Top 10 travel destinations for every Canadian's bucket list in 2019

Jan 12 2019, 3:41 am

With the introduction of low-cost carriers, the ever-lingering travel bug, and countless seat sales that hit our inboxes on the daily, Canadians are pulling out their passports and looking towards the flight that will start 2019 off as a year filled with grand adventures.

There are some very specific things that Canadians are looking for when it comes to planning their trips for the year.

For starters, a rich culture that offers a distinctive culinary industry, compelling architecture, and accommodations that allow guests to relax, clear their mind, and enjoy some much-needed self-care are all musts.

But, most of all they’re looking to travel smart. This means heading to the spots that have yet to be overrun by tourists while still hitting up those must-see landmarks, viewing a place from the lens of a local, and experiencing areas where the Canadian dollar can take you the extra mile.

From The New York Times to Travel + Leisure to Conde Nast Traveller, we did some research for you and between these lists and a few hints from our avid travel buddies, we put together the top 10 must-see destinations that Canadians are quickly crossing off their bucket lists this year.

Check them out!

Cartagena, Colombia


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This vibrant city contains a candid authenticity that runs throughout the streets and the 500-year old walls that surround it. In the old town, you’ll experience delicious seafood (Tilapia is the most popular), a variety of local artisan boutiques, and breathtaking views of the ocean from the perimeters of the wall.

Across the bridge, you’ll find the bustling neighbourhood of Gestemani. As you get lost in the cobblestone streets lined with quaint colourful buildings, you’ll find yourself becoming immersed with the locals and experiencing their very social and community-driven culture.

From white sand beaches to incredible nightlife to unmissable island getaways merely a short boat ride away, there’s no wonder that this old Colombian port city is catching the eye of more and more travelers from Canada and throughout the world. The best part? It’s incredibly affordable, so you can treat-yourself guilt-free!

Tel Aviv, Israel 


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Compared to the history of Israel, Tel Aviv is relatively young, sporting an urban charm that contrasts a hybrid of eclectic designs seen in its Bauhaus architecture and modern minimalism, which is where it gets its nickname, “The White City.”

The locals’ laissez-faire attitude makes Tel Aviv the perfect place to grab a bike and explore the crevices of the city or relax on the many beaches on the Mediterranean Sea along Shlomo Lahat Promenade.

The locals are always keen to share their culture and its heritage, so don’t be surprised if you get wrapped up in a conversation or two – plan for it, actually. If design, fashion, and art are what you’re looking for, stay in a 1920s-designed villa or bed and breakfast, and don’t miss out on getting lost in the halls of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

If time permits, head out of town for a short road trip to Jaffa, the second oldest port city in the world, or stay in the city and taste fresh fruits and shop for unique souvenirs at the camel market. This city is bursting with culture just waiting to be discovered!

Ubud, Indonesia


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Watch out – many Canadians come to this magical place and never end up leaving! Popularized in the movie Eat, Pray, Love, Ubud is this cultural epicenter of Bali that is grounded in tradition, healing, and love – don’t be surprised if you get hugged by a stranger at least once while you’re there.

With terraced rice fields that extend for miles, lush postcard-worthy rainforest views, and must-see temples, there is no way that you won’t fall in love with this island town.

With a medium budget, you can easily stay in accommodations that combine luxury and the relaxing and serene lifestyle that this spot is so well known for. The Monkey Forest and the Yoga Barn are also must-visits to add to your list. If you’re looking to get inspired, get away from the hustle of the city and just relax, Ubud has your name written all over it. Check out our Bali travel guides for more inspiration and recommendations to guide your trip.

New Orleans, USA


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Named the “Crescent City” for its distinct curve around the Mississippi River, New Orleans is not a place to escape the hustle, but rather to embrace it. Whether it’s Mardi Gras or not, this vibrant American city fully embodies the culture of the south, while combining its French, Spanish, and Creole influences into a metropolitan melting pot. Their rich cuisines are to-die-for, as fried chicken, crawfish, and shrimp are staples. Bring your Thanksgiving pants, because butter is their magical ingredient.

For the true southern experience, find an Airbnb in Maringy, which is walking distance from the well-known French Quarter and the up-and-coming art district of ByWater. For an authentic dish and cocktail that won’t break the bank, head to St. Roch Market for a delicious meal and then continue on to Frenchman and Bourbon street, where you can experience jazz, live music, and the inherent nightlife well into the wee hours of the morning.

Lastly, brave the lines and head to Café du Monde where they have been serving up beignets and café au laits since 1962. There is always an adventure to be had in New Orleans!

Lisbon, Portugal


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This city has flown under the radar for many years, but it’s now picking up its popularity with Canadian tourists. This is likely because of its contagious buzz, budget-friendly accommodations, and truly authentic culture. Its laid back, social atmosphere is much like that of many of Canada’s main cities, but its ocean views, picturesque streets lined with buildings made of tiles or azulejos, and its rich history are simply beyond comparison. Plan to stay in five or six-story apartment in the neighbourhoods of Alfama or Barrio Alto, both of which are only steps away from the heart of the city.

Fill your belly with dishes made with freshly caught cod, or sardines from the Time Out Mercado, and enjoy a deliciously crafted cocktail on “Pink Street.” If you’re tired of walking the hills (trust us, there are a lot) take a ride on the famous Tram 28 and see the sights all the way up to the hilltop Graca. And most of all don’t leave without trying a Portuguese Egg Tart, its custard filling will literally melt in your mouth.

Mexico City, Mexico


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Forget the all-inclusive vacations this year and set out to experience Mexico from a new perspective. Filled with margaritas, tacos, and guac this city is already tugging at our heartstrings, but don’t forget to sample the other many culinary delights that are native to the city; at a very reasonable price point (it’s one of the cheapest cities in North America). The city is filled with colourful buildings, stunning street art as a direct result of its thriving art scene, and tucked away coffee shops full of freelancers and international entrepreneurs.

There is absolutely no question as to why Frida Kahlo found so much inspiration here. Visit the museum dedicated to Frida, or head off on your own design quest as you peruse the many markets, get lost in a second-hand bookstore, or get caught up in one of the many annual festivals that the city is known for.

Head outside the city to truly be immersed in the history by witnessing the Aztec, Toltec, and Mesoamerican ruins centred around important temples and towering sculptures. During the night, hit the dance floor to some reggaeton, sip a cocktail to the sound of smooth jazz, or grab a beer and play some pool – there’s something for everyone!

Hangzhou, China


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If you’re looking for a spot to provide you with inspiration, then Hangzhou should be at the top of your list, as it has been a huge source of creativity for artists, poets, and philosophers since before the 9th century. As one of China’s most preserved destinations, you’ll be able to find peace and be at one with your inner thoughts as you walk or bike amongst the West Lake, which is crowned by luscious greenery and dotted with pagodas and pavilions.

Home to some of China’s richest history, they are most well-known for their famous Longjing green tea, which you can find at the Old Dragon Well Imperial Tea Garden. Also known as “The City of Silk” Hangzhou produces some of the finest silk in the world, even recognized as so by UNESCO, which makes for a beautiful souvenir to bring back to Canada.

Panama City, Panama


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Named as one of the top 52 spots to explore in 2019 by the New York Times, this 500-year-old city is quickly making a name for itself in the eco-tourism industry. Known as the “Miami of Central America” they seem to be miles ahead of may destinations when it comes to providing options that are green and sustainable. With eco-luxury resorts and luxury sustainable solar-powered lodgings, you’ll likely find yourself drinking from a papaya leaf straw on more than one occasion.

Panama City has a unique blend of city, sea, and jungle terrain, which offers access to a variety of diverse outdoor activities. Check out the white sandy beaches and experience sea kayaking, snorkelling, surfing, whale watching or hike up the Ancon Hill to view the city’s highest point. Of course, it goes without saying that you can’t miss out on a visit to the Panama Canal!

With modern skyscrapers that form the city’s unique skyline along the gulf, you won’t want to miss the experiencing the heritage in Casco Viejo, the city’s renowned “old town.” Here you can experience the city’s vibrant culinary scene with bustling eateries, hole-in-the-wall foodie hotspots, and eclectic dining outlets in some of its most historic buildings that combine the grit and chic to make for an exciting experience. It comes with no surprise that many Canadians are heading here to escape the cold this year!

Copenhagen, Denmark


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Although it’s not the cheapest spot to travel to, this city doesn’t require much spending in order to have a memorable experience. In 2018, the city saw a record number of tourists, and we aren’t surprised in the slightest.

Strolling through the cobblestone streets, you can get a good idea of who the locals are right away. Known for their casual yet chic style, the Danes like to keep things simple and classic. This is the mantra that runs through the pulse of the city and you can see it through the design, modern architecture, and the general layout of the streets and parks. This explains why it’s home to some of the most famous and successful creators in the world.

Hop on a bike if you really wish to explore the city in-depth. From espresso filled cafes to beautiful markets to the beautifully lined buildings at the famous site of Nyhavn, you’re likely to be very inspired as you discover it all. It’s an amazing city to simply read a book, slowly enjoy a cappuccino, stroll through a park, or do some investigative people watching. Come, get cozy, enjoy the moment, and don’t take life too seriously — aka hygge.

Cape Town, South Africa


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If you enjoy being in the outdoors, Cape Town is definitely a spot you’ll want to put on the list this year. Make sure to check out our travel guides to help inspire and plan your trip.

If you like to hike, they may not have the Rockies, but their crown jewel, Table Mountain and furthermore, Lions Head Mountain, both boast picture-perfect views of the sea and the cityscape itself after a mighty climb to the top – so don’t forget your camera. With these mountains located close to the city, you can easily get the best of both worlds all at once.

The overall ambiance of the city is laid back and the locals are incredibly friendly —they will proudly provide tips and offer advice on how to see their city at its best. Two spots that are must-sees are the Victoria and Albert Waterfront, which features amazing shopping and delicious culinary options, and Bo-Kaap, a colourful neighbourhood known as the historical venture of Malay culture in Cape Town.

Foodies who love seafood will have a wealth of options, as they’re known for their ever-so-fresh seafood dishes. From gourmet fish and chips to succulent prawns, kingklip, and salmon, you’ll want to leave room for seconds and thirds.

If you have the time, venture outside the city and explore the unseaworthy views at Cape of Good Hope and hang out with the adorable penguins at Boulders Beach – they might even pose for the camera if you ask them nicely!

If your travel bug isn’t satisfied yet, don’t worry — we have curated a list of 56 travel recommendations for every type of traveller in 2019, whether you’re after beaches, culinary delights, partying, adventure, and more. Don’t forget to share your snaps with us using #dailyhivemapped!

Kristy ArchibaldKristy Archibald

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