It’s time to start planning for the new year – scratch that, the new decade. Wondering where to go in 2020? We have a few suggestions. We compiled this list of top travel destinations in 2020 from various sources, including AirBnB’s up-and-coming locations, emerging tourism locales, and cities we love to visit that have somehow gone overlooked, until now. Break out your map and follow along as we take you to the top travel destinations to visit in 2020. We know it sounds click-baity, but this time, number one really will surprise you.
40. Cusco, Peru
Cusco was the capital city of the Incan empire, and you can still see the foundations of that former kingdom today. For a long time, Cusco was the underdeveloped cousin to flashy beachside Lima, a stopover for tourists heading to Macchu Picchu or other historic sites. Since its redevelopment, this valley city is worthy of a trip unto itself to experience the lasting Indigenous culture that makes it so unique. Colorful textiles, friendly Alpacas, fruit picked straight from the jungle — Cusco is truly a feast for the eyes, stomach, and heart.
39. Kotor, Montenegro
If the French Riviera were relocated to the bottom of a mountain range, it would look like Kotor. The most beautiful city in the Mediterranean’s poorest country is gaining traction as a top travel destination because of its incredible landscape, island churches, and affordability. You’ll also find some of the inhabitants are rather furry; Kotor has a quirky fondness for cats, and the residents take good care of the city’s felines, who treat Old Town like their personal sunning station.
38. Lausanne, Switzerland
Although Switzerland is beautiful all over, there can be no denying that Lausanne has the best view. Overlooking Lake Geneva with the snow-capped French Alps in the background, you’ll have to remind yourself that there’s a whole city to explore, as well. Lausanne has more than its fair share of Swiss charm, with a beautiful cathedral and streets that come alive with artisanal markets nearly every day of the week. Mountain climbers should use it as a home base for exploring the challenging peaks nearby.
37. La Paz, Mexico
If you think you’ve seen all Mexico has to offer, then you probably haven’t been to La Paz. A boho paradise, the capital city of the Baja peninsula has a multi-cultural melting pot, with people hailing from Mexico, Spain, Portugal, and the U.S. It’s a favorite destination for divers, but you don’t have to go squeeze into a wetsuit to glimpse sea lions, whales, and sharks — you can do that while strolling along the boardwalk.
36. Baku, Azerbaijan
In the past few decades, Baku has undergone the same fast growth as cities in other oil-rich countries. It has a lot in common with Dubai, except for one thing: it’s cheap. Yes, you can still enjoy an affordable vacation here, among stunning skyscrapers, exotic nightclubs, and yachts dotting the harbor. Unlike its counterpart in UAE, it also has a lot of history. The historic town center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and there are landmarks of Asian history here that you won’t find anywhere else.
35. Beirut, Lebanon
Because of its war-torn legacy, traveling to Lebanon’s capital has fallen out of fashion even though it was once known as the “Paris of the Middle East.” However, the city’s Renaissance has long been underway and travelers are starting to take notice. A vibrant hub of art and fashion, Beirut is an enchanting mix of new and old when it comes to architecture and culture. Ultra-modern shopping centers cozy up to historic homes. Lebanese food, of course, is worth the trip alone.
34. Southern Laos
It’s one of the least-visited areas in Asia, a great opportunity to explore off the beaten path. Pakse, the largest city in the region, is distinguished by the warmth of the locals and amazing Laotian food. But Southern Laos is really the best option for outdoor explorers. Lush forests hiding temple ruins, sheer cliffs with cascading waterfalls, and endless seaside caves to explore; once you get lost in Laos, you’ll never want to come home.
33. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Think of Bishkek as a great jumping-off point to discovering all that Kyrgyzstan has to offer. Killing it in the nature department, the country has snow-capped mountains, desert, and lushly forested areas all within shouting distance of each other. It’s almost like going to the Alps, the Grand Canyon, and Easter Island as well if you stop by Burana tower with its surrounding sculptures. The city is Silk Road meets Soviet Era, presenting an intricate culture that merits an extended trip.
32. The Cook Islands
The Maldives and Seychelles have had their time in the sun. (Literally.) Now, this archipelago in the South Pacific is poised to be the next coveted island getaway. One of the reasons it’s becoming more popular is because of the trend toward eco-tourism. Cook Islanders have a naturally sustainable way of life, and the tourism industry that’s grown up on the islands keeps it a top priority for visitors as well.
31. Tbilisi, Georgia
Locations on the Silk Road are trending in a big way for 2020. Georgia has a unique culture blending Central Asian, European, and Slavic influences. The main city, Tbilisi, is marked by gorgeous red-roofed buildings, winding streets, and a fascinating mix of historic and modern architecture. But the main takeaway from here is usually how amazing the food is. Get ready for meaty dumplings, cheese pastries, and the best tomatoes you’ve ever tasted.
30. Manila, Philippines
This South-East Asian capital is a delightful mix of Spanish, Chinese, and native Filipino culture. At one time, the city got more attention for its poverty and crime issue than anything else, but that’s starting to change. It’s a vibrant multi-cultural center that’s great for both budget and luxury travelers. The Filipino people know how to live well, whatever their income level, a trait evident in Manila’s approachable food scene, music scene, and dance club culture.
29. Rovinj, Croatia
For a Mediterranean vacation with a twist, head to Rovinj in 2020. Croatia has more coastline than most of the countries in Europe, and Rovinj is the ideal spot to enjoy it. A city full of artisans, there’s plenty of culture to steep in when you’re not indulging in seafood and gelato. The cheerful seaside boardwalk lined with colorful buildings leads to evenings spent soaking in the sunset with a glass of wine – what’s not to love?
28. Riga, Latvia
Not many people think of Riga as the perfect place for a beach getaway, but in 2020, we predict that’s going to change. It’s got the most beautiful coastline on the Baltic sea, indistinguishable from other beach hotspots in summer. But the main draw is the city itself. Riga is distinguished by its Art Nouveau architecture, giving the streets an artsy vibe that carries over into Latvian culture. It’s hip, urban, and ready to take its place among the top travel destinations next year.
27. Salzburg, Austria
The hills are alive with the sound of Salzburg edging out Vienna as the coolest place to visit in Austria. Yes, this is the home of the famous Von Trapp family immortalized in the musical, and the landscape is just as gorgeous as the movie makes it look. Salzburg is still into music, with festivals celebrating every genre you can think of throughout the year. It also has a hip arts scene and dozens of strudel options. Dozens.
26. Cairo, Egypt
Cairo is the biggest, most metropolitan hub in the Arab world, and it already gets tons of tourists every year. The reason it’s still a top travel destination for 2020 is that the National Museum recently announced that the most popular exhibit, the treasure from Tutankhamen’s crypt, will no longer be making international flights. That means that the only way to see it is to go to Egypt. Not such a hardship, when you consider that this incredible city also has the pyramids, the Sphinx, incredible nightlife, food… the list goes on.
25. Lagos, Nigeria
It’s not news that Nigeria is on the rise, and Lagos is its vibrant, bustling center. The city can be overwhelming at times because there is so much to do here. Markets, cultural festivals, fashion shows, food stalls galore — you’ll never be wanting for something to do. If you do run out of things, however, catch a ride to one of the many national parks nearby to experience the wildlife, which the country makes great effort to conserve.
24. Galway, Ireland
Galway prides itself as the cultural center of Ireland, and it truly is impossible to walk down any street here without running into a musician, dancer, or poet. The pub scene is out of this world, of course, but people go not just for the Guinness, but to hear live music or sample the incredible culinary offerings. While you’re there, take a day trip to visit local castles, like the fairytale Kylemore Abbey nearby. Also, it’s on the coast, so a day at the beach is also on the menu at this beautiful spot on the Emerald Isle.
23. La Paz, Bolivia
Inexpensive and visually stunning, La Paz is the high-altitude capital of Bolivia. Tucked between the mountainous Andes and the rainforest, La Paz is the perfect HQ for your next outdoor adventure. This city itself is vibrant with Indigenous and Latin culture. The people here have an unmatched zest for nightlife, which even the most seasoned partiers call “chaotic.” Luckily, when you tire of the city’s hustle, spending a chill afternoon at a crystalline mountaintop lake is only a bus ride away.
22. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Outer Mongolia used to be a catch-all phrase for banishment, but nowadays, Mongolia is experiencing an upswing in tourism. That may be because travelers have finally clued into the county’s epic terrain, which ranges from placid turquoise lakes, to mountains, to tundra, to desert plains that go on forever. The Mongolian people are also incredibly warm and welcoming. Ulaanbaatar is the most developed city, and the best one in which to experience the rich culture.
21. Tallinn, Estonia
Estonia is experiencing phenomenal economic growth and development in the last decade. As a result, it’s standard of living has shot up into the ranks of neighboring Scandinavian countries, tempting more travelers to visit than ever before. Tallinn is still less touristy than other northern cities, however. Visitors will be floored by the incredible landscape, including some of the largest remaining old-growth forests in Europe. Also, there are plenty of opportunities to indulge in the country’s favorite pastime — sauna.
20. Maastricht, Netherlands
Maastricht has a huge Art Fair landing in March of 2020, which might account for next year’s interest. At all other times, it’s still a great place to venture to, with classic Dutch charm and medieval cobblestone streets. It’s also a university town, which means music and arts galore, as well as a ton of great coffee places. Perfect for the wandering poet’s 2020 travel plans.
19. Malindi, Kenya
Up until now, you’ve probably never heard of this little town on the East coast of Africa. Because of where it’s situated, Malindi has over centuries acquired a blend of Middle Eastern, European, and Kenyan culture. A great new adventure for worldly travelers, it also boasts pristine beaches fringed with palm trees.
18. Kerala, India
Look at pictures of Kerala, and you’ll mostly be seeing green – the area is lush with forests and wildlife that thrives on the many winding rivers. Riverboat tours through the jungle are a popular getaway option here It’s a great place to experience the lesser-known facets of rural Indian life, while taking in the wonder of its beautiful rainforests. Stay in Kochi, the main city with a neat mix of Indian, Muslim, and Portuguese influences thanks to its use as a trading port.
17. Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo is neither overlooked nor underrated; it’s been one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia for a long time, and continues to be for 2020. It’s busy and crowded, but full of life and a never-ending list of things to do. This is not the place for a restful vacation, especially not in summer, when the city will be hosting the Olympics. It is, however, one place that should be on every traveler’s bucket list.
16. Les Contamines-Montjoie, France
Picturesque ski chalets are dwarfed by snowy mountains in this adorable little town in the French Alps. Ski bunnies and mountain climbers couldn’t want for a more perfect getaway spot. The village of Les Contamines-Montjoie is small and until now, has been largely overlooked by the international travel scene.
15. Ubatuba, Brazil
Is it possible we’ve found the one travel destination in the world that’s more fun to say than it is to visit? Perhaps, but Ubatuba is also prime territory if you want the lush forests and hot beaches of Brazil, without the crowds. Beloved of surfers, this is where the locals go on vacation, and once you spend two minutes in the beauty of this locale, you’ll know why.
14. Courtenay, BC, Canada
Located on Vancouver Island, Courtenay is the perfect spot for experiencing the rugged Canadian wilderness. Beaches, mountains, and Pacific rainforests all within walking distance of each other are the main features of this city. It’s also the first stop on the Great Canadian Fossil Trail – that’s right, set down here and you’ll be walking on the same ground where dinosaurs roamed years ago.
13. Aberdeen, Scotland
One of the most-searched questions about this city is, “Why is Aberdeen so GRAY?” But don’t be put off – it’s not referring to the weather, but to the monochromatic look of the buildings, most of which were built from the granite in a local quarry. It’s actually one of Scotland’s sunniest cities, and because it’s on the coast there are numerous sandy beaches from which you can spot dolphins and other aquatic life.
12. Samarkand, Uzbekistan
The name alone conjures up images of exotic treks along the Silk Road on a camel with a backpack full of perfumes and spices. These days, Samarkand is still one of the best places to experience Central Asia through the ages, with its elaborate mosques interspersed with the utilitarian architecture of the Soviet Era. Exotic art hunters will have a heyday in the markets, and the region’s hearty cuisine takes comfort food to another level.
11. Cali, Columbia
Salsa culture and an Amazon jungle-esque ecosystem turn Cali into a South American fairytale city. Nestled in the mountains, it gets amazing weather (not too hot, not too cold), and has a vibrant culture as lively as the regional dance. Even better, Cali is bookended by two national parks, so visitors can explore untouched rainforests between heaping plates of Chontaduro, a tropical fruit found only in this region.
This tropical island in the southern hemisphere is truly the most secret gem on this list, but it’s about to break out as one of the top travel destinations for 2020. Similar in climate and beauty to more visited places like Fiji, Vanuatu is about as close as you can come to experiencing paradise. Make the trip even more memorable by staying at the base of a rumbling volcano — it won’t erupt, we promise.
9. Guadalajara, Mexico
Tourists often eschew inland Mexico for its more flashy beaches, but Guadalajara is the second-largest city in the country and shouldn’t be overlooked. Spanish colonial charm meets groovy Latinx culture in the busy streets and trendy neighborhoods here. If the urban pace gets to be too much for you — and Guadalajara never slows down — venture outside the city for incredible hiking opportunities and the chance to tour a tequila distillery.
Luxembourg has been on our minds — and our site — a lot lately. It’s one of the world’s healthiest countries, and one of the richest. It also has one of the best ratings for gender equality in the workplace. But travelers are more interested in this Medieval city because it’s a melting pot of Belgian, German, and French culture. Expensive, yes, but a visit here is a chance to experience life the way the crème de la crème of Europe does.
7. Launceston, Tasmania
Tasmania’s second major city is the perfect headquarters from which to explore the country’s unique features. Formerly a British garrison, Launceston is compact but packs a lot of punch in terms of culture, food, and wine. It’s also near the Tamar River, which cuts a route inland through Tasmania’s unreal wilderness, for the more adventurous of travelers.
6. Xi’an, China
The Great Wall of China has had its due; how about a trip to see the terracotta army? Another artifact from China’s millennia of incredible imperial history, the clay soldiers are eternally quartered in Xi’an, a city as busy and diverse as the more visited Shanghai and Beijing. Plus, it’s in Sichuan province, so the food can not be beat.
5. Bucharest, Romania
The capital city of Romania is often overlooked as a European travel destination, but 2020 is its time to shine. The “Paris of the East” is a mishmash of Bohemian, Slavic, and European culture, but it’s still cheaper than its sister city in France (it even has its own Arc de Triomphe.) Medieval castles, Art Nouveau buildings, and cuisine that puts heavy emphasis on dumplings and cheese are just some of the reasons we love Bucharest as a top destination for the new year.
4. Sunbury, Australia
Selling itself as an Australian Martha’s Vineyard, Sunbury is an easy drive from Melbourne and will be hosting the 2020 Cricket World Cup. The scenic, pastoral landscape is a treasure trove of amazing wineries, where you can sample one of the best-loved exports from Down Under, Shiraz. The estates also offer wilderness tours and extended luxury stays, and you’re close enough to Melbourne that you can dip in for some culture.
3. Buriram, Thailand
The MotoGP, an international event for motorcyclists, is coming to this provincial town in southern Thailand in 2020. If you don’t dig races, there are plenty of other reasons to visit, including the phenomenal ancient site of a Khmer temple. There’s lush forest for hiking and trekking, and the same incredible Thai food you find in more touristed cities Chiang Mai and Phuket.
2. Bilbao, Spain
Cross Barcelona and Madrid off your list; Bilbao is the new Spain travel locale for the new decade. With its old-world feel, laid-back Basque lifestyle, and culture that loves to eat, this the perfect place to get your Spanish on. Highlight of the trip? The Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim museum, without the lines you might find elsewhere.
1. Milwaukee, WI, USA
If Wisconsin has never entered your radar as a top travel destination, don’t worry, that’s normal. The fact that Milwaukee is number one on this list might come as a shock, but there’s a reason this Midwest town has suddenly piqued interest. As the location of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, which is getting as much hype as the premiere of a new Star Wars movie. Other than that, it’s a nice city with a cool live music scene and cultural atmosphere. Just don’t expect to get a hotel room in July.