Travel

The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2023

With much of the world reopened, 2023 is shaping up to be the year travel officially bounces back. We made our list of the 50 best destinations for 2023 a little differently this year: We asked Travel + Leisure’s editors where they want to go in the months ahead. Some are raring to get back to Japan, while others have the Trans-Bhutan Trail on their lists. Still more are planning a sail around Greenland, a wine-tasting trip on California’s central coast, and a visit to France’s next big wine region (which is, as it happens, tiny).


A few up-and-coming culinary destinations made our list, as did a remarkable piece of art, the size and scale of which boggles the imagination. While many of the team’s picks are remote, breathe-in-that-fresh-air kinds of places, our list doesn’t skimp on cities where the hustle and bustle is part of the fun.


But with so many choices now back on the map, there are as many styles of trips as there are places to explore. That’s why, for the first time in recent memory, we’ve broken our list of best places to go into categories.


The hope is that, whatever it is you’re after in the year ahead, you’ll find it in one of these 50 places. And who knows? We may just see you there.


— Edited by Paul Brady and Maya Kachroo-Levine



Destination by Category




For Cultural Riches

Alexandria, Virginia

K. Summerer for Visit Alexandria



With postcard-perfect cobblestone streets and quick access to the wineries of northern Virginia, Alexandria is an easy city to love. But these days, the reason to go is to see how effectively the city is confronting its own history, as destinations across the American South grapple with the legacy of the Confederacy. Alexandria, which was founded as a tobacco port in 1749, was for decades of the 19th century the site of the country’s largest domestic slave trade. Today, the Freedom House Museum has three new exhibitions honoring the people who were forcibly brought here. Meanwhile, the African American Heritage Trail, which opened in 2020, follows the Potomac River and encompasses nearly 200 years of history at 11 stops, such as the Torpedo Factory, where many Black men and women worked during World War II. An extension of the route will debut in February 2023 with 20 new stops, including Waterfront Park, the port from which enslaved people were trafficked to places like New Orleans. At Jones Point Park, visitors can learn about Benjamin Banneker, an inventor, mathematician, and free African American from Maryland who was instrumental in the 1791 surveying team that determined the border of the new U.S. capital of Washington, D.C. (For an even deeper look at the city’s Black experience, book with Manumission Tours, which is run by a fourth-generation Alexandrian.) The city’s most elegant stay is Morrison House Old Town Alexandria, Autograph Collection, which was recently voted one of the best city hotels in the continental U.S. in T+L’s 2022 World’s Best Awards. A new Hotel AKA is slated to open in Old Town in winter 2023. — Liz Cantrell


Cairo and the Nile

Emli Bendixen



It’s almost here: After more than a decade of construction — to say nothing of the hype — the Grand Egyptian Museum may finally open, just a stone’s throw from the Great Pyramids of Giza, this spring. What to expect? More than 1 million square feet of exhibition space, treasures including a 40-foot-high statue of Ramses II, outdoor gardens, and an expansive plaza from which visitors can take in the desert surroundings. Meanwhile, a number of new and luxurious ships have started sailing the Nile: Among the best choices are the Viking Osiris, an all-veranda vessel carrying 82 passengers, and the opulent Sphinx from Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, which has 42 cabins swathed in marble and hand-carved wood, with beds dressed in fine Egyptian cotton sheets. The hotel scene is also, thankfully, getting a refresh with a new Mandarin Oriental slated for downtown Cairo in 2024; the forthcoming 200-room Four Seasons Hotel Luxor is scheduled to debut in 2025 — not that you should wait that long to see the ancient Valley of the Kings. — John Wogan


“City,” Nevada

City, 1970 – 2022 © Michael Heizer. Courtesy Triple Aught Foundation. Photo: Eric Piasecki



Even in a state known for its vast, empty landscapes, Basin and Range National Monument, about a two-hour drive north of Las Vegas, takes “remote” to a new level. The 704,000-acre preserve, created in 2015, provides endless opportunities for hiking, climbing, camping, and cycling; its desert valleys and mountain ranges are also dotted with Indigenous rock art sites. But the reason to go now is “City,” the single largest contemporary artwork in the world, which opened to visitors in September 2022. Made from dirt, rock, and concrete, the monumental open-air sculpture was more than 50 years in the making, a collection of mounds, depressions, and stelae conceived by the artist Michael Heizer. The endeavor — which was made possible by joint contributions from art institutions around the country, including LACMA and MoMA — will open to the public for the 2023 season by reservation only. The mile-and-a-half-long sculpture feels at once ancient and futuristic, a destination just as awe-inspiring as the natural one surrounding it. — John Wogan


Havana, Cuba

Brad Ogbonna



The can-you, can’t-you continues, but the Biden administration has made it a touch easier to visit Cuba as a result of its May 2022 relaxation of some restrictions on travel to the island. These days, Americans can go as part of a group tour or visit individually on a “support for the Cuban people” license, travel advisor Molly Layman told T+L. “It’s one of 12 authorized categories of travel to the island,” she said, adding that “it requires citizens to have a full-time schedule of activities that support the Cuban people, which is easily fulfilled through buying services from Cuban entrepreneurs, staying in local homes, dining in private restaurants, and booking cultural activities.” Those ready to take to the vibrant streets of Havana will also need a visa, said Layman, who works as director of operations at tour company Cuba Candela. Travelers can handle that, she said, “on the day of travel at the airport check-in desk or from a tour provider.” (The cost varies depending on where a visa is purchased but rarely exceeds $100.) While the hoops are undeniable, they may well be worth jumping through in the year ahead. — Christine Burroni


Tangier, Morocco

Issam Elhafti/Getty Images



For decades, this northern Moroccan city has attracted a stream of bohemian expats including, most famously, beat-generation writers Paul Bowles and William S. Burroughs. That’s how it cultivated a reputation as a place where foreigners went to live, rather than simply visit. But Tangier’s reputation could change this spring, thanks in part to the opening of Villa Mabrouka — British designer Jasper Conran’s second Moroccan property, which follows the 2018 opening of L’Hôtel Marrakech. The one-time private residence of fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, the hillside property has gorgeous views over the Bay of Tangier within walking distance to the city’s frenetic medina. Villa Mabrouka joins other newcomers, like the Museum of Contemporary Art, a space displaying work by regional artists, also called the Kasbah Museum, as it’s housed in the renovated, 17th-century Kasbah prison. Also new on the proverbial block is the just-opened Fairmont Tazi Palace Tangier, set on a refurbished, century-old estate near the old city. Anticipation is already growing for a recently announced Waldorf Astoria, a 115-room and 21-villa resort set to open in 2025. — John Wogan


Lakes Region, Turkey

Kerem Uzel



Istanbul and Bodrum are both rightly popular, but U.S. travelers will find much to love in other pockets of this diverse country — including this inland part of southwestern Anatolia, which travel advisor Engin Kadaster predicts “will be very popular in the years to come.” Kadaster has been including the Lakes Region on more and more itineraries for her clients, and helped coordinate a story in T+L’s August 2022 issue that included destinations such as Isparta, the region’s largest city and a center of rose and lavender production, and the ancient hilltop city of Sagalassos. The region’s most famous feature — naturally — is a series of tectonic lakes, created by ancient earthquakes, in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains, but it also holds many ancient Greek and Roman archaeological sites. A blessed lack of mass tourism means that this isn’t a hot spot for luxury hotels, but cozy places like Eskiciler Konaği, a renovated century-old mansion near Lake Eğirdir, or Aliya Konak, a seasonal farmstay on a working lavender operation in Isparta, are warm and welcoming. Intrepid travelers can ditch the hotels altogether by camping along the new Pisidia Heritage Trail, a waymarked route that unites the Lakes Region’s splendid nature and unique history as it passes through ancient sites like Kremna, Adada, and Yazılı Canyon. — Hannah Walhout


The United Kingdom

Courtesy of Peninsula London



T+L’s Destination of the Year may be undergoing a once-in-a-lifetime period of transition, but some things never change. For one, the country’s historic cities will always be home to hotels that mix stately grandeur and affable service. This past summer saw the opening of Gleneagles Townhouse, a chic, urban outpost of the iconic Gleneagles resort, in the heart of Edinburgh; next year London will welcome the cool glam of the Peter Marino–designed Peninsula London. Of the U.K.’s many world-class museums, two have recently gotten upgrades: Glasgow’s Burrell Collection, a stunning assortment of international art and artifacts, and the Manchester Museum, which is dedicated to the natural sciences. The Factory, Manchester’s new cultural center, pays tribute to the famous record label behind the Happy Mondays and New Order. Gourmands (and the just plain hungry) will want to sample the broad range of culinary delights at London’s new Arcade Food Hall at Battersea Power Station, the latest stage in the rehabilitation of the historic building. No visit to the U.K. is complete without venturing out into its peerless countryside, and Scotland’s first rewilding center, Dundreggan, is one noteworthy place to take it all in: Managed by charitable organization Trees for Life, this 10,000-acre estate on the shores of Scotland’s Loch Ness plans to open a visitor’s center by the end of 2023. Meanwhile, the new Two Toms Trail in Lancashire covers 25 miles and features some of England’s most stunning scenery. — Peter Terzian


Venice

Getty Images



The perennially popular city made headlines in 2022 for its day-trip entrance fee, which takes effect in January 2023. But why only go for the day? The Venice Architecture Biennale runs May 20, 2023 to Nov. 26, 2023, with global exhibits curated by Lesley Lokko, the first Black architect to organize the event. Architecture lovers will also want to visit the Procuratie Vecchie, the 16th-century building along St. Mark’s Square. Though its façade is one of Italy’s most photographed, the public has only recently been allowed inside, after the completion of a five-year refurbishment led by David Chipperfield Architects. Those looking for nostalgic luxury should plan to arrive in the second half of the year, with their bags packed for a train trip: Belmond’s iconic Venice Simplon-Orient Express will unveil two newly restored carriages from the 1920s and ‘30s in June, with opulent suites modeled to mirror the landscapes of Europe. Nina Ruggiero



For the Food — and Wine

Athens

Courtesy of Four Seasons



It may have a reputation as a stopover city, but Athens deserves a closer look — and at least a few nights — in the year ahead. Not far from the Piraeus port, where travelers hop both domestic ferries and cruise ships that criss-cross the Mediterranean, the Athens Riviera has seen a surge of development. Four Seasons Astir Palace, which opened amid the pandemic, has a private beach on the sparkling Saronic Sea and two spaces designed by Swedish architect Martin Brudnizki, including a midcentury modern cocktail bar and Pelagos restaurant, which has already earned its first Michelin star. In the spring of 2023, One&Only Aesthesis will open just a few miles away, also along the waterfront. Next door is the brand-new Experience Park, with trails, fitness classes, fountains, a Zen garden, and bountiful native plants and flowers; it’s part of an $8-billion waterfront green space called The Ellinikon, on the former site of the city’s international airport, that’s still under development. In central Athens, the 2022 opening of the 43-room Xenodocheio Milos hotel in the Pláka neighborhood brings a bit of cosmopolitan verve, from the team behind international restaurant brand Estiatorio Milos. And while the Odeon of Herodes Atticus on the Acropolis isn’t new — the ancient amphitheater first opened about 1,900 years ago — it will bring back a full schedule of shows in 2023 after a pandemic-era slowdown. — Maya Kachroo-Levine


Central Florida

Courtesy of Small World Vacations



This fall, Hurricane Ian took 81 lives and caused $60 billion in damage across Florida. While the hard-hit southwestern part of the state continues to recover, Visit Florida president and CEO Dana Young said in October that other regions are ready to welcome travelers back. Central Florida in particular is worth a closer look, thanks to its ever-growing hospitality scene. Orlando and Tampa recently won a combined 14 Michelin accolades in 2022, when the guidebook publisher released its first-ever guide to Florida restaurants. The area’s family-friendly draws are better than ever: Disney’s recently opened, highly immersive Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is a two-night adventure that takes themed entertainment to the next level by allowing guests to eat, sleep, and breathe Star Wars with lightsaber training, out-of-this-world dining (blue shrimp, anyone?), and a trip to Batuu at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Meantime, Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebrations continue through March 2023, with limited-time eats, nighttime spectaculars, and festive décor. In Tampa, the latest Edition Hotel just opened with a sprawling rooftop pool club and restaurant from chef John Fraser. And getting both to and around Central Florida is easier than ever, with the recent opening of Orlando International Airport’s new 15-gate Terminal C and Brightline rail service connecting Orlando to South Florida destinations including Miami and West Palm Beach beginning in 2023. — Elizabeth Rhodes


The Jura, France

From Left to Right: Apéritif at La Closerie Les Capucines in Arbois. Forest near Port-Lesney.

Guillaume Megevand



There’s a tiny French region just west of the border with Switzerland that’s producing some big, big wines. Thing is, only a tiny fraction of those bottles ever make it to the U.S., as T+L recently reported. That means you’ve got to go to the Jura — preferably before everyone gets wise to the area’s seven Appellations of Controlled Origin (AOCs). Among serious oenophiles, word is already spreading about the vin jaune, “yellow wine,” made from native savagnin grapes and aged in the Jura’s distinct sous voile style, in which the wine matures “under a veil.” Not that wine is the only draw. The Jura also boasts a comté cheese trail — as if the région weren’t French enough — that connects no fewer than 150 fromageries and dairy farms. Hiking in the Jura Mountains, through Baume-les-Messieurs village and to the Hérisson waterfalls, is equally enticing, particularly as an antidote to all the wine- and cheese-focused sightseeing. Most surprising, perhaps, is just how accessible this under-the-radar area can be. Getting to the Jura takes two hours from the French capital by high-speed train, departing from Paris’s Gare de Lyon. — Maya Kachroo-Levine


San Luis Obispo County, California

Courtesy of Visit SLO CAL/Acacia Productions



It’s time to stop sleeping on “SLO.” Once considered a quick Pacific Coast Highway stopover for those visiting Hearst Castle — which reopened this past spring 2022 after a two-year closure — the central coast county is now a draw in its own right. SLO’s seven cities, including Morro Bay, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, and San Luis Obispo, are all buzzing, and the area just earned official American Viticulture Area (AVA) recognition in 2022, thanks to over 200 wineries, many of which are family owned. Two new Nomada Hotel Group properties opening in 2023 will welcome the inevitable influx of oenophiles: Farmhouse, a collection of 26 rustic-chic cottages with fire pits and hammocks, arrives in January; while River Lodge, a mile from the Paso Robles wine trail, is slated for May. Also being reimagined under Nomada is the Gold Rush–era Pozo Saloon, reopening in the town of Santa Margarita in August with outdoor soaking tubs, live music, trails for hiking and horseback riding, and a glamping site. Paso Robles just notched its first Michelin star (Six Test Kitchen), while San Luis Obispo’s SLO Public Market will welcome two new restaurants, All Good Grill and Todo Bueno, in 2023. Nature lovers should make a beeline for the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove: The insects were recently put on the endangered list, but this spot still draws over 10,000 annually. Nina Ruggiero


Victoria, Australia

Matteo Colombo/Getty Images



Australia has reopened, and this southern state is a particularly appealing corner of the country these days, thanks to hot springs resorts that are poised to make it the next big wine-and-wellness destination: Alba Thermal Springs and Spa on the Mornington Peninsula was the first to open in September 2022, with pools powered by solar and a commitment to achieving climate-positive operations. Metung Hot Springs in East Gippsland is set to follow in late 2022, with updated facilities in an area long known for its thermal waters. Phillip Island Hot Springs, which distinguishes itself with several saltwater features, plans to open in early 2023. Out on the Mornington Peninsula — a destination long popular for its world-class wineries — the InterContinental Sorrento began accepting reservations this past August 2022. Melbourne, Victoria’s appealing capital city, is also expecting new openings, including the intimate, seven-suite Hotel Vera Ballarat by year’s end, followed by the highly anticipated Ritz-Carlton Melbourne, set to open in 2023 in Australia’s tallest tower. Qantas is making it easier to get there, too: By December 2022, the airline will have four nonstop flights a week connecting Dallas and Melbourne, a welcome bridge between Victoria and the middle of the U.S. Sarah Bruning



For Big-city Thrills

Copenhagen

Jonathan Filskov/Getty Images



The eternally cool city will highlight its prowess with all things design, as the official UNESCO World Capital of Architecture in 2023. Venues across Copenhagen — contemporary parks, starchitect-designed skyscrapers, even typically humdrum infrastructure like playgrounds — will host events and visitors for a look at the future of the urban environment. One highlight will be the Copenhill Power Plant, the cleanest waste-to-energy plant in the world — that’s also the site of an artificial ski slope. “We’re going to do a lot of open-house events where 50 different venues are going to be open to the public that are usually closed to visitors,” said Copenhagen’s city architect Camilla van Deurs, who mentioned as examples churches; bridges; and the Danmarks Nationalbank, the central bank building planned in part by Danish design legend Arne Jacobsen. “Superkilen,” van Deurs said, “is a playground for kids and adults — and a cultural hub in the middle of Nørrebro, the most ethnically mixed neighborhood in Copenhagen.” New places to stay in the city also deliver a signature blend of modernism and hygge: Find it at the single-suite Kaj Hotel, which floats on a canal near Copenhagen Opera House, or the colorful new 25 Hours Hotel Copenhagen. — Tim Latterner


Houston

Lance Childers/Houston First



The 2020 opening of the Kinder Building, the latest addition to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, cemented the city’s spot among true international arts destinations. The recent reopening of the Rothko Chapel, after a $35-million renovation, has only reinforced that reputation. Today, a wealth of new ventures is poised to raise the profile of Texas’s largest city in other categories as well. Opening next year, the JMK5 Arena will transform a disused racetrack into a 12,500-seat concert stadium poised to rival the venues of Vegas. It arrives on the heels of the relatively more intimate 713 Music Hall, which has attracted artists ranging from Judas Priest to Lil Nas X. The Houston Zoo is undergoing a much-delayed expansion that will include a Galápagos Islands–themed exhibit, which will feature an underwater tunnel and a penguin habitat. And the Houston Botanic Gardens, which opened in 2020, features 132 acres of diverse ecosystems, from wetlands to prairie. — Peter Terzian


Madrid

Courtesy of Rosewood Villa Magna



The Spanish capital may finally, thankfully, be shaking off its reputation as the country’s somewhat stuffy business hub. A flurry of tony hotel openings throughout the city has helped, by bringing plenty of personality to what had been a staid scene. It began in 2021 with the arrival of the Mandarin Oriental Ritz; Rosewood Villa Magna; and Santo Mauro, a Luxury Collection Hotel. Then came the Edition in April 2022. Breathing new life into the former Monte de Piedad de Madrid building, the hotel has 177 rooms, 21 suites, and two penthouses, plus two restaurants with food from chef Enrique Olvera and the culinary team behind Mexico City’s acclaimed Pujol. Elsewhere in Madrid, an already electric food scene has only gotten better — particularly in the glamorous Salamanca neighborhood and architecture-rich Chamberi district — with new offerings representing everything from Middle Eastern falafel and Argentinian asado to Spanish-Indian fusion and globally inflected vegan fare. — Sarah Bruning


Nashville

Courtesy of 1Hotels



Welcome to the new Nashville. The city’s tourism renaissance is being fueled, in part, by a slew of just-opened hotels, including a Conrad, 1 Hotel, and a Soho House. (A Four Seasons just popped up in the bustling SoBro neighborhood, too.) The newly redesigned Hermitage Hotel, meanwhile, now has the first Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant in the South. The Fifth + Broadway complex has new outposts of old favorites, like fried chicken staple Hattie B’s, and the expansive Assembly Food Hall has dozens of choices, including bars, plural. That inimitable Nashville energy can still be found on Broadway, at honky-tonk bars that go until all hours, but there’s also Justin Timberlake’s sexy Twelve Thirty Club or live events like CMA Fest, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023. Getting there has never been easier, thanks to low-cost carriers such as Breeze Airways and Southwest, both of which have recently added more flights from both coasts, not to mention places like Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Ohio’s Akron-Canton Airport. — Elizabeth Rhodes


Pittsburgh

Getty Images



Forget the notion that Steel City is just a town for football and factories. The metropolis is working on new cultural destinations that can’t be missed: While the next lunar lander is currently being built in Pittsburgh, the Moonshot Museum, which opened in October 2022, is putting on display mankind’s history of getting to and exploring the lunar surface. The Carnegie Museum of Art is hosting its 58th Carnegie International Exhibition, a huge temporary show of both historical and contemporary art which runs through April 2, 2023. The childhood home of playwright August Wilson has been restored and turned into a museum, complete with studios for arts programming. The city also has a new spate of hotels and bars drawing crowds, like the modern-chic Joinery Hotel Pittsburgh, Curio Collection by Hilton and The Industrialist, Autograph Collection in the Arrott building, one of the city’s first skyscrapers. Across the river in Allentown, Bottlerocket Social Hall is the perfect place to post up with locals and, yes, watch the game. — Tim Latterner


San Francisco

Ryan White/Parks Conservancy



Despite the so-called national conversation, the apocalypse has not yet come to San Francisco. True, this city had the most extreme wealth divide of any in California in 2020, and the seams here can be especially visible. But all the reasons SF shines — the arts, the nature, the dim sum, the sourdough — haven’t gone anywhere. And a slate of recent infrastructure and cultural projects show that many in the city are working to make it a better place to live and a more compelling destination to visit. The new Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco walks the walk of its focus on equity: the museum is completely free and has opted against a permanent collection in order to direct more funds to artists and staff. The city’s urban national park unit, the Presidio of San Francisco, recently gained 14 acres with the opening of the Presidio Tunnel Tops, a green space designed by James Corner Field Operations, the lead firm for New York City’s High Line, which incorporated input from more than 10,000 residents. Another massive community-led park and mixed-use development is underway in India Basin, with sustainability and affordable housing as stated core values. The hospitality scene is also on the come up: 1 Hotel San Francisco, The Line SF, and Beacon Grand (formerly the Sir Francis Drake) have all opened in the past six months, and Auberge Resorts Collection is slated to debut a new hotel in the Hearst Building in 2023. — Hannah Walhout


Seoul

Getty Images



American travelers can finally get back to the South Korean capital after years of pandemic restrictions — and there’s plenty to catch up on. The city’s arts scene is buzzing, thanks to new venues such as Konig Gallery, not to mention the announcement from Seoul Museum of Art that three new wings will launch by 2024. (An added boost came from Seoul hosting its first edition of Frieze this past September, during which many commenters asked if K-art may well be the next K-pop.) Meanwhile the destination has seen a number of new hotels open, including the surprisingly trendy Fairmont Ambassador Seoul and Josun Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Seoul Gangnam, with its sweeping views of the globally famous district and stunning public spaces, including 1914 Lounge & Bar. — Tim Latterner



For Moments on the Water

Cape Verde, the Gambia, Ghana, and Guinea-Bissau

Arnau Ferrer



Though Ghana has, in recent years, surged in popularity as a destination for American visitors, particularly Black Americans, West Africa remains unfamiliar to many. One solution may be the innovative West Africa Archipelago cruises that Hurtigruten Expeditions aims to launch in November 2023. These two-week trips, aboard the line’s 180-passenger Spitsbergen, will stop in ports in four countries, with a huge array of activities on the expedition schedule: visits to historically important sites including Gorée Island; wildlife-watching forays to spot hippos and manatees; and adventures such as scaling volcanoes and scrambling across lava fields. Though some cruise lines occasionally stop in West African ports, Hurtigruten’s deep focus on the region represents a step change — one that’s driven by passenger demand, said Asta Lassesen, the CEO of Hurtigruten Expeditions. “These islands are not as known as our other destinations, but they are teeming with unique wildlife, different cultures, and offer completely different experiences than you’d find in a traditional cruise destination,” Lassesen told T+L. — Paul Brady


Coastal Ecuador

Courtesy of Kontiki Expeditions



Many travelers know the historic capital city of Quito and the incredibly biodiverse Galápagos Islands, but now’s the time to visit Ecuador’s stunning Pacific coastline. From surf towns like Montañita to the preserved beaches and cloud forest of Machalilla National Park, coastal Ecuador is packed with outdoor adventures and stunning scenery. Kontiki Expeditions unlocks the region with eight-day yacht cruises that visit five of the country’s 24 provinces, hitting destinations including Isla de la Plata and Salinas. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Kontiki Expeditions operates an intimate ship with just nine staterooms, refined outdoor and indoor spaces, and a nearly 1:1 crew-to-guest ratio. (Guests can book an individual room, or charter the entire 18-passenger yacht.) Getting there has gotten smoother, too: U.S. airlines including American, JetBlue, and Spirit now offer direct flights to Guayaquil, from which Kontiki Expeditions trips depart. — Elizabeth Rhodes


The Explora I

Courtesy of EXPLORA I



Just don’t call it a cruise: Upstart travel company Explora Journeys describes its itineraries as “ocean journeys,” nevermind the fact they’re aboard the newly built, 461-suite Explora I. The vessel is slated to hit the water in July 2023, with trips in the Mediterranean that visit popular cruise destinations such as Barcelona and Civitavecchia, near Rome, as well as lesser-visited ports including Patmos, Greece, and St.-Tropez, France. “It’s a new style of ocean travel that connects you with the things that are important,” Explora CEO Michael Ungerer told T+L. “There’s a craving to learn something new and make authentic connections without leaving your tried and tested luxury environment and services behind.” Indeed, life aboard won’t be monastic: Explora I will have 18 restaurants and bars and a massive spa, among other luxuries. Still, should all that ocean journeying become a bit too wearying, guests can always retreat to their suites, all of which have private verandas. In fact, when it debuts, Explora I will have the most space per passenger of any vessel anywhere. — Paul Brady


Greenland

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Antarctica is so last year. While Greenland may not have penguins, it does promise plenty of beautiful landscapes and seemingly endless horizons. The newly christened National Geographic Resolution will sail the Eastern shore of Greenland in June 2023, with opportunities to explore the Rømer Fjord depending on conditions. Ponant has a dozen distinct itineraries scheduled for 2023, including a number of round trips from Kangerlussuaq, in Western Greenland, that explore Baffin Bay. The brand-new Seabourn Venture, the line’s first expedition ship, will also be there in 2023; one particularly compelling August itinerary starts in Iceland, spends nearly three weeks along Greenland’s coast, then continues through the Northwest Passage before wrapping in Anchorage, Alaska. More conventional operators, such as Regent Seven Seas Cruises, are making the polar destination a fixture, too. The Seven Seas Navigator will visit Prince Christian Sound and make calls in Nuuk and Paamiut on a June 2023 sailing between New York City and Reykjavik. — Paul Brady


Hvar, Croatia

Goran Stimac/Getty Images



Those seeking a brighter 2023 will find it on Hvar: This Dalmatian Coast island calls itself the sunniest in Croatia. That means plenty of time for cycling more than 100 miles of bikeable terrain or kayak trips to secluded beaches. At night, those clear skies make for incredible stargazing: Jesla, on the island’s north shore, was named the first International Dark Sky Community in Southern Europe in 2022; and Moeesy, the island’s newest luxury hotel, has one room with an over-the-bed skylight for bedtime viewing. The town of Velo Grablje’s 14th-century charm peaks in July, when the lavender festival blooms with food, drink, and family-friendly activities all centered around the fragrant Mediterranean plant. And in Hvar proper, the harborside Riva Marina hotel reopened in June 2022 with refreshed waterfront terrace suites and a new restaurant and bar concept focused on local ingredients. Just down the block is the island’s first sustainable hotel, Beach Bay, which opened this past summer 2022 with an off-grid solar power system and a commitment to honor UNESCO’s Sustainable Travel Pledge. Nina Ruggiero


The Path of Totality

©StudioPonant/Laure Patricot



A total solar eclipse, in which the moon blocks the sun and plunges the Earth into momentary darkness, is a “relatively common” phenomenon, NASA heliophysicist Dr. Michael Kirk told T+L. The trick is that most eclipses happen over water or in extremely remote places — which is why spotting the next one, on April 20, 2023, will be all about the chase. The upcoming path of totality will cross the Indian Ocean, graze Western Australia, then sweep across Indonesia and East Timor into the Pacific; astro-enthusiasts can chart its full course with the Totality app. That means the best way to catch the show will be to board a ship, such as the 188-passenger Le Lapérouse, for a Ponant and Smithsonian Journeys cruise from Bali, Indonesia, to Broome, Australia. The new Indonesia-based charter yacht Celestia will also be sailing around the edges of totality, making visits to the islands of Komodo National Park, the Moluccas, and Raja Ampat. The very best odds for viewing, said NASA’s Kirk, will be in Western Australia, where “the Exmouth Peninsula, Barrow Island, and the sea in between should have clear skies.” Eclipse chasers could drive the 750 miles from Perth to Cape Range National Park on the Ningaloo Reef–fringed Exmouth, but Tropical Sails Corp’s Pacific Explorer, which can take you there from Perth on a five-day Indian Ocean sail, seems a far more pleasant journey. — Maya Kachroo-Levine



For Fresh Air and Nature

Andorra

Courtesy of Pal-Arinsal Ski Resort



This tiny European country, which at 181 square miles is smaller than Chicago, could soon turn into one of the world’s biggest ski destinations. The mountainous country, situated between France and Spain, has long been known for its reliable December-to-April conditions thanks to its high-altitude perch in the Pyrenees. But now, for the first time, three Andorra ski areas have been added to the Ikon Pass, putting a collective 7,600 acres of downhill terrain across 215 runs and 123 lifts into play for holders of the global lift ticket. At the same time, the three destinations of Grandvalira, Ordino Arcalís, and Pal-Arinsal (or, collectively, the Grandvalira Resorts Andorra) will be available on a single local Andorra Pass, which starts at about $50 a day, a bargain by any big-mountain standards. Alternatively, visitors can opt for a newly launched Nord Pass, a multi-day ticket that works at both Ordino Arcalís and Pal-Arinsal for less than $40 per day. So, while these affordable mountains remain a bit of a challenge to reach — Grandvalira can be a four-hour drive from Barcelona — the days of smaller crowds may soon be a thing of the past. — Jamie Aranoff


Asheville, North Carolina

Tim Robison



This flannel-clad city in the Blue Ridge Mountains checks all the boxes, with year-round outdoor activities, sophisticated dining, and easy access, whether you’re driving or flying. (Asheville Regional Airport is on pace for a record-breaking 2022, with service from 25 destinations.) But the year ahead offers more reasons to visit, starting with some cool new places to stay: Wrong Way River Lodge has a collection of A-frame cabins along the French Broad River that are perfect for white-water rafters. AutoCamp Asheville, another glamping-esque abode with Airstream campers, is slated to open by mid-2023. Downtown, the new Restoration Hotel promises a properly plush stay; its sister property in Charleston consistently ranks in T+L’s World’s Best Awards. (For those who’d rather be even closer to nature, The Glamping Collective is a newly opened, 160-acre site with domed pods and glass cabins situated a short drive from the city.) Asheville’s food scene has fresh energy from S&W Market, Asheville’s first food hall and the brainchild of award-winning chef Meherwan Irani. For all that’s new, visitors shouldn’t skip the old standbys: French Broad Chocolates is a local fave that’s since gone national, and Battery Park Book Exchange is the prime spot for a late-night glass of Champagne amid dusty bookshelves. Samantha Falewée


Aysén, Chile

Stefan Ruiz



Chile’s Aysén region lies between two popular destinations — Torres del Paine National Park and the Lake District — with a captivating landscape of hanging glaciers, magnificent fjords, pristine lakes, and jagged peaks. Yet this 41,000-square-mile swath in northern Patagonia — the least populated in Chile — remains largely unexplored by visitors, in part because of its topography. But now, several outfitters and organizations, including Chile’s Route of Parks, are developing more itineraries and ecotourism routes for the non-mountain-scaling adventure traveler, with less-daunting activities like kayaking, hiking, and biking. Not long ago, travel company Explora opened a lodge in Aysén’s Patagonia National Park (working with nonprofit Rewilding Chile to support conservation and educational efforts) and launched eight- to 12-day trips that make travel across the region convenient, with flights, accommodations, and activities included. Factor in loosened COVID-19 restrictions and a newly elected president (the country’s youngest in history) as additional reasons to go now. Then there’s the continually growing partnership between Delta Air Lines and Latam, which allows for mutual lounge access and easy nonstop flights from Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York City to Santiago, which is just a short connecting hop from Coyhaique, the gateway to Aysén. — Alisha Prakash


The Hudson Valley, New York

Andre Maier



Yes, the stretch north of New York City and south of Albany, along the banks of the lordly Hudson River, has been attracting enterprising former urbanites — as well as savvy travelers in search of charming towns and idyllic countryside — for the past century or so. But its transition from quasi-rustic to quietly glam marks a new and intriguing chapter. Next summer, The Ranch Hudson Valley, an offshoot of the West Coast’s rigorous retreat The Ranch Malibu, will open on a grand estate built by financier J.P. Morgan (as a gift for his daughter’s marriage to Alexander Hamilton’s great-grandson) and will offer multi-day programs to revive weary New Yorkers. Meanwhile, Wildflower Farms, Auberge Resorts Collection, a property with 60 freestanding cabins and cottages, will highlight the pastoral side of the region, with a farm-to-table restaurant and 140 acres of orchards and wildflower gardens. The region’s reputation for top-notch cuisine continues with the upscale tavern fare at Merchants Social in Hudson and Stissing House in Pine Plains, the Southern-inflected Darlings in Tilson, and the sweet fantasia of the Catskills Chocolate Co. in Catskill. (Longtime cheesemongers Talbott and Arding have recently moved to a beautiful new space in Hudson, too.) But don’t forget to leave room for culture. In Catskill, Foreland is a self-billed kunsthalle that extends across three 19th-century mills with exhibition spaces and artist studios. And the beloved sculpture park Storm King Art Center is getting a $45-million overhaul that includes an extensive new visitors center. — Peter Terzian


Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Thomas Retterath/Getty Images



“Zambia is a destination so many people miss,” said travel advisor Leora Rothschild. “The country’s Lower Zambezi National Park is one of my favorite destinations anywhere. Having a safari on a river adds a dynamic element,” she notes, since being on the water offers a different perspective than travelers get while on a game drive or in camp. Among the best places to take in this wildlife-rich destination is at one of its newest lodges, the luxurious eight-suite Lolebezi, which African Bush Camps opened inside the park and on the banks of the river this past June. It’s an ideal base from which to explore Lower Zambezi, which sits opposite Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to what the agency calls its “dramatic landscape” and “huge herds of elephant and buffalo.” Though remote, this corner of Zambia has recently gotten a bit easier to access, as pandemic-era travel regulations have loosened. Air Botswana announced in May 2022 that, following a two-year hiatus, it would relaunch flights from Gaborone, Botswana to Lusaka, Zambia. Samantha Falewée


Prince Edward Island, Canada

Tourism PEI/Sander Meurs



As Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island might get overlooked in favor of the country’s bigger, badder destinations for outdoor thrills. But this tiny island — known to many as the setting of L.M. Montgomery’s beloved “Anne of Green Gables” series — packs a punch. Here, you’ll find rugged cliffs, red-sand beaches, and a surprisingly robust golf scene, with 27 courses. Perhaps the biggest draw for adventurous travelers right now is the Island Walk, a 435-mile trail that opened in 2021. Tracing the entire coastline, it passes through dozens of small towns and fishing villages. Walkers can start and end at any point, but the entire loop would take about 32 days, assuming a pace of 12-15 miles a day. Not that you’ve got to be hardcore to enjoy the trail: Towns and villages along the route have plenty to offer even non-hikers, such as the relatively new Slaymaker & Nichols, a cozy inn and gastropub in Charlottetown, the provincial capital. Classic PEI experiences endure, such as the seafood-focused, multi-course “culinary experience” from celebrity chef Michael Smith at the Inn at Bay Fortune. — Liz Cantrell


Tanzania

Stephanie Vermillion



When high-speed internet was installed at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest peak, this past August, it was just the latest example of the new era dawning in Tanzania. The leader of the country’s changing face is President Samia Suluhu Hassan, the first woman of color and the first Muslim to lead this country, who took office in 2021. “I never expected that one day I would be president,” President Hassan told PBS. Not that she’s wasting any time. Since taking power, she’s devoted herself to strengthening infrastructure, women’s businesses, education, health care — she received her COVID-19 vaccine on live television to encourage others to get immunized — and sustainable travel. This summer, the Usangu Expedition Camp in Ruaha National Park opened in partnership with the Tanzania National Parks Authority, and the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute; Selous Safari Company recently refreshed its six-suite private reserve on Fanjove Island, a jumping off point for “marine safaris” by dive boat or kayak. Samantha Falewée


Uttar Pradesh, India

Luis Dafos/Getty Images



Pummeled by the pandemic, India suffered through a grim 20-month closure, only reopening to travelers at the end of 2021. However, at long last — and with COVID-19 cases now under control thanks to large-scale vaccination programs that have delivered more than 2 billion doses — 2023 is primed to be the year visitors return to this soul-stirring country in full force. While many travelers will opt for Rajasthan’s royal palaces and desert jewels, there’s good reason to discover Uttar Pradesh on your next trip. India’s fourth-largest state is home to classic attractions including the Taj Mahal, in Agra, and the Ganges River ghats of Varanasi, the nation’s holiest city. But the new draws here include Vana, a wellness retreat in the Himalayan foothills of Dehradun. The resort, which is now managed by the World’s Best Award–winning hospitality company Six Senses, has rooms and suites that prioritize the lush landscape with balconies and terraces overlooking the surrounding forest and gardens, offering a true breath of fresh air. — Alisha Prakash



For Beach Vibes

Bermuda

Patrick Michael Chin



Already a favorite weekend getaway for East Coasters, Bermuda will become even easier to get to in 2023. American Airlines resumed flights to the island from New York City’s John F. Kennedy International in November, which the carrier had paused in the early days of the pandemic. Upon arrival at L.F. Wade International, travelers are now greeted in a new $400-million terminal with automated immigration gates and preclearance for U.S.-bound passengers — plus unexpected extras like a putting green and an outdoor nature trail. Bermuda’s resort stock is on the rise, too: Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa recently debuted a top-to-bottom renovation, adding villas and a Bermudian outpost of Sunken Harbor Club, the tropical cocktail bar above Brooklyn, New York’s wildly popular steakhouse Gage & Tollner. The St. Regis Bermuda is another high-end hotel option, which opened in 2021 with the nation’s first casino and incredible views of Fort St. Catherine. The island still requires all visitors test negative for COVID-19 ahead of travel, a rule that prompted multiple cruise lines to skip the destination in late 2022. Those who do make the trip might stay for a spell: The Atlantic country’s remote work program — which launched in July 2020 and allows for stays up to one year — is still up and running for anyone looking to make pink-sand beaches a new home base. — Liz Cantrell


Cayman Islands

Warren Fleming-Hollinger/Getty Images



It just keeps getting easier to visit the Caymans. As of fall 2022, Cayman Airways flies nonstop from Los Angeles International to Grand Cayman, the first direct route from the West Coast to the British territory. “Getting to Hawaii takes longer,” said Kenneth Bryan, Cayman Islands honorable minister for tourism and transport, in an interview with T+L. Wherever they’re flying in from, visitors will find plenty of new offerings along Seven Mile Beach, on Grand Cayman’s west shore. Chief among them is the freshly renovated Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, which is now outfitted with a La Prairie Spa and Saint June restaurant, complete with a beachfront bar. (The property is thankfully still home to the long-running, annual Cayman Cookout.) For travelers who prefer heart-pumping adventure to pool- or beachside relaxation, the Caymans can deliver: Hiking reserves like the 100-year-old Mastic Trail on Grand Cayman or the Bluff on Cayman Brac may not be as well known as the islands’ beaches — but they should be. Meanwhile a growing art scene is beginning to draw international attention, thanks to shows at the well-established National Gallery of the Cayman Islands as well as the vibey, creative atmosphere at new hotels such as Palm Heights, as T+L recently reported. — Christine Burroni


Coastal Uruguay

© Tali Kimelman/Posada Ayana



The vast skies, empty beaches, and delicious food of Uruguay remain as alluring as they’ve ever been. Still, 2023 promises to be a breakout year for the country’s lowkey coastal destinations, thanks to an ever-growing art scene that adds a layer of culture to this already inviting stretch along the Southern Atlantic. Among the newest must-sees is the Atchugarry Museum of Contemporary Art in Punta del Este, a 90-acre campus which opened in early 2022. Also nearby is artist James Turrell’s “Ta Khut,” an experiential Skyspace that opened in late 2021 at Posada Ayana, a small hotel in José Ignacio. (The seaside village is also home to intriguing contemporary collections at three Vik Retreats properties, including Bahia Vik, with its oceanfront bungalows.) A short drive from José Ignacio, the village of Garzón has lately become a hub for multidisciplinary artists thanks to Campo, an incubator and non-profit that brings creatives to this still-rural corner of Uruguay. — Paul Brady


Guadeloupe

Getty Images



Lush mountains, bustling beach towns, and idyllic resorts make Guadeloupe the perfect place for adventurous travelers looking for something Caribbean but different. In recent years, though, it’s been difficult for U.S. travelers to reach this French overseas department — particularly after Norwegian ceased its nonstop flights to the destination in 2019. Now, things are looking up again, as JetBlue has relaunched its nonstop service from New York City to the gateway city of Pointe-à-Pitre in November 2022. SkyTeam faithfuls can also now get there on Air France, on nonstops from either Miami or New York; American Airlines also serves the archipelago from Miami. First-timers tend to focus on two of the islands, Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre, the latter of which is home to Guadeloupe National Park. (A local tour company such as Vert Intense can help with the logistics of seeing Carbet Falls and La Grande Soufrière volcano.) Accommodations tend away from big brand names, though — this being France — there is an all-inclusive, beachfront Club Med La Caravelle. Other well-regarded options include the remote, hillside Le Jardin Malanga Hotel, with its dramatic ocean views, or the cliffside villas of the boutique-y La Toubana Hotel & Spa, along the southern shore of Grande-Terre. — Christine Burroni


The Jersey Shore, New Jersey

William Laird



“The real thing is quite different from TV,” George Distefano told T+L. Now a hotelier, Distefano grew up on the Jersey Shore — and today is doing his part to change the narrative around the beloved summer destination. His latest project, The James Bradley, is a 17-room inn that opened in Bradley Beach in August 2022 and is aimed at a crowd that’s perhaps quieter, chicer, and altogether less interesting to MTV producers. In nearby Asbury Park, which has long been a barometer of development, openings of The Asbury Hotel and the Asbury Ocean Club and Residences signal the start of a bougier era. Even Atlantic City is now substantially more chic, after many casino resorts, including Bally’s, Caesars, and Ocean, used the pandemic-induced dip in visitors to undertake hundreds of millions of dollars in renovations. “The area as a whole has had a bit of a renaissance,” Distefano said. One telling indicator of where the Shore is headed next? A Nobu Hotel is slated to open on the boardwalk any day now. — Hannah Walhout


Maui, Hawaii

Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton



Hawaii has been in the midst of a multi-year rethink about how tourism impacts the state. “We seek to balance the economic vitality of our industry with the health of our natural environment and the well-being of our communities,” is how Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO John De Fries put it this past summer. On Maui, that balance has been struck recently in efforts to renovate and reimagine some of the island’s most popular resorts. The 54-acre Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua, to take one example, is finishing up a major overhaul that includes a reimagined aquatic complex (with three “zero-edge” swimming pools), an expanded Club Lounge, and programming that will include not just cocktail classes and cooking demonstrations but also lei making and musical performances by Hawaiian artists. On the southwest coast of the island, The Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort is in the midst of its own refresh of all 776 guest rooms and suites; some are, happily, already good to go. There’s other progress beyond hotels: e-bikes are now plentiful on Maui, thanks to a recent rule change that allows them on island roads. Companies like RideSmart Maui lend out wheels that make exploring a breeze, whether your interest lies in the historic sites of Lahaina or the beautiful beaches around Wailea. — John Wogan


Riviera Maya, Mexico

Courtesy of Chablé Hotels



This picturesque stretch of the Yucatán peninsula is in the midst of welcoming four marquee hotels. The Waldorf Astoria Cancun just opened, a brand-new build with 173 rooms and five dining venues all overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Casa Chablé and The St. Regis Kanai Resort are slated to open in early 2023, followed by the Riviera Maya Edition at Kanai in spring 2023. Farther south, closer to Tulum, the ultra-luxurious Hotel Esencia has added a posh new 10,000-square-foot, four-bedroom mansion tricked out with fitness and screening rooms, an underground speakeasy, and three pools — the perfect thing for a friends’ getaway. Not that hotels are the only draw: The last section of the new Maya Train project, which connects Cancun and Tulum, is expected to open by the end of 2023 after delays to address environmental and archeological concerns. The route will make several cultural and historic sites, including Chichén Itzá, more accessible and connect travelers to other destinations in the state of Quintana Roo, including Bacalar, Playa del Carmen, and Puerto Morelos. Also on the horizon is the opening of the long-awaited Tulum airport, which Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said will be completed by the end of 2023. Sarah Bruning


Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

Courtesy of Auberge Resorts Collection



Long a vacationer’s paradise, this section of Mexico’s Pacific coast between Puerto Vallarta and the beach town of San Blas is only getting better in the year ahead. The 59-room Susurros del Corazón, Auberge Resorts Collection, began welcoming guests in November 2022 with experiences that include an introduction to raicilla, a lesser-known agave spirit, and boating excursions in Islas Marietas, a national park known for its biodiversity. On its heels, Naviva, a Four Seasons Resort, which is the first tented camp property from the brand, will open in December 2022. Accommodating just 30 people at a time, the lush 48-acre property is making wellness a key focus, so guests can expect to unwind with options like a temascal ceremony and nocturnal forest bathing sessions. An extra incentive to go? JetBlue launched new nonstop flights from JFK to Puerto Vallarta International, which serves as the gateway to the region.Sarah Bruning


U.S. Virgin Islands

Courtesy of USVI Department of Tourism; Jamie Aranoff



With no pandemic restrictions, no passport needed, and plenty of inbound flights, the U.S. Virgin Islands are challenging Bermuda for the title of easiest warm-weather getaway for East Coasters. What’s more, the islands just established a Territorial Park System Trust Fund Board which will protect and preserve attractions like St. Croix’s Great Salt Pond and St. John’s Oppenheimer Beach. Caribbean flavors are, once again, another reason to go: The King of the Wing competition on St. Thomas, which celebrates creative chicken cookery, is back after a two-year hiatus; the 23rd annual Taste of St. Croix festival, one of the largest culinary events in the region, happens in April. Carnival, which returned in 2022, will be another event to watch in the year ahead. St. Thomas celebrates from late April through early May with food fairs, pageants, and parades; St. John fetes from late June through July 4, concluding with an Independence Day bash; and St. Croix sparkles from mid-December through Three Kings Day with more traditional, Christmas-centric fanfare. — Jamie Aranoff



For a Look at the Future

Bhutan

Ken Spence



This past September, Bhutan, the impossibly scenic country between India and China, reopened to tourists after 30 months. But that’s nothing compared to the 60 years it’s taken to redevelop the 250-mile Trans Bhutan Trail, which also reopened that month. Once the only way to travel across the Himalayan kingdom, the ancient pilgrimage route is now one of Bhutan’s biggest draws, a must-see for hikers, bikers, and other outdoorsy types. The trail connects 400 historic sites, with museums, fortresses, and temples along the way — plus stunning natural scenery and seemingly endless views. As part of its reopening, Bhutan has ended its policy requiring visitors to be accompanied 24/7 by a guide; instead, the nation has implemented an increased tourism tax, or Sustainable Development Fee, which is intended to fund social and cultural programs, infrastructure improvements, and environmental conservation. (The $200-a-day charge, up from $65, is also deliberately expensive, in an effort to keep visitor numbers low.) On the hotel front, Six Senses opened its fifth and final Bhutan lodge, Six Senses Bumthang, in March 2020, but the eco hideaway tucked in a pine forest in the town of Jakar, of course, has only just become accessible to foreigners. — Alisha Prakash


Boten–Vientiane Railway, Laos

Kaikeo Saiyasane/Xinhua via Getty Images



It’s not every day the world gets a new cross-country railroad. The ambitious Boten–Vientiane railway that stretches across Laos may have opened for business in late 2021, but now’s the time to jump aboard, as travel to Asia reopens to American visitors. The remarkable engineering project is one of many financed by China as part of the country’s Belt and Road Initiative that builds heavy infrastructure across Africa and Asia. In this case, the train has dramatically slashed travel times across the difficult-to-drive if strikingly beautiful landscapes of Laos: Trips that would’ve taken a full day by road can now be done in just a couple hours of train-carriage comfort, as T+L recently reported. The route runs from the northern border town of Boten to Luang Prabang, which is known for its many temples. It then continues on to Vang Vieng, a gateway to some of the country’s most dramatic landscapes, before arriving in the capital, Vientiane, on the border with Thailand. Intermediate stations will help open up to visitors parts of the country that haven’t historically benefited from tourism, as Ruben Derksen, director of product and digital at Bangkok-based tour operator Exo Travel, told T+L. In the years ahead, the 257-mile railway may become even more critical, as just one segment of a Singapore to Shanghai route that will make continent-spanning journeys not just possible, but pleasant. — Paul Brady


Kyoto, Japan

Rudy Sulgan/Getty Images



Kyoto is often thought of as the serene, slowed-down complement to go-go Tokyo. And, certainly, the former Japanese capital has its historic temples, gardens, and teahouses. But since Japan’s October 2022 reopening to independent travelers, this destination and its new draws demand fresh eyes. The city’s famous Gion Matsuri, or festival, is set to return in full force in July 2023 following a pandemic pause, with enormous floats and a wealth of food and drink offerings; the event, which was first held in 869, is said to be Japan’s biggest festival. In August, Kyoto celebrates Gozan Okuribi, a bonfire celebration visible across the city that marks the close of Obon, a festival honoring ancestors. New hotels abound, including hospitality group Banyan Tree’s 138-room Dhawa Yura Kyoto, located in the heart of the city. Another new option is Garrya Nijo Castle Kyoto, with 25 rooms set amid lush greenery in front of Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also new — yet firmly rooted in the city’s history — is the recently opened Maana Kiyomizu, where visitors can spend the night in restored machiya, traditional wooden townhouses. Though Japan has only just reopened, it’s already getting even easier to get there, thanks to Delta Air Lines’ brand-new routes from Hawaii to Tokyo plus flights that resumed this fall from Los Angeles. — Alisha Prakash


New Zealand

Barry Tobin; Courtesy of Tourism New Zealand



After a stringent lockdown, New Zealand has at last dropped all travel restrictions. Happily, the country is becoming more accessible than ever, thanks to the nonstop flights between New York and Auckland that Air New Zealand launched in September. (That long haul has also gotten comfier, thanks to the airline’s Economy Skycouch seats.) Wondering if those 17 hours in the air will be worth it? Auckland continues to evolve with no shortage of dazzling new places to stay. The 99-room Hotel Britomart, lined in timber and exuding Zen calm, is at the heart of Auckland’s Britomart District, nine blocks of historic warehouses converted into shops and restaurants. Mawhiti Walheke is a luxurious modern guest pavilion on a vineyard-covered island a short ferry ride from the city. And New Zealand’s spectacular landscape finally has a showstopper of a property to match it: Flock Hill, a fully serviced four-bedroom villa on a sheep ranching station in the Southern Alps region of South Island. — Peter Terzian


Teahupo’o,Tahiti

© Gre goire Le Bacon



The village of Teahupo’o, on the southwestern coast of Tahiti, will take center stage during the 2024 Paris Olympics, despite being 9,800 miles from the French capital. But unless you’re planning to compete, the year ahead is the ideal time for a closer look at this part of French Polynesia, before the world’s attention turns to the South Pacific. Some of the incredible waves here rate among the most fearsome on the planet — hence the name Teahupo’o, which essentially means “wall of skulls” — while others are more rideable for those with some surfing experience. Accommodations such as Tahurai can organize coaching sessions, including some hosted by local surf icon Tereva David. Those more comfortable watching the waves than riding them can get on the water with tour companies such as Teahupo’o Tahiti Surfari, which takes visitors by boat to see the famous Teahupo’o swell, one of the highest and heaviest waves in the world, as well as waterfalls, lagoons, lava tubes, and cliff-diving spots around the island. Meanwhile, it’s gotten easier than ever to reach Tahiti, thanks to Delta Air Lines’ new nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Fa’a’ā International Airport. Air Tahiti Nui has also added connectivity, with the only nonstop flights between Seattle and Tahiti, which took off in October. — Jamie Aranoff


Victoria, British Columbia

Carlina Teteris/Getty Images



What does it look like for a city to meaningfully prioritize “sustainability,” a word that often ends up more “feel-good” than actually “do-good?” Victoria is maximizing its green impact, aiming to make all new buildings carbon neutral by 2025 and halve landfill waste by 2040. Admittedly, few travelers pick destinations based on zero-waste initiatives, but it’s easy to take an environmentally minded trip to Victoria — the city even has suggested “green travel” itineraries, capitalizing on the outdoor beauty of places like Goldstream Provincial Park, one of many green spaces on Vancouver Island. Visitors have their choice of carbon-neutral hotels, such as Inn at Laurel Point and Parkside Hotel & Spa, and can even do carbon-neutral fast food at Big Wheel Burger, Canada’s first such restaurant. Other eco-minded activities include e-biking along the Saanich Peninsula to seaside towns like Sidney — with stops at picturesque wineries or the Butchart Gardens along the way — or hopping aboard an orca-watching cruise with Eagle Wing Tours, which is, of course, part of 1% for the Planet. — Liz Cantrell


Vienna

JJ Farquitectos/Getty Images



Austria’s capital city may be old — like, Holy Roman Empire old — but 2023 will see neue life in this historic destination. The year ahead is the 150th anniversary of Vienna’s World’s Fair, and the celebrations include 12 months of cultural events. It’s also the 300th anniversary of the opening of the Belvedere, the palatial museum that’s mounting an art nouveau exhibit featuring 90 Gustav Klimt works in February. Adaptive reuse is also on trend here, and the recently opened Rosewood Vienna is but one example, set in a neoclassical building that was once a bank headquarters and, before that, an apartment building where Mozart lived. The now-reopened Reznicek is a contemporary gasthaus inside a 100-year-old inn; Grace’s Michelin-starred fare is served in a refurbished wood-paneled café reminiscent of the ‘70s. Not that Vienna is only looking to the past: New initiatives have added 1,000 miles of bike paths, carsharing via WienMobil, a robust network of electric buses, and new development in the fast-growing Aspern neighborhood where every public space and street is named after a woman. Other new additions include Hotel Josefine, with its sultry Roaring ‘20s energy and Hotel Gilbert, with a greenery-cloaked façade and Scandi-inspired design. Nonstop flights from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Newark, New York City, and Washington, D.C. are always an option but the most au courant way in may be the new Paris to Vienna Nightjet train, which runs three days a week, with private cabins with lie-flat beds and breakfast in the morning. — Maya Kachroo-Levine



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