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Holiday Inspirations

Destinations to capture the imagination

Each year, ABTA's Travel Trends report identifies 12 destinations to watch, based on the best insider knowledge.

If you're inspired to visit one of these exciting destinations, or anywhere else in world, let us know and we'll help you fulfill your travel ambitions.

Basilicata

Mountainous, heavily wooded and dramatic, Basilicata is a different side to Italy which travellers are now discovering - from the city of Matera to the impressive mountain range of the Lucanian Apennines to the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Once characterised by extreme poverty epitomised in the classic book 'Christ stopped at Eboli', savvy travellers are now discovering the many charms of this impressive land. The UNESCO world heritage site, and European Capital of Culture for 2019, Matera has undergone a renaissance in recent years, with many of the ancient Sassi cave dwellings that characterise the town, being converted into hotels, cafes and art galleries. Matera’s unique architecture will also hit the world stage in 2020 as it features in the latest James Bond film. In the interior of Basilicata you will find the impressive mountain range of the Lucanian Apennines and the National Park of Pollino, home to golden eagles, wolves, deer and otters. Beach lovers should head to the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea, with its many rocky coves and charming villages. In particular, the seaside town of Maratea is an absolute joy and a great base for the lovely surrounding villages. Think of a more relaxed version Amalfi coast. Take time exploring its winding lanes, and then sit at an outdoor cafe in the charming

Chicago

The “Windy City” has a spectacular lakeside location on one of the five Great Lakes, is home to one of the liveliest music scenes in the USA and has even designated 2020 as the ‘Year of Chicago Music’.

If you’re looking for a good time, then Chicago is very much your kind of town and it’s easily accessible too, with 14 daily direct flights from the UK. The “Windy City”, with its spectacular lakeside location on the third largest of the five Great Lakes, is home to one of the liveliest music scenes in the USA and has even designated 2020 as the ‘Year of Chicago Music’.

Jazz and Blues clubs are everywhere and the city hosts hundreds of gigs and concerts throughout the year including the massive Blues Fest in Millennium Park and Chicago’s very own answer to Glastonbury, Lollapalozza, a four-day rock out. Head to Navy Pier and have fun on its ferris wheel and amusement arcades and don’t forget to take a selfie by the iconic Big Bean sculpture. You’ll need plenty of food to fuel your partying and in Chicago the calories come thick and fast, with the city’s unique takes on the hot dog, Italian beef sandwich, deep dish pizza, cheesecake and donuts all washed down with a few local Goose Island beers. Chicago also has an impressive ethnic culinary heritage with Vietnamese pho, Polish pierogi and Mexican tamales. During the day you’ll have a great time experiencing Chicago’s street art and the impressive architecture of the Pritzker Pavilion and Frank Lloyd Wright’s beautiful Robie House. Chicago marks the start of the well-known Route 66, and getting out of the city takes you into a very different world. Lake Michigan is extremely beautiful with dramatic cliffs, tranquil sand dunes and beaches ringing its shores. Hiring a car is a must to take a tour round the lake, the area is also home to the famous Ryder Cup golf course and a number of national parks where you can experience the American wilderness at its awe-inspiring best, without the crowds you get in the more famous parks such as Yosemite and Yellowstone. If you're lucky and you visit later in the year, you may even see nature's very own light show, the Aurora Borealis flickering over one the most beautiful spots on the planet.
Georgia

With unspoilt landscapes, delicious wines and welcoming people, Georgia is a delightful and surprising destination - with direct flights from the UK into its capital Tbilisi taking just under five hours. Georgia is a delightful and surprising destination, easily accessible from the UK with direct flights into its capital Tbilisi taking just under five hours.

Tbilisi is a picturesque mix of cobbled streets and balconies covered in plants, set around the dramatic gorge of the Mtkvari river. It is a lively, fun city with a growing club scene, great restaurants and many impressive wine bars. Wine is something you will come across a lot in Georgia; it lays claim to being the birthplace of viticulture with a tradition going back thousands of years and there are up to 1,000 different grape varieties grown in the country. Georgian wines are often of a very high standard and also good value for money. The Georgian countryside is very green and largely unspoilt, with 70% covered in forests. To get a real feel for this ancient land, head to Svaneti in the northwest, with its rugged mountains and impressive ancient watch towers. Things don't slow down for winter either, with several tour operators now offering enticing new ski adventures aimed at advanced and intermediate level downhillers. Georgia is home to a number of UNESCO world heritage sites including the atmospheric Jvari Monastery and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta, the historic capital of eastern Georgia. Georgian food is delicious with an emphasis on the freshest of ingredients and it has an amazing range of cheeses, especially the national favourite Sulguni. Vegetarians are also particularly well served. You’ll need to watch your waistline particularly in Svaneti where cheesy mashed potato, the ultimate comfort food, is a staple of the local diet. Perhaps Georgia's greatest draw is its people; open and friendly, they regard visitors as welcome and honoured guests. After experiencing their warmth, you will be sure to want to return to this lovely country.

Grenada

Often referred to as the Island of Spice, Grenada is incredibly fertile - its green hills are full of fruit, nut and spice bearing trees. It also has some beautiful beaches which are less crowded than many other Caribbean islands.

This beautiful Caribbean island is a feast for all the senses, but your nose is in for a special treat as Grenada is incredibly fertile, and its green hills are full of fruit, nut and spice bearing trees. You’ll find damsel, almond and banana together with the fragrant nutmeg and some much more exotic local plants. Chocolate also grows happily on the island and chocaholics can spend a happy few hours in the Diamond Chocolate Factory watching the magical process of going from bean to bar. Pack some sturdy boots as you really shouldn’t miss hiking in The Grand Etang National Park with its gorgeous volcanic lake surrounded by lush rainforest. The capital, St. George’s, is a very attractive place with lively bars and restaurants and after lunch head off for the impressive views from its colonial forts. Grenada has some very beautiful beaches which are less crowded than many other Caribbean islands, the most popular is Grand Anse (often featuring in ‘best Caribbean beach’ lists), where you can relax with a rum punch in hand or work off a few calories wind surfing. If you fancy a little solitude head off to Levera Beach, which is also home to sea turtles, and the white sands and clear waters of Morne Rouge Beach are idyllic. Any trip to the Caribbean that did not involve some time in or under the water would be a wasted trip and in Grenada make sure you take a boat out to the Underwater Sculpture Park for some unforgettable memories of snorkelling through its surreal collection of statues. Finish off your day watching the sun set with a drink or two at the Dodgy Dock bar built on a pier over the sea. After this stay in paradise going back home will not be an easy task.

Alcazar

The Spanish capital Madrid is one of the world's great city break destinations, and it is also a perfect base to visit many other historic cities and towns which are easily reachable by public transport or car.

Even in a country known for its ability to have a good time, Madrid is renowned as a party city and the locals, Madrileños, head out late each evening to the city's many top-class roof-top bars, restaurants and clubs. Culture lovers are spoilt for choice with over 60 museums, including three of the very best, The Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia. There is a wealth of choice in the surrounding areas too, including these four highlights that are all very different and all quite exceptional. Toledo, a beautiful city greatly enriched through its Christian, Moorish and Jewish cultural heritage. Segovia, stunningly attractive with its castle palace, the Alcazar, a UNESCO world heritage site which sits above the city and a perfectly preserved Roman aqueduct running through the centre of town. Ávila, rising out of the plain with its intact medieval walls taking you back to the time of the great Spanish warrior El Cid, a city of ancient palaces and churches. And Cuenca, a totally unique place with its signature cliff top hanging houses, The Casas Colgadas, making an unforgettable first impression. And food lovers are in for a treat with mouth-watering suckling pig in Segovia, T-bone steak and Yemas de Santa Teresa cakes in Ávila.

Morocco

A country that is very easy to fall in love with, Morocco has dramatically varied landscapes offering windswept beaches, the sand dunes of the Sahara and the rugged beauty of the High Atlas and Rif mountains.

First time visitors must start their Moroccan adventure in the ancient city of Marrakesh, home to the unforgettable street theatre of the Djemaa El Fna square and many jewel-like traditional houses called riads, some of which have been converted into luxury hotels. The fascinating and beautifully well-preserved medieval city of Fez is well worth a visit and both cities have direct flights from the UK. Beach lovers are well served in Morocco with the resorts of Agadir, Taghazout and Essaouira, where you can choose between activities such as windsurfing or simply chilling by the pool in an all-inclusive hotel. To get a taste of another side of Morocco head into the mountains for hiking trails, beautiful waterfalls and picturesque Berber villages. For a truly unforgettable experience stay overnight in the award-winning Kasbah du Toubkal, an historic mountain fortress set in an incredibly dramatic setting. Moroccan food is delicious with the signature dish of tagine blending meat or fish with dried fruits, all served with couscous. Shopping for leather goods, rugs and brass lamps are all part of the Moroccan experience and they are extremely good value for money. You will also develop a taste for the ubiquitous and refreshing mint tea in your time in Morocco, though it will never taste quite as good at home in the UK as it did under the star-spangled desert skies of this North African gem.

Namibia

Towering sand dunes, dramatic coastlines and beautiful national parks teaming with wildlife – Namibia is a place of dramatic contrasts and spectacular landscapes.

This incredibly beautiful country is a place of dramatic contrasts and spectacular landscapes. Discover wide-open spaces in this sparsely populated destination, home to some of the world’s largest sand dunes, oldest cultures and the most extensive conservation areas in Africa. This is an amazing country to look skywards too as you can see the heavens in all their glory with light pollution being extremely rare. Head north to Etosha National Park for elephants, big cats, antelope, and above all, rhinos, whilst Damaraland is home to Africa's largest population of black rhinos, as well as elephants and lions, which have adapted to thrive in a desert environment. Also visit the eerie and otherworldly Skeleton Coast, wreathed in mists blown in from stormy seas, strewn with shipwrecks and whale bones and the haunting ghost towns of Kolmanskop and Lüderitz. Take a trek through Fish River Canyon, second only in size to the much better known Grand Canyon in Arizona. Namibia leads the way in restoring natural habitats and the parks of Bwabwata and Nkasa Rupara are becoming increasingly rich in wildlife. Whilst there you won't need to rough it either, as throughout the country there are many luxurious, ecologically sound safari lodges. The traditional people of Namibia, the Himba in the north west and San of the Kalahari, are fascinating and humbling examples of how to live a lifestyle in tune with your environment; time spent with them will be a highlight of any trip. Don't forget though to reserve some time for the capital Windhoek; it has some exceptional restaurants, great nightlife and will be a wonderful way to top or tail your time in this remarkable country.

Netherlands

A country that effortlessly blends the ultra-modern with its rich historical legacy. With Rotterdam hosting Eurovision Song Contest 2020 and Dordrecht celebrating its 800th birthday in 2020, these are just two of many reasons to visit.

From 2020 don't make the mistake of calling The Netherlands Holland. It's never been its correct name and the Dutch people will appreciate it if you get their country's name right as they continue to celebrate the 75th anniversary of freedom after the Second World War. This amazing country is only a short trip across the North Sea and is easily accessible via a short ferry ride or direct train on the Eurostar to Amsterdam and Rotterdam, two cities which are a great introduction to the country. Amsterdam, with its beautiful canals lined with elegant 17th century merchant houses, lively bars and coffee houses and the hip creative Rotterdam, host of Eurovision Song Contest 2020. The Netherlands has always punched above its weight artistically and you mustn't miss the masterworks of Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh on show in the cities' world class art galleries. However, this year travellers are advised to use the country's efficient, good value, fully integrated public transport network to head out and visit other lesser known gems, such as Delft, Haarlem and Utrecht - smaller, quieter versions of Amsterdam. A must visit in Utrecht is the Rietveld Schröder House, like a three-dimensional Mondrian painting. Just a short train ride from Rotterdam is the idyllic town of Dordrecht celebrating its 800th birthday in 2020; check out the robot writing the Bible in real time in perfect medieval calligraphy in one of the main squares. The city of The Hague contains beautiful royal palaces as well as startling ultra-modern buildings, but only a 15-minute tram ride away are the long sandy beaches and chic hotels of Scheveningen, a well-kept local secret. Perhaps The Netherlands' most attractive trait is its people; charming, friendly and quietly proud of their modern, prosperous country, most of whom speak perfect English.

Singapore

A blend of iconic hotels, 21st century architecture and the world's best airport - join the party as this affluent and modern country celebrates its 200th birthday. Join the party in Singapore as this affluent and modern country celebrates its 200th birthday.

First impressions are lasting and surely there is no more impressive airport on the planet than Singapore's Jewel Changi, which regularly tops polls as the world's best. Now it has even more to offer, with a recently opened Canopy Park and the Changi Experience studio, a digital attraction featuring state of the art interactive games and immersive shows about the history of aviation. Once you manage to tear yourself away from Changi, the impressive skyline of Singapore will greet you. Singapore effortlessly combines the modern with its very distinguished history, epitomised by the recently refurbished iconic Raffles and Barracks Sentosa hotels. Sports lovers should head to the island in September for the Formula One Grand Prix which will be celebrated with a week of music, including bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Swedish House Mafia. Singapore is also a very green city; it is surrounded by jungle and delightful walking trails. A must visit is the spectacular and beautiful UNESCO world heritage listed Botanic Gardens. Singaporeans take their food very seriously and they enjoy a delicious mix of Malaysian, Indian, Chinese and Indonesian cuisines. Seafood lovers are in for a treat, with exotic dishes like barbecued stingray, chilli crab and fried oysters. Food choices suit all budgets with both street vendors and Michelin starred restaurants. If you're looking for a spot of air-conditioned retail therapy head to the Orchard Road Mall. Singapore also has a host of neighbourhood markets if you're looking for something a little more quirky and individual.

South Korea

South Korea is already a leading cultural power in the Far East, but its reach is going global, driven by world-class films, food and the blockbuster phenomenon of K-pop.

The South Koreans are a friendly, courteous nation, rightly proud of their beautiful, successful and fascinating home. The capital Seoul is a vibrant, modern and bustling city but do not forget to visit a traditional tea room in the Insadong district and the 'Secret Garden' of Huwon for a taste of old Korea. For something different, head for the Boryeong Mud Festival, or a noraebang, Korean karaoke, before both of which you may need to top up with the local tipple, Makgeolli - milky rice wine. Spring is a great time of year to visit with the cherry trees in bloom and celebrated in blossom festivals such as those in Gyeongju and Jinhae. It will also be when Europe’s first direct flight to Busan, the country’s second biggest city, launches - opening up the region even further. Korea’s west coast is dotted with over three thousand lovely islands, well connected with ferries that make for a relaxing trip at leisure. For a surreal experience go to Jeongdongjin, a village with a ship converted into a hotel on a hill and a North Korean spy submarine. The spectacular fortress of Gongsanseong and South Korea’s most traditional city Silla, are both must visit attractions. Korean food is also on a mission to take over the world and it can be a lot of fun, particularly the cook your own (Korean BBQ) meat Galbi. Pickles feature strongly, especially cabbage - the ubiquitous kimchi - which nutritionists are increasingly aware of being important for building up healthy stomach flora. Korean food can be very spicy though, so check with your waiter when ordering. Finally, check out Gangnam, not just a dance - it is the posh kids district of Seoul.

Uruguay

A compact gem, with spectacular landscapes, lovely cities and incredible steaks - Uruguay is one of the smallest countries in South America, but it packs a lot into its land mass.

Uruguay is one of the smallest countries in South America, but it packs a lot into its land mass. The capital Montevideo has a spectacular riverside location on the massive River Plate which is more like a sea than a river. The city has elegant art deco buildings, cafes and restaurants and a gentle, understated charm. Just a little way up the coast is the UNESCO world heritage site of Colonia del Sacramento, a lovely little cobbled town with characterful restaurants and bars where you can also catch a ferry to the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires on the other side of the River Plate. Lovers of the eccentric and original should head to Casapueblo, a former artist's studio, now converted into a hotel and museum, with its beautiful organic shapes that seem to grow out of its cliff edge location. If you fancy checking out fashionable people at play, head to the chic beach resort of Punta del Este, or for something a little more laid back, the coastal town of Rocha, set in a dramatic landscape of sand dunes and rocky crags. Uruguay is all about the beef, after all, Fray Bentos is a Uruguayan city, and it still has a strong gaucho culture. So free your inner cowboy or cowgirl in the north western town of Tacuarembó where you can stay for a few days on one of the nearby estancias or ranches. Uruguyan cattle are also bred to very high welfare standards and you will eat some of the best quality beef you will ever have. Uruguayan food is generally delicious, heavily influenced by Spanish and Italian cuisine and its wine is of a high standard, with the Tannat and Albariño grapes the most popular; a trip to a winery is a must. Uruguay is the undiscovered jewel of South America, so get there for bragging rights before the crowds arrive.

Vienna

In 2020, this beautiful city will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven. Vienna has also been named the most liveable city in the world for the past two years, which visitors will be sure to agree with.

For the last two years Vienna has been named the most liveable city in the world by the Economist Intelligence Unit and visitors to this beautiful, sophisticated city will quickly agree with this high accolade. Vienna was once the capital of the Austro- Hungarian empire and this rich heritage is reflected in the imposing baroque buildings, all in pristine condition, that make up its centre. A great way to see the sights is by taking the tram along the Ringstrasse, or ring road, that circles the city. Vienna has led the world culturally at many times in its history and it can quite rightly lay claim to be the world capital for classical music. In 2020 the city will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven, just one of many great composers, including Mozart, Schubert, Brahms and Mahler who called Vienna home. Their music is still played in venues such as the Musikverein concert hall and the stunning Staatsoper - Vienna’s state opera house. In the early 20th century, Vienna was home to a cultural revolution, including the Vienna Secession arts movement, and a must visit is to see the paintings of Klimt and Schiele in the Leopold Museum. Vienna’s coffee houses and rich cakes, Sachertorte and strudel, are rightly world renowned, but a pleasant surprise are the many good value restaurants where the portions of local classics such as Wiener schnitzel and goulash are incredibly generous. Vienna looks gorgeous at all times of the year, but it is particularly lovely in the winter snow. Sipping a glass of delicious mulled wine and your “soup in a roll” in the Christmas Market outside the magnificent town hall or Rathaus, one of many such markets in the city, you too may well agree that Vienna is the ideal place to live.

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