Best global travel destinations for 2023, by National Geographic

Do you want to travel? National geographic suggested 25 top destinations around the world for those looking to explore in 2023.

The recommendations, released Oct. 26, range from traditional U.S. destinations such as San Francisco and global travel hotspots including Egypt, to ecotourism spots and lesser-known sights such as Peru’s Choquequirao, the city sister to historic Machu Picchu.

“With our team of travel experts and writers, we dove deeper into places around the world that provide unique and beneficial experiences for locals and travelers: places where visitors end up supporting and supporting – and not harm – the environment of the destination and the community,” said Amy Alipio, National Geographic Travel editor, in a statement announcing the destinations.

“We’ve also worked hard to provide lesser-known gems on the list, equally inspiring alternatives to destinations that have become overcrowded,” she said.

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San Francisco is on the list of top family destinations. (The editorial teams at National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler divided their recommendations into five categories – family, adventure, culture, nature and community – with five destinations in each category.)

Utah has been listed as a notable site for adventure; Charleston, South Carolina, was chosen for its cultural efforts. Big Bend National Park in Texas has earned its place as a natural landscape; and Milwaukee was included as one of five places with extraordinary conservation, sustainability, and ecotourism initiatives.

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Switzerland and Colombia among recommended family trips

Switzerland, with a public transport network that includes a biscuit train and a chocolate train, is among the five best destinations to “educate and enlighten” travelers.

Rigi Railways cogwheel trains offer dazzling views of Lake Lucerne as they ascend Mount Rigi, known as Switzerland's 'Queen of the Mountains'.

Colombia was chosen for its rich biodiversity, which lends itself to bird and wildlife watching. The Manchester Museum helped the English city, home of Manchester United Football Club, make the list. Turtles abound in Trinidad and Tobago, making the Caribbean nation a mecca for turtle tourism.

Among the highlights that landed San Francisco a spot: a new Crosstown Trail, created by volunteers, covering 27 km of the city.

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For adventure, Austria, New Zealand and Peru are places to go

For those looking for “adrenaline-soaked adventures in 2023 and beyond,” the magazine suggested the remote Inca ruins of Choquequirao in southern Peru.

Peruvian officials are spending $260 million to build a cable car to facilitate access to the ruins. But tourists who want to see them now can make the trip over 18 miles of walking trails.

Hidden in the Peruvian Andes, the Inca ruins of Choquequirao are only accessible on foot, for now.

Other sites for “your next big adventure” on the list included the western states of Austria, which have created the Bergsteigerdörfer, a network of mountaineering villages where travelers have a more authentic alpine experience.

Closer to home, Utah has five national parks and eight national monuments, making it “an adventurer’s dream destination,” National Geographic said.

Utah's rugged landscapes invite outdoor adventure, like paddleboarding the Colorado River in Moab.

Mexico’s Revillagigedo National Park, dubbed “the Galapagos of Mexico” according to National Geographic, is a scuba diver’s paradise.

Skiing, hiking and biking make New Zealand’s South Island a year-round adventure destination.

For culture, look to Egypt, Italy and South Carolina

Italy is still a top destination for tourists looking to baptize themselves in culture – some opt for the food alone. One of the recent developments cited by National Geographic to make it a 2023 travel consideration: Italian authorities are restoring the Appian Way, which stretches 360 miles from Rome to southern Italy.

Egypt, too, remains an exotic place to travel; a timely consideration: the upcoming opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, which houses the tomb of King Tut.

“It will become a destination museum and change the way people visit Egypt,” Fredrik Hiebert, archaeologist in residence for the National Geographic Society, said in the article.

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This photo taken on April 22, 2022 shows an aerial view of the Great Pyramid of Cheops and the under construction Grand Egyptian Museum, due to open later this year, in Cairo, Egypt.

Other cultural hotspots designated by National GeographicSouth Korea’s second largest city, Busan, which hosts an annual film festival and a thriving craft beer and craft coffee scene; and central China’s Henan Province, where the Longmen Grottoes house dozens of Buddhist sculptures – the largest being over 56 feet tall – dating back to the 5th century.

A cultural highlight helping to win Charleston, South Carolina a place on the list: African American International Museum, opening in January. The museum is located near the city’s port, which served as a slave trading port.

Connect with nature in Big Bend, Botswana and Scotland

Big Bend National Park in West Texas offers visitors epic vistas, plus “more species of cacti than any other national park,” as well as birds and other wildlife, the magazine said of including the park among its ” treasures under the radar”.

“Big Bend National Park brings Texas frontier legend to life, but the scenery will surprise you too,” the magazine said.

“We Texans knew that, but it seems the rest of the world is listening,” noted Austin American Statesman on the designation of the park.

There are also diverse cultures in the 118-mile park, which is just north of the Texas-Mexico border and south of towns such as Marfa and Alpine.

The Santa Elena Canyon Trail in Big Bend National Park runs along the Rio Grande.

Other “wild escapes for nature lovers” National Geographic recommended including Botswana, where overtourism is replaced by voluntourism. The southern African country is home to numerous game reserves and national parks. Slovenia, known for its eco-friendly tours, has a new Green Gourmet Route, an 11-day cycling route for foodies, the magazine said.

In the Scottish Highlands, travelers can see how the northwest region of the country is “rescuing” its landscapes with more trees and reintroduced wildlife. And the Azores – nine islands off the coast of Portugal – are “an oasis for 28 species of whales and dolphins… (who) take sustainable tourism seriously,” said Nat Geo.

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Milwaukee and Greece among smart tourist destinations

Milwaukee was included in the community category of the listfor less-visited destinations “that stand out for community-led conservation efforts; groundbreaking work in ecotourism, sustainability, and inclusive travel; and meaningful ways for travelers to give back.”

Kayakers on the Milwaukee River paddle past the city's historic Third Ward, a revitalized warehouse district now home to the Milwaukee Public Market and other attractions.  Photograph by Cavan Images, Alamy Stock Photo

The article calls Milwaukee “a Great Lakes city to watch,” wrote the Milwaukee Journal Sentinelnoting that Nat Geo complimented how it “combines a blue-collar, throwback energy with a tight-knit creative community”.

Featured destinations include the Harley-Davidson Museum, the Riverwalk, the Deer District (and 2021 World Champion Milwaukee Bucks), neighborhoods like Bronzeville and the Historic Third Ward, the Public Market, the Art Museum and , of course, the breweries.

The magazine’s other less-visited destinations included the Greek Dodecanese Islands, where locals aim to involve locals in traditional crafts such as fishing and winemaking, which also serve as a sustainable tourism diversion.

A new highlight of the trip to Laos? A recently launched high-speed train that connects 260 miles of the Southeast Asian country for domestic and international tourists.

A hike up Profitis Ilias mountain on Karpathos – one of the lesser-known Greek islands – rewards visitors with rugged coastline scenes and access to an enchanting white church at the top.

Tourists continue to heed the call of Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, who before the COVID-19 shutdown urged travelers to visit the West African country to connect with their African roots . And in Alberta, Canada, Aboriginal tourism is a growing business with parks such as Elk Island National Park offering guided hikes and Cree craft workshops.

“From craft breweries and Asia’s best film festival in Busan, South Korea, to women-led indigenous tourism in Alberta, Canada, and the world’s densest leatherback turtle nesting site in Trinidad and Tobago, this year’s list reminds us that there is still so much to explore and experience. said Nathan Lump, editor of National Geographic.

Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.

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