What’s the hottest travel ticket in the world right now?
At the end of 2013 and into the early part of 2014, travel editors near and far have had their say on where you should be going this year. Predictions for 2014’s top travel destinations include hotspots with major events—Rio de Janeiro for the World Cup, Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games. Other picks include places with fresh appeal—Nashville as a dining destination—and others with improved accessibility, such as Quito with its new airport, and Osaka with new expanded bullet train service.
If you’re like us, these lists induce a serious case of wanderlust. Never fear—if you want to follow the advice offered by the experts at National Geographic, Lonely Planet, Frommer’s, the Guardian, or others, we have Airbnb listings that capture the local character of each of the distinctive destinations on their lists.
But digging in to Airbnb data, we found some unexpected travel intel. Many of the top trending destinations among Airbnb guests barely get a mention on 2014 travel lists—not the New York Times’ ambitious to-do travel list of one destination per week, not in the American Express survey of travel experts. Our research finds that among Airbnb travelers, trending travel hotspots for 2014 include:
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
- Bangalore (Bengaluru)
Why are Airbnb’s trending destinations so different than travel editors’ picks? For one, travel editors aren’t asking you. Even if they were, dreams and reality don’t always come with the same price tag. In Airbnb’s trending destinations, value is the name of the game: huge experience, tiny price tag.
But there’s a bigger reason Airbnb guests buck travel trends: they enjoy it. Hence the rave Airbnb guest reviews for an eco-lodge in Nicaragua, a hot-pink artist’s salon in Sarajevo, and a LEED-certified green retreat by a lotus pond in Bangalore.
Which leads us to the best travel advice for 2014, or any year: follow your bliss. Be adventurous, but stay comfortable.
Top travel destinations—5 expert picks
Soccer may be the world’s most popular sport, and in Brazil, it’s a good time had by all. No wonder the host of this year’s FIFA World Cup final host Rio de Janiero shot to the top of travel editors’ wish lists. Never mind that the stadium isn’t exactly finished, and hotels are already booking up fast—you can still clink caipirinhas on Copacabana beach with the winners and samba home to sweet Airbnb retreats (but book fast to get the best spots).
Artists and athletes find common ground at last this year in Glasgow, Scotland. The home of industrial-cool Glasgow School of Art has creatively repurposed waterfront warehouses into sleek venues for this summer’s Commonwealth Games, but you’ll find designers and rugby players competing in marathon Argyle Street pub crawls year-round. Book a Glasgow Airbnb retreat in the city to sip single malt whiskey by the fire and capture design inspiration in a Mackintosh chair, or escape to the countryside to take up lawn bowling on Scottish castle grounds.
Between honky-tonk nights and Grand Ole Opry gigs, Nashville has been cooking up a reputation for hipster comfort food. Historic East Nashville bungalows are now open to visitors (even Yankees) as friendly front-parlor eateries and back-patio speakeasies, where you can sip homemade hooch on porch swings. Make yourself at home with Airbnb’s Nashville stays, with unusual amenities that include fully equipped music rooms, Civil War bedrooms, front-porch concerts and chef-prepared home cooking. For traveling troubadours who just can’t wait to get on the road again, there’s even a vintage RV with a backyard bathhouse.
Mountain mists swirl mysteriously around Ecuador’s UNESCO World Heritage capital city—and so does romance. Nature lovers who rush onward to Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands to witness giant sea turtle mating rituals shouldn’t overlook romantic possibilities on the mainland, including new chocolate-themed tours and organic fields of rare multicolored roses. Airbnb’s Ecuador listings include handsome hideaways in Quito’s colonial Old Town, Galápagos island ecolodges, and retreats in the heart of Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest.
Bullet train expansions are returning Osaka to its former glory as Japan’s hospitality hub. Like nearby Kyoto, Osaka has its ancient shrines and time-honored charms—but Osaka doesn’t take itself too seriously. Pack your fun fur and skateboard to join the fashion scene at Osaka’s Triangle Park, and compete in the first annual Osaka-Pop Festival for Japan’s ultimate cosplay costume honors. Airbnb’s Osaka listings include garden sanctuaries and traditional homes with sliding doors and tatami mats, but also exuberant Osaka welcomes: “We sometimes hold a local Japanese food party!” gushes one listing. Other Airbnb alternatives feature eye-popping Japanese design, from 1960s geisha glam to anime-inspired décor.
Top travel destinations—3 trending on Airbnb
This isn’t just a travel destination, but an epic comeback story. Centuries of multicultural, interfaith coexistence in Sarajevo were disrupted first by World War I, then by civil war following the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Yet from fragments left after the mid-1990s siege of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina has painstakingly reconstructed medieval, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman-era landmarks and continues to host the Sarajevo Film Festival established during the war. Airbnb stays in Bosnia and Herzegovina showcase its traditional character and history-making resilience, ranging from rustic stone farmhouses and wooden A-frame ski chalets to Ottoman-style lofts and bright salons in downtown Sarajevo.
Active volcanoes, surf hotspots, quiet Caribbean islands, and coffee that’s a near-religious experience: Nicaragua could be confused for neighboring Costa Rica, but for some key differences. Nicaragua has emerged from dictatorship and revolution with historic colonial landmarks and indigenous cultures remarkably intact. Between Nicaragua’s rugged Pacific and Caribbean coasts, macaws and monkeys thrive in pristine tropical nature reserves. Airbnb’s Nicaragua listings showcase the country’s finest moments: infinity-pool sunsets over San Juan del Sur beaches, morning coffee at restored colonial haciendas, mists swirling around volcanoes above hand-built island cottages.
Smart cars dart between stone temples and pedicabs brake for tea-stall wifi in Bengaluru, India’s retrofuturist hub. Visitors who come for work at Bangalore’s International Tech Park find inspiration in the city’s thriving art gallery and restaurant scenes—if you put down roots and found a startup in Bengaluru, we reserve the right to say we told you so. At local Airbnb listings, you can enjoy Bollywood décor or artisan-crafted splendor, go green at a modern mudbrick home, or take up residence in a hewn-stone artist’s studio.
[Top photo, Old Bridge, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Goa Mostar Airbnb listing]