“This city is probably not at the top of anyone’s bucket list. Those who go anyway are smart.” These sentences in the new book “Where is the journey going? – The Marco Polo Trend Guide 2024” refer to Darmstadt – within the category “As yet undiscovered”. Surprise for the science city, which is considered the center of Art Nouveau and is the fourth largest city in Hesse after Frankfurt/Main, Wiesbaden and Kassel. The trend travel guide from MairDumont, the largest German travel publishing group based in Ostfildern near Stuttgart, claims to present 40 destinations for the coming year “that are new on the tourist map”.

This formulation and claim might surprise some people because the much-visited Baltic Sea island of Rügen also appears in the book (“Since 2023 you can look from the new Skywalk – 118m above the chalk cliffs – over the Königsstuhl, the chalk coast and the Baltic Sea. And: 2024 is the 250th birthday of Caspar David Friedrich”). The trend guide’s 15 destinations are in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, 15 in the rest of Europe and 10 in the rest of the world. Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Valencia in Spain, Belfast in Northern Ireland and Ghana in West Africa are recommended.

In German-speaking countries, the supposedly undiscovered destinations include, in addition to Darmstadt, the island of Poel (“off the coast between Wismar and Rostock lies a yet undiscovered holiday pearl”) and Spitzingsee in Bavaria (“rather unknown in the ranks of Bavarian lakes”). Biel/Bienne is also recommended as the “largest bilingual city in Switzerland” (“beautiful old town, vineyards in the DreiSeenLand and the watch industry”).

In the “Sustainable” category, the Uckermark is mentioned, where you “don’t have to worry about the ecological footprint” – and also the Fichtelgebirge (“Some people even think they have walked all the way to Canada when they look at the sea of ​​conifers” ). In the “Experience 2024” category, for example, Upper Lusatia and the upcoming cultural capital Bad Ischl are praised (“The Austrian spa town, along with 22 other places in the Salzkammergut, is the first rural Alpine region to receive this award”).

It also suggests to readers that Baden-Württemberg’s state capital is not a boring business metropolis: Stuttgart had already made a name for itself as a peaceful, happy party capital at the 2006 World Cup and could repeat that at the European Championships in 2024. Because: “The bar scene is vibrant.”

Back to Darmstadt: In the small chapter on the southern Hesse metropolis, which is ranked 51st among the largest cities in Germany, the question is asked why the city has so many green spaces. Answer: “Darmstadt was a residential city. Parts of the university moved into the castle in 2023. There is also no lack of culture. The city theater will reopen in 2024 with extensive renovations, and the Mathildenhöhe, known as the “Stadtkrone”, was an artists’ colony 100 years ago; it has belonged to it since 2021 a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

For the Trend Guide ’24, a longlist with suggestions from around 200 authors from “Marco Polo” was shortlisted by an editorial team. A jury made the final selection. The jury included trend researcher Peter Wippermann (founder of the Trendbüro), futurist and trend researcher Anja Kirig, Prof. Harald Zeiss (professor at the Harz University of Applied Sciences in Wernigerode with a focus on sustainability and international tourism), publisher Stephanie Mair-Huydts (director and spokesperson). the management at MairDumont), travel guide author Jens Bey and editor Jan Düker.