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Beyond borders: 20 best places to visit in 2024 for a memorable year

travel to Europe

Nothing hits quite like travel. Experiencing new places and cultures (and, of course, food) is as enriching as it is exciting, no matter where you end up flying to. With that said, the very best places to visit have something extra special about them, whether it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site (or several) on their doorstep, a top notch food scene, or fairy tale city centres that also house incredible nightlife. 

If you’re dreaming of packing your suitcase and hitting the road, then check out our list of the 20 best places to visit  in 2024 for a memorable year of adventures!

1. Sushi, sake, and shrines in Japan

There’s nowhere in the world like Japan. The island nation punches well above its weight on a global scale, having spread its delicious food and intriguing culture throughout the world. But, even if you frequent the best omakase spots in your hometown nothing can prepare you for actually visiting the Land of the Rising Sun.

From the neon dreams of capital city Tokyo to Kyoto’s quiet beauty (and all the world class transport to get you between the two), a Japan Unrivalled trip will amaze and delight in equal measure. 

travel to Japan

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2. Trek through paradise in South Africa

Combine the best of a modern, thriving city with some of the world’s most exquisite natural beauty via a road trip through South Africa’s famous Garden Route.

Beginning in Cape Town, already one of the best places to visit in the world thanks to its cultural and natural highlights, this trip will take you through idyllic coastal routes, into awe inspiring caves, and even give you the chance to spot the safari Big 5. A bucket list trip in every sense of the term.

3. Mezcal and Mestizo culture

Mexico is the sort of country travellers fall in love with, and for good reason. The national food scene is unrivalled, with world class restaurants and an abundance of excellent street food offering the best of both worlds. Then there’s the centuries of history and fascinating, varied culture, the dancing, and, of course, all the parties.

A Mexico Grande trip allows you to enjoy idyllic, white sand beaches and coral reefs, the pulsating energy of Mexico City, and the cultural mecca that is Oaxaca, as well as several other life-changing destinations like the beautiful Merida and the country’s stunning mountainous regions.

travel to Mexico

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4. Evolve your sense of adventure in Ecuador

Volcanoes, rainforests, and one of the most diverse pools of wildlife in any country: Ecuador is famously home to the Galapagos Islands, which heavily informed Darwin’s theory of evolution. And, once you’re here, it’s easy to see why the scientist was so enchanted by this nation’s natural highlights. With an Ecuador & Galapagos Island Hopper tour you can explore this ecological wonderland, while also checking out some excellent South American nightlife in the capital Quito. 

5. Visit Vietnam’s vast treasures

Vietnam is a dream destination for many, and when you see what’s possible to do in the Southeast Asian nation, it’s easy to understand why it’s considered to be one of the best places to visit in the world. On a Vietnam Experience trip, travellers can indulge in the insanity of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, relax in the heavenly Ha Long Bay, and of course eat some of the region’s best food.

Then there’s the ancient and intriguing indigenous cultures to explore, as well as other natural highlights like its beautiful beaches. If you have time, you can even explore the relatively untouched northern reaches of the nation too. Pro tip: we recommend taking on Vietnam solo to really get immersed…

Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

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6. Pizza and Pisa

If you love incredible food, a rich historical tapestry, and beautiful weather, then Italy remains one of the best places to visit in the world. With an Ultimate Italy trip you’ll check out the galleries of Rome and Florence, while also falling in love with the quaint small towns that make up the stunning Cinque Terre. Although Spring is the ideal time to head to the European nation, the off-season is just as wonderful to experience, making it an ideal year round destination to visit. 

7. Traverse the Inca Trail

There’s a reason that Machu Picchu is on every serious traveller’s bucket list, and once you’ve visited the mystical UNESCO World Heritage Site it’s easy to see why. Although any chance to see the ancient citadel is worth grabbing with both hands, nothing can quite beat taking the Inca Trail and watching the sun break over the stunning structures that make up the zone. A magical experience that has to be seen to be believed.

contiki-group-machu-picchu

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8. Revel in the wonders of Costa Rica

Looking at the sheer wealth of natural beauty that Costa Rica is home to, it can almost seem unfair that the Central American nation seems to have so much. Cloud forests, fairytale-like waterfalls and lakes, and bone white beaches are just some of the places you can lose yourself in, and that’s not mentioning the hot springs to relax in and explosive volcanoes to trek. When on your Viva Costa Rica trip, you’ll soon realise just why this country is considered one of the best places to visit in the world.

9. Enjoy the Emerald Isle to its fullest

Even if it weren’t home to some iconic natural highlights like the Cliffs of Moher and Giant’s Causeway, a trip to Ireland would still be worth it. The stunning, ancient cities and towns brim with life, and no matter where you end up there’s a healthy dose of craic to enjoy with locals. Just make sure you sip on a few pints of Guinness while listening to some folk music in a pub to get the real experience.

travel to Ireland

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10. Rough it in the Canadian Rockies

Rugged, untouched, and absolutely gorgeous: Canada’s vast mountains are a treasure trove of awe inspiring natural beauty, just waiting for you to explore. A trip through British Columbia and Alberta will allow you to enjoy the best of this gorgeous region, before ending up in cool, classy Vancouver. Here, you’ll be reintroduced to society through the city’s various cafes, restaurants, and bars, as well as other cultural touchstones like museums and galleries. 

11. Live the American Dream in the country’s national parks

When it comes to the best places to visit in terms of unique scenery, nothing quite beats America. Road tripping through the nation’s impressive and varied national parks is a classic adventure of the best kind, and with the National Parks Road Trip you’ll see some of the most iconic sights the country has to offer, including the Grand Canyon. The trip also ends in Las Vegas, where you can do things like take a hot air balloon over the desert, or check out nearby attractions like Red Rock.

Contiki Travellers travelling in Las Vegas, USA

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12. Incredible Iberia

Spain and Portugal are both dripping with history, culture, and great food, which is why the Iberian Peninsula is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in the world. On our Spain & Portugal Highlights trip you’ll be partying in Madrid one day, while checking out the gorgeous architecture of Cordoba the next. You’ll also get to spend time in the ultra-cool Portuguese capital of Lisbon, and sample port in the northern city of Porto. What’s not to love?

13. G’days galore in Australia

It’s mind boggling how huge Australia is, and the chance to explore the massive island nation is one that shouldn’t be missed. The Ultimate Australia Trip covers most of the highlights of this incredible country, mostly focusing on the gorgeous Eastern coast and its sizzling outback, which is home to natural highlights not found anywhere else on earth. Without a doubt one of the best places to visit, especially if you have the chance to see as much of the country as possible.

Travel to Australia

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14. California Dreaming

America’s west coast is where dreams are made, and with this L.A to the Bay tour you get the best of La La Land, San Diego, and San Francisco, as well as the chance to explore some classic American nature. Beginning in Los Angeles, you’ll check out upscale neighbourhoods and glitzy Hollywood locations, before taking in the vibes in the more laidback San Diego. But this isn’t just a city break: you’ll also have the chance to see the incredible Grand Canyon, as well as the glittering Bass Lake, and plenty more!

15. Traverse all of Thailand

Thailand has long been considered one of the best places to visit for backpackers and fancier tourists alike, and with the Total Thailand trip you’ll have the opportunity to take in the beautiful sights and sounds, while also getting to grips with the country’s fascinating ancient culture and its world class food culture. From nights out in thrumming Bangkok to chilling by the beach in Phuket, you can have every kind of holiday and more in this charming nation.

A group of women enjoying social travel on a boat in Thailand.

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16. Buzzing beaches and historical highlights in Greece

The Ancient Greeks were convinced their little slice of earth was the centre of the universe, and when you spend time there you understand where they were coming from. While the mainland holds plenty of charm, there’s nothing quite like island hopping around places like Myknonos and Santorini. There, you’ll get to relax on golden sands, check out ancient ruins, and party the night away while devouring the delicious halloumi that the country is famous for producing. 

17. Indulge in incredible India

Few countries capture the imagination like India. The subcontinent stretches for hundreds of miles yet every inch seems to be jam packed with incredible cultural and historical sites, delicious and varied food, and enough colour and energy to make you feel like you’ve entered a fever dream of the best kind. With the Eternal India trip you’ll be dropped into Delhi’s madness, have the chance to feel like royalty at heavenly hill stations in the north, and be able to relax on Goa’s beautiful beaches, as well as plenty more!

Three people standing in front of the taj mahal.

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18. Desert Dreams in Jordan

Old and new combine to make the Kingdom of Jordan one of the best places to visit in the world. A Jordan Uncovered trip gives you culture and adventure, while also allowing you the chance to get to know the hospitable locals and learn about their fascinating customs. Visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites and desert stargazing are just two of the varied activities available in this special country, and a trip here is undoubtedly one that will last long in the memory.

19. Explore the edge of the world in New Zealand

Rugged, isolated, and truly special: New Zealand might be hundreds of miles from any other landmass, yet its ethereal beauty makes it a dream destination for many, and rightfully so. Adrenaline pumping activities and majestic landscapes make it well worth visiting the two islands that make up this beautiful land, and that’s not even mentioning the stunning array of wildlife you’ll have the chance to see. With the Big Tiki trip you’ll really get to grips with everything this stunning nation has to offer.

Franz Josef Glacier New Zealand

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20. Zip through Europe’s Eastern Treasures

Although it’s just as jam packed with historical highlights and delicious eats as the rest of the continent, Eastern Europe remains an underrated destination. On the Eastern Road trip, you’ll explore ancient city centres, party in Berlin and Prague, and learn about the ancient and modern history that shaped this part of the world. Plus, you’ll never be more than a few minutes away from a cheap beer! What else could you ask for?

Ready to start your 2024 holiday planning? No matter what you’re looking for, Contiki has a trip that will help you get through your bucket list and then some. 

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