20 Best Places to Travel in 2023
We're calling it: 2023 is the year travel returns in a big way, and we've found all the best places to travel this year
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Let’s hit the road!
From Europe to Asia, Africa to the Caribbean, and around the U.S.A., we’re seeing a return to full-throttle events and the debut of new attractions and hotels that will make you want to break out your calendar and start planning your vacation days. Adding to the frenzy, pandemic restrictions have been lifted around the globe, international airfare is more affordable than ever and gas is cheaper for those looking to take a road trip.
Not sure where to go? To get you started, we’ve rounded up some of the best places to travel in 2023, whether you want quick trips, beach getaways, cheap places to travel, hidden gems, city breaks or a far-flung adventure. All you need to do is pick the place that appeals to you.
The Big Easy is ready to let the good times roll in 2023. After several scaled-down Mardi Gras celebrations due to the pandemic, the Carnival parades and parties are back in full swing, leading up to the epic party and celebration that will be held on Feb. 21. Want to plan your trip a little later? NOLA is also an affordable spring break destination.
Another reason New Orleans makes our list of best places to travel this year: A fully renovated Audubon Aquarium newly integrated with the Audubon Insectarium will reopen in time for summer 2023.
Don’t-miss dining spots include the new and old in this delicious city. No trip would be complete without indulging in the Sunday jazz brunch at Arnaud’s and a visit to the recently opened French-influenced Couvant. Stay at the Eliza Jane, a popular Hyatt Unbound property just steps away from the French Quarter on Magazine Street. Once the headquarters of the Times-Picayune, NOLA’s local newspaper, the hotel embraces its historic setting and history (Eliza Jane was the paper’s owner in the late 1800s, one of the first women to run a newspaper) with new offerings this year, including a women’s literary circle.
Welcome to the era of King Charles. After the outpouring of support for the royal family in 2022—first for Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Jubilee, and then for the queen’s funeral a few months later—all eyes are once again on the House of Windsor in 2023. King Charles will step into the limelight with his coronation on May 6, the first such event in the country since Queen Elizabeth’s ascent to the throne more than 70 years ago. Expect pomp, circumstance and lots of parties.
To explore the city, check out the Go City, which gives you front-of-the-line access to some of the most popular London sights, including the Tower of London, where the British crown jewels are housed.
If you’re looking for a royal-worthy hotel, check out The Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair, not far from Buckingham Palace. The iconic property celebrated its 185th anniversary in 2022, and its jewel-box lobby looks fit for a king (the hotel claims it’s the most Instagrammed lobby in the world). A splurge-worthy tea, one of the most coveted seats in London, awaits in the plush lounge downstairs—order a glass of champers and toast the new monarch. Before you book your tickets, though, know the best time to visit London.
Wildlife and adventure lovers looking for an off-the-beaten-path African Safari bucket-list trip should head straight to Namibia in 2023—this country in southern Africa is the perfect place to travel to reconnect with nature and escape the modern stresses of life. On the wildlife front, you may see lions and cheetahs along with giraffes and elephants, in addition to strong populations of both black and white rhinos. Other bucket-list activities range from climbing the world’s tallest sand dunes at Sossusvlei to discovering the stark beauty of the windswept Skeleton Coast.
There’s also something else completely unique here for your 2023 travel: a “shipwreck” lodge where you can stay in private villas that look, and feel, like you’ve crashed upon the shores as a Robinson Crusoe–style castaway. Don’t worry, you’ll still have great food and service and access to guided safaris while you’re in this desert hideaway.
Yellowstone National Park
As close to a natural theme park as you’ll ever find, Yellowstone dazzles with rainbow pools, steaming geysers, bubbling mud pits and even a “Grand Canyon”—not to mention amazing wildlife.
The park is the perfect 2023 destination, especially since 42% of U.S. travelers find inspiration in outdoorsy destinations and mind-blowing landscapes, according to a recent travel trends report from Expedia Travel Group. Think log-lined cabins, flickering fires and sweeping vistas.
To experience the park in style, visit the new for 2023 glamping destination Under Canvas North Yellowstone Paradise in Montana (the area may look familiar from the series Yellowstone). Expect exceptional views of the mountains and plains as well as direct access to the Yellowstone River via unparalleled flying and river-float experiences.
After a multi-year pandemic break from tourism, Japan finally reopened to all travelers at the end of 2022, and we’re here to tell you that 2023 will be the year we all go to Japan (or at the very least, daydream about visiting). After all, there are so many things you can only find in Japan.
Kyoto, the cultural and historic heart of Japan, will present its famed Gion Festival in summer 2023, the first time visitors can attend since before the pandemic. Based on the indigenous Shinto faith, this festival features two processions of floats, a wealth of food and drink vendors and the Gozan no Okuribi, a Kyoto-based bonfire culmination of the Obon festival that will also be ramping up to pre-Covid excitement levels.
For travelers looking for something different, head north to Mount Niseko Annupur, where you’ll find Niseko Village, a winter wonderland that boasts exceptional accommodations, a ski school and an extensive network of groomed ski trails.
Adore Emily or shun her crazy chapeaux, but Paris is front-and-center on the small screen this year with the return of Emily in Paris and all the drool-worthy scenery the show provides. (By the way, you won’t be alone if you’re booking a trip based on a favorite television show—according to Expedia’s 2023 Trend Report, two-thirds of global travelers have considered booking a trip based on a favorite show or movie.)
Not a fan? That’s OK, there’s plenty more shining in the City of Lights as it gets ready to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.
New hotels are already opening their doors to guests, offering high style and reasonable rates in Paris before the crowds arrive next year. One to watch: Maisons Pariente’s Le Grand Mazarin in the trendy Le Marais neighborhood, sure to be the chicest opening in 2023.
Speaking of TV inspiration, the most recent season of White Lotus, set on the southern Italian island of Sicily, made us all want to hit the beach (sans murder and mayhem, please). Google Trends data showed U.S. searches for Sicily doubled before the Dec. 11 finale, with specific searches for Taormina and Noto, which also feature in the show, skyrocketing as well.
Even without its star turn, there’s a lot to love here. Bustling cities, quaint villages, pristine beaches and rich heritage—Sicily, Italy, the largest of the Mediterranean islands, has it all. The capital, Palermo, is home to compelling architecture, such as Cappella Palatina, a breathtaking chapel dating back to the 12th century. On the east side of Sicily, between the cities of Messina and Catania lies Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe. Gaze at these gorgeous beaches with the clearest water in the world.
For a 2023 vacation, look no further than the happiest country in Latin America, Costa Rica. Why is this such a happy place and one of the best places to travel? It’s what Costa Ricans call “Pura Vida,” or a “simple life,” focused on optimism, happiness and living life to the fullest.
This popular Central American paradise designated more than a quarter of its country to protect its natural resources, offering 28 national parks, reserves and wildlife refuges to explore. A few highlights: Tortuguero National Park, created to protect endangered turtles; Poas Volcano National Park, home to one of the country’s largest and most active volcanoes; and Manuel Antonio National Park—considered Costa Rica’s crown jewel—which has both lush tropical rainforests and dazzling white-sand beaches, not to mention three-toed sloths and white-faced Capuchin monkeys.
Experience Costa Rica’s Pura Vida lifestyle on the beach at Hotel Nantipa – A Tico Beach Experience in Santa Teresa. Located in one of the five official Blue Zones in the world, the area’s known for having longer-than-average life expectancy due to a daily life full to the brim with happiness-driving health benefits including relaxed days and diets fresh from the sea.
While famous for being one of the most vibrant nightlife destinations, there’s also plenty to do in Las Vegas that doesn’t include casinos, and 2023 is going to prove that. Race lovers, start your engines! A Grand Prix Formula 1 race is heading to Las Vegas for the first time in more than four decades. Formula 1 lights up the Las Vegas Strip Nov. 16–18, when the Grand Prix’s 3.8-mile track weaves past iconic casinos and hotels and drivers reach speeds of more than 200 mph as they rev right through the heart of the city.
Also debuting in 2023 is the new $1.8 billion MSG Sphere at the Venetian entertainment venue. When it’s complete, it will be the largest spherical structure in the world, clocking in at 336 feet tall and 516 feet wide, with space for 20,000 standing spectators. Expect concerts, big-name residencies, award shows and more.
When it’s finally time to call it a night, there’s no better place to head than the newly renovated Wynn Las Vegas—it recently underwent a $200 million room design transformation.
What was once a Viking fishing settlement has transformed into one of the most gloriously livable and immaculately clean cities on earth. Copenhagen, one of the world’s most colorful cities, touts high-profile restaurants, curved canals, cycling routes, superb public transportation and magnificent landmarks. Now it’s been named the 2023 UNESCO World Capital of Architecture, and as part of that, the city will offer a series of major events and programs sure to delight art and design lovers.
Base your stay at the NH Collection Copenhagen, located in a unique historical and sustainable building in the picturesque, centrally located district of Christianshavn. Overlooking the harbor, it offers direct access to the waterfront, and the city’s landmarks are all within a short distance.
Vail is one of those mountain towns that looks like it’s straight from a fairy tale. Created to replicate the charming mountain towns in Bavaria, it features gingerbread trim and lots of wood in the town’s two main villages, Vail Village and Lionshead, which are delightfully pedestrian-only, so it really feels like you’re taking a step back in time.
The area is known for its winter skiing and year-round mountain scenery, but new for 2023 is something even more impressive: the newest national monument in the United States. Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument honors the 10th Mountain Division, the Army’s first and only mountain infantry division, which helped liberate Europe during World War II. You can explore the expansive new monument (the first President Biden has named) with Nova Guides, an adventure tour company that offers tours and activities in the area, including ATV adventures.
Or visit in the fall for one of the Vail Oktoberfest weekends, considered one of the best Oktoberfests in the country. This year’s is scheduled for Sept. 8–10 and Sept. 15–17.
For travelers with a sense of adventure and a love of discovery, Bhutan has always been a bucket-list trip. And in 2023, travelers can once again explore via the Trans-Bhutan Walking Trail, which reopened in late 2022 after a renovation. This is the first time it has been open to tourists in 60 years! This ancient trail runs 250 miles from east to west, offering views of the Himalayan Kingdom’s one-of-a-kind landscape and visits to the century-old communities along the journey. The trail spans across 18 major bridges and one national park as it connects more than 400 historic and cultural sites.
The coming years will be decidedly sporty in the historical wine region of Bordeaux in France. In 2023, the city will host the Rugby World Cup and the Tour de France before raising the colorful flags of the Olympic Games in 2024, when it will host the men’s and women’s football, aka soccer, matches.
Beyond sports, Bordeaux is one of our favorite historical cities, with more than 350 structures that are either nationally or regionally listed Historical Monuments (Monuments Historiques), and the entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s easy to get here from Paris, since there’s a TGV train that can whisk you there in just two hours. According to GlobalData, France is set to become the most visited country by 2025. Go now, before everyone else does!
Waterpark and thrill-ride fans, take note: When The Atlantis, The Royal opens this year in Dubai on man-made The Palm island, it will have 105 waterslides and 90 pools! Yes, you read that right. It will surpass any water park, any hotel or any other Atlantis property, for that matter. If there’s only one hotel opening you focus on this year for a best place to travel in 2023, this is the one. No wonder Dubai is the most popular travel destination of 2023, as ranked by TripAdvisor users.
The Atlantis, The Royal is not just a water park, of course. The 43-story ultra-luxury resort will sit in the heart of Dubai, featuring 795 rooms and suites with views of the futuristic city skyline and Arabian Gulf. Situated on 1.25 miles of beachfront, Atlantis, The Royal will boast 17 onsite restaurants curated by celebrity and Michelin-starred chefs, including Heston Blumenthal and Jose Andres. And all stays come with complimentary entrance to what’s being called the world’s leading aquatic theme park. We’re already breaking out the sunscreen!
South Africa is one of our favorite places to travel and one of the top bucket-list destinations that won’t break the bank for its mix of contemporary cities, melting pot of cultures and incredible natural areas, including wildlife safaris to see the Big 5 (lion, hippo, Cape buffalo, rhino and leopard) in world-renowned Kruger National Park and the private Sabi Sand Reserve.
The Rainbow Nation is truly ready for its close-up in 2023, when a slew of new flights on both United and Delta airlines makes it easier, and more affordable than ever before, to reach this special country you’ll want to visit over and over again.
Bali is known for its spectacular beaches, fabulous hotels and gorgeous turquoise water, best explored by jumping in and exploring the sea. So it’s no wonder that in 2023 it’s been chosen to host the ANOC World Beach Games from Aug. 5–15, 2023. Thousands of athletes from 100 countries across the globe will be in Bali for the event, as well as spectators from all over the world.
Away from the beach is another equally mesmerizing side to the island known as the Land of the Gods. For travelers looking to immerse themselves in the deeply rooted culture and spiritual history that Bali has to offer, Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Ubud, is the perfect fit. Beautifully set where the lush jungle meets the Ayung River and temples stand majestic against a backdrop of rice terraces, it’s a true sanctuary to relax one’s mind, body and soul.
If you’re looking for a quicker hop to a beautiful beach in 2023, we’ve got just the ticket. The Caribbean island of Curaçao is known for its vibrant, Dutch-influenced architecture, 300 days of sun per year, rich coral reefs and diverse mix of cultures. The destination is now more accessible as a result of newly launched North American flight routes from Newark and Miami into the country’s capital, Willemstad.
After you arrive at the sunny island, head to the newly renovated Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort, five minutes from the capitol and nestled on six acres of oceanfront property. New to the resort, the property recently opened its onsite dive shop Goby Divers, where guests can learn to scuba and earn their PADI certification, or experience dives based on their level of experience. Or check out one of these top all-inclusive Caribbean resorts.
Climate change tourism has seen an increase in recent years as global warming has become a front-and-center topic in travel—last-chance trips to see gigantic glaciers and ice caves before they melt away have specifically seen a rise. Patagonia fits perfectly with this trend. Here you’ll see Grey Glacier, the Balmaceda Glacier and the Serrano Glacier, among others.
The Singular Patagonia, Kau Rio Serrano and Quasar Expeditions offer excursions that allow guests to get up close and personal with the glaciers. From kayaking Grey Lake to walking Grey Peninsula, ice trekking, hiking in Torres del Paine or Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, or taking boat rides right up to the glacier walls, travelers can catch a glimpse of the magnificent glaciers before it’s too late or becomes too dangerous.
Chilean Patagonia is also becoming more accessible, as there are new flights launching to connect Santiago to Puerto Natales on a regular basis. The new flights will make it easier and faster for travelers to access the region, just in time for Chile’s busy 2023 summer season, on SKY, LATAM and JetSmart.
Prague is one of our favorite hidden gems in Europe and one of the best places to travel for charm and culture. The perfectly preserved city has bright red trolleys traversing original cobblestone streets lined with charming stone buildings. Around every corner, you’ll find a new treat, like the Charles Bridge lined with majestic stone statues, Michelin-starred restaurants and classic pilsner bars. Another highlight: an entire “castle district” centered around majestic Prague Castle.
New for 2023, this ancient kingdom meets modern times with William Rudolf Lobkowicz, the 14th prince of Bohemia, who is modernizing the way philanthropy takes place with NFTs (yes, those NFTs). This new technology can help prove provenance of historic art and also help fund its restoration, which is of particular interest to a family that lost its kingdom of treasures twice—first to the Nazis, and then to the Communists. You can see many of these works of art and hear about their “Non-Fungible Castle” project at the lovely Lobkowicz Palace.
Stay at a true historical gem, the NH Collection Prague Carlo IV. A former grand bank headquarters, it features marble and crystal in the lobby, gorgeous vaulted ceilings in the breakfast dining room and a truly special pool in the downstairs spa level. The trolley runs just outside the property, but the hotel would be happy to arrange special transportation such as a vintage red convertible to whisk you to the castle.
Charleston, South Carolina
A southern charmer that’s a must-visit destination for foodies and arts and culture lovers, Charleston offers even more to take note of in 2023, when the highly anticipated International African American Museum opens after 20 years of development. The museum will tell the story of the city’s role in the history of slavery and also allow visitors to trace their ancestors and discover how they shaped America’s development.
In addition to the museum, returning to the city this year is the Charleston Wine + Food Festival (March 1–5) and the arts celebration of the Spoleto Festival USA (May 26–June 11). This is another city about to benefit from new airline flights, with the addition of multiple routes to Charleston on Breeze airlines, one of the top budget airlines.