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Lonely Planet Reveals Best Travel Destinations for 2020

Budapest, Hungary is one of Lonely Planet’s “best value” cities for 2020 © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Global travel authority Lonely Planet unveiled its top 10 countries, cities, regions and best-value destinations for next year with the release of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2020.

Best in Travel 2020 is Lonely Planet’s 15th annual collection of the world’s hottest destinations and journeys for the year ahead. This edition places particular emphasis on the best sustainable travel experiences for 2020 — ensuring travelers will have a positive impact wherever they choose to go.

Bhutan — the kingdom set to become the first fully organic nation by 2020 — claims the coveted spot as the number-one country to visit in 2020, while England places second and North Macedonia takes third.

Lonely Planet’s number-one region for 2020 is the Central Asian Silk Road, which is now more accessible than ever before, thanks to visa improvements for the majority of the world’s citizens, along with massive transportation and infrastructure investment. Le Marche, Italy comes in second, followed by Tōhoku, Japan.

Number-one city Salzburg, Austria will be pulling out all the stops for the centenary of its world-famous festival of music and drama next year, while Washington, DC, USA is second-ranked, with Cairo, Egypt in third place.

Elsewhere, Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara, Hungary’s Budapest and India’s Madhya Pradesh are Lonely Planet’s top three best-value destinations for 2020.

Each year, Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel lists start with nominations from Lonely Planet’s vast community of staff, writers, bloggers, publishing partners and more. The nominations are then whittled down by our panel of travel experts to just 10 countries, 10 regions, 10 cities and 10 best value destinations. Each is chosen for its topicality, unique experiences and ‘wow’ factor.

For Best in Travel 2020, Lonely Planet’s experts have also selected the best New Openings, New Places to Stay, New Food Experiences, and Sustainable Trips for Families, as well as devoting an entire chapter to the best ways to Travel Well.

www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel features tips and videos on visiting each destination, as well as a chance to win a Silk Road adventure for two. The top 10 cities can also be explored for free with Lonely Planet’s Guides app.

Top 10 Countries

1. Bhutan

2. England

3 North Macedonia

4. Aruba

5. eSwatini

6. Costa Rica

7. The Netherlands

8. Liberia

9. Morocco

10. Uruguay

Top 10 Regions

1. Central Asian Silk Road 

2. Le Marche, Italy

3. Tōhoku, Japan

4. Maine, USA

5. Lord Howe Island, Australia

6. Guizhou Province, China

7. Cadiz Province, Spain

8. Northeast Argentina

9. Kvarner Gulf, Croatia

10. Brazilian Amazon

Top 10 Cities

1. Salzburg, Austria

2. Washington, DC, USA

3. Cairo, Egypt

4. Galway, Ireland

5. Bonn, Germany

6. La Paz, Bolivia

7. Kochi, India

8. Vancouver, Canada

9. Dubai, UAE

10. Denver, USA

Top 10 Best Value

1. East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

2. Budapest, Hungary

3. Madhya Pradesh, India

4. Buffalo, USA

5. Azerbaijan

6. Serbia

7. Tunisia

8. Cape Winelands, South Africa

9. Athens, Greece

10. Zanzibar, Tanzania

The Travel Edit

  • Best New Openings
  • Best New Places to Stay
  • Best New Food Experiences
  • Best Sustainable Trips for Families

Travel Well

  • Should We All Be Flying Less?
  • Traveling on a Carbon Diet
  • Going Local, for the Locals 
  • Taking Action on the Road 
  • Lessons from Indigenous Cultures
  • Hiking for Meditation

Competition: To celebrate this year’s Best in Travel, Lonely Planet is partnering with G Adventures and TourRadar to give visitors to lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel the chance to win a Silk Road adventure for two through Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The prize includes: 

> a 15-day Best of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan Tour from Dushanbe to Tashkent;

> a AUD $4,000 (approximately USD $2,700) travel voucher to put towards two return economy flights;

> up to AUD $500 (approximately USD $340) towards offsetting the carbon footprint of the winners’ flights;

> two copies of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2020.

To enter, simply tell us in 255 characters or less why you’d love to experience the Central Asian Silk Road.

Lonely Planet is a world-leading travel publisher: a globe-spanning digital travel media company and the world’s number one travel guidebook brand. We’ve been providing both inspiring and trustworthy information for every kind of traveler since 1973. We reach hundreds of millions of travelers each year online and via our mobile products and help them unlock amazing experiences. Over the past 40 years we’ve printed over 145 million guidebooks as well as countless other titles showcasing the wonders of the world for travelers of all types. Lonely Planet can be found on lonelyplanet.com, mobile, video and in 14 languages, 13 international magazines, armchair and lifestyle books, ebooks and more.

“At Lonely Planet we seek to make a difference in people’s lives by spreading the power of travel. We firmly believe that travel has a significant positive impact on people’s lives and outlooks and is a force of positive change.”

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Lonely Planet’s 10 Top US Destinations to Travel in 2017

The “otherworldly landscape” of Joshua Tree, in California’s high desert, is on Lonely planet’s list of “Best in US” places to visit in 2017 (photo by Laini Nemett).
The “otherworldly landscape” of Joshua Tree, in California’s high desert, is on Lonely planet’s list of “Best in US” places to visit in 2017 (photo by Laini Nemett).

Travel media company Lonely Planet’s travel experts scoured the states this year to create its annual list of the top 10 most exciting places to go in the United States in the year ahead. Best in the US 2017 (lonelyplanet.com/best-in-us), lists the 10 destinations poised to shine next year, whether they’re up-and-coming, overlooked or offer new, inviting reasons to visit in 2017.

This year, Lonely Planet named the charming enclave of Asheville, North Carolina as the #1 destination in the US to visit in 2017. The vibrant small city is known for its welcoming, creative spirit and eclectic architecture. Its thriving artistic community and booming food and drink scene – all surrounded by spectacular natural beauty – is putting it firmly on the map.

Following in second place is Western Washington, where iconic landscapes made their way into popular consciousness in Twin Peaks, the television drama making a comeback in 2017. In third place is heartland hub Lincoln, Nebraska, hosting festivals throughout the year to celebrate its 150th anniversary. Other notable places that made the list include the southern desert area of California (#4), Texas’ relatively unknown wine country (#8) and a picture-perfect strip of Florida coast (#10).

“Lonely Planet’s Best in the US 2017 are the places we recommend travelers go next year,” said Lonely Planet magazine managing editor Rebecca Warren. “This year’s list is incredibly diverse, spanning from coast to coast, giving a panoramic tour of America. Whether travelers want to escape to the mountains, get transported back in time or relax by the beach, these are the destinations to be excited about. Some of them are on the public’s radar, while others are recently emerging, and they all offer compelling reasons to visit in 2017.”

Now in its 7th edition, Lonely Planet’s Best in the US is a highly anticipated list of cities, regions and states worth traveling to in the year ahead, selected and ranked by Lonely Planet’s US destination editors, writers and travel community. The list is available online at lonelyplanet.com/best-in-us, featuring a video and a chance to win a weekend away for two in #1 Asheville, plus accompanying articles on each destination.

Lonely Planet’s Best in the US 2017


  1. Asheville, North Carolina– Appalachia’s most surprising city
  •        River Arts Districtfeatures over 200 artists
  •        Nicknamed “Beer City USA”
  •        World renowned dining scene
  1. Western Washington– David Lynch fans, take note
  •        Filming locales made famous by Twin Peaks, making a comeback in 2017
  •        New farm-to-table dining and microbrewing emerging in Seattleand San Juan Islands
  1. Lincoln, Nebraska– Hip and happening in the heartland
  •        150th anniversary parades, parties and festivals
  •        College vibe, bike trails, breweries, music, art walks and farmers’ markets
  •        One of the largest refugee resettlement areas; cultural diversity
  1. California’s Low Desert– The LA getaway meets a new generation
  •        New wave of cool headed to Palm Springs and beyond (maybe even The Obamas!)
  •        View of Coachella Valley via world’s largest aerial tramway
  •        Otherworldly landscapes (Joshua Tree) and quirky curiosities (Salvation Mountain)
  1. Montana’s Flathead Valley– Big sky, big mountains, big bears
  •        One of the largest wilderness areas in the contiguous states
  •        Gateway to Glacier National Park and Canadian border
  •        Whitefish welcomes hikers, bikers and après-skiers
  1. Atlanta, Georgia– The airport epicenter is flying high in 2017
  •        New state-of-the-art stadiums and first Major League Soccer team
  •        Introducing The BeltLine, the answer to New York’s High Line
  •        World-class art scene and up-and-coming neighborhoods like East Atlanta
  1. Adirondack Mountains– New York’s best views after Manhattan
  •        42 peaks over 4000ft
  •        New Wild Walkis an elevated trail above the treetops
  •        Larger than Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Canyon and Great Smokies combined
  1. Texas Hill Country wine region– The best wine country you’ve never heard of
  1. Denver, Colorado– The “Mile-High City” has never been more fun
  •        More than just a gateway to the Rocky Mountains
  •        New Ski Train in 2017 takes skiers and boarders straight to the slopes
  •        Microbreweries, music and (legal) marijuana
  1. Florida’s Emerald Coast– The “Redneck Riviera” no more
  •        100-mile stretch of sugar-fine sand and beachfront towns
  •        Frequented by the rich and famous, and still affordable
  •        The Truman Showtown of Seaside is an eco-friendly, 80-acre dream

Lonely Planet’s Best in the US 2017 goes beyond the locations featured in its annual Best in Travel 2017which names the best places to visit all over the globe, featuring Canada (#1 country), Coastal Georgia, Los Angeles and Portland.

Competition: Enter for a chance to win a weekend trip to #1 Best in the US 2017 destination. Thanks to Explore Asheville and Biltmore. Runs Dec 6, 2016 – Feb 6, 2017.

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