10 Best Places to Visit in Summer 2019

Whether you want to rest on a beach in the Caribbean, hike the world's most famous canyon, explore ancient ruins, eat delicious cuisine or learn more at historically significant sites this year, ZONTravel has the right spot for you.
Several of our 10 places to visit in Summer 2019 are bouncing back after natural disasters that hit their economies hard. You can do some good while enjoying the beach in Hawaii, Kerala or St. Barts.
Or you can mark the 50th anniversary of man's first walk on the moon, the 100th anniversary of Grand Canyon National Park, Liechtenstein's tricentennial and importantly, Ghana's Year of Return marks 400 years since enslaved Africans arrived in North America.
Whether you want to relax, explore or learn -- or all three -- there's a destination on this list for you. Here they are in alphabetical order: 

Christchurch, New Zealand

christchurch cathedral

Many people only associate with Christchurch with its most tragic event -- the 2011 earthquake that leveled much of the city and resulted in 185 deaths. But it isn't the natural disaster that defines a city -- it's the way they choose to regroup and rebuild.
Several years later, Christchurch has been reconstructed to be respectful of locals and to be more thoughtful of the environment, creating a city that feels at once hopeful and dynamic. Vendors who once sold out of a pop-up mall of containers are now moving to brick-and-mortar locations, followed by loyal locals. Colorful street art about hope and resilience has appeared all over the city. Music performances are often held in rotating venues around the city instead of a single opera house or concert hall so more people have a chance to attend.
The elegant Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial pays homage to those who were lost, while the Transitional Cathedral -- intended to be, by its name, temporary refuge made of cardboard for locals to go following the quake -- has become a permanent part of the cityscape.
Don't miss: Kakano, a Maori-owned and -operated cooking school and cafe that aims to heal people through food and the Christchurch Art Gallery, which served as home base for post-quake first responders and is now a gorgeous centerpiece for a city on the move.


The ancient Egyptian temple of Abu Simbel stands on the shores of Lake Nasser.

The land of the Pharaohs has been welcoming tourists for so long, it's a wonder that archeologists haven't discovered hieroglyphics depicting backpackers.
Sadly, the country's tourist trade has taken a battering in recent times with security concerns and political upheaval keeping many visitors away. A December 28, 2018 attack that killed four people near the Pyramids of Giza shows that there are still serious security issues.
While that may deter some, others will continue returning to a country that appears to be taking faltering steps back on to the mainstream tourism circuit.
So what's different in 2019? Well, while the sand has been settling on deserted classic monuments, Egyptologists have been brushing it gently aside elsewhere to discover a litany of exciting finds, many of which are now being opened to the public.
Mummies, sphinxes, tombs and fresh pyramid mysteries have all been unearthed over the past year, as Egypt proves time and again it has many more secrets yet to be revealed.
And while safety concerns persist, hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Sphinx, the Valley of the Kings take place without incident each year. Likewise, Egypt's main Red Sea resorts are considered safe.
Expect a major tourism drive by Egypt in coming months as it gears up to 2020's expected opening of its highly anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum. Until then, there's a perfect opportunity to beat the crowds.
Don't miss: If you can find someone to let you in, the recently opened Tomb of Mehu is a spine-tingling 4,000 years old. Nearby, the ancient Saqqara necropolis complex is where ancient Egypt's penchant for pyramid building began.

Fukuoka, Japan

Kokura Castle in Kitakyushu is just one of many places to explore off the beaten path in Fukuoka.

Fascinating history. Incredible eats. Natural beauty. If the Japanese seaside city of Fukuoka isn't already on your radar, it's time to recalibrate your Japan travel plans.
Capital of the prefecture of the same name and one of several host cities for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Fukuoka is the gateway to the island of Kyushu.
It's the perfect destination for those looking to go beyond the well-trodden destinations like Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto and see a new corner of Japan.
Highlights of this city and its surrounding area include the ruins of the 17th-century Fukuoka Castle, the beautiful Kyushu National Museum and Dazaifu Tenmangu, a Shinto shrine that's home to over 6,000 plum trees that blossom in stunning fashion each spring.
And while we're on the subject of blooms, another famed destination is the tunnel of wisterias at Kawachi Fuji-en Garden in Kitakyushu, about an hour's drive from the city. Another worthy day trip is Yanagawa, an hour outside of the Fukuoka, famed for its picturesque canals.
But we've saved the best for last: The food.
Due to its seaside position on Japan's east coast, Fukuoka is a seafood lover's dream destination and considered one of Japan's top foodie cities. Just head for the Nagahama Fish Market. The commercial market floor only opens to the public once a month but you can still visit its restaurants, which are open seven days a week.
We do recommend saving space for a bowl of Hakata ramen though. A local specialty, it's the original tonkotsu ramen and prized for its deliciously fatty pork broth. Try it at Ichiran, a restaurant chain found throughout Japan that originated in Hakata, Fukuoka.
Don't miss: The impressive Fukuoka Art Museum is reopening in March 2019 following extensive renovations that kicked off back in 2016. It offers a wide range of works from celebrated Japanese and global artists including Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Marc Chagall.


Ghana's Cape Coast Castle is where many slaves were held before being deported.

West Africa's poster nation for economic success and political stability is hoping to trade up its tourism status for 2019, with a campaign targeting the African diaspora whose ancestors were victims of the brutal slave trade of centuries gone by.
The country's Year of Return marks 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in North America. It's a somber recognition of the evil that befell Ghana's past inhabitants and their descendants — and the strength with which they've faced it.
Legacies of the slave trade are unavoidable. Cape Coast Castle, one of many historic coastal forts, was where slaves were held before being dispatched to America and the Caribbean. This brutal and fascinating reminder was visited by the Obamas in 2009 and Melania Trump in 2018.

For all the sobriety of this anniversary, what also awaits visitors to Ghana is the warm, intoxicating embrace of country completely at ease with its identity rushing headlong toward a bright future.
The capital, Accra, crackles with the dynamism of a city on the upswing, with a nightlife scene to match. For those wanting to escape its relentless excitement, Ghana's 335-mile coastline boasts empty surfing spots like Cape Three Points, while its many protected wildlife zones, including Mole National Park, are home to wild elephants, Nolan warthogs and spotted hyenas.
Don't miss: Tongo, a village in the Tengzug Hills of northeastern Ghana, is home to the Whistling Rocks — dramatic arrangements of giant granite slabs that produce strange sounds when winds blow down from the Sahara.

Grand Canyon, United States

The Grand Canyon is marking 100 years as a national park.
One of the world's most magnificent natural wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Grand Canyon National Park is marking its centennial anniversary in 2019.
Never mind that the canyon is actually about five or six million years old, give or take a few years, with rocks at the canyon bottom dating back some 2,000 million years.
There are human artifacts dating back nearly 12,000 years to the Paleo-Indian period, and the area has been continuously occupied up to the present day.
It was first protected by the US government in 1893, and it became Grand Canyon National Park on February 26, 1919, offering the 1.2 million-acre park the most US government protection possible.
About 277 miles long and a mile deep from rim to river at various points, the park attracted more than 6 million visitors for the first time ever in 2017.
Yet most people view the Grand Canyon by the magnificent South Rim, while some visit the North Rim in season (it closes for the winter).
More adventurous sorts can take two days to hike to the canyon bottom. (Riding a mule is an easier option.) Hikers who trek from rim to rim could take three days one-way, while rafters might take two weeks or more.
Don't miss: Hiking the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden or even just part way down, suggests award-winning photographer Pete McBride, author of "Grand Canyon: Between River and Rim." Hiking even a little bit gives people a perspective of the size of the place, he says. "But remember, hiking in is easy. Hiking out is harder. And always bring water and electrolytes." 

The Hebrides, Scotland, UK

The Callanish Standing Stones: A Hebrides mystery dating back 5,000 years.
You might have heard stories about Scotland's fine white sand dunes, turquoise waters, rugged mountains, crumbling castles -- but nothing can prepare you for seeing the Hebridean islands.
The most famous of the lot, the Isle of Skye, makes it onto many travelers' must-see lists, but the lesser-visited Lewis and Harris, the most northerly Outer Hebridean Island, also deserves to be there.
The birthplace of Harris Tweed, the famous cloth that's been woven, dyed and spun by the islanders for centuries, is also home to its own Stonehenge-style mystery in the Callanish Standing Stones.
Unlike Stonehenge, visitors can get up close to the standing circle of boulders at Callanish, which is believed to have been erected about 5,000 years ago.
For this and Lewis and Harris' other wonders, it's worth the drive to Ullapool, close to the northern tip of the Scottish mainland, and the 2.5-hour ferry across a choppy stretch of the Atlantic to explore these islands. Alternatively, there's the plane from Glasgow straight to Stornoway, the island's capital.
Each Hebridean island has its own distinctive vibe, but they're all grounded in a similar small-town community spirit. Islay, the southernmost Hebridean isle, known for its whisky distilleries and incredible beaches, offers a true sense of island life. Driving around, visitors might be more likely to encounter cows than people, but any meeting with an islander will likely earn an "Islay wave" -- a friendly acknowledgment from a fellow driver.
Don't miss: On Islay, head to atmospheric Loch Finlaggan, the late medieval meeting place of the Lords of the Isles, the former rulers of the Hebrides. Ferry provider Caledonian MacBride (CalMac) offers cheap travel between each Hebridean island, but the ride to the Isle of Barra by plane is worth it to experience one of the world's most picturesque plane landings, descending onto a stunning sandy beach.

Jaffa, Israel

Tel Aviv-Yafo is often lumped together as one unit for the convenience of an airport and Google Maps, but 4,000-year-old Yafo (often spelled Jaffa in English) is as different from Tel Aviv as Brooklyn is from Manhattan.
The artsier sister, Jaffa has traditionally been home to narrow streets packed with jewelers, sculptors, antique dealers, candlemakers, painters and more displaying and selling their work. Also making the case for Jaffa as much more than a day trip are the three boutique hotels that opened in 2018 -- The Jaffa, The Setai and The Drisco.
How to spend a perfect day there? Have hummus and pita at the jam-packed communal tables at Abu Hassan followed by sweets at Abulafia bakery. Experience the world's first deaf-blind theater company, Nalaga'at (there's a cafe next door where all the baristas are deaf and you can learn Israeli Sign Language signs for words like "coffee"), and don't forget to pick up banana-scented soaps and orange-blossom perfume from Zielinski & Rosen.
Don't Miss: Jaffa is home to the first whisky distillery in all of Israel, the aptly named Milk + Honey. And before you have to ask -- yes, it's kosher. 

Kerala, India

The backwaters of Kerala are an idyllic place to stay on a houseboat.
This area of India has it all: sun, sea, sand, good food, houseboats, culture and wildlife. Its spectacular natural landscapes -- think palm trees and sprawling backwaters -- lend the region the nickname "God's Own Country."
Severe floods during the summer of 2018 wreaked havoc across this southwestern state, but many of its top tourist destinations escaped unscathed.
Visitors will likely land at Kochi International, an airport powered entirely by solar panels. The ancient port city of Kochi, once occupied by the Portuguese, is a multicultural hub offering plenty to do and see. It's a great place to check out traditional Kathakali dance, the storytelling dance form known for its colorful and intricate costumes and masks that hails from Kerala.

Kerala is also great for beaches, particularly in the southern part of the state. Postcard-perfect Kovalam is a surfing hotspot, while Varkala is good for just relaxing.
Kerala's backwaters are famous for a reason: a nexus of waterways linking the regions' villages and best explored via kettuvallam -- a traditional wooden houseboat. It's worth spending anywhere from a single afternoon to a week on one of the many rental houseboats on offer, enjoying the sights and sounds drifting by.
Other top trips include Munnar to see the tea plantations, and Periyar National Park, a wildlife haven offering guided jungle treks.
Don't miss: The food -- from the spice shops of Munnar to the coconut, which is everywhere in Kerala and used to make one of the state's signature dishes: Kerala prawn curry.

Lima, Peru

Lima, Perus
Athletes and racing adventurers will be working up an appetite in Peru in 2019.
The Pan American and Parapan American Games will be hosted in Lima (July 26-August 11), where nearly 7,000 competitors will vie for dominance in 39 sports. Well before those athletes arrive, 2019 will start full-throttle with the 2019 Dakar Rally on January 6-17.
Starting and finishing in Lima, the Dakar Rally is an 11-day odyssey that involves more than 300 participating vehicles -- from motorcycles to trucks -- racing along a 5,000-kilometer route in Peru.
All that exertion deserves a delicious reward, and Lima is ready to feed you.
Peru has earned the World's Leading Culinary Destination distinction for seven consecutive years at the World Travel Awards, and Lima is home to three of the World's 50 Best Restaurants: Central, Maido and Astrid & Gastón.
Pia León, who along with her husband chef Virgilio Martínez is behind much-lauded Central, opened Kjolle in 2018 in Lima's trendy Barranco district.
Don't miss: Mercado 28 is a new gastronomic market in the Miraflores district. The market features an array of eateries offering tapas, Amazonian cuisine, ceviche, cocktails and more. 

Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca is home to the Monte Alban UNESCO site, a large pre-Columbian archaeological complex.
Oaxaca, in central Mexico, may not have gotten as much attention as Mexico City or Tulum, but it doesn't need to try hard to impress visitors, whether through its cuisine, art, ruins or mezcal.
This Mexican city, with its colorful colonial buildings and open-air marketplaces selling a seemingly infinite number of ingredients to make mole, the city's claim to fame, is a sight to behold.
And speaking of mole, a sauce made from chocolate and ground chiles and ladled generously over many Mexican specialties: Oaxaca is a food destination in its own right. Diners looking to splurge on a meal should check out Casa Oaxaca, which has duck tacos and smoked octopus as well as a small section of the menu devoted to vegan dishes.
Casual diners (and everyone else) should try Oaxaca's other regional items: the tlayuda. A large griddled tortilla filled with beans, pork fat and cheese, it can be found in restaurants around town and in food markets, such as the Mercado 20 de Noviembre.
After a day or two wandering the picturesque streets, hire a driver or join a tour group and head out of the city center to explore the ruins of Mitla or the city's UNESCO World Heritage site, Monte Albán, a pre-Columbian architectural site.
Don't miss: Oaxaca's bed and breakfast scene is one of the most charming parts of a visit to Oaxaca. The Cabrera Family owns three B&Bs in the area, and they are all highly recommended both for their two-course breakfasts and beautiful rooms: Casa de las Bugambilias, Los Milagros and El Secreto. Of note also is the Casa de Siete Balcones, a bed and breakfast housed in an 18th century building that has preserved many Baroque details.