When the shores of the French Riviera grow too crowded, it probably means it’s time to rethink your next vacation locale. Here, we’ve rounded up eight up-and-coming luxury travel destinations that are known for doling out the royal treatment, from unspoiled beaches to top-notch cuisine to unreal amenities.
Cuba recently lit the travel world alight when word got out that the island would be opening its doors to U.S. travelers. All eyes are now on Havana, which is expected to become a luxury hot spot in the near future. Visitors are in for a vintage, almost-off-the-grid experience that serves as a throwback to the 1950s. (Case in point: Cuba is said to have extremely limited Internet access.) From the diverse, eye-popping architecture of the Malecón to the turquoise coastline of Playas del Este, Havana is shaping up to be a luxury traveler’s dream spot.
This Asian gem tops our luxury travel list, especially for nature lovers. (Whale watching, anyone?) One of the country’s biggest draws is its assortment of uber-private boutique hotels; think lavish bungalows and exotic jungle resorts. Accommodations aside, Sri Lanka’s is packed with natural wonder: With tropical gardens, tea plantations, and idyllic beaches, it’s little wonder Sri Lanka is a top place to visit this year.
Antarctica may be at the bottom of the globe, but it’s near the top of our list of on-the-rise luxury destinations. For one thing, the world’s southernmost continent is as remote as it gets; don’t expect crowds. (You’re more likely to spot penguins than other people.) Once there, you can go polar diving or brave a mountain hike. If you visit in January or February (the area’s summertime), temperatures typically climb above 50°F with 24-hour sunlight, perfect for taking in wildlife, kayaking or camping. Making the trek is half the adventure; the most common way to get there is by hopping a ship from South America.
Island-hoppers flock to Croatia, and with good reason. A number of dazzling little isles dot the country’s coast and make it the No. 1 beach destination for luxury travelers. For a blissfully remote getaway, consider Lestovo Island. Here, nothing awaits but the azure blue waters of the Adriatic sea. Those looking for a little more action can leave the shimmering coast behind and head inland for a glimpse of the country’s medieval charms.
Fewer Mexican destinations are as luxurious as Los Cabos. It’s known for majestic rock formations, lavish spas, and exclusive resorts that have a reputation for pampering their guests. Just a short hop from Southern California, Los Cabos suffered for a bit after being slammed by Hurricane Odile in 2014 but is fully on the mend. You can pass the time on the golf course, or soaking up Mexican history in the culture-rich city of San Jose del Cabo, where there’s no shortage of remarkable art galleries.
Iceland may not come to mind as an A-list resort town, but that’s exactly what it’s becoming. Beyond the famed Northern Lights, Iceland also boasts raw, intense beauty: Bubbling mud pools, ultra-relaxing hot springs, and rushing waterfalls are among the country’s most popular natural wonders. In the summer months, visitors can enjoy sunny weather well into the wee hours (thanks to the long days brought on by the Midnight Sun). Either way, be sure to visit one of Reykjavik’s legendary geothermal spas.
Anguilla is the ultimate luxury island. Don’t expect to find huge hotel chains and shopping mega-centers.. Instead, this Caribbean jewel is known for small, upscale resorts and out-of-this-world restaurants. When it comes to getting there, most visitors opt to fly into St. Maarten, then hop the ferry over to Anguilla.
Who says you have to rough it on safari? South Africa is brimming with luxury safari lodges that’ll bring your visit to epic new heights. The area around Kruger National Park is tops—many offer intimate wildlife viewing and private tours of the bush. And there’s more on offer than just jaw-dropping wildlife: Cape Town is known globally for its fabulous wine country, which rivals Italy, France or Napa. South Africa is also a premier destination for hiking junkies and mountain bikers. Meanwhile, bling aficionados may want to perk up; touring the diamond mines of Johannesburg is another popular excursion.