The Top 5 Emerging Travel Destinations for 2020
-Travel Lemming Reader Awards-
Announcing our readers' top 5 picks for the best places to travel in 2020.
With overtourism ravaging many of the world's most popular places to travel, we at Travel Lemming want to encourage you to make 2020 your year to be an "undertourist" instead.
That's why last month we put out our annual list of the 30 Top Emerging Travel Destinations for 2020 - packed with lesser-visited spots and hidden gems that you might not have thought about, but that are worthy of your tourism dollars.
Since there are so many great places to travel in 2020 on that list, we asked our readers to help us narrow it down to the top 5 by voting for their favorites to win our annual Reader Awards.
Over 3,000 of you weighed in, and the five destinations that rose to the top are giving us a pretty serious case of wanderlust.
From an underrated wine region where you can fly over a vineyard in a 1930s biplane, to the best small city in the world, these 5 places to travel in 2020 are sure to have you scrambling to book international flights for next year and beyond.
Ok, ready? Here we go ...
Announcing the 5 winners of the 2020 Travel Lemming Reader Awards.
1. Lausanne, Switzerland
Can't decide between a city break or a mountain adventure? Why not have it both ways at our readers' overall top pick for the best place to travel in 2020? The first thing you'll notice about Lausanne is its incredible natural backdrop, with the tranquil waters of Lake Geneva acting as a mirror for the stunning Swiss mountains. This incredible location offers plenty of opportunities for those seeking to connect with nature. But don't ignore this city's urban offerings either - from centuries of history, to a first-class public transport system, to nightlife that draws in youth from around Switzerland, Lausanne packs a big punch in a tiny package. No wonder Monocle recently ranked Lausanne as the best small city in the entire world.
Why Our Readers Love Lausanne
CRISTOPHE l. SAYs:
"Lausanne is a vibrant and quiet place at the same time, with many secret spots around all these hills. At each corner you discover a breathtaking view of the lake and the surrounding mountains."
Sten r. Says:
"In one single day in Lausanne, you can climb a mountain or ride down a ski slope in the morning, swim in the lake or in a hot spring in the afternoon, and have a high quality dinner and a trendy night out in the evening."
2. Prince Edward Island
Our readers apparently agree with Conde Nast Traveler, which recently named Prince Edward Island as one of the top 20 islands to travel to in 2020. And, whether you're asking travel writers or our readers, there's one thing that gets consistently cited as a reason why Prince Edward Island should be at the top of your 2020 travel list: the food! Shellfish is the star of the show (the island's blue mussels are internationally renowned), but Charlottetown's restaurant scene offers something for every palate. So come hungry - you'll need the energy to explore the island's 1,800 kilometers of stunning coastline, including its Instagram-worthy red sandstone cliffs.
Why Our Readers Love Prince Edward Island
Marilyn e. SAYs:
"I live on Prince Edward Island and we have beautiful scenery and the people are very welcoming to tourists. ... Come to our Island! You won’t be disappointed."
Lynn M. Says:
"The people are some of the friendliest in all of Canada and the beaches are fabulous. ... It is great for outdoor activities such as biking and hiking. Also I love the seafood and many interesting restaurants. With a lot of open spaces, the night sky is wonderful. I have never seen so many stars as I have seen in PEI."
3. Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands
When our panel of expert travel blogger judges named the Laurel Highlands in our list of the top 30 emerging destinations for 2020, some readers were surprised to learn that an enchanted woodland retreat lies just an hour outside Pittsburgh. But others wrote in to gush about romantic trips with their partners or memorable adventures with their families at the Laurel Highlands. Some even asked us to stop spilling the beans on their favorite hidden gem! And we can't really blame them, considering our readers' consensus that Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands is a travel treasure trove for everything from adventure sports to architecture. So if you're looking for a relaxing East Coast getaway for 2020, get to Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands before word spreads too far.
Why Our Readers Love the Laurel Highlands
Briana t. SAYs:
"I selected the Laurel Highlands because of its diverse offerings - it literally has it all. There are ski slopes, miles of cycling and hiking trails, and white water rafting; world famous architecture and dining, a plethora of craft breweries and wineries, unique specialty shops, farm to table restaurants, and walkable downtown areas like Ligonier, Greensburg, Mount Pleasant, Irwin, and last but not least, Latrobe. Home of Fred Rogers, Arnold Palmer, and the birthplace of the banana split!"
Winnie a. Says:
"My husband and I spent 4 days in the Laurel Highlands in October. The scenery was beautiful. ... We are lucky that the Laurel Highlands are only about four hours from Chester County."
4. McLaren Vale, South Australia
Once a secret known only to insiders and locals, McLaren Vale has been quietly gaining acclaim among oenophiles as one of the most underrated wine destinations on the planet. Visitors looking for unique experiences definitely won't want to miss the family-run d’Arenberg winery, where you can blend your own wine after soaring above the stunning vineyards in a 1930s open-cockpit biplane. Visit to see why Travel + Leisure said this region is home to "some of the most beautiful vineyards on Earth." Oh, and if you somehow tire of all that wine, did we mention that McLaren Vale is situated on the doorstep of some of Australia's best kilometers of coastline?
Why Our Readers Love McLaren Vale
Carol t. SAYs:
"McLaren Vale is 30 sq km of beautiful vineyards, award winning wines, pristine beaches, gastronomic delights, exquisite art and stunning bush walks. What’s not to like, as there is something for everyone, young or old or in the middle?!"
David M. Says:
"McLaren Vale is Australian wine at its best. It’s a beautiful part of the country with rolling hills near the sea, friendly people and lots of world class cellar doors."
5. Nova Scotia
Our readers apparently can't get enough of Canada's Eastern provinces, showing praise on Nova Scotia for its picturesque scenery, culinary delights, and the opportunity to disconnect from the modern world and reconnect with nature. Explore Insta-worthy lighthouses at charming seaside towns like Peggy's Cove. Visit Halifax to soak in the historic harbor, sip craft brews, and wander Victorian gardens. Or take in the wonders of the night sky the way it should be seen at Acadian Skies and Mi’kmaq Lands, North America's first-certified Starlight Tourism Destination. Whatever you do, our readers are sure you won't regret putting Nova Scotia on your list of where to travel to in 2020!
Why Our Readers Love Nova Scotia
gloria c. SAYs:
"Nova Scotia is the most beautiful place I have ever visited. ... The best food, the best scenery, the beautiful winery’s and the golf courses in Canada. I love Nova Scotia."
David C. Says:
"Nova Scotia is like the sister you never knew you had. Once discovered she's everything you want. She has personality, culinary skills, beautiful vistas and gives you a sense of feeling more complete like no other character."
Which of these 2020 travel destinations are you booking flights for next year?
Let us know by leaving a comment below or hitting these social share buttons (be sure to tag your 2020 travel partners too!):
Looking for more incredible but underrated travel spots?
Be sure to check out our full list of the top 30 emerging 2020 travel destinations.
You can also check out 2019's Reader Awards.
And be sure to visit our Overtourism Solutions Center to learn how you can help be a part of the solution to ending the crisis of overtourism.
Lastly, be sure to check back throughout 2020 - because the 5 winning 2020 travel destinations on this list will be the highlight of our travel coverage for the year!
We'll be producing travel guides and videos like this one we did about 2019 Reader Award winner Valladolid, Mexico:
Oh, and to that end, if you happen to be a freelance travel writer or content creator with expertise about one of our winners, please get in touch because we're hiring!
Safe travels in 2020 - and remember that being an overtourist is sooooo last decade!
PS - Want to learn how you can stay in wonderful homes abroad without paying for it? Then check out the great guide we just posted on how to Get Started House Sitting Abroad in 9 Steps.