Where To Go Next: 27 Best Places To Travel In 2020Santorini where to go 2020

Exploring the Greek island of Santorini, which is one of the 27 best places to go in 2020.

Photo courtesy of Becca Ingle

Where are you headed in 2020? Given that we’re on the verge of not just a new year but a new decade, this is the time to go big—and travel far—in 2020. To help fuel your wanderlust, we tapped into a handful of travel experts and influencers to find out the places that they have on their radars for 2020. Their choices for where to go in 2020 range from a pair of dreamy Greek Islands to an African country redefining adventure travel to a Japanese mountain town where old meets new. Compare these to the best destinations that the experts picked for 2019 (how many did you check off your bucket list?). I also opened my own little black book to give a sneak peek at what I’m most excited about around the world for 2020. You’re definitely going to want to put these spots on your travel wish list, too.

For those of you who want to stay closer to home, check out “US Travel: 25 Best Places To Visit In 2020,” with a list of destinations that will make every American citizen very proud.

But here’s the thing: No matter whether you decide to travel, whether you go near or far, the most important thing is to get out there and explore and discover. As the writer, Hans Christian Andersen once said, “To travel is to live.”

Egypt where to travel 2020

Lexie Alford—the youngest person to travel to every country—in Egypt.

PHOTO COURTESY OF LEXIE ALFORD

Where: Egypt

Chosen By: At the age of 21, Lexie Alford became the youngest person to travel to every country on earth and broke the Guinness World Record. Follow her on Instagram (@LexieLimitless) and read more about her accomplishment here.

Why: After traveling to every country in the world, Egypt is one of the countries that I would consider one of the most underrated. Egypt harbors such immense, well-preserved history and a unique culture that can only be discovered in this forgotten corner of North Africa. The country is finally beginning to receive the recognition it deserves after being named the world’s fastest-growing travel destination by the World Tourism Organization. In 2020, the Grand Egyptian Museum—the largest archaeological museum in the world—will open to the public and the exhibits will include thousands of ancient Egyptian artifacts that have never been seen before. The best way to discover everything this astonishing country has to offer is by taking a Nile River cruise with Abercrombie & Kent.

Greece where to travel 2020

Let’s raise a glass to amazing travels in 2020. PIctured here: Greece, which experts say should be … [+] on your list for 2020.

Photo courtesy of Becca Ingle

Where: The Greek Islands

Chosen by: Becca Ingle is an avid family travel blogger. She is the founder of BeccaIngle.com, where you can read all her travel guides. Follow her on Instagram (@Beccaingle) to see the behind the scenes of each trip.

Why: The Greek Islands are the latest hot spot for avid travelers. Take a flight directly into Santorini and be whisked into the magical white and blue architecture of Oia. Make sure to book one of the Blue Dome Cavehouse Rentals overlooking the water to see amazing sunset views. For 2020, the Santorini Council has made plans for new roads and parking areas to make the town more accessible. Several new hotels are opening, including Eco Hotels and Oia’s Saint Santorini. Rent ATVs from Vazeos for the day to explore the entire island by buggy or plan a day of wine tasting by stopping by the beautiful Santos Winery, Gavalas Winery and Venesantos winery. Walk the narrow streets at night and have a private dining experience at Canavas Oia Suites Panaroma Balcony—but be sure to book this at least six months in advance. Plan a day of yachting around the Aegean sea with Explorer 1 and stop at the famous red beach in Akrotiri and have a sunset dinner cooked on board.

To continue exploring the Greek Islands, book a ticket with Seajets to take a two-hour ferry ride over to Mykonos Islands. Seajets has added 17 ships to its fleet for 2020 and is the largest high-speed fleet of the Aegean. Once in Mykonos, stay in a beautiful rental, The Villa Astra, within walking distance to Mykonos town. You can find several other rental options through Kid & Coe, which makes it much easier to find accommodations with family amenities. If you want to stay in one of the newest hotels developed this year by Myconian Collection Resort, book a room at its new Panoptis Escape. Easily find available ATVs and four-wheelers for rent on any nearby street to explore the island and hop around to the popular beach clubs. Reserve beach chairs at Nammos in the morning, then scoot over to Scorpios for dinner and a sunset ritual experience. Mykonos plans to add a few more restaurants overlooking the water in the main area next year, but don’t miss the infamous cobbled-street restaurant, Kastros—which you’ve surely seen all over social media.

Singita Kwitonda Lodge Rwanda

Singita’s new Kwitonda Lodge, set on the edge of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.

Photo courtesy of Giuliana Provenzano

Where: Rwanda

Chosen by: Natalie DiScala is a writer and editor at JohnnyJet.com, covering travel trends, products and family travel.

Why: If you’re looking for a destination that will take you out of your comfort zone and into the heart of nature, consider Rwanda. Gorilla tourism is alive and well in Rwanda and remains the biggest draw for visitors to the region. As Rwanda becomes increasingly more popular, it has also become known as a luxury safari destination, much like Kenya and Tanzania, its eastern neighbors. Travelers to Rwanda will likely fly into the country’s capital Kigali, a vibrant and exciting city. From there, journey to one (or more!) of the many luxury lodges that await to please and pamper in between gorilla treks. Travel northeast from Kigali to Wilderness Safaris’ new Magashi lodge in Akagera National Park for game drives to see the Big Five. Singita’s new Kwitonda Lodge is set on the edge of Volcanoes National Park and One & Only’s much-anticipated Gorilla’s Nest lodge, located in a lush, fragrant eucalyptus forest, just opened in the region. One & Only’s Nyungwe House rounds out the safari experience—there, guides take guests to the protected jungle in surrounding Nyungwe National Park to spy troops of colobus monkeys and chimpanzees. Micato Safaris can string all of these experiences together (the company’s knowledge of the region and attention to detail make it second to none). But even more important than that is the fact that Micato educates an African child all the way through secondary school for every safari it sells through its One for One commitment.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Beachside in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the first World Capital of Architecture for 2020.

Photo courtesy of Naya Traveler

Where: Brazil

Chosen by: Katie Jackson is a Montana-based travel writer whose work has been published by Travel & Leisure, USA TODAY, Fox News and The Sunday Times. Every trip she takes is an investment, and she likes to pay the rewards forward by helping other travelers. You can follow her adventures (and misadventures) on Instagram.

Why: This time last year Americans needed a visa to visit Brazil. Now, since the government lifted its visa requirements in June, all we need is a valid passport and our thongs (flip flops and/or bathing suits). Not only is it easier than ever to visit Brazil’s 2,000+ beaches, but it’s also more affordable. The Brazilian real reached an all-time high in November, so the U.S. dollar is going further than ever. If the idea of exploring South America’s largest country—and the world’s most biologically diverse—is intimidating, consider going with Naya Traveler. The travel outfitter works with the best local guides everywhere, from the Amazon rainforest to Rio de Janeiro. Speaking of Rio, UNESCO selected the “Marvelous City” as the first World Capital of Architecture for 2020. Expect Rio to be celebrating with special events all year. And that’s in addition to hosting the world’s largest party, Carnival, and in November, the Brazilian Grand Prix. To catch all of the city center action and still be within walking distance of Copacabana Beach, stay at the JW Marriott Hotel Rio de Janeiro. Its rooftop pool boasts spectacular views of Sugarloaf Mountain.

Temple on the water in India

Arches and temple in Gadi Sagar lake at sunset sky in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India

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Where: Jaisalmer, India

Chosen By: Teddy Minford spent her childhood in Europe before moving to Sun Valley, Idaho. She now lives in New York, where she’s always planning her next trip. When she’s not writing and editing for Fodor’s, you can usually find her reading a book.

Why: A remote desert location, fairytale architecture and incredible hotels make Jaisalmer the destination of your wildest dreams—that’s why it earned a top spot on Fodor’s 2020 Go List. Known as India’s Golden City, Jaisalmer sits on the outskirts of the vast Thar Desert, which stretches all the way to Pakistan. The ancient city is anchored by a massive sandstone fort with maze-like alleys and markets that will thrill curious travelers in search of eclectic one-of-a-kind souvenirs, while adventurers will want to plan a safari in the Sam Sand Dunes to experience the epic scenery of this ethereal landscape. Nachana Haveli, a Heritage Hotel, lets travelers live inside their own version of Jaisalmer’s famous Patwon-ki Haveli (a cluster of interconnected and elaborately decorated historical mansions) while Sujan The Serai takes glamping to another level with 5-star tented suites situated in a 100-acre private oasis outside of the city.

Cape Town South Africa where to go 2020

Colorful contrasts in Cape Town—the Bo Kaap Malay quarter with Table Mountain in the background.

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Where: Cape Town, South Africa

Chosen by: Olivia Balsinger has utilized her global perspective to manifest a career as a travel expert. She ditched NYC corporate life for adventure (and lust over a Danish boy!) in Copenhagen and hasn’t looked back. Olivia has visited 103 countries and was honoured as InterContinental Group’s Latin America “Journalist of the Year.” She is the co-host of the upcoming immersive travel series Journey’s Beyond and is the co-producer of Fly Brother, coming to PBS in 2020. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

Why: Most pilgrimages to the Rainbow Nation begin in Cape Town, a progressive, colourful mélange of culture, nature, and music, gracing the cusp of Africa. The past is present in the future at renowned Robben Island, where former president Nelson Mandela was held prisoner for 27 years. Weekends are reserved for multi-sensory experiences feasting on the global and traditional fare at The Old Biscuit Mill. Cape Town’s downtown is concentrated in the City Bowl neighbourhood, with venues such as Green Market Square, housing an eclectic African souvenir market. There is also the illustrious Long Street, lined with restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and quirky yet luxurious accommodations such as The Grand Daddy Boutique Hotel with seven vintage trailers parked on the roof. Cape Town is also home to some of the world’s most pristine beaches, phenomenal for people watching, or catching a lekker (South African lingo for “cool”) wave. The newly renovated Cape View Clifton hotel has iconic views from private balconies of the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range, silhouetting the temperamental Atlantic below.

Traveling as a family to Cape Town is even easier come 2020: Minors visiting the destination will no longer need to provide Unabridged Birth Certificates or consent letters when accompanied by parents and carrying valid passports. This makes it easier to joll (party) in this vibrant city crowned by the emblematic Table Mountain.

Slovenia where to go 2020

Magical Lake Bled in Slovenia, one of the hottest places to go in 2020.

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Where: Slovenia

Chosen by: Stefanie Michaels, the CEO of AdventureGirl.com, is a TV personality, having appeared on every major network in the U.S. and with features in People and Time Magazines, to name a few. A Vanity Fair feature named Michaels “America’s Tweetheart” for being the first travel brand to reach over 1 million followers. Find her at @adventuregirl on all social platforms.

Why: Slovenia may be in the news over its border dispute with Croatia, but it’s a perfect place to explore. This beautiful former part of Yugoslavia is a country mixed with adventures from the sea to a mountainous part of the country dotted with old-world towns. Plus, it’s an affordable destination option for 2020.

Nikko, Japan best place 2020

The Shinkyo bridge in Nikko, Japan—one of the best places to visit in 2020.

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Where: Nikko, Japan

Chosen by: Chicago-based freelance writer Elaine Glusac contributes regularly to The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, AFAR and other publications. She was recently named the 2019 Travel Writer of the Year by the Society of American Travel Writers. Follow her on Instagram @eglusac.

Why: Japan will get a lot of attention in 2020 because of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which will be spectacular. There’s so much to do in Tokyo, but it will get very crowded during the Games. Fortunately, Japan offers so much variety outside its capital. An easy escape is Nikko, less than two hours north by train.

In the Nikko area, you get a broad swath of history as well as a beautiful natural setting. The town and nearby Lake Chuzenji are part of a national park that is well preserved, with scores of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Keep your eye peeled while driving up to the lake from the downtown area for monkeys on the side of the road and beautiful foliage. As one of the earliest places where Buddhism was established, there are temples aplenty to visit. You’ll also want to go for a hike around the lake and relax in one of the hot springs. Luxury hotel Nikko Fufu will open in 2020, and each room will come with its own hot spring. The atmospheric Nikko Kanaya Hotel, which dates back to 1893, has a wonderfully small, intimate bar with dozens of whiskeys. And opening in May 2020, The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko, set along the stunning Lake Chuzenji, will be a prime spot to hike over to Kegon Falls, a spectacular and thundering waterfall that everyone should see. Nikko is the perfect place to get away from the mayhem of Tokyo during the 2020 Summer Games and commune with the Japanese love of nature and some of the ancient spiritual practices.

Naramata Vineyard Okanagan Valley

In British Columbia, Canada, overlooking Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley—one of the top places … [+] to go in 2020.

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Where: British Columbia, Canada

Chosen by: Jillian Dara is a freelance travel journalist with a focus on food, wine and culture. Her work has appeared in international and national outlets including, Travel + Leisure, USA Today, Michelin Guide, DuJour and Hemispheres. Dara credits her passion for travel to her upbringing on the island of Bermuda, which inspired her to work and live in London, Santiago, Boston and New York City.

Why: Descending over cerulean lakes and endless pine forests, Kelowna welcomes you to a lesser-known landscape of British Columbia—one where neatly stacked vineyards line the mountainsides that plunge into the glacially-fed basin below. This is the Okanagan Valley, informally referred to as “Canada’s wine country.” Thirty years ago, the first vine was planted which put the Okanagan Valley on the map, and perhaps that’s what makes this corner of Canada so special; its wines don’t have hundreds of years of history, but rather the region is in the midst of writing its own history.

A trip to the Valley wouldn’t be complete without familiarizing oneself with the wineries of Von Mandl Family Estate. With Mission Hill Winery as one of the oldest wineries in the region, proprietor Anthony Von Mandl leads by example with his commitment to organic farming and innovative winemaking techniques that allow for a grape’s natural characteristics to shine (like the 100 per cent gravity-fed Martin’s Lane Winery). The region also embraces the style of farm-to-table dining, relying on local suppliers for everything from charcuterie and cheese boards to fresh fish dishes. In downtown Kelowna, restaurants like Waterfront, Oak + Cru and RauDZ showcase regional and seasonal ingredients alongside local wines, while Micro Bar & Bites offers an alternative menu for craft cocktails and international tapas.

Outside of city limits, many wineries offer their own spin on Pacific Northwest cuisines, like Terrafina Restaurant at Hester’s Creek as well as Von Mandl’s seasonal restaurant Terrace at Mission Hill Estate and his latest opening of Home Block, a year-round restaurant at CedarCreek Estate winery. Stay at Delta Hotels or the Royal Kelowna and you’ll be at the centre of the region’s best food and wine offerings.

Abu Dhabi youngest person where to go 2020

Lexie Alford—the youngest person to travel to every country—in Abu Dhabi.

Photo courtesy of Lexie Alford

Where: United Arab Emirates

Chosen By: At the age of 21, Lexie Alford became the youngest person to travel to every country on earth and broke the Guinness World Record. Follow her on Instagram (@LexieLimitless) and read more about her accomplishment here.

Why: The United Arab Emirates is the destination where luxury meets the future. Dubai is home to not only the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, but also the largest artificial islands in the world, the Palm Islands. The nearby capital city, Abu Dhabi, welcomes visitors to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful mosques ever created. This year will be a particularly special time to visit the UAE since the Expo 2020 will be held between the two cities, making it the first World Expo held in the Middle East. The theme of the event is ”Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” and over 130 countries will be participating in the pavilions and events. Event organizers predict that anywhere from 25 to 100 million travelers from around the world will be visiting from October 20, 2020 and April 10, 2021, so be sure to mark it on your calendar.

Mama Shelter Lille, France.

The rooftop lounge at Mama Shelter in Lille, France.

Photo courtesy of FRANCIS AMEND

Where: Lille, France

Chosen by: Sarah Souli is a freelance journalist based in Athens, Greece. Her travel writing has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Roads & Kingdoms, and more. She is the author of Moon Guides: Athens and the Greek Islands. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

Why: Cold, gray, and full of potatoes, goes the stereotype of Lille. How unfair! This northern French city is actually one of the most charming in the country, with a brimming joie de vivre and a booming arts scene. The most in-the-know crowd is already aware of Lille’s growing reputation; it was recently crowned the 2020 World Capital of Design. Check into the newly opened, boho-chic Mama Shelter Lille—the ideal base for exploring Lille, and home to the city’s best brunch. Gorgeous museums like La Piscine and LaM will give you a good artistic overview of the city, while new restaurants (such as Coke and Big Mama) and shops will keep you full and happy. Expect plenty of shows, performances, workshops, art installations, and more, to coincide with Lille’s new design crown.

Les Ilets de la Plage St. Bart's

Les Ilets de la Plage on St. Bart’s.

Photo courtesy of Pierre CARREAU

Where: St. Bart’s

Chosen By: Marie Speed is the group editor of JES Publications, including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Worth Avenue and Mizner’s Dream. She also oversees editorial operations of the company’s Salt Lake City magazines.

Why: St. Bart’s has long had the reputation of an exclusive luxury playground for the high-end European tourists; the wintertime province of rock stars and mega moguls; a place of designer shops, aquamarine waters, quaint villages and five-star hotels—all in the context of an understated and elegant island a few hours’ plane ride from the US to the French West Indies. The island—with mountains rising from the sea—looks almost Polynesian from the air; and its main city, Gustavia, on its west coast, overlooks a sparkling harbor full of sailboats and super yachts. There are other towns dotting the island, and at only nine square miles, you can see them all in a couple of hours by car.

Two years after a devastating hurricane caused $1.4 billion in losses on the island, St. Bart’s is on the rebound, with hotels like Eden Rock, Le Sereno St. Barth, Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France and the Hotel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf recently reopened and more (like Le Guanahani) set for 2020. On a recent visit, I opted for the more understated Les îlets de la Plage, a longtime family-owned hotel (now managed by an all-woman team) directly on St. Jean Bay. The Dutch Colonial charm of this “cottage colony” is tempered by contemporary amenities; each beach villa has a terrace overlooking the bay, and a box of fresh pastries is delivered to your door every morning. The advantage of this island spot for me was that it felt like it belonged here; there was a comfortable (albeit luxurious) authenticity in its simplicity.

And that’s the other thing about St. Bart’s—even a modest beachfront café has fine wine and exquisite entrees. The island has its food staples either sourced locally from nearby islands or flown in directly from France five times a week. And it is worlds away from our sun-soaked Margaritavilles to a place with an exotic geography, a European lineage and a very French aesthetic.

 Anantara Desaru Coast Malaysia

Dining on the sand at Anantara Desaru Coast Malaysia

Photo courtesy of Anantara Hotels

Where: Malaysia

Chosen by: Melissa Klurman is a travel expert, writer and editor and contributor at Reader’s Digest, Frommer’s Travel Guides and Parents, among other publications.

Why: Bask in the sun at Malaysia’s Desaru Coast, a spectacular, previously under-the-radar beach resort set on the golden shores of the South China Sea. It’s just a 45-minute drive or boat ride from Singapore, so it’s easy to combine some R&R time along with a stay in the cosmopolitan city without having to book an additional flight. Another plus: Luxury resort group Anantara is opening a new property in Desaru for 2020, sure to make the area a “must visit” in the new year. The resort has sleek rooms, chic villas, and family-friendly residences right on the sparkling sea, plus artisanal and cultural offerings including Malaysian culinary classes at the onsite Spice Spoons cooking school.

Muscat, Oman

The skyline of Muscat, Oman.

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Where: Oman

Chosen by: Dylan Essertier is a writer, speaker, and the Founder & CEO of Dylan Grace. Dylan’s travel expertise has been featured in WSJ Magazine, Vogue, Conde Nast Traveler, Departures, and more. Sign up for free weekly travel tips via her website and follow her around the world on Instagram.

Why: On the Middle East travel circuit, Oman is often overshadowed by its superlative-rich neighbor, Dubai. The upside of Oman’s lower profile is that it offers travelers a mesmerizing blend of contemporary and ancient Arabia. Think: unspoiled emerald-hued fjords, bustling souks, spellbinding sandscapes, 17th century forts and pristine waters dotted with dolphins. There are currently a handful of top-tier accommodations to enjoy as well, with brands such as Alila, Ritz-Carlton, Shangri-La and Anantara offering high-end amenities, such as sleek infinity pools and world-class spas. Look out for the new Jumeirah Muscat Bay, a sprawling property slated to open this year which is certain to shine a spotlight on Oman. My advice: Book now before everyone else catches on to this remote, Frankincense-scented haven.

Porto, Portugal

The old town of Porto, Portugal on the Douro River.

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Where: Portugal

Chosen by: Eileen Ogintz is a leading national travel expert and syndicated columnist of the weekly column Taking the Kids and the creator of Takingthekids.com.

Why: It’s no secret that travelers want to take a deeper dive into places they are visiting, getting off the tourist track so they enjoy local music, food, and attractions. They also are seeking less touristed areas and want “bragging rights” to be the first to visit new or undiscovered places.

Such is the case with Portugal, which secured three out of five of Vrbo’s top international beach destinations for U.S. travelers. Though not undiscovered, it is certainly less touristed, less crowded, and more affordable than other European destinations.

One of the main reasons to visit Porto is to sample port wine, as well as just-out-of-the water Portuguese seafood and the delicious Pastel de Nata custard tarts. Ever since the 17th century, Vila Nova de Gaia has been the center of port production. There are many options for tastings at the Lodges here. The riverfront Cais da Ribeira is spectacular with the pastel-colored houses chock a block up the hills, flat-bottomed boats going back and forth and the amazing fish cooked up outside tiny restaurants. Increasingly popular river cruises through the Douro Valley leave from Porto and many people take a few days first to explore this wonderful city.

Many travelers start their Portugal journey in Lisbon with its Roman and Moorish ruins, cathedrals and big plazas. But like Porto, the real fun here is to get lost in the Alfama, Lisbon’s old town, wandering the streets, taking a tram, listening to traditional and modern fado singers in hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Just outside Lisbon are fantastic beaches and perhaps Portugal’s top tourist site, Sintra with its fairytale castle and extensive woodlands with trees that were brought from around the world.

Paparoa National Park South Island of New Zealand

Pancake Rocks and Blowholes in Paparoa National Park on the South Island of New Zealand.

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Where: New Zealand

Chosen By: Ali Wunderman is a travel writer, guidebook author and wildlife photographer. Her work has appeared in TIME Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler and Lonely Planet. Originally from San Francisco, Wunderman is now based in Montana.

Why: New Zealand has long been on the bucket list for adventure travelers, fueling the country’s growth as an ideal destination for everyone. Despite the long distance, it’s getting easier to reach New Zealand from the U.S., with new direct flights coming in late 2020. Air New Zealand will add a flight from New York, while American Airlines is adding Dallas to the roster, on top of the first ever direct flight to New Zealand’s South Island, which will go from Los Angeles to Christchurch. While New Zealand is still the perfect place for backpackers and vanlifers to explore, the country’s high-end offerings are strong, including The Elms on Lake Hayes, a $6,000-per-night ultimate luxury adventure resort made even better by the opening of their new villas.

Even the ice cream is extra special here, my favorite of which is the whimsical and innovative Giapo in Auckland, which is always introducing new creations. Speaking of Auckland, more than 10 new hotels are coming to the country’s biggest city, offering a wide range of options for every type of traveler. Outdoor enthusiasts can still expect new sights when they visit, particularly along the country’s first Great Walk trail to open in more than 25 years. Tracing the Pororari River along the west coast of the South Island, the new Paparoa Track winds through Paparoa National Park, a reserve largely inaccessible until now.

Croatia

Writer Olivia Balsinger in Croatia.

Photo courtesy of Olivia Balsinger

Where: Croatia

Chosen by: Olivia Balsinger has utilized her global perspective to manifest a career as a travel expert. She ditched NYC corporate life for adventure (and lust over a Danish boy!) in Copenhagen and hasn’t looked back. Olivia has visited 103 countries and was honored as InterContinental Group’s Latin America “Journalist of the Year.” She is the co-host of the upcoming immersive travel series Journey’s Beyond and is the co-producer of Fly Brother, coming to PBS in 2020. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

Why: It seems as though the entire past decade has been Croatia’s year. With balmy, rugged beaches and sapphire seawater adjacent to towering ancient walls that store the tales of time, how could Croatia not top every traveler’s list? Well, the country officially deserves the spotlight in 2020, as Croatia was named the top “Emerging Destination” by Virtuoso travel advisors for the new decade, honoring the stir caused by the Game-of-Thrones-effect, dramatic landscapes, and proximity to other European destinations. Of course, Split—a coastal city that seamlessly intertwines modern life and ancient history—is widely known for its lavish yacht parties and Mediterranean climate in the summer. What you may soon discover is that Split is an all-season destination and considerably quieter and more affordable outside of July and August. The newly opened Cornaro Hotel is a modern escape in the historic Old Town, standing just feet away from Diocletian’s Palace, where Emperor Diocletian slept every evening after voluntarily surrendering the throne of the Roman Empire. The Palace today, perched on the harbor and forming about half of Split’s Old Town, is still vibrant with life—the Michelin-starred restaurant Zoi, for example, is built into the fourth-century walls.

Of course, another famed destination in Croatia is Dubrovnik— the ancient jewel of baroque architecture and limestone streets cradled in the Dalmatian Mountains. Whether pretending to be Cersei Lannister a la GoT on the iconic Walk of Shame staircase, or imagining defending the city’s honor on the famed—and highly Instagrammable—Walls of Dubrovnik, imaginative travelers will have a ball in town. The Hotel Excelsior, towering over the Adriatic and Old Town skyline, is the ultimate retreat for tourists. Dubrovnik is also emerging as an off-season destination, as well. The mild Croatian winter is a prime time to bask in culture, wander the holiday markets of Old Town, walk the promenade in Cavtat, the idyllic resort town 20km south of Dubrovnik, all without the hordes of crowds summer months inevitably bring.

And this year there is even more reason to visit—Rijeka, Croatia’s third-largest city and largest port, will be honored as the European Capital of Culture in 2020. Rijeka has benefited from a diverse history, with Mediterranean, Eastern European, and Central European influences that have shaped its eclectic architecture, culture, and progressive spirit.

Hyatt Hotel Dominican Republic.

Hyatt Ziva in the Dominican Republic.

Photo courtesy of Hyatt Hotels Corporation

Where: Dominican Republic

Chosen by: Katie Jackson is a Montana-based travel writer whose work has been published by Travel & Leisure, USA TODAY, Fox News, and The Sunday Times. Every trip she takes is an investment, and she likes to pay the rewards forward by helping other travelers. You can follow her adventures (and misadventures) on Instagram.

Why: This tropical paradise—and one of the Caribbean’s most affordable islands to visit—is determined not to have a repeat of last year. After several highly publicized American tourist deaths in 2019, the government is working overtime to reassure travelers that the Dominican Republic is still their dream beach vacation. In fact, if you can’t handle huge crowds or overpaying, there might not be a better time to visit. The decline in tourism has resulted in more available rooms, often at lower rates. It certainly hasn’t stopped hospitality industry leaders like Hyatt from investing. Personally, I’m itching to visit the DR in 2020 so I can check out the all new family-friendly Hyatt Ziva and adults-only Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana—Hyatt’s first properties on the island. Combined, these all-inclusive resorts boast 700 luxury suites, a 14,000 sq. ft. fitness center and a Larimer stone cave spa with 18 massage rooms. Of course, the biggest allure of the Dominican Republic—which is often spared from the worst hurricanes—is still its Insta-worthy white-sand beaches.

Poland 2020

Poland—one of the top places to go in 2020.

Photo courtesy og Olivia Balsinger

Where: Poland

Chosen by: Olivia Balsinger has utilized her global perspective to manifest a career as a travel expert. She ditched NYC corporate life for adventure (and lust over a Danish boy!) in Copenhagen and hasn’t looked back. Olivia has visited 103 countries and was honored as InterContinental Group’s Latin America “Journalist of the Year.” She is the co-host of the upcoming immersive travel series Journey’s Beyond and is the co-producer of Fly Brother, coming to PBS in 2020. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

Why: The year 2020 commemorates the 75th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War, prompting numerous tributes around the world to honor and remember. Poland remembers the tragedy of war, with a death count of almost 6 million citizens—about one-fifth of the pre-war population. Today, the country welcomes guests to dually understand the atrocities that occurred within its borders and witness its process to heal. The sojourn should begin in Krakow, one of the few Polish cities to survive the destruction of Nazi-occupied Europe. Oskar Schindler’s Factory, brought into widespread familiarity by the biopic Schindler’s List, is now a museum that engages the five senses to help travelers empathize, mourn and ultimately reflect upon this dark chapter in the city’s history. Krakow offers a variety of other attractions, such as Wawel Castle, Planty Park and the magnificent Wieliczka Salt Mine.

Train travel has become more accessible in Poland in recent years, making traversing the country much simpler. Step on board for a 78-minute journey from Krakow to Auschwitz-Birkenau—a place everyone owes themselves to visit as citizens of the world. The country’s capital, Warsaw, is also a testament to this journey of understanding. Although Warsaw’s landscape will forever pay homage to its fallen buildings and devastating past, it is simultaneously a city determined to change its future. The rebirth of Warsaw is a tribute to victims who wouldn’t have allowed the rubble of their war-torn past to become a symbol of their home.

Switzerland, Lake Geneva, Montreux

On the shores of Montreux, Switzerland.

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Montreux, Switzerland

Chosen By: Ashlea Halpern, editor-at-large for AFAR; writer for Condé Nast Traveler, Airbnb Magazine, and New York Magazine, among other titles; and co-founder of Minnevangelist, a site dedicated to spreading the gospel of Minnesota’s greatness.

Why: As a travel writer, I had the great privilege of visiting more than 70 cities in 15 countries this year. Cracking my top five was beautiful Montreux, which I toured as part of a bespoke itinerary from leading rail tour operator Vacations By Rail. Located in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, Montreux boasts ornate Belle Époque architecture, famous former residents such as Charlie Chaplin and Freddie Mercury, and a front-row seat to the snow-dusted French Alps and stunning Lake Geneva. Strolling the five-mile promenade of the largest freshwater lake in Central Europe should be a top priority for visitors; the path is a horticulturist’s dream, lined with weeping willows and tulips in every color of the rainbow.

Natural beauty aside, there are other reasons to visit Montreux. Top of the list is the final redevelopment of the 12th-century Chillon Castle, in nearby Veytaux, Switzerland’s most visited historic monument and the inspiration behind the castle in Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Freddie fans can get their fix at the “Queen: The Studio Experience” exhibition at the Casino Barrière Montreux, former home of the recording studios where the band made seven albums between 1978 and 1995. In other big music news, the storied Montreux Jazz Festival will celebrate its 54th anniversary next July with 16 days of free and ticketed concerts, including headliners Lenny Kravitz and Lionel Richie.

For oenophiles, there is Lavaux Vineyard Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising 2,051 acres dating to the 12th century. For appreciators of dramatically wild landscapes, there is the MOB GoldenPass Express train with panoramic windows. It is slated to launch a two-hour route by the end of 2020, traveling from Montreux to Zweisimmen with connections to Interlaken. Lake cruises, Le Corbusier architecture, the world’s first museum dedicated exclusively to food (Alimentarium), a handful of Michelin-starred restaurants—what’s not to love?

ANEGADA BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS where to go 2020

A couple walks down the long dock of Anegada Island in the British Virgin Islands–one of the best … [+] places to go in 2020.

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Plus, 7 more spots on my personal shortlist:

Where: British Virgin Islands

Why: It’s been more than two years since a pair of devastating hurricanes struck the British Virgin Islands, and the Caribbean archipelago is now considered fully recovered. In 2020, the BVIs will welcome back some of its iconic resorts, such as Rosewood Little Dix Bay, and promote sustainability measures throughout the territory. The best time to go is in March, when sailors and visitors flock to the islands for the annual BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival. Catch the festival but be sure to also visit Cooper Island Beach Club, known for its solar-powered brewery, and Bitter End Yacht Club, debuting a full nautical village in 2020 with architecture made from upcycled materials.

overwater bungalows Bora Bora

Overwater bungalows in Bora Bora

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Where: Tahiti, French Polynesia

Why: Made up of 118 secluded isles and atolls, the Islands of Tahiti is where that desktop screensaver comes to life. Tahiti is now more accessible than ever thanks to a budget airline (French Bee) and additional flights from United Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui (where kids fly free). With the increase in popularity, resorts like the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora are spiffing up to welcome all the new visitors. You’ll also find an increasing focus on sustainability, with programs like an EcoTour in Moorea from the Coral Gardeners, a group working to preserve the oceans. In 2020, Princess Cruises will set sail in French Polynesia for the first time since 2015, making it the ideal time to island hop in the tropical destination. Prefer a more intimate mode of transportation? Bora Bora will debut its first solar-powered catamaran in the coming year with Elyt Charter Tahiti.

Argentina Nahuel Huapi National Park

Gorgeous view of Nahuel Huapi National Park in Argentina’s Patagonia region.

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Where: Argentina

Why: While Argentina is known for its wine, tango and football, the country will have another claim to fame in 2020: It will be one of the best places on the planet to witness a rare total solar eclipse. Save the date for December 14 next year and head to the small town of Fortin Nogueyra, where visitors will be able to experience one minute and 57 seconds of totality. There are a few ways to be a part of this historic event. Intrepid Travel is offering tours in Argentina that depart in early December. The eight-day Argentina Eclipse 2020 tour travels in the company of expert astronomer, Dr. John Mason, and includes a visit to the stunning Nahuel Huapi Lake. A great option for families who want to experience the event in a more low-key way is to stay at Camping y Balneario Municipal de Cortaderas, a campground that can be booked through Pitchup.com, the world’s largest outdoor accommodation booking website. Or set sail with Princess Cruises to see the total solar eclipse off the coast of Argentina during its 15-day Cape Horn & Strait of Magellan itinerary.

Sri Lanka where to go 2020

Mirissa, a small town on the south coast of Sri Lanka.

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Where: Sri Lanka

Why: Despite 2019’s horrific terror attacks, Sri Lanka’s tourism is bouncing back faster than expected, according to the Sri Lankan Minister of Tourism. Plus, the government recently announced a decrease in handling charges for airlines and a cut in aviation fuel prices—which means cheaper airfare in and out of the country. Next year is the perfect time to support the country’s tourism rebound and embrace the adventure travel experiences that the country offers. Explore Sri Lanka with Grasshopper Adventures, a cycling and active travel specialist. You’ll be able to discover the country slowly and intimately as you make your way through tea plantations, rainforests, temples, national parks, and the southern coast.

Israel's Negev Desert

A luxury hotel will open in Israel’s Negev Desert in 2020.

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Where: Israel

Why: In just the first half of 2019, Israel logged a total of 1.9 million international travelers, compared to 1.75 million in 2018—beating that year’s record and indicating a growth trend that is likely to continue. In fact, Israel is moving forward with a $480-million expansion of the Ben-Gurion Airport to accommodate an additional 30 million travelers a year. The country has also sprouted six new hotels from Jordache Enterprises Group, 11 new hotels from Isrotel and of note is the highly anticipated April 2020 opening of Six Senses Shaharut in the Negev Desert, the first luxurious lodging in the deeply isolated desert. In line with this growth trend, Intrepid Travel has seen its global bookings to Israel increase by 84% in the first half of 2019. And travel company Black Tomato is unveiling a new itinerary for tourists to explore the country’s varied landscapes and bustling cities. On this trip, you’ll be able to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Israeli Intelligence and Special Forces, explore Jerusalem’s underground tunnels with a private guide, peek behind the curtain at Tel Aviv’s burgeoning world of fashion and travel through the desert by Jeep.

Nayara Tented Camp in Costa Rica.

A rendering of the new Nayara Tented Camp in Costa Rica.

Photo courtesy of Nayara Tented Camp

Where: Costa Rica

Why: Costa Rica is one of the most popular year-round destinations in the Western Hemisphere, thanks to its widespread appeal. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, romance or exploration, there’s something for everyone. The tropical destination is gearing up for an exciting 2020 with new cultural and adventure activities. Chocolate lovers will get a kick out of a new route through the province of Talamanca that guides visitors through 17 factories, demonstrating the importance of cacao in Costa Rica. For thrill-seekers, a cycling route is opening around the Arenal Volcano in the Central Pacific region. And the glamping trend will continue strong with new sites opening next year, including the luxurious yet eco-friendly Nayara Tented Camp in the Arenal Volcano National Park.

Madagascar

Turquoise blue water on a tropical island beach in Madagascar.

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Where: Madagascar

Why: Sometimes referred to as the “eighth continent” due to its unique flora and fauna, Madagascar is luring visitors with its first ever luxury hotel. Time + Tide, a sustainable safari company, is opening Miavana, an all-inclusive, private island sanctuary off the coast of the mainland in 2020. This isn’t just any resort; Miavana will offer experiences such as “Blue Safaris,” or underwater safaris with guided snorkeling and diving at shipwrecks and coral reefs. Madagascar is beckoning all who crave luxury travel mixed with a healthy dose of adventure.

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