Beat the crowds to these up-and-coming destinations with 2019’s best new air routes. And, here’s what to do and where to stay when you get there. Let’s go…
1. London Heathrow to Charleston, USA – fly from £566
Sitting on the east coast of the USA, Charleston was named after England’s King Charles II, and it was also the birthplace of the popular 1920’s dance of the same name. And if those facts aren’t enough to tempt you, the old-school American charm and colonial English architecture should do it. This is a city with a lot of history.
British Airways are flying from London Heathrow to Charleston twice a week on Thursdays and Sundays. The eight-hour direct flight starts from £503.
With so much history, you should start at the beginning by walking through Downtown Charleston. Kick off the tour at the colonial Old Exchange Building, move onto the Georgian Heyward-Washington House and finish at the art deco Riviera Theatre for a 300-year trip through history.
Visit the well-preserved ruins at Fort Sumter, only accessible by boat, where the very first shots of the American Civil War were fired in 1861. A trip to the fort includes the boat ride there and back, plus an hour to explore and learn about this historic moment. Tickets are $23.
Visit in spring or early autumn for mild temperatures and fewer crowds.
At Hyatt Place Charleston in the heart of the historic district. There’s an indoor pool for a few leisurely lengths, should all that history wear you out. Rooms from £152.
2. London Stansted to Lviv, Ukraine – fly from £35
Here’s a city you might not have heard of. Ancient Lviv is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s been called the Paris of Ukraine, thanks to its plentiful culture, historic monuments and brightly coloured buildings. Unique landmarks include the Yard of Lost Toys – an alleyway transformed into a shrine for forgotten playthings.
Ryanair have been flying to Lviv from London Stansted since last winter, but the route is really ramping up for summer 2019. The two-and-a-half-hour flight departs three times a week.
Aside from the Yard of Lost Toys, another unusual Lviv experience is a drink at the Coffee Mining Manufacture. You’ll be handed a helmet before descending into the cellar of the coffee house. Turn the helmet’s light on, and make your way through the maze to find your seat. Your reward? The café’s signature flaming coffee, set alight with a handy (and totally safe) blow torch.
For a more conventional tourist spot, climb 350 steps to the top of the Town Hall for views over Lviv and the rolling Ukrainian countryside. Then, wander through Prospekt Svobody, which comes alive in the summer months. Soak up the colourful architecture as locals compete in fierce chess matches and children play in the streets.
The summer months have the best weather with highs in the mid-twenties. Spring is also popular thanks to its mild temperatures and cheaper accommodation.
Stay at Jam Hotel Hnatyuka, a modern, comfortable hotel within walking distance to the Town Hall and Pidgirci Castle. Rooms start from £41.
3. London Heathrow to Osaka, Japan – fly from £567
Japan’s second city isn’t just home to neon signs and ancient shrines, it’s also welcoming the Rugby World Cup this autumn. Whether or not you’re there for the sporting action, Osaka has plenty of history, theme parks and restaurants to keep you occupied. Konnichiwa Osaka.
British Airways have relaunched their direct London-Osaka route after a 21-year hiatus. There are now four 11.5-hour flights a week covering the 9,500km distance.
Start by visiting the five-storey, 450-year-old Osaka Castle. Known as Osaka-jo in Japanese, the delicate exterior contrasts the rich golden interior designed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1583. While visitors can go inside, the best view is from the surrounding park.
Get a taste of Japan’s agricultural history with a visit to the Open Air Museum of Japanese Farmhouses. Hire a Yukata (that’s a cotton version of a kimono, FYI) for 300 yen and embark on an Instagram-worthy photo shoot around the farmhouses. Each building has been chosen for its historic worth and reassembled in Osaka.
Arrive in time for the Rugby World Cup (20 September to 2 November) and stay to enjoy Osaka’s autumn colours. If sport isn’t your thing, hang on until spring in time for hanami AKA cherry-blossom season.
Rest your head at Smile Hotel Premium Osaka Hommachi – it’s surrounded by metro stations to whizz you around the city. Rooms from £59.
4. Manchester to Hurghada, Egypt – fly from £221
The Red Sea resort of Hurghada has a striking 40km of coastline renowned for its diving and snorkelling sights. Once the sun sets, restaurants and bars come alive along the marina. Sit with a cocktail in hand and marvel at the bobbing yachts while contemplating which beach to explore tomorrow. It’s a hard life.
From 30 October, Easyjet will fly twice a week from Manchester to Hurghada – just in time for some winter sun. Leaving on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the average flight time is five-and-a-half hours.
While Hurghada is currently listed as safe, always check with the Foreign Office before travelling.
This resort is all about the beaches. Take a boat trip out to Giftun Island where the snorkelling options on the nearby coral reefs are accessible for all abilities. The white sand and palm-fronted shades will satisfy landlubbers, too.
More of a deep diver? Head to the Straits of Gubal where Egypt’s most famous wreck, a WW2 cargo ship called the Thistlegorm, is just waiting to be explored.
There’s a reason why Easyjet are launching this route at the end of October; Hurghada is the perfect winter sun escape, with temperatures in the high 20s.
Stay at the five-star Continental Hotel Hurghada, complete with its own private beach and gigantic swimming pool in a landscaped garden. Plus, all rooms have sea views and start from £80.
5. London Gatwick to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – fly from £434
As the location of the 2016 Olympics, Carnival and a rather large Jesus statue – Rio is an action-packed partying heaven. But this bustling city is so much more than just a great party scene. Surrounded by beaches, rainforests, islands and mountains, there’s plenty to entertain active adventurers and beach bums. So, what are you waiting for?
Norwegian Air are operating the first low-fare flight to Brazil, with one-way tickets starting at £240. Since March this year, four flights a week have connected the UK to South America with a direct 11-and-a-half-hour flight.
As one of Rio’s most popular landmarks, you can’t miss out on a visit to Christ the Redeemer. For the best views, check you’ve got a clear day before ascending up the hill. For another bird’s-eye view of Rio, take a ride on the Sugar Loaf Cable Car. Built in 1912, the cable car has been whisking tourists up to the 396m summit for more than 100 years.
For the adventurers, take a day trip to Ilha Grande (which translates as ‘Big Island’). Here you’ll find an abundance of wildlife and one of the top beaches in Brazil: Lopes Mendes. It’s just a short hour hop from Rio via a bus and ferry.
If you want a samba party like no other, book flights in time for Carnival: 21-25 February 2020. For beach weather, hit Rio in their summer time, which runs from December to March.
Stay at the super-cool Selina Lapa. This hotel offers a few hostel-style bunk rooms, while their private rooms are spacious, ultra-modern and start from £31.
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All flight and prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices based on Skyscanner’s flight search tools. These are subject to change and were correct at time of writing on 13 August 2019.