What to Look Forward to in 2020
The biggest names in travel have made their predictions on the best places to visit in 2020. Reviewing Travel+Leisure's 50 best, The Points Guy's 20 hottest, Conde Nast Traveler's best places and National Geographic's best trips, we've come up with this definitive list based on group consensus.
What are the places to look forward to in 2020? Here we go...
Conde Nast touts Argentina's El Chaltén in Patagonia as an up-and-comer thanks to the planned opening of the 14,000-acre Los Huemules Reserve. This new property will make it easier for visitors to explore the Los Glaciares National Park, a UNESCO site.
Meanwhile, in northern Patagonia's Rio Negro, the oldest of Argentina's national parks, Nahuel Huapi, will make a great spot to witness the solar eclipse taking place on Dec. 14, 2020.
Our Take on Argentina
Patagonia is a great choice for cultured travelers who want to literally get off the beaten path. This southern tip of Argentina includes the Andes Mountains and spans more than 400,000 square miles, providing a remote destination that won't cramp your style like some of the overcrowded cities.
Plus, anywhere in these mountains during the Southern Hemisphere's summer will be perfect for witnessing the solar phenomenon next winter.
Places like Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef have had their time in the spotlight, and experts are now singling out other areas in Australia as the places to be in 2020.
First, new train service will make it easier than ever to get to Adelaide from Sydney, helping to boost travel in the country's southern region. Secondly, finding untouched beauty will drive travelers across the Tasmanian Sea to visit what National Geographic cites as Australia's fastest-growing tourism destination: Tasmania.
The new trains will also help connect people to Brisbane, north of Sydney, which is getting a huge revitalization that will end in 2022.
Our Take on Australia
Just because Sydney is the most popular on bucket lists doesn't mean it shouldn't be on yours, too. Sydney is a gorgeous city with beautiful beaches, hiking trails and surroundings in a clean setting with lots of dining and shopping options.
Qantas made news in late 2019 for creating the world's longest flight: 20 straight hours from New York or London direct to Sydney. Although 20 hours on a plane doesn't sound completely appealing, it's better than multiple stops, plane delays or missed connections in an attempt to fly around the world.
Four years after hosting the Olympic Games, Brazil stopped requiring a visa of U.S. tourists, making travel to the country easier than ever. Demand is growing so much that United and American are working on expanding flights to the country in 2020.
UNESCO also named Rio de Janeiro, the former Games host, as the very first World Capital of Architecture for 2020.
Our Take on Brazil
Just as Patagonia provides an escape from city crowds, so, too, do Brazil's beaches and islands, far removed from Rio and Sao Paulo. The Points Guy recommends Fernando de Noronha Island, which has so many regulations to protect the environment that tourism is limited.
More and more reports continue to show the negative effect of tourism on the world, so visiting a place that strives to maintain its surroundings and enforcing travelers to do the same deserves kudos.
Speaking of the environment, experts in the travel industry predict more travel to Canada in 2020 as a result of the country's shrinking ice caps and glaciers — if they don't go now, visitors fear they may miss out on ever seeing these spectacular natural features.
Every one of the lists we looked through included Canada, with National Geographic and CN Traveler focusing specifically on the Arctic. CN Traveler heralds Arctic tourism as a way to see the last of the world's most pristine wilderness landscapes, and notes that cruises in the Northwest Passage are growing. Meanwhile, NatGeo recommends the Madgalean Islands in Quebec for similar exploration.
Our Take on Canada
For those who have yet to visit Canada, it is true: The scenery in this vast country is stunning. And there's such variety!
From Newfoundland's rocky coastlines, to Quebec's snow-covered cities that look and feel like Old France, to Calgary's expansive ranches, to British Columbia's amazing Rocky Mountain vistas and lakes, the wide open spaces here will leave visitors awe-struck.
Forget Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, both beachfront areas of Mexico that have long attracted and welcomed tourists. In 2020, it's East Cape that will be the true gem of the land south of the border, according to experts.
Known as Land's End on Baja California, the tip of the world is remote and surrounded by the deep blue sea. As 2019 drew to a close, both the Waldorf Astoria and the Four Seasons opened unbelievable resorts, and Aman Resorts is poised to enter the area in 2021, promising luxury at its finest.
Our Take on Mexico
Although you can't beat luxury, we agree more with NatGeo's idea that travel in the mountains is way cooler than the beaches. Puebla, Mexico, built in 1531 and a World Heritage site for its baroque architecture, provides a much more authentic Mexican experience than the sandy beaches and swim-up bars being catered to by luxury hotelier staff.
Roaming the winding streets of Mexico's cities provides a glimpse into the nation's colonial past while showcasing its modern side not often shared in the media.
It appears India will reign supreme in 2020 with the experts agreeing that there are multiple areas across the country that deserve a visit. Travel+Leisure calls out the palaces of Rajasthan as well as the new Amrapali Museum in Jaipur, where 4,000+ gemstones by the Amrapali jewelry company are displayed.
NatGeo highlights the seaside city of Kochi, founded originally by the Portuguese in the 1500s, as a new cultural hub thanks to the four-month Kochi-Muziris Biennale art festival. It is the largest event of its kind in South Asia, launching its fifth year in late 2020.
Our Take on India
There are only 1 million foreign visitors to India annually, which is actually a small number when you consider the city of Paris had 40 million in the same year (2018).
This is a country where you won't run into fellow countrymen at every turn and where tourism dollars can really help local businesses — which is a feel-good vibe to carry around while exploring sprawling cities and vast countryside.
It's not just because the 2020 Olympic Games will take place in Tokyo that Japan is on the trending list, but it sure does help.
Visitors making their way to the island nation will want to see more than just the capital city and should discover the old capital of Kyoto, as well as the far reaches like Tohoku in the north and Okinawa in the south. Last year, a massive fire swept through Okinawa's Shuri Castle, but the area's white-sand beaches and UNESCO sites still stand and are a major draw, with or without international sporting events.
Our Take on Japan
Skip the crowds that will visit Tokyo during the summer Games — and the high-priced airfare and hotels that will cater to them. Instead, a visit to the city in the spring, just before the hordes arrive, can provide a sneak peak at what the world will see. Or wait until fall, after the crowds are gone, to take in the same sites at far less expense.
When Polish Airlines begins delivering nonstop flights between Kraków and New York City, and American does the same from Chicago (both in May 2020), they will deliver the UNESCO medieval city to a new crop of citizens from the U.S. The Points Guy notes that the city is also one of the most affordable in Europe.
And who knew Poland is home to bison on a plain right out of the USA? National Geographic highlights the Bialowieza Forest that covers the border of eastern Poland and Belarus for having 800 of Europe's largest mammals freely roaming.
Our Take on Poland
Europe's over-tourism is becoming a big problem in western Europe, with countries like Spain and Italy witnessing numbers far exceeding residents. It's time to spread the wealth and visit less-traveled countries that offer plenty of room for outsiders wanting to see a day in the life.
Poland's tourism has been steadily increasing since its politics changed and allowed for open borders in the 1990s, yet not enough that travelers can't freely experience the beauty of the country and the kindness of its people.
It's been 25 years since genocide in this African nation dominated the news. Travel experts are praising Rwanda for making a comeback that focuses particularly on protecting its animals and land, including gorillas and black rhinos. More safari outfitters are opening in Rwanda to bring foreigners within the wildlife corridor to see the native animals the country has worked so hard to protect.
All the big travel pubs focus on the opening of the new One&Only Gorilla's Nest and Singita Kwitonda Lodge as places to visit.
Our Take on Rwanda
Travel to Rwanda supports the country's conservation efforts, and although there's a legitimate fear that lists like these could increase traffic too much, this shouldn't be a major problem yet.
The capital Kigali may not be a household name, but it is considered one of the cleanest cities in Africa and its growth and success is becoming a model for other African countries to follow.
10. South Africa
Bustling Cape Town is welcoming travelers from the U.S. with a new nonstop flight between Newark and Cape Town, saving safari-goers hours of travel time to visit the land of wineries, penguins, parties and, yes, safaris.
Travel+Leisure likes Durban for 2020, a seaside town often overlooked by travelers more familiar with Cape Town and Johannesburg. The east coast city rejuvenated its waterfront with a $2.5-million investment and its "Golden Mile" of beachfront actually extends closer to four. Getting in now before the secret is out is key.
Our Take on South Africa
Environmental travel and conservation are also focuses in South Africa, where the Kalahari Desert is one of the world's few International Dark Sky Sanctuaries. This ensures you'll have nights unobscured by city lights and overhead air traffic, promising the chance to see millions of stars.
The desert extends into Botswana and is a part of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, well off the beaten path from safari destinations. Maybe star safaris will become the next big thing?
11. Sri Lanka
An Easter attack in Sri Lanka killed nearly 250 people in 2019, something each travel pub mentions. Yet, so many new hotels were in the works at the time that 2020 can be a rebirth for the nation filled with palm trees and surrounded by tropical waters.
This trend looks to be connected to a number of new properties and resorts. No wonder CN Traveler and Travel+Leisure are both giving the country a thumbs up.
Our Take on Sri Lanka
The horrific terrorist attack in 2019 meant dwindling tourism to Sri Lanka. But the country is open for business and desperately seeking tourism dollars, which means prices are ripe for travelers looking for steals.
The U.S. government lists Sri Lanka as a Level II concern, meaning there is an increased caution warning — the same level as France. Help the country rejuvenate its crucial tourism industry with a visit in 2020.