5 Under-the-Radar Travel Destinations to Visit in 2019

Every year brings dozens of thoroughly subjective lists of the “best places to visit.” Our annual list is no less subjective, but it is carefully considered. Based on our intuitions and what makes each destination worth visiting in the new year, here are our picks for the best unexpected travel destinations of 2019.

Matera, Italy

Europe

Matera, Italy
Massimo Colombo/Getty Images

If you’ve never heard of Matera, you’re not alone. The Italian city isn’t exactly a hotspot for American travelers. However, it’s the second largest city in Italy’s southern Basilicata region and, starting in January 2019, the city will take over as the European Capital of Culture. It’s already a UNESCO World Heritage Site due in large part to its being one of the world’s longest inhabited cities. Evidence of human civilization dates back to at least the Neolithic Period. The most notable proof of this is the city’s Sassi — ancient cave dwellings carved into the Gravina di Matera gorge — which make up part of Matera’s beautiful old town. There’s an undeniable beauty to the city and the surrounding region, so much so that it’s featured in numerous Hollywood blockbusters like Wonder Woman and The Passion of the Christ. Visitors can purchase a 2019 Matera Passport for €19 (approximately USD $22) that includes admission to the city’s many events throughout the year.

Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

North America

Aurora borealis over the trees in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
Alan Dyer/Stocktrek Images/Getty Images

Manitoba isn’t “under-the-radar” in the traditional sense as it is a well-known destination among nature-loving travelers. The fact is, however, that few of those travelers actually ever travel there. It’s remote, wild, rugged, and just plain difficult to get to, often requiring a multi-leg journey via planes and trains through Winnipeg to northern Canada. Once there, however, visitors are rewarded with a stunning tundra landscape that’s home to arguably the largest polar bear population on earth. The town of Churchill boasts a fascinating history with deep ties to Canada’s First Nations people, and it’s a fantastic spot to catch the Northern Lights any time of year. Don’t forget to add a long layover to the end of your trip to explore Winnipeg.

Senegal and The Gambia

Africa

gambia river
Gambia River, Africa Bart Brouwer/EyeEm/Getty Images

Tourism in large swaths of Africa has taken a hit in recent years, due in large part to multiple Ebola outbreaks. In the wake of its eradication, however, now is one of the best times to visit as crowds have thinned and prices on everything from hotels to guided tours have dropped significantly. Senegal and The Gambia are among the continent’s least explored countries. Even for seasoned travelers, the region can be challenging to navigate. Opt for a guided tour like G Adventures’ Classic Senegal & The Gambia. The 10-day expedition starts and ends in Dakar with an exploration of daily life in a traditional Wolof village, a deep dive into Gambia’s long and sordid slave trade, and plenty of downtime on the region’s beautiful sandy beaches in between.

Aysén, Patagonia, Chile

South America

Cerro Castillo National Reserve, Región de Aysén, Patagonia, Chile
Cerro Castillo National Reserve, Región de Aysén, Patagonia, Chile Mono Andes/Getty Images

Patagonia has an almost mythical quality among adventure-seeking travelers. The region is so vast, however, that there are still plenty of destinations within it that remain under-the-radar and mostly unexplored. Aysén, in particular, has been considered Patagonia’s “final frontier.” Like Torres del Paine, Aysén offers a vast, varied, and rugged expanse of pristine fjords, snow-capped peaks, and lush rainforests. It’s the ideal off-grid place to disconnect and digital detox while spending your days kayaking, horseback riding, and glacier-trekking in the literal middle of nowhere.

Lombok, Indonesia

Asia

Segara Anak, Mt.Rinjani, Indonesia
Segara Anak, Mt.Rinjani, Indonesia Kitti Boonnitrod/Getty Images

Bali steals most of the mainstream travel press surrounding Indonesia, and rightfully so. It’s an impossibly beautiful island paradise with overwater bungalows, world-class surfing and beaches, and some of the friendliest people on earth. In-the-know travelers, however, will attest that the island of Lombok boasts all of the same features, but far fewer crowds. Here, it’s easy to spend a full two weeks — mostly on the cheap — surfing, snorkeling, hiking volcanoes and lush waterfalls, and getting to know a fascinating indigenous culture that has changed little for centuries.

Style

Beyond Clothing Can Be Worn in Sub-Zero Temperatures and On Hot Dates

Do your clothes pass the re-warming test? Beyond's do.
Travel

21 Best Travel Books to Inspire Your Next Adventure

Get out of town ... or just go to the library. Travel books simulate the sensations of sailing, sightseeing, and setting out to explore.
Auto

All the Presidents’ (Coolest) Cars: A Look at How the POTUS Rolls

The presidential state car serves as a reflection of technological progress, the style of the time, and the stark realities of safety and security concerns.
Travel

Enjoy a Different Kind of Island Life at this Private Scottish Escape

Eilean Shona is a self-described, lakefront “Neverland” where visitors are encouraged to appreciate the lost art of sitting still and doing nothing.
Food & Drink

Heading to Hawaii? Make Your Reservations at Manta Restaurant to Eat Big Island Beef

How can cattle raised in Hawaii stand-up to beef carefully coddled for years in Japan, Australia, and the mainland U.S.? Pretty damn easily, that's how.
Living

Detroit’s Shinola Hotel Has Us Feeling Right At Home

With stylish guest suites and a social “living room,” the Shinola Hotel honors the Motor City’s past while looking to a bright future.
Travel

‘App in the Air’ Could Help Travelers Survive the Next Government Shutdown

It's like an airport survival kit in your pocket. It will be handy long after the government shutdown ends (again).
Travel

The Best Travel and Adventure Documentaries on Netflix Right Now

If you're reading this, you're staring at a screen. Wouldn't you rather be exploring a different part of the world than the Internet?
Outdoors

4 of the Most Dangerous Hikes in the World

You'll need a healthy dose of fear and a desire to push your self to the edge — just not over it.
Travel

The Palms Casino’s Newest High-Roller Suites Have a Bowling Alley and Whiskey Room

The Hardwood Suite is a basketball-centric masterpiece, while the Kingpin suite is a bowling bro's paradise.
Travel

Celebrate Your Single-ness This Valentine’s Day with a Cheap Vacation

Contiki is looking to make solo celebrations even better with deeply discounted travel packages for Singles Awareness Day.
Travel

Win a Private Island Getaway for You and 7 of Your Closest Friends

Bring the entire squad on an ultra-luxe Belizean getaway worthy of a one-percenter.
Travel

10 Reasons to Visit Norway in 2019

The picturesque ruggedness of Norway is just part of the appeal of what may arguably be one of the most beautiful countries on the planet.
Living

The Jamaican Villa Where Ian Fleming Created James Bond is for Rent and It Is Amazing

You can vacation at the birthplace of secret agent 007, complete with butlers to make your martinis.