Where to Travel in 2019

From the scuba-friendly waters of Curaçao to the UNESCO-stamped streets of Meknès in Morocco, these are the six destinations topping our bucket list for 2019.

Willemstad, Curaçao

Willemstad, Curaçao

Curaçao is a small Caribbean island with a complex cultural heritage where you’re likely to hear a mix of Dutch, Spanish, English and the local creole language, Papiamentu, spoken on the street. The UNESCO World Heritage Site in downtown Willemstad is dotted with colourful Dutch colonial buildings, while the neighbourhoods of Otrobanda and Pietermaai are packed with intricate street art. After a day of scuba diving alongside groupers, barracuda and the largest pillar coral formation in the Caribbean Sea, soak up some ritmo kombina (the local musical style) on Tuesday nights at Omundo in Willemstad.

Havana, Cuba

Photo: Persnickety

Havana, Cuba

Havana’s 500th-anniversary celebrations promise everything from open-air dance parties and parades to city-wide beautification. Among the exciting new developments are a handful of large hotels, some located in restored colonial buildings in the old town, including two properties by Meliá. Spend your days biking through the vine-draped El Bosque or wheel over to the city’s artful side to take in the nighttime happenings of Fábrica de Arte Cubano and the exhibitions at the Instituto Superior de Arte.

Mexico City, Mexico

Photo: Omar G. Garnica

Mexico City, Mexico

Named World Design Capital in 2018, Mexico City will be hosting the international What Design Can Do convention in March. Get your tickets for a chance to see the vanguard of international design gathered in one spot. Trek through the rich contemporary art scene in the Roma and Condesa districts, and farther afield in Polanco, where you’ll find both the cutting-edge Museo Jumex and the Modern Art Museum. Fresh off a nine-year restoration project, the Casa Rivas Mercado is newly reopened. The architectural wonder by Antonio Rivas Mercado, one of Mexico’s most famous architects, is a must-see for design lovers in the Guerraro neighbourhood.

Zagreb, Croatia

Photo: Viktor Juric

Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb is a European capital with a unique cityscape that blends classic Austro-Hungarian architecture with gritty socialist structures. Travel in February during Croatian Carnival season, Maškare, for a floats-in-the-street, costumes-for-all cultural experience. Looking for something a bit quieter? Get a dose of green with an easy hike up the heavily wooded Mount Medvednica or tour the Green Horseshoe, a U-shaped collection of parks and squares that includes the Botanical Gardens and its 10,000 species of plants.

Meknès, Morocco

Meknès, Morocco

Quieter than Fez, Meknès enjoys winding streets, 17th-century fortifications called the Bab al-Mansour gate and a relaxed vibe. The city counts two distinct centres: a UNESCO-stamped ancient medina full of souks draped in colourful textiles and the contemporary architecture of the ville nouvelle. Relax in teahouses in secret courtyards or shop for spices in the underground food markets located in repurposed bomb shelters. If you feel like venturing outside the city, visit the ancient Berber and Roman site of Volubilis. Set in the mountains, it is one of Morocco’s most significant archeological sites.

Kauai, Hawaii

Photo: Brian Heimann

Kauai, Hawaii

Skip the crowds of Maui, Big Island and Oahu to explore the Garden Isle of Kauai. Start your trip at the Makauwahi Cave, a giant sinkhole teeming with fossils and artifacts. Then break a sweat with a hike in the Waimea Canyon, nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, before checking out the Na Pali Coast – nestled between waterfall-festooned cliffs and emerald sea, the area is another favourite among hikers. Refuel by eating your weight in fresh fish with the Pupu Platter at Brennecke’s Beach Broiler.