Our top destinations for 2024
11 September 2023
It’s never too early to start planning your next trip of a lifetime. Whether you know exactly what countries are on your travel bucket list, or you need a little inspiration to nudge you to the ‘book’ button, we’ve gathered our favourite travel destinations for 2024 to fuel your dreams of enthralling new adventures.
These scintillating and surprising 2024 travel ideas have been chosen for their glorious scenery, cultural intricacies, incomparable natural wonders or their off-the-beaten-path experiences – and have been arranged by ‘best time to go’ so that you can easily start planning a trip with our locally-based travel experts.
The best time to visit Japan is generally considered to be spring (March to May) or fall (September to November). Both seasons have pleasant weather and the landscapes are beautified by cherry blossom and vibrant golden leaves respectively. Of course, they are also the most popular times to visit so planning ahead is recommended, particularly for spring’s sakura season. If you are planning to go to the mountains or Hokkaido’s national parks, then June to August is still a good time to visit, but bear in mind that the rest of the country will be in the throes of the hot and humid rainy season.
If you’re ready to take the plunge on a big trip this coming year, a veritable wonderland of diverse experiences awaits you in captivating Japan. Everything from traditional forested villages in Takayama to Tokyo’s quirky, fast-paced metropolis; ancient ornate temples, sakura-dappled parks and a deep cultural appreciation for nature and spiritualism, all exist here within the borders of this proud island nation.
For many from the West, a visit to Japan is a once-in-a-lifetime event, so the quintessential route from Tokyo to Kyoto to Osaka is definitely on the cards. Considering Japan’s globally respected food scene, our locally-based partners offer a tour of Japan’s highlights with a culinary twist.
Visit in July to take in the vibrant Vincy Mas Festival.
Intrepid sailors have long been drawn to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, a Caribbean archipelago which is a bonafide tropical paradise. Those who aren’t familiar, however, should know that it’s far from your typical ‘fly and flop’ Caribbean beach destination. There’s a strong cultural pride woven into the local life and rich surroundings here, which means a trip to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines lingers on the senses long after you’ve returned home.
This is never more prominent than during the Vincy Mas Festival – the perfect reason to travel to the islands in July. One of the biggest festivals in the Caribbean erupts in a cacophony of calypso dance, steel drum music and street performances that celebrate Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ proud heritage and its historical and cultural significance in the world. After 12 days of dancing parades, live music and parties it culminates in a Mardi Gras flourish, so if you’re into a beat-filled shindig on the street alongside your beach sojourn, this is one you can’t miss.
Aside from the parties, the Grenadines have some of the world’s most stunning beaches that stay relatively uncrowded; the island of Bequia alone, for instance, boasts Princess Margaret Beach, Friendship Beach and Lower and Industry Bay. For snorkelling and diving, all kinds of marine life is visible in the beautifully calm waters of Tobago Cays – from turtles and dolphins to flying fish. To incorporate Vincy Mas into your Caribbean holiday, get in touch with our local experts.
Egypt is a year round destination, but you may wish to avoid the sizzling months of June, July and August.
Egypt needs no introduction – its Pyramids and Sphinx of Giza alone represent the most sophisticated architectural scope of human civilisation. It’s not just historic monuments, gold-gilded artefacts and the iconic River Nile that makes this storied destination worth the journey, however.
Alongside the must-see tourist route from Cairo to Luxor to Aswan, more and more visitors are looking to explore Egypt a little differently. Sharm-El-Sheikh in the Sinai Peninsula, while being a popular resort area, also offers top-class diving expeditions, brimming with whale shark and manta ray sightings in the deep, clear waters of the Red Sea. Spending a little longer in capital Cairo, stopping in its hip cafes and bakeries, gets you among young, city-dwelling Egyptians. Finally, a multi-night boat cruise on the Nile, forever the lifeblood of Egypt, invites slowed-down contemplation of this nation’s incomparable history.
History fans, take note – as from late 2023, the Grand Museum of Egypt is reopening. Set to become the biggest archaeological museum in the world, it will display the entirety of the sublime Tutenkhamun collection. If you’re heading to this part of the world, don’t miss it.
Our local experts highly recommend visiting in the balmy shoulder seasons of spring (April to June) or autumn (September to October) to avoid the summer crowds.
Daydreams of Greece evoke sparkling ocean vistas, white-washed buildings hugging scenic cliff edges, and fresh seafood drizzled in olive oil. All of these archetypal visions speak truth, of course – yet Greece’s iconic islands are chock full of hidden experiences that are just as glorious as the most known. To avoid the areas that are undeniably stunning but somewhat marred by overtourism – Mykonos, the Acropolis, Santorini, for instance – it’s worth planning a trip to Greece from a new angle.
The islands of Hydra and Spetses, for example, can be reached easily from Athens; two romantic getaways where cars are banned. Take a breather from tourists as you amble through secluded town squares, take a donkey ride along cobbled streets, and sip wine at a quiet seafront spot watching dip below the horizon.
Stunning Kefalonia, particularly around Assos and its sleepy fishing villages in the north, makes the ideal haven for self-drive exploration. Even Greece’s biggest island, Crete, offers a sense of new discovery – its Apokoronas region is woven with local villages, abuzz with day-to-day Cretan life.
As avoiding overcrowdedness is the name of the game here, travelling to Greece in the shoulder/low seasons when tourist footfall is much lower can be highly rewarding. With more chances to sit at the most scenic table spots and mingle with famously hospitable locals, you can enjoy this more authentic side of the magnificent Mediterranean.
The best time to visit the Maldives is between November and April. Avoid the main holidays of Christmas and Easter for quieter islands whilst still enjoying the finest weather.
The Maldives rate highly as one of the world’s indulgent honeymoon hotspots – its languid, soft-sand beaches are ripe for sun-worshipping, reading and cocktail-clinking. That said, these exquisite islands are transforming into much more in recent years, as the Maldives is becoming a leader in sustainable and eco-friendly tourism.
With the risk of rising sea levels ever-present, marine conservation efforts are a big focus here, and a glut of eco-hotels and solar-powered resorts are making a meaningful effort to get visitors involved. Our Maldives partners work with the Barefoot Eco Retreat, for instance; where you can combine yoga, cycling, kayaking and snorkelling excursions with options for manta ray and turtle monitoring, and watching presentations from expert marine biologists. Of course, this is still a holiday in the Maldives – so you can finish the day with a memorable candlelit dinner on the beach, before waking for sunrise salutations in the morning.
If you’re considering an eco-friendly tour of the Maldives in 2024, get in touch with one of our local travel experts. They can discuss with you how to get the most out of these resplendent isles, while doing your bit for the wildlife and environment that helps sustain their tourism.
From November to April, Vietnam experiences the least amount of rain, making it a perfect and popular time to visit. Travel there in January to take in the celebrations around Tet – the lunar new year.
In the post-Christmas lull of British winter, why not make a welcome escape to South East Asia? January marks the start of summer in central Vietnam, so the landmark historic towns of Hue and Hoi An are illuminated by sunshine. Tet, the lunar new year, also occurs at the end of January – the biggest celebration in the country. Those lucky enough to be in Vietnam at this time will be treated with ample street parties, traditional music and dragon dance parades.
One of Vietnam’s biggest draws is the coastal city of Hoi An, often described as ‘charming’ and with good reason. Its fusion of Chinese, Japanese and European influences comes through in beautifully ornate architecture in the Old Town, further adorned by traditional lanterns lining the streets. Other renowned cities of Vietnam (Hanoi, Saigon) can be addictively frenetic; but there’s a quaint languidness to Hoi An that comes as a welcome treat.
Heading further south, make the most of the January sun at the buzzing beach town of Nha Trang. Temperatures tend to reach a pleasantly hot 28°C here – a popular time for tourists – so it’s worth the walk for quieter spots such as gorgeous Bai Duong beach. If your fitness allows, Doc Let is another secluded idyll located just beyond some steep sand dunes.
As northern Vietnam sees much lower temperatures at this time of year, a trip to Sapa or Ha Long Bay may be a chilly, misty affair. Stick to the south by finishing your tour on the emerald waterways of the Mekong Delta. Enjoy the quintessential experience of sitting back on a wooden boat, stopping occasionally to buy fruit at a traditional floating market – a perfect way to round off your trip.
The best time to visit the Galapagos Islands depends a lot on the wildlife that you would like to see, so speak to our local expert when planning your trip. Climate-wise there are roughly two seasons: warm and wet (December to May) and cool and dry (June to November).
If you love ticking off wildlife sightings when you travel, the Galapagos Islands are probably near the top of your holiday list. This wild and wonderful archipelago, famously favoured by Charles Darwin, is essentially a large scale observation lab – with flora and fauna that is truly unforgettable. Endemic species such as the Galapagos giant tortoise, marine iguana and blue-footed booby birds inhabit the craggy volcanic coastline, creating fascinating, almost other-worldy landscapes.
To truly experience this paradise of the Pacific, dedicate a week or more to a handful of the islands. In San Cristobal, watch frigate birds bathe in the freshwater crater lake of El Junco volcano. Soak up the serenity of flamingo lagoons on Isabela. Look out for turtles, sea lions and penguins on the Tintoreras islands, and learn more about the area’s strong scientific history at the Charles Darwin Station in Santa Cruz.
Though plenty use Ecuador as a springboard for the Galapagos, there is so much more to it than that. With towering Andean peaks, spirited prairies and fertile rainforest, Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse destinations in South America. Cotopaxi and its perfectly conical volcano is well worth exploring, while capital Quito is full of ornate churches, colourful fabric stalls and chatty locals. Explore lively indigenous markets, try the home-grown food, step into ‘Mitad del Mundo’ (the Centre of the World) and inhale the fresh mountain air before you shoot off to the islands. Ask our locally-based experts about incorporating both Ecuador and the Galapagos into one incredible tour.
Visit the archipelago over New Year to take in the spectacular dhow race, or come in the dry season of July – September for wonderful game viewing on the mainland and fabulous wind conditions on Lamu.
One of Africa’s prime tourist draws, sun-splashed Kenya is renowned for its sprawling, zebra-scattered grasslands and incredible safari experiences. Its Lamu Archipelago off the north eastern coast is lesser-known but well worth the extra distance; it’s a cluster of islands with sublime beaches, a rich Swahili heritage and long, intriguing history.
Lamu itself, the biggest of the main islands, is better developed than its neighbours Pate and Manda Island, where cars are banned and donkey is the quickest mode of transport. In Lamu you can lounge on palm-fringed Shela Beach, and gain an important understanding of pre-colonial life on the islands by visiting the museum and Old Town. At a glimpse, archaeological sites show that towns have existed here for at least 1,200 years.
Many Swahili residents are talented dhow builders and sailors, and in January, Lamu hosts a spectacular New Year’s dhow race. Not only do the striking rows of sails form an exhilarating sight, it’s also a lovely time of year to be on the coast, as well as to visit the mainland of Kenya for a safari. The weather is hot, yet cooled by occasional showers, the landscape lush and green from the previous months’ rains, and lots of young animals will be frolicking on the grasslands.
If you’d like to visit the Lamu Archipelago as a secondary stop, but prioritise game viewing on the mainland, the dry season of July, August and September may be your best bet. As well as the special New Year boat race, dhow sailing occurs on Lamu from July to April when wind conditions are ideal. Get in touch with our local Kenya experts who can advise on the itinerary that works best for you.
If you’re visiting for the whales, then time your trip to be around May or June, which are particularly good months for spotting blue or sei whales as they migrate through the waters.
Commonly referred to as ‘the Hawaii of the mid-Atlantic’, you’ll soon see why the Azores deserve the affectionate moniker. This Portuguese archipelago is actually around 950 miles away from the mainland; and with its green-sloped volcanoes, pristine lakes and waterfalls hidden by lush conifer forests, any trip here will stir a sense of adventure that will make it the highlight of your year.
Sao Miguel is the main island of the Azores, home to three active volcanoes – Fogo, Furnas and Sete Cidades. A typical day includes hiking volcano trails past caldera lagoons and emerald vegetation abuzz with wildlife, and stopping to go wild swimming in mineral-rich hot springs. Bring your swimming gear on every excursion, as one of the biggest appeals of the Azores is having a dip at a moment’s notice.
The Azores is also primely located for dolphin or whale-watching, as hundreds of them inhabit the surrounding waters. May and June are particularly great months for sightings of baleen whales – blue whales or sei whales, for example – which migrate across the Atlantic at this time of year.
Join one of many whale-watching boat trips leaving Pico or San Miguel islands to catch a glimpse of these gentle giants, but if not, you’re almost guaranteed to see sperm whales and dolphins breaching the ocean’s surface. If you’re seeking a true island getaway next year, the Azores are an explorer’s dream – get in touch with our locally-based experts to start planning right away.
Visiting during the dry season, May to October, gives you the best chance of spotting wildlife on safari, whilst also being able to make the most of refreshing swims in beautiful Lake Malawi.
First timers to Africa are unlikely to consider Malawi over the renowned tourist destinations of Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania, but there’s a huge amount on offer in what’s affectionately called ‘the Warm Heart of Africa’.
For game-viewing, Majete Wildlife Reserve is a conservation success story. Depleted of animals as recently as 10 years ago, it now contains an abundance of extraordinary wildlife such as elephants, hippos, rhinos and big cats. Lodges here often include outdoor viewing decks where you can spend a night under the stars after a day of animal-spotting. Also, Malawi’s cultural excursions include an overnight stay in the historic family property of Satemwa Tea Estate, the first fairtrade tea estate in the country. Here you can walk the refreshing, fragrant trails of the plantations followed by a tea-tasting overlooking verdant views.
Finally, one of the largest lakes in the world, Lake Malawi, is dotted with beach-bordered islands that make the perfect coastal sojourn from the mainland. A boat to Mumbo Island grants ample freshwater snorkelling and diving opportunities, where you can spot colourful cichlid fish species. Back on shore, you can get to know the locals living in lakeside communities.
To see the best of underrated Malawi, try the dry season of May through October – this is when the rains are over, temperatures are pleasant and animals openly congregate at water holes.
Visit from November to April to make the most of the dry season – the weather is clear and warm but the surroundings are lush from the previous months’ rains.
With such immense diversity on offer, the glory of a trip to Mexico is that it can be whatever you want it to be. Revolve your holiday around crystal clear cenote swimming in the Yucatan Peninsula, the ancient Mayan archaeology at Chichen Itza, or let the nation’s exuberant culture lead the way by following its vivacious art, music and culinary scene from Mexico City to Oaxaca.
With homegrown tequila, citrusy meat-stuffed tacos and fresh guacamole always on the menu, you could make your entire trip about Mexico’s gastronomy – and no one would blame you. Stall-hop the flavoursome street food of Mexico City, sample mouthwatering chalupas, tortillas and dulces de leche in colonial Pueblo, and join a cooking class in famous Cholula. A culinary tour of Mexico planned by our local travel experts celebrates food as an intrinsic part of Mexico’s culture and heritage, and will leave a phenomenal (and flavoursome) impression.
For a more history-based route, the millennia-old archaeological remains of the Maya civilisation weave through this ancient land – the enormous and enigmatic Teotihuacan, to name only one – finally leading you to the idyllic coastline of Tulum as an end-of-tour reward.
For most of the above, the dry season from November to April is the best time to visit – the weather is clear and warm yet surroundings are lush from the previous months’ rains. With all the best elements of a holiday packed into this Central American gem, Mexico is one place you shouldn’t overlook.
The best time to visit Tunisia is generally during the spring months of April and May, and the autumn months of October and November. That way you avoid the sizzling heat of summer (though sun-worshippers will still enjoy September).
Frequently compared with tourist favourite Morocco, Tunisia is too often overlooked as a gem of the North African coast. Similarly crammed with superb architecture, multi-sensory souks and glittering coastline, it gets a refreshing fraction of the tourist footfall of more popular countries. With some time to spare, you can get to know the intricacies of Tunisian life by exploring its frenetic markets, inviting sandy beaches and unexpectedly brilliant natural landscapes, too.
A trip usually includes capital Tunis – a deeply multi-faceted city with a UNESCO-protected medina and architecture that combines old-style French, Arab and modern Islamic influences. Despite the daily hubbub, slow meandering is the most rewarding way to take in Tunis city life, stopping for a mint tea and a sweet, fig-filled makrouth cookie as you watch people about their day.
Elsewhere in Tunisia, there are superlatives in all directions. The ancient colosseum at El Djem is incredibly well preserved and one of the largest in the world; holy Islamic centre Kairouan is home to the magnificent Grand Mosque; while the beaches of Hammamet (Arabic for ‘baths’) draw visitors to bathe in the warmest climes of the Mediterranean ocean.
Finally, for cinephiles, special mention goes to Matmata, near the desert of Jabil National Park – as its underground troglodyte settlements famously featured in the cult Star Wars movies. That’s not the only place that appears in the franchise; in fact our locally-based experts even offer a Star Wars Locations tour of Tunisia. Get in touch with them to feel you’re visiting another planet far, far away…
If you’re inspired to book your next big travel trip for 2024, start making it a reality – get in touch with any of our locally-based experts today. They’re on the ground, ready and waiting to help you plan the trip of your dreams, exactly to your requirements.