The Rough Guide to the best travel destinations in 2023
Our recent 2023 travel survey asked you to share where you’d most love to visit in 2023. As well as quizzing you, our readers, we also picked the brains of Rough Guides’ editors and our local travel experts around the world, asking “Where’s best to visit in 2023?” Now all the results are in, we’re excited to bring you our definitive list (drumroll, please): The A-Z of the 23 best travel destinations for 2023.
Best for bucket list chasers and wildlife-watchers
Kicking off in especially aspirational style, we were struck by the prominence of Antarctica as one of your dream destinations for 2023. As a result, we had to include it in our run-down of the best places to visit in 2023.
It goes without saying that you can’t just rock up to Antarctica. So, we recommend taking a look at our tailor-made trip that combines southern Argentina with a four-night cruise to Antarctica.
Expert guides aboard your boat will give exhilarating talks on landscape and wildlife. Expect to see migrating whales, penguins, and seals as you visit Cape Horn, and cruise the Drake Passage to King George Island.
Make the most of your time in Antarctica
- Bring lots of layers and decent gloves for your cruise. Having your own binoculars is also recommended.
- From Ushuaia, book a guided trip to walk the thrilling Tierra del Fuego nature trails to the Emerald Lagoon.
- If you plan to spend longer in the region, read up on Ushuaia, and the best travel experiences in Argentina.
- Explore our Antarctica itinerary and talk to a local expert to make it 100% yours.
Where to stay
You’ll stay aboard a boat during your cruise (obvs), so here are some places to stay in Ushuaia before and after your trip. Being the world’s most southerly city, it’s known as the End of the World.
- Best for rustic charm: Cabañas Bosque Del Faldeo. This lovely lodge with a garden is close to lots of sights.
- Best for groups and families: Casa Magallanes. Three bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and a city-view patio.
- Best for couples: Hotel Canal Beagle. Modern, stylish, with a pool and wellness spa.
Discover more places to stay in Ushuaia.
2. Berlin, Germany — one the best travel destinations in 2023
Best for culture, clubbing and arty city breaks
There are plenty of reasons you voted cosmopolitan, dynamic Berlin one of the coolest cities in the world. It boasts crazy nightlight, incredible museums, and a cutting-edge art scene unlike anywhere else on earth.
Talking of edgy art, the world-renowned European Month of Photography celebrates its tenth anniversary in Berlin in March 2023 — all the more reason to visit if you’re into art and culture.
At once gritty and glamorous, we’re big fans of Berlin’s Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain area, not least for its cafés, bars, markets and independent clothes shops.
Make the most of your time in Berlin
- Into urban culture? Take a tour of Berlin’s street art.
- Read up on the best things to do in Berlin, and discover fab things you can do in Berlin for free.
- Get yourself a Mini Rough Guide to Berlin.
- Like to dig deeper into the places you visit? Check out this in-depth tour of Berlin and Potsdam. Or how about a culture-focused Capitals of Europe trip that covers Berlin, Prague, Vienna, and more?
Where to stay in Berlin
- Best for cool couples: Eastern & Western Comfort Hotelboat. Cosy cabin rooms moored on the River Spree.
- Best for budget travellers: Die Fabrik baxpax Hotel. Cool, comfy, and near East Side Gallery and Görlitzer Park.
- Best for 5-star luxury: Hotel Adlon. This Brandenburg Gate legend has a double Michelin-star restaurant.
Browse more places to stay in Berlin.
3. Bohol Island, the Philippines
Best for adventure, wildlife and out-of-this-world beaches
Part of the Visayas — the central island group of the Philippines — beautiful Bohol is known for its paradisiacal beaches and lush forests.
As such, it’s a fabulous destination for travellers who want to spice up a blissful beach break with wildlife-watching and adventure activities. Bohol and its 75 islets sure pack a lot into its splendid landmass.
Located in the centre of the island, the UNESCO World Heritage listed Chocolate Hills are a must-see. Here, over 1,000 near-identical, symmetrical mounds represent one of the Philippines’ most iconic sights. They’re also a dream to hike.
Into animals? Head to the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary to see the world’s smallest primates in a swathe of protected forest. Meanwhile, the marine life around Panglao Island presents dazzling snorkelling and diving experiences.
Make the most of your time on Bohol Island.
- Board a traditional Banca boat to enjoy a turtle and dolphin-watching trip around Balicasag and Virgin Island.
- Cruise the Loboc River to watch wildlife, see villages and enjoy a gourmet local lunch.
- Read up on the best things to do on Bohol Island, and read The Rough Guide to the Philippines.
- Visit Bohol as part of an immersive trip to the Visayas.
- Want to travel better? Discover the best eco-friendly resorts in the Philippines.
Where to stay on Bohol Island
- Best for budget travellers: Adriana’s Place. Glorious grounds, great food; dorms and bungalows available.
- Best for honeymooners: Epic Suites by Bohol Social Club. Stunningly-sited, with sea views and private pools.
- Best for home comforts: Villa 301 B&B. Cosy, quaint and quiet, with top home-cooked breakfasts.
Browse more places to stay on Bohol Island in the Philippines.
4. Cordoba, Argentina
Best for arty culture, gaucho culture and German culture…
Undeniably vibrant, it’s an old-meets-new kinda place. Its well-preserved microcentro is packed with colonial-era churches, monasteries, and municipal buildings, with the Centro Cultural Córdoba adding modern architectural flair.
Beyond its capital, the region of Cordoba is ripe for world-class horse-riding adventures. For example, you can experience gaucho culture at the Anglo-Argentine-owned Estancia Los Potreros ranch.
For something entirely different — and unexpected — head to kitsch Villa General Belgrano. With streets lined by Alpine-style buildings, and the aroma of sausages, sauerkraut and strudel wafting from restaurants, you’ll be forgiven for thinking you haven’t been transported to Munich.
And the reason? Villa General Belgrano was founded in the 1940s by survivors of the Graf Spree, a Nazi battleship that sank off the coast of Argentina in World War Two.
Make the most of your time in Cordoba
- Head to the hills for a horseback riding trip with an authentic Argentinian asado barbecue.
- Discover why Cordoba is Argentina’s most underrated region.
- Arm yourself with the picture-packed Insight Guide Argentina.
- For country-wide inspiration, browse our Argentina itineraries.
Where to stay in Cordoba
- Best for couples: Caseros 248 Hotel. Modern, spacious and close to attractions.
- Best for families: AT Suites. Self-catering apartments, with an on-site pool.
- Best for four-star comfort: Amérian Cordoba Park Hotel. Slick service and good food in downtown Cordoba.
Find more places to stay in Argentina’s Cordoba.
5. Dominica, Nature Island of the Caribbean
Best for adventure, exhilaration and soulful inspiration
Whether you reach dramatic Dominica by air or sea, it’s clear why the region’s indigenous Kalinago named the island Wai’tukubuli — tall is her body. The majestic peaks of Dominica’s volcanic, forested mountains are, quite simply, awe-inspiring.
It’s also clear why Dominica is known as the Nature Island of the Caribbean, and deeply rewarding for lovers of outdoor adventures, not least if you’re a diver, or opt to walk the Waitukubuli Trail. Split into 14 segments, the Caribbean’s first long-distance walking network showcases Dominica’s heritage, culture, and wild beauty in one fell swoop. The island’s beaches aren’t half bad, either.
To experience stacks of spectacular nature in one place, head to the heights of Laudat — Dominica’s highest village. Here you can soak up the misty splendour of Freshwater Lake and Boeri Lake, and join the trail-head for Dominica’s legendary Boiling Lake hike — you’ll need a guide for this. And all these soul-stirrers sit within the UNESCO designated Morne Trois Pitons National Park.
Alongside being an exceptional destination for nature and adventure lovers, Dominica is also a place to gain a deeper understanding of Caribbean history and culture. For example, the Kalinago Barana Autê shares the history and contemporary culture of the island’s indigenous Kalinago community.
And in good news for merry-makers, 2023 will see Mas Dominik — Dominica’s carnival — back to its exuberant full-scale incarnation for the first time since the pandemic. It run from 14th January, with six weeks of “Mas an Lawi” (Mas in the street) events culminating on 22nd February.
Make the most of your time in Dominica
- Be exhilarated by Dominica’s natural beauty on a Secret Waterfall Canyoning Experience.
- Dominica is the only place in the world where sperm whales are resident year-round, so go whale-watching.
- Head to Sunset Bay Club to enjoy lobster of a lifetime. This beach-front restaurant is also a small resort.
- Be inspired by tales of nurture from the Nature Island.
- Discover why Dominica breaks the Caribbean mould.
Where to stay in Dominica
- Best for beachfront bliss: Picard Beach Cottages. Cute, well-equipped cabins with on-site whale-watching.
- Best for chic sustainability: Sea Cliff Eco Cottages. Welcoming, stylish, and close to vibrant Calibishie.
- Best for back-to-nature luxury: Jungle Bay. Gorgeous grounds and breath-taking views over the south coast.
Discover more places to stay in Dominica.
6. Fes, Morocco
Best for foodies and culture vultures
The most complete medieval city of the Arab world, Fes‘ old town feels magically suspended between the Middle Ages and the modern world.
With some 9000 alleys buzzing with living history and traders, it’s a place to lose — and find — yourself in.
The oldest part of the city, walled Fes El-Bali, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its mosques, medersas and fondouks, plus a mile-long labyrinth of souks, there are enough sights here to warrant several days exploration.
Fes is also a feast for the senses. Head to Souk el Attarine to savour the aroma of spices, herbs, and incense, and buy traditional Moroccan crafts. Given that some traders are set up in beautiful old mansions, you’ll most likely find yourself exploring a regal riad while shopping.
If that wasn’t enough, Fes is also the culinary capital of Morocco. A place to feast on some of the country’s best eating and drinking experiences.
While wandering Fes El-Bali, try street-stall snacks like bisara soup, or jben, an acidic white goat’s cheese. Fes is also the home of pastilla — a succulent pigeon or chicken pie dusted with sugar and cinnamon.
Make the most of your time in Fes
- Feast on Fes’ food and culture on a cookery class experience.
- Uncover the imperial cities of Morocco — including Fes — on an immersive trip.
- Read up on the best markets in Morocco.
- Plan a bigger trip with The Rough Guide to Morocco.
Where to stay in Fes
- Best for special occasions: Riad Authentic Palace & Spa. Five-star splendour and service in the old town.
- Best for foodies: Riad Tahyra. A boutique beauty where chefs often invite guests into the kitchen.
- Best for families: Riad Laayoun. Relaxed, rather reasonable and very friendly.
Find more places to stay in Fes Morocco.
7. Kanazawa, Japan
Best for magical gardens, galleries and unique history
With a long, rich history, Kanazawa’s exquisitely preserved historic districts exude stepped-back-in-time magic.
The dazzling jewel in the city’s crown is Kenrokuen Garden, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. Designed to enchant in every season — snow-shrouded boughs in winter, cherry blossom in spring, blazing leaves in autumn — it’s been stunning visitors for over two centuries.
If you’re interested in learning about Kanazawa’s samurai history, explore Nagamachi District on foot. Located just beyond Kanazawa Castle, here you can visit the restored residence of one of Kanazawa’s most influential samurais, Nomura Denbei Nobusada,
History buffs will also want to head to Higashi Chaya District, where old geisha houses sit centre stage.
But Kanazawa isn’t only about the past. Affectionately known as “Little Kyoto”, the city also boasts modern buzz. For example, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art showcases a programme of exciting exhibitions.
Meanwhile, foodies will be in seventh heaven in Omicho Market — expect some of the freshest, finest fish and seafood in the region.
Make the most of your time in Kanazawa
- Get to know Kanazawa through the eyes of a learned local resident.
- Love your grub? Take a personalised food-themed walking tour with a local guide.
- Read up on the rise of Japan’s Little Kyoto and The Rough Guide to Japan.
- Into food and culture? Take an extended culinary tour of Japan that takes in Kanazawa.
Where to stay in Kanazawa
- Best for 5-star finery: Kanazawa Hakuchoro Hotel Sanraku. Elegant tea lounges, a hot spring bath, castle views.
- Best for indie travellers: B&B Mikawa Kanazawa Fish Harbour. This tiny trad-style house offers free bikes.
- Best for couples: Zaimoku-an. Villa-style living and space in a top location.
Explore more places to stay in Kanazawa Japan.
8. Korčula, Croatia
Best for wine, food, and fabulous family-friendly beaches
As a result of this diversity, and an upturn in multi-generational holidays, Korčula earned a place in our best travel destinations in 2023. In short, if you’re in the market for a sun-soaked break that’ll keep everyone happy, Korčula has your name on it, your kids’ names on it, and your granny’s name on it.
The soft sand bays and quiet coves on the island’s southern coast are the perfect place for little ones to learn to swim. And, given the calmness of the Adriatic around these parts, Korčula is also the ideal place for first-time sailors to take the plunge.
Into nature? Korčula is one of the greenest Adriatic islands, with an abundance of Aleppo pines, olive groves, and rolling vineyards. The latter of which are responsible for another reason to visit Korčula — world-class wine, especially dry whites like Pošip.
Make the most of your time on Korčula
- Little ones will adore viewing marine-life from a semi-submersible boat.
- Love the water and want to see more than one island? Consider booking a Croatian sailing trip, and arm yourself with our practical guide to island-hopping in Croatia.
- Read up on the top Croatian islands for getaways (psst — it includes the idyllic islet of Proizd, reached by water taxi from Vela Luka on Korčula).
- Keen to know more about Croatia? The full Rough Guide to Croatia has you covered, plus there’s a Mini Rough Guide for shorter breaks.
Where to stay in Korčula
- Best for couples: Aminess Korcula Heritage Hotel. This quay-front gem oozes Old Town charm.
- Best for families: Villa Stone House Poplat. Boasts a pool, private beach and variously-sized villas.
- Best for budget travellers: Dragan’s Den Hostel. Friendly, with dorms and private rooms.
Find more places to stay on Korčula Croatia.
9. Leeds, Yorkshire
Best for gourmands, gallery-lovers and theatre fans
When it came to the UK, including Leeds in our best travel destinations to visit in 2023 was a no-brainer. Firstly, Leeds is the UK City of Culture in 2023. Secondly, Yorkshire was one of your top UK regions for 2023 staycations.
Then there’s the magnificent City Varieties Music Hall, which holds a Guinness World Record as the nation’s longest-running music hall. And, being the nation’s last gas-lit cinema, we can’t not mention the Hyde Park Picture House.
Meanwhile, Leeds Art Gallery presents a diverse collection of work to suit all tastes, from Francis Bacon paintings, to Grayson Perry sculptures and Damian Hirst installations.
If all that art and culture leaves you feeling hungry, fear not — Leeds isn’t known as the “Foodie Capital of the North” for nothing. Kirkgate Market — well worth visiting for a wander in its own right — now boasts a refurbished food hall that’ll have you struggling to pick your lunch.
Come May, Leeds plays host to the UK’s first independent food festival, Leeds Indie Food. Expect a celebration of fresh fare from local growers and creators, plus global innovators drawn to the city’s embracing of culinary culture.
Make the most of your time in Leeds
- Book a local food tour to experience why Leeds is the foodie capital of the north.
- Travelling with kids or a group? Take a self-guided treasure hunt tour of Leeds.
- Into the unusual? Enjoy an urban axe-throwing experience.
- Read up on where to find culture around every corner of Leeds, and find out how to love Leeds for longer
Where to stay in Leeds
- Best for 5-star treats: Dakota Leeds. Stylish rooms, plus an on-site bar and great grill restaurant.
- Best for indie couples: The Chambers. Boutique apartments in a well restored turn-of-the-century residence.
- Best for romantic escapes: Hinsley Hall. 1.5 miles from the centre, this listed building has acres of grounds.
Check out more places to stay in Leeds.
10. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Best for enchanting scenery and sustainable travel
Green and clean, Slovenian capital Ljubljana — a place you voted one of the most beautiful countries in the world — has an abundance of scenic charm. Caressing the Ljubljanica river and overlooked by a castle, cities don’t come much more picturesque.
What’s more, Ljubljana has the EU’s biggest pedestrianised area, plenty of parks to stroll in, and is a beautiful base from which to visit a host of Slovenian attractions.
Under an hour from the capital, Lake Bled is a must-visit. A fairy tale island juts from its expanse of clear water, with a cliff-top castle and mountain backdrop adding to the magic. It’s also at the forefront of sustainable travel practices — arguably Europe’s greenest destination.
Postojna Caves in southwest Slovenia is another unmissable day-trip. On arrival, you’ll take a train into a sublime subterranean world, with a show-stopping, cathedral-like chamber at journey’s end.
More rocky wonders await at sixteenth-century Predjama Castle. Built into elevated cave entrance in the heart of an unforgettable karst landscape, it defies the imagination, and everything you assumed about engineering.
Meanwhile, beyond its awe-inspiring interior, Slovenia’s coastline is every bit as beautiful, and diverse with it. From picturesque Piran, to the spa town of Portorož, expect atmospheric Old Towns with Venetian flair, flavour and “I can’t wait to come back” allure.
Make the most of your time in Ljubljana
- Book a day trip to Lake Bled, Postojna Caves and Predjama Castle.
- Interested in nature and the environment? Find out why there’s a buzz about Slovenia’s bee tourism.
- To experience Slovenia in all its majesty, book a customisable treasures of Slovenia trip.
- Read our beginners guide to Ljubljana and The Rough Guide to Slovenia.
- Looking to take an early break in 2023? Find out what to expect from exploring Slovenia in spring.
Where to stay in Ljubljana
- Best for old time charm: Grand Hotel Union Eurostars. Art Nouveau style in the heart of the city.
- Best for families: Boutique Hotel Asteria. Homely vibes, with triple and quad rooms available.
- Best for budget travellers: Boutique Hostel Angel. Quiet and cosy, with personal sleeping capsules.
Look at more places to stay in Ljubljana Slovenia.
11. Mekong Delta, Vietnam
Best for tropical lushness and cultural immersion
Emerald paddy fields. Floating markets dappling lush canals. Expansive green horizons speckled with coconut trees. Cone-hatted farmers working the land. The Mekong Delta presents some of Vietnam’s most iconic images, and saw you vote it one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam.
A highlight here is visiting the floating markets and fruit orchards around Can Tho. There’s no better way to soak up the region’s culture while also marvelling at its maze of waterways and mangrove forests.
Taking a ferry to An Binh Island is another unforgettable experience. With a landscape that represents the delta in miniature, it has its own floating market. And, with many families offer rewarding homestays, it’s a wonderful place to try some of the best Vietnamese food — eating it, and cooking it.
You’ll also want to visit the Khmer pagodas around Tra Vinh. Here over 100 Buddhist temples serve not only as places of worship, but as a testament to the artistry and extraordinary craftsmanship of the Khmer people.
Make the most of your time in the Mekong Delta
- Discover how to go beyond the tourist trail in Vietnam, and read up on the mighty Mekong River.
- Interested in a bigger trip around the region? Read the Rough Guides to Vietnam and Cambodia.
- To take the hassle out of planning, explore our fully-customisable, tailor-made trips to Vietnam.
Where to stay in the Mekong Delta
- Best for nature-lovers: Mekong Lodge Resort. Peaceful, pretty riverfront bungalows surrounded by gardens.
- Best for foodie couples: Phuong Thao Homestay. Close to the An Binh ferry, with a pool and cooking classes.
- Best for families: Mai Binh Phuong Bungalow. Near Long Beach, this has an outdoor pool, garden and terrace.
Read up on more places to stay in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.
12. Naples, Italy
Best for cracking culture, heady heritage, island excursions, and perfect pizza
Like its Mount Vesuvius backdrop, Naples is firecracker of a destination. From the depths of its subterranean caves, to its erotic ancient art, the city smoulders with ravishing, rough-round-the-edges appeal.
Visible from just about everywhere in the Bay of Naples, visiting Mount Vesuvius is one of the very best things to do in the region. It’s dominated the lives of residents since AD 79, when it first erupted and buried the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. You’ll want to visit both of these unique ancient heritage sites during your trip.
On the subject of ancient attractions, Naples’ National Archaeological Museum has an exceptional collection of mosaics and classical sculptures. That said, its main allures are in the Gabinetto Segretto (Secret Room), which displays paintings and sculptures from the brothels, baths and bars of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
What’s more, with the Amalfi Coast on its doorstop, and glamorous islands easily accessed from its bay, Naples makes a great base for beach-lovers.
For example, just over an hour by train from Naples, the cliff-top coastal town of Sorrento is a maze of medieval alleys and piazzas, with plenty of stunning sea-front restaurants to dine in. Sorrento also happens to be one of the most beautiful places in Italy.
Meanwhile, back in town, Naples lays claim to being the birthplace of pizza.
Make the most of your time in Naples
- Visit the ruins of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius on a full-day tour.
- Go underground to explore the history of Naples on a unique subterranean tour.
- Discover unusual things to do in Naples, and read up on the best pizza joints in Naples.
- Get yourself a guidebook to Naples and the Amalfi Coast.
Where to stay in Naples
- Best for splashing out in style: Grand Hotel Parker’s. Live la dolce vita at this luxurious bay-view establishment.
- Best for couples: Spanish Palace Rooms. A beautiful B&B in an 18th-century building.
- Best for families: Case Così Apartments. Modern, well-equipped apartments and suites.
Discover more places to stay in Naples Italy.
13. Northern Cape, South Africa
Best for off-the-beaten-track adventures and wildlife
Boasting a landscape of dramatic red dunes, South Africa’s longest river, and desert miracles in the form of Namaqualand’s flower carpets, it’s a place to marvel at nature.
Talking of which, landscapes don’t get much more marvellous than Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. Tucked in a loop of the Orange River, it’s the world’s only arid biodiversity hotspot, and home to almost 5000 plant species.
Famed for its endemic halfmensboom (“half-man”) tree, the park is also known for klipspringer antelopes, leopards and wild cats.
Nature-lovers will also want to experience the mighty Aukoerebis waterfalls — South Africa’s largest — in the Augrabies Falls National Park. It plummets sixty metres to create the creating the earth-shattering noise that gives them their name — Aukoerebis means “the place of great noise” in the Khoisan language.
Make the most of your time in the Northern Cape
- Need more convincing? Discover why you should choose the Northern Cape for your South African holiday.
- Read up on how to experience the Northern Cape off the beaten track.
- Into animals? Get The Rough Guide to the Game Parks of South Africa.
- For more inspiration, take a look at our suggested South Africa itineraries.
Where to stay in the Northern Cape
- Best for couples: Boutique Guesthouse Hanover. A welcoming, comfortable stop-off.
- Best for food and wine: Bezalel Wine & Brandy Estate. Friendly hosts, superb surroundings, and top tastings.
- Best for safari stop-offs: Kalahari Lion’s Rest. Ideal if you’re visiting Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
14. Oaxaca, Mexico
Best for mixing mountains, culture and blissful beach-life
Exhilarating fiestas. A cosmopolitan capital. Indigenous villages. Forested hillsides, and Pacific beaches that range from peaceful backwaters to established resorts. There’s no question that the state of Oaxaca is one of the most enticing destinations in Mexico.
Oaxaca city is the region’s prime destination, attracting visitors from Mexico City to its markets, craft stalls, magnificent Baroque architecture, and gallery-rich walkways.
Nearby, the Zapotec and Mixtec sites at Monte Albán, Yagul and Mitla might be less known than their counterparts in central and eastern Mexico, but they’re every bit as impressive. What’s more, fewer crowds make for a more rewarding experience.
Meanwhile, down on the coast, Puerto Escondido attracts surfers, with lesser-visited beaches around Puerto Ángel boasting something of an alternative vibe.
Make the most of your time in Oaxaca
- Into food? Take a traditional Oaxacan cooking class with a market visit.
- Want to learn about the region’s ancient history? Take a trip to Monte Alban to discover Zapotec culture.
- Our Amazing Mexico trip includes an immersive few days in Oaxaca, along with Mexico City and Mayan gems.
- Want to mix Mexico City, Teotihuacan, Oaxaca City and the Yucatan? See our Explore Central Mexico itinerary.
- Discover more cool places to visit in Mexico, and get yourself a Rough Guide to Mexico.
Where to stay in Oaxaca
- Best for couples: Casa Joseph Zicatela. An adults-only 5-star steps from Zicatela Beach.
- Best for outdoor activities: Cabañas Rancho Viejo. Free bikes, mountain views and top hiking.
- Best for beachfront bliss: Un Sueño Cabañas del Pacífico. Cute cabanas on a stunning beach.
Discover more places to stay in Oaxaca Mexico.
15. Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Best for wildlife, nature, sustainable travel and a 2023 solar eclipse
Home to pristine rainforests, majestic volcanoes, tangled mangroves, and stunning beaches lapped by both the Pacific and Caribbean Oceans, exuberant Costa Rica exudes life at every turn.
One of the world’s most biodiverse countries, this Central American stunner has been blazing the trail for responsible travel for decades. Alongside its exceptional eco lodges and community-minded tourism projects, the country exudes its pura vida (“pure living”) ethos from every town, village, cloud forest and jungle.
One the best places to experience Costa Rica’s natural and wildlife wonders is on the Osa Peninsula in the southern province of Puntarenas. Here the Parque Nacional Corcovado is one of Costa Rica’s best walking destinations, and among its most biodiverse regions.
Also one of the most beautiful national parks in Costa Rica, the Corcovado reserve is home to many of the world’s most endangered and spectacular mammals, including tapirs and jaguars.
If you need another reason to visit this year, it’s worth knowing that on 14th October 2023, you’ll be able to see an annular solar eclipse in Costa Rica. This is when the moon covers the sun’s centre, leaving a “ring of fire” (annulus) around the moon.
Awesome wildlife and landscapes aside, this stellar event secured Costa Rica’s spot as one of the best travel destinations in 2023.
Make the most of your time in the Osa Peninsula
- Explore the jungles of the Tamandua nature reserve on a half-day trip with a guide.
- Book a Costa Rica eco-adventure tour that kicks off in the Osa Peninsula, or explore the wild south.
- Discover more of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, and read up on the best hikes in Costa Rica.
- Read The Rough Guide to Costs Rica for in-depth detail on the whole country.
Where to stay in Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica
- Best for mountain magic: Santa Juana Lodge. Stunningly sited, with a bounty of birds, waterfalls and walks.
- Best for eco beach-life: La Leona Eco Lodge. Cute candle lit beach cabins near Corcovado National Park.
- Best for indie nature-lovers: Tico Tico Villas. Adults only, and near Manuel Antonio National Park.
Discover more places to stay in Costa Rica’s Puntarenas province.
16. Pembrokeshire, Wales
Best for beautiful beaches, epic coastal walks, family fun and responsible travel
Nestled in Wales’ most south-westerly corner, and surrounded by the mighty Atlantic on three sides, Pembrokeshire is a jaw-droppingly scenic, family-friendly destination. A place where natural beauty, ancient history, elite outdoor adventures, and fun family attractions await.
The county’s beaches are breath-taking, with Caribbean-esque Barafundle Bay often cited as being among the world’s best.
Then there’s the internationally renowned Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the bird-rich islands of Skomer, Skokholm and Grassholm, and exhilarating kayaking, hiking and coasteering trips. Fun fact: Pembrokeshire is the birthplace of coasteering.
The county is also the perfect place to travel more responsibly. In fact, Wales as a whole has long been leading the way when it comes to responsible travel. This beautiful, welcoming land offers lots of practical ways to travel better, for every type of traveller.
Make the most of your time in Pembrokeshire
- Read up on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, and get the Pocket Rough Guide to Pembrokeshire.
- Want to travel better? Discover eco-friendly holidays to enjoy in Wales, and download the FREE Rough Guide to Responsible Wales.
- Travelling further afield? Find out about places in Wales you’re probably never heard of, and get The Rough Guide to Wales.
Where to stay in Pembrokeshire
- Best for foodies: The Grove. An 18th-century country house surrounded by meadows.
- Best for majestic views: Roch Castle. A 12th-century stunner on a rocky outcrop overlooking St Brides Bay.
- Best for families: Timber Hill Self Catering Cedar Lodges. Spacious, scenic and close to beaches.
Discover more places to stay in Pembrokeshire Wales.
17. Pensacola, Florida
Best for laidback vacations and family fun in the sun
From Miami and Orlando, to Key West and the Everglades, Florida’s allure can’t be denied. But, given that so many of you expressed a strong desire to escape to pastures new in 2023, we wanted to highlight an alternate area of the Sunshine State. Namely, Pensacola.
With a growing reputation as a place that’ll keep the whole family happy, it’s a top destination if you want to chill out on miles of white sand beaches, try your hand at water-sports, or get your culture on in the city.
Protecting 5,842 acres of land and 18,953 acres of water, the Gulf Islands National Seashore of Pensacola presents countless ways to find serene solitude. Or, if you’re in the mood for action, the same area is ripe for snorkelling, kayaking, hiking, biking and boating.
In town, Palafox Street is packed with places to eat, shop and be entertained. Don’t miss the Saturday market for fresh bread, local cheese and sweet treats, along with handmade crafts and art.
When you’re done, head to historic Fort Pickens. From downtown Pensacola, the journey will take you past spectacular beaches you’ll vow to return to.
In good news for those planning to visit next year, a fabulously quirky boutique hotel is set to open in 2023. Located in a restored historic Baptist church, Lily Hall Hotel will feature Pensacola’s first speakeasy. With only fifteen rooms, and a whole lot of buzz around it, you’ll want to contact them early to secure yours.
Make the most of your time in Pensacola
- Take to the waters off Pensacola Beach to see dolphins on a guided cruise.
- Uncover eccentric Florida in our run down of ways to weird out in the Sunshine State.
- Want full detail on the Sunshine State? Dive into The Rough Guide to Florida.
- Travelling with kids? Find out how to have family fun in Florida.
Where to stay in Pensacola
- Best for families: Quality Inn & Suites Pensacola Bayview. Close to Escambia Bay, with an on-site pool.
- Best for seeing the region: Best Western Plus Blue Angel Inn. Friendly service, close to downtown.
- Best for couples: Pensacola Victorian Bed & Breakfast. Big beds and top breakfasts in a beautiful building.
Find more places to stay in Pensacola Florida.
18. Scottish Highlands, Scotland
Best for freedom, fresh air and recharging
A landscape of lochs, rivers, mountains and glens, the Scottish Highlands is one of the places you most want to visit in 2023. You also voted this region one of the most beautiful places in Scotland — high praise, indeed.
The ideal destination if you’re looking to recharge, the Highlands also satisfy cravings for fresh air and glorious walks. And Inverness, the region’s only major city, is a great springboard for your exploration of more remote areas.
South of the city, the area around the dramatic Cairngorm mountains offer fabulous opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities in stunning scenery. You won’t want to miss legend-steeped Loch Ness, the largest of the string of lochs which make up the Great Glen.
Cutting across the Highlands from Inverness, the Glen’s ancient geological fault line leads to Fort William, a town that’s stunningly sited beneath Scotland’s highest peak — Ben Nevis.
Other highlights include the West Highland Railway, which runs from Glasgow to Mallaig via Fort William. You can also use this scenic railway route to reach Loch Lomond, where more mysterious landscapes await.
Make the most of your time in the Scottish Highlands
- Want to walk on the wild side? The Rough Guide to the North Coast 500 is packed with rewarding routes.
- Gawp at our gallery of the most beautiful places in Scotland, and read up on the best things to do in Scotland.
- Take a trip focused on Scotland’s Highlands.
- Be inspired by The Rough Guide to the 100 Best Places in Scotland, and read The Rough Guide to Scottish Highlands and Islands.
Where to stay in the Scottish Highlands
- Best for fairy tale family breaks: The Little Houses. Picture-book-perfect cabins near Fort William.
- Best for star-gazers: Aurora Rural Retreats. Epic mountain views, clear skies and cosy comfort in Glendale.
- Best for couples: SeaBeds. Luxury lakeview lodges with hot tubs.
Browse more places to stay in the Scottish Highlands.
19. Sydney, Australia
Best for city slickers, beach bums and the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup
With its sparkling harbour, amazing beaches, fab food scene, and outstanding national parks on the doorstep (almost), Sydney packs punch as a destination with something for everyone. You also voted it one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
If you’re thinking of stopping off in Sydney as part of a longer trip around Australia, be sure to allow at least five days here.
For example, you’ll most likely feel hard done by if you don’t visit at least one of Sydney’s eastern-suburb beaches. We recommend strolling the coastal path that stretches from Bondi to Coogee.
If you’re into nature and wildlife, top national parks are within an hour of the city, including Ku-ring-gai Chase and Royal.
Meanwhile the magnificent, UNESCO World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains present opportunities for isolated bushwalking. You’ll feel a million miles away from Sydney’s glitzy commercial centre and gritty suburbs.
Follow the beautiful game? You have an extra reason to visit Sydney in 2023. From 20th July to 20th August, New Zealand and Australia will co-host the FIFA Women’s World Cup, with Sydney set to stage the final on 20th August 2023.
Make the most of your time in Sydney
- See the natural beauty of the Blue Mountains on a full-day tour to Featherdale Wildlife Park.
- Love wine? Head north toward the luscious lands of the Hunter Valley for a wine-tasting tour.
- Want to save some dollars? Discover fab free things to do in Sydney.
- Planning a bigger trip? Read The Rough Guide to Australia, and our tips for backpacking Australia.
Where to stay in Sydney
- Best for an iconic experience: View Sydney. Stylish rooms overlooking Sydney Harbour. Nuff said.
- Best for families: Coogee Sands Hotel & Apartments. Right by Coogee Beach, in easy reach of the city.
- Best for budget travellers: Sydney Harbour YHA. Modern and friendly with Harbour views from the terrace.
20. Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile
Best for bucket list hikes and otherworldly landscapes
Silver glaciers, blue icebergs, and sculpted mountains that’ll take your breath away (really). Torres del Paine National Park in Chile’s Patagonia region is a bona fide paradise for hikers who want to unleash their inner explorer.
Given that Chile only fully opened to visitors post-pandemic in September 2022, 2023 is the perfect time to support tourism in the country, while also fulfilling big bucket list dreams.
The park’s soaring centrepiece is the twin-peaked Cerro Monte Almirante Nieto, framed to the north by the elegant Torres del Paine (“Paine Towers”). To the west, the Cuernos del Paine (“Paine Horns”) spike the sky.
Collectively forming the Paine Massif, the best views are found from the south bank of Lago Nordenskjöld. The lake’s weird milky-turquoise waters act as an uncanny mirror.
To the west, llama-like guanacos roam on plains beneath the mountains. If you’re lucky, you might see an elusive, rare huermúl deer. Get really lucky, and you could glimpse a puma.
Make the most of your time in Torres del Paine
- To focus on more important things (like getting into explorer mode), book a customisable, tailor-made trip from Santiago to Torres del Paine.
- Prefer to book things yourself? Check out guided hiking tours of the national park.
- Read up on Patagonia’s legendary Ruta 40, and be mesmerised by pictures of Patagonia.
- Get yourself The Rough Guide to Chile and Easter Island, and arm yourself with Insight Guide Argentina.
Where to stay in Torres del Paine
- Best for exploring in style: Río Serrano Hotel. Amazing views over the Massif, plus a pool and spa.
- Best for couples: Hotel Lago Grey. A cosy, welcoming base with stunning vistas.
- Best for regional road-trips: Hotel Estancia El Ovejero Patagónico. Well-located for Argentina crossings.
Browse more places to stay in Chile’s Torres del Paine region.
21. Toulouse, France
Best for French flamboyance, foodies and the 2023 Rugby World Cup
Chances are, if you’ve already visited France, you’ll be hankering to return at some point. But before you book a trip to delve deeper into Paris, see more of Provence, or soak up sun on the Côte d’Azur, consider adding Toulouse to your 2023 travel destination wish-list.
And the reasons? Though officially outside the administrative région, Toulouse is the cultural capital of medieval and modern Languedoc. Known as the Pink City due to the blushing hue of its historic buildings, it’s a vibrant urban hub with a Vieux Quartier (Old Quarter) you might just fall in love with.
Toulouse is also the capital of European aerospace industry. It lays claim to being one of France’s top culinary cities — think hearty cassoulet, duck confit, and (of course) saucisse de Toulouse. It’s also the capital of wine in South-West France.
If that wasn’t eclectic enough, Toulouse is one of the host cities for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, which kicks off on 8th September.
Make the most of your time in Toulouse
- Learn about the city’s history and cultural hotspots on a guided walking tour.
- Head out of town for a tasting tour of a 16th-century vinery, Domaine de Baronarques.
- Discover more places to visit in the Languedoc region.
- Read The Rough Guide to Languedoc and Roussillon, and get yourself a French phrasebook.
- Browse our customisable France itineraries.
Where to stay in Toulouse
- Best for 5-star style: La Cour des Consuls Hotel and Spa. Ultra-elegant, with a wonderful restaurant.
- Best for couples. Hôtel de Brienne. A cosy, canal-side gem.
- Best for groups: Haut Lofts. Spacious, stylish central apartments.
Discover more places to stay in Toulouse.
22. Wellington, New Zealand
Best for culture, cuisine and the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup
Given that you ranked New Zealand as your number one dream destination in our recent reader travel survey, we had to include it in our best travel destinations in 2023.
After much debate, we went for Wellington, partly because it’s another host city for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which runs across New Zealand and Australia from 20th July to 20th August.
While it’s true to say that if you’re heading to New Zealand, you won’t want to spend all your time in a city, Wellington warrants a sizeable chunk of your time. Given that it’s the main departure point for the South Island, consider planning a trip that takes in Wellington’s sights before heading off.
New Zealand’s second most populous city, Wellington sits top of the tree when it comes to café culture, nightlife and the arts, not least during the summer when a stack of fringe festivals erupt.
Boasting more places to eat and drink per capita than New York City, Wellington is New Zealand’s culinary capital, with a cracking craft beer scene and renowned regional wine.
Courtesy of its surrounding wooded Town Belt, Wellington also boasts excellent, easily accessible walking.
Meanwhile, Mount Victoria Lookout is one of Wellington’s best viewpoints, offering sweeping views of the city, waterfront, docks, and beyond to the Hutt Valley.
Make the most of your time in Wellington
- Sample Wellington’s fabulous food scene on a city tasting tour.
- Discover New Zealand’s native wildlife at Zealandia Ecosanctuary.
- Want to explore New Zealand more widely? Take inspiration from the Insight Guide.
- Given the epic nature of the country, you might want to consider taking a tailor-made trip. Our customisable North to South self-drive trip includes a few days in Wellington.
- For more rewarding road experiences, read up on some of New Zealand’s best routes.
Where to stay in Wellington
- Best for families: Terrace Villas Apartments. Home comforts in 100-year-old historic villas.
- Best for couples: Bolton Hotel. An elegant boutique 5-star.
- Best for budget travellers: Hotel Waterloo & Backpackers. Affordable dorms and rooms in a former fancy hotel.
Find more places to stay in Wellington New Zealand.
23. Zagori, Greece
Best for epic hikes and laidback village life
Fallen for Greece after visiting its glorious islands? Can’t get enough of fresh and zesty Greek food? Fancy doing something different in 2023? You might want to look into visiting Zagori for a 2023 trip that delivers big on traditional Greek culture and cuisine. This wildly beautiful region of Greece’s central mainland is also big when it comes to magnificent natural sights and hikes.
Sparsely populated, Zagori is characterised by thick forest, with rugged mountains wrinkled by foaming rivers. All this is best explored by hiking several paths that connect its traditional villages.
The pinnacle of these hikes is to the UNESCO-protected Víkos Gorge — the second deepest Gorge in the world, no less (only the Grand Canyon is deeper).
Steep in sections, the undulating trail takes you through a lush wilderness of untouched forest as dolomite and limestone cliffs tower overhead.
Happily for fans of Greek food, the region’s impossibly pretty villages aren’t short of family-run restaurants serving hearty seasonal dishes. All the better if you’ve worked up an appetite during an awe-inspiring hike.
Make the most of your time in Zagori
- Venture to Vikos Gorge on full-day guided hike.
- Immerse yourself in nature and food on a guided hike through the Valia Calda forest plus picnic.
- Read our tips for travelling in Greece.
- Get in-depth, insider info from The Rough Guide to Greece.
- For more inspiration, view our customisable Greece trip itineraries.
Where to stay in Zagori
- Best for traditional charm: Orestis House. Lovely stone buildings and great food.
- Best for rustic luxury: Aristi Mountain Resort. A boutique spa hotel with lofty views.
- Best for families: Ameliko Zagori. Pretty, friendly and near the gorge.
Discover more places to stay in Zagori Greece.
If reading the Rough Guide to the best travel destinations in 2023 has left you ready to book your trip, you might want to browse our guidebook shop to arm yourself with more info before you go.
Alternatively, explore our customisable tailor-made trips. Whether you’re looking for one of the world’s best adventure holidays, or somewhere to take your kids, the suggested itineraries will surely stoke your wanderlust.
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Header image: Bohol island tarsier © Shutterstock
Joanne is a Pembrokeshire-born writer with a passion for the nature, cultures and histories of the Caribbean region, especially Dominica. Also passionate about inspiring a love of adventure in young people, she’s the author of several books for children and young adults, hosts international writing workshops, and has written articles on the Caribbean and inspirational community initiatives for Rough Guides. Follow her @JoanneOwen on Twitter and @joanneowenwrites on Instagram.