Destinations / Travel

25 travel destinations to add to your list in 2023

2023 travel destinations

It may not yet be 2023, but if you're thinking of making travel plans it always helps to get in early. Seeking a holiday that steers clear of the well-trodden European summer algorithm? Well, it's a good thing then that National Geographic has just released its top travel destinations for 2023. The publication's worldly editors have scored their brains and the planet for 25 spots that fall under one of five categories – community, nature, culture, family, adventure – and are deliberately under the radar. Find them below.

Community

1. Dodecanese Islands, Greece

 

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When thinking of the Greek Islands, places like Milos, Santorini and Mykonos likely spring to mind first. But given that the country is home to more than 6,000 islands, it's time we made a little space for those overlooked for their shinier cousins. Consisting of twelve large islands and numerous smaller ones, the Dodecanese Islands sit in the sunniest corner in Greece, that is the south-eastern Aegean. Spots like Patmos, Rhodes and Kos, are noted for their history, while Karpathos is highlighted by National Geographic for its women-led ecotourist ventures.

 

2. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

 

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Set along the shores of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is a community whose heritage extends far beyond its breweries – although they're definitely worth a visit. Wander over to the Harley Davidson museum or eat your way through its many restaurants, there's something for everyone, most importantly because all are welcome here.

 

3. Alberta, Canada

 

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If you're going to Alberta its for your love of the great outdoors, and Banff and Jasper will certainly scratch that itch, with the National Park's wild and rugged terrain and tours led by Indigenous folks. Stop by Calgary to remind you of cosmopolitan life, where its bars and museums are some of the country's best.

 

4. Laos

 

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Laos sits at many intersections; it's abundant with opportunities to delve into nature like community-based trekking, if you're into that sort of thing, and it's ecotourism is some of the best there is. Laos food culture is typically fragrant and spice heavy, a real treat for those who prefer to travel by way of their taste buds and if your idea of a good time is simply blissing out, then try your hand at yoga, wander through its French-accented cities or do nothing at all.

 

5. Accra, Ghana

Love fashion? Accra, Ghana's capital city, does it with flair. Drop by its many markets for shopping, or ensure you're in the city for its annual fashion week, a colourful and vibrant occasion. While you're here, you might as well familiarise yourself with Black history at Accra's many museums, such as National Museum of Ghana and Artists Alliance Gallery.

 

Nature

1. Scottish Highlands

 

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There's a reason why those inspired by the Romantic's movement pursuit of the sublime, set forth towards the Scottish Highlands. It's vast stretches of landscape are wild and imposing, and its home to the towering Ben Nevis. Folklore and mythology run strong in these waters. So drink your way through its 40-something whisky distilleries or simply explore the mountainous terrain on foot. A refresh for the soul.

 

2. Botswana

Marvel at the awe-inspiring plains of Botswana, home of the Okavango Delta, where big cats, elephants and wild animals roam abundant. More importantly, learn about the local initiatives to uphold biodiversity, rehabilitate endangered species and develop community-owned tourism projects.

 

3. Slovenia

 

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Not the first place you think of when it comes to natural environments in Europe, but certainly one that's leading in sustainable tourism. With its snow-capped peaks, snaking rivers, centuries old architecture, frescos and fortresses, and scores of locally handcrafted cuisine, this is one destination to have on your itinerary in 2023.

 

4. Big Bend National Park, Texas

 

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Where else but West Texas? If you're a hiker planning your next big trip, Big Bend National Park has trails as far as the eye can see. Encompassing the entire Chisos mountain range and much of the Chihuahuan Desert, it borders Mexico. There's cacti and canyons carved out by the Rio Grande. If you want to be alone in the wilderness, I can hardly think of any more romantic ways to do so.

 

5. Azores, Portugal

 

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Along with Madeira, this green archipelago sits off the coast of Portugal, and is flanked by Africa and the US. Relatively low-key, the island's biggest drawcard is its capacity to entertain adventure-seekers and those who seek sustainable tourism. Only 5% of its landmass is dedicated to development, the rest is kept as protected areas and marine reserves. Diving, hiking, canyoning, whale watching and geothermal activity, Azores has this in droves.

 

Adventure

1. New Zealand

 

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It's the country that invented bungee jumping, of course it's going to be on this list under the 'Adventure' heading. Although, that being said there's much on offer here for the intrepid traveller; from canoeing, hiking, surfing and more, this can all be found in its many mountains, lakes and fiords.

 

2. Choquequirao, Peru

Dubbed a "mini Machu Picchu", at this stage to get to these Inca ruins you'll need to undergo a difficult trek (that's two days there and two days back) which means only the most daring or desperate have access to the site. However, controversial plans spearheaded by the Peruvian government will see a local tramline make this site more accessible.

 

3. Utah, United States

 

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Adventure is never too far away in the state of Utah, especially if you make your way south. It's various national parks are teeming with red-rock cliffs, canyons, sandstone desert, and if you're in need of a new watering hole, Salt Lake City has you covered.

 

4. Austrian Alps

 

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We've all seen The Sound of Music, and if you haven't then I don't know what to tell you, you're missing out on a cultural moment. In any case, those spanning mountain ranges? All true considering Australia is 60% mountain. Ski and hike its many slopes or visit the Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart.

 

5. Revillagigedo National Park, Mexico

Another archipelago with insane marine biodiversity. Perhaps it's for this reason that Revillagigedo National Park is known casually as the Galapagos of Mexico. These four islands are home to one of the largest aggregations of sharks and manta rays in the world, and boasts populations of tuna, humpback whales, and five species of sea turtles. Take the dive.

 

Family

1. Trinidad & Tobago

Like twins that attempt to assert themselves as separate from the other, the joint republic of Trinidad and Tobago joined at the hip yet vastly different. Trinidad is coated in mangrove swamps and Tobago the kind of palm-tree-island landscape found on a postcard. While the oil and gas industries here take priority over tourism, as National Geographic assert outsiders can be put to use in conserving the loggerhead turtle population in the area. Read more about the initiative here.

 

2. San Francisco Crosstown Trail, California

 

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Bring your family along and you can all be happy campers as you explore the city of San Francisco on foot in one day. The Crosstown Trail cuts through shopping malls, community gardens, hidden trails and public parks with views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Low stakes yet high yield of fun.

 

3. Colombia

 

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Boasting a Caribbean coastline, stretches of Amazon rainforest, the high altitude capital Bogotá and much more, National Geographic recommends Colombia as a travel destination for 2023 for its bird-watching opportunities. Although given the current political context, we would do our own research first.

 

4. Manchester, United Kingdom

 

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In the mood for 'football'? Make your way up north to Manchester is the recommendation from National Geographic. While you're there check out the city's art scene too.

 

5. Switzerland

 

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How do you plead with overtired, hungry children? Chocolate. What country is considered one of the capitals of the sweet treat? You guessed it: Switzerland. The travel marketing truly does write itself.

 

Culture

1. Appian Way, Italy

 

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Come by foot, horse or bicycle along one of Italy's most historic roads. Used as a main arterial path between Rome and Porto Brindisi, the road is flanked with mausoleums, catacombs, ancient villas and remnants of history, which you can see for yourself as you pilgrimage south.

 

2. Busan, South Korea

South Korea's second largest city is a love letter to its cuisine. A port town with a cosmopolitan attitude, it's known for its fresh seafood, lively atmosphere, international film festival, beaches, mountains and temples. It truly has the best of it all.

 

3. Longmen Grottoes, Henan Province, China

 

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A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Longmen Grottoes can be found in China's Henan Province, where many come to bear witness to its gargantuan stone statues carved between the 5th century to the mid-8th century.

 

4. Egypt

 

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Does Egypt really need an introduction? You don't need to be an ancient history buff to recognise the magnificence of The Nile, the Pyramids and the great big Sphinx. Although these landmarks are just where the allure begins. Visit its ancient tombs, Mount Sinai, wander through its sprawling souqs and step inside its many mosques and temples.

 

5. Charleston, South Carolina

 

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Southern hospitality is at its best in this city renowned for its world class restaurants and warm service. Although it's also one cognizant of its own past, which is marred by its slave history. However you can learn more about this the International African American Museum which holds space for the country's turbulent history while celebrating Black Excellence.

 

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