The 15 Best Places to Travel in 2023
2023 is the year travel makes its comeback. The coronavirus pandemic has moved into the rearview, and most of the world has reopened. That means it’s time to consider some new vacation spots and start thinking about the best places to travel in 2023.
Some of this year’s best travel destinations are classic tourist hotspots. Others are culinary meccas. And some are hidden gems that need a little bit more love and attention. But whatever you’re looking for in 2023, you’ll find it in this list of the best places to travel in 2023.
Italy has always been one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. But in 2023, Italy is shaping up to be the king of travel. Tour operators like Access Italy and Imago Artis Travel are already expecting a massive increase in business for the year.
It’s not hard to see what makes Italy so popular. From the romantic canals of Venice to the timeless attractions of Florence, Italy is a paradise for lovers of food, art, and history. Every corner of the country offers breathtaking vistas and unique experiences.
But this year, travelers want more than wine tastings in Tuscany and strolls around Rome. They want to go off the beaten path. They want culinary delights in Umbria and outdoor adventures in Lake Como. Italy is a place to explore, and travelers are ready to get lost.
Morocco has built a reputation as a colorful and alluring travel destination. From the blue city of Chefchaeouen to the charming atmosphere of Fes, this North African country has so much to see and do. And given the diverse environment, Morocco is a great country to visit all year round.
But two cities stand out this year: Marrakech and Tangier. With gorgeous architecture and a bustling medina, Marrakech is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. In 2023, the city is welcoming an exciting, new hotel. 45 minutes from downtown, Caravan Agafay is a creative and immersive experience in the Agafay Desert. Like a Burning Man-inspired oasis, the hotel is great for those with an adventurous spirit.
Bohemians have always flocked to Tangier for its eccentric, cosmopolitan vibe. This year the city is getting even better with the opening of the Museum of Contemporary Art. The museum features works from regional artists and is housed in the newly refurbished, 17th-century Kasbah prison. It’s the perfect location for travelers looking for local art in a unique setting.
As the last major country in the world to reopen, Japan is set to be one of the hottest places to travel in 2023. This will be the first time in four years that Japan has been open for its famous cherry blossom season. So if you’re traveling during spring, expect huge crowds.
The Golden Triangle (Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka) will welcome the largest percentage of tourists. All three are amazing vacation spots worth exploring, but Kyoto is set to be one of the most exciting cities in Japan. Classic events like the Gion Matsuri festival will be back with lively floats and delicious food options. You can also expect some new additions like Maana Kiyomizu, an accommodation that lets visitors stay in traditional wooden homes.
Regardless, you should keep your eye out for some paths less taken. Visit the new Studio Ghibli theme park not far from Nagoya. Or head to Kyushu Island. A new rail line now connects Nagasaki to Japan’s bullet train system, so getting there will be that much easier.
After a long delay, the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza is finally set to open in 2023. Not far from the Pyramids of Giza, the museum will feature thousands of priceless statues and artifacts, including all objects found from King Tut’s tomb.
But history isn’t the only thing drawing tourists to Egypt this year. The Chedi El Gouna opened in December 2022 and will continue attracting guests in the new year with its luxurious, seaside suites and eco-friendly amenities. Meanwhile, Viking River Cruises has expanded its fleet to offer even more incredible opportunities along the Nile.
Paris is a city on everyone’s bucket list. With world-class luxury hotels and a wealth of cultural and artistic attractions, Paris deserves its incredible reputation. But the romantic country has a lot more to offer.
No doubt, wine lovers will suggest the famous vineyards of Bordeaux or the bucolic Burgundy countryside. Yet, the up and coming star of 2023 is France’s Loire Valley.
Verdant landscapes and romantic châteaux can be found in abundance in Loire. But the valley has also pushed forward on a gastronomic-focused path. Take Fleur de Loire, for example. Opening last July, the fine-dining-centric hotel is owned by Michelin-starred chef Christophe Hay and features two restaurants, a pastry shop, a Sisley spa, and a massive garden.
Another noteworthy event in Loire Valley is the reopening of the Saint Hubert Chapel in the Royal Château of Amboise. The chapel, which houses the remains of Leonardo da Vinci, has been under renovations for two years. Art enthusiasts can now come to pay their respects and enjoy the château’s charming, luxurious character.
Referred to as the “Land of Smiles,” Thailand is a vibrant, beautiful, and welcoming country. All around the country you’ll find ancient temples and pristine beaches with turquoise waters.
You can also find plenty of wellness programs in Thailand to reset and recharge. Koh Samui is the perfect getaway for a healthy and indulgent retreat. Kamalaya is one sanctuary to put on your radar. Here they combine Western research with Eastern healing traditions to create a treatment personalized to you and your needs.
As idyllic as Thailand’s seaside retreats are, the country also features fast-paced city living. Bangkok boasts one of the most exciting urban centers thanks to its spirited bars and clubs. In addition, Bangkok has been voted the best in the world when it comes to street food. There’s no way you’re leaving without a full belly.
California is the cultural capital of the United States. No one can deny the powerhouse that is Hollywood, and Los Angeles is unmistakably a tourist magnet with its iconic beaches, museums, and nightlife. As a wine snob, I must also mention Napa, whose incredible wineries are legendary all across the world.
But the Central Coast has recently emerged as the state’s trendiest food and wine retreat, making it one of the best places to travel in 2023. With lazy beach towns, Wild West getaways, and verdant redwood forests, the Central Coast has something for anyone’s taste. And speaking of taste, San Luis Obispo earned its official American Viticulture Area (AVA) recognition in 2022, as well as its first Michelin-starred restaurant (Six Test Kitchen).
While you try Central Coast’s amazing wineries and restaurants, you can also stay at one of the Nomada Group‘s reopened hotels: the River Lodge and the Farmhouse Motel. Both have historical significance and easy access to the wine trail. Also scheduled to reopen in 2023 is the Pozo Saloon. The Gold-Rush era property in San Luis Obispo County is quickly developing into an amazing glamping site with live music and horseback riding. It’s the perfect blend of rustic charm and trendy comfort.
This past year Mexico made a big name for itself as tons of travelers took notice of the culturally rich Oaxaca. This year that trend continues. CNN is even airing a series in 2023 called “Searching for Mexico” with Eva Longoria. Oaxaca will be front and center thanks to its deep culinary traditions and massive production of Mezcal.
Having said that, keep your eye out for the Yucatan Peninsula. Yucatan cities like Cancun have always been famous for their alluring, all-inclusive resorts. But 2023 brings a boom of fashionable and luxurious hotels.
Designed by renowned architect Frida Escobedo, Boca de Agua will grace Bacalar with an inspired intersection of architecture and nature. In Kanai, look for the new openings of Casa Chablé, Riviera Maya Edition at Kanai, and The St. Regis Kanai Resort. Not to mention, the incomparably luxurious Hotel Esencia near Tulum recently added on a four-bedroom private mansion with its own speakeasy and cinema.
On a final note, the Maya Train project is expected to finish by the end of 2023. This new route will make several archaeological sites more accessible, including Chichén Itzá. It will also open up some of the area’s lesser known vacation spots and travel destinations.
One travel experience seeing a huge growth in interest is the African safari. That means plenty of travelers are headed to Kenya this year. Situated in the southwest, the Masai Mara National Reserve features an astounding ecosystem of birds and beasts.
However, Kenya has introduced new luxury accommodations to experience local culture and cuisine in comfort. In Nairobi, The Social House draws the chic and the creative with its elegant rooms, locally-sourced coffee, and several delicious restaurants. Meanwhile, expert designer Anna Trzebinski is set to open Jannah Shela on the gorgeous archipelago of Lamu.
Stylish stays like these prove there is more than just wildlife in Kenya. But if you really want a blend of contemporary design and pristine nature, look for the November 2023 opening of Angama Amboseli. The intimate lodge is situated in the heart of the Kimana Sanctuary and features breathtaking views of Mount Kiliminjaro.
The beauty of Portugal is its versatility. Seekers of the sun and sea will revel in the country’s incredible beaches. Wine enthusiasts can sample a wealth of varietals. As for older travelers, Portugal is considered the most friendly destination for retirees. They can enjoy the country’s rich history and jaw-dropping scenery at a relaxed pace.
Portugal’s UNESCO-listed Douro Valley captures that laid-back atmosphere perfectly. East of Porto, Douro Valley is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. It is an area of quaint villages, winding roads, and blissful vineyards. In between wine tastings, you can relax at one of the many luxury properties popping up. My recommendation is Six Senses, a 5-star hotel nestled in the hills. The property has had some recent facelifts to maintain its refined and wholesome look.
Turkey saw record tourism in 2022, and the country is on track to be one of the best places to travel in 2023. As a bridge between Europe and Asia, Turkey is a vibrant blend of historical and cultural influences. Add in the richly-spiced food and exquisite beaches, and you are sure to find something that matches your preferences.
However, this year is a special one for Turkey. In 2023, the country celebrates its 100th anniversary as a republic. Prepare for plenty of festivities, especially in the capital city of Istanbul. Additionally, Istanbul will hold its annual Tulip Festival in April. The monthlong festival promises several events and exhibitions. So stay tuned for an exciting spring in Turkey.
12. New Zealand
After serious COVID-19 containment efforts, New Zealand finally dropped all restrictions in September 2022. Also in September 2022, Air New Zealand launched nonstop flights between New York and Auckland. With this increased air connectivity, New Zealand is more accessible than ever, and you should definitely take advantage of it.
Auckland has an incredible lineup for 2023. After three years, the Lantern Festival will return in February to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The following month, Pasifika, the largest Pacific Island cultural festival, will be held. Then in July, the FIFA Women’s World Cup will be held in New Zealand and Australia.
If none of these events strike your fancy, the myriad of Auckland hotel openings might make you think twice. To name a few, there is the 5-Green-Star certified Hotel Britomart, the stylish QT Auckland, and the fabulous Park Hyatt.
Although some regions of Florida are still recovering from Hurricane Ian, others are ready to welcome travelers with open arms. The colorful nightlife of Miami and luxurious hotels of Fort Lauderdale are two of the greatest and most dependable vacation spots. But this year Central Florida is the star.
Orlando is easily the best place to travel in 2023 if you want a family-friendly stay. Disney World will continue to celebrate its 50th anniversary until March 2023, so expect nighttime events and limited-time festivities. Moreover, Disney recently opened its Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, which will give Star Wars fanatics an immersive 2-day adventure full of lightsabers and whacky, alien surprises.
Another Central Florida city to visit is Tampa. Like Orlando, Tampa has a wealth of culinary delights. Between the two cities, 2022 brought an astounding 14 Michelin accolades. Tampa also recently welcomed its own Edition Hotel, equipped with a massive rooftop pool club. So even travelers without a family can find comfort in Central Florida.
Outdoorsy types will find heaven in Bhutan. The recently redeveloped Trans-Bhutan Trail gives hikers 250 miles of breathtaking scenery. Once the only way to travel across the country, the trail connects travelers to 400 historic sites, including museums, fortresses, and temples.
Regarding hotels, Bhutan has always been known for its collection of upscale mountain lodges. One of these lodges, Six Senses Bumthang, has only recently become accessible to tourists despite opening in 2020. Nestled in the forest by a babbling stream, the lodge immerses visitors completely in its beautiful, natural surroundings.
2023 also brings some big changes in Bhutan’s tourism policies. For one, foreigners are no longer required to be accompanied 24/7 by a guide. However, visitors will have to put up with an increased tourism tax of $200 a day. The tax will fund social and cultural programs. In addition, it will deliberately keep tourism numbers lower. So if you can afford the tax, you won’t have to suffer massive crowds.
Rounding out the list of best places to travel in 2023 is Australia. The country has made great efforts to remain environmentally-conscious. In turn, this has opened up fantastic new opportunities informed by the nation’s original inhabitants.
Queensland offers plenty of these opportunities. The UNESCO-listed Daintree National Park is an idyllic region of rainforest managed by the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people and the state government. You can also find a variety of cultural adventures and habitat tours. I would recommend the new Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre, where Indigenous staff impart their ancient knowledge of the land on guided tours.
Meanwhile, in the south, Victoria is becoming an incomparable travel destination for wellness. The region has capitalized on its natural hot springs by creating several upscale resorts. Alba Thermal Springs and Spa opened in September 2022 on the Mornington Peninsula, not far from Australia’s best wineries. InterContinental Sorrento is also back open, giving visitors oceanside luxury and easy access to wineries.
More Great Places to Travel in 2023
Not all countries can claim to be the best places to travel in 2023. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit them. The world is a big and beautiful place full of incredible travel destinations. Here are some of the best vacation spots that didn’t make the list:
- Georgia: Georgia is an underrated travel gem with a vibrant capital and breathtaking mountains.
- Greece: From the historic sights of Athens to the luxury hotels of Santorini, Greece offers nothing but fun in the sun.
- Spain: One of the culinary capitals of the world, Spain is overflowing with culture. Enjoy Madrid’s historical and artistic attractions or head to Barcelona for unique architecture and cosmopolitan vibes.