CN Traveller: Towards the end of every year we look at the year ahead through a cultural lens, with a focus on major events and trends around the world – in 2020, for example, the Olympics will take place in Japan, and closer to home is an Irish city that’s been named a European Capital of Culture. But, of course, we also canvas the views of all our well-traveled editors for the places they’re most excited about – in this instance not just for the next 12 months, but heading into a new decade.
We aim for the best holiday destinations list that is geographically diverse, as well as one that covers a range of trips, from eco-tourism to adventure, to inspire every type of traveler. There are the destinations that have been on our radar for a while but keep getting better: the food scene in a little town in Maine, for example, and in the UK, the somewhat surprising British seaside spot that has us talking.
There are also the affordable, go-slow spots that other tourists haven’t reached yet. Then there are the destinations, that, while always a good idea, have an extra buzz going into 2020 – such as Paris, which has upcoming hotel openings that include the first Soho House in France and will see a new modern-art museum to rival the city’s existing world-class institutions. And here at Condé Nast Traveller, we always have one eye on the surf scene (where boarders flock, eco-entrepreneurs, independent hotels, and small businesses tend to follow), and we’re predicting that during the next year a tiny Phillipine island will be stealing a cool crowd (whether they surf or not) from Bali.
A dynamic country capitalising on its cultural clout
Momentum is starting to gather in fascinating Lebanon, and its crumbling crusader castles and intricate mosaic-paved streets, which have become tourist-free in recent years, are ushering in culture-curious travellers once more.
Earlier in 2019, the British Foreign Office changed its travel advice regarding Lebanon – which previously warned against visiting areas including the Bekka Valley – deeming it safe for travellers to return. As such, adventurous tour operators are introducing exciting itineraries for 2020, opening up Lebanon’s world-class restaurants, shortbread-sand beaches and ancient ruins for exploration.
At Baalbek lies one of the largest and best-preserved Roman sites in the Middle East, with its monumental 2,000-year-old temple to Jupiter and six towering, free-standing columns. As the home of the Phoenicians, the early traders who controlled most of the ports in the Mediterranean, the country is full of similarly intoxicating ancient sites, including the enormous hippodrome and Roman ruins of Tyre, which can also be admired underwater while snorkelling (you may have to jostle for space with the resident sea turtles, though).
A melting pot of religions, traditions and cultures, Lebanon’s appeal is perhaps most apparent in Beirut, where a burgeoning arts scene draws in young creatives and alternative business owners. At Tawlet, a different woman from a local community cooks the food of her village every day on rotation, and the same non-profit runs the spice-scented farmers’ market at Souk el Tayeb. Less than an hour away, you’ll find Ixsir, which stakes a claim to the title of ‘the highest altitude vineyard in the world’. Indeed, the country’s wine industry looks set to make (fresh on the nose, stone-fruit-scented) waves in 2020. In the 1980s, there were just seven wineries in the Bekka Valley, now there are more than 40, some of them producing world-renowned bottles such as Chateau Musar.
Add to that fine-sand beaches, a sprawling network of mountains and expansive, lung-cleansing cedar forests, and it’s not hard to see why Lebanon’s on the up.
These are the best things to do in Beirut