A version of this piece was originally posted in January 2019’s edition of Fórsa Magazine. See more on their website here

New Year celebrations have come and gone and for many of those still easing themselves into 2019, it’s time to book their travels in anticipation of the summer. While places like Alicante, Tenerife and Barcelona are staples for Irish holidaymakers, these days there are more deals for travellers and people are now willing to go further afield.

If you’re looking to make your way to new destinations, look no further. Here’s where you should consider heading to this summer.


Sri Lanka

Topping many lists for travellers in 2019 is Sri Lanka. The island nation just south of India is well known for its welcoming people, cheap prices and breath-taking scenery. Despite its size, the country caters to every sort of tourist. Love being by the ocean? Sri Lanka has a long history of scuba diving, snorkelling and surfing.

Nature lovers will be spoiled for choice with its rich biodiversity and wildlife, and there is a multitude of roads that wind through mountains, forests and paddy fields; all while taking in the Sri Lankan culture. Things like safaris will boost the cost of your stay, however, food, accommodation and transport are generally very cheap. Also, what better chance to get to be able to lounge on quiet beaches! Depending on your funds, you can easily roam on a backpacker’s budget or splash out on more luxurious experiences.


Morocco

With warm sun all year around and just four hours in the air from Dublin, Morocco offers a feast for the senses. Wind through the bustling souks of Marrakech where a burst of colour awaits with or unwind by the sun-soaked shores of Agadir.

If you love the great outdoors and lush green valleys, the highest mountain range in North Africa, the Atlas Mountains, are also scattered with historical ruins, markets and mosques. With kasbahs rising from the desert, ancient bazaars as well as the more modern conveniences, Morocco will delight new holidaymakers.


The Maldives

When people think of the Maldives, they usually imagine it to be one of those destinations that oozes luxury with ocean-based cabins and white sands. This glorious paradise was once known as been inaccessible for those with limited funds, however, the latest trends suggest that it’s becoming more affordable as the years go on.

Instead of those fancy resorts, consider AirBnB or small guesthouses. For an authentic experience, at guesthouses often you can eat Maldivian cuisine as a group or with the owner’s family which is included in the price. You can still get all the access to those gorgeous white beaches and crystal blue ocean too!


Namibia

Namibia is one of the sunniest countries in the world with an average of 300 days of sunshine annually! From June to September, however, it’s considered “winter time” with temperatures of between 20-24°C; ideal for Irish people who can’t handle the heat.

Not only that but due to the country’s low population density it makes it the perfect spot to go stargazing; NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia is one of the top places for getting the most out of the midnight sky. One of the country’s biggest draws is its vibrant red sand dunes which are said to be the highest in the world.


Panama

Cheaper than its bustling neighbour, Costa Rica, Panama nestled in the Caribbean boasts clear blue waters on one side and the swells of the Pacific Ocean on the other. A slice of paradise, snorkel your way through Panama’s reefs, zip line through rainforests or simply bask in this culturally diverse country. Famous for The Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic with the Pacific, its capital is also cosmopolitan and edgy with shimmering skyscrapers not dissimilar to cities like Miami!

The country has seven indigenous groups that you can visit through sustainable tourism so there’s plenty to appreciate here.  Good news too, if you’re Irish and visiting this country for less than 90 days as a tourist, you don’t need to get a visa.


Greenland

Sounds strange, doesn’t it? But Greenland in the summer offers a fantastic contrast to what’s usually a snow-covered country most of the year. Though three-quarters of Greenland is covered by the only permanent ice sheet outside Antarctica, when the water melts away what it leaves is an abundance of wildlife with flowers and lush wilderness clinging to hillsides.

While not the most heavily populated country with around 55000 people, it still boasts small communities that are full of life and deeply connected with nature. Catered more to the outdoorsy types, visitors can cycle to Russell Glacier, enjoy the scenery by foot or explore the southern part of the island by kayak. There are also many expedition cruises that tourists can avail of where you can take in the surrounding icebergs, polar bears and whales.


Croatia

Croatia these days is an absolute travel hotspot but instead of heading to the insanely popular Dubrovnik and Zagreb, why not pop over to Makarska instead! While it’s worth heading to the former cities, this port city at the foot at Biokovo Mountain is known for its picturesque scenery and historical old town centre.

It’s also right on the Adriatic Sea. The city is known for its Mediterranean vegetation and long, warm summers which are delightfully cooled by a breeze known as the “maestral”. Nearby is the second largest city in Croatia, Split and you can also plan day trips to nearby Brač, one of over 1000 Croatian islands.


Slovenia

Sandwiched between Italy, Hungary and Austria, this small country has a slice of coastline also on the Adriatic Sea. Those who love architecture may consider heading to its capital Ljubljana which sports a mix of Baroque, Renaissance and Art Nouveau buildings or take in a contrasting experience by visiting karst caves and the rolling hills and forests.

From June to September visitors flock to Lake Bled which has the longest swimming season of an Alpine lake in Europe and not only that but Slovenia has approximately 2000 hours of sunshine a year!

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