According to Airbnb internal booking data, which compares reservations made for 2020 as of September 2019 with reservations made for 2019 as of September 2018, the 2020 travel outlook will involve a bit of exploring off the beaten path—and doing so in a way that considers the environment.
“Looking ahead to travel planning for next year, we’re forecasting growing interest in lesser-known and eco-conscious cities and countries across the world,” Airbnb stated in a release. “Ranging from post-industrial culture hubs like Milwaukee and Guadalajara to emerging destinations that are benefiting from an increase in sustainable tourism, this year’s list is full of surprises and hidden gems. Our research also shows that some of the top trending locales are cities and regions that are preparing for big events like the 2020 Mars Exploration Program launching from Cape Canaveral and the many surf competitions happening in Ubatuba, Brazil.”
We’ve broken down the top 20 cities in Airbnb’s 2020 travel forecast and separated them by continent so you can hit up the hottest new hubs before the rest of the world catches on.
1. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Year-over-year increase: 729 percent
Sitting on the western shore of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is a must-add to any beer lover’s bucket list: It’s nicknamed Brew City and has been a significant location in the history of beer since the mid-1800s. It’s also a foodie city, at least if you’re into comfort foods like cheese curds and frozen custard.
2. Eugene, Oregon
Year-over-year increase: 213 percent
If a trip meandering through museums and getting plenty of fresh air in the great outdoors sounds like the ideal plan, Eugene is a solid pick for your 2020 travel wish list. Airbnb suspects the city is seeing more bookings because it’s hosting the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Track & Field Trials in 2020. Perched on the Willamette River, Eugene is packed with parks, museums dedicated to art and history, organic foods, and locally owned businesses, so it’s easy to see why the city often ranks among the best places to live in the United States.
3. Cape Canaveral, Florida
Year-over-year increase: 136 percent
A beachy spot on the eastern coast of Florida, Cape Canaveral is best known as the home of Kennedy Space Center, NASA’s main launch pad for sending humans and rockets into space. The 2020 launch of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, which will search the Red Planet for signs of past microbial life, is likely responsible for the city’s increased popularity among Airbnb-ers.
4. Guadalajara, Mexico
Year-over-year increase: 158 percent
Guadalajara is the capital of the Mexican state of Jalisco, the birthplace of tequila and mariachi music. What’s not to love? Plus, the city center is a sight to behold: Baroque, neoclassical, and renaissance styles of Spanish colonial architecture create an architectural feast for the eyes. Guadalajara is also nicknamed the Mexican Silicon Valley, perhaps making it all the more attractive to travelers who rely on the San Francisco-based lodging broker.
5. Courtenay, British Columbia, Canada
Year-over-year increase: 114 percent
Located on the east coast of Vancouver Island, Courtenay is the only city in the Comox Valley region and provides easy access to outdoor adventures. Airbnb Adventures available in Courtenay include sailing the Gulf Islands, a bioluminescent overnight yacht stay, and a four-day glamping trip, the highlight of which is orca-watching while kayaking through a killer whale sanctuary.
6. Bilbao, Spain
Year-over-year increase: 402 percent
The capital of Spain’s Basque Country, Bilbao is a port city surrounded by the Basque Mountains. In 2020, Bilbao will host one of the most popular soccer competitions in Europe. The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Euro 2020 tournament is likely responsible for the increased attention on Bilbao, drawing legions of sports fans next summer.
Year-over-year increase: 298 percent
Romania, a country in the Balkans of southeastern Europe, is home to centuries of history—and the medieval region of Transylvania, as well as thick spruce forests in the Carpathian Mountains. Don’t leave without trying papanași, a traditional Romanian food that’s a pastry similar to a cheese donut, or sarmale, a cabbage roll and Romanian staple.
Year-over-year increase: 167 percent
The entire city of Luxembourg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it an enchanting destination for lovers of history and culture. Its medieval old town sits atop cliffs and is fortified by ramparts dating back to the 17th century. The country is surrounded by Belgium, France, and Germany, and Luxembourg City is one of four official capitals of the European Union.
9. Aberdeen, Scotland
Year-over-year increase: 119 percent
Located where the Dee and Don Rivers flow into the North Sea in northeast Scotland, the Granite City—so nicknamed for the plethora of buildings made from gray granite from local quarries—serves as a major home for fishing, shipping, and offshore oil industries. Aberdeen will host the VisitScotland Expo in 2020, one of the biggest events in Scottish tourism.
10. Les Contamines-Montjoie, France
Year-over-year increase: 108 percent
The village of Les Contamines-Montjoie, located in the French Alps, is a popular skiing destination in the winter and attracts mountain climbers during the summer. It’s located close to close to Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, yet maintains a sense of peace as a hidden-away valley with well preserved Savoy-style buildings.
11. Maastricht, Netherlands
Year-over-year increase: 55 percent
Maastricht has more historic buildings than any other Dutch city outside of Amsterdam, so travelers will appreciate the opportunity to wander its cobbled old town and take in medieval and Gothic-style architecture. In 2020, Maastricht will host TEFAF Maastricht, the world’s leading fair for art and antiques.
12. Buriram, Thailand
Year-over-year increase: 383 percent
Travelers can head to Buriram—a name that means “city of happiness”—to visit ancient ruins. The Thai province is beginning to receive more attention after years spent in the shadow of more popular travel destinations in Thailand, such as Bangkok and Phuket. Buriram’s massive Phanom Rung complex is comparable to Angkor Wat in neighboring Cambodia, so there’s plenty to explore.
13. Xi’an, China
Year-over-year increase: 255 percent
Xi’an’s claim to fame is Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, better known as the Terracotta Army. Buried alongside an emperor in the 200s BC, the terracotta soldiers credit Xi’an as one of the birthplaces of Chinese civilization. Airbnb attributes the explosive growth in Xi’an bookings to a new offering planned for 2020: The ancient city is launching a tourism program with 30 nighttime tour routes.
Year-over-year increase: 140 percent
One of the most stunning island archipelagos in the South Pacific, it’s easy to see why Vanuatu would be a popular travel destination. Located nearly 2,000 miles east of Australia’s golden shores, Vanuatu offers a plethora of rugged outdoor adventures—from scuba diving to volcano hiking—across its 80 islands.
15. Tokyo, Japan
Year-over-year increase: 103 percent
Long one of the world’s most popular cities to visit, Tokyo will experience an even larger influx of tourism in 2020 due to serving as the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics, its fourth time hosting the global games. However, the 2020 focus will be on sustainability—think recycling 99 percent of procured goods, using existing venues instead of constructing new ones, recycling rainwater, and 100 percent renewable electricity.
16. Kerala, India
Year-over-year increase: 95 percent
Kerala is among the most tropical and serene areas of India. Unlike the country’s more crowded metropolitan areas, Kerala sports a density not of people but of picturesque beaches and national parks, where wildlife and exotic species like elephants and tigers reside. The inland portion of Kerala is characterized by the Western Ghats, a mountain range where tea, coffee, and spice plantations abound.
17. Cali, Colombia
Year-over-year increase: 137 percent
Colombia is known for its nightlife, but the city of Cali in particular is the salsa capital of the world, leading to an abundance of clubs and lively places to get grooving. Refresh and rehydrate with a juicy bite of “chontaduro,” or peach palm, a fruit that’s a popular street food in Cali.
18. Ubatuba, Brazil
Year-over-year increase: 108 percent
With ample beaches and rainforests within easy reach, Ubatuba is a popular place to get outdoors and hike or swim in a tropical setting. It’s also considered the surfing capital of Brazil’s São Paulo state, so grab a board or a beach chair if you want to watch one of the many surfing championships held in Ubatuba each year. Plus, the exchange rate in Brazil is the best it has been in the past decade.
19. Malindi, Kenya
Year-over-year increase: 88 percent
Head to Kenya to find a visually appealing blend of postcard-worthy beaches and Swahili architecture in the beach town of Malindi. Visitors to Malindi also love visiting the ruins of Gedi, an ancient Swahili town, and diving to spot a wide diversity of sea life.
20. Sunbury, Victoria, Australia
Year-over-year increase: 356 percent
The wine region of Sunbury is located a short distance north of the popular Australian metropolis of Melbourne. Between the vineyards, parks, and Victorian-style buildings, Sunbury is a desirable travel destination, but it’s of special interest to cricket players: It’s the birthplace of the Ashes—a series of matches between Australia and England—and will likely draw cricket fans from Melbourne during the 2020 ICC T20 World Cup.
Skye Sherman is a freelance travel writer based in West Palm Beach, Fla. She covers news, transit, and international destinations for a variety of outlets. You can follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter @skyesherman