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6 Destinations on the Rise in 2018

Destinations on the rise are unexpected yet exceptional places off the beaten path. They’re not always easy to get to, but these lesser-known travel spots around the world reward your extra effort and sense of adventure with bucket-list spots that few non-locals know about.

Editor’s note: For the latest version of this story, see 9 Trending Travel Destinations for 2019.

Destinations on the Rise in 2018

These up-and-coming travel destinations come with caveats, but they’ve caught the eye of the world for good reasons ranging from wild green countryside to newly recognized historical sites. Ready to explore the world most haven’t seen?

Moldova

[st_content_ad]This former Soviet republic borders Romania and Ukraine, and, for now, remains one of the least-visited countries in the world. But not for long—Moldova’s untouched forests and rolling vineyards sit square in the middle of one of the world’s fastest-growing travel regions. Discover the UNESCO sites and monasteries that dot this destination on the rise, plus a country-wide dedication to a wine industry so strong that the international airport may be renamed Wine of Moldova Airport.

Get there: Intrepid Travel has doubled its Moldova departures for 2018. The country is included in its 13-day Moldova, Ukraine, and Romania Explorer trip.

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Mauritius

Directions to Mauritius sound a little something like this: Head way off the beaten path of East Africa … and just keep going. The closest sizable neighbor of this tiny island nation is Madagascar, an island revered for its own geographical isolation and biodiversity.

Mauritius holds its own reasons for visiting, though—get ready for pristine beaches and colorful coral reefs, plus a mountainous, rain-forested interior. The Indian-ocean-ringed island is celebrating 50 years of independence this year—plus 26 years as a republic—with festivities throughout 2018.

Get there:  Recently added and upcoming routes from Air Mauritius on new Airbus A350-900s, plus new service from KLM connecting Europe and Mauritius, makes the island closer than ever.

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Palestinian Territories

The UN’s World Tourism Barometer recently rated the Palestinian Territories as among the world’s fastest-growing travel regions. It’s a hard sell for many, but the destination is working hard to encourage tourism. What it lacks in infrastructure and easy border crossings it makes up for in historical and religious sites. For something more modern, there’s British artist Banksy’s new Walled Off Hotel, set in the shadow of the Israeli West Bank wall.

Get there: Visitors enter the territories via border crossings from Israel, Jordan, or Egypt.

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Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Also on the Arabian Gulf, Sharjah doesn’t draw visitors with the same dazzle as its neighbor to the south, Dubai. Instead, it’s earned recognition as a UNESCO cultural capital and, accordingly, an up-and-coming destination. Growing tourism in a way that stays true to its roots, Sharjah has embarked on a major historical preservation and restoration project. But it’s adding new reasons to go as well, including a major shopping district expansion and a new safari park, which will be the largest outside of Africa.

Get there: Sharjah is seeing an increasing number of cruise ships calling at its port, and even has a new cruise ship terminal in the works.

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Zambia

Over the last decade, Zambia has seen surges of tourism, but it hasn’t yet cemented itself as a popular safari destination. But with 19 national parks and 34 game management areas, this destination on the rise knows it has something special to share with the world, and has been investing in tourism infrastructure that will make it easier for tourists to visit.

Get there: New flights make Liuwa Plain National Park among the more accessible destinations in Zambia.

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Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Protecting nature and wildlife is a top priority in Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s perhaps what the Canadian province does best, and precisely why visitors are setting their sights on this destination on the rise. A new national park joins the province’s new marine reserves to offer outdoorsy visitors even more protected land and water to explore. Newly designated Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve is about the size of Jamaica, and offers remote wilderness experiences like mountains, beaches, and tundra.

Get there: Air Canada, WestJet, and Porter airlines all connect the U.S. to St. John’s, Newfoundland.

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Follow Christine Sarkis on Twitter @ChristineSarkis and Instagram @postcartography for more advice about making every vacation the best vacation.

By Christine Sarkis

There's a 95 percent chance Senior Editor Christine Sarkis is thinking about travel right now. Follow her on Instagram @postcartography and Twitter @ChristineSarkis.

Christine Sarkis is an SATW-award-winning journalist and executive editor at SmarterTravel. Her stories have also appeared on USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Her advice has been featured in dozens of print and online publications including The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and People magazine. She has also shared travel tips on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, and Here & Now. Her work has been published in the anthologies Spain from a Backpack and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2008. She is currently working on a travel memoir.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: The Trtl Pillow. It's easy to pack and comfortable, and makes it so I can actually sleep on flights.

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Seeing the Aurora Borealis from the comfort of somewhere warm, like a glass igloo or hot spring.

Travel Motto: Curiosity is an amazing compass.

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: Aisle all the way.

Email Christine Sarkis at editor@smartertravel.com.

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