Tunis Tunisia, Gambia and Dakar Senegal were all named some of the 52 Places to go in 2019 by The New York Times.

#27 – Tunis

Freedom is what makes Tunis unique. Eight years after it kicked off the Arab spring, Tunis remains the only Arab capital with real freedom of expression, not to mention the peaceful rotation of power. But the city holds many other charms. Among them are the ruins of the ancient city of Carthage, from which Hannibal’s elephants once threatened Rome. The carefully preserved old medina — with its radiant tiles, historic mosques and warren of alleys — dates from the 12th to the 16th century, when Tunis was a major center of the Islamic world. The tree-lined Avenue Habib Bourguiba downtown bears the unmistakable influence of decades of French rule. And the cafes, art galleries and blue-and-white hues of the neighborhood of Sidi Bou Said, overlooking the Mediterranean, have long lured European painters, writers and thinkers, including Paul Klee, André Gide and Michel Foucault. A short taxi ride away are the beguiling beaches and nightclubs of La Marsa. The French-influenced North African food is delicious. The local red wines are not bad. And, in another regional rarity, Tunis in 2018 elected a woman its mayor. 

#28 – Gambia

Gambia’s tourism industry was hit especially hard in 2017, when its longtime authoritarian ruler Yahya Jammeh refused to cede leadership after a shocking election loss, forcing a political standoff that brought foreign troops in. But with its new president, Adama Barrow, now safely in place, there’s a renewed sense of hope across continental Africa’s smallest country — now more accessible than ever. In January, a new bridge over the Gambia River, three decades in the making, will be inaugurated with a nearly 200-mile relay run to Dakar, Senegal. Peregrine Adventures launches its first cruise up the 700-mile river, with a stop at Baboon Island, home to hippos, crocodiles and chimpanzees, part of Africa’s longest-running center for rehabilitating chimpanzees into the wild. New and coming hotels, including the African Princess Beach Hotel, and two properties by the British holiday company Thomas Cook, will serve as stylish bases. And new direct flights from Europe make getting to this West African country easier than ever. 

#42 – Dakar, Senegal

This seaside city on the western coast of Africa, bursting with positive energy, is a haven of peace in a region known for unrest. Flamboyantly painted car rapide minibuses rumble down the streets, and brightly painted wooden pirogues patrol the Malibu-like coastline. Today, this Francophone city is a siren song for hipsters. You can go to surf camp on the tiny island of Ngor or rent a board for a few hours to surf the more than a half dozen beaches that offer a terrific year-round break. Or just sit back and watch the surfers while eating grilled fish at a long strip of beach restaurants. A Museum of Black Civilizations will be opening to the public early this year, and will showcase artifacts as well as contemporary art from Africa and the diaspora. The city’s design and fashion creations would fit right in at New York showrooms. Take in a late-night concert with legends like Cheikh Lo and Youssou N’Dor crooning into the wee hours and a lively bar scene that offers all-hours entertainment. Day trips let yousleep in a baobab tree, zip line through a baobab forest or swim in a pink lake. But climate change, overfishing and a booming population may eventually take their toll.

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