After the pandemic hibernation, people traveled the world in droves in 2023 to see all the faraway destinations they missed or never had a chance to visit. For 2024, we anticipate that travelers will make a concerted effort to seek out more meaningful experiences.
Of course, “meaningful” is subjective. For one person, that could be a wildlife safari. For another, it could be supporting a beloved island ravaged by wildfires. Our list of 24 places around the globe covers it all, appealing to those who enjoy sports, art, food and more. But the destinations all share a commonality: they promise to leave you with a lasting impression.
Most people come to Grand Cayman for Seven Mile Beach, but it’s also an under-the-radar destination for its vibrant culinary scene. Look no further than restaurants such as Five-Star The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman’s seafood-centric Blue by Eric Ripert and specialty bars such as Five-Star Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa’s Library by the Sea (its literary-themed cocktails are a novel concept), which will host renowned mixologists from around the globe all year. The island also is home to the Cayman Cookout, an excellent winter culinary festival helmed by Ripert that draws top chefs. It all solidifies the island’s status as a verifiable foodie paradise.
Start planning: Where To Eat And Drink In Grand Cayman Island
What better way for the International Olympic Committee to debut four new summer events (hello there, breakdancing!) than on Paris’ massive stage? While the world’s attention will be on tracks, courts and pools around France’s capital from July 26 to August 11, the city’s top hotels will be competing for luxury travelers’ attention. One contender we’re keeping our eyes on is Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa. Though the gorgeous property is 75 miles from central Paris congestion, it offers enough tennis, mountain biking and horseback riding that you’ll feel like you’ve won the gold with a stay.
Start planning: 5 Of Paris’ Most Glamorous Suites
Travelers have long found the Central African nation a treasure trove of great food, generous people and gorilla treks made famous by primatologist Dian Fossey. And while we’re as enthralled with the idea of fist-bumping primates in Volcanoes National Park as the next adventurer, we’re equally excited about sipping our morning coffee under eucalyptus trees and splashing in the infinity pool at neighboring One&Only Gorilla’s Nest. Dubbed the Land of a Thousand Hills, Rwanda sets the scene for adventures big and small with its diverse landscape of volcanoes, plains and rainforests.
Start planning: Go On A One-Day Gorilla Trek In Rwanda
For most U.S. cities, the Super Bowl would be the pinnacle on an event calendar. For the entertainment capital of the world, however, February 11’s football extravaganza is merely the first spectacle in a year stuffed with other sports (Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix), stage productions (Spiegelworld’s DiscoShow debuts this summer at The Linq Hotel) and serious Sphere rumors (Beyoncé is reportedly in talks to do a residency in the futuristic dome). All of that and workers are still sweeping up confetti from 3,644-room Fontainebleau’s December grand opening.
Start planning: 5 Of Las Vegas’ Best-Kept Secrets
A charming UNESCO World Heritage Site in coastal Portugal, Porto quietly keeps creeping up travelers’ list of must-visit European cities. Being less than 200 miles from fast-paced capital Lisbon is one reason for the attention. The region’s famous wine, in production since the 1750s, is another tasty one. While the city offers a host of wineries to toast, it’s the remarkable hotel growth — new properties like Altis Porto Hotel and The Lince Santa Clara have been announced for 2024 — that we’re thirsty to learn more about.
The wonderous pyramids of Giza and the Nile annually make Egypt’s biggest city a popular destination for travelers. Recent openings have only intensified interest. In 2023, Waldorf Astoria entered the Africa market with an elegant property in the ancient Egyptian city of Heliopolis. And in late-spring 2024, a new chapter in the city’s rich history will be written with the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, an attraction that will not only house King Tut’s entire treasure collection but also promises to be the largest archaeological museum complex in the world.
The August 2023 Maui wildfires are estimated to have done more than $6 billion in damage. The toll taken on local families and businesses is incalculable. But if there is a source of optimism, it’s in the resiliency of Hawaii’s hospitality industry. Restaurants have reopened. Stores are again welcoming customers. Airport runways are filling up. Hotels are also encouraging mindful travel this year with packages that either see a portion of proceeds go directly to affected parties (Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott’s “Return to Maui: Travel with Heart” promotion) or offer programming that intentionally puts the focus back on the area’s natural beauty (Five-Star Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea’s prime whale-watching locale).
Start planning: Uncovering Maui’s Best Snorkeling Spots
The San Diego-Tijuana area was recently named the World Design Capital 2024 by the World Design Organization. The group credits the two cities for having a history of cross-border collaboration and making smart use of the natural environment for everything from infrastructure to the arts. Over this year-long celebration, visitors to the region can participate in community events, Tijuana’s World Design Festival (May 1-5) and San Diego’s World Design Experience (Sept. 18-25). And while Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Pendry San Diego may not be on any official World Design itinerary, the hotel’s clean coastal California aesthetic will turn more than a few eyes.
Start planning: Why You Should Visit This San Diego Hotel Right Now
Every destination on HBO hit show White Lotus becomes a tourism hot spot. Get a jump on the third season, which shoots this year in Thailand with Leslie Bibb and Parker Posey. Koh Samui is among the featured locations, and since previous seasons took place at Four Seasons hotels, Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui likely will play a role. Before the masses descend, luxuriate in the hotel’s hillside villas, private strip of sand and waterfront infinity pool, and explore Thailand’s third-largest island’s stunning beaches, waterfall-dotted jungle and fresh cuisine (it’s known for oysters, prawns and salted duck eggs).
While Vancouver and Toronto command much of the international spotlight for Canada, we will forever hold a special place in our passport for Halifax, a marvelous snapshot of maritime life on the Atlantic side of the map. And with all that’s going on in the Nova Scotian capital — the Junos (Canada’s version of the Grammys) will be held in Scotiabank Centre in March and Symphony Nova Scotia celebrates its 40th anniversary all year — now sounds like the perfect time to visit. Queen’s Marque, a new waterfront district just a short walk from all the music, is home to great restaurants, quaint shops and the subtly stylish Muir Hotel, Autograph Collection.
Start planning: Plan A Road Trip Through Nova Scotia’s Diverse Cultures
Big Sky, Montana
This rugged mountain town is climbing to new heights of luxury. The 2021 opening of Montage Big Sky marked the town’s arrival as a luxury ski resort destination, bolstered by the expansion of Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. With a 400-inch snowfall average, the destination has an obvious appeal for skiers. However, it also has a culinary side worth sampling. The inaugural Savor Big Sky Winter Wine Dinner (Jan. 21) will have renowned New York City-based chef Nick Anderer as the host, only strengthening Big Sky’s reputation as a burgeoning dining destination. The town’s ascent continues through the year with the Savor Big Sky food and wine festival returning this summer and the luxurious One&Only Moonlight Basin debuting next winter’s ski season.
When the McArthur brothers opened the Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced Arizona Biltmore in 1929, they dreamed of making the state a tourist destination. While a slew of anniversaries around Phoenix honor the city’s past — Orpheum Theatre, a former vaudeville venue, celebrated its 95th year on January 5 alongside Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Arizona Biltmore’s 95th anniversary commemoration — the destination is quite literally shooting toward the future. Neighboring Glendale will host this year’s NCAA Men’s Final Four April 6 through 8.
Start planning: Why You Need To Visit This Newly Renovated Architectural Oasis
The Dominican Republic was the Caribbean’s most popular destination last year, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization. And its popularity will continue to grow as the island undergoes a luxury renaissance. Last year saw the opening of Cayo Levantado Resort, the island’s first upscale wellness resort ushered in a model of high-end hospitality centered on the island’s natural beauty, design and cultural history, and local favorite Casa de Campo Resort & Villas unveiled its new Premier Club, an all-suite hotel-within-a-hotel. With The St. Regis Cap Cana (the first luxury chain that isn’t an all-inclusive) and adults-only W All-Inclusive Punta Cana Uvero Alto expected to open in 2024, the destination’s evolving ethos of elegance will only get stronger.
Start planning: Inside The Dominican Republic’s First Luxury Wellness Resort
This year’s solar activity forecast has eyes turned to Iceland’s night sky with the prediction of increased sightings of the northern lights’ dazzling display. But even if the forecast doesn’t pan out, Iceland’s spectacular landscapes — glacial lagoons, black sand beaches and geothermal spas — will undoubtedly leave you in awe. Not to be outdone, capital city Reykjavík is both colorful and cosmopolitan, with rich local music, art and culinary scenes. The Reykjavik EDITION exemplifies all of this but with plenty of stylish Nordic design and unforgettable mountain views. (Editor’s Note: Travelers should monitor recent volcanic activity on the island before planning a trip; as of this publishing, there haven’t been any flight cancelations.)
Start planning: 10 Top Iceland Attractions
Now more than ever, Istanbul offers an irresistible blend of the old world and the new. Galataport, a revitalized waterfront in the city’s historic district, now welcomes visitors arriving by cruise ship with Turkey’s first contemporary art museum, buzzing restaurants and boutiques. A new class of luxury hotels gives those same visitors a compelling reason to stay. The Peninsula Istanbul opened just down the road from Galataport, while the Five-Star Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul, a lavish waterfront, 19th-century Ottoman palace, has nearly completed an extensive redesign, just in time for Istanbul’s next chapter.
Start planning: 12 Top Hotels In Istanbul And Bodrum
The world’s largest city contains an infinite list of attractions — traditional Japanese gardens, some of Asia’s finest restaurants, a host of cherry blossom festivals — that somehow only continues to grow. In 2024, a futuristic digital art museum (teamLab Borderless), an immersive re-creation of Edo-period Tokyo (Toyosu Senkyaku Banrai) and a cutting-edge shopping mall (Tokyu Plaza Harajuku Harakado) will all open. Luckily, a crop of new luxury hotels is springing up just in time to meet the coming tourist demand. The buzzy Bulgari Hotel Tokyo debuted last spring. The avant-garde Tokyo EDITION, Toranomon started welcoming guests in October, and the long-anticipated Tokyo EDITION, Ginza will follow in early 2024.
Start planning: Why Foodies Should Visit This Tokyo Hotel
A total solar eclipse will engulf North America April 8, and Dallas will be the largest city in its path. Watch it from The Joule’s Eye Lawn (a downtown park with a 30-foot-tall eyeball sculpture) at the Eyeborteum party. The next chance to witness the phenomenon in the contiguous U.S. won’t be until 2044, NASA says.
More reasons to visit this year: the city will host the MLB All-Star Game; The Ritz-Carlton Dallas, Las Colinas will unveil a $55 million renovation; the 888-room Loews Arlington will debut; and a new PS private airport terminal will land at DFW.
Start planning: How To Spend Two Days In Dallas
Red Sea, Saudi Arabia
This ambitious project aims to bring regenerative tourism (i.e., preserving and improving the environment and community) to more than 90 untouched islands along Saudi’s west coast. By 2030, the Red Sea will have 50 hotels and 8,000 rooms. But don’t wait until then — fly into the new Red Sea International Airport and stay at Six Senses Southern Dunes, a desert wellness destination that debuted in November, or The St. Regis Red Sea Resort, a newly opened island getaway that offers a bevy of watersports amid the world’s fourth-largest barrier reef system.
Botswana and Tanzania aren’t the only places for a bucket-list-worthy safari. Journey to Uttarakhand, a state in northern India where forest covers 65 percent of the land and 12 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries reside.
Taj Corbett Resort & Spa sits seven miles from Corbett — the country’s oldest national park is home to elephants, leopards and the endangered Royal Bengal tigers — and leads daily Jeep safaris. Forty minutes from Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary and its leopards, Indian red foxes and jackals, The Kumaon provides excursions that include a stop at Zero Point for sweeping views of the Himalayas.
The Sacred Valley, Peru
Many travelers use the Sacred Valley as a gateway to Machu Picchu, but this natural wonderland in the Andes deserves its own trip. Carve out time to visit the many Inca ruins, explore the cobblestoned streets of Ollantaytambo, savor Peru’s famed cuisine and stay at Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, a picturesque property along the Urubamba River.
And when you’re ready to finally trek to Machu Picchu, head to the hotel’s private train station, where you can board a 1920s-style carriage and a panoramic Observation Bar Car for a memorable ride.
Floating between the Philippines and Guam, Palau remains an undiscovered gem with pristine waters and limestone islands teeming with greenery. That won’t be the case for long, since Four Seasons plans to open a hotel there soon.
To test the destination’s waters, the brand recently unveiled the Four Seasons Explorer, a 128-foot luxury catamaran. It’s an ideal way to see Palau’s UNESCO-listed Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, especially if you’re a diver or snorkeler. The yacht is a PADI Five Star Dive Center with all the gear needed for frequent underwater outings with a marine biologist, certified instructors and a paparazzi crew to document your adventures.
Start planning: Discover Palau’s Underwater Wonders And Thrilling Adventures
Whether you’re into K-pop, K-dramas, K-beauty or are just K-curious, South Korea is making it easier for you partake in its culture. It’s launching visas for digital nomads and K-culture training that allows travelers to study at a local performing arts academy. Both visas will allow non-Koreans to stay in the country for up to two years.
In late 2024, check out the first-of-its-kind Seoul Robot & AI Museum, which used robots to construct its white spherical building. The interactive exhibits will feature robots, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and more.
A golden anniversary in a golden paradise, the Four-Star La Samanna, A Belmond Hotel, St Martin celebrates its 50th year on the white-sand shores of Baie Longue, the westernmost point of the French side of the island. However, there is no wrong side to this Caribbean getaway. Nicknamed “The Friendly Island,” St. Martin’s 35 square miles are split between the French and the Dutch, creating an eclectic culture that’s welcoming to all. Mark La Samanna’s milestone with a stay in one of the eight recently renovated Private Pool Villas with new artwork from local painter Roland Richardson, tropical-chic touches, kitchens, lush gardens and infinity pools.
Phu Quoc, Vietnam
A regional beach destination, Vietnam’s largest island feels rustic with fishing villages and cows crossing the uncongested roads. But it’s luring in luxury travelers with the glamorous new Regent Phu Quoc next to InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort.
While tourists visit Sunset Town (an uncanny replica of an Italian city) and Sun World Hon Thom amusement park, opt for a VietJeep Phu Quoc tour to enjoy abundant red starfish at Starfish Beach, a seafood feast at a nondescript restaurant on stilts in the water and famous local peppers at Phu Quoc Countryside farm.