Who doesn’t love fantasising about their next trip?
If you’re looking to travel this year, take a look at our comprehensive guide of the best places to visit in 2024.
We’ve gone for lesser-known locations, and whether you’re seeking bright lights, striking natural scenery, serenity or excitement, here’s where you’re sure to find it!
Bad Ischl in Austria’s alpine lake-filled Salzkammergut region is a European capital of culture in 2024, but never mind the culture, check out the gorgeous scenery!
The favourite spa and holiday resort of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Sisi, and an inspiration for composers such as Franz Lehár, Johannes Brahms and Johann Strauss, it oozes calm, charm and history.
Thanks to its excellent road and rail links, it’s a great base to explore the region.
Of the five sizable lakes in the vicinity, the prettiest is Lake Hallstatt. Bad Ischl adorns the confluence of the Ischl and Truan rivers.
Pick of its imperial buildings is Kaiservilla, the royal family’s former summer residence, open daily from April to October and sporadically in other months.
Treat yourself to a soak and pampering at the Salzkammergut/Eurothermen thermal pools complex, and take the cable car up to Mount Katrin to admire the Alps in all their glory.
Salzburg – one of Europe’s most beautiful cities – is just 50km to the west.
Every Austrian holiday should include time in the capital, Vienna, but don’t overlook Graz, on the southern side of the Central Alps. Austria’s second-largest city is known for its nightlife, coffee houses, food and a more Mediterranean vibe than its northern rivals.
Fun, modern elements among its UNESCO World Heritage historic centre are the Kunsthaus museum and Murinsel – an island made of metal and glass on the Mur River.
Take the funicular up to Schlossberg, a hill topped by a 16th-century clock tower, then – we dare you! – take the world’s tallest (64m) indoor slide down.
For serenity, venture into Styria, the gorgeous wine region extending south of Graz to the Slovenian border: It’s “the Tuscany of Austria”.
If ever there was a time to explore Vietnam, this is it. Low-cost carrier Vietjet recently ramped up its flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to 58 a week, giving Jetstar and Vietnam Airlines a run for their money.
We’ve already sung the praises of HCMC and Vietnam’s plush southern beach resorts but there’s so much more to enjoy elsewhere.
Ha Long Bay, given UNESCO World Heritage status last September, is well-known for its scenic ocean cruising, but have you tried the ‘HaLong of the land’ – Tam Coc? Here, near Ninh Binh, about 90km south of the capital, Hanoi, limestone cliffs decked in jungle greenery tower over rice paddies and the tranquil Ngo Dong River.
Enjoy a leisurely boat ride, explore the Mua Caves and say hello to the sprawling Lying Dragon admiring the views atop the Mua mountain. In the forests of the central part of the country is ‘Vietnam’s Machu Picchu’, My Son, the enigmatic ancient capital of the Champa Kingdom, where partially ruined Hindu temples built between the 4th and 13th centuries bask in a valley.
The nearest airports are at the old imperial capital, Hue, and Da Nang – prime coastal holiday territory. A sentimental favourite is Hoi An for its canals and colourful old town.
So much to see, so allocate plenty of time!
High up in volcanic mountain country, the self proclaimed intellectual capital of Peru has an easy-going ambience and a UNESCO World Heritage historic centre that’s easily explored on foot.
Sample its nationally renowned cuisine from one of the upstairs balcony restaurants overlooking the main square, Plaza de Armas, then explore its baroque and colonial-era buildings made from sillar, the local volcanic white stone.
Delightful splashes of colour in the so-called White City abound in the enormous Santa Catalina Monastery, built in 1579 for Dominican nuns: Its exteriors are daubed in red and blue.
A spectacular sight on the city fringe is “the Petra of Peru”, Canteras de Sillar, a quarry renowned for its cliff-face carvings.
Big day out: Get a bird’s eye view of the world’s largest flying birds, the Andean condors, from the Mirador Cruz del Condor lookout (about 3800m above sea level) as they glide on the morning thermal winds rising from the world’s second-deepest canyon, the Colca Canyon. Take a dip in one of the many hot springs along the 160km route while you’re there too.
Dundee and Perth, Scotland
There’s more to Scotland than Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Highlands.
Former industrial city Dundee, on the River Tay estuary, is basking in its modern status as a UNESCO City of Design. Top attractions on its regenerated waterfront are the V&A Dundee Museum (sister to the Victoria and Albert in London) and Captain Scott’s first Antarctic expedition ship, the RRS Discovery.
Book a tour of nearby Glamis Castle, the childhood home of the Queen Mother and birthplace of Princess Margaret.
At teatime, sample the famous Dundee Cake and Dundee Marmalade.
Big day out: Not far upstream is Scotland’s elegant former capital, Perth. Its pride and joy is Scone Palace, the crowning place of Scottish kings including Robert the Bruce and Macbeth.
Perth Museum will reopen on the Easter weekend of 2024 after a major redevelopment as the new home of the Stone of Destiny, one of Scotland’s most significant historical objects.
Saltwater’s out, freshwater’s in. “Aussies have always loved a beach getaway, but as many consider creative ways to save on their holidays in 2024, Wotif is seeing increased interest for inland getaways that still offer a place to cool down by the water,” says Expedia Brands managing director Daniel Finch.
What’s rising to the top of Wotif and Expedia’s search lists? Take a bow, Mildura. The hub of Victoria’s food bowl, it’s known for its fresh produce, multicultural influences, paddle boats and houseboats, and easygoing vibes.
Serviced by Qantas, Rex and Bonza airlines, it’s easier to get to than you’d think. The pick of the nearby excursions are the UNESCO World Heritage Mungo National Park and Willandra Lakes Region, about 180km north-east; and the stretch along the Murray River between Mildura and Swan Hill, dubbed “the Victorian Mediterranean.”
Try also Montenegro is tipped to be the next big thing on the Adriatic Coast this year, luring travellers with the serene beauty of Kotor (pictured at top) and its pristine national parks.