A new year ahead means a new year of exciting travels — not just for us, but hopefully, for you, too!
But, where to go?
If you already have a dream destination in mind, then that's where you should ideally plan to visit next year. But, if you're unsure of where to visit, then add these top 20 travel destinations for 2020 to your list.
Some of these destinations are places we've visited, places we plan on visiting, or places that we've heard so much about, they are on our travel list for 2020, too. We may not get to them all next year — or even in our lifetime — but, we're going to try.
And, so can you.
20) Jeju Island, South Korea
Seoul has become increasingly more popular in the last several years as a travel destination. Whether it's the lure of K-Pop music, the kimchi, the shopping, or the ancient sites, there's a lot to see in this nation's capital. And, if you're already thinking of making the trip all the way here, you must absolutely make time to visit Jeju Island as well. Otherwise known as the "Hawaii" of South Korea, Jeju is only an hour's flight away from Seoul or a quick ferry ride from Busan.
Some Jeju highlights are:
Eat some of the best seafood you'll ever have in your life and if you're feeling up to it, try horse sashimi
Hike the Jeju Olle Trail and circumnavigate the entire island by foot
Summit Mt. Hallasan
Learn how to free-dive with Haenyeo female divers
SUTip: Rent a bicycle and explore the island by at your own pace!
19) Andalusia, Spain
When you think of Spain, you might think of paella, wine, and sunny weather. But, Spain is so much more than that, especially in the southern region of the country. Andalusia is known for flamenco, bullfighting and its rich Muslim past. Since 711, Andalusia was under Moors rule until 1492 when the Castilian Spanish monarchy arose. For those 800 years, Andalusia was part of the Islamic Golden Age and today you'll see remnants of this in the region's architecture, food, and history.
Some Andalusia highlights are:
Check out Alhambra, located in Granada
Visit the Mosque-Cathedral in Córdoba
Plaza de España in Seville
SUTip: Rent a car in Madrid from Holiday Autos and see many sights on the way down!
18) Kathmandu, Nepal
It's hard to describe Kathmandu in one word. Most people who come to Nepal do so because they are planning to head off on a trek, for instance, the Annapurna Circuit (which we got a taste of). A city surrounded by breathtaking mountain beneath sunny blue skies. This ancient city may have had its rough times, but that's more the reason to come and appreciate it with your own eyes.
Some Kathmandu highlights are:
The cozy downtown area of Thamel, filled with great shops, restaurants, and cafes
Walk around the ancient city of Patan or take it all in at Durbar Square
Try some Dal bhat (though, we can't promise you won't get sick of it!)
Do a Community Homestay and experience how the locals live
SUTip: The roads are EXTREMELY bumpy in this city and all over Nepal. Even if you don't suffer from motion sickness, you will likely feel something. So, walk when you can!
17) Kyoto, Japan
Before Tokyo became Japan's capital, Kyoto was the capital for hundreds of years. Because of this legacy, Kyoto is today a historical city where you can go to see Buddhist temples, botanical gardens and spectacular palaces and shrines alongside quaint canals. Look out for geisha on their way to appointments, sit in a cute cafe to people-watch, and dine at delectable restaurants.
Some Kyoto highlights are:
Run through the orange gates at Fushimi Inari-taisha which you may have seen in Memoirs of a Geisha
Marvel at the bamboo stalks in Arashiyama
Dress up in kimono and explore the sites
Come during cherry blossom season in Japan when Kyoto is even more magical
SUTip: Stay halfway between Kyoto and Osaka, and you can easily visit both cities. We stayed at this Airbnb.
16) Jodhpur, India
Located at the entrance to the Thar desert in the Indian state of Rajasthan, Jodhpur is a hidden gem that may sometimes be overlooked by other cities in the region and in the country. But, the blue city of Jodhpur rivals Chefchaouen in Morocco is a wondrous place to wander around and get lost. Best of all, the soft blue buildings will keep you a little cooler in the blazing Indian heat.
Some Jodphur highlights are:
Buy bangles by the entrance to the market at the clock tower
Stay in a beautiful haveli, especially one with a rooftop restaurant
SUTip: You can get yourself some nice jewelry at the Arts & Gems Plaza. We got our engagement ring here, and it was worth 4x more in the West.
15) Rome, Italy
Rome may be a touristy city, but it is for a good reason. As a matter of fact, Rome is still a great destination for 2020 if you're rather new at traveling. Sure, there's always the concern of pick-pocketers, but where else can you see thousands of years of history on your way to get a bowl of spaghetti for lunch? Rome truly has it all. Prices are feasible and flights here aren't too bad, either.
Some Rome highlights are:
Eat "Jewish-style" artichokes at Ba'Ghetto
Try the pizza at Dar Poeta or the pasta at Trattoria Papa Re
People watch at Campo De' Fiori
SUTip: If you want a coffee at a cafe, get it standing up at the counter. Otherwise, if you sit down at a table, you will pay a "sitting fee" worth several euros which can be very confusing and frustrating.
14) Montréal, Canada
Just over six hours from New York City by car, Montréal is an awesome city that'll make you feel like you're in Europe when you're actually in North America. This French-speaking metropolitan city is the gateway to Quebec, and with so many things to do and places to visit, you will seriously never get bored here. Whether you're looking for some urban vibes or a nature walk away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Montréal has it all. And, don't forget to try poutine while you're here!
Some Montréal highlights are:
Spend the day walking around Old Montréal beside the St. Lawrence, with its cobblestone streets, museums, cute shops, and delicious seafood restaurants
Walk around the Harry Potter-esque McGill University
Catch a Basquiat at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Cozy up with a book at Indigo bookstore
Go on a hike at Mt. Royal Park
SUTip: It is legal to buy cannabis at SQDC
13) Bratislava, Slovakia
If you've ever seen the movie Eurotrip or Hostel, you're probably wondering why we are recommending Bratislava for 2020 travel. But, those movies have it wrong. If you want to explore a classic European old town, you can do this one quite easily. And, as for the newer side of the city, you'll find trendy restaurants (vegan included), bars, and cafes, and a cool street art scene. There's also plenty of outdoorsy activities to do nearby.
Some Bratislava highlights are:
The Blue Church
The largest restaurant in Central Europe —The Bratislava Flagship Restaurant — where you can buy a shirt that says "BAR-tislava". And, you can try Slivka, a traditional Slovak plum brandy
Lots of great places to get a view of Bratislava.
SUTip: If you want to visit Vienna but you are on a budget, stay in Bratislava instead. It's much cheaper and only a quick, hour-long day trip away!
12) Cebu, Philippines
Their catchphrase "It's more fun in the Philippines" perfectly sums up this beautiful island(s) nation. There are so many lovely destinations to choose from in the Philippines, but if you're feeling overwhelmed with choices, Cebu is probably your best option. This big city has everything you'd want in a city, along with interesting historical sites and easy access to some of the world's most stunning beaches.
Some Cebu highlights are:
See Magellan's Cross. Yes, that Magellan.
Take a ferry to Bohol and then head to Alona Beach (or Balicasag!). Get rum and cokes for $0.50 a pop!
Eat Lechon and/or grab some scrumptious seafood at Lantaw Floating Restaurant
SUTip: Don't speak any Tagalog but know a little Spanish? You should have an easier time communicating with the locals.
11) Puerto Escondido, Mexico
The beauty of Mexico's beaches is no secret to most travelers or soon-to-be travelers around the world. But, with its name translating literally to "hidden port, Puerto Escondido lives up to its title. Despite the fact that tourists have been coming here to check out the surf for decades, it still feels secluded compared to other beach destinations in Mexico.
Some Puerto Escondido highlights are:
Watch surfers at Zicatela Beach
Chow down on delicious seafood at Cañabrava and attend one of their rooftop dance nights
Spend the entire day at Playa Carrizalillo
Head to the nude beach at Zipolite
Eat Thai food at Lychee in La Punta
SUTip: Taxis are a great way to get around and it should only cost 40 MXN ($2) to get where you need to go.
10) The "Stans"
Even if your knowledge about the "Stans" (which means "land of" or "place of" in Farsi and Urdu) is limited to Borat or has been sensationalized to be a dangerous area of the world by the media, don't let that stop you from exploring this wondrous region. Of course, these countries — Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan — are all unique from one another, but are geographically close and share some cultural similarities and history. These countries and their landscapes are said to be unlike anything else in the world, and that's why we are heading to these best travel countries for 2020.
Some 'Stans highlights are:
The "Gates of Hell" in Turkmenistan
The stunning national parks and nature of Kyrgyzstan, such as Issyk Kul, one of the deepest lakes in the world
The beautiful architecture in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
SUTip: As this region and the language may be very unfamiliar, it may be worth doing a tour through several of these countries together in order to feel more comfortable and to maximize your experience, especially if you're a first-time traveler.
9) Missoula, Montana
Ah, Montana. Author Stephanie Land in her bestseller "Maid" fantasizes about the day she could move to Missoula, Montana. Hana had been here as a teenager and remembered liking it, but not much else. We wanted to see what all the hype was about, and turns out, this is the place to be. So, we asked a local about things to do in Missoula, Montana:
"Whereas Missoula, Montana has always lured travelers who dream of fly fishing world-class trout streams that flow through the city itself, it has also become the home of liberal nomads who sought a new cultural homestead in the northern Rockies. Artists and writers have nestled there for decades, and Missoula now fosters more young professionals looking for charm and excitement without the Boulder or San Francisco prices."
"Microbreweries, distilleries, three bustling warm-weather farmers markets, much-beloved local ice cream makers, more coffee shops than seems possible, and vibrant music and literary scene all mean you can always please just about anyone looking for something to eat, drink, or just enjoy on nearly any given day. Pair what the city offers with what the mountains, wilderness areas, and local trails provide (some of which you can access from practically your Airbnb’s backyard), and it’s a paradise (nearly) kept secret. Just don’t tell anybody." - Anne Holub
Some Missoula highlights are:
Surf the Clark Fork River in downtown Missoula
Grab a drink at the nearby Montgomery Distillery
Missoula is literally SURROUNDED by national parks. In fact, Yellowstone is just four hours away, but there are plenty of others if that's too far
SUTip: In Missoula, the bus is free, which is great as it's a bikeable city
8) Quito, Ecuador
A majority of travelers to Ecuador skip over the country's capital to visit other well-known destinations in Ecuador like the Galapagos or Baños de Agua Santa. While we're not saying you shouldn't do that since those places are also worth a visit, what we are saying is that you should consider spending some time in Quito in 2020 before going elsewhere, or on a trip all on its own. This city, located in the middle of the world (literally) has just as much to experience as Ecuador's other destinations.
Some Quito highlights are:
Go for a stroll in Parque La Carolina and the surrounding downtown district
Take the cable cars at the TelefériQo to see some of Ecuador's stunning volcanoes
Spend an afternoon in the historical center
Admire some incredible street art
Sample some Ecuadorian cuisine, like ceviche, cuy (guinea pig), or seco de chivo
SUTip: Imported products can be extremely expensive in Ecuador. If you have something you really need while traveling here, it might be better to bring it with you instead of buying it there.
7) Nuuk, Greenland
We don't know too much about this place, but what we do know is that it's intriguing enough for us to learn about it. In recent years, Iceland and Antarctica have become popular destinations, but no one is talking about Greenland...yet. It's the world's largest island — an autonomous territory of Denmark — but with only a little over 50,000 people. Here you can do everything from dog sledding to catching the Northern Lights, but if you're wondering more about things to do in Nuuk and things to do in Greenland, there's a lot here to be discovered.
Some Nuuk highlights are:
Visit the historical landmark of Mother of the Sea, which represents an Inuit legend
Do a whale watching tour and look out for humpback whales
Visit the Paamiut backcountry
Try the Greenland national dish, Suaasat (but not if you're a vegetarian!)
Do a photoshoot in front of the colorful homes
SUTip: Use Nuuk as a jumping-off point to hike Greenland's amazing glaciers and fjords and see incredible landscapes and wildlife.
6) Taipei, Taiwan
How do you sum up Taipei? You really can't. This high-tech city with pockets of ancient culture and history everywhere you look means that there's something here for everyone. From the tasty food (albeit a little stinky, i.e. stinky tofu), to the exciting night markets and nature just a quick subway ride away, this city is AWESOME. Not to mention, the people are extremely friendly! Add Taipei to your 2020 travel list.
Some Taipei highlights are:
Shilin Night Market - try Hot Star Chicken
Get yourself some bubble tea!
Visit the teahouses at Maokong
Try beef noodle soup at Yongkang Beef Noodles
SUTip: While there is so much to do in Taipei, try to get out of the city to explore the country's natural beauty as well
5) Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland, Cleveland, Cleveland. This city may seem like a schlep for most people, but there are SO many reasons why you should make the trip — and, not just to visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, either, though that's certainly worth a visit.
This Rust Belt city is going through a revival, holding on from remnants from its industrial past while making a statement with cultural initiatives, excellent museums, awesome food and craft beer scene, and grocery stores and restaurants built inside of old banks and buildings. You'll want to get to Cleveland quick before the secret gets out!
Some Cleveland highlights are:
Coffee is really good in Cleveland, so make sure to try it! Rising Star Coffee Roasters is a good place to start
The West Side Market is a fun experience, whether you just want to walk around and marvel at all the beautiful chaos, or taste some Eastern European delights.
Did you know the A Christmas Story house is in Cleveland?
SUTip: Check out the Cleveland History Center for a quick introduction to the city and its history. And, while you're there, hit up other museums which are all within walking distance.
4) Leshan, China
It would be difficult to explore all of China on one trip. But, if you're planning on visiting China in 2020 (perhaps to more well-known cities like Beijing or Shanghai) and you want to see more of the country while you're here, then consider heading to the Leshan. Leshan is located in Sichuan province and the city has a lot to offer curious visitors — especially those who like to eat.
Some Leshan highlights are:
Visit the Leshan Giant Buddha
Check out the beautiful Mt. Emei, one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China
Try all the spicy dishes that incorporate the famous Sichuan pepper
SUTip: If you're interested in seeing the pandas of Chengdu, you can do a combination tour.
3) The Liechtenstein Trail
This tiny country that borders Switzerland is one of the smallest in the world, but do not underestimate the significance of Lichtenstein when it comes to a traveler's bucket list for 2020. Recently, we came across an article in Hemispheres, United Airline's in-flight magazine, and learned about the Liechtenstein Trail (read those magazines, people!) What we learned is that you can hike this entire country in three days, and you don't have to be all that gung-ho about hiking to do it, either!
Some Liechtenstein Trail highlights are:
A 47-mile trail that lets you see the entire country in virtually 21 hours
You can start this trail from any municipality in Liechtenstein
Don't miss the Vaduz Castle
SUTip: If you need help planning your trip and/or you want a map for reference, visit the tourismus.li website. Best of all, there's an app!
2) Tbilisi, Georgia
Georgia is on many other top 2020 destination lists, and even though we haven't yet been here, it's on our own top 20 list of travel destinations for the new year. The biggest reason, for us, is the food. Khachapuri — or, cheese-filled (egg) bread — has had our mouth-watering for it ever since we first heard about it, and we can't wait to try it for ourselves. But, this dish (and Georgian cuisine in general) is just one of the many reasons to come to Tbilisi and Georgia.
Some Tbilisi highlights are:
The ruins of Narikala and fortress
The Bridge of Peace, an incredible work of architecture that lights up at night
Check out the wineries and vineyards
The Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi
The whimsical clock tower
SUTip: Stalin was born in Georgia. Though his home was in Gori, Georgia which you can visit, that's a bit far from Tbilisi. Instead, you can visit the Joseph Stalin Underground Printing Museum.
1) Philadelphia, United States
Being east-coasters, we are definitely a little bit biased when it comes to east coast cities, and Philly is one of them. Being from New York and New Jersey, Philly is a good combination of what we love about both states, all packaged into a historically industrial city that still manages to keep prices low despite all that it offers. From cultural experiences and delicious food to nature trails just a few miles away, don't miss your chance to visit this city in 2020, the next time you're on this side of the United States.
Some Philadelphia highlights are:
Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
Pat and Geno's Philly Cheesesteaks
The Liberty Bell
The cool neighborhoods like Fishtown and South Philly
SUTip: Not a tip, but if you're looking out for us in 2020, you'll find us here! We're relocating to Philly from Mexico City!