A total solar eclipse and a meteor shower give astronomy buffs two good reasons to visit the Lake District.
When to go: The mountainous Lake District in Argentine Patagonia is best known for its ski resorts. But on December 14, 2020, just before summer begins in the Southern Hemisphere, a total solar eclipse will cut a path across Patagonia north of the region’s main resort town, Bariloche. Best yet? It’s highly likely eclipse-watchers will experience clear skies, and December temperatures hover around a mild 60 degrees.
Why go: The eclipse, of course, is a primary attraction. But stargazers can arrive early to witness the peak of the Geminid meteor shower the day before (December 13), which nearly coincides with a new moon—meaning the sky will be close to fully dark. Bariloche doesn’t lie within the path of totality—the swath in which the moon completely blocks the sun—but with its hotels, microbreweries, and easy access to nature, it’s the best base for eclipse-watchers. (The historic Llao Llao Hotel, located on a spit of land between two lakes, has a spa that’s considered one of South America’s finest.) Travelers can spend a week hiking and exploring the region’s plentiful lakes and then, to witness the eclipse, drive 2.5 hours northeast of the city to the town of Piedra del Águila. The best bet for beating traffic and securing an ideal viewing spot in the remote area is to book a tour through an outfitter. GeoEx and Intrepid are both offering multiday tours that include an eclipse-day outing to a private viewing site, accompanied by an astronomy expert.
Need to know: To get to Bariloche, travelers can fly to Buenos Aires, then take a 2.5-hour flight to San Carlos de Bariloche airport. (LATAM, Aerolíneas Argentina, and Norwegian all offer regular nonstop regional flights.) Travelers can rent cars at the airport. Traffic to Piedra del Águila will likely be intense on eclipse day, so it’s best to drive in a day early, as most outfitters will do. —Lyndsey Matthews
The Dolomites, Südtirol
As the marquee Italian destinations grapple with overtourism, we’ve chosen four places to get off the beaten path—one for each season. Our winter pick has new ways to ski, play, and stay in Italy’s northeastern alpine region.
When to go: Most ski resorts open December 1—in 2019, that coincides with Advent and the opening of Christmas markets across the region. But things will really get going on December 20 when the Südtirol’s four-day Ski World Cup kicks off. The season runs through mid-April, weather permitting.
Why go: When commercial flights to the Dolomites region of Südtirol ended in 2015, there was concern about a loss of tourism to the area, where 700-plus miles of pistes connect 30 different ski areas. But the closure, which thinned out the crowds, has been a boon for Südtirol—and for travelers—as ski resorts and outfitters refocused their offerings around food, wine, and wellness. A microboom of new hotels includes the Adler Lodge Ritten, a scattering of black-timber chalets and bio saunas (cooler than traditional saunas) that circle a natural lake. Adler also offers yoga, cycling, and guided hikes. In late winter 2020, the outfitter Discover Your Italy will roll out snow hikes in Val Duron, as well as mountaintop pop-up dinners with optional snowplow passage for non-skiers. Butterfield & Robinson launches a new Dolomites Winter Adventure this year that will include runs on the Sella massif and snowshoe hikes to taverns serving wines from the neighboring Alto Adige region. This season also brings several new lifts that connect ski resorts, hotels, and new runs, including the Transhumanz route in Val Senales, named after an ancient migratory sheep path that skirts the Hochjochferner glacier.
Need to know: Many of the resorts in Italy’s majority German-speaking Südtirol (it’s just south of the Austrian border) are connected by lifts and ski runs, making it possible to get around without a car. The Austrian city of Innsbruck, as well as Venice and Verona in Italy, have the closest airports. From Innsbruck, it’s around two hours to Südtirol by train or bus; from Venice or Verona, it’s between 90 minutes to two hours by train. —Adam H. Graham
With its diverse cities and wealth of outdoor spaces, Canada has always been a playground for travelers. We’re celebrating our neighbor to the north in each season. In winter, catch the northern lights in the newly reconnected polar bear capital of the world.
When to go: In October and November, polar bears migrate to the coast to await the return of winter sea ice. To see the northern lights, travelers should aim for January through March, when the skies are at their clearest.
Why go: Six hundred miles north of Winnipeg, Churchill is an isolated enclave on the western edge of Hudson Bay, where beluga whales congregate in summer and the northern lights dance above the tundra 300 days a year. But the region’s biggest draw, of course, would be the hundreds of polar bears that flock to the area in October and November, when winterlike conditions set in. No roads reach Churchill, so the community is largely reliant on a train that ferries in both supplies and travelers from Winnipeg. Historic floods in 2017 washed away sections of the track, but train service resumed at the end of 2018, so Churchill—and its polar bears—are fully accessible again. The best way to see the bears is with a tour. Frontiers North Adventures converts a chain of rugged tundra buggies into an overnight wilderness camp complete with dining, sleeping, and lounge cars, while luxury outfitter Churchill Wild uses backcountry lodges for 7- to 11-day small-group walking safaris where visitors observe the massive mammals at eye level (albeit at a safe distance). Visitors who want to learn more should stop by the new Polar Bears International House, opened in fall 2019, where conservation scientists discuss bear ecology and their ongoing research on the impressive mammals.
Need to know: Calm Air is the only commercial airline that flies to Churchill. For an overland adventure, travelers can take the two-day train journey from Winnipeg. During polar bear season, animals occasionally wander into town, so a voluntary 10 p.m. curfew minimizes unplanned encounters, and residents leave car and house doors unlocked just in case anyone needs to make a rapid escape. —Sarah Feldberg
Hurricane Dorian can’t diminish the spirit of the islands—get a fresh perspective on this thriving cultural hub.
When to go: The dry winter months, when temperatures average 75 degrees, are the perfect time to experience some Bahamian sunshine. On Boxing Day (December 26) and New Year’s Day, the Junkanoo Festival—celebrating the Bahamas’ West African origins—takes place. From 1 a.m. on through the early morning, downtown streets are abuzz with parades of performers wearing colorful horned masks and dancing to the sounds of cowbells and goatskin drums.
Why go: Hurricane Dorian devastated the northern reaches of the Bahamas in 2019, but the dozen or so other islands in the archipelago were not affected. Nassau, with its popular resorts Baha Mar and Atlantis, and more low-key spots such as the family-owned resorts on Cat Island, are ready to welcome guests. To see the Bahamas in a completely new way, book passage on Virgin Voyages, the new cruise line from Richard Branson’s group. Virgin will launch its first ship, the Scarlet Lady, in April, and its inaugural season will include a full-day stop at Virgin’s new private Beach Club on Bimini in the western Bahamas.
Need to know: Nonstop flights are offered from many major U.S. cities. Travelers who want to island hop can catch a flight from Nassau’s airport using the inter-island air service Bahamasair or take one of the many charter boats and water taxis. The Bahamas has its own currency, but it is matched in value with the U.S. dollar, so there’s no need to exchange your money; change is usually returned in the same currency. —L.M. and Mekalyn Rose
Travelers looking to celebrate will revel in this island’s syncopated atmosphere during Carnival.
When to go: Guadeloupe springs to life in January, the start of Carnival season. From January 1 through March 6, the archipelago holds a series of dance marathons, song contests, and parades, most of them centered in the capital, Basse-Terre. During this season, moderate winds provide some relief from the generally warm and humid air. Bring a light jacket for evenings.
Why go: On February 1, JetBlue launches its first direct seasonal flights between New York’s JFK airport and Pointe-à-Pitre. In advance of the new flights, the Club Med La Caravelle resort, which opened in 1974, unveiled a $47 million renovation that includes wine and rum cellars, a beach lounge, and new oceanfront rooms. Its new adults-only Zen Oasis has its own rooms, infinity pool, and yoga hut.
Need to know: Carnival is a popular time of year to visit, so be sure to book flights and hotels in advance. There aren’t many direct flights to Guadeloupe from the United States; most travelers will transfer from other Caribbean spots such as Martinique, Barbados, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Once at Point-à-Pitre, it’s easy to travel by ferry to the smaller islands in Guadeloupe, each of them less than an hour’s ride away. To snorkel, dive, or sightsee around the coral reef, head to the beach to book with a local outfitter. —L.M. and M.R.
Canouan Island, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Quiet and unspoiled, this Caribbean island offers comforts far from the crowds.
When to go: Avoid the hottest months of the year (August through October) and plan a winter trip to the island in the Caribbean archipelago of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where wild tortoises outnumber human residents. Canouan is a quiet island, but it’s just a ferry ride over to St. Vincent, where, December 16 to 24, the Nine Mornings Festival brings music, dance, and parades to Heritage Square, Kingstown.
Why go: This hook-shaped speck of sand surrounded by turquoise waters is harder to get to than other Caribbean islands, but that’s the appeal. On the five-square-mile island, there’s not much to do beyond snorkeling the coral reef, relaxing in the sun loungers on Godahl Beach, or paddleboarding at Shell Beach. Travelers can also take a catamaran tour to Tobago Cays, where scenes from the Pirates of the Caribbean films were shot. The tiny downtown area and marina are perfect for an unhurried stroll. The Mandarin Oriental, Canouan, the former Pink Sands Club resort that reopened in 2018, has just 26 suites, each with a marble seaside patio. The hotel’s Cargo 4 Kids program invites guests to bring much-needed school supplies from home and deliver them to local students.
Need to know: Travelers can fly to the island’s seaside airstrip via shared or chartered Grenadine Alliance jet from St. Vincent, Barbados, St. Lucia, or Grenada. Another option is the three-hour ferry ride from St. Vincent on the MV Barracouda, which runs Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, the 2.25-hour ride on MV Gem Star on Tuesdays and Fridays, or the 3-hour ride on M/V Canouan Bay on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
—Jennifer Flowers and M.R.
Once-sleepy enclaves along the Bosphorus Strait now hum with rich culture and culinary delights.
When to go: Springtime can be crowded in Istanbul, but the mild weather and the sight of erguvanlar (Judas trees) blooming deep pink along the Bosphorus make this an ideal time to visit. In April, visitors can take in millions of colorful tulips and the finest in Turkish cinema at, respectively, the Istanbul Tulip Festival and Istanbul International Film Festival.
Why go: In recent years, Istanbul’s arty residents shifted their focus from the city’s urban core to the residential neighborhoods and villages along the Bosphorus. The result: a heady mix of centuries-old traditions and fresh creative energy. Cheffy types have staked their claim to the European side of the strait, where visitors can pop into buzzy new cocktail bars on the historic backstreets of Arnavutköy village, sample the eclectic farm-to-table creations at Apartiman in leafy Yeniköy, or share meze platters at the sleek waterside Feriye Restaurant in Beşiktaş. As for dessert? Head to the Asian shore for luscious Ottoman puddings at Kanaat Lokantası, in the traditional Üsküdar district. To get a culinary overview along the river, book a “Born on the Bosphorus” walk with Culinary Backstreets, which offers a tasting tour of three waterside districts.
Need to know: Turkish Airlines offers direct flights from major U.S. hubs to the new state-of-the-art Istanbul Airport. U.S. passport holders may apply for a tourist e-visa ($20) at evisa.gov.tr. For trips on the Bosphorus, check the city ferry schedule at Sehir Hatlari and pick up the Istanbulkart smart card, sold at most kiosks and transit hubs. —Kristina Malsberger
Read about contributing writer Anya von Bremzen’s experience along the Bosphorus in Istanbul.
Vancouver Island, B.C.
With its diverse cities and wealth of outdoor spaces, Canada has always been a playground for travelers. We’re celebrating our neighbor to the north in each season. Road trip through the quiet, nature-filled Canadian island at the height of spring.
When to go: Melting snow and blooming trees mark the beginning of spring in British Columbia. Bears come out of hibernation, orcas and humpbacks start their migration north, and restaurants brim with spring seafood (salmon, halibut, spot prawns) and foraged treats (spruce tips, fiddlehead ferns). May 1 marks the start of hiking season on the renowned West Coast Trail.
Why go: This island—which has the capital city, Victoria, and the wood-shingled surf town Tofino—packs a lot into its 12,000 square miles. Come 2020, there are even more ways to explore. In Tofino, where travelers can surf and kayak, there are new additions to the town’s flourishing culinary scene, such as the Tofino Distillery and the vegan restaurant Bravocados, and new suites at the Pacific Sands Resort. The reigning queen of Tofino hospitality is still the Wickaninnish Inn, however. Its renovated Pointe Restaurant and On the Rocks bar—all wood and ocean-view windows, with a bar fashioned from local marble—will open a new wine cellar and event space in time for its Surfrider Foundation fundraiser (March 7) and World Oceans Day (June 8). A new, nearly 15-mile multiuse trail that stretches from Tofino to its coastal neighbor, Ucluelet, is in the works. Travelers can book cycling tours with Pacific Rim Eco Tours in Ucluelet. The island is also home to 50 First Nations communities, with many offering immersive ways for travelers to connect with Native traditions. Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours is slated to run three trips along the island’s northern coast that highlight various aspects of the Homalco culture.
Need to know: Vancouver Island is about 70 miles west of Vancouver. A road trip is one of the best ways to connect with the land and sea: Travelers can rent a car in Vancouver and take the 95-minute ferry to Victoria ($44), or they can take a roughly 30-minute flight from Vancouver and rent a car from Victoria’s International Airport. It takes 5.5 hours to drive the island from end to end. A more enjoyable experience? Opting for the Oceanside Route, which parallels the water as it leads through quaint towns on the island’s east coast. —Serena Renner
As the marquee Italian destinations grapple with overtourism, we’ve chosen four places to get off the beaten path—one for each season. Our spring pick, Italy’s Prosecco Hills, finally gets a UNESCO World Heritage designation.
When to go: The Primavera del Prosecco Superiore (March-June) is considered the most important wine event in Veneto, the region that fans out from its capital, Venice. During the festival, travelers can join tastings, enjoy meals with wine pairings, and stroll through vineyards open to the public.
Why go: In 2019, UNESCO finally recognized the prosecco production area—50,000-plus acres of neatly terraced vineyards, rolling green hills, and scenic medieval towns—as a World Heritage site. Travelers can sip their way through the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, where small, family-run vineyards still use traditional methods to make sparkling wine. It’s easy to explore beyond the towns, too. Visitors can drive or cycle along the winding Strada del Prosecco, a 55-mile loop lined with 90 wineries, tasting prosecco and other wines along the way. The historic region also has plenty of medieval villages and restaurants that highlight the land’s abundance, including the Michelin-starred Ristorante La Corte. The best way to experience farm life is to stay in one of several agriturismo accommodations in the area, such as Borgoluce, which produces its own wine, buffalo mozzarella, honey, cured meats, and beer. For the insider track, travelers can book a custom tour of Veneto with Imago Artis Travel.
Need to know: The towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene are about 40 miles north of Venice. Carriers such as American Airlines, Delta, and United run direct flights from the United States to Venice. There, travelers may hire a driver from Treviso Car Service, rent a car, or hop on a one-hour train to Conegliano. —Devorah Lev-Tov
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
The world’s largest salt desert, located in Bolivia’s high-altitude plateau, is becoming a luxury outpost.
When to go: May—the tail end of the wet season and the beginning of the dry season—is an ideal month to visit: The flats, located in southwest Bolivia, are more accessible, and thanks to the mix of sunny and rainy days, travelers may be able to see the salt flats both dry and when they are flooded, which creates the surreal mirror effect captured in countless photos.
Why go: In May 2019, the Swiss outfitter Amazing Escapes partnered with Bolivia’s indigenous Jirira community to open Kachi Lodge, the region’s first permanent luxury lodge. The highly sustainable camp, located at the foot of the Tunupa volcano, comprises six solar-powered geodesic domes with wood-pellet stoves, bay windows, and incinerating toilets. Reclaimed wood furniture, traditional bayeta textiles, and artwork from Gastón Ugalde (considered the Andean Andy Warhol) decorate the lodge. Claus Meyer, the Michelin-starred chef behind the destination restaurant Gustu in La Paz, oversees the menu, and dishes are made from native Bolivian ingredients. Guests can stargaze through the onsite telescope, take culinary classes, get an art lesson from Ugalde, or explore with a private guide part of the otherworldly terrain that spans over 4,000 square miles. In May, the classic journey across the flats from Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia, to Chile’s Atacama Desert will also get a luxury upgrade. Explora will offer three high-end Bolivian camps with minimalist, wood-paneled guest rooms featuring en-suite bathrooms and spectacular views specifically for its trips. Travelers can embark on 8- to 11-day expeditions (in either direction), which combine driving and hiking as travelers wind past steaming geysers, monumental rock formations, ancient Inca trails, and colorful highland lagoons filled with flamingos.
Need to know: U.S. citizens need to have visas and proof of yellow fever vaccination to enter Bolivia. Most travelers fly into the capital city, La Paz, then take a one-hour flight to Uyuni. Lodges offer transfer to the salt flats in a 4x4 vehicle. Travel time varies from just under two hours during the dry season to four hours during the wet season. The salt flats sit at 12,000 feet above sea level; to avoid altitude sickness it’s important to acclimatize for a couple of nights at a lower altitude and to stay well hydrated. —Nora Walsh
San Antonio, Texas
There’s more to San Antonio than the Alamo. This flourishing city is quickly becoming a cosmopolitan arts hub, foodie haven, and thriving green space.
When to go: In April, the wildflower fields outside the city burst with color. San Antonio’s annual 11-day Fiesta (April 16–26) pays homage to the city’s storied revolutionaries with the Battle of Flowers Parade, live music, and regional fare.
Why go: In October 2019, the hotly anticipated contemporary art center Ruby City joined a roster of world-class local art galleries and museums, including the upgraded Witte Museum. Designed by British architect Sir David Adjaye, the striking crimson Ruby City presents selected works from the Linda Pace Foundation’s private collection of more than 900 paintings, sculptures, and installations by international artists. Another addition to the cityscape: a retrospective exhibit (through May 2020) that features the large-scale works of acclaimed Mexican sculptor Sebastián throughout the city. San Antonio’s close ties to Mexico are perhaps most keenly experienced on the plate, at such restaurants as Carnitas Lonja, Lala’s Gorditas, and the forthcoming El Machito from celebrated homegrown chef Johnny Hernandez. Travelers can also explore the city’s investment in outdoor spaces, notably the Mission Reach, an eight-mile extension of the city’s famous River Walk promenade that connects four UNESCO-listed Spanish colonial missions. The expanded botanical garden, new ecofriendly Confluence Park, and the growing art-and-nature-focused San Pedro Creek Culture Park are also worth a stroll.
Need to know: Domestic airlines are regularly adding nonstop flights from major U.S. cities. Travelers can navigate downtown and the 15-mile River Walk on foot or by the city’s three VIA Viva bus routes. Go Rio River Shuttles offers hop-on, hop-off multiday passes that allow visitors to get around via electric riverboat. —N.W.
The island welcomes visitors with fresh diversions and restored natural treasures.
When to go: Many consider mid-April to late May the sweet spot: Winter crowds clear, prices drop, and official hurricane season (June through November) has yet to begin. Travelers who want to experience the bioluminescent glow of Mosquito Bay (off the island of Vieques) should plan a trip to coincide with a new moon.
Why go: In the wake of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has rebuilt itself better and stronger. With renewed pride and increased self-sufficiency, the island offers a flurry of new enticements. They include new and refreshed hotels: Ritz-Carlton, San Juan will welcome guests back in the spring after a multimillion-dollar renovation; in the Condado district, La Concha, dating back to 1958, has unveiled a $15 million renovation; and El Conquistador in Fajardo, on the eastern end of the island, will fully reopen this year. On the culinary front, Puerto Rico’s most famous restaurant, José Enrique, which features locally sourced ingredients, recently reopened closer to the beach in San Juan. There’s Spoon Food Tours’ modern chinchorreo, a party bus that makes culinary stops throughout the countryside, and the new Ron de Barrillito Visitor Center in Bayamón, where guests can enjoy tours and tastings and fill their own bottles with Puerto Rico’s oldest rum. In the capital, the recently opened entertainment complex El Distrito San Juan lures visitors with a concert arena, restaurants, bars, a dance club, and Puerto Rico’s first urban zip line. And while there’s no zip line in El Yunque, the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. national forest system, visitors will find fascinating species—including the Puerto Rican screech owl and the indigenous coquí frog—that have weathered the storms.
Need to know: Puerto Rico is more accessible than ever before. Delta has introduced a fourth daily flight from JFK, and American Airlines now offers a second daily flight from Dallas-Fort Worth. Allegiant Air now flies nonstop to San Juan from Cincinnati, Raleigh-Durham, and Pittsburgh, and Frontier Airlines recently added three weekly flights from Miami. The neighboring islands of Vieques and Culebra are easier to visit now, too, with ferry tickets available for advance purchase via porferry.com. —K.M.
Read about writer Ramona Ausubel’s visit to a rejuvenated Puerto Rico.
British Virgin Islands
A post-hurricane refresh makes the Caribbean’s sailing capital more alluring than ever.
When to go: Skip hurricane season (June through November) and visit in spring, when the weather is balmy and underwater visibility is high, revealing colorful reefs and historic shipwrecks.
Why go: With the reopening of several major resorts in 2020, this is the year the British Virgin Islands fully rebound from the devastating 2017 hurricane season. Richard Branson’s Necker Island reopened after multimillion-dollar renovations in late 2018, unveiling additional accommodations and wind turbines that produce almost all of the resort’s energy. Over on Virgin Gorda, Rosewood Little Dix Bay reopens in January 2020 with midcentury modern interiors that hark back to when the resort first opened in 1964. As for the Willy T, the beloved floating bar and restaurant destroyed in Hurricane Irma? A newer, larger replacement serves up rum-soaked fun just off Norman Island, believed to be the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
Need to know: There are no direct flights to the islands from the U.S. mainland, but several airlines connect to Tortola via San Juan, Puerto Rico, and other Caribbean hubs. Travelers who fly to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands can ride the ferry to Tortola—part of the local ferry network that makes island-hopping easy and scenic. Those who prefer to plot their own course between turquoise coves and pirate caves will find crewed yachts and catamarans ready to charter. —K.M. and L.M.
With its diverse cities and wealth of outdoor spaces, Canada has always been a playground for travelers. We’re celebrating our neighbor to the north in each season. In summer, see why Canada’s most diverse city is ready for its close-up.
When to go: Toronto kicks off the party with a slew of June events, including the music-and-gaming festival North by Northeast (June 12–21), the Toronto Jazz Festival (June 19–28), and Toronto Pride (June 26–28), which draws upwards of a million people for its parade, march, and family programs.
Why go: There’s never been a better time to visit Canada’s largest and most diverse city. Nearly half of all residents—46 percent—are immigrants (versus about 20 percent nationally), and they speak more than 170 languages. There are many ways for travelers to engage with that diversity. In May, the city will celebrate the second iteration of Indigenous Fashion Week (May 28–31), presenting clothing and textiles from Native designers via runway shows, markets, workshops, and exhibits. Travelers can also celebrate the city’s large LGBTQ community. Ticket sales for the 30th anniversary of Inside Out, the LGBTQ film festival (May 21–31), help support new outreach initiatives such as the RE:Focus Fund, which provides financing to LGBTQ women, nonbinary, and trans filmmakers. Visitors in 2020 will be able to check into Canada’s first Ace Hotel, slated to open in the Fashion District, and the expanded Drake Hotel, a beloved homegrown, art-filled gathering place showcasing local artists and musicians.
Need to know: Streetcars supplement Toronto’s safe and clean subway system. An airport rail line connects the city center to its largest airport, Toronto Pearson. (For budget-minded travelers, the low-cost Porter Airlines lands at the smaller airport located on an island opposite downtown. There’s a free shuttle bus from the airport to Union Station.) Bike Share Toronto rents wheels at 465 stations. —Elaine Glusac
Loire Valley, France
A growing natural wine movement shakes up a region bound by tradition.
When to go: In September and October, the château crowds thin, the wine harvest hits its peak, and the vineyards blush crimson and gold. During the annual Vines, Wines, Walks in early September, local winemakers lead more than a dozen vineyard walking tours, with tastings and food pairings.
Why go: Across the Loire Valley, rebel winemakers have embraced wine’s natural expressions. The delicious results await oenophiles at wineries such as Domaine de l’Ecu, which makes natural wines in clay amphoras—an 8,000-year-old tradition only recently revived in France. La Coulée de Serrant is worth a visit for its views and history alone, not to mention its Savinnières, a biodynamic white from local chenin blanc grapes. For natural red wine, Domaine de Montcy specializes in sauvignon-chardonnay blends, as well as wine made from the rare romorantin grape—a cousin to chardonnay. In medieval alleys of Angers, several wine bars offer natural sips: L’Angevigne focuses on all-natural wines from local Loire appellations, while Une Fille et Des Quilles serves organic and biodynamic wines from around the country, alongside a range of excellent cheeses, charcuterie, and terrines.
Need to know: From Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, TGV trains run to Angers (2.5 hours) and Tours (just under two hours), the valley’s railway hub. Driving the length of the Loire from Nantes to Sancerre takes only four hours, but it’s a journey best enjoyed over a couple of days. Cyclists can tour the valley along the signposted Loire à Vélo route, which follows the river for 500 miles to the Atlantic Ocean. Les Vélos Verts offers bike rentals at multiple locations, or travelers can opt for a six-day cycling tour with DuVine, with stops at castles and local wineries. —K.M.
Read about contributing writer Emma John’s experience tasting wine in the Loire Valley.
The Finger Lakes, New York
Celebrate 100 years of U.S. women’s right to vote in the place where the suffrage movement began.
When to go: The Finger Lakes shine when the days (and the waters) are warm. August 26, 2020, also marks the centennial of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. The Finger Lakes—birthplace of the women’s right movement—will honor the anniversary on August 26 in Seneca Falls.
Why go: Largely known for its 11 shimmering lakes and 100-plus wineries, the region is also where the women’s rights convention that ultimately launched the suffrage movement was held. To celebrate the centennial, the Finger Lakes region created a list of 100 ways to fete female empowerment throughout 2020, starting with the three-day Women March (January 17–19). Come summer, outdoor enthusiasts can hop on WomanTours’ women-only cycling trip (July 9–12). The route will include visits to major historical sites in Seneca Falls and Rochester, including the courthouse where Susan B. Anthony was tried for the crime of voting (commemorations for her 200th birthday will also take place in 2020), and the Women's Rights National Historical Park, home to the Wesleyan Chapel, the site of the first women’s rights convention. Travelers can also support the many women-owned and -operated businesses in the Finger Lakes, such as Lucas Vineyards, Young Lion Brewing, Silver Waters Sailing, and Firelight Camps, a glamping site co-owned by cookbook author Emma Frisch. A night at the Belva Lockwood Inn includes an outing to the nearby Tioga County Historical Society to catch a living-history actor paying tribute to Ms. Lockwood, the first woman to run for president.
Need to know: The Finger Lakes are about 250 miles northwest of Manhattan. Travelers can fly into the gateway cities of Syracuse or Rochester or take an Amtrak train from New York City’s Penn Station to Syracuse (a five to six-hour trip). Once you’re in the Finger Lakes, renting a car is the easiest way to explore the region’s pastoral wonders. —N.W.
An extensive new touring route makes it easier than ever to explore the region’s villages and towns.
When to go: The warm summer months (May through September) attract the most travelers. They also bring some of southern England’s most worthwhile festivals and events, including the Royal Ascot horse races in Berkshire (June 16–20) and the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath (September 11–20).
Why go: In late 2018, the Great West Way, a touring route based on one of the first Great Roads commissioned in the early 20th century by the monarchy, made its debut. The 125-mile route stretches from London to Bristol, connecting small villages in between. A variety of options allow travelers to tackle the route, or portions of it, at their preferred pace. They can drive the Great West Way end to end, hop from town to town via the Great Western Railway, or cruise along the Thames and regional canals aboard privately chartered day and overnight boats. Bike paths and walking trails are ideal for travelers who want to explore the route’s natural landscapes over the course of a day, a week, or more. Trail markers along the route make it easy to navigate. Lodging choices include country campsites, castles, family farms, and high-end hotels. In spring 2019, the bucolic Monkey Island Estate opened just minutes from Bray, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it village near Berkshire with three Michelin-starred restaurants. (Despite its high-profile culinary scene, the town lacked a proper luxury hotel before Monkey Island.) Farther west, in the town of Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage site, new areas of the ancient baths, including a laconicum (Roman sauna) will open to the public in 2020, as will a new visitor’s center.
Need to know: Direct flights to London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports are available from most international airports in the United States. The Great West Way Discoverer Pass allows unlimited train and bus travel between London’s Paddington station and the Bristol Temple Meads station, with options to branch off in the Thames Valley, the Cotswolds, and Wiltshire (three-day tickets from $126; seven-day tickets from $166). Planning tools on the Great West Way’s comprehensive website include an itinerary builder and individual city guides. —Lindsay Lambert Day
Unburdened by mass tourism, this arctic island is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream destination.
When to go: From June until September, summer temperatures hover at an agreeable 50 degrees, and long days (the sun doesn’t set from late May through July) mean more time to soak in the scenery. Travelers can join locals as they celebrate Greenland’s National Day on June 21 with traditional music, folk dancing, and patriotic ceremonies in town squares.
Why go: As Iceland struggles with its popularity, its neighbor Greenland has become an alluring option for travelers who want polar adventures without the crowds. Travelers can test their mettle on the 100-mile Arctic Circle Trail or explore the planet’s largest national park, in northeast Greenland. Clocking in at just over 836,000 square miles, Greenland is the world’s biggest island—nearly 80 percent of which is covered in ice. These attributes mean that the country feels the effects of climate change more starkly, and two new trips in 2020 from the Norwegian company 50 Degrees North are putting the issue front and center. Led by Greenlander Lykke Geisler Yakaboylu, the five- to six-day tours include these highlights: Travelers cruise to the 656-foot tall Eqi Glacier by boat, go whale-watching in Disko Bay, and visit such UNESCO World Heritage sites as the Ilulissat Icefjord. Yakaboylu puts the sites in context for travelers by discussing the effect of climate change on the country’s melting ice sheet.
Need to know: The easiest way to get to Greenland from the United States is to first fly to Iceland. From Reykjavík, Iceland, travelers can catch a 90-minute connecting flight on Air Iceland to either Nuuk, Greenland’s capital city, or to Ilulissat. A land of few roads, Greenland is linked via a web of sea and air routes serviced by seasonal domestic flights, helicopters, boats, and ferries. —N.W.
Experience the revival of Gorongosa National Park via one of the stylish new lodges slated to open this year.
When to go: During the dry season from June through September, temperatures rarely rise past the mid-80s, and it’s the prime time to view game: Animals cluster around the few watering holes that remain.
Why go: Gorongosa National Park occupies nearly one million acres in Mozambique’s Great Rift Valley and has thriving populations of lions, elephants, wildebeests, buffalo, and hippos. But it wasn’t always this way. A brutal civil war that started in 1977 and lasted for 16 years stripped the park of 95 percent of its large mammals, as animals were slaughtered for their valuable hides and ivory, which were sold to help finance the war. In 2008, the country’s rehabilitation efforts got a $40 million boost from American philanthropist Greg Carr. His foundation partnered with the Mozambique government on a long-term restoration project to reintroduce wildlife and lift local communities through ecotourism—the results of which we’re starting to see. Travelers can join in the conservation efforts with outfitter Roar Africa, to monitor and collect data on local animal populations, or perhaps to participate in the Paleo Primate Project, which studies human evolution via the park’s baboons. Come July, travelers can check into one of six stylish tented suites on the banks of the Mussicadzi River at Muzimu Tented Camp. The forthcoming, and highly anticipated, Royal Gorongosa from hotelier Liz Biden will have eight well-appointed tents, each featuring a large deck and a plunge pool. Both properties will offer game drives, boating safaris, and bushwalks to see the park’s flourishing game.
Need to know: U.S. travelers should apply for a single-entry visa ($160) before traveling. Most people fly first to Johannesburg, South Africa, then catch a two-hour flight to Beira, Mozambique. From Beira, it’s a 30-minute flight to the Chitengo landing strip inside Gorongosa National Park. Hotels will provide transfers from the airfield. To explore a bit farther, Roar Africa can pair park visits with trips to Vilanculos, a coastal town nearly 300 miles south, or Benguerra Island for the ultimate bush and beach adventure. —N.W.
The Pantanal, Brazil
Explore an under-the-radar wildlife region that’s home to South America’s top predator: the jaguar.
When to go: The optimal—and most comfortable—time to spot wildlife is during the drier months (May through September). June and September are the best months to see a jaguar and avoid high-season crowds.
Why go: Effective June 17, 2019, Brazil waived visas for U.S. citizens. While the Brazilian Amazon gets a lot of attention—both for its biodiversity and for the many threats to it—the Pantanal region, 1,500 miles south, is the world’s largest freshwater wetland and has the highest density of wildlife on the continent. Spanning more than 68,000 square miles, this UNESCO World Heritage site encompasses floodplains and rivers, grasslands and forests, and lakes and mountains. It’s all habitat for a staggering number of endemic species, including jaguars, hyacinth macaws, giant anteaters, marsh deer, capybaras, caimans, and tapirs, to name just a few. The Pantanal’s northern region, more famous for jaguar sightings, attracts more people. To escape the crowds, travelers can book a cabin on the recently refurbished 10-suite Peralta luxury expedition ship, which offers four-day sailings on the Paraguay River as well as excursions to donate toys, jackets, and other supplies to local schoolchildren. The southern region is more remote and gives travelers a chance to experience traditional Pantaneiro (cowboy) culture at former cattle ranches transformed into ecolodges. Guests staying at the Caiman Eco-Lodge, a 131,000-acre working farm and ecological refuge, can observe research activities at the Onçafari Project, Brazil’s innovative environmental initiative to protect jaguars.
Need to know: Travelers no longer need visas but should consider a yellow fever vaccination. To access the Pantanal, fly to one of the gateway airports, Cuiabá in the north or Campo Grande in the south. Many lodges offer transfer by small plane—flights take about an hour—or in a 4x4 vehicle, which may take six hours or more. Travelers can tack on a trip to nearby Bonito (it’s closest to the southern region) to float down the crystalline Rio da Prata beneath a canopy alive with toucans and capuchin monkeys. —N.W.
As the marquee Italian destinations grapple with overtourism, we’ve chosen four places to get off the beaten path—one for each season. Summer like an Italian on this laid-back alternative to the Amalfi Coast.
When to go: From June through August, this sleepy island—the largest of the Pontine Islands, an archipelago off the coast of Naples—comes alive, as Romans and other Italians arrive on summer holiday. Every June 20, locals celebrate the island’s patron saint, San Silverio, with concerts, fireworks, and a religious procession.
Why go: Ponza resembles the nearby Amalfi Coast, down to the winding roads that lead to scenic lookouts and footpaths that descend to rocky coves. But it’s not nearly as bustling—yet. Though most of Ponza’s tourists are Italians, the island is starting to appear on the radar of savvy international travelers, so go now, before the crowds descend. There’s no better place to embrace the Italian dolce far niente (sweet idleness). Travelers can sunbathe on the beach and swim at secluded bays such as Cala Fèola, or hire a private boat to explore grottoes only accessible by sea. There aren’t any five-star hotels on Ponza, but the Hotel Chiaia di Luna offers a great location overlooking Chiaia di Luna Beach, plus floors with majolica tiles and a breezy terrace restaurant. Nearby, Baretto 99 serves Aperol spritzes and other aperitivi from a pineapple-shaped kiosk. Baretto’s makeshift sofas are the perfect spot to catch a sunset before strolling to the portside restaurant L’Aragosta for spaghetti alle vongole (with clams) and the catch of the day.
Need to know: Travelers can take a 90-minute train ride from Rome to Formia, then catch a seasonal ferry or hydrofoil to Ponza. Or they can fly into Naples (which recently got seasonal direct flights from Newark on United) and take a hydrofoil with the ferry service SNAV (they offer five per week). Once travelers are on the three-square-mile island, it’s easy to rent a scooter or take a taxi to get around. —Laura Itzkowitz
The port city is Scandinavia’s next can’t-miss dining destination.
When to go: In warm summer months, daylight stretches late into the night, which makes for some seriously stunning evenings exploring along the city’s canals. Starting July 30, local farmers, seafood purveyors, and other producers will converge in the city center for the annual three-day Trondheim Food Brewers Festival.
Why go: It’s no surprise that Trondheim, a fjord-side city 300 miles north of Oslo, has deep commercial fishing roots. Possibly more surprising is the city’s growing reputation as a dining destination, thanks to new spots serving, yes, modern Nordic cuisine, but also updated Norwegian comfort foods. In 2019, two restaurants earned Trondheim its first Michelin stars: Fagn, where founder and head chef Jonas Andre Nåvik dreams up artful dishes that highlight nature, and Credo, where the flavors and presentation pay tribute to the farms, waterways, and woods from which ingredients are sourced. (Credo, led by chef Heidi Bjerkan, also received the first Michelin Nordic Guide Sustainability Award.) Locals wonder if a star might soon be awarded to Speilsalen, the fine-dining restaurant inside the newly reopened Britannia Hotel where chef Christopher Davidsen also showcases local ingredients. But food isn’t the only thing worth a plane ticket to Trondheim. Bartenders such as Jørgen Dons of Raus Bar and Øyvind Lindgjerdet of Britannia Bar are reinventing aquavit cocktails with unexpected techniques. Beer fans who are up for a day trip can board a RIB boat (an inflatable motorized craft) and speed across Trondheim Fjord to the tiny island of Tautra, where a tiny pub serves local beer and seafood.
Need to know: Plenty of airlines offer connecting flights to Trondheim from most major U.S. airports. Travelers who prefer the scenic route can take a roughly seven-hour train ride from Oslo. Trondheim is walkable, and the city’s tourism office runs engaging food tours and coffee walks. Visitors can call on outfitter Crazy Coyote Events for a RIB boat ride to the Øyrekka islands. —L.L.D.
Hawaii’s “Garden Isle” has rebounded from floods, and the Napali Coast’s Kalalau Trail has reopened with sustainability top of mind.
When to go: June, the coolest of Hawaii’s summer months, is an ideal time to visit. King Kamehameha Day (June 11) is a statewide holiday, with parades to celebrate the first monarch to unite the Hawaiian Islands.
Why go: The Napali Coast on Kauai’s North Shore has long beckoned travelers. There are the golden beaches, the precipitous cliffs rising out of the cobalt waters of the Pacific—and traversing it all, the 11-mile Kalalau Trail, an arduous trek that winds past a towering waterfall and lowland forest. There were also, however, crowds, especially on those golden beaches. So in mid-2018, after the region closed following record rainfall that caused devastating floods and landslides, local officials and residents took the opportunity to reassess. During the year it took to make repairs, locals saw wildlife return to bays and beaches it had once abandoned due to flocking visitors. In late 2019 the area reopened under a new tourist management system that limits crowds in two preserves: Haena State Park and Napali Coast State Wilderness Park. The nearby Limahuli Garden and Preserve, which has endangered plants and birds found nowhere else on the planet, also has a new booking system in place to reduce crowds. Hanalei, a walkable, tranquil town on a crescent bay, serves as the gateway to the Napali Coast, and it, too, is back on its feet after the storms.
Need to know: In the past, as many as 2,000 people a day visited Hāʻena State Park and its beach. Now, entry is capped at 900, parking is limited and strictly enforced, and a new North Shore shuttle service requires advance reservations. Travelers can book up to 30 days in advance. Meanwhile, airfares to Hawaii are dropping as competition soars. Southwest begins direct flights to Kauai from both Oakland and San Jose, CA, in January 2020. —Tovin Lapan
This year, all eyes will be on Japan as the 2020 Summer Olympics (July 24–August 9) kick off in Tokyo. But the warm summer season is also a wonderful time to explore beyond the capital city by cooling off in the mountains of Nikko, exploring Hokkaido’s wildflower-strewn peaks, or cycling through the rural islands of Kyushu and Shikoku.
One of Japan’s most skimmed-over destinations is ready for a deeper dive.
When to go: Mountainous Nikko, just two hours north of Tokyo, is a cool respite from the sweltering city. During the annual Ryuou Festival in late July, locals carry portable Shinto shrines through the city streets as part of a traditional parade to celebrate and encourage prosperity.
Why go: For years, Nikko was known as a day-trip destination. Travelers would take the train up from Tokyo to wander the 103 buildings that make up the Shrines and Temples of Nikko, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and to explore Nikko National Park, a 443-square-mile spread with sacred peaks, macaque monkeys, hot springs, and Lake Chuzenji, not far from the imperial family’s former summer villa. Until recently, there were few hotels to tempt overnighters, but this summer, the ryokan Nikko Fufu will open near the Toshogu shrine with 24 suites featuring private outdoor baths. In spring 2020, the 94-room Ritz-Carlton, Nikko will open in the mountains above town, with views of the lake. From the Ritz-Carlton, travelers will be able to walk to the lake’s thundering Kegon Falls and to the former British and Italian embassies, where the grounds have been converted to parks and the historic residences to lakeside cafés.
Need to know: From Tokyo’s Tobu Asakusa station, it’s almost a two-hour train ride to the Tobu Nikko station, where a concierge can provide free maps and directions. Most travelers opt for the efficient bus system, which ferries people from the train station to the shrines and the park’s main highlights. Getting to the lake is an impressive ride: Irohazaka Winding Road ascends over 1,200 feet via 48 mountain switchbacks. —E.G.
Surrounded by the Seto Inland Sea, the quieter islands of southern Japan offer spectacular bike routes and a new hotel that pays tribute to history.
When to go: In June, pink rhododendrons bloom across the slope of Kyushu’s Mount Aso, forming a scenic backdrop for cyclists. Later in the season, the vibrant port city of Tokushima hosts the three-day Awa Odori dance festival (August 12–15), which brings together some of Japan’s best dance teams.
Why go: The islands south of Honshu, Japan’s main island, are uniquely suited to cycling. A new, eight-day trip from Raid Cycling introduces travelers to some of the highlights. The trip starts in Onomichi on Honshu at the stylish Hotel Cycle. From there, guests first tackle the Shimanami Kaido, a 43-mile cycling route that crosses bridges and takes riders through Setonaikai National Park before ending in the city of Imabari on the island of Shikoku. (The trip doesn’t include an overnight on Shikoku, but come spring, travelers to the island’s Ehime Prefecture will be able to stay in Ozu Castle, a re-creation of a 14th-century wooden fortress that overlooked the Hijikawa River.) Travelers return to Onomichi, then ride to Hiroshima and spend the night, before packing up and boarding a high-speed train to the island of Kyushu, a diverse mix of mountains and farmland. Riders spend the second half of the trip winding through green tea fields and shiitake farms and sleeping in traditional ryokans. The grand finale is a 43-mile ride up Mount Aso, an active volcano.
Need to know: In 2019, Delta launched direct flights from Seattle to Osaka, the closest international airport to Shikoku. The seasonal route starts up again on March 30. Bike rental stations are offered at more than a dozen points along the Shimanami Kaido. —Alex Schechter
Visit this northern island in summer for summer blooms, festivals, and some of Japan’s finest hiking.
When to go: By June 1, wildflowers such as lupine and phlox blanket the island’s rolling hills. But the more-than-a-century-old Hokkaido Shrine Festival (June 14–16) is the true summer opener, ushering in a string of events celebrating lavender, fire, and traditional dance, many of which include firework displays.
Why go: With its legendary ski slopes and powder, Hokkaido has long attracted winter travelers, but summer hasn’t been as much of a draw. This year brings a change, as well-known luxury hotels open in the ski town of Niseko with an emphasis on year-round activities. At the new 50-suite Ritz-Carlton Reserve, local mountain guides will lead hiking tours, and a glassy eight-story Park Hyatt will be located within walking distance of trails on adjacent Mount Niseko-Annupuri. Beyond Niseko, the Asia custom tour specialist Remote Lands is expanding its 2020 Hokkaido tours with wildflower hikes to Lake Hangetsu, a volcanic lake at the foot of Mount Yotei, as well as visits to Upopoy, the first national museum dedicated to Japan’s indigenous Ainu peoples, opening in spring 2020. Summer in Hokkaido also brings celebrations of seasonal ingredients, notably fruit, white corn, potatoes, and burdock root. Miyakawa, a three-Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Sapporo, makes good use of Hokkaido’s salmon and sea urchins, while Machimura Nojo, a 100-year-old dairy farm outside Sapporo, mixes burdock root with mascarpone to create one of Japan’s richest ice creams.
Need to know: Hokkaido isn’t as hyper-connected as the rest of Japan, but regularly scheduled trains can get travelers around the island (there’s even a Rail Pass for Hokkaido). Car rentals, widely available at Sapporo Airport, are the best bet for exploring Hokkaido. Roads are safe and most are well marked in English, but drivers need an international driver’s permit. —A.H.G.
As the marquee Italian destinations grapple with overtourism, we’ve chosen four places to get off the beaten path—one for each season. Our autumn pick is the hometown of Federico Fellini, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of his birth this year.
When to go: Starting in September, the throngs disperse and harvest season ramps up. Culture comes to the forefront, including in nearby Ravenna, where the Autumn Trilogy of opera, an extension of the Ravenna Festival, takes place in early November.
Why go: Rimini is the hometown of Federico Fellini—and it was a constant source of inspiration for the seminal film director. (Rimini was the setting for such Fellini classics as Amarcord and I Vitelloni.) In 2020, the 100th anniversary of Fellini’s birth, the coastal city will salute its most famous son with the opening of the new Federico Fellini International Museum. The indoor-outdoor attraction will include the still-operational Cinema Fulgor theater—recently restored by three-time Oscar-winning art director Dante Ferretti—where a young Fellini fell hard for film. CircAmarcord, an outdoor art space, will link the cinema to the Renaissance-era Sismondo Castle, where Fellini first became captivated by a circus held on the castle grounds. Exhibits in the castle will reproduce Fellini film sets in both real life and virtual reality. No Fellini tour of Rimini would be complete without a pilgrimage to the 1908 Grand Hotel Rimini, which the director re-created in fantasy sequences in Amarcord. It’s one of the many stops on a new self-guided walking tour map, available at the city’s tourism office.
Need to know: Most airlines offer flights from major European cities to Bologna, the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, 73 miles northwest of Rimini. From Bologna, it’s a 90-minute train ride to Rimini’s main Piazzale Cesare Battisti station. The historic city center is a 10-minute walk from the train station; some 55 miles of cycling routes make it easy to get around with a rental bike. —E.G.
Hospitality gets a boost thanks to a hotel boom and the return of the Michelin Guide.
When to go: There’s really no bad time to visit Los Angeles. But in September and October, the temperature is in the mid-70s most days, the period of overcast skies known as Southern California’s “June Gloom” is long over, and the chance of rain is slim to none.
Why go: Over the last year, the city has welcomed a flood of new, exciting hotels—and the development shows no signs of abating. The 1 Hotel West Hollywood and the Santa Monica Proper Hotel opened in mid-2019. The ever-growing downtown district (DTLA) now has a Hoxton hotel, with the DTLA Proper set to open just across the street. About two miles east, the Soho Warehouse and the Firehouse Hotel are energizing the once-desolate Arts District. In Century City, the Fairmont will open come summer in the former (and historic) Century Plaza Hotel, staying true to the Plaza’s midcentury roots. But a trip to L.A. this year isn’t only about where to stay—it’s also about where to eat and what to do. The return of the Michelin Guide to Los Angeles (part of its first, all-California guide), after a 10-year hiatus, celebrates the vibrancy of the city’s fine-dining scene. N/naka and Vespertine are among six L.A. restaurants that received two Michelin stars. The slated 2020 opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and the designation of the area’s first UNESCO World Heritage site (Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in East Hollywood) round out the cultural highlights for a metropolis that often gets more attention for its beaches and celebrity sightings.
Need to know: LAX has big plans to make getting to and from the airport less hectic, but the airport trains that will connect terminals and rental car facilities with the Los Angeles Metro system won’t be complete until at least 2023. Until then, be prepared to jump a few hurdles. Arriving passengers using ride share apps will need to take a shuttle bus to a parking lot near Terminal 1 to meet their drivers. (Curbside drop-offs are still allowed.)—L.M.
Dive into a heady mix of creativity and innovation at the first World Expo to be hosted in the Middle East.
When to go: Travelers can time a visit to coincide with the launch of Expo 2020 Dubai on October 20, or with Diwali, the over-the-top, five-day festival of lights that begins on November 14.
Why go: This year, Dubai will host Expo 2020, a prodigious six-month exhibition that brings together 192 nations to showcase human ingenuity in the context of three themes: opportunity, mobility, and sustainability. At the 1,080-acre Expo site in the Dubai South district, travelers will be able to engage with the themes through global fare (from street food to haute cuisine), VR and AI experiences, 60 live performances per day (including music, comedy, and dance), large-scale art installations, a rotating observation tower, and the world’s largest 360-degree projection dome. In the three main pavilions, attendees will find interactive exhibits such as a massive balancing maze that requires people to work together to bring the “earth” into balance, and a pinball game where the future of the planet is at stake. The innovation won’t stop at the Expo. Dubai’s Museum of the Future, slated to open in 2020, will not only house groundbreaking inventions, it will also function as an interdisciplinary incubator. At least seven hotels are opening (or reopening) in 2020, including the new Royal Atlantis Resorts & Residences, a sister project to the revamped Atlantis, The Palm, the first hotel built on artificial Palm Jumeirah island; and ME by Meliá Dubai, designed by the late Iraqi British architect Zaha Hadid.
Need to know: Emirates and Etihad Airways are expected to add flights from major cities around the world during the Expo. Dubai’s Metro is getting an upgrade with seven new stations, including one at the Expo site. To get deeper access to the Expo, work with the outfitter Desert Gate, which can organize themed tours based on travelers’ interests, as well as pre- and post-Expo trips to Oman and the Maldives. —N.W.
In Africa’s only International Dark Sky Reserve, a reimagined desert lodge looks to the stars.
When to go: During April and May, prices are reasonable, days are warm, and nights are cool. Best of all, the skies are often cloudless and animals congregate by watering holes—ideal for photography.
Why go: The Namib Desert is the oldest desert in the world—and arguably the most stunning. Fifty-five million years have churned its sand into tiny gems that reflect light in unique ways, shifting from bright red to shadowy purple. With those fiery dunes juxtaposed against the blue Atlantic Ocean, it’s easy to see why this is a photographer’s paradise. Namibia is also gaining attention for its unusual safari wildlife, such as desert-adapted elephants, giraffes, oryx, and rhinos, plus lions that hunt seals on the beach. Several new lodges bring a luxury experience to the area, including the Olupale Safari Lodge, which is projected to open in early 2020 just outside Etosha National Park. But Namibia’s best-kept secret remains its night sky. The NamibRand Nature Reserve is Africa’s sole International Dark Sky Reserve (there’s also a new International Dark Sky Sanctuary in South Africa), and it’s one of the darkest places in the world at night. The newly rebuilt andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is the place to marvel at that starry sky, thanks to its remote location (87 miles from the nearest town), open design (floor-to-ceiling windows, above-bed skylights), and state-of-the-art observatory where astronomers lead nightly stargazing sessions with a research-grade telescope. The Kwessi Dunes lodge, slated to open in March 2020, is also taking advantage of the darkness in the NamibRand Nature Reserve: Each of its 12 accommodations will have a separate “stargazer” room open to the sky.
Need to know: Distances are vast, so after flying into the capital, Windhoek, travelers can opt for internal flights between lodges, parks, and reserves across the country. Some spots, especially in Etosha, can be crowded with tourists, so use a planner with extensive local knowledge of itinerary routing, accommodations, and timing. Some spots can be touristy, so beware travel companies that focus on a mass track. Explore Inc. personalizes itineraries and has deep connections throughout Namibia and Africa. They can arrange trips so astronomy fans start on a moonless night in Sossusvlei and end with a lunar rainbow at Victoria Falls, on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. —Billie Cohen
The Grampians, Australia
Drink in dramatic views on a hike in Grampians National Park, then drink in the region’s top-notch wines.
When to go: The spring months in Australia, September through November, when temperatures average in the low 60s, are perfect for multiday treks in Grampians National Park. Travelers can time a visit to coincide with the Seriously Shiraz wine festival, celebrated at a number of the region’s wineries, or the annual Wildflower Walkabout, a two-day, hiking-focused celebration of local blooms in Halls Gap and Grampians National Park.
Why go: A new trail offers travelers access to some of Australia’s most dramatic scenery. Many hikers set their sights on the Blue Mountains outside Sydney. But the less-trodden Grampians range in Grampians National Park—three hours northwest of Melbourne—offers more dramatic topography, as well as dense populations of kangaroos, wallabies, and emus, and the most Aboriginal rock art of any park in southern Australia. Now, thanks to the multimillion-dollar Grampians Peaks Trail, it’s a backpackers’ paradise. The first stage, a 22-mile loop, is already complete, and stage two debuts in March 2020. Once finished in late 2020, the 99-mile trail will span the length of the park and feature new campsites. Travelers can tackle the current route alone or take a guided hike with Absolute Outdoors. Don’t leave without paying homage to Aboriginal Australians at Brambuk, the cultural center in the gateway village of Halls Gap. Brambuk’s Aboriginal guides also offer tours of the park’s five rock art sites. After hiking, travelers can head for the Grampians’ lesser-known wine region, just 30 minutes east of Halls Gap. Best’s Great Western winery makes sparkling shiraz and cabernet sauvignon from some of the oldest vines in the country. The recently refurbished Royal Mail Hotel serves seasonal multicourse tasting menus with ingredients such as Cylindra beetroot, white asparagus, and watercress—all plucked daily from Australia’s largest restaurant kitchen garden—and wine from a 28,000-bottle wine cellar.
Need to know: The fastest way to get to Grampians National Park is to fly into Melbourne—United Airlines and Qantas recently launched direct flights from SFO—then rent a car and drive three hours northwest along the renowned Great Southern Touring Route. After dark, beware of kangaroos on the road. Travelers can also get to Halls Gap from Melbourne via train and bus. —N.W.
Christchurch, New Zealand
Almost a decade after two earthquakes devastated the city, Christchurch is buzzing once again—and showcasing its deep Māori roots.
When to go: Christchurch earns its “Garden City” nickname September through November, when daffodils awaken and cherry and magnolia trees are in bloom. Christchurch is also a convenient gateway for exploring the South Island by rail, and you can score shoulder-season discounts on the TranzAlpine and Coastal Pacific train routes.
Why go: Founded in 1856, Christchurch is the oldest city in New Zealand—but in many ways, it’s also the newest. The city center has been largely rebuilt after devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. Travelers who want to explore the revived district can stay at the glossy new Sudima Hotel, shop and snack at the new Riverside Market, and take yoga classes and eat organic food at the Welder, a large-scale wellness center with a plastic-free grocery, organic juice bar, and plant-based cooking school—the first of its kind in New Zealand. More recent rebuilding efforts have placed a spotlight on the country’s historically overlooked indigenous Māori heritage. The Te Pae civic center, launching in October on the banks of the Avon River, will dish up regional Māori fare during conferences and conventions and host cultural events in its 1,400-seat auditorium. And Puari Village, a 2,690-square-foot riverside attraction scheduled to open in late 2020, will feature indigenous art, exhibitions, and cuisine, as well as river tours in waka (canoes) that touch on the aquatic traditions of the Māori people.
Need to know: U.S. residents can now obtain mandatory visas ($7.65 USD) online within 72 hours—and pay the new $23 tourism levy. Most travelers fly to Auckland, then take an 85-minute flight to Christchurch. But in late 2020, American Airlines will introduce a direct flight from LAX to Christchurch, the first ever nonstop flight from North America to the South Island. Once travelers are on the ground, bikes are a great way to explore the flat, compact city—rent wheels from Chill—and electric scooters, buses, and trams are readily available. —N.W.
Nearly five years after a massive earthquake, community-minded tourism is on the rise.
When to go: Autumn (September through November) offers mild weather, clear mountain views, and festivals such as Dashain (October 23–28). The six-day fete includes temple offerings, animal sacrifices, parades, and processions honoring the goddess Durga. A few weeks later, locals will celebrate the Nepali festival of lights, Tihar (November 15–17), with candles and marigolds.
Why go: Travelers have been conquering Nepal’s mountains for decades—2019 brought a record number of Everest climbers—but only recently has tourism started trickling to communities in the Himalayan foothills. The five-year anniversary of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that devastated parts of the country in 2015 is a good time to invest in ongoing reconstruction efforts and local livelihoods. Visitors can start in the Kathmandu Valley, with its seven UNESCO World Heritage zones, including Patan Durbar Square, a complex encompassing ornate temples, a former palace, and the Patan Museum, which have all been painstakingly restored. Raithaane restaurant recently opened nearby to serve heritage Nepali dishes such as a version of kheer (a traditional pudding) whipped from kaguno (a type of ancient millet). Thanks to the women-run Community Homestay Network, travelers can now stay with local families in 19 rural areas across Nepal, from the beautifully preserved town of Panauti to the indigenous Tharu village of Barauli, set on the banks of Chitwan National Park. To trek for a good cause, consider Sasane Sisterhood Trekking and Travel, a new outfitter from the nonprofit Sasane, which is run by survivors of sex-trafficking and human-trafficking. They offer single-day tours of Kathmandu as well as longer trips such as the seven-day Poonhill Trek in the Annapurna Region. For travelers who want to tie all of the above together: G Adventures’ new Himalaya Highlights tour, which unites two partnerships (with National Geographic and the Jane Goodall Institute) and offers a cultural immersion that supports Sasane, along with local guides, craftspeople, and environmentalists.
Need to know: Most travelers fly into Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport. New hotels opened in 2019, including a new Marriott in Kathmandu. In 2020, two new airports will open in Nepal in Pokhara and Lumbini. —S.R.
The French capital welcomes a wave of haute hotels and cultural centers.
When to go: Paris in the springtime sounds divine, but the season is typically wet and fickle. The mild and colorful days between September and October are ideal for hopping between the new autumn exhibits at the city’s top museums, which include a Botticelli retrospective at the Musée Jacquemart-André (September 2020–January 2021) and a look at Africa’s influence on Basquiat at the Centre Pompidou (February 2020–May 2021).
Why go: “New” and “novel” could define Paris any year, but the terms are especially apropros in 2020, thanks to a slew of hotly anticipated openings. La Samaritaine, the century-old department store that closed in 2005 for redevelopment, will shine once more on its perch overlooking the Seine when it reopens in the spring as a multipurpose complex. Expect new boutiques, a fine-dining restaurant with Michelin ambitions presided over by triple-starred chef Arnaud Donckele, a spacious garden terrace, and Cheval Blanc, the 72-room marquee hotel project from luxury group Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH). Equally grand in scale—though a few miles outside the city—is Le Grand Contrôle. The new boutique hotel from the Airelles Collection will occupy a trio of 17th-century buildings on the grounds of the Château de Versailles. But it’s Les Halles that will get one of the city’s biggest cultural landmarks. The 130-year-old Bourse de Commerce, formerly a trade center, is slated to reopen in June as the Bourse de Commerce–Pinault Collection, a contemporary art museum. Located in the shadow of the Louvre, the historic building was restored over the course of three years by the Pritzker-winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando and financed entirely by Kering fashion group founder François Pinault. The museum will feature nearly 5,000 pieces, including work from such greats as Cindy Sherman and Cy Twombly, all sourced from Pinault’s personal collection. In Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s words, it’s destined to be “a gift to the city.”
Need to know: Daily nonstop flights to Paris are available from most international airports in the United States. Business class passengers traveling to the city on Air France (from the U.S. and Canada) will get a tasty preview of Paris with dishes created by Daniel Rose, a Michelin-starred chef and the airline’s first U.S.-born chef partner. —Lindsey Tramuta
With its diverse cities and wealth of outdoor spaces, Canada has always been a playground for travelers. We’re celebrating our neighbor to the north in each season. In autumn, look to the stars in one of the country’s finest dark sky preserves.
When to go: Between the summer tourist season and the arrival of winter, October is the ideal month to visit the town of Jasper and Jasper National Park. It’s Dark Sky month, when the annual Dark Sky Festival takes place (October 16–25).
Why go: Tucked up against the jagged Canadian Rockies and Jasper National Park, Jasper (population 4,795) is surrounded by natural beauty, attracting outdoor adventurers and nature lovers from around the world. But stunning views aren’t limited to daytime hours in this mountain hideaway. In 2011, the 4,247-square-mile Jasper National Park was designated a Dark Sky Preserve and UNESCO World Heritage site, meeting strict light-pollution limits to sustain some of the best stargazing on the planet. As part of a series of park upgrades, Whistlers Campground, the park’s largest camping area, is closed for renovation until late 2020, but travelers can still see the Milky Way above the thundering Athabasca Falls. More than 15,000 stargazers descend on Jasper every October for the Jasper Dark Sky Festival, a celebration that includes chats with former astronauts and leading astronomers, laser-guided tours of the constellations, evening hikes at Lake Annette, and much more. From the Dark Sky Dark Hefe beer at local Jasper Brewing Co. to the Star Sessions, a three-course dinner followed by a late-night tram ride, fall in Jasper is all about nature’s nightly light show.
Need to know: Jasper is a five-hour drive from Calgary International Airport and a four-hour drive from Edmonton International Airport. Travelers coming from Calgary will follow the picturesque Icefields Parkway, a stunning route through towering mountains and ice fields. For a guided experience of Jasper, link up with SunDog Tours, an outfit that organizes nightly astronomy visits to the park, among other trips. —Kade Krichko
New accommodations make it easier to enjoy the island’s many beaches.
When to go: To avoid the crowds, head to Antigua in the shoulder-season months (May through November), when room rates drop and the pace of life slows down. The weather is usually warm, with lower humidity than most other Caribbean islands, although there’s a greater chance of rain. Antigua celebrates its November 1 Independence Day with a week of parades, food fairs, dance competitions, and art and craft exhibitions.
Why go: Hurricane Irma didn’t hit Antigua as hard as it did Barbuda, its sister island, when it swept through in 2017, but many of Antigua’s resorts, including Curtain Bluff, took the opportunity to refurbish themselves. And in late 2018, the opening of the 79-room Hodges Bay Resort & Spa (the island’s first new build in over three years) kicked off a hotel boom. The Royalton Antigua Resort & Spa on Deep Bay opened last May with 294 rooms and Antigua’s first overwater bungalows, and the 42-villa Hammock Cove recently opened practically next door to Devil’s Bridge National Park. Both Rosewood and Waldorf Astoria have plans to open resorts in the next few years.
Need to know: Travelers on international flights will land at V.C. Bird International Airport. For those coming from other Caribbean islands, the inter-island carriers LIAT and Caribbean Airlines offer affordable flights. Renting a car is a popular way to sightsee along the 95-mile coastline and visit some of Antigua’s 365 beaches, or travelers can go off-roading on a tour with an outfitter such as Tropical Adventures. One of the more scenic routes is Fig Tree Drive through the rain forest and countryside on the southern coast. Rental cars must be driven on the left side of the road; the required temporary driving permit is available at car rental agencies, police stations, and the Transport Board for US$20. Alternatively, public transportation options include buses and taxis. To visit neighboring Barbuda for the day, take the Barbuda Express ferry, which departs from St. John’s Harbor six days a week. —L.M. and M.R.
From the Editor
What We Talk About When We Talk About Travel*
In late September, in Oregon’s Deschutes National Forest, my family and I happened upon a perfect mountain lake. We had the whole thing to ourselves, save for some butterflies and the afternoon wind rustling lightly through the trees. In that moment, I sat on the sandy beach, taking in the hush of the scene around us, and marveled at the ponderosa pines and maple trees in the distance.
At AFAR we’ve been talking a lot about the perils of overtourism—too many people going to the same place, at the same time, to take the same picture. The beauty of travel is that it isn’t a monoculture, and we want to keep it that way.
The most obvious way to combat overtourism is to go to places that aren’t overrun, to visit in shoulder seasons or off-peak times of year, and to commit to seeking out untrammeled destinations and lesser-known sights. This approach informs much of what you read in this issue—our annual travel almanac—and AFAR’s coverage for the rest of the year, both in print and online.
We continue to encourage travel because for every overcrowded tourist site, there are many communities that welcome travelers. In fact, they need travelers. Last year at our celebration of the AFAR Travel Vanguard, where we honored the visionaries and innovators working to make travel a force for good, Bruce Poon Tip, founder of the adventure travel company G Adventures, put it eloquently: “If done right, travel can be the greatest form of wealth redistribution the world has ever seen.”
Supporting local economies that are built on travel and tourism is one way to achieve this ambitious vision, as is spending our travel dollars in places that protect the environment and help those in need. We know that conscious travelers think about weighty topics such as climate change and the ethical challenges of voluntourism. We’re right there with you, and we want to bring you the facts, expert opinions, and solutions you need to be the best traveler you can be.
As ever more people get out and travel, I’m committed to keeping the world a place worth exploring in 2020 and beyond. I hope you’ll join me. —Julia Cosgrove, Editor in Chief
*With apologies to the author Raymond Carver