The Alternative 2020 Travel Wishlist
I love this time of year when the airline sales are live and there’s a whole new year of travellers possibilities waiting to be planned! Since starting my blog, I’ve found that fellow bloggers are the best source of travel inspo so when I thought of making this 2020 travel wish list, I made it a collab post with 17 fellow bloggers and travellers!
This list features 20 places (in no particular order) that are either less well known or upcoming places or a new insight into well known destinations to have on your radar for the New Year and beyond:
Discover new cultures
1. Sri Lanka by Nicole
Stick Sri Lanka at the top of your 2020 travel list – it’s perfect for everything! If you’re looking for culture, explore the colonial architecture and stories of Galle. Head to Marissa for stunning beaches and surfing. See magnificent wildlife on Safari in one of the National Parks. Or experience THE most stunning train ride in the world from Kandy to Ella – Seven hours (yes, seven) weaving through tea plantations, around forests and past waterfalls with warming cups of chai.
Top Tip: The food – how does sweet coconut-filled pancakes, spicy velvety daal and fresh, flakey roti sound? And that’s just breakfast…
2. Bosnia and Herzegovina by Adèle
Although initially getting into the country might be difficult with limited direct flights, there is so much on offer to cater for everyone’s tastes.
Mostar is a must see; its historic bridge is a highlight – people dive 25m down into the Neretva river below. Make sure you go to the surrounding countryside to see old architectural gems such as Blagaj Tekija. The train to Sarajevo takes you through valleys and the most beautiful scenery. Sarajevo in comparison can feel a little dull and the traces of the war are much more apparent but taking a tour, listening to locals stories and visiting the tunnel of hope which kept the city alive during the war let you begin to understand this nation’s resilience.
Top Tip: always book tours directly through the company… if not 30% of profits go to viatour and not the people.
3. Guatemala by Ann
If you don’t look Guatemalan, expect to be ripped off when using transportation. To avoid this, ask locals in advance of what the cost should be.
Top Tip: Learn some Spanish!
4. Scotland by Effy
To me Glasgow is one of those special spots in Scotland. As a city it’s in the heart of the action but it’s also only a short drive away from other iconic Scottish spots like Loch Lomond. Having grown up in Scotland there’s always been something about Glasgow that’s just romantic to me. Sure it doesn’t have the historic charm of Edinburgh with its kilts and castles, but what it does have deserves recognition in its own right. You’ll struggle to find friendlier people in Scotland than Glaswegians and if you really want to get a feel for Scottish culture in every day life there’s no better spot.
Top Tip– Visit in Scottish summer July-August to see some of the outdoor live music events and cultural festivals!
5. Medellin, Colombia by Paula
Whenever folks hear Medellin, Colombia, they often associate the city with its violent history due to the drug cartels. However, Medellin has done a complete 180° and is a vibrant city with a gorgeous, lush, mountainous backdrop that follows you wherever you go.
6. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia by Tanja
A popular tourist destination mostly among visitors from nearby countries. It’s a friendly and safe place where most of locals speak at least conversational English and everything is very affordable.
Join a free walking tour to the most interesting spots in town. Afterwards enjoy traditional food at the local market, buy fresh and interesting fruits or join one of many tours by local tourist agencies – visit the national park with Kinabalu mountain, traditional villages or river ride along mangrove trees and proboscis monkeys to mention few. All include direct pick up from your place of stay, buffet meal and experienced tour guides.
You have many options to rent a boat and go along the small islands in front of its coast. Not far out of the centre lies several resorts and grand public beaches – wonderful spots to watch the sunset.
Top Tip: the City offers free rental of bikes from their town hall. You can also use GRAB, south-east Asian cash version of uber.
7. Riga, Latvia by Adebola
I had the pleasure of attending Riga for a travel conference with WitSummit. There are so many reasons why you should visit in 2020. I met amazing people, enjoyed delicious Latvian food which is sooo good – all at a very affordable price.
On my first day, I went to a BOG – Ķemeri National Park. I had never done anything like that in my life and was proud to try something different. Riga is a city with beautiful architecture and colourful buildings. My favourite was St. Christopher’s church! Gosh, the scenery was just beautiful! I would suggest visiting Riga for 2/3 days so you can visit the most popular beach called Jurmala and take a stroll around the markets and city.
Top Tip: If you want to see more of the world, then take shorter breaks. Travel during the weekends, that way you don’t use all your holidays.
Busan has been named by Lonely Planet as one of the best places to visit in Asia. Which after visiting I am not surprised about! Busan has some beautiful beaches and some of the best street food I have ever had.
New solo destinations
9. Kenya by Liza
I recommend Kenya, for your next 2020 travel especially by the coastal areas which is full of island gems. From experiencing tranquil sounds of the Indian Ocean and dipping your toes into crystal blue water to hopping in a 4×4 and drive to glimpse of one of the big five! Experiencing Diani as a solo traveller was stress free, amazing and insightful. The local people and western business owners were friendly and always willing to help whenever you need help or wanting tips on where to go next!
One individual took me under her wing after having a glass or two of G&T’s ( solo travel connections)! It was amazing to experience the local gems – the diverse marine life and the local people through her knowledge.
Top Tip: If you’re staying in an Airbnb or hotel and want to interact or join group tours, google your nearest hostel and you’re guaranteed to make a friend or two.
10. Mykonos, Greece by Char
So if you were wondering what I did in Mykonos on my solo trip in October 2019, it was mainly drink wine, relax, stare in to nothing and write. Some may say this is a waste of a trip but it all depends about the intention of your trip, the purpose and your motivation. Some trips I wanna experience the culture and others I wanna zen out the f*ck out and just be. Instagram has a tendency to romanticise travel but it’s all to do with perception, reality and our individual experiences. The end.
But Mykonos should be on your radar for a solo trip in 2020 as you can change the narrative of your trip.
Top Tip: Go solo. Go off peak and change the party destination into a place of peace.
Road trip adventures
11. Rwanda by Winnie
Rwanda is not only the cleanest, but most organised country in Africa that offers something for every type of traveller. It’s possible for every single nationality to visit Rwanda. Everyone that is not Visa exempt can get a visa on arrival.
Gentle undulating hills feature throughout Rwanda – the land of a thousand hills. Hikers will have a blast exploring the numerous lush trails in the country (Volcanoes National Park is popular). It’s one of the three countries in Africa that offer Gorilla trekking, a once in a lifetime experience.
Rwandan cuisine is a mixture of culinary traditions from the bantu tribes of DRC, Uganda, the French and Belgians – an epic combination for the foodies. Although the country is landlocked, they have stunning beaches and beach resorts by Lake Kivu. Totally recommend for a romantic getaway.
Top Tip: Rent a car and combine your trip to Rwanda with Kenya and Uganda. The single East African visa is $100 USD for all 3.
12. Oman by Gloria
A perfect road trip destination from Dubai. Oman and the UAE are both very safe countries for female solo travellers. You can drive along the coast and pass beautiful old Arabic towns, amazing beaches and many old castles.
In Oman itself we drove past a few wadi’s which are beautiful lake areas that look unreal. We also visited the Bimmah Sinkhole where little fish eat the dead skin cells of your feet.
Top Tip: In Dubai, make you sure you ask the car company if you can cross the border with their car and have your visa sorted.
Perfect for relaxing
13. Martinique by Abena
When every holiday destination seems overcrowded, Martinique, a French Caribbean island, is the place to be in 2020! It’s quite unknown in the anglophone world so it’s not oversaturated with tourists, meanwhile they conveniently use Euros and European SIM cards. Lover of fine drinks? The island specialises in the production of rum and you can take a production tour at the famous Habitation Clément.
Moreover, the beaches are beautiful with some cool turtle snorkelling spots and scuba diving sites. Most of the beaches are “plages sauvages” meaning they’re untouched (good!) but not attached to main towns so you will have to drive there. We tried using the limited public transport, but ended up hitchhiking about three times (yikes!).
Top Tip: DO hire a car.
14. Bacalar, Mexico by Jenée
Still a small, quiet Mexican town where you won’t find many night clubs and loads of tourist. What you will find is true relaxation. Bacalar caters to travellers not afraid to have a local experience off the beaten path. Known as the lake of seven colors, Bacalar’s varying hues of crystal clear water that is fed by underground rivers will have you mesmerised. Spend your days sailing or just sunning yourself on the edge of one of the many docks. The town is extremely walkable and local places like Mr. Taco with their $1 USD tacos are not to be missed.
Top Tip: Help support the growth of eco-friendly tourism in this area by booking a sailing tour instead of a motorised boat. The tours sail 3-4 times a day, carrying up to 7 people. Check out @tourselsebiche
15. Jamestown, Ghana by Pelumi
The Chale Wote Festival – the art festival of a lifetime – is West Africa’s largest annual street art and performance art festival.
Now in its ninth year, it brings thousands of people to Ghana’s capital for around a week of festivities in August. The festival takes place in Jamestown, transforming one of the oldest districts into a vibrant atmosphere.
The festival started as a small local event to showcase local talents but since has exploded into something so big that people from far and wide to celebrate various musicians, illustrators, artists and dancers from across the continent. The festival has various activities such as film making and dance classes to take part in and it allows for culturally immersive experiences.
Top Tip: Be open minded when attending. Allow yourself to be truly present and if you can capture some moments on video, do so. This is a festival you would want to relive over and over again.
16. Düsseldorf, Germany by Tafadzwa
Düsseldorf’s Gourmet Food Festival, held along the Königsallee in Düsseldorf, is a must with over 200 exhibitors showcasing delicacies from all over the world. The festival will be held over the UK August bank holiday weekend, 28-30th August 2020.
From Veuve Clicquot’s cute stall with instagram worthy aesthetics, to freshly made pasta mixed in a huge block of cheese right in front of you, no wonder it is called Europe’s largest culinary open-air festival. For those who love cocktails or wine, there is also a large selection of stalls selling both but make sure you eat before you drink. When you are done, why not take some pictures by the gardens or go shopping?
Top Tip: Why not tick off two cities in one break and catch a coach to Amsterdam for a few days for as little as €5 one way.
If you can’t make the largest jazz festival in the world (the Montreal Jazz Festival in Canada), then why not check out the second largest in the picturesque town of Montreux nestled in the steep hills of the Swiss Alps? July 2020 will see the top billed artists of Lionel Richie and Lenny Kravitz on the main stages but there are plenty of other artists to check out at other venues.
The festival lasts two weeks with open air and free performances alongside ticketed events. The whole of Montreux is transformed with music and excitement quite literally in the air juxtaposed against the tranquility of Lake Geneva and night time lakeside promenade walks.
Top Tip: Standing concert tickets are significantly cheaper. Switzerland is expensive so book tickets and accommodation early or you may be left with very few options.
And from me, I recommend :
18. Panama – Panama City is a great place to visit as a solo traveller due to the ease of getting around (metro in some parts or Uber) and very affordable prices. Go on a tour of the remote and stunning San Blas islands, check out the history behind the Panama Canal, walk up Ancon Hill for views of the city and enjoy Panama Viejo where the best restaurants and bars are found.
Blog: 4 days in Panama City: A solo travel guide!
19. Bergen – Norway’s second largest city is the perfect place for the outdoorsy traveller as there’s plenty of mountains around the city to hike. You can also visit the harbour (Bryggen – a UNESCO cultural heritage site) for picture perfect dining views or visit neighbouring fjords.
20. Slovenia – a charming Eastern European country which most people know as the home of Lake Bled. Make sure you check out the capital Ljubljana in the summer for Open Kitchen on Fridays and the stunning castle views, Lake Bohinj (a beautiful alternative to Lake Bled) and the famous castle in a cave.
A huge thank you to all my amazing contributors above for this incredible list!
I wish you all an amazing travel filled 2020…and let us know if you end up visiting any of our destinations!