The 10 Best Places to Visit in 2024

A good vacation starts with a spark of inspiration. Here, 10 places around the world you should put on your to-go list this year. Consider it fuel for dreams of escape.
The 10 Best Places to Visit in 2024

DIVING IN TO 2024 New developments in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo offer a convincing case to pay attention to its less-frequented corners this year. GETTY IMAGES

By Kiera Carter, David Farley, Adam H. Graham, Jacqueline Kehoe, Jordi Lippe-McGraw, Suchi Rudra, Chris Schalkx and Michaela Trimble

TO BORROW from the poet Mary Oliver, what will you do with your few wild and precious vacation days? Now’s the time for figuring that out—and after looking at the latest travel trends, notable openings and immersive itineraries, we’ve got ideas. On this list of the 10 places we’re most excited about visiting this year, you’ll find spots still refreshingly free of tourist crowds but also new reasons to love the blockbuster destinations you thought you already knew. Whatever your preferred style of travel—from island-hopping by canoe in the Land of 10,000 Lakes to following your stomach around one of South America’s most exciting culinary hubs—we’re confident something here will unlock an urge to pack up and go.
Belmond’s Eastern & Oriental Express train debuts new Malaysia-focused routes this year, offering a new way to experience the country. Video: Belmond


The pandemic might have brought Belmond’s swanky Eastern & Oriental Express train to a temporary halt, but the luxury travel company used the downtime to refresh the train’s wood-paneled cabins with wickerwork and Malaysian embroidery, and brought Taiwanese chef André Chiang on board to steer restaurants that will feature a fusion of Southeast Asian cuisines. The train’s new routes, which launch in February, spotlight Malaysia’s wildly diverse landscapes. Excursions include Vespa tours around historic George Town, beach breaks on jungle-cloaked Langkawi island and treks in the rainforests of Taman Negara to spot hornbills, tapirs, and—for the very lucky—Malayan tigers. Fresh hotel openings in Kuala Lumpur, a food-mad city that just launched its first Michelin guide, make for an excellent excuse to linger before heading to the train station. Homegrown brand Else Retreats opened its first boutique hotel in the 1930s Lee Rubber Building in Chinatown, and the Park Hyatt will soon take over the top floors of Merdeka 118, the second-tallest tower in the world. 

The NaiSabah, a traditional Omani dhow boat, cruises the waters around the island of Lamu. PHOTO: JEREMY BASTARD
The NaiSabah, a traditional Omani dhow boat, cruises the waters around the island of Lamu. PHOTO: JEREMY BASTARD


Lamu, Kenya

Kenya’s wildlife-rich safari parks remain its main draw, but new developments in Lamu, a palm-tufted island just off the country’s northeastern coast, offer sunseekers a pleasingly culture-packed and hushed alternative to the big-ticket resorts of Mombasa and Zanzibar. Global highfliers weathered the pandemic in the whitewashed luxury villas of Lamu’s ritzy Shela village, but the new Jannah Lamu, a scattered collection of suites by Kenya-raised designer Anna Trzebinski, makes the cobblestoned Old Town, East Africa’s oldest Swahili settlement, newly enticing. The recently launched NaiSabah, a traditional Omani dhow boat with three staterooms and a breezy deck decorated with intricate woodwork, offers multi-night itineraries around the Lamu archipelago, promising days packed with beach picnics, diving expeditions and nature walks. Finally, the Lamu Museum, which reopened last October after a year-long refurbishment, delivers a dose of cultural and historical context to this fascinating one-time trading hub—and a welcome respite from all that sunshine. 

Remarkable Rocks, an otherworldly geological formation on the coast of Kangaroo Island, is more accessible than ever thanks to a new boardwalk. Video: Getty Images

Kangaroo Island, Australia

The “Black Summer” bush fires of 2019-2020 destroyed half of its wildlife habitat, but in the years since, Kangaroo Island—9 miles off Australia’s southern coast—has bounced back. Nicknamed Australia’s Galápagos, this 1,700-square-mile speck of land is once again one of the best places to encounter wild koalas and kangaroos, along with penguins, whales, platypuses and wallabies. Two new lodges come staffed with seasoned guides who take the guesswork out of finding these creatures. Sea Dragon, a boutique hotel planted atop 250 acres of sea-facing land, reopened in 2023 with stargazing and bird-watching walks as well as new safari-style expeditions. Southern Ocean Lodge, which burned down entirely, reopened in December in a lair-like seacliff aerie, offering sunrise run-ins with wild sea lions and sunset sessions fueled by local wines and forest truffles. New trails on the island include a wheelchair-friendly boardwalk to the aptly named seaside granite formations of Remarkable Rocks and the first sections of the planned 23-mile-long Dudley Peninsula Trail, beginning at the historic Cape Willoughby Lighthouse.

 A terrace at the new OMO5 Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu.  PHOTO: HOSHINO RESORTS
A terrace at the new OMO5 Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu.  PHOTO: HOSHINO RESORTS


Kyushu, Japan

Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands, has long drawn in-the-know visitors from mainland Asia. But lately a supersize dose of new tourism projects has made its night markets, temples and onsen (hot springs) more widely accessible. Last year saw the opening of Hoshino Resorts’ budget-friendly OMO5 in the buzzy city of Kumamoto, as well as the glass-wrapped Ritz-Carlton Fukuoka. This year, Hotel Indigo Nagasaki opens in a former orphanage for atomic bomb survivors, and indie upstart Takasaki Stay allows for more-comfortable visits to the nearby, laid-back Goto Islands. Kyushu’s Tourism Organization also launches four new itineraries focusing on local cuisine, ceramics and nature. Densha otaku (train geeks) will celebrate a new 5-hour sightseeing route launching in spring and serving seasonal bento boxes alongside views of the hissing volcanoes and rocky coastlines between Fukuoka’s Hakata Station and Beppu, Japan’s seaside onsen hub. 

Kansas City is having a bit of a moment—and not just for its sudden pop-culture prominence. PHOTO: ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
Kansas City is having a bit of a moment—and not just for its sudden pop-culture prominence. PHOTO: ALAMY STOCK PHOTO


Kansas City, Mo.

Given the zeitgeist, it would be understandable to think Kansas City made this list because of Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce. But the city was set to deliver the goods long before it became a fixture of gossip columns. CPKC Stadium, one of the few soccer stadiums in the world built for a top-division women’s team, the Kansas City Current, will open in March, doubling as a venue for concerts, festivals and farmers markets. In other athletic firsts, KC will host pickleball’s inaugural PickleCon in August, with 100 courts devoted to the unstoppable sporting fad. Rock Island Bridge, a waterfront highline, will soon connect Kansas and Missouri with a string of bars and cafes. The outdoors-oriented will also be able to canoe or kayak in the Kansas River below. Pennway Point, a downtown entertainment district opening this spring, will feature a beer garden, a BBQ joint, live music and a Ferris wheel. Those looking for the city’s famous smoked meat and jazz can rest easy that even under the celebrity spotlight, the soul of the city remains intact. 


From left: the Spanish Synagogue, owned by Prague’s Jewish Museum, hosts cultural events; Franz Kafka photographed in 1917. THE JEWISH MUSEUM IN PRAGUE, ALAMY (KAFKA)


Prague, Czech Republic

“Prague never lets you go. This dear little mother has sharp claws,” wrote Franz Kafka. And, judging by the tourist numbers, those claws have reach. This year ushers in a new reason, however, to visit the much-loved city. Kafka’s hometown is marking the 100th anniversary of the Czech-born, German-speaking Jewish writer’s death with events across the city. Beginning in March, Prague City Tourism will offer literary walking tours, and a vintage tram will carry bibliophiles to sites where the author lived and worked. In May, the Museum of Czech Literature unveils a new exhibition featuring multimedia installations, letters written by the author and early editions of his books. All summer, the Jewish Museum will host Kafka-focused film screenings in Josefov, Prague’s historic Jewish quarter, while a mobile app called “Searching for Odradek,” a reference to a Kafka protagonist, will help re-create the Prague Kafka knew. Finally, the Goethe-Institut, a German cultural center, will be putting on a string of readings and theatrical productions. And when the Kafkaesque existential dread gets to be too much, the city’s legendary pubs await.

 SHA Wellness’s new branch in Mexico sits right on the beach in Costa Mujeres. PHOTO: SHA WELLNESS CLINIC
SHA Wellness’s new branch in Mexico sits right on the beach in Costa Mujeres. PHOTO: SHA WELLNESS CLINIC

Quintana Roo, Mexico

Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula may be dismissed by some as a haven for spring breakers, but this year brings proof that there’s much more to the state of Quintana Roo than all-inclusive resorts. SHA Wellness Clinic, known for specialized longevity treatments, opens a branch this month in the town of Costa Mujeres. Architect Fabiano Continanza designed the slopes and spirals of the retreat’s building as a nod to the shape of the DNA molecule. An hour south, the Riviera Maya Edition hotel at Kanai just opened in a 620-acre nature reserve, its neutral-hued décor suggesting a sense of urban cool teleported deep into the jungle. Last month’s ribbon-cutting of a new airport in Tulum adds more fuel to that town’s decadeslong boom, but its quiet side still thrives at new boutique sites like XELA Tulum, a once-private villa renovated into a minimalist hotel. Near the border with Belize sits Bacalar, a diminutive town hugging a 26-mile-long translucent lagoon. Big chains like Banyan Tree have announced plans to move in soon, so get there before they do and check in to the new Boca de Agua hotel, crafted by Frida Escobedo, who was recently tapped to design a forthcoming contemporary art wing at New York’s MoMA.

Corte Comedor in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Belgrano, offers a comprehensive introduction to Argentina’s obsession with meat. PHOTO: LEO LIBERMAN/CORTE COMEDOR

Buenos Aires, Argentina

In Buenos Aires, an often-lauded culinary scene is shining brighter than ever. The neighborhood of Belgrano presents a handy introduction to two core elements of daily life in Argentina: fútbol and meat. After a match at El Monumental, South America’s largest stadium, dine at Corte Comedor’s modern parrilla (or grill) with hard-to-find cuts of beef, succulent veggies and charcuterie from sister spot Corte Charcuteria. In the art-gallery-packed neighborhood of Villa Crespo, head to Chuí, which offers a surprisingly varied plant-based menu, or Julia, a 22-seater specializing in colorful French-leaning fare. In Chacarita, try the newcomer Ácido, which takes inspiration for its menu—plus its delightfully kitschy china—from grandmothers everywhere. At MN Santa Inés, in the low-key barrio of La Paternal, chef Jazmín Marturet plays with recipes developed during trips to Asia and Latin America. And for travelers who follow the stars, the grand finale awaits at the art-on-a-plate adventure on offer at Aramburu, granted two Michelin stars in November. Buen provecho. 

Most visitors to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters choose to explore the lakes by canoe. Video: Jenn Ackerman + Tim Gruber

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minn. 

You can still drink straight from many of the 1,200 lakes in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, the million-acre liquid maze just shy of the Canadian border. Often navigated via multiday canoe camping trips, this boreal wilderness grants its 250,000 annual visitors time on solid ground, too, in rustic lodges and on extensive island hiking trails. With mining interests eyeing the region, every tourist visit this year plays a pivotal role in the area’s conservation. Start yours with a drive along the Gunflint Trail, a 57-mile national scenic byway leading to the Boundary Waters. At midpoint, grab a cardamom roll from Loon’s Nest Coffee, opened in the fall of 2023, before joining a guided paddle with one of the many locally run outfitters. Come nightfall, check in to the freshly updated Gunflint Lodge, or upgrade your campsite with a mobile sauna delivered to your patch of woods by spa operators Sisu + Löyly. In the morning, wake up with the loons—and dunk your cup straight into the deep-blue water to hydrate.

Mallorca offers quiet coves aplenty. Video: Getty Images

Balearic Islands, Spain

Spain’s Balearic Islands are ditching their dance-all-night rep for something more Zen. Think fewer foam parties, more meditation circles. Ibiza, once synonymous with shot-slinging nights, now appeals to mindfulness mavens, a metamorphosis on full display at the Mirador de Dalt Vila, a Relais & Châteaux hotel aimed squarely at relaxers, not ravers. In Mallorca, Richard Branson’s new Son Bunyola hotel ditches the island’s DJ parties in favor of scenic cycling and languorous afternoons in the 92-foot-long pool. Rafael Nadal’s ZELhotel beckons with a restaurant serving Mediterranean and Basque fare and a pro-approved gym. On the island of Minorca, protected status keeps a short leash on development, so newcomers focus on renewing existing properties rather than bulldozing and building. Take the island’s latest outpost, Son Vell, an 18th-century Venetian-style manor turned into a 34-room hotel featuring yoga classes, al fresco movie screenings and, best of all, not a thumping bass line within earshot.


Contributors: Kiera Carter (Kansas City), David Farley (Prague), Adam H. Graham (Kangaroo Island and Kyushu), Jacqueline Kehoe (Boundary Waters), Jordi Lippe-McGraw (Balearic Islands), Suchi Rudra (Buenos Aires), Chris Schalkx (Malaysia and Lamu) and Michaela Trimble (Quintana Roo)

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