The best places to visit in 2024 have been named by the travel experts at Lonely Planet – and it’s Mongolia that’s the number one country, followed by India in second place.
Lonely Planet’s newly released Best In Travel 2024 book crowns the top 10 countries, top 10 regions, and top 10 cities to visit next year. Two new categories – the top 10 ‘value’ and top 10 ‘sustainable’ destinations – have also been introduced this year, to mark Lonely Planet’s 50th birthday.
The best cities have been unveiled as Nairobi in Kenya (first) and Paris (second), with three North American destinations in the top 10 – Montreal (third), Philadelphia (fifth) and Kansas City (10th).
Meanwhile, the best regions are the Trans Dinarica Cycling Route in the Western Balkans (first) and Australia’s Kangaroo Island (second), with the U.S state of Montana eighth and Far North Scotland ranking 10th.
Midwest USA has been named the best destination for value, while Spain is the best for sustainability – with the trails of Wales ranking fourth on the sustainability list.
The best places to visit in 2024 have been named by the travel experts at Lonely Planet – and it’s Mongolia that’s number one. Above is the country’s Orkhon River
Lonely Planet’s newly released Best In Travel 2024 book crowns the top 10 countries, top 10 regions, and top 10 cities to visit next year. Three North American destinations appear in the top 10 cities ranking, including Philadelphia (above), which is fifth
Far North Scotland ranks 10th on the ‘best regions’ list. Above are the rugged cliffs at Duncansby Head in the region
Lonely Planet says it has awarded Mongolia the gold medal as it’s ideal for seekers of ‘wide-open spaces, adventures and culture’ and boasts a capital, Ulaanbaatar, that’s ‘teeming with people and unique attractions’.
Lonely Planet adds: ‘Squeezed between Russia and China, Mongolia seems hard to reach given recent geopolitical events in its two large neighbours. But Mongolia’s doors are open and a tourism campaign has eased visa restrictions through 2025.’
Runner-up India is described as ‘the world’s most colourful country’. Lonely Planet adds that ‘India’s railways are in for a revamp, with stylish new trains rolling out across the network’. It also recommends that travellers ‘take a 2,000-mile boat trip on the MV Ganges Vilas, the world’s longest river cruise’.
REVEALED: THE TOP 10 COUNTRIES, CITIES AND REGIONS FOR 2024
10. St Lucia
1. Nairobi, Kenya
2. Paris, France
3. Montreal, Canada
4. Mostar, Bosnia
5. Philadelphia, USA
6. Manaus, Brazil
7. Jakarta, Indonesia
8. Prague, The Czech Republic
9. Izmir, Turkey
10. Kansas City, Missouri
1. Western Balkans’ Trans Dinarica Cycling Route
2. Kangaroo Island, South Australia
3. Tuscany, Italy
4. Donegal, Ireland
5. Pais Vasco, Spain
6. Southern Thailand
7. Swahili Coast, Tanzania
8. Montana, USA
9. Saafelden Leogang, Austria
10. Far North Scotland
Source: Lonely Planet
Australia’s Kangaroo Island, pictured, has been named as the world’s second-best region to visit in 2024
India, which ranks second on the countries list, is described by Lonely Planet as ‘the world’s most colourful country’. Above is a bird’s eye view of Jaipur
Morocco claims third place on the countries list, followed by Mexico (fourth) and Chile (fifth). The rest of the top 10 ranking comprises Benin (sixth), Uzbekistan (seventh), Pakistan (eighth), Croatia (ninth) and St Lucia in tenth place.
As for the best cities to visit, Lonely Planet says winner Nairobi is ‘staking its claim as a global centre of culture’ and is ‘sizzling with unmissable travel experiences’.
It says that the Kenyan capital offers a ‘dynamic array of restaurants, food carts and cafes, along with a steady rotation of arts and cultural venues that all fuel a distinct Nairobi cool’. The guidebook adds: ‘Within easy reach, its namesake national park is teeming with wildlife.’
Lonely Planet says that silver medal winner Paris is offering visitors new ways to interact with the city as it prepares to host the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.
It says: ‘Cycling time trials will spin through town; beach volleyball and blind football will unfurl beneath the Eiffel Tower; and break-dancers will six-step to DJ beats across the square where Louis XVI’s head rolled in 1793. A city constantly reinventing the wheel – a pharmacy prescribing books, photography exhibitions afloat the Seine, a triangle-shaped glass skyscraper – Paris is showing off innovations outside the sporting arena.’
Nairobi in Kenya, pictured, is the best city to visit in 2024 as it’s ‘sizzling with unmissable travel experiences’
Paris, which is preparing to to host the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, ranks second in the cities ranking
Kansas City, pictured, ranks 10th on the cities list. It’s said to have ‘an ever-evolving, top-tier culinary scene’
Third-place Montreal is praised for its ‘changing neighbourhoods packed with diverse cuisine, au courant galleries and quirky shops’ while Mostar in Bosnia, which ranks fourth, is said to have an ‘unforgettably scenic, minaret-dotted medieval Old Town’.
Heaping praise on fifth-place Philadelphia, Lonely Planet says: ‘At the confluence of the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers sits the nation’s first World Heritage City, the birthplace of the United States and the “City of Brotherly Love”. But in all that historic high-mindedness what can get lost is modern Philly’s kinetic energy – and tectonically shifting cultural core.’
Kansas City, meanwhile, is said to have ‘so much to shout about in 2024, including major sporting firsts, an ever-evolving, top-tier culinary scene and grassroots efforts to revitalize its cityscape’.
The rest of the cities top 10 is comprised of Manaus in Brazil (sixth) Jakarta, Indonesia (seventh); Prague (eighth) and Izmir in Turkey (ninth).
Turning to the best regions ranking, Lonely Planet says the Western Balkans’ Trans Dinarica Cycling Route – a ‘moderately difficult’, 3364km (2090-mile) trail through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia – is a deserving winner as it ‘spotlights mountain ranges, the Adriatic Sea and a gluttony of lakes and rivers while prioritising the sustainable discovery of UNESCO sites, national parks and villages’.
Topping the ‘best regions’ ranking is the Trans Dinarica Cycling Route through the Western Balkans. It cuts through the Sutjeska National Park in Bosnia and Herzegovina, pictured
REVEALED: THE TOP 10 PLACES FOR VALUE AND SUSTAINABILITY IN 2024
BEST FOR VALUE
1. The Midwest, USA
4. Danube Limes, Bulgaria & Romania
5. Normandy, France
7. Ikaria, Greece
9. Southern lakes & Central Otago, New Zealand
10. Night trains of Europe
BEST FOR SUSTAINABILITY
2. Patagonia, Argentina & Chile
4. Wales Trails
5. The Portuguese Way, Caminho Portgues de Santiago
7. Hokkaido, Japan
9. Baltic Trails of Estonia, Lativia & Lithuania
10. South Africa’s Eco Lodges
Source: Lonely Planet
Runner-up Kangaroo Island, the guidebook reveals, has an ‘otherworldliness’ to it. Lonely Planet says: ‘A mere 40-minute flight from Adelaide, Australia’s third-largest island is surprisingly isolated. Deceptively vast with a ridiculous amount of stunning coastline, Kangaroo Island invites guests to indulge in its unique local produce, encounter adorable wildlife and discover some of the country’s best beaches.’
Tuscany – where visitors can ‘celebrate the slow life’ – ranks third in the regions ranking, while Donegal, an Irish county that boasts ‘the highest sea cliffs in Europe’ and ‘miles of un-spoilt coastal hiking trails’, lands in fourth place.
Eighth-place Montana ‘contains some of the most majestic scenery in the U.S with a growing emphasis on conservation, culture, food, and drink’, says the guidebook.
And Lonely Planet says that 2024 will hopefully herald new recognition for 10th-place Far North Scotland ‘as it aims to achieve UNESCO World Heritage status’. It recommends exploring its ‘unsung boggy interior and a coastline of heartbreaking beauty’.
The rest of the top 10 ranking is made up of Pais Vasco in Spain (fifth), southern Thailand (sixth), Tanzania’s Swahili Coast (seventh) and Austria’s Saafelden Leogang region (ninth).
Elaborating on why Midwest America has been named best for value in 2024, Lonely Planet says that it offers ‘cooler-than-you-think cities full of creativity, diversity, and food to rival those on either coast’.
Midwest USA is the world’s number one destination for value in 2024, according to Lonely Planet. It says that chefs, artists, and designers have been lured to cities like Detroit (above) over the past 10 years
It continues: ‘Over the last decade, chefs, artists, and designers have been lured to cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, and Detroit, offering more space and lower costs. Now, old warehouses have transformed into art studios, new eco-design hotels and many Michelin-starred restaurants.’
Poland – a country that offers a ‘superb range of quality travel experiences’ – ranks in second place, while Nicaragua, complete with ‘surf, sun, colonial villages, tropical forests, lost islands and more’ for budget travellers, ranks third.
The rest of the top 10 is made up of the Danube Limes (Roman military frontier) in Bulgaria and Romania (fourth); Normandy in France (fifth); Egypt (sixth); Ikaria in Greece (seventh); Algeria (eighth); the Southern Lakes and Central Otago region of New Zealand (ninth) and the night trains of Europe (10th).
BEST FOR SUSTAINABILITY
Spain takes the top spot in the sustainability ranking as its ‘new cycle paths, electric buses and train routes offer new ways to see the country’, says the guidebook.
Lonely Planet ranks Wales and its walking trails as the fourth-best place for sustainability in 2024. One of the areas it recommends visiting is the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park – above is the region’s Strumble Head Lighthouse
Lonely Planet’s Best In Travel 2024 is out now
Patagonia, where ‘new trails, expanding parklands and an ambitious rewilding project’ make the area ‘more compelling than ever’, lands in second place, while Greenland, with its ‘epic ice and tundra’, ranks third.
Fourth-place Wales is praised by Lonely Planet as its revamped railway trails ‘expand the possibilities of exploring the nation’s wild, wonderful west’. The guidebook says: ‘New train stations and increased services are planned for South Wales’s main rail line in early 2025. Whilst out-of-the-way Pembrokeshire National Park is accessible by car and set to become more so.’
Making up the rest of the top 10 it’s the ‘Portuguese Way, Caminho Portuguese de Santiago’ pilgrimage route (fifth); the Pacific nation of Palau (sixth); Hokkaido in Japan (seventh); Ecuador (eighth); the Baltic Trails of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (ninth) and South Africa’s Eco Lodges (10th).
Commenting on the ranking, Nitya Chamber, SVP Content and Executive Editor says: ‘Our picks for this year seek to both inspire and follow the instincts of 2024’s traveller.
‘Best in Travel is Lonely Planet’s heart and soul of travel inspiration, responding to the enthusiasm of travellers who want to explore the world in a way that is authentic, led by local guidance and has sustainable values at its core. With new takes on iconic destinations and 50 fresh ideas across five categories, we’re confident Best in Travel opens up a year of incredible adventures.’
Lonely Planet’s Best In Travel 2024, available here, is out now.