Wow 2019 is here already.
I asked 19 travel bloggers to recommend their top destinations for first time travellers. These destinations are easy to get to, a breeze to explore and have plenty of friendly locals to guide you on your way.
So if you have been wanting to take your first holiday abroad but didn’t know where to go, read on, be inspired and start planning, where will 2018 take you?19 Travel Bloggers reveal their top destinations to ease you into travel in 2019 #travel #travelblogger Click To Tweet
19 TOP DESTINATIONS FOR YOUR FIRST HOLIDAY ABROAD
With pleasant weather year-round, an excellent transportation network, kilometers of gorgeous coastline, and safe, highly-walkable streets, Sydney is an excellent and reliable choice to kick off your 2018 travels.
The iconic attraction here is, of course, the famous Sydney Opera House, a stunning piece of architecture that puts you in awe even if you’ve seen it in photos a hundred times before your visit. For a unique view of the building, go for a walk along the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
Sydney is also renowned for its beaches, including the world-famous Bondi beach. If you come at the right time of the summer, you might just see a film crew for the popular television show “Bondi Rescue.” For a unique experience, head to the nearby Bondi Icebergs Pool, where you can take a dip in a stunning saltwater infinity pool that receives frequent hits from ocean waves! Cap off the afternoon by taking the incredible Bondi to Coogee Walk, where each bend of the path presents you with a different gorgeous view.
With so much to do, and with such incredible tourist infrastructure, Sydney is a can’t-beat travel pick in Australia for those looking to ease their way into their 2018 travels!
-Nate Hake from travellemming.com
2. VANCOUVER, CANADA
For those of you hesitant to start traveling, Vancouver, Canada is an excellent first choice, especially for Americans, being as it’s so close. Sitting on the west coast of Canada, Vancouver is a modern, safe city with all the amenities you could ask for. It has great public transportation, plenty of free and low cost activities, and heaps of friendly people.
Getting to Canada for a vacation is simple enough. They welcome most folks from the E.U., U.K. and commonwealths, and the USA. English is the main language and all roads and highways are easily accessible. Traffic isn’t a headache and your currency probably converts to a favorable rate against the Canadian dollar as of 2018.
When it comes to natural beauty, Vancouver has plenty to go around. To the east you can see mountains poking up all over, and to the west you have the Pacific Ocean. All around the city, just a few minutes drive away, are seemingly endless evergreen forests.
Inside the city you have tons of options to choose from. Parks and wildlife options like Stanley Park and the Vancouver Aquarium are just a few of the many top notch activities at your fingertips.
And if you feel like shopping and putting your purchasing power to good use, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to do that, too.
Vancouver has everything you need to make your first time traveling a brilliant success.
-Scott & Hayley from internationalhotdish.com follow their travels on twitter
3. YUCATAN, MEXICO
Yucatan is a great destination for first time and family travelers: children are bound to love it. While it retains all the charm of the most indigenous parts of Mexico, it is significantly more developed in terms of tourist services: transportation, accommodation and restaurant offers are excellent, at any budget.
Families can count on the best all inclusive resorts; couples who are just starting to travel can opt for excellent boutique hotels; and there’s plenty of good hostels for solo travelers.
Food is excellent, whether at upscale restaurants or at markets and street food – though a good tip for those who enjoy eating meat is to always make sure that pork and chicken are fully cooked through in order to avoid any contamination and food poisoning.
What makes Yucatan an excellent destination, other than the availability of tourist services, is the great attractions. There’s plenty of beautiful colonial cities: Valladolid and Campeche are unmissable, as well as the more famous Merida. Archaeological sites are scattered around the peninsula: Uxmal, Chichen Itza and Tulum are the most famous ones. There’s parks and reserves: Sian Ka’An and Laguna Bacalar are splendid.
Cenotes are underground lakes that are fun to swim in. Wildlife is thriving, whether to admire during a dive (the coral reef on the Caribbean side is fantastic) or in a lagoon (ie in Celestun). And let’s not forget the amazing, easily accessible beaches.
-Claudia Tavani from My Adventures Across The World and Instagram
4. LUCERNE, SWITZERLAND
Switzerland has so many beautiful places that it is hard to choose only one place. If you are looking for an easy place to get to and have a smooth and relaxed trip you should opt for Lucerne.
You can get to Lucerne easily by train (from Zurich, Bern, or Geneva) and be amazed by its safety and of course by its beauty.
Most of all, it is easy to get around by public transportation so you will not need your own car (though driving there is easy and scenic) and can still discover the best places without much effort. This makes it a great place for families, party people or solo traveler.
Also, you will not get bored –
you have the stunning Alps around the corner (my favorite mountains trips were getting up Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus close to Lucerne which are easily accessible via cable car), a beautiful town center with the famous wooden bridge, and of course the stunning Lake Lucerne, where you can do a nice boat tour.
If you are looking for great day trips you awesome options as well: Add Bern, Interlaken or Zurich to your list!
Whatever you are going to do in Lucerne, this place is great to visit – amongst other just because it is so easy and safe to travel around.
-From Arzo Travels
Lucerne has an amazing transport museum, you can also extend your trip to the Black Forest.
Want a free travel planner? Click here.
5. WALES, UNITED KINGDOM
Before having children, I was strictly a solo traveler and my destinations were generally in very remote locations. This was long before Google maps and cell phones. These trips were incredible and life-changing. They were also sometimes dangers and frequently very difficult. Once I had kids, I traveled a bit in the US but we didn’t take any huge trips out of the country because I was too worried about all the “what-ifs.” As they got older, I really wanted them to understand why I loved traveling so much and I knew experiencing a new country together would be something we would never forget.
We chose Wales for our first trip abroad as a family. Traveling through Wales is perfect for a first solo or family trip.
The weather is generally neither too hot nor too cold. There is an excellent train and bus system that makes it easy to travel around the countryside even if you don’t have a car. It is relatively inexpensive and has low crime rates (compared to large US cities). We also found the Welsh people lovely and extremely welcoming. Some of our favorite moments were chats we had with locals while waiting for the bus or riding the train.
The scenery is also stunning! Wales has more castles per square mile than any other country in the world. Combine that with rolling hills, cliffs descending into the sea, and fascinating fairy tales and folklore and you can see why Wales is the perfect place to get your feet wet (literally and figuratively) as a traveler.
-By Robin Harwick from LETgo: Grab Opportunity and Instagram
Check out my posts on Bristol and Paulton’s Park, easy to include in the same itinerary
6. BALI, INDONESIA
Bali is a fantastic place to ease you into overseas travel.
The best part about Bali is there is something to suit every budget and every level of adventure.
The first time we traveled with kids overseas we chose Bali for the resorts with amazing facilities, cultural experiences that were accessible for us, the gorgeous Balinese nannies that helped with the kids, great range of food options and spectacular sunrises & sunsets.
When we arrive in Bali we are met with the gorgeous Balinese smiles and warm hospitality. It instantly puts us at ease and we feel that the experiences we gain are something within our families reach. So if you are feeling daunted about choosing a destination, Bali will provide you with a taste of Asia but with the comforts of home.
If you are traveling with kids I highly recommend Sanur for its easy to navigate streets and great range of restaurants and shops. If it is your first time solo overseas then Ubud is a fantastic location to explore. For couples, Seminyak is the spot for delicious food and epic shopping at a great price. Bali is a fabulous destination for everyone that won’t disappoint.
– Kate from Rolling Along with Kids
7. SOUTH AFRICA
I think that a South Africa road trip is ideal for Africa first timers! Travelling around Africa can be a stressful experience – we found that many people are afraid of visiting, because of safety concerns and illnesses like malaria. Now, I won’t say that South Africa is the safest place in the world, but we found that if you use common sense, it’s no more dangerous than many other places in Europe, at least from a tourist’s perspective. Moreover, South Africa is largely malaria-free, and where malaria is present the risk is usually quite low.
Road tripping South Africa is the ideal solution for families, allowing you to travel at a comfortable pace for your little ones.
Roads are in good condition (with the Eastern Cape as an exception) and English is widely spoken, plus there is so much to see and do that you won’t get bored, making sure that your first trip to Africa will not be the last!
-Margherita Ragg from The Crowded Planet
8. THE NETHERLANDS
After spending 10 days in The Netherlands, I feel confident enough to say that the country is a great destination for first-time travelers and family travelers as well.
The Netherlands is a small country and it’s super easy to get around. People are wonderful and friendly and the atmosphere, in general, is great.
I loved The Netherlands for its awesome vibe. Amsterdam is an amazing city but I would also recommend visiting some other smaller cities, such as Delft, and the not so touristy Tilburg and Breda. Me, myself, I cannot wait to visit Rotterdam in a few months.
-Bilyana – Owl Over The World & InstagramGet out there and #travel, here are the 18 top destinations for first time and family travellers. Click To Tweet
9. COSTA RICA
Labelled the ‘most biologically intense place on earth’ with wild jungles, beautiful beaches and active volcanoes scattered over the country, there are many reasons why people dream to travel to Costa Rica.
This beautiful part of Central America is the place to visit if you are looking for adventure, whether you want to admire and photograph the unreal nature, go zip lining in the jungle or explore some of the hiking routes. There are countless fun activities for the whole family.
You will hear the phrase “Pura Vida” everywhere around Costa Rica, this positive, simple, stress free life philosophy makes the local ticos great hosts when you visit their stunning country.
Costa Rica is an amazing travel friendly destination. Budget friendly prices and good public transport made moving around a breeze. The country has a low crime rate and we always felt very safe traveling here.
There is a wide range of international food available that should satisfy even a picky pallet. Sticking to beans and rice by eating the local comida tipica is a healthy and cheap meal that is always available.
English is widely spoken, making it easy to communicate, but brushing up on your Spanish is a welcome courtesy that will earn you many friends traveling around here.
-Campbell from Stingy Nomads
10. DUBLIN, IRELAND
Dublin is a perfect destination for first-time travellers and family travellers for many reasons. First of all, English is the main language. Travelling to a country that speaks another language is fun, but it does add that extra level of difficulty that many first time travellers may want to avoid.
Ireland as a whole is also renowned for its friendliness, which makes it an easy place to be a naïve, inexperienced traveller in.
Most Irish people are almost always happy to help you out if you have a question, or sometimes even to just to stop for a chat.
It’s also a very safe place to travel to: some travel scams may exist, but they aren’t likely to be any more prevalent than in your own country.
It’s also a country that attracts travellers of all ages and all backgrounds. While a family or older traveller may feel out of place in some parts of the world, you’re almost guaranteed to spot other travellers of a similar age and background visiting Dublin just like you.
-James from Worldwideshoppingguide.com
11. CUSCO, PERU
South America can be a crazy and scary place for first-time travelers – the continent is huge, the culture is different, the language barrier exists and the reputation of some South American countries is based on criminality and drug business. So, should you avoid visiting South America at all? No!
Cusco in southern Peru is the perfect place for beginners to get a nice impression of South America – and of course to visit Machu Picchu, one of the new wonders of the world.
Cusco is easily accessible by its own airport directly in the city center. Since Cusco is one of the most touristic areas of the continent, there’s a huge variety of accommodation for every budget and a big choice of local and international restaurants. Many people speak English and it’s very safe to walk around the center of the city – just take care of the usual risk of pickpocketing.
Cusco is the historic center of Peru and of the Incas and therefore a unique place to visit, full of history and culture. Visit the local markets for craft, clothes and souvenirs, stroll through the hip neighborhood of San Blas with its cozy cafés and hike up to the Cristo statue for a panoramic view of the city.
When you’re in Cusco, a visit at Machu Picchu is a big must-do. There are several ways to get to this place, taking the train directly from Cusco is the easiest but most expensive one. You can also book the Salkantay Trek or the Inca Jungle Trek – two multiple day tours, which are more adventurous but very easy since you’re in a group with a local guide. There are also day trips to the famous Rainbow Mountain – the hike can be quite exhausting due to the high altitude, but you can even rent a horse to bring you up there.
Cusco is the perfect destination for first-timers in South America and one of the highlights of the continent – enjoy your visit!
-Patrick Muntzinger from Germanbackpacker.com
12. NORWAY BY CRUISE
Norway has a breathtaking landscape that will surely lure you to the beauty of Scandinavia.
Cruising in the Norwegian Fjords is the best way to see the majestic landscape and seascape that Norway has to offer. Cruising is also the best way to explore Norway, especially during winter season.
Whether you are travelling as a family or cruising for the first time, the charm of the Norwegian fjords will definitely capture your inner wanderlust soul to discover more of this Nordic country.
You don’t have to worry about the logistics, just enjoy the view, have fun, eat and relax!
From Everything Zany
If you want to explore more of Norway by land check out the easy to follow Norway in a Nutshell route.
13. SICILY, ITALY
Sicily, the eternal crossroads of the Mediterranean is arguably one of the most beautiful islands in Europe. Located off the western coast of Italy’s toe, Sicily is full of charm and the perfect destination for first-time travelers and families.
There are hundreds of reasons to visit Sicily, including delicious food, ancient ruins, three active volcanoes, stunning beaches and fascinating history to name but a few. We visit every year and we can’t recommend it enough!
First-time travelers to Sicily will notice that Sicily isn’t very Italian at all. In fact, it has a strong identity of its own, almost completely unique to its motherland. Hire a car and explore the island’s beauty with ease but remember that while Sicily appears small, it is the largest island in the Mediterranean and can take over 4 hours to drive from Palermo to Siracusa.
Families visiting with children will find Sicily provides a stimulating and adventurous holiday. There are plenty of child-friendly activities including taking a cable car on Mount Etna, riding the slides at the waterpark Etna Land and watching a traditional puppet show which can be found all over the island. Of course, you also have a pick of hundreds of child-friendly white sandy beaches and if you hire a villa they can simply enjoy splashing around in the swimming pool!
-Follow Samantha from Wandering Wanderluster over on Instagram
14. MUNICH, GERMANY
If you are traveling to Europe for the very first time, there is absolutely no easier, more fun place than Munich!
You don’t even have to come at Oktoberfest time, because you can enjoy an oompah band, pretzel, and beer at the famous Hofbrauhaus any time of year. Eat lunch or dinner there and have the crispy haxen (ham hock)!
But there’s more to Munich than just beer and pretzels. You can visit a palace (Nymphenberg) right there in the city or take a day trip to one of Ludwig’s famous castle like Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau, or Linderhof. They will make you feel like a prince or princess whether you are walking the sculptured gardens or gawking at the opulent furniture.
In the center of town, there are plenty of great sights such as the Viktualienmarkt, a daily produce market to explore. If you are in the Marienplatz at 11:00 each day, you will marvel at the glockenspiel. You can also visit the cathedral, the Munich Residenz, and stop at many of the outdoor cafes and restaurants along the shopping and pedestrian zone.
Some other friendly family places to are: BMV World, The Hellabrunn Zoo, and the Toy Museum.
If you are interested in World War II history, you might want to take a jaunt out to the Dachau Concentration Camp, but I wouldn’t suggest this for little children.
Check out Colditz Castle, Germany for family friendly WW2 History.
-Corinne from Reflections Enroute
15. DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
With Emirates Airlines extensive flight routes around the world, often the first place people will set foot outside of their home country is Dubai. Absolutely make the effort to get out of the airport and see what the country is all about!
At first, Dubai has a very glossy, big city and concrete feel to it, so you do need to dig beneath the surface to see its true eclectic character – but often the glossy exterior is what gives the first-timer some comfort. If it weren’t for the Arabic signs and traditional dress the locals wear you may mistake where you are! Unless you arrive mid-summer to the blast of heat, then your reminded you are in fact, in the middle of the desert!!
Some ‘musts’ for first timers is seeing the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall in all their glory. Then head on to the beaches, perhaps stay at one of the stunning luxury resorts on the Palm or Jumeirah Beach and hit the water – take a speedboat from Dubai Marina or head to Dubai Creek for a traditional abra ride and to see ‘Old Dubai’. If time permits, get beyond the city and take a day or overnight Safari in to the desert.
The city now has a fairly thorough Metro system to get between the major sites, or plentiful taxis but traffic can be an issue. English is very widely spoken and information plentiful to navigate your way around.
-Keri from Our Globetrotters
What to hear more about Dubai, check out my 5 day Dubai Itinerary.
16. PARIS, FRANCE
Paris, often nicknamed the ‘City of Lights’ is a beautiful (yet small) city perfectly formed for short city breaks. The city is totally walkable, but you can also use the Metro, which is easy to get the hang of once you’ve used it a few times, so actually being able to explore Paris is very easy. If you’re new to travel, consider Paris as your stepping stone to take you onto longer, more adventurous trips.
Paris was one of the first places I travelled to on my own. I went at the beginning of December so I could see the best of what Paris could offer during the festive period. Imagine frosty walks, giant Christmas trees, bustling Christmas markets and a ‘City of Fairy Lights’ – sounds pretty magical, doesn’t it? That said, Paris can offer a lot during the other seasons as well, including Spring blossom showcasing some of the top attractions.
To get to Paris, you have quite a few options from Central Europe and the UK. You can either fly into Charles de Gaulle airport, catch the Eurostar or even regional trains as part of a larger Europe trip. From outside of Europe, Paris is super easy to get to by air as well.
If you’re going to make Paris your next travel destination, I’d recommend you time your visit to include the first Sunday of any month between October and March. This will allow you free entry to some of the top museums and attractions (including the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay and The Centre Pompidou), freeing up a large portion of your budget.
Also, if you’re under 26, Paris offers even more savings! So do your research before you go, save some pennies and ensure you can visit loads more in this most splendid of European capital cities!
-Justine from wandereroftheworld.co.uk
17. LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
London is a particularly wonderful location for a first trip abroad with kids. Because they speak English (ok, maybe British), communication is no issue after you pick up a few British words. London is the third largest European city (behind Istanbul and Moscow) and rich with history, iconic buildings, world renowned museums and amazing parks. Many of the monuments and museums are free as well.
Public transport in London is convenient and effective. The best way to travel around London is the Underground, which is also known as the Tube. It is an extensive system with color-coded routes. You can travel virtually anywhere on the Underground, and with the Oyster card, the cost of travel is reasonable.
London is also a great jumping off point for other adventures in the United Kingdom or Europe. Train travel is efficient, and there are a plethora of budget air fare options from London’s airports.
London is a fabulous destination for a first family trip abroad. Getting there is not complicated and often does not require a visa. Also, you could literally spend weeks in London without running out of things to do but can also pack a number of sites into just a few days.
-Catherine from We Go With Kids, also on Facebook
READ NEXT: Visit Edinburgh and Scotland with kids
18. ISLAND HOPPING IN THAILAND
Its nickname says it all: the country of smile! Thailand is one of the most open countries to travelers and no wonder that it is one of the most popular places in the world to travel for first time travelers and families. Traveling around is super easy as there are a dozen of travel agencies in every street that are willing to help you plan your Thailand itinerary.
As a solo traveler you will meet a lot of likeminded backpackers on your trip and for families there is no better country for affordable luxury than Thailand.
Island hopping trips, amazing resorts and spectacular nature are waiting for you in the South of Thailand.
Island hopping on the Andaman coast is totally different than in the Gulf of Thailand, but the island life feeling everywhere will blow your mind.
Of course you have to try the Thai street food and order fruit shakes on the streets. The food is one of the reasons Thailand is an incredible country to travel. I always say you can never go wrong with a holiday to Thailand.
-Follow Tom from Travel Tom Tom over on Instagram
Japan was the first country that I visited outside of Australia and what an amazing place to start my travels. As a country to visit it’s the perfect first-time country. Full of culture, a rich history, and some amazing food. Japan is exotic, Instagram worthy and at the end of the day really easy. The internal travel systems make it a breeze to get around from the moment you get off the plane to finding your first hostel and home again. Helped by the strong presence of English speaking service staff for those moments when you might get lost.
Oh and who can forget the ever so easy to use Pasmo cards. Just put credit on the card and you can tap and go on public transport, in stores for food and even buy yourself coffee!
-Follow Jean from Honeybird Travel over on TwitterTravel bloggers reveal the 18 top destinations for first time and family travellers in 2018. Click To Tweet
Wow, what amazing and inspiring pieces these guys sent in. Which place speaks to you? My first Solo trip was to Thailand and I would love to go back with my kids.
If you are already an experienced traveller where did you go for your first trip? Would you recommend it to others? Let me know in the comments below👇
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My first Solo trip with the kids was to Norway, for a full run down read my post about following the Norway in a Nutshell itinerary.
This is a great list! Paris was my first holiday abroad, and it was fantastic.
Great post! Glad to see Dublin made the list. We took our two and four year old there over new years and had a wonderful time. We were very glad we had a rental car during the trip to see some of the sights outside Dublin.
I’m glad you enjoyed Dublin, I went pre kids and loved it so I am sending my husband(who hasn’t been) for his birthday. He decided to take our 6-year old and they are going next weekend!
What a great list! I’d say Ireland is a great pick, but we loved Kerry with our kids. They enjoyed getting outdoors and we could easily use Killarney as our base for a full week.
Thanks for reading, I’m glad you enjoyed Ireland. It’s a great spot for families.
Great post!! I was actually browsing AirBnB’s in Thailand just last night 😆😍
The food in Thailand is sooo amazing!