With 2023 just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about where you’ll travel next year. One of the best sources of inspiration is Lonely Planet’s 2023 Best in Travel list. The guidebook company has been exploring the world for almost 50 years and the 2023 Best in Travel list is the 18th annual edition.
Lonely Planet has done things a little differently this year, with 30 winning destinations split into five categories; Eat, Journey, Connect, Learn, Unwind. The editors want to reflect the way we travel in that it’s not just about the destination, but also the experience.
This year’s Best in Travel list is also all about “expected but unexpected” destinations this year. The editors have highlighted the hidden gems of the most popular destinations like Japan, France, Italy, Greece, Australia and the United States. The editors also featured some emerging destinations that should most definitely be on your bucket list, like Albania, Ghana, Dominica, Zambia and Bhutan.
Without further ado, here are the 30 destinations on Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023 list.
Best places to eat
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel in the Eat category reveals some true hidden gastronomic gems. Instead of Rome or Venice, head to Umbria in Italy for delicious truffles, pecorino, prosciutto and pasta. Instead of Bangkok or Singapore, head to Kuala Lumpur for fresh night food markets and sizzling street stalls. After Tokyo, try visiting Fukuoka in Japan for a mouthwatering mobile food scene and its famous Hakata Ramen. Or consider the lesser-known Montevideo in Uruguay, with its emerging food and wine scene set against the backdrop of its gorgeous beaches. There’s also South Africa, already famed for its Capeland wineries. But its buzzing culinary scene is also something any foodie can’t miss.
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And over in Lima, you’ll dive into ceviche and Pisco sours. Hailed as the culinary capital of South America, you’ll discover a gastronomic wonderland when you travel to Lima with Trafalgar. You’ll meet Ignacio Barrios, an award-winning Peruvian chef, and visit a local market to see all the traditional Peruvian vegetables, fruits, seafood and meat. You’ll then enjoy a special cooking demonstration as Ignacio prepare’s some of the most delicious Peruvian food, before tucking into these tasty dishes for lunch.
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Best places to journey
Nova Scotia, Canada
Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia
Istanbul to Sofia Train
The Best in Travel Journey category highlights the world’s most epic adventures – for those who love to wander. You’re sure to find plenty of great journeys in Canada, the world’s second-largest country, but it’s the Nova Scotia road trip between remote seaside villages that really takes the crown. Bhutan is unique as one of the last great Kingdoms of the Himalayas and here you can hike the Trans Bhutan Trail, an extraordinary, 250-mile cross-country hike. If you want to traverse the world, the Istanbul to Sofia Train might be more your speed. This recently restored overnight train roams between Istanbul in Turkey and Sofia in Bulgaria, exploring one of the world’s most impressive, yet lesser-known, regions.
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For safari lovers, you’ve got to consider Zambia where you’ll find rare and endangered wildlife and walking safaris among the great plains and waterfalls. And if you’re keen on wildlife, you’ve got to put Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia on your list. It’s one of the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems, home to indigenous Afro-Colombian communities, stunning beaches, soaring mountains, and remarkable wildlife. Western Australia gives it a run for its money with its awe-inspiring nature. This state is about the size of Western Europe but has less than 1% of its population, so you’ll get the glorious beaches, forests, deserts and national parks almost all to yourself.
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Best places to unwind
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
If you want to spend 2023 relaxing, we really don’t blame you. The Best in Travel list revealed six of the ultimate places to unwind next year. Greece seems an obvious choice, but instead of Santorini or Mykonos, head to the Halkidiki peninsula, where you’ll find blissful beaches, the glittering Aegean Sea and charming villages – without the crowds. For a similar vibe, visit the woefully underrated Malta, with vibrant cities, ancient ruins and gorgeous beaches galore.
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Over in the Caribbean, Jamaica is the star, where relaxing resorts sit close to pristine rainforests, reefs and beaches. Dominica is another amazing, yet underestimated, beach destination in the Caribbean. Get in now before word really gets out! Raja Ampat in Indonesia is another unspoiled and lesser-travelled place, with exceptional diving and sailing around its breathtaking islands.
Jordan is also the perfect place to unwind. When you travel here with Trafalgar, you’ll spend your days floating in the still waters of the Dead Sea, soaking up the serenity of the Wadi Rum, sleeping under the stars in a Bedouin camp, and roaming the rock-carved remnants of the Rose City of Petra.
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Best places to connect
After years of lockdowns, travellers are craving human connection and cultural experiences. You’ll find it in Accra in Ghana, where you’ll find buzzing markets, art galleries and community spaces on its colourful city streets. In South America, Guyana is a true hidden gem, where 90% of the land is blanketed in pristine rainforest and waterfalls, and few other visitors. Boise, the capital of Idaho, offers big adventure with a small-town feel, where you can get to know the locals as you soak up the white water rafting, skiing, and foodie scene.
The entire Balkans region is truly underrated and Albania is one of its stars. We’ll take you to the capital Tirana to uncover the colourful streets and rich history, and you’ll also find beaches and mountains to rival Greece, but without the crowds. Alaska is another remote wilderness, but it’s one of the best places to learn about indigenous cultures, admire the extraordinary scenery, and spot wildlife, all through ethical and sustainable tourism experiences.
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On the other side, Sydney, Australia, is one of the most famous cities. But it’s now emerging from some of the world’s strictest lockdowns and it’s all about finding ways to connect. When you travel with Trafalgar you’ll meet a Local Specialist for a guided tour of the iconic Sydney Opera House, connect with a local Surf Life Saver at the famous Bondi Beach, and enjoy a Be My Guest lunch overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
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Best places to learn
New Mexico, USA
If you’re ready to expand your mind on your next trip, consider these destinations on the Best in Travel list. Manchester is hailed as a hub of history, creativity and culture, especially with its new museums, revamped architecture and buzzing music scene. Marseille in France has everything from modern street art to historic Romanesque-Byzantine architecture, all with a backdrop of glittering ports and beaches. Meanwhile, El Salvador may be under-the-radar, but it’s an incredible destination for learning about history, culture and nature surrounded by sandy beaches, colonial towns and towering volcanoes.
You may know of Dresden, Germany, for hosting one of the world’s oldest, biggest and most magical Christmas markets. It’s also famed for its beautiful Baroque façades and museums where you can learn about the city’s remarkable restoration after the destruction of World War II.
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Bonnie Scotland is full of enriching adventures. From ancient towns and charming fishing villages to royal castles and cobbled cities, Scotland is the ultimate destination for history and hospitality.
And if you’ve had New Mexico on your list for some time, this is the year to do it. Famed as the “Land of Enchantment”, New Mexico is home to 23 indigenous tribes and it’s one of the best places to learn about indigenous culture, history, art, music, and architecture. You’ll do it all while admiring the beautiful landscapes, delicious cuisine and annual hot air balloon fiestas.
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Will you visit any of the destinations on Loney Planet’s Best in Travel list in 2023? Let us know in the comments below!