Expedia has released its 2023 travel trends report – and it says that the biggest 2023 travel trend is not following the trends. We’re preparing for the year of the “no-normal” as “travellers are ditching the conventional and veering off course for all-new experiences” in 2023. If you’re excited to hop on the biggest 2023 travel trend by going against the flow, we’ve got plenty of unusual ideas for where to go. From North Macedonia to Easter Island to Penang and Tasmania, here are six unique destinations to add to your bucket list.
To help inspire your travels even further, check out our Big Tour Sale. Running throughout January, you can snag 15% off select worldwide tours, or a whopping 20% if you’re a return Trafalgar traveller.
1. North Macedonia
The Balkans are one of the best emerging destinations in the world, but if you really want to go against the trend, put North Macedonia on your 2023 bucket list. This country may be small, but it’s absolutely fascinating, with nature, history and culture to rival even the most popular tourist destinations like Italy and Greece.
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Start your adventure in the capital Skopje, where you’ll find remnants of its history as a medieval trading centre. Admire ancient Ottoman and Byzantine architecture and check out the 5th-century Tvrdina Kale Fortress and the 15th-century Kameni Most (Stone Bridge). Stroll around the beautiful bazaars and mosques, and take in the marble, neoclassical buildings and stunning fountains. When you get hungry, be sure to head over to the lush Debar Maalo neighbourhood to indulge in the delicious bars and restaurants.
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2. Sicily, Italy
Italy is far from being an unusual destination… But Sicily certainly is. Located in the south of Italy, spectacular Sicily is packed with hidden treasures. From ancient wonders like the Greek temple Agrigento to picturesque towns like Monreale, Erice, Cefalù and Mondello, Sicily brings all the beauty of Italy – without the crowds. Relax on the stunning sandy beaches, admire the magnificent cathedrals and architecture, and stop by charming fishing villages to taste the most delicious coastal delicacies.
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Whether you want to have a White Lotus-inspired holiday in Taormina on the edge of Mount Etna or wander through the lush valleys of lemons, oranges, and olives around Palermo, Sicily never disappoints.
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3. Tasmania, Australia
If you’ve got Australia on your bucket list, you’re probably planning to hit the highlights like Sydney, Melbourne, and the Great Barrier Reef. But the real hidden gem of Australia is Tasmania. This tiny island at the bottom of the country may be an unusual place to visit, but those who go against the flow here will be glad they did. Tasmania has it all from magnificent landscapes to endemic wildlife. You’ll even find incredible local food and wine and rich history and culture.
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See the most extraordinary beaches and forests from Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay to Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers and Mt Field National Parks. Spot wombats, wallabies, echidnas, pademelons, and the iconic Tasmanian devil in Cradle Mountain. Frolic through gorgeous purple lavender fields on the East Coast. Indulge in the freshest seafood and local wines and whiskeys in Launceston. Or sample cheeses, oysters, pickles, cider and more at the historic Salamanca Markets in Hobart.
While in the capital, you can also explore the fragrant Royal Botanical Gardens. Have lunch at local breweries and see the excellent galleries and Tasmanian arts. Don’t forget to head to Mt. Nelson Lookout for spectacular views over the city. Wherever you go in Tasmania, you’re sure to be pleasantly surprised.
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5. Wadi Rum & Petra, Jordan
The biggest 2023 travel trend is all about unusual destinations… And they don’t get much more ethereal than Wadi Rum in Jordan. These extraordinary desert landscapes were once described by T.E. Lawrence as ‘vast, echoing and god-like’. And we think that’s the perfect description. The best way to get up close to this place is with a jeep tour. You’ll traverse the orange sandy dunes and see magical rock formations rising 2,000 metres from the desert floor. Journey through canyons, waterholes and rock paintings that span millennia… You’ll feel like you’ve travelled to Mars.
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When you travel with Trafalgar, you’ll spend your nights here in luxury Bedouin tents. This is when you can really get immersed in these surreal landscapes. Watch the sunset light up the sandstone mountains in pink and golden hues… Then be mesmerised for the rest of the evening by the star-studded night sky. When morning comes, prepare to be blown away again by the breathtaking sunrise.
And if you head just a couple of hours out of Wadi Rum, you’ll stumble upon the enchanting rose-red façades of Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This ancient city was carved out of pink sandstone cliffs almost 2,000 years ago. It’s home to temples, tombs, and the iconic 45-metre-high facades of Al Khazneh, the Treasury, and it’s truly magnificent.
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5. Easter Island (Rapa Nui), Chile
If you want to hop on the biggest 2023 travel trend and go somewhere unusual, it doesn’t get much better than Easter Island (Rapa Nui). It’s one of the most remote islands in the world, with some of the most unique histories and legends on the planet. This is where you can set eyes on the enormous, ancient Moai statues. You’ll learn all about how they were created and transported to their astronomically precise locations to protect the island’s inhabitants.
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Explore the beautifully preserved ceremonial Ahu Vaihu in the bay of Hanga Te’e. Marvel at Rano Raraku, a quarry of almost 900 stone statues, set on the slopes of the Rano Kau volcano. Visit Ahu Te Pito Kura with its Paro Maoi, the largest Maoi statue ever erected. Stroll along the gorgeous Anakena beach, where the king first set foot on the island. Adventure to the UNESCO-listed Rapa Nui National Park, where you can journey up the slopes of the Rano Kau volcano for spectacular views of the island. See the ancient cave painting sat the Ana Kai Tangata and petroglyphs at the village of Orongo. From stunning beaches to mystical carved statues, Easter Island is like nowhere else on earth.
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6. Penang, Malaysia
If you’ve already visited the icons of Southeast Asia like Bangkok, Phuket, Saigon, Hanoi and Singapore and you’re looking for somewhere more unusual, consider Penang. This stunning island in Malaysia has all the landscapes, history and culture, with far fewer tourists. You’ll cross one of the longest bridges in Asia to reach the island, then head to the colourful capital Georgetown. Once an important trading hub, the city is now a vibrant place with charming old architecture, mosques, Chinese shophouses, and incredible street art.
You can spend hours wandering the brightly painted streets. Stumble upon aromatic food markets and sit quietly in temples like Kek Lok Si Temple. Beyond the Old Town, you’ll find sandy beaches and lush Penang Hill where you can go hiking or ride the funicular railway for panoramic views over the island. When you travel with Trafalgar, you’ll also get to spend the night in one of our exceptional Stays With Stories – a beautiful heritage hotel built in the 1920s as a traditional shophouse.
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Do you plan to jump on the biggest 2023 travel trend and visit somewhere unusual this year? Let us know in the comments below!