As travel continues to make its return in 2022, National Geographic has unveiled its annual list of the 25 inspiring destinations for the renewed travel landscape to help individuals get a jump on planning for the year ahead.
Nat Geo’s “Best of the World” 2023 is themed around travel destinations and experiences that leverage the benefits of tourism to strengthen their local communities and environments, both natural and built.
Nat Geo’s “Best of the World” list for the year ahead celebrates destinations and travel experiences that illuminate our beautiful world and the diversity of communities and people within it, grouped by category: Family, Adventure, Culture, Nature.
New this year, however, is a Community category, that is designed to be inclusive of healing and heritage journeys, community-led conservation efforts, ways for travelers to give back, and locations doing groundbreaking work in eco-tourism, sustainability, and inclusive travel.
The goal is to spotlight destinations where people make places better for locals, the environment, and visitors, and to showcase homegrown, rooted, locally relevant, and engaging places to visit.
In total, the 2023 list honors educational journeys for all generations (Family); exciting activities in breathtaking places (Adventure); explorations of history and heritage (Culture); escapes to wild, beautiful places (Nature); and healing journeys, community conservation, giving back, sustainable places and more (Community).
Amy Alipio, the senior editor at National Geographic Travel, said. “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.”
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).”
Nathan Lump, National Geographic’s Editor-in-Chief, added that: “Best of the World’ is Nat Geo’s annual love letter to the most incredible places in the world, both near and far.
We couldn’t be prouder to shine a light on these 25 extraordinary places that most inspired us this year, and which we know will define travelers’ itineraries for years to come. From craft breweries and Asia’s top film festival in Busan, South Korea, to women-led Indigenous tourism in Alberta, Canada, and the densest leatherback turtle nesting ground in the world in Trinidad and Tobago, this year’s list reminds us that there is still so much out there to explore and experience.”Nathan Lump, National Geographic’s Editor-in-Chief
The list was created, researched, reported, and written in collaboration with National Geographic Traveler’s international editorial teams, which serve millions of readers through their magazines and websites in more than a dozen offices around the world.
National Geographic’s “Best of the World 2023” list:
Discover Karpathos, Greece, a surprising and sublime spot in the Dodecanese Islands, where women-led ventures are leading the charge in sustainable tourism. Spend a long weekend in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a vibrant Great Lakes city that celebrates its cultural community as much as its breweries. Experience how long-held traditions and contemporary perspectives intersect, with Indigenous tourism outfitters in Alberta, Canada.
Board a new high-speed train that makes lesser-known regions of Laos accessible to tourists and brings economic opportunities to locals. Head to Ghana to explore Black heritage and hang out with a fashion-forward crowd in the capital, Accra. (Learn more about how these Best of the World destinations support their communities.)
Marvel at the biodiversity of Botswana—as well as the programs to rehabilitate endangered species, create wildlife corridors, and develop community-owned tourism projects. Linger in the Scottish Highlands, where a rewilding movement is aiming to restore the original landscape and native flora and fauna. In Slovenia, a longtime leader in sustainable tourism, set off on new gastrotourism biking routes that visit farms, vineyards, cheesemakers, and other food producers. Big Bend National Parkbrings to life the frontier legend of Texas—but the landscape will also surprise you. In the Azores,applaudaward-winning sustainability programs that conserve the natural wonders of this volcanic archipelago known for whale watching and thermal springs. (Delve into our best destinations for nature lovers.)
Visit King Tut’s new home in Egypt at Cairo’s Grand Egyptian Museum and see Luxor’s Avenue of the Sphinxes. Tap into the creative energy of Asia’s top film festival and sip craft beer in Busan, South Korea, the nation’s second largest city. Make a pilgrimage through history along Italy’s Appian Way, Europe’s ancient “superhighway.” Explore culture and history—with a side of Low Country cuisine—at the International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina. See one of the world’s largest assemblages of stone statues at Longmen Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Henan Province, China. (Here’s how to visit these Best of the World destinations.)
In Switzerland, ride the rails to quaint Alpine towns for chocolate, hiking, and skiing. Help save the turtles in Trinidad & Tobago, one of the most important leatherback turtle rookeries in the world. In San Francisco, California,gather around a campfire with Golden Gate views at Presidio Tunnel Tops and hike the urban Crosstown Trail.Go birdwatching in the avian paradise that is Colombia, the enchanted land of Disney’s Encanto. Visit the playing grounds of a storied soccer team in Manchester, England—and be inspired by the city’s art scene as well. (Explore more of these family-friendly destinations.)
Trek to Choquequirao, Peru,an isolated Inca site that’s under the radar—but soon to be more accessible. In New Zealand, the country that invented bungee jumping, rekindle your sense of adventure post-pandemic. Get your adrenaline rush in less visited areas of the popular adventure state of Utah.
In Austria, hike the cross-country Bergsteigerdörfer network of mountaineering villages to sample local culture. Finally, add Revillagigedo National Park, Mexico, to your itinerary. Its protected waters, supported by National Geographic’s Pristine Seas initiative, hold one of the largest aggregations of sharks and manta rays in the world. (Dive deeper into these adventure trips.)
National Geographic’s “Best of the World 2023” list:
Appian Way, Italy
Busan, South Korea
Longmen Grottoes, Henan Province, China
Charleston, South Carolina
Big Bend National Park, Texas
Revillagigedo National Park, Mexico
Dodecanese Islands, Greece
Trinidad and Tobago
San Francisco, California