The best way to plan a trip is to think about what you love to do and when you need a break—not which destination you have yet to check off some list. With these key points in mind, we tapped our network of in-the-know editors and global correspondents to deliver two dozen inspiring spots that will be particularly enticing this coming year.
Among them are far-flung places you may have never considered, such as the nomadic villages of Kyrgyzstan, the archaeological ruins deep in Guatemala, and the pristine landscapes of Lombok, Indonesia. There are also sleepy beach towns getting glammed up by posh hotels, or classic cities revitalized by hot restaurants and fresh cultural institutions. And if you’re looking for a chance to commune with the great outdoors or go on an animal adventure, we’ve got those, too.
In interactive graphs accompanying each destination, you’ll find exclusive, week-by-week hotel pricing data from Google and intel from our most trusted travel experts. Tap or hover over them, and you’ll get specific insights for each spot.
Move over, Croatia: This tiny Balkan nation has slowly positioned itself as the new jewel of the Adriatic with a mix of centuries-old villages, aristocratic mansions, and activities beyond its pebbly beaches. Local adventure outfit Black Mountain is beginning conservation-centric journeys to see the brown bear, gray wolf, Eurasian lynx, and other threatened species in Durmitor and Biogradska Gora national parks. Connect those destinations with the sun-drenched, crowd-freecoast, where Iberostar, Melía, and Karisma Hotels & Resorts have opened properties in the past year. And don’t miss Portonovi, a billion-dollar, 60-acre yachting playground on Boka Bay. In June its marina will welcome Europe’s first One&Only resort and an Espace Chenot spa. Cruise right in, or fly Lufthansa to the port town of Tivat. Either way, you’ll bypass hectic Dubrovnik.
When to go: The weather is warm enough for swimming through October, and those early fall months offer great deals. So does late spring, when nights can still be crisp.
When not to go: It’s not Dubrovnik, but summer—especially July and August—still lures relatively crazy crowds.
Whom to call: Jill Taylor of Jetset World Travel
Sicily and Puglia will continue to trend, but 2020 is the year to head north. Start in Milan, where the owners of Galleria Vik have adorned 89 stuccoed rooms with their fabulous contemporary art. One of the world’s best chefs, Massimo Bottura, and his wife, Lara, have done the same at their new 12-room country estate, near Modena—Casa Maria Luigia has Warhols and Hirsts to spare. Even further up, the Dolomites region is busily preparing for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Cortina. Depending on your interests, you can book into Lefay Resort & Spa, a wellness retreat with thermal pools, fitness trails, and a medicinal garden in Trento; Castel Hörtenberg, with 24 elegant rooms in medieval Bolzano; or the Adler Lodge Ritten, a hypermodern chalet kissing the Austrian border.
When to go: April, May, and June are particularly good months in every destination throughout the region; you’ll get good weather for hiking, even in the far north, as well as excellent produce on your plate. Fall is a close second best for all the same reasons.
When not to go: As in Paris, much of the region shuts down for vacation in August—especially in the Dolomites. High summer is generally too hot and humid, anyway.
Whom to call: Andrea Grisdale of IC Bellagio
Free from the high prices and tempestuous winds that plague Mykonos and Santorini, the island chain where Odysseus set sail is emerging as a slower, more peaceful, and—dare we say—more epic twist on Grecian summer. For those spoiled by the Cyclades’ famed resorts, Kanoni Estate on Corfu can be booked via Red Savannah for groups of 18; it featured as Hector Gonzales’s mansion in the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only. On Meganisi, villa rental agency Thinking Traveller offers the stunning Galatea, whose wraparound floor-to-ceiling windows face the sea. But best of all might be climbing aboard the fully staffed Alexa J, a 38-meter schooner yacht with just one opulent cabin. She’ll spend her maiden season between Corfu and Zakynthos come April.
When to go: It’s easiest to chill on the sand in May, June, or September, when you’re likely to be surrounded by more Greeks than foreign tourists. But some may prefer the party atmosphere of July or the slow-paced (and less hot) months of April and October.
When not to go: Athenians head to the islands for their own vacations in August, which means the capital shuts down and the islands are overrun. Smaller islands are dead from November to March; nothing will be open.
Whom to call: Jacoline Vinke of Trufflepig Travel
Sleeping in the shadow of El Capitan never fails to send a chill up your spine. Unfortunately, that’s been due in part to a lack of comfortable accommodations. Thankfully, plush (and low-impact) digs are sprouting up: Since April, AutoCamp has offered “rooms” in converted Airstreams—each with a private patio, fire pit, and walk-in shower—outside the gateway town of Mariposa. In the park, Camp’d Out has added pop-up glampsites, complete with mud-cloth throw pillows, s’mores kits, and butler service. And Under Canvas Inc., which pioneered lifestyle camping in U.S. national parks, will open in the fall. Its 90 wood-platformed tents will be set on 85 acres just 15 minutes from Yosemite’s entrance. An adventure concierge will get you as close to the cliff faces as your daring heart desires.
When to go: You’ll have the most peaceful hikes by visiting before the snow starts falling, in autumn. Want to see the waterfalls at their best? Try a spring trip instead.
When not to go: Major road closures make access very limited through the winter.
Whom to call: Sheri Doyle or Pacific Northwest Journeys
It’s a logistical challenge to hit this destination’s nomadic villages, picturesque mosques, and Brutalist architecture on one luxury trip. But Steppes Travel, which has led vacations in Kyrgyzstan since the ’90s, now offers en suite yurts along the mystical shores of Song Kol Lake and helicopter service to sidestep bumpy back roads to see the country’s three 23,000-foot-plus mountains. Voygr, another high-end adventure operator, offers your best chance at sighting a snow leopard with guided walks in the Tien Shan mountain range. And for the easiest (and plushest) CliffsNotes introduction, Golden Eagle Luxury Trains will inaugurate its Republics of the Silk Road route in the spring.
When to go: May through September is favorable. June to August might be the hottest months, but they’re also when nomads are most active grazing their herds in the alpine meadows, and it’s when the National Horse Games and falconry festivals take place.
When not to go: November through March. Winters here are harsh, with lots of snow and hard frost rendering the country’s spectacular lakes and mountains inaccessible.
Whom to call: Jarrod Kyte of Steppes Travel
Stop thinking about the Queen of the Danube as just a way station for backpackers and river cruisers. Budapest will welcome no fewer than seven five-star hotels in the next two years. They include a 162-room W that will occupy the long-dormant neo-Renaissance Drechsler Palace, opposite the Hungarian State Opera House. In July, Marriott’s Luxury Collection will unveil the Matild Palace, once home to Princess Clotilde of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, which will have a glassed-in “sky bar” and a brasserie lined with traditional Zsolnay porcelain tiles. (It’s within walking distance of the city’s famous Gellert spa bath.) Bonus: There are new flights on a half-dozen airlines from Chicago, New York, Seoul, and Shanghai—plus a dining scene that’s shedding its humble reputation.
When to go: You’ve got two key opportunities for great weather: mid-April through June and the wine harvest season from September to mid-October. That said, Christmas markets and sparse crowds make December quite magical.
When not to go: Avoid the summer, when Danube River cruisers flood the city.
Whom to call: Gwen Kozlowski of Exeter International
While Bolivia has been in crisis, its citizens have been busy taking tourism into their own hands. What they’ve created is impressive: an all-in-one luxury vacation circuit spanning mountains, desert, jungle, and city. La Paz, already recognized for its surprising dining scene, is getting a hotel to match. The 10-room Altu Qala in the capital’s colonial core opens midyear with meticulous artisan tile work and Murano glass fixtures. Around the same time, South American luxury operator Explora will begin welcoming guests in three spare but spectacular lodges along the salt flats of Uyuni, allowing them to take hikes and four-wheel-drives between the properties. Then there are Hershey’s Kiss-shaped glamping tents from Bolivia Milenaria, a husband-and-wife-run outfit. They set up shop wherever guests desire, be it Torotoro National Park, where dinosaur footprints are baked into the clay earth, or the so-called Valley of the Condors—one of the only places in the world to view the enormous birds.
When to go: Dry season, from June to October, is chilly but beautiful, with sapphire blue skies and perfect visibility.
When not to go: Rainy season should be avoided, even though it’s when you’ll get those incredible, mirror-like photos of the salt flats; if roads are impassable, you’ll get zero snaps. That said, the months that bookend rainy season are filled with cultural events in the cities, including Day of the Dead in November and the Oruro Carnival in February.
Whom to call: Charlie Lockwood of Red Savannah
With dozens of white-sand islets ringed by vibrant marine life, Mozambique is Africa’s under-the-radar answer to the Maldives. Despite weathering back-to-back cyclones last year, the country is more enchanting than ever. Its most impressive newcomer, Kisawa Sanctuary, will command rates of $5,500 a night when it opens this summer; each of its 12 rooms sits on a full acre of sand on Benguerra Island. The resort is purportedly the first in the world to (at least partly) 3D-print its structures, combining sand and seawater to make mortar. Better yet, its nonprofit arm, the Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies, will use the technology to help propagate local coral reefs. When the hotel opens, it will immediately become one of the most coveted vacation spots, not only in Africa but anywhere on earth.
When to go: May to September offers great beach weather—and if you’re tacking on a visit to Gorongosa National Park, prime wildlife viewing.
When not to go: Rainy season—which can include cyclones—lasts from January to the end of March.
Whom to call: Deborah Calmeyer of Roar Africa
All that’s left is for
Outside perennially popular Seville, the countryside still holds many secrets. Its carefully safeguarded pueblos blancos—all-white villages nestled in the mountaintops—and rural estates are among Europe’s most unspoiled spots. Explore them on horseback with George Scott, a professional rider and second-generation co-owner of the bohemian estancia Trasierra. His three-day circuits, starting and ending at the property, visit rugged corners of the outback. Another family-owned Andalucían destination, Hacienda de San Rafael, is being taken over by the next generation, with a focus on hiking and culinary excursions. Bookend your trip in charming Málaga. Delta flies there directly from New York, and you can stay at Palacio Solecio in an 18th century Moorish-inspired palace.
When to go: Andalucía’s mild weather means you can visit from October to March and spend your days comfortably outdoors in the winter sunshine. For true beach days, though, try the not-quite-high-season windows of May through early June and late September through October.
When not to go: Avoid Holy Week in April, when congestion and hotel rates peak. July and August aren’t especially peaceful, either, amid hot and humid weather and Northern European crowds.
Whom to call: Virginia Irurita of Made for Spain and Portugal
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Named for its 11 digit-shaped lakes, this bucolic region in central New York is better known for its waterfall-studded state parks than its worthy food scene or cultural heritage. But the area counts more than 100 wineries—of which Red Tail Ridge was the first to win a coveted James Beard nomination last year. It’s roughly an hour south of the wine-centric new-American restaurant Redd, an offshoot of the Michelin-starred Redd Wood in Napa Valley. For sophisticated accommodations, American Girl founder Pleasant Rowland owns five inns in her beloved college town, Aurora, and the Brooklyn-based design wizards at Studio Tack will open the Lake House on Canandaigua this summer, complete with a spa and timber-framed event barn. The Finger Lakes are also a birthplace of the women’s rights movement and will commemorate the 19th Amendment’s centennial with parades, museum exhibits, and a new home for the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
When to go: Prioritize the harvest in August and September, which is always the most exciting time to visit any wine region. May and early June are also lovely, if a bit cool.
When not to go: It’s downright frigid from December to February, though wine makers tend to compensate by being generous with their attention and their pours.
Whom to call: Gregory Nacco of Food and Wine Trails
vorite. Bon voyage!
Jamaica’s powerful tourism industry will get extra buzz after the April release of No Time to Die, Daniel Craig’s last James Bond movie, which was filmed partially in Port Antonio. That’s where owner Jon Baker has expanded the beloved Geejam Hotel to include a sea-facing infinity pool, a stage for live music, and 12 “studio” rooms each designed by a different emerging artist. Meanwhile, an offshoot of Half Moon resort, which the fictional spy patronized in 1973’s Live and Let Die, will open in Montego Bay in March. The 57-room Eclipse at Half Moon will have hammocks slung on coconut trees outside its casual restaurant, Spice—perfect for sleeping off a mai tai or piña colada. Even Dr. No would say yes to that.
When to go: In May, you’ll get the best intersection of sunshine and seclusion; ditto from November through mid-December. But if you want a dose of culture in your beach vacation, plan around the Soca- and costume-filled Bacchanal celebrations in April.
When not to go: Hurricane season stretches fromJune to early November, with August through October containing the greatest storm risks.
Ancient history never looked so fresh. When the Grand Egyptian Museum finally opens in the fall, the entire collection of precious objects from the Upper and Lower kingdoms will be showcased together for the first time with the respect it deserves—in a half-billion-dollar space near the Giza pyramids. It’s one of several improvements that will help the Egyptian government continue the upward trend of post-revolution tourism, which grossed an all-time-high of $12.5 billion in the year ending in June 2019. More forthcoming draws include renovated historic Jewish synagogues such as the 116-year-old Sha’ar Hashamayim and a sumptuous St. Regis by Michael Graves Architecture & Design. Book through Abercrombie & Kent, and you’ll have access to flexible flights on private jets to get around the country—a relief from EgyptAir’s strict early morning schedules.
When to go: The shoulder season months of March, April, October, and November offer cool weather and thin crowds. Ramadan, from late April into May, is especially interesting in Cairo, where restaurants stay open, alcohol is allowed, and locals celebrate well past midnight.
When not to go: From May to September, Saharan weather is even more punishing than you’d think.
Overwater bungalows, a rarity in the Caribbean, are shaking up Antigua’s bland reputation. So will direct flights from four major airlines and a smattering of fresh five-star hotels. The biggest splash comes courtesy of Royalton Luxury Resorts, which planted its flag on the island’s northwestern shore last summer. Its stilted thatched-roof pavilions have plunge pools, and hammock nets jut out above the ocean. Access is increasingly easy from New York, Miami, and the U.K.—to an airport that’s especially efficient and modern. And if sleeping above the surf isn’t your thing, there’s Carlisle Bay, an island institution that’s been thoroughly renovated, or the just-opened, all-inclusive Hammock Cove, where the bathrooms are larger than many Manhattan apartments.
When to go: December through April is high season for a reason: While most of the U.S. is buried in snow, Antigua has consistent 80°F days. Just be mindful of price surges during April’s spring break.
When not to go: August through October presents the greatest hurricane risks, and July is plain hot and humid.
The cruise crowds are racing against climate change to see this northernmost state, where glaciers are shrinking at record clip. That shouldn’t discourage anyone; instead, it’s reason to delve deeper inland, where the landscapes are (still) frozen in time and insulated from the coastal traffic. Mother Nature has a strong year in store for Alaska’s dark skies; the practically inaccessible Sheldon Chalet, a glamorous oasis inside Denali National Park & Preserve, has planned a year of programming around celestial events, including some penumbral eclipses. If daytime explorations are more appealing, Tordrillo Mountain Lodge—fresh off a multimillion-dollar renovation—now includes the state’s only via ferrata (protected climbing route) and heli-biking trails.
When to go: Northern Lights and dog sledding require cold temperatures. While both February and March make the cut, the latter is when you’ll also catch the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks or the Iditarod Race in Anchorage. If you’re not in it for frozen pursuits, shoot for peak summer, when long daylight hours offer ample opportunity for hiking, fishing, and kayaking in the back country.
When not to go: Shoulder season—in this case, fall and spring—is usually a great opportunity for deals. That’s not the case in Alaska, where nearly everything shuts down.
Whom to call: Judith Root of Entrée Destinations
Channel your inner Indiana Jones at newly accessible Mayan sites such as Holmul, a buried city so large it’s taken two decades to excavate. On private trips with Big Five Tours & Expeditions, you can even meet the archaeologists currently at work. Meanwhile, Black Tomato is bringing beautiful mobile tents to the turquoise lakes of Semuc Champey; they’re like a series of desert oases surrounded by thick jungle instead of sand. Dust off in the colonial capital of Antigua, where Villa Bokeh, opening in September, will be the city’s first design hotel. The 16-key mansion, formerly owned by acclaimed Guatemalan photographer Lissie Habie, is being meticulously reimagined by the hospitality team responsible for the standard-setting Casa Palopó on Lake Atitlan. When it’s complete, it’ll be both a gallery for Habie’s work and a throwback to the city’s glory days.
When to go: All of dry season is great, especially mid-October through early November, when you’re most likely to have the sites to yourself.
When not to go: Rainy season—May through early October—can make for landslides on the unpaved roads leading to Guatemala’s most interesting places. Don’t risk it.
Whom to call: Tom Marchant of Black Tomato
Mexico’s next go-to vacation spot is across the Sea of Cortez from Cabo and feels worlds away. Instead of rugged shores and desert landscapes, Riviera Nayarit has 200 miles of tranquil coast and verdant jungle. Golf clubs trump nightclubs in Punta Mita, the area’s flagship resort community, where the St. Regis and Four Seasons just got face-lifts. But Cabo and Nayarit will eventually have one thing in common: hotels from every conceivable luxury brand, including Rosewood and Auberge. Conrad opens first, in May, with seven restaurants and a Mexican steam bath, or temazcal; June will welcome a One&Only with a polo club and zip line.
When to go: Humpback whales are present only in the best weather, when days are warm and nights are cool, from December to March. Sea turtles nest in June, which is nice, too.
When not to go: You’ll fight crowds during major holidays—Christmas, New Years, and Easter—or fight Mother Nature from mid-August to mid-October.
Whom to call: Zach Rabinor of Journey Mexico
Even if you’re one of the 20 million visitors that made it the world’s most visited city in 2018, for the fourth year running, chances are you’d return to find the Thai capital reborn. IconSiam, a $1.8 billion shopping complex, has revitalized the Chao Phraya River’s western bank with an indoor floating market, a fancy bistro by Alain Ducasse, and an illuminated fountain as long as the Empire State Building is tall. On the other shore, the 143-year-old, newly renovated Mandarin Oriental has two glitzy neighbors: the Capella Bangkok, with its Mauro Colagreco restaurant, and the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok, with a pool large enough to host yoga classes on stand-up paddleboards. Add the observation deck atop Thailand’s second tallest building, the King Power Mahanakhon, and a fleet of electric ferries that will zip passengers to the Grand Palace by summer, and you’ll find Bangkok more alluring than ever.
When to go: The Thai capital is best when it’s not sweltering, from November through February.
When not to go: You’ll get the stickiest weather from March to June. That’s far worse than the short but intense bursts of rain that ward off tourists (and drive down prices) from July to October.
Whom to call: Lesa Clarkson of ATJ
Bali’s unsung neighbor may lack Hindu temples, but it has pristine, undeveloped beaches and waterfalls to spare. Following the expansion of Lombok’s airport (and a major earthquake) in 2018, resorts such as the garden-shrouded Oberoi and the antique-filled Hotel Tugu have lured sun seekers to a tiny peninsula facing the Gili Islands. Nearby, in March, the Legian Sire will add 46 suites and 15 pool villas along with boat service to explore pearl farms, markets, and brilliant coral reefs. Farther afield, Aqua Expeditions’s first non-river ship, Aqua Blu, is now sailing in the eastern archipelago, with chef Benjamin Cross (of Spain’s three-Michelin-starred Can Fabes) drawing inspiration from the Spice Islands.
When to go: The entire window from April through October offers excellent, mostly dry weather.
Read more about what to do in Lombok
When not to go: November through March is the wet season. Don’t go, unless you’re a surfer looking for truly epic breaks.
Whom to call: Jack Ezon of Embark
Whom to call: Margie Hand of Andavo Travel
Article source: https://www.bloomberg.com/features/best-places-to-travel-2020/