The destinations on our list are gaining popularity due to their distinctively gorgeous settings and unique sightseeing opportunities. In some cases a hot topic has put them on the map, while other times it’s because they’re undiscovered alternatives to places we already call holiday favourites.
The increased interest in Croatia has come about for a number of reasons, not least because of the Game of Thrones influence, with a number of gorgeous filming locations there, but the fact that Croatia has its own currency. This means you get more for your money compared to euro destinations.
Top sights include Dubrovnik’s UNESCO World Heritage Site old town, better known as King’s Landing to Game of Thrones fans. While, Northern Pula’s Roman amphitheatre is one of the best preserved in the world, and Plitvice Lakes National Park provides stunning waterfalls.
Croatia’s southern neighbour, Montenegro has more of the blue seas and old world architecture, but is somewhat slower paced and comes with more dramatic forested and mountainous scenery. It’s said to be like Croatia 20 years ago, but is fast rising in the popularity ranks.
One of the key places to stay is the Budva Riviera, with 320 kilometres of coastline, centred by the medieval town of Budva. Just inland from here is Lake Skadar, where you can take a boat cruise to see Kom Monastery, with tree-covered mountain peaks as your backdrop.
Ecotourism is a growing venture in Costa Rica, with the country’s government creating conservation areas across 100 national parks and wildlife reserves. You can go zip-lining through the Monteverde cloud forest or join guided nature walks to discover tropical animals.
Staying in the popular northwest Guanacaste region, use the great waves of the Pacific to go surfing at Playa Tamarindo, or take a sunset cruise from Playa Flamingo. The capital San Jose is in the centre of the country, making trips there easy to see the Neo-Classical architecture and visit nearby volcanic parks.
You might not think of Thailand as an up and coming destination, as for many it’s already up there. However, there are some tucked away areas of the country that are making names for themselves. For a quiet break or family holiday, Khao Lak is a great spot situated between the blue Andaman Sea and a series of vast national parks.
It may not have the island hopping of Krabi or the nightlife of Phuket, but your time here is more about heading into the jungle to spot waterfalls and wildlife like flying lemurs and colourful birds. And as buildings taller than a coconut palm are prohibited, you know it’s going to stay idyllic.
Another country used as a Game of Thrones filming location, Iceland was chosen to depict North of the Wall due to its other-worldly backdrops. Throw in a chance to see the Northern Lights, dip in geothermal pools and explore the charms and quirks of the capital, Reykjavik, and it’s clear why Iceland is hot right now.
The Icelandics also love live music and have a music festival for pretty much every month of the year. Head for Dark Music Days and enjoy new music in January, dance music festival Sonar Reykjavik in February, Secret Solstice held during the midnight sun in June, and one of the biggest Iceland Airwaves in November.
Only a short distance further than the Canary Islands, Cape Verde shares the same year-round warm temperatures but has a path-less-trodden feel. Off the coast of Senegal, the up and coming islands of Sal and Boa Vista are the perfect bases for turtle and whale watching.
With African, Portuguese and Brazilian influences, the islands make for a unique holiday experience. You can wander around the cobbled streets of Sal’s fishing port one minute and float in the island’s warm saltwater lake the next.
Have you been to any of these on the rise destinations?