10 Places to Go in 2024 Before They’re on Everyone’s Travel List

By: Matador Staff

Photo: DC_Aperture/Shutterstock

Travel came roaring back in 2023, with the World Travel & Tourism Council predicting the travel industry’s economic impact in 2023 to be 95 percent of 2019’s record levels, (and 34 countries to surpassed 2019 levels). Yet with the return of travel came the return of overtourism in many of the most popular places to visit around the world. These 10 destinations are perfect for a 2024 trip and offer some of the same natural beauty, cultural experiences, and adventure as the places that pop up on your social media feeds over and over.

Contributors: Morgane Croissant, Eben Diskin, Debbie Gonzalez Canada, and Nickolaus Hines.

We hope you love the places we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay.


There are parts of Iceland that see a lot of foot traffic. More than 1.5 million travelers spent at least a night on the island country of about 375,000 people in 2022. Yet there are still places that feel off the beaten path. Among them is Vopnafjörður, a town in the northeast of the country.

Vopnafjörður is tiny. Fewer than 700 inhabitants call it home, and most work in agriculture and fishing. But the appeal of the town for visitors has nothing to do with sheep, Arctic char, haddock, or cod – it’s all about the exceptional scenery to enjoy with few, if any, people in your way.

Vopnafjörður’s beauty shows itself as soon as you reach the small regional airport that sits right behind a huge and deserted black-sand beach. You can also see that black-sand beach, the magnificent bay it borders, and the airport strip from the top of the highest mountain in the area. The two hour hike to get there starts in town and is easy, peaceful, and full of interesting birds, flowers, and natural curios like owl pellets, broken eggs, and tiny skeletons of long-gone wildlife.

On your way to or from the airport, make a stop at the 1903 Church of Vopnafjörður (Vopnafjarðarkirkja) located on the main street, Hlíðarvegur. The star-studded ceiling and the cramped attic space where the organ lives are a lovely example of historic Nordic churches.

Vopnafjörður is home to the rectangular, concrete Kolbeinstangi Lighthouse. While not open to visitors, the parts of the road to the lighthouse that you can access is worth following for the cemetery and to take a peek inside the traditional fish-drying hut along the way. If you have a car (or are taking a road trip around the country), take a 10-minute ride to Selárdalslaug, where the swimming pool sits alongside the Selá river and provides great views. Alternatively, you can drive 20 minutes to nearby Hofsárdalur to visit Bustarfell Museum and see the old-fashioned, turf-roofed buildings and way of life that inspired the 1930s novel Independent People by Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness.

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While the majority of the 2024 Olympic Games will take place in Paris, the surfing competition (the second one in the history of the games) will take place a long way away from the French capital in Teahupo’o, Tahiti, from July 27 to 30.

A small village on the southwest coast, Teahupo’o (pronounced “te-ah-hoop-o”) is one of the greatest surfing spots in the world and has been part of the World Championship Tour for more than 20 years. If you want to learn to surf in Tahiti, Teahupo’o is very much the wrong spot (lessons on the northern coasts of the island are better for that). However, it’s perfect for spotting some of the best in the sport as they ride the massive waves.

In between wave and surfer spotting, there’s plenty to do around Teahupo’o, including taking a guided walking or boating tour of the nearby Vaipoiri Cave. The natural landscape on this part of the island is exceptionally pristine, and you can swim in the cave’s waters. For unbeatable lush views of the island (Tahiti Nui) and its peninsula (Tahiti Iti) from up high, drive inland to hike the moderate difficulty 4.6-mile trail or drive to Taravao lookout. There are picnic tables at the top to take it all in with a snack in hand.

For a stay to remember in Teahupo’o, book the luxurious Vanira Lodge, where you can spend the night in wooden bungalows on stilts, complete with palm-frond roofs. Guests sleep way up in the trees, looking out at the abundant vegetation of Tahiti Iti.

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With a population of under 50,000, the Faroe Islands are located between Norway and Iceland. The island chain is a territory of Denmark with its own distinct culture, food, aesthetic, language, traditions, and geography. The 18 rugged rocky islands, linked by ferries and underground tunnels, are defined by dramatic sloping cliffs, waterfalls, and roads with hairpin curves. Despite its natural appeal, visitors from the US remain low primarily due to the time it takes to get there from the States: a few airlines offer connections from Iceland and Copenhagen, though the local airline, Atlantic Airways, tested direct routes from New York in 2023 and plans to do so again in September and October 2024.

The journey to the islands is well worth the effort. The best way to see all that the Faroe Isands have to offer is by road trip — as long as you’re up for a driving adventure. Between navigating narrow roads hugging the seaside and avoiding the sheep that wander onto the road (there are more sheep than people), driving here means being alert at all times. While the capital of Torshavn is the perfect base for exploration, you’ll want to spend most of your time hitting the road. The island of Vagar is a great place to start, home to the iconic sea stacks as well as the Múlafossur waterfall. Spend a few days whipping around the islands of Eysturoy and Streymoy to explore the little fishing villages and dramatic green valleys before taking the ferry to the island of Kalsoy, home to the Kallur Lighthouse. The lighthouse sits atop a steep hill that you can hike for stunning views of the landscape and the tiny town of Trøllanes at its base.

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Many travelers to Peru stick to archeological sites like Cusco and Machu Picchu — and for good reason. Add in Paracas, a two-hour flight west from Cusco, for a less crowded experience on the Pacific coast that’s filled with local wildlife and geographic wonders.

Islas Ballestas, for example, is home to sea lions, penguins, and a range of sea birds, and it’s much cheaper than visiting the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. While you can’t walk around on the island, you can take a speedboat tour to see all the wildlife highlights. On land, the Paracas National Reserve is an otherworldly landscape with red beaches that you can explore via ATV. If that’s not enough adventure for you, dune buggy rides are also available in Huacachina, an inland desert oasis known for its dunes and lagoon.

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The southernmost Croatian resort town of Cavtat is perfect for anyone looking to skip the mass of tourists in the country’s more popular cities. Famous for its tree-lined waterfront, pebble beaches, museums, and historic architecture, you could easily base your trip around Cavtat or add on a visit while in Dubrovnik.

Between Žal and Rat beach, you’ll have plenty of opportunities for sunbathing and hitting the clear blue water while staying at the seafront hotels overlooking the beach. Hotel Cavtat, for example, has sunbeds, parasols, and rooftop pools if you feel like taking a dip without venturing too far. For a cultural experience, check out the house of famous turn-of-the-19th-century painter and Cavtat native Vlaho Bukovac. His childhood house is now the site of a museum dedicated to his work, including a variety of frescoes. A trip to Cavtat can be rounded out with city visits to Dubrovnik for the day and cycling trips through the Knovale region’s orchards, vineyards, and olive groves.

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Bacalar is both the name of a lagoon (or lake, depending on whom you ask) and a Pueblo Mágico located in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, that’s sometimes called “the Maldives of Mexico” and the “Lagoon of Seven Colors.” True to the latter nickname, the lagoon is famous for its seven colors, which are mostly shades of turquoise and deep blues and the result of oligotrophic microorganisms living in the water. You can swim, kayak, or go on boat rides on the fresh water from the surrounding cenotes year-round. As a visitor in town, you can walk or bike everywhere, and there are ample options for food, from classic street vendor food like marquesitas and tacos to the more upscale venues by the shore and around the city center.

But Bacalar is changing rapidly. While it still retains its tranquil vibes, those may not last long. The increasing fame of Bacalar, as well as the controversial development of the Tren Maya connecting towns in the Yucatan Peninsula, are allegedly to blame for the rapid transformation never-ending construction. The notion of easier access raises concerns about the health of the lagoon itself as well as what will happen to the quiet and safe town. The microorganisms responsible for the colorful lagoon are highly sensitive to human impacts, and there are unanswered questions about the socio-environmental impact of the train on surrounding ecosystems.

Others say the transformation is for the better. Tourism in Bacalar used to be seasonal, and only the more adventurous type came. Tren Maya is planned to be fully operational by 2024. Until then, getting to Bacalar requires a flight from an airport in a major Mexican city to Chetumal airport, and from there a half-hour taxi. Alternatively, people can take a five to six-hour bus ride from other large cities in the Yucatan Peninsula, such as Merida and Cancun.

If you’re keen on getting to know the quiet, seven-colored version of Bacalar, visit soon and follow the sustainable recommendations from locals, including not wearing any type of sunscreen when entering the waters of the lagoon.

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Travelers looking for a city escape in Japan outside of the bustle of Tokyo should turn their eyes to Fukuoka. Located on the small Japanese island of Kyushu, southwest of Tokyo and Kyoto, Fukuoka is known for its ancient temples, beaches, and 17th-century castle. Despite its population of over 1.5 million, it doesn’t get the same attention from Western tourists as Japan’s more famous cities but should be on the map for anyone who travels for the food.

Fukuoka is known for its street food stalls with small counters, called yatai, that serve food and drinks outdoors from the early morning to late into the night. The Nakasu, Tenjin, and Nagahama areas are home to most of the city’s yatai. Many simple yet delicious meals can be had along the rows of stalls, with dishes such as ramen, sushi, yakitori (skewered chicken), and taiyaki (a fish-shaped waffle often filled with something sweet) among the more common.

To get your bearings in Fukuoka, head to the top of Fukuoka Tower. At 768 feet, it is the tallest seaside tower in Japan, and offers panoramic views of the city, sea, and surrounding mountains. The tower itself is also an impressive sight, with seasonal illuminations often projected onto the facade at night. For a historic site, visit the massive Reclining Buddha statue at Nanzoin Temple. At 134 feet long and 36 feet high, this is one of the largest statues in Japan and arguably the city’s most iconic sight.

Dive even further into the city’s rich history and culture at Fukuoka Castle. Located in the heart of the city in Maizuru Park, the 17th-century castle used to be the largest castle on the island before it was torn down after the Meiji Restoration. Now you can visit its surviving and reconstructed gates and guard towers, as well as part of the original moat system. It’s a stunning juxtaposition of the city’s past and present.

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Located in northwestern India, the state of Assam is a welcome departure from the busy cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, and Jaipur. Known for its wildlife, archeological sites, historic temples, and tea plantations, Assam is a great area to see a different side of India — a side replete with natural beauty and rich history rather than crowded streets.

As the birthplace of Assam tea, the state is perhaps best known for its iconic tea gardens. There are many tea estates scattered around the state that you can check out. Monabari Tea Estate, for example, is Assam’s largest, producing tea with floral and earthy notes. Halmari Tea Estate is another popular tea garden and the state’s oldest at over a century old, with its bushes fed by the nearby (and scenic) Brahmaputra River.

Apart from tea, Assam is best known for its wildlife. Kaziranga National Park, a protected area in the floodplains of the Brahmaputra River, is the best place to go for a comprehensive wildlife experience. It’s home to one-horned rhinos, Asian elephants, water buffalo, eastern swamp deer, and sloth bears. Animals find the area so hospitable for the same reason you’ll find it so picturesque: the tall elephant grass, marshland, and lush broadleaf forests, all set against the backdrop of the Brahmaputra river.

Cap off your Assam visit by heading to one of its many temples. The Kamakhya Temple in Guwahat dates back to the eighth century andi is the oldest and most famous in the area, long a pilgrimage site for tantric worshippers and Hindus. You should also check out the temple of Shiva Dol on the banks of the Borpukhuri, in the center of Sivasagar. The 104-foot-tall temple is defined by its massive golden dome, and serves as the site of a huge fair in February and March that attracts pilgrims from all over India.

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Costa Rica is a popular tourist destination, but the Osa Peninsula in the southwest of the country is the perfect pocket of tranquility. Even in a land known for its quiet natural beauty, the peninsula stands out for its stunning biodiversity and cultural immersion.

The peninsula’s true beauty lies on the water. Here, you can see humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins in their natural habitat, and plenty of whale- and dolphin-watching tours wait to take you up close. The area is famous for the Caño Island Biological Marine Reserve, home to manta rays, mobula rays, white sharks, Moorish idols, sea turtles, moray eels, and pristine reefs. The reserve is perfect for divers, snorkelers, and anyone looking to hone their underwater photography skills.

For land-dwelling wildlife, Corcovado National Park is known for being one of the most biologically diverse places in the country. Home to over 140 mammals — including endangered jaguars, reptiles, monkeys, and snakes — the park has walking trails where you can observe howler and spider monkeys, colorful toucans, hawks, and other birds in their natural habitat.

Costa Rica is famous for its eco-lodges, which are particularly prevalent in this region. Playa Cativo Lodge, surrounded by a private beach on the coastline of Piedras Blancas National Park, is a 1,000-acre property with its own permaculture garden. Aguila de Osa, on the edge of Corcovado National Park’s rainforest, is another eco-lodge that immerses you in nature. Here, you can go horseback riding at sunset, take a night hike to discover the property’s fluorescent frogs, or simply relax with a beautiful hillside view of Drake Bay.

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This small Texas town of about 24,000 people is just an hour north of San Antonio and close to the famous wineries of Texas Hill Country. 2024 is a particularly good year to visit, as Kerrville is directly in the path of the total solar eclipse. The solar eclipse will happen in North America on April 8, 2024, and watching from somewhere along the direct path promises to be a particularly special experience.

While the eclipse alone puts Kerrville on the map for 2024 travel, it’s draws are year-round. The Riverside Nature Center is one of Kerrville’s most distinct offerings. Located in the natural wildlife habitat at the intersection of the Guadalupe River and Town Creek, the center includes several gardens home to over 90 butterfly species, wildflowers, nature walks, and educational areas where you can learn about composting and rainwater harvesting. Louise Hays Park is another peaceful outdoor experience located on the Guadalupe River. You could easily spend a whole day walking the park’s 2.4-mile River Loop trail and exploring the seven-acre Tranquility Island lined with cypress trees in the middle of the river.

Schreiner Mansion is the town’s most recognizable landmark. Originally a two-story home built in the late 1800s, the turreted mansion looks more like a castle. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was designed by architect Alred Giles, who’s responsible for some of the most famous buildings and mansions in central Texas. While you’re on a history kick, check out the Museum of Western Art, which tells the story of the Wild West and the American frontier through the paintings and sculptures of Western artists.

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