If you’re making travel resolutions for the new year, consider these specific, compelling suggestions from travel experts who specialize in the best, most interesting experiences the world can offer. The 2019 Virtuoso® Luxe Report tapped into its elite force of 17,500 travel advisors from around the world to share their top selections for next year’s peak experiences. Some are aspirational, for a lucky few; but others can be enjoyed by anyone who wants to make it happen.
The nine must-have experiences for 2019, along with my takes:
- Skydive in New Zealand, consistently named one of the world’s top places to jump out of a plane. Skydivers will marvel at stunning views of glaciers, mountains, rainforests, and bodies of water such as the Pacific Ocean, rivers and lakes. Because NZ is such a peaceful country, it abounds in thrilling opportunities such as bungee jumping — and skydiving here is the ultimate in beauty as well as adventure.
- Cruise the Norwegian fjords to the North Cape to mark the summer solstice on June 21. In the same year, cruise the Chilean fjords to the South Cape on December 21, enjoying endless daylight in both hemispheres. Fjord landscapes are among the most stunning on earth, and cruising is a relaxing and special way to appreciate them.
- Travel by luxury rail from Paris to Istanbul on the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. The 10-night journey aboard the restored Art Deco train winds through some of Europe’s most captivating cities, transporting passengers back to the Golden Age of travel. I’ve taken this train part of the way, and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime indulgence.
- Savor an incomparable culinary experience in Barcelona by dining at Tickets, helmed by the Adrià brothers of El Bulli fame. If you want to sample Tickets’ playful modern tapas, I suggest booking two months in advance.
- Visit the beaches of Normandy in northern France on a river cruise to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. See where Allied forces landed during the World War II invasion and learn about the heroic operation that led to the liberation of German-occupied France. I’m planning to head that way, and encourage you to book your accommodations as soon as possible if you’re not cruising. This year the area will be more crowded than usual.
- Take in a Rugby World Cup match in 2019 host country Japan. The timing of the six-week tournament coincides with opportunities to view stunning fall foliage, with leaves changing into vibrant shades of orange, red and yellow. Japan’s autumn color is similar to the Northeast United States, the ultimate in beauty.
- Explore the undersea world by submarine at the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, the first to feature DeepFlight Adventures. Encounter vividly colored fish, turtles, sharks, dolphins and rays in the Maldives’ only UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. I’ve dived in subs around the world, and in areas where the fish and coral are exceptional, this experience lets you become a part of a magical undersea world.
- Did you miss the last total solar eclipse? Experience absolute totality in a destination with a landscape as close to the moon as you can find on Earth. View the 2019 solar eclipse July 2 with a glamping experience in Northern Chile, then cap off the trip by heading south to wine country. I know from my own experience that a total eclipse is worth seeking out: all or nothing! And then, reflecting on the wonder with a glass of a big Chilean red? It doesn’t get much better than this.
- Call on Croatia’s coastal communities from the comfort of a private yacht. Time visits to popular ports such as Dubrovnik, Split and Hvar Island for late afternoon, when crowds from cruise ships have dwindled. Croatia’s coast has been discovered by savvy tourists, so timing is important; and if you can call the shots on your own vessel, you are truly lucky.