The top travel trends of 2019

From mind-al­ter­ing art ex­hi­bi­tions to un­der-the-radar beaches, SARAH MAR­SHALL sug­gests the es­capes set to top travel wish lists this year

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THERE are al­most 200 coun­tries in the world to­day – and that’s a lot of po­ten­tial pass­port stamps to col­lect. For most of us though, it’s un­likely we’ll ever get around to cross­ing off even a frac­tion of the globe. And that makes choos­ing where to go an im­por­tant de­ci­sion.

Some des­ti­na­tions and re­gions do rise to the fore, how­ever, mak­ing them par­tic­u­larly ap­peal­ing to visit right now.

Whether it’s the launch of a new flight route im­prov­ing ac­cess, an an­niver­sary gen­er­at­ing ex­cit­ing ex­hi­bi­tions, or sim­ply an emerg­ing trend gain­ing pace, sev­eral fac­tors make these five places ripe for 2019.

Look­ing for in­spi­ra­tion for your next trip? These des­ti­na­tions should be fill­ing your next avail­able pass­port pages...

1 SUN, SEA AND SURF IN SRI LANKA

TEN years af­ter a vi­o­lent civil war was fi­nally put to rest, this teardrop­shaped In­dian Ocean is­land is now one of the most sought af­ter travel des­ti­na­tions. Ini­tially af­ford­abil­ity was the big draw – hol­i­day­ing on it’s sun-splashed beaches costs a frac­tion com­pared to its flashy neighbours.

But now word has spread of the other at­trac­tions on of­fer.

Lonely Planet named Sri Lanka the num­ber one des­ti­na­tion to visit in 2019, largely on the ba­sis of its “mix of re­li­gions and cul­tures, time­less tem­ples, rich and ac­ces­si­ble wildlife, grow­ing surf scene and its peo­ple”.

Once off-lim­its to vis­i­tors due to clashes be­tween the Sri Lanka Army and Tamil Tigers, the north-east coast is the coun­try’s fastest ris­ing star.

Port city Trin­co­ma­lee has some ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­ni­ties for whale watch­ing, and pro­vides a qui­eter al­ter­na­tive to over­loaded Mirissa in the south.

Arugam Bay, mean­while, has a laid-back surf scene and claims to re­ceive some of Asia’s best waves.

In­land, tea tourism is gath­er­ing pace, while wildlife fans are head­ing to Yala for sight­ings of leop­ards and Min­ner­iya Na­tional Park for large ele­phant herds.

■ HOW: G Ad­ven­tures (gad­ven­tures.co.uk) of­fers a 7-day Sail­ing Sri Lanka – North Coast tour from £899 a head, for var­i­ous departures in Fe­bru­ary, March, Novem­ber and De­cem­ber. Flights and meals are ex­tra.

2 CUL­TURE VUL­TURES IN ITALY

BOAST­ING 54 Unesco World Her­itage Sites, more than any­where else in the world, Italy is a mag­net for any­one keen on cul­ture.

A mas­ter of both the arts and science, Leonardo da Vinci was the ar­che­typal Re­nais­sance man, so the 500th an­niver­sary of his death on May 2, 2019, has spawned a year’s worth of cel­e­bra­tions and ex­hi­bi­tions.

From April 19 to July 14, the Gallerie dell’Ac­cademia in Venice will launch a new ex­hi­bi­tion ded­i­cated to the great poly­math, dis­play­ing one of his most iconic Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitru­vian Man

drawings, the Vitru­vian Man.

Mean­while in Florence, the Museo Galileo’s ex­hi­bi­tion Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomies: Ma­chines, Hu­man Body, Na­ture (April 21 to Oc­to­ber 7) looks at his stud­ies of the hu­man body, which he re­garded as a so­phis­ti­cated me­chan­i­cal de­vice.

The mas­ter’s most fa­mous work, The Last Sup­per, hangs in the re­fec­tory of Mi­lan’s Santa Maria delle Gra­zie con­vent, although to see it you’ll need to pur­chase tick­ets in ad­vance (ce­na­colovin­ciano.vi­vat­icket.it).

Fur­ther south, all eyes will be set on Mat­era, the Euro­pean Cap­i­tal of Cul­ture. Blighted by poverty, the city in Basil­i­cata was once a source of na­tional em­bar­rass­ment, but in re­cent decades its fa­mous sassi (rock dwellings) have been con­verted into tourist-pleas­ing restau­rants and ho­tels.

A pro­gramme of events is planned for the year ahead (mat­era-basil­i­cata2019.it/en).

■ HOW: He­do­nis­tic Hik­ing (he­do­nis­tichik­ing.com) of­fers a South­ern Italy tour vis­it­ing Mat­era from £2,697 per per­son, in­clud­ing all ac­com­mo­da­tion, meals with wine, ac­tiv­i­ties and trans­fers, with departures on June 11 and Septem­ber 18.

3 THE ROAD TO RIO

A CITY of moun­tains ris­ing from the At­lantic Ocean, Rio de Janeiro has an ir­re­sistibly ro­man­tic al­lure. The 2016 Olympics gave the des­ti­na­tion plenty of world­wide air­time, and now a new bud­get flight route means the South Amer­i­can party hub is within more peo­ple’s reach.

On March 31, Nor­we­gian will be­gin a di­rect ser­vice to Rio, fol­low­ing the suc­cess of its Buenos Aires route, which launched last Fe­bru­ary.

While many will use the flight as an op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore Brazil’s wide-rang­ing riches, there’s plenty to keep you oc­cu­pied in Rio for a few days. See­ing the city from above is def­i­nitely a high­light; climb to the top of the Christ the Redeemer statue or take a ca­ble car over to the tip of the Su­gar­loaf Moun­tain.

Brazil­ians treat the beach like their front room, and spend­ing time on Rio’s sandy bays is the best way to in­te­grate with local life: Copaca­bana is busy and bois­ter­ous, while Ipanema and Le­blon are classier and qui­eter.

For a taste of Rio’s past, head to

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