#culture

20 Places To Travel In 2020

The world awaits. Where will you go this year?

By Journy Team

28 January 2020

From North America to Europe, Asia to Africa, these are the top destinations to see this year.

1. Singapore

Marina Bay Sands is synonymous with Singapore—in part because of Crazy Rich Asians, but mostly because it soars thousands of feet in the air, stretching across the roofs of three towers like a bridge. Famous for its glitz and glamor, this island city-state is a multi-ethnic destination whose diversity stems from its geographical proximity to neighboring Asian countries—and to its immigrant past, and present. Shopping, architecture and finance have made it the power hub it is today, but don’t forget about the food. Eating is an art form in Singapore, as evidenced by the Michelin-star restaurants sitting side-by-side with hawker stalls whose signature dishes represent an amalgamation of three main ethnic groups: Chinese, Indian and Malay. The only question: team chili crab or chicken rice?

Reasons to make it to Singapore in 2020:

Plan My Trip To Singapore Now

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2. Mexico City

With snow capped mountains and an active volcano as the backdrop for the largest city in the Western Hemisphere (which happens to have been built on a lake), Mexico City is a whirlwind of energy, color, sights, sounds, and an endless parade of cuisine. You could spend years discovering everything Mexico City has to offer, from castles on mountaintops to haciendas-turned-bookstores and the best tacos you’ll ever have.

Reasons to make it to Mexico City in 2020:

  • New exhibits at MUAC:
    1. Cecilia Vicuna: Examines the relationship between art and politics through the writing and artistic creation of Cecilia Vicuna (2/8 - 8/2)
    2. Expediente Seropositivo: Generates critical narratives on the current state of the HIV virus by recovering the productions of activists, arts, and NGOs in response to its initial appearance over three decades ago (2/1 - 5/31)
  • New hotel openings:
    1. Ritz-Carlton Mexico City is slated to open in summer 2020, occupying floors 26 to 47 of a 58-story tower with sweeping views of Chapultepec Park.
    2. Mexico's first Nickelodeon Resort is slated to open in summer 2020 as well, in partnership with Karisma Hotel & Resorts. Expect 276 swim-up oceanfront suites and four themed penthouses (with one designed around Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and another around SpongeBob SquarePants). The 500,000 square foot activity area will feature a lazy river, splash park, waterslide, and playground.  

Plan My Trip To Mexico City Now

READ MORE: 5 Tips For Taking Frame-Worthy Travel Photos In Mexico City


3. Copenhagen

Stylish, relaxed, historical, and contemporary, Denmark’s largest city has grown into a capital of cool in its own right. Spread across two islands, Copenhagen boasts the most Michelin-starred restaurants in Scandinavia spread throughout the canal side streets and surrounded by castles and palaces like the elegant Rococo Amalienborg Palace, where the Danish royal family resides. From the innocence of the family-friendly Hans Christian Andersen Museum to the morning (read: after-party) bars where you can drink until 9AM, Copenhagen truly offers something for everyone.

Reasons to make it to Copenhagen in 2020:

Plan My Trip To Copenhagen Now

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4. San Sebastián

They say San Sebastián is the best food city in the world, and given the fact that, per capita, it’s the city with the second most Michelin stars, we’re inclined to believe it. Add to this that San Sebastian stretches between green mountains and the Bay of Biscay and you have yourself a truly alluring destination. It’s a resort town at heart, with the streets and beachfront promenade lined with restaurants, bars and hotels. But it’s not all sand and tapas. Between the river and the sea is the old town center with beautiful plazas, narrow streets and Gothic architecture. Whether you go for the surf, hikes, food or art, the culinary capital of Spain will be sure to bewitch your stomach...and your mind.

Reasons to make it to San Sebastián in 2020:

Plan My Trip To San Sebastián Now

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5. Kyoto

A time capsule of Shogun Japan, the former imperial capital Kyoto was spared any large-scale bombings during WWII and has retained much of its pre-war wooden architecture as a result. Walk the stone streets of the city that lead you from ancient temples to imperial palaces, gardens, and cherry trees. Even after the capital was moved to Tokyo, the city remained a prominent intellectual center with a sense of serenity prevailing throughout. Kyoto is also famous as the home of kaiseki dining: a sequence of artistically-arranged traditional dishes which can be had at a ryokan (traditional inns) or ryotei (small, luxurious restaurants).

Reasons to make it to Kyoto in 2020:

  • The city boasts some of the best cherry blossoms in the entire country, so if you're making it to Japan during peak hanami season, it's a must-visit. The 2020 forecast can be found here. (3/25 - 5/10)
  • A new exhibit, Kyoto National Museum: Kannon Worship, will celebrate the 33 pilgrimage sites of Western Japan that venerate Kannon, the boddhisattva of compassion. (4/11 - 5/31)
  • A new Ace hotel is opening in Kyoto in 2020. Designed by Kengo Kuma (the architect behind Tokyo's 2020 Olympic Stadium) as well as the LA-based interiors firm, Commune (behind Jackson Hole's Caldera House), the hotel is expected to combine American and Japanese design. Opening spring 2020.

Plan My Trip To Kyoto Now

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6. Lisbon

The City of Seven Hills located on the mouth of the river Tagus is the westernmost capital of Europe, and older than many of its rivals. The city is best explored by foot, hopping from the relics of the Belem Tower to the ruins of the Carmo Convent—with a pit stop for a traditional custard tart (aka Pastel de Belém) along the way. In a place so sunny, food and drink is never far away and have begun to revive once abandoned villas and palaces, giving new life and a breath of fresh air to the city.

Reasons to make it to Lisbon in 2020:

Plan My Trip To Lisbon Now

READ MORE: How To Plan Your Multi-City Dream Trip To Portugal


7. Cape Town

The rocky cliffs and mountains of Cape Town look as if they’ve been pulled back from the sea, with Table Mountain dominating the city's backdrop with its larger-than-life dimensions and inexplicably flat shape (hence the name). Stunning natural beauty has also made the city a diverse cosmopolitan hub attracting expats, artists, top chefs, and tourists. Design shops and art galleries thrive alongside Michelin-star restaurants. While you’re here, take the opportunity to learn about the country’s apartheid past and visit Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was held, which is among the most popular attractions in the city.

Reasons to make it to Cape Town in 2020:

  • Two exciting new restaurant openings:
    1. La Chêne at Leeu Estates in Franschhoek—with chef Darren Badenhorst of Grand Provence and Le Coin Français—dishes out South African fare with French undertones. Opened October 2019.
    2. Surfshack is a laid-back seafront spot along the Campus Bay Strip. With shareable, all-day brunch and a wide selection of mains, it's the perfect "surfer-chic" spot to laze away the afternoon. Opened October 2019.

Plan My Trip To Cape Town Now

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8. Charleston

For a quintessentially southern experience, look no further than Charleston, which combines history, architecture, and renowned Southern charm into one oceanfront city. Indeed it’s not only the palm tree-lined streets, church spires, and antebellum architecture that constantly land this port city on the top of the “most charming cities in America” list, but also the mix of cultures and endearing Southern hospitality.

Reasons to make it to Charleston in 2020:

Plan My Trip To Charleston Now


9. Thessaloniki

Once the most important cities of the Byzantine empire (aside form Constantinople), Thessaloniki has traces of its ancient Roman and Ottoman past. The second largest city in Greece is replete with history and culture. The White Tower—sometimes called the Red Tower from all the executions that occurred during the Ottoman occupation of Greece—sits on the water where you can rent a bike or promenade on the 5km waterfront and find thematic gardens like the Garden of Alexander the Great. Other attractions include the Byzantine acropolis and palatial ruins of Emperor Galerius’ palace.  

Reasons to make it to Thessaloniki in 2020:

  • New luxury, yet-to-be-named hotel targeted towards millennials opening in spring 2020 from the team at Anatolia Hospitality.
    “With the development of the railway line, the opening of the Holocaust Museum and the metropolitan park, as well as the area’s gradual upgrade, the new hotel is expected to be established as a landmark for Thessaloniki,” Anatolia Hospitality said in a statement.
  • Thessaloniki Street Food Festival 2020 (5/14 - 5/17)

Plan My Trip To Thessaloniki Now

READ MORE: How To Plan Your Multi-City (And Island) Dream Trip To Greece


10. Seoul

The capital of South Korea is the perfect mix of ultra modern and traditional. The infrastructure is impressive in Seoul, epitomized by the double decker Banpo Bridge shooting out jets of water infused with 10 thousand LED lights, giving the impression of a giant butterfly soaring across the Han river. You can find neofuturistic architecture designed by Zaha Hadid side-by-side with ruins of the Deoksu Palace, with traditional tea rooms, Korean BBQ joints and noodle shops interspersed throughout.

Reasons to make it to Seoul in 2020:

  • A new luxury hotel in Gangam, Andaz, opened in late September 2019—featuring 241 guest rooms and suites, a fitness club, a spa, and an indoor pool.
  • Two days of nonstop partying at Seoul World DJ Festival (5/30 - 6/7)

Plan My Trip To Seoul Now

READ MORE: These Cosmetics Are Worth A Trip To South Korea


11. Austin

Austin, the capital of Texas, is home to a dynamic population of tech employees, artists, students, and your everyday Texans. With this eclectic mix, it’s not too big of a surprise that the city’s unofficial motto (and favorite among tourists and locals alike) is ‘Keep Austin Weird,’ in reference to the support of local establishments and the city’s unique identity. Its official motto isn't bad either: “The Live Music Capital of the World,” thanks to the number of artists and music venues. This, combined with one of the highest concentrations of bars in the United States, has helped attract a number of festivals like SXSW and Austin City Limits. Keep Austin weird, indeed.

Reasons to make it to Austin in 2020:

Plan My Trip To Austin Now

READ MORE: A Local's Guide To The Best Restaurants & Food Trucks In Austin


12. O’ahu

Home to the Hawaii State Capitol, O’ahu is an established international destination—and for good reason. You have bustling city life on one hand balanced by the quieter, more remote beaches and resorts with world-class surfing on the other. While you can opt to spend your entire trip at a resort, the island has many unique landmarks like the Diamond Head crater (a massive volcanic tuff at the edge of Honolulu), famous beaches like Lanikai, Hanauma Bay and, of course, historic Pearl Harbor. Hawaiian culture is also having a resurgence, so don't forget to try traditional dishes like lomi lomi salmon and kalua (slow roasted pig).

Reasons to make it to O'ahu in 2020:

Plan My Trip To O'ahu Now


13. Taipei

In the middle of downtown Taipei City, one of the tallest buildings in the world tower towers above the rest. With its mix of traditional and contemporary, the Taipei 101 (for years the tallest building in the world) rises into the sky, dwarfing every other building around it. More affordable than some of its counterparts in other countries, Taipei has a host of both world-class restaurants and noteworthy traditional dishes such as soup dumplings and Peking duck. At the Ximending Pedestrian Zone, the city beats to the rhythm of its many bars, clubs, and shops frequented by locals showcasing their unique sense of fashion and alternative subculture.

Reasons to make it to Taipei in 2020:

Plan My Trip To Taipei Now

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14. Innsbruck

Surrounded by the Alps is the beautiful and elegant capital of Tyrol, complete with colorful houses, an enchanting old town, the largest ski resort in the Alps—and even ski lifts within the city itself. But winter isn’t the only time to visit. The town of 120,000 residents also attracts visitors in the summer months for its epic hiking trails. Architecture buffs will find themselves at home with a wealth of medieval buildings and Baroque cathedrals leftover from when Emperor Maximilian I made Innsbruck the imperial capital over 500 years ago.

Reasons to make it to Innsbruck in 2020:

  • The grand opening of the Tour of The Alps cycling race is in Innsbruck this year. (4/20 - 4/24)
  • For the first time ever, the Tour Transalp bike race will start in Innsbruck. (6/21 - 6/27)

Plan My Trip To Innsbruck Now

READ MORE: 7 Things To Do In Innsbruck Besides Skiing


15. Chiang Mai

High in the mountains, the former Capital of the Lanna Kingdom is dotted with extravagant temples and surrounded by luscious countryside. The result? A sense of artistry and peace that sets it apart from the remainder of Thailand. The history of Chiang Mai is on display in the Old City with its hundreds of temples and remaining walls and moats. Outside the Pae Gate, a modern, faster beat prevails around the shops, restaurants and art galleries of the newer city where tourists and expats dwell. Still further out, green mountains lead to rushing waterfalls and the famous Elephant Jungle Sanctuary.

Reasons to make it to Chiang Mai in 2020:

  • For the first time, Michelin has included Chiang Mai in its 2020 guide to Thailand, with select spots represented with Bib Gourmand and Michelin Plate designations.

Plan My Trip To Chiang Mai Now


16. Napa Valley

The Judgement of Paris is not solely a myth from Greek mythology. It was also one of the biggest upsets in wine history that put Napa on the map for first-rate quality wines when California wines prevailed against those of the French in a blind taste test conducted by experts. That was 1976. Today Napa, together with Sonoma County, makes up the heartland of California’s wine region. As if the wine and accompanying food aren't enough of a draw, there’s also an elegant array of sunny green hills, rivers, lakes and mountains to charm every traveler.

Reasons to make it to O'ahu in 2020:

Plan My Trip To Napa Valley Now

READ MORE: Top Things To Do In Napa With Kids: A Complete Guide


17. Budapest

Sometimes referred to as the ‘Paris of the East,’ Budapest is up there with the French capital when it comes to beauty. It started as two independent towns, Buda and Pest, that united to create the city we know today. The waterfront is dominated by the imposing  Parliament Building that seems to rise from the river not unlike Westminster Palace. While Buda is the older, more charming part of the city and Pest the newer, grander one, there are baths, nightlife and restaurants to be discovered across this two-for-one city of the east.

Reasons to make it to Budapest in 2020:

  • Opening of a new luxury hotel, Kozmo Hotel, in July 2020. Housed in a renovated historic building, the new property will meld modern and classic design with high ceilings, antiques, and crown moldings—plus a wellness space and restaurant.
  • Budapest spring festival 2020 (3/30 - 4/22)  

Plan My Trip To Budapest Now

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18. Portland

Found at the very end of the Oregon Trail, Portland is a hip verdant town whose citizens take urban cool, farm-to-table dining, and sustainability to the next level. After all, it’s Portland that lays claim to the “hipster” concept. Surrounded by trees and water (rainy season runs from September to June), Portland has the highest concentration of craft breweries in the world—and despite the precipitation, the changing of the seasons is a beautiful sight and brings an extra layer of beauty to Portland’s many parks, hiking, and biking trails. But nature isn’t the only draw. Art, literature, and music abound with local and touring bands hosting concerts at small venues like the Crystal Ballroom and Mississippi Studios.

Reasons to make it to Portland in 2020:

  • Three exciting new restaurant openings:
    1. Malka: From the team behind Carte Blanch Food Cart, opened January 15
    2. Pocha: From the team behind the popular Korean spot, Han Oak. Slated to open in spring 2020.
    3. Cicoria: From chef Joshua McFadden, who's now venturing into the world of pizza with a "Rome-meets-Wisconsin tavern-style" extra thin crust slices—plus a resurrection of the famous clam pie from the now-defunct Franny's in Brooklyn.

Plan My Trip To Portland Now


19. Milan

One of the “Four Motors of Europe” Milan is an economic powerhouse with many leading industries, not least among them fashion and tourism. With thousands of years of culture and a prominent place in history, Milan is among Italy’s great cities and, as such, is filled with art, architecture, and monuments of note at almost every juncture. The Milan Cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, dominates the city center as does the impressive Galleria Vittorio Emmanuel II next door. The nearby Sforza Castle is an impressively daunting size, and of course no trip to Milan would be complete without seeing Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper. Although most canals are now covered, the canal in Navigli is uncovered and a sumptuous spot to spend the day and evening popping into bars, cafés, and restaurants while perusing through market stands.

Reasons to make it to Milan in 2020:

  • Milano Museo City will transform the city into one mega arts center with over 80 cultural venues—including art museums, house museums, artist's studios, and corporate museums—celebrating the role of women as protagonists in various fields of art. (3/5 - 3/7)

Plan My Trip To Milan Now

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20. Tel Aviv

Israel’s capital is full of surprises. On the one hand, you have eight miles of star-studded beaches lining Israel’s Mediterranean coast, and on the other hand, 1930s Bauhaus architecture (the German school of design inspired by modernism). The high-tech startup scene dominates during the day, with bold nightlife come evening. And for a slightly more cultural change of pace, there’s the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and Shuk Hacarmel (Carmel Market), rendering Tel Aviv the ideal destination for travelers seeking a dose of both culture and relaxation.

Reasons to make it to Tel Aviv in 2020:

  • Sankai Juko (Between Two Mirrors) dance show, which was specially created for international audiences, will take place in Tel Aviv this summer. (6/3 - 6/5)
  • Nobu Hotel is opening a location in Tel Aviv this year. Although no opening date has been announced, we do know it'll feature 38 rooms, a large garden, fitness center, outdoor spaces, and private rooftop.  

Plan My Trip To Tel Aviv Now

READ MORE: 5 Places To Party All Night In Tel Aviv