With the new year comes the chance for hitting the reset button and tackling one of the many resolutions we gladly re-commit to every 12 months: “Travel more.” That’s because crafting a vacation that’s of your own making, within your budget, and centered on your interests—comes with a kind of liberating feeling.
Yet, like so many of our other New Year’s resolutions, our lofty goals of traveling across the country—and globe—can quickly slip by the wayside when we don’t craft a plan of action. Key to making it all happen is taking the appropriate budgeting measures but, just as important, is knowing where you want to go and why.
But with so, so many travel options out there, where do you start? We’ve put together a list of 25 of the most-talked-about cities and destinations in 2019. Consider this the start of your travel 2019 vision board.
The best places to travel to in 2019
A must-see for history and archeology buffs, Athens offers a glimpse into the majestic beauty of ancient Greece. Think: beautiful marble columns and more historical sites than you can count, including like the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Temple of Hephaestus.
Cost: There are a lot of affordable ways to enjoy Athens and Greece. You can find dorm room hostels starting at $13 a night, while small hotels will average around $40-50 a night, according to Tour Radar.
The Svalbard Islands, Norway
The Svalbard Islands are in the Arctic Ocean, at a midway point between Norway and the North Pole. While it’s about as far away as you can get from the idea of a sunny vacation, there’s plenty to explore. It’s the perfect place to scout The Northern Lights and soak up the glacial beauty and wildlife, which includes polar bears and ice-covered fjords.
Cost: Given that much of what’s in the towns are imported, expect to absorb that in your costs and be prepared to pay up for guided tours. After all, you’ll need some guidance and/or protection, given the wildlife and polar bears roaming about.
You likely have already considered traveling to some of the bigger cities in Italy, like Rome, Florence or Venice. But one of its lesser-known cities, Matera, has been catching the attention of seasoned travelers because of its unique beauty, history and lesser crowds.
Expect to spend a lot of time in caves, which are composed of individual dwellings carved into the limestone hillsides. While they were inhabited in prehistoric times, they were later evacuated in the 1950s due to disease and overcrowding. Today, you can find trendy restaurant and hotels, along with some spectacular views.
Cost: Expect flights to Matera to be upwards of $500-600 and many attractions will have entrance fees.
Prague, Czech Republic
The capital of Czech Republic is nicknamed “the city of a hundred spires” and includes such medieval wonders like the Old Town Astronomical Clock. For 600 years, its captivated audiences in the public square, which gather to see the moving statues and intricate visuals every hour. A visit to Prague is said to be like traveling back in time to a romantic era, though each neighborhood has its own flair and can easily alternate from historical to trendy and modern.
Cost: Without taking into account the cost of “big night” items like an evening at a club or a bar, you can easily travel within Prague on a daily budget of about $40, according to The Savvy Backpacker. Even better, much of the beauty in the city lies in admiring its architecture, which can help keep costs down.
There are plenty of London landmarks for you to visit. The capital of England has popular tourist attractions like Big Ben, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London.
Cost: London is known for being an expensive city to visit, especially because the British pound is so much higher than the US dollar. Budget about $100 a day to cover your meals and attraction costs, according to The Savvy Backpacker.
If you’re in the mood for exploring a medieval old town, Edinburgh has got you covered. You can explore the city’s history with a trip to Edinburgh Castle, which dates back to the 11th century. While you’re at it, take a tour of the Royal Yacht Britannica, which is permanently moored and open to the public with audio tours that allow you to walk at your own pace.
Cost: Your daily meal allowance can average upwards of $30 while a night at a hotel will average about $150, according to .
There’s no shortage of tourist attractions available for exploration in Barcelona, which is known for its art and architecture. Choose from gothic and majestic attractions like Barcelona Cathedral, Santa Maria del Mar, or Sagrada Familia. Each church is steeped in history and allows you to experience a sense of grandeur and scale unlike anything else. Oh, and let’s not forget that the weather makes it a prime travel spot year-round, so you can easily find time to relax at any of the seven beaches available.
Cost: One of the perks of traveling in Barcelona is that it’s not very large, so you can walk everywhere (and thus cut down on costs). Still, depending on your budget, expect to spend from $70-$200+ each day, according to Lonely Planet.
If you’ve been aching for a place to sneak away for some fun under the sun, consider Tenerife. As one of Spain’s largest Canary Islands and is located off of West Africa. From February to March, the island hosts Carnival, which sees plenty of big parades, costumes and partying in the streets. Oh, and you needn’t worry about when is a good time to visit. The weather is just right year-round.
Cost: If you’re thinking about a one-week vacation, expect to spend upwards of $1,600 for a couple, though you can find a hostel or hotel for one person at $47, according to .
Known as one of the “Pearls of the Swiss Riviera,” Vevey is a lakeside area known for its panoramic view and mild climate. A fun fact: Charlie Chaplin spent the last 25 years of his life in the town and his accomplishments is marked with a statue in a public park. If the calm and pleasant views aren’t enough to draw you in, you can check out a handful of museums like the Alimentarium, the first food-themed museum.
Cost: If you’re looking to keep costs in the mid-range, budget about 200-300 in Swiss Francs, according to Lonely Planet.
Many tourists liken the skyline in Frankfurt to New York, so much so, that it’s gotten the nickname “Mainhattan” from locals. Frankfurt has a lot of history, though recognize that much of the attractions had to be rebuilt after World War II. If you’re thinking about traveling within Europe, Frankfurt provides a central location from where you take off.
Cost: Like many other European destinations, be ready to shell out some funds when traveling. Expect to spend about $120 per day, according to .
Napa Valley, California
Located just north of San Francisco, Napa Valley is known for its large hillside vineyards. Foodies and wine connoisseurs flock to the wine region for the regional gourmet food options. If you’re looking for a stateside romantic getaway for a weekend, Napa Valley has plenty of restaurants, spas, and outdoor adventures for everyone.
Costs: Since so much of the attractions center around food and dining, your budget can vary depending on what you order. But, visiting and trying scrimp on a meal defeats the purpose, so expect your daily budget to exceed $230, according to .
As the largest city in Canada’s Québec province, Montréal is a city that’s easily reachable from the East Coast and offers a thriving culinary and arts scene. Lonely Planet calls it “the country’s cultural juggernaut,” with 250 theater and dance companies and 90+ festivals throughout the year like the International de Jazz de Montréal.
Cost: Expect costs to mirror what you might spend in any other major American city, though Canadian taxes will increase your final bill by 15 percent, according to Trip Savvy.
Atlanta offers a range of activities that are perfect for a solo trip or for the fam-bam. As the capital of Georgia, Atlanta played an important role during the Civil War and, later, during the Civil Rights Movement. You can tour The King Center (The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change) for a dose of inspiration and some historical perspective. The city also has family-friendly attractions like World of Coca-Cola and the world-renown Georgia Aquarium.
Cost: You can due on a budget of $120/day, according to Lonely Planet. And with roundtrip from airfare starting at $200 (from Los Angeles), what are you waiting for?
American history buffs will appreciate a tour of Fort McHenry, where the American forces successfully fought off an attack from the British Navy in 1814. (It’s what inspired Scott Key to pen the “Star-Spangled Banner.’) Baltimore has always been known as a port city with a picturesque waterfront, but it’s gotten some new attention, thanks publications like the New York Times and Travel & Leisure naming it a top destination.
Cost: Once inside the city, you’ll save on transportation costs, since many of the major tourist attractions are within walking distance of each other.
Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico’s capital has a lot of cultural offerings for eager tourists. Aside from being an affordable destination (hello, cheap but oh-so-delicious street tacos!), you can pick and choose from a variety of cultural attractions. Think: tours of the pyramids in Teotihuacan, Frida Kahlo’s house, or any of the local markets. There’s plenty for architecture buffs, too, ranging from biggies like the Basílica de Guadalupe to La Casa Luis Barragán, a modernist creation recognized by UNESCO in 1994.
Cost: You’ll get far in Mexico with a dollar, which can translate to 15-20 Mexican pesos, depending on rates.
New Orleans, Louisiana
A subtropical climate makes this Southern destination an ideal one, regardless of the season. The city is known for its parades and Mardi Gras celebrations, but its food is just as spectacular. There’s no shortage of good places to enjoy the unique mix of Cajun and Creole dishes. Think: everything from jambalayas to po’boys.
Cost: Compared to other major cities, most things in New Orleans are free or low-cost. Just expect your dining bill to easily surpass $150, according to Lonely Planet.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Brazil is home to the kind of beaches you probably know by name—like Ipanema and Copacabana. While each is worth a visit, Rio is the destination for surf and sand. And while it’s not as well-known, Rio also offers a number of sporty activities. Learn to dance the salsa or the tango at Fundição Progresso. Or, for a leisurely exploration, take an hours-long bike tour with Bike in Rio. You’ll be able to soak in all the scenery while exploring smaller neighborhoods.
Cost: The average daily price for a trip to Rio is $94, according to BudgetYourTrip.
Valparaiso is one of those of majestic and romantic towns that has inspired many a writer. Most famous among those, of course, is the write Pablo Neruda, who found much of his inspiration in the Chilean city. Fans of him can visit the his former residence-turned-museum. Though, the best activity here to admire the city itself. Take a walk along the streets and check out the many murals and colorful buildings. If you dare, you can even take a ride on one of the charming, turn-of-the-century ascensores, or funicular railways, that will help you scale the many hills (and are technically historical monuments).
Cost: LonelyPlanet estimates a cost of between $95-115 a day for a mid-range budget.
Africa + Islands
Botswana, Southern Africa
Nature lovers, take note: Botswana has some of the most amazing opportunities to see wildlife you wouldn’t otherwise see in the wild. (We’re talking giraffes, cheetahs, hyenas, and wild dogs.) Botswana is a landlocked region in Southern Africa, including the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Book a safari through any one of the many game reserves in the area during the day and rest up in an eco-friendly tent village at night.
Cost: Expect to pay around $75-150 a day, according to LonelyPlanet.
Negombo, Sri Lanka
This sleepy Sri Lankan beach town is the perfect low-key alternative to a trip in the bigger, bustling Colombo. Scout the outdoor fish markets or explore the wetlands. If you’re looking for a bit of architecture, there are many local, ornate churches to check out as well. (The town has been called “Little Rome” because of the strong Catholic colonial presence.)
Cost: Depending on how high-end you want your accommodations to be, you can spend anywhere from $85 to upwards of $280, according to LonelyPlanet. Deciding just how luxe you can/want to go will help you narrow it down.
French Polynesian Islands
If you prefer relaxing to strenuous sightseeing while on a vacation, this is your place. The best thing to do when visiting the French Polynesian Islands, including the well known Bora Bora and Tahiti, is to make the trip about the water. Think: diving, snorkeling, surfing, or just lounging on the beach are all ideal activities for these islands. Food-wise, you can expect a nice balance of Chinese, French, and Polynesian influence, according to Lonely Planet (with plenty of fish of course).
Cost: All that leisure will cost you: BudgetYourTrip averages a cost of $138 a day.
Agra is home to the iconic Taj Mahal, a mausoleum built in 1632 following the death of then emperor Shah Jahan’s wife, who died in childbirth. The building itself has been under restoration for the past year, and reopens in 2019 in top condition. The Taj Mahal has long stood as one of the world’s greatest wonders—and for good reason. There are few pieces of architecture that are as iconic and serene.
This is one of the most versatile destinations on the list. Tokyo has a lot to offer as a bustling metropolitan city with plenty, plenty to do. You can just as easily enjoy the city nightlife or retreat to a spa in the lush country. That’s because the city is the intersection of new and old, with incredible historic locations like Sensoji Temple along with pop culture phenomena like Robot Restaurant Shinjuku.
Cost: BudgetYourTrip estimates the average visitor will spend around $120 a day.
In the 1980s, Shēnzhèn began growing at such a rate that its population went from 300,000 to 11 million people. Today, Shēnzhèn is known as the “Silicon Valley” of China and has become a hotspot for tech as well as art. In just the last three years, the city has seen the opening of Design Society museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition and heritage art village OCT-LOFT, according to LonelyPlanet.
Cost: Tickets to visit the museums range from free to around $12; it’s wise to budget between $60-145 daily.
Delicious regional food is at the core of a good trip to Thailand. You can eat well on any budget, as there’s options ranging from street stalls to fine dining. If you want to brush up on your culinary skills, you can take a cooking class at Amita Thai, a charming culinary school in the Thonburi neighborhood. Bangkok, though, is known for its street life—and here’s plenty of street markets to visit in the city. You can start by checking out the Chatuchak Weekend Market, one of the largest such markets in the world.
Cost: Approximately $65 a day, according to