As we ring in a fresh year, there’s no better time to start planning your 2023 getaway – the earlier the better! Planning a mid-year getaway now is guaranteed to take the edge off any busy schedule. The following locations draw visitors year-round, meaning you can plan your trip in any season.
Whether you’re looking for historic gems, outdoor attractions, or even a more environmentally conscious way to travel, consider these international destinations when brainstorming your next adventure.
If you’ve been thinking about a European getaway but are looking for something off the beaten path, a stay on The Azores may be the extra flair you’ve had in mind. These Portuguese islands are about 1,000 miles away from mainland Europe, and can be reached from Lisbon in about two and a half hours.
You’ll have to book a flight from the Portuguese capital to Sao Miguel, the Azores’ largest island. Its’ capital, Ponta Delgada, is a great starting point for your tour – you might even decide to spend the entire trip in and around the city.
Sao Miguel is known for its abundance of outdoor wonders, including peaceful crater lakes, beaches, and vegetation-rich hiking trails. Be sure to venture to different regions of the island, as each part holds its own claims to fame.
Parque Terra Nostra, located in Furnas on the eastern half of the island, is a must stop. Enjoy the park’s rich foliage and hot springs before moving on to the scenic beaches at Povoacao.
If you’d prefer to stay closer to Ponta Delgada, be sure to devote a day or two to Lagoa do Fogo, a tranquil lake and hiking destination. A little to the north of the lake you’ll find Centro de Interpretacao Ambiental da Caldeira, a nature preserve offering more hot springs, walking paths and a waterfall.
If you have the opportunity, be sure to experience other islands within the Azores, as each has a distinct personality. Water expeditions to watch for sea life or dive off the islands’ famously enchanting coastlines are another great way to experience all the Azores have to offer, whether by land or sea.
If you’re considering planning a trip to London but aren’t crazy about the crowds, why not venture slightly south and slow things down with a visit to Wales? With breezy coastlines, medieval castles, and rugged mountain slopes, Wales sets the mood any time of the year. Its natural attractions, like Snowdonia National Park, are especially stunning when awash with autumn hues.
History and architecture lovers will be excited to take in structures like Caerphilly Castle, which works well with an outing to nearby Brecon Beacons National Park. The imposing waterfront castle dates back to the 13th century.
If you’re spending time in the capital city of Cardiff, be sure to make your way to Tintern Abbey, also built in the 13th century. Intricate arches and an idyllic setting make the abbey a must-stop.
Back in the capital, take a day to explore the famed Cardiff Castle and Llandaff Cathedral before strolling through Bute Park and brainstorming dinner at one of the city’s diverse eateries.
If you had your heart set on London as well, combine both capital cities and make it the trip of a lifetime. The train journey between the cities takes about two hours via the Great Western Railway.
For a beach-filled getaway that subverts expectations, consider exploring the small Indian Ocean island archipelago of Zanzibar. Located a two-hour ferry ride off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar’s main island is known as Unguja. Home to Zanzibar city, which will likely be your home base, the island offers plenty to fill your schedule.
In the city itself, be sure to devote some time to strolling the historic quarter of Stone Town. The district is an inspiring example of Zanzibar’s identity as a cultural and economic crossroads – Arabic, African and European influences meld to form Stone Town’s eclectic personality.
Overlooking the ocean, the quarter is home to a number of lodging options, local eateries, museums, souvenir shopping and historic icons like the Forte Arabo, a vendor-rich 17th century fort open to visitors.
When you’re ready to venture outside of the city, booking a trip to tour the island’s natural wonders is worth the effort. Start with Jozani Forest National Park, which is known for its red colobus monkey population and mangrove forests.
Cheetah’s Rock Animal Rescue Center, located on the island’s west coast, is another unforgettable experience on the island. Your entrance fee will contribute to the center’s rescue goals, and you will have the chance to view and learn about the diverse group of animals the facility takes care of.
When it comes to soaking in the sun, plan a trip to Jambiani, Pongwe, or Nungwi Beach for water activities and much needed time to yourself. Getting the right guide to accompany you to destinations outside of the city can make or break your experience, so be sure to do as much research as possible before finalizing your itinerary.
When it comes to underestimated European destinations, Poland is definitely on the list. While rich in natural attractions, historic curiosities and nightlife, the country may not be the first that comes to mind when you think of the quintessential European experience.
However, making it your gateway to Eastern Europe can expose you to unique cultural influences, a tumultuous history, new cuisine and contribute to much needed tourism revenue. The country is relatively small, so dividing your time between two or three of its largest cities is the best way to organize your trip.
Flying into Warsaw, you’ll want to devote a few days to exploring the capital. Rebuilt after the Second World War, the city’s history is written across its streets and structures – institutions like the Warsaw Uprising Museum, the National Museum and the memorable Neon Museum are all worthwhile pit stops.
In between sampling Polish dishes and souvenir shopping at local businesses, spend some time enjoying the banks of the Wisła River, which runs through the heart of the city.
From Warsaw, travel south to Kraków, where the city’s Old Town alone can keep you busy for a few days. The district’s historic streets, homes and plazas offer idyllic photo opportunities, unique gifts, and, of course, delicious bites. The Wawel Royal Castle is one of the country’s most cherished historic sites – a daylong visit to the castle grounds will be one of your best memories from Kraków.
The Wisła also runs through this city, and kicking back with a drink on a floating barge or other venue along the river is the perfect way to end a busy day.
If you have time to add a third city to your list, don’t miss Gdańsk, located on the country’s Baltic Coast. From the city’s famous shipyards to its comprehensive World War Two Museum, there is no shortage of history to soak in. The windswept coastline is beautiful in all seasons, as is the charming Old Town district.
Whatever your hopes may be for 2023, the unique destinations listed above are sure to put a new spin on the year – and remind you of the possibilities.
What travel plans do you have for 2023? Have you booked any locations yet? What is most important to you when visiting a new culture? I would love to hear. Share in the comments.