For nomads and holiday makers here’s our hotlist of places not to be missed on your travels this year!
The world is a treasure trove of places waiting to be explored, and wanderlust is in full swing for UAE residents.
In 2023, international tourism roared back to life, reaching a whopping 90% of pre-pandemic levels. Now, perhaps it’s the perfect moment to turn our gaze toward the hidden gems – those places still basking in relative obscurity, charming in their off-season allure, or overshadowed by their bustling neighbours.
Let’s see sights on the roads less travelled – here’s 10 ultimate travel destinations for you in 2024:
- Sumba Island, Indonesia
Craving a beach escape that champions community consciousness and sustainability? Look no further than the Indonesian gem, Sumba. Tucked away with remote villages, pristine forests, ancient traditions, and world-class surf spots, Sumba provides a serene alternative to the bustling crowds of Bali, just an hour’s flight away. Despite not being a global hotspot (yet), Sumba stands large, covering over 4,000 square miles (more than 10,000 square kilometers) – double the size of Bali.
The luxurious Nihi Sumba resort initially cast a spotlight on this island in 2012, appealing to those with a taste for indulgence. Fast forward over a decade, and Sumba has become home to several new eco-luxe retreats. Among them, The Sanubari, a collection of beachfront villas that debuted in 2022, and Cap Karoso, nestled on the island’s southwest.
- Black Sea Coast, Turkey
Move over, bustling Mediterranean hotspots—Turkey’s Black Sea region, or Karadeniz, unveils a different side of the country, far from the well-trodden path of the Turquoise Coast’s yacht-magnet resorts. Less frequented, with a cooler, mistier climate that births lush landscapes and delightful black tea, this region boasts historic towns, charming villages, sandy beaches, and heart-pounding activities.
In the summer, it serves as a refreshing haven from Turkey’s scorching heat. Safranbolu invites exploration of ancient streets where blacksmith hammers still sing, Amasra offers a taste of beach life, and Sumela beckons climbers to witness one of the world’s oldest monasteries clinging to a cliff. There’s also plenty of action with white water rating, or winter skiing in the eastern Kaçkar Mountains where snow transforms the rocky outcrop.
- Tainin, Taiwan
Cheers to Tainan, hitting the grand 400 in 2024 and stealing the spotlight on Taiwan’s international stage. This southern gem has outshone Taipei, clinching the title of Taiwan’s hotel occupancy champion for the last two years. Tainan is the undisputed street food haven of Taiwan, stealing hearts with its savoury beef soups and tantalising oyster omelettes. But that’s not all—this city boasts surreal natural wonders like Tsao Shan Moon World, breathtaking sunsets over salt farms, vibrant ancient temples, and hip new-age museums.
And it’s not just a food and scenery spectacle; Tainan also made waves by securing a spot on Booking.com’s coveted list of top 10 sustainable tourism destinations in 2023. Tainan is the full package you’ve been waiting for.
- Trans Dinarica Cycle Route, Balkans
Rolling onto the scene in 2024, the Trans Dinarica Cycle Route is set to make history as the first and only bike path weaving through all eight countries of the Western Balkans. This 100-stage trail is tailor-made for cyclists of every level, covering a whopping 4,000 kilometres (2,485 miles) of diverse terrain. From tranquil asphalt roads to winding forest trails and dedicated bike paths, it’s a pedal-powered journey through the heart of the Western Balkans. So, gear up for an epic cycling experience that promises breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable moments.
- Culebra, Puerto Rico
Dreaming of an escape within your escape? Look no further than the tiny paradise of Culebra, just a short 20 miles (32 kilometres) off Puerto Rico’s eastern coast. It’s a tranquil haven, far removed from the lively, rum-infused nightlife of San Juan. Here, the focus is on outdoor adventures and ultimate relaxation. Don’t miss the stunning Flamenco Beach, stretching for a mile around a serene bay. With gentle waves, it’s a haven for snorkelling and swimming, and don’t forget the iconic photo op with a graffitied US military relic.
Culebra is a natural sanctuary, inviting you to explore its hiking trails, dive into snorkelling and scuba adventures, glide through the waters in a kayak, or try your hand at fishing. Whether for a day trip or an extended stay, let Culebra be your secluded island haven within an island.
- Angola, Africa
Venture into the hidden gem of southern Africa. This nation is striving to shine on the tourism stage, recently rolling out a swift-approval tourism e-visa. While major tourist infrastructure is still catching up, it’s the perfect opportunity to explore a destination that’s yet to grace everyone’s travel radar.
In the vibrant capital, Luanda, known for its lively but upscale nightlife, the real magic lies beyond. Angola unfolds with breathtaking landscapes and cultural wonders. Don’t miss the dramatic Calendula Falls, spanning 1,300 feet (396 metres), and surfing paradises along the Atlantic coastline like Barra do Kwanza and Cabo Ledo. Angola is your ticket to off-the-beaten-path exploration, where every corner reveals a piece of undiscovered beauty.
- South Korea
Get ready to dive back into the world of “Squid Game,” the Netflix sensation that’s gearing up for a return in 2024, keeping the K-wave alive and well. Lucky for us, experiencing the magic of South Korea is now easier than ever. The government is making travel a breeze by temporarily waiving the K-ETA requirement (electronic travel visa) for visitors from 22 countries until the end of 2024, all part of the exciting Visit Korea Year campaign.
South Korea is a land of contrasts, from the futuristic vibes of Seoul and Busan to the cultural and historical richness waiting in places like Andong, hailed as the “Spirit of South Korea.” Explore the ancient Gaya Tumuli, recently recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2023, and uncover the layers of South Korea’s captivating past.
Tucked snugly between Greece and Montenegro on the stunning Adriatic coast, it’s a wonder that Albania wasn’t a beachgoer’s paradise earlier. Yet, its wallet-friendly charm has sparked a tourism surge, drawing record numbers of Italians seeking affordable summer getaways in 2023.
Albania is more than its coastline. With a rich cultural tapestry, blending Christian and Muslim history, the historical centres of Berat and Gjirokastër offer a journey through time. Meanwhile, the breathtaking mountain landscapes, especially in Theth, captivate nature enthusiasts. In a groundbreaking move, Europe welcomed Albania’s first wild river national park in 2023, spanning around the 168-mile (270-kilometre) Vjosa River. For those craving an off-the-beaten-track adventure, consider a self-drive tour with Drive Albania.
- Singapore’s OffShore Islands
While Singapore dazzles with its urban marvels — think biophilic skyscrapers, neon-lit supertrees, and six-star hotels redefining “luxury” — the city-state is embracing the allure of its lesser-explored islands.
Breaking away from the peninsula is becoming the more intriguing choice. Singapore is taking an unconventional approach to its smaller, uninhabited islands by leaving them undeveloped. Nearby, Sisters’ Island is gearing up to unveil the country’s first marine park in 2024, featuring a sea turtle hatchery and a coral protection area. Already open for exploration is St. John’s Island, where a trail showcases native plants and flowers, shedding light on the island’s colourful history, including a stint as a quarantine centre during a cholera outbreak. It’s a contemplative spot, perfect for pondering life beyond a pandemic.
Morocco, a perennial favorite among travelers for its diverse landscapes and stunning architecture, is making a determined comeback after a seismic setback in September. Morocco unfolds its charm in less trodden spots that are equally captivating. Tétouan, near the first Regis Hotels and Resorts Morocco property, and the historically rich Meknes, one of the country’s nine UNESCO World Heritage sites, stand out.
Beyond its touristic allure, Morocco is taking strides as a global leader in sustainable tourism. The nation is launching initiatives to boost renewable energy generation and is home to eco-friendly havens like the Berber-run Kasbah du Toubkal, nestled at the foot of the breathtaking High Atlas Mountains.