Trending Destinations for 2020
Looking for vacation inspiration? Then you're in luck: Airbnb recently released its list of top trending destinations for 2020, and it includes a host of lesser-known places that would not make your usual travel list, like Guadalajara, Luxembourg and (yes) Milwaukee.
Airbnb posits that these places are trending up in year-over-year bookings for a variety of reasons, including increased sustainable tourism interest and major crowd-drawing events in the new year.
You can see the full methodology breakout here, and read on for Far & Wide’s take on the destinations to see in 2020.
Maastricht is the Netherlands’ southernmost city, a university town situated at the convergence of the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.
The Dutch city is home to labyrinthine medieval streets, picturesque waterside homes and numerous museums, including the Bonnefantenmuseum, dedicated to a mix of art from the Old Masters and contemporary regional talent.
Airbnb attributes travelers’ growing interest in this lesser-known town to the TEFAF Art Fair, which will exhibit local Dutch works in March 2020. Book soon if you want to join the throngs!
A bustling port town that blends Arab, African and European cultures, Malindi is a little-known destination that more and more people are getting to know.
The Kenyan town is home to gorgeous beaches that also happen to be camel-friendly, as well as spectacular diving in Malindi Marine National Park and strange terrain like Marafa Depression, a canyon of jagged sandstone shrouded in local myths.
Airbnb points to Kenya’s recent pledge to plant 2 billion trees by 2021, an effort to combat climate change, as the impetus for increased bookings.
It’s no surprise that houseboats are some of the most popular Airbnb stays in the backwaters of Kerala. Known for rolling plantations, serene rivers and an equally languid pace of life, Kerala is fascinating modern travelers.
Top experiences in this Indian state include canoe tours and birdwatching excursions; its government-run Responsible Tourism program encourages visitors to enjoy the colorful culture of Kerala while conserving and respecting it.
While Tokyo is in no way a “hidden gem” like many of its fellow trending destinations, Airbnb included the Japanese capital on the 2020 list because it is the host city of next year’s Summer Olympics, causing a formidable surge in bookings.
Tokyo is making strides to ensure that the Games are environmentally-friendly, guided by the ethos “Be better together — for the planet and the people.” Methods of sustainability include promoting energy saving, offsetting carbon emissions and reusing household plastic for the victory podiums.
The Olympics are, of course, just another enticement in this world-class city that also boasts ancient shrines and temples, a thriving arts scene, cherry blossoms in the spring and more Michelin stars than any other metropolis on Earth.
Visiting Les Contamines-Montjoie
Les Contamines is a postcard-perfect village in the Mont Blanc region of the French Alps. An idyllic snow-flecked ski resort in the winter and a mountain-climbing base in the summer, the village is stunning no matter the season.
Top stays include cozy, centrally located apartments and charming wooden mountain chalets — many of the traditional farms have been converted into modernist stays, renovated in the local Savoy architectural style.
Ubatuba is a sun-kissed town in Brazil’s São Paulo state, home to 100 beaches along the coast and flanked to the west by lush rainforest and the peaks of Serra do Mar.
Airbnb notes that Ubatuba has become increasingly popular with locals from nearby towns, who seek out its spectacular coastline and renowned surfing (it hosts numerous championships throughout the year). But travelers from further afield would be wise to add it to their bucket list, too.
An alpine locale rife with adventure and natural wonders, Courtenay is settled in the Comox Valley of Vancouver Island, a ferry ride away from Vancouver.
With its hiking trails situated around jewel-like lakes and boutique-lined bohemian villages, Courtenay is an outdoor haven. This is a sought-after destination for the eco-conscious traveler, according to Airbnb, with the local government launching numerous endeavors to reduce the town’s environmental impact and greenhouse-gas emissions.
Aberdeen is Scotland’s third-largest city, home to a bustling medieval-styled cityscape ringed by castle ruins and the dramatic, craggy coasts prominent to the British Isles.
The city is a thriving cultural and commercial hub that is home to captivating museums, lively pubs and seafood restaurants serving numerous fresh catches — The Silver Darling is recommended by locals on Airbnb.
Maintaining the sustainable travel trend, Aberdeen has lofty eco-friendly goals and is committed to reducing citywide carbon emissions.
Visiting Cape Canaveral
Cape Canaveral is both a sleepy bohemian beach town and the epicenter of the American space program, with only a few miles of marshlands in between.
The launch of NASA’s Mars 2020 Exploration Program will draw crowds to Cape Canaveral’s condominium-lined shores in July 2020 — the sound-barrier-breaking, cacophonic roar and accompanying visuals of a space shuttle launch are a stellar experience that should not be missed.
The omnipresent exuberance and passion of salsa music oozes into every aspect of Cali culture, from a zesty nightlife to lively markets. The city’s location in the mountains of Colombia, bookended by two national parks, provides the enviable climate of warm, balmy days paired with cool, breezy nights.
The top experiences in Cali are, appropriately, salsa-dancing lessons, street food tours with samplings of ceviche and tropical fruit, and ecotours through the lush forests around the city.
The destinations on Airbnb’s list vary in scope, from city to state and now, with Vanuatu, to country.
Vanuatu is an archipelago nation 2,000 miles east of Australia, comprising over 80 islands and noted for its high density of languages — over 100 languages are spoken there. The landscapes vary from barren plateaus to forested volcanoes; one of the top-rated stay here is a treehouse lodge located at the foot of the active Yasur volcano, where guests report that they can hear volcanic rumbling and see the mighty glow that the lava reflects on the sky at night.
Mexico’s second city — subsequent only to the country’s eponymous capital in size and freneticism — is known for its mariachi bands, colonial architecture, manifold tequila distilleries and the trendy Chapultepec neighborhood, which is beloved by Airbnbers.
The homestay company highlights the city’s eco-friendly efforts: “Guadalajara’s green credentials are also worth noting: the local government has embarked on an initiative that encourages cyclists and pedestrians to reclaim public spaces normally dominated by cars.”
Less is more in Luxembourg — what the petite European country lacks in stature, it makes up for in natural beauty and enchanting visuals.
Fairytale castles are perched atop woodland hills and overlook quaint villages of multicolored houses; entire cities here have earned UNESCO World Heritage status; there are secluded vineyards that make unjustly overlooked varietals — all of this is packed into an area of only about 1,000 square miles, or about 200 miles smaller than Rhode Island.
No wonder more and more people are booking trips to this European gem.
Eugene, Oregon’s moniker is “Tracktown” for its longstanding history as a major track and field destination. So it’s only fitting that it will host the 2020 U.S. Olympics team trials, which in turn has resulted in a surge in Airbnb bookings.
Although Eugene maintains an identity as a strong working-class city thanks to its timber and manufacturing industries, it doesn’t shy away from its unconventional hippie side either: Top experiences include a meandering mushroom-foraging excursion and a birth chart analysis by a trained astrologist.
The soldiers of China’s terracotta army are permanently quartered near Xi’an; this platoon of clay warriors is one of the greatest archeological discoveries of the modern era, a form of funerary art built over 2,000 years ago to guard China’s first emperor.
Today, Xi’an is a bustling city (its population surpasses 8.5 million) noted for its amalgamation of many Chinese cuisines, from kebabs in the Muslim Quarter to spicy Sichuan flavors.
According to Airbnb, the entire country of Romania is seeing increased interest from travelers thanks to its virgin forests and medieval rural villages.
The Eastern European nation ranks 15th globally for ecosystem vitality, according to the 2018 Environmental Performance Index, underlining the trend of Airbnb travelers putting eco-conscious destinations at the forefront.
Sunbury is a suburb less than 45 minutes northwest of Melbourne. It’s acclaimed for its wineries that produce award-winning Shiraz and Chardonnay wines; Victorian facades, epitomized at the Rupertswood Mansion; and wildlife preserves, including a dingo sanctuary.
The birthplace of The Ashes, cricket’s most coveted trophy, Sunbury will host the ICC T20 World Cup. Cricket fans from all over the world are already preparing to flock to this Australian town.
This rural province in southeastern Thailand is home to Phanom Rung, a spectacular complex of Khmer temple ruins on a scale to rival Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
MotoGP, a world-class motorcycling event, returns to Buriram in 2020 at the Chang International Circuit; the Buriram marathon also occurs here each year, drawing still more crowds.
Once an industrial rust belt city, this Basque destination has undergone a transformative two decades that began with the opening of Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao in 1997. Bilbao has emerged from this chrysalis as a major hub for arts, culture and food — highly-rated experiences here include a pintxos tasting (small bites of bread topped with local meats, cheese and vegetables) and a cultural photoshoot around Bilbao’s prominent landmarks, including the Guggenheim, Old Town and Isozaki Towers, the tallest skyscrapers in Basque Country.
Although rather unexpected, Airbnb’s No.1 destination for 2020 is Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As the host of the Democratic National Convention, political pundits and state delegates are set to congregate in this lakeside city next July.
Partisan credentials aside, Airbnb notes that Milwaukee has “a terrific bar and restaurant scene and fascinating cultural attractions that include a Calatrava-designed art museum. And with over 105 miles of scenic bike lanes, it’s easy to see why Milwaukee is experiencing an upsurge in interest among guests on Airbnb.”
Add it to your bucket list to see what all the fuss is about.