Planning a trip abroad next year or just looking for travel inspiration in your own backyard?
Have you ever thought about a trip to Stone Town in Zanzibar? Or even Moscow’s Red Square?
If you haven’t, you might be missing out on some of the “Best Places on Earth”, according to a new travel guide.
From Beijing’s Forbidden City to the Scottish Highland way, Rough Guides books has compiled a list of destinations promisingly called The Rough Guide to the 100 Best Places on Earth.
The guide is designed to highlight the destinations its editors think are “unmissable, underrated, up-and-coming or back on the tourist map”.
Just leafing through the pages, there are a few places you might not have considered or even encountered.
“Taking in exhilarating mountain scenery, dazzling cityscapes, pristine tropical islands, atmospheric ruins and sweeping savannas,” this book claims to have scoured “every corner of the globe in the search for 2020’s most spectacular spots”.
While the entries are full of far-flung places, no “must-see” guide would be complete without a few stops in Australia.
According to the Rough Guide, 2020 is the year to swim the Great Barrier Reef and pay a visit to Uluru.
Across the ditch, the guide describes Fox Glacier on New Zealand’s South Island as a must visit, along with a trip to Queenstown, which is described as “superbly set by the deep-Blue Lake Wakatipu and hemmed in by craggy mountains”.
“Locals and visitors alike gather in cosy restaurants, spilling out onto the pedestrianised streets to trade stories of fun-filled days over a cold beer or a hot chocolate,” the guide said of the popular destination.
However, among the perennial tourism favourites, the Rough Guide unearths some gems you might not have thought of.
In the south of France, Les Gorges du Verdon are dramatic canyons and a welcome adrenaline-fuelled break from the bijou Provence farmsteads. The guide recommends the “spectacular viewpoints, plunging crevices up to 700m deep and glorious azure-blue lakes”.
In Matera, Italy, the guide suggests you “zigzag through the sloping streets, pausing at Santa Lucia alle Malve and the Crypt of the Original Sin to take in extraordinary eighth and 13th-century frescoes”.
Beijing’s Imperial Palace is now a bustling tourist attraction that should be next on your list. Beyond the impressive walls, it suggests you explore the side rooms and buildings displaying “intimate accoutrements that bring home the realities of court life for its inhabitants”.
If you’re keen to get on the road, make a trip along the Big Sur in California, tracing highways 1 and 101. “Hugging the cliffs, the road winds high above the rugged shore, giving dramatic views of white-capped surf pounding against the rocks below and sun-sprinkled waves stretching out across the horizon,” the guide notes.
Far from Chamonix, discover the Slovenian Alps.
“Formed during the Ice Age, the 7km-long U-shaped glaciated valley features a level, green valley floor covered with flower-speckled meadows and beech woods, enclosed by steplike cliff sides riddled with glacial boulders, waterfalls, springs, streams and a majestic wreath of jagged grey peaks, most of which top 2000m.”
Tanzania’s world heritage site near the cradle of life is contained within an extinct volcano and is a must-visit in 2020.
“Ngorongoro’s highlight is an enormous volcanic crater, formed by the same immense geological upheavals as the Great Rift Valley. Once a mountain as high as Kilimanjaro, about three million years ago Ngorongoro blew itself to bits, covering the Serengeti in ash while the crater floor sank into the mountain. Today, the rim stands at an impressive 2285m.”
In the capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, near the plains that oversaw the Russian space program, you’ll find “a shining beacon on the desert’s edge”. The space-age structures and white marble buildings belong on another planet.
In Turkey, Cappadocia is home to hundreds of fairy chimneys, with hills dotted with “fantastical forms and honeycombed with cavern towns that give way to boulder-strewn plains”. The ancient cave dwellings are thousands of years old.
If you find the summer days pass too quickly, the list advises travellers to head to Norway’s Lofoten Islands, home to the midnight sun.
“The fjords are beautiful, timeless and everyone’s idea of the soul of Norway,” says the guide.
Also making the list is a visit to Mongolia on horseback. In the capital of Ulaanbaatar, Genghis Khan appears on bank notes, cigarette packets and even a giant, 50m tall statue that the guide calls a “modern, man-made structure of titanic proportions”.
THE ROUGH GUIDE TO THE 100 BEST PLACES ON EARTH
Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier, New Zealand
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Queenstown, New Zealand
Tuamotu and Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia
Andaman Islands, India
Forbidden City, Beijing
Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue, Mongolia
Great Wall of China
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Lahaul and Spiti, India
Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
Taj Mahal, India
Temples of Angkor, Cambodia
AFRICA & THE MIDDLE EAST
Cape Town, South Africa
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Mount Sinai, Egypt
Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
Stone Town, Zanzibar
Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe
Alhambra, Granada, Spain
Berlin Wall, Germany
Dubrovnik Old Town, Croatia
Gorges du Verdon, France
Haghia Sophia, Istanbul
Kamniške — Savinja Alps, Slovenia
Prague, Czech Republic
Red Square, Moscow
Sagrada Família, Barcelona
Scottish Highlands and Islands
St Petersburg, Russia
USA, MEXICO & CANADA
Chichén Itzá, Mexico
Denver and Colorado, USA
Grand Canyon, USA
Memphis and the Deep South, USA
Monument Valley, Arizona
New York City, USA
Niagara Falls, Canada
Pacific Coast Highway, California
Vancouver Island, Canada
Wynwood Walls, Miami
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
CENTRAL AMERICA, SOUTH AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN
British Virgin Islands
Machu Picchu, Peru
Nazca Lines, Peru
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Tayrona National Park, Colombia
Uvita, Costa Rica
The Rough Guide to the 100 Best Places on Earth for 2020 is published on September 1.
— with New Zealand Herald
Originally published as Two Aussie spots make ‘best of’ list