To kick off the new year, we asked some of the top tour operators in the world about the best countries to visit in 2020.
Some of their suggested destinations are untouched by excitable tourists, while others are known and loved but are being reinvented.
Here we share tour operators’ insights on the top places to visit in 2020, and how to start planning for the trip of a lifetime.
Greenland is the land of glaciers and hot springs, humpback whales and reindeer.
The majority of the massive island is covered in ice, making it a true winter wonderland. The tourist industry in Greenland is growing at a slow but steady pace, but it’s still widely considered a remote land far from reach. The rugged nature of Greenland makes it a bucket-list trip for many, especially Western Greenland.
Intrepid Travel offers an eight-day Greenland expedition that will take travelers to the best spots on the island -- including archaeological sites, gorges, and other iconic areas -- providing those who join with a once-in-a-lifetime experience in one of the most remote areas of the world.
Surprisingly enough, the rise of tourism in Greenland can partially be attributed to U.S. President Donald Trump.
“President Trump recently expressed interest in buying Greenland, and while the country said it’s not for sale, Trump’s comments worked in Greenland Tourism’s favor. His comment brought an uptick in interest reported by the tourism board, while our company saw a 237 percent spike in web traffic to its Greenland pages the weekend following Trump’s comments,” Andrina Sanchez from Intrepid Travel said.
The tourism industry in Greenland is on the up and up, so get there while you can! And if you are interested in visiting, we have the inside scoop on six of the most beautiful places in Greenland worth adding to your itinerary!
When you think of Southeast Asia, you probably think of Thailand or Indonesia. Laos, a lesser-known country in Southeast Asia west of Vietnam, is a hidden gem that should be on your 2020 travel list!
It is a destination with gorgeous waterfalls like Tad Fane and Dong Hua Sao, lush green landscapes, and a rich cultural history. If you’re an animal lover, Laos has an elephant conservation center that is committed to protecting the Asian elephant population that is certainly worth a visit.
Also, similar to other countries in Southeast Asia, once you’re there, you won’t have to worry about breaking the bank for meals. It’s cheap to eat and drink in Laos, making meeting your budget while enjoying yourself to the fullest a bit easier.
G Adventures says that Laos is “often overlooked on a Southeast Asia adventure” -- but hopefully not for much longer!
Jill Sala from G Adventures told us, “According to the Ministry of Tourism, traveler numbers to Laos for the first half of 2019 ... increased 5 percent compared to the same time last year, and to encourage more tourism, as of June 2019, all international visitors to Laos are eligible to apply online for a single-entry visa for a maximum stay of 30 days.”
If you want to see Laos for yourself, G Adventures has orchestrated a 14-day Southeast Asia trip that will explore both Thailand and Laos.
As you’re planning your trip to Southeast Asia, read up on our list of the 12 most amazing things to see in Laos!
Croatia is gaining traction as a beach paradise for all, but over-tourism threatens experiencing the country to the fullest. To bypass a flood of tourists, consider Montenegro in the Balkans instead -- it is equally beautiful, but quieter.
Montenegro is south of Croatia on the Adriatic, and it pairs gorgeous beaches with stunning terrain. If you don’t want to spend your entire trip on the beach, Durmitor National Park is for you. The park is an awe-inspiring land of jagged mountains, glacial lakes, and views for miles.
In the midst of tourists flocking to Croatia, Andrina from Intrepid Travel noted a 24 percent increase in global bookings to Montenegro in 2019. If you’re a traveler with a yearning for the sea, Intrepid Travel has an eight-day sailing tour around Montenegro that is to die for!
Another great option is Portonovi, a gorgeous waterfront getaway in Montenegro for tourists with money to spare. The marina will host luxurious estates, boutiques, restaurants, and a magical experience right on the water!
Central Asia’s Silk Road
If you liked the idea of escaping to Laos, add Central Asia to your list of stops.
Central Asia is a gorgeous region marbled with mountains and plateaus, deserts and snowy peaks, and cities and quiet villages. Central Asia is certainly something to behold for its natural beauty -- but a huge draw of this area of the world is its history.
The Silk Road connected the East to the West. Odysseys Unlimited has an incredible tour along Central Asia’s Silk Road that is sure to be informative, immersive, and simply unforgettable as you take a 17-day walk through history.
“Traveling the ancient Silk Road connecting East and West, we encounter a melange of culture and religion, art, and architecture that conjures tales of trade and treasure, intrigue and empire,” company representative Sue Bonchi told us.
The tour takes travelers through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan (another top under-the-radar destination for 2020), and Kazakhstan -- three countries you might not visit otherwise. Central Asia is a cultural experience for all, regardless of whether you’re going with a group or on your own!
Georgia, the country just north of Armenia, is becoming a booming tourist destination for a few reasons, one of them being incredible food that’s so good it’s made its way to the U.S.
“It’s safe to say Georgian food and wine are both having a moment with the media spotlight highlighting delicacies such as khinkali -- soup dumplings -- and the country’s traditional winemaking process,” Jill from G Adventures said.
Georgian cuisine is a special part of a trip to the country, but there’s more to experience as well! Georgia is home to Black Sea beaches, mountains galore, plus forts, monasteries, and old villages dating back centuries.
G Adventures has noticed a 44 percent rise in travelers headed for Georgia over recent years. The company has introduced an eight-day Best of Georgia and Armenia trip that involves trekking from Yerevan, Armenia, to Tbilisi, Georgia. The tour will give you a glimpse of the magic of Georgia -- try good food, see numerous natural wonders, and marvel at the unique architecture native to the area.
Also in the area and worth your consideration: seven of the most beautiful places in Azerbaijan.
Saint Vincent And The Grenadines
It’s no secret that the Caribbean is drop-dead gorgeous, but you might not even know about one of the most stunning tropical destinations of all -- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
This island nation south of Saint Lucia and west of Barbados is blessed with brilliant blue water, white sand beaches, and tropical sights that are worth fawning over. Tourists haven’t fully tapped into the beauty of the island -- at least yet -- so the best time to visit is soon!
From hiking up an active volcano to indulging in traditional Creole food, G Adventures regards the island as the perfect trip for “travelers looking for an Instagrammable Caribbean holiday, with few tourists to photobomb their pictures.”
Islands in the Caribbean are often perceived as honeymoon destinations, but that doesn’t need to be the case. Consider the best multigenerational destinations in the Caribbean fit for you and the whole family.
Bring your camera, hiking gear (if that’s your thing), and swimwear! Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is calling, and you must go.
Even though it seems that Egypt has always been a playground for tourists from around the world, the threat of terrorism in the area has earned the country an international travel advisory. The advisory warns travelers to exercise increased caution while visiting. Despite warnings, two tour companies still believe Egypt is the place to go in 2020.
“Egypt is certainly one of the top destinations for 2020. It has everything that experienced travelers seek in international travel: culture, archeology, history, welcoming people, and it’s a destination that many people have dreamed of visiting since they first learned about the pyramids in elementary school,” Sue from Odysseys Unlimited said.
To celebrate the wonder that is Egypt, Odysseys Unlimited has curated a 15-day Egypt and the Eternal Nile tour that offers adventures on the Nile and Lake Nasser, plus visits to Cairo and Luxor.
Odysseys Unlimited isn’t the only tour company leaning into the Egypt travel trend. Tauck Tours has also come up with two tours for the curious traveler.
“Now is a particularly good time to visit Tutankhamun’s final resting place, as a painstaking, 10-year conservation project that restored the wall paintings in the pharaoh’s tomb was completed just this year,” Tom Armstrong from Tauck Tours told us.
Egypt has always been a special place, and it’s on many travelers’ bucket lists; 2020 could be the rear to bring that bucket-list item to life.
In The U.S.
National parks in the U.S. are perfect destinations for timeless trips and will never cease to be incredible.
Tom from Tauck Tours told us, “2020 is shaping up to be a great year to visit our national parks. Things have quieted down since 2016, and in 2020, the parks are likely to be at their least crowded levels in several years.”
If you want to take advantage of quiet parks and thinner crowds, we have 10 tips for hiking the Grand Canyon -- a perpetually iconic location. Another option is Zion National Park. We have tips on the best places to stay as well as the best hikes in the park. Happy hiking to you!
2020 Special Events To Travel For
Want to travel for an event that’s truly unique? Set your sights on a 2020 vacation to Oberammergau, Germany. Once a decade, a reenactment of the death of Jesus Christ -- called a passion play -- takes place in this historic town. This tradition dates back to as early as the end of the Bubonic Plague and stands as a testament to the endlessly intriguing culture of Bavaria.
The 2020 Summer Olympics will be hosted in Tokyo, Japan, so now more than ever is the time to see the Land of the Rising Sun!
G Adventures has noticed a 23 percent increase in tourism there in the past year, and it’s easy to anticipate a surge of tourists in Tokyo this coming summer. Don’t miss out on the fun. Seeing the Olympics live is a bucket-list item you will remember forever.
Unfortunately, with the Olympic games coming to Tokyo, it’s inevitable that tourism will give way to over-tourism. To combat high numbers of visitors, it might be a good idea to visit with Go Ahead Tours.
“EF Go Ahead Tours is the only operator offering travelers an opportunity to watch two Olympic games as well as an exclusive behind-the-scenes experience in the Olympic Village due to the fact that EF is the Official Language Training Services Partner for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” Heidi Durflinger, president of EF Go Ahead Tours, told us. As a tour participant, you can tap into the magic of the Olympic games without having to worry about navigating the hecticness all on your own.
And while you’re in Japan, it makes sense to step away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo to explore other parts of the country. If you have time to get out and breathe some fresh air, consider the five best day trips outside of Tokyo.
Or, if you really want to sink your teeth into the culture of Tokyo, we have tips for everything you need to go before you go, as well as the top six places to take an amazing photo in (and around) Tokyo.
We hope 2020 is a big year of travel for you. Whether you stay in your home country or decide to try somewhere new, we are here to guide you along the way!