20 Must-Experience Vacation Ideas in 2023 | No. 7 is my pick!

The allure of vacation ideas in 2023 is an irresistible siren call, beckoning us to explore new horizons, bask in adventure, and create lasting memories. As the world emerges from a period of uncertainty, the desire to travel and explore is stronger than ever.

Whether you’re seeking tranquility on pristine beaches, thrilling escapades in the great outdoors, or cultural immersions in vibrant cities, this guide will unveil 20 must-experience vacation ideas for the year 2023, tailor-made for the adventurous traveler. So, fasten your seatbelts and prepare to embark on a journey of a lifetime.


Table of Content

Vacation Idea #1: Hawaii’s Hidden Gems

Hawaii's Hidden Gems | Vacation Ideas

While Hawaii’s main islands are undeniably popular, it’s the hidden gems that truly offer a unique and unforgettable experience. Lanai, often referred to as the “Pineapple Isle,” is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. You can explore the otherworldly landscapes of Garden of the Gods and relax on the pristine shores of Hulopoe Beach. Molokai, on the other hand, is the epitome of untouched beauty. Known as the “Friendly Isle,” it’s an ideal escape from the crowds. You can embark on the challenging hike along the Kalaupapa Trail or immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of this island.

Resources: Hawaii Tourism Authority

Vacation Ideas #2: Patagonia’s Untamed Wilderness

Patagonia's Untamed Wilderness

Patagonia, situated at the southern tip of South America, is one of the world’s last true wildernesses. In 2023, explore its iconic national parks. Torres del Paine National Park, in Chile, offers some of the most stunning trekking routes. You can hike to the base of the iconic granite spires, paddle through azure lakes, and spot herds of guanacos. In Argentina, witness the stunning glaciers of Los Glaciares National Park. Perito Moreno Glacier is a highlight, where you can watch gigantic chunks of ice calving into the waters below.

Resources: Patagonia Official Tourism Site

Vacation Ideas #3: Island Hopping in Greece

Island Hopping in Greece
Island Hopping in Greece

Greece’s islands offer an incredible array of experiences. While the famous Santorini and Mykonos are undeniably alluring, 2023 is an ideal time to explore lesser-visited islands. Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades, is a hidden gem known for its picturesque villages, stunning beaches, and rich history. Milos, with its lunar-like landscapes and secret coves, is a dream for lovers of geology and seclusion. Folegandros is the ideal destination for those seeking tranquility. Its medieval charm and serene ambiance make it perfect for relaxation and romantic getaways.

Resources: – Visit Greece

Vacation Ideas #4: New Zealand’s North Island

New Zealand's North Island
New Zealand’s North Island

While New Zealand’s South Island boasts remarkable landscapes, the North Island offers a distinctive blend of Maori culture, geothermal wonders, and beautiful coastlines. Rotorua, known as the geothermal capital of the world, is where you can witness geysers, mud pools, and mineral-rich hot springs. Auckland, the largest city, is a hub of culture and adventure. Visit the Auckland Museum, stroll along Viaduct Harbour, or explore Waiheke Island’s wineries. The Bay of Islands, in the northernmost part of the North Island, offers captivating experiences, such as dolphin-watching and island hopping.

Resources: – New Zealand Tourism

Vacation Ideas #5: Costa Rica’s Eco-Adventures

Costa Rica's Eco-Adventures

Costa Rica remains a top choice for eco-tourism. This Central American paradise is a trove of natural wonders and adventures. Manuel Antonio National Park is renowned for its diverse wildlife and pristine beaches. Hike through the rainforest and spot capuchin monkeys and sloths. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a dream for birdwatchers with hundreds of species, including the resplendent quetzal. And for the thrill-seekers, Arenal Volcano National Park is the place to be. You can zipline through the canopy, soak in volcanic hot springs, and hike to the base of the mighty Arenal Volcano.

Resources: Visit Costa Rica

Vacation Ideas #6: Baltic States Road Trip

Baltic States Road Trip

The Baltic States, consisting of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, offer a unique road trip experience. Continue your adventure by exploring Lithuania’s charming capital, Vilnius, with its well-preserved Old Town and stunning architecture. In Latvia, visit the beautiful city of Riga, known for its historic district and vibrant arts scene. Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, is a medieval gem with a well-preserved Old Town that transports you back in time. As you drive through these countries, you’ll discover medieval castles, picturesque countryside, and warm Baltic hospitality.

Resources: Baltic States Tourism

Vacation Ideas #7: Santorini’s Sunsets

Santorini's Sunsets
Santorini’s Sunsets

Santorini, a Greek island in the Cyclades, is famous for its mesmerizing sunsets. While Oia, with its iconic blue-domed churches, is the go-to destination, 2023 is the perfect time to experience it in a more tranquil setting. Avoid the crowds by visiting during the shoulder season. Consider staying in a charming boutique hotel in Oia, where you can enjoy uninterrupted views of the sun setting into the Aegean Sea. Savor local cuisine at traditional tavernas, explore the black sand beaches, and indulge in wine tasting at local vineyards.

Resources: Santorini Official Tourism

Vacation Ideas #8: Namibia’s Desert Adventures

Namibia's Desert Adventures | Vacation Ideas

Namibia’s unique landscapes are a paradise for adventure seekers. The Namib Desert, one of the oldest deserts in the world, is where you’ll encounter towering sand dunes, including the famous Dune 45. Explore the eerie beauty of Deadvlei, a surreal white clay pan surrounded by massive dunes. In Swakopmund, on the coast, you can try sandboarding on the dunes or take a scenic flight over the Skeleton Coast to witness shipwrecks and the rugged coastline. Etosha National Park is where you’ll find incredible wildlife encounters, from elephants to lions and rhinos.

Resources: Namibia Tourism

Vacation Ideas #9: Alaska’s Wildlife Expedition

Alaska's Wildlife Expedition | Vacation Ideas

Alaska’s pristine wilderness and abundant wildlife make it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts. While the Inside Passage is famous for its picturesque fjords and abundant marine life, there are lesser-known destinations that offer unique experiences. Consider a visit to Katmai National Park and Preserve, where you can witness grizzly bears feasting on salmon as they make their way upstream. Don’t forget to explore the vast wilderness of Denali National Park, home to North America’s tallest peak, Mount McKinley. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of wolves, caribou, and moose.

Resources: Travel Alaska

Vacation Ideas #10: Bhutan’s Himalayan Bliss

Bhutan's Himalayan Bliss | Vacation Ideas

Bhutan, often referred to as the “Land of the Thunder Dragon,” is a Himalayan kingdom known for its dramatic landscapes and vibrant culture. In addition to the iconic Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Paro, consider exploring Thimphu, the capital city. Here, you can visit the Tashichho Dzong, a stunning fortress that houses the king’s offices and the monk body. Attend a traditional Bhutanese festival, known as a Tsechu, to immerse yourself in the country’s rich cultural traditions. Bhutan offers trekking routes for various levels of experience, so whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, there’s an adventure waiting for you.

Resources: Tourism Council of Bhutan

Vacation Ideas #11: The Azores – Portugal’s Hidden Paradise

The Azores | vacation Ideas

The Azores, a Portuguese archipelago in the North Atlantic, is a destination like no other. Sao Miguel, the largest island, is often called the “Green Island” due to its lush landscapes and stunning natural beauty. Sete Cidades, a volcanic crater with twin lakes, offers mesmerizing views and is a must-visit spot for photographers. Don’t miss a relaxing dip in the natural hot springs at Furnas, where you can enjoy a traditional Cozido meal, cooked underground by the Earth’s geothermal heat. Hike the iconic Sete Cidades crater rim for breathtaking panoramic vistas.

Resources: Visit Azores

Vacation Ideas #12: Japan’s Cherry Blossom Season

Japan's Cherry Blossom Season | Vacation Ideas

Japan’s cherry blossom season, or “sakura,” is a captivating natural spectacle. In 2023, ensure you time your visit right to witness this awe-inspiring phenomenon. While Tokyo and Kyoto are famous for their cherry blossoms, consider exploring Hiroshima, where the Peace Memorial Park and Atomic Bomb Dome offer a poignant reminder of history. Attend a traditional tea ceremony beneath the blooming cherry trees or stroll through the Maruyama Park in Kyoto, where nighttime illuminations create a magical atmosphere.

Resources: Japan National Tourism Organization

Vacation Ideas #13: Croatia’s Adriatic Coast

Croatia's Adriatic Coast | Vacation Ideas

Croatia’s Adriatic coast is a Mediterranean gem with a rich blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. In addition to exploring Dubrovnik’s famous Old Town, consider visiting the nearby island of Korcula. Often referred to as a mini-Dubrovnik, Korcula is a hidden treasure with its medieval architecture, charming streets, and crystal-clear waters. Sail along the Dalmatian coast on a traditional gulet, where you can visit hidden coves, swim in secluded bays, and savor freshly caught seafood. Croatia’s cuisine is a delight, with dishes like peka, a slow-cooked meat and vegetable dish, and pasticada, a hearty beef stew.

Resources: Croatia Tourism

Vacation Ideas #14: Iceland’s Natural Wonders

Iceland's Natural Wonders | Vacation Ideas

Iceland’s unique landscapes are a feast for the eyes and the soul. While the Golden Circle is popular for its geothermal wonders, consider delving deeper into the country’s natural beauty. The East Fjords offer breathtaking coastal scenery, charming fishing villages, and opportunities for outdoor adventures like hiking and birdwatching. Explore the highlands, known for their stark beauty, glaciers, and volcanic landscapes. Vatnajokull National Park, the largest national park in Europe, is a paradise for hikers, with a range of trails that lead to stunning vistas, glaciers, and waterfalls.

Resources: Visit Iceland

Vacation Ideas #15: Morocco’s Exotic Charm

Morocco's Exotic Charm | Vacation Ideas

Morocco’s exotic allure is undeniable, and while Marrakech and Fes are top tourist destinations, consider venturing into the Atlas Mountains. The small town of Imlil is the gateway to treks and adventures in the High Atlas. You can hike to remote Berber villages, enjoy a traditional Moroccan lunch in a local home, and witness the stunning Ourika Valley. Explore the Sahara Desert from the charming village of Merzouga, where you can embark on camel treks, witness the mesmerizing Erg Chebbi dunes, and spend the night in a desert camp under the stars.

Resources: Visit Morocco

Vacation Ideas #16: The Scottish Highlands

The Scottish Highlands | Vacation Ideas

The Scottish Highlands are a treasure trove for nature lovers, and while Inverness and Loch Ness are well-known, delve deeper to discover the less-visited gems. The Isle of Skye, with its otherworldly landscapes, rugged cliffs, and fairy pools, is a must-visit. Stroll through the enchanting Fairy Glen or witness the dramatic Quiraing. The West Highland Way, a long-distance hiking trail, offers breathtaking vistas of lochs and munros, and it’s perfect for hikers of all levels. To experience the rich history of Scotland, visit Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness and explore the intriguing Eilean Donan Castle.

Resources: Visit Scotland

Vacation Ideas #17: Peru’s Cultural Odyssey

Peru's Cultural Odyssey | Vacation Ideas

While Machu Picchu is an undeniable highlight, Peru offers much more to explore. In addition to the Sacred Valley, consider embarking on a cultural odyssey to discover lesser-visited archaeological sites and immerse yourself in the local way of life. Choquequirao, often referred to as the “Sister of Machu Picchu,” is a challenging but rewarding trek. You can witness the ancient terraces and structures hidden in the Andean cloud forest. Huanchaco, a coastal town, offers an opportunity to learn the traditional art of reed boat building from local fishermen. Explore the vibrant street art scene in Lima’s Barranco district, where colorful murals and sculptures adorn the neighborhood.

Resources: Visit Peru

Vacation Ideas #18: Tanzania’s Safari Spectacle

Tanzania's Safari Spectacle | Vacation ideas

Tanzania’s safari adventures are unparalleled. While the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater are well-known, explore some of the lesser-visited national parks and conservation areas for an intimate wildlife experience. The Southern Circuit offers unique opportunities to see wildlife without the crowds. Selous Game Reserve is known for its diverse ecosystems and rare species, such as the African wild dog. Explore Ruaha National Park, where baobab trees and diverse wildlife thrive. For a stunning off-the-beaten-path experience, consider visiting Katavi National Park, a remote wilderness with vast plains and impressive animal migrations.

Resources: Tanzania Tourist Board

Vacation Ideas #19: Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks

Utah's Mighty 5 National Parks | Vacation Ideas

Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks offer a feast of geological wonders, and while Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion are world-renowned, consider exploring the lesser-known gems in each park. In Arches National Park, venture to the remote Devil’s Garden, where you can hike among surreal sandstone formations and discover hidden arches.

Bryce Canyon’s Fairyland Loop Trail provides incredible panoramic views of the park’s unique hoodoos. In Capitol Reef, hike to Lower Muley Twist Canyon to explore colorful slot canyons. In Canyonlands, embark on a 4×4 adventure to the remote White Rim Road, which offers unparalleled vistas of the park’s vast canyons and mesas. Explore the Kolob Canyons section of Zion for pristine hiking trails and the awe-inspiring Kolob Arch.

Resources: Visit Utah

Vacation Ideas #20: Machu Picchu’s Hidden Secrets

Machu Picchu's Hidden Secrets | Vacation Ideas

Machu Picchu is undoubtedly an iconic destination, but you can make your visit even more special by exploring its hidden secrets and lesser-known trails. The Salkantay Trek is an alternative route to Machu Picchu, offering a diverse range of ecosystems, from snow-capped mountains to lush cloud forests. Along the way, you’ll encounter local communities and stunning natural beauty. The Inca Quarry Trail is another hidden gem, leading to Machu Picchu while passing through ancient quarries and offering breathtaking vistas. The advantage of these less-visited trails is that they provide a more serene and personal experience of Machu Picchu.

Resources: Peru Tourism – Machu Picchu


Travel Trends in 2023

Sustainable Travel

Sustainable travel is not just about making eco-friendly choices; it’s also about supporting destinations that prioritize responsible tourism. In 2023, consider visiting places that have implemented sustainable tourism practices, such as the Azores, which are leading the way in eco-tourism. Explore the certified dark sky reserves, practice zero-waste tourism, and contribute to conservation efforts. You can also visit the remote village of Lo Mantang in Upper Mustang, Nepal, which has strict regulations in place to protect its unique culture and environment.

Wellness Travel

In the pursuit of wellness, consider destinations that focus on holistic well-being. Bali, Indonesia, remains a wellness mecca, with its yoga retreats, wellness centers, and rejuvenating spa treatments. The sacred city of Rishikesh in India, nestled in the Himalayas, offers yoga and meditation retreats along the banks of the Ganges River. For a more unique wellness experience, visit Sedona, Arizona, known for its vortexes and energy healing sessions amid the stunning red rock formations.

Digital Detox Getaways

The need for a digital detox is becoming more critical as our lives become increasingly intertwined with technology. In 2023, consider destinations that offer complete disconnection from the digital world. Bhutan, with its limited internet access and strong focus on mindfulness, is a fantastic choice. Opt for retreats in remote locations such as the Faroe Islands or Svalbard, where the absence of connectivity allows you to truly connect with nature and your inner self.

Traveling Responsibly

Traveling responsibly isn’t just about minimizing your impact; it’s also about positively contributing to the destinations you visit. To further this cause, consider staying in eco-friendly accommodations such as treehouses that blend harmoniously with nature. The trend of sustainable travel means you can find hotels and lodges that utilize renewable energy sources, practice waste reduction, and engage in community development projects.

Unique Accommodation Options

Delve deeper into unique accommodation options to elevate your travel experience. Underwater hotels are becoming more accessible in destinations like the Maldives, where you can fall asleep surrounded by colorful marine life. Glamping options are expanding worldwide, with luxurious tented camps in places like the African savannah or the American Southwest. Historical stays, such as castle accommodations in Europe, offer the opportunity to immerse yourself in a bygone era while enjoying modern comforts.

Traveling with a Purpose

Traveling with a purpose not only enriches your experience but also benefits the places you visit. Volunteer travel allows you to make a meaningful impact on local communities. Consider destinations like Cambodia, where you can engage in initiatives that support educational and healthcare projects. Learning vacations are a fantastic way to acquire new skills while exploring the world.

For example, Tuscany, Italy, offers culinary vacations where you can learn to cook traditional Italian dishes from local chefs. Meanwhile, the picturesque town of Gimmelwald in Switzerland is an excellent destination for hiking and mountaineering enthusiasts, where you can take alpine skills courses.

Culinary tours provide a gateway to understanding the culture of a place through its cuisine. Traveling to Japan, you can learn the art of sushi-making in Tokyo or explore sake breweries in Kyoto. India offers immersive cooking classes, where you can discover the intricate flavors and spices of its diverse regional cuisines.

Travel Smart with Technology

As technology continues to advance, staying connected and informed while traveling becomes increasingly convenient. Translation apps have improved their accuracy, making it easier to navigate language barriers. Moreover, mobile payment apps are gaining widespread acceptance, allowing you to conduct financial transactions seamlessly in many destinations.

Travel planning apps have evolved to help you organize your trip efficiently. Use apps like TripIt to centralize your itinerary, store important documents, and receive real-time updates on flights and accommodations. Explore augmented reality apps like Google Lens, which can provide instant translations of signs and menus, making your travel experiences even more immersive.

Stay Safe While Traveling

In the quest for safe travel, some additional tips and best practices can ensure your trip goes smoothly:

– Local Emergency Numbers: Know the local emergency numbers at your destination and have them readily available.

– Emergency Kit: Carry a basic emergency kit with essentials like a first-aid kit, flashlight, multi-tool, and necessary medications.

– Travel Locks: Use TSA-approved locks to secure your luggage, and consider locking your bags when not in use.

– Copies of Important Documents: Make copies of your passport, ID, and travel insurance documents. Store them separately from the originals, and consider using digital copies on a secure cloud service.

– Local Laws and Regulations: Always respect local laws and customs. Familiarize yourself with any specific regulations in the places you’ll be visiting, such as dress codes or photography restrictions.

– Emergency Health Kit: In addition to a basic first-aid kit, it’s advisable to carry a small health kit with essentials like pain relievers, allergy medication, and any prescription medications you may need.

– Local Language Basics: Learning a few basic phrases in the local language can be incredibly helpful in emergency situations or when seeking assistance.

– Traveling Solo: If you’re traveling alone, share your itinerary with a trusted friend or family member. Stay connected with them, especially if you’re venturing into remote areas.

– Travel Insurance: Research and choose a comprehensive travel insurance plan that covers potential risks specific to your destination. This includes medical coverage, trip cancellation, and emergency evacuation.

In Conclusion

With these expanded vacation ideas, additional travel trends, and an extensive guide on responsible and safe travel, your adventures in 2023 are not only exciting but also conscious, immersive, and secure. When planning your trips, remember to check for local travel advisories and guidelines, as travel conditions can change due to various factors.

Always prioritize your safety and respect the local culture and environment in the places you visit. By embracing these travel trends and being a responsible traveler, you can make your journeys in 2023 not only memorable but also positively impactful on the destinations you explore. Safe travels and may your adventures be filled with awe-inspiring experiences!

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Don’t forget to read: The Ultimate Travel Essentials Checklist 101

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