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Ranging from a vehicle-free island off the coast of southeastern China’s Xiamen, to the site of Woodstock’s 50th anniversary celebration next year, we’ve found that most of Airbnb’s trending destinations are places where the increased “healthy,” more sustainable and authentic tourism will benefit residents and travellers alike, promoting emerging locales like Accra, Ghana; supporting environmental sustainability in places like Calabria, Italy; and offering the chance to help rebuild communities after natural disasters, starting with the top-trending destination on our list: Kaikoura, New Zealand.
Here are Airbnb’s 19 trending destinations for 2019 along with a sampling of listings to stay in and Experiences to try:
Kaikoura, New Zealand
Heavily damaged by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2016, this coastal town in the South Island is staging a marvelous comeback with the strongest increase in both bookings and search on our list. With train and other transportation services coming back online, avid whale- and seal-watchers will find it easier and easier to experience the town’s notable sperm whale population and historic whaling past.
A romantic port city surrounded by abundant islands takes the second spot on our list. Xiamen is also home to Kulangsu, a pedestrian-only, vehicle-free island just off the coast that is ideal for local seafood-loving couples. If travelling solo, learn how to bake bread at a local dessert studio or experience nightlife like a local on a pub crawl with host Cong.
Just a two-hour drive from Mexico City, Puebla provides a unique alternative to the typical Mexican beach vacation and trip to the capital city, and we’ve seen tremendous inbound growth and wanderlust despite 2017’s earthquake. Travelers can experience the best of the city’s architectural and culinary history through a cooking class with host Andrea or for the more sporty types, ring side tickets to a live lucha libre event with host Rubén.
History buffs may be inclined to witness Normandy’s commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings next year, making it the ideal time for them to visit — perhaps with historian and host Johann as their guide. Only a two-hour train ride from Paris, locals and travelers can experience the region’s lush landscapes, architectural gems, and Route du Camembert, the trail named after the popular cheese.
Great Smoky Mountains, US
Home to America’s most visited national park due to its central location, general ease in getting there, and affordability, the Smokies are calling. Two of the park’s most iconic trails (among the 800 miles of trails to choose from) are reopening after a wildfire two years ago. Nature-lovers can also revel in the varied plants and animals in the area as it’s part of UNESCO’s International Biosphere Reserve and be interested to know it’s also home to the biggest black bear population in the eastern U.S. — prime surroundings for learning how to take photos with a pro. A year-round destination, the Smoky Mountains also have Pigeon Forge nearby, home to Dollywood, with its annual Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival getting bigger and bigger every year.
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