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Planning a trip in 2020? These are the best places to visit
South America’s best-kept secret, this jungle nation is sandwiched on the upper part of the continent between Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname. As the only English-speaking country in South America (having gained independence from the UK in 1966), it’s easier (linguistically) to navigate than its surrounding Spanish-speaking nations – and, with flights from NYC’s JFK airport timed at just five hours it’s a more “doable” destination than you might have anticipated.
Stretching nearly 4,300km from top to toe, Chile is, unsurprisingly, a land of extremes, boasting diverse landscapes and abundant wildlife. Beyond the capital, vibrant cities such as Valparaiso offer colourful cliffside houses and quirky charm, while the Atacama Desert is a go-to for salt flats and stargazing.
England is an old hand in escapism. Famous for its country retreats – be it a cottage in the Cotswolds or a distillery-adjacent stay in Somerset – and coastal towns, it’s economic downturn is likely to make it a hit with international visitors in 2020, while UK nationals are likely to opt for staycations next year (to save both pounds and the environment). If Cornwall isn’t calling you, opt for a city break in Manchester – where the food scene and hotel offering is expanding at lightning speed.
Portugal’s islands are a wilderness of secret surfing beaches, thermal pools, eco-conscious hotels and volcanic drama. Nature rules this dramatic archipelago of nine volcanic islets 1,500km off the coast of Lisbon so hiking, whale-watching, visiting crystalline lagoons and ancient vineyards are all on the agenda. Flores, Faial and Pico are our favourite islands.
The hipster’s heartland, Portland is a burgeoning city full of artists and musicians, foodies and innovative techsperts. Quirky, environmentally friendly and open-minded, Portland is graced with a million distractions – atop its geographical blessings (hello lush Pacific Northwest). Set up on the east side of the city and get lost in the maze of food stalls, craft stores and vibrant murals.
6. South Tyrol, Italy
With world-class hiking, idyllic scenery (its mythical landscapes inspired the fantasies of J. R. R. Tolkien) and intriguing local culture, South Tyrol is a perfect adventure playground. With the rugged good looks of the Alps and the charm of the Riviera, the spa town of Merano and ancient Bolzano are the destinations on which to set your sights.
A cosmopolitan desert landscape that juts into the emerald Atlantic, Dakar – the westernmost point of continental Africa – is a paradise of cool. The surf-loving city (paddle into the waves of the Almadies Peninsula) on the coast of Senegal is a bevvy of cotton-candy sunsets followed by late nights spent drinking by the waters edge.
8. Arles, France
There is some serious creative buzz surrounding this inland oasis. Gucci’s Alessandro Michele hosted his cruise show here in 2019, but the Arles obsession is nothing new. Artists such as Pablo Picasso, Etel Adnan, Joan Mitchell and Vincent Van Gogh have raved about Arles and its magical, Meditteranean light for aeons. It’s a popular holiday escape for Parisians, and for good reason; Arles’ incredible cultural offerings are second to none.
9. Canary Islands, Spain
With a climate that guarantees warm winters and not-too-scorching summers, otherworldly volcanic landscapes and golden beaches, it’s surprising that, until recently, package holidays have had a monopoly on the Canary Islands. Lanzarote is surprisingly cool – the surf set are moving in – and the smaller isles of La Palma, El Hierro and La Gomera are natural beauties with some excellent places to stay.
10. Ise-Shima, Japan
Jutting out into the ocean, this stretch of the of Mie Prefecture offers a portal into Old Japan. It’s home to a giant complex of Shinto shrines including Ise-Jingū, Japan’s most sacred Shinto shrine, believed to have been founded in the 3rd century. Travel along the coast for seaside views and lunches of seafood harvested by traditional amulet-wearing female shellfish divers.
11. Central Otago, New Zealand
New Zealand’s Central Otago is inundated with breathtaking scenery. A landscape of dusted peaks and weathered rocks position it as a playground for snow bunnies – the world-class ski fields surrounding Wanaka are among the country’s best. It’s also home to the adventure-rich town of Queenstown, and those who don’t identify as thrill seekers will be taken in by Otago’s vineyards.
12. Salzburg, Austria
This Austrian city buzzes year round thanks to musical pilgrims who come seek out Mozart’s birthplace and the setting of The Sound of Music. In summer, the famous Salzburg Festival transforms the charming city into a party featuring galas and performances by revered international stars. In the winter months, we’re hankering for Salzburg’s mountain scenery (read: gorgeous Alpine vistas) and charming city centre, which is a Unesco World Heritage site.
13. North Macedonia, The Balkans
Often passed over for other sparklers on the coast, such as Croatia and Montenegro, North Macedonia’s star is now burning brighter than ever, with lakeside Ohrid proving particularly popular. All cobblestoned walkways, old-world charm (every corner of Ohrid’s Old Town is garnished with bougainvillea and ivy) and sitting at the intersection of three national parks, it’s an easy sell for hikers and bikers in search of their next adventure.
14. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US
Andy Warhol’s hometown is making waves thanks to a new wave of young talents keen to continue the late artist’s legacy and champion a cutting-edge art scene. With interesting restaurants that stay true to themselves and a thriving tech sphere, Pittsburgh’s tourism scene is about to explode.
15. Kea, Greece
While it’s close to the Greek mainland, many tourists pass by Kea en route to Oía et al. Though Athenians are fond of weekending here, it seems to have otherwise escaped attention – until now. With idyllic coves, vineyards crawling over mountainous masses and some of the best wreck diving in Greece, this island in Cyclades archipelago in the Aegean Sea is one to visit before the crowds catch on.
16. Galway, Ireland
After visiting the centuries-old street market in Galway city on a Saturday afternoon, where countless food stalls are sandwiched between arts and crafts stands and buskers playing merry Irish tunes, it will come as no surprise that this small but busy Irish city has been named the European Capital of Culture for 2020. The county’s majestic rugged coastline also makes a strong case for exploring more of the “wild west”.
17. Bahia, Brazil
The heady blend of classic Portuguese architecture and African drum beats renders a wholly intoxicating image of Bahia. More than 900km of coastline, paradisaical islands and idyllic coastal villages attract vacationers and divers, while the spectacular Chapada Diamantina National Park and Unesco World Heritage-listed sites draw intrepid travellers inland.
18. Rabat, Morocco
With palm-lined boulevards and a distinctive European charm, galleries and gourmet grocers, Rabat is attracting savvy travellers who are bypassing Fez and Marrakech. Its seaside location, at the mouth of the Bou Regreg river, means that the beach is central. Inland, you’ll find fine historic buildings, a bustling, stress-free medina and an elegant new town.
On South America’s southern frontier, nature reigns supreme. Patagonia’s jagged peaks and pristine rivers have established tourist trails in the northern stretches, but elsewhere wilderness still rules. The area covers some 400,000 square miles, so you’ll need to plan ahead. Our advice? Hone in on Chilean Patagonia – a collage of islands, inlets and labyrinthine channels.
20. Yerevan, Armenia
In Yerevan traditional pandoks (taverns) crowded with locals compete with European-style wine bars; Soviet-era buildings shoulder modern structures; and fashions range from hipster to babushka. Armenia’s capital is a city of contrasts and a hive of activity. Set your starting point as the Dancing Fountains in Republic Square – it’s the best introduction to the city.
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