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23 destinations to visit in 2023

At this time of year, the question we’re all asking ourselves is: where next? Kerry Smith highlights the travel hotspots – and events – that should be on your radar over the coming months


Granite outcrops on South Rupununi savannah, Guyana (Alamy)

The Rupununi, Guyana

Guyana’s capital of Georgetown is the perfect departure point for eco-trips into the rainforest and beyond. From here, the remote and staggeringly powerful Kaieteur Falls – four times taller than the Niagara Falls – is 45 minutes away by charter plane. But Guyana’s most jaw-dropping destinations are the southern savannahs and wetlands of the Rupununi. Back in 1956, David Attenborough filmed his second-ever documentary here, and today the region is still home to descendants of some of the animals he encountered: pumas, jaguars, caiman and red-footed tortoises, as well as globally threatened species such as the giant anteater and giant armadillo.

British Airways is launching twice-weekly long-haul flights to Guyana from London Gatwick from late March 2023.

Take off to Guyana

The Martin Luther King Jr Memorial in West Potomac Park (washington.org)

Washington, D.C., USA

On 28 August 1963, the civil rights activist Dr Martin Luther King Jr told a quarter of a million-strong crowd that he had a dream – and arguably changed the course of history. King’s eldest son, Martin Luther King III, is inviting people to join his family in D.C. on the weekend of 26 August 2023 for the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, while citywide events include a series of We Have a Dream concerts. While you’re there, eat at Ben’s Chili Bowl, where King stopped by whenever he was in town. Finally, check into room 310 at the Willard InterContinental Hotel, where he added the finishing touches to his speech. 

British Airways flies to Washington, D.C., direct from London Heathrow in just under eight hours.

Take off to Washington

Arikok National Park covers almost 20 per cent of the island


The New York Times has called Aruba a place “where women lead” thanks to its female Prime Minister and a parliament where women hold a third of seats. It’s not just its attitude to female advancement that makes this Caribbean nation – and new BA destination – worth visiting. There’s also its people, food, culture and exquisite natural beauty. Hike past candelabra cactus in Arikok National Park, delight in the empty sandy beaches of Dos Playa and spy blue tangs and parrot fish at the reef at Mangel Halto. Plus, the ‘one happy workation’ programme allows British visitors to work here for up to 90 days visa-free.

British Airways is launching twice-weekly long-haul flights to Aruba from London Gatwick from late March 2023.

Take off to Aruba

Mickey and pals at Walt Disney World Resort (Matt Stroshane)

Orlando, USA

October 2023 marks 100 years of The Walt Disney Company, which grew from humble beginnings as an animation studio into one of the biggest global entertainment companies. Mickey Mouse has had a platinum outfit makeover to celebrate, while Disney100: The Exhibition premieres in Philadelphia in February. Today, the largest and most iconic park is The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, where you can expect a year of celebration, including a new fireworks show and a ‘night-time spectacular’ at Epcot in Florida.

British Airways flies to Orlando up to 13 times a week from London Gatwick.

Take off to Orlando

Adele returns to Caesars Palace (Simon Emmett)

Las Vegas, USA

Vegas residencies have become a rite of passage for international stars (see: Elvis, Céline, Santana), and British superstar Adele returns in January for her much-anticipated residency at Caesars Palace. Over at The Venetian, the MSG Sphere opens in 2023. This state-of-the art venue with 160,000 speakers and multi-sensory tech (such as immersive seating) has reportedly booked U2 as the first act to perform. If you prefer a more turbo-charged experience, November 2023 sees the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix, at night along the Strip.

In addition to the daily direct flights from London Heathrow, British Airways will resume a direct three-times-weekly service from London Gatwick to Las Vegas on 26 March 2023.

Take off to Las Vegas

Devil’s Channel in Great Slave Lake (Getty Images)

Thaidene Nëné, Canada

Canada’s National Park Reserves were first created in the 19th century, but only the newest, Thaidene Nëné, has been created and managed by Indigenous peoples from the beginning. Meaning ‘Land of the Ancestors’, the park in the Northwest Territories sits on the eastern shoreline of Great Slave Lake. During the nearly-24-hours of daylight in summer, travellers can camp at this transition zone between boreal forest and tundra.

British Airways flies to Vancouver for onward flights to Yellowknife and Łutsël K’e airports.

Take off to Vancouver

Caribbean reef shark living its best life (Alamy)

Turks and Caicos

Sharks get bad press, but the greater their number, the healthier the ocean. During the pandemic, Turks and Caicos began its shark preservation efforts with help from the Caribbean Shark Coalition, which aims to protect 30 per cent of our oceans by 2030. For the past two years, researchers have been busy tagging sharks in the waters off the 40 islands and cays that make up the Turks and Caicos archipelago. Protecting sharks starts with knowing where they are, and the shark population in Turks and Caicos is thriving. Go scuba diving here and you’re pretty much guaranteed to see an apex predator. 

British Airways flies to Providenciales on the Turks and Caicos Islands from London Heathrow.

Take off to Turks and Caicos

Ancient Mayan face carving (Jeremy Flint)

Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico

“2023’s big draw in wellness will be Mexico,” says Frances Geoghegan, founder and managing director of Healing Holidays. “For generations, traditional Mayan healing has been greatly revered as a practice that treats body, mind and soul in equal measures, especially in the holy sites near Riviera Maya and Tulum.” As well as having an abundance of shamans and healers, here you’ll find the ground-breaking Rancho La Puerta in Baja California, which has influenced wellness travel for many years, while next year will see the launch of a new Casa Chablé near Tulum, as well as the first overseas outpost of the award-winning Spanish SHA Wellness Clinic.

British Airways flies direct to Cancun from London Gatwick daily.

Take off to Cancun

Raffles Hotel is in the Old War Office


Already one of the greatest cities for hotels, the luxury scene in London continues to boom. Planned 2023 openings include The Peninsula at 1 Grosvenor Place; Raffles in the former Old War Office; Mandarin Oriental’s second London property in Mayfair; Six Senses in the Art Deco former Whiteleys department store in Queensway; and Waldorf Astoria opening in the 1910 Admiralty Arch building on the Mall.

British Airways flies the world to and from London.


Book your London hotel stay with British Airways Holidays

Reina Sofia Museum (Joaquin Cortés Román Lores)

Barcelona and Madrid, Spain

Next year, 50 years since Pablo Picasso’s death will be marked by an ambitious event called Picasso Celebration 1973-2023, which was announced at the Reina Sofia Museum, home of Guernica. The event will see 40 exhibitions of Picasso’s work in Spain (the place of his birth) and France (where he died). The Museu Picasso de Barcelona, Museo Picasso Málaga and Museo Casa Natal Picasso in Malaga are just a few of the 15 Spanish museums taking part. Try to catch Picasso vs Velázquez at the Casa de Velázquez in Madrid in September 2023.

British Airways flies from London airports to eight destinations on mainland Spain, including Barcelona and Madrid (and San Sebastian from London City).

Take off to Spain

Mount Nanos above Vipava Valley (Getty Images)

 Vipava Valley, Slovenia

Few places are better for embracing slow travel than Slovenia’s Vipava Valley. While high-impact pleasure seekers gravitate to the Nanos and Trnovo peaks looming over the valley, Vipava is suited to the low-intensity pleasures of eating, drinking and hiking. Everything is locally sourced, from mouth-watering cheese to honey and cured pršut (regional prosciutto). As for the plonk, Burja and several other Vipava wineries produce award-winning wines and command a cult following.

British Airways will fly to Ljubljana from London Heathrow up to six times a week from May 2023.

Take off to Slovenia

The Colosseum is the world’s largest standing amphitheatre (Matt Richardson)

Rome, Italy

The €18.5m project to build and install a retractable floor in the Colosseum (as it had in ancient times) will be completed in 2023, allowing visitors to stand where the gladiators did. For more modern sports lovers, The Ryder Cup will be hosted in September on the outskirts of Rome. Hotel-wise, Italy’s luxury brand Bulgari, founded in Rome in 1884, will open its first hotel in the city. 

British Airways flies six times daily to Rome from London airports.

Take off to Rome

Bathers enjoy the French Riviera (Clara Tuma)

Nice, France

Ten months from the start of the next Rugby World Cup, a heightening of international standards across the globe suggests that 2023’s tournament could be anyone’s game. The drama will play out across nine French cities, including Nice hosting for the first time with matches scheduled for England, Wales and Scotland, Italy and Japan. The best thing about Nice? If the rugby doesn’t go your way, there’s always the Riviera to enjoy.

The Rugby World Cup will take place from 8 September to 28 October 2023. British Airways flies to Nice, Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse.

Take off to France

The Făgăraș Mountains, Carpathia (Dan Dinu)

The Carpathian Mountains, Romania

This southeastern European country – ringed by the Carpathian Mountains – is home to Europe’s last great wild landscape, serving up more than six million hectares of forest. Bison were reintroduced by a local NGO, Foundation Conservation Carpathia, and now roam here across five herds, with six calves being born in the wild this year. Beavers have also been reintroduced to the Făgăraș Mountains, with the first families now building dens and dams. Visiting the region is an opportunity to experience a true wilderness, paired with an urgent call to do what you can to help save it.

British Airways flies twice a day between London Heathrow and Bucharest.

Take off to Romania

The small seaside town of Pizzo in Calabria (Getty Images)

Calabria, Italy

The ‘toe’ of Italy’s boot is styling itself as the latest hiking destination, with a new 30-mile coast-to-coast trail. Connecting the town of Pizzo on the Tyrrhenian Sea to Soverato on the Ionian Sea, the Calabria coast trail is a chance to savour centuries-old olive trees, little-known forests and crumbling faded villages that cling to cliffs. It’s just one of a handful of new Italian adventure projects planned: a 140km cycle path around Lake Garda is underway, while an ambitious, decade-long proposal will see a 7,000km hiking trail crisscross Italy, connecting its 25 National Parks.

British Airways flies to seven Italian cities.

Take off to Italy

Traditional dhows on Pemba Island (Superstock). Also opening image (Alamy)

Pemba Island, Zanzibar

A small and fertile island forming part of Tanzania’s Zanzibar Archipelago, Pemba is a place wonderfully frozen in time (as is Zanzibar itself, for that matter). Surrounded by sub-tropical waters filled with colourful fish and coral reefs, it’s the perfect combination of history, beach, food and mythology. And the best part? It’s never crowded.

British Airways flies to Doha from London Heathrow, while oneworld partner Qatar Airways flies from Doha to Zanzibar. The onward flight to Pemba is 50 minutes.

Take off to Zanzibar

Table Mountain overlooks vibrant Cape Town (Getty Images)

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is breathtakingly beautiful and richly diverse. From small beginnings in 1993, Gay Pride Cape Town has become the biggest parade on the continent. An influx of travellers is expected to arrive on 23 February to celebrate the 30th anniversary with a ten-night Pride party. Also, watch out for E-Fest from 22-25 February, featuring the first ever Formula E race to hit Africa’s shores. 

British Airways is the only airline operating non-stop flights from both London Gatwick and London Heathrow to Cape Town.

Take off to South Africa

Lot’s Wife rock formation above Sandy Bay, St Helena (Alamy)

St Helena

Two centuries ago, Napoleon Bonaparte died in exile on the remote island of Saint Helena. He had no chance of escaping this South Atlantic outpost as the nearest neighbour, Ascension Island, is 1,200 miles away. Today, just 4,000-odd people live here, and they welcome intrepid voyagers to this remote destination with open arms. There are glittering black lava cliffs, hikes through desultory volcanic landscapes, and a 200-mile marine protection zone teeming with sea life. Be prepared to stay at least for 14 days: the only flight to St Helena from Johannesburg is fortnightly.

British Airways flies from London Heathrow to Johannesburg twice daily.

Take off to Johannesburg

The Seoul Robot & AI Museum created by by Melike Altinisik Architects 

Seoul, South Korea

Scheduled to arrive in one of the world’s most high-tech cities at the end of 2023 is the world’s first Robot & AI Museum. And its first exhibition? The museum itself. Robots were in charge of all stages of the project, from design to manufacturing and construction, while drones assisted with mapping and site inspections. The museum is part of a wider renovation of the Chang-dong area of Seoul and exhibitions will cover the latest innovations in AI, VR, AR, hologram technology and robotics.

British Airways flies to Tokyo from London Heathrow, while oneworld partner Japan Airlines flies from Tokyo to Seoul.

Take off to Seoul

Lake Biwa Canal is now open to boats (Getty Images)

Lake Biwa, Japan

Japan finally reopened to independent travellers in October. Ōtsu, capital of the Shiga Prefecture (reached by bullet train from Tokyo in less than three hours), is set on Japan’s largest freshwater lake and is one of those rare areas that is still relatively unknown to tourists. And for the first time, boats are now allowed on Lake Biwa Canal, which meanders for 20km around mountains and through tunnels from Ōtsu to Kyoto. Floating under the cherry blossom will be spectacular. 

British Airways flies daily direct to Tokyo from London Heathrow.

Take off to Tokyo

Relaxation with a view at the Bodrum Edition boutique hotel

Bodrum, Turkey

Between its deserted lagoons and slivers of islands too small to name, Bodrum is one of the Mediterranean’s most charismatic destinations. Nearly ten years after Mandarin Oriental opened here, a slew of new hotels continue to add to the glamour of this Turkish Riviera hangout. Check in to the new Birdcage 33 Hotel, the Bodrum Edition and Bodrum Loft, while a new Four Seasons is underway.

British Airways flies weekly to Bodrum from London Heathrow from May to October.

Take off to Bodrum

The Lionesses celebrate victory against Germany at the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 final in July 2022 (Getty Images)

Sydney, Australia

2023 will see Australia and New Zealand host the FIFA Women’s World Cup from 20 July to 20 August and, after England’s victory in the Euros, all eyes will be on the Lionesses. Ten venues are taking part across nine cities, while the final will be played in Sydney. Outside of the stadium, the £200m Art Gallery of New South Wales’ expansion project – the Sydney Modern – is set to open this December.

British Airways flies direct to Sydney from London Heathrow, and to several other Antipodean destinations with oneworld partners Qantas Airlines and Cathay Pacific.

Take off to Sydney

An artist’s impression of the planned Red Sea development

The Red Sea, Saudi Arabia

Saudi’s Red Sea development promises a groundbreaking change – to benefit the environment where its luxury resorts are built. The ambition is to become carbon negative while, through tourism, prioritising conservation and regenerating eco-systems degraded by farming and fishing. Two million trees destined for rewilding projects are maturing in nurseries, while a lab-grown coral garden opens new possibilities for research and reef regeneration. The development will be 100 per cent powered by renewable energy and transport will be on foot, bicycle or buggy. The first three resorts will all open next year – watch this space.

BA flies daily direct to Riyadh from London Heathrow.

Take off to Riyadh