Navigating the world as a black person is not always easy and traveling while black is no different. While no destination is a complete utopia void of microaggressions or where the black experience exists in a vacuum, there are many places where black travelers have felt especially comfortable exploring, and others that are particularly exciting for black travelers this year. We tapped some of our favorite black travel bloggers and influencers to find out their favorite destinations of 2019. So whether you’re going abroad for the first time or you’re a seasoned traveler, here are six of the best places for black travelers to visit this year.

1. Ghana

 

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It’s been 400 years since the first slave ships departed from the shores of West Africa before arriving in the Americas. Ghanaian politicians have long been advocates of the pan-African movement. So in 2019, Ghana is welcoming people of African descent to visit with the promise of easier visa applications and a year-long calendar of culturally immersive events. As many are traveling to the country this year to connect with their ancestral roots, there has never been a better time for black travelers to visit Ghana.

First-time visitors should start their travels in the capital city, Accra. The city itself is a fusion of historical sights and modern culture. Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park is a popular attraction to visit as it’s where the life of Ghana’s first president — a revered pan-Africanist — is celebrated. Nights in Accra are best spent dining al fresco or vibing to Afrobeats at the city’s many rooftop bars.

Rooftop parties aren’t the only thing to look forward to when visiting Ghana this year. 2019 will see a huge amount of cultural events happening to surround the Year of Return festivities. Many organized tour groups will be traveling to the country to celebrate, including the popular New Year’s Eve party in Ghana. Afrochella, the black millennial music festival, and PANAFEST, a festival celebrating the resilience and achievements of African people, should also not be missed.

After exploring Accra, travelers should get out of the capital city to see another side of Ghana. From Accra, it’s relatively easy to explore other parts of the country. A three-hour drive outside of the capital city takes travelers looking to connect with their ancestral roots to former slave dungeon, Elmina Castle. Ironically, these not-so-castle-like quarters housed enslaved Africans during what was the last stop for many before the tumultuous journey known as the middle passage or transatlantic slave trade. Also, in the region is Cape Coast, another former slave house, and Kakum National Park, an oasis in the middle of the rainforest famous known for its 350-meter-high canopy walkway.

With an exciting lineup of cultural events, important historical sites, and the welcoming spirit of the Ghanaian people, we have to believe President Akufo-Addo when he said “the time is right” for people of African descent to return home to Ghana this year.

2. Montreal, Canada

 

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If you’ve been dreaming of going to Paris and haven’t made the leap yet, try Montreal instead. It’s the perfect destination for black East Coasters wanting to experience a new culture without the long flight or the microaggressions that often come when traveling while black around Europe.

“Montreal always gives me a little bit of everything that I need for a quick getaway. It has the beauty and charm of Paris but with less visible anti-black microaggressions than French society,” said Nasir Fleming, travel writer and content manager at Shut Up and Go.

With the highest number of restaurants per capita in Canada, the city is full of culinary delights. Using downtown as a starting point, foodies should eat their way through the city tasting classic dishes like poutine, a Fairmount bagel, or a smoked meat sandwich. If you’re craving some soul food, Nasir said, “It [Montreal] has prominent Caribbean and North African communities, so when strolling through the city, you’ll easily find a Haitian or a Moroccan restaurant to give you some spice in your life.”

Black African and Caribbean culture has a strong presence in Montreal. Every April Vues d’Afrique holds the Pan-Africa International Film Festival — a celebration of African and Creole culture through film. Music lovers should plan to visit in June for the annual Montreal Jazz Festival featuring famous black jazz artists like Dianne Reeves and Buddy Guy.

“[I’m not saying] that Montreal is the ultimate holy land for black people, but it’s a nice way to get away from the messiness of the states when you’re on a budget,” explained Nasir.

Many also come to Montreal for its arts scene and abundance of parks. If you’re on a budget but still need your art fix, Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts is free for everyone under 30. And every year on a Sunday in May, over 30 museums open their doors for free on Montreal Museums Day. Montreal is proof that you don’t need to travel far to experience an interesting culture. What’s more, if you can get your cultural fix without having to carry around the heavy feelings that sometimes come with traveling while black in Europe, it’s a win-win.

3. Senegal

 

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Senegal, the coastal West African country known for its beautiful beaches and hospitable culture is an ideal destination for black travelers. Jakiya Brown, traveler and Senegal expat said, “The culture, vibrancy, and teranga (meaning Senegalese hospitality in the local language, Wolof) is the perfect combination, especially for people of the diaspora.”

Dakar is a thriving city with art, fresh seafood, and paradise-like beaches. The city is known as the art epicenter of West Africa. The largest and oldest contemporary art show in Africa, Dakar Biennale, is held every two years and attracts visitors from all over the world. Not to mention, there are dozens of art galleries throughout the city where black travelers can purchase locally made African art.

Seafood lovers will not be disappointed in Dakar. A lot of its best dishes include freshly caught fish because the city is full of traditional Senegalese fish markets. Ceebu jën (thieboudienne in French), Senegal’s national dish, is made from fish, rice, and tomato sauce. Black Americans with southern roots might recognize the dish as it closely resembles Southern red rice, which is popular in states like Georgia and South Carolina.

Black travelers visiting Senegal may want to pay a visit to the quiet island of Gorée. The tiny island just off the coast of Dakar is dotted with pastel-painted homes which mask its horrific past. Millions of enslaved Africans passed through the island before being shipped to the Americas. Black travelers wanting to connect with their ancestors should visit the House of Slaves (Maison des Esclaves). “Senegal makes for one unforgettable cultural experience, especially for black travelers, that will make you want to return “home” again and again,” said Jakiya. Join Jakiya in Senegal this summer at this Teranga Retreat.

4. Belize

 

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If it’s Caribbean food, water adventures, and Creole culture that you want, look no further than Belize. Solo world travel blogger Ciara Johnson, of Hey Ciara, said, “Black travelers should consider visiting Caye Caulker. It’s a tiny island full of character off the coast of Belize.”

The allure of the small coastal island is its relaxing feel, crystal blue water, and afro-Belizean influences. It’s easy to get to Caye Caulker from the main island of Belize City. Take a one hour ferry from Belize City with Ocean Ferry Breeze or if you prefer to fly, a regional carrier, Maya Air, flies to the island in 25 minutes. You won’t have a hard time winding down here — its tourism slogan is “Go Slow” — with an endless amount of water activities and food that is sure to give you the itis. Water sports here include jet skiing, cliff jumping, diving, and kayaking. For a taste of traditional Afro-Belizean food, indulge in a “bile up” — a Belizean creole dish including boiled eggs, fish or pigtails with plantain, yams, and tomato sauce.

Black travelers wanting to experience afro-Belizean culture a bit deeper should head to Gulisi Garifuna Museum in Belize City for a look into the traditional culture of the indigenous Garífunaia people. Just two hours south of Belize City is Hopkins Village, a small fishing village. Laruni Hati Beyabu Diner in Hopkins Village is the perfect place to go to get a taste of traditional Garífunaia food like cassava, fish, coconut, and mashed plantains — no fork needed. The natural wonders and Creole culinary delights of Belize make it a paradise island that shouldn’t be overlooked.

5. United Arab Emirates

 

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In 2015, there was an infamous Etihad Airways “error fare” from New York to Dubai for around $187 round trip. Many black travel communities on Instagram posted the flight deal encouraging travelers to book their tickets immediately. Since then, black travelers have looked to Dubai and Abu Dhabi for luxury vacations without the hefty price tag and for the community of black expats in the United Arab Emirates.

The allure of luxury experiences at an affordable price is what makes the UAE a popular destination. Lovers of luxury travel will want to indulge in the finer things like renting an all-inclusive yacht or jet skiing along Jumeirah Beach in Dubai. Brunch lovers should book a table at the elegant Rosewood Hotel in Abu Dhabi for their international garden brunch overlooking the waterfront. And then stick around after dining because the Rosewood turns into a party with a live DJ after 4:00 AM.

Those looking to dive into cultural experiences should head to the capital city, Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is only a two-hour bus ride away from Dubai. It’s known for its famous site, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. “Beauty and opulence mixed in one, it’s enchanting, magnetic, and awe-inspiring the way such perfection sits there in all its white glory,” said Gloria Amato, travel blogger from The Blog Abroad.

For the solo black traveler wanting to experience the United Arab Emirates with a group, there are a few black-owned travel companies like Wind Collective, who host trips to Dubai. Traveling with a like-minded group of black travelers is a great way to ease into a new culture.

Multicultural cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi have attracted many black expats who often move there to lead simpler yet more fulfilling lives as compared to in the US. Sistas in Dubai is a social meetup group created for black women to bond over shared experiences living in the UAE. Gloria said, “I found the UAE to be a place where black travelers can thrive. I’ve met black entrepreneurs, engineers, and teachers through different emirates all living their best lives and I think it’s a place where you can indulge in the finer things in life without entirely breaking the bank.” So whether you’re visiting the region for a bit of culture or considering taking the leap to move abroad, there is a community of black travelers awaiting you.

6. Tunisia

 

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Tunisia’s tourism numbers continue to recover from the 2015 terrorist attacks in the coastal city of Sousse and due to the temporary lack of mass tourism, this makes for an ideal time to explore the country.

Sub-Saharan African influences can be seen all throughout Tunis, the capital city of Tunisia. About 15 percent of Tunis’ population identifies as black. And in 1846, Tunisia was the first Arab Muslim country to abolish slavery and most recently, in 2018, it has passed legislation which criminalizes racist acts.

Black travelers wanting to connect with the black Tunisian culture should head to Jazz à Carthage in April. The festival is a celebration of international jazz that has been around since 2005, and features many black headlining artists such as Sabry Mosbah and more.

Visitors looking for some beach fun will find that traveling throughout the country to neighboring cities like Sidi Bou Said, the sun-drenched town perched on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, is easily accessible. The cobblestone town is a perfect day escape — it’s only a 30-minute drive from the city center. For authentic shopping, head to the souks of the medina to barter with merchants over locally made goods like rugs or jewelry.

As lovers of Tunisia, Eulanda and Omo, travel bloggers at Hey Dip Your Toes In, said, “People of color can expect to be received with warmth and friendliness by the locals. Tunisia considers itself as one of the more liberal majority Muslim countries in the Arab world with democracy and reform both sources of national pride.” If you enjoy traveling somewhere that allows you to explore a completely new culture while still managing to feel like home, Tunisia should be on your list for 2019.