Unique travel destinations can mean something different for everyone. What’s unique to you might be mundane to someone else. And that’s what we love so much about travel – the way it highlights the everyday as something spectacular when seen through a new lens.
We reached out to the Wanderful Community to get some tips for unique travel destinations they recommend for 2020. Maybe you’ve heard of these places or maybe they’ll be brand new ideas for you!
Whether you go now or add these places to your ever-growing list, we trust the recommendations of our well-traveled members.
After all, they’re the voices changing the travel industry!
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Wanderful Creator Members join a professional association of women travel creators who are changing the industry. Our members share unique voices and perspectives, offering insight and advice to audiences around the world. This is a network designed to help support, educate, and connect creators in the travel space.
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Unique Travel Destinations for 2020
These places might be new to you or maybe you already visited them all! But we love the diversity of places mentioned by our members based on their extensive travel experiences.
If you’re keen to visit new places this year, take a look at the recommendations below. You can always ask questions in our Facebook group and request recommendations for specific destinations. We love seeing our members connect around the globe as they explore new places and share their home cities with travelers.
You can also join your local chapter of Wanderful to get more involved with our community.
And – when you travel – be sure to reach out to the local chapter in your destination so you can get the insider tips they’re offering! You might even be able to join an event if your trip is timed well. Our global events include monthly brunch or supper clubs, as well as Wanderful Women Wednesdays. At any of these events, Wanderful members can attend for free!
Without further ado, here are the unique travel destinations recommended by some of our Wanderful community…
1. Gdansk, Poland
It may be a quintessential European city, but I fell hard for Gdansk, Poland the moment I arrived. The more I saw, the more I realized Gdansk was a sorely underrated city.
After the Second World War, they painstakingly rebuilt the city centimeter by centimeter, and the locals are proud of that in the best way possible. Many of the buildings were even designed to look the exact same as before the war, creating a charming combination of old and new.
Walk through one of the city gates into Old Town and there is history in every corner, complete with towering spires and cobblestone streets. Right outside the gates, the rows of colorful buildings are reflected in the river below while passersby stroll along the riverfront or cruise along by boat.
A visit to the European Solidarity Center is a must, as it tells the important story of the history of Solidarity in Central and Eastern Europe in a beautifully interactive exhibition that can keep visitors occupied for hours.
With an abundance of amber shops, museums, riverside bars, and restaurants, and centuries of history, Gdansk has truly become one of my favorite places on the planet that I would return to again and again!
You can Visit Gdansk with the Women in Travel Summit!
2. Gloucester, MA, USA
You might not think of Gloucester, Massachusetts, as an international destination—heck, you might not even think of it as an American destination—but that would be a mistake. While Boston and Cape Cod get the lion’s share of Massachusetts notoriety, the “other Cape,” Cape Ann, is where you should be heading for your next coastal trip.
Beneath Gloucester’s stony beauty, its whooshing waves, its tourist-appropriate veneer—the upscale waterfront restaurants, the harbor cruises, the chic downtown boutiques—lies the pulsing heart of a city that doesn’t just follow the rhythm of a different drummer; it leads the entire band. It’s a city that takes pains to preserve its fishing-industry roots. It’s a place that holds a four-day city-wide party every June, where the mayor herself cooks upwards of 100 pounds of seafood and potato salad and invites anyone—literally anyone—to stop by.
Over the past decade, Gloucester has added an embarrassment of cultural riches, from an outdoor concert and movie series to a historic walking trail. What’s more, there’s fantastic hiking and biking with spectacular panoramic payoffs. And let’s not forget the beaches, along some of the prettiest, most unspoiled stretches of coastline you’ll find in the East. And since most travelers are busy flocking to Cape Cod, in Gloucester, you can go anywhere in less than ten minutes (well, add five if the drawbridge on Route 127 is up).
Despite all of this, Gloucester isn’t bending over backward to develop concepts geared toward tourism; almost everything is planned to appeal to the local resident. The residents of Gloucester figure if they like it, you will, too.
In the travel world, we often talk about “authentic experiences,” some of which are little more than studiously plotted-out tours of the new and the now. You want a truly authentic travel experience? Put Gloucester on your trip list.
3. Lausanne, Switzerland
Recommended by: Clara Mufandaedza of the Wanderful Johannesburg Chapter
Lausanne is a city situated in the French-speaking region of the Canton of Vaud, on the western side of Switzerland. It is well-positioned along the northern shore of Lake Geneva, which separates Switzerland and France.
It is by far one of the most charming cities I have ever visited in all my travels around the world (and boy have I been around – not like thaaat – keep it clean! you know what I mean…lol.)
I say charming because, to me, it is a tucked away hidden gem which is somewhat undiscovered. I found the culture and way of life to be quite warm, welcoming, clean, and friendly. I felt very free and at peace to walk around.
Lausanne is jam-packed with so much to do. I stayed at the highly-rated Beau-Rivage Palace Hotel, which is a masterpiece itself. I had spectacular breathtaking views across Lake Geneva and I was able to see the Swiss and French Alps from my hotel room and balcony.
Take a walk along the lakefront walkway – the scenery is out of this world. The promenade is stunning and you would often see couples strolling romantically along, soaking in the endless beauty of the scenic views. On the weekends, it would be buzzing with lots of activities and you often see families enjoying musical shows or watching the passing ferries while wining and dining.
I also loved taking the train ride through the vast distances as it would pass by their well-manicured vineyards, villages, and picturesque agricultural farms. This resonated with me very much, having grown up on a farm in Zimbabwe. I somehow felt quite homesick just admiring and comparing the similarities of the beauty of nature through the train windows.
But I also got to realize that our way of life is not that much different. I found their rich culture, customs, food, and traditions to be very authentic – almost mirroring our way of African cultural conduct.
This is the reason why Lausanne as a destination should be on the radar this year – experience a piece of this charming paradise.
4. Milos Island, Greece
*The featured image on this article is of Milos Island, courtesy of Ioana Stoica
Milos island, the underrated but stunning Greek island that’s part of the popular Cyclades group, should absolutely be on your radar in 2020. Home to more than 75 diverse beaches, small fishing villages, and an exceptional rugged coast, Milos is the perfect destination for the Wanderful woman.
Whether travelling alone, with friends, or with your significant other, Milos will steal your heart and have you plan your return before your flight or ferry leaves!
Plan at least 3 days – though, you can easily spend 5-7 days without getting bored. Explore the villages (there are 6 main ones), take a sailing tour around the island, peek inside former pirate caves, snorkel or kayak, discover hiking trails and abandoned mines left over from a rich mining past, or beach-hop to your heart’s desire.
Whatever your preference, Milos has you covered. Better yet, rent a car for an opportunity to see the “wild” and undiscovered side of Milos on the west coast of the island.
A sailing trip is the perfect way to see beaches that are otherwise inaccessible. Don’t miss a stop at the island’s most popular and breathtaking beaches, Sarakiniko beach and Tsigrado beach. Also, make time to see a sunset from Klima fishing village for picture-perfect views of colourful “syrmatas” (local fishing houses) that glow in the sunset light.
Despite its beauty, Milos has remained relatively untouched by tourism. While it’s been getting busier, you’ll find yourself rubbing elbows with many more Greek locals than you will on any other beautiful island in the Cyclades. The prices are still low and very reasonable (hello, €2.50 glass of wine!) so you’ll pat yourself on the back for discovering a hidden gem that’s poised to eventually become the next Santorini.
Read next: Is Solo Travel to Cuba Safe for Women?
For unique travel destinations, it’s truly hard to beat Scotland. Whether you love history or the arts, natural beauty or movies, castles or pubs…Scotland actually does have something for everyone.
Well – I’ll caveat that – this isn’t a destination for working on your tan!
But if you’re looking for breathtakingly beautiful beaches and turquoise waters…yep, you can absolutely find that here in Scotland!
I recommend getting off the typical tourist track of Edinburgh – Loch Ness – Isle of Skye. While these places are all popular for good reason, there are countless alternative options where you can get better insight into the real Scotland.
Do visit Edinburgh, but go get lost by wandering down the many closes and winding narrow lanes. Check out alternative areas in the city like Leith or the West End to see some of modern Scotland while enjoying live music in traditional pubs. There are plenty of interesting and easy day trips from Edinburgh, too.
Instead of Loch Ness, find yourself a quiet loch away from all the crowds. There are lochs and glens everywhere, and you’re more likely to enjoy the serenity of Scottish silence with the chance of wildlife spotting as well. Loch Rannoch is a personal favorite.
Instead of the congested Isle of Skye, enjoy the coastal towns of the Kingdom of Fife or head to any of the nearly 100 inhabited islands Scotland offers. The Isle of Arran is particularly useful — it’s known as Scotland in Miniature.
Overwhelmed by all the options? I don’t blame you! My favorite travel tip is this: Look for local bloggers.
Those who live in and love a place are absolute fountains of knowledge. Many of them also offer itinerary planning services, which I wholeheartedly recommend. These creators live and breathe the destination — you’ll undoubtedly have a better trip by tapping into their insights!
Read next: The Wanderful Woman’s Guide to Iceland
6. South Africa
Recommended by: Sapphire Kharyzma of Queens of Virtue
With delicious delicacies, tantalizing scenery, and robust culture, South Africa is the ideal getaway. During a South African summer, take in the colors, sounds, sights, and tastes – as they are at their absolute peak! Here are my top unique destinations in South Africa…
Johannesburg is one of Africa’s biggest and most vibrant cities. It is the economic capital of Africa and the gateway to Southern Africa. Although not as famous as other South African destinations, there is plenty to do in Johannesburg and nearby Pretoria.
The old city is a multi-cultural mixture of traditional medicine shops, Chinese restaurants, taxi ranks, and ultra-modern skyscrapers. There are excellent museums, art galleries, and organized tours of historical and political interest. The shopping is Southern Africa’s best and the many restaurants cater to all tastes. The nearby township of Soweto is Johannesburg’s most popular tourist attraction.
The Waterberg District, located in the majestic Waterberg Mountains, is a tourism gem with several great nature reserves and a wealth of wildlife roaming its bushveld savannah.
Its major attractions include hot springs, South Africa’s first-ever savannah biosphere reserve, the bird-rich Nyslvley Wetland, and the archaeological site of Makapans Valley.
Cape Town is perched between the ocean and the mountain. With a national park as its heart, there is nowhere like Cape Town, also called the “Mother City.”
Tourists flock to Cape Town to enjoy this unique city with its fascinating history, interesting culture, natural beauty, award-winning wines, and laidback lifestyle.
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, one of the city’s main tourist attractions, offers visitors a unique shopping and holiday experience on a scenic working harbor.
A visit to Cape Town is synonymous with a visit to the peninsula south of the city, and for good reason. With pristine white-sand beaches, hundreds of mountain trails, and numerous activities from surfing to paragliding to mountain biking, the accessibility, variety, and pure beauty of the great outdoors will keep nature lovers and outdoor adventurers occupied for hours, if not days!
While Morocco sees most of the visitors to Northern Africa, Tunisia is another location in the region that deserves some much-needed tourism attention. Tunisia is rich in history and culture, making it a perfect destination for all types of travelers.
The country had a healthy number of visitors, many from Europe, until a tragic terrorist attack in 2015. Afterward, vacationers were reticent to return for fear of any future terrorist activities. While sad and scary, much like other countries with similar attacks, one instance shouldn’t deter you from seeing a country.
Safety while traveling is important, but it shouldn’t paralyze us from exploring, especially when the location is relatively safe otherwise. Since tourism has decreased, heading to Tunisia now means you’ll have UNESCO world heritage sites, hikes or beaches with fewer other tourists.
Looking for a gastronomic vacation destination? With a mix of Mediterranean, Arabic, and French influences, Tunisia is a perfect place for foodies. Many seaside cities have seafood-heavy dishes, while agricultural areas produce delicious seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Wanting some time by the sea? For beach babes, there are cities like Sidi Bou Said that rival the Greek Isles.
History buffs will marvel at the Roman ruins that are found throughout the country. The mosaic work at many of these archeological sites will leave you awestruck at the intricate construction.
Film enthusiasts can visit locations where major motion pictures like Star Wars, Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark, and The English Patient have all been filmed.
Tunisia is a friendly, hospitable country and visiting this year is a chance to see all that the country has to offer before mass tourism returns.
Did you know Wanderful is going to Antarctica?
We’re bringing Wanderful women and allies onboard the Ocean Endeavour with Intrepid Travel. Learn all about our trip and get the full Antarctica Travel Guide so you can plan your trip.
This is the adventure of a lifetime and we want you to join us there!
So, what do you think? Will you visit these unique destinations soon?