

#10 Cairns, Australia: Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef

The Esplanade in Cairns with swimming lagoon and the ocean

Martin Valigursky // Shutterstock

Head to Queensland and find your next adventure in this vibrant coastal city. The Great Barrier Reef is only about an hour from its shores. This trending travel destination is Australia's gateway to the north, offering diverse experiences for travelers looking to go off the beaten path.

Why Cairns?  

Cairns has not one but two UNESCO World Heritage Sites–the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree (the planet's oldest rainforest). So, when not diving, snorkeling, or cruising the Coral Sea, explore the emerald canopy, home to unique wildlife and plants.  

Seek more thrills with Tully River white-water rafting or bungee jumping over Barron Gorge. Or take a hot air balloon ride over the lush landscape. Then, head to the beach or hit the clubs. Don't miss the fresh seafood, indigenous fusion cuisine, and waterfront bars for a good time.  

Getting there

Several airlines offer direct flights to Cairns from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu. For a more scenic journey, fly to Sydney or Melbourne, then take the Great Southern Railway or Spirit of the Outback train to Cairns. 

Cruises are also an option; enjoy ultimate luxury with more stops like Fiji and New Caledonia on your way to Cairns. 

Where to stay 

Oaks Cairns Hotel, Gilligan's Hotel & Resort, Palm Royale Cairns, and Cairns Colonial Club Resort are some of the top-rated choices for a comfortable stay with pools and onsite dining.  

Also, check out the Peppers Beach Club & Spa, nestled in the rainforest. Or you can put up at the backpacker hostels for the social vibes and cheaper rates. 

Best time to go

Cairns' tropical climate ensures distinct wet and dry seasons. May–October is dry and sunny with minimal rainfall. The temps are pleasant for outdoor activities, so it's peak tourist season.  

April–May and September–October also have good weather, but rain is a possibility. July to September is the prime time to see humpback whales along the coast. The annual coral spawning event on the reef is around October–November. 

November to March is the wet season with potential cyclones and stingers in the water. But it's budget-friendly with fewer crowds, though your options for outdoor activities would be at a minimum.

This story was produced by Way.com and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.