Hands up if you’ve already mentally spent your Christmas money on next year’s adventures! We know you’re as obsessed with travel as we are, so we’ve created this list of the best destinations to mochilear in 2020 based on the growth of bookings in the last twelve months. There’s no room for stereotypes here – from paradise islands to underrated African cities, from quiet surfing villages to secluded mountains to retirement, it’s time to plan where to go next year. Spoiler alert: not popular places.
Then, the 20 best destinations to mochilear in 2020!
20. Sendai – Japan
Travelers from all over the world will go to Japan in 2020 for the Tokyo Olympics, but if you don’t like crowds, Sendai is a fantastic alternative and has managed to get on the list of the best destinations for mochilear next year. The best time to visit this modern city is in August, when the streets take life by the Tanabata Matsuri from 6 to 8. The festival takes place on days when the stars Altair and Vega cross paths, and is celebrated with live music, traditional dances, street food, fireworks, and above all with the colorful streamers that decorate the city. But if you don’t have the opportunity to go around this time, Sendai deserves a visit. You’ll find lively markets, a vibrant and different nightlife and a long list of amazing temples and shrines.
Combining two of our favorite things, Orit Hostel & Café Bar Lounge has a very cozy café. It’s perfect to make friends if you’re traveling alone, or for travelers who need a quiet place to sit with their computers. The decoration is super modern and there is a terrace to enjoy your coffee in the morning looking at the city from above.
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The city of Portland in Oregon has been fashionable among travelers for years, but you certainly haven’t added this small East Coast town to your list of outstanding places in the United States yet! Yes, New York and Los Angeles are essential, but can you really say that you’ve seen the country if you don’t stay away from the big metropolises? Visiting Portland means getting away from the masses and surrounding yourself with the local community. The cobblestone streets of the old port and the colors of the shops and restaurants are an unexpected surprise, as is the city’s wide range of performing arts, including the oldest public art museum in the United States. To all this, add local street markets and craft breweries… Can’t you resist the urge to go to Portland?
Don’t you know where to stay? Look no further! The extravagant Black Elephant Hostel is, like the city, cozy and with good vibes, with a family atmosphere and colourful decoration. It’s right next to the old port, so it’ll be easy for you to get out and explore. When you’re done, the warm fireplace will be waiting for you in the common room.
18. Raglan – New Zealand
The North Island city of Raglan is surrounded by amazing nature and incredible surf spots. Although its black sand coast is the main feature of the town, if you walk away from the centre you will discover beautiful walks in the Wainui Nature Reserve, cycling routes over an ancient volcano, and the pristine green waters of Bridal Veil Falls. Many backpackers come here to surf, as in Reglan there is a place for each level. Ngarunui Beach is perfect for those who have never been on a board before, as the surf is gentle and there are several surf schools to choose from. If it’s not your first rodeo, Manu Bay and Whale Bay offer some of the world’s best waves in front of a breathtaking stage.
To get the most out of Mother Nature, stay at the ecological Raglan Backpackers. You can relax in a hammock or take a bath in the garden tub, take a yoga class or venture out with a kayak or surfboard, which you can rent from the hostel. In addition, the hostel is in a privileged location (almost in the water!), so you can hear the waves breaking from your bunk.
17. Pisac – Peru
For a rural alternative to the nearby city of Cusco, many travelers visiting Peru choose to explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas and stay in Pisac, a very spiritual little town. This is due to the amazing scenery and mysterious history surrounding the valley, the bohemian vibes and relaxed lifestyle of the old town and the amount of healthy activities that are usually practiced here. It doesn’t cost much to relax doing yoga with these views, you might sit in the clouds after a few days in Pisac! As well as entering the Zen state, in Pisac you’ll find local craft markets on Sundays, stroll through the colonial streets of the old town and climb the lesser-known ruins of Pisac.
Wolf Totem Guesthouse embodies the spirituality of Pisac. This beautiful and bohémico hostel has ecological characteristics, a luminous common area and hammocks outdoors with spectacular views. In the hostel there is a cafeteria, a space for outdoor yoga and even a sauna to relax after a day of trekking.
16. Trapani – Italy
If you’re thinking of travelling to Italy in 2020, don’t forget sunny Sicily. This incredible Mediterranean island is home to beaches, volcanoes and even beautiful cities such as Trapani, one of next year’s backpacker destinations. Stroll through the narrow streets of the old town and visit its churches and basilicas before feasting on Sicilian delicacies such as arancini and cannoli. For the best views of the area, visit the medieval town of Erice, situated on a cliff. At 750m above sea level, you will have privileged views of the sandy architecture and the Mediterranean Sea. Trapani is also a perfect base for day trips in Sicily. The impressive Aegadian Islands are only a 30 minute boat ride away, so you can spend an entire day exploring caves and snorkeling along white sandy beaches.
For a cheap stay in the city centre, Hostelleria is the best option. Its design is minimalist, but it has everything you need, with bedrooms and private rooms, a kitchen and a bar right next door.
15. Liège – Belgium
It may have gone unnoticed in the past, but Belgium’s fourth-largest city is already snatching travellers from Bruges and Brussels, gaining the attention it deserves. Although packed with incredible architecture, hidden cultural treasures and delicious food, the city has managed to maintain a relaxed, family atmosphere that will make you feel at home. Try the waffles of Liège (famous for the explosive sugar grains inside!) and take a picturesque tour of the Meuse River, before exploring the medieval buildings and the main square. The best place to mingle with the locals is Place du Marché, which offers a mix of traditional bars and pubs that cheer up at dusk.
If you’re looking for a lively place to stay in Liège, you won’t find anything better than the Liège Youth Hostel. Not only does it have a stylish design, but it is full of social spaces, such as the bar with pool and table football tables, an outdoor space with ping pong tables and a colorful cafeteria to enjoy free breakfast. It couldn’t be easier to make new friends – and it’s only 5 minutes from Liège’s best nightlife!
In recent years, Colombia has managed to transform everyone’s perception of the country, and Buenaventura is no exception. Just a few years ago, this Pacific Coast city was labeled the most dangerous in the country, but now it is an increasingly popular destination that is part of the backpacker destinations of 2020. Although Buenaventura has many salsa bars and delicious Afro-Colombian restaurants, the city itself is not the main attraction – we’re more interested in the paradisiacal beaches, the rainforest and the natural pools that surround it! Compared to the rest of the city, this area is quite free of visitors, so you can enjoy surfing and cocktails on the beach without the crowds you will find in the most famous areas of Colombia. Don’t miss the nocturnal visit to the caves swimming with fluorescent plankton, an unforgettable experience.
For a perfect and peaceful stay, choose Pacifico Hostel. It is surrounded by virgin jungle and has its own private (!!) beach, which is connected to an open-air bar with lots of rolls. They choose sustainable options such as growing their own vegetables and using rainwater in the toilet, and you can borrow their kayak to explore nearby mangroves. We are beginning to think that life in the city is overvalued…
Hà Giang is in the northernmost province of Vietnam, which, although one of the most surprisingly beautiful in the country, is often not considered by backpackers as it is a bit far from the most typical areas. This means that NO ONE will be covering up the beautiful views or ruining your photo! You can get there easily (and cheaply) by night bus, and travellers who dare to take the long journey will be well rewarded. Start your adventure in the capital, and you can do like other intrepid backpackers who rent a motorbike and travel the picturesque, winding roads. Along the way you will find small villages and learn about ancient traditions. In the background, always the green mountains that make Hà Giang unforgettable.
NoMadders Hostel is the perfect base on the outskirts of town to get you fully into the fresh mountain air. Its beautiful dormitories cost only 5€ per night, or you can take the “luxury” of a private room for 25€. There is a swimming pool and garden surrounded by the jungle, a bar and a bathtub to make up for the backpacker’s hard life!
12. Maputo – Mozambique
Mozambique’s charming capital has resurfaced in recent years, with travellers enjoying the pastel-coloured streets, lovely cafes, colonial architecture and fascinating museums and galleries. It is best explored on foot, and even better with an expert guide, so taking a tour is the best way to learn about Maputo’s tumultuous history and discover its hidden secrets. For a local feast, head to the fish market, where you can choose your dinner and have it cooked with potatoes or rice in the surrounding restaurants! When you get tired of the city, you will have the quiet white sandy beaches of Ponto do Ouro just 90 minutes away by bus.
Maputo is an emerging backpacker destination, and hostels don’t come out of under the rocks. Luckily we have The Base, a small hostel with a family atmosphere, where you can cook a feast on the barbecue, enjoy the terrace and watch Makuto Bay with an eagle’s eye view. It is just a few minutes walk from the city’s best attractions, and there are many bars and restaurants just around the corner.
11. Nassau – Bahamas
A tight budget may not come to mind when you think of the Bahamas, but cities may not come to mind either. Well, this is about to change, because the capital (and only) city of the Bahamas is one of the best destinations for 2020 – especially if you’re the type of traveler that resorts allergy to and are looking for authentic experiences (like all of us!). The city is full of Caribbean culture, especially in the ‘Fish Fry’ district, where there are restaurants, bars and street food, the atmosphere is vibrant and the soundtrack is guaranteed thanks to DJs and reggae bands. Other things to do include drinking rum at a local distillery, diving with sharks at Stuart’s Cove and buying crafts at Straw Market. Who expected this from the Bahamas?
Bahamas hostels – WHAT? At BahaSea Backpackers you will enjoy paradise at affordable prices, with two pools overlooking the turquoise ocean. Two rescued pigs live in the hostel, and they also love to take a dip from time to time! It is in a quiet seaside district with easy access by public transport to the city centre, and offers private rooms and mixed or girls-only dormitories.
10. Gijón – Spain
What used to be a fishing stall is now a vibrant city perfect for surfing, eating and partying. Backpackers from all over the world will feel at home in Gijón, but especially those who travel alone, as the atmosphere is always very social thanks to the terraces for a drink from the Centre (and, of course, the hostels). Asturias is famous for its cider, and there are many bars in the centre where you can see how it is served to you in the traditional way from the heights! But before you drink too much, remember to visit the golden San Lorenzo Beach for yoga and surfing. Trust us, you won’t be able to resist the good slingshot of this place!
If you want to make the most of the waves, Gijón Surf Hostel will help you with cheap board rental, classes and a convenient location close to the beach. It’s in a giant house where you’ll find many other travellers sipping a beer in the garden or enjoying a free breakfast – with free yoga every night you can channel Gijón’s relaxed atmosphere indoors!
Another surfing paradise. Siargao is the surf capital of the Philippines and for us it is one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Filled with hidden treasures such as waterfalls, lagoons, caves, jungle and, of course, those beaches, it is one of the best destinations for backpackers who love nature. As in other destinations in Southeast Asia, you’ll have an amazing nightlife waiting for you in the form of barettes and cocktails in cubes – don’t miss the Jungle Party every Friday! The best advice we can give you is to go to Cloud 9 beach with your friends and a couple of beers to watch the sun set on the ocean as the last surfers of the day come alive. Totally magical!
Mad Monkey hostels are a legend among backpackers, and Mad Monkey Siargao is no exception. It has an immense social space around the pool, with a tiki bar-restaurant, beer pong and table football. They are known for organizing the best parties and bar-crawls, and every night when the bar closes its workers take travelers to the best parties on the island.
8. Nosara – Costa Rica
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It’s hard to find a more relaxed place than Nosara, a beautiful beach town in Costa Rica with a free and hippie spirit. Lovely cafes, boutique shops and surfers give it a Californian feel, and when you find the skate park full of graffiti you may forget what country you’re in. It is also a popular destination for yogis, with many studios scattered throughout the village and pristine beaches perfect for making the Sun Salute with the sea breeze. Once you’ve recharged your batteries, it’s time to go on boat safari on the river (an ecological safari of course, this is Costa Rica!). Get ready to see crocodiles, iguanas, monkeys and exotic birds.
Surprising as it may seem, Selina Nosara is a hostel, and you can stay there for less than €12 a night! It has two swimming pools, a bar (often with live music), a room-cinema, a co-working space and much more, all in a very sustainable place. take care of a yoga class followed by a healthy vegan meal from the hostel restaurant!
Iran is a must on the 2020 list of destinations, specifically the city of Isfahan – for something that in an old Persian proverb it calls “half the world”! You’ve probably already seen pictures of Iranian architecture and you’ve been bitten by the traveling worm, and Isfahan’s Naqshe Jahan square is no mean feat. With the iconic blue tile Imam Mosque, the dazzling Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque and the royal Alu Qapu Palace in one place, the views will be a delight to your eyes (and your camera). If you want even more, the millennial Grand Bazaar lives up to its name, with intricate tile ceilings, candlelit passages and colorful patios. Stop for a chai persia tea, and continue exploring!
Iranian hospitality is famous around the world, and the Rag Rug Hostel fulfills every expectation. They offer free walking tours daily, in which your hosts will tell you about the history of the city, and a delicious Iranian breakfast. The hostel is decorated with Persian tiles, and has a beautiful garden full of plants and a roof terrace overlooking the city streets.
The village of Kodaikanal in the scorching Indian region of Tamil Nadu offers a relaxing pause from the heat, with a misty location in the mountains, 2,000 meters above sea level. The main attraction of the locality is the star-shaped lake in its center, where you can rent rowing boats and explore the mysterious and calm surroundings. The area hosts serene waterfalls and breathtaking valleys, so it’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle for a few days (as you probably know, trips to India are usually intense!). To disconnect completely, why not embark on a two-day trek to Munnar? A view that looks like another Western Ghat world, and you might see some elephant along the way!
If you want to take your nature retreat to the next level, Zostel Kodaikanal will make you senile a thousand kilometers from the rest of the world. With rustic common areas, terraces with mountain views and beautiful bedrooms, it is difficult to find a more welcoming place. You can meet other travellers around the bonfire at night, or walk the hostel dogs around.
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We already know that Scandinavia is very cool, but if you want to be a real hipster you have to go beyond Oslo and Copenhagen. The vibrant Trondheim is one of the best backpacker destinations of 2020. A creative university town, with a great scene of artisan beer and local food, which you can try in one of the many cafes and restaurants in the city centre, which is pedestal. You will find an infinite number of perfect settings for your Instagram, such as the typical coloured buildings in front of the water… but remember to leave space in your camera to photograph the Gothic cathedral! As Norway’s first capital, this city is full of history to learn. You can even cross off your dream list to see the aurora borealis if you visit the city from September to March. What are you waiting for?
To save some money in this expensive city (Scandinavia has little to cheap), Trondheim Vanderhjem is the best choice for accommodation. It is a minimalist hostel, but it has all the basic necessities covered with comfortable beds, a complete kitchen and a common room with TV to join other guests. It is only a 15 minute walk from the centre of Trondheim, in a quiet location on a hill with great views of the city!
Hawaii and Europe mix in Hossegor, a lovely beach town in southwest France. It’s another place on our list of destinations that is famous for surfing (it looks like we’ll be spending a lot of time on the water in 2020!), and the atmosphere couldn’t be livelier in October, when there are professional tournaments like Quicksilver and Roxy Pros. The rest of the year is much calmer, with a large community of nomadic travellers stopping to enjoy the beautiful beaches, a centre only for pedestrians and cyclists, and good coffee and pastries in French bakeries. You’re going to get a pain au chocolat!
In Hossegor there are very good hostels, but the super-Instagramable JO&JOE offers a peculiar accommodation that fits perfectly in the free spirit of the people. It has a garden to chat with people in the sun and large comfortable beds. They also collaborate with the legendary surf brands Quicksilver and Roxy, so you can rent surfboards at a discount!
3. Maribor – Slovenia
Although iconic Lake Bled and the beautiful capital Ljubljana have stolen the hearts of most travellers on Interrail itineraries, by 2020 we want to explore more of the city. Maribor, the second largest city, is a good place to start – it’s a charming place with medieval buildings, winding streets and cozy wine bars. In case you didn’t know, Slovenia is known for its incredible (and cheap) wine, and Maribor is one of the best places to taste it. It is surrounded by mountains full of vineyards and there is even a museum offering tastings! For such a small town, Maribor takes the cake, as in summer there are many festivals held there and the old town is full of students who make the streets burst with energy.
Stay in the heart of the city at the colourful Uni Youth Hostel. This hostel has a very high score and has common areas with pool tables and comfortable sofas, and even a bar for you to taste more of the delicious Slovak wine (does it count as a cultural activity?). But make sure you wake up in time for breakfast buffet full of local delicacies.
You may be surprised that Surat Thani is one of our best destinations for 2020, because in the past it has simply been a transit point to the eastern Thai islands. Well, this is changing, as backpackers from all over the world have discovered that Surat Thani offers an authentic experience of Thai culture away from tourists. Start the day exploring the temples without tails or masses in the center, such as the majestic Surat Thani Pillar Shrine, before joining locals for Chang beers at Ban Don Pier. From there you can rent long tail boats with a guide to explore the canals surrounding the city, observe rural life and perhaps even see a giant lizard. Finally, you should visit Surat Thani to sample some of the best Thai dishes you can find – the night market offers classics like spicy papaya salad, Thai pad and crispy pork.
Just a two minute walk from the market, Boundary Hostel and Cade is a rustic and family-like place full of charm. They’ll welcome you with incredible hospitality, free breakfast and cozy dorms. The hosts will recommend incredible local experiences, and help you arrange transportation to nearby islands when you’re ready to go.
Bali’s little sister is our TOP destination for backpackers in 2020! Nusa Penida is an Indonesian island southeast of the famous backpacker’s paradise, best known for its curved cliffs and beautiful Kelingking Beach Bay. This photo shows the star attraction of Nusa Penida, but there are many more magical experiences to live on this wonderful island. From attending mass in a sacred cave in the middle of a mountain, to walking through an abandoned tree house that has become a famous lookout, to even swimming with giant manta rays… everything is an adventure in Nusa Penida! Add legendary Indonesian sunsets and “warungs” (family businesses in little wooden houses) making food for just a few cents, and it will seem obvious to you why it is the number one backpacker destination of 2020.
If the island is a paradise wait and see the hostel of the same name, Nuansa Penida Hostel. It is a boutique hostel distributed in beautiful bungalows, with an exotic swimming pool and outdoor common areas to socialize and enjoy free breakfast. When you want to explore the island, rent a motorbike from the hostel!
These are our top 20 destinations for 2020 backpackers – if you need us, we’ll be deciding which one to visit first! If you’ve been to one of the best destinations next year, share your experiences with us. Are you planning your trip? Tell us in the comments! To another year knowing the world. # MeetTheWorld
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