National Geographic’s top fascinating places on their 2024 ”Cool List ” features 30 destinations spanning five continents from Canada to Wales, Sierra Leone, India, Australia and beyond.
“Whether it’s culinary excellence, solar eclipses, night trains, new national parks, rewilding initiatives, ancient wonders revisited or cultural landmarks, we’ve curated some of the best travel destinations for the next 12 months.” — Pat Riddell, editor of National Geographic Traveller (UK)
2024 Travel Trends
Despite slow economic growth and inflation, a study published by Hilton last month suggested that consumers plan to increase travel spending in 2024 and make leisure travel a priority.
The Hilton study indicated that 64% of global travellers aim to reduce other areas of their personal spending to prioritize leisure travel, particularly for Gen Z and Millennials.
Value of experiences and connection is priority over material goods that provides short term satisfaction. Over the long term, creating memories through meaningful experiences is often more rewarding.
The Cool List
The National Geographic Cool List picks top places and spaces around the world where tourism benefits communities, the environment as well as visitors and locals.
The UK and European destinations dominated nearly half of the list as they are closer to home and easy access for their readers.
Europe By Train
It is easy, quick, inexpensive and comfortable to travel by train from London to almost anywhere in Europe. Train travel is on the upswing, thanks to growing interest and demand.
A train journey is a tour on its own
Travellers see and enjoy Europe with less hassle, more comfortable seats and spaces to move around. It’s the most environment friendly mode of motorized passenger transport across Europe, and produces significantly less carbon than flying.
Nova Scotia, Canada
On the Americas list is Nova Scotia whose attractions are unmatched anywhere else in the world. From stunning coastlines to breathtaking vistas, rugged landscapes, abundant wildlife and immersive cultural experiences, Nova Scotia is a source of wonder and inspiration.
Sierra Leone, Africa
A pleasant surprise on the National Geographic’s top fascinating places is Sierra Leone. Serra Lyoa (“Lion Mountains”) was the original Portuguese name. It referred to the mountain range that stretches 30 km (19 miles) on the Freetown Peninsula by the Atlantic Ocean.
The country is slowly recovering from over a decade of civil war, the Ebola outbreak and COVID-19 pandemic. This fascinating former British colony was once a winter-sun escape for Europeans in the 1970s and 1980s.
The government hopes to revive the tourism industry with the recent opening of the first fully green international airport in West Africa. The transport and aviation authority wants to position Freetown as a West African aviation hub, attracting scheduled and charter flights from the UK and Europe.
The country boasts pristine beaches, lush rain forests with abundant wildlife including chimpanzees and ecologically-rich islands. Freetown, the capital has an eclectic mix of architectural styles, reflecting its diverse history and cultural influence.
This northeastern state of India is one of the most beautiful winter wonderland of India. Nestled in the Eastern Himalaya, the state borders Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal. The agriculture based state has emerged as a hub for pharmaceuticals, ecotourism and food processing.
The Kingdom of Sikkim is known for its biodiversity and stunning landscape of glaciers and mountains. Main activities include trekking, bike rides, paragliding and pilgrimage travel.
In the Oceania region, Victoria is the only destination on the National Geographic’s top fascinating places.
Australia’s second smallest state offers pristine wilderness from dramatic mountains, rugged coasts, lakes and white sandy beaches. The capital city, Melbourne is a bustling metropolitan for culture, arts, dining and nightlife scene.
- Albanian Alps, Albania
- Belfast, Northern Ireland
- Emilia-Romagna, Italy
- Europe by train
- Galloway & Southern Ayrshire, Scotland
- Nordland, Norway
- North Yorkshire, England
- Pompeii, Italy
- Saimaa, Finland
- Tartu, Estonia
- The Euros, Germany
- Valletta, Malta
- Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland
- Atacama Desert, Chile
- Lima, Peru
- New York State, USA
- Miami, USA
- Nova Scotia, Canada
- Texas, USA
- Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
- Iberá Wetlands, Argentina
Africa | Asia | Australasia
- Akagera, Rwanda
- Andrefana Dry Forests, Madagascar
- Sierra Leone
- Sikkim, India
- Tainan, Taiwan
- Xi’an, China
- Victoria, Australia