Oaxaca City, Mexico

With 2019 just around the corner, it’s time to start planning your next big trip. And while all those price-comparison apps, deals on cheap flights and inspirational social media threads might make the world seem like it’s at your fingertips, choosing where to go has never been a more daunting task.

To help you get oriented, Culture Trip has combined data with editorial expertise to pinpoint the hotspots for culture around the world in 2019. Each one of these cities more than deserves a spot on your 2019 travel wishlist.

5. Cape Town, South Africa

Laid-back Cape Town has a well-deserved reputation as a producer of top-quality wine. However, the city has upped its cultural credentials with the recent opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art.

Formerly a grain silo, Zeitz MOCAA houses the largest collection of African art in the world; plus, there is a hotel on the upper floors overlooking the bay and beyond. As winter starts to wear on those in the northern hemisphere, Cape Town bathes in warm sunlight until late evening, which makes exploring the landscape or the newly developed Victoria & Alfred Waterfront all the more appealing.

4. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

An affordable destination with a buzzing cultural scene to match, Ho Chi Minh City is perfect for cash-strapped millennial travellers. A booming economy has brought a roaring energy to the city, palpable as soon as you leave the airport, and that energy increases as soon as you try cà phê dá – a jolt of caffeine and sugar like no other. Afterwards, meander the city’s neighbourhoods and hidden alleyways in search of street food and displays of public art.

3. Austin, USA

It wasn’t just warm winters and brilliant barbecuing that helped the Texas city of Austin double its population between 2000 and 2010. A hotspot for music, food and tech, this creative hub is growing by the minute and is one of the top cities in the world for entrepreneurs.

Boasting the accolade of live-music capital of the world, this sunny-all-year-round city hosts musicians across a stream of festivals –and legendary gig venues. When it comes to dining in Austin, barbecue and Tex-Mex reign supreme. Austinites are serious about their grub, though, so if you’re hitting an eatery like Franklin Barbecue, expect to wait in line for some time.

2. Porto, Portugal

If 2018 belonged to Lisbon, 2019 is all about Porto. Portugal’s second-largest city, this seaside paradise is a must-visit for those obsessed with food and design. Vineyards to the north mean splendid local wine flows like water – sip a glass or two with a meal of locally caught seafood cooked in a cataplana, the traditional copper cookware, before heading out shopping.

When it comes to art and design, Porto offers everything from traditional textiles to contemporary concepts, so there’s no better place to find home-decor inspiration. Walking around town is like visiting a free museum, with stunning murals and street art around every cobbled corner.

This is reputed to have inspired JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books, so bear that in mind when you visit the Lello Bookstore or the Art Deco Café Majestic, where the author worked on the first instalment in the series.

1. Oaxaca City, Mexico

Taking our cultural crown for 2019 is Oaxaca City, a World Heritage site and the birthplace of mezcal. A world away from spring-break favourites Acapulco and Cabo, the capital of Mexico’s southwestern state of Oaxaca is a city steeped in indigenous history and culture – 17 languages, including Spanish, are still spoken there.

Known as the Land of the Seven Moles after the region’s rich and complex sauces, Oaxaca will fire up your taste buds and the rest of your senses. Locally made ceramics, embroidery and handwoven rugs are just a few of the handicrafts you can find here, and indigenous people continue to wear colourful, local dress as they go about their days in the city’s plazas.

Historical treasures abound as well. In Pre-Columbian times, Oaxaca was ruled from atop Monte Albán, and there are well-preserved archaeological sites, including pyramids and ball courts, that merit a visit. With temperate weather all year round, there is no bad time to visit in 2019. For an unforgettable experience, attend the Día de los Muertos festival on 2 November.