It’s that time of year where everybody makes predictions about where we’ll be travelling in the year to come. (On The Independent travel team’s list: Taiwan, Marrakech, Dubai, Manchester and more.)
This is where the travel experts think we’ll be going next year.
Who: Abercrombie & Kent
With the resumption of flights to Sharm el Sheikh on the agenda and perky tourist arrivals (11 million people visited last year, according to official figures), Egypt looks set to make a comeback in 2020, says luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent.
It recommends visiting Cairo’s Grand Egyptian Museum, scheduled to finally open next year: “Set to be the world’s largest archaeological museum, this exhibition space will showcase a vast array of ancient Egyptian finds – 30,000 of which have never been exhibited to the public.”
Who: Wild Frontiers
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit to Pakistan this autumn put the country back into the spotlight. Plus, it’s now easier to get there from London, thanks to new direct British Airways flights to Pakistan’s capital Islamabad.
Tour operator Wild Frontiers has been tipping Pakistan as the next big destination for a couple of years – it has seen an increase in customer numbers of 20 per cent this year compared to 2018.
Where: Milwaukee, US
This midwest city is the host of next year’s Democratic National Convention, and is Airbnb’s top tip for 2020.
“This historic gem on the shores of Lake Michigan often slips under the radar but has a terrific bar and restaurant scene and fascinating cultural attractions that include a Calatrava-designed art museum,” says Airbnb. “And with over 105 miles of scenic bike lanes, it’s easy to see why Milwaukee is experiencing an upsurge in interest.”
Where: Copenhagen, Denmark
Who: Preferred Hotels & Resorts
A focus on sustainability – Copenhagen is aiming to become the world’s first carbon neutral city by 2025 – plus new hotel openings puts the Danish capital in focus for Preferred Hotels & Resorts.
“With a slew of hotels slated to open in Copenhagen next year, Villa Copenhagen is one of the most anticipated. The city’s century-old city post office turned luxury eco-hotel will open its doors in April next to Tivoli Gardens,” says Brenda Collin, managing director, UK, Ireland, Nordics and The Netherlands.
It’s time to put the UK back onto your bucket list – and specifically Kent, which is increasingly known for its premium winemaking.
“It’s easy to see why trendsetters are re-labelling Kent ‘Chateau Britain’,” says holiday firm i-escape. “And with its ancient castles, iconic White Cliffs and 350 miles of coastline, there’s never been a better destination to make the most of the great British countryside.” New-ish hotels include the cosy-country Pig at Bridge Place and the shepherd’s huts at Elmley nature reserve.
Who: Wild Frontiers
In 2020, Chad, the fifth largest country in Africa, will celebrate 60 years of independence from France. According to tour operator Wild Frontiers, “Chad is huge and largely untouched by tourism”, and it is offering a new group tour for next year that takes in Unesco World Heritage Site Ounianga lakes, some of the oldest rock art in the Sahara and the eerie Martian-like rock formations of the Ennedi massif.
Peru is booming in popularity – but its most well-known sight, Machu Picchu, is struggling under the weight of overtourism. Tour operator Exodus instead recommends exploring the alternative Inca trails. Its new tour of the Moonstone Trek, which passes through seldom‐visited Andean villages, Inca and pre‐Inca ruins and heads onto a beautiful altiplano plateau surrounded by glaciated peaks, is so remote that “most groups won’t encounter any other tourists for the entire trek”.
Where: Sichuan province, China
Who: Black Tomato
If you want to get your giant panda fix, 2020 is the year to do it. China is introducing a new national parks initiative for 2020, with one of the first openings the Giant Panda National Park across the provinces of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu. “When it opens, Giant Panda National Park will connect 67 giant panda reserves spread across the southwestern province of Sichuan, which is home to over 80 per cent of all wild pandas. It will be three times the size of Yellowstone,” says tour operator Black Tomato.
The Granite City, Scotland’s third largest, has much to offer next year, says Airbnb: a striking cityscape, fine dining, galleries and museums, as well as “rugged coastal scenery and romantic ruins in the surrounding countryside”.
Where: New England
Who: American Sky
Next September marks one of the biggest anniversaries in the US calendar: it will be 400 years since the Mayflower departed on its historic voyage from Plymouth, landing at what is now Provincetown in Massachusetts two months later. American Sky is tipping New England for a visit in 2020, thanks to the programme of events that will run throughout the year – including historical re-enactments.
Who: Lonely Planet
Bhutan claimed Lonely Planet’s coveted spot as the top country to visit next year. A big factor was the kingdom’s pledge to become the world’s first fully organic nation by 2020, plus its blending of the “ancient and modern”. Lonely Planet says: “Bhutan is no ordinary place. It is the last great Himalayan kingdom, shrouded in mystery and magic, where a traditional Buddhist culture carefully embraces global developments.”
Who: Original Travel
Now Uzbekistan has become a fixture on the travel map, more intrepid travellers are turning their attention to neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, according to Original Travel. The tour operator has had so much interest from existing clients, it’s added the country to its destination portfolio for 2020.
“Where Uzbekistan is (in the main) all about desert plains and stunning cities, Kyrgyzstan is 95 per cent mountains and home to the newly minted Issyk Kol trail network; this ‘Stan’ is ripe for exploration,” says Original Travel.
Where: North Macedonia
Rich in Greek, Roman and Ottoman heritage, Macedonia is renowned for its gastronomy, ancient tradition and nature. Hotels.com has tipped it to become even more in 2020, saying: “The Unesco-protected lake and town of Ohrid are the jewel of North Macedonia’s crown, and new flight routes have just been launched, meaning the ancient cobbled streets, distinctive architecture, city beach and lakefront bars are easier than ever to explore.”
Who: Rough Guides
Long known for its cosy pubs, superlative seafood and riotous festivals, the harbour city of Galway will next year reign as a European Capital of Culture. Rough Guides named it as one of the top cities to visit in 2020: “This is a place where Irish is still spoken between mouthfuls of Guinness, where shops display musical instruments alongside handcrafted Claddagh rings, and locals feast on native oysters plucked straight from the bay. You’ll find live bands aplenty and buskers on the streets. All this is framed by the medieval town walls that gently crumble in the salty breeze.”
Where: Sri Lanka
Who: Scott Dunn
Sri Lanka is back on track for the winter season, thanks to the lifting of travel restrictions by the British Foreign Office.
“Popular attractions are now refreshingly crowd-free and a slew of new openings are planned for 2019/2020 including Teardrop Hotels’ newest property Pekoe House in Kandy, which will join the collection’s portfolio of beautifully renovated, historic properties giving guests a fascinating insight into Sri Lanka’s colonial past, while delivering genuine Sri Lankan hospitality and superb local cuisine,” says Scott Dunn.
According to Airbnb, there has been a 298 per cent increase in bookings year-on-year for Romania. The home-share site says: “Romania, with its pristine hills and ancient rural villages, is the perfect destination for anyone looking for something off-the-beaten track. The country has some of the best preserved virgin forests in Europe and, according to the 2018 Environmental Performance Index, ranks 15th globally when it comes to ecosystem vitality.”
Who: Hills Balfour
It’s a big year for Vienna: 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth. For this reason, travel PR agency Hill Balfour has named it a top destination to visit next year – the city will be offering “a variety of celebratory exhibitions, performances and experiences”.
Where: Mexico City
Who: Sunvil Latin America
Food is the main factor behind travel this recommendation of Mexico City. “With many new Mexican restaurants popping up in London – such as Decimo and Toca Madera – it seems we can’t get enough of tacos and tostadas,” says Sunvil. “Mexico City is currently enjoying a moment in the spotlight as a culinary hotspot: as well as street food and fine dining, visitors can enjoy gastronomic tours, cooking classes, and mezcal tastings.”
Where: Hydra, Greece
Who: Black Tomato
Whereas the better-known Greek islands become overrun tourist traps come summer, Hydra offers an “authentic side of Greece” that “remains untouched by the sands of time” according to holiday specialist Black Tomato. On top of that, every summer car-free and protected-status Hydra “is transformed into a hive of creativity and a magnet for the art world as the legendary art world figures of Dakis Joannou and Dimitrios Antonitsis transform spaces that include the old slaughterhouse and the local school into cutting-edge exhibition spaces.”
Where: Tbilisi, Georgia
Who: Rough Guides
“Reborn from the ashes of the Rose Revolution, Georgia’s capital city is working hard to carve out an identity of its own,” according to Rough Guides, which included Tbilisi in its list of top cities to visit in 2020. “Gone are its ex-Soviet spaces, the abandoned factories and printing houses. These once-industrial shells are now boutique hotels, art galleries and techno-heavy music venues. Futuristic architecture has emerged in Rike Park, where a duo of glass-and-steel tubes now looms over the lawns.”