Québec City, Canada
With cobblestone streets, an inventive food scene and nature right on its doorstep, Québec City is one of North America’s best-kept secrets. Charming in any season, spend the day strolling North America’s oldest streets in Old Québec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site hemmed in with fortified walls, or answer the call of the wild and visit the nearby glacial valleys of Jacques-Cartier National Park or the thundering waterfalls of Montmorency Falls Park.
Madhya Pradesh, India
Home to some of the world’s best nature reserves including Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, Tadoba National Park and Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh (MP) is the place to go to spot some seriously elusive and exotic wildlife including Bengal tigers. The area is also home to leopards, sloths, wild dogs, pangolins and wolves, making this a must-see destination for safari enthusiasts who want to veer away from the traditional African safari experience.
Forming the heel of Italy’s “boot,” the southern Italian region of Puglia (pronounced with a silent “g”) is ripe for authentic exploration. With access to both the Adriatic and the Ionian Seas, Puglia is a treasure trove of timeless art and a mish-mash of weatherworn architectural styles that date back to pre-Roman times. Right now it’s mercifully lacking the kind of overwhelming crowds that Tuscany draws, but a crop of chic new hotels including the bohemian, family-owned Palazzo Presta and Rocco Forte’s rustic-luxe Masseria Torre Maizza, means that this hidden gem won’t stay buried for much longer.
Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia
It’s not hyperbolic to call Raja Ampat the world’s most beautiful tropical archipelago. Rising from the sea, this island chain is set in the famed Coral Triangle, one of the most diverse marine habitats on earth and home to a staggering number of corals. The lush landscape is only second to the wildlife; you can even swim in a marine lake filled with millions of non-stinging giant golden medusa jellyfish. Remote and pristine, one of the best—and only—ways to explore these countless prelapsarian islands is by boat. To reach the most secluded locations and leave a light footprint along the way, opt for a mindful, low-emission catamaran safari with the newly launched Meridian Adventure SAIL explorers club.
Natural wines are having a moment. Thought to be one of the oldest wine-making regions in the world, the country of Georgia has been making wine the natural, biodynamic way for centuries, making a visit to Kakheti, the country’s atmospheric wine region, deliciously on-trend. Stock-up on local bottles like the ruby-red velvety Saperavi, which was the favourite varietal of Georgia’s most infamous son, Joseph Stalin.
Uganda is one of the only Africa countries with a native population of endangered mountain gorillas. With lower permit prices than its neighbouring country of Rwanda, Uganda makes for a more accessible gorilla trekking adventure. In the formidably named Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, you can spend up to four hours watching mountain gorillas. With 2020 bringing new tourism companies and updates to the region (for example, renovations will be finished on Volcano Safaris’ iconic Gahinga Lodge and Bwindi Lodge), there’s no better time to visit than this year.
As Europe’s Capital of Culture 2020, Galway is a local gem and cultural hub that’s well within reach and doesn’t require a long-haul flight. The festivities will start in February and highlights include a light installation by light artist Kari Kola on the mountains of Connemara and the Wild Atlantic Women event featuring Margaret Atwood. You can find the full programme here.
While tequila was one of the top spirits of 2019, 2020 promises to be the year of mezcal. Like tequila, mezcal is made from agave and up to 85-percent of it is made in Oaxaca, a region rich in handicraft traditions passed down from generation to generation. In addition to the mezcal, this colorful colonial-era city is also a veritable food-lovers paradise and culinary hotspot with exciting eateries like Enrique Olvera’s Criollo and Alejandro Ruiz’s Casa Oaxaca el Restaurante. Venture out into the central valleys of the Oaxaca region to discover a myriad of thermal springs.