Wondering where to go this year? These 7 upcoming countries to visit in 2019 include new cultural destinations, idyllic remote islands, and nations that are back after human conflict.
Already notable to intrepid travellers for its mix of religions and cultures, its timeless temples, its rich wildlife, it’s endless beaches, its growing surf scene and its people who defy all odds by their kindness after decades of civil conflict, Sri Lanka is a country revived. There’s now more than ever for adrenaline junkies, eco-tourists, wellness seekers and foodies of all budgets. Even the north and east, including areas previously off limits, difficult to reach or lacking in services, deliver new discoveries.
Long regarded by travellers as little more than a curiosity, Belarus has become cool on the back of relaxed visa requirements, a sneaky-good art and cafe scene, and locals who party like it’s 1999. Minsk is the hub with its impeccably restored old town, centred around the graceful ratusha (town hall), evening revellers erupt out of bierstubes and fashionable cocktail bars to join raucous summer street parties. While political dissent remains muted, Belarus seems to be having fun again.
São Tomé & Príncipe
One of Africa’s least visited countries, São Tomé and Príncipe comprises two tropical islands floating in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Gabon. Towering magma columns climb dramatically to the heavens, tropical waters kiss its empty beaches and the rainforest consume everything from colonial sugar, cocoa, and coffee plantations to sobering relics of the island’s past role in the slave trade. And whether trekking through the forests, climbing the mountains or snorkelling in the waters offshore, one will discover many untold treasures here.
Set in the Caucasus Mountains, Armenia is a hidden gem that’s still untouched by mass tourism, and yet has so much to offer: rich history, old wineries, magnificent landscapes, ancient monasteries and breathtaking mountains. The capital, Yerevan, is a lively city with wide avenues, delicious restaurants, museums and street markets selling local handicrafts. Outside of the capital is picturesque nature. You can pay a visit to the oldest winery in the world in Areni, stop by stunning monasteries, or check out Etchmiadzin cathedral, the oldest in the world. This past spring Armenians voted in a new, more liberal government. The resulting energy has made the country all the more inviting to travelers.
One of the most beautiful countries on the Arabian Peninsula, Oman offers a chance to engage with the Arab world without the distorting lens of excessive wealth. Oman’s low-rise towns retain their traditional charms and Bedouin values remain at the heart of an Omani welcome. With an abundance of natural beauty, from spectacular mountains, wind-blown deserts and a pristine coastline, Oman is the obvious choice for those seeking out the modern face of Arabia while wanting still to sense its ancient soul.
Are you looking for an eco-friendly destination? Belize could be the perfect place. With plenty of beautiful islands to explore and even more activities to enjoy, this tiny Central American country hosts the world’s second largest barrier reef. New eco-resorts are popping up over the territory as well, whose main attractions include a massive cave system. Diving and snorkelling, Maya ruins, uncrowded beaches, surreal landscapes, rich wildlife, and more. Belize is home to the world’s only Jaguar reserve as well as home to the Great Blue Hole, an underwater sinkhole that is more than 125 metres deep and 300 metres across.
In the map below the top 7 upcoming countries to visit in 2019.