Travel inspiration is everywhere you look. The question is where to go next. Here’s our annual list of superlative destinations for the year ahead—places filled with wonder, rewarding to travelers of all ages, and supportive of local communities and ecosystems. Reported by our global editors and framed by five categories (Community, Nature, Culture, Family, and Adventure), these 25 destinations for 2023 are under the radar, ahead of the curve, and ready for you to start exploring.
Discover Karpathos, Greece, a surprising and sublime spot in the Dodecanese Islands, where women-led ventures are leading the charge in sustainable tourism. Spend a long weekend in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a vibrant Great Lakes city that celebrates its cultural community as much as its breweries. Experience how long-held traditions and contemporary perspectives intersect, with Indigenous tourism outfitters in Alberta, Canada. Board a new high-speed train that makes lesser known regions of Laos accessible to tourists and brings economic opportunities to locals. Head to Ghana to explore Black heritage and hang out with a fashion-forward crowd in the capital, Accra. (Learn more about how these Best of the World destinations support their communities.)
Marvel at the biodiversity of Botswana—as well as the programs to rehabilitate endangered species, create wildlife corridors, and develop community-owned tourism projects. Linger in the Scottish Highlands, where a rewilding movement is aiming to restore the original landscape and native flora and fauna. In Slovenia, a longtime leader in sustainable tourism, set off on new gastrotourism biking routes that visit farms, vineyards, cheesemakers, and other food producers. Big Bend National Park brings to life the frontier legend of Texas—but the landscape will also surprise you. In the Azores, applaud award-winning sustainability programs that conserve the natural wonders of this volcanic archipelago known for whale watching and thermal springs. (Delve into our best destinations for nature lovers.)
Visit King Tut’s new home in Egypt at Cairo’s Grand Egyptian Museum and see Luxor’s Avenue of the Sphinxes. Tap into the creative energy of Asia’s top film festival and sip craft beer in Busan, South Korea, the nation’s second largest city. Make a pilgrimage through history along Italy’s Appian Way, Europe’s ancient “superhighway.” Explore culture and history—with a side of Low Country cuisine—at the International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina. See one of the world’s largest assemblages of stone statues at Longmen Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Henan Province, China. (Here’s how to visit these Best of the World destinations.)
In Switzerland, ride the rails to quaint Alpine towns for chocolate, hiking, and skiing. Help save the turtles in Trinidad & Tobago, one of the most important leatherback turtle rookeries in the world. In San Francisco, California, gather around a campfire with Golden Gate views at Presidio Tunnel Tops and hike the urban Crosstown Trail. Go birdwatching in the avian paradise that is Colombia, the enchanted land of Disney’s Encanto. Visit the playing grounds of a storied soccer team in Manchester, England—and be inspired by the city’s art scene as well. (Explore more of these family-friendly destinations.)
Trek to Choquequirao, Peru, an isolated Inca site that’s under the radar—but soon to be more accessible. In New Zealand, the country that invented bungee jumping, rekindle your sense of adventure post-pandemic. Get your adrenaline rush in less visited areas of the popular adventure state of Utah. In Austria, hike the cross-country Bergsteigerdörfer network of mountaineering villages to sample local culture. Finally, add Revillagigedo National Park, Mexico, to your itinerary. Its protected waters, supported by National Geographic’s Pristine Seas initiative, hold one of the largest aggregations of sharks and manta rays in the world. (Dive deeper into these adventure trips.)
Written by George Stone from contributions by the global editors of National Geographic Travel with additional reporting by Andrew Nelson and Karen Carmichael.