Top Travel Destinations of 2023 and Inspiring Wanderlust for 2024
February 06, 2024
From iconic European cities steeped in history and culture to the allure of Asia to the untamed wilderness of Africa’s wildlife havens, there’s no end of captivating destinations to discover. Whether you spent 2023 ticking destinations off your dream travel list or carefully planning your future trips, 2024 is your chance to see even more of the world.
One way to start planning: Check out the most-popular family vacation destinations of the past year to start exploring possibilities for your next big trip. Whether you seek off-the-beaten-path gems or the grandeur of awe-inspiring national parks, we’re recapping the most popular destinations of 2023 to inspire your wanderlust — offering suggestions for the upcoming year’s most-popular destinations. And of course, once you book that dream itinerary, be sure to research international travel insurance to protect your investment and ensure safer travels. Whatever the destination, travelers benefit greatly from having the right kind of insurance to protect their trip, especially in a time when a health issue or itinerary snafus could mean great cost or complication while away from home.
And the top 2023 travel destinations were…
From perennial favorites to newly popular points on the map, our top-ten list of 2023 destinations includes wildlife thrills for adventure seekers, strollable cobblestone streets for romantics and eye-opening immersion into culture to expand your knowledge of the world. The most-popular 2023 destinations included:
Japan. A country known for its cutting-edge technology, dazzling urban centers and ancient traditions, Japan invites travelers from around the globe. Japan vacation planners recommend exploring the bustling streets of Tokyo, visiting the ancient temples of Kyoto, or relaxing in the hot springs of Hokkaido. And of course, experiencing the full range of Japanese cuisine is often a lifelong dream of foodies from around the globe.
Spain. Travel to Spain; with its diverse regions and cities, offers a fusion of architectural wonders and vibrant culture. Travelers can explore the stunning Gaudi masterpieces like the recently completed Sagrada Familia and Park Güell in Barcelona, as well as other architectural gems found throughout the country. Delightful culinary experiences await at local markets such as La Boqueria, where you can indulge in a variety of flavors. Immerse yourself in the lively ambiance of bustling streets like Las Ramblas, which can be found in various cities across Spain. Each region has its own unique charm, from the medieval alleyways of the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona to the distinctive neighborhoods of Madrid. Discover the Arabic roots and Moorish architecture in Granada, and experience the legendary nightlife in cities like Ibiza, known for its nonstop nightclub scene.
The United Kingdom. Sample fresh seafood in Devon, stargaze in the Highlands of Scotland, or go coasteering round Wales’ rocky shoreline: Wherever your travels take you, explore Great Britain and Northern Ireland for culture that is as compelling as it is unique.3 Wandering the streets of London never gets old, even for the most experienced travelers, with incredible history at every turn plus world-class museums and groundbreaking theatre productions.
Italy. Mamma mia! Who can resist the eternal charm of Rome, where ancient ruins like the Colosseum and the Roman Forum stand as testaments to its glorious past. The Amalfi Coast of southern Italy is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its dramatic coastline, colorful villages and delicious cuisine. Visitors can explore the charming towns of Positano, Amalfi and Ravello, each with its own unique character and beauty — and indulge in a little swimming, boating and snorkeling during their Italy vacation as well. Love celebrity-spotting and luxury shopping? Lake Como is known to be a destination for the rich and famous, yet still retains the warmth and welcome that all of Italy is known for.
Ireland. Hiking and biking family vacations through the countryside of Ireland are among the most glorious ways to enjoy the rolling hills of the Emerald Isle. With its lush forests, sprawling fields, and rolling hills, Ireland is a verdant land. However, in addition to its abundant greenery, the island nation is also embraced by nearly 2,000 miles of ocean coastline, rivers, and lakes, painting a picturesque scene in shades of blue. Rounding out all that unspoiled nature are ancient castles, historic villages and pubs alive with the traditional music that will be the soundtrack of any Ireland vacation.
Canada. Travel to Canada’s 37 National Parks and 10 national park reserves to see an abundance of astounding wildlife and scenery.5 Adventure seekers can explore parks that include 31 of Canada’s 39 terrestrial natural regions, and protect approximately 336,343 square kilometers of Canada’s lands.5 Located across every one of the country’s provinces and territories, the parks include mountains and plains, boreal forests and tundra, lakes and glaciers and much more. Want a more urban fix? Add historical landmarks, cultural gems and vibrant gastronomical scenes to your Canada vacation in cities such as Ottawa‑Gatineau, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City.
Singapore. True, it’s one of the most expensive cities in the world, but the Republic of Singapore is also one of the cleanest, best planned and most entertaining places you can visit. The Lion City is home to completely unique destinations such as the largest rooftop infinity pool and the world’s first safari park for nocturnal animals, as well as centuries-old temples and some of the most-lauded street food in the world.6 Travel to Singapore and you’ll also find extraordinary gardens, impressive architecture, world-class performance venues and local and luxury shopping areas for big-splurge outings.
South Africa. A South Africa vacation means seeing the most incredible wildlife on the planet with your own eyes, from the majestic elephants of the savanna to the playful penguins of the coast. The country is home to some of the world’s most iconic animals in their natural habitat, with a South African safari taking travelers to destinations such as the Kruger National Park in South Africa, one of the largest game reserves in Africa where lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, leopards and more roam free.7
Portugal. Travel to Portugal, a captivating country, offers a plethora of experiences for travelers to indulge in. From the vibrant capital city of Lisbon to the charming coastal town of Porto, there is something for everyone. In Lisbon, visitors can wander through the narrow streets of Alfama, marvel at the intricate architecture of the Jerónimos Monastery, and soak in the panoramic views from the São Jorge Castle. Meanwhile, in Porto, wine enthusiasts can explore the historic cellars of the Douro Valley and savor the rich flavors of the region's famous port wine. For those seeking off-the-beaten-path adventures, the Minho region beckons with its picturesque landscapes, quaint villages, and delicious traditional cuisine. Whether it's exploring historical landmarks, indulging in culinary delights, or immersing oneself in the country’s natural beauty, this captivating country promises an unforgettable Portugal vacation.
Dream beyond borders in 2024
As travel aficionados start putting together their plans for the upcoming year, the search for new destinations and experiences begins. We’ve pulled together three suggestions you might have not considered, each with unique offerings and eye-opening possibilities ahead.
South America. For those seeking an adventure steeped in history and mystery, the countries of South America beckon with ancient ruins and cultural treasures. Explore the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu and Nazca Lines in Peru, or journey to the enigmatic Easter Island to unravel its secrets. Colombia is becoming more well-known for the cosmopolitan experience of Bogotá, the ancient settlements of Ciudad Perdida, and the heavenly hiking views of Cocora Valley. Also, the national parks of Patagonia that stretch across Chile and Argentina provide nature-lovers dramatic views of snow-capped mountains, fjords and ancient forests.
Southeast Asia. The countries of southeast Asia are filled with vibrant colors, tantalizing flavors, and captivating traditions that enchant. Wander the bustling streets of Bangkok, Thailand, where gleaming temples, aromatic street food, and lively markets await. Relax in the serene beauty of Bali, Indonesia, with lush rice terraces, stunning beaches and captivating Balinese dance performances. From the ancient temples of Cambodia to the breathtaking landscapes of Vietnam, your Southeast Asia trip can be an unforgettable journey of cultural exploration and culinary delights.
Africa. A long list of African destinations ensure even the boldest adventure traveler will find excitement and wonder. Embark on a safari in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, where wildebeest and zebras migrate along with a wide range of other wildlife. Venture into the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya to catch a glimpse of majestic lions and elusive leopards. Want more? The vast expanse of the Sahara Desert and the lush rainforests of the Congo Basin will offer visitors even more chances to spot animals you might only see in zoos elsewhere in the world.
Protect your 2024 adventures
Even the most carefully planned trip can go awry, whether from an unexpected need to cancel a vacation, delayed tour departure or unfortunate health issue. Fortunately, travel health insurance and trip protection, such as SafeTrip travel plans, cover you in case something goes wrong. SafeTrip International Travel Medical from UnitedHealthcare Global will provide support in case of an illness or an accident — or even help out with a smaller urgent need. Love to add some thrills to your trips? Check out our extreme sports add-on for extra peace of mind during once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Or consider the International Travel Medical Plus plan option, that combines travel medical insurance with trip protection such as coverage in case you need to cancel or delay a trip because of health issues, and want to recoup any non-refundable fees. With all our plans, you get on-the-spot support from our 24/7 Emergency Response Center, just a call away. So you can visit a much-beloved favorite or blaze new trails, knowing every step of the way you’re protected.
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