Ready to explore? Here are 20 places to visit in 2020

By Katia Hetter and CNN Staff

Published January 2, 2020

Craig Waxman

Whether you want to relax on a remote island off the coast of Africa or ride Germany's coolest trains, this is where you should visit in 2020.


1. Chile Lake District

A visit to "Los Lagos" offers travelers astonishing landscapes and serenity. It's set to be even more impressive during December's total solar eclipse.

SERNATUR/Chile Tourism Board

2. Copenhagen, Denmark

Known as the happy capital of one of the world's happiest countries, Copenhagen has long been a source of fascination for travelers.

Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

3. The Dead Sea

The realities of the climate crisis have reframed the destination from "a place to visit someday" to "a place you need to visit now." It’s also the perfect spot to relax during a tour of the Middle East.


4. Dominica

The Eastern Caribbean island more than lives up to its "Nature Island" moniker. Bouncing back from extensive damage after Hurricane Maria, the island has a renewed focus on ecotourism offerings.

Peter Schickert/picture-alliance/dpa/AP

5. Estonia

Don't be surprised if you hear more about the country's bustling food scene in 2020. Most notable is the Bocuse d'Or Europe, a live cooking contest happening in late May.

Courtesy of Visit Estonia

6. Galway, Ireland

A European Capital of Culture for 2020, Galway is a rural area where artists are drawn by the sublime beauty of the rocky landscape.


7. Jamaica

With turquoise waters and dazzling waterfalls, Jamaica has a lot to offer. Don't miss the stunning cliff-side Rockhouse hotel in Negril. Early guests included Bob Marley, who would have turned 75 this year.

Island Outpost

8. Kyrgyzstan

This tucked-away country is easy to overlook, but it's a perfectly formed jewel. Be sure to check out Mars Canyon, a spectacular landscape of red peaks and dry valleys.

Barry Neild/CNN

9. Kyushu, Japan

If you’re traveling to Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, take some time to explore Kyushu, which offers stunning scenery, top eats and plenty of cultural attractions.


10. New Caledonia

With streaky pink sunsets and stretches of white sand beach, this relatively untouristed spot is a perfectly remote destination.


11. Paraty and Ilha Grande, Brazil

Rainforest-clad peaks plunge to a coastal wonderland in this newly minted UNESCO site about 250 kilometers southwest of Rio de Janeiro.

Tino Plunert/picture-alliance/dpa/AP

12. São Tomé and Príncipe

The little two-island nation in west Africa's Gulf of Guinea is an equatorial biodiversity hot spot home to rich jungle and volcanic peaks.

Ruth McDowall/AFP/Getty Images

13. St. Petersburg, Russia

The city is most popular during the warmer months, especially the so-called "White Nights" of midsummer. Thanks to its northerly latitudes, the city barely sees any darkness during the summer season.


14. Sri Lanka

Despite recent tumult (the horrific terror attacks at Easter), Sri Lanka remains an essential destination and epicenter of history, with relics and ruins, temples and palaces, and wildlife running free.

Jorge Fernández/LightRocket/Getty Images

15. Tunisia

The spotlight is on Tunisia's historical credentials. The ancient city of Dougga is considered the best preserved Roman town in North Africa.

Natalia Seliverstova/Sputnik/AP

16. Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Vancouver Island is a 290-mile stretch of pristine forest and beaches punctuated by small, artsy towns and a cosmopolitan capital city.


17. Washington, D.C.

Beyond what's bound to be a hard-fought presidential election in 2020, D.C. offers a hot dining scene, where there are 18 Michelin-starred restaurants among the city's many diverse eateries.


18. Wuppertal, Germany

An industrial city in western Germany may not sound like anyone's idea of a dream vacation, but Wuppertal has an extraordinary ace up its sleeve -- one of the world's coolest rail systems.

Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images

19. Wyoming

Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Jackson Hole and women's suffrage: These are just a few of the reasons why the least-populated state in the United States should top your list for 2020.


20. Zambia

Jaw-dropping national parks and awe-inspiring wildlife characterize this beautiful southern African country. A visit to Zambia encourages you to get up close with nature.