Want to explore our big beautiful world but need help figuring out where to start? Well, TIME magazine revealed its fifth annual list of the World’s Greatest Places, highlighting 50 extraordinary travel destinations around the world.
Of the 2023 list, TIME editors write: “The travel industry is back in full swing in 2023, but not without notable shifts in how and where we wander. Steeper costs and increased interest in sustainability and authenticity are reshaping the landscape.”
How Was The List Picked?
To compile this list of the top spots to visit this year, TIME solicited nominations from its international network of correspondents and contributors, with an eye toward those offering new and exciting experiences. The result is a combination of 50 far-flung and familiar spots, from Giza and Saqqara in Egypt, where the long-delayed Grand Egyptian Museum is finally revamped and reopened, to the gastronomy hot spot of Dijon, France. It also features seven don’t miss U.S. destinations for those staying closer to home.
No matter what part of the world you’re dreaming of visiting, TIME has narrowed down the best places to visit now.
“There’s something revolutionary cooking in America’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Last year, Barrio Bread’s Don Guerra won the James Beard Award for outstanding baker, and he’s on a mission to revitalize Arizona-grown heritage grains. First brought here by 17th-century Spanish missionaries, white Sonora wheat now crops up on the menus at restaurants like Maynards and the just-opened Bata and even in a Southwestern-inspired Hefeweizen from Borderlands Brewing Co.
In the coming months, the brewery is set to open a handful of new dining concepts with Top Chef alum Maria Mazon, who’s expanding beyond her popular BOCA Tacos y Tequila with a mini empire that now includes a tortilleria where you can pick up a bottle of her blazing chiltepín salsa, made with America’s only wild native chili pepper.”
Luang Prabang, Laos
“Turquoise waterfalls, Buddhist temples, and sunset boat trips on the Mekong are just a few of Luang Prabang’s highlights. Despite its remote location in the jungled mountains of Laos, the former royal capital is not just for backpackers. After a two-year border closure, a new $6 billion high-speed railway from China to Thailand now runs from the Chinese city of Kunming to the Laotian capital, Vientiane. The train turns the once 12-hour bus ride from Vientiane to Luang Prabang into a scenic two hour trip.”
“Dijon has long been one of France’s great gastronomic cities. While almost all its namesake mustard is now manufactured outside the city, globetrotting gastronomes still frequent Dijon’s Michelin-rated restaurants, such as William Frachot and CIBO, and the famous food market, Les Halles Gourmandes.
In 2022, Dijon rose to further prominence with the launch of its Cité de la Gastronomie et du Vin. Inside the former Hôtel-Dieu—the city’s historic hospital—visitors enjoy the region’s food and wine through tastings and courses at Ferrandi Paris school of culinary arts and École des Vins de Bourgogne, among other eateries. A pedestrian wine trail links the complex to the railway station.”
Jeju Island, South Korea
“As South Korea’s largest and most developed resort island, Jeju has long been the go-to domestic holiday destination among locals. But in 2022, one of Netflix’s biggest K-dramas, Our Blues, brought the island a new level of international visibility. After closing for two years, international air travel to Jeju resumed last summer, bringing tourists from Bangkok, Singapore, Taiwan, Osaka, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, many of whom beeline to the island casinos.
To meet rising demand, new resort offerings include the JW Marriott Jeju Resort and Spa, the Parnas Hotel Jeju, and the luxury resort complex Amber Pure Hill located 1,640 feet above sea level and featuring a dramatic ocean-view infinity pool.”
Loango National Park, Gabon
“Called “Africa’s Last Eden,” Gabon, sandwiched between Congo and Cameroon on the continent’s central Atlantic coast, may not have an ecotourism infrastructure like hotspots Botswana or Kenya.
What Gabon does have, however, are 13 unspoiled national parks that cover 10 percent of the country… Loango National Park…is one of the few places on the planet where rainforest meets ocean, which means that in those 380,000 acres, visitors can see an extraordinarily diverse array of animals from water to land to sky, including elephants, leopards, humpback whales, buffalo, gorillas, leatherback turtles, 355 bird species, and the “surfing hippos” that wowed President Obama in last year’s “Our Great National Parks” streaming docuseries.”
“Musanze is the largest city in northern Rwanda and the gateway to Volcanoes National Park—home of rare mountain gorillas—which recently announced its expansion from 62 to 76 sq. mi. by 2027, an endeavor that will reduce human-wildlife conflict by 80%. A limited number of $1,500 daily gorilla-trek entry fees enable farmers and reformed gorilla poachers to make a living, while not encroaching on the animals’ habitats.
The opening of the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and Gorilla Doctors campus, both of which invest in the conservation and research of endangered mountain gorillas, have brought global attention to the area.”
Willamette Valley, Oregon
“The wine world let out a collective gasp in 2021 when Champagne house Bollinger made its first acquisition outside of France: Not some place in Napa or Sonoma, but Ponzi Vineyards, which set the standard for Oregon winemaking back in the 1970s. The Willamette Valley had really, really made it, but for those in the know, the ascendance of the pinot noir powerhouse in Portland’s backyard seemed almost inevitable.
In the past two decades, the number of wineries in the state’s first AVA has grown from 135 to more than 700 today, which has translated to a near-constant flood of new labels (such as Iterum Wines), new lodging (the nine-room bed and breakfast The Ground, opening soon), new tasting rooms (of note is Montinore Estate and its sister-brand Landlines Winery’s biodynamic tasting room), and new missions (Corollary is becoming the valley’s first sparkling-only estate this year).”
“While Jesus may have traveled to Jerusalem by donkey, Solomon by mule, and the Prophet Muhammad by a winged Buraq, thousands of years later the holy city has plenty of other methods of transportation to get around, from bus to light rail to train. And today, there’s a way to see this ancient city from a new, unexpected perspective.”
“Anyone comfortable on two wheels can now rent a bike and cycle along the newly opened Kerem Tunnel, part of the Jerusalem Ring bike path, a 42-km route that allows visitors to circle the holy city at their own pace, starting, for example, at the Biblical Zoo in the western part of the city and finishing at the Jaffa Gate in the east.”
“One of the best spots to catch the northern lights is this remote Hudson Bay outpost, which sits just below the “auroral oval,” meaning the sky often dances to life in even just-fine conditions—over 300 nights a year. Winter aurora-hunting has opened up a whole new tourist season in a town that has traditionally attracted the vast majority of its visitors during the fall polar-bear migration.”
“The massive carnivores remain big business, of course, and to get travelers (safely) up close and personal with them, Frontiers North Adventures recently unveiled its electric Tundra Buggy, a behemoth with 6-ft. tires that cruises over the ice at barely a whisper.”
Kangaroo Island, Australia
“When bushfires ignited Australia’s third largest island during the 2019–2020 season, the blazes devastated a wildlife haven. Half of Kangaroo Island burned, killing 40% of its namesake marsupials and an estimated 40,000 koalas. Researchers mourned losses among vulnerable species, from green-carpenter bees to echidnas and the sooty dunnart, a mouse-size marsupial that lives nowhere else on earth.”
But now visitors to Kangaroo Island will find a landscape lush with greenery. Eclipsing ruins are species signaling recovery, including the white-blossomed daisy bush and Kangaroo Island yucca, whose spiky flowers disappear for decades and bloom—a fragrant symbol of hope—only in the wake of fire.”
“Thailand’s most visited region—the famed beaches of Phuket—just upped its family appeal with the grand opening of Carnival Magic last September. The country’s first culturally-focused theme park, 40 acres sandwiched between verdant mountain and sandy shore, re-creates traditional festivals and market fairs found throughout the Kingdom in a dazzling array of neon lights.
Kids can get their ice cream fix at Torry’s, a family-run ice cream shop in the heart of Phuket Town that uses ingredients like coconut milk and blue pea flower in the subtly sweet and umami-rich Bi Co Moi.
“Volun-tourism initiatives continue to be a priority on the island. The The Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, for example, invites visitors to help feed the animals and provides education about elephant communication and behavior.”
“Usually, nothing changes on this sleepy Italian island—a volcanic speck in the Mediterranean between Sicily and Tunisia, buffeted by winds that have whittled its peaks into a rippling green landscape and sculpted its black lava flows into a shape-shifting coastline.”
“People bathe in warm thermal seawater as they have for centuries; live in dammusi (North African–inspired white-domed bungalows); and grow the zibibbo grape, thought to have been brought over from Egypt by past Arabic residents. Over 80% of the island forms Italy’s newest national park, Parco Nazionale dell’Isola di Pantelleria, which opened in 2016.”
“With its astonishing alpine landscapes and Tibetan Buddhist culture, Ladakh—in the farthest-flung part of North India—has enough wonders to warrant multiple visits. In 2023, India designated its first Dark Sky Reserve, in Hanle village, about 168 miles southeast of Leh, Ladakh’s capital. The village has roughly 270 clear nights a year, making it ideal for astronomical splendor. The reserve spans 414 sq. mi. and envelops much of the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary.”
“Design-driven Aarhus has long embraced the sea, and this year even more so. In early summer, the city’s harbor will transform into a maritime celebration as a host of the Ocean Race, one of the longest round-the-world sailing challenges, with in-port races and other events.
Aarhus’s cuisine abounds with innovative seafood, including at the Michelin-starred Substans, where you can dine on lobster from the Bay of Aarhus while taking in views of it. At Frederikshøj, awarded a second Michelin star in 2022, the playful cuisine might include truffles from Marselisborg Forest or oysters from Venø island.”
Additional Destinations in The United States for 2023
From beaches to National Parks and even our Nation’s capitol, America’s short list of top 2023 destinations is as diverse as the country itself. If you’re looking for ideas for your next trip, consider these spots short-listed by TIME magazine.
“The museums in D.C. are unmatched! I have had visiting all of the museums as an item on my bucket list since 8th grade. To date, I am half way through, said Tiffany Grant, Founder Money Talk With Tiff. “Also, visiting our national monuments is a magical experience that you can only get from visiting Washington D.C.”
Yosemite National Park, California
“Yosemite wows you from the moment you enter the park, from waterfalls to mammoth granite mountains to the many wildlife species that still roam the park,” said Alexandra Caspero, Founder of Delish Knowledge.
“El Captain and Half Dome are popular hikes and climb for a reason- to experience Half Dome, start your journey in the middle of the night to arrive at the top just before sunrise. Living only a few hours from Yosemite, this is an experience we did yearly. The views of the valley from the top of Half Dome are one of the most picturesque landscapes you can imagine– well worth the effort to get there,” she continued.
If you’re the road trip type you can also cross another one of TIME Magazine’s top destinations off your list. Take in all that Big Sky country has to offer over a weeklong road trip along US-191. Start in Bozeman, the adventure capital of the Northern Rockies, for fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, or backcountry tours.
Take a day or two to enjoy to Big Sky Resort, a four-season mountain destination, along the way. Then make your way to West Yellowstone, a convenient base for exploring Yellowstone National Park.
Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
Rio Grande is halfway between historic San Juan and the iconic El Conquistador Resort in Fajardo. It’s home to the El Yunque Rainforest, the only tropical rainforest in the National Forest System.
“The accessible adventures make it unique, from exploring waterfalls in the mountains to sailing through the canopy on ziplines or horseback rides along a river that empties onto a pristine beach,” said Jennifer Coleman, a frequent traveler. “You’re close enough to adventure through Puerto Rico all day and be back for dinner in San Juan or paddling the Fajardo bioluminescent bay in the evening.”
“Spring is an ideal time to visit Tampa. The weather is warm enough for travelers from northern destinations to bask in the sun before summer’s excessive heat and humidity make their entrance,” said Laura of A Piece of Travel.
“It’s also a great base for taking day trips to nearby beach towns once you’ve gotten your fill of the Tampa Riverwalk, exploring downtown’s museums, and gawking at mansions framed by flowerbeds on Bayshore Boulevard,” she continued.
More North America Recommended Destinations
For a mix of international travel but closer to home, check out these four recommended North America destinations which don’t require a long-haul flight to explore the beautiful world and cultures in America’s same hemisphere.
“Not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, the tiny island nation of Dominica is one of the best spots in the Caribbean for ecotourism,” said Carley Rojas Avila, Founder, Home to Havana. “Think all things natural beauty: mountains, warm, lush jungles, waterfall, and even volcanic hot springs to bathe in without all the Caribbean crowds and sky-high costs.”
Mexico City, Mexico
“The beating heart of the capital, the Centro Histórico is one of the best places to spend your time in Mexico City,” said Dan & George, Founders, Latin America Backpacking. “We recommend staying here due to its advantageous location, and also as it’s close to many major sights. Here you can visit the Zócalo, which is the very core of the Centro Histórico.”
“Vancouver is the perfect location for nature lovers to visit. Its scenic location near the ocean, tucked up against the mountains, makes Vancouver destination for year-round exploration,” said Bella Bucchiotti, Founder, xoxoBella. “The Vancouver coastline offers amazing views and great beaches, while the mountains offer hiking trails and snow sports.”
Europe’s Top 2023 Destinations
With 27 countries just across the pond from the U.S., Europe is a favorite international destination for Americans. If you’re looking to go for the first time or to return, take a look at these hand-picked destinations.
- St. Moritz, Switzerland
- Timisoara, Romania
- Sylt, Germany
- Berat, Albania
“Naples is one of my favorite Italian cities for its rich history, fantastic landscape, and world-class food including some of the best Italian desserts,” said Katalin Nagy.
“I particularly enjoyed strolling through the city and getting lost in history while stopping by restaurants, gelato shops, and cafes. You cannot miss the famous Neapolitan pizza (L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele well known from Eat Pray Love movie) which puts a high benchmark on any pizza you will ever eat in the future.”
“Vienna, in the heart of Europe, is a popular Christmas market destination but has so much to offer any time of the year. The palaces, parks, architecture, and cultural events make it one of my top destinations in Europe,” said Nagy.
“I loved walking through the Naschmarkt, Vienna’s most popular outdoor market, and browsing through the local products,” said Arnie Nicola. “I also loved visiting the Austria National Library — I was awe-struck when I first walked in and felt like I stepped into the library from Beauty and the Beast! Not only is the edifice beautiful, it also houses original manuscripts by Mozart. Definitely a must-see for those who love classical music.”
“The Viennese cuisine is very similar to Hungarian cuisine (due to common history) and reminds me of my childhood in Hungary. Budapest is only a few hour train ride away, you can even have a day trip there from Vienna. The Belvedere Palace, Hundertwasser House, and Café Central Vienna are my top 3 must-see places in Vienna and of course, trying the city´s signature Sacher Torte Cake,” Nagy continued.
“Visit Budapest to explore the labyrinth, a medieval tunnel system buried below Buda Castle. The labyrinth is filled with museum displays, placards, and information highlighting important aspects of the city’s history and the geology of the tunnel system below,” said Melanie Allen, Founder, Partners in Fire.
“The best part of the labyrinth is how you experience it. You’ll feel like a real archeologist as you navigate the passages and discover the city’s history with nothing but a gas lamp to light your way. It’s an intriguing activity unlike one I’ve ever experienced, and worth placing Budapest near the top of your list to see for yourself,” Allen continued.
“Anyone who has traveled to Barcelona will likely tell you it’s one of their favorite cities. In a word, Barcelona is intoxicating,” said Alex Caspero.
“From the vibrant nightlife to the many tapas bars scattered all over the city to dine from, to the vibrant markets to the people– Barcelona is a world all its own. We try to visit every few years and would recommend this Spain city to both solo travelers, couples and families.”
Central and South America Top Picks
There’s so much to explore beyond Machu Picchu in this region. TIME recommends the following destinations for 2023 travel:
- Pantanal, Brazil
- Roatán, Honduras
“Many travelers breeze through the Sacred Valley and its charming small towns like Ollantaytambo on their way to Machu Picchu, but that’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make when visiting Peru,” stated Carley.
“When we visited Ollantaytambo, we found the ruins to be incredibly impressive, and the town has so much to offer. Check out Awamaki, a sustainable tourism operation that works with women’s weaving cooperatives; it is a great way to experience this area in a way that gives back to the community and gives you a taste of the true local experience.”
“Medellin has a dark history, but you’d never know it with the way that city has grown and changed in the recent decade or two. Medellin now has a vibrant art and cultural scene, which was one of the aspects of the city that I was most surprised by when visiting,” said Carley, a frequent traveler.
“It’s now also one of the most popular destinations for remote workers in the Americas, who have been drawn here by the affordable prices, great restaurants and cafes, gorgeous views, and incredible travel potential.”
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
“Hike just a few hours in the Torres del Paine national park, and it will feel like you’ve crossed a few different worlds. With the magnificent ‘tower’ mountains looming in the background and glaciers to plains fields filled with guanacos, this is a must-visit bucket list place for adventure junkies,” said Alex Caspero, Founder of Delish Knowledge.
Asia Pacific Places to See in 2023
With so many distinct cultures and countries in one region, it can be hard to pick just one. If you can work remotely, why not check more than one of these places your bucket list?
- Ladakh, India
- Nagoya, Japan
- Isan, Thailand
- Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia
“Kyoto is absolutely breathtaking. In certain parts of the city, you’ll see Geisha coming in and out of traditional Japanese buildings. Pontocho Alley is deemed one of the most beautiful streets in Kyoto (some even say in all of Japan) with good reason – grab dinner or a drink there,” said Mikkel Woodruff, Founder, Sometimes Home.
“And the Arashiyama River is absolutely serene. Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion is not-to-miss no matter the season. Its rock garden is a wonderful place for meditation and reflection.”
Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland, is a warm and welcoming place to visit in Australia. Brisbane is surrounded by lush national parks, rainforests, stunning beaches, and tropical islands. In downtown Brisbane, there are museums, restaurants, gardens, markets, and more all scattered throughout the town. The mighty Brisbane River cuts through the city, and the iconic Story Bridge towers over the river.
The first thing most travelers do when they arrive in Brisbane is head for the South Bank. This lively suburb on the southern banks of the Brisbane River is one of the city’s top tourist destinations. Lined with landscaped gardens, palm trees, tropical flowers, shops, cafes, and monuments, the pedestrian-only walking space offers beautiful views of the river and the city skyline.
Africa Destinations for 2023
With 54 African countries it can be hard to narrow it down to one or two for your next adventure. TIME editors recommend these four destinations for 2023:
- Chyulu Hills, Kenya
- Rabat, Morocco
- Dakar, Senegal
- Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone
Picks in The Middle East
The part of the world where Africa, Europe, and Asia Pacific meet is a fascinating blend of cultures, traditions, history and cuisine. Top spots include:
- The Red Sea, Saudi Arabia
- Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
“Aqaba is in the southernmost part of Jordan along the Red Sea and is a gateway to otherworldly adventures, from scuba diving the colorful coral of the Red Sea, or sleeping in the red deserts of Wadi Rum under a blanket of stars,” said Jennifer Coleman.
“The accommodations are equally diverse, ranging from oceanfront hotels in town to luxury tented camps in the open desert. Even though there are only 16-miles of coastline, you can find everything to delight your senses from underwater worlds to dry and dusty desert canyons,” she added.
Giza and Saqqara, Egypt
“Of course, the main attraction in Giza is the pyramids. It’s hard to understand how majestic they really are until you stand beside one,” said Nadia, Founder of This Mom is on Fire.
“Another famous draw in Giza is the sound and light show narrated by the Sphinx. Listening to the history of the past Pharaohs with the lights and pyramids in the background is truly an amazing and unique experience,” she continued.
Plus, Expert Travel Tips
This year’s 2023 list also includes reporting to help readers navigate the sometimes chaotic travel industry – from what to do when something inevitably goes wrong at the airport, to how cruises have changed since the pandemic, to how to score the best flight and hotel deals and more.
The Best Time to Visit New Zealand from Someone Who Lived There
New Zealand is many things. Home to more sheep than people, it’s raw, stunning, and wild. It’s scenic, diverse, and a land of spectacular contrasts- not to mention jam-packed with natural beauty and a sense of adventure. But it’s also really, really far away.
For most of us, the Land of the Long White Cloud is literally on the other side of the planet! Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (any closer, and it’d be saturated with tourists all year round). But it has practical implications for people who wish to visit. Case and point – Deciding when to go!
Where Is Dubai? Plus 17 Reasons It Draws Millions of Vacationers Every Year
When searching for the answer to this question, many people look for Dubai as a country on a map. That’s one of the biggest misconceptions most people have about this destination. Dubai is actually a city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Additionally, UAE and Dubai are frequently used interchangeably, leading many to believe that Dubai is a country.
But when finding the answer to Where is Dubai, you also start to uncover the draw of the destination. As it is flanked by the Persian Gulf on its west and the enormous deserts and Hajar mountains in the east, Dubai has a more dramatic natural landscape than a typical desert city.
When’s The Best Time to Visit Greece? Here’s 3 Answers Based on What’s Important to You
Greece is a top travel destination for many reasons – its stunningly beautiful coastline, its array of unique islands, its abundance of archaeological sites, its unique culture, and its delicious food and wine. Whether you want to travel to Greece to see the historical ruins or relax on one of its beaches, it’s a destination with almost year-round sunny and warm weather.
But when is the best time to visit Greece? The answer depends on what you’re looking for in your holiday. Of course, if you want to avoid the crowds or skip peak prices but still have warm weather, you’ll need to plan a trip during specific times of the year.
The Dolomites Italy: What I Learned Spending Last Summer in the Most Beautiful Mountains In The World
The Dolomites are a group of mountains in northeastern Italy, and they rank as some of the most stunning mountain ranges in the world, up there with Patagonia, the Rockies, and the Swiss Alps. It’s not a surprise that UNESCO proclaimed the Dolomites Italy as one of the world’s most attractive mountain landscapes.
The Dolomites in Italy known for their dramatic peaks, picturesque villages, and world-class skiing. The air is clean and crisp, and there is a sense of peace and stillness here that can’t be found in a city.
An Insider’s Guide to The Best Hotels in London: Her Top 34 Picks
London is one of those places that everyone should visit at least once in their life. Similar to other awe-inspiring cosmopolitan locations such as New York City and Tokyo, it can feel like the center of the world. After all, it is Europe’s financial capital and the largest city in Britain.
If this is you, and you are planning to visit the United Kingdom or London for the first time, then you will need to select a hotel that’s right for you and the purpose of your visit. Selecting the perfect accommodation can be overwhelming, especially when there are thousands of hotels to choose from!
This article was produced by Planner at Heart.