Bilbao in Spain is among Airbnb's top picks for 2020. Picture: Supplied

Airbnb is shifting their attention to less known and eco-conscious destinations across the world based on Airbnb booking data*.

Ranging from post-industrial culture hubs like Milwaukee and Guadalajara to emerging destinations that are benefiting from an increase in sustainable tourism, this year’s list is full of surprises and hidden gems, it revealed in a statement. 

“Our research also shows that some of the top trending locales are cities and regions that are preparing for big events like the 2020 Mars Exploration Program launching from Cape Canaveral and the many surf competitions happening in Ubatuba, Brazil,” it said. 

Here are some of the trendy destinations: 

Milwaukee, WI, US

The host of next year’s Democratic National Convention, Milwaukee makes it to the top of our trending list. This historic gem on the shores of Lake Michigan often slips under the radar but has a terrific bar and restaurant scene and fascinating cultural attractions that include a Calatrava-designed art museum. 

Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao, Spain. Picture: Supplied

Bilbao’s transformation from rust belt city to flourishing culture hub is remarkable. The city’s Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum put Bilbao on the map when it opened back in 1997. Since then the Basque capital has been on an ever-upward ascent, winning the European City of the Year in 2018. Visitors to the area are rewarded with a lively dining scene, breathtaking architecture and an unforgettable cityscape. 

Buriram, Thailand 

Wat Khao Phra Aungkhan in Buriram province, Thailand. Picture: Supplied

The rural province of Buriram is home to some of Thailand’s most treasured Khmer relics. Its best-known monument is the incredible Phanom Rung complex which is comparable in grandeur to its much more famous Cambodian neighbour, Angkor Wat. In addition to ancient ruins, the province has also become a sporting hotspot. The destination will host the MotoGP in March next year. 

Xi'an, China

Beautiful xi'an city wall and ancient tower at dusk, China. Picture: Supplied

Xi'an is best known as the home of the terracotta warriors, a vast collection of prehistoric clay soldiers discovered by local farmers in 1974. Today, the capital of China’s western Shaanxi province is a major culinary melting pot, while its numerous historical monuments have earned it the nickname "China's outdoor museum”. The ancient city plans to introduce a tourism programme that will introduce 30 nighttime tour routes throughout Xi’an in 2020.

Luxembourg

 

Narrow medieval street with cafes in Luxembourg city. Picture: Supplied

This European country packs a lot into its small landmass. The city of Luxembourg was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1994 thanks to its enchanting historic core, dramatically perched on a clifftop. Beyond the city itself, the country’s forested hills are home to medieval castles, rocky gorges, charming villages and superb vineyards.

Guadalajara, Mexico

Agave tequila landscape to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Picture: Supplied.

Mexico’s second city is steadily gaining the recognition it deserves. Guadalajara operates at a less frantic pace than Mexico City, yet it has a wealth of attractions to reward visitors, from its colonial architecture in the hipster Chapultepec neighbourhood to an impressive selection of festivals and museums. The local government has embarked on an initiative to encourages cyclists and pedestrians to reclaim public spaces controlled by cars.

Vanuatu

 

Vanuatu. Picture: Supplied

Located west of Australia, this picturesque archipelago nation is home to rugged islands, deserted beaches and stunning Pacific wildlife. Vanuatu comprises over 80 islands and has the highest density of languages per capita in the world — over 100 native languages are spoken throughout the archipelago. The range of activities on offer is also diverse, from hiking up a volcano to world-class scuba diving.  

Cali, Colombia

 

Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia. Picture: Supplied

The world’s salsa capital not only offers to energise visitors with local music and dance, but its rich Afro-Colombian heritage has infused the city with a distinctive caleño culture. Cali, a melting pot of indigenous, European and African cultures, has a tropical party vibe and energising nightlife. At around 1 000 meters above sea level, it enjoys a warm and breezy temperature during the day and a refreshingly cool one at night.

 Ubatuba, Brazil

 

Ubatuba, Brazil. Picture: Supplied

With over 100 beaches, the city of Ubatuba is the undisputed surfing capital of São Paulo state and hosts numerous surf championships throughout the year. Ubatuba and its surroundings have become popular with Paulistanos, who are attracted by a stunning coastline and pristine nature; the area also has scores of hiking trails that weave their way through lush Atlantic rainforest.

 Kerala, India 

A traditional houseboat is anchored on the shores of a fishing lake in Kerala's Backwaters, India. Picture: Supplied

For many travellers, Kerala is South India's most enchanting state. With its palm-lined coast, rolling coffee plantations and stunning Arabian Sea views, Kerala is an oasis of calm in a country that moves at a busy pace. And with an impressive array of beaches, lakes, mountains and waterfalls, Kerala is home to some of the best eco-friendly destinations on the subcontinent. The state runs a Responsible Tourism programme encouraging residents and visitors alike to enjoy the culture of the place while conserving it.