Last updated on January 2, 2020
2020 is the year to take a flight to mysterious new lands. To help, we’ve come out with a list of countries that are underrated, relatively undisturbed by tourism, or a little edgy.
Plan a tour to these top ten not-to-miss destinations in 2020!
Festivals, mountains, food, and close to a dozen UNESCO sites; these are just a few of the reasons Nepal is a top destination in 2020. Being the adventure-sport capital of Asia is another. From the bustling cities to the remote mountaintops, Nepal’s magic can barely be contained by its borders.
Outdoor enthusiast can trek to their hearts’ content in the Nepali Himalayas. Hiking Poonhill or the trail to Everest Base camp rank high on the list of favorites. Paragliding is big in Pokhara and mountain biking the challenging Kathmandu Valley terrain spikes adrenaline. On the flip side, touring Nepal’s pagodas, temples, and national parks satisfies more toned-down tourists.
A stunner of a country, Turkey could never disappoint its visitors. From culturally-dense Istanbul, to the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, to the bits of pieces of ancient history strewn everywhere in between, there is so much to lap up.
Visit Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace in Istanbul before jumping down the west coast to the impressive Ephesus ruins and the wine village of Sirince. Bask in the blazing sun in Fethiye or Kas, and then veer off the tourist track with a visit to Mardin, a far-eastern city with a marvelous old city and age-old traditions.
Cultures and landscapes collide, creating an indescribable enchantment that entices travelers to Northern Africa. Once you fly into Casablanca, exploring the rest of the country by train or minibus is a breeze. With each destination highlighting a different feature, the opportunity for activities seems overwhelmingly endless.
Cruise down to Marrakesh and literally get lost in the famous souk shooting off from Jemaa el-Fnaa, the busiest square in Africa. Head the Atlantic coast and learn to surf in Taghazout or head inland, hitch a camel, and camp under the stars of the Sahara.
Severely underrated, Georgia (the country) presents as a former-Soviet region overflowing with its own authentic quirks and charm. Sitting at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, Georgia refuses to be defined by any of its bordering countries. The country’s distinct traits and strong traditions propel Georgia into a class all of its own.
Few westerners make it here, but those who do are instantly impressed by Georgia’s genuineness. Tbilisi acts as a hub, allowing visitors to stroll the old town, indulge in exceptional cuisine, view the city from the Sololaki hilltop, and even experience a no-frills Sulphur bath (a MUST-HAVE experience). It’s tough to tear yourself away from Tbilisi for fear of missing something, but the old capital of Mtskheta and the wine-producing countryside of Kakheti make for epic day trips. Wandering around the breathtaking Shiomghvine Monastery or sipping wine with a panoramic view of the Caucasus Mountains make getting out of Tbilisi more than worthwhile.
Buying into the unfair hype that Guatemala is unstable and crime-riddled means missing out on one of the best countries in Central America. By abiding to the regular travel safety tips, the site of archaic civilizations and a magnificent landscape, Guatemala could be worthy of exploration in 2020.
Blessed with 37 volcanoes (the most in the region) and a colorful way of life, Guatemala’s terrain lays the groundwork for an adventurous vacation. Trek a volcano and roast marshmallows above molten lava, shop the markets for the most sought-after Central Am handicrafts, and channel your inner Indiana Jones with a Tikal temple expedition. Head west to lounge on the undeveloped coast of El Paredon and don’t forget to hit up Antigua, an irresistible UNESCO World Heritage town.
Welcoming, warm, and family-friendly, Malaysia is a Southeast Asian hub brimming with travel opportunities. From the mountain tops to the depth of the South China Sea, Malaysia surprises with all it has to offer.
The prominent Indian and Chinese population create Malaysia’s unique blended culture, which is especially apparent in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, and Hindus peacefully co-exist in Malaysia, with some of the best examples found in KL’s China Town and Penang’s complex foodie scene. Tropical islands beckon visitors off the mainland with promises of soft-sand beaches and crystal-clear water. Rich marine life and blooming corals tempt scuba divers to places like Tioman and the Perhentian Islands. And don’t forget about Borneo, the ultimate destination for getting back to nature. The Malay-controlled section of the island offers supreme diving off Mabul and Semporna and also serves as the gateway to Mulu National Park.
Road trip through this eastern European country and you’ll agree when we say that Montenegro is the best of the Balkans. Lush greenery carpets the entire country and sprawling views more gorgeous than the last await around every turn. The small nation packs picturesque bays carved around towering mountains, charming coastal towns, and a varied landscape all held together by the brilliant Adriatic.
Revel in glitz and glamor in Budva, awash in mega-yachts and pulsing with nightlife. Prepare to be amazed in Kotor, the UNESCO site strewn with crumbling churches and classic architecture. Discover some of the most pristine nature left on the planet with a visit to Durmitor National Park. Finally, get away from it all with a trip to Lake Skadar, a true diamond in the rough along the Albania-Montenegro border.
The small island nation flung far off the southwestern tip of India looks like no-man’s land on a map, but that’s part of its appeal. Remote and ridiculously gorgeous, the Maldives attract couples looking for an exclusive getaway and passionate scuba divers eager to explore the depths of the Arabian Sea. It’ll cost you a pretty penny to reach Male — the nation’s most populated island — but the vision of bungalows suspended over aquamarine water and the feel of the ivory sand between your toes more than makes up for it.
Most people come to the Maldives to unwind, and it’s easy to see why after glimpsing the palm-tree lined beaches. Scuba diving here is second to none, and it’s easy to see why; manta ray and whale shark spottings are common. Luxury spas — located in every island resort — offer the perfect way to relax after a day on the beach or exploring the ocean’s depths. Not to be forgotten is Male, one of the smallest capitals in the world. Dotted with mosques and historic sites, the 2.2-square kilometer city earns a least a day of touring.
Western Africa might not be the first place that comes to mind when brainstorming for your next holiday — but it should be. Liberia hums with energetic spirit and overflows with character and class. It may be a long-haul to reach this coastal country, but the payoff is immediate.
The coastal capital, Monrovia, summon visitors with golden sand, sunset views, and on-the-beach dining. Head towards the Sierra Leone border to Robertsport, an undiscovered surfers’ haven to catch some waves with the locals. Away from the coast, Liberia continues its appeal. Sapo National Park houses elephants and pygmy hippos and offers the chance to camp within the dense, low-lying rainforest.
Want the European experience without the expenses that comes with it? Head to this affordable, eastern European country and save a bundle. Luckily, pinching pennies doesn’t have to equal a sub-par vacation; Slovenia is packed with old towns, cute cafes, and a world of history and architecture to explore.
Any trip to Slovenia must include time spent in Ljubljana; lounging at an outdoor café on the banks of the Ljubljanica River is a classic pastime. Stretch your legs by strolling around town and admiring the old-time architecture of the Dragon Bridge or the city’s namesake castle. After a capital tour, get out of town and visit Lake Bled, a breathtaking glacier lake in the foothills of the Julian Alps that defines “picture-perfect.” Cap the trip with a day or two wine tasting your way around the vineyards in the pretty countryside.
Whether you’re into outdoor activities and adventure or prefer diving deep into history and culture, there’s a new country awaiting your discovery in 2020.