The Rough Guide to the best travel destinations in 2023

Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 19.12.2022

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.

1. Antarctica

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

This awe-inspiring experience begins in Buenos Aires. After enjoying a few nights in El Calafate and Ushuaia, you'll set sail for four nights in the Antarctic.

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.

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.

Emperor Penguin, Snow Hill, Antarctica © vladsilver/Shutterstock

Antarctica — one of the best travel destinations in 2023, and one of your 2023 dream destinations © Shutterstock

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.

Browse more places to stay in Berlin.

Museum Island in Berlin © canadastock/Shutterstock

Into art and culture? Berlin is one of the best travel destinations for 2023 © canadastock/Shutterstock

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.

    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.


Bohol Island is a wonder for wildlife-watchers © Shutterstock

4. Cordoba, Argentina

Best for arty culture, gaucho culture and German culture...

With a dynamic vibe coming courtesy of its student population, CordobaArgentina's second city — is emerging from the shadow of Buenos Aires.

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.

    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.


Cordoba, Argentina © Shutterstock

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.

    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.

Stairway Pathway on the island of Dominica on Boiling Lake Hike, Dominica © Shutterstock

Stairway to hiking heaven — Dominica's Boiling Lake hike © Shutterstock

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.

    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.


Fes, Morocco — a feast for the senses © Shutterstock

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.


Kenrokuen Garden. Kanazawa, Japan © Shutterstock

8. Korčula, Croatia

Best for wine, food, and fabulous family-friendly beaches

With a magnificent Old Town, safe and scenic out-of-town-beaches, and excellent, unstuffy restaurants, the laid-back Croatian island of Korčula sure ticks lots of boxes.

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.

Find more places to stay on Korčula Croatia.

Korcula, old medieval town in Dalmatia region, Croatia © Shutterstock

Korcula's medieval Old Town, Croatia © Shutterstock

9. Leeds, Yorkshire

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.

Leeds is home to Opera North (the only nationally recognised UK opera company outside London), Leeds Grand Theatre and Northern Ballet – lovers of live performance are spoiled for choice.

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.

    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.

Leeds City Kirkgate Market © Prawrawee Lim/Shutterstock

As 2023 UK City of Culture, Leeds had to be one of our best travel destinations in 2023 © Prawrawee Lim/Shutterstock

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.

Look at more places to stay in Ljubljana Slovenia.

Lake Bled, Slovenia © Alberto Loyo/Shutterstock

Lake Bled, Slovenia — a clean, green dream of a destination © Alberto Loyo/Shutterstock

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.

    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.

Mekong Delta in Vietnam © Shutterstock

Mekong Delta, Vietnam © Shutterstock

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. 

    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.


Old Town, Naples © Shutterstock

13. Northern Cape, South Africa

Best for off-the-beaten-track adventures and wildlife

The biggest and most dispersed of South Africa’s provinces, the Northern Cape is also one of its least visited regions — good news for those of you who like to go your own way.

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.

Find more places to stay in South Africa's Northern Cape.

Namaqualand, South Africa © Marie-Anne AbersonM/Shutterstock

Namaqualand, South Africa © Marie-Anne AbersonM/Shutterstock

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.

Discover more places to stay in Oaxaca Mexico.

Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman in Oaxaca, Mexico © Shutterstock

Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman in Oaxaca, Mexico © Shutterstock

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.

    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.

A spider monkey climbs high trees of the rainforest in the Corcovado © Kit Korzun/Shutterstock

The Osa Peninsula's Corcovado National Park is a must-visit for wildlife-lovers © Shutterstock

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.

    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.

Tenby Harbour, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales © Billy Stock/Shutterstock

Tenby Harbour, Pembrokeshire, Wales © Billy Stock/Shutterstock

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.

Find more places to stay in Pensacola Florida.

Pensacola Beach, Florida © AdobeStock

Pensacola Beach, Florida © AdobeStock

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.

    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.

The Kylesku Bridge spanning Loch a' Chà irn Bhà in in the Scottish Highlands and a landmark on the North Coast 500 @ Helen Hotson/Shutterstock

The Kylesku Bridge in the Scottish Highlands is a landmark of the North Coast 500 © Helen Hotson/Shutterstock

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.

    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.

See more places to stay in Sydney Australia, and read our guide to accommodation in Sydney.

Aerial view of Sydney Opera @ Shutterstock

Sydney at dusk © Shutterstock

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. 

Since you’ve made the effort to come all this way, you’ll want to hop over the border to explore Argentina’s most amazing national park – Parque Nacional Los Glaciares.

Browse more places to stay in Chile's Torres del Paine region.

House on the island in the national park Torres del Paine, lake Pehoe, Patagonia, Chile © Shutterstock

Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile © Shutterstock

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.

Street view in Toulouse, France © AdobeStock

Pretty and pink — Toulouse, France © AdobeStock

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.

Find more places to stay in Wellington New Zealand.

Wellington, New Zealand © Tom Zahnas/Shutterstock

Wellington, New Zealand © Tom Zahnas/Shutterstock

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.

    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.

Aerial view of Vikos Gorge, a gorge in the Pindus Mountains of northern Greece, lying on the southern slopes of Mount Tymfi, one of the deepest gorges in the world. Zagori region, Greece © Shutterstock

Aerial view of Vikos Gorge © Shutterstock

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.

We may earn commission when you click on links in this article, but this doesn’t influence our editorial standards. We only recommend services we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.

Header image: Bohol island tarsier © Shutterstock

Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 19.12.2022

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.

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