Tours & Trips

The 10 Best Places to Book a Tour & Travel in 2019

Photo of Elizabeth Aldrich
Elizabeth Aldrich

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and full-time traveler based in Costa Rica. She studied abroad through Semester at Sea.

Best Places to Travel - Japan

Choosing where to travel next is one of the best dilemmas to have, but a dilemma nonetheless. If you're wondering what the best places to travel to for 2019 are, we've come up with the perfect list of top travel destinations.

From a fine artist's paradise to the birthplace of sushi, these countries offer something for everyone. In addition to awesome natural wonders, bucket list historical sites, and mind-blowing cultural cuisine, each of these popular countries also offers a wide range of fun and affordable tour options.

We pulled this list together to help you see which countries are most popular among fellow travelers over the past year. We looked through every destination on Go Overseas and all the tours we offer, plus we checked to see which countries you're searching for. Here are the top picks for countries to travel to in 2019:

Country Rank (2019) Change
Japan 1 New
Australia 2 New
Italy 3 New
Spain 4 New
China 5 New
Ireland 6 New
India 7 New
Vietnam 8 New
France 9 New
Nepal 10 New

As we've never done a list like this before, every country is 'new' to this list. But, we plan to update it every year, so if you decide to travel abroad again in 2020 (we know you will!), come back to see which new countries have made the list, moved up, or dropped off.

These popular 2019 destinations are guaranteed to spark your wanderlust, so get ready to book your next flight.

#1. Japan

The Top Destinations for Travel in 2019: Japan
Photo by Lee., Think Global Alum

Japan is overflowing with unique travel experiences, whether you're keen to experience the madness of its bustling cities, the tranquility of its rural scenery, or the wisdom of its ancient cultural practices. You can take a sushi-making class, attend a tea ceremony, have fun with cosplay karaoke, enjoy a geisha performance, ride an ultra-modern bullet train, and watch the famous cherry blossoms come to life.

With a population of over 9 million people, Tokyo is larger than New York City and offers an endless array of sights, sounds, and flavors for travelers to absorb. Kyoto, the former capital of Japan, is a window into traditional Japan, with its beautiful Japanese gardens, classical Buddhist temples, and stunning palaces. If you prefer nature, you can explore bamboo forests, relax in natural hot springs, and ski Mt. Fuji, an active volcano and one of Japan's three sacred mountains.

Popular Tours in Japan:

#2. Australia

The Top Destinations for Travel in 2019: Australia
Photo by Rachel U., IES Abroad Alum

Given that it's one of the world's largest countries, there's plenty to explore in the land down under. Australia is a country that's home to both tropical beaches and vast deserts, meaning you can go on epic road trips through the Outback, snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, and surf some of the world's most acclaimed waves all on the same trip.

Sydney and Melbourne are both world-class cities that offer something for all kinds of travelers. Sydney is known for its abundant museums, art galleries, and famous landmarks, as well as its sunny beaches, beautiful harbor, and ample green spaces. Meanwhile, Melbourne is Australia's "cultural capital" and particularly popular with young travelers as it's home to a lively nightlife scene, trendy cafes and designer boutiques, and some of the country's best foodie restaurants.

Popular Tours in Australia:

#3. Italy

The Top Destinations for Travel in 2019: Italy
Photo by Francesca H., SAI Programs Alum

Italy is no newcomer when it comes to lists of the world's best destinations. It's perhaps one of the most famous countries in the world, and for good reason. From food and wine to art to history to beaches, Italians are accustomed to being the best... at just about everything.

Take in over 2,000 years of history at the Colosseum in Rome and then jet off to southern Italy, where you can beach hop the breathtaking Amalfi coast, eat pizza in Naples, and see Pompeii, an ancient city that was preserved after a volcanic eruption in 79 A.D.

Don't forget to road trip through scenic Tuscany, home to dozens of medieval towns and the best wine in the world. Florence will knock your socks off when it comes to both art and food (it's the birthplace of both the renaissance and gelato), and a hike through the string of beachside villages known as Cinque Terre will leave you with stunning views... and Instagram photos.

Popular Tours in Italy:

#4. Spain

The Top Destinations for Travel in 2019: Spain
Photo by Shane P., CET Teach Abroad Alum

If you're looking to pack a lot into one trip, Spain is the ideal place to do it. The country is made up of 17 autonomous communities, all with their own unique food, history, culture, and often language.

Madrid, Spain's capital, is known throughout the world for its fine art, architecture, and fine dining. Barcelona, Madrid's coastal cousin, is home to the creations of artists like Antoni Gaudí and Salvador Dalí that make the city feel like a whimsical playground. It's also got a world-famous nightlife scene with clubs that stay open until the sun rises over the city's crowded beaches.

In Valencia, you'll find the traveler-favorite City of Arts and Sciences complex as well as some of the country's best paella. A road trip through Andalusia provides a glimpse into the laid back culture of southern Spain, as well as ample opportunities to dine on tapas, watch flamenco shows, and marvel at the region's beautiful Islamic architecture.

Popular Tours in Spain:

#5. China

The Top Destinations for Travel in 2019: China
Photo by Shane P., CET Academic Programs Alum

China is one of the most populous, and oldest, countries in the world, so it comes as no surprise that this vast nation is filled with gems for travelers to experience. Camping on the Great Wall of China and seeing the world's most beloved animal, the panda, in its natural habitat are only a couple of the bucket list items you can cross off in the "Middle Kingdom."

Soak in history and culture in Bejing, China's sprawling capital, with visits to classics like the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and of course, the Great Wall of China. In cosmopolitan Shanghai, you'll be immersed in a foodie paradise, shopping for some of the world's best designer knock-offs and party in style at some of the country's most glamorous rooftop bars. When you're done with city life, you can see the famous Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, take some kung fu lessons at the historic Shaolin Temple, or float down the picturesque Li River.

Popular Tours in China:

#6. Ireland

The Top Destinations for Travel in 2019: Ireland
Photo by Alexia V., University College Dublin Alum

A visit to the "Emerald Isle" is a must for lovers of nature, literature, sports, and Guinness beer alike. Ireland's Celtic roots are still alive and well, and you'll get the chance to experience its unique history everywhere you go.

If you're a hiker, the walking trails in Killarney National Park offer idyllic views of endless green and charming castles and historic homes, and the famed Cliffs of Moher are a natural masterpiece perched above the crashing sea. You don't want to leave without visiting a classic Irish pub, wandering through Dublin Castle, attending a rugby match, and of course, kissing the Blarney Stone.

Popular Tours in Ireland:

#7. India

The Top Destinations for Travel in 2019: India
Photo by Lauren T., iSpiice Alum

This massive South Asian country has lured travelers in for decades, many of whom fall so in love with its rich cultures and customs that they find it hard to leave. India is a journey for the senses, a place where bright colors clash with interesting smells and irresistible flavors dance with enchanting musical traditions. At the same time, the country is powerfully spiritual and home to some of the world's most sacred places and practices.

You can go on a spiritual retreat in India, whether you're interested in deepening your yoga practice or take a trip to the Ganges River, often considered the holiest river in the world. Nature lovers can trek through the Himalayas, which is a religious experience in its own right, or head to one of the country's national parks, where it's possible to spot tigers, leopards, snow leopards, and even the world's only remaining Asiatic lions. Finish up with a trip to the iconic Taj Mahal or a stop in Dehli or Mumbai, two of the country's busiest cities.

Popular Tours in India:

#8. Vietnam

The Top Destinations for Travel in 2019: Vietnam
Photo by Michael S., ARCC Programs Alum

Vietnam's popularity has soared in recent years, and it's easy to see why. This coastal Southeast Asian country is filled with beauty at every turn, from dense jungle islands with crystal clear blue waters to the maze of magical green, swampy rice fields of the Mekong Delta. The country is also home to the world's largest cave, Hang Son Doong.

In Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, you can visit an imperial citadel, catch a show at the Hanoi Opera House, or visit the city's Temple of Literature. Hoi An, a very photo-friendly Vietnamese city, is a great place to watch lantern festivals or chow down on shrimp dumplings and fresh banh mi. If it's shopping you love, get a custom-fitted dress or suit at a very affordable price.

Popular Tours in Vietnam:

#9. France

The Top Destinations for Travel in 2019: France
Photo by Kate T., Greeneheart Travel Alum

You didn't think we forgot France, did you?! France has long been beloved by romantics, artists, and foodies alike for its passionate culture, exceptional cuisine, and the visual feast that is both its cities and countryside. The French "joie de vivre" -- joy of life -- can be felt in everything from a stroll through the Louvre to a taste of its coq au vin. There's a reason this is one of the most visited countries in the world every year.

Paris is high on the list of top cities, and it's home to some of the world's best art museums, architecture, and cafes. All you have to do is step outside in the "City of Love", and your day is already off to a good start. But there's plenty more to see in this country, from the lavender hills of Provence to the stunning beaches of the French Riviera to the vineyards of Bordeaux and the charming historic villages all throughout the country.

Popular Tours in France:

#10. Nepal

The Top Destinations for Travel in 2019: Nepal
Photo by Jim D., Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme Alum

Nepal is famous for being home to some of the world's highest, most breathtaking mountains -- 8 of the world's top 10 highest mountains, in fact, including Mt. Everest itself. The trekking in Nepal is unrivaled anywhere else in the world. The country also has some of the world's best paragliding, bungee jumping, and river rafting.

But it's not just an adventure lover's paradise; it's also an excellent travel destination for anyone more interested in cultural pursuits. You can visit Patan, the city with the highest concentration of Buddhist and Hindu temples in Nepal, and even go to the birthplace of Buddha in Lumbini. You can even go on a jungle safari in Chitwan National Park. Don't leave without trying momo, the Nepali version of dumplings.

Popular Tours in Nepal:

See all tours in Nepal →

Some of these countries are mainstays on the list of popular travel destinations, and others are newcomers. However, they all made the list of best countries to visit in 2019 because they're all remarkable and memorable in their own way. If these don't strike you as the perfect destination for 2019, check our list of up-and-coming travel destinations for 2019. Regardless of where you choose to go, you're sure to have a trip filled with life-changing experiences that teach you more about the world and yourself.