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Khadija Horton

Whether you get your best travel inspo from Instagram, travel blogs, articles, or word-of-mouth, you’re likely to come across a new potential destination idea you haven’t thought of before. But how do you narrow down your choices? For one, there’s the power of popularity. Say what you will about “touristy” spots, but there’s definitely a reason so many people flock to those vacay destinations.

Maybe you’re looking to stay within the same continent or spread your wings and go somewhere as far away as possible. Whatever you’ve got in mind, the world is your oyster.

And if you can’t take a trip right-this-second, it doesn’t hurt to daydream. Save up your coins using a money-saving app like Acorns, Chase bank’s AutoSave feature, or start tracking your spending. Having an exact destination in mind also helps. That’s because you can set flight alerts for cheap tickets and plan your dream itinerary while you wait for a good deal.

To help you narrow down your choices, we consulted the experts at SEMRush, which uses data from Google searches, to rank the top 36 most searched for travel destinations worth visiting in 2020, in order of popularity. The below picks are based off average search volume for flights from 2019.

Oh, and headsup: We’ve got our own Cosmo travel guides written by editors who’ve been to those spots. The Instagram Itinerary series focuses on the most Instagrammable places in the area. So if you want an even further dive into say, which Greek island is best, we gotchu.

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1

Thailand

Get lost in the jade rice paddy fields, explore some jungle gardens, and indulge in the most picturesque afternoon tea of your life in this Southeast Asian country. Hot tip: You’ll be wowed by Railay Beach.

(FYI: If you get an email from a cheap flight mailing list like Scott’s Cheap Flights, move quick. Tickets are a hot commodity.)

Read more about Thailand’s most Instagrammable spots here.

2

Japan

With the 2020 Olympics closer than ever, it’s no wonder Japan tourism is booming. Spend a few days exploring bustling Tokyo (PSA: The Mandarin Oriental Tokyo has a special underground subway entrance right underneath it for cramming in all your sightseeing.)

Then, bookend your trip with a relaxing stay at one of Japan’s other prefectures like Mt. Fuji, Kyoto, or cutie mountain resort town Karuizawa.

3

New Zealand

Be wowed by Milford Sound park, see waterfalls, seals, and penguins, and stargaze at Lake Tekapo. New Zealand may be a looooong flight, but if you’re into nature there’s really no cooler place to visit.

6

Jamaica

Vacation as Harry and Megan do in Montego Bay. Eat and drink all the rum, meditate on a floating bungalow, and go horseback riding on the beach.

Read more about Jamaica’s most Instagrammable spots here.

7

Italy

Art history majors, THIS IS YOUR MOMENT. Visit Florence to see the David, Palazzo Vecchio, a bunch of Medici cribs, and basically every renaissance slideshow image you watched in class, IRL.

Other options: Go to Rome to see the Colosseum or hit up the Amalfi Coast to live out your George and Amal Clooney fantasies.

8

Iceland

The Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik may be blowing up your feed, but if you want to see some less-touristy parts of Iceland, you can’t go wrong visiting East Iceland.

Iceland will inspire even the most jaded of city dwellers — I can personally promise that.

Read more about Iceland’s most Instagrammable spots here.

9

Mexico

Become a certified Tequila expert and stay in a legit tequila barrel room in Jalisco. Then pivot to mezcal and Dia de los Muertos celebrations in Oaxaca.

Read more about Mexico’s most Instagrammable spots in Jalisco and Oaxaca here.

10

Costa Rica

Wanna go hiking on an active volcano or see rainforest wildlife on a beach? Do hot springs sound relaxing? Then Costa Rica is your jam.

Also, go see the cute bb sea turtles in a protected nesting area at Tortuguero National Park. Do it.

11

Canada

Canada is huge, so there’s plenty to do no matter what your interests. On the west side, there’s Banff National Park, home of glacial lakes and the prettiest mountain photos you ever did take.

If you want to explore the East Coast there’s Québec. It’s full of adorable fairy-tale looking castles and buildings.

14

Ireland

Visit the Cliffs of Moher, a five-star rated attraction on Google with the succinct description of “Cliff.” Then tackle the Giant’s Causeway, a geometric rock formation that looks like it belongs in an Asgardian tribunal. Finally, pop into the Guinness Storehouse for a tour.

15

Spain

Visit Palma for an approachable vacay that still gives you 100 percent influencer vibes. Wander around Palma Old Town and visit Parc de la Mar. Then hop to Madrid and eat all the meat.

Read more about Spain’s most Instagrammable spots in Palma and Madrid here.

16

Maldives

Channel your inner bougie travel blogger by lying on an overwater bungalow. Then take a seaplane ride.

Read more about the Maldives’ most Instagrammable spots here.

17

Turkey

Take a family-run carpet tour in Bodrum for major home decor vibes. Then, pose next to the famous turquoise water of the Aegean Sea, and check out the vibrant Bougainvillea flowers.

It’s a vacation that’s as beautiful as it is relaxing.

Read more about Turkey’s most Instagrammable spots here.

19

Portugal

Nestled between Spain and Morocco (two other destinations on this list), Portugal has some truly gorgina weather and tons of medieval castles and architecture to boot.

One million U.S. visitors flocked to the country in ten months last year, making it one of the fastest growing destinations for stateside visitors. Be the origin of your friends’ Portugal FOMO and get there first.

20

Hong Kong

While things are dicey there at the moment, there’s no doubting that Hong Kong is one of the most fun places to visit in Asia.

There’s Victoria Peak, which is best experienced by the Peak Tram, a train that takes the scenic route through a lookout point over the city.

If you’re going with family (or just enjoy fun), there’s also Ocean Park, which is like Disney World but for sea animals (and you can see pandas there!).

21

Aruba

If you’re searching for a beach vacation, you really can’t go wrong with Aruba. Visit Eagle Beach for water sports or Arikok National Park and Arashi Beach for some of the clearest water and white sand beaches around.

If you wanna see those Insta-famous flamingos, you’ll have to make special arrangements to stay at Renaissance Island Flamingo Beach, the private beach home to the flamingos you see here. Unfortch the birds aren’t just wandering around the whole island, but if you do your research, you can still see ’em in their bougie private beach!

22

Barbados

Barbados isn’t bad either! Clocking in at #23, right behind Aruba, Barbados is home to Harrison’s Cave, a limestone cavern with streams and pools, as well as Animal Flower Cave, which is a cave (duh) with a coral floor and sea anemones. Plus, there are some truly gorgeous flowers at Hunte’s Gardens.

23

Germany

If you’re going to Berlin, there’s about a million museums you can geek out on. Plus, there’s Checkpoint Charlie, aka the old Berlin Wall crossing point. And in southern Germany, around Munich, there’s Neuschwanstein Castle, a 19th century revival castle on a hilltop that makes Disney look like they were thinking small.

25

Vietnam

Lots of old temples along with beautiful beaches make Vietnam one of the most popular spots in the world to visit.

Ha Long Bay has lots of junk boats (old-school Chinese sailing ships) and kayaking, which are even more fun in the unbelievably turquoise water.

26

Fiji

This South Pacific country is home to gorgeous snorkeling, coral reefs, scuba diving, and surfing. You can also visit Monuriki, aka the filming site of 2000’s Castaway — bring your own Wilson though.

28

Cyprus

This Mediterranean island is the third largest and most populous island in the region. You’ll have to visit Petra tou Romiou, or Aphrodite’s rock, which is the rumored birthplace of Aphrodite in Greek mythology.

Then there’s the Tombs of the Kings, an ancient necropolis burial site with underground tombs dating back to the 4th century BC. And, obviously, being surrounded by crystal blue water the whole time is pretty neat.

29

Morocco

Watch the sun rise over the Atlas Mountains, peruse winding medina streets, and fill a checked suitcase full of carpets from Marrakech. Take in the architecture and color of the Medina and give yourself ample time to enjoy the souks (traditional markets).

Read more about Morocco’s most Instagrammable spots here.

30

Croatia

Juuuust a scooch further east of Italy is Croatia, home to Plitvice Lakes National Park (waterfalls!) and Hvar, a historic port town that’s cute AF. Drink some wine, go sailing, and visit Dubrovnik. (Guys, it’s King’s Landing from Game of Thrones).

33

Mauritius

The island of Mauritius, which is West of Madagascar, is home to amazingly clear water and national parks. You can go parasailing, golfing, and snorkeling, or see dolphins—and who doesn’t want to see dolphins?

It’s also worth stopping by Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden, home of the giant water lilies pictured here.

36

France

France is way more than just Paris, but obvi, there’s Paris. The city of lights is romantic for a reason, but it’s also great for solo traveling.

If you wanna see like four museums a day for cheap, explore the city by foot, eat the best food of your life, and get wine drunk and end every night people watching in a cafe. Then, get outside of the city and visit Mont Saint Michel in Normandy and the bougie-boug French Riviera to the southeast.

Read more about Paris’s most Instagrammable spots here.

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