We all have lots of places we want to see—way too many for any mere mortal to visit in one lifetime—but the folks at Lonely Planet have provided a tool to help you prioritize. The company recently released its 2020 Top Countries list, which offers a glimpse at “the best destinations, journeys, and sustainable travel experiences for the year ahead.”
We’re not going to give away all 10 of Lonely Planet’s choices, but here are a few that have us particularly interested.
What we love the most about Bhutan, in addition to its stunning scenery, is that it operates on a strict “high-value, low-impact” tourism policy. Sure, this means it’s expensive to go to Bhutan because travelers have to pay a high daily fee (a visa costs about $250 per day) to walk among the small nation’s pine-scented mountain trails and see the great Buddhist monasteries that have stood for thousands of years. Thanks to the fact that 72 percent of the country is covered in forests, Bhutan is also the world’s only carbon-negative country. It’s also set to be the world’s first fully organic nation by 2020.
2. North Macedonia
Most people simply know this nation as Macedonia, but it claimed a fresh name after it mended fences with Greece after decades of political debate. The country is already well known for its great food, ancient traditions, and beautiful nature and scenery. In 2020, flight routes will be added to Lake Ohrid, a Unesco World Heritage site due to its cultural heritage and stunning biodiversity, and the new 495-kilometer High Scardus Trail, which traverses some of North Macedonia’s most dramatic peaks.
Morocco has many attractions including ancient medinas in Fez, Meknes, Essaouira, Tetouan, and Marrakesh—all of which are getting a makeover. There are lots of sustainable and stylish lodgings to be had throughout the nation, and you can take Africa’s first high-speed train and get from Casablanca to Tangier is just two hours. The city of Marrakesh, with its millennia of rich heritage, will be named Africa’s first Capital of Culture in 2020. If you don’t fancy the noise and stimulation of city life, don’t worry—there are still plenty of places you can go to get away from the hubbub: Berber mountain villages, desert outposts, and even deserted beaches.
See Lonely Planet’s 2020 Top Countries list here.
Photo: Bhutan is a beautiful nation filled with mountaintop monasteries and the fluttering of prayer flags in the wind. Credit: Shutterstock