Bhutan named best 2020 destination country by Lonely Planet

The Tiger Nest Monastery, located in the Himalayan Mountains near the city of Paro in Kingdom of Bhutan.
The Tiger Nest Monastery in Bhutan. Photo credit: Getty

Lonely Planet has released its top travel destinations for 2020 and New Zealand hasn't made the cut.

The travel bible ranks Bhutan the number one country to visit next year, while Salzburg, Austria, is the top city. 

The Central Asian Silk Road is the best region, according to Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2020 feature, while Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara is the best value destination. 

In justifying their ranking of Bhutan as the best country to take a holiday to in 2020, Lonely Planet says the kingdom "has more clout than most" destinations claiming to be the real-life Shangri-La.

"This tiny piece of Himalayan paradise operates a strict 'high-value, low-impact' tourism policy, compelling travellers to pay a high daily fee just to set foot in its pine-scented, monastery-crowned hills," writes Lonely Planet.

"The pay-off for visitors is a chance to walk along mountain trails unsullied by litter, in the company of people whose Buddhist beliefs put them uniquely in tune with their environment.

"Bhutan is already the world's only carbon-negative country, and is set to become the first fully organic nation by 2020".

Salzburg topped Lonely Planet's best cities list based on the mid-year Salzburg Festival turning 100 next year.

The publication called the festival "a riotous feast of opera, classical music and drama" and says the city "will be pulling out all the stops for the centenary".

The full Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2020 lists are as follows:

Chortens and mountains at Dochula Pass, Bhutan.
Chortens and mountains at Dochula Pass, Bhutan. Photo credit: Getty

Top countries:

  1. Bhutan
  2. England
  3. North Macedonia
  4. Aruba
  5. eSwantini (Swaziland)
  6. Costa Rica
  7. The Netherlands
  8. Liberia
  9. Morocco
  10. Uruguay


Fortress Hohensalzburg, churches and Salzburg Cathedral.
Fortress Hohensalzburg, churches and Salzburg Cathedral. Photo credit: Getty

Top cities:

  1. Salzburg, Austria
  2. Washington DC, US
  3. Cairo, Egypt
  4. Galway, Ireland
  5. Bonn, Germany
  6. La Paz, Bolivia
  7. Kochi, India
  8. Vancouver, Canada
  9. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  10. Denver, US

Top regions:

  1. Central Asian Silk Road
  2. Le Marche, Italy
  3. Tohoku, Japan
  4. Maine, US
  5. Lord Howe Island, Australia
  6. Guizhou Province, China
  7. Northeast Argentina
  8. Kvarner Point, Croatia
  9. Brazillion, Amazon
Aerial view of a beach in Alor Island, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia with crystal clear water in the morning.
Photo credit: Getty

Top value:

  1. East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
  2. Budapest, Hungary
  3. Madhya Pradesh, India
  4. Buffalo, US
  5. Azerbaijan
  6. Serbia
  7. Tunisia
  8. Cape Winelands, South Africa
  9. Athens, Greece
  10. Zanzibar, Tanzania

More images and information on each destination is available on the Lonely Planet website.