It’s out! The New York Times has published their famous 52 Places list for 2019, and there are a ton of interesting picks on it. Keep reading below for the full list of destinations.
P.S. If you reach the end and still feel like you need more 2019 travel inspiration, check out my 52 Places email list! Each week, I send subscribers travel tips and information about a different destination from around the world.
After Hurricane Maria ripped through the Caribbean in 2017, Puerto Rico’s tourism industry took a massive hit. With repairs well underway and local life returning to normal, travelers are finding their way back.
Hampi is one of India’s UNESCO world heritage sites. Until recently, it was fairly inaccessible as there were no direct flights to this area of the country. A company called TruJet is now able to fly passengers from Hyderabad and Bangalore to Ballari. From Ballari, Hampi is only a 25-mile car (or rickshaw) ride away.
Santa Barbara, California
In their 52 Places article, The New York Times called Santa Barbara, “a foodie magnet,” and calls out the names of various up-and-coming restaurants in the area.
I’m excited to see Panama on the list! A lot of travelers I follow on Instagram have been raving about the San Blas Islands in Panama and posting photos of turquoise, blue waters. The NY Times called attention to a series of new resorts opening, one of which has a no-plastics policy and grows some of their own food.
While best known for Oktoberfest, an annual beer-drinking festival, there is another side to Munich many tourists fail to see. This side is Munich’s performing arts scene. According to The New York Times, “Its theaters are considered among the most creative and ambitious in Europe.”
Eilat is a resort town in Southern Israel known for its pristine waters and abundance of sea life. One of Eilat’s most popular attractions is a large aquarium known as the Underwater Observatory Park. Here, people can see over 800 species and walk in a glass tunnel with the chance of a shark swimming overhead.
Setouchi Islands, Japan
The Setouchi Islands are a collections of islands in Japan’s inland sea. They are well known for their mild weather, abundance of olive groves, and an overall appreciation for art.
One of the most interesting things about Aalborg to me, is a historical site called Lindholm Høje. Here, you’ll find a hillside dotted with stone circles, each marking the grave of a viking!
The Azores, Portugal
The Azores are another destination I was excited to see on the list. I’ve been hearing little bits and pieces about this collection of islands being, ‘the next Iceland,’ ‘a European Eden,’ and even, ‘the top destination for sustainable tourism.’ Whatever people want to call it, I am definitely listening and adding it to my must-see list for the near future.
Ontario Ice Caves, Canada
The Ontario Ice Caves are a winter phenomenon caused by the winds and waves along Lake Superior’s north shore. While unaffected by climate change currently, The New York Times warns people that may not always be the case.
If you go to Zadar, check out the sea organ for me. It’s a set of marble steps which creates music using waves from the sea.
Seeing this destination on the list took me back to the summer after 8th grade, when I visited Washington D.C. and Williamsburg as part of a school-organized trip. 2019 is a special year for Williamsburg though, as it marks the 400th anniversary of significant events in American history (one of which was the first, recorded Thanksgiving held in the New World).
In terms of entertainment, Las Vegas has some of the best. Simply walking through all of the different hotels and casinos could keep someone busy for a week.
I didn’t know much about Salvador before reading the 52 Places article, but I’m really intrigued now. Salvador used to be the capital of Brazil, so there is a lot of beautiful architecture and history to be found in the city.
Da Nang, Vietnam
Da Nang was the only destination in Southeast Asia on the list, with the 52 Places article calling it, “the Miami of Vietnam.” However, don’t be scared away if you’re not a city person. I read about a spot south of the city called Marble Mountain, where you can explore caves and hike up tall peaks.
Costalegre is a lesser-known beach destination along Mexico’s Pacific coast. Here, you can find palm trees and sunsets without the crowds of Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo.
Paparoa Track, New Zealand
This destination is actually a new, 34-mile trail in New Zealand’s Paparoa National Park. What makes it so special is it’s helping people explore an area which used to be hard to reach and inaccessible.
Puglia is the ‘heel’ of Italy, known for stunning beaches and Baroque architecture. One thing I’d be interested in seeing in the Puglia region, is a town called Alberobello. This UNESCO world heritage site is home to white-washed houses with conical roofs.
Tatra Mountains, Slovakia
The Tatra Mountains are an off-the-grid destination popular among skiers, mountain climbers, and hikers. Based on the pictures I’ve seen, it looks like an incredibly underrated destination, with Alpine views that rival both Canada and Switzerland.
When I think of Calgary, my mind instantly goes to Banff. I never thought to research what there is to do in Calgary, but now I’m curious. The New York Times’ 52 Places article says the newest addition to the city is a, “Spectacular new library.”
Olkhon Island, Russia
Check out this destination on Google Maps and you’ll wonder how in the world one gets there…all joking aside though, I’m very glad Olkhon Island was on the 2019 list. It brings attention to the very important Baikal Lake (the body of water Olkhon sits on which contains 20% of the world’s unfrozen, fresh water) and will hopefully increase conservation efforts.
It’s going to be quite the party in Huntsville this year! 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. To celebrate, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center will be putting on daily re-enactments of the moon landing, and the town will be hosting a series of car shows, concerts, and other festivities.
The Falkland Islands is one of the more remote destinations on this list, yet also one of the coolest. Most intriguing to me, is it is home to five species of penguins. That sounds like a real life Happy Feet adventure and I want to go on it.
The New York Times did a fantastic job of selling Aberdeen to me…I now want to take an overnight train from London to Aberdeen some day, stay in a suite on board, and explore castles once I arrive (basically live like a Scottish princess for day).
Golfo Paradiso, Italy
Golfo Paradiso is a charming gulf on Italy’s northwestern coastline. Similar to Cinque Terre, this area contains five, little fishing villages, each overflowing with freshly caught anchovies and beautiful views. What makes Golfo Paradiso unique, is it is relatively unspoiled by tourism.
Dessau made the list because 2019 marks the centennial of Bauhaus, an influential modernist art school of the 20th century. This September, Dessau will open up a Bauhaus museum in celebration of Bauhaus’ birthday.
I was happy to see Tunis on the list this year. After the 2015 terrorist attack in Sousse, a lot of people were wary of visiting Tunisia, including myself. Tunis has a lot to offer though, including the ancient ruins of Carthage and a traditional medina.
Gambia is a small country in West Africa that is currently experiencing a period of long-awaited, political stability. Nature wise, most tourists in Gambia recommend checking out Kiang West National Park, as it is home to hippos, monkeys, hyenas, and leopards.
Northern Rivers, Australia
Northern Rivers is located in an Australian state known as New South Wales. Most interesting to me, is the fact that migratory whales pass through this area each year.
The Frisian Islands are located off the coast of Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark. In October 2019, a large oyster festival will be held on the Frisian Islands, featuring specialties such as oyster beer and oyster gelato (both of which sound so unappetizing and so intriguing at the same time).
New York City
New York City made the list this year due to various cultural monuments which are set to open in 2019. One of them is an art museum called the Shed, which will feature art from both established and emerging artists.
I love that China made the list! While I haven’t been to Chongli, I’ve enjoyed visiting Shenzhen, Nanjing, and Zhangjiajie on various trips to China. The food is simply so good and so fresh everywhere I’ve been. The NY Times raves about Chongli for a different reason though, mentioning how the area is becoming a ski resort in preparation for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Orcas Island, Washington
Woo Washington! I live near Seattle so I’m really excited about #33. A little embarrassing though, is the fact I don’t think I’ve ever been to Orcas Island. It’s a shame too because I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.
Uzbekistan is a country in Central Asia few people have traveled to, although that may be changing. By offering visa-free travel to many countries, Uzbekistan hopes to step out of the shadows and into the 21st century. I’m totally on board too. Uzbekistan has a lot of history and natural beauty to show the world, including stunning mosques in cities like Samarkand and Khiva, and a lush, mountainous national park where you can stay in a yurt.
The New York Times describes Vestlandet best with this subheading, “A Bucolic paradise for mountain-climbing beer lovers.” I love that. Bucolic, by the way, refers to the relaxing elements of the countryside and country lifestyle (don’t worry, I had to look that up).
Lyon is a city where you can get a taste of both modern and traditional life in France. In Old Lyon, there are buildings and churches which date back thousands of years ago. In the newer parts of Lyon, you’ll find soccer stadiums and fancy cafes. Apparently Lyon pops out some pretty good sausage and wine as well.
Doha, Qatar made the list for its new architectural developments paving the way for the World Cup in 2022. What I’ve got my on, is Doha Festival City, the largest mall in Qatar which apparently houses an indoor snow park. Wouldn’t it be cool to go snow tubing in the desert?
I know almost nothing about the country of Georgia, so I’m glad the NY Times is waking me up. Batumi, as it turns out, is a popular seaside escape for Iranians, Russians, Turks, and Israelis.
Another city in France makes the list! After getting curious about what makes Marseille so lovely to visit, I stumbled upon an area called the Calanques. This natural wonder is a series of rocky cliffs and turquoise blue bays between Marseille and the city of Cassis.
If you haven’t been to Yellowstone National Park yet, 2019 is the year to change that! I went twice as a kid with my family, and was equally blown away both times. One of my best (and most intense) memories from Yellowstone was standing face to face with a huge, 6-point elk. It was absolutely terrifying and amazing all at once.
In the 52 Places article, the writer in charge of Los Angeles mentions a vibrant Koreatown where one should, “sit in the hot salt at Wi Spa and then feast on roast gui at Dong Il Jang.” Gui is a grilled dish which usually features some type of meat or fish.
Dakar is a surfer’s paradise with year-round waves. What I’m interested in learning more about though, is sleeping in a baobab tree and swimming in a pink lake, two activities mentioned in the 52 Places article.
As of 2019, the first non-stop flight from Europe to Perth is being offered by an airline called Qantas. The flight will depart from London and will help cut down travel time to Australia’s western coast.
Ever since I started visiting Shenzhen in China, I’ve been thinking about making a trip to nearby Hong Kong. Not only is it the capital of quality dim sum, there is a giant Buddha statue I’d love to explore. As of last year, there is also a 34-mile sea bridge connecting Hong Kong to the mainland.
Something I learned from The New York Times 52 Places list, is Americans are only allowed to visit Iran as part of an organized tour. I had no idea tensions between our countries were so high. Still, I’m glad to see the 52 Places traveler will be breaking boundaries and showing the world Iran’s beauty.
Similar to Puerto Rico, Houston is bouncing back after taking on hurricane damage. Popular places to check out in Houston include: Space Center Houston, the Museum of Natural Science, and Discovery Green (a large outdoor park that offers free yoga lessons and regular concerts).
According to the NY Times, Columbus is one of America’s fastest growing and innovative cities. This is partially due to the fact Columbus put in self-driving shuttles along their popular waterfront.
Plovdiv is straight out of a European fairy tale. They have car-less, cobblestone streets, an ancient Roman amphitheater, and a monastery that dates back to 1083. I’m definitely intrigued by Plovdiv and am adding it to my travel list!
Vevey is a Swiss town on the banks of Lake Geneva. 2019 is a particularly special year for Vevey, since there will be a Fête des Vignerons (wine festival). Ok…so what, right? That’s what I thought until I started looking into the festival. Not only is it the first living Swiss tradition recognized by UNESCO, it only occurs five times a century - at the most.
Cádiz is located at the base of Spain, near the Straight of Gibraltar. One of the most stunning pieces of its skyline is the yellow-dome Catedral de Cádiz. It is apparently best seen from the sea, and glistens as the sun goes down.
The Elqui Valley, Chile
This July, the Elqui Valley will experience a full solar eclipse. While the eclipse is only supposed to last for 2 minutes and 25 seconds, both locals and tourists are really excited about it. Not only is the Elqui Valley home to some of the world’s best telescopes, the region is known for Chilean pisco and quaint mountain villages - a recipe for relaxing star-gazing.
The Islands of Tahiti
Last but not least, the islands of Tahiti! If there’s one thing I associate Tahiti with, it’s luxurious, over-water bungalows. I see them all the time on Instagram and YouTube, and cannot help but let my mouth drop every time. What would truly make traveling to Tahiti so special though, is being immersed in the islands nature, abundance of sea life, and Polynesian culture.
The 52 Places on a map
For anyone who’s interested in seeing how these destinations compare location wise, I’ve included an interactive map:
One thing I noticed from creating this map is The New York Times did not include very many locations in Central America, South America, Africa, or Southeast Asia. I assume this could be due to a number of reasons, including:
The majority of their audience might be more interested in reading about European and North American destinations.
It costs more to send the 52 Places traveler to places like Africa and Southeast Asia.
As someone who loves learning about lesser-known, far away places, I was a little disappointed by this.
My personal 52 Places project
Last December, I got an idea to do my own take on The New York Times 52 Places list. Instead of releasing the list all at once though, I wanted to release one destination every week for the entirety of 2019 - 52 weeks in total.
On January 1st, I launched my project and sent all of my email subscribers ‘Place #1.’ Each week since, I have continued to release new destinations with detailed travel tips and information. My goal in doing this is to continue The New York Times’ tradition of inspiring people to travel the world, only with my own flair.
In my 52 Places list, you’ll see a wider variety of global destinations. While I will still include places from Europe and the United States, I can 100% guarantee Southeast Asia and Central America will receive more than one recommendation each…shaking my head, NY Times (I still love you though).
If you want to sign up, head over to my 52 Places sign up page!
which 2019 destinations were you excited to see?
Let me know in the comments below!