With 2023 looming large on our calendars and most of the world once again open to travel, it’s time to get down to business: deciding where to go, when and with what intentions in mind.
That’s why Lonely Planet’s annual roundup of the best trips for the coming year is a timely release, intended to guide experiences with the combined knowledge of nearly 50 years in the holiday industry. This year’s list is based on “expert local perspectives from the heart of each destination,” sorted by the types of experiences available, in an effort to enjoy the most meaningful experiences possible: eat, travel, connect, learn, relax.
Lonely Planet’s Tom Hall says, “2023 will be the year to get out and explore. With much of the world firmly on the road to recovery, travelers are looking for other locations and experiences. The list celebrates the world in all its wonderfully seductive variety. Each of the itineraries… shows how to leave the hustle and bustle behind and really get to the heart of a destination.”
Best places to eat
The hotbed of Peruvian cuisine and a gastronomic masterpiece that has been around for centuries. Go there for the cevicherías, Pisco cocktails and fresh seafood.
Enjoy the art, treasures and culinary delights of Italy without the hustle and bustle of the likes of nearby Tuscany and other better-known destinations.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Long overshadowed by Bangkok and Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur’s bustling street food stalls, markets and vibrant nightlife offer an array of fresh and fabulous foods to snack on.
Restored and ready to serve, Fukuoka’s incredible mobile food scene has tickled new taste buds and complemented renowned patrons like the unbeatable Hakata Ramen.
Africa’s southernmost country is experiencing a food revival nationwide thanks to a new generation of chefs propelling the culinary scene alongside its already internationally respected vineyards.
Under the radar for too long, the burgeoning food and wine scene of Uruguay’s beautiful capital is matched only by its laid-back beaches as the perfect place to digest and research the next meal.
Best places to travel
Nova Scotia, Canada
The world’s second-largest country has plenty of room for epic travel, but few can beat the beauty of Nova Scotian’s shores on a road trip between coastal villages.
The last great kingdom of the Himalayas remains one of the world’s most extraordinary travel experiences, and there are few better than hiking the Trans Bhutan Trail, which is once again open to visitors. Destined to become an iconic cross-country ski hike, the 400 miles of scenic trails offer a new perspective on this already unique country.
From swimming to the ledges of mighty waterfalls to walking safaris through the plains, a trip through Zambia is the perfect place to reconnect with nature.
Larger than England, Spain, France, Italy and Germany combined, but with less than 1% of their combined population, WA offers plenty of travel options to get away from it all: national parks and beaches connected by distinctive towns make for a unique Australian experience.
National Natural Park of Colombia
Fifty-nine protected natural areas bring nature to life like few other places on Earth, making the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems accessible alongside unique indigenous Afro-Colombian communities. Don’t miss the beautiful beaches of Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona and the towering peaks of Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados.
Train Istanbul to Sofia
This recently restored overnight train service between Istanbul in Turkey and Sofia in Bulgaria takes you from the city where Europe and Asia meet to one of the most relaxed and friendly capitals in Eastern Europe in just 11 hours.
Best places to relax
Get your tourist fix at extraordinary Petra before venturing deep into the wilderness of the Wadi Rum or floating on the salty still waters of the Dead Sea to restore your inner peace.
Bypass the more popular southern Greek islands and instead head to the northern Halkidiki peninsula that stretches deep into the Aegean Sea with beaches deserted enough to allow you to relax in peace.
Looking to the future, Jamaica sees a wave of serene new hotels popping up along its pristine coastlines. Get in before the crowds and take it easy.
Not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, tiny Dominica (pronounced “DomiNEEkah”) is opening up its deserted beaches to more visitors, but they’re not all there yet, so it remains the epitome of tranquility.
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
One of the world’s most pristine and exotic places that offers diving like no other. Rent a liveaboard sailboat like a local Phinisi and dive into the breathtaking waters and islands, resplendent with wildlife, from terrifying Komodo dragons to curious clownfish.
Another staunch diver, Malta has a devoted fan base that is slowly growing as people discover how easy it is to get around, from the prehistoric temples to the bustling capital of Valletta.
Best places to connect
Hectic streets, bustling markets, new community spaces, from skate parks to art galleries, Ghana’s capital is the place to get in touch with a culture and its people.
Long whispered on the lips as “up and coming”, the moment has come for Albania. Start your day in the mountains, end by the ocean and get in touch with the natural beauty along the way without having to connect with the hustle and bustle of neighboring Greece.
Barely unknown but barely visited during strict pandemic lockdowns, the newly opened Sydney offers new ways to connect. From one of the largest Pride celebrations in the world to the new Indigenous journeys across the bridge, new connections and perspectives are everywhere.
Culturally tied to the Caribbean it may be, but Guyana is thoroughly South American and barely registers on most travel radars. That makes it an incredible place to connect with some of the most amazing natural wonders – 90% of it is covered in rainforest and waterfalls ready for you to explore and immerse yourself in.
In the 1970s, a settlement agreement returned millions of acres of land from the U.S. government to indigenous groups. And now those Indigenous communities have realized a world-class example of how to create and manage authentic tourism experiences that benefit local communities and embrace sustainability.
The capital of Idaho is an under-the-radar adventure destination eminently. White-water rafting in the summer, skiing in the winter, and year-round indulging in the burgeoning terroir and culinary scene in a town still small enough to put you in contact with the locals rather than feel like a visitor. lead.
Best places to learn
Boldly labeled arguably the best city in the UK by the Lonely Planet team, England’s northern powerhouse has a long history of creativity and culture, especially in the music scene. But the new museum renovations and expansions, the reworking of industrial architecture into cool new hotels and restaurants, and the transformation of the historic Castlefield Viaduct into a green walkway can only confirm that claim.
On the banks of the River Elbe in Saxony, the rebirth of Dresden continues steadily. The central Altmarkt square is being modernized to make it more accessible and climate-friendly and will be home to one of the oldest and largest Christmas markets in a country renowned for it.
New Mexico, USA
“Land of Enchantment,” this U.S. state is home to 23 native tribes, making it a leading destination for learning about native culture, art, and music while indulging in the food and natural beauty of the American Southwest.
The classic European combination: beachy yet urban, modern yet historic, relaxed yet vibrant. Go for the beach, but stay to learn about street art, architecture, diverse neighborhoods, and new museums.
Everything at the pinnacle of Latin America thanks to its sunny beaches, great surfing, quaint colonial towns, epic volcanoes and what Lonely Planet calls “arguably the best cuisine in Central America”.
Instead of the Highlands, head to the Borders, says Lonely Planet, and explore the ancient town of Melrose, Tweed Valley Country Park and the ‘almost secret’ fishing villages of Eyemouth and St Abbs before heading to historic Dumfries and the otherworldly Crawick Multiverse .