If you’re anything like us, November and December are the months for planning your next adventures the following year.
So, every year we ask you where you want to travel to and you help us shape the ultimate travel list. From the untapped to the places we could never tire of – here are your official top 20 destinations for 2020, as picked by Contiki travellers and the six-two team.
Few destinations have living history as rich as Peru’s. Machu Picchu remains the draw card, but more travellers are scratching the surface and spending a lot of time just in Peru exploring it’s rainforests, unique communities and jaw-dropping landscapes.
Thailand has always been popular for Australians, but more Americans and Canadians are heading to the far-flung islands than ever. Why? Their beauty rivals the Greek Islands and they’re super cheap. Thailand is on the cusp of a boom and 2020 is set to be a big year for the country from the gorgeous islands, to the national parks of the North, and palm-studded South.
Most people only think of Germany annually when it’s time to sink a stein at Oktoberfest, but the pretty towns and nature experiences have always been popular with locals and neighbouring European countries. The gorgeous town of Dresden looks like something straight from Beauty and the Beast, while the Rhine Valley is famous for its wine. The rest of us are finally taking notice and heading outside the big cities to see the German countryside.
Ireland has always been a beloved holiday spot, but what’s changing next year is where and why people are heading to the Emerald Isle. Big cities like Dublin aren’t the main focus, but rather gateways to wild adventures on the coast and in the East exploring the mind-bogglingly ancient cultures Ireland boasts. With a growing farm-to-table foodie scene, more people than ever want to head hear for divine food experiences over cliche Irish pub meals.
You may have noticed a trend on this list leaning towards adventure. Hey, it’s what travellers want, and nowhere ticks those boxes quite like Patagonia. This region shared by Chile and Argentina is like nothing else. Hike the southernmost tip of South America and be rewarded with views of sparkling white glaciers, deep blue lagoons and towering peaks. This isn’t a trip for the faint of heart, but then what is 2020 about if not challenging yourself?
Colombia had been out of bounds to travellers in decades gone by, but in 2020 it’s a different story as this South American country is ready and waiting for visitors to come see its bustling cities, lush coffee plantation towns, charming cobblestoned retreats and idyllic beaches. Fancy a hike to a Lost City? Want to go caving, rafting, canyoning and paragliding in the Colombian capital of extreme sports? Want to go a graffiti workshop and learn some interesting history? Colombia has got you covered.
14. South Korea
South Korea is going to be as popular with tourists as Japan, according to many. While the cultures are wildly different, like Japan, it’s a small island that has big things going for it. If great street food, a mix of modern and ancient cultures and unforgettable nights out with a little karaoke thrown in are your thing, South Korea needs to go right to the top of your travel list.
13. The Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania)
The Balkans has been the ‘it’ set of countries in Europe over the last few years, but the new untapped set is the Baltics. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have landscapes that will make your heart sing, rich cultures (and food!), and a heritage that comes alive in the quaint cities. Trust us, the Baltics are all anyone is going to be talking about when it comes to Europe next year.
12. The Philippines
The Philippines is a real up and coming destination. Tipped as the next Bali, it’s untouched and only just seeing tourists numbers grow. Transport can be a little tricky on island time, but come mid-2020 we’re predicting the kinks will be worked out and the gorgeous lagoons will be ready for visitors who can’t resist the call of crystal clear azure waters.
11. Costa Rica
Mexico drew millions of adventurers in 2018 and 2019 and now it’s Costa Rica‘s turn. This Central American destination is more modern than its neighbours, but still retains that lively Latin flavour. With great beaches and mountains (read: volcanoes), it’s a popular surfing and wellness destination for travellers who want to kick back and relax one day and do something adventurous the next.
While on many bucket lists, Iceland has been just a dream for many because of the prices, but that’s all changing in 2020! Don’t get too excited, it will still be an expensive destination, but there are more budget airlines adding Iceland to their routes and more tourist dollars making the competition fierce.
One of the sad reasons for the growing popularity though is due to global warming, and the fear that those lush glaciers will be gone in a few years. On our Contiki trips in 2020 we’re giving travellers the chance to give back and help turn the tide by planting five trees in the Haukadalur Valley and aid in the reforestation project run by locals.
Africa is really having a moment. Last year South Africa was top of the hit lists, and now travellers are branching out to other exotic Southern African destinations like Namibia. With breathtaking landscapes (wait until you see the insane sand dunes!), traditional communities, safaris and beautiful coasts, Namibia is the best of Africa in one spot.
8. USA (Pacific Northwest)
Unlike the East Coast and West Coast of America, the Pacific Northwest has flown under the radar on the travel scene until recently. Portland and Seattle are blowing up on Instagram. You’ve obviously all taken notice (and so have we) of the urban vibes, unique foodie experiences and quirky things to do in the top left corner of the USA. The Pacific Northwest is a real smorgasbord of cultures, foods, art and scenes. Get there first before everyone else realises how amazing it is!
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Japan has been making the hot lists for a couple of years now and get used to it because it’s not going anywhere! Between hosting the Rugby World Cup this year and the Olympics next year, Japan is simply EXPLODING on the global travel scene. Between Tokyo’s quirky themed restaurants, the hot springs in Takayama, snow fields of Hakone and temples of Mount Koya; there’s so much to do and see in Japan and there’s something for everyone.
London is no longer the only stop in England! We’re seeing a growing interest among travellers to do an extra week in England before heading off to check out what’s happening in Europe. More people are wanting to explore the green hills in the countryside and tackle hikes in the Lake District. With a growing foodie scene too, England isn’t just about fish and chips anymore. Think craft beer breweries, street food halls and Michelin-star restaurants. Plus, Harry Potter. Everyone wants to see Harry Potter sites in England, duh.
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Croatia is another popular destination, but travellers are changing what they want to see and where they go. Once they’ve sailed the Croatian islands, people are turning inland and exploring its many national parks like Krka National Park and Plitvice Lakes National Park. The stunning beauty of Croatia’s mainland is finally getting the attention it deserves in 2020.
Siestas, sangria and splendid cities abound in one of the hottest destinations every year (but especially for 2020!). Tourists are looking to explore outside the usual spots of Madrid and Barcelona and tap into places of cultural significance like Granada, or lesser travelled spots in Spain like Seville, Toledo and Segovia.
Unlike smaller European countries, where you may visit several destinations in one trip, there’s a real trend towards it being a holiday in and of itself. After all, it’s a HUGE country and there’s so much to do and see. We should know, we’ve just added a Special Stay for 2020 in an actual Spanish castle.
3. New Zealand
From the tip of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island, the land of the Long White Cloud is a magical escape for any adventuring soul. For a small country there are endless things to do in New Zealand, which is probably why it’s one of the most ‘repeat-travelled’ destinations, especially for Australians! With more flight routes than ever, NZ is becoming not just a great holiday spot, but a popular gate-way destination. Why not do a quick canyon swing in Queenstown on your way to Argentina?!
How do you say “we love Italy” in Italian? Because we all really do! The food, the culture, the history and the way Italians prioritise having a rich and full life is enough to capture any soul. Venice, Rome, the Amalfi Coast and Florence remain hot, but exploring off the beaten track in Tuscany, the Chianti region and Sorrento is what 2020 is all about. Also, did you know we’ve got a Special Stay in an Italian villa that is also an artist’s retreat now?
White sandy beaches, pristine islands, sunshine and all the gyros you could want; Greece and the stunning Greek Islands are bliss for so many travellers. In fact, 8.9% of you chose this as the #1 spot to go next year! While spots like Mykonos and Ios remain popular, smaller islands like Paros are on the rise, and mainland destinations packed with ancient history like Olympia and Delphi are quickly becoming must-visit places.