As the clock strikes midnight and new year's resolutions are made, we’ve got one of our own to add to your list – book an overseas trip next year.
2020 is a great time to be a traveller from postcode 4000, between the opening of a new runway, our national carrier starting direct services to not one, but two new destinations and a host of new airlines making tailwaves through Brisbane skies – the world is literally your oyster.
Whether you’re planning a beachside getaway or searching for a big city escape, we’ve got your travel #inspo sorted with the top destinations you need to visit in 2020.
1. Chicago, Illinois
Planning a trip to the land of stars and stripes? Think Chicago. With 570 parks to explore at ground level to attractions that can only be experienced 300 metres above pavement level (read: the 103rd floor of the city’s tallest skyscraper), find out why Chicago was voted the number one ‘big city’ for the past two years. Put Wrigley Field on your itinerary to see the last manually operated scoreboard or wet your whistle at one of the many breweries scattered throughout the city.
2. San Francisco, California
“Qantas, thank you!” – says every Brisbane traveller who can now fly direct BNE to SFO. In less than 13 hours, you can be exploring Union Square, riding the last human-operated cable car system in the world, walking the cells of Alcatraz or getting the postcard perfect shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. No trip to Frisco (as known by locals) is complete without leaning into Lombardy Street and exploring Fisherman’s Wharf rounded off with a piping hot bowl of clam chowder served in a sourdough bowl.
3. Milan, Italy
Looking for the travel trifecta of art, fashion and history? Put MXP on your boarding pass to explore Duomo, window shop along one of the most expensive streets in the world – Via Monte - and cast your eyes on Leonardo de Vinci’s The Last Supper. Take the lead of the country’s aperitivo ethos and indulge in a Campari. For a bar experience served with a slice of history grab a table at Bar Basso, the iconic bar dating back to the 1950s, which claims to have invented the pre-dinner drink tradition. Pronto.
4. Boracay, Philippines
Hotels have renovations and islands have rehabilitations. At least, that’s the story for Boracay in the Philippines, which was closed to tourists for six months to give mother nature some breathing space. Boracay proves that good things come in small packages, with its tiny 7-kilometre long, 500-metre-wide island geography. The good news is this island haven is back open for business, so you can escape to its postcard worthy White Beach. Just remember, visitors are capped per day to Boracay, so if it’s on your resolutions list you’ll want to book early.
5. Rottnest Island, Western Australia
What does Thor and a nocturnal herbivore have in common? Rottnest Island. Chris Hemsworth may have put this Western Australian nature reserve and its local inhabitants on the tourist map when he posted a selfie with a quokka in 2019, but you don’t need to be a Hollywood star to have the same experience. A short drive and ferry ride from the west-coast capital and you can be relaxing on the white-sand beaches, exploring secluded coves or catching a wave at the island’s most popular surf break.
6. Maui, Hawaii
Move over Ohau, Hawaii’s second biggest island in land size is calling visitors for 2020. Get into #IslandLife in this Pacific archipelago with a drive along the legendary coast drive route Hana Highway or be entertained by hip-shaking hula dancers at Old Lahaina Luau. Set your alarm for a true Hawaiian experience and catch a sunrise from the summit of Haleakala Crater. Plan your visit before May 2020 and join the 40-year celebrations of the Maui Whale Festival during humpback whale season.
7. Hobart, Tasmania
Still yet to put the Apple Isle on your travel itinerary? Make 2020 the year to follow the lead of the other 1.32 billion visitors who touched down in Australia’s most southern state in 2019. From the modern design of MONA to the historical homes in Salamanca and natural landforms like Mount Wellington – this a city that’s so much more than high-rises. Did we mention there’s over 30 distillery’s all within drive’s reach?
8. Dunedin, New Zealand
Calling all chocolate lovers. No need to travel to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory at Universal Studios in Orlando, just fly to New Zealand’s South Island for a tour at Ocho Chocolate Factory. Although you won’t find a chocolate fountain or Lollipop Land, you’ll have a chance to learn about cacao sourced from nearby South Pacific nations. Walk off the sugar high along the Otago Harbour, or visit local colonies of albatross, sea lions or yellow-eyed penguins along the peninsula.
9. Whistler, Canada
Outdoor adventures – we’re looking at you. Whistler might be best known as a Mecca for skiers and snowboarders between the months of December to March, but it’s not just the winter season that draws a crowd to this Canadian town two hours’ north of Vancouver. Once the snow has melted, the mountains become the perfect playground for mountain biking and hiking and water sports on the lake. With 8,171 acres of terrain to explore – see why over three million visitors put Whistler on their travel-list each year.
10. Tokyo, Japan
The countdown is on until Olympic fever takes over the Japanese capital in 2020 for the Summer Olympics (24 July to 9 August). Escape Brisbane winter for the northern hemisphere to watch athletic stars from around the world perform across 36 different stadiums within the central district. Olympics not your thing? Explore Japan one district at time, travelling from Ginza to Harajuku and Shinjuku. First time to the land of the rising sun? Get your bearings with 360-degree views of the city from Tokyo Sky Tree Tower’s viewing platform, 450 meters above grown level. Arigatou gozaimas!
11. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Why book a ‘round the world’ airline ticket, when you can get a taste of the globe in one location? Travel to Dubai from late October to attend World Expo 2020 and wander through Azerbaijan, Belarus or Latvia. Make sure you allow enough time to explore Dubai, too. From the 828-metre tall Burj Khalifa to the choreographed light, music and water fountain dance at the Dubai Mall or a desert safari – this United Arab Emirates city has plenty to see and do to keep you busy.
12. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Prefer to explore a destination with pedal power? Head to Amsterdam, the second-most bike friendly city in the world. Seriously, Amsterdam is a county where the number of bikes outnumbers the number of residents. Grab a free (yes FREE) white city bike and explore the city streets, bridges and parks on two wheels.
Take a step back in time with a visit to the Anne Frank Museum or Van Gogh Museum. Feeling peckish? Sample the city’s thriving street food scene at one of the city’s food halls. With 165 canals stretching a total length of 50 kilometres, you can give your legs a rest and hop on a canal tour to see why this city is referred to as Venice of the north.
13. Apia, Samoa
Yet to book a South Pacific Island getaway? Get on island time and experience Fa’a Samoa (the Samoan Way) in 2020. Beyond the picture-perfect white beaches, crystal waters and swaying palm trees, you’ll find cascading waterfalls and lush tropical forests. Pull up a deckchair, cycle along the flanks of an ancient volcano or sample a traditional umu (meal) and have your followers double-tapping with envy as you send them Instagram stories from #Samoa. Need more convincing? What if we told you Samoans say they are the happiest people on earth?
14. Noumea, New Caledonia
Looking for a Côte d'Azur-inspired escape without the 25-hour flight? Book Noumea. Live la belle vie while you explore the world’s largest world-heritage listed lagoon, shop the latest Parisian fashions along Le Promenade and dine on filet de boeuf or paupiettes de poisson at waterfront bistros.
15. Bangkok, Thailand
If you thought hipster culture was reserved for Melbourne laneways, think again. There’s more to the Thailand capital than pad thai and Singha beer. Take a tour of the backstreets of this bustling city and you’ll find glasshouses with exposed bricks serving quality barista-made brews. Discover the hipster scene on your trip to Thailand’s most populous city.
16. Darwin, Northern Territory
Looking for a winter escape in 2020? Put waterfalls, waterholes and walking trails on your itinerary and escape to the Top End to enjoy an average temperature of 29 degrees. With two national parks a short drive from the city centre, make Darwin your basecamp to explore lush tropical landscapes. No need to add holiday planning stress to your busy agenda.
17. Hamilton Island, Queensland
Need a tropical island escape less than three hours from BNE? Check-in to Hamilton Island – the Whitsunday’s largest inhabited island. With the Great Barrier Reef on your doorstep, don your mask and flippers and have a marine life encounter below the water’s surface. Settle into a deckchair and unwind at a resort or explore the white beaches and turquoise waters by jet ski, kayak or paddleboard. If you didn’t catch the island views on landing, book a helicopter ride for serious rockstar status.
18. Boston, Massachusetts
It may be one of the oldest cities in the United States of America, but Boston is becoming the country’s next great (new) hotel city. For city views from your hotel room, book to stay in the newly opened Four Seasons One Dalton – sleeping inside a 61-story skyscraper. When you’re ready to explore the city at ground level, take a stroll along the Freedom Trail for a look through the towns history along the five kilometre walk or head to the Institute of Contemporary Art. Foodies – head to Time Out Market Boston, the first food hall with over 15 food and bars.
19. London, Great Britain
Prefer a mixture of old and new with your travel destination? Head to London and immerse yourself in history and culture at one of the 170 museums, catch a show at one of the 230 theatres or take the lift to the top of the Shard – the 95-story skyscraper that dominates the skyline. If you’ve spent the last two months binging The Crown, you can catch the real thing with a visit to Buckingham Palace.
20. Chengdu, China
We don’t mean to alarm you, but there is an International Day worth flying for - International Panda Day. Mark your diary for 16 March 2020 and make air-travel tracks to Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province of China and home of the giant panda bear. Here you’ll find Chengdu Panda Base, home to 50 pandas and their research and conservation base. Wander the park to see pandas eating, playing and resting in as close to their natural habitat as possible. Make time to visit the panda nursery, where you’ll see giant pandas nursing their cubs who look like teddy bear doppelgangers.