With 2019 coming to a close, many of us will be starting to think about what lies in store for 2020. If you’re keen to explore, or you’re planning the trip of a lifetime, and you need a helping hand with ideas and inspiration, check out this handy guide to where to travel next.
We often associate vacations with sun, sea and sand, but there are some truly magical winter destinations out there. If you’re interested in snow sports, or you’re eager to try a different kind of trip, here are some of the best winter destinations to consider.
Iceland has made waves in the tourism stakes in recent years, and it’s no surprise. A breathtakingly beautiful land that is reminiscent of a film set, Iceland offers the opportunity to experience all kinds of activities and excursions. The capital, Reykjavik, is a thriving hub, which is well-connected to other parts of the island, allowing for far-flung adventures. Iceland is famed for its awe-inspiring scenery, which can be explored on foot, on horseback or on a snowmobile for those who thrive on an adrenaline rush. A land of glaciers, snow-blanketed mountains, waterfalls and iceberg-filled lagoons, this country takes winter breaks to the next level. Spend your days hiking on glaciers, whale watching, marveling at thunderous falls or discovering volcanoes or ice caves before heading out to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights as the skies darken. To see the Northern Lights in Iceland, you need pitch-black skies and an activity reading of around 3 on the Kp index. This measures geomagnetic activity. If you are visiting Iceland, it’s also well worth taking a soothing warm bath in the natural thermal pools.
Many people will automatically think about Santa Claus and his team of elves and reindeer when the word Lapland is mentioned. Although Lapland is hugely popular over the festive period, it’s also a wonderful destination for a non Christmas-themed break. This vast area that stretches across the north of Scandinavia is a snow-covered wilderness, which lends itself to rest and relaxation, as well as adventure-based activities. In Finnish Lapland, you can enjoy activities like husky sledding and snowmobiling, dashing across frozen lakes at high speeds with a backdrop that looks like something from the Chronicles of Narnia. It’s also possible to visit reindeer farms, to take part in snowshoe safaris and to see the Northern Lights dancing in the skies above.
Switzerland is a brilliant destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking to hit the slopes or enjoy wintry hikes. With an array of high-profile resorts that cater for individuals, groups and families, you can choose from smaller, quieter destinations or bustling resorts that are as famous for the apres-ski as the quality of the runs. Highlights include Zermatt, Verbier and Saint Moritz. You don’t have to be a pro snowboarder or skier to enjoy Switzerland. This is a country that is also famed for its spa facilities, and there are stunning chalets and mountain cabins available to enjoy the views and recharge the batteries.
History and culture
Do you fancy taking an educational trip in 2020, or are you keen to take a step back in time or immerse yourself in a completely different culture? For history enthusiasts, there’s a raft of spectacularly intriguing destinations available.
As soon as you start to meander through the narrow, winding streets of the Italian capital, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time to the days of emperors and gladiators. Rome is a captivating city, which has a unique ambiance, as well as a dazzling array of sights and attractions. Walking is the best way to get around, and en route from one side of the city to another, it’s common to stumble upon spectacular sights and artefacts dating back to the days of Julius Caesar. Many people flock to the Colosseum as a first port of call, and it’s no wonder. This staggering feat of engineering is a fine example of Roman industry and architecture and it has the ability to make you feel like you’re about to watch a chariot emerge or a battle commence. There are guided tours available, and you can combine a visit to the amphitheater with a tour of the Forum. In the heart of the city, you’ll find the Pantheon, an imposing building, which is adorned with jaw-dropping stained glass windows that flood the atrium with colored light in the sunshine, and the Trevi Fountain. Having been lovingly restored, the fountain is now fully functional and it is truly a sight to behold. Another highlight is Vatican City, where you can visit St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican museums.
Egypt is a veritable treasure trove of delights for history fans and those keen to learn about the civilizations that shaped the modern world. Egypt tours cover the fascinating city of Cairo, the famous Valley of the Kings and the River Nile, one of the most culturally significant waterways on the planet. Most of us grew up learning about pharaohs and mummies, but no text book can prepare you for the experience of seeing the iconic Great Pyramids of Giza in real life or gazing upon ancient tombs or the bold, majestic Sphinx. With a tour in Egypt, you can travel back centuries and really get a feel for what life was like in the times of Tutankhamun. This is a history class you won’t forget in a hurry! Having discovered the wonders of Cairo, taking a Nile cruise is an excellent way to learn more about Egypt over the ages and to enjoy some magnificent scenic views.
If you’re interested in kings and queens or you like the sound of visiting castles or ancient monuments, the UK could be the perfect destination for you. Start your trip in London, taking in iconic sights, such as the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Buckingham Palace before journeying to Windsor Castle and then Stonehenge. Stonehenge is a neolithic monument, dating back to around 3,000 BC. Comprising imposing stone stacks, which measure up to 13 feet, this distinctive circle represents the most well-known prehistoric attraction in Europe. History buffs will also love the antiquated cities of Chester and York, while those interested in regency architecture will be blown away by the buildings on view in Bath, Tunbridge Wells, Cheltenham and Leamington Spa. Fans of William Shakespeare’s work should head to the charming town of Stratford-upon-Avon.
Animals, action and adventure
If the prospect of enjoying a walk on the wild side appeals to you, or you’re keen to set the pulses racing and embrace the great outdoors, there are some mind-blowing destinations on offer.
New Zealand is a hive of activity, which is ideally suited to those who thrive on adrenaline. With lakes, mountains, glaciers and rivers aplenty, there’s no shortage of daredevil pursuits on offer. Here, it’s possible to try everything from caving and climbing to mountain biking, rafting, bungee jumping, skydiving, glacier hiking and tobogganing. In the winter months, it’s also possible to ski and snowboard. Queenstown is the central hub for adventure sports, but you’re never too far away from an outdoor activity of some kind in New Zealand. For those keen to add wildlife adventures to the itinerary, Kaikoura, which is located on the East Coast of the South Island, is a fabulous spot for whale and dolphin watching.
South Africa is a fantastic choice for anyone who is interested in wildlife, with some of the best safari options on the continent. Safari vacations are unique, and they afford once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to see some of the planet’s most impressive and beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. Kruger National Park is the most high-profile reserve in South Africa. Home to the notorious ‘big five,’ this is the place to see nature’s giants in all their glory. For those looking for slightly smaller and quieter parks, Madikwe Game Reserve is an excellent option. Away from the dusty plains and vibrant grasslands, South Africa also offers incredible marine experiences. Just a short drive from Cape Town, you’ll find hordes of small penguins scrabbling to safety on Boulders Beach, and if you’re feeling brave, you can enjoy a shark diving experience in Gansbaai.
Sometimes, all you want to do on vacation is relax, soak up the sunshine and listen to the waves rolling in and the palms swaying. If you’re looking for a beach destination for an unforgettable trip in 2020, why not try these locations for size?
Thailand is home to mesmerising islands and secluded beaches that are flanked by vivid turquoise waters. Easily accessible from the frenetic capital, Bangkok, the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao to the East and Phi Phi, Kao Lak and Phuket to the West provide respite from busy schedules. The beauty of Thailand is that you can be as active or as sedate as you wish. Spend your days topping up the tan and enjoying the peace and tranquility, or enjoy sightseeing tours that feature temples, monasteries and markets.
Australia is known for its vast coastline. Boasting thousands of miles of golden beaches, and a temperate climate, you can’t go wrong with a beach break Down Under. The best places to enjoy the sun and embrace laid-back beach living are Perth, the Gold Coast and the beaches of New South Wales. Bondi is a must for any visitor to Sydney, and catching a ferry to Manly Bay is a great idea. For those envisioning a Robinson Crusoe style break, the Whitsunday Islands, which are located off the East Coast near Airlie Beach, will not disappoint. Whitehaven Beach, one of the most famous beaches in the world, is known for its bright white silica sand. Sailing is a popular pursuit in this area, and you can hop from one island to the next, catching rays and taking in staggering panoramic views along the way.
If the imminent arrival of 2020 has got you thinking about where to travel next, hopefully, this guide has given you food for thought! Where will you go next?