This feature is brought to you by Qantas, who are proud to play a part in bringing travellers together with the people they love from around Australia and across the globe.
To celebrate our mates over at Qantas turning 95, we’re counting down our top 95 destinations of the future to launch them into another brilliant near-century. Pooling our expert brains trust of AWOL staff and writers, we’ve come up with a jam-packed list of destinations to consider for your future holiday. These places aren’t your typical Coachella or ‘New York for Christmas’ trip – oh no, not a single cliché here. We’ve tried to unearth places that are relatively undiscovered or slightly left of centre – whether they’re cities, countries or experiences, or it’s something that’s just becoming popular, accessible or affordable, trust us when we say these will be the ~it~ destinations in no time.
#95 High Tatras, Slovakia
Nestled on the border between northern Solvakia and southern Poland, High Tatras is a small but beautiful mountain range that’s both more affordable and less crowded than its Alpine counterparts. Hike up the mountains in summer then zoom down on your skis in winter, as well as going on bear-watching trips, row on the lakes that surround the mountains and drink at one of the many charming Eastern Europeans pubs along the range.
Forget Iceland, Greenland is where it’s at now! The huge Danish territory plonked in the middle of the Arctic Circle between Canada and Europe is magnificent and fairly untouched by the tourism industry. With huge fjords, the spectacular Northern Lights (see below), a hotel on the side of a glacier and adorable towns that looks like they’re made from Lego, Greenland’s the place you didn’t know you wanted to visit – but trust us, you do.
#93 The Hebrides, Scotland
Ahhh…tropical island paradise. Except not, because the Hebrides are a group of over 110 islands off the north coast of Scotland – so pack your coat. One of the most rugged and wild areas of the world, each island has its own culture and mix of Celtic, Norse and English history. You can trek up the rolling mountains of the Isle of Skye, visit ancient castles and stone formations in Lewis or just while your days away in the famous whiskey haven of Islay – there’s something for everyone.
#92 Lakshadweep Islands, India
We have a bone to pick with India. They’ve been hiding an ACTUAL tropical island paradise from us for years, only recently appointing a tourism department to let people know it’s there. The 36 coral islands can be reached from nearby Kochi by ship or on a speedy flight, and as good as any overcrowded Pacific island. Drink fresh young coconuts, go scuba diving in the reefs and try your hand at all sorts of water sports – how did we not know this was here?!
#91 Cosy Tents, Daylesford, VIC
Keen on camping but not so much on the whole ‘cramped in a tent sinking in the mud with no phone reception, no shower and no mattress’ part? Glamping’s got your back – and where better to escape the world than Daylesford in Victoria? In the middle of the adorably-named Wombat State Forest, the Cosy Tents glamping is just an hour and ten minutes outside of Melbourne’s CBD. Although you’re out in the elements, you’ll definitely feel looked after with goose feather quilts, speakers provided inside your tent, shower and those posh dressing gowns and even an adorable Brekkie Box to wake up to in the morning. Bliss!
#90 Arizona Desert, USA
Willingly trekking out into a dusty red desert might not be your idea of a luxury holiday, but you can’t get much more picturesque than the deserts of Arizona in the USA. With deep windswept canyons, huge cacti and the beautifully contrasting Horseshoe Bend in the Colorado River, Arizona looks like it’s straight out of a Wild West film – and it’s Instagrammable as heck, TBH.
#89 Southern Ocean Drive, SA
Already done the Great Ocean Road to death? We’ve got a new great Australian roadtrip for you – South Australia’s Southern Ocean Drive, which will take you from Mt Gambier to Adelaide via the seal-filled Kangaroo Island. Snorkel down into the Picanninie Ponds, venture into some overgrown sinkholes, take a photo with #thebiglobster and drink all the Coonawarra vino you can handle along the way – what an ideal roadtrip.
#88 Calabria, Italy
If it’s a Mediterranean break you’re after, Calabria’s the new love of your life. Nestled on the ‘toe’ of the boot-shaped Italy, it’s one of the country’s most candid, sunkissed and traditional regions. It’s still fairly quiet as a tourist destination, particularly once you head inland from the idyllic beaches to see some of the incredible fortresses and castles, art and organic farms it has to offer – famous for producing olive oil and Bergamot oranges. Travel around the region looking chic and windswept on a Vespa, and you’ll never want to leave.
#87 Wallaman Falls, QLD
Wallaman Falls is Australia’s highest single-drop cascade waterfall, and an absolute sight to behold. In the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics in Northern Queensland, the waterfall descends over 300 metres into a 20-metre deep pool. Camp in the nearby national park or take on the overnight Wet Tropics Great Walk – just don’t fall in!
#86 Extraterrestrial Highway, USA
Big ET fan? Love a good conspiracy theory? We’ve got just the trip for you – Nevada’s State Route 375, which has an eerily high rate of UFO reports from travellers along the highway, and also the top-secret Area 51 US government base. There’s only one settlement along the route, the small town of Rachel with a grand total of 54 inhabitants – and it was there that a public dedication ceremony was held for the extraterrestrial highway, which executives from 20th Century Fox, and the stars of Independence Day, rocked up to. Hashtag #ILLUMINATI.
#85 Georgetown, Malaysia
Our trips to Malaysia tend to be pretty limited to the country’s capital, but you can’t miss Penang island’s Georgetown, which may just be the foodie central of South East Asia. A true cultural cocktail, Georgetown’s food and culture takes its influences from as far and wide as Britain, China, India, Thailand and the native Malay. Georgetown was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique architecture and townscape, and draws huge crowds from Malaysia and abroad for its open-air street food precincts, fun and arty bars and beautifully fresh produce from fruit to fish.
#84 Alaska, USA
You might think you’ve seen the US – but Alaska is a whole different kettle of (freshly-caught) fish. You can reach the outlying state by plane, cruise ship or even a stunning road trip starting in British Columbia, Canada. With diverse terrain from fjords to mountains, volcanic islands to glaciers, Alaska is a brilliant amalgamation of cultures, attractions and rugged wildlife. You can go bear-watching, take a leisurely cruise of the glaciers or learn about the Alaskan native cultures – it’s a side of North America you never knew existed.
#83 Light to Light Walk at Ben Boyd National Park, NSW
Is this NSW’s most beautiful coast? We reckon it’s definitely up there. The Light to Light walk through Ben Boyd National Park is a great one for a multi-day hike, especially if you’re a bit of a trekking newbie. It’s a 31km hike that usually takes around three days along red rock shelves that dip into the ocean, with the opportunity to see whales, seals and seabirds – and have a dip in the ocean!
#82 Skellig Michael, Ireland
One of two Skellig islands off the south-west coast of Ireland, Skellig Michael is shrouded in history and mystery – and a bit of sci-fi. It used to be a Christian monastery, after someone had a punch-up with a king and ended up buried on the island so then it was ~obviously~ holy. Now a World Heritage site and a great daytrip from the Irish mainland during summer, you can see the old monastery that still stands, dive off the steep rock if you dare and spot some of the locations used in filming the last two Star Wars films.
#81 Fez, Morocco
Though Marrakech is the real Moroccan capital, we reckon the elders of Morocco were onto something – its former capital of Fez is definitely North Africa’s foodie heaven. Push your way through the market’s snake charmers at night to be treated to meat skewers, hearty tagines and even braised camel hump – and by day, see the wonders of the Royal Palace of Marrakech as you sip a peppermint tea overlooking the setting sun. Bliss.
#80 Ojai, California
You might know it from Emma Stone’s brilliant rise to fame in Easy A, but the small Californian town of Ojai is much more than a woodchuck mascot and a Quiznos. It’s known as a ~spiritual retreat~ for all its health and spirituality-focused resorts, and is pretty eco-friendly all round, really. With a famous farmers market and eco- art, design and home improvement companies located around the town, and a focus on small business, you’ll be feelin’ pretty good about your contribution to the world when you’re there. Surrounded by the Californian hills and mountains, the town’s full of beautiful day trips like hikes to waterfalls, hot springs and beautifully scenic picnic areas.
#79 Bacalar, Mexico
Since the walled peninsula city of Tulum became touristy, its prices have shot up and the tourist trade has made it fairly busy. Shoot straight down the 307 Highway and you’ll reach Bacalar, a similarly chilled-out town with a huge, sparkling blue lagoon as its centrepiece, protected by a fortress to ‘ward off pirates’. Named a ‘Pueblo Mágico’ (magical village) in 2006, Bacalar’s laguna is said to have magical healing powers – it’s so beautiful, we’d believe it.
#78 Ethiopia, Africa
Africa’s starting to become a much more considered travel destination – whether for tourism or volunteer work – and its second most populous country, Ethiopia, is full of hidden gems. The landlocked country has a rich history, landscape and culture that just keeps on giving. You can climb up seemingly impossible rock faces, visit the strange Mars-esque landscape of the Danakil Depression or indulge in some local delicacies with hand-made coffee and honey wine. Deeeeeelish.
#77 Three Capes Walking Track, Tasmania
Although it gets forgotten ALL. THE. TIME, Tasmania’s really lifting its game in the tourism stakes – and a new walking track to add to the 2000km of existing trails is like glamping … for hikers. It’s a four day/three night adventure over 36 kilometres, and along the glamorously rugged path are eco-cabins for hikers to rest their blistered feet, gas cookers for the your bush tucker and stunning views across the Tasmanian wilderness.
#76 Marfa, Texas
Despite Texas’s reputation for being pretty conservative, Marfa – a city quite literally in the middle of nowhere – is the exact opposite. Home to the famous Prada Marfa store sculpture, the desert town has been overtaken by artists since the 1970s, and is now home to many arts installations and projects, film sets and the Marfa lights – magically ‘ghostly’ light that can be seen from miles away.
#75 San Cristobál Beach, Galapagos Islands
If you fancy heading more towards the Americas, another beachy paradise is San Cristobál – the easternmost island of the Galapagos archipelago. It’s well-known for its wildlife and biodiversity, and the array of animals that wander around the place is astounding – but is also a supremely good surfing spot and actually a great place to try some of the island’s best produce – they produce lime, sugar, coffee, tapioca and fish.
#74 Palolem Beach, Goa
India’s not all bustling marketplaces and gleaming white palaces, you know! Palolem is a pristine beach village on the west coast of India – you might recognise it as Matt Damon’s swanky Indian residence in The Bourne Supremacy. The crescent-shaped beach is full of shacks literally on the sand that you can rent – and if the 100-metre crawl from your bed to the water is treacherous work, there are plenty of local fisherman around catching your dinner.
#73 Iceland Airwaves festival
Iceland has a surprisingly rich musical history – Björk, Ásgeir and Sigur Rós taking up its lead in music exports – but tends to be a wintry tourist destination. In early November each year, the capital of Reykjavik hosts a bangin’ five-day music festival featuring both Icelandic and international artists. With past lineups including acts like Hot Chip, Yoko Ono, The Flaming Lips and Beach House, you’d be mad not to give it a go.
#72 The Isle of Wight, UK
Just off the south coast of England sits the Isle of Wight – about the closest the UK’s ever going to get to its own tropical island, it’s accessible from nearby Portsmouth. The chilly island boasts the world’s last remaining hovercraft service if you really want to travel in style, and each summer the Isle Of Wight music festival has seen some incredible acts playing, from Jimi Hendrix in 1970 to Fleetwood Mac headlining this year.
#71 Marseille, France
It used to be regarded by British holiday-makers as a bit ‘chavvy’ (that’s bogan to you), but after a makeover France’s second-largest city is a dream. Named 2013’s European Capital of Culture, the marina on which the Mediterranean city is built has been redesigned, and plenty of museums and attractions on the waterfront make it more than just a beachside town these days. Don’t forget southern France’s incredible cuisine; bon appétit!
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