While William Blake waxed lyrical about our green and pleasant land, it’s rare England makes a ‘top places to visit’ list. Not anymore, the bible of all things travel, Lonely Planet, has announced the top 10 countries to travel to in 2020, and we’ve not only made the list but come in at an impressive number two.
As the UK prepares to leave the EU, searches for staycations have risen by a quarter since 2016 which could be one of the reasons England’s had a leg up. For those with a more exotic appetite for travel, Bhutan made the number one spot thanks to its mind-blowing views and dedication to sustainable tourism. But the round-up has something for everyone, whether it’s the new place to safari, alternative city breaks or the Caribbean island making a comeback.
Here are the top 10 places that are going to be on everyone’s bucket list in 2020…
Few places on earth are as in tune with the environment than Bhutan. The Himalayan utopia operates on a high-value, low-impact tourism policy, meaning travellers pay a daily fee to be there. The payoff for tourists is well worth it as they set foot onto the crowed hills peppered with monasteries that look like they might topple to the valleys below. As the world’s only carbon-negative country and a nation on track to becoming the first fully organic one by 2020, while a trip to Bhutan might not be the cheapest, it will leave you rich in knowledge, culture and a masterclass on how the rest of the world should be doing it.
Whether it’s the World Cup or Eurovision, it’s not often England win (or come second for that matter). So when Lonely Planet revealed old Albion was the second top place to visit in 2020 we almost spat out our Earl Grey. The travel gurus have specifically named the English coastline to be the next big hit for intrepid travellers, as 2020 will see new sections of the England Coast Path open. At 2795 miles long and the longest in Europe, that’s a lot of fish ‘n’ chip stops.
3. North Macedonia
After decades of political debate in this little Balkan nation, Macedonia is now known as North Macedonia. The revamp has shot the country to the top of the must-visit list and with good reason. Sample its renowned gastronomy, indulge in ancient traditions or take to the newly opened High Scardus Trail, a 495km trek along the region’s break-taking peaks.
Little do we know about the island that sits off the north coast of Venezuela other than the fact that it was where Rachel and Barry (of Friends fame) should have honeymooned had she not jilted him at the altar. It seems like bucket hats and the Spice Girls, the holiday destination of the 90s has come full circle and is cool again, coming in at fourth place. Jokes aside, Aruba is a number one choice for the conscious traveller – the island has bravely offered itself to be a testing hub for other countries’ renewable energy solutions and is heading to become single-use plastic and reef-destroying sunscreen-free by 2020. The sandy white beaches, picture perfect palms and colourful art scene also make it one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean.
5. eSwatini (Swaziland)
One for those crazy about wildlife, newly name Kingdom of eSwatini (formally known as Swaziland), should head here to see the Big Five in one of Africa’s most underrated destinations. With a new international airport and better road infrastructure, it’s never been easier to travel this stunning country. Book before everyone else does.
6. Costa Rica
Costa Rica has been making waves on best travel destinations for a good few years now and it sees no sign of waning. Its beauty lies in its variety, from it being a Shangri-La for surfers to a kingdom for exotic creatures – think sleepy sloths to poisonous but oh-so-cute frogs. Whether you’re the adventurous type or more of the yoga-retreat-and-spa vibe, Costa Rica has it all.
7. The Netherlands
From stroopwafels to brothels, the Netherlands offers something for everyone, be it humble or, well, slightly seedy depending on your outlook. Amsterdam’s network of canals, concept stores and growing food scene is always worth a trip – especially now that a Eurostar route has opened up. Alternatively, hop on your bike to littler known destinations such as Rotterdam or the peaceful UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Wadden Sea, for something entirely new.
Liberia takes the number eight spot thanks to idyllic beaches and stunning rainforests which play home to chimpanzees, elephants and Africa’s answer to the Shetland pony, the pygmy hippo. A recent deal with Norway has ensured no deforestation by 2020, meaning this lush and beautiful country has hope of staying that way.
Morocco is set to be crowned Africa’s first Capital of Culture in 2020 putting it back on the map for must-visit travel. Pick up some seriously good interiors deals in the bustling medinas or indulge in sweet F A at a stylish riad. Plus, the newly launched, first high-speed train in Africa means you can get from Casablanca to Tangier in just two hours.
Propping up the list at number 10 is Uruguay – the next South American destination to tick off your bucket list. Get stuck into its forward-thinking culture – the country has championed a progressive social agenda from legalising marijuana to supporting the LGBTQ+ community and the promotion of sustainable travel. The vibe is laid back and carefree, best represented in its sprawling and rugged Atlantic coastline as well as its welcoming people.