The World’s 30 Best Places to Visit in 2019-20 Part 1

2019-07-01

Using reader input and expert analysis, U.S. News identified the latest can’t-miss vacations.

Let exploration, relaxation or a mix of the two guide you toward your next getaway.

Planning a vacation may sound simple, but knowing the world is filled with so many diverse destinations can make organizing a trip a challenging task. Using a methodology that takes into account expert analysis and user opinions, plus editor evaluations of everything from food and culture to sights and accessibility, U.S. News determined the World’s Best Places to Visit in 2019-20. Whether you’re looking for a cosmopolitan city, a picture-perfect island, a mountain retreat or something else entirely, the destinations on this ranking will help inspire you to book your next vacation.

30. Amalfi Coast, Italy

This stretch of coastline along southwestern Italy will blow you away. The views of colorful pastel houses overlooking the Gulf of Salerno’s azure horizon are beyond compare, and the food is equally impressive. Restaurants in the Amalfi Coast offer some of the freshest and most flavorful seafood and pasta imaginable. This vacation spot also accommodates travelers of all budgets, with luxury resorts and wallet-friendly vacation rental options. Among visitors’ favorite spots in the Amalfi Coast: the scenic cliffs lining Positano and the secluded beaches of Praiano. To make the most of your stay, visit in the spring or fall to enjoy comfortable temperatures (with highs in the 60s and 70s) and fewer crowds.

29. Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s jungle will bring out the adventurous side of any visitor. You can’t leave this rugged rainforest without zip lining beneath its tree canopy, which stretches for miles. While this rugged country is called the “rich coast” because it is believed to be full of precious metals, Costa Rica is rich in diverse wildlife, too – 52 species of hummingbirds, spider monkeys and sloths are just a few animals you might encounter while on vacation here. Outside the rainforests, you will find one of the world’s most active volcanoes (Arenal Volcano), top-notch whitewater rafting, more than 800 miles of shoreline and numerous beaches. Travelers should enjoy joining Costa Ricans and their “pura vida” lifestyle during the dry season from mid-December to April.

28. Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef cannot be missed – literally: You can see the world’s largest living structure from outer space. With nearly 3,000 coral reefs, 900-some islands and more than 1,500 species of fish, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the planet’s most impressive destinations. Consistent tropical weather makes for excellent scuba diving opportunities year-round, meaning plenty of chances to see incredible coral, colorful fish, humpback whales and spinner dolphins. Plus, visitors can enjoy snorkeling, helicopter tours and glass-bottomed boat adventures. After you’ve gotten your fill of the water, step ashore to experience Kuranda’s rainforest (accessible via the Kuranda Scenic Railway), the Cairns Botanic Gardens and Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures.

27. Rio de Janeiro

Among Rio de Janeiro’s bragging rights, the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado is considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. In this city of contrasts, 1,000-year-old rocky peaks act as a backdrop to the ever-evolving metropolis. Travelers can enjoy dramatic views of the Marvelous City from Sugarloaf Mountain’s summit or from down below at Copacabana Beach. After a day of adventure, kick back at one of the many luxury lodging options with a caipirinha and renowned Brazilian barbecue. If you plan to visit in February, bring glitter and bright clothing to celebrate and fit in with the samba dancers sweeping the streets for the Carnival festival.

26. Prague

You can’t go wrong with potato soup, a fresh trdelnik (a sweet, sugar-topped, fire-cooked pastry) and a cup of mulled hot wine, but there’s more to Prague than its comforting cuisine. The Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and Gothic architecture throughout the city offer a romantic feel. You should plan to wander along the cobblestone streets of the Mala Strana neighborhood, snap a photo of the John Lennon Wall and break for a Pilsner after a day of sightseeing (after all, beer is often cheaper than water here). Prague’s many museums are within walking distance of the Old Town Square, where the 600-year-old astronomical clock puts on a performance every hour.

25. St. Lucia

St. Lucia’s tranquil beaches make for a sweet escape – and that’s before you try the island’s irresistible handmade chocolate. St. Lucia lures travelers interested in chocolate, but it also flaunts the world’s only drive-in volcano. The bubbling mud in the sulfur springs surrounding the dormant volcano is said to have healing properties, so be sure to lather up before swimming at the nearby Toraille Waterfall. This lush island also offers opportunities for hiking the Piton mountains, relaxing on serene beaches and zip lining through the Chassin region’s rainforests. Travelers can enjoy winding down after an active day at one of St. Lucia’s luxurious lodging options, which range from hotels with infinity pools that overlook the Pitons to secluded romantic resorts for couples.

24. Santorini, Greece

Candlelit dinners overlooking the caldera, unforgettable sunsets at Oia and infinity pools clinging to cliff edges above the Aegean Sea are just a few things to look forward to on the Greek island of Santorini. The scenery here is postcard-worthy: White houses trail the cliffsides, contrasting with the sea’s cobalt and turquoise water. But don’t neglect the fascinating history behind this city: Santorini’s volcanic activity around 1650 B.C. paved the way for the colorful beaches, ancient ruins and unique topography that visitors marvel at today. A few ways to experience Santorini’s beauty include snorkeling in Kamari Beach’s water and hiking from Fira to Oia, but you should also plan to dine alfresco while admiring the outstanding orange sunsets over Amoudi Bay.

23. British Virgin Islands

If lounging on a white sand beach with a cocktail in hand and views of mountainous cliffs and blue water peppered with sailboats sounds like your ideal vacation, the British Virgin Islands should be your next getaway. Be sure to hop on a boat and discover what some of the numerous islands have to offer. Tortola is home to some great hiking trails and secluded beaches, while Anegada Island’s underwater wrecks entice scuba divers. To beat the crowds and high winter holiday hotel rates, plan your trip to the British Virgin Islands between September and November. Keep in mind: Parts of these islands are still recovering from hurricane damage in 2017.

22. Argentine Patagonia

The southernmost tip of South America is teeming with eye-catching landscapes and seascapes – travelers can admire everything from jagged mountaintop glaciers to orcas beneath the water’s surface. Argentine Patagonia is home to some of the world’s purest marvels, including Mount Fitz Roy and the Perito Moreno Glacier. The penguins and seals that inhabit the eastern coastline may not be able to tell you the region’s history, but you can head to the Cave of the Hands to explore distinct cave art that offers a look into Argentine Patagonia’s past. The developing infrastructure of this region in the Andes mountains means visitors can expect to traverse rugged roads on their way from one striking attraction to the next.

21. Banff, Alberta

With a skyline dominated by the soaring peaks of Mount Rundle and Mount Cascade, Canada’s first national park (located in Alberta) offers compelling activities for every season. Travelers can shred the Mount Norquay slopes, seek out the northern lights and cozy up in a lodge in the winter; hike mountain trails, relax in hot springs with views of Bow Valley and enjoy hotel deals in the spring; spot wildlife and canoe on Moraine Lake in the summer; and take in the changing leaves and scenery in the fall.

Courtesy of USNews

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