The most popular travel destinations in 2023

    (Marriott)

(Marriott)

It’s the first day back and you can’t wait to leave. When we talk about wanting to go, of course, we mean frantically firing up Google and typing “best holidays 2023” or “where it’s sunny in January”. We’ve got you covered – read on for this year’s coolest travel trends…

Marriott Mena House (Marriott)

Marriott Mena House (Marriott)

Ancient Egyptian tombs

There is much to love about this charming country. For starters, flights can cost as little as £42. Egypt has seen a decline in tourist numbers over the past 20 years, unhelped by the pandemic – but it’s finally rebounding. Where A-lists and Instagrammers go, the rest of us follow. In November, Dior creative director Kim Jones chose the pyramids of Giza as the backdrop for his latest men’s collection. Naomi Campbell, Robert Pattinson, Lila Moss and Lewis Hamilton elegantly pose among the thousand-year-old tombs. Suitcase editorial director Emma Ventura agrees it’s a place to be. Her tip? Be one of the first to visit the new state-of-the-art $1 billion Grand Egyptian Museum. “Like many, we are keeping a close eye on the final opening date for the Grand Egyptian Museum. Located on the outskirts of Cairo and adjacent to the pyramids of Giza, it will contain 12 exhibition halls and 100,000 artifacts, including almost all found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. Do like the It-crowd and stay at the Marriott Mena House (£251; marriott.co.uk) with a hazy view of the Pyramids, or head further into the city at the chic Villa Bella Epoque (£170; villabelleepoque.com) a charming boutique in the lively neighborhood of El Maadi.

The newest Orient Express is now open (Orient Express)

The newest Orient Express is now open (Orient Express)

Sleek new sleeper trains

It doesn’t take much imagination to imagine a world in the not too distant future where flying makes you something of a social pariah. As part of its 2023 trend forecasting study, Pinterest announced that the era of “train bragging” has arrived and claims that searches have increased by 205 percent. Suitcase Magazine’s Emma Ventura is on board. “The radical reduction in the number of flights is now non-negotiable. We have our eye on some really exciting new train journeys, among them The Night Trains, which promises to turn carriages into clubs on routes across Europe from June next year, with customized interiors, DJs and other creative talent turning the train journey into a festival experience.” For something nostalgic and incredibly glamorous, “we love the classic opulence of the renovated suites aboard Belmond’s Venice Simplon-Orient Express,” he says. Fast forward to 2024 and the launch of overnight hotel trains on wheels that will make tight cheap flights around Europe look like a medieval form of torture. There are plans to run elegant, environmentally friendly sleeper trains in Paris to 10 destinations, including Rome, Copenhagen and Porto.

Six Senses of Crans-Montana (Six Senses)

Six Senses of Crans-Montana (Six Senses)

Eco-exploration

This will be the year that sustainable travel becomes the cornerstone of vacation planning – but it can still be hard to tell if we’re doing it right. Booking.com says 62 percent of its users are looking for eco-accommodation this year. Six Senses (sixsenses.com) is always a safe bet and two new openings this year: Six Senses Vana in India and Six Senses Crans-Montana in spectacular Switzerland. Sustainable travel expert, podcaster and author Juliet Kinsman proposes an electric car journey through Norway. “The Historic Discovery Route in Norway (£5,262 for 14 nights; upnorway.com) features a journey that includes time with local communities, hosts, farmers and chefs to experience authentic Norwegian culture. Travel by electric car on two of Norway’s 18 breathtaking scenic routes. This Scandinavian odyssey begins and ends in Bergen, home to one of the eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with abseiling down a waterfall, off-road biking, hiking, and ferrata climbing. One day gliding in clear waters with salmon, the next relaxing in a floating sauna.” Alternatively, the Interrail Norway Pass is wallet-friendly (€221 for five days; interrail.eu) and glides from Stavanger to Bodo with views of the dancing northern lights in winter and endless daylight in summer.

Brightson Beach House (Soho House)

Brightson Beach House (Soho House)

British seaside haven

International travel is back with a bang, but the UK’s big accommodation base is not going anywhere. Condé Nast Traveler says interest in beach content in the UK has increased by 156 per cent after the pandemic. So where is it hot? CNT digital editor Sarah Allard says her money is on Margate, Camber Sands, Brighton and Eastbourne. “Margate’s popularity is not waning anytime soon with the addition of the Fort Road Hotel and next year the arrival of No.42 By GuestHouse and Margate House. The popular Camber Sands sanctuary The Gallivant will open its second property – The Gallivant Littlestone Beach – in Kent in 2023, and the arrival of Brighton Beach House is another reason to fight the crowds for a stay by the sea. Even Eastbourne has a moment; Towner 100 – Towner Eastbourne’s centennial celebration – will host a year of exhibitions, including a show celebrating Barbara Hepworth and the Turner Prize. Start saving your pennies and get ready to fight some seagulls.”

Gorillas in the Republic of the Congo (photo by Alama)

Gorillas in the Republic of the Congo (photo by Alama)

A hot new adventure spot

The Republic of the Congo – not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), although Responsible Travel offers a fearless safari holiday in this beautiful but troubled country – is another hot new destination for adventurous people who don’t want to give up luxury. Jenny Southan, founder of Globetrender, is always on the lookout for the next emerging spot. “To be unveiled in the last quarter of 2023, renowned hotel designer Bill Bensley will debut a multi-million-dollar gorilla safari camp called Kozala Zamba Congo in the interior of the Republic of Congo,” he says. “Located deep in the dense forest wilderness, the camp will be run in partnership with the Congo Conservation Company and philanthropist Sabine Plattner. Using the hotel as a base, guests will have access to three national parks – Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, Odzala-Kokoua National Park and Sangha Tri-National Park, which also extends across Cameroon and the Central African Republic. With no official borders to cross, travelers can dine in one country and fish for sharp-toothed tiger fish in another, and observe the world’s largest living primates in their natural habitat.”

Capella Sydney will open in 2023 (Capella)

Capella Sydney will open in 2023 (Capella)

Australian rules

Australia and its endless golden beaches, world-class food scene and multicolored Great Barrier Reef welcome us with open arms. Booking.com says Brits in particular can’t get to Down Under fast enough – and it’s straight to Sydney. Luxury travel operator Scott Dunn is also noticing this trend. “Since border restrictions were lifted in the summer, we have seen a gradual increase in demand for Australia and it remains high on our visitors’ wish lists in 2023, especially among honeymooners and adventurous families with teens,” said Charlotte Dent of Scott Dunn. There is something to look forward to. “It’s going to be a big year for the country with the opening of the new Capella Sydney Hotel (£500; capellahotels.com) and the celebration of Sydney’s WorldPride – for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere. We also anticipate the reopening of the beautiful Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island in late 2023 after a major remodel following the devastating bushfires.” Other top picks to look out for include W Sydney (marriott.com), a 585-room mega-hotel overlooking the harbour, and 25Hours (25hours-hotels.com) in the very cool Paddington area.

San Domenico Palace was the setting of The White Lotus (The Four Seasons)

San Domenico Palace was the setting of The White Lotus (The Four Seasons)

Set jetters

We call it the White Lotus Effect, and while guests are harmful, we seem to want what they have. Expedia says 66 percent of travelers are inspired to visit a destination after seeing it on a small screen. Kerry Golds of Abercrombie & Kent agrees. “Audiences are drawn to the ambitious lifestyle, perfect weather and polished scripts of their favorite shows like The White Lotus. This resulted in a sharp increase in interest not only in the destination, but also in the hotels associated with it; people now have the opportunity to visit these places themselves and stay in the places they associate with their favorite show – it’s a truly unique experience.” Travel to Sicily and the San Domenico Palace (fourseasons.com), the masterpiece of the hotel and setting of the second season of The White Lotus. If asking prices of €1,500 a night are giving you a panic attack, think blissful Zash Country Boutique (zash.it), where rooms start at £140. With a view of the rumbling Etna and a magical spa, it will really be very good.

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