The 16 best places to travel: The most exciting destinations for 2024 - The Points Guy (2024)

This past year has been a time of regeneration, renewal and reckoning for travelers and the travel industry alike.

Travel has certainly resurged since pandemic-related restrictions were lifted ... but it is different from before.

Travelers faced new frustrations, whether it was higher prices, longer wait times or more crowds. Destinations eager to welcome back waves of visitors were confronted with obstacles like unprepared infrastructure, the impact of inflation on local populations and unforeseen environmental calamities. Hotels and airlines continued to struggle with staffing shortages, operational challenges and supply chain issues.

And yet, despite those hurdles, the desire to travel has never shone brighter. Intrepid adventurers journeyed to new (to them) corners of the globe in search of unique experiences. Folks who had perhaps put off a trip or two found reasons to take them. And all of us discovered the joy of reconnecting with loved ones near and far.

As we look ahead to next year, we are excited to share our list of the best places to go in 2024, drawing from our own editorial team's expertise and also that of our outstanding group of contributors from around the world.

We thought long and hard about things like new airline routes, fabulous hotel openings and events set to take the world stage by storm. But at The Points Guy, we also think why we travel is as important as where we travel.

Maybe you want to use your hard-earned points for an over-the-top flight in Singapore Airlines' Suites or just to get the family together at Grandma's house for an overdue visit. Perhaps you want a carefree all-inclusive beach vacation, or to get firsthand insights into a destination at the forefront of sustainability.

From the thrill of Olympic competition in France to the otherworldly landscapes of Bolivia, the wildlife-rich Bissagos Islands of Guinea-Bissau and the exciting design developments taking place in both San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico — whatever your travel goals or preferences, we've got an incredible roster of places just waiting to be explored next year.

Get ready for a few surprises, a dash of inspiration and a healthy helping of wanderlust as we share our most exciting places to travel to in 2024.

The 16 best places to travel: The most exciting destinations for 2024 - The Points Guy (1)

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Eric Rosen

France

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Best for experiencing once-in-a-lifetime events on the world stage

Whether it's high fashion or haute cuisine, France is known for creating creme-de-la-creme experiences. But the sheer number of special events and exciting new developments expected to take place there in 2024 will have even the French exclaiming, "Sacré bleu!"

The marquee happening, of course, will be the 2024 Summer Olympics from July 26-Aug. 11. The opening ceremony will take place along the Seine in the heart of Paris, but showstopping venues will include the magnificent grounds of Versailles for the equestrian events, various stadiums throughout the country, and even French Polynesia for the surfing competition. The stage is set for a truly spectacular set of games.

The Olympics have even displaced the Tour de France from its normal final stage along the Champs-Elysees in Paris. The alternate is, thankfully, a sun-splashed finish line along the Cote d'Azur in Nice. That's within easy driving distance of the relatively new Carlton Cannes, a luxurious reimagining of one of France's most iconic hotels courtesy of IHG. Hilton is also planning a vast French expansion with various branded properties in cities including Cannes, Dijon, Bordeaux and Marseille.

On a more somber note, June 6 will mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, and the region is planning over 100 special events to commemorate this historic event, including a June 1 sound-and-light show using 2,500 drones over the five landing beaches. From March 22-Sept. 22, the region will also host the Normandy Impressionist Festival, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first Impressionist exhibition. Events will include a major show of James Abbott McNeill Whistler at Rouen's Fine Arts Museum, while the Musee d'Orsay in Paris will host the "Paris 1874: The Impressionist Moment" showcase of 130 masterpieces of painting, sculpture, photographs and more.

In the east, Strasbourg will be UNESCO's 2024 World Book Capital, with events organized around various themes like poetry, refuge, debate and more. The Alsatian capital is also home to one of Europe's most charming Christmas markets in the month leading up to the holiday, which is well worth a visit.

Wine lovers should head to Bordeaux for its famous Fete le Vin from June 27-30 to enjoy the region's famous vintages and gourmet delicacies, along with live music and other performances. They can even put their Accor points to use with a stay at a new Philippe Starck-designed, 97-room Mondrian constructed around a historic 19th-century building right in the city center, complete with an expansive open-air terrace. Now that's something worth toasting to.

TPG tip: Hotel reservations around the Olympics can be notoriously hard to confirm and Paris is cracking down on short-term rentals, so if you plan to attend the Games, prepare to pay high prices for an official package ... or take your chances trying to book something at the last minute.

Eric Rosen

San Diego, California & Tijuana, Mexico

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Best for art and design lovers who appreciate cross-cultural collaborations

In a first, two neighboring cities in two different countries have been designated the World Design Capital for 2024: San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico. The World Design Organization accolade recognizes cities that effectively utilize design to enhance their residents' economic, social, cultural and environmental quality of life. San Diego and Tijuana will celebrate the designation through unique experiences, from events and festivals to exhibitions and summits.

Community events scheduled throughout 2024 include Tijuana's World Design Street Festival (April 28), where travelers can attend concerts, public design workshops, exhibitions and design studio open houses. The Mingei International Museum in San Diego and the Centro Cultural Tijuana will simultaneously host an exhibition called "Frontera," focused on jewelry design. In September, both cities will host an interactive World Design Experience.

Aside from its WDO duties, San Diego has a lot going on. One of the West Coast's largest adaptive reuse projects, the 10-acre, sustainably designed Horton Campus, set for completion at the end of 2023, has transformed a former downtown shopping mall into a chic development with white-and-glass structures, parks, shops and lab space, each with either a green roof or solar panels.

San Diego's white-hot culinary scene continues to heat up, with Valle winning Oceanside's first Michelin star earlier this year. Restaurant openings to look forward to in 2024 include all-day cafe Wildflour from award-winning chef Phillip Esteban, the farm-and-vine-to-table Cellar Hand, and chef Brian Malarkey's highly anticipated French-inspired steakhouse, Le Coq, in the tony coastal enclave of La Jolla.

San Diego's hotel roster is also growing. The new owners of the historic Lafayette Hotel in North Park, which had fallen into disrepair, unveiled a stylish $31 million renovation this summer, and the bucolic Inn at Rancho Santa Fe will celebrate its 100th anniversary following the completion of multimillion-dollar renovations in 2024. The iconic Hotel del Coronado is in the throes of a wholesale revamp. The Beach Village at The Del will unveil a full makeover at the end of 2023, while its Victorian section will be renovated in 2025. A new 39-room boutique hotel in Coronado called The Bower is also slated to debut in fall 2024.

Tijuana got its own new hotel in 2023: Hotel Brecha, a boutique hotel with art-filled walls and nine sleek rooms. Recent bar and restaurant openings across the city's diverse culinary scene include the speakeasy-style Border Saloon and seafood spots Don Vergas Mariscos Tijuana and Don Timon.

TPG tip: Tijuana, which has been sorely lacking in green space, will have a new eco-park by the end of 2024, Parque Esperanto. The 320-acre plot will involve the reforestation of 15,000 trees and feature amenities like an open-air gym, sports fields, zip lines, children's play areas and a bicycle path.

Devorah Lev-Tov

Assam, India

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Best for lovers of tea and tigers keen to explore one of India's hidden corners

Home to a fascinating blend of Indigenous tribes, awe-inspiring landscapes, traditional mountain villages and UNESCO-inscribed national parks, the eastern Indian region of Assam has cultural and natural wonders just waiting for travelers to explore — without the crowds you might find in better-known South Asian destinations.

The region's main artery, the mighty 1,800-mile-long Brahmaputra River, runs from the Himalayan highlands of Tibet to Assam's wildlife-rich floodplains, bordered by lush, terraced tea plantations, ornate temples and riverside villages.

Even with just a week or 10 days for your journey, you can learn about tea cultivation in Jorhat (Assam produces over 50% of India's famed tea), marvel at imposing Ahom temples in bustling Sivasagar — the sacred former capital of Assam's Ahom kings — and learn about the socially inclusive religion of neo-Vaishnavism on Majuli, one of the world's largest river islands and a haven for birdlife.

Straddling the border with Bhutan, UNESCO-listed Manas National Park is a biodiversity hot spot known for its sightings of buffaloes and rhinoceroses that graze in forests that surround the Manas River. The highlight of any visit, though, is a Jeep safari to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Kaziranga, which provides sanctuary to endangered one-horned rhinoceroses, Asian elephants, Bengal tigers, panthers, bears, gaurs (Indian bison) and myriad other species.

Next year, several new cruise itineraries will make the region more accessible to travelers keen to get off the beaten path without sacrificing creature comforts. Banyan Tours will operate four-, seven- and 10-night Assam cruises from Kolkata aboard the luxurious ABN Charaidew II and the more intimate 12-cabin ABN Sukhapa. Both ships feature spacious, beautifully appointed cabins, large sun decks, small spas, a library, gourmet cuisine and onboard naturalists. Guests can spend time in between excursions scouring the waters for species such as the endangered Ganges river dolphin and the smooth-coated otter.

TPG tip: For travelers looking for rare tiger and mammal encounters across several Indian regions, in January, andBeyond will offer a 16-day limited-edition Project Tiger Expedition that will celebrate the 50th anniversary of India's renowned tiger conservation initiative. The itinerary begins in Delhi before visiting three of India's most iconic national parks: Kanha, Kaziranga and Ranthambhore.

Caroline Lascom

Albania

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Best for an affordable Mediterranean beach getaway

Turquoise Mediterranean waters lapping beautiful beaches? Check. Picturesque hilltop villages? Check. Forest-covered mountains and mouthwatering food and wine? Check and check. Albania has all the attributes of more popular Southeastern Europe destinations like the Greek islands but without the crowds and the high price tag.

Begin your adventure in Tirana, the capital city, where Brutalist architecture blends with charming, tree-filled neighborhoods. Take a cable car ride up Mount Dajti for panoramic views of the city and stay at the sophisticated Tirana Marriott, though IHG loyalists might want to hold out for the opening of the InterContinental in 2025.

Just an hour southwest from Tirana International Airport (TIA), check in to the newly opened Melia Durres Albania, a luxurious beachfront retreat in a dreamy beach town offering stunning Adriatic Sea views and an opportunity to unwind.

Heading south along the coast, enjoy picturesque beaches while exploring charming towns like Dhermi and Jale, and savor the local cuisine, renowned for its fresh seafood and Mediterranean spices.

Then, immerse yourself in the country's vibrant summer music scene. The weeklong Kala Festival in early June features house, disco, soul and funk music across five intimate stages along the pristine shores of the Ionian Sea.

Back in the hinterlands, you can delight in mouthwatering delicacies at the AgriTourism Huqi farm located a short drive from the capital, like slow-cooked lamb (mish ne pus), and sample a variety of flavorful cow and goat cheeses. Don't forget to try local wines like the tangy white ceruja and full-bodied red kallmet at the family-run Nurellari Winery, less than a half-hour from the 13th-century fort city of Berat.

For an even deeper glimpse of the country's rich heritage and archaeological sites, wander its many ancient settlements, like Butrint, which played host to the Greek, Roman and Byzantine civilizations. Even with all that history, Albania feels exciting and new once again, and you won't have it to yourself for much longer.

TPG tip: Fly into a major European gateway like Frankfurt or Paris and then connect to Tirana via air. From there, book a one-way car rental to the port city of Sarande so that when your time in Albania is over, you can catch a 30-minute ferry to Corfu, Greece, where you have even more history and beaches to explore, and many low-cost flight options to major European airports.

Matt Moffitt

Costa Rica

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Best for epic wildlife and sustainable travel

One of the most biodiverse places on Earth, framed by rugged Pacific and Caribbean coastlines and home to magical cloud forests, picture-perfect volcanoes and extraordinary marine reserves, Costa Rica has long captivated wild-at-heart travelers.

An eco-tourism pioneer in the 1990s, and dubbed the "Switzerland of South America" due to its mountainous green landscapes and political stability in a sometimes volatile region, Costa Rica continues to raise the bar with its commitment to environmental protections; over 25% of its land is national parks and reserves.

For travelers looking to combine sustainable outdoor adventures with sumptuous accommodations, 2024 is when it all comes together. A flurry of exciting new hotels are set to debut, including Nekajui, just the sixth of Marriott's ultraexclusive Ritz-Carlton Reserves. Designed with a light environmental footprint on a pristine swath of the Papagayo Peninsula, the 107-key resort takes inspiration from a traditional stone Costa Rican hacienda surrounded by treehouse-style buildings tucked discreetly into steep hillsides.

Nearby, the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Residences Guanacaste will be the brand's first Costa Rican outpost, embodying the "pura vida" lifestyle with a holistic wellness center and cenote-inspired spa. Elsewhere, the Four Seasons Resort Peninsula Papagayo comes back online following a multimillion-dollar renovation with a new beach club and expanded wellness offerings.

For travelers looking for a low-key retreat with easy airport access, as well as proximity to San Jose's cultural attractions, the new Hyatt Centric in Escazu — another brand first for Costa Rica — will offer World of Hyatt loyalists an ideal bookend to a Costa Rica road trip.

The wildlife-rich Osa Peninsula is more accessible (and especially alluring to points enthusiasts) these days thanks to the recent opening of Botanika, part of Hilton's Curio Collection. The eco-chic property places travelers within striking distance of Corcovado National Park, one of the best places on the planet to view sloths, toucans, giant anteaters, howler monkeys and ocelots.

Visit the region from August through December to witness one of the world's greatest natural attractions: humpback whales migrating to Golfo Dulce, one of just four tropical fjords on the planet. The habitat, critical for the survival of the whale species, was awarded Whale Heritage Site status in 2023, one of only eight such sites worldwide.

TPG tip: U.S. airlines are adding new flights to Costa Rica, including Delta Air Lines, which will boost its service from Atlanta with three additional flights per week to both San Jose and Liberia (for Papagayo) from Jan. 13. Flights on the Liberia route are currently available this winter starting at 26,000 Delta SkyMiles or $421 round-trip.

Caroline Lascom

South Korea

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Best for glimpsing the future while exploring the past

The "Korean Wave" — a tide of global popularity the country's cultural economy has created thanks to K-pop music, K-dramas on television and movies — has swept the world in recent years. In fact, youth tour company Contiki has announced the first K-Wave trip to South Korea to showcase local pop culture.

However, South Korea's entertainment culture is just one of a long list of reasons this Asian sensation should be on your 2024 travel list.

Four distinct seasons provide stunning backdrops year-round, so there's no wrong time to visit. Spring brings the magic of Jinhae's cotton candy-pink cherry blossoms while crimson and cadmium foliage frames the historic temples of Naejangsa and Taeansa during fall.

The past and the future intersect in the capital, Seoul, where heritage sites like the 14th-century Jongmyo Shrine coexist with futuristic architecture, including the Zaha Hadid-designed Dongdaemun Design Plaza and the striking Seoul City Hall, with its seven-story vertical garden and prismatic glass facade.

Set to open in late 2024, the Seoul Robot and Artificial Intelligence Museum will showcase science and technology through interactive exhibits featuring AI and virtual reality. Robots aided in the museum's construction and will participate in its day-to-day operations, including welcoming guests and leading tours.

New spaces and exhibitions await visitors at the Busan Museum of Art, which showcases modern Korean artwork. Renovations begin in 2024 and will add high-tech features like evolving 3D projections.

A luxury clifftop island retreat overlooking the East China Sea, the stunning JW Marriott Jeju Resort & Spa, designed by Bill Bensley, debuted in 2023. And though it will be a while, in 2025, the luxury chain Capella Hotels and Resorts is set to open its first Korean property, Capella Yang Yang, near Songjeong Beach in Yangyang, Gangwon Province, where travelers can explore the region's famous pine forests and enjoy its ultrafresh seafood.

TPG tip: Travelers eager to explore South Korea's assorted allures can take advantage of increased airlift from the U.S. United Airlines has upped its frequencies between Incheon International Airport (ICN) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to 12 flights weekly. By the end of 2023, Air Premia will add flights between Seoul and Honolulu, too.

Kristy Tolley

Eclipse path, United States

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Best for travelers who want to see a rare total solar eclipse in their own backyard

On April 8, some 31.5 million Americans will be able to witness a total solar eclipse from their doorstep when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, completely blocking the sun's face. The heavenly event will cut its way across North America, passing through Texas, the Midwest and some Eastern states. It's a sight you won't want to miss — the next total solar eclipse won't be visible from the contiguous United States for another 20 years.

Parts of San Antonio will experience about two minutes of midday darkness, making it the largest U.S. city along the path of totality. The 15-mile-long San Antonio River Walk is just south of the path, so visitors there will only see a 99% partial eclipse. Nevertheless, many hotels and restaurants are hosting viewing events, including a Solar Brunch at The Moon's Daughters, where guests and locals can see the eclipse unfold from the indoor-outdoor perch on the 20th floor.

An hour northwest of San Antonio, the town of Kerrville, Texas, one of NASA's Primary Eclipse Partners, will have over four minutes of darkness. The Texas Hill Country community's Schreiner University will host a weekendlong festival with celestial yoga, trail walks and observatory tours.

With renowned institutions known for cutting-edge research in space science and technology — and expecting four minutes of totality — Dallas will be one of the best eclipse destinations. At the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, 20 astronomers will answer questions. The city's many hotels, meanwhile, plan to offer stylish viewing, like Virgin Hotels Dallas, which will host a lively rooftop pool party.

This will be Indianapolis' first total solar eclipse in more than 800 years, and the town is going all-out with a citywide party to celebrate its 3 1/2 minutes of totality, including events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (NASA will broadcast live from the venue) and the Indianapolis Zoo.

In Cleveland, another NASA partner city, a natural phenomenon known as a lake effect (where cool air blows away clouds from the shoreline of Lake Erie) will allow visitors to view the eclipse for nearly four minutes. Downtown, The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland is offering a solar eclipse package with club-level accommodations for two and celestial-themed co*cktails. The Great Lakes Science Center and NASA's Glenn Research Center are hosting Total Eclipse Fest from April 6-8, with science activities for kids and a classical music concert.

Buffalo will experience just under four minutes of totality, with the best vantage points found inside Niagara Falls State Park, while the Sheraton Niagara Falls is offering a two-night package, including eclipse viewing glasses and breakfast.

In Vermont, Stowe Mountain Resort will whisk skiers and snowboarders via gondola to the top of Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak, for high-altitude views during the nearly three minutes of totality the town is set to experience.

TPG tip: Holland America has put together a 22-day Solar Eclipse cruise, where guests will depart from San Diego and experience the eclipse off the coast of Mexico.

— Casey Hatfield-Chiotti

Bissagos Islands, Guinea-Bissau

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Best for intrepid naturalists seeking an under-the-radar destination

Sandwiched between Guinea and Senegal, Guinea-Bissau is one of West Africa's lesser-visited destinations, but that's what has helped keep the 88-island Bissagos archipelago 31 miles off its coast so untouched.

This astonishingly wildlife-rich island chain — often dubbed the Galapagos of Africa — is an idyll of empty white-sand beaches, thick mangroves, teeming lagoons and dense palm and cashew forests. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, the Bijagos (as they're also known) are home to thriving populations of saltwater hippopotamuses, manatees, dolphins, green sea turtles, flamingos, rays, sharks and around 175 fish and 500-plus bird species.

And you won't be vying for sightings with other safari vehicles or Zodiac boats. These paradisiacal islets are home to just 33,000 or so residents who hew to their traditional matriarchal society, and there are no formal resorts or ecolodges.

The archipelago has also been quite difficult to reach. However, a handful of luxury and small-ship cruises have begun to call at the islands. Ponant Cruises has just opened sales for its first dedicated nine-day "Adventure in the Bissagos Islands" itinerary (April 7-15, 2025) on Le Lyrial, which starts and ends in Dakar, Senegal. During the journey, guests can expect to spy towering baobabs and flocks of migratory birds, playful vervet monkeys and vividly colored lizards, and take part in ancient ceremonies alongside the Bijago people.

On board MS Spitsbergen, Hurtigruten now offers a 14-day "West Africa Archipelago" cruise (paired with Cape Verde), which includes four days of deploying small rigid inflatable boats and sea kayaks to navigate the islands and channels for awe-inspiring wildlife sightings. The line also arranges encounters with the islanders, who have acted as custodians of this wonderfully biodiverse and pristine part of Africa, and who dedicate some 100 days per year to sacred rites and ceremonies such as fanado and difuntu.

Swan Hellenic's Ghana-to-Senegal "Crucibles of West Africa" trip, on the new 152-guest SH Vega, has two days scheduled in this off-the-grid sanctuary, where shore excursions include explorations of Orango National Park's mangrove thickets and savannah as well as trekking through traditional villages on Canhabaque.

As with many of the world's island paradises, the clock is likely ticking down on the Bissagos remaining immaculate and undeveloped, so if you hope to see them as they are, 2024 is the year to go.

TPG tip: Non-cruisers can visit the islands by first flying into the capital, Bissau, from Lisbon with TAP Air Portugal. Alternatively, Delta Air Lines has daily direct flights from New York to Dakar, from which there are daily connections on Air Senegal to Bissau. From Bissau, hire a speedboat for the hourlong journey to Bubaque, where the affordable Saldomar guesthouse and Hotel Kasa Afrikana make great home bases for daytrips to islands like Rubane, Orango and Canhabaque.

Kathryn Romeyn

Quebec, Canada

The 16 best places to travel: The most exciting destinations for 2024 - The Points Guy (10)

Best for pristine landscapes and rich Indigenous cultures

Quebec has long attracted travelers with its cosmopolitan towns, distinctly French flair and untouched wilderness. Thanks to a bold commitment to supporting Indigenous tourism, in 2024, the Canadian province will also provide new and meaningful ways to experience its natural beauty, its people and its culture.

Travelers can take in the aurora borealis while learning about Inuit traditions in Quebec's Arctic region of Nunavik, scan for beluga and blue whales with an Innu guide in Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park, or forage for mushrooms and berries in the Laurentian mountain range. Across Quebec, there are now abundant opportunities to delve deeper into the ancestral traditions of the area's First Nations, Innuit and Metis people.

The recent addition of Anticosti Island to Canada's cache of UNESCO-protected heritage sites will draw wilderness seekers to its otherworldly canyons, primordial forests and cascading waterfalls. The island's 1,440 known fossil species offer the most "complete and best preserved paleontological record of the first mass extinction of animal life, 447-437 million years ago," according to UNESCO, providing a unique window into our planet's past.

For urbanites, Quebec City's lamplit, cobblestone streets have never been a hard sell for a weekend getaway, but now there are even more reasons to linger. Join one of Cicerone's locally led walking tours, shop for regional artworks along Rue du Tresor, see Inuit art at the Musee National des Beaux-Arts du Quebec (a new exhibit starts in February) and then dine on inventive boreal cuisine at Indigenous-owned restaurant Sagamite, whose owners have added two boutique hotels to their portfolio and will open a new microbrewery in 2024.

Head just outside the city's 400-year-old walls to Canada's only recognized Huron-Wendat community. Here, the superb First Nations-owned Hotel-Musee Premieres Nations was recently revamped with luxe suites and rooms appointed with Indigenous artworks and textiles with First Nations motifs. The hotel's restaurant, La Traite, helmed by much-lauded chef Marc de Passorio, provides a magical initiation into ancestral flavors with standout dishes like local tomatoes with sage and Quebec buffalo mozzarella and hearty bison medallions with beet puree and thyme juice.

TPG tip: Bookend your trip with a stay in Montreal, where the hotel scene is buzzing. There's the new art deco-inspired Honeyrose Hotel, Montreal, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, where Marriott points will come in handy, and the iconic Vogue Hotel Montreal Downtown, an elegant retreat on Montreal's Golden Square Mile which has been revamped and is now part of Hilton's Curio Collection.

Caroline Lascom

Queensland, Australia

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Best for travelers Down Under looking for the right mix of urban and wildlife adventures

Best known for one of Earth's natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef, there's a lot more to this northeastern Australian state (though a visit to the reef is still top of the list while you still can — climate change and other factors are having increasingly adverse effects on much of the aquatic ecosystem).

In the capital, Brisbane, once-gritty environs like Howard Smith Wharves have been revitalized with trendy bars and restaurants. However, one of the biggest redevelopments is still on the horizon. The $2.6 billion Queen's Wharf precinct is nearing completion on 30 acres of prime riverfront land with not one but three hotels planned, plus over 50 dining and drinking venues, a huge footprint for retail and tons of outdoor spaces like a 100-meter-high sky deck with 360-degree views. In October, the city will also host the first annual Melt Open festival celebrating queer art and culture.

Down south in the blingy surfer haven of Gold Coast, travelers will be able to check in to a sleek new twin-towered Mondrian hotel and residences, while north along the Sunshine Coast, the tourism industry is taking the lead in regenerating bush once used for cattle grazing with native subtropical rainforest, which visitors can enjoy by staying at the avant-garde new Kurui Cabin at the base of the Cooroy Mountains.

In an effort to cultivate Indigenous-owned and -operated tourism businesses, the state has already invested 7 million Australian dollars in the Growing Indigenous Tourism in Queensland Fund. What's more, UNESCO World Heritage-listed Fraser Island — the world's largest sand island and a habitat for diverse wildlife where you can also swim with migrating humpback whales — has officially reverted to its traditional Butchulla name, K'gari.

Speaking of islands, luxury travelers can have an entire one to themselves along the Great Barrier Reef thanks to the November opening of Pelorus Private Island in the Great Palm archipelago off the Townsville coast. The nearly 1,000-acre paradise has just a single four-suite residence designed in a traditional, breezy Queenslander style, where guests can customize their entire experience from days out yachting between islands or exploring the island's teeming fringe reefs to enjoying leisurely meals prepared by a private chef.

TPG tip: It's getting even easier to travel from the U.S. directly to Queensland since United increased its frequencies between San Francisco and Brisbane from three times per week to daily in October and will launch three weekly nonstops between Los Angeles and Brisbane in December.

Eric Rosen

Train travel

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Best for high-velocity thrills or romantics looking to slow things down

Trains revolutionized travel in the 19th century, but 2024 might just be a rail renaissance thanks to new, thrilling high-speed routes, plush overnight sleepers and lavish itineraries on par with the world's best hotels.

Global developments in high-speed rail are coming to a pitch, with various highly anticipated routes finally entering operation. In Florida, the long-awaited Brightline has opened up an efficient new corridor between two major U.S. cities that are favorites with tourists. The service, which tops out at 125 miles per hour, connects Orlando International Airport (MCO) and Miami in just three hours (with 15 daily departures) and also courses between Miami and West Palm Beach via Aventura and Fort Lauderdale.

In Europe from late 2024, the ultraquiet Frecciarossa train will zip from Paris to Barcelona in just seven hours, shaving two hours from current travel times. In time for the Summer Olympics, Spanish rail company Renfe also plans to extend its daily Madrid-Marseille service through to Paris.

If you're craving tropical surroundings, Belmond's returns to Southeast Asia in February after a pandemic hiatus. The restyled trains feature eight sleeper cars, two restaurant cars, a piano bar and an open-air observation car. The three-night "Essence of Malaysia" itinerary will operate from November to February from Singapore to Penang, with stops in Kuala Lumpur and the island of Langkawi (via private boat). Operating from March to May and August to October, the "Wild Malaysia" experience steams from Singapore along the eastern side of the Malay Peninsula, with stops to spot wildlife at Taman Negara National Park and Penang before returning to Singapore.

Later in 2024, Orient Express will debut its opulent La Dolce Vita trains with lavish art deco cabins, haute cuisine and world-class bartending. The eight itineraries span one to two nights and include a Sicilian service starting and ending in Palermo via Agrigento and Taormina with a whiz-by of Mount Etna. Other standout itineraries include from Rome to Sicily (via a ferry) and a romantic circular route from Rome to Venice with a stop at Siena.

Finally, Europe continues its relative boom in new sleeper train services. Leading the way is Nightjet, which already connects major cities like Paris, Amsterdam and Zurich. In 2024, the Austrian train operator will expand its Belgian routes from Brussels to Dresden and Prague. Additionally, Deutsche Bahn and SNCF will introduce a high-speed seven-hour service between Paris and Berlin, including stops in Strasbourg on the night route.

TPG tip: Use a Eurail pass (from $208) to explore multiple European countries using rail operators like Deutsche Bahn, SNCF and Trenitalia. Note that high-speed or sleeper options like Nightjet and Eurostar have extra reservation fees (typically $10-$20), but it's still much cheaper than buying individual tickets.

Jordan Waller

Mozambique

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Best for beach and nature lovers who want to avoid crowds

Many travelers make the trek to South Africa for its spectacular wildlife and vibrant cities, but few hop across the border to Mozambique. Though the country has experienced ongoing conflicts in the far north, the central and southern parts remain relatively insulated from internal struggles.

Getting there is easier than you might think, too — Airlink offers direct flights to Vilankulos along the coast from Johannesburg, and more recently, the airline launched a nonstop flight between Cape Town and the capital, Maputo. While some travelers tend to skip the city, if you do make use of that route, consider a layover for a night or two. Maputo is a hub of activity with oceanside restaurants serving ultrafresh seafood with icy 2M beers and bakeries proffering crispy, creamy pasteis de nata, a holdover from Portuguese rule. The city's music scene is also buzzing, with bars and clubs playing everything from reggaeton to marrabenta (a hybrid of Mozambican dance with Portuguese folk music).

The main reason people come to the country is for the untouched Indian Ocean beaches along its 1,700-mile coast, which are lapped by aquamarine waters that rival the Caribbean. Over the past few years, a cluster of hotels have opened along the coast, including Kisawa, a design-focused property with 11 villas on a 740-acre sanctuary on Benguerra Island in the ecodiverse Bazaruto Archipelago.

Around two hours from Vilankulos on the mainland and set on a peninsula along a sheltered saltwater lagoon, Sussurro is an intimate pared-back lodge whose sandy-hued rooms are filled with artisan-made baskets and wooden furniture. Next year, Banyan Tree is expected to open Banyan Tree Ilha Caldeira, which promises to be an uberluxury spot, on a private island north of Beira.

For safarigoers, Gorongosa, a national park that has been undergoing a two-decade-long rehabilitation, has become a beacon of regeneration and economic activity in an area where tourism was entirely decimated by civil war. This year, Muzimu Lodge, a tent camp, opened on the banks of the Mussicadzi River. Wildlife is not as abundant as in nearby Kruger National Park (though you can expect to see huge packs of wild dogs and teeming herds of antelope), but the biodiversity is some of the richest in the world, with nearly 500 species of birds. Indelible landscapes like chalky limestone gorges dotted with vegetation and inky caves, woodland savannah and giant "Jurassic Park"-like forests with sausage trees and native Borassus palms will leave you awestruck.

TPG tip: Ensure you allow ample time for your visa application. The process has moved online, which makes it infinitely swifter than previously, but the application time can still take up to a month and costs $160 or more depending on the type you apply for.

Mary Holland

Note from TPG editors: Due to an ongoing terrorist insurgency in the far north of Mozambique, the U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 2 warning advising travelers to exercise increased caution when traveling in the Cabo Delgado province. The country also recently experienced some unrest following local elections, so be sure to investigate the current situation before booking a trip.

Bolivia

The 16 best places to travel: The most exciting destinations for 2024 - The Points Guy (14)

Best for food lovers and thrillseekers looking for something out of this world

Arriving in Bolivia can feel like you've landed on the moon. Have you seen the magnificent Salar de Uyuni? It's a vast salt pan with 3,900 square miles of desertlike cracked earth punctuated by cactus-covered rock piles. Though this parched corner of the earth draws visitors from around the globe, high-end accommodations have been lacking, but that's been changing quickly. In 2022, the Chilean hospitality brand Explora unveiled an intimate six-room mountain lodge set in a slick, glass-fronted building with snug, wood-lined rooms overlooking the flats.

Guests can partake in excursions, but the property also forms part of a greater six-night odyssey: a nomadic expedition where guests journey from Chile's Atacama Desert to Salar de Uyuni, stopping off at Explora's other "Mountain Lodges" along the way. Loads of thrilling activities are on offer, such as biking explorations across the Salar, through quinoa fields and beyond, as well as hikes across the largest islands and up into a village to see ancient Andean burial sites.

Whether you decide to begin your journey in the Atacama or Uyuni, don't miss Bolivia's capital La Paz, which sits in a bowl at a (literally) dizzyingly high elevation of 11,975 feet. The city's restaurant scene is arguably one of the most exciting in South America. Make a reservation at Gustu and enjoy a multicourse extravaganza of local delights including alligator and creamy aged corn. Hailed as one of Latin America's best restaurants, it was founded by Noma's Claus Meyer and is now helmed by chef Marsia Taha Mohamed. Also snag a table at Ancestral, where chef Mauricio Lopez (former head chef of Gustu) roasts vegetables and osso buco over an open flame, served alongside Bolivian wines.

The same team that opened the design-driven Atix Hotel (long a favorite among international visitors) unveiled the new Met Hotel last year in a soaring charcoal building with traditional Bolivian arts and crafts highlighted throughout its interior spaces. If you're traveling after July 2024, be sure to check out Altu Qala, a hotel set in a restored neoclassical building with wood-paneled walls and handmade cabinets in upcycled wood. The owner is also behind The Writer's Coffee, a cafe serving artisanal brews in the city, perfect for combating altitude fatigue.

Finally, for the best views of La Paz, take a trip on Mi Teleferico, the cable car transit system that's been expanding its network with various routes and now has 30 stations and 10 lines. Climb into the plastic bubbles, filled with locals whizzing across the city, and head up to El Alto, which sits at a staggering 13,325 feet.

TPG tip: If you really want to soak up the food and wine scene in La Paz, add in an extra few days to acclimatize. It's the highest capital in the world (11,975 feet) and altitude sickness is a high probability, so whizzing in and out is not recommended.

Mary Holland

Bali, Indonesia

The 16 best places to travel: The most exciting destinations for 2024 - The Points Guy (15)

Best for sustainability searchers who also crave cultural connection

Bali is an island of contradictions. It's home to a majority Hindu population but part of predominantly Muslim Indonesia. Visitors in the millions come both to sunbathe and party on its beaches while also seeking spiritual awakenings through wellness retreats. After decades of overtourism, Bali is also pioneering responsible, lower-impact ways for visitors to enjoy its natural wonders and renowned hospitality.

In 2024, the government will levy a $10-per-person fee on international tourists that will directly fund cultural and environmental protection, such as waste management. It's an incremental but important step toward becoming a more sustainable destination.

Luxury resorts are also leaning into the trend. Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay recently debuted Telu, a bar constructed entirely of upcycled materials that serves co*cktails made with sustainable ingredients. In early 2024, Ayana Estate will open Museum Saka, a breathtaking 50,000-square-foot gallery showcasing the work of Balinese artists, historians and scholars, all of which is meant to bestow guests with a deeper understanding of the community's vibrant heritage.

At Buahan, a Banyan Tree Escape, about an hour from Ubud, chef Eka Sunarya began experimenting with hypercreative and ultralocally sourced menus. He has since decamped to nearby Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, where he continues to highlight seasonal Balinese cuisine with a no-waste philosophy.

Seminyak's Desa Potato Head — with its beach club and pair of striking, sustainably designed hotels that all together send just 3% of their waste to landfill — continues to be a regenerative tourism pioneer. In 2024, the resort is opening an ambitious Collective Waste Centre that will radically reduce landfill waste from eight nearby resorts, beach clubs and restaurants through high-efficiency sorting, processing and reuse practices.

A slew of exciting all-new hotels beckons design lovers and wellness seekers to Bali, too. Part of Hilton's LXR Resorts & Hotels, Umana Bali is expected to open in November 2023, a brand first in Southeast Asia. Guests will enjoy not only epic vistas from its 72 clifftop pool villas but also next-level cultural programming emphasizing legacy crafts and spa treatments utilizing ancient healing techniques.

Expected to debut in spring 2024, IHG's Regent Canggu will feature 150 suites and villas in one of Bali's hottest beach locales. Architecture by WATG and interior design by HBA will blend contemporary Indonesian fashion and cultural influences with traditional design motifs. Slated for late 2024, Kimpton Naranta Bali will bring boutique vibes to the Nusa Dua resort scene in the reimagined former Amanusa resort, designed by Kerry Hill.

TPG tip: Some of Bali's best points hotels offer deep cultural dives into Balinese village life. At Alila Manggis (from 3,500 World of Hyatt points per night), guests can take part in water purification rituals, visit the Indigenous Bali Aga tribe and trek to the "Gateway to Heaven" temple. At The Laguna, part of Marriott's Luxury Collection (from 33,000 Bonvoy points per night), exclusive experiences include lunch with the seventh generation of Kerambitan's royal family.

Kathryn Romeyn

Cairo, Egypt

The 16 best places to travel: The most exciting destinations for 2024 - The Points Guy (16)

Best for ancient treasures in a modern metropolis

Few destinations offer the same look at the mysteries of the past quite like Cairo. While this desert city has long been a magnet for those intrigued by the wonders of ancient Egypt and its former rulers, new attractions and highly anticipated hotel openings will draw even more travelers to this bucket list destination in 2024.

With that in mind, Cairo's most exciting addition will be the long-awaited reopening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, which, after years of delays, is on track to welcome visitors by early 2024. A colossal project that began more than 20 years ago, this massive repository — the largest archaeological museum ever built — will house over 100,000 Egyptian artifacts, including 5,000 relics found in famous pharaoh Tutankhamun's tomb.

Recently discovered artifacts from the Saqqara — an expansive necropolis located within Egypt's UNESCO World Heritage-listed ancient capital of Memphis — are also expected to be added to the museum's collection in due course. The treasures include multiple tombs, ancient workshops and burial shafts full of priceless antiquities, such as a mummy believed to be the most complete one ever found in Egypt.

To accommodate the influx of tourists expected in 2024, Cairo's hotel scene is rapidly expanding, too. Among the new properties currently in the pipeline are points-friendly accommodations like a Hyatt Centric, a Hilton and a Waldorf Astoria, plus the luxurious rebranding of the historic Shepheard Hotel into the Mandarin Oriental Shepheard, Cairo.

Unsurprisingly, Cairo's prime position on the Nile and proximity to other historic destinations also make it an excellent place to embark on a river cruise, especially in 2024. Several top river cruise lines offer itineraries that start or end in the city, making it possible to tack on visits to other ancient sites like Luxor and Aswan, Egypt. New standout ships to consider include Viking Aton (the fourth of six ships Viking expects to be sailing the Nile by late 2025) and AmaLilia (AmaWaterways' second ship devoted to Nile River cruises).

TPG tip: It should become easier than ever to reach this historic metropolis thanks to more nonstop routes from the U.S. to Cairo in the works. In addition to adding new nonstop flights from Newark to Cairo this past summer, Egyptair has filed a request with the Department of Transportation to launch service between Los Angeles and Cairo in the coming months. If approved, service on the Star Alliance carrier would give visitors yet another convenient way to reach the ancient city.

Christine Gallipeau

Note from TPG editors: We want to acknowledge that all eyes will be on the widening conflict in the region as we end 2023 and look ahead to next year. Before planning your own trip to Egypt, stay up to date on State Department advisories, current events and the unfolding situation in neighboring Israel and beyond.

The Bahamas

The 16 best places to travel: The most exciting destinations for 2024 - The Points Guy (17)

Best for rediscovering paradise right on our doorstep

Dazzling white- and pink-sand beaches; calm, clear seas shaded in myriad hues of blue; and easy access from various U.S. hubs have long made the Bahamas a top tourist destination. Expect 2024 to be an extra-buzzy year for this Caribbean nation, though, thanks to new hotels, exciting cruises and more flights from major airlines.

Goldwynn Resort & Residences on Nassau's famous Cable Beach was 2023's big hotel debut, offering 81 studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom suites just a short drive from the airport so visitors could be on the beach within an hour of landing. Set to open mid 2025, the ultraluxurious Montage Cay will occupy a 48-acre private island in the Abacos. The $352 million project will feature 50 oceanfront suites with private plunge pools and outdoor showers. The property will also comprise villa residences and a 47-slip marina for private yachts.

The Bahamas are drawing even more interest from major cruise lines, too. Norwegian Cruise Line christened its exciting Norwegian Viva megaship with a short cruise to its Bahamian private island, Great Stirrup Cay, in November 2023. The line's second Prima Class vessel, Viva, boasts the "fastest slides at sea," a three-level go-kart racetrack and millions of dollars of art on board. Royal Caribbean's new Oasis Class ship, Utopia of the Seas, is also set to start sailing short new cruises focusing on the Bahamas in 2024.

Cruise lines are adding new private-island experiences, too. Slated to open in summer 2024, Disney's Lighthouse Point in Eleuthera will offer amenities ranging from an adults-only beach to a family water play area and food hall-style dining. The destination is being designed with the environment in mind, too — about 90% of its electricity will be provided via solar panels.

TPG tip: Getting from the U.S. to the Bahamas will be easier than ever in 2024, especially from the West Coast. Alaska Airlines is adding seasonal nonstop flights from both Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) four times weekly and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) three times weekly to Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS). The services will run from Dec. 15, 2023, to April 9, 2024. JetBlue is launching its own new flight between Nassau and Los Angeles beginning in November 2023 that will fly once per week on Saturdays. Delta debuted a new nonstop from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Nassau this fall as well.

Becca Blond

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

The 16 best places to travel: The most exciting destinations for 2024 - The Points Guy (2024)

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