The 5 hottest travel destinations of 2020.
With 2019 rapidly coming to a close, everyone with a thirst for travel and a healthy stash of points and miles is wondering where to go next. So we scoured the planet, reviewed countless reports and surveys, tapped our network of travel experts, studied route maps and hunted for award availability and redemption sweet spots to find your next adventure for the new decade.
The result? A list filled with incredible destinations as close to TPG HQ as Boston and as far away and unfamiliar as Ethiopia.
Whether you want to see a once-in-a-lifetime celestial event or cheer on your favorite Olympians, you can take advantage of new nonstop routes making the world smaller — and loyalty making it possible for travelers to use their hard-earned points and miles in unexpected ways.
We can only try to predict the future , but we bet these destinations will take off, make a comeback or be the most talked-about places on Earth in 2020.
Río Negro, Argentina
This time next year, travelers and stargazers will have flocked to South America to see a total solar eclipseon Dec. 14. According to NASA, the place with the longest and greatest view of the eclipse will be near the small village of Sierra Colorada, in the Río Negro province of northern Patagonia. The area is famous for glacial lakes and stunning views of the Andes. Nahuel Huapi, the oldest national park in Argentina, and Lanín National Park, closer to the path of totality (the track along which the total eclipse is viewable) should both be on your itinerary.
But there are other reasons to fly to Argentina, which saw American Express cardmember travel increase 35% year over year, even if you don’t venture beyond Buenos Aires. The Argentine peso hit a record low this summer (as much as 65 pesos for every dollar), meaning travelers holding U.S. dollars can get great bargains.
Ethiopia’s tourism economy grew by 48.6% in 2018, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual review. It’s the largest leap made by any country in the world and makes Ethiopia — home to the continent’s fastest-growing airline and a newly expanded airport — a smart destination for those who like to be at the forefront of a travel movement. Long overshadowed by neighboring Kenya and the nearby hotspots of Egypt and Uganda, Ethiopia has captivated us since it opened up e-visas to travelers of any nationality in 2018 and launched a nonstop flight from Chicago (ORD) to Addis Ababa (ADD).
Major hotel brands are finally flying their flags there, too: In 2019, Hyatt opened its doors, and the Radisson Hotel Bahir Dar will debut in 2021. Travelers flying to Ethiopia in 2020 will experience a country on the verge of an incredible tourism boom, where you can seek out the world’s rarest canines in Bale Mountains National Park or brave the sulfurous and Seussian Danakil Depression.
Portugal has it all: terrific food, gorgeous beaches and amazing wine. Now you can add phenomenal flights and business-class award availability to the list. The country’s flag carrier, TAP Portugal, has been announcing new routes between North America and Portugal at a dizzying pace. In June, the airline added nonstop flights from San Francisco (SFO), Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Washington, D.C. (IAD) to its main hub in Lisbon (LIS). And last month, TAP announced new nonstop service to Lisbon from Montreal (YUL), plus nonstop service to Ponta Delgada (PDL) in the Azores from Boston (BOS). Both routes are expected to launch by summer 2020.
Though Lisbon is a convenient gateway, the entire nation continues to ride a wave of increased tourist interest. When Vrbo released its trend report for 2020, Portugal took three of the top five spots on the vacation rental site’s list of beach destinations. Expedia saw a spike in demand for travel to Porto (up 55% from 2018), Faro (up 35%) and Lisbon (up 10%), and Virtuoso’s network of luxury travel advisors reported 29% increases in bookings to Portugal in 2019.
There’s never a bad time to visit South Africa, but it’s easier than ever to get there, now that travelers can fly United’s new nonstop from Newark (EWR) to Cape Town (CPT). Available until the end of March 2020, it’s the only nonstop flight between the U.S. and Cape Town, and United says the route will save flyers nearly eight hours of travel time round-trip. We’ve even seen some economy award availability for 40,000 MileagePlus miles each way. If you manage to find business-class saver award space, it’ll cost at least 70,000 United miles each way. Even more good news? United’s vice president of international network, Patrick Quayle, confirmed the route will return next season as well, returning.
Nearly one decade ago, the Moroccan Department of Tourism announced an ambitious goal: to be one of the top 20 tourist destinations by 2020. The North African nation has made impressive strides, welcoming over 12 million tourists in 2018 — more than all of Central America, according to the World Tourism Organization. Next year, Marrakech will become the first African Capital of Culture.
As if to signal its arrival on the global stage, a flurry of new luxury hotels are cropping up all around Moroccoin 2020, including a Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis Tamuda Bay, the latter marking the brand’s debut in Morocco. (A Ritz-Carlton is opening in Rabat soon, too.) In northwest Morocco, Anantara Al Houara will open in Tangier, a bustling port city on the Strait of Gibraltar linked to Casablanca and Rabat by the first high-speed rail in Africa, which opened in November 2018. The 304-room Hilton Tangier Al Houara Resort & Spa opened on a three-mile stretch of beach in April.