Best in Travel 2020: Lonely Planet names Bhutan as the No. 1 place to visit

While the end of another year is creeping scarily close and most of us have already used up our annual leave, it's time to start planning new travel adventures for 2020.

And as timely as ever, Lonely Planet has released its Best in Travel for 2020, summarising the best cities and countries to visit next year, as well as compiling other handy lists, such as the best value destinations and the best regions to visit.

Interestingly this year, Lonely Planet has not only consulted its writers and editors' opinions, but also its "online family of social media influencers".

While we are not sure how we feel about that, on the positive side, it has also factored sustainable travel into the equation, which is why Bhutan has been named the best country to travel in 2020.

This tiny country in the Himalayas operates a 'high-value, low-impact' tourism policy, which Lonely Planet says rewards visitors who are able to "walk along mountain trails unsullied by litter". It's also the world's only carbon-negative country and is set to become the first fully organic nation by 2020.

As usual, some destinations featured in the top 10 are bound to raise an eyebrow. Take a look at eSwatini (and no, it's not a typo), number five on the list. This newly named kingdom, formerly known as Swaziland, is, according to Lonely Planet, one of South Africa's most underrated nations that will have you "smiling all the way home".

Liberia, at number eight, it admits is a bit of a "mystery". The West African country has signed a groundbreaking deal to work with Norway to halt deforestation by 2020. That means the chimpanzees, pygmy hippos and elephants that roam its forests will be safe for a while longer. There are great beaches there, too.

A pygmy hippo in Liberia.

A pygmy hippo in Liberia. Photo: Getty Images

Among the cities, Austria's Salzburg has been named the best to visit, which should give travellers time to plan a trip there for the annual Salzburg Festival which turns 100 in 2020. To celebrate there will be a host of special events.


In Egypt, Cairo – rated third-best city – is readying to open the doors of its Grand Egyptian Museum, the largest museum in the world committed to one civilisation. And Colorado's Denver – number 10 – has been lauded for its creative growth and rapidly evolving food scene.

The unfinished Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM).

The unfinished Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM).

Sorry, Australia – no cities featured in the top 10 list. However, Lord Howe Island was rated as the fifth-best region to visit in the world, not only for its beauty but for its sustainability efforts, which allows for only 400 visitors at a time, with each visitor encouraged to participate in ecological projects.

Read more about Lonely Planet's Best in Travel  here.

The top 10 countries to visit in 2020

  1. Bhutan
  2. England
  3. North Macedonia
  4. Aruba
  5. ​eSwatini
  6. ​Costa Rica
  7. The Netherlands
  8. Liberia
  9. ​Morocco
  10. Uruguay

The top 10 cities to visit in 2020

  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

See also: World's most liveable city for 2018 named and Aussies are flocking to it

See also: Why you can't trust travellers on social media