There are wild Tuscan landscapes to be discovered, ancient Mexican ruins to wander in, the Olympics in Japan’s futuristic capital, virgin beaches, award-winning vineyards, and hidden, untouched safari destinations. Inspired by our destination experts and the top publications in the world, we have handpicked the five most extraordinary experiences for you. From the hottest travel trends to places that are worthy of every wanderlust wish list, discover the best trips to take in 2020.
5Best trips to take in 2020: Myths, Legends and the Mexican Way
Closest to home, Mexico packs in quite the punch. The country is famous for its beautiful coastline, fabulous landscapes, and its impressive Mayan and Aztec ruins, colonial towns and buzzing metropolises. No wonder it’s monopolized top ten Latin America travel lists for several years now, with footfall increasing exponentially every year. There’s still good news for off-the-beaten-path enthusiasts: pristine paradise islands like Isla Holbox that few spring-breakers have heard of, Guadalupe’s scenic valleys and vineyards, or the pine forests of Lagunas de Montebello with their beautiful Mayan ruins.
Why travel to Mexico
- For its dazzling culture and heritage: Right from the plazas and cathedrals of Mexico City to enchanting colonial towns of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato and Merida, Mayan sites in Yucatan, Day of the Dead celebrations and a plethora of festivals and events, Mexico a hotbed of culture, heritage and traditions.
- For its ancient history: Over 300 archaeological sites exist in Mexico alone, making it the Latin American country with the most number of UNESCO-listed sites. Discover some of the world’s best ancient monuments, from Chichen Itza to the Mayan temples of Palenque and the pyramids of Teotihuacan.
- For the beauty in its diversity: Mexico is for everyone. You can spend days soaking up the sun and whale watching on its beautiful beaches. Hike in the lush Yucatan jungles or go volcano trekking in Pico de Orizaba, Mexico’s tallest peak. The list of things to do in Mexico is nearly unending. In its colonial cities, there are museums and festivals galore, not to mention extravagant feasts and delicious street food.
Best places to visit in Mexico: Puebla and San Miguel de Allende
Sample Puebla: the fourth largest city in Mexico, the ‘City of Angels’ makes it to National Geographic’s list of top places to visit in 2020 for its beautiful baroque Mexican architecture. Not just its UNESCO-listed center, the city is teeming with beautiful sites, such as preserved colonial buildings, the local market with its Talavera tiles, the gilded stuccos of Rosary Chapel (Capilla del Rosario), the artists quarter, or even the contemporary Baroque Museum. Having only recently come under the tourist radar, Puebla is an absolute insider’s tip – a perfect destination for experiencing authentic Mexican flair. It’s also one of the safest cities in Mexico.
Not just one of the top travel destinations of 2020 according to Forbes, San Miguel de Allende is also one of the most beautiful cities in Latin America! Nestled in the highland region, and crisscrossed by cobbled streets and colorful colonial buildings, only 80,000 lucky few call this romantic town their home. San Miguel is well-known for its thriving art scene with several architectural wonders, galleries and studios vying for attention.
The best place for panoramic views of San Miguel is one of its numerous rooftop bars, such as the Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar at Rosewood San Miguel de Allende.
The Guanajuato airport, about an hour and a half away, is the closest to San Miguel de Allende. It may be easier for visitors from northern USA and Canada to fly into Mexico City, which is about three and a half hours away. Find more information in our Mexico travel guide.
Best time to visit Mexico
Mexico is a vast country and the weather conditions naturally vary between regions, although there are many destinations that you can visit at any time of the year. Expect rain between November and May and dry weather from mid-May to October. If you are planning a trip for Christmas and New Year (high season), we recommend booking at least six months in advance. Read more about the best time to visit Mexico.
Recommended Mexico trips
Mexico’s Colonial Gems and Beach
11 Days: $ 6,490 / person
Culinary Gems of Mexico
7 Days: $ 2,790 / person
Grand Tour of Mexico
25 Days: $ 9,990 / person
4Best trips to take in 2020: Mozambique, where life is a beach!
Imagine 1,500 miles of glorious coastline, with clear, blue waters of the Indian Ocean lapping on virgin white sands. Your day begins with a flurry of activity at the small dock – schooners heading out to fish. Then, it is all about swimming in coral reefs, fishing in lagoons, sailing on yachts, and picnicking on distant sandbars until evening, when a purple sun sets on the golden horizon and dhow boats gently sail into harbor. That’s Mozambique for you – an island dream come to life. Slowly emerging as a water lovers destination of choice, holidaymakers are drawn to Mozambique for its beautiful beaches, authentic, laid-back lifestyle, and gorgeous coral reefs teeming with marine life.
Why travel to Mozambique
- For Africa’s best-kept secret: Tourism in Mozambique is still in its infancy, and we’re loving it! Its beaches are entirely untouched, its wildlife amble undaunted in vast stretches of pristine land, its sleepy fishing villages have seen few visitors. This is truly Africa off the beaten path.
- For its aquatic inhabitants: Not just the idyllic islands of Bazaruto, Mozambique boasts some of the world’s most unspoiled coral reefs where you can swim with colorful tropical fish, dolphins, whale sharks and manta rays. Turtles hatch on virgin shores and even humpback whales are known to visit between June and September.
Best places to visit in Mozambique: Bazaruto
The five islands of Bazaruto are much the same: mile after mile of soft white sand beaches flanked by swaying palms and gorgeous coral reefs where a host of exotic sea creatures congregate. Accommodation options are few but luxurious, with both well-known brands such as Azura Benguerra, &beyond and Anantara in play, as well as exclusive, boutique options such as Bahia Mar.
Mozambique provides an amazing opportunity to observe its community-driven rehabilitation firsthand and even participate in some of the initiatives.
While there are no direct flight connections to Mozambique, the country is easily accessible via Johannesburg in South Africa. Many airlines such as Delta, United and South African airlines operate non-stop flights between the USA and South Africa. All visitors require a valid visa which you should apply for well before you travel. Find more information in our Mozambique travel guide.
Best time to visit Mozambique
The dry months of June to September are the best time to visit this region with temperatures around 24 degrees celsius and ideal weather conditions. Read more about the best time to visit Mozambique.
Recommended Mozambique hotels
Casa Babi is located on one of the most beautiful and lively beaches in Vilanculos with rooms overlooking the islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago.
With its blues and whites, large arched windows, inviting lime-washed furniture and attractive mosaics, Villa Santorini offers barefoot beach-style sophistication in Vilanculos.
Anantara Bazaruto Resort & Spa
Style: Beach Resort
Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort & Spa is the archetypal tropical island paradise surrounded by palm trees, white sand and the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean.
&Beyond Benguerra Island Lodge
Style: Beach Resort
Benguerra Lodge is sheltered by a natural acacia forest bordering Benguerra Bay with its coral reefs and turquoise seas.
3Best trips to take in 2020: Viva Italia!
Paeans have been sung to the timeless beauty of this European gem. It has been an eternal favorite on every traveler’s list – right from the time of the ‘Grand Tour’ in the 17th and 18th centuries until now. In 2020, there’s even more reason to visit Italy – the 500th anniversary of the death of legendary Renaissance painter Raphael, slated to take place nationwide and most prominently in Le Marche. Gear up for numerous festivals, soirees, events, exhibitions, and extravaganzas….
Why travel to Italy?
- For La Dolce Vita: Whiz through cobblestone lanes of ancient cities on a Vespa, sip a delicious espresso by the Arno in Florence, sample mamma Italia cuisine in sunny Tuscan villages, take a gondola down the waterways of Venice or a catamaran-ride past the limestone cliffs of Amalfi – Italy is all about la dolce vita or ‘the good life’.
- For the love of Italian food: Pizza Neapolitan, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Lambrusco, Gelato, Parma ham and some of the world’s best wine – need we say more?
- For the incredible cultural heritage: It’s the country of ancients with an unsurpassed cultural wealth. From the Roman-era Colosseum for gladiatorial contents, to the leaning tower of Pisa, Michelangelo’s David, the Vatican City in Rome – its where history was made!
Best places to visit in Italy: Rome and Le Marche
Thousands of years of history come alive in Rome – from its classic piazzas to its vine-laden cobbled streets. You could lose yourself in its iconic sites – the Trevi Fountain, the towering Pantheon, the Roman ruins, the sprawling Villa Borghese – but in it’s hidden, lesser-known alleyways lies an altogether different charm. Travel+Leisure lists the neoclassical-fascist Esposizione Universale Roma district (EUR), built by Mussolini in the 1930s, as one of its most curious. Add to that the vibrant food scene of Trastevere, the enclave of piazzas in Monti, or the lush chariot tracks of Aventino, and the ever-popular market of Campo de Fiori, and Italian art and architecture around every corner, and you’ll never want to leave.
Le Marche, on the other hand, is slowly yet surely emerging from the shadows of neighboring Tuscany. Nestled between the Adriatic and the Apennine Mountains, it’s largely unknown to mass tourism, and for the better, we say! Not just opulent Renaissance-era palaces and piazzas, Le Marche offers dreamy beaches and quaint mountain villages – it’s some of Italy’s finest but beautifully off the beaten track. No wonder it makes Lonely Planet’s list of the top 20 places to visit in 2020.
For gourmands, we especially recommend La Regola with star restaurants lining the quiet banks of the Tiber.
All major US cities offer daily direct flights to Rome and Milan, which takes between eight to 11 hours, depending on the city you are flying out from. US citizens with a valid passport can visit Italy without a visa for a stay of up to 90 days. Find more information on passport, visas and health, in our Italy travel guide.
Best time to visit Italy
Being an ever-popular destination, summer can get quite crowded in Italy. Since schools are closed at this time, many locals choose to travel within the country as well. We recommend travel between March and May or September and October, if you wish to avoid the crowds and yet enjoy wonderful weather. Learn more about the best time to visit Italy.
Recommended Italy trips
Italy, Under the Tuscan Sun
10 Days: $ 4,590 / person
Southern Culture and the Amalfi Coast
9 Days: $ 4,590 / person
2Best trips to take in 2020: Japan, the jewel of the East
Japan is high on any travelers list. Start in Tokyo, Japan’s pulsating capital of endless possibilities where the past and the future come together effortlessly. It’s also home to a superlative food scene that can to rival any. This year, there’s even more reason to plan a trip for Japan in July and August – the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Why travel to Japan
- For the divine cuisine: Did you know that Japanese cuisine is on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage? Tokyo may boast the largest number of Michelin-rated establishments in a city but it tops our list of world’s best culinary cities for its sheer consistency – from neighborhood noodle joints to avant-garde cocktail bars, sushi and yakitori lanes to teahouses.
- For its incredible contrasts: It could be a vision from the future in one moment and a blast from the past in the next – a cutting-edge altar of design in swathes of neon or a tile-roofed, lantern-lit ancient Zen temple, a glittering shopping arcade, a moat-ringed Samurai castle, a timeless sleepy mountain village or a fast-paced urban sprawl – Japan is where the past and the future mingle effortlessly.
- Luxurious R & R: If you are seeking rest and relaxation, look no further. Be it famed Japanese hot springs and onsens or at luxury ryokans, artistic Zen gardens, vast national parks, matcha plantations, ancient Buddhist monasteries, seaside resort towns or private islands, relax, rewind and rejuvenate in style at Japan.
Best places to visit in Japan: Kyoto and Tohoku
If you wish to escape the bustle of Tokyo this summer, we recommend a three-hour train ride to Tohoku in Honshu. It’s a tranquil landscape of distant mountains, forests and crater lakes, ancient shrines and a host of festivals. Fancy a soak in hot spring while you enjoy panoramic views of Matsushima Bay or a ski vacation in a near-deserted luxury resort? Tohoku is the destination for you. It’s also recommended by the good folks over at National Geographic as an absolute insider’s tip.
Closer to the capital city, Kyoto, with its whopping 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, easily makes it to Travel+Leisure’s list of the best places to visit in 2020. With its vermilion Torii gates, Zen gardens, matcha teahouses, textile districts, geishas and formal dining traditions, this erstwhile Imperial capital is the epicenter of traditional Japanese culture. The recently opened Fukuda Art Museum and Kyocera Museum of Art (re-opening in March), are both excellent reasons to visit Japan in 2020, not to mention the much-awaited AMAN Kyoto.
Several airlines fly non-stop between major US cities such as New York, Boston, Chicago, Denver, and LA to Tokyo and Osaka. The flight takes between 11 to 14 hours, depending on whether you fly from the east coast or the west. US citizens can enjoy a visa-free tourist visit to Japan for up to 90 days, provided that you have a valid passport. Find more information in our Japan travel guide.
Best time to visit Japan
Cherry blossom season apart (in Spring and Fall), summer is the perfect time to visit this Land of the Rising Sun. From the end of March to mid-April is cherry blossom season, with beautiful blooms in Kyoto, Tokyo and Osaka. In Sapporo, the cherry blossoms season is at the beginning of May – a perfect alternative to Tokyo and Kyoto if you wish to travel sans crowds. Read more about the best time to visit Japan.
Learn the art of calligraphy from a master, train with a Samurai or ninja, dine with a geisha, or dress up as a colorful anime character – there’s a whole range of unusual experiences available to make your Japan trip a real fairy tale. Just ask and we’ll arrange it for you!
Recommended Japan trips
Japan off the Beaten Track
16 Days: $ 7,190 / person
Japan: Northern Gems, Nature and Wildlife
14 Days: $ 10,890 / person
Ancient Zen Legends of Japan
13 Days: $ 7,890 / person
1Best trips to take in 2020: Wild and wonderful Australia
It’s Travel+Leisure’s destination of the year in 2020, and we are not one bit surprised. With its haunting landscapes, unique flora and fauna, warm hospitality and gastronomic hubs, the land Down Under makes it well worth your while to make the long journey.
Why travel to Australia
- For its unique wildlife: Did you know that nearly 80% of Australia’s plants and wildlife are found nowhere else on earth? Cuddly Koalas, curious Kangaroos, Wombats, Tasmanian Devils, marsupials and more – find your favorites in Australia.
- For its otherworldly landscapes: It may be a ginormous country but with only a few inhabitants, vast tracts of land are practically uninhabited. You could explore the Outback for days on end, far away from prying eyes – set up camp in an untouched land, pour out that warm cuppa, and put your feet up in time for a magical sunset – bliss!
- For its relaxed, slow-paced city life: Few cities in the world do Slow Travel like Aussie metros. Catch a show at Sydney’s iconic Opera house, explore the cultural scene at hip and happening Adelaide, or wind down at a Melbourne festival – good company is guaranteed.
Best places in Australia for 2020: Tasmania and Kangaroo Island
Tasmania has so much going for it. With only about 500,000 inhabitants, the isolated island is all about sustainable tourism. For explorers, its relatively small size works perfectly in Tasmania’s favor: you could go from hiking in the dramatic Cradle Mountains to watching kangaroos hop hopping on powdery white sands at Wineglass Bay in just four hours. There’s a whole host of reasons to visit Tasmania, from Gothic landscapes, the renowned Museum of New and Old Art (MONA), vibrant festivals, food, wine and the world’s best lavender ice cream. It’s also the only place in the world to meet endangered Tasmanian Devils.
Kangaroo Island on the other hand, comes highly recommended by the good folks of Conde Nast. This tiny island paradise right off the coast of southern Australia is packed full of delightful surprises. The island’s exquisite wines and artisanal cheese makes it a top destination for gourmands, while nature enthusiasts rave about its wilder inhabitants – colonies of seals, sea lions, penguins, echidnas, koalas, and (everyone’s favorite) kangaroos.
Despite the recent boom in tourism, Kangaroo Island is surprisingly peaceful and quiet, perhaps due to the firm focus on responsible tourism. And with some of the most sustainable luxury resorts in the country to stay at, what’s not to love?
A number of airlines fly non-stop to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane daily from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas, and connecting flights are available throughout the USA. Most flights take about 19 hours but with both economy and business options available, you are in good hands. US citizens with a valid passport can apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) for a stay of up to 90 days in Australia. Find more information in our Australia travel guide.
Best time to visit Australia
December to January and September and October are the busiest tourist months owing to the great weather and abundant outdoor opportunities. However, if you wish to avoid the crowds, we recommend travel between October and November or late January and February. Read more about the best time to visit Australia.
Recommended Tasmania and Kangaroo Island hotels
Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge
Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge offers a scenic stay amid the stunning wilderness of Cradle Mountain.
Freycinet Lodge, the only accommodation inside Freycinet National Park, offers you a tranquil and sustainable stay near Coles Bay, in the delicate ecological zone of the surrounding bushland and bay.
Southern Ocean Lodge
Southern Ocean Lodge, less than an hour’s drive from the airport, offers you a luxurious stay at Kangaroo Island.
Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat
Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat is an eco-conscious getaway set amid the pristine natural surrounds of Kangaroo Island, off Australia’s southern coast.
Make 2020 the year when all your travel dreams come true. Get in touch with us for your private, luxurious and seamless vacation, planned and executed by experts, and perfectly tailored to all your interests!