The World’s 30 Best Places to Visit in 2020-21 Part 12020-07-06
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 when the world is filled with so many breathtaking destinations, organizing a trip can become a challenging task. Using a methodology that considers 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 2020-21. 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. (Note: Some of these destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)
30. Niagara Falls
Stretching along the border of Canada and the United States, Niagara Falls draws tourists from around the globe. It’s actually composed of three different falls – American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls – and altogether, they form the second-largest waterfall in the world. To get the full Niagara experience, embark on the Maid of the Mist boat to sail beneath the crashing waves and take in the spectacular views, but prepared to get splashed. There are also many other viewpoints to take in the majestic falls: Tourists can get soaked at the Cave of the Winds observation deck, venture along the calmer White Water Walk or check out the water from above at the Skylon Tower in Ontario.
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. The country is often called the “rich coast,” because it’s believed to be full of precious metals, but Costa Rica is rich in diverse wildlife, too – more than 50 species of hummingbirds, spider monkeys and sloths are just a few kinds of animals you might encounter while on vacation here. Outside the rainforests, you will find one of the region’s most active volcanoes (Arenal Volcano), top-notch whitewater rafting, 800-plus miles of shoreline and numerous beaches. Travelers enjoy joining Costa Ricans and their “pura vida” lifestyle during the dry season from mid-December to April.
28. 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 Andes mountains region means visitors should expect to traverse rugged roads on their way from one striking attraction to the next.
27. Rio de Janeiro
In this city of contrasts, 1,000-year-old rocky peaks act as a backdrop to the ever-evolving metropolis. Among Rio de Janeiro’s bragging rights, the Christ the Redeemer statue that sits atop Mount Corcovado is considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. 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 sightseeing, kick back at one of the many luxury lodging options with a caipirinha (the country’s national cocktail) 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.
Amsterdam’s maze of canals offers a deeper educational and artistic history than you might have thought. Feast your eyes on the impressive artwork at the Van Gogh and Moco museums, and put yourself in 15-year-old Anne Frank’s shoes when learning about her Holocaust story at the Anne Frank House. You’ll also enjoy taking romantic cruises along the canal, which pass the stunning houses in the Herengracht neighborhood, or stopping in one of the many eccentric coffee shops in Leidseplein. And, of course, a visit wouldn’t be complete without saying “proost” to good health at the Heineken Experience. Other popular activities include swinging over the city at the A’dam Lookout and people-watching in verdant Vondelpark.
25. San Francisco
San Francisco is filled with attractions for all kinds of travelers. If you’re a foodie or a fashionista, explore Ghirardelli Square (home to some of the nation’s best chocolate) and roam trendy Fillmore Street to enjoy boutiques and top-notch dining experiences. For the best photo opportunities, stop by the pastel Painted Ladies houses, the Presidio neighborhood, historic Chinatown and Pier 39, where playful sea lions sunbathe and relax. Adventure-seekers can get their fix by listening to the escape attempt stories of some of America’s most notorious criminals during an Alcatraz tour. Consider visiting in fall, when mild temperatures make it comfortable for travelers to walk or bike through each of the culturally distinct neighborhoods.
24. Great Barrier Reef
Australia’s 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, about 900 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 you’ll have plenty of chances to see incredible coral, colorful fish, humpback whales and spinner dolphins. Plus, you can enjoy snorkeling, helicopter tours and glass-bottom 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.
23. St. Lucia
St. Lucia’s tranquil beaches make for a sweet escape – and that’s before you try the island’s irresistible handmade chocolate. While St. Lucia lures beach bums and chocolate connoisseurs, it also flaunts the world’s only drive-in volcano. The bubbling mud in the sulfur springs around the dormant volcano is said to have healing properties, so be sure to lather up before swimming at nearby Toraille Waterfall. You can also hike the Piton mountains, relax on serene beaches and zip line through the Chassin region’s rainforests. After an active day, wind down 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.
Established as the world’s first national park in 1872, Yellowstone is home to a massive web of ecological and geological diversity, including the largest free-roaming herd of bison in America and more than 150 species of birds. Visitors can camp, hike, bike and boat through this 2.2 million-acre park, which was formed atop one of the world’s largest active volcanoes and carved by glaciers, geysers, canyons, thermal pools, basins and valleys. You likely can’t traverse Yellowstone in its entirety in one visit, but after seeing Old Faithful, Yellowstone Lake and Mammoth Hot Springs, you will definitely want to plan a return trip to see some of this Wyoming, Idaho and Montana park’s lesser-known natural formations as well.
Candlelit dinners overlooking the caldera, unforgettable sunsets at Oia and infinity pools that cling to cliffs above the Aegean Sea – these are just a few things to look forward to when visiting Santorini. The whitewashed houses that contrast with the cobolt water below make this Greek island postcard-worthy to say the least. But don’t neglect the fascinating history behind this island. 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 vivid orange sunsets over Amoudi Bay.
Courtesy of USNews