It’s the question on everyone’s minds. Where are explorers in the know heading for their holiday trips?

Data from Virtuoso’s warehouse of more than $35 billion in transactions has revealed the top upscale destinations for this fall and holiday period.

Luxury travelers are staying true to European favorites. But they’re also heading for warmer climes as the weather shifts at home. They’re also seeking out more exotic locales worldwide, including Africa.

Read on to discover which countries made the Top 10 favorites as well as the Hot 10 fast-growing destinations. And you’ll see which two countries are so desirable right now that they made both lists.

fall and holiday trips: virtuoso top 10 destinations graphic The Virtuoso Top 10: Fall and Holiday Trips

The most popular international destinations based on bookings by Virtuoso clients for September through December.

  1. Italy
  2. France­­
  3. United Kingdom
  4. South Africa
  5. Spain­­
  6. Mexico
  7. China
  8. Australia
  9. New Zealand
  10. Israel

Europe’s unrivaled popularity for summer travel continues into the fall. Travelers there enjoy lower average daily rates at Virtuoso hotels than this summer. Paris is down two percent (to $1,087), Rome is six percent lower ($949), London down seven percent ($704) and Barcelona comes in 15 percent lower ($596).

In particular, London and Barcelona represent great value this fall and holiday season. They’re respectively 21 and 43 percent below the average ADR for Virtuoso partner properties in Europe, which is $853.

Mexico’s appeal as a warm-weather getaway holds despite Zika cautions. Australia and New Zealand are always favored destinations once the Northern Hemisphere cools. In spite of continued Middle East unrest, Israel remains popular. It’s sought out for its religious significance, and also for its history, food, culture and adventure experiences.

fall and holiday trips: virtuoso hot 10 destinations graphicThe Virtuoso Hot 10: Fall and Holiday Trips

The international destinations that have seen the largest percentage of growth in year-over-year bookings from September to December.

  1. Kenya (up 59%)
  2. Iceland (up 56%)
  3. Saint Martin (up 39%)
  4. China (up 35%)
  5. Ecuador (up 34%)
  6. Japan (up 32%)
  7. South Africa (up 28%)
  8. Tanzania (up 27%)
  9. Croatia (up 25%)
  10. Jamaica (up 23%)

Africa continues to surge, continuing its summer travel boom. With sales up 28 percent year over year, Africa is the only continent to grow this quarter. Why?

A safari trip is on virtually everyone’s bucket list. Safari sales are up 17 percent, and Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa are all ideal for adventurous travelers. According to Virtuoso travel advisors, safaris are particularly appealing for multigenerational family trips with plenty to enjoy for all ages.

Iceland has been a growing favorite recently for its scenery and adventure opportunities. Its prominent place on the Hot 10 shows its popularity is extending into the fall and holiday season.

fall and holiday travel: jeep of people on safari with elephants
Travel to Africa is booming, fueled by the popularity of safaris

China has been trending upwards with luxury travelers over the past few years. While travel there is steady year round, the last quarter of the year is most popular with visitors. Its average daily rates for Virtuoso hotels are five percent below average, helping fuel travel there. Select Caribbean and South American destinations continue to grow. Saint Martin, Ecuador and Jamaica are experiencing double-digit increases over last year.

Which of these holiday trips should you take this year?

Which of these top destinations is on your list of potential fall and holiday trips?

Partnering with a travel advisor means you’re in store for an exceptional trip. Advisors have firsthand knowledge of these destinations. They can secure you valuable perks at no extra charge. They can arrange for VIP treatment and experiences wherever you go. And they’ll provide peace of mind in case issues arise.

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