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Hot hotel openings! New non-stop flights! Freshly minted UNESCO World Heritage sites and so much more! 2020 is shaping up to be dynamite year (and coming decade) for packing your bags and seeing the world. From a carbon negative kingdom in Asia to an Irish Capital of Culture, we’ve never been more excited to get our passports stamped. Here are 20 places you must visit in 2020.

RELATED: 19 best places to travel in 2019

Bay of Fundy, Canada

Forget about San Francisco and Ha Long. The Bay of Fundy between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (and even touching a tiny piece of coastal Maine) is the raddest bay of your dreams. Not only is the scenery dramatic—think flowerpot rock formations draped in lush greenery—but its unique geographic location halfway between the equator and the North Pole results in extreme high and low tides. It’s a photographer’s dream landscape and in 2020, it’s more easily accessible thanks to a new Royal Caribbean cruise departing from NYC. Get there before everyone else does (which won’t be long btw).

Lombok, Indonesia

Sitting just a stone’s throw east of Bali, the island of Lombok and its offshore siblings the Gilis are an intoxicating smorgasbord of secluded beaches, enchanting dive spots and sky-high summits featuring mesmerizing vistas. The backpack crowd was always in the know, but now the luxury market has taken notice, too. Hotel inventory is expected to double by 2022: While 2019 saw the opening of Sikara Lombok Hotel, the Legion Sire, a boutique and villa resort boasting phenomenal views of the Gilis is the next luxury giant to set to arrive in 2020, and others may soon be on the way so get to Lombok now while bargains still abound.

Albania

Historic city of Berat in Albania

It’s not easy feat finding a slice of Mediterranean coastline that’s not either a haven for the rich and famous or overrun by tourists. But in the Albanian Riviera you have the Mediterranean response to over tourism. Consider that the country is only the 25th most visited in Europe and receives just one-sixth the tourism of nearby Croatia—even though its beaches are rapturously gorgeous! Inland there are are UNESCO World Heritage sites like the fortified city of Berat and the Carpathian Beech Forests, government-mandated colorful building facades in capital city Tirana, plus hot springs, Alps, ancient castles, Old World traditions and more at a fraction of what you would pay elsewhere on the continent.

Mexican Hat, UT

Why should you rush to a town with a population of 31? Because its backyard offers the rugged Southwest scenery of your dreams. For starters, Mexican Hat derives its name from a stunning rock formation that sits just outside of the town and is the stuff of Instagram dreams. But it is also the gateway to Goosenecks State Park, which shares the same twisty scenery of celebrated Horseshoe Bend and where adventure seekers can hop into the San Juan River for the whitewater rafting adventure of their lives. All this, plus you’ll be a stone’s throw from Four Corners and Monument Valley. So now is the time to ditch the Insta-hungry crowds in Page, Arizona and the long wait list for Grand Canyon rafting in favor of Goosenecks, a state park likely to give you goose bumps (yeah, we said it).

Egypt

Mortuary Temple Of Hatshepsut

2020 looks like it will be a high point for tourism in Egypt, which has been slowly recovering since the revolution that shook the country in 2011. The center piece of Egypt’s re-emergence as a top destination is the Grand Egyptian Museum, located in Giza just minutes from the iconic pyramids and finally opening after much fanfare—and delay. Make 2020 the year you finally cross one of the world’s most iconic, timeless destinations off your bucket list!

Nashville, TN

Even if you’ve been to the Tennessee capital before, you’ll have much new to explore on a return visit as Nashville’s creative class continues to develop new ways to honor its storied history and experience the city. This year the long-awaited National Museum of African American Music will open its doors, offering an interactive peek into genres from country to hip hop. The Dive Motel & Swim Club transformed a utilitarian space where stars like Hank Williams, Jr. used to stay while on tour into a primo party destination with a disco ball in every room while FieldHouse Jones brings a boutique hotel to the largely residential East Nashville neighborhood. Plan to eat at Audrey and Red Bird, Celebrity Chef Sean Brock’s soon-to-open restaurants focusing on the culinary traditions of Appalachia.

Girona, Spain

Ever “scooped” parmesan bread that had the consistency of snow or slurped an olive with the texture of an egg yolk? Such were the culinary mind games chef genius Ferran Adrià played on customers at his celebrated Catalan restaurant El Bulli before shuttering its doors in 2011. El Bulli is back (sort of) with the Girona opening of El Bulli 1846, an “exhibition lab” that will serve as a hub of creativity and experimentation and may host private dinners and events. Other reasons to love Girona include the walled Old Quarter and medieval architecture featured in GOT.  Also, isn’t it time we all just give Barcelona a break already?

Phú Quoc, Vietnam

The Longest Cable Car, Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam

The Longest Cable Car situated on the Phu Quoc Island in South Vietnam

Searching for the next Bali? We may have found it. Sun-scorched Phú Quoc, a large island closer in proximity to Cambodia than Vietnam, offers sun seekers their paradise found. A string of luxury resorts cling to the southernmost tip while the backpacker crowd flocks to the southwest side for bars, restaurants and captivating night markets. Meanwhile, the east side enchants with its teensy villages, offshore fishing boats and occasional eco-retreat. Even better, more than half the island is a national park consisting of dense, wildlife-infused jungle. Go now. Flights to the island are way, way up and the island is growing so fast that multiple sources report there aren’t enough hospitality workers to meet the demand.

Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

If you live in Southern California, you probably already have a friend who recently hopped the border, not in search of libidinous Tijuana nightlife or Rosarito’s budget lobster, but rather the perfect Pinot. Mexico’s wine region is a mere two-hour drive from San Diego—overlook it at your own risk. An oenophile’s paradise featuring more than 100 wineries, Baja Med eateries and charming eco-hotels, this is the wine region everybody is talking about of late. Uber even operates throughout the region so visitors can safely shuttle themselves from winery to winery.  Famously friendly, affordable and unpretentious, Valle de Guadalupe is wine country for the rest of us—that is until the Napa crowd catches on.

Swedish Lapland

Arctic Bath Hotel, Sweden, lapland

Can a single hotel inspire an entire vacation? The hotly anticipated and otherworldly Arctic Bath Hotel may be such a place. Located in northern Sweden and within the Arctic Circle, this luxury floating abode on the Lule River has a circular shape and design elements that resemble a woodland forest (the hotel is currently taking reservations in anticipation of its early 2020 opening). Made up of six floating cabins, one spa treatment room, four saunas, an outside cold bath, a hot bath, outdoor and indoor showers, two dressing rooms and open patio area, we can picture ourselves never leaving. But that would mean missing out on Lapland pastimes like reindeer rides, dog sledding, visiting with Sami people and Northern Lights viewings.

Guyana

Lush rainforests, the highest single drop waterfall in the world and an emerging eco-tourism scene? Sign us up! Tiny Guyana, which hugs South America’s North Atlantic coast and is squished between Brazil, Venezuela and Suriname is more than 75% covered in forest and has become the new siren’s call for eco-enthusiasts. JetBlue and American Airlines are now offering direct flights from the USA to meet the demand of tourists rushing to explore British Colonial architecture in Georgetown, savannah wildlife sightings (including jaguars, anteaters and river otters) and jungle tours to Kaieteur Falls. The recent discovery of oil offshore is only likely to aid the developing country in terms of tourism efforts. Bonus: Guyana is the sole South American country where English is the official language.

Bhutan

The tourism policy in Bhutan (the small nation enveloped between China and India) is high value, low impact. Translation: it’s super sustainable, and will be the first fully organic nation by 2020. There are no traffic lights, smoking is illegal, and you can’t hunt or fish unless you’re releasing your catch. Watch and learn. And while you’re there, wander through the mountains sans litter or environmental garbage.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin of all places is breaking out of its beer, cheese and waterpark mold. Sure, those are perfectly good reasons to visit, but now they’re also entering the world of high-end spa resorts. Sundara Inn & Spa in the family-focused Dells just completed its two-year, 40,000 sq. ft. expansion; Madison’s Edgewater Spa is a recent addition to its hotel; and Wisco has its longstanding, internationally recognized staples like Kohler Waters Spa, as well as under-the-radar favorites like Avani Spa and the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa. Bonus: It’s Wisconsin, so everything tends to be less expensive than other states already known for their spa offerings. Meanwhile, the spotlight will shine on Milwaukee in August when the GOP arrives for its 2020 convention.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic hopes to overcome a tough year by enticing would-be tourists with travel deals and more. Consistently the top Caribbean destination for Americans, it’s in quasi-reputation rebuilding mode following a dip in tourism numbers due to press centered around tourist deaths—which FBI investigations have since ruled as unrelated and resulting from natural causes. To attract and win back the confidence of sun-seeking travelers, island travel providers have been unleashing deals on airfare, resorts and all-inclusive vacations, as well as communicating new government-mandated safety and security measures in place for tourists. Adding further incentive to visit are several new resort openings: two Hyatt all-inclusive resorts, Ziva Cap Cana and the adults-only Zilara, and Club Med’s Michès Playa Esmeralda, a $100-million beachfront resort with all-inclusive amenities.

Azerbaijan

On the border between Eastern Europe and Asia, Azerbaijan has been attracting travelers and traders for more than one thousand years—ever since it was a major stop for camel caravans. But 2020 might be the year the rest of us finally pay this fascinating country a visit. A 5.7% increase in tourism over last year might be reason enough, but there’s plenty more. There are ancient petroglyphs and a 15th century Sheik’s palace recently named an UNESCO Heritage Site, dramatic modern architecture in Baku, including a cultural center designed by Zaha Hadid, modern hotels and even a world-class automotive Grand Prix where race cars zoom through the streets. Meanwhile, low prices let your travel dollar go further, including at restaurants, most of which serve family style platters of fresh, locally grown vegetables and fruits and meat kebabs.

 

Israel

Israel has been a hot destination for years, a trend that 2018’s 10% year-over-year increase in visitor arrivals illustrates. Two specific developments make 2020 an excellent time to get on the Israel bandwagon. Israel’s flag carrier El Al will begin nonstop flights from Chicago to Tel Aviv, making Israel easier to visit than ever for travelers who don’t live near the coasts. Additionally, the opulent Six Senses Shaharut will soon open in Israel’s picturesque, peaceful Negev Desert. 

Galway, Ireland

In truth, there’s never a bad time to visit Ireland. The island’s year-round emerald color is a scientific fact, and it’s as beautiful as its residents are welcoming. But 2020 is an especially good time for tourists to rush this harbor city given that Galway was designated the European Capital of Culture for the entire year and will play host to dozens of special artistic, cultural, seasonal, musical, and sporting events, in addition to spotlighting the nearby great outdoors of Connemara National Park and the Wild Atlantic Way. While Brexit still sorts itself out, nearby Ireland is smiling.

The Central Valley, CA

New Cuyama, Cuyama Bucklhorn

Oft overlooked, even derided, California’s breadbasket is full of hidden gems. Head to teensy New Cuyama and hang at the hipster hotel, diner and roadhouse Cuyama Buckhorn (or glamp it up at nearby Blue Sky Center). In Bakersfield, there’s hearty Basque cooking, Buck Owens Crystal Palace (Owens co-pioneered the Bakersfield sound) and the last remaining Woolworth’s Five and Dime. Stay at Bako boutique hotel the Padre. At Allensworth State Park, discover California’s first African-American settlement; at Lake Isabella, sunbathe in the shadow of Alpine mountains; and in Fresno, explore wineries, the Tower District and Forestiere Underground Gardens. There’s also Swedish village Kingsburg, Red Rock Canyon State Park and so much more. It’s a lot of ground to cover, thankfully there are plenty of farm stands along the way.

Dubai

Dubai is promising us “The World’s Greatest Show” when it hosts Expo 2020 in October. Knowing Dubai, we wouldn’t expect anything less. There will be living artwork canvases and installation, architectural adventures and plenty of augmented reality. While you’re there, stay at the brand new Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre.

Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands fever is nothing new. Iceland junkies in search of another near-freezing fix have found their bliss in this self-governing archipelago (a part of the Kingdom of Denmark) located 400 miles off the coast of mainland Europe. Think rugged and rocky coastlines  blanketed in mossy green punctuated by the occasional village. So why go now? Because a 2019 voluntourism pilot was so successful, it will happen again in 2020. The third weekend in April, the island will officially be “closed for maintenance” and applicants (the program is already filled) who lend a helping hand on the islands will receive free food, lodging and transportation in exchange. If following their adventures online doesn’t make you Faroe curious, we don’t know what will. Want to join a future voluntourism effort? Find out more here.

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Tagged: Africa, Asia, Bali, California, Caribbean, Europe, Faroe Islands, Ireland, Mexico, Midwest, Nashville, Punta Cana, Spain, Tennessee, Top 10 Lists, Vietnam

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Orbitz Travel Blog Editors

Orbitz Travel Blog Editors

We're the editors of this travel blog, brought to you by Orbitz!

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