MUMBAI: Two weeks into 2023, are you planning a travel itinerary for the year ahead? Travel can be therapy and as they say, adventures are the best way to learn. The pandemic had proved to be a dampener when it came to travel with people barely venturing out in the last 2-3 years. But it seems like things are about to change.
Booking.com’s annual Travel Predictions research found that travellers are feeling overwhelmingly more optimistic about travelling in 2023 compared to last year, 80% of Indian travellers are seeking travel that pushes them to the limits and 96% of Indian travellers are looking for more far-flung adventurous trips and experiences. Booking.com has also shared a list of the top trending travel destinations for the new year. Here are 10 unique places around the globe that can make for a memorable holiday.
1) Sao Paulo, Brazil
The energetic metropolis of São Paulo with its art house cinemas and experimental theatres is a big draw. It boasts of an exploding nightlife scene with a matrix of underground clubs where travellers can dance until dawn, making it ideal for those looking for ‘nightlife-centric vacations’ in 2023. Sao Paulo is home to nine of the 14 Michelin-starred restaurants in Brazil, and is a foodies' delight. A traditional Samba and Pagode experience for partygoers and a trip to Oscar Freire street packed with boutique shops for fashionistas are a must.
2) Budva, Montenegro
For travellers 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. For those seeking adventure, explore Boka Bay on Mamula Island, Blue Cave, and Lady of the Rocks Tour. Budva’s medieval old town features cobbled streets dotted with charming restaurants where visitors can enjoy fresh grilled seafood including the local favourite – octopus.
3) Puducherry, India
The bohemian and seaside city of Puducherry (around 3 hours from Chennai) possesses a calming energy and attracts spiritually minded visitors who wish to visit the destination’s ashrams. 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 bougainvillea. 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.
4) Queretaro, Mexico
Located in the central highlands, the altitude blesses Queretaro 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 1421 feet about 433m above Pueblo Magico. This biosphere reserve is a UNESCO heritage site that nature enthusiasts and hikers will relish. A pitstop at the Mercado la Cruz market, crammed with tasty taco stands and colourful pinatas is highly recommended – or indulge in a glass of fizz, a specialty from the Querétaro wine region.
5) Bolzano, Italy
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, travellers can challenge themselves to the ascent in summer – or head to one of the acclaimed ski resorts in winter. This region of Italy is renowned for its full-bodied wines, thanks to its endless vines that grow picturesquely on pergolas and trellises. Travellers can pay a visit to the quaint Santa Maria Maddalena Church for breathtaking views of these magnificent vineyards and taste the regional wine.
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6) Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
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. This off-the-beaten-track destination is perfect for travellers looking for a unique vibe. The Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market is a welcome hive of artistry. Visitors can also make a beeline to Tanjung Aru Beach. The Floating Seafood Market restaurant is not to be missed with excellent butter prawns and soft-shell crab. The ecosystems around Kota Kinabalu are home to unique wildlife, a boat during an Evening River Safari is recommended.
7) Kalabaka, Greece
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 that are 400 meters high, this UNESCO world heritage site dates to the 13th century and was built by monks seeking scenic solitude. Travellers can go for 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.
8) Santa Fe, United States
Santa Fe's nickname, ‘The City Different,’ encapsulates all it has to offer. The city boasts of an unparalleled multicultural heritage and Native American tribes. Travellers can explore the culture and creations of indigenous people at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts – or visit one of the 19 pueblo communities where guests are welcomed on certain days. Santa Fe sits at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo range, making it a fantastic base for hiking, mountain biking, and skiing. Travellers can venture into the mountains for rock climbing, paragliding, or white-water rafting. Mexican food trucks, buzzing nightclubs, and colorful open-air markets will add to the experience. 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.
9) Olomouc, Czech Republic
Travellers who are keen to explore lesser-known cities this year that aren’t yet on the radar can check out the historic city of Olomouc, which is a fantastic alternative to the popular capital of Prague. Often touted as one of Europe’s best-kept secrets, the city dates to Roman times and has it all - from exquisite architecture to religious heritage and rich gastronomy. The Olomoucké tvarůžky soft cheese is a must-try. The well-preserved old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site. 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.
10) Hobart, Australia
There are few destinations where travellers can climb a mountain, head to the beach, and visit a world-class art gallery all in one day, and Hobart is one of them. The capital of Tasmania is the southernmost capital in Australia, and 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. Visitors wanting to stay closer to the ground can enjoy world-renowned artwork at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). With its ferries, fishing boats, and floating pier, the natural charm of Hobart is undeniable.
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