New year, new you, new places to go! If you need a little destination inspiration for this year’s vacation days, look no further—there’s a little something for every traveller in our shortlist of the best (and most unique!) destinations to visit in 2020.
What better way to ring in a new year of travel than the birthplace of champagne?
Reims (that’s “rance”—heavy on the French accent—not “reems”) is bursting at the seams with fascinating history, beautiful architecture, and delicious French cuisine. The city’s impressive collection of Roman ruins and stunning (-ly HUGE) Gothic cathedral hint at Reims’ ancient role as the site of royal coronations, while its trendy cafes and Michelin-studded dining scene underscore everything with a youthful buzz.
Be sure to visit some of the city’s world-famous champagne cellars (bring a sweater and book ahead!), snack on some biscuits roses, and spend your time soaking up as much sparkling old-world ambiance as you can.
Far from the boozy resort towns and touristy beaches, the city of Oaxaca is a unique side of Mexico that’s well worth exploring.
Aesthetically, you’d be hard-pressed to find a prettier city: brightly-colored buildings and flowering trees line cobblestone streets, interrupted here and there by towering churches, bustling plazas, and tiny parks. (Trust me, that leafy green shade will be very welcome after an afternoon strolling in the sun!)
Artisan shops selling handwoven rugs, clay pottery, and traditional clothing reveal Oaxaca’s deep indigenous roots, as do the dishes you won’t find in other parts of Mexico: tlayudas, memelas, tasajo, and—of course—endless varieties of mole.
You could spend the entire trip eating your way from one end of the city to the other (and be totally happy about it), but we recommend making time to hit up a local mezcal distillery for a tasting and taking a half-day to visit the spectacular Zapotec ruins of Monte Albán too.
Kochi was the only Indian city to snag a coveted spot on Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel 2020” list, so now’s the perfect time to visit (before its off-the-tourist-track cover is totally blown).
Few places can claim such an eclectic and captivating blend of cultures—where else will you find giant Chinese fishing nets combing the surf just a stone’s throw from a 450-year-old Jewish Synagogue or Portuguese- and Dutch-era colonial buildings sharing the skyline with the minarets of ancient mosques.
It’s this unexpected combo that makes Kochi such a delight to explore, from the curio shops and markets of Jew Town to the artsy cafes and churches of Fort Kochi.
Must-dos: try to catch a performance of Kathakali (classical Keralan dance), replenish your spice cabinet with potent local blends, sample some authentic Malabar cuisine, and hop over to Allepey to rent a houseboat for an unforgettable night on the Keralan backwaters.
(We’ll spend 9 days exploring India together during our Photography & Content Creation Tour October 2020!)
Ohrid, North Macedonia
With buckets of medieval charm, postcard-perfect views, and enough tranquillity to soothe even the most stressed-out vacationer, Ohrid is the lakeside getaway you didn’t know you needed.
North Macedonia, formerly known simply as “Macedonia,” claimed a new name (and the chance to finally join NATO) just this year after decades of a diplomatic dispute with neighbouring Greece. It was a big win for this tiny Balkan nation and the international coverage has pushed Ohrid, its crown jewel, further into the tourist spotlight.
The town sits on the edge of serene Lake Ohrid, the oldest existing lake in Europe (at a whopping 1.3 million years old) and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Renowned for its food, history, and natural beauty, this laidback gem has something for every type of traveller: an atmospheric old quarter, trendy lakeside eateries, hidden beaches, mountain trails, and ancient architecture. (The beautiful summer weather doesn’t hurt, either!)
Canary Islands, Spain
If images of sunburned Europeans, packed beaches, and tacky resorts already have you shaking your head, just hear me out! There’s a lot more to the Canaries than their much-maligned reputation would have you believe.
Tenerife, the largest and busiest Canary, may be home to a swathe of commercial resorts, bars, and tourist traps, but venture beyond the crowds of holidaymakers and you’ll find plenty to love: Santa Cruz de Tenerife’s wild Carnival celebration, the stunning scenery of Teide National Park (home to the highest peak in Spain), colonial charm and excellent wine in La Orotava, scrumptious seafood in Garachico.
Hop over to Fuerteventura’s for surreal desert landscapes, windsurfing, and clothing-optional beaches, or to Gran Canaria for sublime beaches and subtropical forests. Lanzarote boasts trendy volcanic wineries, La Palma’s natural wonders have been designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve, and La Gomera is a paradise for dedicated hikers.
And if you’re craving true adventure and solitude? Raw, rugged El Hierro is the place for you (plan for a bit of difficulty getting there and don’t expect to find any resorts when you do).
The Canary Islands wear many hats, but that’s what makes them so alluring— with a little effort (and maybe a helping hand?), this could be your best vacation yet.
Blog post written by Greece Retreat 2019 Alumna Courtnie. Find her on Instagram: @travelbash
Courtnie is the lead travel designer and founder of TravelBash. After years as an ambitious fundraiser, she set out to build the leading boutique travel company from the ground up. And guess what? She did it. She inspires others to boldly take on the world from innovative road trips to lush five-star destinations. A certified travel agent, expert event planner & natural connector, she uses her powers to make destination hopping an everyday reality. When she isn’t boarding a plane or soaking up the sun, she is cheerleader/wifey to her college basketball coaching hubby.