Recent global events don’t appear to have dampened travellers’ wanderlust for new destinations, with an emerging trove of global treasures waiting to be discovered. These are the key findings of a survey by travel portal Booking.com’s annual Travel Predictions. In a press statement, the portal says that travellers are feeling overwhelmingly more optimistic about traveling in 2023 compared to last year, 80 pc of Indian travellers are seeking travel that pushes them to the limits and 96 pc of Indian travellers are looking for more far-flung adventurous trips and experiences.
The statement adds that to help travellers 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 travellers 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.
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. These included 1,014 from Argentina, 1,006 from Australia, 505 from Austria, 504 from Belgium, 1,009 from Brazil, 503 from Canada, 1,009 from China, 1,010 from Colombia, 505 from Croatia, 505 from Denmark, 1,010 from France, 1,001 from Germany, 500 from Hong Kong, 1,005 from India, 504 from Ireland, 504 from Israel, 1008 from Italy, 1,003 from Japan, 504 from Mexico, 502 from The Netherlands, 1,007 from New Zealand, 1,009 from Portugal, 507 from Singapore, 1,008 from South Korea, 1,001 from Spain, 505 from Sweden, 508 from Switzerland, 500 from Taiwan, 504 from Thailand, 1,006 from the UK, 1,009 from the US and 504 from Vietnam.
São Paulo, Brazil
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 travellers can dance until dawn – perfect for the three quarters, 92 pc of Indian travellers 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. The statement says that 31 pc of Indian travellers would 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 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 35 km winding coastline known as the Budva Riviera with a strip of beautiful golden sandy beaches. It says that 14 pc of Indian travellers would want a relaxing trip on a beach in 2023, visitors can chill out on sun loungers that line the shores surrounded by next level scenery of rugged mountains and luxurious yachts.
Those seeking adventure can explore Boka Bay on a Mamula Island, Blue Cave & Lady of the Rocks Tour. Travellers 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 favourite – octopus.
The bohemian and seaside city of Puducherry 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 70 pc of Indian travellers reporting they want to try a spiritual stay in 2023 such as a meditation or mindfulness getaway, and 63 pc of Indian travellers are 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 bougainvillea.
According to locals and travellers, cycling through the leafy boulevards is a popular way to discover the city, or a customised private walking tour lets travellers experience Puducherry 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, says Booking.com.
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 433 m above Pueblo Magico, comes highly recommended to visit by other travellers. Adventure seekers must call upon their inner bravery to scale the remains of this old volcano, and the 60 pc of Indian travellers who are interested in extra-terrestrial exploration can hear tales of mysterious lights and nearby UFO sightings from the locals. 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 colorful pinatas is highly recommended – or indulge in a glass of fizz, a specialty from the Querétaro wine region.
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.
With over 76 pc of Indian travellers would want to enjoy 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.
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. Booking.com says that 71 of Indian travellers are 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, travellers 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.
The statement goes on to say that as 28 pc of Indian travellers would 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 travellers can observe in their natural environment from a boat during an Evening River Safari.
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 400 metres high, this UNESCO world heritage site dates 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. As 63 pc of Indian travellers wish to travel somewhere with completely different cultural experiences. Travellers 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.
The statement says that 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, where 68 pc of Indian travellers are up for eating local delicacies while traveling.
Santa Fe, United States
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 United States’ 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 96 pc Indian travellers 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. As many as 70 pc of Indian travellers would 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.
Olomouc, Czech Republic
Booking.com says that 27 pc of Indian travellers 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 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 16 pc of Indian travellers who would 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 35m in height and punctuates the main square, is one of the baroque wonders of Central Europe. Travellers 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.
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 32 pc of Indian travellers 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.