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Here’s Where to Travel in 2019

There’s something a little funny about making a “where to travel” list for the new year. After all, so much of what makes a place seem fresh is simply a matter of perspective; that same enchanting beach, village, or mountain is either new, boring, or over, depending on who ask.

Still, there are certain qualities that might make a particular locale seem suddenly more appealing: once-closed borders open after decades of political unrest; an island makes a triumphant comeback from a staggering natural disaster; a hotel takes an innovative approach to conservation and sustainability; ancient architecture is restored, and revealed.

Vogue’s list of 2019 destinations hits all these notes and more. From a beloved Caribbean island to far-flung historic sites that are accessible like never before to remote jungles and lush beaches just begging to be explored, here are 9 awe-inspiring places to add to your list of possibilities for the new year—and beyond.

Puerto Rico

Why: A year after being battered by Hurricane Maria, the “Island of Enchantment” has been reborn. There’s a newfound vibrancy in the streets of old San Juan and along the island’s sparkling shores, and nearly all the major hotels and resorts have reopened with stunning renovations. Though the island has long been one of the easiest and most affordable Caribbean getaways from the States (no passport required!), now there are over 100 flights to the island from the mainland daily—it may just be 2019’s best option for when you’re in need of a piña colada and some palm trees.

Where to stay: San Juan’s just-opened O:LV Fifty Five Hotel offers 26 sleek guest suites, sophisticated city vibes, and a cool rooftop pool with tranquil views of the Condado Lagoon.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

Photo: Getty Images

Queensland, Australia

Why: What’s not to like about a place that averages 300 sunny days a year? Australia’s northeastern-most state boasts fourteen distinct regions (including Cairns, Whitsunday Islands, and the Sunshine Coast) meaning there’s certainly something for everyone—from diving the Great Barrier Reef to surfing the legendary breaks of the Gold Coast to sampling local Tempranillo and Verdelho in the Granite Belt. Urban adventurers will enjoy exploring Brisbane’s burgeoning cultural scene; in recent years the coastal capital has become a hotbed for contemporary arts, architecture, indie music, and fashion.

Where to stay: Tucked on Brisbane’s hip James Street, the new Calile Hotel is a vision in modern-nostalgic tropical design: all clean lines, chrome, warm wood, and shades of pale pink and mint green. In the beachy Whitsundays archipelago, Daydream Island has recently opened after a $100 million renovation and offers unparalleled access to the Great Barrier Reef and surreal, remote island vibes.

Brisbane, Australia

Brisbane, Australia

Photo: Getty Images

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Why: Ancient mangroves, uncrowded white-sand beaches, crystal-clear water—the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are the stuff of vacation dreams. Foreigners were once required to obtain a special permit to visit the islands, but those restrictions were lifted in August 2018, making this paradisal archipelago in the Bay of Bengal the next “it” island destination.

Where to stay: Early 2018 saw the opening of the tony Taj Exotica Resort Spa Andamans, which offers hut-inspired villas—and one Olympic-length pool—spread across 30 sprawling acres on Havelock Island’s gorgeous Radhangar Beach. Or, for a more intimate experience, stay in one of the handful of gorgeously curated suites at Jakalara, a modern-minimalist tropical villa-hotel.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Photo: Getty Images

Rwanda

Why: The once war-torn East African country has become a mecca for sustainability and eco-tourism thanks to Volcanoes National Park—one of the only places in the world to spot the endangered mountain gorilla in the wild—and the vibrant capital city of Kigali, which boasts an impressive number of progressive businesses, intriguing restaurants, and boutique hotels.

Where to stay: The eleven-room Retreat opened last year with a focus on sustainability and wellness, and is the first fully solar powered hotel in Kigali. Near Volcanoes National Park, the six luxe, treehouse-like villas at Bistate serves as an opulent base from which to embark on a gorilla safari.

Rwanda

Rwanda

Photo: Getty Images

French Polynesia

Why: Tahiti, Bora Bora—their mere mention conjures sun-streaked visions of stilted bungalows hovering over turquoise shores. But the more than 100 islands that make up the rest of French Polynesia offer just as much beauty—sky-high volcanoes, black sand beaches, roaring waterfalls, active coral reefs, and ancient stone temples; a sensory wonderland of earth and water sure to enchant anyone. As a heavenly punctuation to all that delight, the islands will get a cosmic show this year, too: they’re in the path of totality for July’s big solar eclipse.

Where to stay: The Yucatan’s beloved Coqui Coqui perfumery, spa, and residences will open its first hotel outside of Mexico on Bora Bora in early 2019; to mark the occasion, owner Nicholas Maleville has created eight new signature Coqui Coqui scents inspired by the locale.

French Polynesia

French Polynesia

Photo: Getty Images

Cambodia

Why: There’s much more to see in this Southeast Asian country than the temples that have drawn tons of tourists in recent years; these days, adventure-seekers are going off the beaten path to explore the lush jungles, jaw dropping waterfalls, and laid-back hippie beaches of the south.

Where to stay: Several new five star properties have sprung up of late, bringing a new level of service to the destination: the just-opened Shinta Mani Wild, a luxury tented camp perched inside the remote estuaries of South Cardamom National Park, offers endless opportunities to spot wild gibbons and elephants, while the sleekly designed Alila Villas offer a remote ecological escape on the island of Koh Russey.

Cambodia

Cambodia

Photo: Getty Images

Matera, Italy

Why: The holiday-makers who flock to Puglia’s tranquil white villages—and everyone else—have a new reason to make a detour to Matera, an ancient city perched on a limestone cliff in the the nearby region of Basilicata. After being christened with the 2019 European Capital of Culture title, the city and its iconic UNESCO World Heritage-designated cave dwellings (known as Sassi) have undergone massive restorations. Now a wave of chic design hotels and cool new restaurants have popped up in the vertiginous stone structures, and this year, a range of cultural festivities will honor the city’s new vibe. Prepare for an inundation of your Instagram feed.

Where to stay: Fall asleep to the flickering glow of candle light at Sextant Le Grotte Della Civita, a romantic, 18-room Design Hotel that mixes historic ambiance with modern amenities, all inside an ancient Sassi cave dwelling.

Matera, Italy

Matera, Italy

Photo: Getty Images

Belize

Why: Where to go now that Tulum’s been overrun by red carpets and club kids? Some travelers are heading south to Belize, where the beaches are just as picturesque and the Mayan ruins just as mystical—but much less crowded (at least for now). The Central American country is also home to some of the world’s best snorkeling and diving spots: the Great Blue Hole and the Belize Barrier Reef, which the local government has made impressive strides to preserve.

Where to stay: While there’s no shortage of shimmering new resorts to choose from, the recently-opened Itz’ana, with its refined design, waters-edge villas, and sustainable-luxe sensibility, is ahead of the pack.

Belize

Belize

Photo: Getty Images

Cairo, Egypt

Why: The iconic pyramids of Giza have long topped many a traveler’s list, but with years of political turmoil, a visit to Egypt has been, for many, an unfulfilled wish. But now the country is finally poised to welcome visitors back, and high-end tour operators like Abercrombie Kent, Heritage Tours, Black Tomato, and Sanctuary Retreats are offering more bespoke journeys around the country than ever. This is all leading up to 2020, when the much buzzed-about $1.1 billion Grand Egypt Museum—which will showcase King Tut’s entire burial collection—will open.

Where to stay: Everyone’s talking about The St. Regis Cairo, which is slated to open this February in a glimmering, Michael Graves-designed glass tower perched on the edge of the Nile.

Cairo, Egypt

Cairo, Egypt

Photo: Getty Images