For anyone with a resolution to travel more in 2020, CNN Travel is providing a cheat sheet to the best places to go!
This year, CNN compiles a list of the 20 best places to visit, taking into account factors like tourism statistics, major events, flight routes, restaurant openings, and hotel debuts, along with other things like available attractions and insight from travel agents and industry insiders.
This year’s list includes cities that you might have never considered, remote islands that provide perfect peace and quiet, and plenty of glamorous spots. They also recommend some great hotels to be your home away from home while traveling.
To make your search even easier, we’ve compiled some of our cities in the list below!
Chile Lake District
While Chile has been in the headlines because of civil unrest, a visit to “Los Lagos” away from the urban centers offers travelers astonishing landscapes and serenity. This region is set to be even more impressive in December 2020, thanks to a total solar eclipse.
r 14, totality will occur over the town of Pucón at 1:03 p.m. local time and will last just over two minutes.
Cosmic phenomena not withstanding, this region of southern Chile is worth more than a two-minute visit, thanks to the national parks, volcanoes and outdoor adventuring.
Back on the mainland, the archaeological site of Monte Verde gives a glimpse into the lives of people who lived more than 14,000 years ago. The Lake District is also home to several national parks, including Chile’s first, Vicente Pérez Rosales.
Conguillío National Park, meanwhile, is home to an active volcano, Llaima, which last erupted in 2008. The resort town of Pucón is great for thermal springs and bar-hopping and is also home to one of Chile’s most famous volcanos, Villarica. Braving the trek to the summit is a must for experienced hikers. Rest up for the night at &Beyond Vira Vira, a lodge on an organic farm.
Don’t Miss: The seafood. On the island of Chiloe, try curanto — a stew-style dish featuring seafood, meat, potatoes and Chilean rhubarb. — Francesca Street
Copenhagen was given another happiness boost earlier this year when Kongens Nytorv, its much-loved square, finally reopened after a seven-year closure because of the construction of a new metro line.
Now the former Viking fishing village will be easier to navigate, as its driverless and fully automatic M3 (or Cityringen) comes with 17 new stations and links to three “bridge neighborhoods,” Vesterbro, Nørrebro and Østerbro.
The Museum of Copenhagen is also opening its doors again in 2020, complete with a multimillion dollar immersive experience.
Tivoli Gardens, the world’s second-oldest amusement park, hasn’t lost its appeal, remaining a top year-round attraction for all ages thanks to its magnificent gardens, lake and playgrounds.
A stroll down Strøget, one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets, is highly recommended, as is a visit to one of Copenhagen’s many top restaurants.
The three Michelin-starred Geranium is one of the most impressive, offering up fabulous views of park Fælledparken alongside a multicourse tasting menu of Scandinavian cuisine. There’s also the wonderful Kødbyens Fiskebar, based in the Meatpacking District, where you’ll find some of the best seafood around.
Don’t miss: In winter, test out the new artificial ski and snowboard slope at the city’s power plant CopenHill. It’s made up of four slopes of varying difficulty, a freestyle park and slalom course. –– Tamara Hardingham-Gill
The Dead Sea
As the lowest point on Earth, the Dead Sea is far from an under-the-radar secret. But the realities of the climate crisis are causing water levels there to drop and have reframed the destination from “a place to visit someday” to “a place you need to visit now.”
On the border of Israel and Jordan, the Dead Sea can feel like an extremely salty oasis, where talk of ongoing political conflict is less common than the sight of travelers from around the world covering themselves in black mud and falling backward into the water.
The feeling of engaging in a trust fall with the watery landscape — simply close your eyes, drop, and feel yourself pushed upward by the water — may be why so many people from so many eras have found holiness here.
Beyond the act of wading into a body of water with nearly eight times the salinity of the ocean, the Dead Sea’s key location makes it a perfect stop on a Middle Eastern road trip.
Petra, one of the seven modern wonders of the world, is a mere 135 kilometers (84 miles) away in Jordan, while the world-famous sites of Jerusalem are just 34 kilometers (21 miles) the other way. It’s as close to the Earth’s core as the average mortal can possibly get, and the incredible glow your skin will have the next day is a bonus.
Don’t miss: In Israel, the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is a protected area of waterfalls slicing through dramatic, ancient canyons. It is one of the most popular places for Israeli locals to visit — and some of the hikes also provide views of the Dead Sea you can’t appreciate up close. — Lilit Marcus
With lush, primordial rainforests, foliage-engulfed peaks and deep ravines crisscrossed by 365 rivers, the Eastern Caribbean island of Dominica more than lives up to its “Nature Island” moniker.
The 290-square-mile island suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Maria in 2017, but Dominica has bounced back with a commitment to sustainable, climate-resilient construction and a renewed focus on ecotourism offerings.
Dominica is in the midst of an impressive luxury hotel boom, thanks in large part to its longstanding Citizenship by Investment program. Investing $100,000 and up in a high-end resort is one path to citizenship under the program.
Among the new luxury properties is Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski, Dominica’s first five-star resort with an 18,000-square-foot spa and four swimming pools.
While Estonia may not yet be synonymous worldwide with haute cuisine, this Nordic-like country in Northern Europe can hold its own.
Don’t be surprised if you hear more about Its bustling food scene in 2020. Most notable is the Bocuse d’Or Europe, a live cooking contest that pays homage to the late French chef Paul Bocuse, happening in late May. Estonia has participated in the culinary show for a decade, but this is the first time the country will play host to it.
With more than 100 restaurants on the White Nordic Guide (a restaurant guide featuring the best of the best in Nordic and Baltic countries), Estonia’s allegiance to homegrown and homemade is evident in such Tallinn restaurants as O, a fine dining spot with a Nordic-nature inspired menu, and Tabac, a hip brasserie with even hipper prices.
In spite of a thriving and growing food and drink scene, Estonia is, perhaps, better known for its beauty and natural, wide-open spaces. Outdoor enthusiasts could plan an entire trip around Estonia’s comprehensive bog network. Since the country is relatively small (about the size of New York state) with a small population, it makes for seamless, uncrowded and affordable explorations. All camping facilities, for example, are free!
Add a smattering of spas, a bevy of castles and ancient, silent forests, and it’s not hard to see why Estonia is on the rise.
A European Capital of Culture for 2020, Galway is a rural land where artists are drawn by the sublime beauty of the rocky landscape.
As with the United States, Ireland’s west coast has historically attracted pioneers and mavericks. Battered by Atlantic winds, the weather is fiercer here than in the cultivated east. This is a rural land where people live by their own rules, and artists are drawn by the sublime beauty of the rocky landscape. The capital of County Galway, Galway City, is an artsy enclave where bonhomie and erudition are prized.
Festivals bloom freely in Galway, with cultural gatherings spread across its calendar like wild heather. Visit any season, and you’ll happen across celebrations of food, music, history, art, literature and nature, plus everything from burlesque to banjos, and ponies to Pride.
In 2020, there are European Capital of Culture events happening throughout, from Margaret Atwood’s International Women’s Day appearance at the Wild Atlantic Women literary event to Lumiere Galway, which will close out the year in January 2021 with spectacular light installations throughout the streets of the capital.
Galway International Arts Festival is held annually in July, and in 2020, the Pixies, Flaming Lips and Sinéad O’Connor will take to the stage. The Galway Races get underway at the end of July and, in August, Omey Strand in Connemara becomes a racecourse, with horses and their riders galloping across the sands.
James Bond, Bob Marley, turquoise waters and dazzling waterfalls — Jamaica has a lot to offer, particularly in 2020.
In April, Ian Fleming’s superspy James Bond appears in his 25th feature film, “No Time To Die,” in which Daniel Craig’s 007 returns to his creator’s real-life beach house, Goldeneye, about 90 minutes from Montego Bay.
Fleming wrote 14 James Bond novels at Goldeneye, working there every winter from 1952 until his death in 1964. Guests can stay in the famed author’s five-bedroom beachfront home on the northern coast of the island and avail themselves of Fleming’s writing desk.
Jamaica’s favorite son, though, is the iconic reggae musician, Bob Marley, who would have turned 75 on February 6. Marley’s Jamaica is a living, beating heart, overflowing with love, pain, history and cultural significance.
The singer lived in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital, and fans of Marley’s music and message can commune with the legendary artist at his former home, now the Bob Marley Museum.
Tucked away between China to the east, Kazakhstan to the north and Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan is easy to overlook, but it’s a perfectly formed jewel of a country.
Head east from the capital of Bishkek to where rugged mountains descend into the sparkling snow-melt waters of the vast Lake Issyk-Kul, and Kyrgyzstan reveals itself as a beguiling wonderland that few international visitors have discovered.
In the space of a few miles, the landscape offers up desert-like canyons to rival the American West and lush, high-altitude meadows to rival the European Alps. In winter, there’s skiing around the town of Karakol. In summer, trekking and horseback riding into the Tien Shan mountains. All-year-round, there are jaw-dropping geological marvels around every corner.
Years of hardship after the collapse of the Soviet Union have taken their toll on Kyrgyzstan, and it’s still finding its feet as a tourist destination. But where it lacks infrastructure to deal with lots of visitors, it excels in delivering genuine unexplored frontiers to adventurous travelers willing to rough it a little. It’s safe, extremely welcoming and very good value for the money.
With Tokyo gearing up to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, Japan has been hard at work preparing for the influx of tourists, improving its already top-notch infrastructure.
Although the main focus will be on Tokyo, take some time to explore subtropical Kyushu, which offers more than 36,000 square kilometers (about 13,900 square miles) of stunning scenery, top eats and plenty of cultural attractions.
The third largest of Japan’s five main islands, it lies southwest of the main island of Honshu. No ferries are required, since several bridges and underwater tunnels connect the two islands, ensuring a seamless five-hour journey from Tokyo on one of Japan’s famed Shinkansen bullet trains.
Honshu’s largest city, cosmopolitan Fukuoka, is a foodie paradise. Small coastal towns such as Kunisaki and Beppu are famous for their quaint streets and onsen (hot springs).
Then there’s the small city of Saga, which will host the 2020 Asia’s Best Restaurant awards.The area is known for its beautiful terraced rice fields, mountains and tea plantations.
In late 2018, as the residents of this South Pacific island group voted on whether to remain part of France or to break off as a new nation, a question began popping up on Google searches across the globe: Where is New Caledonia?
The group of four archipelagos — which, by the way, opted to remain a French overseas territory for the time being — is about halfway between Fiji and the coast of Queensland, Australia, south of the Solomon Islands.
A more complicated answer is that New Caledonia, more properly La Nouvelle-Caledonie, is in a place uniquely its own. With streaky pink sunsets and stretches of white sand beach, this relatively untouristed spot — did we mention it’s one of the least-visited places in the world? — is a perfectly remote destination.
It’s like visiting a nearly empty South of France in the summertime, eating gorgeous, buttery pastries after an afternoon of sunning yourself without being surrounded by crowds.
Nearly all travelers begin in the capital of Noumea and work out from there. Noumea’s striking lagoon-front location blends French colonial heritage buildings with the colors of the sea and sky.
With only about 100,000 residents, it’s easy to live the simple life there — you can stay in an urban B&B, then pass an afternoon snorkeling, swimming or kitesurfing before enjoying a fresh meal of fish, paired with white Burgundies imported from 17,000 miles away.
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