8 destinations to visit in 2020

It’s time to dust off the world map and sketch out your travel plans for the year ahead. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly tropical getaway or an exhilarating adventure through an exotic city, planning early will give you the best chance at an unforgettable travel experience.

Watch our video below to discover the eight best destinations to visit in 2020, plus more tips below to help you plan your trip.

1. Bergen, Norway

Best for: A colourful seaside town and gateway to ancient fjords

Nestled among the Seven Mountains and perched on the shore of the glacial North Sea, Bergen is arguably Norway’s most scenic city. It’s a popular starting point for tours of Norway’s famous fjords; the unique elongated lakes formed by ancient glaciers.

But it’s not only natural beauty that attracts travellers to Bergen. As the country’s second-largest city, it boasts countless culinary experiences, and is even a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the area of gastronomy. Its large student population contributes to an energetic atmosphere with several concerts, exhibitions and festivals throughout the year, including the annual Bergen International Festival, which starts in May and runs through to June.

Insider tip: Purchasing a Bergen Card can be an easy and cost-effective way to enjoy the city. The Card grants you discounted admission to museums, tours and events, and also gives you free travel on buses.


2. Austin, Texas

Best for: Music, arts and barbeque

Dubbed the ‘live music capital of the world’, Austin is one of the USA’s liveliest and most inspiring arts centres. There are over 250 live music venues in the city, and countless events and attractions running throughout the year.

South by Southwest (SXSW), affectionately known as ‘SouthBy’, takes the cake as Austin’s biggest and best celebration. The annual festival attracts musicians, videographers and artists of all types to the city, who transform downtown into a flourishing maze of entertainment throughout the 10-day event in March. From just 700 attendees in the first year of the event to over 160,000 in 2018, SXSW has grown into a serious tourism drawcard for the Lone Star State.

Insider tip: It’s easy to get swept up in Austin’s music and food, but don’t overlook the natural beauty of the region, like the winding hiking trails of the Barton Creek Greenbelt.


3. São Miguel, Azores

Best for: A raw coastal adventure off the beaten track

São Miguel more than lives up to its nickname of ‘The Green Island’. Volcanic crater lakes, dramatic coastal cliffs and bubbling thermal baths are just a few of the attractions that make the region a must-see for nature lovers.

São Miguel is the largest island in the Azores, which is a small archipelago off the western coast of Portugal. Its isolated position in the Atlantic ocean means visitor numbers remain relatively small, especially compared to the busy coastal areas of Portugal. You’ll feel like you’re standing at the edge of the earth as you enjoy uninterrupted views of the Atlantic from the summit of an extinct volcano.

Insider tip: Renting a car can be an enjoyable way to explore São Miguel’s coastal roads. Most of the island’s roads are well-maintained and light on traffic, but always remember to use care and ensure your travel insurance offers rental vehicle excess cover.

4. San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico

Best for: Sprawling markets among charming colonial streets

With winding cobbled alleyways, ornate cathedrals, lush mountainous surrounds and countless market stalls, San Cristóbal de las Casas is a feast for the senses. The small city is perched 7,000 feet above sea level, among the incredible mountain ranges of Chiapas.

San Cristóbal has emerged as a significant centre in Mexico’s art scene, with several galleries, music venues and over half a dozen museums documenting the region’s indigenous heritage. The markets of San Cristóbal are famous throughout the country, and a great place to pick up trinkets for friends and family back home.

Insider tip: The Chiapas region of Mexico is regarded as one of the world’s premier coffee-growing areas, so don’t miss your chance to try some stunning local blends.


5. Kyoto, Japan

Best for: Castles, shrines and temples galore

Kyoto has taken out the coveted Travel+Leisure ‘World’s Best City’ award twice, and was once again named in the top ten this year. With its countless palaces, castles, temples and shrines, it’s hauntingly beautiful bamboo forest, and it’s staggering views of Mt Fuji, it’s easy to see why.

The city was Japan’s capital and the emperor’s residence for centuries, until 1868. Today, it’s beloved for its many imperial buildings and religious sites, like the dazzling Kinkaku-ji golden temple and Fushimi Inari Taishi with its iconic red gates. It’s also home to some of Japan’s best natural sights, like the peaceful Arashiyama bamboo forest.

Insider tip: Cherry blossom viewing, a practice called hanami, is one of Kyoto’s finest attractions. April is the best month to enjoy cherry trees in full bloom.


6. Singapore City, Singapore

Best for: Foodie hotspots among towering skyscrapers and tranquil gardens

As Southeast Asia’s financial epicentre, you could be forgiven for thinking that Singapore was all work and no play. However, among the towering skyscrapers is boundless room for adventure, whether you’re looking for culinary delights, boutique shopping or natural majesty.

For the foodies, Singapore is a street food sensation, with some hawker stalls even boasting Michelin Stars. Signature dishes like chilli crabs, fish head curry and sambal with banana leaf are must-tries. Those who enjoy retail therapy will find high-end stores at the Marina Bay Sands and unique boutiques at i12 Katong. To rejuvenate after a day in the city, the city’s many green spaces offer beautiful gardens, hikes and observation areas.

Insider tip: Singapore City has an extensive and efficient public transport system, which makes getting around easy, especially with a prepaid EZ-Link card which you can pick up at subway stations and convenience stores.


7. Arctic cruise, Canada

Best for: An otherworldly adventure in comfort and style

Picture an untouched archipelago of ice, punctuated by cavernous fjords, towering glaciers and polar wildlife - the Canadian Arctic is truly one of the most breathtaking natural marvels on our planet.

Exploring this untouched wilderness is best done in the comfort, style and safety of a cruise. You’ll travel through the famous Northwest Passage, cruise through ancient channels and maybe even spot polar bears, caribou, arctic foxes and walrus in their natural habitats.

Insider tip: Remember your cruise health basics, like regular handwashing, staying hydrated and using your best judgement at the buffet.


8. Praslin Island, Seychelles

Best for: A tropical getaway in a unique location

With gin-clear water, lush national parks, countless beaches and even a blossoming food and arts scene, it’s no surprise that Praslin is one of the most popular of the Seychelle’s 115 islands.

The Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve is one of the island’s main drawcards, thanks to its staggering diversity of native plants, including the Coco de Mer palms (which produce the world’s largest seed and palm flower). The reserve also houses the rare Seychelles black parrot and countless other bird species.

Insider tip: To get to Praslin from other islands in the Seychelles, you’ll need to choose between a light aircraft or ferry. Flying is quicker, but note that luggage limits can be minimal and strictly enforced on smaller planes.


Do you have another destination you’re planning to visit in 2020 that isn’t on this list? We’d love to hear about it! Send us an email at stories@scti.co.nz and tell us more.

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