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20 great holiday destinations to visit in 2024

The top places to holiday around the world, from the majesty of Petra in Jordan to new sail and rail routes to France for the Olympics in Paris

From brown-sugar beach resorts, to new non-stop flights and one-off festivals in ancient cities, there’s a wealth of reasons to take a trip of a lifetime in 2024. We’ve rounded up the places that will be making headlines this year. Which one will tempt you first?

Paris, France

A new “sail and rail” agreement between France and Ireland has made it easier and cheaper to take a footprint-minimising trip to mainland Europe. The two-in-one pass could take you to the oenophile’s hub of Bordeaux or the foodie city of Dijon, but in 2024 you’ll want to visit the capital of bonne Paris, a three-hour train ride from the ferry hub of Cherbourg.

All eyes will be back on the city – only just regrouped after hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2023 – this summer as the Olympics and Paralympics roll into Paris, July 26th-August 11th. Ten million people will experience the games across the city, and all that its grand historical backdrops have to offer.

Away from sporting drama, five years after its devastating fire, a repaired and renewed Notre Dame will reopen its gothic doors in December. In the world of art, the 1874 Immersive Expedition at Musée d’Orsay uses virtual reality to transport us to the launch of the world’s first impressionist exhibition. On April 15th, 1874, at 8pm at the studio of the famed photographer Nadar, the likes of Monet, Renoir, Cézanne and Degas congregated to display their works under the cloak of the starry Parisian night. Until we invent time machines, it’s the closest we’ll get to the legendary soirée.


Get there Sail and rail passes from Cork to Roscoff, Rosslare to Cherbourg, and Dublin to Cherbourg are available from Brittany Ferries and Irish Ferries.

Colorado, US

To think of Colorado is to think of its skiing opportunities, but its outdoorsy offering is so much more. In spring and summer, the snow melt means white-water rafting is a big draw, while the forests, plains, canyons, rivers and desert provide ever-changing landscapes for hikers to journey across.

The gateway to these delights is Denver, and Aer Lingus begins direct flights from Dublin in May. Stick around in the state capital to get an authentic slice of southwest life. Start at LoDo (lower downtown): to live out the cliche, shop for Stetsons and cowboy boots before pausing for a craft beer – after all, Denver is famous for brewing more beer than any other city in the US.

For a sustainable stay, the first carbon positive hotel in the US will be Populus in Denver, opening this spring. It endeavours to plant and maintain a 5,000-acre forest to offset its painstakingly minimal carbon footprint.

Get there Aer Lingus fly direct to Denver from May 17th.

Petra, Jordan

It’s almost a slight to the majesty of Petra – the ancient Nabataean city carved from rose-tinted rock – to consider elevating the experience. Except the idea of a one-off immersive dance festival on its grounds sounds too intriguing.

Medaina runs May 22nd-27th, bringing together festivalgoers and international and local electro acts to Petra and nearby Wadi Rum. It is organised by Tithorea, which has thrown global parties in Costa Rica, Greece and Turkey, and promises to create “a mind-blowing production aligned with the culture, history, and geo elements of the place”. As far as experiential festivals go, it’s one with maximum bragging rights.

Get there Ryanair, Turkish Airlines and British Airways offer connecting flights from Dublin to Amman.

Sardinia, Italy

Sardinia, already a hotbed of the holidaymaking glitterati, gets another feather in its designer cap with Belmond’s takeover of Hotel Romazzino in the exclusive Costa Smeralda area in May. In its new iteration, Sardinia’s original beach hotel, which was founded by Prince Aga Khan IV in 1964, feature 100 rooms including villas and suites, plus all your high-end needs from morning yoga to evening cocktails. In all, it’s a suitably decadent place to bask in Sardinia’s shimmering waters and postcard-perfect scenery.

Get there Ryanair fly direct from Dublin to Alghero

Manchester, England

It’s impossible not to be charmed by Manchester, a city brimming with industrial history, football culture, and warmth – of its people if not its weather. This year sees a new addition to its thriving music scene in Co-op Live, a 23,000-seater “music-first” arena backed by Bruce Springsteen and Harry Styles, opening in April. Niall Horan, The Killers and Olivia Rodrigo have already penned in dates. Before then, Britain and Ireland’s most celebrated chefs and restaurateurs descend on Manchester in February, when the Michelin Guide throws its much-anticipated awards ceremony at The Midland Hotel.

Get there Ryanair fly direct from Dublin, Cork and Shannon to Manchester

Meirionnydd, Wales

The joy of a holiday isn’t measured by its far-flung nature, despite what backpackers might say. A straightforward ferry ride across the Irish Sea, Wales is a country of history and culture, found within lush landscapes and charming villages. This year is a fine time to visit, especially as it’s placed a renewed emphasis on its walking and cycling paths. In recent years, new sections to the Wales Coast Path have combined to offer 1,400km of unbroken trails.

To soak in the scenes without the rigmarole of organisation, HF Holidays is starting up a group walking tour along the Meirionnydd Coastal Path section (£1,129/€1,303 full board, not including flights).

With the majesty of Eryri (formerly Snowdonia) National Park to one side and Cardigan Bay on the other, the tour escorts hikers on a 40-mile adventure. En route, explore the Iron Age hill forts and cross a causeway on to Shell Island, where 200 different types of shells line the beaches and rare orchids are abundant inland. In all, it’s a nature lover’s delight.

Get there Stena Line and Irish Ferries sail from Dublin to Holyhead

South Africa

Appealing to those of any persuasion, The Glitter Trail is a soon-to-launch gay bus tour organised by AfriGay Travel. Pile on board to enjoy bottomless bubbles (South African sparkling, of course) while soaking in the sights of the country. It takes in the streets of Cape Town, the vineyards of the wine region, and the natural beauty of the Garden Route, with its LGBTQ+ history peppered in throughout. The first tour in February also takes in Cape Town Pride on March 2nd.

Get there Lufthansa, KLM and Emirates offer connecting flights from Dublin to Cape Town

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

A trip to the phenomenal temples of Angor has just been made easier with the opening of Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport. Replacing the old airport that was built so close to the ancient structures it was in danger of shaking their foundations, it won’t be any nearer, but the capacity has increased from two million to seven million passengers. It means the ethereal sight of crumbling stone entwined with roots of strangler fig trees will be accessible to more sightseers, so make a plan before the global attraction becomes even busier than it already is.

Get there Turkish Airlines and Vietnam Airlines offer connecting flights from Dublin to Siem Reap-Angkor

Valencia, Spain

There’s no toppling Spain as our top-ranking country to get a holiday fix. Balmy Valencia is the country’s third most popular draw, with lapping beaches, expansive city parks, and microclimate that brings forth 300 days of sunshine every year. It’s also Europe’s Green Capital for 2024, with investment in high-speed trains, two million square metres of public gardens, and street lamps that charge electric cars, all helping its aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. Though another sustainability issue is overtourism, these measures at least provide ways that the city can coexist with its annual influx.

Minimise your impact on the city by travelling in the off- or shoulder season – the weather is likely to still be glorious, and you won’t have to be aggressive about dinner bookings at the city’s best restaurants. Another option is expanding your travel to the region of Valencia. The peaceful Nalbufera Natural Park is 10km away, and Peniscola, the setting for Mereen in Game of Thrones, is a 90-minute train ride of dazzling coastal and countryside views.

Get there Ryanair fly direct from Dublin and Cork to Valencia

Bodø, Norway

Another European Capital of 2024 – the accolade system is certainly earning its keep – is Bodø, the European Capital of Culture. As an isolated Arctic town of Sámi tradition and the gateway to the beautiful Loften Islands, contemporary culture isn’t the first reason you would pay a visit. But if it’s there, enjoy the programme of artistic and musical events including a trilogy of theatre shows from the native Sámi culture, a light festival, and intriguingly, a daring concert in Pluragrotte, the largest water-filled cave in northern Europe.

Nearby, luxury brand Six Senses throws open the world’s first energy-positive hotel, which runs entirely from its own solar power – and powers its neighbouring buildings too.

Get there SAS offer connecting flights from Dublin to Bodø

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

With its orange-sand dunes and cloudless skies, Abu Dhabi is the location of striking movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mission Impossible: The Fallout, and Dune. In 2024 there’s a renewed interest as blockbuster-in-waiting Dune Part 2 is released, filmed once again in the Liwa desert. To step in Timothée Chalamet’s shoes, head to Liwa for a spot of dune bashing – or kick back at one of its secluded high-end hotels, which offer an oasis of five-star service within its desert landscapes.

Get there Gulf Air and Etihad Airways fly direct from Dublin to Abu Dhabi.

Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Enriched by its location along the Silk Road and its ancient history (it was founded before Rome), Samarkand is a symphony for the eyes, with its ornate Islamic mosques and museums earning it the title of “the pearl of the eastern Muslim world”. In 2024 it has been given the status as the CIS (Russia and post-Soviet countries) Capital of Culture. Grudgingly, the questionable organisation has a point – you could spend days absorbing the beauty of sites like the Registan Mosque, the Shakhi-Zinda compound and the early scientific site of Ulugh-Beg’s Observatory.

Get there Turkish Airlines offer connecting flights from Dublin to Samarkand

Minneapolis-St Paul, US

After a pandemic-related pause, Aer Lingus reinstate its Dublin-Minneapolis route – welcome news for culture seekers drawn to Minneapolis’s understated cool. At the top of a first-timer’s list is Paisley Park: the late, great Prince’s residence and studio that’s now a museum homage to the Purple One (it’s worth the flight alone to peruse his 300-pair shoe collection).

Then turn your attention to Minneapolis’s other famous son, Bob Dylan. Catch an act at Orpheum Theatre, which Dylan owned for nearly a decade, and en route, stop off at the striking technicolour mural of Dylan in his three eras, created by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra in 2015.

When it comes to visual art, the city punches well above its weight. Head to Walker Art Center and see works from the likes of Andy Warhol, Edward Hopper and Salvador Dalí (free entry on Thursday evenings and the first Saturday of the month), or stop by the Minneapolis Institute of Art to see both traditional and contemporary art (free entry).

For something completely different, there’s ample shopping too. The Mall of America is the US’s largest shopping complex, containing no less than three Starbucks and the entry to Nickelodeon Universe, the largest indoor theme park in the world.

Get there Aer Lingus fly direct to Minneapolis from April 29th.

Leipzig, Germany

Germany is bracing itself for a slew of visitors in June and July as the Euros play out across 10 host cities. Leipzig Stadium is the smallest of the lot with a capacity of 42,000, making its three matches an intimate affair, relatively speaking.

For a cultural interlude, the walkable city recently made four of its biggest museums (including the City Museum and Natural History Museum) free of charge. While there, mark the 35th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which followed a month-long peaceful protest that began outside the St Nicholas Church in the city centre.

Get there Ryanair, Aer Lingus and JetBlue fly direct from Dublin to Berlin. Leipzig is a 75-minute train journey from Berlin

Guanacaste region, Costa Rica

On the Pacific side of Costa Rica, the immaculate beaches and dry tropical conditions of the Guanacaste region make it a draw in a country not short of stunning landscapes and microclimates. As if to confirm, there’ll be a flurry of luxury hotel launches this year, including One&Only Papagayo (161 rooms), Peninsula Papagayo (109 rooms) and Waldorf Astoria Residences Guanacaste (197 rooms). Need another excuse to visit? Costa Rica has extended its tourist visa from 90 days to 180, meaning leisure travellers and digital nomads can now spend six months basking in la pura vida.

Get there Air Canada and United offer connecting flights from Dublin to Liberia.

Galle, Sri Lanka

After a spell of civil unrest and economic turmoil, Sri Lanka returns as a destination with dynamism, and the place to be is the southeast historical city of Galle. With its famed 17th-century fort encircling the bustling coastal city, its charms are made all the more appealing with a new food festival. Gourmet Galle runs from January to March, and spotlights 12 chefs in 12 venues, from paddy fields to beaches. Book your flights soon to tie in a visit with the Galle Literary Festival at the end of January, which returns after a five-year hiatus. Historian Mary Beard, author DBC Pierre, and Alex Rider writer Anthony Horowitz are among the speakers.

Get there Sri Lankan Airlines, Qatar, Etihad and Emirates offer connecting flights from Dublin to Colombo

New York, US

From spring there’s even more choice for a jaunt to the Big Apple. US budget airline JetBlue join Aer Lingus, Delta and United in offering direct flights from Dublin. If you don’t mind packing light, pick up a return fare from $513 (€482) from March 13th – a reasonable price, given the alternatives are around €650.

You’d barely need an excuse to visit America’s capital of theatre, art and cheesecake, but there’s enough going on in 2024 to earmark a trip. The soon-to-open American LGBTQ+ Museum promises a “colourful, lively, immersive, and exploratory, running counter to common conceptions of museums”. And this year marks 100 years since the creation of New York state Parks – we’re in for a year of celebrations, performances and events across the state to mark these much-needed spaces within New York’s urban sprawl.

Get there JetBlue, Aer Lingus, Delta and United fly direct to New York from Dublin and Shannon

Kochi, India

Travellers tempted by the boho beaches of Kerala will inevitably pass through its capital of Kochi, and it’s worth a layover to try out its extensive water metro that rivals Venice. In 2024, the existing electric-powered boats that link up 10 islands across 76km are set to become solar-powered, setting a new bar for sustainable public transport. Stop off at Vypin – one of the most densely populated islands in the world – to experience urban bustle alongside a string of beaches.

Get there Qatar, Etihad and Emirates offer connecting flights from Dublin to Kochi.

Kangaroo Island, Australia

After the wildfires of 2019 and 2020 destroyed over a third of “Australian Galápagos”, nature is fighting back. Kangaroo Island’s critically endangered dunnarts – mouse-sized marsupials – appear to be returning, as does the island’s namesake animal. At the same time, tourism also makes a comeback. Luxury hotel Southern Ocean Lodge reopened last month with a renewed focus on sustainability, though the opening of the island’s first golf course at The Cliffs at the end of the year highlights that rub between tourism and ecology.

Get there Qatar and Emirates offer connecting flights from Dublin to Adelaide


There’s no let-up in interest in Albania – Irish searches for this buzzy destination more than doubled in 2023, suggesting record visitors for 2024. The on-the-ground experience is more rugged than you’d expect with all the chatter of the “new Croatia” and the “Albanian Riviera”. But that only means it’s in a sweet spot where its culture and unspoiled landscapes are accessible, without the trappings of mature tourist destinations.

Get a flavour for the country with Intrepid’s soon-to-launch Albania Expedition (£1,255/€1,435 including some meals, not including flights), a nine-day tour bookended in the illustrious capital of Tirana. In the stunning Karavasta Lagoon, learn about efforts to protect species like the Dalmatian pelican and sea turtles. And in the northern village of Fishtë, a day of exploring and hiking ends aptly, with a home-cooked meal at a rustic farm stay.

Get there British Airways, Lufthansa and Ryanair offer connecting flights from Dublin to Tirana. British Airways and Lufthansa offer connecting flights from Cork to Tirana