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Where To Travel In 2023: The Best Destinations For This Year’s Big Trip
— Updated on 2 August 2023

Where To Travel In 2023: The Best Destinations For This Year’s Big Trip

— Updated on 2 August 2023
Chris Singh
Chris Singh

2023 is just starting to kick off and now that we’re past January, the Monday of the working year, it’s time to start looking at where to travel. Old favourites, underrated destinations, and hidden parts of major cities – if you’re anything like us, you’re open to any and all suggestions on where to go. There are endless sources for that, but allow us to throw our hat in the ring with Boss Hunting’s official hottest destinations for 2023.

We’ve put together a quick-fire list of destinations that you should get across before you start planning your next holiday, whether that’s a big city adventure in Tokyo, a culinary deep-dive in Seoul, a breezy lifestyle in Antibes or hiking through the stone Sassi of Matera. Everyone’s different when it comes to travel style, so we hope that this comprehensive list of places we love or just really want to go to will appeal to you no matter what your preference is.

And yes, Italy is in there. As it always is. The country is always going to hold a strong fascination for Aussie travellers who want to cling to that idyllic breezy Italian lifestyle, if only for a few weeks. Yet, I wanted to shy away from the typical beats of Rome, Naples, Amalfi Coast and Venice to present a few alternatives I think are necessary to really experience Italy in all its glory.

The Hottest Travel Destinations In 2023

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, has been touted as Europe’s next big travel trend for a few years now. You’ll find inklings of hype dating back to pre-pandemic years, but it only feels like now things are really starting to heat up for the city, which is framed by some truly incredible natural landscapes and, of course, the glassy wonder of Lake Bled. 

Slovenia’s eternally picturesque lake is just an hour’s drive from Ljubljana, making it a great base for day trips. Yet, there’s so much to see and do in the city itself, which is teeming with culture. It’s a university city after all, so much of the city’s electric social scene has been built around students, ranging from Slovenia’s first microbrewery – started by an Aussie ex-pat nonetheless – and a constant flow of street food festivals.

What To Do:

  • Ride the funicular to Ljubljana Castle
  • Drive across the Julian Alps to Lake Bled
  • Spend a day in the resort and seaside town of Portoroz

Where To Stay:

Where To Eat:

  • Hisa Franko
  • Monstera Bistro
  • Sushimama

Matera, Italy

We all know The White Lotus is going to push tourism to Sicily up tenfold, but there’s much more to Southern Italy than most care to pay attention to. Towards the heel of the boot, in Puglia, you’ll find some of the more underrated destinations. Bari, for example, may not seem like much on the surface but there is a kinetic sense of old Italy here that’s as infectiously fun as anything you’ll find in the Northern part of the country.

Although, it seems all eyes should be on Matera, which is a short train ride from Bari and one of the most unique sights in all of Europe. The Old Town, dubbed the Sassi of Matera, looks like a crumbling kingdom that was once known as the great shame of Italy. The plague ripped through here because it’s one of the oldest civilisations in the world, where people and animals used to share caves and unsanitary conditions.

Many Matera locals will gladly, with a curious blend of embarrassment and pride, share their own stories of this incredible part of Italy. But nothing beats just walking around the stone city and exploring. 

We visited last year and would have to say it was a completely surreal experience being immersed in such a painful history and watching how it has sprung up and recovered, becoming one of the most in-demand touristic destinations in the country. You could even say Italy’s shame has been turned into one of its most glorious moments, with dozens of great wine bars, restaurants – some Michelin-starred – and fascinating museums. 

There’s little wonder why Matera has been used in various high-profile films, with the city’s tremendous character lending itself to blockbusters like No Time To Die and The Passion of the Christ (it looks like Jerusalem in some way, after all). Perhaps the best way to see the area is by bike, so hit up Bike Basilicata, which does tours around the state and also Puglia.

What To Do:

  • Spend a few days in Matera’s Sassi
  • Take a day trip to see Alberobello
  • Spend the day relaxing at Polignano a Mare

Where To Stay:

Where To Eat:

  • Le Bubbole (Matera)
  • P23 (Monopoli)
  • Osteria Del Tempo Perso (Ostuni)

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Dubai has had its turn in the limelight and while the futuristic Middle Eastern city will always be a seat of endless fascination for travellers, it’s the country’s capital that’s really turning heads at the moment. Besides, both cities are an easy drive from one another so you could conceivably visit both and get through quite a lot if you’ve dedicated 3-4 days to the UAE.

Witnessed Abu Dhabi’s pristine, imposing Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque? If you have before then you’d understand the appeal; a structure so grand and symbolic that it’s powered the city’s tourism industry for decades. Around 100,000 tonnes of Greek and Macedonian marble help give the mosque a distinctive look, reflecting not just the clarity of the sky but also the profound importance of unity amongst cultures.

I’d so far as to state that the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the world’s greatest landmarks and something everyone should see, walk around, engage with and read about at least once.

Then you’ve got the Louvre, the only museum of its kind and a major win for Abu Dhabi. Unlike the Paris institution, the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, which you can actually kayak around, tells a cohesive and purposeful story about religion, humanity and conflict.

The propensity for engaging storytelling and culture makes Abu Dhabi more than just a one-night stopover city.

While places like Qasr Al Watan are essential stops to understand the culture of strength, power, religion and politics that sits behind the UAE, the city also heaves with events year-round. The Yas Marina Circuit, which hosts the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix each year, is a worthy attraction so the race is usually the best time to visit as the whole city feels alive.

Given Etihad Airways is based here, it’s always worth doing a two-night stopover before heading through to a destination like Rome or London.

What To Do:

  • Take a guided tour of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
  • Dive deep into human history at Louvre Abu Dhabi
  • Explore a culture of power and prosperity at Qasr Al Watan

Where To Stay:

Where To Eat:

  • Villa Toscana
  • Hakkasan
  • Oak Room

Cairo, Egypt

You’ve always been fascinated by Cairo, don’t deny it. But much like Antarctica, the deep history of Egypt is often put off for more immediate pleasures and pushed further and further down the bucket list. Stop doing that. You’ve seen how easily travel can be ripped away from us, so these next few years are going to be about moving those major milestone destinations up a few notches.

So consider 2023 the year of Egypt. And a lot of this has to do with the big opening of The Grand Egyptian Museum, the largest archaeological museum in the world built just a stone’s throw from the Great Pyramids of Giza.

More than 18,000 artefacts will make up this ambitious, and expensive, museum, including the full tomb collection of Tutankhamun.

But of course, that isn’t the only reason to visit Egypt. It’s a complicated country with a rich and complex history. Just being there will be enough, but you’ll also want to set aside a few days to explore those essential tourism pillars of the Valley of Kings, Karnak and Abu Simbel.

What To Do:

  • Visit the Grand Egyptian Museum
  • Explore the Great Pyramids of Giza
  • Pay a visit to the Valley of Kings

Where To Stay:

Where To Eat:

  • JW Steakhouse
  • Tianma
  • Kazoku

Kyushu, Japan

Of course, you’re going to want to visit Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. For regulars – including me – it’s been much too long between drinks with Japan, but now the country is back open for business, expect the Land of the Rising Sun to be, without any doubt, the hottest travel destination of 2023.

That also means the government will be trying to think of ways to spread some love around the country so the three more recognisable cities aren’t overwhelmed by crowds. Although they almost always are. But start to think outside of this golden triangle and set aside at least a few days to explore one of the more underrated prefectures of Japan.

A lot of discussion in the travel industry has been around the island of Kyushu at the moment, which offers much of what defines these big Japanese cities but also blends that with some of the country’s finest pops of nature. 

Those shrines and national parks should always be on the radar, but more specifically you’ll want to spend some time in both Beppu and Fukuoka, both places of great historical significance, excellent food and drink, and some of the friendliest locals you’ll ever meet. And of course, you’re going to want to completely immersive yourself in Feudal Japan by visiting the iconic Nagasaki.

What To Do:

  • Spend the night in Hirado Castle (Nagasaki)
  • Go hiking around Yufugawa Gorge
  • Take a canoe ride through Anami Mangrove Forest

Where To Stay:

Where To Eat:

  • Kagestu (Nagasaki)
  • Pesceco (Nagasaki)
  • Sakai (Fukuoka)

Seoul, South Korea

Here’s another one that pops up each year as a trendy destination ripe for a tourism boom, and yet Seoul is still criminally underrated amongst many travellers. It’s aggressively affordable, endlessly fun, and as surreal and futuristic as anything you’d find in Shinjuku.

From the hip alleyways of Hongdae to the overtly Americanised pubs of Itaewon and all the chicken and beer shops in between, there’s no lack of things to do in Seoul. Make sure you visit The Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art for an excellent contemporary collection and back it up with all the forward-thinking coffee shops and cafes in the area, then you’ll want to check out the Bukchon Hanok Village before spending the night eating through all the street food around.

What To Do:

  • Visit The Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art
  • Go bar hopping around Itaewon
  • Get your culture fix at Bukchon Hanok Village

Where To Stay:

Where To Eat:

  • Buchon Yukhoe
  • Woo Lae Oak
  • Menten

Antibes, France

Will any Mediterranean destination come close to wrestling away the masses from the Amalfi Coast in 2023? Luxury travellers have already done the Amalfi Coast numerous times, of course, so perhaps it’s time to check out elsewhere for once.

The tip of Cap d’Antibes has long been a favourite in Southeastern France and it’s looking like 2023 is about to be a big year for the coastal city. You’ve got stalwart properties like Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc revealing new looks, while Antibes itself is always gleaming with new restaurants and cafes, and nearby Juan-les-Pins heaves with some of France’s best nightlife.

If you’ve never been before, it’s worth setting aside a few days to road trip here from Cannes or Nice and spending the first day exploring the city’s incredible Old Town, which is instantly recognisable from its star-shaped Fort Carre overlooking all the luxury yachts bopping around at Port Vauban marina. 

What To Do:

  • Visit the Picasso Museum
  • Go for a cruise on the French Riviera
  • Party in Juan-les-Pins

Where To Stay:

What To Eat:

  • Le Vauban
  • Chez Jules Le Don Juan
  • L’Arazur

Dolomites, Italy

With the urgency of post-pandemic adventure pushing travellers towards discovering some of the world’s most incredible places at a younger age, we think it’s time you finally made that requisite pilgrimage to The Dolomites.

The wonderous location, shadowed by craggy peaks standing over wide-open fields, feels like very few places on Earth. Hell, it doesn’t even feel like Italy. You’re blending the long and complicated history of Italian and Austrian relations when you’re exploring The Dolomites, which is why you can find a great schnitzel or breaded fish just as easily as you can find a delicious bowl of pasta.

Giving yourself over to the Dolomites is standing right at the crossroads of mindfulness and nature. There’s nothing about this majestic location that doesn’t pull you right out of your mind and force you to live in the present. Just being here is meditation, which is why, if you can afford it, I’d recommend using Forestis as your base.

As a relatively new wellness resort, the luxurious Forestis is all about clean living in one of the most awe-inspiring locations you can think of. You’ll find it looming over one of the most beautiful areas in South Tyrol, offering a harmonious accommodation experience that typically would include light hiking, forest bathing, exercise, meditation, clean eating, massages galore, and sauna living. All while drinking in that ever-present view of the mountains set against streams of condensation trails that look like day-time shooting stars.

What To Do:

  • Hike, hike, hike

Where To Stay:

What To Eat:

  • The restaurant at Forestis
  • Rifugio Edelweiss
  • El Brite de Larieto

San Sebastian, Spain

Food is the primary reason most people visit San Sebastian. The density of high-profile, Michelin-starred restaurants and pintxos bars makes this a magnet for the world’s most enthusiastic eaters. Yet, there’s more to this part of Spain than having the most Michelin stars per square metre in Europe

From the stunning views of Playa la Concha to the true grit of San Sebastian’s classic Old Town, every corner of this city oozes quintessential Spain. And while it may not be as festive as Barcelona or insanely beautiful as Seville, there’s a soul to San Sebastian which sets it apart from anywhere else in Spain. Or Europe, for that matter.

Each year, San Sebastian is touted as one of the hottest destinations of the year, but there are still many Aussies who are yet to scratch this essential off their list. Don’t go another year without seeing this show-stopper of a city.

A tip: if you plan on eating well in San Sebastian, some forward planning will go far. Book your favourite Michelin restaurants as far in advance as you can, especially Arzak and Mugaritz.

What To Do:

  • Go Surfing At La Zurriola
  • Hike to Monte Urgull
  • Take a boat to Santa Clara island

Where To Stay:

Where To Eat:

  • Arzak
  • Akelarre
  • Mugaritz

Tuscany, Italy

Belmond Villa San Michele Review
(Photo supplied by Belmond)

Yet you’re not doing it properly if you don’t start in the fascinating city of Florence. From Botticelli’s vivid masterpieces to Michelangelo’s David, this art-obsessed city is steeped in modern history and offers not just some of the best food in Italy, but the best city views as well. Climb up to the ever-present Duomo and you’ll understand.

In Florence, you’ll want to head just out of the city and post yourself up at the stunning Belmond Villa San Michele, a former monastery once commandeered by Napoleon Bonaparte for its arresting (and strategic) views over the city. Sign up for the hotel’s insight city tours to get behind-the-scenes insights most tourists would never experience.

Then give yourself over to the Tuscan hillsides. Bury yourself in the heart of Chianti Classico by basing yourself out of COMO Castello Del Nero. The sunshine-hued castle cum luxury resort is a convenient drive from some of Tuscany’s greatest hits including Osteria di Passignano, Siena and San Gimignano.

What To Do:

  • Watch the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo (Florence)
  • Visit the Uffizi Gallery & Accademia Gallery (Florence)
  • Drive through the Tuscan countryside

Where To Stay:

What To Eat:

  • Don Fefe (Florence)
  • Osteria di Passignano (Tuscany)

Garden Route, South Africa

Cape Town and Joburg get all the love, and rightfully so, but there is so much more to South Africa that you should get across. The iconic Garden Route, along the country’s bountiful Western Cape Province is the type of pinch-me moment that defines South Africa’s natural majesty. 

Along this 300 km road trip, you’d want to stop at the seaside town of Knysna, take a hike and – if the marine life doesn’t freak you out, maybe a kayak – in Tsitsikamma National Park, and spend a few nights at Grootbos – named one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World for its location in the world’s most biodiverse floral kingdom.

The best part at the end of all that is the ability to stop by the wine mecca of Stellenbosch before you reach Cape Town, where its worth shacking up around the V&A Harbour (don’t worry, it’s safe to walk around the harbour at night – maybe don’t venture too far though) at the Silo Hotel, which is right above Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art.

What To Do:

  • Hike to the top of Table Mountain (Cape Town)
  • Go hiking in Tsitsikamma National Park
  • Have a picnic in Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens

Where To Stay:

What To Eat:

  • The Test Kitchen (Cape Town)
  • The Pot Luck Club (Cape Town)
  • La Tete (Cape Town)

Maine, New England

The weather can be brutal at times, but the irrepressible beauty of Maine is hard to ignore when looking at where to travel in the USA that’s relatively undiscovered by international tourists. Portland is especially valuable as a small-town destination, not only for its numerous James Beard Award-winning restaurants and spectacular seafood is a given but the city’s real appeal is its moody, tempestuous atmosphere, best contrasted against the city’s strong love of craft beer, lobster rolls and fireplaces.

Portland’s deep water port is a hub of activity and attractive restaurants, including local institution Becky’s Diner – a classic American seaside diner that’s perfect for an early-morning and addictively buttery lobster roll. 

Elsewhere, the lighthouses of Maine are always worth the hike and cities like Bar Harbor, Augusta and York have their own distinctive charms that make putting together a state-wide road trip one of the best ideas if you want to unlock a very underrated part of the USA.

Did we mention lobster rolls? Maine has the best in the world. Of that, there is no doubt.

What To Do:

  • Spend a day in Bar Harbor
  • Plan a brewery hop around Portland
  • Hike around the famous Portland Head Light

Where To Stay:

Where To Eat:

  • Becky’s Diner (Portland)
  • Hot Suppa (Portland)
  • Eventide Oyster Co (Portland)

Vilnius, Lithuania

The Baltic States don’t get nearly enough love as they deserve. Party-minded travellers always have Tallinn in Estonia on their list, romantics might want to pop by Riga, Latvia as well. But Vilnius in Lithuania is something entirely unique, bolstered by an artistic edge with both elements of a huge underground party scene (warehouse raves are very common) and a sense of history around the tightly-packed Old Town. 

Go learn about the Baltic Way at the remnants of the destroyed Gediminas Castle Tower on your first day, but spend the rest just wandering around aimlessly and soaking up one of the most underrated cities in Europe. Just make sure you include a stop in Uzipis, which is much like Freetown Christiana in Copenhagen, with its own unique sense of identity in the heart of the city.

What To Do:

  • Take the short hike to Gediminas Castle Tower
  • Walk the artistic streets of Uzipis
  • Take a day trip to The Hill of Crosses

Where To Stay:

Where To Eat:

  • Snekutis Pub
  • Ertlio Namas
  • Amandus

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Chris Singh
Chris is a freelance Travel, Food, and Technology writer. He has had work published by The AU Review, Junkee Media and Australian Traveller Media and holds tertiary qualifications in Psychology and Sociology.


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