A new year brings with it the prospect of fresh adventures. But choosing the right destination can be overwhelming – especially at a time when costs are rising, making investments in the right trip more important than ever before.
Fortunately, there are options to suit all budgets, ranging from short domestic breaks to longer-haul adventures. If you’re looking for travel inspiration, consider one of these great destinations for 2024.
One of the world’s longest coastal touring routes passes through nine different counties, two dark skies reserves, 63 Blue Flag beaches, five national parks and 26 islands. Launched in 2014, the Wild Atlantic Way has become one of the best ways to explore the Emerald Isle and next year’s 10th anniversary is a good excuse to experience what’s on offer.
Along the route, various experiences have been highlighted. Walk with Irish Wolfhounds, the world’s tallest dog breed, along Bertra Beach in County Mayo, while listening to Legends of Cuchulain and his wolfhounds from Irish mythology (from £48pp; irishwolfhoundsireland.ie). Or visit The Saltbox food truck on Inishbofin Island in Galway, serving fish that has been caught in the surrounding waters.
How: An eight-day Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way Drive & Hike costs from £1095pp, including B&B accommodation. Flights to Dublin and car hire extra. Travel from March to October. Visit macsadventure.com; 01415 307 827.
The dramatic red sandstone scenery of the southwest has served as a backdrop for classic movies like Thelma & Louise, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and High School Musical. But as far back as a century ago, the state enjoyed Hollywood stardom when two silent movie Westerns were shot here in 1923 and 1924: The Deadwood Coach, shot on location in Zion National Park, Cedar City, and the newly formed Bryce Canyon National Monument; and The Covered Wagon, shot in Northern Utah. Celebrating 100 years as ‘Little Hollywood’, exhibits, events, and film screenings will be held throughout the year.
How: An eight-day escorted Canyons & Navajo Lands tour costs from £3299pp, including B&B accommodation and guiding. Flights extra. Departures in April, June, September and November. Visit exodus.co.uk; 0203 131 5290.
Laying claim to more castles than any other Scottish region (a whopping 263), Aberdeenshire celebrates the reopening of two icons next year following major restorations and improvements. Head to the area to discover the castellated turrets of Braemar Castle in Cairngorms National Park and Craigievar, the inspiration for Disney’s castle.
Several new restaurant openings are also putting the region on the map, including the Fish Shop in Ballater and Amuse by Kevin Dalgleish, which is tipped to soon land a Michelin star.
How: A seven-night stay at The Gordon Suite country mansion in the Cairngorms costs from £1160 (£290pp). Visit holidaycottages.co.uk; 01237 426781.
Emerging from last year’s political turmoil, the teardrop island is once again finding its feet. The economy is still recovering, making prices reasonable, and tourist money is desperately welcomed.
Beyond the beach, mountains and cultural attractions, there are several good reasons to visit in 2024. First up, is the 200th anniversary of tea’s arrival in the country, brought by the British from China and planted in the Royal Botanical Gardens. Now the precious leaves are central to the economy and served in a variety of ways.
A second reason to visit is the new Pekoe Trail, which will be fully open by the end of this year. Broken into 22 stages, the 300km route winds through tea plantations, forests and rice paddies in the Central Highlands, revealing a less visited side of the island.
How: The 16-day guided Highlights of the Pekoe Trail costs from £2155pp, including all accommodation, meals and guiding. Departs January 27 and November 30. Visit mountainkingdoms.com; 01453 844400.
The Land of the Rising Sun has soared to stratospheric heights of popularity. According to specialists Inside Japan, that’s set to continue for the next 12 months and beyond.
In March, the new extended Hokuriku Shinkansen line will make more of the Japan Sea Coast region and hot spring towns accessible, including Kaga Onsen, the craft town of Takefu and the temple complex of Eiheiji in Fukui. It will also provide better connections to Kanazawa, a great alternative to Kyoto which is suffering from overtourism.
One of the oldest pilgrimage routes in the world, Kumano Kodo also celebrates 20 years as a UNESCO listing. Trek between temples, villages and superb mountain viewpoints while staying in traditional ryokan.
How: A 14-night self-guided Pilgrims Paths tour costs from £3160pp, including B&B accommodation. Flights extra. Visit insidejapantours.com; 0117 244 3380.