Last Updated on August 20, 2023 by Sammie
Best Places to Travel in 2023
I might be in the US at the moment but who knows what 2023 will hold! The new year means new destinations! Check out the best places to travel in 2023.
Is it just me, or have the last few years been slightly smushed into one glob of time? What we need in 2023 are some EPIC trips to break up all the monotony. We can always appreciate the classics, but this list gives you more than that.
Science says having the next trip penned on the calendar (people own calendars still, yes? I do…) is almost as enjoyable as the trip itself, so, it’s time to get to planning, people! The classics have been revamped and redefined, budget travel offers visitors more than they could ever dream, and adventure awaits; you have to check out these unique destinations (even if it means planning through 2024!).
To get an estimate of the price of your trip use www.budgetyourtrip.com
Average daily costs (ADC) include meals, accommodation, entertainment, transport, tips, etc. It is calculated based on a wide range of typical categories and is simply the average excluding the extreme outliers. All these destinations can be traveled and enjoyed for FAR LESS money, or zhuzhed up and fancified.
Best Places to Travel in 2023
My sisters went to Paris, France together in college, and I promised myself I would take a similar trip the moment I had the chance. So, starting in middle school, I saved my pennies and dimes to make sure I’d get the “best of Europe” tour when I was able. I can proudly say I did it, and while I still have plenty more cities to explore these are a few of my favorites: the highlights of my European backpacking trip, a few classics from my time living in Asia, and one that’s on my list for the future.
I stopped by Tokyo after snowboarding in Niseko and I wish I had stayed longer; when the timing is right, I will be taking a trip back. Tokyo may not be London or Paris but it is just as alluring for a swathe of different reasons. For example, have you ever been to a Sumo wrestling championship?? That is very much a popular sport here. Not to mention the food scene is insane and the sushi conveyor belt restaurants are Legit, not a gimmick. Insider Tip: pay attention to the plate colors. The gold ones probably cost a LOT more than the other colors.
Come For: Century-old performing arts, ramen, and to see the cherry blossoms
Best Time to Visit: March through May & late September to November
I can’t believe I still haven’t been to Spain. Sorry to all my Spanish friends! Word from my Spaniard pals is that you cannot miss the Sagrada Familia! (Which only recently ~2018/2019 allowed tourists on the inside. It’s been under construction for like 200 years. It’s fascinating!) The Gaudi Museum is very intense, in the best way; with intricate structures that are full of nature and religious imagery. Don’t forget the nightlife! I probably couldn’t keep up, but I have all the faith in you. Also: AAALLLL THE JAMONNN!!! Pro tip: they leave the hooves on so you know what kind of pig the hams come from. You want the ones with black hoofs. I freakin love food.
Come For: Stunning architecture, buzzing nightlife, city & beach vibes
Best Time to Visit: April, May, September & October
Aww fresh out of college, beer in hand, so full of optimism! Check out Those Dam Boat Guys for an awesome tour!
I hit up Amsterdam on my European backpacking trip and it was one of my favorite spots I stopped in. The food (I’m always considering the food) was an eclectic mix and I recommend trying Ethiopian while you’re there – it’s served family-style as piles of food that you pick up with your fingers and thin, bubbly pancakes called Injera. SO GOOD. Besides that, the vibe is what got me: laid-back, with a very strong bike culture, which I loved. Biking around the city is the perfect way to see the beautiful architecture and get to all the world-class museums. My personal favorites being the Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank House. Oh, and stop by the sex museum. It’s genuinely interesting!
Come For: World-class museums, bike culture, unconventional restaurants
Best Time to Visit: April or September
Bar Inferno, definitely worth checking out
Oh, la la. I love Florence. It’s beautiful, genuinely takes your breath away. Walking the old cobblestone streets with fire-lit lanterns flickering around your shadow at night makes this city magical. Florence has so much to offer. Amazing Italian food is a given and the gelato. OH MY GOD, the gelato. Also, it’s the birthplace of the Renaissance, meaning you’ll be surrounded by stunning works of art as your wander the city; Donatello’s David and Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise to name a few. Did you know that Florence houses almost ⅓ of the world’s most important art masterpieces? If you like art, put this place on your list.
Come For: Famous art masterpieces, amazing Italian food, shopping, romantic atmosphere
Best Time to Visit: Between May and September
Chicago, IL, USA
ADC: $221 (For the record: I think this number is WAY too high)
My home city baby!!! I’m biased but also not because Chicago is genuinely a fantastic city. TIMEOUT indexed Chicago as the second-best city in the world. I can believe it. Whether you try the world-class food scene, the historic clubs and bars, or the endless amount of museums we have, Chicago is a fun place to be. Did I mention the comedy scene here? Check out Second City, it gained its roots in Chicago and has been a groundbreaking improvisational comedy theatre with alums including Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Steve Carell, Mike Myers… I can keep going.
Come For: Amazing food scene, Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Second City Comedy Club, historic bars, the beaches, the architecture, Portillos, the summer, Bears games, Blackhawks games, Lollapalooza, I’ll add more later.
Best Time to Visit: Not the winter
Best Places to Travel in 2023
During my time in Asia, I was extremely lucky to be in a location that allowed me to do lots of weekend trips around that part of the world. I find each of these picks unique in the sense of culture, cuisine, and terrain. Some of these were visited with my circus castmates or family during my time in Macau and the rest are places that I will DEFINITELY be visiting in the future.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Imagine temples centuries of years old, overtaken by lush vegetation. The ruins of Siem Reap, known as Angkor Wat, are one of the biggest draws of this city but there’s a lot more the second-largest city in Cambodia has to offer. My siblings and I put Cambodia on our list after I couldn’t stop hearing about it from my castmates in Macau. They weren’t wrong to visit. We wandered the endless amounts of street markets, took a guided day trip through the temples, and had one of the best food tours of my life (tarantulas were on the menu). Cambodia is quite affordable compared to many other destinations which makes it worthwhile to splurge while you’re there. Don’t forget to check out their raging night scene as well the AMAZING Cambodian circus PHARE.
Come For: Ruins, nightlight, affordability, markets, Phare Circus
Best Time to Visit: December & January
Visit a place where Asia meets Europe. Uniquely, Istanbul is a transcontinental country. The city boasts a history of four major empires including; the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Latin Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. The colorful tiled architecture is a sight for anyone to enjoy and will keep you occupied between all the shopping that will undoubtedly ensue. Turkey is famous for their hospitality, it’s a cornerstone of their culture. I think it can make the unique list solely based on the hospitality and warm welcome Turkish people give to their visitors.
Come For: The hospitality, colorful architecture and cobblestoned streets, historical sites, and transcontinental culture
Best Time to Visit: Mid-April to June & September to October
Potala Palace in the background
Tibet will always be one of the most unique trips I will ever take. The inexplainable feeling I had while visiting the Potala Palace along with a handful of other temples was much stronger than I’ve ever felt while visiting a place of worship. Their Buddhist culture is powerful and I think given the chance, you’d appreciate learning more about it. Tibet is also widely known for its remarkable landscape fit for any National Geographic Magazine cover. When I went, it was more car adventuring than foot trekking. But after experiencing the altitude, I can truly appreciate how difficult it would be to walk to Base Camp. There’s something about walking 20 feet at a high altitude and having to stop to catch your breath when you’re 26 years old that makes you question your fitness.
NOTE: You must be a part of a tour group to visit Tibet. Visit my post on TIBET to learn more about my trip.
Come For: The Former winter palace of the Dalai Lama (Potala Palance), Buddhist culture, galleries, and proximity to Mt. Everest.
Best Time to Visit: May or October
Valley of Fire, NV, USA
ADC: Not listed, $10 entrance fee for the park
I visited Valley Of Fire with a friend while heading to Mammoth for a snowboarding trip and I wish we had spent more time before heading to the slopes. This place is celestial. It’s as if you’ve stepped off of Earth and onto what surely has to be Mars. Valley of Fire is known for its rainbowed Aztec sandstone in shades of bright red, green, and even blue. The various shades of red come alive at sunset giving the impression it truly is on fire. The petrified trees (fossilized wood) and petroglyphs (rock carvings) give visitors a reason to lollygag. Enjoy an active weekend of hiking through the landscape while camping out under the stars. This unique destination is only an hour away from Las Vegas so what can be a weekend trip can also easily be turned into an enjoyable day trip.
NOTE: If you are not camping overnight, the park is only open from dawn until dusk.
Come For: Hiking, the panoramic views, an outdoor getaway, stargazing
Best Time to Visit: November to March
After starting in Marrakech, we went east to experience the Sahara Desert.
It might make some a little nervous to attempt to travel here but I promise you, Marrakech is a manageable and enticing luxurious city to visit. Shopping in the souks or medina alone is enough reason to buy your plane ticket. But if you need more to convince you, Moroccan food is filled with warm delicious spices that you’ll crave once coming home. It is a mix of Arab, Berber, and African cultures that make this melting pot of the south a unique destination. Once arriving, check out the Jemaa El-Fna Square where you’ll be captivated by snake charmers, glorious musicians, henna tattoo artists, and countless amounts of craftsmen.
Come For: Melting pot of culture, souk shopping, tiled Moroccan mosaics, cuisine
Best Time to Visit: Spring & Autumn, you do not want to try coming in the summer
Best Places to Travel in 2023
I might not be as crazy as my sisters make me out to be. However, I have done a few out-of-the-box things here and there over the last few years. There was a week-long horseback riding trip in the Mongolian Steppe and paragliding over the mountains in Switzerland. These are my top picks for adventure locations: a few places I had a great time and a few places on my personal bucket list.
During my backpacking trip through Europe, my best friend and I made a stop in Interlaken. It’s a fairytale. It doesn’t look real. Except for the price tag, which felt far too real. Besides it being pricey, it is GORGEOUS. I’ve never seen such stunning grassy moutainy breathtaking views in my life. We decided to pretend we weren’t not employed and straight out of college and splurged on paragliding over the Swiss Alps. I’m happy we did, because D***. It’s pretty. Though take my advice and do the conversion rate for the tip before. Due to my confusion, I made a paragliding instructor VERY happy with a $300 tip. I cried a little once I realized what on earth I had done a few hours later. Live and learn I guess. Besides paragliding, there’s plenty of hiking to be done and lots of outdoor activities to enjoy.
Come For: Hiking, paragliding, kayaking, and bike tours
Best Time to Visit: June to August
The Steppe, Mongolia
ADC: $20 (based on Capital City, Ulaanbaatar)
One of the most memorable and adventurous trips I have ever taken. Two of my friends and I decided to spend one week in the Mongolian Steppe on horseback while camping out every night. It was remarkable. It’s a world that feels untouched in the best way. I can only imagine this is what travelers felt like when visiting new lands before they were considered tourists. We would pass Nomadic Mongolian families who would invite us into their homes, a custom of their nomadic culture. We were offered food and drink and were lucky enough to spend the night in a traditional yurt for the night. Riding hundreds of kilometers on horseback isn’t for everyone but I surely encourage it. If you’re interested in hearing more, check out my very first blog post written, Mongolia Travel Guide.
Come For: Horseback trekking, camping, nomadic culture, a very different experience
Best Time to Visit: Summer, mid-June to late August
British Columbia, Canada
I have visited Whistler for snowboarding and Vancouver for city ‘sploring but there’s so much more to this western Canadian province. The outdoors are its lifeblood. If you’re someone who needs nature to feel alive, dive into British Columbia’s wilderness and become woke. There are land adventures such as horseback riding, hiking, and wildlife viewing as well as water adventures. Find solitude on Lake Garibaldi or go diving in the sea to see old shipwrecks, or canoe, or kayak, or go water rafting, there’s so much to do! I am happy to continue to list every activity that is possible in British Columbia or you can trust that if you like the outdoors at all this will be a fantastic destination to visit.
Come For: Any and all nature activities
Best Time to Visit: Year-round depending on the activity
Patagonia, Argentina (Or Chile)
I will eventually visit! What a dream. Patagonia became an adventurer’s bucket list item for being the southernmost destination a human can walk. Still vastly perceived as a territory untamed and wild, which is a big part of the allure. Spread between Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is well-prepared for international tourism. It’s a place to escape modern society, be immersed within diverse landscapes, spot wildlife, and reconnect. There is indigenous culture to learn about and amazing food to fill up on after a full day of trekking. If you like to explore, Patagonia is a mandated bucket list trip.
Come For: Exploration, hiking of all levels, wildlife spotting, food, history
Best Time to Visit: September through March
Best Places to Travel in 2023
Incredible Budget Trips
Now before we get into my budget picks, I know what you’re gonna think. ‘VIETNAM?!? ALBANIA?!? Dude. Shut up. How is that budget??’ I understand. It’s very far away (if we’re talking from the USA). But if you plan ahead and set flight price alerts you can end up with a plane ticket to Vietnam costing less than visiting that one estranged cousin in Idaho. Then, once you get to these places, you can get by with wayyy less than most vacation destinations. Try not to write them off as an impossible luxury trip simply because they require a long plane ride.
Try using Skyscanner.com (or the app) or Hopper.com (which also has an app) to compare flights. They are fantastic, especially when dealing with international airline carriers.
*ADBC: Average Daily Budget Cost
During covid, Mexico was the place my boyfriend and I settled in for quite a few months because it was one of the few places we could be together due to border restrictions. Once vaccinations were in place, we explored the vast jungle of Chiapas. Our Mexican neighbors told us we HAD to visit here before leaving this beautiful country and I’m very grateful we listened. After renting a car, we took a road trip from Tuxtla Gutierrez to Lacajá and back. We went into the deep jungle learning about natural medicines, saw ancient ruins (just as impressive as Chichen Itza), and seriously awe-inspiring waterfalls. It’s the perfect Mexican adventure to escape the crowds and go exploring on your own.
Come For: Jungle trekking, waterfalls, food, colonial streets, impressive natural beauty, traditional culture
Best Time to Visit: November to May
Where is Berat? Albania. Where is Albania? Just north of Greece, bordering the Adriatic sea. Though potentially overlooked, Berat has a lot to offer. It is one of the cheapest European countries to visit. A UNESCO heritage site: this place is made of medieval bazaars, historic mosques, a great cafe scene, and a unique harmoniously shared religious space of both Christianity and Islam. It is a beautifully peaceful country with high mountain views, spectacular wineries, and valleys galore. One of the best things you can do, besides grabbing a glass of wine, is to wander the streets enjoying the Ottoman-era architecture which can be described as using materials such as brick and stone to create magnificent arches and domes. And to put worries at ease, Berat isn’t difficult to get to. You can fly to the larger city of Tirana and take one of the many buses available to get to Berat.
Come For: Medieval Bazaars, Macedonian history, cafe scene, religious tolerance, wineries
Best Time to Visit: Spring & Autumn
I feel bad for Georgia, the country not the state. It is vastly underappreciated. I couldn’t stop hearing about this beautiful (and cheap!) country while living in Dubai. The city’s old town of Tbilisi is covered in cobbled streets and sleepy courtyards that beg you to meander. The country is famous (yet unknown) for its wine! There are wine bars everywhere! The city is surrounded by the Caucasus Mountains which entice you to put on some hiking shoes if you get antsy. But you’d be more than happy to enjoy the quiet cafes and parks if that fits your travel style more. And the best part about it is that it’s budget-friendly! I REALLY wish I had the chance to visit while living in Dubai. But it’s on my list now!
*Also, if you’re thinking of getting married, I have multiple friend couples who chose this as their wedding location. It’s cheap, they are very familiar with weddings, and when you get married in Georgia it is recognized by more than 117 countries including the USA.
Come For: Georgian Wine, relaxed city vibes, cafes, hiking, to be married!
Best Time to Visit: May, June, or September
MMM polish sausage! This place might be the best budget-friendly European destination. It has old city architecture, beautiful historical sites, boutique shopping, great food, and good vibes. What is so spectacular about Krakow is that throughout WWII it managed to avoid any major destuction, meaning it looks very similar now than what it looked like before. Though heavy, Auschwitz-Birkenau Death Camps are right outside of the city, you can take a guided tour and pay your respects to the 1.1 million people who lost their lives here. Besides its rich history, Krawkow has an amazing location for outdoor activities such as skiing (or snowboarding), rock climbing, farm tours, and fantastic bars of all budgets. Poland offers the beauty of an old European city without the crazy pricing. Find a good deal on a flight and chow down on endless pierogies.
Come For: WWII history, bar scene, outdoor activites, cafe scene, old city vibes
Best Time to Visit: March to May, September to November
Höi An, Vietnam
I visited Höi An more than any other city in Asia while living in Macau (okay besides Hong Kong). Höi An is a beautiful and enticing little city that is perfect for a long weekend or part of a grander plan to visit Vietnam. Höi An is a little gem on the riverside and feels almost untouched by the modern era. There are amazing coffee shops everywhere and the streets are lit up by hung lanterns. I would come here to get custom-made clothes and dresses every year for various holiday parties or just for the heck of it. I brought my entire family on different occasions and everyone truly enjoyed themselves. You can do the trip budget-friendly all the way up to the Four Seasons. Either way, you’ll enjoy biking or wandering through the old town (where cars are not allowed to drive!), leisurely coffee-filled mornings, beautiful beaches, and great food
Come For: Beautiful beaches, handmade clothing, Pho (Vietnamese noodle dish), coffee shops, old town vibes
Best Time to Visit: January to March
Have a destination that needs to make the list of “Best Places to Travel in 2023”? List it below!
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