The World’s 30 Best Places to Visit in 2020-21 Part 3

2020-08-03

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

10. Phuket

With plunging waterfalls, outstanding (and cheap) street food and nearly 30 beaches to choose from, Phuket welcomes millions of visitors every year. An outdoor enthusiast’s playground by day and a party animal’s paradise by night, this mountainous island has it all. For picture-perfect views, travelers should plan to visit Patong beach, Phang Nga Bay and Promthep Cape. Visitors will encounter daily reminders of Buddhism – Thailand’s dominant religion – at towering temples and the Big Buddha statue on Mount Nagakerd. What’s more, Phuket’s colorful shrines, elephant sanctuaries and Laem Hin Pier, which features floating restaurants that dish out fresh seafood, are sure to impress.

9. Rome

Rome’s mouthwatering handmade pasta and pizza will definitely please your palate, but getting a taste of Italian flavor in the Eternal City goes beyond its heavenly dishes. Where classical architecture is second to none, Italy’s cosmopolitan capital seamlessly integrates ancient ruins, columns, piazzas and small-town charm into the most highly populated area of the country. Explore the monumental Colosseum, discover the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City and make a wish at the Trevi Fountain – you’ll find authentic cultural history around every corner. As they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” and enjoy “la dolce vita” while you can in this ancient city.

8. Tokyo

Authentic, chic and a little bit overwhelming, Japan’s capital city is a feast for the senses. Neon signs light up the bustling streets, and the scent of warm ramen drifts from nearly every restaurant. Tokyo offers a plethora of activities: You can shop in the famous Ginza district, explore the Tokyo National Museum or check out the view from the top of the Tokyo Skytree. If you want a break from city life, take a moment to relax in one of Tokyo’s many green areas, such as Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden or Yoyogi Park. Tokyo is convenient to fly to, and its advanced public transportation makes exploring a breeze. So, take a deep breath and step outside your comfort zone into a city where an ultramodern lifestyle blends uniquely with ancient tradition.

7. Tahiti

Coral gardens, sandy beaches and overwater bungalow resorts are a few of the many characteristics that make Tahiti a jewel in the crown of French Polynesia. Water sports enthusiasts can surf at Papenoo beach or watch manta rays, sea turtles, hammerhead sharks and dolphins glide by while scuba diving in vast lagoons and crystal-clear waters. This scenic island invites visitors to witness its colorful grounds with off-the-beaten-path hikes along waterfalls and volcanoes. Tahiti’s multicultural influences also make for some uniquely delicious cuisine. Meats and vegetables prepared in a hima’a (an underground oven) and poisson cru (Tahitian tuna ceviche) are must-try dishes, but resorts also offer staple American meals for less adventurous eaters.

6. Maui

Framed by verdant mountains, beautiful beaches and colorful flora, Maui makes for an incredible getaway. Visitors can enjoy torch-lit hikes through Ka’eleku Cave, scuba diving excursions in the crescent moon-shaped Molokini Crater and sunrises over Haleakala National Park’s shield volcano. Maui also boasts some of the biggest surfing waves in the world (at Paia shore) and excellent windsurfing conditions (at Ho’okipa Beach Park). Whether you stay at one of the world-class resorts in Wailea or Lahaina, or a modest hotel in Kahului, the island’s 30 miles of beaches are within easy reach.

5. London

From walking along upscale Oxford Street to discovering quirky Dover Street boutiques to watching a performance in the West End theater district, lively London offers something for all types of travelers. Big Ben, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace are among the dozens of world-famous landmarks that visitors can see here. What’s more, the London nightlife scene is unmatched, from its spirited pubs to its edgy clubs. The only challenge you might face is deciding where to eat: This melting pot offers an overwhelming variety of mouthwatering global cuisine. Some of London’s must-try meals include a Sunday roast and nandu varuval (Indian-style soft-shell crab).

4. Glacier National Park

The rugged mountains, turquoise lakes and diverse forests of Montana’s Glacier National Park make for a vacation full of breathtaking views and plenty of hiking. The national park spans more than 1 million acres and boasts more than 760 lakes and 200 waterfalls. Not to mention, it’s one of the largest intact ecosystems in the continental United States. When you visit, you can bed down in one of the surrounding towns, but to get the full experience, consider camping at one of the park’s many designated campgrounds.

3. Bora Bora

Surrounded by black rock mountains, hibiscus flowers and cerulean lagoons, Bora Bora is lauded for its peaceful atmosphere. This French Polynesian archipelago attracts couples with romantic floating villas at various overwater resorts, which rest atop diverse marine ecosystems. Venture out of your serene hideaway and hike the island’s ancient volcano (Mount Otemanu), which is surrounded by a string of coral islets. The shallow, warm waters are perfect for first-time snorkelers, and experienced water sports enthusiasts can enjoy activities like kayaking, Jet Skiing and paddleboarding. Regardless of whether you’re a beach bum, an adrenaline junkie or somewhere in between, this pristine island will no doubt captivate you.

2. Paris

The City of Love, grounded by the iconic Eiffel Tower, appeals to travelers with its charming culture and intimate atmosphere. If the way to your heart is through your stomach, indulge in Paris’ culinary delicacies, from savory crepes and cheeses to fresh baguettes, macarons and pastries. Let intuition guide you down cobblestone streets as you listen to the language of love and explore the illustrious architecture along the banks of the Seine. Travelers should also plan to visit the Louvre and shop along Boulevard Saint-Germain, then take a seat in an outdoor cafe and simply watch the world go by.

1. South Island, New Zealand

One of the top outdoor destinations in the world, New Zealand’s South Island possesses some of the purest landscapes on Earth and offers ample opportunities for adrenaline-fueled activities. A trip here is incomplete without visiting the “Adventure Capital of the World,” Queenstown, where risk-takers can cross bungee jumping, paragliding and skydiving off of their bucket lists. Hiking, biking and boating are also great ways to see the island’s breathtaking scenery. The South Island’s numerous national parks feature extremely diverse terrain to explore, including glaciers, lakes, peninsulas, mountains and beaches. Whether taking a leap of faith at Mount Cook or watching Milford Sound’s pastel-colored sky dissolve into stars, this island is marked by endless exploration.

Courtesy of USNews

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