If the start of a new year stimulates reflection, the dawn of a fresh decade demands some serious thought – specifically when it comes to all-important travel plans.

New flight routes, anniversary celebrations and exciting hotel openings plunge destinations into the spotlight. Some other places are simply having their moment. These are a few of the contenders vying for your annual leave.

Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt

Best for: Beach, diving and snorkelling

Promising good weather, calm sea conditions and an abundance of marine wildlife, Egypt’s premier Red Sea resort was once favoured by divers of all abilities. All that came to a halt after a terrorist attack, however, compelling many countries – including the UK – to suspend flights. Four years later, the ban has finally been lifted, shining the green light for direct air access from the UK.

A drop in visitor numbers over the past few years has given the reef a chance to flourish and attract new species, such as whale sharks. According to experts, the Red Sea has never looked better.

The Lake District

Best for: Contemplative hikes and pub lunches

Wander lonely as a cloud o’er vales and hills in honour of poet William Wordsworth’s 250th birthday, celebrated on April 7. Inspired by the beauty of the Lake District, his writings were the foundation for an early conservation movement, and the 1820 publication of his Guide Through The District Of The Lakes is regarded as the beginning of mass tourism to the area.

A major project, Reimagining Wordsworth, is currently underway to transform his former family home, Dove Cottage, in Grasmere, into an interactive attraction. The Wordsworth Museum is also being expanded and modernised, and new trails will be launched to showcase the landscapes described in his poems.

Svalbard, Norway

Best for: Wildlife watching and chasing northern lights

There aren’t many places where you can travel without a visa, but Svalbard’s unusual status could become even more appealing in a post-Brexit world. A mountainous, glacier-laced archipelago dangling from the top of the globe, this European slice of the Arctic was placed under Norwegian sovereignty a century ago. In that time, a seemingly uninhabitable and hostile destination has become a booming tourist attraction.

Visit in summer to search for polar bears, walruses and flocks of migrating birds; in winter there’s the chance to take snowmobile safaris across frozen terrain and hunt for the northern lights.


Best for: Archaeological ruins and sustainable stays

A mass of uninterrupted jungle lapped by sparkling Caribbean Sea and fringed by coral reefs, this Central American country has developed slowly but surely, managing to keep its natural treasures intact. Mayan ruins such as Caracol attract a fraction of the crowds heading to Mexico’s Chichen Itza, and an ancient cave system is still largely a mystery.

The destination is also becoming a leading force in sustainability. Actor-turned-conservationist Leonardo DiCaprio opens his highly anticipated solar-powered Blackadore Caye eco-resort there this year, and inland, in San Antonio, Mariposa Jungle Lodge will launch as the country’s first vegan resort.

Marrakech, Morocco

Best for: Art and culture

Lured by a boho spirit and attitudes as loose and wafty as a silk kaftan, rock and rollers descended on Morocco’s charismatic city in the 1960s. An artistic vibe flourished in the Medina’s labyrinthine souks, which became a favourite haunt for fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, whose legacy lives on in the vibrant Jardin Majorelle and an elegant museum dedicated to his work.

The opening of the Museum Of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden in 2018 solidified the city’s status as Africa’s home of modern art, and and it has been crowned the continent’s first Capital Of Culture for 2020.

The Azores, Portugal

Best for: Whales and volcanoes

Whichever ocean they emerge from and whatever climate they enjoy, there’s something alluringly exotic about islands. Cut off from our seven continents, they support a plethora of unique and often fragile species. Visiting them often feels like discovering a place lost in time. Next year, Portugal’s far flung Atlantic island chain will become that bit easier to reach with the introduction of more direct flight routes from the UK.


Best for: Wine and value

In an age of rising prices, it’s rare to find a destination where the cost of living is still cheap. But Georgia, formerly part of the USSR, is one of the few places where you can parade like a prince with the earnings of a pleb.

A glass of decent wine in capital Tblisi, for example, costs only a couple of pounds. In a post-Soviet era, European wine-making techniques are experiencing a renaissance – although the country’s traditional amber wine – made for 8,000 years – also deserves attention. And the word is already out: G Adventures reports a 44 per cent increase in travellers to the destination in the past three years.