New Year’s Bucket List: Places to Visit in the Second Half of 2020

Hi everyone!

In case you’ve missed the first part of the series with some recommended places to visit in the first half of 2020, you should probably read it first before moving on to this one… But, if you’re actually looking for some holiday inspiration for the second half of the year starting in July, you’re on the right track!

I mean, of course… July and August seem to be the peak holiday seasons in some places. And maybe you’re a parent who needs to travel with kids during the school holiday. Or maybe you just love summer that you simply don’t want to miss the season to enjoy the heat and the sun.

Are you curious on which places that have been recommended by other fellow travel bloggers in the second half of 2020? Carry on!

New Year's Bucket List: Places to Visit in the Second Half of 2020

Traveling in the Second Half of the Year

There are reasons that some people would prefer to start traveling in the second half of the year. First of all, the second half of the year include the most popular period to go on holidays, which usually start around June, July and August.

And by the end of the year, Mariah Carey’s Christmas songs should start playing almost everywhere you go. And that’s when some people also choose to travel somewhere new to enjoy the Christmas vibes elsewhere with their beloved ones.

Although for the latter, whatever you do, wherever you go, if you’re a parent, please don’t be like Kate McCallister from that movie Home Alone. 😛

Places to Visit in the Second Half of 2020

So, in this post, I’ve compiled some two cents from other fellow travel bloggers to give you some inspiration about your next holiday destinations for the second half of the year in 2020. Be it for the summer, or for the holidays so that you can celebrate New Year elsewhere.

So, what are those?!

July

Izmir (Turkey)

Saat kulesi, Konak, Izmir. (Source: Pxhere)

I might be a little bias to recommend Izmir for your next travel destination in July, since the city is basically my second home. I spent the summer in Izmir 10 years ago, and it was around that time that I fell in love with the city. The city is located on the European side of the country, and some local Turkish may find the city more modern and sophisticated compared to other cities in Turkey.

The city is located on the seaside, so you can easily just chill to see the sunset somewhere you can find the sea. I used to stay at a student dormitory in Inciralti, and it’s only walking distance to the seaside.

However, if you feel a little fancy then you can go to Alsancak to chill while checking out the sunset from some of the cafes in the area. Or else, you can always go to Konak area, where the main attraction in the city is located: the famous Saat Kulesi or the clock tower.

Not so far from there, during the night you can enjoy to stroll around and start shopping at their local bazaar in Kemeralti.

Also, it takes less than an hour by bus from Izmir to get to one of the most beautiful beaches in Turkey, Cesme. And if you feel a bit educational, why not taking a short course to learn Turkish at TOMER?

I got the scholarship to join their summer course program, and I couldn’t recommend it enough as thanks to them, I got plenty of discounts with my ability to haggle in Turkish! 😛

Recommended by me.

Noosa, Queensland (Australia)

Noosa, Queensland. (Source: Pxhere)

Although the Sunshine Coast beach town of Noosa in Australia is a summer destination, the winter month of July is equally inviting with blue skies, little rain, and mild temperatures. We feel very lucky to live on the Sunshine Coast and be able to visit Noosa monthly.

Christmas and Easter crowds have gone and fine sunny days spent walking the stunning Noosa National Park coastal trail have arrived. One of the best coastal walks in Australia, the trail provides mesmerizing views of the deep blue ocean, a multitude of surf breaks, dolphins and migrating whales while hugging the coast through natural bushland.

Noosa River is another natural wonder that can be explored by ferry, kayak SUP or by simply wandering along it’s banks and enjoying the river views.

July is also when the Noosa Long Weekend Festival, showcasing creative food, art and music events by Australian and International performers is held.

Recommended by Jan of Budget Travel Talk.

August

Tajikistan

Tajikistan. (Source: Pxhere)

Tajikistan is one of the best destinations for hiking and trekking in the world. More than 90% of Tajikistan is mountainous and more than half lies above 3000 meters.

For now, Tajikistan still receives relatively few tourists despite the extraordinary beauty and the new e-visa system that makes it much more easier to visit the country.

Being at such a high altitude the season for hiking is limited to the summer. Therefore, August is a perfect time to visit Tajikistan.

While elsewhere in Asia the summer heat becomes too much, the mountains of Tajikistan will offer you not only cool fresh air, but also spectacular landscapes. Rugged mountains with glittering deep blue lakes and off the beaten path trails are waiting for you in Tajikistan.

Recommended by Ellis of Backpack Adventures.

Copenhagen (Denmark)

Nyhavn canal in Copenhagen. (Source: Pexels)

One of the best destinations to explore in 2020 is Copenhagen, Denmark. The city is often overlooked for other European capitals, but it has a lot to offer anyone who visits. A perfect time to visit is August, especially for Copenhagen Pride week.

It culminates the third Saturday in August with a city-wide street party and parade. Families of all types join the festivities in a celebration of diversity and tolerance by the Danish people.

August also gives visitors longer days with late sunsets and warm temperatures. It’s the perfect time to enjoy outdoor attractions like Tivoli Gardens, the famous amusement park that inspired Walt Disney.

You can also enjoy traditional favorites like Nyhavn canal and the hippie community at Christiania. August is a great time to visit Copenhagen’s beautiful beaches like Amager Strandpark. The Baltic Seas is cool and refreshing and August is a short window for beach-weather in Copenhagen.

Recommended by Derek and Mike of Robe-Trotting.

Aruba

Aruba. (Source: Pxhere)

Just off the northern coast of South American sits Aruba, a country known for its idyllic beaches and warm weather.

Not many people know the country has a lot more than that to offer, including exquisite architecture and culture inside its capital city and also wild terrain and rock formations away from the beaches.

Without a doubt Aruba is home to the best beaches in the world – our favorites are Eagle Beach and Baby Beach.

If you get a chance to visit the Flamingo Beach in Aruba, we recommend going early in the morning. And if you’re looking to explore past the beach, we recommend checking out the Boca Prin Sand Dunes, Quadirikiri Cave and the Casibari Rock Formations. There are so many natural, scenic areas to explore in the country!

Recommended by Hannah and Adam of Getting Stamped.

Minsk (Belarus)

Minsk, Belarus. (Source: Pxhere)

In August, most destinations in Europe are either scorchingly hot or ridiculously crowded with tourists, or both.

Minsk, the capital of Belarus, is the exception to this rule, as it hasn’t been discovered by the masses yet and therefore doesn’t suffer from over-tourism. And the temperatures rarely rise about 25°, so the weather is perfect.

There are lots of events happening at this time of year too. After being cooped up indoors for the long, brutal winter, the locals are eager to get outside and celebrate the sunny weather.

Open-air cinemas, street parties and music festivals are just a few of the options to choose from. Minsk also has a surprisingly good restaurant scene, with eateries catering for various tastes and dietary requirements, including vegetarian and vegan.

Recommended by Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan.

September

Yosemite National Park, CA (USA)

Yosemite National Park (Credit: She Dreams of Alpine)

Yosemite National Park is one of the most iconic national parks in the entire United States. Located in central California, Yosemite features soaring granite formations such as Half Dome and El Capitan, as well as amazing hikes including the iconic Half Dome Hike and the beautiful, and slightly less crowded Clouds Rest Hike.

These are just a sampling of some of the best hikes in Yosemite National Park, but you could easily spend an entire month here and still have more amazing hiking trails to explore in the park.

The most popular time to visit Yosemite is during the Summer and Fall seasons, and September is the absolute perfect time to plan a trip to the park. The large crowds of visitors generally die down after Labor Day, giving you more breathing room to explore. The weather in September is ideal for hiking in Yosemite without overheating and for camping at night without freezing.

You could spend an entire week in Yosemite National Park and without running out of awe-inspiring things to do and see, so plan to take as much time in September as you can to experience this majestic national park in all its glory.

Recommended by Allison of She Dreams of Alpine.

Belitung Island (Indonesia)

Tanjung Kelayang beach, Belitung.

I went to Belitung island in September 2017 when I was a bit stressed with work in Jakarta. I was initially planning to go in August, but I had to reschedule due to some unexpected meetings with some clients and my supervisor later that month.

As September is the start of rainy season in most parts of Indonesia, I was a bit afraid that my vacation would be ruined because of the weather. To my surprise, we had a great time getting around the island to enjoy their beautiful beaches as well as great local food with no problem with the weather.

Belitung is quite popular for domestic tourists, so it’s one of the off-the-beaten-path destinations in Indonesia for international travelers.

In September, the place wasn’t so packed with visitors but you still could enjoy the most out of the island from snorkeling, culinary, and even visiting the village where Ahok, a prominent Indonesian politician who was the former Jakarta’s governor who got jailed for blasphemy in the recent years, grew up. If you’re lucky, you could even enter his parents’ house and meet one of his humble family members there.

Recommended by me.

Barcelona (Spain)

A view of Barcelona (Source: Pxhere)

Barcelona is an excellent destination in every season – that’s probably why I moved to this beautiful cities some years ago. Anyway, a visit in September is particularly worthwhile. This month, far fewer tourists than in July or August are traveling to the Catalan capital.

The prices for accommodation are slowly becoming cheaper, and the weather is still beautiful. Warm sunny summer days await you. So you can still relax a bit on the beach and soak up the sun.

Another highlight that speaks for a visit in September is the annual Mercè Festival, which takes place in September. Every year under a different motto, you will find stages, lights, shows, music, lots of delicious Mediterranean snacks and parties all over the city center. A highlight for us every year. Especially the fireworks that usually take place on Barceloneta beach.

As you can see, a visit to Barcelona is particularly worthwhile in September.

Recommended by Vicki of Vicki Viaja.

Silk Road (Northwest China)

Xinjiang, China (Source: Pxhere)

In early September 2019, I did a one-week Silk Road tour through Northwest China. The trip was absolutely amazing and now I think that Northwest China is one of the best places you should visit in September. Here’s why:

  1. September is the off-peak travel season for China. You will get to enjoy the scenery and avoid the stampede of tourists. As well, it’s lighter for your pocket as you will find air tickets and hotels at a lower price, compared to summer.
  2. For Northwest China, the temperature during early autumn (around 7-19°C) makes it for ideal climate condition, compared to either summer or winter.
  3. Northwest China is home to some of the most incredible sites in China, e.g. Mogao Cave (a Buddhist art treasure with more than 400 temples), Rainbow Mountain, Xinning Kumbum Monastery (where Tibetan yak butter sculptures are displayed).
  4. Early Autumn is the best time to enjoy the world-famous grapes of Xinjiang, a major province of Northwest China that is also known as the kingdom of fruits.

Recommended by Ming Lee of Flyerism.

October

Armenia

Armenia (Source: Pxhere)

The country that surprised me the most in 2019 was definitely Armenia. Make sure to visit during the pleasantly warm autumn months, especially October is a great time to travel around Armenia.

Rent a car, explore the countryside and don’t be scared by the Armenian way of driving – you’ll get used to it in a day or two.

Plan enough time to visit some remote, yet gorgeous monasteries like Sewanawank overlooking a lake, Sanahin with its medieval charme, or Tatev in the very south with views to Iran and Azerbaijan.

Also, make sure to plan enough time to visit the capital city Yerevan – you will be surprised!

During our road trip through the country, we hardly met any other travelers and the sites were never crowded. Perfect chance to get great photos!

Recommended by Viktoria of Chronic Wanderlust.

Iceland

Somewhere in Iceland. (Source: Pxhere)

Iceland is an excellent destination for an October getaway. My husband and I made an October visit in 2018, and we were so glad we did.

The weather was chilly, but mild, making it very easy to drive ourselves on day trips to the South Coast and Golden Circle. We also spent a lot of time outside and were perfectly comfortable under a couple wind and waterproof layers of clothing.

As fall progresses, the days in Iceland do get shorter, but October is the sweet spot for this. There will still be anywhere from eleven to eight hours of daylight, depending on which time of the month you visit. This is just enough time for the long drive down the South Coast, which includes my favorite stops: the Seljalandsfoss waterfall and Sólheimajökull Glacier.

This means you’ll have thirteen to sixteen hours of darkness each night – the perfect amount for chasing Iceland’s elusive northern lights.

Recommended by Theresa of Fueled By Wanderlust.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC (USA)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. (Credit: Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide)

There’s no better time of year than Autumn to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which encompasses some 522,419 acres in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains attracts around 10 million visitors each year, and has been the most popular national park in the United States ever since it was dedicated by FDR back in 1940.

The park’s noteworthy attractions are many, from scenic viewpoints at Cade’s Cove, Clingman’s Dome, and Newfound Gap Road to dramatic mountains (16 of which are more than 6,000 feet tall), rushing waterfalls, gurgling mountain streams, and loads of wildlife.

But October is arguably the best time of year to see them. The weather is cooler then, the roads aren’t as packed with visitors, and the autumn leaves are reaching their peak color saturation.

Best of all, the park’s Cataloochee Valley elk herd (which was reintroduced back in 2001) is in rut, which is a rare spectacle that should thrill any animal lover.

Recommended by Bret Love and Mary Gabbett of Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide.

Sicily (Italy)

The ancient Greek temple of Sicily in Italy (Source: Pxhere)

Sicily is one of the most southerly destinations in the Mediterranean so it lends itself very well to a late summer break in September or October. Sicily has that perfect mix of incredible culture and fantastic landscapes so visitors to the island can enjoy a very diverse holiday.

Enjoy learning about the immense history of the island in the morning at a city such as Syracuse with its incredible Baroque cathedral, before retiring to one of Sicily’s beaches in the afternoon: most of the places of interest are within a short drive of a great stretch of sand and in early autumn the sea will be warm and the weather still fairly hot.

Recommended by Annabel of Smudged Postcard.

November

Caramoan Islands (Philippines)

Caramoan Islands, Philippines. (Source: Unsplash)

November is the official start of the dry season, and days are warm and comfortable unlike later in the season.

During November, the whole country is accessible, even the most remote islands, so you can put in the extra effort and explore the hidden gems of the country, like I did last year.

My favorite spot was the Caramoan Islands, in the Camarines Sur region of Bicol. These secluded islands, are off the tourist path and are filled with pristine beaches, powdery-white sands, marine life and stunning rock formations.

We spent our days island hopping from one deserted island to the next, only ever meeting a handful of fishermen each day. The lush green islands were healthy due to the recent rainy season making it the perfect time for hiking and exploring these uninhabited islands.

Recommended by Roshni of The Wanderlust Within.

Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka (Japan)

Night in Tokyo. (Source: Pexels)

Japan is one of the best places in the world to visit in the month of November. There are two very good reasons for this and those are autumn colors and a pleasant climate.

When northern Europe and much of the US starts to get colder temperatures in November, you can still get sunny days with 15°C in Japan in the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka.

These are also some of the most popular cities in Japan and for a good reason. Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world but still boasts several parks and gardens with beautiful autumn colors.

Kyoto has an imperial history to offer in addition to some of the most spectacular autumn colors in all of Asia. And Osaka is the underrated city that more international tourists should visit. Osaka is famous for its food and unique dishes, but there are also some great places to watch autumn colors.

All of them feature beautiful gardens, Japanese castles, autumn colors, temples, vibrant city life and of course the modern skyscrapers of Japan. There’s an exquisite mix of the old and new in addition to the most polite and kind locals you’ll ever meet.

Recommended by Alex of Destinavo.

Maldives

The beauty of Maldives. (Source: Pexels)

Maldives is an exotic location, known for its crystal clear blue waters, the abundant marine life and white sandy beaches.

The laid back beaches to laze around, looking at the pristine blue waters is something to die for. This can be enjoyed best when the temperature is warm and comfortable. The ideal season to visit the islands is from November to April.

November marks the end of the wet season in Maldives. Since this is just the beginning of the ideal season, there is still less crowd and is also a perfect month as the temperature at this time of the year is around 25 to 29°C.

It is an idyllic condition for snorkelling or scuba diving. I visited Maldives this year in November and I had a spectacular time. I didn’t have to think twice to get into the water and hence spent most of my time snorkeling or diving.

Recommended by Raksha of Solo Passport.

December

Cartagena (Colombia)

The clock tower in Cartagena. (Credit: My Flying Leap)

I visited Cartagena, Colombia, in December 2018.

Cartagena is a beautiful and picturesque city at any time of the year but it’s even more special lit up for Christmas in December. As Colombia is a predominantly Catholic country, the streets, parks, and buildings are aglow with festive lights to celebrate the season throughout the country. Cartagena was my favorite.

The historic old town area is a beautiful part of town to wander around and it’s safe walking there during the day or night. There is a lot to see and do in Cartagena, and there are many gorgeous Spanish colonial homes and lush parks to enjoy.

One of my favorite places was the iconic Clock Tower lit up in white lights. My other favorite was Plaza Bolívar with the white lights and butterflies floating in the trees above the park. Cartagena is a great place to visit in December with gloriously warm weather and beautiful lights to enjoy.

Recommended by Sam of My Flying Leap.

New York City, NY (USA)

Christmas Rockefeller Center and Saks. (Credit:

I live in New York City and my favorite month of the year is December. There is always so much to see and do in NYC, but in December, it becomes especially magical as it goes all out for the holidays.

The weather is cold, but the city sparkles with lights, trees and decorations. Highlights of New York in December include the holiday decorations in the department store windows and the enormous natural trees in all the parks and many of the museums.

Don’t miss the enormous Rockefeller Tree, topped with a large crystal star. There are lights everywhere – especially amazing are the light show on the façade of Saks Fifth Avenue, the over-the-top Christmas decorations in Dkyer Heights and the elaborate light sculptures at the Winter Lantern Festival and LuminoCity.

It is also a great time to see holiday shows like the Rockettes in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and the Nutcracker by the New York City Ballet. All this is in addition to many usual attractions NYC has!

Recommended by James Ian of Travel Collecting.

Hue (Vietnam)

Imperial City in Hue, Vietnam.

Some of you may want to enjoy the lights and colorful vibes of Christmas and New Year by the end of the year. But what if you prefer to go somewhere that is a bit quiet with some great vibes to stroll around? Hue in Vietnam might be somewhere you can opt if that’s the case.

I went to Hue by the end of December 2015, and apparently Christmas and New Year aren’t considered big holidays there since Tet Holiday, or Lunar’s New Year, is more festive there. I even celebrate New Year’s Eve there, and except for some New Year’s party organized independently, you won’t find any fireworks or anything to mark the change of the year there.

It’s pretty peaceful, and despite being one of the largest cities in Central Vietnam, it’s still fairly safe to stroll around the city with bicycle. As it’s considered a low peak season for tourism, you can easily go to the famous citadel where the former Imperial city of Hue is located. If you feel a bit adventurous, you can as well consider joining the DMZ tour in Vietnam to track the history back to their war period.

Recommended by me.

Medellin (Colombia)

Creative monument statue in Medellin, Colombia. (Source: Pxhere)

Whilst looking for places to visit in 2020, December is a great month to visit Medellin in Colombia.

Not only is the city famous for its pleasant spring-like climate all year round but also for Christmas celebrations. More than four million tourist visit Medellin each year to witness the Christmas light extravaganza that lights up the whole city.

The event known as ‘Los alumbrados’ includes many venues in and around the city where you can some of the 26 million lights on display. No matter how many days in Medellin you spend, it is a great place to visit with your family and the display continues to grow every year with more lights added.

Recommended by Dan of Layer Culture.

Tell Me Your Next Travel Destination in 2020!

Now that you’ve read the complete series of recommended destinations for your travel this year, have you decided where you’ll go next? Give me a shout, and tell me your next travel plan and cheerio! 😉


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