Just like fashion, travel experiences seasonal ebbs and flows in destination popularity, but unlike fashion - there's no Versace-style puppet master behind the scenes pulling strings that dictate where you'll be journeying to over the next year; travel trends are much more consumer led. That can make the jobs of holiday companies a little harder as they often have to work years in advance, trying to figure out which locations are about to surge in popularity, and likewise, which are about to take a nosedive. So for all the pioneers out there, here are our top European travel trends for 2019.
Sunny, vibrant, colourful - Portugal is the relaxed family member of the Iberian coast. With its glorious stretches of flawless coast and its rich, verdant valley regions, Portugal has long been a travellers' favourite. In the last few years, Portugal has truly developed into a classy destination; Lonely Planet reports that just last year, seven new Michelin stars were awarded across the country, honouring the fine traditions of Portuguese cooking and baking. The natural side of Portugal has also been embraced with new natural parks created and beaches earning cleanliness status. More importantly however, after the heart-rending balladry and heart-breaking top knot of Salvador Sobral in last year's Eurovision, Portugal played host to the singing competition in May of 2018 which has really helped to build its popularity.
After a relatively unperturbed 2018, where this Scandinavian country maintained its high standards, Norway is set for a magnificent 2019. While its timeless and ancient beauty has lured visitors for centuries, Norway's refined culture and striking landscapes are the perfect oasis of calm after a turbulent 2018, and has grown into the chosen destination for travellers of taste and distinction. With the threat of global warming wreaking havoc on climate and nature alike, it would be best to take the opportunities which Norway has to offer as soon as you can; with melting ice caps and strange weather patterns, this Scandinavian nation's stunning natural beauty is at risk.
After being gifted the FIFA World Cup, Russia has stepped to the fore in the tourism scene, and the sense of occasion is obvious across this enormous country. With new hotels, restaurants and attractions built in time for the influx of visitors that descended during the competition, there has never been a better time to visit this majestic country. While we wouldn't have advised visiting during the event itself, Russia is well worth your time and its resplendent cities are a delight to get lost in, particularly historic St Petersburg with its golden palaces and diverse treasure troves. Moscow's superb metro system is also worth mentioning, with its atmospheric interiors, and web-like network of underground tunnels.
It's never been a secret that we at Rail Discoveries love Switzerland, its soaring Alpine beauty, its distinct elegance and its spectacular and glorious panoramic rail journeys. Sublime natural landscapes aside though, Switzerland is of particular interest in 2019 thanks to the recent opening of the Stoosbahn, also known as the Schwyz funicular railway. Replacing a cable car, this funicular railway is now Europe's steepest, and trundles its way up to the village of Stoos. Expertly designed, the carriages are shaped like barrels and are engineered in such a way that passengers are always on their feet despite the maximum gradient being 110%. This exciting new addition to a nation of already-great rail journeys, makes Switzerland a must visit destination next year.
Having enjoyed a barrage of positive press in the past two years, Croatia, across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, is swiftly becoming the destination of choice in Europe. Indeed, it is often hard to see how Croatia has not been ruined by the tourist industry. Its agreeable climate, magnificent Dalmatian coastline and colourful cities are ripe for exploration, and the fact that it takes in fewer visitors than its illustrious Italian neighbour makes this the ideal hideaway for those who want to step off the beaten track. One of Croatia's favourite attractions is the remarkable and gorgeous Plitvice Lakes National Park which look as if they have just stepped off the pages of National Geographic. This lake complex is a special example of what happens when nature's finest come together in a kaleidoscope of natural beauty. White rock hangs under verdant green trees, the tumult of turquoise water leaps down what seems like must be artificial waterfalls, and the sun beams down on an idyllic paradise. Croatia is a top tip for 2019, and best to visit before it becomes everyone's favourite.