Canadians love to travel.
In 2019, many of us plan to head overseas and visit increasingly popular hot spots. From Cusco, Peru to Porto, Portugal, certain international cities are seeing an uptick in visitors.
Based on data from major travel sites, the Global News Smart Living team gathered the top 11 most popular places to check out in 2019. Here are places to add (or re-add) to your bucket list.
Skyline of Cartagena. Getty Images
According to data collected by Skyscanner.ca, Canadian bookings to Cartagena through their site have increased 120 per cent since 2017.
The coastal city is becoming a hot spot thanks to its colourful architecture, rich history and beaches. Cartagena’s Old Town stands within centuries-old colonial walls, making it a must-see tourist attraction.
Data from travel site Kayak also saw more Canadians searching for deals to Cartagena. Kayak has the Colombian city listed as No. 2 on their top destinations of 2019 list.
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Bathing baby elephants in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Getty Images
Jeff Element, president of The Travel Corporation Canada (TTC), which represents 30 travel brands across the country, listed Sri Lanka as one of 2019’s trendiest places to visit.
“Endless beaches, timeless ruins, welcoming people, spectacular wildlife, rolling surf, affordable prices, fun trains, famous tea and flavourful food make Sri Lanka a hot spot in 2019,” he said in a statement to Global News.
With wildlife, national parks and secluded getaways, Sri Lanka may not be on most people’s radar. With political instability in some parts of the country (there is still a travel advisory for Canadians), Element argued it’s time for Canadians to uncover its charm.
The country is also this year’s No. 1 most recommend place to visit in 2019 by Lonely Planet, ideal for adventure seekers, fitness buffs and food lovers who want to taste some of Asia’s best curries.
Japan. Getty Images
Element added Japan is timeless, a place where ancient traditions are fused with modern life.
“While the country has always been a perennial favourite, the ‘land of the rising sun’ has recently seen an influx of Canadians with the latest statistics showing a 10.8 per cent increase in Canadian visitors, thanks to direct flights from Canada and word-of-mouth from family and friends,” he said.
“From its unique culture, food (oh the glorious food) to contrasting landscapes (from snow-capped mountains to coastal beauties), expect an influx of visitors to Japan in 2019 before the Olympics arrive in 2020 that will undoubtedly come with an increase in travel costs and patience.
Data from Skyscanner noted Nagoya specifically is fast becoming a must-visit for Canadians travellers — there has been an increase in bookings of 108 per cent compared to last year. “Nagoya offers its share of history, religious destinations, and of course, food, but increasingly, travellers flock to Japan’s fourth-largest city as a home base,” the site noted.
Mexico City, Mexico
Women shopping in Mexico City. Getty Images
Lonely Planet lists Mexico City as one of their top cities to visit in 2019. Named the World Design Capital in 2018, Mexico City is home to a vibrant art scene which includes museums (like the Frida Kahlo Museum), world-class murals and historic architecture.
Skyscanner data found that more Canadians are opting to visit the capital city over Mexican resort towns, as the site found a 100 per cent increase in year-over-year bookings to Mexico City.
Llamas on the Ausangate Trek in Peru. Getty Images
Expedia saw an increase in flight searches to Cusco of almost 25 per cent this year. As the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city, Cusco is rich in history and culture.
“Cusco is a city that is often used as a base or starting point for those looking to explore Machu Picchu, one of the most breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage sites and definitely a big bucket-list item,” Expedia said in a statement to Global News.
“For those interested in taking in some history, as well as experiencing the outdoor trails and being active, Cusco is a destination to put on the list.”
Singapore skyline. Getty Images
According to Skyscanner, “this island state saw a 79 per cent year-over-year growth in bookings.” Travel booking site Expedia also has Singapore on their most popular travel list, as the site said they saw a spike following the release of the film Crazy Rich Asians.
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The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a Unesco World Heritage Site, with 82 hectares of lush outdoor greenery, making it a popular spot for visitors. Singapore’s many scenic walking areas make exploring on foot, easy.
Fountain of Justice at Römerberg.
While Berlin has topped travel lists in the past, it’s Frankfurt’s time to shine. The financial hub is where old meets new, as the river city is home to historic buildings like the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew, and modern skyscrapers like Silberturm.
Lonely Planet lists Germany as one of their top countries to check out in 2019, and Expedia found that more Canadians are booking flights to Frankfurt — which is only a four-hour drive to Munich if you want to explore more.
A couple sitting on a pier in the area of the Ribeira do Douro, Portugal. Getty Images
Based on data from Expedia, more and more Canadians are heading to Portugal. The site found trips to Porto and Lisbon to be the most popular.
Kayak also has Porto on their top 10 destination list as flight searches are up 166 per cent. The coastal city (known for its port wine) is a hub of tasty food, breathtaking architecture and incredible art.
“From Lisbon to Faro and now Porto, Portugal has been a hotspot for Canadian travellers over the last couple of years,” Kayak said in a statement to Global News. “Combine the ease of travel with Portugal’s coastline, cobbled streets and vibrant architecture and this is one country you’ll want to make sure is on your 2019 travel bucket list.”
Dubrovnik. Getty Images.
Kayak found that flight searches to Dubrovnik are up 151 per cent. While there are no direct routes just yet between Canada and Dubrovnik, Kayak said, “there have been talks underway for one to exist from Toronto in 2019.”
Dubrovnik is often called “the Pearl of the Adriatic” due to its crystal waters, breathtaking landscapes, and historical architecture. The city is also not too far of a drive from Split, and a short flight to the country’s capital, Zagreb.
Malé, Maldives. Getty Images.
Who wouldn’t want to escape to the Maldives? It’s a bit of a journey to get there, but Kayak forecasts more Canadians will visit the Maldives in 2019, in fact, it is set to be the site’s No. 1 attraction in 2019. Not only is it breathtaking and romantic with endless views of the water, but it may also be even a bit cheaper.
“Not only did it take this year’s No. 1 spot, but median airfare over the last two years continues to drop (down 12 per cent vs. last year) making it easier and more affordable to explore than previous years,” Kayak noted.
Cape Town, South Africa. Getty Images.
You often see South Africa on travel lists, and there’s a good reason for it. Another TTC choice, the country is full of culinary delights and rugged landscapes — perfect for adventure seekers who want more than a typical relaxing vacation.
“It’s no wonder why more and more Canadians, especially millennials, have this country on their 2019 travel radars,” Element added.
“In fact, the youth travel adventure company Contiki recently released a study that found that one-third of young Canadians will be specifically looking for more adventure activities on their next vacation.”
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