In a surprise result, the US city of Milwaukee has topped Airbnb’s list of 2020’s most up-and-coming tourist spots, according to the company’s booking data.
The list was compiled by comparing year-on-year growth in reservations, and has turned up a noteworthy number of lesser-known cities and regions, reflecting a broader trend for off-the-beaten-track travel.
Whether due to upcoming events, successful regenerations, or just being really, really on-trend, these delectable destinations are emerging as 2020’s places to be.
The host of next year’s Democratic National Convention, Milwaukee is a rust belt relic-turned-centre of urban cool. The ultra-modern Milwaukee Art Museum was the intricate handiwork of renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, and houses 25,000 works from across the world, while the Harley-Davidson Museum serves up curiosities of a very different variety.
An historic waterfront town on the shores of Great Lake Michigan, you’ll come for the scenery and heritage, and stay for the fridgeful-upon-fridgeful of locally brewed beer.
It’s hard to believe that as recently as the mid-Nineties, Bilbao was a post-industrial heartland in decline, because the city has since blossomed like a butterfly from a cocoon. The Guggenheim Museum has been the main catalyst for change, opened in 1997 and designed by legendary architect Frank Gehry, and to this day it’s shimmering, undulating curves are still the city’s best known landmark.
The centre of Basque cuisine and culture, Bilbao won European City of the Year in 2018, and is preparing for its role as one of the host cities during the 2020 Euros.
Load any more tourists onto Bangkok and it would probably start sinking into the ground, so it’s up to the rural province of Buriram to make sure there’s enough Thailand to go around.
Home to some of the country’s most admired ancient sites, best in show is the phenomenal grandeur of Phanom Rung, a temple complex often compared favourably to Angkor Wat. Right at the other end of the scale, since 2018, the Chang International Circuit has hosted the MotoGP Thailand Grand Prix, set to return to the region in March 2020.
Though officially subsumed by the sprawling Melbourne suburbs, this breezy town still has its own distinct flavour, and its own appeal for tourists, both foreign and domestic. A hotspot for wine lovers, wildlife watchers, and Wisden readers, Sunbury’s greatest claim to fame comes via the Rupertswood Estate, apparently where the famous Ashes urn was presented for the first time to England cricket captain Ivo Bligh.
Come 2020, cricket fans will converge on the town once more, as Melbourne is set to be one of the main host cities for the ICC T20 World Cup.
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It’s hard to pinpoint one single reason why Romania is rocketing up the charts, because its forested hillsides, misty mountain villages, and Gothic castles have long been resoundingly underappreciated by travellers. Host to the real-life Transylvania, many tourists come in search of Dracula, and are rewarded with ghoulishly gruesome stories of the infamous (and very real) Vlad the Impaler.
Extremely cheap and evidently up-and-coming, Romania is still off the beaten track, but only just.
The sprawling metropolis of Xi’an (in Chinese literally ‘Western Peace’), is pretty much synonymous with the 2,200-year-old army of terracotta soldiers discovered by two farmers in 1974. Magnificent though they are, the city boasts a host of other ancient treasures, from the monstrously large city walls to the delightfully-named Big Goose Pagoda.
Often called the birthplace of Chinese civilisation, and a longtime terminus for the silk road, today’s Xi’an is a cultural melting pot of a kind rarely seen in China. Swing by the Muslim quarter to see the splendour of the Great Mosque, and head out after dark for one of China’s finest night markets.