Local travel experts recommend some of the top trips ready to book come January. Among them is Seychelles. Picture: Supplied.

Sri Lanka


No list would be complete without Lonely Planet’s ‘number one country to visit in 2019’, Sri Lanka.
“Sri Lanka is certainly having its moment in the spotlight,” says Teresa Richardson, Managing Director of The Travel Corporation in South Africa.
Formerly known as Ceylon (as in the tea) Sri Lanka is an island nation found in the warm Indian Ocean south of India with the Maldives a little way south-west. Previously the getaway of choice for intrepid explorers, Sri Lanka is set to welcome an influx of travellers in 2019.
Joy Niemack, a South African who visited the country in September 2018, describes the mountainous scenery as truly beautiful and fantastic for hiking. “The people are friendly, things at the markets are cheap, as is transport,” she says. However, she recommends Sri Lanka is best explored as part of a group.
Best time to visit: December to March for trips in the west and south coast, and April to September for anywhere along the east coast.

Antarctica 

Untainted by human interference, Antarctica is much the same as it was when the explorers of the Golden Age of Antarctica Exploration sought to conquer its peaks, islands and unforgiving ice-shelves over 100 years’ ago, says Natalia Rosa, Director of Big Ambitions, a specialist travel content marketing consultancy, who visited the area in November 2018.
“The landscape is other-worldly, larger than life and majestic at every turn. You won’t be able to pull yourself away from your surrounds: towering snow-capped mountains, beryl-blue glaciers and icebergs, and ice floes that dot expansive bays,” says Rosa.
Best time to visit: It depends on what wildlife you most want to see. In January, penguins begin hatching, while February and early March are usually the best months to view whales.


Turkey

Turkey is a great value-for-money destination, especially considering its diverse culture, landscapes and attractions.
Hit the streets of cosmopolitan Istanbul for a taste of Turkish city life, or take it in from the water with a cruise along the Bosphorous. Tick off a bucket-list item viewing the rock chimneys of Cappadocia and sailing the stunning coastline in a traditional gulet.
Best time to visit: April to May and September to November are popular. 

Costa Rica
Embark on an eco-adventure into the lush rainforests of Costa Rica, one of the hottest destinations of 2019 for any traveller wanting a sustainable, eco-friendly travel adventure. So much more than just hats and cigars, Costa Rica is a natural paradise. Despite its small size, the country is home to nearly half a million different species, making it one of the world’s most biodiverse countries. 
Best time to visit: Visit during the dry season from mid-December to April. 


Ireland


The emerald isle of Ireland tempts travellers to its shores each year, with jaw-dropping green scenery, friendly locals, foot-stompingly good music and pints of good ol’ Guinness. 
“Best of all for South African passport holders, Ireland is still one of the few places in the world where they can travel without a visa,” says Sue Garrett, Flight Centre Travel Group General Manager, Product and Marketing.
Share the craic with friendly locals and other revellers at some of Ireland's renowned festivals. St. Patricks Day falls on Sunday March 17 in 2019, and visitors can join a five-day celebration of Ireland's most famous holiday at the St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin from March 14 to 18,  2019.

Best time to visit: The shoulder seasons of April to June and September and October.


Seychelles

Wellness travel is another enormously popular trend for 2019, and Seychelles is one of the most spectacular places to treat yourself to some well-deserved self-care.
This archipelago of 115 islands dotted in the balmy Indian Ocean boasts powder-white beaches and an abundance of luxurious resorts specialising in all things wellness, such as yoga and meditation. 
“The Six Senses Zil Pasyon on the northernmost tip of the untouched private Félicité Island and the Four Seasons Resort on Mahé make ideal luxury yoga retreats,” recommends Lena Hoareau, Seychelles Tourism Board Director: South Africa.