Regarding travel, 2022 was a shining light at the end of the long tunnel that is the coronavirus. For 2020 and 2021, the world was on lockdown or confusing travel restrictions. This year, travelers took to the sky in record numbers. It’s time to turn up.
So, where should you be jetting off to next? 2023 is the year for rediscovering favorite favorites, daring to explore new ones, connecting with us, and seeking adventures. It’s about indulging in rich cultures, making new friends, pushing personal limits, sitting still, breathing deep, and creating memories.
Our list of the best places to travel in 2023 is curated to help you navigate the world and discover a meaningful journey. Who knows, maybe we’ll see you there.
Tennessee’s legendary city is undergoing a renaissance fueled by chic hotel openings like the Soho House and the 1 Hotel Nashville, the city’s first mission-driven sustainable luxury hotel. Head to Hattie B’s (Soul food heaven) in the Fifth + Broadway complex.
After years of being essentially closed to tourism, Japan is finally open and welcoming U.S. travelers visa-free. Vaccinated and boosted travelers no longer required pre-travel Covid tests; however, unvaccinated travelers must still present a negative result. Tokyo and its famous sites are a must, but if you want to see another side of Japan, try heading to Kyoto. Make boutique hotel Shinmonzen your home base, and choose to explore popular spots like Hanamikoji-Dori, Ninenzaka, Pontocho Alley, and Nishiki Market. If you have time, head west to Seto Inland Sea islands like Inujima, and dive into the contemporary art scene.
Let’s be honest; visiting Egypt will never get old. The grandeur of the pyramids will always be a sight to behold, so naturally, 2023 is the perfect time for spinning the block one more time. The highly anticipated opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza is set to become the world’s most significant archeological museum. And with new cruises down the Nile River from Viking River Cruises and eco-luxe hotel openings from the beachfront Chedi El Gouna on the Red Sea, you have the trip of a lifetime in the making.
For decades travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was unheard of, especially for Americans. However, the country has recently taken monumental steps to change that. To boost tourism, Saudi Arabia has opened its doors to visitors from 49 countries, revamped its global image, and secured significant tourism partnership deals like the Red Sea Global Project, which seeks to stamp the Red Sea as a new hub. The project will feature fine dining, wellness, residential homes, and luxury hotel openings from Miraval, St. Regis, Six Senses, EDITION, SLS, and more in 2023 – that’s just the beginning. And before you think, “Black women ain’t going to Saudi Arabia,” think again. Black travel influencers like Abena (@travellingtuesdays) have already begun highlighting breathtaking regions of Saudi Arabia like AlUla and indulging in the quiet luxury of hotels like Habitas AlUla.
With otherworldly landscapes, awe-inspiring deserts, bucket list-worthy safaris, diverse people and cultures, a rich history, and some good old African luxe, Namibia is one of the continent’s most exciting destinations now. In the capital city of Windhoek culture seeking visitors can visit Tintenplast, the parliament building, Parliament Gardens, and the historic Katatura Township, where you might run into the Herero women for a glimpse into local life. Adventurers can journey to Sossusvlei for the Namib Desert to climb dunes, ride ATVs, take a hot air balloon ride and explore the clay pan of Deadvlei — home to 900-year-old “dead” trees. Animal lovers will enjoy getting up close and personal with wildlife at Etosha National Park. Those looking for a bit of luxe with their bucket list check will love staying at the Strand Hotel in Swakopmund, the perfect location.
Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
This West African nation may not be on many bucket lists yet, but it should be because Côte d’Ivoire is stunning. In the economic capital of Abidjan, extraordinary modernist architecture dots the skyline and surrounding sights like Galerie Cecile Fakhoury (a treasure-trove of African contemporary art), Parc du Banco (a rainforest reserve), and Marche de Cocody (a labyrinth of merchant stalls). The Sofitel Abidjan Hotel offers beautiful views and is the place to return to after a night at the maquis (pronounced “ma-key”), listening to Ivorian reggae and eating freshly grilled chicken or fish.
Arguably one of the most under-the-radar travel destinations, Guyana provides unparalleled and near unlimited access to untouched nature and adventure, with about 95% of the country enveloped by lush savannas, winding rivers, and pristine rainforests teeming with unique wildlife. After checking into the Guyana Marriott Hotel, stroll through the capital of Georgetown to introduce yourself to the flavors of the country, starting with fresh bake and saltfish for breakfast at Oasis Café and dinner at FireSide Grill n Chill or Nicky’s Fish Shop. Bustling Stabroek Market will introduce you to Guyanese people and give you a glimpse into their daily lives. Kaieteur National Park and the roaring Kaieteur Falls are a must-see before manatee spot at the Botanical Gardens, jaguar spotting on a rainforest drive, or a day trip to nearby Suriname.
Visit Guyana Carnival to play mas and get on bad at endless fetes.
Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains
One of the best things to come out of the pandemic lockdown was Americans learning about all the stunning destinations available in their backyard. An iconic part of the country’s landscape, the mountains are home to the Blue Ridge Parkway, also known as America’s Favorite Drive, for its grand views, nature, and access to a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Travelers looking for a secluded, nature-filled escape grab a treehouse room 1,300 feet above the Roaring Creek and Dan River at Primland Resort. The unspoiled wilderness is a gateway to adventure and provides freedom to explore trails via mountain bike or horseback, play golf, learn archery, fly fish or relax at the spa.
After years of lockdown and travel restrictions, Thailand is back and ready to reconnect with culture-starved travelers. While we were gone, Bangkok has been stepping its game up. An already mouthwatering culinary scene, it’s no surprise that local gems like street food legend Jay Fai ranked on the World’s 100 Best Restaurant list in 2022, while new spots like Small Dinner Club and No Name Noodle are creating significant buzz. Over in the creative district, exhibition space ATT 19 is shaking up the art scene with works that touch on once-taboo subjects like mental health. Hotels have been popping up all over the city as well. Grab a room at the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok for relaxing views of the Chao Phraya River, craft cocktails, and cigars at Thailand’s #1 bar, BKK Social Club, and a central location in one of Bangkok’s hottest neighborhoods.
Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
Mexico has long been a vacationer’s paradise, and in 2023 that fact remains the same. What is new, however, is Mexico’s renewed focus on wellness travel. New resort Susurros del Corazón, Auberge Resorts Collection harnesses the healing energy of the ocean waves at its spa Onda, which has curated daily treatments and experiences that all center around finding joy in well-being. Over at the recently opened Four Seasons Naviva, a nature retreat set on 48 acres of the forest overlooking the Pacific Ocean, only 30 guests at a time, across 15 treetop luxury tents, will be allowed to immerse themselves in a highly individualized wellness experience.
Naviva’s fluid style removes all distractions, leaving room for spontaneous interactions and moments, transformative self-discovery, and inspired connections to Mexico’s rich history and profound culture. The bonus? JetBlue recently launched nonstop flights to the Riviera Nayarit region from JFK to Puerto Vallarta International airport, so there’s no excuse not to visit.
Sumba Island, Indonesia
If you’re looking for something more than a crowded, tourist-filled getaway to Bali, then Sumba Island is where you need to be in 2023. Sumba is twice the size of Bali, but with maybe a sixth of its population, hasn’t experienced overdevelopment, features no shopping malls or IG-worthy swings, and is home to only four hotels. Wellness seekers will want to head to Sumba’s most well-known retreat, Nihi Sumba. The 28-villa property is a place to connect with something larger than yourself. Get wild swimming with horses, hike the Wanukaka Valley to relax at the Blue Waterfall, and enjoy complimentary yoga classes in a cliffside studio with sweeping views of Nihiwatu Beach on the Indian Ocean. Don’t leave without partaking in a one-of-a-kind experience, the Spa Safari Nihioka, which offers a trek (or drive) through rice fields and a traditional Sumbanese village before indulging in full or half-day unlimited treatments that range from scrubs and massages to organic facials.
Usually, Peru is on people’s lists because they want to check a visit to the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu off their wish list. But there is so much more to the country than its world wonder. In the Incan capital of Cusco, the local Quechua people lean on Pachamama, Mother Earth, for their holistic wellness needs. They bring their indigenous practices to Willka T’ika, a sustainable, luxury wellness retreat that provides culturally authentic experiences and supports the local community. Some guests are drawn to the Seven Chakra Gardens, a restorative space designed to represent the seven classic chakras. Some want to get in touch with nature by soaking in a salt-and-herb-infused floral solar bath under the stars (the tub is heated by the sun during the day). Others want to tap into their creativity by creating unique Andean art with an in-house Quechua artist. The choice is yours.