Where to go on holiday in 2024, according to local experts

Even the UK’s favourite destinations have pockets barely explored by tourists. Here, those who know the countries best recommend under-the-radar places worth visiting in 2024

England, North East

A beach restaurant/cafe and people on the beach enjoying the day. This is below the Tynemouth headland on a secluded beach. Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear, England, UK.
A secluded beach in Tynemouth (Photo: Alphotographic/Getty I/ iStock Unreleased)

Andrew Stokes, director, VisitEngland

I’ve been spending more time exploring the North East of England this year and every visit uncovers something new – especially on the food front. I love the fact that there will be the first National Stottie Cake Week in Newcastle in February – a celebration of this local staple led by Big River Bakery.

I recently discovered Kiln, a gem of a brunch spot in Ouseburn that also doubles up with hand-thrown ceramics; you can visit it as part of a Triple A Food Tour of the city which is great at showcasing local independent places in Newcastle, Durham and Northumberland.

Top of my list for 2024 is getting to King Edward’s Bay in Tynemouth for a beachside dinner at Rileys Fish Shack and trying Pine, a Michelin-starred restaurant in a cow barn in the Northumberland countryside, run with a real focus on produce from their kitchen garden and local foraging. There are some tempting Hygge Cabins on site, too – just right for exploring Hadrian’s Wall. visitnortheastengland.com

Scotland, Perth

St Matthews Church (left) River Tay Perth, Scotland Photograph taken at night from the Smeaton's Bridge
St Matthews Church by the River Tay in Perth (Photo: joe daniel price/Moment RF/Getty)

Erin Hickey, PR Manager, VisitScotland

Scotland’s cities are great for an adventure by train. A short trip to Perth from the capital (around 90 minutes) offers a chance to explore a city that has everything from Scone Palace to great walks along the River Tay. Next spring brings the reopening of the Perth Museum after a £27m redevelopment – and the return of the Stone of Destiny to the region for the first time in more than 700 years. visitperth.com

Wales, BikePark Wales

29.09.23. BikePark Wales. PIC ?? Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography @andylloyder BikePark Wales Merthyr Tydfil Image from Jane.Harris@gov.wales
BikePark Wales is this year’s top tip (Photo: Andy Lloyd/gov.wales)

Dawn Bowden, Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Welsh Government

BikePark Wales is the perfect way to spend a day in the Welsh mountains. I’m delighted that this innovative, yet simple concept is right on my doorstep, near Merthyr Tydfil.

It’s an idea based on a ski resort, without the snow, where bikers get a lift by minibus to the top and can enjoy some really exhilarating rides down excellent trails.

Visit Wales will continue its campaign to get visitors out exploring its trails next year, so BikePark is my top tip. bikeparkwales.com

Ireland, Co Antrim coast and Wild Atlantic Way

Whitehead & LIghthouse, County Antrim Image: Tourism Ireland
The Whitehead Lighthouse in County Antrim (Photo: Tourism Ireland/Robert Thompson)

Alice Mansergh, chief executive designate, Tourism Ireland

There is nothing better than coastal walks, with the waves lashing in and cosy chats and dinner by the fire. I holidayed with my family in the Blackhead Lighthouse Keeper’s cottage in Co Antrim this year. The Gobbins cliff path is nearby, there’s a short walk to the village of Whitehead, and from there you can get a train to Belfast city centre in just 35 minutes.

Along the Wild Atlantic Way, I love to take boat trips to Ireland’s many stunning islands. From The Great Blasket to the Aran islands, Inisbofin or Clare Island, you get the full scenery of the Wild Atlantic Way – deserted white sand beaches, and a sense of what life has been like in these parts for centuries. ireland.com

Spain, Galicia

Manuel Butler, director, Spanish Tourist Office (UK)

Galicia is one of our family favourites when we holiday in Spain. It is popular for its fantastic gastronomy and stunning landscapes and coastlines. The seafood is exceptional and the local wine, made from the rare godello grape, is superb and excellent value.

Some of our favourite places to visit are El Ferrol and the surrounding area, such as Cedeira and Ortigueira, which have dramatic scenery and great walking.

El Ferrol, the base of the Spanish Navy, is similar to Portsmouth: it’s a lovely setting for a day out, and you can visit the Naval Museum and enjoy local food at affordable, family-owned restaurants.

We also never miss the opportunity to visit the town of Betanzos, which is home to some of the best tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette) in Spain. turismo.gal

Netherlands, Drenthe

Simone Sagi, PR manager, Netherlands Board of Tourism

As a fan of slow travel, I recommend the rural, peaceful province of Drenthe, with its incredible landscape of ancient forests and peat bogs. It is a real hidden gem of the Netherlands, located in the north-east, but with an important link to Vincent van Gogh, you will wonder why you haven’t heard of it before.

There are many cycle trails and walking routes where you can follow in Van Gogh’s footsteps and see the landscapes that inspired him at the start of his artistic career. I loved visiting the house in which he lived, in Nieuw-Amsterdam – you can go into his bedroom and see the view of the bridge he painted from his window.

When I was last in Drenthe, in June, the sunny days and heat were perfect for being outdoors. If you are looking for somewhere quirky, I recommend Camping Buitenland – it has a real community atmosphere, delicious food and is a short cycle ride from Van Gogh’s house. holland.com

Poland, Warsaw’s gastronomy scene

Market Square in the historical part of the city at sunset. Warsaw. Poland.
Discover the food scene in Warsaw, Poland (Photo: Pel_1971/Getty/iStockphoto)

Dorota Wojciechowska, director, Polish National Tourist Office

Poland’s gastronomy is sometimes overshadowed by our pierogi (dumplings) that everyone who visits seems to love (and they are tasty) but there is more to Polish food than that one dish.

Recently, Warsaw has been attracting lots of curious visitors keen to discover new flavours, from street food to fine dining.

When I am in Warsaw, I always try to find a café that serves W-Z cake. This traditional bake combines a light and fluffy chocolate sponge with a decadent cream filling. It pairs beautifully with good black coffee.

For anyone looking to experience the joy of slow food and the buzz of local life in Warsaw, I’d recommend the Zoliborz Breakfast Market, where dozens of local food producers, farms, restaurants and catering companies sell delicious produce. It doesn’t get more Polish than that for good grub. warsawtour.pl

France, Cognac

Cognac, Quai des Pontis hotel housed in a renovated factory and Les Voiles de Pontis restaurant on the banks of the Charente. Cognac, located on the banks of the Charente, is also known for its digestive of the same name, its architecture of the Middle Ages (The Saint-Jacques gate and theFran??ois I castle). Charente, New Aquitaine, France, Europe
The Quai des Pontis hotel housed in a renovated factory on the banks of the Charente (Photo: P. Eoche/Getty/ Stockbyte Unreleased)

Marine Teste, head of PR, Atout France

Most people know of Cognac the French liqueur, but fewer are aware of the region and destination of Cognac, in the Charentes area of south-west France.

Draped with vineyards and buffeted by the Atlantic, this area is not only beautiful but also bursting with history: the town of Cognac was birthplace of France’s Renaissance king, Francis I, and around it, century-old traditions continue to thrive.

From this year, visitors can explore in new and exciting ways: from tours of famous Cognac houses and mixology classes to grape-picking, hot-air ballooning and cruising the River Charente. explore-cognac.com

Thailand, Khao Lak

Beautiful mountains lake river sky and natural attractions in Ratchaprapha Dam at Khao Sok National Park, Surat Thani Province, Thailand.
Ratchaprapha Dam at Khao Sok National Park (Photo: Pakin Songmor/Moment RF/Getty)

Sadudee Sangnil, director, Tourism Authority, Thailand UK & Ireland

If you are looking for an alternative to popular Phuket or Krabi, look no further than charming Khao Lak. The long coastline here means it is easy to find an empty stretch of beautiful white sand beach, even in the high season.

Although Khao Lak is a quiet resort, there is plenty to see, from the quaint town to kayaking the “Little Amazon” and wildlife spotting in the mangroves.

Khao Lak is also a great base for diving and snorkelling trips to the stunning Similan and Surin Islands.

The jaw-dropping beauty of Khao Sok National Park is also a day trip away but to truly appreciate it, my advice is to spend at least a few nights there in one of the floating glamping tents and take a hike through some of the oldest evergreen forests in the world, waking up to the sound of wild gibbons. It is a truly magical place. fanclubthailand.co.uk/meaningful-travel-discover-another-side-of-thailand

Turkey, north Aegean

Bozcaada, Canakkale, Turkey, Middle East
Bozcaada is foodie heaven (Photo: Izzet Keribar/Getty/The Image Bank Unreleased)

Mustafa Özkaya, UK & Ireland director, Turkish Tourism Board

The North Aegean region is a mesmerising tapestry of landscapes and culture waiting to be explored. The area is adorned with islands and stunning mainland destinations lapped by crystal-clear waters.

Highlights include Gökçeada – Turkey’s largest island – and the world’s only Cittaslow (slow food) island; Bozcaada, which is renowned for delicious wines of indigenous grapes; and Cunda, where you will find regional herbs and mezes using the finest olive oil.

To the south, İzmir prides itself on living the good life, with its seaside location, culinary culture and a blend of rediscovered heritage and revitalised contemporary culture. goturkiye.com

Australia, native flavours in Melbourne

Sally Cope, regional general manager UK & Northern Europe, Tourism Australia

One of the most incredible things to do on holiday is experience a country’s story through its people, and as home to the world’s oldest living cultures, visitors to Australia are invited to learn from the Traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Owners.

I would encourage visitors to sample Australia’s incredible indigenous food. One of my favourite chefs is Nornie Bero of Mabu Mabu and Big Esso in Melbourne, both a celebration of contemporary Indigenous culture. The seasonal menu introduces diners to native flavours and ingredients such as pepperberry, periwinkles and Davidson’s plum, all designed to be shared.

Or check out newly opened Midden by Mark Olive at the Sydney Opera House, an exciting new culinary experience that draws on Mark’s Indigenous Australian heritage and allows you to enjoy stunning views of Sydney Harbour. middensydney.com.au

Greece, Karpathos

Greek village with church, Karpathos, Greek Islands
Greek village on Karpathos
(Photo: radial_m/Getty/iStockphoto)

Eleni Skarveli, UK & Ireland director, Greek National Tourism Organisation Office

Karpathos will always hold a special place in my heart as my go-to place to unwind. The second-largest island in the Dodecanese, it is a place of lush green mountains, golden beaches, colourful villages and local traditions.

Just an hour from Athens by plane or a scenic ferry trip from Kos, it always captivates me. It is a place where the tranquillity of its sandy beaches meets the lively spirit of Greek hospitality.

The island’s special culture is evident in the charming village of Olympos, where time has left customs untouched, showcasing the warmth of its people and their deep connection to tradition.

It is not just a holiday destination; it is a journey to the boundless beauty and hospitality that Greece has to offer. visitgreece.gr/islands/dodecanese/karpathos

Italy, Pesaro

Fano is an ancient town in the province of Pesaro, Marche, Italy. It was the largest roman settlement on the Adriatic coast. In Fano the tourists can relax on long sandy beaches and feel teh soul of his ancient history.
Fano, an ancient town in the province of Pesaro, was the largest roman settlement on the Adriatic coast
(Photo: Piero M. Bianchi/Getty/Moment RF)

Flavio Zappacosta, UK & Ireland head, Italian national tourism board

Consider venturing off the tourist trail to Pesaro in the Marche region, the Italian Capital of Culture in 2024. On the Adriatic coast, with the stunning backdrop of two coastal hills, this hidden gem blends natural beauty with historical significance. Recognised by Unesco as a creative city for music, Pesaro was the birthplace of Gioachino Rossini, composer of The Barber of Seville and William Tell.

On its outskirts are the breathtaking Monte San Bartolo National Park and medieval Castle of Gradara, and just beyond is the relaxed coastal town of Cattolica, part of the Adriatic Riviera. italia.it/en/marche/pesaro-urbino/pesaro

Portugal, Portimão to Silves

André Gomes, president of Algarve Tourism Bureau

One of my ideal afternoons is taking a solar-powered boat with friends from Portimão Marina up the Arade River towards the historical town of Silves. It is a great way to relax and enjoy the tranquillity of the river and the landscapes between these two cities. After sightseeing in the medieval heart of Silves, we stop to visit the Arvad vineyard on the banks of the river for some wine tasting and tapas before heading back to Portimão. visitalgarve.pt

Germany, the coast

Warnem??nde, Rostock district, Baltic coast, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany (MR).
The German coast is serene and beautiful
(Photo: Marco Bottigelli
/Getty/Moment RF)

Nicole Thorpe, PR manager, German National Tourist Office (UK)

Having grown up in the east of Germany, I spent most of my family holidays on the Baltic coast, and I still love going back.

About three hours north of Berlin you will find wide, white sandy beaches dotted with iconic Strandkörbe (a kind of roofed beach chair) , in which you can relax for hours in any weather.

Warnemünde is a great harbour town and Stralsund, with its unique and Unesco-protected old town and stunning Oceaneum museum are real gems of the region.

The coastline between Warnemünde and Stralsund is wonderful – you will find fishing villages, holiday resorts and campsites along the route, but best of all, you can cycle for miles and miles on flat cycle lanes right next to the sea. And be sure not to miss the local speciality of Fischbrötchen – rolls with pickled, smoked or baked fish. germany.travel/en/cities-culture/seaside-towns.html

US, solar eclipse & Santa Fe

Native American Pueblo facade, detail, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA,Nikon D3x
Native American Pueblo facade, detail in Santa Fe, New Mexico, (Photo: Pavliha/Getty/iStockphoto)

Staci Mellman, chief marketing officer, Brand USA

In the US, we are incredibly lucky to have so many incredible experiences right on our doorstep – from kayaking in bioluminescent bays in Puerto Rico to camping under the stars in one of our many International Dark Sky Reserves.

In 2024, I am excited about the total solar eclipse across North America on 8 April, which can be experienced across states including Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The next eclipse isn’t anticipated until 2044, so this is going to be special.

I am also excited to return to Sante Fe, which is part mystical due to ancient ruins and the backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, but also has an eclectic art scene, from the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum to the fantastical Meow Wolf, which is an immersive art experience called House of Eternal Return that has more than 70 rooms created by local and community artists. visittheusa.com