The World's 30 Best Places to Visit in 2019-20

Using reader input and expert analysis, U.S. News identified the latest can't-miss vacations.

U.S. News & World Report

The World's 30 Best Places to Visit in 2019-20

Best places to visit in the world
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(Getty Images)

Let exploration, relaxation or a mix of the two guide you toward your next getaway.

Planning a vacation may sound simple, but knowing the world is filled with so many diverse destinations can make organizing a trip a challenging task. Using a methodology that takes into account expert analysis and user opinions, plus editor evaluations of everything from food and culture to sights and accessibility, U.S. News determined the World's Best Places to Visit in 2019-20. Whether you're looking for a cosmopolitan city, a picture-perfect island, a mountain retreat or something else entirely, the destinations on this ranking will help inspire you to book your next vacation.
Best places to visit in the world
Credit

(Getty Images)

30. Amalfi Coast, Italy

This stretch of coastline along southwestern Italy will blow you away. The views of colorful pastel houses overlooking the Gulf of Salerno's azure horizon are beyond compare, and the food is equally impressive. Restaurants in the Amalfi Coast offer some of the freshest and most flavorful seafood and pasta imaginable. This vacation spot also accommodates travelers of all budgets, with luxury resorts and wallet-friendly vacation rental options. Among visitors' favorite spots in the Amalfi Coast: the scenic cliffs lining Positano and the secluded beaches of Praiano. To make the most of your stay, visit in the spring or fall to enjoy comfortable temperatures (with highs in the 60s and 70s) and fewer crowds.
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Let exploration, relaxation or a mix of the two guide you toward your next getaway.

Planning a vacation may sound simple, but knowing the world is filled with so many diverse destinations can make organizing a trip a challenging task. Using a methodology that takes into account expert analysis and user opinions, plus editor evaluations of everything from food and culture to sights and accessibility, U.S. News determined the World's Best Places to Visit in 2019-20. Whether you're looking for a cosmopolitan city, a picture-perfect island, a mountain retreat or something else entirely, the destinations on this ranking will help inspire you to book your next vacation.

30. Amalfi Coast, Italy

This stretch of coastline along southwestern Italy will blow you away. The views of colorful pastel houses overlooking the Gulf of Salerno's azure horizon are beyond compare, and the food is equally impressive. Restaurants in the Amalfi Coast offer some of the freshest and most flavorful seafood and pasta imaginable. This vacation spot also accommodates travelers of all budgets, with luxury resorts and wallet-friendly vacation rental options. Among visitors' favorite spots in the Amalfi Coast: the scenic cliffs lining Positano and the secluded beaches of Praiano. To make the most of your stay, visit in the spring or fall to enjoy comfortable temperatures (with highs in the 60s and 70s) and fewer crowds.

29. Costa Rica

Costa Rica's jungle will bring out the adventurous side of any visitor. You can't leave this rugged rainforest without zip lining beneath its tree canopy, which stretches for miles. While this rugged country is called the "rich coast" because it is believed to be full of precious metals, Costa Rica is rich in diverse wildlife, too – 52 species of hummingbirds, spider monkeys and sloths are just a few animals you might encounter while on vacation here. Outside the rainforests, you will find one of the world's most active volcanoes (Arenal Volcano), top-notch whitewater rafting, more than 800 miles of shoreline and numerous beaches. Travelers should enjoy joining Costa Ricans and their "pura vida" lifestyle during the dry season from mid-December to April.

28. Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef cannot be missed – literally: You can see the world's largest living structure from outer space. With nearly 3,000 coral reefs, 900-some islands and more than 1,500 species of fish, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the planet's most impressive destinations. Consistent tropical weather makes for excellent scuba diving opportunities year-round, meaning plenty of chances to see incredible coral, colorful fish, humpback whales and spinner dolphins. Plus, visitors can enjoy snorkeling, helicopter tours and glass-bottomed boat adventures. After you've gotten your fill of the water, step ashore to experience Kuranda's rainforest (accessible via the Kuranda Scenic Railway), the Cairns Botanic Gardens and Hartley's Crocodile Adventures.

27. Rio de Janeiro

Among Rio de Janeiro's bragging rights, the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado is considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. In this city of contrasts, 1,000-year-old rocky peaks act as a backdrop to the ever-evolving metropolis. Travelers can enjoy dramatic views of the Marvelous City from Sugarloaf Mountain's summit or from down below at Copacabana Beach. After a day of adventure, kick back at one of the many luxury lodging options with a caipirinha and renowned Brazilian barbecue. If you plan to visit in February, bring glitter and bright clothing to celebrate and fit in with the samba dancers sweeping the streets for the Carnival festival.

26. Prague

You can't go wrong with potato soup, a fresh trdelnik (a sweet, sugar-topped, fire-cooked pastry) and a cup of mulled hot wine, but there's more to Prague than its comforting cuisine. The Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and Gothic architecture throughout the city offer a romantic feel. You should plan to wander along the cobblestone streets of the Mala Strana neighborhood, snap a photo of the John Lennon Wall and break for a Pilsner after a day of sightseeing (after all, beer is often cheaper than water here). Prague's many museums are within walking distance of the Old Town Square, where the 600-year-old astronomical clock puts on a performance every hour.

25. St. Lucia

St. Lucia's tranquil beaches make for a sweet escape – and that's before you try the island's irresistible handmade chocolate. St. Lucia lures travelers interested in chocolate, but it also flaunts the world's only drive-in volcano. The bubbling mud in the sulfur springs surrounding the dormant volcano is said to have healing properties, so be sure to lather up before swimming at the nearby Toraille Waterfall. This lush island also offers opportunities for hiking the Piton mountains, relaxing on serene beaches and zip lining through the Chassin region's rainforests. Travelers can enjoy winding down after an active day at one of St. Lucia's luxurious lodging options, which range from hotels with infinity pools that overlook the Pitons to secluded romantic resorts for couples.

24. Santorini, Greece

Candlelit dinners overlooking the caldera, unforgettable sunsets at Oia and infinity pools clinging to cliff edges above the Aegean Sea are just a few things to look forward to on the Greek island of Santorini. The scenery here is postcard-worthy: White houses trail the cliffsides, contrasting with the sea's cobalt and turquoise water. But don't neglect the fascinating history behind this city: Santorini's volcanic activity around 1650 B.C. paved the way for the colorful beaches, ancient ruins and unique topography that visitors marvel at today. A few ways to experience Santorini's beauty include snorkeling in Kamari Beach's water and hiking from Fira to Oia, but you should also plan to dine alfresco while admiring the outstanding orange sunsets over Amoudi Bay.

23. British Virgin Islands

If lounging on a white sand beach with a cocktail in hand and views of mountainous cliffs and blue water peppered with sailboats sounds like your ideal vacation, the British Virgin Islands should be your next getaway. Be sure to hop on a boat and discover what some of the numerous islands have to offer. Tortola is home to some great hiking trails and secluded beaches, while Anegada Island's underwater wrecks entice scuba divers. To beat the crowds and high winter holiday hotel rates, plan your trip to the British Virgin Islands between September and November. Keep in mind: Parts of these islands are still recovering from hurricane damage in 2017.

22. Argentine Patagonia

The southernmost tip of South America is teeming with eye-catching landscapes and seascapes – travelers can admire everything from jagged mountaintop glaciers to orcas beneath the water's surface. Argentine Patagonia is home to some of the world's purest marvels, including Mount Fitz Roy and the Perito Moreno Glacier. The penguins and seals that inhabit the eastern coastline may not be able to tell you the region's history, but you can head to the Cave of the Hands to explore distinct cave art that offers a look into Argentine Patagonia's past. The developing infrastructure of this region in the Andes mountains means visitors can expect to traverse rugged roads on their way from one striking attraction to the next.

21. Banff, Alberta

With a skyline dominated by the soaring peaks of Mount Rundle and Mount Cascade, Canada's first national park (located in Alberta) offers compelling activities for every season. Travelers can shred the Mount Norquay slopes, seek out the northern lights and cozy up in a lodge in the winter; hike mountain trails, relax in hot springs with views of Bow Valley and enjoy hotel deals in the spring; spot wildlife and canoe on Moraine Lake in the summer; and take in the changing leaves and scenery in the fall.

20. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho

Established as the world's first national park in 1872, Yellowstone is home to a massive web of ecological and geological diversity, including the largest free-roaming herd of bison in America and more than 150 species of birds. Visitors can camp, hike, bike and boat through this 2.2 million-acre park, which was formed atop one of the world's largest active volcanoes and carved by glaciers, geysers, canyons, thermal pools, basins and valleys. You likely can't traverse Yellowstone in its entirety in one visit, but after seeing Old Faithful, Yellowstone Lake and Mammoth Hot Springs, you will definitely want to plan a return trip to see some of its lesser-known natural formations as well.

19. Florence, Italy

Travelers are sure to fall in love with the artistic treasures and ethereal Arno River that define this Tuscan paradise. The "birthplace of the Renaissance" features quaint streets and detailed fountains that never fail to impress, but aside from wandering through town, visitors should also shop for inexpensive Massimo leather and enjoy an authentic panini. Florence radiates a small-town feel even though some of the world's most striking architectural and artistic masterpieces, such as the Duomo and Michelangelo's David sculpture, call this city home. When it's time to unwind, enjoy a glass of Chianti during sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo, where you will get a panoramic view of Tuscany's capital.

18. San Francisco

San Francisco is filled with attractions for all kinds of travelers. If you're a foodie or a fashionista, explore Ghirardelli Square (home to some of the nation's best chocolate) and roam the trendy Fillmore Street to scour boutiques and enjoy top-notch dining experiences. For the best photo opportunities, stop by the pastel Painted Ladies houses, the Presidio neighborhood, historic Chinatown and Pier 39, where playful sea lions sunbathe and relax. Adventure-seekers can get their fix through listening to the riveting escape attempt stories of some of America's most notorious criminals during an Alcatraz tour. Consider visiting in the fall, when mild temperatures make it comfortable for travelers to walk or bike through the culturally distinct neighborhoods.

17. Amsterdam

Amsterdam's maze of canals is adorned with a deeper educational and artistic history than you might have thought. Feast your eyes on the impressive artwork within the Van Gogh and Moco museums, say cheers with some beers at the Heineken Experience and put yourself in 15 year-old Anne Frank's shoes when learning about her Holocaust story at the Anne Frank House. Travelers can also enjoy romantic cruises along the canal, which pass the stunning houses in the Herengracht neighborhood, or stop in eccentric coffee shops in Leidseplein. Other popular activities include swinging over the city at the A'dam Lookout and people-watching in verdant Vondelpark.

16. The Maldives

The Maldives is the epitome of paradise, situated in the aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean. Follow the radiant marine life below the surface by scuba diving or snorkeling to explore the hundreds of coral reefs. Then, head to Vaadhoo Island on the Raa atoll after the sun sets to see thousands of floating plankton that illuminate the shoreline in glowing shades of blue. Known for excellent hospitality, Maldivian resorts often welcome visitors with a fresh coconut drink. And in addition to numerous luxury accommodations, The Maldives offer a plethora of ways to indulge, including fine dining at the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant.

15. Sydney

From striking sunsets at Sydney Harbour's world-famous Opera House to sweeping landscapes along the Blue Mountains, Sydney offers many reasons why millions of visitors vacation here each year. On top of beautiful natural scenery at Manly Beach and The Royal Botanic Garden, this city also boasts legendary chefs and fresh seafood. Treat yourself to a meal and a bloody mary at the Coogee Pavilion after you take on the 4-mile coastal walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach – the cliffside vistas make the journey completely worthwhile.

14. Machu Picchu, Peru

One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, this Incan citadel is the ultimate bucket list destination. Once you get to the Cusco region, you have two ways to journey to the grand site: by taking a train to Aguas Calientes and then hopping on a bus, or by devoting yourself to the four-day Inca Trail trek. No matter how you get there, heart-stopping vistas at The Sun Gate, Huayana Picchu and Watchman's Hunt await your arrival. For the best weather, plan your trip between the end of May and September. However, be sure to book tickets well in advance: A limit of 2,500 people at a time are allowed on these ancient grounds.

13. Dubai

In Dubai, visitors can soak up the shoreline views from the tallest building in the world, shred powder on one of the longest indoor ski slopes on Earth and shop at one of the largest malls. Despite new developments in this futuristic city like the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel and Dubai Mall, Dubai holds onto its past, too. Travelers must make time to visit the Al Bastakiya Quarter, the city's charming historic district, and the spice and gold souks, where vendors flaunt their finest herbs and jewels. Beat the triple digit temperatures by visiting in the winter months, but be prepared to encounter crowds as you enjoy the popular Jumeirah Beach.

12. New York City

The Big Apple's five distinct boroughs make this melting pot overflow with ethnically diverse people, eateries and attractions. Let hipsters guide you down the trendy streets of SoHo, line up behind Brooklynites for a slice of award-winning pizza, follow Manhattanites into Fifth Avenue's finest stores and give your regards to one of Broadway's top-notch performances – the opportunities are endless. In addition to dozens of renowned museums, monumental skyscrapers and some of the world's most celebrated restaurants, New York City offers hundreds of lodging options, from budget-friendly to splurge-worthy.

11. Barcelona, Spain

With a mix of Spanish and Catalan culture, Barcelona is full of authentic flair. Travelers can admire architectural genius Antoni Gaudí's unique designs at the renowned Sagrada Familia, Park Güell and Gaudí houses. Visitors should also explore the rich history built into the streets of the Gothic Quarter, stop for a cocktail at one of the bars situated along Barceloneta Beach and shop the numerous stores along Passeig de Gràcia. If you're not already a gastronome, the sizzling patatas bravas (spicy potatoes), paella, fresh seafood and Spanish tortilla will certainly turn you into a foodie.

10. Yosemite National Park, California

For travelers who love to hike, rock climb, horseback ride and raft along scenic routes filled with wildlife, Yosemite has just what you're looking for. Yosemite Valley features some of the world's most impressive waterfalls, including Bridalveil Fall, Sentinel Fall and Yosemite Falls. Along with numerous thundering cascades, this national park boasts a large population of towering sequoia trees. There are also various hikes to guide you through the massive national park, which lead to monumental rock formations life Half Dome and El Capitan.

9. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The Grand Canyon definitely lives up to its name: Stretching along 277 miles of the Colorado River, this iconic American landmark offers biological diversity and awe-inspiring landscapes at every turn. Start at Grand Canyon Village, the most popular entryway to the park and home of Yavapai Point, one of the best places to gaze at the canyon. From there, let the Rim Trail or North Kaibab Trail lead you to lookout points and riverside campgrounds. The park is open year-round, and each season offers different stunning scenery. However, dry and sunny weather in spring and fall months enables visitors to hike along the Grand Canyon's many different trails and raft down Colorado River.

8. Phuket, Thailand

With plunging waterfalls, outstanding (and cheap) street food and nearly 30 beaches to choose from, Phuket welcomes millions of visitors every year. An outdoor enthusiast's playground by day and a party animal's paradise by night, this mountainous island has it all. For picture-perfect views, travelers should plan to visit Patong beach, Phang Nga Bay and Promthep Cape. Visitors will encounter daily reminders of Buddhism, Thailand's official religion, through towering temples and the Big Buddha statue on Mount Nagakerd. What's more, Phuket's colorful shrines, elephant sanctuaries and Laem Hin Pier, which features floating restaurants that dish out fresh seafood, are sure to impress.

7. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Surrounded by black rock mountains, hibiscus flowers and cerulean lagoons, Bora Bora is lauded for its peaceful atmosphere. This French Polynesian archipelago attracts couples with secluded floating villas at various overwater resorts, which rest atop a diverse marine ecosystem. Venture out of your serene hideaway and hike through the island's extinct volcano (Mount Otemanu), surrounded by a string of coral islets. The shallow, warm waters are perfect for first-time snorkelers, and experienced water sports enthusiasts can enjoy activities like kayaking, Jet Skiing and paddleboarding. Regardless of whether you're a beach bum, an adrenaline junkie or somewhere in between, this pristine island will no doubt captivate you.

6. Maui, Hawaii

Framed by verdant mountains, beautiful beaches and colorful flora, Maui makes for an incredible getaway. Visitors can enjoy torch-lit hikes through Ka'eleku Cave, scuba diving excursions in the crescent moon-shaped Molokini Crater and sunrises over Haleakala's shield volcano. Maui also boasts some of the biggest surfing waves in the world (at Paia shore) and excellent windsurfing conditions (at Ho'okipa). Whether you stay at one of the world-class resorts in Wailea or Lahaina, or a modest hotel in Kahului, the 30 miles of shoreline are within easy reach.

5. London

Whether walking along upscale Oxford Street, discovering quirky Dover Street boutiques or watching a performance in the West End theater district, lively London has something for all types of travelers. Big Ben, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace are among the dozens of world-famous landmarks that visitors can see here. What's more, the London nightlife scene is unmatched, from its spirited pubs to its edgy clubs. The only challenge you might face is deciding where to eat: This melting pot offers an overwhelming variety of mouthwatering cuisine. Some of London's must-try meals include a Sunday roast and nandu varuval (Indian-style soft shell crab).

4. Tahiti, French Polynesia

Coral gardens, warm water and overwater bungalow resorts are a few of the many characteristics that make Tahiti a jewel in the crown of French Polynesia. Water sports enthusiasts can surf at Papenoo beach or see manta rays, sea turtles, hammerhead sharks and dolphins glide by while scuba diving into vast lagoons and crystal-clear waters. This scenic island invites visitors to see its colorful grounds through off-the-beaten-path hikes along waterfalls and volcanoes. Tahiti's multicultural influences also make for some uniquely delicious cuisine. Meats and vegetables prepared in a hima'a (an underground oven) and poisson cru (Tahitian tuna ceviche) are must-eat dishes, but resorts also offer staple American meals for less adventurous eaters.

3. Rome

Rome's mouthwatering handmade pasta and pizza will definitely please your palate, but getting a taste of Italian flavor in the Eternal City goes beyond its heavenly dishes. Where classical architecture is second to none, Italy's cosmopolitan capital seamlessly integrates ancient ruins, columns, piazzas and small-town charm into the most highly populated area of the country. Explore the monumental Colosseum, discover the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City and make a wish at the Trevi Fountain – you'll find authentic cultural history around every corner. As they say, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" and enjoy la dolce vita while you can in this ancient city.

2. South Island, New Zealand

One of the top outdoor destinations in the world, New Zealand's South Island possesses some of the purest landscapes and offers ample opportunities for adrenaline-fueled activities. A trip here is incomplete without visiting the "Adventure Capital of the World," Queenstown, where risk-takers can cross bungee jumping, paragliding and skydiving off their bucket lists. Hiking, biking and boating are also great ways to see the breathtaking scenery here. This island's numerous national parks feature extremely diverse terrain to explore, including glaciers, lakes, peninsulas, mountains and beaches. Whether taking a leap of faith at Mount Cook or watching Milford Sound's pastel-colored sky dissolve into stars, this island is marked by endless exploration.

1. Paris

The City of Love, with its focal point grounded by the iconic Eiffel Tower, appeals to travelers with its charming culture and intimate atmosphere. If the way to your heart is through your stomach, indulge in Paris' culinary delicacies, from its rich savory meals to its remarkable pastries. Let intuition guide you down cobblestone streets as you listen to the language of love and explore the illustrious architecture along the banks of the Seine. Travelers should also plan to visit the Louvre and shop along Boulevard Saint-Germain, then take a seat in a cafe and simply watch the world go by. To explore the full list and vote on what destinations you think are the world’s best, head to the rankings »
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Tilly Pecker, Contributor

Tilly Pecker is a contributor for the Travel section of U.S. News & World Report.

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