From Beachside Bliss to High-Altitude Adventure: Booking.com’s Top Trending Destinations for 2023
Where we travel matters, and recent global events don’t appear to have dampened travelers' wanderlust for new destinations, with an emerging trove of global treasures waiting to be discovered. Booking.com’s annual Travel Predictions research* found that US travelers are feeling overwhelmingly more optimistic about traveling in 2023 compared to last year (74%) and are increasingly seeking travel that pushes them to the limits (74%) with more far-flung adventurous trips and experiences that encapsulate the sentiment that there is no time like the present. To help travelers discover the ultimate destinations to have on their radar in 2023, Booking.com has delved into global booking trends** to share the top trending destinations for travelers to explore. From spiritual seaside towns to artistic capitals and historical hidden gems, this passion-packed list of on-trend destinations, experiences and stays is sure to inspire a year of incredible trips in 2023.
The energetic metropolis of São Paulo with its art house cinemas and experimental theaters is home to 20 million locals known as ‘paulistanos’. The concrete jungle boasts an exploding nightlife scene with a matrix of underground clubs where US travelers can dance until dawn – perfect for the three quarters (76%) who are open to ‘nightlife-centric vacations’ in 2023.* A Traditional Samba and Pagode Experience will give partygoers a chance to soak up live samba, while foodies will delight in the gourmet dining that makes this city a world-renowned gastronomic haven, home to an impressive nine of the 14 Michelin-starred restaurants in Brazil. Must-tries include the ‘coxinha,’ a golden shredded chicken croquette, and the ‘feijoada,’ a rich black bean stew – delicacies also found on the menu of the street food stalls. For the over a quarter (27%) of American travelers who like to indulge in shopping on vacation for things that aren’t available at home, a trip to Oscar Freire Street is a must for fashionistas with its boutique shops and cool designs. For downtime, visitors can escape the city with a short drive to the beaches on the northern coast of the state of São Paulo, a hidden gem to rival the famous beaches of Rio.
Where to stay: For a stylish hotel in a lively neighborhood, the L´Hotel Portobay São Paulo is just a short walk to one of São Paulo's most vibrant avenues Avenida Paulista and the Modern Art Museum. This Booking.com Travel Sustainable property features relaxation options such as an indoor swimming pool and a spa, and its restaurant serves mouthwatering Italian and Mediterranean specialties. Guests can enjoy a caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail made from cachaça, sugar and lime at the piano bar.
For travelers searching for a sun-soaked beach vacation on crystal clear waters, the town of Budva in western Montenegro is one of the destinations to visit in Europe in 2023. Located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, Budva boasts a 22-mile winding coastline known as the Budva Riviera with a strip of beautiful golden sandy beaches. With one in five (20%) American travelers saying the main thing they want from a trip in 2023 is to relax on a beach,* visitors can chill out on sun loungers that line the shores surrounded by next level scenery of rugged mountains and luxurious yachts. For those seeking adventure, explore Boka Bay on a Mamula Island, Blue Cave & Lady of the Rocks Tour. Travelers will have the opportunity to swim and snorkel at the Blue Cave and are even able to enter a submarine tunnel. Budva’s medieval old town, surrounded by stone walls built by the Venetians, features cobbled streets dotted with charming restaurants where visitors can enjoy fresh grilled seafood including the local favorite – octopus. At night, Budva comes alive with scores of bars and clubs headlined by world-famous techno and house DJs where partygoers can dance the night away.
Where to stay: For travelers searching for somewhere to enjoy all to themselves, Apartments Inspiration offers studio, one-bed and family apartments. Just a short walk from the old town and beach, and away from the noise of the clubs, the apartments are in a desirable location and open out onto a balcony with outstanding views overlooking the town, surrounding mountains and glistening ocean. Guests can buy delicious local produce at the nearby grocery store and enjoy peaceful dinners on the terrace overlooking the fiery Mediterranean sunset.
The bohemian and seaside city of Pondicherry is located on the southeast coast of India sitting on the Bay of Bengal. Possessing a calming energy, the city attracts spiritually-minded visitors who wish to visit the destination’s ashrams. With 49% of US travelers reporting they want to try a spiritual stay in 2023 such as a meditation or mindfulness getaway, and with 39% keen for a silent retreat,* there are ample opportunities here to partake in meditation, yoga and silent days to aid spiritual healing. Blessed with a fascinating history, the quaint streets of ‘Pondy’ are lined with pastel-colored townhouses and charming balconies draped with pink bougainvilleas. According to locals and travelers who have visited Pondicherry before***, cycling through the leafy boulevards is a popular way to discover the city, or a Customized Private Walking Tour lets travelers experience Pondicherry at their own pace with a local guide tailoring the tour to individual interests. Tranquil beaches stretch north and south from town, but Mahe Beach is the best spot to watch an incredible sunrise, with a plethora of watersports and scuba diving activities available. Throughout the year, a kaleidoscope of festivities and religious celebrations allow visitors to immerse themselves in the vibrant local culture.
Where to stay: For a peaceful stay in a traditional bed and breakfast, Anantha Heritage is a beautifully restored Tamil house located behind a temple and sacred pool, and just a short walk to the beach. The property features a delightful library and courtyard, and guests can retire to the air-conditioned rooms complete with high ceilings, big comfy beds and bright splashes of color. Nearby is the colorful Goubert Bazaar, one of the oldest markets in the city where travelers can browse flavorful spices, beautiful flowers and local produce.
Querétaro is an up-and-coming destination in Mexico widely known for its friendly and welcoming locals. Located in the central highlands, the altitude blesses this city with a constant spring-like climate perfect for visiting any time of year. A short drive from the city lies one of the world’s largest monoliths, Peña de Bernal, which rises majestically 1,421 feet above Pueblo Magico and comes highly recommended to visit by other travelers***. Adventure seekers must call upon their inner bravery to scale the remains of this old volcano, and the 43% of American travelers who are interested in extra-terrestrial exploration* can hear tales of mysterious lights and nearby UFO sightings from the locals. The region is also home to Sierra Gorda, known as the ‘green jewel’ of Mexico thanks to its beautiful forests, deserts and canyons spread across vast mountains and valleys. This biosphere reserve is a UNESCO heritage site that nature enthusiasts and hikers will relish. Back in town, travelers can discover grand fountains, shady plazas and historic churches with a stroll through the city. A pitstop at the Mercado la Cruz market, crammed with tasty taco stands and colorful pinatas is highly recommended – or indulge in a glass of fizz, a specialty from the Querétaro wine region.
Where to stay: The blue-washed Morazul Hotel Boutique is perfectly located in the historic center of Querétaro and just across the road from the leafy Jardin Guerrero park. This rustic-chic hotel features original stone walls and tiled flooring, wood-beamed ceilings and blissfully comfy four-poster beds, with lots of cozy corners to chill out in. Guests can enjoy a calming stroll through the gardens, or explore the nearby restaurants, craft shops and endless historical sites and monuments.
The capital of Italy’s northernmost region of South Tyrol, Bolzano is an alpine destination ideal for hiking and ski fanatics. Situated amongst the stunning snow-capped mountains of the Italian Dolomites, travelers can challenge themselves to the ascent in summer – or head to one of the acclaimed ski resorts in winter. History buffs will feel at home discovering the many medieval castles and gothic ‘duomo’ cathedral with its imposing spires that sits in contrast to the city’s pastel-painted houses. For a more modern culture fix, the Museion is a gallery full of fantastic contemporary paintings and sculptures and well worth a visit. This region of Italy is renowned for its full-bodied wines, thanks to its endless vines that grow picturesquely on pergolas and trellises. Travelers can pay a visit to the quaint Santa Maria Maddalena Church for breathtaking views of these magnificent vineyards and taste the regional wine. With over half (61%) of US travelers enjoying authentic experiences that allow them to live like a local,* a Group Market Tour with Cooking Class offers foodies the chance to explore the local markets and hear about the best ingredients for local dishes along with the opportunity to visit the host’s home to prepare an Italian Aperitivo.
Where to stay: With views of the Dolomites, Castel Hörtenberg is a refurbished Renaissance castle in the center of Bolzano with majestic towers, original wood paneling and a wine cellar.
Guests can unwind at the luxury spa of this historical haven offering chromatic showers and even a wall of pink Himalayan salt for the ultimate relaxation. The property has a Booking.com Travel Sustainable badge for its impactful efforts to offer a more sustainable stay, including its commitment to organic food and bicycle hire for guests to explore the neighboring hills and riverside paths. Ideal for a trip to Bolzano all year round, there’s an outdoor pool to cool off in summer and the popular Bolzano Christmas market is only a short walk away in winter.
Known locally as ‘KK’, the bustling capital of Sabah in the Malaysian part of the island of Borneo is a hidden gem surrounded by lush rainforests and sandy beaches. With almost half (47%) of US travelers wishing to experience culture shock while traveling in 2023, this off-the-beaten-track destination will allow them to immerse in its unique vibe. By day, travelers can browse beautiful pearls, colorful textiles and exquisite wood carvings crafted by regional artisans at the Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market – a welcome hive of artistry for the quarter of American travelers (24%) who want to incorporate local accessories into their style. Visitors can also make a beeline to Tanjung Aru Beach, a hotpot where locals flock, especially on the weekends. The Floating Seafood Market restaurant is not to be missed with excellent butter prawns and soft-shell crab, while cultural performances on stage showcase the blossoming local arts-and-music scene. The ecosystems around Kota Kinabalu are home to unique wildlife, which lucky travelers can observe in their natural environment from a boat during an Evening River Safari. With majestic views of Mount Kinabalu along the Nanamun River, visitors may spot a native proboscis monkey or two and, come dusk, witness thousands of fireflies lighting up the evening sky.
Where to stay: For a modern hotel in the heart of the action, Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu is situated opposite the city’s waterfront market where souvenir-hunting travelers can interact with local fruit and fish traders. Guests can head to the ocean for snorkeling and scuba diving, which is a must-do according to those who’ve traveled to Kota Kinabalu previously***, or recline on one of the poolside cabanas with a cocktail. This property that features local Bornean fabrics throughout, has a Booking.com Travel Sustainable badge for its efforts in sustainability, including serving organic produce at its four eateries and providing guests with free bicycle hire to explore the city.
Nestled in the Thessaly Valley, the Greek town of Kalabaka is a stunning location that guards the Meteora, a majestic rock formation and home to several Eastern Orthodox monasteries. Towering up to 1,300 feet high, this UNESCO world heritage site dates back to the 13th century and was built by monks seeking scenic solitude. Today, these monasteries look as if they are suspended in air against a beautiful backdrop of emerald hills. For the 44% who want to travel somewhere with completely different cultural experiences, this mystic destination offers other-worldly views which can be explored by foot. Or travelers can dive deeper on a Meteora Sunset Tour and discover the thousand-year-old Badovas hermit caves and beautiful frescoes in the monasteries before experiencing an incredible sunset across the valley. Foodies won’t be disappointed either, with a bustling market every Friday and local restaurants serving heartwarming meatballs, Moussaka and slow-cooked stews. The town’s Natural History Museum even organizes fabulous truffle hunting tours, followed by tantalizing fresh truffle pasta, perfect for the 46% of US travelers who are up for eating local delicacies while traveling.*
Where to stay: Ideally located between the Meteora and the town center, the Hotel Doupiani House boasts unbelievable views of the dramatic rock formations, and is just a short walk away from the must-visit Mushroom Museum. This old-world style hotel has a Booking.com Travel Sustainable badge for its commitment to more sustainable experiences such as offering activities organized by local guides, and serving organic and locally sourced food. Guests can appreciate a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit grown from the accommodation’s own garden and end an extraordinary day with a sundowner on one of the scenic balconies.
The uniqueness of Santa Fe is encapsulated in its nickname, ‘The City Different,’ with its unparalleled multicultural heritage and Native American tribes. From rich artistic traditions to adobe-style structures, indigenous people have left an impressive mark on the city and travelers can explore their culture and creations at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts – or visit one of the 19 pueblo communities where guests are welcomed on certain days. Santa Fe is the nation’s highest state capital and sits at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo range, making it a fantastic base for hiking, mountain biking and skiing. For an adrenaline rush from a great height, travelers can venture into the mountains for rock climbing, paragliding or white water rafting – ideal for the 74% who are open to ‘out of comfort zone’ experiences while traveling in 2023.* In the city, visitors can awaken every sense with its many Mexican food trucks, buzzing nightclubs and colorful open-air markets. For the 52% of American travelers who want to immerse themselves in a local community on vacation in 2023,* a Downtown Santa Fe Photography Tour & Class gives visitors the opportunity to meet and learn from a Sante Fe resident and explore the city’s incredible historic architecture and cityscapes.
Where to stay: The Bobcat Inn is a bed and breakfast with a bohemian vibe located just a short drive from the city center and flanked by hiking trails. A cute courtyard with a BBQ offers a place for guests to socialize, and is ideal for the 30% of US travelers who will be traveling with friends in 2023.* With spectacular mountain views, the garden features a waterfall and koi pond and is a peaceful spot for stargazing. What’s more, this Booking.com Travel Sustainable stay offers a platform for local artists to display their work and invests a percentage of revenue back into community projects.
For the quarter (26%) of American travelers keen to explore lesser-known cities next year that aren’t yet on the radar,* the historic city of Olomouc is a fantastic alternative to the popular capital of Prague – and one of Europe’s best kept secrets. Located in the Haná region of Moravia, the city dates back to Roman times and has it all; from exquisite architecture to religious heritage and rich gastronomy. Its beloved Olomoucké tvarůžky soft cheese is a must-try, especially for those 15% of American travelers who want to indulge in food on vacation they can’t normally access at home.*
The well-preserved old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the Holy Trinity Column, which rises nearly 115 feet in height and punctuates the main square, is one of the baroque wonders of Central Europe. Travelers can enjoy views of the column from the nearby Town Hall Tower, as well as the beautiful neighboring countryside of the Jeseniky Mountains. Olomouc is a university city, and visitors can soak up the ambience in one of the many bookshop cafes, or embrace the energetic student-orientated nightlife at the lively pubs and microbreweries.
Where to stay: The Long Story Short Hostel & Café ideally located in the center of Olomouc offers a petanque court and BBQ, as well as live music events and movie nights for guests to mingle. Set in an 18th-century fort, this trendy hostel is home to a hip cafe and terrace bar where guests can enjoy a warming coffee or something stronger before venturing out. Nearby must-visit sites include Olomouc Castle, the Museum of Art and the Saint Wenceslas Cathedral.
There are few destinations where travelers can climb a mountain, head to the beach and visit a world-class art gallery all in one day, but Hobart is one of them. The capital of Tasmania is the southernmost capital in Australia, meaning the weather is unbelievably good all year round. Framed by the incredible Mount Wellington with the River Derwent flowing through, adventure seekers can explore the region via kayak, abseiling or even surfing. For those seeking a birds-eye view, sign up for a Learn-to-fly Experience under the guidance of a qualified instructor. With over a quarter (28%) of US travelers reporting the main objective of traveling in 2023 is to enjoy new experiences and places,* flying a plane over Hobart could tick all the boxes. Visitors wanting to stay closer to the ground can enjoy world-renowned artwork at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), which placed this little port city on the global cultural map. With its ferries, fishing boats and floating pier, the natural charm of Hobart is undeniable. Join the community spirit at the weekend Salamanca Market which sells homegrown produce from whisky to jams, or head to the Taste of Tasmania festival held each year in town.
Where to stay: Maylands Lodge is an old landmark property that doubles up as an urban luxury hotel. Located on the fringes of the city, the stay is just a short drive from the center and the waterfront. A fusion of modern and historic style, guests are immersed in the local creative scene with unique Tasmanian artwork peppered throughout the property. Each room features a stunning mountain or garden view and many offer a huge luxurious bath for guests to sink into and unwind.
*Travel Predictions 2023 research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure in the next 12-24 months. In total 24,179 respondents across 32 countries and territories were polled (including 1014 from Argentina, 1006 from Australia, 505 from Austria, 504 from Belgium, 1009 from Brazil, 503 from Canada, 1009 from China, 1010 from Colombia, 505 from Croatia, 505 from Denmark, 1010 from France, 1001 from Germany, 500 from Hong Kong, 1005 from India, 504 from Ireland, 504 from Israel, 1008 from Italy, 1003 from Japan, 504 from Mexico, 502 from The Netherlands, 1007 from New Zealand, 1009 from Portugal, 507 from Singapore, 1008 from South Korea, 1001 from Spain, 505 from Sweden, 508 from Switzerland, 500 from Taiwan, 504 from Thailand, 1006 from the UK, 1009 from the US and 504 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in August 2022.
**Destinations had to be in the top 1,000 most booked on Booking.com between 1 August 2021 and 31 July 2022. The resulting list was sorted by year-over-year increase and destinations with a large decrease in the share of domestic bookings were removed. This was to ensure that the list represents destinations that have managed to maintain domestic interest (as well as international), even in the face of loosening COVID-related travel restrictions.
***Based on locals and travelers input from Booking.com’s Travel Communities who have visited the destination in the past.