As the 2020s begin, Redbrick writers and editors come together to write about their favourite places and devise your 2020 bucket list…
Lisbon – Lydia Rose
As Europe’s sunniest capital city, Lisbon is the perfect destination for those looking to grab some winter warmth. The São Jorge castle, tower of Belem, and Santa Justa elevator make up some of the area’s most iconic tourist attractions, all easily accessible from the centre of the relatively compact city. However, many visitors claim that Lisbon’s main pull is their world-famous custard tarts; although the original recipe is only made at the Pasteis de Belem shop, you can find these tarts in almost every store in the city.
Lisbon is also popular among partygoers. The Bairro Alto district is home to over 100 bars and restaurants, many of which transform into buzzing nightlife spots as the sun goes down. If you’re looking for something a little different, try Park, an open-air bar located on the roof of a car park. Despite a slightly strange journey through the parking lot to reach it, Park has some of the best views of the Lisbon skyline in the city, especially if you visit the cocktail bar at sunset.
Lisbon is aptly nicknamed the ‘City of Seven Hills’, so make sure to bring comfortable shoes! If all the walking gets too tiring then grab a tuk tuk, a motorized rickshaw that provides a cheap and exhilarating way to travel through the winding cobbled streets, or make use of the city’s extensive tram system.
Although there’s more than enough to do in Lisbon, the city also makes the perfect base for day trips, allowing you to explore more of what Portugal has to offer. The Portuguese coast is home to miles of stunning beaches, including Carcavelos, a popular tourist destination due to its abundance of cafes, shops, and watersport activities. A short train ride will take you to Pena Palace, a spectacular Romanticist castle nestled in the Sintra Mountains; there’s something to do in and around Lisbon for everybody!
Gambia – Josie Hart
All for a rogue retreat, I’d recommend putting the Gambia on your travel bucket list if you fancy something spontaneous. As we’ll be leaving the EU anyway, you might as well start looking further afield than the usual European getaways! Scanning the globe for holiday destinations, many miss an entire continent of amazing landscapes, wildlife and adventure! The Gambia, on the West Coast of Africa, known also as the smiling coast, is one of my favourite places I’ve ever visited.
It has stunning beaches if you just want to relax, but also so much more to explore. Go to wildlife sanctuaries, learn about the local culture in local villages or visit the mangrove swamps for an unforgettable boat trip. With the locals being so friendly and welcoming, you won’t be short of tour guides making sure you don’t miss any secret spots. A highlight from my own visit was seeing the fish market in action as hordes of people emerged from the sea with huge crates on their heads after each wave.
Whilst it may sound strange to visit a fish market on holiday, it was so interesting to watch the whole process from fresh out the sea to the smoking process and see how the community came together in their different roles. Also, being where the classic novel Roots is set, if you’re into literature or history, you can expand your knowledge on tours of sites in the novel. Why not push the boat out in 2020 and go somewhere you may have never thought to visit!
America – Bethany Carter
Being lucky enough to have travelled throughout America, it is safe to say that visiting at least once in your lifetime is imperative. Reasons are abundant as to why America is my favourite country. Each state offers a different cultural experience and there is never a shortage of things to experience. New York is a safe bet if it is your first time exploring the States. NYC is a vibrant city that never sleeps. Not only can you visit the major sites, such as the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State building, but you can also experience the great authentic foods of New York.
I recommend visiting ‘99 cents fresh pizza’ for great tasting pizza on a budget! If you are feeling slightly more adventurous, California is also a great option. Having spent a month there this year whilst visiting my sister, I can say that California is perfect if you need a sunshine-filled break. Although the flight may be slightly more expensive, once you have arrived in California you will find that it can be cheaper than New York. This is because you do not have to pay to see famous sites such as; the Hollywood sign, Venice Beach and the Hollywood walk of Fame.
If the opportunity arises to visit the Sunshine state, I would strongly urge you to take it! Nevada is another of America’s alluring destinations to visit. If you are looking for a holiday destination to allow your vices to be freed, Las Vegas is the one for you. It is a more party-packed destination compared to the other two (due to the casinos and nightlife) with slightly less monumental significance. No matter what type of holiday you are looking for, America has something to entice everybody. This is exactly why it is my favourite country and why you should consider visiting in 2020!
Warsaw – Madison Harding-White
For those who value a trip filled with cosy cafes, good food and a decent dollop of culture- Warsaw is the place to visit in 2020. Both the capital and largest city in Poland, this gorgeous location has been dubbed the Phoenix City due to its extensive reconstruction after an 85% destruction during World War Two. Old Town hosts a stunning array of multicoloured buildings and distinctive cobbled streets- whilst those seeking greenery can find refuge in one of the many plush parks dotted around the urban roads.
History enthusiasts are greeted with a range of museums exploring Warsaw’s struggles under Nazi rule alongside the award-winning ‘Museum of the History of Polish Jews’, which has been described as ‘noisy and colourful’ and situated within a post-modern cube. Foodies (like myself) can also rejoice: traditional ‘milk bars’ plate up cheap, wholesome Polish dishes; street sellers shift fresh doughnuts for as little as 30p and independent cafes offer smoothie bowls, tacos and coffees reminiscent of the quirky Amsterdam.
The balance between authentic culture, history, beauty and tourism finds Warsaw as the perfect destination for a short, intensive city break, a traveller’s stopover or as simple escape from the stressful realities of daily life.
Edinburgh – Sophie Donnelly
Scotland’s capital should earn a place on your 2020 travel list. Edinburgh is a beautiful and buzzing city with something for everyone. Steeped in history, start the royal mile walk at Edinburgh Castle. As a World Heritage Site, it is home to the oldest crown jewels in Britain and the Stone of Destiny still used in coronations today.
Walking down the royal mile, you see sights like the Scottish Parliament Building. But take a slight detour to book an ‘Evening of Ghosts and Gouls’ with Mercat Tours on Blair Street and learn about history and horrors of the city with guides and actors at night.
The Palace of Hoyroodhouse will end your stretch on the royal mile. Her Majesty’s official Scottish residence is home to a myriad of exhibitions, perfect for budding artists and historians. Edinburgh has also been the source of inspiration and home to brilliant writers for centuries, from the writer of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Peter Pan creator JM Barnie. Named the first UNESCO city of literature in the world, there are also numerous spots to see where J.K. Rowling was inspired to pen the Harry Potter series.
Visit the Elephant House where it all began and just a short walk away is the real life Diagon Alley on Victoria Street. If you crave some hearty home comforts but are not tempted by haggis, The Gourmet Mash Company is something that may curb your craving. A combination of bar and restaurant with protein options for every diet, the hardest choice will be the type of mashed potato you like!
Seoul – Catrin Osbourne
New York is known as the city that never sleeps but I’d argue that Seoul could give it a run for its money. Well into the evening, the city is still vibrant with fluorescent lights decorating the streets and a plethora of people flocking to Seoul’s bars, cafes and restaurants. The latter boasts a tasty range of traditional dishes from bibimbap to jjimdak – unfortunately, the majority of these meals feature meat, so the city is not the best place for vegetarians or vegans.
Seoul is as pleasing for the eyes as it is for the taste buds; even mundane streets and train stations cause one to whip out their camera. One example of this is Ihwa Mural Village in which steps are painted with flowers and walls with angel wings. Seoul’s collection of cat cafes is another phenomenon ripe for social media. Although these now are spreading around the world, Seoul’s cafes feel far from commercial traps as locals casually drink their iced coffee whilst cats crawl amongst them.
South Korean culture is increasingly becoming a global trend as part of the ‘Hallyu Wave’, so I’d recommend visiting Seoul to experience this. The technological, modern side of South Korea is perfectly juxtaposed with the city’s history; Gyeongbokgung Palace, where you can rent traditional Korean dress, sits amongst the gleaming skyscrapers. Likewise, Cheonggyecheon is a renovated stream from pre-war Seoul which now acts as a delightful recreation space.
Another unique aspect of a holiday in Seoul is the ability to visit the North-South Korean border. As South Korea’s capital is surprisingly close, tour guides frequently take visitors there. Far from Seoul’s world of bubble tea and karaoke bars, viewing the closed society of North Korea from binoculars allows one to put the ongoing conflict into context.
To end a holiday in Seoul, a trip up N Seoul Tower is a must. When viewing London from the Shard, it is easy to see the end of London’s city centre, but N Seoul Tower provides a view of endless white tower blocks, stretching into the horizon. Seeing the city in its entirety let me realise that there were still so many more wonders that I didn’t get to explore.
The Black Country – Daniel Stoker
Coming from Wolverhampton I have been shocked by how few students have visited the Black Country. Most know us for our funny accents but know little else about the region. Because of this, I’ve taken it upon myself to give you a quick introduction to the Black Country and tell you about some of the great things we have to offer.
The Black Country Living Museum is a must for any trip to the Black Country. It is a 26-acre living museum that reconstructs the regions past. It is made up of over 40 buildings that are staffed by a range of characters. You can talk to shop keepers, policemen and even go to class in a Victorian school. A walk around the museum will transport you to the past which is why it has been used as a set for Peaky Blinders,
Locating right next to the museum is Dudley Zoo and Castle. It houses over 1000 animals that live around the 11th Century castle You can easily spend a whole day here exploring the castle grounds and seeing all the amazing animals. It even has two walkthrough enclosures allowing you to get face-to-face with lemurs and wallabies.
You’ll probably want a bite to eat, so I recommend a taste of our local delicacy: orange chips. These chips have been dipped in orange batter and can only be found in the Black Country. I personally recommend Major’s in Bilston, but they can be found at any good Black Country Chippy. they are by far the best chips you will ever taste with a crunchy orange exterior and soft fluffy interior.
So next time you are looking for somewhere to visit, why not stay close to Birmingham and give the Black Country a try.
Lake Bled – Fern O’Shaughnessy
As is the general stereotype of the Southern England High School girl the summer I finished my A levels, I went interrailing. We hit the usual spots: Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy, and I loved every second. My favourite, though, was Lake Bled.
It is reasonably well-known and popular year-round due to a thriving ski season over winter, and sun-seekers during the summer. Lake Bled, an hour outside Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, is a must-see. The castle over-hanging the lake looks like it must have been the inspiration behind every Disney castle, and there is no shortage of activities to do. We were able to find white water rafting for relatively cheap, but there is plenty of other options available: cannoning, rafting, hiking, wine-tasting, kayaking and ziplining, just to name a few. Although our hostel was in Ljubljana, we made the trip in every day to visit the lake and relax in the sunshine. Our days at Lake Bled made a welcome break from our busy days in the cities of Europe, and I would definitely visit it again.
Lake Bled is the perfect get-away from the stress of dissertations, deadlines, and the general distress of completing a degree. It is easy (and, arguably more importantly, cheap) to get to but hard to move away from. Plus, I had the best Mexican food I’ve ever had in a random restaurant we found by accident – the streets are quite easy to get lost in. So, if you do one thing this year, visit Lake Bled.
Zimbabwe – Katie Norris
One of my favourite travel destinations has to be Zimbabwe, in the south of Africa. After visiting South Africa for a safari, it was in Zimbabwe where we truly got the savannah experience.
We slept in tents, for once it wasn’t my sister’s snoring that kept me up at night, but the roars of lions, and every time we got into our tent we had to check for snakes and scorpions. This was definitely an immersive experience into the bushes of Africa.
Whilst the roars of lions and the tents weren’t exactly luxury, it didn’t matter as in Zimbabwe we would be out at 5 a.m. to go look for lion cubs, giraffes, and baby elephants. This was the coolest part of the day, as by lunchtime we, along with the majority of the animals in the park, would be lazing until the late evening, when it would all happen again. Although this was tiring, nothing is more awe-inspiring seeing a lioness feed her cubs two feet away from the van in torchlight.
The tourism aspect of visiting Zimbabwe was also relieving, as the park we went to was a huge expanse, acres and acres of natural wildlife, solely sectioned to protect the animal from hunters. The game that we ate was also caught there, making it a reassuringly sustainable environment.
So, for a fully enriching experience of African wildlife, I cannot reccommend Zimbabwe enough, so put it on your bucket list!
Interested in other bucket-list destinations? Check out the links below!