Gone are the times when we'd simply spin a globe and book a flight to whichever country our finger lands on when it stops. These days, it’s all about online research, planning, and choosing the best destinations to suit our individual travel goals. Anyone needing to unleash their inner spirituality jets off to Bali, and those needing a couple of weeks of nothing but heart-pumping adrenaline head to Queenstown, New Zealand. Foodies flock to New York and Seattle, while art and history buffs make Paris their number one priority.
With 2019 now officially past its halfway point, it’s time to start thinking about next year. Whether emerging or well-established as traveler’s dream locations, let’s hop around the world and pick out some of the must-see destinations for 2020.
10 Melbourne, Australia
Why not kickstart our journey around the world with a trip to the Land Down Under? Melbourne is widely considered the cultural capital of Australia and continues to grow and diversify its art, food and sporting scenes.
March is one of the better months to visit the Victorian capital, when the scoring heatwaves have dissipated but when there is still plenty of daylight and warm days. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival rolls around that time of year annually, and it’s also the start of the Australian football season, which draws thousands of the most die-hard fans of any sport. If you have the opportunity to rent a car, the Great Ocean Road is a beautiful daytrip.
9 Tokyo, Japan
The electric Japanese capital is a worthy frontrunner for our bucket list’s top spot in any year, but as the host city of the 2020 Olympics, Tokyo is set to churn out something extra special. The sprawling city offers a wonderful mix of technology and ultra-modern features with humble traditions and ancient cultures, making it truly one of the world's most unique destinations.
Apart from the Olympics, which will run from late July to early August, visitors can ascend the Tokyo Skytree, explore the historic Sensōji temple, and delve into what is renowned as one of the most impressive foodie scenes across the globe.
8 Montreal, Canada
Sitting over in eastern Canada in the province of Quebec, about an hour's flight north of New York City, Montreal is one of North America’s most underrated cities. The vibrant, progressive, totally bilingual city continues to fly under the tourism radar, to the detriment of anyone who chooses to skip over it.
After hibernating through the winter, summertime in Montreal roars with festivals, among them Osheaga, Piknic Electronik, Just For Laughs, and Jazz Fest, just to name a few. Between a stroll through the cobblestoned streets of Old Montreal and a gentle climb to the Mount Royal viewing platform, grab a world-famous Montreal bagel or a smoked meat sandwich.
7 Tulum, Mexico
When we conjure up images of Mexican beach resorts, Cancun and Playa del Carmen are the first that come to mind. Unfortunately, for exactly that reason, they’re flooded with tourists and have been so Americanized that it’s not even close to authentic Mexico.
Just a tad further south is the quickly emerging city of Tulum. While its popularity is skyrocketing, it feels much more at ease than the aforementioned tourist traps. The beaches are bliss, the tacos are off the charts, and the handful of cenotes (swimming holes) are nothing short of beautiful. Plus, you can stretch your dollar much further in Mexico compared to the US.
6 Prague, Czech Republic
For anyone with an appreciation for history, it would be impossible to leave Prague off any must-see list. The Czech capital has been exploding in popularity over recent years, but it’s still a relative unknown compared to the behemoth cities further west of London, Paris, Berlin, and Barcelona.
If you don’t have too long, the St. Vitus Cathedral, the 9th-century Prague Castle, and the Charles Bridge, which links old Prague with new, are some of the essential spots to check out. It’s a rather walkable city, so make sure to pack some comfy shoes and line up a free walking tour or two during your stay.
5 Livingstone, Zambia
We’re flying over to Africa for our next leg on the 2020 must-see journey, stopping in the adventure-filled city of Livingstone. The southwestern Zambian city is a hub for those wanting to see one of the most impressive natural wonders on Earth, and while it’s slowly being added to bucket lists, it remains wildly underrated.
Due to its proximity to Victoria Falls, the tallest waterfall in the world, Livingstone offers up plenty of adventure-focused activities. Those brave enough can sit in the Devil’s Pool and dangle over the intimidating falls’ edge, or raft through the Zambezi River while spotting hippos and crocodiles on the way.
4 New York, USA
It doesn’t matter whether it’s on your 2020 bucket list or 2025 bucket list, the Big Apple presents itself as a must-visit destination regardless of the month, season, or year.
The concrete jungle sports America’s most visited tourist attraction, Times Square, as well as a long list of impressive Broadway productions, a melting pot of culinary cultures, the Empire State Building, Central Park, and the iconic Brooklyn Bridge - and that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. The museums are top class, and there’s a long list of fist-pumping music festivals on Randall’s Island Park throughout the summer and fall.
3 Porto, Portugal
Situated on the coast in the northwest of Portugal, the city of Porto is quickly emerging as one of the more underrated European destinations. With its colorful building facades and glistening harbor, Porto is a photographer’s paradise. It’s perfect for wine snobs, too, with port wine production being one of the focuses of the region.
While Lisbon might get most of the attention in terms of Portugal’s tourism, there’s plenty to love about its neighbor to the north. Compared to the more popular European cities, Porto is very budget-friendly, meaning that you can stretch your dollar all that much further. If you’re planning a 2020 Eurotrip adventure, don’t miss Porto.
2 Asheville, North Carolina
As far as states across America go, the Carolinas don’t always get the best rap. However, Asheville is one of the frontrunning cities working toward positively revolutionizing that reputation. Thanks to its proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains, there’s a great number of outdoor activities like hiking and mountain biking to complement all the inner-city festivities.
Asheville is particularly known as being a hub for craft beer, boasting more breweries per capita than any other city across the USA. So between a visit to the historic Biltmore mansion and a stroll through The North Carolina Arboretum, grab a drink at one of the many watering holes on offer.
1 Paris, France
With over 17 million international visitors, the City of Light has always been one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, and that’s not changing any time soon. You might be sick of seeing Paris in the spotlight, but there’s no reason why it should ever leave it.
The French capital sports some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, the Notre Dame cathedral (which is currently being restored after the devastating fire), and the Moulin Rouge. From its authentic food scene to its world-class museums, historic cobblestoned streets and proximity to other exciting European destinations, there is no shortage of reasons to visit Paris, regardless of the year. So, what are you waiting for?