18 December 2023 by David Ward
Welcome to our 2024 hot list. This is where we look ahead to a new year in travel, and the destinations we expect to help shape your many adventures over the coming months.
This year, our experts have selected a wonderfully eclectic mix, with a range of countries, regions and cities chosen for everything from initiatives in sustainability – think Gothenburg in Sweden and the wilds of Chilean Patagonia – to their range of unique experiences, including the chance to spot polar bears and marvel at the Northern Lights in far-flung Manitoba. We also shine a spotlight on France, with Paris set to welcome the world to the Olympic Games this coming summer. Lastly, we’ve also picked out two examples that showcase the power of recovery – both in the human and natural world. There’s Kangaroo Island, where wildlife and wilderness are flourishing once more, after the wildfires of 2019/2020. And we look to Morocco, which continues to bounce back from the earthquake which struck the remote Atlas Mountains in September. We hope you find plenty to inspire.
Just three-and-a-half hours from London, Morocco is like stepping into another world, with its bustling souks, gorgeous beaches and the eternal sands of the Sahara. Of course, you won’t want to miss the great cities of Fez and Marrakech, with their ancient stone streets, vibrant markets and relaxing hammams. Inland, the Atlas Mountains host colourful kasbahs and hidden Berber communities, linked by some excellent trekking routes. Climb North Africa’s highest peak, Jbel Toubkal, or hike the challenging Todra Gorge, perhaps adding in a homestay to experience the warmth of Berber hospitality.
Then, on the Atlantic coast, the pretty towns of Agadir and Essaouira are a haven for sun-seekers and surfers drawn by some of the world’s best waves, while in Casablanca there’s the giant Hasan II Mosque, which boasts a minaret 200 metres high. Alternatively, step back in time at inland Volubilis, Morocco’s largest Roman ruin. While the earthquake which struck Morocco in September 2023 may have given you pause for thought, the majority of the country is open to visitors. What’s more, tourist dollars are vital for the relief effort in those remote Atlas Mountain regions where the quake hit hardest. Moving into 2024, there’s never been a better time to visit.
Enjoy the perfect introduction to Morocco’s rich and varied highlights as you explore its ancient cities, majestic mountains and sun-drenched coast. In Marrakech, soak in the unique atmosphere of Jemaa el-Fnaa from one of the surrounding rooftop restaurants before getting lost in the maze-like cobbles of the bustling souks. It’s then time to head out to the Atlas Mountains for Berber culture, scenic hikes and sweeping valley views.Lastly, you’ll cap things off on the coast with the white-washed streets and seafront ramparts of charming Essaouira.
Idyllically located between lake-dotted forests and a vast and beautiful archipelago, Sweden’s second city is a forward-thinking hub of creativity, sustainability and fabulous food and drink. It’s also a true year-round destination, with the likes of sea swimming and wild walks on tap between spring and late summer, and cosy cafés and Christmas markets to enjoy as winter rolls in. No matter when you visit, don’t miss the family fun of the Liseberg Amusement Park, with its mix of traditional rides and cutting-edge roller coasters, or the next-door Grand Curiosa Hotel, one of a number of exciting recent hotel openings.There’s even a new water park – Oceana Waterworld – slated to launch in 2024. If you’re after something more sedate, the Botanical Gardens are a delight, and connect directly to the Änggårdsbergens Nature Reserve with its forest hiking trails.
Then, in the city itself, you’ll find verdant parks, world-leading museums – the excellent Universeum is a must – and the bohemian Haga district with its cobbled streets and 19th-century wooden houses. You’ll also want to explore the local craft beer scene and range of excellent farm-to-table restaurants. What’s more, it’s all under a two-hour flight from the UK, with direct services from Manchester, London Heathrow and, from May 2024, London Gatwick.
This fly-drive holiday takes in western Sweden’s most scenic routes, exploring its local history and tempting regional cuisine. It all begins with two nights in Gothenburg, with all the city’s sights on your doorstep. Pick up a transport pass, then hop between eclectic neighbourhoods and the natural delights of the city’s archipelago and forest surrounds. You’ll then move up the coast, driving your included hire car between pretty seaside towns to stay at three elegant hotels, each one known for its outstanding service, gourmet food and traditional country house charm.
The vast province of Manitoba is a showcase for some of Canada’s most austere, and beautiful, wilderness. Stretching north from the central-southern border to the deep blue of faraway Hudson Bay, it’s a place of huge skies and endless, sweeping tundra, icy and windswept in winter and flower-dotted in summer. But, while the capital Winnipeg offers an excellent choice of museums, a historic French quarter and fast-growing art and culinary scenes, it’s the landscapes surrounding the remote town of Churchill on the shores of Hudson Bay which make this province stand out from the crowd. Here, giant polar bears roam the wilds as beluga whales swim in the chilly swells.
At the height of summer, it’s a picture of prettiness, the rock-strewn landscapes bought to life by huge swathes of wildflowers. Then, as late-summer arrives, so does the chance to spot the Northern Lights, which remain in the night skies right through autumn and winter until the onset of spring. Explore it all by ATV and Zodiac on tours designed to bring you up close to the wildlife. And, while Churchill itself is linked to Winnipeg by regular flights, there’s also the option to arrive via a spectacular, almost two-day rail journey.
Polar bear among the wildflowers in Churchill, Manitoba
Staying at Seal River Heritage Lodge on the shores of the Hudson Bay, this escorted itinerary see you venture right into the heart of Manitoba’s polar bear country for up-close encounters in the company of expert guides. There’s also the chance to see beluga whales on Zodiac cruises and a host of other wildlife, from caribou and Arctic fox to wolf and moose, as you head out across the tundra. In the evenings, you’ll relax back at base, enjoying the warmth of an open fire accompanied by delicious food and a selection of wine.
A long-standing icon of Latin American travel, Chilean Patagonia has been making headlines in recent times for its eco-restoration and rewilding projects. Acquiring land from former farming ranches, now donated to the state, these initiatives are focussed on the protection of rare wildlife within the national park, including the likes of pumas, guanacos, condors and the threatened huemul – the South Andean deer. From great forests and mountain-framed lakes to the endless plains of the Patagonian Steppe, you can see these projects in action throughout the park. And the conservation efforts don’t end there, with everything from visitor centres and museums to restaurants and hotels reconstructed in local and recycled materials and designed with durability and sustainability in mind.
Torres del Paine National Park, Chilean Patagonia
Bookended by stays in the capital, Santiago, where guided tours take in everything from colonial neighbourhoods to busy markets, this tailor-made journey explores the very best of Patagonia’s striking natural wonders. Begin in Puerto Varas – the ‘City of Roses’ – where a three-day stay includes visits to volcanic national parks and mysterious Chiloé Island. Finally, head south to the Singular Patagonia, a luxury lodge situated between Punta Arenas and the iconic peaks of the Torres del Paine National Park.
Kangaroo Island, Australia
South Australia’s Kangaroo Island is a land renewed. Following the catastrophic wildfires of 2019 and 2020, this spectacular enclave of Australian flora and fauna has been quietly forging a path to recovery. While before the burnt-out landscapes were a scene of desolation, today charred logs play host to rare insects and nesting animals, koalas again sit happily among the greenery of abundant eucalyptus trees and kangaroos and seals bask contentedly on near-deserted beaches. It’s a wonderful sight to behold. Coupled with the incredible transformation of Kangaroo Island’s natural world, its famed hospitality is also right back on track, from its standout accommodation to its expert-led eco-tours. We were especially delighted to learn that Southern Ocean Lodge had reopened its doors in December 2023 – the return of a genuine icon of Australian travel.
Seals on Kangaroo Island, South Australia
This wildlife showcase begins on the west coast where, following a stay in Perth, you’ll head to Rottnest Island to discover seals, seabirds and the delightfully friendly quokka. Then, in Ningaloo, you’ll mix outback safaris and snorkelling trips with the chance to swim with whale sharks. Lastly, after a night in Fremantle, you’ll fly west to Adelaide in South Australia, gateway to Kangaroo Island. Here, you’ll join expert guides who’ll introduce you to the island’s spectacular natural world. We recommend a stay at the excellent Sea Dragon, or spoil yourself with an upgrade to Southern Ocean Lodge.
With the Paris Olympics on the horizon, 2024 is set to be France’s year in the sun. And, while the capital serves up the very best in culture, fine dining and, for a short time at least, sport, it’s the wider country that continues to capture our collective imagination. In the south, the sun-kissed Mediterranean coast is all sparkling sea, supercars and yacht-dotted harbours, a glitzy contrast to the rustic villages and lavender fields of pretty Provence. In the southwest, the Pyrenees frame bastide towns that dazzle with medieval charm, while north along the Atlantic coast, golden sands and pounding surf have lured beachgoers for centuries.
And, in the east, it’s all about those sublime alpine landscapes offering plenty of year-round fun. Then, of course, there’s France’s fabled food and wine, celebrated across the country in everything from local boulangeries to esteemed vineyards and some of the world’s finest Michelin-starred restaurants. To help you explore the country in style, our experts have curated a very special selection of holiday ideas, ranging from luxurious river cruises to no-fly road trips and stays at heritage wine estates, from Champagne to Bordeaux.
Lavender fields in Provence, France
Curated by our specialists, this itinerary takes you from historic Reims to magnificent Bordeaux without the need to fly or drive. Included transfers and rail journeys see you to each city, and a host of expert-led tours let you explore the best of France’s iconic wine country throughout. Visit the Champagne caves of Épernay and the vineyards of Bordeaux, tour cobbled city streets and discover the origins of Dom Pérignon. Along the way, you’ll be treated to first-class cuisine and taste delicious varietals direct from source. Speak to us to add on a stay in the French capital.