2019 is drawing to a close, so naturally – as this cold, British weather sets in – we’re starting to think about the alluring destinations we can visit next year.
While 2019 was all about the south of Italy, Mykonos and France, some vastly different places have been suggested by top travel experts for the places to be next year.
According to experts like The Travel Corporation (TTC) and Booking.com, next year, travellers will be considering sustainability, the chance to slow down and opting for the lesser-known, second-tier destinations rather than the obvious city or resort.
As Arjan Dijk, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Booking.com says: ‘As we enter a new decade, we’ll see the travel industry respond to a more sustainable, inquisitive and technologically-advanced traveller through the development of products, services and functions that make it easier for everyone to experience the world.
‘From identifying second cities to help combat over-tourism, to providing ever-more tailored travel recommendations and ensuring the most diverse selection of places to stay for customers across the globe, we want to ensure travellers are prepared, supported and excited by the prospect of travel into 2020 and far beyond.’
With this in mind, here’s a list of the places the experts are suggesting you visit next year and the destinations rapidly appearing on people’s 2020 bucket list:
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Why for 2020: Topping Lonely Planet’s ‘Best In Travel for 2020′ is the kingdom of Bhutan. As well as its rich culture and history, the country has been awarded the number one spot because it is the only carbon-negative country in the world and set to be the first fully organic nation by next year. Taking its surroundings into consideration, Bhutan also operates a tourist fee to curb any negative effects of tourism, charging around £195 per day for visitors.
Top Tips: Any visit to Bhutan must be organised through an authorised travel agent in advance, so that in itself can be handy for tips. Lonely Planet recommends mountain hikes through the monastry-ladened hills, witnessing ancient Buddhist traditions and basking in the country’s natural beauty all while enjoying what nature has to offer, unspoiled an oversaturation of tourism.
2 Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Why for 2020: Next year, the city will be the host for the Democrat National Convention (DNC) where the party will select its nominees for President and Vice President to take on Trump in the 2020 elections, bringing renewed focus to the city. This is one of the reasons, according to Airbnb, why there has been a whopping 729% year-on-year increase in people searching for accommodation in the city.
Top tips: The booking platform says the city’s impressive bar and restaurant scene often ‘slips under the radar’ but should not be overlooked. Milwaukee is also home to cultural attractions like the city’s art museum and sits on the shores of Lake Michigan so offers plenty of opportunities for water sports. For avid cyclists, the city offers 105 miles of scenic bike lanes with plenty of rental stores to pick up a bicycle too.
3 Salzburg, Austria
Why for 2020: The Alpine City has been ranked the best city to visit in the world for 2020 by Lonely Planet, largely due to the centenary of its famous annual festival taking place in July-August. For this special occasion, there’ll be dedicated exhibitions and events, from concerts and operas to readings.
Top tips: As the birthplace of Mozart and the backdrop for The Sound of Music, there’s plenty of museums and building’s dedicated to the city’s rich cultural history. Visit the Mozart museum, the composer’s birthplace and take part in a bike tour retracing the steps of the hit musical. Lonely Planet also recommends marvelling at the medieval fortress on the hills and striding alongside the Salzach river.
4 Tokyo, Japan
Why for 2020: Though there’s arguably been buzz over Japan’s capital city in 2019, as it has hosted the rugby world cup, there’s going to be an even bigger spotlight on the city next year when it is home to the 2020 summer Olympics.
Top tips: There’s so much to do in Tokyo, from the historic temples like Sensō-ji and Meiji-jingu to the bustling modern cities and buildings including the Skytree and Tower to the instantly recognisable Shibuya crossing. It’s also home to incredible food (if you like matcha, you’re in for a treat) and great karaoke.
Why for 2020: After a couple of years of political unrest in the country, the foreign office dropped its travel restrictions for UK visitors (it previously advised against all but essential travel to the central American country) in February 2019.
While the FCO still advises travellers exercise caution as ‘the situation is now quieter but remains unpredictable’, the experts at Original Travel say this change in FCO guidance may encourage more people to visit the country.
Top tips: As the tour guides advise, ‘Nicaragua has everything that we love so much about Costa Rica, but with fewer tourists and more space to get off the beaten track’. They recommend heading to the city of Granada which is set on the shores of Lake Nicaragua and lined with pastel coloured baroque buildings. For the adrenaline junkies, head to Omitabe island where you can scale one of the two volcanoes.
6 Istanbul, Turkey
Why for 2020: Next year, the Champions League Final will be held in the Turkish city in May, putting the destination under the spotlight again, say Expedia’s travel experts.
Top Tips: Tick off a visit to the awe-inspiring Blue Mosque, take a boat ride across the Bosphorus river, indulge in a spot of vintage shopping and then head to a rooftop restaurant for views across the city where you’ll also likely experience the call to prayer which vibrates across the city.
In terms of when to visit, Expedia recommends May due to the cooler temperatures.
7 Jeju Island, South Korea
Why for 2020: The experts at Booking.com have scouted out South Korea and, in particular, spots on Jeju Island like Seogwipo as an emerging destination to visit next year.
Top Tips: Jeju island is an area of natural beauty with a volcanic coastline and impressive waterfalls like Jeonbang (pictured) and Cheonjiyon Falls. A destination well suited to the active traveller, activities on offer include hiking up Mount Hallasan, scuba diving, and swimming is the island’s second largest city, Seogwipo. Booking.com also recommends Olle Market for street food and fresh produce and downtown Seogwipo for traditional Korean restaurants.
8 Tbilisi, Georgia
Why for 2020: According to trend forecaster’s WGSN, Georgia – and specifically the capital Tbilisi – are likely to be big for 2020. Joe McDonnell, head of WGSN insight, puts this down to a number of factors including the increasing notoriety of Tbilisi Fashion Week (and the street style that comes with it), nightclubs attracting top electronic talent, coupled ‘with a burgeoning art scene and swelling youth movement’.
Top Tips: It’s accessible from London in just over four hours, which is ideal. Travel experts at TTC add that Tbilisi is ‘fast becoming one of the coolest cities on the continent and won’t stay so secret for long’. They suggest also venturing beyond the capital to visit snow-capped mountains, taste the local wine and take part in a Georgian bread making class.
9 Edinburgh, Scotland
Why in 2020: The Scottish capital will be getting a luxury update in 2020 when the Red Carnation Hotels group renovates 100 Princes Street, opening a sister hotel to London’s Hotel 41. The hotel, the group’s first in Scotland, will boast views of Edinburgh Castle and will serve as an ‘exclusive retreat’ on the city’s famous street.
Top tips: Edinburgh is a beautiful city with must-sees including the aforementioned castle (touring it with an audio guide is recommended). Climb up to Arthur’s Seat for unparalleled views of the city, stroll through the cobbled streets of the Old Town and, at night, experience the atmosphere of places like The Dome, The Witchery and The Outsider restaurants. Head to the city in August for the world famous Fringe festival if, comedy and drama are your thing.
10 Krakow, Poland
Why for 2020: Next year marks a poignant anniversary for the museum of Auschwitz – 70 years since the Nazi concentration camp was liberated. Commemorated at the end of January, it is likely to see hundreds of people come to pay their respects. The city of Krakow is just an hour and a half away from the museum.
Top tips: In Krakow, itself, there’s a lot to explore. The Main Square is a beautiful central location as is the Cloth market hall, St Mary’s Basilica and Wawel Castle. The city has also garnered a reputation for its exciting nightlife complete with plenty of bars and clubs.
11 Bilbao, Spain
Why in 2020: Ever since winning the European City of the Year title in 2018, Bilbao as been a destination to watch. Next summer, the city will be one of 12 European cities to host the UEFA Euros competition which will bring Bilbao both visitors and attention aplenty. All this explains why it’s Airbnb’s second highest trending destination for 2020, with a YOY increase of 402%.
Top tips: Take a wander down the Ria de Bilbao (you can also take boat rides down the actual river) and walk over the many famous bridges the Basque city has to offer. Bilbao is home to many museums, including the world famous Guggenheim and Fine Arts museum. Visit one of the many pintxos small plates tapas bars for scrumptious traditional food and if views are your thing, an old fashioned cable railway takes you up to Mount Artxanda for panoramic views of the city.
Why for 2020: Ranked fourth on Lonely Planet’s Best In Travel guide, for countries, is the Caribbean nation of Aruba. For those considering the environment and sustainability for their 2020 holiday, Aruba could well be the choice for you. It’s currently a testing hub for other destinations’ renewable energy solutions and is working to ban single-use plastics and reef-harming sunscreens next year.
Top tips: The pictures of the island speak for themselves. Think white beaches, clear blue waters and pink sunsets, so if it’s a paradise destination you’re after, Aruba is your place. Lonely Planet also recommends the southern hub of San Nicolas, aka the Sunrise City, which is experiencing a cultural revival in the form of street art, pop-ups and festivals.
Why for 2020: According to Airbnb, interest in visiting the eastern European country is up 298% YoY. This might be due to the country’s easy access from the UK, the fact it’s pretty affordable or, for those considering the environment when travelling, its positions 15th in the world for ecosystem vitality.
Top tips: The charming capital of Bucharest (which will also be a hot city for the Euros) has a lot to offer, from grand buildings – like the parliament palace built by former dictator Ceausescu – to the brilliant restaurants and buzzing nightlife. From the city, you can head down the coast to the Black Sea beach resort of Mamaia for a spot of sunshine or up to the picturesque mountains and forests. Romania is full of variety and has something to offer for everyone.
14 Washington DC, USA
Why for 2020: There are big things happening in the US capital next year. From around the middle of the year until November, the city will be abuzz with the 2020 presidential election – which will see Trump try to keep his seat in the Oval office against a Democrat candidate.
Secondly, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which saw the right to vote extended to women. Lonely Planet has ranked the city second on its’ Best In Travel list largely for this reason, explaining that a range of museums will host exhibitions to tell the story of the American women’s suffrage movement.
Top tips: Of course, there are the land marks: The White House, Lincoln Memorial, Capitol building, Washington Monument, Smithsonian Institute, the list goes on. The city also has a thriving food scene, including the Union Market, and in the spring months, beautiful natural cherry blossom lines the streets.
15 Eswatini (Swaziland)
Why for 2020: According to Lonely Planet (who have placed the country fifth on its Best In Travel – Countries list), a brand new international airport and improved road infrastructure are all helping to draw in more visitors for next year. Last year, the country was also renamed by the king from Swaziland to Eswatini.
Top tips: The country’s location in southern Africa make it ideal for safaris and visiting nature reserves where you’ll come incredibly close to the remarkable wildlife. Lonely Planet also suggests more activities, from zip lining to trekking to whitewater rafting.
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