Best Places to Travel in 2019 – According to Travel + Leisure & Where to Stay & How to Get There

by Sarah

Every year, there are lists that highlight the best places to travel for the next year, or the most up and coming destinations. They feature a myriad of spots, like iconic places that top bucket lists, or lesser-known cities in already-popular countries. Travel + Leisure recently released its editors’ choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Some coincide with the Lonely Planet list, if vaguely, while others are a little more out there. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

Cambodia’s Angkor temples attract thousands of visitors per year, but there’s more to Cambodia than just Angkor Wat.

Travel + Leisure’s 50 Best Places to Travel in 2019

From Scotland to Singapore, Houston to Hoi An, Etyek to the Elqui Valley, the T+L list encompasses a lot. Here are my picks from their extensive list.

Scotland

Lonely Planet named Scotland’s Highlands and Islands as one of its best regions for 2019. T+L says the entire country is one of the best places to travel. From Edinburgh to Inverness, Lowlands to Highlands, Uist to Unst, the beauty of Scotland can be seen everywhere. I used to live in Glasgow, and while over time I’ve grown to love Edinburgh, I still think Glasgow is the real Scotland. I suggest a day there, if possible – although I also tell people that if it’s your first time in Scotland, and if you have only a week, skip it.

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

Scotland’s Highlands are a beautiful destination, perfect for a day trip from Edinburgh or a long weekend adventure.

The Isle of Skye is incredibly popular, some might even say overrun. Getting further out and island hopping through the Outer and Inner Hebrides makes for a really unique vacation. Both the Outer Hebrides and Orkney Islands have plenty of prehistoric stone circles, while Shetland is known for its unique Viking heritage.

Where to Stay:

You have your pick of great hotels in Edinburgh, from an array of Marriott/Starwood and Hyatt properties, as well as a few boutique luxury hotels like Prestonfield House. Glasgow offers a Marriott and several Hilton properties, along with a variety of boutique hotels. Outside of these two cities, you can choose from small bed and breakfasts, luxury lodges, castles, and inns. A few of my favourites include Gleneagles in Perthshire, home to a championship golf course, Inver Lodge Hotel and Chez Roux in the Highlands, and Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews.

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

The Orkney and Outer Hebrides are rife with prehistoric standing stones like the Callanish Stones.

How to Get There:

Besides the obvious connections via London or Manchester on British Airways, you can fly direct to Edinburgh from New York’s JFK (seasonal) and beginning May 23, 2019, from Boston nonstop to Edinburgh, both on Delta. Both Glasgow and Inverness also have international connections. Once in Scotland, either drive (or hire a driver) or take the train.

A train from London takes around five hours. I’ll do this in just a few weeks as flights into London were significantly better than flights to Edinburgh.

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

Costa Rica and Panama

So many expedition cruise lines offer sailings between Costa Rica and Panama. Lindblad Expeditions offers a weeklong sailing from Herradura along the Pacific Coast to Panama City, then through the canal to Colon. UnCruise Adventures offers a nearly identical sailing.

For those interested in land-based excursions, both companies offer pre-and post-cruise excursions into the Monteverde Cloud Forest, Arenal volcano, and more. Costa Rica tends more toward the adventure and relaxation sides of travel, rather than the cultural and historical. In Panama City, a visit to the Casco Viejo introduces visitors to the early history of the isthmus, while the Panama Canal is a history lesson in itself. Jet from there to the San Blas Islands, off the north coast of Panama, venture into the Chagres National Park, or visit the archaeological ruins of Portobelo for a well-rounded visit to Panama.

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud Forest is an adventure traveller’s dream, with hanging bridges, ziplines, and more.

Where to Stay:

Costa Rica has a number of wonderful properties, like the Four Seasons and Andaz resorts at Peninsula Papagayo, the Nayara Gardens and Nayara Springs and Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa in the rainforest, and Hotel Punta Islita and Guancaste.

Panama City offers a number of global brand properties, like Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott/Starwood. Outside of the capital, look for eco-lodges or beach resorts like Viceroy Bocas del Toro or El Otro Lado, a private island in Portobelo.

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

The Panama Canal is an engineering marvel, linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and opening up more trade opportunities.

How to Get There:

There are two international airports in Costa Rica. Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO), is in Alajuela, San Jose, and Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR), is in Liberia, Guanacaste. All three major US carriers fly into both cities, as well as Air Canada, Copa Airlines, Frontier, and JetBlue.

International flights to Panama arrive at Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport (PTY); from there it’s only an hour by car across the isthmus to Colon or Portobelo. To reach Bocas del Toro, you need to take a domestic flight from Panama City’s Albrook Domestic Airport (PAC), and to get to the San Blas Islands, either take a bus or fly into El Porvenir.

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

One of the temples in the Angkor Wat complex is Ta Phrom, also known from the Tomb Raider movies.

Cambodia

I am super excited that Cambodia is on this list of best places to travel! In the last two months alone I have sent two separate clients there and had two others ask about it. Often, it is an addition to Thailand and Vietnam itineraries as the border crossings are relatively straightforward. (You do need a visa, though.)

Siem Reap is the most popular destination. It is the gateway to the Angkor temple complexes. The majority of travellers visit Angkor Wat, however there are several others in the surrounding areas that can be visited using the Angkor Wat pass, like Banteay Srey, Kbal Spean, Angkor Thom, Ta Phrom, and others. Nearby Tonle Sap is the largest lake in Southeast Asia, and boasts some of the famous stilt villages along the lake and Mekong River.

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

Tonle Sap is the largest lake in Southeast Asia, and has a number of stilt villages on its shores.

The capital of Phnom Penh  is a bustling southeast Asian city. Hub for both the Khmer Empire and the French colonialists, Phnom Penh has centuries of unique history. Visit the Royal Palace, the nearby Silver Pagoda, and the National Museum. These are all located along the riverfront promenade. History buffs should visit the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, and the Choeng Ek Killing Fields. Don’t miss the massive, Art Deco Central Market, either, though there are plenty of bustling street markets to explore.

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s Royal Palace showcases the history of the Southeast Asian nation.

Where to Stay:

There’s a plethora of luxury hotels in Siem Reap, from the Raffles Hotel to the Park Hyatt to Amansara. Phnom Penh also boasts a Raffles Hotel and The Bale. Otherwise, perhaps a private island is more your speed? Stay at Song Saa Private Island in Sihanoukville, for a truly sublime experience.

How to Get There:

You’ll have to connect to get anywhere in Cambodia. Long haul flights into Phnom Penh currently only arrive from Doha and Tokyo. Fly into Cambodia’s Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, or Sihanoukville airports from Bangkok, Danang, Seoul, Guangzhou, Singapore, Manila, Ho Chi Minh City, or Shanghai on Thai Airways, JetStar, Cebu Airlines, Air Asia, or others.

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

The Sassi town of Matera is a unique geological and cultural heritage town in the southern part of Italy.

Matera and Ischia, Italy

Matera ended up on my radar about six months ago, Ischia soon after. These two southern Italian destinations are a great alternative to the crowded Naples and Capri, and just as accessible. Matera is known for its Sassi cave system, an ancient network of residences, chapels, and more in the soft calcareous rock. These include a diverse collection of ancient Christian buildings which are on UNESCO’s World Heritage list (since 1993). The combination of Naples + Puglia + islands makes for a unique Italian vacation (and doesn’t include Rome or Venice).

Located near Bari, Matera is close to the coast, and lies along the Gravina, a canyon carved out over millennia. It is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities; settlement dates back to the 10th millennium BCE. Matera was voted as the 2019 European Capital of Culture, along with Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and is among the fastest-growing towns in Italy.

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

Ischia is a nice, less hectic, alternative to neighboring Capri, both located in the Gulf of Naples.

Ischia is the largest isle in the Bay of Naples, although its neighbor Capri is much more famous. Isola d’Ischia is known for its thermal waters, Roman ruins, medieval core, and breathtaking sea views. Don’t miss the Castello Aragonese Castle; it’s privately owned but a small fee allows access to the gardens.

Ischia is the girl-next-door to glitzy Capri, and attracts plenty of Italians who prefer its down-to-earth, laid back style.

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

Ischia’s Castello Aragonese lies just offshore, connected to the isle by a causeway.

Where to Stay:

Ischia has a wide array of hotels, from tiny bed and breakfasts to five start resorts. There are two Virtuoso properties on the island (an indication of its up and coming jetsetting draw): Mezzatorre Resort and Spa, and Terme Manzi Hotel and Spa. Choose a property in town to experience the bustling port, or stay at one of the secluded resorts on the other side.

How to Get There:

Matera is a short drive from Bari, the capital of Puglia. Trains run fairly regularly between Bari Centrale and Matera, though a car is going to be the fastest and most reliable. Ischia is only accessible by ferry, hydrofoil, or private boat. The nearest airport is Naples. Ferries depart regularly from both Naples and Pozzuoli.

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

Strasbourg’s Petite France quarter is a popular destination in the Alsace region.

Alsace, France and Berlin, Germany

To be fair, these two destinations aren’t all that close to each other, but deserve to be linked as Alsace spent most of history being traded between France and Germany. Today, the region is a delightful blend of French and German architecture, food, and culture. Its largest city, Strasbourg, is home to one of Europe’s most famous Christmas markets.

Strasbourg was one of the first cities to earn UNESCO’s World Heritage designation. Settled in the 14th century BCE, it was an important Celtic market town, then later an important Roman military castra, and finally a strategic city in medieval times. Today, it is the seat of some of the European Union institutions. The town’s Petite France quarter is a popular destination for it’s half-timbered houses and charming canals.

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

Alsace is a French wine growing region, though its Germanic influence means it produces mainly varietals and dry Rieslings.

Alsace is a European wine growing region, known primarily for dry Rieslings and Gewürtztraminers, though they also produce sparkling wine. It is the only wine region in France to produce varietal wines, due in part to the Germanic influence of the region.

Berlin needs no introduction, I’m sure. Torn between the East and West for decades, the city today is a vibrant cosmopolitan tech hub. It is the largest city in the EU, after London, and the capital of Germany. Reminders of the Holocaust and Cold War remain, as do remnants of Berlin’s medieval history. Located at a crossroads, the city grew as a trading hub. Divided between the Allies and Soviet powers following World War II, Berlin was finally reunited after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It officially became the capital of reunified Germany in 1990.

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate is a symbol of peace and unity, despite predating the reunification by 200 years.

Where to Stay:

Strasbourg doesn’t have too many hotels, though the ones that are there are charming and central. Most are independent as well, so those with points are out of luck. Those booking on points have plenty of options in Berlin, though, from the Berlin Marriott to the Crowne Plaza Berlin (IHG). Luxury properties range from the SO/ Berlin Das Stue to the Regent Berlin and the Hotel de Rome, a Rocco Forte Hotel.

How to Get There:

Alsace is accessible from both Paris and Berlin by train, but the closest major airport is Frankfurt, Germany. As the busiest airport in Germany, Frankfurt sees flights from across Europe, North America, and Asia. From Frankfurt, catch a train to Strasbourg to reach the Alsace region.

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

Berlin’s Mitte Borough is one of the oldest parts of the city.

Berlin has two major airports, Tegel and Schönefeld, but is building a new airport, slated to open in 2019. Berlin Brandenburg Airport will replace Tegel and absorb Schönefeld as the premiere airport in northeastern Germany. United Airlines is the only US airline to fly year-round into Berlin (from Newark). Both Delta (JFK) and American Airlines (PHL) operate seasonal routes to Tegel; American’s service from Philadelphia begins June 2019. Schönefeld handles mainly European and budget airlines.

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

Snorkelling Brisbane’s Tangalooma wrecks is a unique experience just a few hours from the city.

Brisbane, Australia

Another destination I am excited to see on the T+L list is Brisbane, Australia. So often, I feel like it gets overlooked for Sydney, Melbourne, and Cairns as the big three in terms of Australian cities to visit. Brisbane, though, has a lot to offer those that do stop. Head for the barrier islands to snorkel a manmade reef, dine out at Eat Street, or get your tan on at Streets Beach, a manmade city beach.

Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, is also the home of the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, one of the few places in Australia where you can hold a koala. The Australia Zoo, operated by the Irwin family, is just 45 minutes away.

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

Brisbane’s Streets Beach is a manmade beach in the heart of the city’s Southbank precinct. Martin Valigursky / Shutterstock.com

Where to Stay:

Brisbane got a few new luxury properties in 2018. A Westin opened steps from the Queen Street Mall, a W opened in the heart of the city, and Spicers Balfour Retreat is an oasis in creative Fortitude Valley. The Emporium opened at Southbank, complete with a stunning rooftop infinity pool, and there’s also a new Art Series hotel at Howard Smith Wharves in Fortitude Valley. And that’s not all of them.

Those with points can also choose from a spate of Marriott, IHG, and Hilton hotels.

Travel + Leisure recently released its editors' choice list for 50 best places to travel in 2019. Obviously I had to go through this list and share my thoughts on various destinations along with the best way to get there and where you need to stay!

Queensland is one of the few places in Australia where you can hold a koala; head for the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary to meet these furry marsupials.

How to Get There:

Brisbane is accessible from all other Australian cities on Jetstar and Qantas. You can also fly from New Zealand on Air New Zealand. At nearly 11 hours by car from Sydney and 19 from Cairns, unless you’re road-tripping across Australia, driving isn’t practical.

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In short, I think T+L had most of their list right, and I think 2019 is going to be the year we begin to consider travelling to lesser known places. Whether this means combining Alsace with Paris and Berlin, eschewing London for Glasgow, or road-tripping to Brisbane from Sydney, it’s a great big world out there and this is only some of it.

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