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Gather round, some hot new travel inspo just dropped. TIME magazine has just released its annual list of the World’s Greatest Places, and we’re here to tell you the where, the why and the what behind its picks.
The nominations came from TIME’s international network of correspondents and contributors, which were then vetted by the publication’s editors who also “combed through local news from the Arctic Circle to Brisbane, Australia, to find the most-buzzed-about openings,” Emma Barker Bonomo, senior editor at TIME, tells CNN Travel.
“The list we selected reflects a couple big trends in travel right now: sustainability, and authenticity. Many locations on this list are finding ways to let tourists visit with a more limited environmental impact. And many have responded to travelers’ desire to have unique, local experiences by offering indigenous-led tours or curated home stays.”
Here’s our pick of their picks – and you can see the full list at the bottom of the story.
Canada’s Vancouver is known for outdoor adventure but it’s the indoor attractions that are catching TIME’s eye this year. The city just got its first Michelin Guide (the first Canadian city after Toronto to do so) and the Chinese Canadian Museum will open in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown this summer.
The little city of Bozeman, Montana, is “turning into a Rocky Mountain hub,” says TIME, following a rush of pandemic relocation. “Downtown is experiencing a growth spurt, with boutique fitness and yoga studios, alternative health-care outposts … and high-end beauty stores … setting up shop.”
Washington D.C. wins praise for its stylish new hotels and booming arts and culture scene, while Puerto Rico’s Rio Grande offers Americans the chance to visit the rainforest without leaving the country. And there’s more to Guadalajara, Mexico, than mariachi and tequila, says TIME. In November it’ll become the first Latin American destination to host the Gay Games worldwide sporting event.
Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park is the place to go for a puma safari, while the village of Ollantaytambo in Peru’s Sacred Valley deserves to be a destination in its own right, says TIME, rather than just a stopover on the way to Machu Picchu. Visit it for crowd-free ruins, sustainable accommodation options and authentic local restaurants.
We all know about the mustard, but Dijon, France, has long-standing culinary clout beyond yellow condiments. In 2022, it launched its Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin, a mammoth 16-acre site dedicated to the glories of French cuisine.
Italy’s newest national park opened in 2016 on Pantelleria, kickstarting this quiet island’s transformation into a year-round adventure destination. It’s easier to get to now, too: there are new summer flights from Rome and Milan.
Timisoara, Romania, is a 2023 European Capital of Culture and will be celebrating with an array of concerts, exhibits and festivals.
The Albanian town of Berat was a place of refuge for the country’s Jews during World War II and, unusually, the country’s Jewish population actually increased during the conflict. Exceptional hospitality is still key to the local culture, says TIME.
Australia’s Kangaroo Island was devastated by the bushfires of 2019-2020, with many animals lost, but this wildlife haven is now lush with greenery and signs of recovery and hope are everywhere.
The Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia is a go-to destination for “world-class surfing, scuba diving, and snorkeling,” says TIME, and “just an hour’s fly-time from the capital of Papeete.”
The city of Nagoya is near the newly opened Ghibli Park, Japan’s new blockbuster theme park attraction. But it’s also a great place to surround yourself in nature, particularly during the April cherry blossom season.
South Korea’s resort island of Jeju has long been a domestic favorite, but now the Netflix K-drama “Our Blues” has shone an international light on it, too. It’s a good time to head there before everyone else does.
“Family thrills” are what TIME is celebrating in Phuket, Thailand, while Ladakh, India, has just become home to the country’s first Dark Sky Reserve, in Hanle village.
Middle East and Africa
Aqaba is Jordan’s only coastal city and the region’s stunning landscape appeared as the planet Arrakis in “Dune,” the second installment of which will be released this year.
Musanze, Rwanda, is the gateway to Volcanoes National Park, which has just announced expansion plans and is home to rare mountain gorillas.
Finally, “all odds are on Sierra Leone to explode on the adventure travel scene,” says TIME, and “the vibey coastal capital of Freetown” is sure to be the center of the action.
All of TIME’s World’s Greatest Places of 2023
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Rio Grande, P. R.
Yosemite National Park, California
St. Moritz, Switzerland
Kangaroo Island, Australia
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Jeju Island, South Korea
Luang Prabang, Laos
Giza and Saqqara, Egypt
Chyulu Hills, Kenya
Loango National Park, Gabon
Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone
The Red Sea, Saudi Arabia
Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia