As a new year dawns, our desire to discover and explore more of the world is awakened. Almost three-quarters (70%) of global travellers say that in 2020 they want to go somewhere that offers experiences they’ve never had before. To help inspire travellers to achieve this ambition, Booking.com, the digital travel leader connecting travellers with the widest choice of unique places to stay, a range of must-do travel experiences and seamless transport options, has delved into global booking trends to reveal 10 of the top emerging travel destinations for 2020.
From hidden gems in Eastern Europe to under-the-radar spots in Asia, these up-and-coming destinations promise novel experiences, untouched natural beauty and the chance to soak up the magic before everyone else catches on.
Seogwipo, South Korea
The second largest city on South Korea’s Jeju Island, Seogwipo, is a bustling coastal city surrounded by natural wonders of the volcanic coastline. Ideal for active travellers, Seogwipo’s clear blue waters will prove popular with scuba-diving enthusiasts, while nearby Mount Hallasan is a great option for those looking to lace up their boots and take a hike. Seogwipo is also the perfect base to visit the nearby waterfalls - Cheonjiyeon Falls and Jeongbang. To refuel after a day of adventuring, the Seogwipo Olle Market offers tastes of the region with various street food and fresh produce stalls, while downtown Seogwipo is home to many traditional Korean restaurants and BBQ spots.
Where to stay: Heyy Seogwipo Hotel offers a beautifully sleek and modern accommodation with sweeping views of the Hallasan Mountain and Seogwipo Sea. For travellers who are after more than views from the window, the hotel is within walking distance from Cheonjiyeon Waterfall and nearby walking trails.
Travellers looking to go off-grid with their 2020 travels should head for the mountains in Zabljak, a small town in northern Montenegro and at the centre of the Durmitor mountain region. Whether travelling in winter for an adrenaline-packed trip on the snowy slopes or during the warmer months to experience thrilling water sports on the lakes and rivers and hiking trails nearby, this destination appeals all year round. The must-see list includes Durmitor National Park, Black Lake and the Djurdjevica Tara Bridge, a concrete bridge that was once the biggest concrete arch bridge for vehicles in Europe.
Where to stay: Holiday Home Vile Calimero offers a family and pet friendly stay with views of the surrounding mountains. The holiday home features a spacious, fully equipped kitchen and dining area for families and friends to spend time together. Guests can also socialise with the horses and sheep grazing just outside the house. Despite the serenity, this holiday home is still well located, not far from the Javorovac Ski Lift and the centre of Zabljak.
For history lovers, Armenia’s capital Yerevan’s past and spectacular architecture makes it a must-experience destination. Take in the spectacle of the St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral, one of the largest cathedrals of the Armenian Apostolic Church in the world. After exploring the ruins of the Zvartnos temple located within the Ararat Plateau, enjoy views of the surrounding mountains. While sightseeing in the city, don’t miss the Cascade, a giant stairway made of limestone which features fountains, sculptures and a tranquil garden courtyard or Republic Square, the central town square which is home to entertaining musical fountains.
Where to stay: Panorama Resort&Suites boasts panoramic hilltop views of Yerevan city and Ararat Mountain. Take in the scenery while exploring the grounds and make use of the outdoor swimming pool and tennis courts provided. Perfect for venturing into the city, Panorama Resort&Suites is located just a short drive from the Republic Square and the Ruins of the Zvartnos temple.
Bright colonial architecture with colorful and unique landscapes nearby, Salta is located in the heart of the Argentine Andes and is a great ‘best of both worlds’ destination for the one-in-five (19%) of global travellers who want to visit Argentina in 20202. Whether taking in the colorful cityscape with a visit to 9 de Julio Plaza, a lush public square in the heart of the city, San Francisco Church, a historic church and monastery that dates back to the 1600s or exploring the nearby colorful landscape of The Hill of Seven Colors and Salinas Grandes (salt flats), a trip to this beautiful part of the world will leave a colorful impression.
Where to stay: Sociable Hostal Prisamata is the perfect accommodation for travellers looking to mingle with other like-minded adventurers. The communal spaces at this friendly hostel are perfect for planning excursions and enjoying the continental breakfast on offer. The accommodation is also well located to explore the sites nearby as it’s walking distance from the 9 de Julio Plaza and helps organise tours to the other sites in the area.
Il Gzira, Malta
For travellers looking to take a cultural beach trip in 2020, Il Gzira is located on the north eastern coast of Malta and lies in direct view of the walled city of Valletta. This stunning seaside destination takes its name from the Maltese word for “island” and with the city’s sweeping Marsamxett harbor overlooking Manoel Island, it’s not hard to see why. Fort Manoel, which was built in 1726 on Manoel Island adjacent to the town itself, makes a great day trip for travellers to learn more about the town’s history and the island’s past as a hospital quarantine. After exploring, travellers can enjoy local cuisine with incredible views as they relax at one of the many restaurants overlooking the harbour.
Where to stay: In the heart of Il Gzira and just a short walk from Manoel Island, Sweet Home Malta is the perfect home away from home for travellers looking to explore. Set just back from the waterfront this homestay offers well equipped rooms in air-conditioned apartment units, many with balconies and terraces overlooking the city. It’s also only a short stroll from Balluta Bay which is perfect for swimming in the warm Mediterranean waters.
Ninh Binh, Vietnam
Thanks to its breath-taking scenery, Ninh Binh is often referred to as the “Ha Long Bay on land” as the dense greenery of the landscape surrounding the city emerges from land rather than water. Quieter than its nearby namesake, Ninh Binh offers travellers a scenic escape just a few hours away from bustling Hanoi. Outside the city itself, Ninh Binh province is a medley of mountains, rivers, caves, rice fields and pagodas. Taking a boat tour in this picturesque natural area may look like something from a movie, especially given its starring role on the big screen in the past.
Where to stay: Sprawling Ninh Binh’s rice fields are best explored on bike and Lotus Field Homestay offers complimentary bikes for travellers to use while discovering this area at their own pace. Well located amongst the nearby landmarks, Trang An, Tam Coc and the Hang Mua, where travellers can take on the 500 steps of Hang Mua peak for an elevated view of the landscape, this homestay makes a great base for further excursions. The property offers bamboo hut accommodations with a shared lounge and garden for guests to enjoy.
Located in northwest Poland, Swinoujscie is a beautiful port town on the Baltic Sea that’s a perfect destination for water lovers. Travellers can immerse themselves in the town’s history and visit the Museum of Sea Fishery, which features model vessels and astonishing sea creatures, before continuing the sea theme and taking a walk to the 19th Century Lighthouse for panoramic scenery of the harbour from the observation deck. Adrenaline junkies can dive into even more aquatic experiences, spending the day doing water sports on Swinoujscie Beach, one of the widest beaches in Poland.
Where to stay: From in the water to on it, Houseboat Porta Mare III is the perfect accommodation for seas-savvy visitors. The Houseboat features a balcony for guests to enjoy the views in a fantastic location just a scenic cycle from the Swinoujscie Lighthouse and the Museum of Sea Fishery.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico's capital San Juan is an extraordinary Caribbean destination boasting vibrant culture and architecture. Walk the cobbled streets of Old San Juan to see the colorful Spanish colonial buildings; explore Fortaleza Street, also known as umbrella street and discover roads full of lush greenery surrounding the houses nearby. The flora isn’t the only picture opportunity for travellers, with a thriving art scene, San Juan’s streets are adorned with street art while more architecturally-minded travellers can enjoy El Morro, Castillo de San Cristobal and Paseo de la Princesa. A trip to San Juan will also aid in Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts following the effects of Hurricane Maria back in 2017.
Where to stay: Nomada Urban Beach Hostel, which provides guests with a great social atmosphere and a barbeque, offers a shared lounge, garden and kitchen, ensuring guests can share their San Juan adventure with new friends. The hostel also offers organised tours and activities for guests keen to explore in a group.
Takamatsu, also known as Udon Kingdom and the Gateway of Shikoku, is a port town that’s the perfect vacation for travelers interested in vibrant food scenes and scenic backdrops. Once you have finished feasting on noodles, a must-visit is the picturesque Ritsurin Park. The park is a Japanese national treasure and is home to many tea houses where travellers can experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony; plus the Engetsu-kyo (moon crossing) bridge and iconic lotus ponds.
Where to stay: Complete your trip to Japan by staying in an authentic Ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn), with a visit to Kiyomisanso Hanajyukai. This accommodation is located in Takamatsu, with nearby sites including the Kitahamaebisu Shrine and the Heike Monogatari Historical Museum. Travellers can enjoy a soak in the hot spring bath, a delicious Asian breakfast and sea views from their private balcony.
The stunning city of Jodhpur is known as one of the most colorful cities in the world, with thousands of blue houses transforming the urban landscape into a sea of ocean-coloured buildings. Aside from its vibrant setting, Jodhpur is home to the Mehrangarh Fort, Umaid Bhawan Palace and the Mandore Gardens, ideal for culture vultures interested in architecture and museums. Foodies and shopaholics will also love exploring the winding medieval streets of Jodhpur and sampling authentic Indian food and spices at one of the many bazaars.
Where to stay: For travelers on a budget, Hostel Raahi offers comfortable and affordable accommodation in the heart of Jodhpur. The hostel features a garden, bar, restaurant and shared lounge and kitchen, all of which are great meeting places for fellow travelers to swap tips and stories. The hostel provides bike and car rental, perfect for exploring the sites of Jodhpur, and travelers can benefit from a 24-hour front desk.
To see the 2020 trending destinations in visual form, visit http://TravelPredictions2020.com.
Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of adults who have taken a trip in the last 12 months/plan to take a trip in the next 12 months. In total 22,000 respondents were polled (including 1,000 each from Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, China, Brazil, India, US, UK, Russia, Indonesia, Colombia and South Korea; and 500 each from New Zealand, Thailand, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong, Croatia, Taiwan, Mexico, Netherlands, Sweden, Singapore and Israel). Respondents completed an online survey between 9th August to 28th August 2019.
The data analysts at Booking.com selected the top 1,000 booked destinations during the time period August 2018 - June 2019 and ranked them by fastest growing when compared to the window of time of the previous year. Only international and leisure trips were taken into account and the destinations were slightly curated to ensure geographic distribution.