Find local hotspots at new travel destinations by using Kayak's heat maps.

Kayak is one of my favorite sites for finding cheap flights and I love using their tools (price alerts and price forecasting) to make more informed travel decisions. Kayak is a great travel research resource and you can use Kayak heat maps to also find local hotspots for your next trip.

Before Kayak, I would spend hours looking through Airbnb and TripAdvisor reviews to find out how close my hotel, hostel or Airbnb would be two things that I really wanted to do. This approach was time-consuming and I didn’t always get the best results. A few months ago I booked an Airbnb in Cancun, Mexico. The apartment was really affordable and I assumed that it was in the Hotel Zone. When I arrived I found out that I was about 30 minutes away from anything fun and exciting. Since we didn’t have a car rental, it was a big inconvenience.

I needed to find a better way to pick a place to stay near the hottest neighborhoods in town, Kayak was the solution. Kayak’s heat map is an awesome tool that provides so much context. The heat maps show neighborhoods where people are going for dining, shopping, sightseeing, and nightlife. You can use the heat maps to 1) find hotels that are near your interests and 2) find general hotspots for travel planning. With a quick scan of the map, you’ll know the popular areas for different activities; you can even get street names. This is such a time saver!


Kayak Heat Maps To Find Hotspots


What are Kayak heat maps?

Let’s say you’re headed to New Orleans and you want to stay near a ton of restaurants to experience Cajun cuisine, you can filter by “eating” and then look for hotels that are near the hotspots. Hotspots are the red and orange clusters and the cool spots are the green and yellow clusters. You can also use the heat map to avoid certain areas. Let’s say you want to avoid New Orleans’ nightlife, you can filter by nightlife and look for the dull areas.



How I do it: I use the heat map (right-hand side) and regular filters (left-hand side) to help narrow down hotels by price, review scores, freebies and so much more. I can find the perfect place that has everything I’m looking for if I use both filters at the same time.

If I’m not interested in finding a hotel, I use the heat map to find where to eat and sightsee in town. Knowing where the hotspots are is a great starting point for planning a detailed itinerary.


Where to find Kayak heat maps?

Kayak’s heat map is a little hard to find so I created a step-by-step guide to help you navigate. I hope you find it useful and definitely try using it when planning your next trip. 

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21 replies
  1. Christina says:

    Amazing! I had used Kayak previously but didn’t know about the heat map. Definitely worth checking out. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Ulli Tomczyk says:

    Hi Danielle 🙂

    Awesome, well written guide to so the awesome tool. Thanks for sharing, I’m going to check it out myself 😀

  3. Untold Morsels says:

    Thanks Danielle, I had never heard of Kayak. Looks like it can save a lot of research time. Thanks for taking the time to explain it properly

  4. lauren says:

    Kayak is definitely my staple go-to when it comes to finding deals, specifically for flights! This hotspot thing is fabulous! That is such an awesome tool that I need to go play with right now haha. It’s perfect for when you have NO CLUE what to expect in a city that you’re visiting for the first time. Thanks for the great tip! xx

  5. Laura Lynch says:

    That is one of my favorite features of all times. I struggled with that type of planning before and now Kayak makes it so easy.

  6. Melody Pittman says:

    I’m a huge fan of Kayak and have used them for years and never knew this heat map existed. Thanks for sharing with us. A “duh” moment for sure. 😉

  7. Elaine J Masters says:

    Very excited to start using this feature for travel planning. It’s so difficult to juggle apps and information for a new destination. I’m going to use your tips for my trip to the Philippines. Thanks!

  8. Backroad Planet says:

    What a helpful feature from Kayak, Danielle! I had no idea this existed. Thanks for sharing all of the details how to find it. I am pinning this one!


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