The travel gurus at Lonely Planet have released their annual Best in Travel report, detailing their top picks for tourists in 2023. This time around, however, they’ve done things a little differently. Instead of simply sharing their recommendations on where we should be travelling, they’ve sorted 30 must-visit destinations by trip type – Eat, Journey, Unwind, Connect, and Learn – to help you find your next adventure.
Offering a comprehensive set of itineraries to help travellers explore the world, the new edit is sure to help you navigate the world in the way that’s most meaningful to you – through recommendations from the local voices who know these places best. Cities in Canada, Germany, Japan, Peru, and Malaysia made the cut. How many are on your bucket list?
This category features destinations that boast exciting culinary scenes ranging from dynamic street food to fine-dining experiences – each perfect for the travelling foodie. Lima, the capital of Peru, is on the list owing to its famed cevicherías and Pisco cocktails, while Umbria in Italy was chosen as its culinary delights are complemented by art and old-world traditions. Further east, both the Japanese city of Fukuoka and the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur made the cut owing to internationally renowned Hakata ramen and food stall-lined streets respectively.
Over in South America, improved airlinks will make access to Montevideo – the capital and largest city of Uruguay – much easier, paving the way for tourists to explore its laidback beaches and under-the-radar food and wine scene. Lastly, complementing its internationally known (and loved) vineyards, South Africa’s new generation of chefs is propelling the country’s culinary scene forward, making it a destination to visit not just for wine, but food as well.
This category is all about those journeys that are transformative, trips that truly move a traveller. Nova Scotia in Canada was selected owing to its postcard-perfect communities that dot its shores and call for a journey of driving between seaside villages. And with the fully restored Trans Bhutan Trail reopening to visitors in September, Bhutan is also on this list, the 250 miles of scenic footpath offering visitors a unique perspective of this Asian country. Elsewhere, Colombia’s 59 protected natural areas – Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia – have been dubbed a must for nature lovers. Along with protecting some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the world, 26 of these areas are also inhabited by indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.
Unsurprisingly, a train journey is also on the list – the recently restored overnight service between Sofia and Istanbul whirls two adventures into one, leaving the place where east meets west in Istanbul and depositing travellers in Bulgaria’s laidback capital city 11 hours later. And with Australia now open to the world, the mind-blowingly large region of Western Australia comes highly recommended. Looking to swim on the ledge of a mighty waterfall? Spot wildlife? It’s surprising that Zambia is less visited than other spots on the continent of Africa, and Lonely Planet is ready to remedy that.
Sometimes, you need a trip where you can unwind and reconnect with yourself, your partner, your family or just the world around you. As for the destinations where you will relax and rebalance, according to team Lonely Planet? Jordan, a place where you can experience the buzz of Amman before unwinding in places like Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea. Dominica, a lesser-visited island in the Caribbean and also known as Nature Island. Another lesser-known region on the list? Northern Greece’s Halkidiki peninsula, which stretches into the Aegean Sea and offers blissful beaches that are an idyllic setting to relax and unwind.
Back in the Caribbean, Jamaica wins the hearts of travel experts thanks to its beautiful white sand beaches, scenic mountain peaks, waterfalls, and rivers, making it the perfect spot to unwind. Malta in Europe is also expected to increase in popularity come 2023, beckoning visitors with its prehistoric temples, fantastic scuba diving, and buzzy capital of Valletta. Lastly, Raja Ampat is a great alternative to better-known Indonesian islands – the best way to see its coral reefs, excellent diving, and beautiful beaches is by chartering a ‘liveaboard’ dive boat and heading out to sea for several days.
The energy of the destinations in this category will take you on an adventure, connecting you to both culture and community. In Accra, Ghana, await bustling markets, new community spaces like skate parks, and creative spaces for artists plus a nightlife set to great music. The natural beauty of Albania will take your breath away – it’s one of the few places where you can start your day in the mountains and end it at the sea. Back in Australia, a destination that international visitors have missed during the pandemic, new Indigenous tours over the bridge make Sydney worth returning to.
Culturally connected to the Caribbean, Guyana is an under-the-radar South American country that is 90% rainforest and a great place to see unspoiled nature and incredible waterfalls. Alternatively, you can head to Alaska for not only spectacular wildlife, but also an opportunity to learn about native culture and witness indigenous groups managing authentic tourism experiences that also embrace sustainability. Boise, a mid-sized city in America, beckons adventure travellers. Between water rafting in the summer, skiing in the winter, and a rich culinary scene, it is a great place for connection.
Travel always opens us up to new experiences, and Lonely Planet has shortlisted six places where your best souvenir is what you learn, starting with the state of New Mexico. Home to 23 native tribes, this is an ideal spot to learn about indigenous culture, art, and music while enjoying the food and natural beauty of the American Southwest. Further south, El Salvador is quietly becoming the place where those in the know come to catch waves and hone their surfing skills owing to its idyllic beaches.
Over in Germany, Dresden’s urban renewal continues in 2023 with the second phase of renovations of the Altmarkt (central square) to include more accessibility and climate protection measures. Just over three hours away, Marseille is both beachy and urban, French and Mediterranean, modern and historic. Go for the beach, but linger for its diverse neighbourhoods, street art, and architectural tours. Finally, Manchester and Southern Scotland round off this edit. The former will welcome the return of Manchester Museum and the opening of Factory International arts space in 2023. The latter is a great region in which to learn more about the country’s history and famous residents like writer Robert Burns.