Australian travellers enjoy one of the longest holidays in the world - taking 10 days on average for a single trip, according to SkyScanner. In fact 68 per per cent of Aussie travellers surveyed said it’s the thrill of visiting new destinations that gets them excited about their next break.
Here’s Skyscanner’s suggestions for each month of the year:
January: Plovdiv, Bulgaria. You might struggle to find it on a map but 2019 is going to be Plovdiv’s year. Crowned European City of Culture for 2019, this rather charming, ancient city will be hosting more than 300 events throughout the year, spanning music, theatre and dance. Check out some original street art from the Berlin Wall to mark 30 years of the wall coming down or experience Homer’s Odyssey in a new production by the National Theatre of Greece. You also want to try “Paneurhythmics”, which aims to create harmony between body, mind and spirit through music, movement and meditation.
February: Atlanta, USA. As American cities go, Atlanta is feeling pretty smug right now. And fair enough - it’s the chosen host city for one of the biggest sporting events of the year, the Super Bowl. Not a fan of American football? Don’t write it off. Atlanta’s got a ton going for it. Check out The Varsity - the world’s largest drive-in restaurant which has been a family-run city institution since the 1920s. We recommend ordering a Heavy Weight, Ring One and an F.O. (that’s a hot dog with extra chili, onion rings and a frozen orange drink). Then head to the city’s most unusual bar, Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium. Admire the kitsch decor, grab a $2 beer and dust off your ping pong skills or stop by on Wednesday nights for Church Organ Karaoke. Oh, and Atlanta is also home to the world’s busiest airport, making it a pretty handy base for exploring the rest of the South, with laidback Savannah and boisterous, boozy Nashville both just an hour away.
March: Tokyo, Japan. There are plenty of cities that love to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. Dublin (obviously). Boston (the most Irish city in America according to the US Census Bureau) or Chicago (where they dye the Chicago River green). But if you want St Paddy’s with a twist, head to Tokyo. For the last 25 years they’ve hosted their own St Patrick’s Day parade alongside the ‘I Love Ireland Festival’. Organised by the Irish Network Japan, over 100,000 visitors are celebrating. Then keep the party going at An SÓLÁS, the best Irish bar in the city. Loved by locals and expats, you’ll find traditional Irish music, fish and chips and the best poured pint of Guinness this side of Ireland. While Tokyo is already the fifth most popular destination for Australian travellers, this proves there’s always something new to discover!
April: Lebanon. If you get bored easily, try Lebanon. Start in Beirut. It’s a city of contrasts; old and new, a mix of Europe and the Middle East, a bustling city right on the water. The best way to see the city is by walking – not only will you discover the different neighbourhoods, you’ll also find all the best food, like baklava and manakish (a kind of pizza eaten on the go for the breakfast). For falafel, try Falafel Sahyoun. But choose carefully – there are two of them, run by feuding brothers, both claiming to be the original. Ready for another juxtaposition? Ninety minutes drive from Beirut is Faraya Mzaar, a particularly good ski resort (with a season that lasts into April) making Lebanon one of the rare places you can swim in the morning and ski in the afternoon.
May: Hội An, Vietnam. Vietnam appears twice on the Skyscanner ‘emerging cities’ list for Australian travellers, so you might not need any more encouragement to plan your next trip. But we think May is the perfect time to visit as it usually (fingers crossed) sees the lowest rainfall of the year. Once arrived, visit Hội An, an old trading port with a rich history. You’ll see the influence of other cultures in the architecture, such as the French colonial buildings and the famous Japanese covered bridge. Aim to be there on the 18th for the monthly lantern festival where hundreds of lanterns float downstream under the full moon. Aside from the impressive architecture and culture, Hội An is also famous for its food, with street food stalls and hole in the wall restaurants offering not just a real bargain but also an authentic experience. Try the local favourite cao lầu, a pork and noodle dish made with water from a nearby ancient well. Not as wrong as it sounds...
June: New York City, USA. Pride is always a special time in New York but this year the party goes global as the city hosts WorldPride all month long. Held on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and the birth of the modern gay rights movement, it’s the perfect time to reflect and celebrate. From the Human Rights Conference to Pride Island, an epic music festival on Pier 97 by Hell’s Kitchen, there’s pretty much something for everyone, including rooftop parties, film screenings and the legendary Pride march itself. Then try one of New York’s latest restaurants, Manhatta. Part of the empire of prolific restauranteer Danny Meyer, it offers some of the best views in the city – 60 stories up, with floor-to-ceiling windows. Plus the prices are surprisingly down-to-earth with three courses for $78 USD.
July: Boryeong, South Korea. Since last year’s Winter Olympics, South Korea has been speedily rising to the top of our travel bucketlist. There’s the incredible buzz of Seoul. The majestic temples. And, our personal favourite, a mud festival. As the organizers put it, “If Brazil has Rio Carnival and La Tomatina in Spain, then Korea has Boryeong Mud Festival.” Running from the 19 - 28 July, it’s a kind of mud playground with a giant mud bath, a mud super slide, a mud swimming pool, mud massages and something called the “mud mime character performance” (we’re not sure either). Splash mud over strangers, push them into mud or just cover yourself from head-to-toe, and revel in dirty delight with a clear conscience. In a country where beauty treatments are taken seriously, the special minerals found in the mud are a cause of celebration.
August: Singapore. Singapore rates as the fourth most popular international destination for Australian travellers. Unsurprisingly, National Day in Singapore is always a big event. Held on the 9 August, there’s the usual parade and fireworks, but this year there’s extra cause for celebration. After the blockbuster success of Crazy Rich Asians, Singapore is seeing an influx of tourists ready to enjoy the decadent beauty they saw on screen. You can visit locations like Gardens by the Bay (the incredible waterfront nature park where Collin and Araminta had their wedding reception) and Marina Bay Sands (where the rooftop bar scene from the end of the movie was filmed). Not on a crazy rich budget? Not a problem - you can still experience the best of Singapore. The country is home to the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurant (well, more of a stall) Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle.
September: Málaga, Spain. The Spanish Costa del Sol hasn’t always had a reputation as a culture hub and is instead better known as a fave among British sea sand and sea seekers. But now the city of Málaga holds just as much appeal for art lovers. There’s always been a strong link (Picasso was born here) but new museums have really made this a cultural destination. On 27 September - to mark World Tourism Day - you can even visit them for free. You literally can’t miss the Pompidou Centre – a huge, multi-coloured cube right on the waterfront. The Modern Utopias exhibition runs all year and features work by Kandinsky, Chagall and Miró, along with a giant flock of sheep. After that there’s at least another 20 museums to explore. For another artistic experience, try the Taberna Uvodoble where chef Willie Orellan takes classic tapas dishes and gives them a contemporary spin, all in sleek surroundings.
October: Amsterdam, The Netherlands. You might think Amsterdam is a party town but just wait until ADE kicks off. Starting on 16 October, the Amsterdam Dance Event is described as “five days of total electronic music emersion”. It’s a mix of conference and festival; by day you can watch masterclasses and panels with DJs and producers (perfect for anyone trying to break into the industry) while at night it’s one big party with 2,500 artists performing in 140 venues. Last year’s event featured everything from ‘Raving for Revolution’ (tackling sustainability and social issues in the music industry) to a series of sold out shows from Martin Garrix. Need to slow things down? Swap EDM for jazz at Bar Oldenhof, a hidden cocktail and whiskey bar that’s cosy, sophisticated and proudly stuck in the 20th century.
November: Perth, Australia. Skyscanner has found that 81% of us chose to explore our homeland during the holidays last year. Looking for 2019’s staycation spot? Then definitely consider Perth. While it’s been something of a holiday bridesmaid - lagging in popularity behind Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane - it boasts a wine region, conservation areas and countless beautiful beaches that shouldn’t be overlooked. And this year there are going to be some epic beach barbecues happening. It’s all part of Gourmet Escape food festival which looks set to be bigger than ever, with 10 days of events in Perth, Margaret River and Swan Valley kicking off from 9 November. Boasting an unrivalled reputation amongst foodies (Nigella calls it magical), the festival’s relaxed atmosphere, unrivalled produce, wine and seafood provide a draw for everyone from local suppliers to celebrity chefs.
December: Val d’sère, France. See out the end of 2019 on the slopes of the European Alps. If you get excited about ski lifts, get to Val d’sère where the old four-person télécabines that debuted in 1966 are getting replaced by beautiful new gondolas (their Italian designer works for Ferrari and Maserati). The first of their kind in France, they have heated seats, hold 10 people and will halve the journey time from La Daille up to the Folie Douce. Prefer fancy hotels to luxury ski lifts? Just wait for Le Refuge de Solaise, opening in December. At 2551m, it’s France’s highest hotel.The rooms have an elevated rustic charm, there’ll be a restaurant, a screening room and spa, but the real attraction is being the first on the slopes every morning.