Exactly a year ago (to the day!), I wrote a post detailing my favorite (new-to-me) travel destinations of 2017 & 2018. Out of the 50+ countries and 35+ US states that I had visited, those were the cities and countries that I enjoyed the most and that I wholeheartedly recommended adding to your travel bucket list. From Hamburg to the San Juan Islands, Lithuania to Lviv, they were all destinations that I thought every traveler could benefit from experiencing. For the most part, my recommendations haven’t changed too much (in fact, Oman remains my favorite country I have visited), and I stand by those picks that I made 365 days ago!
To switch things up, this year, I thought it would be fun to ask some of my favorite female travelers to share their must-visit destination for 2020. These ladies are always seeking out new places to travel and continuously inspire me with their knowledge and wonder about the world, so I knew they would have some off-the-beaten-path suggestions – and they delivered! If you are planning some adventures this year, here are six female travelers on their must-visit destination for 2020:
Taylor of Brown Eyed Flower Child – Camino de Santiago
“The Camino de Santiago or The Way of St. James has existed as a sacred pilgrimage for over a thousand years. Nowadays, people from all over the world travel by foot or bicycle to make their way to the city of Santiago de Compostela. During July 2019, I made the Camino Frances pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago. For 6-days and 72 miles, I walked through the stunning Spanish countryside, storybook villages, picturesque nature, and sacred sites. It was breathtaking, but one of the most physically challenging experiences for me. My knees were killing me, and I had water blisters the size of golf balls on my feet, but every part of this pilgrimage was worth it! Arriving at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela was such a rewarding and magical experience that I will never forget. There was laughter, singing, happiness, tears, joy, accomplishments, and fulfillment all around. This once in a lifetime experience taught me that I am stronger than I think, I have more patience than I realize, and I can achieve anything I set my mind to!”
Follow Taylor’s adventures here!
Orla of Travelorlabout – Malta
“A destination I’d highly recommend to visit in 2020 is Malta. The tiny island, set in the center of the Mediterranean, is an absolute beauty! Due to its small nature, it’s easy to experience the whole island over a few days. Boasting good weather all year round, Malta is the perfect European destination to soak up rays. Steeped in history, the capital city, Valletta, is described by UNESCO as one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world. Make time to explore the Mdina, too, an ancient walled city with many beautiful churches and palaces. Of course, there are also fantastic beaches to enjoy, and the blue lagoon with azure-colored water in Comino is a must-do experience. The Maltese people are extremely friendly and speak English, so communicating with the locals is a total breeze. As a destination that’s typically less popular than Greece or Italy, you can enjoy taking in the sights of this stunning country without masses of tourists.”
Follow Orla’s adventures here!
Chantel of Voyaging Vagabond – Portugal
“If Portugal isn’t on your list of places to visit, then you’re missing out! A vibrant culture, a rich culinary scene, and remarkably cheaper than the rest of Western Europe, this country is a traveler’s dream. Visit the capital Lisbon where you can spend your afternoons wandering up the picturesque hills of Alfama. Take a needed break and stop to rest with a glass of locally made port wine or a traditional egg custard pastry known as “pasteis de nata.” There are free viewing points scattered throughout the city that perfectly showcase the gleaming Tagus River and the brightly colored historic buildings. See why everyone swears by the seafood in Portugal and take in a Fado show. Fado is an intimate music genre that dates back to the early 1800s, and you can catch a show every night. When you head home, you’ll experience what the Portuguese call Saudade which is a love that remains after someone is gone.”
Follow Chantel’s adventures here!
Mary – Ixmiquilpan & Grutas Tolantongo, Hidalgo, Mexico
“This was my absolute favorite travel experience of 2019 by FAR. We took a little road trip outside of Mexico City to the neighboring state of Hidalgo for two reasons. First, traditional Mexican Barbacoa was created in Ixmiquilpan, a small rural town in the mountains of Hidalgo, where you can still find the best barbacoa in the world. Many people think barbacoa is just Mexican shredded beef (thanks to Chipotle!). But Barbacoa is the method of cooking meat (traditionally goat or sheep), underground, for hours, covered by maguey (agave) leaves to barbeque the meat to perfection. Second, the Tolantongo Hot Springs, which are tucked high up in the Pachuca Mountain range in Hidalgo. Naturally warm year-round, this park includes infinity pools, secret caves within caves, and a roaring river with a current almost too strong to stand cutting through the picturesque ravine. We noticed all the locals holding steady against the current, going under and coming up with a handful of this nutrient-rich mud and masking their faces, necks, chest, and arms. Naturally, we did the same, and I haven’t had my skin glow like that in ages!
Now Hidalgo is not necessarily a safe place to travel around solo/without a local guide. It is a long drive through rural mountains, and we faced a couple of military checkpoints that are to stop locals using the routes to flee to the US. Having a local take us was not just safer, but it also made it a more educational experience. In our four hours in a car (one way) together, these checkpoints sparked conversations about politics, perception, and US/Mexican relations. Our guide was so excited and happy to share with us his Mexico, the ‘real’ Mexico, and the incredible cuisine and lifestyle in which his people indulge. Best day of the year by far, potentially the best day abroad anywhere thus far.”
Follow Mary’s adventures here!
Rachel of Rachel Off Duty – Quebec City
“Quebec City had never even crossed my mind until last year, but my perspective did a complete 180º when I visited during the holidays. Everything that you would love about Europe, you can find in North America without needing to take a long-haul flight! Quebec City boasts fascinating history (the city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site), beautiful architecture, cobblestoned streets, charming boutiques, and cafes. Not to mention fantastic food (think everything from poutine and flaky croissants to foie gras and beef tartare), and stunning landscapes. Though most people will flock to the city for their infamous summer festival – Festival d’été – I fell in love with the destination in the winter. In December, you can experience German Christmas Markets, toboggan rides, skiing, ice hotels, hot wine, horse-drawn carriages – pretty much all the components of a Hallmark-worthy holiday. A must-visit if you’ve never been!”
Follow Rachel’s adventures here!
Laurel of Lost in Laurelland – Portugal
“Portugal was never somewhere that I thought I would travel. It just wasn’t really on my radar for some reason, but I ended up signing up for a group trip to explore Portugal with about 12 other women. I didn’t do a ton of research before but was so pleasantly surprised by my experience! It is a beautiful country with a little something for everyone. Lisbon has a fantastic nightlife, Sintra has gorgeous castles to explore, Porto has impressive architecture with the classic blue and white “azulejo” tiles everywhere. You can also visit the Douro Valley wine country to see the gorgeous rolling hills full of olive and cork trees and try Port wine in the region it was first created. If you are more of a beach person, you can take a trip to the south of Portugal and visit Lagos. The water is impossibly blue, and you can explore the famous Ponta de Piedade caves too. As I said, there’s a little something for everyone, and things are very reasonably priced, especially for Europe!”
Follow Laurel’s adventures here!
Thank you, ladies, for all your recommendations!
Make sure to go and give these ladies a follow for lots more travel content!