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Ten great destinations to consider in 2020

Latin Bridge in Sarajevo - Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Latin Bridge is one of many crossings along the Miljacka River in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose old quarter has buildings that date back centuries.
(Leonid Andronov / Getty Images / iStockphoto)
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It is a truth universally acknowledged that travel is easier and more rewarding in even-numbered years.

Or maybe it isn’t. But here’s the thing. This is a fine time for looking forward, and if you’re perusing these pages, you know that travel is well suited to days that end in y. And the year 2020 does have a nice ring to it.

Here (in alphabetical order) are 10 places we’d love to see in the year ahead, and we suspect you would too. For each destination you’ll find a website with more information; for international destinations, a link to what the U.S. State Department says about safety.

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1. Bosnia-Herzegovina

The Bosnian War ended in December 1995,and the multicultural nation of Bosnia-Herzegovina has begun a new chapter with rising tourism. Through the first nine months of 2019, visitor arrivals increased 11% to 1.2 million.

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The center of gravity is Sarajevo, the capital whose old quarter includes churches, synagogues and mosques that date back centuries.

The cable car to Mount Trebevic — a 1984 Winter Olympics venue destroyed in the fighting of the early ’90s — reopened in 2018. The bridge at Mostar, built in the 16th century, destroyed in 1993 and rebuilt in 2004, is a popular day trip about 80 miles southwest of Sarajevo. Mostar hosts summer music festivals and an August high-diving competition. (Yes, divers leap from the bridge into the Neretva River.)

The town of Medjugorje, southwest of Mostar, has been a Catholic pilgrimage destination since reported sightings of the Virgin Mary on Apparition Hill began in 1981. The pope authorized the site as a pilgrimage destination in May 2019.

Info: Visit Sarajevo, Travel Advisory

When people talk about overtourism, these places keep coming up. Before you book a trip or abandon one, study up on these 10 places.

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2. Cairo
Egypt
The golden sarcophagus of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen awaits restoration at the newly built Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza on the southwestern outskirts of the capital Cairo.
(Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP)

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The Grand Egyptian Museum, an epic project that has been repeatedly delayed, is to open this year in Cairo. It will be the world’s largest architectural museum, covering 7,000 years of history.

Among the items in the collection: an 83-ton statue of King Ramses II, which towers over the entrance hall, and 5,400 objects from the tomb of King Tutankhamen. The billion-dollar project includes 10 restaurants and 28 shops and is a centerpiece in Egyptian leaders’ hopes to raise the country’s global tourism profile, despite political instability and terrorist attacks.

The specific opening date has not been announced yet, but as CNN has reported, the new landmark offers sneak-peek tours to travelers willing to pay $250 each. Many of the museum’s items have been transferred from central Cairo’s Egyptian Museum, which dates to 1902. Authorities have said that museum will increase its focus on art.

The country’s tourism numbers have been growing since 2016.On its 4-point risk-assessment scale (4 being the riskiest), the U.S. State Department rates Egypt a 2 (“exercise increased caution”), the same ranking it gives the United Kingdom, France, Italy and most of Mexico.

Info: Egypt Travel, Travel advisory

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3. Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, Montana and Alberta, Canada
Building of Prince of Wales Hotel by lake, Waterton Lake National Park, Alberta, Canada
The Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Lake National Park, Alberta, Canada
(chinaface / Getty Images)

As if the 1,583 square miles of Rocky Mountains, valleys and lakes in Glacier National Park in Montana weren’t enough to merit a trip, that park shares its northern border with Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park, another gem. Together, they are known as Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, and they are a wonder, despite the dwindling of the glaciers themselves (which the National Park Service expects to be gone by 2030).

In Glacier, the high points include Logan Pass, Lake McDonald, the Many Glacier area (beware of construction traffic) and Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 50-mile summer-only route that climbs past some of North America’s most dramatic mountain scenery.

On the Canadian side, don’t miss the Prince of Wales Hotel, a stately architectural landmark from 1927, and the hike to Crooked Creek Falls, both in the eastern part of the park. The 2017 Kenow wildfire heavily damaged western parts of the park, but regrowth and repairs have brought the reopening of many areas. A new visitor center is to open in 2021.

Info: Visit Montana and Travel Alberta; Travel advisory

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4. Costa Rica
Poás Volcano
Poás Volcano National Park in Costa Rica.
(Patrick_Gijsbers / Getty Images / iStockphoto)

This country keeps evolving, here toward luxury, there toward ecological awareness, sometimes toward both. Costa Rica, which had 1.9 million visitors in 2009, exceeded 3 million for the first time in 2018, and more than 40% were from the U.S.

Poás Volcano National Park, an active volcano with two small lakes in its crater, is about 90 minutes outside San José, the capital. It reopened in 2018 after a safety upgrade, then erupted, closed and reopened again last year.

Among the lodgings opened in 2019: Kinkára Luxury Retreat is set on 800 acres in southern Costa Rica, near Chirripó National Park. Prices are lower during the wetter “green season” June through November, beginning about $115 a night, breakfast included. Its 31 white canvas tents are arranged in a circle and have daily maid service and Wi-Fi.

Farther north, near Arenal Volcano National Park, the Nayara Tented Camp opened Dec. 20 with 25 air-conditioned luxury tents. Nayara rates can top $1,000 a day.

In Guanacaste province, near Santa Rosa National Park, Kasiiya Papagayo, another high-end destination, opened in late 2018 with five tent suites ($800 nightly and up) on 123 coastal jungle acres.

Info: Visit Costa Rica; Travel advisory

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5. Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto
“Nakamura Daizaburo Playing the Piano,” 1926, from the collection of the Kyoto City Kyocera Museum of Art.
(Nakamura Daizaburo / Kyocera Mus)

Imperial history, fine art and high style. That’s what you get in Kyoto, a counterpoint to the tumult of Tokyo and the Summer Olympics (July 24-Aug. 9).

Kyoto was Japan’s capital for more than a millennium, as its graceful bridges, temple and 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites attest. Have a look at the Fukuda Art Museum, which opened in October and focuses on centuries of artists from the city’s picturesque Arashiyama area. On March 21, it will be joined by the reopening of Kyoto City Kyocera Museum of Art, a 1933 institution now rebooted with more contemporary works.

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The number of visitors to Japan has more than tripled since 2012, and Kyoto is a top attraction, so you won’t have the place to yourself. If you’re splurging, the exclusive Aman Kyoto hotel opened in November with about two dozen rooms. The 70-room Park Hyatt Kyoto, more intimate than your average Hyatt, opened in October. Looking for something more affordable? The Ace Hotel Kyoto is to open in spring.

Info:Kyoto Tourism, Travel advisory

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6. Maldives
Maldives
A couple kayak over the reef at Raffles Maldives Meradhoo Resort.
(Raffles Maldives Meradhoo)

The Maldives, an archipelago about 300 miles off the southern tip of India, is made up of 1,190 coral islands, about 200 of them occupied, and an ever-growing number of high-end beach resorts.

Climate change and rising seas pose a threat, and domestic politics have been chaotic for years, but the sand is very white, the ocean very blue, the diving memorable, and the country’s leaders eager to reap tourist dollars and boost global awareness.

When people talk about overtourism, these places keep coming up. Before you book a trip or abandon one, study up on these 10 places.

In the first quarter of 2019, seven resorts and 28 guesthouses opened, including the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi (222 beds), Raffles Maldives Meradhoo Resort (21 beds) and Residence Maldives at Dhigurah (254 beds). The InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort (81 beds) opened in September.

In all, the islands have about 140 resorts and more than 530 guesthouses. The country attracted more than 1.5 million visitors in the first 11 months of 2019 — a record — most from Europe and China. As numbers continue to grow, more Americans are turning up.

Info: Visit Maldives; Travel advisory

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7. Swedish Lapland
Swedish Lapland
The Arctic Bath hotel (due to open this month) on the Lule River in Swedish Lapland near Lulea Airport is a floating circular building.
(Anders Blomqvist)

Head to the top of Sweden for northern lights (best seen August-March) and new sensations. More specifically, go to the new Arctic Bath hotel (to open in January) on the Lule River in Swedish Lapland. Lots of cold baths, hot saunas,,and land-based and floating hotel rooms. Between baths and stargazing, try dog sledding or learn about reindeer and what climate change means for them.

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Meanwhile at the Icehotel in Jukkasjarvi Verandan is the newest restaurant, offering 12-course meals. As in winters past, the Icehotel has rooms made of ice (20 rooms, about $700-$1,000 a night), an ever-changing array of ice sculptures and other artwork, and year-round rooms and multiple restaurants. In winter or summer, try the Treehotel in Harads or, for a closer exposure to the region’s indigenous Sami people, perhaps a room at the intimate Geunja, the Sami Eco Lodge.
Info: Swedish Lapland, Travel advisory

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8. Vancouver, Canada
Eating Roast Corn at Night Market
Attendees at the Richmond Night Market eat roast corn.
(Darryl Brooks / Alamy Stock Photo)

When cruise industry megaships call at popular ports such as Venice, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; and Barcelona, Spain, locals and tourists can feel overwhelmed. In big, robust Vancouver, it’s different. Summertime Alaska-bound cruise traffic keeps the waterfront busy. But the city is also full of engaging green spaces, including Stanley Park, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and the underappreciated nearby Bowen Island. Grab a bite at Granville Island Public Market, browse the Vancouver Art Gallery downtown or the culturally rich Museum of Anthropology on the sprawling University of British Columbia campus.

With international tourism to British Columbia up 6.7% in 2018 and more growth expected for 2019, a new crop of hotels is rising: More than a dozen were in the pipeline in Greater Vancouver as of late 2019. The boutique Seaside Hotel North Vancouver opened in October in the redeveloping Shipyards District. The Opus Hotel Versante hotel is scheduled to open by mid-year in Vancouver-adjacent Richmond, near the Richmond Night Market (one of the largest night markets in North America).

Info: Tourism Vancouver, Travel advisory

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9. Wales
Group of four sheep on rock promontory;image taken from The Cambrian Way between the summit of Y Lethr, which is the highest point in the Rhinog mountains, and Cwm Bychan. August
The Cambrian Way is a mountain and hill walking route from Cardiff in South Wales through the higher parts of central Wales to Conwy on the North Wales coast. Around 290 miles in length, it uses established public paths but at times crosses countryside where there is no defined path but where a right to roam exists.
(Charles Hawes / Getty Images)

This is dramatic country, full of rolling hills and mountains, with neighbors England and Scotland close at hand. To take advantage of this landscape, pick a part of the Wales Way, which is really three driving routes, and hit the road: The Cambrian Way runs north-south up the country’s backbone, 185 miles from Cardiff through Snowdonia National Park to the coastal resort town of Llandudno. The Coastal Way runs 180 miles around Cardigan Bay on the west coast from St. Davis to Aberderon. The North Wales Way runs 75 miles across the top of the country from Queensferry to the Isle of Anglesey.

If you stick to those routes, there will be castles (641), distilleries, brewpubs and surprises. One of the world’s fastest zip lines, Penrhyn Quarry, is a few miles south of Bangor. Green Man, born in 2003 as a folk fest and set in late August, has become one of the U.K.’s most popular music festivals.

Info: Visit Wales, Travel advisory

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10. Washington, D.C.
Washington D.C.
The new International Spy Museum iincludes a lipstick pistol, a button-hole camera, a lethal umbrella and an authentic waterboarding table.
(Saul Loeb / AFP )

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Why not take the measure of our nation’s capital during this liveliest of election years? It’s also the 100th anniversary of the constitutional amendment permitting women to vote, which has inspired many events and exhibits. Meanwhile, the nation’s capital has been adding attractions, restaurants and hotels, including many in waterfront redevelopment areas.

In 2019, the International Spy Museum moved to a larger location in L’Enfant Plaza. One loss in D.C.: The Newseum, a favorite with kids and journalism fans since its D.C. location opened in 2008, shut down Dec. 31 because of money troubles.

Downtown, the Conrad Hotel opened in spring next to high-end retailers such as Tiffany & Co. The W Washington D.C. opened in summer. The Hilton Washington DC National Mall and Rosewood Washington, D.C. hotels reopened after renovations in 2019. (Openings this year will begin with the Riggs Washington DC, in a former bank building, and the Thompson Washington D.C., in the redeveloping Navy Yard area, followed by several more, including the hipster-friendly Mob Hotel of the People in the Union Market neighborhood. (If you have to ask, you may not be hip enough.) Also, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in September unveiled the Reach, a $175-million expansion that includes spaces for rehearsal, performances, events, gardens and a scenic walkway.

Info: Washington, D.C.


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Born and raised in California, Christopher Reynolds has written about travel, the outdoors, arts and culture for the Los Angeles Times since 1990.