The Top Travel Destinations For 2024, According To Our Experts - Explore (2024)

Destinations

The Top Travel Destinations For 2024, According To Our Experts - Explore (1)

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ByBeth McMurray/

Get ready to pack your bags, dust off the sunglasses, and update your passport because we've got the insider scoop on 2024's hottest travel destinations. We consulted with two globe-trotting gurus: Victoria Fricke, Travel Agent with Vic's Vacations, and Lynn Farrell, president of the Foremost Travel Group, which includes Windy City Travel, Oswego Travel, and Traveloni. They've each dished out six must-visit spots that are a perfect mix of timeless classics and delightful surprises, with a little bit of overlap and agreement between the two.

Ready to sip some espresso or aguas frescas? Italy and Mexico show up on both their lists, with Farrell drilling down to specific cities in each country. They also both dropped in island getaways that'll have you daydreaming about palm trees and piña coladas. They fill out their lists with a diverse selection of bucket list destinations, with Farrell eyeing Africa and Fricke leaning toward Europe. And for those who've been binge-watching "Yellowstone," you'll appreciate that the show's popularity has helped launch one U.S. state onto the list of top travel destinations for 2024. Not sure where to head in the coming year? Read on and get ready to be inspired.

Italy

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Fricke says, "Italy is hands down the most popular destination we're seeing right now." Ancient history, rich cultural experiences, incredible views, and world-famous food make Italy an enchanting travel experience. The heart of this charm is the capital Rome, the Eternal City. Here, the past isn't just remembered — it's a tangible presence with awe-inspiring landmarks like the Colosseum. A visit to Vatican City, an independent city-state enclaved within Rome, is a must. It's home to the Sistine Chapel, famous for Michelangelo's ceiling.

Of course, Italy is more than just Rome. It's also Venice, where romance is engineered into the waterways, and a gondola ride feels like floating through history. Art enthusiasts will love Florence, as its Uffizi Gallery showcases a staggering collection of Renaissance art, including works by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Tuscany offers stunning landscapes with rolling hills and vineyards, while on the Amalfi Coast, cliffs and the sea conspire to take your breath away.

In southern Italy, you'll find the stunning coastline of Sicily — the largest island in the Mediterranean and one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Farrell points to Sicily as a trending destination since "everyone wants a little White Lotus." Picturesque beaches, such asMondello and Cefalù, are perfect for relaxation and water sports. Nature enthusiasts will want to explore the rugged terrain of Mount Etna, Europe's tallest active volcano. Sicily also boasts a tapestry of old-world architecture andculinary magic — from mouth-watering seafood to the iconic cannoli.

Mexico

As Farrell points out, a new airport in Tulum, Mexico, opens up convenient ways to reach some great resorts, such as Secrets Akumal and Conrad Tulum. The airport is about 90 miles south of Cancun, on Mexico's southeast coast, a gateway to pristine beaches, tropical lagoons, outstanding resorts, and well-preserved Mayan ruins. Tulum is one of the best places in Mexico for history buffs, with dozens of ancient structures.

Three U.S. airlines — Delta, American, and Spirit — plan to serve Tulum starting in March of 2024. Delta will operate a daily route between Tulum and Atlanta. American Airlines will fly to Tulum twice daily from Dallas-Fort Worth and daily from Charlotte and Miami.Spirit will offer daily flights from Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

The new Tulum airport will only boost Mexico's allure. In thinking about popular travel destinations, Fricke says, "Mexico will always be in the top five for three reasons. Price point, accessibility, and versatility." Beyond the new access to Tulum, Fricke reminds us of classic favorites, such as Los Cabos and Cancún. From luxury adults-only resorts to budget-savvy, family-friendly vacations, Mexico offers abundant options. "Pair that with the nonstop flights that many cities offer and overall value," Fricke says, "it's hard to compete with a getaway to Mexico."

East Africa

The Top Travel Destinations For 2024, According To Our Experts - Explore (4)

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"East Africa is a super hot destination," Farrell says, "with Tanzania and Kenya being the top." Tanzania is a go-to destination for people who are obsessed with animals. Serengeti National Park hosts the awe-inspiring Great Migration, arguably the world's most extraordinary wildlife parade, where millions of wildebeest and zebras traverse the plains. Animal enthusiasts also flock to the Ngorongoro Crater. This isn't just a hole in the ground — it's the world's biggest intact volcanic caldera and home to Africa's densest population of predators, including lions, cheetahs, and leopards.But if you need a break from the adrenaline, try the dreamy beaches and historic Stone Town in Zanzibar. And, drumroll please, for what might be Tanzania's most famous feature: Mount Kilimanjaro. It's Africa's tallest peak and the ultimate "I climbed that!" bragging right.

In Kenya, Farrell points out a unique hotel experience at Giraffe Manor, a luxury lodge where a resident herd of Rothschild's giraffes roam the property. Giraffe Manor's conservation efforts reflect a country-wide effort to protect endangered wildlife. Over 40 national parks and wildlife reserves aid in the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats. These protected areas, such as Masai Mara National Reserve and Amboseli National Park, offer some of the best places in the world to see The Big Five — lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, and rhinoceroses.

South Africa

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There's so much to see and experience on the world's second-largest continentthat Farrell also includes South Africa in her top destinations for 2024. She recommends starting in the country's legislative capital city Cape Town, with a few nights at One&Only, a vibrant urban resort surrounded by private waterways. Cape Town is a rich cultural hub with an eclectic mix of museums, theaters, events, and restaurants.

Cape Town's urban highlights aren't far from outdoor wonders — the city is surrounded by mountains and oceans. You can ascend the iconic Table Mountain via the Cable Way. To explore more of the mountain on foot, hit the hiking trails or wander around the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. As for Cape Town's beaches, they're perfect for water adventures, such as swimming, surfing, windsurfing, and fishing.

As if Cape Town doesn't have enough to offer, you'll have continued boundless options as you explore the rest of South Africa. Enjoy wine tasting just outside of Cape Town — some of the world's best vineyards are an easy day trip from the city. Road trips are a great way to take in breathtaking views of South Africa's landscapes. When you're ready to stretch your legs, the country also offers some beautiful hiking, such as a stunning coastline hike on the Robberg Peninsula. And if wildlife is your thing, get ready to tick some major items off your bucket list. With over 600 parks and reserves in South Africa, you can choose from a variety of options.

St. Lucia

Both travel experts include island paradises on their lists of trending destinations for 2024. Looking for a place with postcard-worthy beaches? Snorkeling with fish so colorful they'd make a rainbow jealous? And for divers, how about a swim around sunken ships hugged by corals? St. Lucia has it all. As Fricke says, "St. Lucia is the perfect blend of beach meets nature. More and more clients are telling us...that hiking and nature are important to them and sitting at the beach is only part of the equation."

So when you're done playing mermaid or merman, swap your fins for hiking boots. The Pitons are St. Lucia's twin peaks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Climb Gros Piton — of the two, it's the piton with marked trails. You'll be rewarded with breathtaking views and a workout that beats any gym session. The island also offers thousands of acres of rainforest to explore. Don't feel like walking? Try ziplining through the trees or float above them in an aerial tram.

Birdwatchers, bring your binoculars! St. Lucia is like a VIP lounge for birds, andideal spots for bird watching include Millet Bird Sanctuary and the Vieux Fort Wetlands. For the plant enthusiasts, Mother Nature shows off some of her best work at the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens. Don't miss one of St. Lucia's must-see waterfalls at the end of the gardens. And for an attraction you can't find anywhere else, visit Sulphur Springs, featuring the world's only drive-in volcano.

Bora Bora

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Affectionately dubbed the "Jewel of the South Seas," Bora Bora is a tranquil destination in the South Pacific, just northwest of Tahiti. Farrell includes this island paradise on her list of trending travel destinations. It's a go-to spot for lavish relaxation, an action-packed adventure, or maybe a little of both. For the relaxation side of things, imagine lounging in one of Bora Bora's infamous overwater bungalows, co*cktail in hand. And these aren't just any bungalows — they come with glass floors! Gaze at the sea life below without even getting your toes wet. Farrell offers a special nod to The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, which she says "has the most amazing over-the-water bungalows." The resort offers some of the biggest overwater bungalows in the region, complete with those nifty glass floors.

Bora Bora is known as a quiet and peaceful island. This tranquil vibe is why it is recognized as one of the world's best honeymoon locations. But that doesn't mean you're confined to your bungalow. Head to Matira Beach, a public beach with soft sand and crystal-clear water, a perfect spot for a swim or snorkeling adventure. Or explore the island with a 4-wheel drive tour. Choose from adrenaline-fueled rides on rugged mountain roads, cultural tours where you'll meet and learn from locals, or romantic sunset tours with a side of Champagne. For a bird's-eye view, why not try parasailing? Soar over the sparkling turquoise waters, spot Bora Bora's Mount Otemanu, and admire the surrounding islands.

Switzerland

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"There's something magical about Switzerland,"Fricke says. In the heart of Europe, you'll find a land of contrasts, with four official languagesand some of the most breathtaking scenery on the continent. Fricke points out, "Whether they're going for the scenery and serenity or adventure seeking, there is something for everyone!" The Swiss Alps beckon those brave enough to ski or snowboard down the majestic slopes. Come summer, these mountains offer trails through alpine lakes and meadows. And let's not forget the Matterhorn, one of the most photographed mountains in the world.

Then there's the urban allure. In Zurich, medieval charm shakes hands with a buzzing cultural scene. Geneva, with its gorgeous lakefront, is home to numerous international organizations, including the United Nations. Bern, the capital, is like stepping into a storybook with cobblestone streets and historic buildings. The Château de Chillon, near Montreux, is another must-visit for history buffs.It is the most visited historic building in Switzerland, offering a glimpse into the country's past through its well-preserved architecture and picturesque location.

The real magic of Switzerland, though, lies in its cultural crossroads. Events, museums, and art galleries are all part of the Swiss tapestry. And the food! The culinary journey here is akin to a gastronomic odyssey, from the ooey-gooey ecstasy of Swiss cheese to chocolate that could very well be the food of the gods. The cultural diversity means you'll have an eclectic selection of world-class eateries with something to satisfy every palate.

Greece

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Let's take a page out of a savvy travel agent's book — after all, if it's good enough for her getaway, it might just be your next dream destination! Our globe-trotting guide, Fricke, recently returned from Greece and is buzzing with excitement. "I can attest it's such a remarkable location to visit," she says about this Southeast European gem, sprinkled with 6,000 islands.

In this island-studded country, a couple hundred are inhabited. This means you'll have a smorgasbord of options — it can be hard to choose where to visit in Greece. As Fricke points out, "Whether you're looking for the hustle and bustle of Athens or the quaint and quiet island of Corfu, there is an island for every client, a hotel for every budget, and an itinerary to create memories."

In Athens, the birthplace of democracy, you can marvel at theAcropolis, an ancient citadel on a rocky outcrop,and wander through the Plaka district for charming streets lined with cafes and shops. If you're craving a slice of island life, Corfu boasts stunning beaches like Paleokastritsa and Glyfada, perfect for relaxation and water activities, as well as Venetian architecture and the imposing Old Fortress. And for nature's grandiose contribution, head to Mt. Olympus — not just a mythological address, but a real mountain offering hiking, biking, and rock climbing on Greece's highest peak. Almost anywhere you go in Greece will offer a taste of the country's delicious cuisine, from fresh seafood to traditional moussaka and souvlaki.

Portugal

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We asked Fricke for her top five trending destinations, and we're happy she couldn't stop at five — she couldn't resist sneaking Portugal onto the list. She says, "Portugal is a very budget-friendly trip creating a European experience at a much lower price point!" It's a captivating destination that offers a unique blend of rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes.

Portugal is not just a pretty face — it's a haven for water sports enthusiasts. In winter, extreme surfers head to Nazaré for the Everest of surfing with enormous waves. For those who don't need big waves, the Algarve region is a go-to spot for sunny beaches and dramatic cliffs. The waters are calm and clear, perfect for a swim. If you prefer to have your feet on land, Portugal is home to world-class golf courses. Designed to blend with its natural surroundings, Oitavos Dunesis one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world.

Lisbon and Porto, the two major cities, are rich in architectural marvels. Lisbon has its iconic trams, and Porto's wine cellars are basically a rite of passage for wine lovers. History and culture are everywhere, from ancient castles to monasteries to the historic streets in towns like Sintra and Évora. And, of course, the culture is also enjoyed through Portugal's cuisine. Thanks to Portugal's lengthy coastline, fresh seafood is a distinctive highlight. But the culinary scene is diverse, offering everything from simple grilled fish to the famous pastel de nata (custard tart).

Montana

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Montana is the only U.S. spot to make either travel expert's list of trending destinations for 2024. Farrell says, "With the popularity of the show "Yellowstone," everyone wants to go to Montana." And who can blame them? Known as 'the last best place,' Montana is a big place — the fourth largest U.S. state by area — with a lot to offer.

With endless skies, open spaces, and Mother Nature in her finest attire, Montana is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. It's home to Glacier National Park and parts of Yellowstone where the landscapes look like they've been plucked from a high-budget nature documentary, and the wildlife casually roam like they own the place (because, well, they do). Whether you're into conquering mountain trails, swooshing down ski slopes, or pedaling through picturesque terrains, Montana's diverse landscapes have got you covered.

When you're ready to hang your hat, do you fancy a night under the stars? You'll find plenty of camping options, or level up with glamping — camping with modern comforts. More of a solid-roof-over-your-head kind of person? Cozy motels, lodges, and vacation rentals are scattered around, offering a taste of Montana's rustic charm. The state's historical sites and museums enrich the experience, showcasing the area's Native American heritage and Old West culture. Whether you're seeking the serenity of wilderness, an outdoor adventure, the comfort of a cozy bed, or a dose of American history, Montana's waiting.

The Top Travel Destinations For 2024, According To Our Experts - Explore (2024)
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