Kate wearing a long yellow and black-spotted gauzy gown over an overlook in Shirley Heights, Antigua. Kate is holding the gauzy outer layer open and smiling. In the background is a view over the White Sea down below, and mountains in the distance.

My Favorite New Destinations of 2019

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Every year, I name my favorite new travel destinations. I love looking back and choosing the best of the best!

This was a year that started off slowly, then went into hyperdrive in the summer. After getting back from a three-week trip to Italy in June, I decided to travel a LOT more and barely saw New York between July and October. That eventually led to a decision to no longer live full-time in New York.

2019 was a year of Italy and Canada in particular. I’ve always been a frequent Italy visitor, but this year I pushed my travels to the next level and made a goal of visiting all 20 regions (and I went from 10 regions visited to 17!). As for Canada, this was my first time visiting since starting this blog in 2010 (!!) and I made up for lost time with several weeks of travels throughout Atlantic Canada.

This wasn’t quite as far-flung a year as 2018, when I visited every continent except Australia, but I’m very content with the results.

So what made the list of my favorite destinations?

In 2012, I chose places like Iceland, Montenegro, and South Africa.

In 2013, I chose places like Japan, Berlin, and the Scottish Highlands.

In 2014, I chose places like Sri Lanka, New Orleans, and Skellig Michael, Ireland.

In 2015, I chose places like Nicaragua, Albania, and Chicago.

In 2016, I chose places like Puerto Rico, Alsace, and Western Australia.

In 2017, I chose places like Ukraine, the Florida Keys, and St. Petersburg, Russia.

In 2018, I chose places like Antarctica, Hokkaido, and St. Croix.

Sometimes I choose one best destination, or a top three, or just list them all at once. This year, I felt like there was one best destination overall, plus one best country and one best city. The rest of the destinations are ranked equally and listed in no particular order.

Please note that this is only for destinations that I visited for the first time in 2019, so that eliminates places I’ve previously visited like London, Parma, and Prague.

Red fishing cottages on a still bay with islands and cloud-wrapped cliffs in the background in Newfoundland.
Champney’s Bay, Newfoundland

My Favorite New Destination of 2019: Newfoundland

I find that the word “enchanting” is overused in travel writing — but there’s no other way to describe Newfoundland. I fell under its spell within minutes, and it was a feeling that hasn’t diminished whatsoever to this day. As soon as I visited, I knew that Newfoundland would be my #1 destination of 2019.

Newfoundland was a place that I had hoped to visit for years, ever since I got to know it through my friend Candice‘s writing. Seeing the outstanding musical Come From Away pushed me into overdrive and I nearly booked a flight that very night!

Newfoundland is a lot like Ireland — all the charm, all the friendliness, all the greenery, all the lilting accents — but more colorful and with a fraction of the tourists.

Each destination I visited was like a new treasure. I felt enveloped in happiness the whole time I was in Newfoundland — like I was truly part of the community. It’s such a rare feeling to find on my travels, and one that I hope to recapture soon.

And a reminder to my fellow travelers — you don’t have to travel somewhere difficult or dangerous to get a true off-the-beaten-path travel experience. There are plenty of awesome places close to home. Newfoundland excited me, thrilled me, and made me feel like a true adventurer.

Two houses, one turquoise and one pea green, on a grassy landscape in Bonavista, Newfoundland.
Bonavista
Brightly colored cottages on a grassy peninsula in the distance, surrounded by bright blue water.
Trinity
Kate dances in the street in front of a row of brightly painted houses in St. John's.
Jelly Bean Row in St. John’s
A sunset with a light purple sky and pink and dark purple clouds, in front of a red fishing hut and a sailboat
Sunset in Twillingate

Kate’s Top Recommendations for Newfoundland

Do dinner on the beach in Twillingate with Krystal from Experience Twillingate. This was my favorite activity in Newfoundland. Krystal cooks the freshest seafood imaginable on a gorgeous beach, and it’s such a special thing to do that connects you with Newfoundland.

Get screeched in at Christian’s Pub in St. John’s. I think the less I tell you about this, the better — but it’s a Newfoundland rite of passage.

Stay at the Artisan Inn in Trinity. Trinity is a spectacularly beautiful village and Marieke and her people take such good care of their beautiful homes. I only had one night but I recommend staying a few days if you can!

Read More: Travel to Newfoundland and You’ll Never Want to Leave

A village of stone towers in the foreground and mountains in the background in Mestia, Svaneti.
Mestia, Georgia

My Favorite New Country of 2019: Georgia

Georgia was worth the wait. For years, I had been dreaming of visiting Georgia and all of the Caucasus; finally, the perfect opportunity arrived in 2019. I got to tour the country with several of my blogger friends and got to spend the most time in Tbilisi, a very cool city, and Svaneti, the isolated mountainous region with its own culture.

Georgia is home to gorgeous mountains, interesting and perplexing cities, and food so universally delicious that I’m shocked there aren’t Georgian restaurants in every major city. Mark my words: Georgian food is going to become much more popular in the next decade. And best of all, this is an extremely cheap country where you can travel like a baller while on a budget.

I believe Georgia is going to be one of the biggest up-and-coming travel destinations in the next few years. I sincerely hope the country is prepared for the influx.

A gorgeous view of Tbilisi underneath a blue sky, buildings with orange roofs, the green river snaking through the city, a few of the modern glassy buildings poking up in the photo.
Tblisi
A table covered with plates of Georgian food: khachapuri (cheese pie), tomato walnut cucumber salad, roasted chicken, and lots of wine.
A typical Georgian spread at Baia Winery
Kate stands in front of the Peace Bridge in Tbilisi, Georgia, which is modern and a grid-like oblong shape interspersed with green-blue panels of glass. Kate wears a white dress with a white and green and blue geometric pattern that looks similar to the bridge.
On the Peace Bridge in Tbilisi
A distance view of Ushguli, with the stone towers of the village towering over the green landscape but not the surrounding green mountains.
Ushguli

Kate’s Top Recommendations for Georgia

Don’t drive. The driving here is insane — don’t drive here unless you thrive in wild, unpredictable driving conditions.

Enjoy the food and wine culture. Georgian food is outstanding and the wine is cheap and quite palatable. My absolute favorite meal was at Shavi Lomi in Tbilisi, and don’t miss a night out at Wine Factory!

Visit Ushguli. It’s a rough and wild drive to this isolated Svaneti village, but once you get there, you’ll feel like you’ve made it to the end of the world.

Read More: Reasons Why You Should Travel to Georgia in 2020

Kate stands in front of the pyramid-shaped Cascade building in Yerevan, Armenia.

My Favorite New City of 2019: Yerevan, Armenia

I’m an unabashed city girl and love visiting cities on my travels as much as I enjoy living in them. And while I visited a lot of cool new cities, from Lecce to Tbilisi to Olomouc. But nothing was as cool as Yerevan, Armenia.

I went into Armenia with few expectations and my first impression was delight at a taco truck parked outside my hotel. Taco trucks are so hard to find outside North America — but in Armenia?! I grew further enamored at the elegant, well-cared for streets, and the art-filled scene around the Cascade.

But Yerevan is at its best when it comes to its outdoor nightlife scene. There are so many cool cafes and restaurants, and the city is filled with fountains. Parts of it remind me a lot of Southern California — not surprising as Los Angeles is home to the largest Armenian community in the United States. I would absolutely spend a month in Armenia (during the summer, obviously!) and enjoy the atmosphere.

A woman peruses books on a table at an outdoor market in Yerevan.
Booksellers at the Vernissage
Wine bar near Republic Square
Kate in a red dress standing in front of several barrels filled with Ararat brandy.
At the Ararat Brandy Factory
Three red flowers placed in front of there eternal flame at the Armenian Genocide Memorial.
Armenian Genocide Memorial

Kate’s Top Recommendations for Yerevan

Learn about the Armenian Genocide before you go. It affects everything about life in Armenia today. My blog post linked below is a good starting point.

Have the bread at Temurnots, next to the Yerevan Cascade. Armenian bread is delicious, and this is my favorite bread place. Fill it with cheese, matsoni (strained yogurt) and fresh herbs!

Go brandy tasting at the Ararat Brandy factory. This is a fun tour and it’s something different from the usual wine or beer tour.

Read More: What’s It Like to Travel Armenia Today?

A terrace overlooks a blue and gray misty Lake Orta in the distance, mountains rising up over the lake. In the foreground there is a weathered wooden table. On it is a plate covered with prosciutto and a ball of burrata cheese; behind it are a bottle of Franciacorta sparkling white wine and two goblets filled with the wine.
Franciacorta, burrata, and prosciutto Piemontese overlooking Lake Orta

Lake Orta, Italy

In my efforts to explore more of Italy this year, I got off the beaten track. One place was in the lakes region of Piemonte. While Lake Como is extremely popular with foreign tourists, and Lake Maggiore slightly less so, Lake Orta is much more a destination for Italian tourists. Many Milanese have vacation homes here.

Lake Orta is splendid — much smaller than the most famous lakes, clean and dark, surrounded by mountains and even snow-capped glaciers. Orta San Giulio is a pastel-colored town that fits into the surrounding landscape perfectly. The area is surrounded by mountains, giving you great views in every direction. And one of my favorite agriturismi in the world is here, serving up fantastic Piemontese cuisine and wines.

Every now and then you need a quiet, peaceful getaway with no agenda. Lake Orta is my new favorite place for that kind of trip. I hope to return at least once a year.

Pastel-colored houses are sitting right on Lake Orta, with boats in front of them in the water. A large green hill rises behind them underneath a bright blue sky.
Orta San Giulio from the water
Tagliate di Manzo, thin sliced beef filet, here topped with dill.
Tagliate a manzo
Kate wears a green dress and stands in front of a green door in Lake Orta.
In Orta San Giulio
A bright blue Lake Orta with a tiny island in the lake, green mountains on the other side, and a glacier-covered white mountains in the distance, all underneath a bright blue sky.
Morning lake and glacier views

Kate’s Top Recommendations for Lake Orta

Eat at Il Cucchaio di Legno. This agriturismo served me one of the most outstanding meals I had this year — all for a very reasonable price of 33 euros plus wine. I would go back to eat here alone. Make a reservation in advance.

Take a boat to the island on the lake. This island is spooky-silent and has signs around the island extolling the virtues of silence. It’s an interesting place to visit.

Visit Mottarone. This mountain will give you views of several lakes in the region as well as the surrounding snow-topped glaciers.

Read More: 11 Things I Learned on My Latest Trip to Italy

Kate sits on a bench in front of a gray shop with yellow trim and a red white and blue Acadian flag with a yellow star on it.
An Acadian shop in La Grave

Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec

The Îles-de-la-Madeleine, also called the Magdalen Islands, are isolated and hard to reach — but if you make it here, it’s well worth the journey. This archipelago north of Prince Edward Island is made up of thin, wispy islands where the borders erode and change with the tides.

I found the islands so delicate and precious — because they are going to be impacted by climate change, and are already being economically affected by most young Madelinots leaving for better opportunities. But it feels like there’s a positive change in the air — young people are coming back and opening new businesses. Perhaps it’s the beginning of a new era.

For now, these islands make a peaceful summer getaway, a place where you can enjoy nature and quiet in a place that seems temporarily suspended in time. Make sure you book everything way in advance.

Bright red cliffs plunge into the sea on the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec.
Red cliffs
Piles of wrapped cheeses in a refrigerated container at Pied de Vent fromagerie in the Iles-de-la-Madeleine.
Cheese from the fromagerie
Kate stands in front of a field of wildflowers and faces cliffs and a rocky beach in the distance.
Overlooking cliffs and beaches
Gray houses and boutiques lined up in rows in the Iles-de-la-Madeleine.
La Grave

Kate’s Top Recommendations for the Îles-de-la-Madeleine

Try the local brews at the À l’abri de la Tempête. This brewery is one of the newer businesses to open on the island and a very welcome one — warm and inviting, it’s the perfect place to spend a stormy afternoon.

Stroll the shops of La Grave village. This town is filled with picture-perfect cottages and makes a lovely and photogenic place for a stroll.

Gorge on cheeses at La Fromagerie du Pied de Vent. The islands are home to an excellent fromagerie with several homemade varieties. I took a few with me!

Read More: Reasons to Travel to the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Canada’s Magdalen Islands

Giant letters reading "HOLBOX" in front of the beach and the blue ocean.
Holbox Beach

Holbox, Mexico

For years, my expat friends in Mexico had been raving about Holbox as their special island getaway. For people who lived right next to the beach on the Mayan Riviera, those were strong words. But once I visited myself, I realize what makes this island so special.

Holbox is what I thought Tulum would be and exactly what I wanted in a Mexican island getaway. There are no big brands, only small businesses. There are no cars; people get around by bicycle or golf cart. It’s definitely got tourist infrastructure, but it somehow seems to attract the right tourists — lots of backpackers and former backpackers who grew up, may have had kids, but kept the backpacker mindset.

I’m usually wary of the future of destinations like these, afraid that they’ll succumb to development — but Holbox seems to be doing the right thing. Development has been severely limited and a ban on single-use plastics is on its way. Hopefully Holbox continues to be the wonderful place it is.

People sitting on a long pier dipping into the ocean.
Prime sunset viewing on the pier
Casa Sandra, with its thatched roof, surrounded by palm trees, a green golf cart parked in front.
Casa Sandra, one of my favorite places I’ve ever stayed
Kate wearing a long denim skirt and bathing suit top, facing outwards while standing in ankle-deep clear blue water in Holbox.
Incredible water at Cabo Catoche
Sunset cocktails at Zomay

Kate’s Top Recommendations for Holbox

Stay at Casa Sandra. It’s a high-end luxury eco property, and it you can swing the cost, it’s DIVINE. From the gorgeous rooms to the poolside margaritas to the black tempura-fried onions (OMG!) to the peaceful breakfast atmosphere, I loved every minute.

Day trip to Cabo Catoche. Take a boat ride east and you’ll find Cabo Catoche — a gorgeous area with clear ankle-deep water. Go early enough and you’ll have the place to yourself.

Catch the sunset at Zomay. There are so many sunset spots throughout Holbox, but I really enjoyed getting a cocktail and watching the sunset from this popular beach bar attached to the eponymous resort.

Read More: What’s It Like to Travel to Isla Holbox, Mexico?

A worn path leads through the grass in the Dolomites. Ion the background are pine trees, huge blue and gray mountains, and a blue sky with puffy white clouds above all.

The Dolomites

Every year, there is an “it destination” that tons of travel bloggers start visiting organically out of the blue. One year it was Cuba; one winter it was Oaxaca; at some point Myanmar went into overdrive. This year, it’s the Dolomites, the gorgeous, jagged mountains of Italy’s far northeast, and suddenly this region became incredibly popular on Instagram!

I’ve long wanted to visit the Dolomites, part of the Alto Adige (South Tyrol) region of northeast Italy. And it was worth it — their beauty is spectacular. The Dolomites have a UNESCO World Heritage designation because of their unusual geology that leaves them jagged and color-changing depending on the time of day.

It’s also a reminder that Italy is an incredibly diverse place. The local language here is Ladin and they even speak different dialects of Ladin in different valleys! Anyone who thinks Italy is all the same boring thing should travel to the Dolomites.

A church steeple pokes out of an Italian mountain landscape in the Dolomites. The church is surrounded by forest.
Village church
Pressknodel: bread dumplings on the top of a pile of cabbage with a decorative purple flower on top
Pressknodel
Kate twirls around with a hut and mountain behind her
The hills are alive…
A wooden home in the Dolomites is covered with hundreds of wooden cutouts made from found pieces of wood.
A wood carver’s home

Kate’s Top Recommendations for the Dolomites

Rent a car. I usually prefer traveling by train in Italy, but public transport in the Dolomites is much more limited. You’ll be better off renting a car and traveling on your own timeline.

Stay at Ciasa Salares. This boutique resort is designed beautifully, has outstanding award-winning cuisine, and next to the wine cellar is a chocolate room that is basically like Willy Wonka for adults!

Eat all the speck. “Speck” often means bacon or similar kind cured hard pork in Germanic Europe, but in the Dolomites it is the most feathery, delicate, smoky prosciutto ever. It’s fantastic and unique to this region.

Read More: Three Days in the Dolomites: A South Tyrol Getaway

Kaietuer Falls
Kaieteur Falls

Guyana

When I got an invitation to visit Guyana on a press trip this past winter, I was overjoyed. This was a true off-the-beaten-path destination. Guyana actively discouraged tourism as late as the eighties; they thought it would ruin their country. And when you visit today, there is very little travel infrastructure in most parts of the country.

But the eco-tourism in the Rupununi is sublime. You can spend an evening on a riverboat tracking down giant crocodile-like caiman lizards. Giant otters are another local denizen; head out early and you might be able to spot an anteater. The landscapes are almost painfully beautiful. And Kaieteur Falls is so magnificent — but it defies belief that there isn’t even a guardrail at Kaieteur National Park!

Guyana is absolutely my pick for the next big offbeat wildlife destination. If you like to travel where few others go, put the country at the top of your list. And spend as much time as you can in the Rupununi.

A boy walks down a dirt path and two giant otters turn around and make sure that he's still following them. SO CUTE!!
Giant Otters at Karanambu Lodge
Sunset in the Rupununi
Kate and Delvin sharing a coconut in Georgetown, Guyana
Sharing a rum-filled coconut with Delvin in Georgetown
A swampy, marshy area with bright green vegetation peeking in and out of the water in the Rupununi, Guyana.
Rupununi at Dusk

Kate’s Top Recommendations for Guyana

Do a food tour with the Backyard Cafe. This small business in Georgetown makes a really fun day touring the market before welcoming you back to their backyard to cook it all!

Hang out with the giant otters at Karanambu Lodge. They may be giant otters, but the little ones are like puppies! It’s fun to watch them eat and play.

Get really off the beaten path at Saddle Mountain Ranch. Ride ATVs, swim in the creek, and enjoy little electricity and absolutely no internet (they don’t even have a website!).

Read More: What’s It Really Like to Travel Guyana?

Viewing from a point above, a city of brown terra-cotta rooftops spreads over the expanse. In the distance, green mountains rise up against a blue and white-streaked sky. Riva del Garda, Italy
Views over Riva del Garda

Trentino, Italy

Imagine a region of Italy with mountains crashing down into deep lakes, terracotta-topped roofs, and some of the tastiest white wines around. Now let me tell you that you can enjoy this region without the tourist crowds that dominate more popular Italian spots. This is Trentino.

One reason why I love traveling Italy is because there is always more to discover, and it has a lot of diversity. I didn’t have many expectations for Trentino, but I grew to love the small, unpretentious city of Trento, covered in pastel murals and filled with fun bars. (Oh, and the main photo on the new home page of my site was shot in Trento!)

I loved feeling so under the radar, in a region where most of the tourists are Germans or Austrians on long-distance bike trips. I’d love to go back and see a lot more of Trentino.

Yellow and pink flowers blooming from a blow in the foreground; a tiny church and river in the background. In Trento, Italy.
Tiny chapel and flowers in Trentino
Four adults and a baby carriage stand on a jetty jutting out into the blue Lake Garda, where a windy day is stirring up white caps in the waves. The mountains are jagged in the background and seem to be falling into the lake.
Lake Garda on a wild, windy day
Kate is sitting down and playing a bright red painted piano in the streets of Trento. She looks at the camera and smiles.
Playing one of the pianos in Trento’s old town
A bus crosses a bridge in Trento, Italy
Small city life in Trento

Kate’s Top Recommendations for Trentino

Spend a day at Riva del Garda. Only a tiny portion of Lake Garda is in Trentino, but this beautiful little village is a great day trip, with beautiful views from the clock tower.

Drink all the Trentodoc. Trentodoc wine comes from Trentino and it is fabulous — especially the sparkling white varieties.

Visit MART, the Museo di Arte Moderna, in Rovereto. This modern art museum has a lot of wonderful displays and makes a perfect excursion away from Trento.

Read More: Three Weeks in Northern Italy: A Travel Itinerary

A staircase descending the hills at dusk in Cape Breton Highlands National Park
The Skyline Trail at sunset

Nova Scotia

What a truly amazing part of Canada. I spent quite a bit of time in Nova Scotia this summer — I did a Cape Breton road trip, I visited several places including remote Sable Island on my Canada cruise, and I spent a few days with my friend Cailin in her hometown of Halifax and visited nearby towns like Lunenberg and Peggys Cove.

What I loved about Atlantic Canada is that so much of it reminded me of New England — but I felt like Nova Scotia was so similar to Massachusetts! I loved the fantastic lobster for every meal, the natural beauty (especially Cape Breton Highlands National Park), the little folk art stands, and the interesting mixture of indigenous, Celtic, and Acadian cultures on Cape Breton.

Sable Island felt like the biggest travel achievement in Nova Scotia — this is such a remote island and it’s so hard to get to! But I have to say my heart belongs to Acadian town of Chéticamp. Nova Scotia deserves merit in so many areas. I know I’ve only scraped its surface and I can’t wait to return.

Four horses walking along a lake on sandy Sable Island.
Wild horses on Sable Island
White limestone cliffs topped with grass plunging into the ocean in Cape Breton.
White Point, Cape Breton
Kate wears a red dress and sits on the end of a wooden pier with old-fashioned wooden homes in the distance behind her.
Lunenberg
White cottages sit atop a gray cliff; in the foreground are flowers. A gray day in Nova Scotia.
Keltic Lodge

Kate’s Top Recommendations for Nova Scotia

Eat all the lobster, constantly, whenever possible. For years Cailin has been telling me Nova Scotia has the best lobster in the world, and though it pains me to say…she’s right.

Paint masks at the Mi-Carême Centre in Chéticamp. I had no idea that such a cool festival existed in the remaining Acadian parts of Atlantic Canada! Learning about the masked, costumed mid-winter festival was a blast — and painting our own masks was relaxing and fun.

Have afternoon tea at Tartan Tea House. What makes this Halifax-area tea shop so special? You can actually borrow fancy hats to wear while enjoying your tea and pastries. EVERY PLACE SHOULD DO THIS.

Read More: Driving the Cabot Trail: The Ultimate Nova Scotia Road Trip

Sunset over the overlook at Shirley Heights, pieces of land jutting out. The sunset is purple and pink with lots of clouds.
Shirley Heights, Antigua’s best sunset spot

Antigua

Every Caribbean island has a way of taking your worries away (and likely replacing them with a cup of rum punch). But what makes Antigua special? It’s probably the most solid all-around Caribbean island I’ve visited. Sure, you’ve got your great resorts and beaches, but it’s more than that.

In Antigua, you can get out and hang out with locals a lot more easily than other islands. I loved everyone I met. The local food is excellent — even something with the name of “goat water” is delicious. The island has a lot of history and historic sites. There are hikes for all levels, activities for partiers, and some crazy sea activities like scooter snorkeling. Even the city of St. John’s was fun to explore on market day.

Being in Antigua felt like the sun was shining directly on me. It’s hard to find a destination that makes you feel like that.

A view over the turquoise Caribbean Sea with white hotel rooms on a piece of rocky land to the right. There are palm trees in one corner.
The Verandah Resort
A small pink church is perched on a hill in Antigua with a soft blue and white sky in the background.
Pink church in an inland village
Kate holds a tiny Antigua black pineapple in her hand. It is the size of her fist. She holds it next to her mouth and pretends to eat the whole thing, a smile on her face. In the background are displays of fruit, including limes and oranges.
I love you, tiny pineapple!
A pink sunset over a beach with white hotel rooms and palm trees in the background.
Pink sunset at Pineapple Beach Club

Kate’s Top Recommendations for Antigua

Enjoy all the Antigua black pineapple. I swear that Antigua is home to the sweetest, most delicious pineapple in the world. Try it and I bet you’ll agree.

Spend a sunset at Shirley Heights. Not only is the best view on the island, the whole place turns into a party atmosphere with music, drinks, and dancing! While I enjoyed my Thursday night visit, I’ve heard Sunday is best because it’s the local night.

Take a catamaran ride. My favorite activity in Antigua was a catamaran ride, enjoying music and rum punch at sunset. The perfect way to end a trip to Antigua!

Read More: What’s It Like to Travel to Antigua and Barbuda?

A street with gray stone streets, white walls and green shutters and plants in Monopoli
Monopoli

Monopoli, Italy

When it came time to find a base for a week in Puglia, Monopoli was absolutely the best choice. It’s not the most famous town south of Bari — Polignano a Mare next door gets a lot more visitors — but you can’t beat the vibe here.

Monopoli is a tourist-driven town, but it has such a nice atmosphere. It’s full of twisting, winding streets with white buildings and green shutters, green plants adding to the color throughout the city. It’s got a small beach and some beach clubs further out. Much of Puglian cuisine is vegetable-driven, but there is tons of fresh, delicious seafood available in its coastal towns as well.

Monopoli is a great place for lazy days. Have a nice lunch. Go for a stroll. Go for gelato — twice or even three times if you’re ambitious. This is Monopoli life!

A hand with glittery purple fingernails holding up an ice cream with white buildings and blue boats in the background.
Enjoying a Caruso gelato
People hanging out in the street while enjoying drinks, green-shuttered buildings and stringed lights in the background.
Monopoli at night
Kate wears a brightly colored and patterned one-piece bathing suit and throws her hands in the air in joy. She's standing on a rocky formation with the bright blue ocean behind her. In Monopoli, Puglia.
On the beach south of Monopoli
A city wall juts into the ocean; people sun themselves on the rocks surrounding the wall.
Beach time

Kate’s Top Recommendations for Monopoli:

Eat gelato at Caruso as often as possible. Caruso may be my favorite gelato spot on the planet, and that’s saying a lot. As in we were the weirdos loitering outside at 2:00 PM waiting for it to reopen. The flavors are inventive and interesting and the quality is top notch.

Day trip all over Puglia (and beyond). If you’re willing to walk a bit, you can park easily in Monopoli. One of my favorite day trips was to Matera and Altamura; another was to Alberobello and Locorotondo.

Have drinks and dinner in front of the sea wall. I loved catching those late evening sea breezes while nursing the perfect aperol spritz.

Where was your favorite new destination in 2019?

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15 thoughts on “My Favorite New Destinations of 2019”

  1. I will be in Isla Holbox for a week at the end of January and cannot wait! It’s actually going to be my very first trip to Mexico and I didn’t want it to be one of the super popular places. Then I remembered reading about Holbox on your site, researched more and decided to make it my winter getaway. Can’t wait!

  2. My SO and I booked our August trip to Newfoundland based on your blog post – THANK YOU!
    I scored a deal on flights on cyber-Monday, booked stays in St. John’s and Bonavista, and booked several nights on Fogo Island at a rental via The Old Salt Box Company. Rental car and dog kennel is reserved. So excited!

  3. I’ve never thought about visiting Antigua but it looks absolutely gorgeous, it has definitely made it on to my (ever growing) list now! Love this post 🙂

  4. The only new to me place I visited in 2019 was San Francisco, and I really enjoyed the city. I’m hoping to visit Newfoundland in 2020 though (it’s been on my bucket list for years), and reading about your trip there makes me want to go even more.

  5. These all look wonderful! My favorite “new” destination this year was Fes, Morocco. The shopping, the people, the food, the incredible shopping and food tour, the maze of the medina, did I mention the shopping? I’ve never been a big shopper, but I remember — in Marrakech — after bartering hard for some pottery, I got to talking with the shopkeeper. I told him how people from the U.S., in general, are uncomfortable bartering, and he would likely get what he asked for if he just put prices on his pieces. And he said, “If I do that, then how would we ever get to know one another?” It was such an eye-opening culture moment for me.

  6. I travelled around Africa this year (South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana) being in Cape Town on my own was scary but ended up not being too bad.
    Worst travel moment: I was in Zimbabwe during the money crisis I ran very low on cash and even in Vic Falls and Bulawayo the ATM’s were completely empty. Seeing the crisis at the border was heartbreaking

    Best: the safaris particularly seeing rhinos in their natural habitat in Zimbabwe.

    I’m off to Vietnam in a week then next year either Bali (not that exciting for a West Aussie) or Thailand on a volunteering trip but that depends on my work situation.

    Georgia looks absolutely amazing it’s been on my list for a long time. I wish it was cheaper to travel where I live.

  7. Rebecca Collins

    I stayed in the Las Alpujarras a little north of Orgiva. I had only ever been to Barcelona in Spain so this was a big change and I loved it. The mountains, weather, food, people, it was all beautiful!

    Your Newfoundland trip looks incredible. I’ve lived in Canada my entire life but unfortunately travel within the country is more costly than out of country so I haven’t spent much time in eastern Canada. Your trip is inspiring though!

  8. I share your love for Italy! Just made Tuscany including the gems of Volterra, San Gimignano, Siena, Lucca and Montecatini Terme! I’m deeply fascinated by the medieval spirit of these places and their history!
    Italy has something new to offer every time you return!

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