National Geographic has unveiled its annual list of the 25 inspiring destinations for 2023. Nat Geo’s “Best of the World,” is themed around five categories: Family, Adventure, Culture, Nature, and new this year, Community.
“We have experienced so many changes and disruptions in the way we explore over the last few years, so with this year’s list, we really wanted to get back to identifying positive stories about destinations and communities,” said Amy Alipio, senior editor at National Geographic Travel.
“With our team of travel experts and editors, we took a deeper dive into places all over the globe that are providing experiences that are unique and beneficial for both locals and travelers: locations where visitors ultimately sustain and support — not damage — the destination’s environment and community. We also worked hard to provide lesser-known gems on the list, equally inspiring alternatives to destinations that have become overcrowded (think Choquequirao vs. Machu Picchu in Peru).”
Here is National Geographic’s “Best of the World” list for 2023.
These five destinations were chosen because Nat Geo says they allow you to immerse yourself in history and heritage.
- Appian Way, Italy: Rome’s “Gateway to the East” is known as Europe’s ancient “superhighway.” It was selected for its ability to take you on a trip through history.
- Busan, South Korea: As the nation’s second largest city, it’s known for its beaches, mountains, and temples.
- Charleston, South Carolina: With its cobblestone streets and Low Country Cuisine, this city allows you to explore culture and history.
- Egypt: Home to King Tut’s new home at Cairo’s Grand Egyptian Museum and Luxor’s Avenue of the Sphinxes, this country that links northeast Africa to the Middle East dates back to the time of the pharaohs.
- Longmen Grottoes, Henan Province, China: This is one of the world’s largest collections of Chinese art of the late Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties, made up of 2,300 caves, almost 110,000 Buddhist stone statues, and more.
Described by Nat Geo as “wildly underrated,” these five destinations will spark a new appreciation for our planet.
- Scottish Highlands: This mountain region in northwest Scotland has incredible scenery and is praised for its movement to restore the original landscape.
- Botswana: Located in Southern Africa, this landlocked country is home to several notable animal species like giraffes, cheetahs, and hyenas and is selected for its programs to rehabilitate the species that are endangered.
- Slovenia: This central European country is known for its mountains, ski resorts, and lakes and was selected for this category for being a longtime leader in sustainable tourism.
- Big Bend National Park: This park located in southern Texas was chosen because of its surprising landscape.
- Azores: This is an island region in Portugal known for nature and sustainability, which is why it was selected.
These five destinations are chosen by Nat Geo because they’re for those looking for adrenaline-pumping adventure.
- New Zealand: If you’re looking for a post-pandemic adrenaline rush, you’ll be interested in this country known for adventure; after all, it did invent bungee jumping.
- Choquequirao, Peru: This Incan site in southern Peru may not be well-known, but it will remind you of the architecture of Machu Picchu.
- Utah: This landlocked state out west may be known for skiing, but was chosen for this category for the adrenaline rush you can get from the less visited parts.
- Revillagigedo National Park, Mexico: Known as the “Galápagos of Mexico,” was selected because it holds one of the largest aggregations of sharks and manta rays in the world and is an iconic dive destination.
- Austria: Located in the southern part of Central Europe, it’s known for castles and palaces, but is becoming more popular for cross-country hikes to sample local culture.
Chosen for being forward-thinking, these five destinations were selected by Nat Geo because they offer opportunities for meaningful travel.
- Dodecanese Islands, Greece: This is a group of 15 large and 150 small Greek Islands, chosen for this category because there are women-led ventures and sustainable tourism.
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin: This Great Lakes city is known for its celebration of breweries but was selected because it is becoming known for how it celebrates its culture.
- Alberta, Canada: This is home to Banff National Park and iconic Lake Louise. The traditional countryside and contemporary perspectives come together here.
- Laos: Located in southeast Asia, French colonial architecture, hill tribe settlements, and Buddhist monasteries come together here. Chosen for this category because of a new high-speed train that makes lesser-known regions more accessible to tourists and locals.
- Ghana: This country in West Africa is becoming known for its fashion-forward capital, Accra.
Chosen to “inspire the whole family in 2023,” these five destinations are family trips that Nat Geo says will help educate and illuminate.
- Trinidad and Tobago: As the southernmost island country in the Caribbean, it’s known for beaches and nature. Because of that, it was chosen for its work saving turtles at one of the most important leatherback turtle rookeries in the world.
- San Francisco, California: You’re probably thinking of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and steep streets, but it was chosen for other activities like Presidio Tunnel campfires and hiking the Crosstown Trail.
- Colombia: Disney’s Encanto brought this country to a whole new audience. Enjoy the story while also birdwatching in this “avian paradise” of South America.
- Manchester, England: With a rich industrial heritage, this city mixes history with sports as it’s home to Manchester United.
- Switzerland: Take a train ride through this country famous for the Alps and chocolate. Take in hiking and skiing as you visit its quaint towns.
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