It’s true that the world is a wide and wondrous place. There is no time that’s more obvious than when you’re trying to decide which country you want to explore next. They all have something unique and special to offer, whether you’re looking for adventure, culinary delights, historic sites, or cultural experiences. To be honest, it can make choosing a travel destination a serious challenge.
To help you focus your travel plans, we’ve put together a list of the best places to travel and tour in 2020. The countries we chose are the ones that are the most highly searched on Go Overseas and Google. Additionally, not only are they popular, they have stellar tour options, guided and self-guided, that can provide a great way to explore with more structure and less stress. Below, you’ll find opportunities for outdoor activities, cosmopolitan exploration, deeps dives into history, and more.
|Country||Rank (2020)||Previous Rank (2019)||Change|
Japan is a paradox; the archipelago is home to both the ultra-modern and the traditional. There, you can find some of the most technologically advanced cities in the world as well as ancient temples, castles, and other remnants from epochs long passed. As such, there’s no shortage of landmarks or attractions to tour. Your options are as varied as having a drink at a robot bar and watching the tide rise at the gate of the Itsukushima Shrine.
If you are drawn to the city lights, get caught up in the hustle and bustle of populated areas like Tokyo and Osaka. You can also escape to the tranquility of nature if that’s more your style; Japan’s Mount Fuji is world-famous, as are the cherry blossoms, hot springs, and bamboo forests. Whatever your preference, consider partaking in a tea ceremony, eating in the bright Dotonbori district, and watching the deer roam Nara Park.
There’s a reason Italy is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations: It calls to art and history buffs, foodies, shoppers, and adventure lovers alike. Consider it another country with something for everyone. It has trails with coastal views, centuries-old chapels and canals, iconic artwork, and ample amounts of mouthwatering pizza, pasta, and wine.
While you won’t want to miss Rome and its many museums, monuments, and well-trafficked sites, the natural beauty elsewhere is just as impressive. Italy’s coastlines, rivers, lakes, mountains, and plains serve as a perfect backdrop and playground for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, climbing, and skiing. Tours are a great way to try something adventurous.
Get outside in Iceland. There’s no wrong time to visit, as the incredible landscape is suited for year-round outdoor activities. Plan accordingly, depending on what you aspire to do. There are tours that will orchestrate adventures such as snowmobiling, skiing, whale watching, and scuba diving.
You don’t have to be on the go the whole time, of course. In the capital, Reykjavik, you can take your time enjoying restaurants, bars, live music, and museums. We also recommend trying to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights if it’s the right time of year, warming up in the hot springs, and learning what makes Icelandic horses special.
- Iceland: Energy and Climate Change at the Arctic Circle with New York Times Student Journeys
- Grand Tour Of Iceland with GJ Travel
- Golden Circle & The South Coast 3-Day Self Drive Tour with Extreme Iceland
Frankly, the sheer number of sites and activities in the land Down Under can be overwhelming. Australia is a place like no other. It boasts unparalleled marine habitats, scenic cities, unique wildlife, and varied landscapes.
Of course, Australia is sizable. You can cruise the Great Ocean Road, snorkel on the Great Barrier reef, cuddle koalas, tour the Sydney Opera House, and admire the sacred Uluru—but possibly not all in the same trip. A tour can help you use your time efficiently to get to your top priorities.
Spain is compact enough that you can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time while constantly having new experiences. Its different regions have their own distinct cultures and history, so Spain is never dull. Some highlights include the museums of Madrid, the food of San Sebastián, and the Islamic influence in Sevilla.
No trip to Spain is complete without indulging in local food and drink. There are also numerous festivals worth checking out, plus beaches and plazas to relax in. Expect plenty of flavor and flair.
- Sun, Sea, Surf and Sangria At San Sebastian Surf Camp with Stoke Travel
- “La Costa de la Luz”/ The Coast of Light - Cycling Tour with Spain Adventures
- Tasty Times At La Tomatina Tomato Fight with Stoke Travel
6. Costa Rica
Experience “Pura Vida” in Costa Rica. With oceans on two sides and lush rainforest and mountains in between, Costa Rica is an outdoors and adventure lover's paradise. It appeals to travelers interested in surfing, trekking, wildlife, conservation, and more.
All that adventure can take some planning, so you can cut out some of the work by signing up for a tour. They’ll have you on horseback or a raft in no time. Alternately, if that sounds wilder than what you’re looking for, you can stick to touring the museums of San José or coffee tasting in Frailes.
There’s no lack of history in China, one of the world’s oldest countries. You can visit awe-inspiring sites such as the Great Wall and the Terracotta Army, not to mention get glimpses of the past in museums. Additionally, modern cities like Shanghai have their own charms, like the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and Nanjing Road’s shopping. Just be prepared for crowds, because China also tops population lists.
Between the size of China and the fact that English isn’t commonly spoken, it can be somewhat difficult to get around. This makes taking a guided tour a great option. Whatever you do, though, don’t miss out on seeing the Great Wall, sampling different teas and cuisine, and exploring local markets.
- 14 Day Family Camp in Beijing or Shanghai with Hutong School
- 12-Day China Tour: Special Events with Business/Institutions with Sun Knights
- 2-Week Shaolin Kung Fu Training with CK Martial Arts
Anyone would be lucky to tour Ireland. With its mountainous coastlines and gorgeous green plains, it’s a sight to be seen and explored. And there are plenty of ways to do just that, from biking to golfing your way around the country.
Of course, it’s not only cliffs and national parks you’ll want to check off your list. You can enjoy museums, castles, churches, and more. In Dublin, for example, take a tour of the Guinness Storehouse before settling into a pub for live music or a televised rugby match.
- Ireland Coast 2 Coast with Bus2alps
- 8-Day Game of Thrones Tour with AESU Travel
- Celts, Vikings & Saints 15-Day Ireland Archaeological Tour with Archaeological Tours
With its 1950s-era cars, Spanish colonial-style buildings, and striking beaches, Cuba has become an Instagram addict’s dream destination. There’s much more to do than take photos, though. The Caribbean island is an ideal spot to dip your toes into water sports such as surfing and scuba diving. If you prefer to stay dry, other adventurous options include ziplining, hiking, and biking.
The U.S. government regulates Americans’ travel to Cuba, so tours can ease the struggle to ensure that you’re following the rules. Another plus is that your provider will have more experience navigating the growing hospitality industry. That’ll give you more time to enjoy your trip.
Egypt has a fascinating past and present. Many historical sites just shouldn’t be missed. You’ll want to make sure to fit in visits to the Pyramids of Giza, the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, and the Valley of Kings. Also, consider activities like taking a Nile Cruise and visiting the Red Sea.
While places like Cairo and Alexandria have become ultra-modern, there are still incredible reminders of the past within them. For example, a visit to the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, one of Cairo’s oldest, boasts views of the lively city. It makes for a brilliant juxtaposition.
- Nile Explorer Tour with Egypt Uncovered
- Pharaohs and Pyramids 16-Day Egypt Archaeological Tour with Archaeological Tours
- Treasures of Egypt Tour – Egypt Explorer 9 Days with Look at Egypt Tours
There’s never enough time to travel everywhere you want to go, but if you’re planning a trip, we bet you won’t regret choosing any of the destinations on this list. Each offers unforgettable experiences and has more than enough activities to fill your time. There’s a reason why they’re so popular for travel and tours.