A new year is upon us and with it comes 365 days of new opportunities. If, like us, you love using your days to travel and see new places, then you might be wondering which are the top places to travel in 2023.
This year we’ve chosen to host our luxury yoga retreats in some of the best places to visit in the world – Lanzarote and Menorca in Spain, Marrakesh, Sicily, Corfu, Mykonos, Crete, Rovinj in Croatia, and the Red Sea in Egypt. Every one of our retreat destinations was chosen after doing a ton of research and visiting each location ourselves first, so we can find the places not mentioned in guidebooks and discover all of the local traditions that make each place special. We’ve been visiting some of these places for over 20 years – we know a little bit about them!
But what makes these locations some of the best holiday destinations in the world? They’re not just beautiful places to go on a break, they’re also memorable for their rich cultures and history. Let’s dive into what makes these destinations so wonderful.
Top holiday destinations for winter: Lanzarote, Canary Islands
Known for clear water and golden sands, Lanzarote is naturally beautiful. Described by Time Out as “a wild wonderland waiting to be explored and adored”, you can expect stunning views of nature – a mix of rugged terrain, dramatic landscapes, awesome cliffs and gorgeous sandy beaches. Unlike its neighbors in the Canary Islands, Lanzarote has avoided the onslaught of high-rise Spanish resort buildings, and so feels like a much more sophisticated place to spend your time.
Nestled just off the coast of Africa, although belonging to Spain, Lanzarote has a year-round warm climate with a sea breeze to keep you cool (which is exactly why we’re jetting off there on our February luxury yoga retreat). Travel blog ‘Hand Luggage Only’ recently compared the Canary Islands to Fiji, thanks to their similar climate and beaches.
If you visit, be sure to stop by one of our favorite traditional historical villages, Teguise. Situated in the north-east of the island, Teguise was one of the first settlements established in the Canary Islands and was actually the capital of Lanzarote until 1847.
Wondering what there is to eat in Lanzarote? The food is a mix of paellas and Spanish tapas, but lots of other international cuisines are available too. Think fresh veggies, salads, grilled fish and meat, plus a good variety of vegan and vegetarian dishes.
Best places to travel for beaches: Menorca, Spain
We visited many beach locations in Spain before deciding that Menorca was our favorite. Much smaller than Mallorca and less busy than Ibiza, Menorca is quieter, slower, more relaxed, and has a true Spanish feel. If you’re looking for a more exclusive and luxurious visit to Spain, without all the busy package tourism and commotion – Menorca is for you.
Menorca’s main attraction is its beautiful coastline and many gorgeous white sandy beaches (Cala Galdana beach is one of the best). If you like water sports and activities on holiday, Menorca is ideal for kayaking, sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving, with plenty of boat trips to discover all its beautiful corners. For the real adventurers among you, there are hiking trails and horseback rides along the coast, as well as several cycle lanes.
If you’re planning a trip to Menorca this year, be sure to visit the elegant towns of Mahon and Ciutadella. It’s easy to while away time on a slow afternoon dipping inside cathedrals, walking beside palaces, and exploring charming pedestrian streets full of boutique shops and cafés. If you’re looking for something a bit more off the beaten track, try Binibeca and Fornells (two other charming towns easily visited in an afternoon).
World’s best cities to visit: Marrakesh, Morocco
A wonderful assault on all of your senses, Marrakesh feels like another world. TripAdvisor listed Marrakesh in their top 10 places to visit in the world, as voted by their millions of traveling customers, and Forbes ranked it number 4 in their list of the top 50 travel destinations in the world.
We’re heading there on a luxury yoga retreat in March this year, when temperatures in Marrakesh are typically around 25C / 77F degrees. Top on our list of Marrakesh activities are experiences which will immerse you into the local culture and traditions. We’ll be visiting the winding alleys of the outdoor souk markets, beautiful palaces and riads (a traditional home with a courtyard garden). We’ll also be enjoying a camel ride and tea in the desert, a day trip to the Atlas Mountains and a homemade lunch with a Berber family (the descendants of the pre-Arab inhabitants of North Africa). Add these activities to your list if you’re planning a trip to this spectacular city.
Wondering what the food is like in Marrakesh? You’ll be able to enjoy everything from tasty tagines to slow-cooked fish and meat dishes. Vegetable casseroles and couscous are also popular local flavors.
The top 10 holiday destinations in the world is a tough list to top, but visit Marrakesh and you’ll immediately see why it deserves to be on the list.
Top vacation suggestion for delicious food: Sicily, Italy
You’re spoiled for choice of beautiful places to visit in Italy, but Sicily really is one of the world’s best islands to visit. So much so that we’re heading there twice this year – on a luxury yoga retreat in April and another in October.
Italy is a place to enjoy life at a slow pace, focusing on the simple pleasures – fresh local food, good weather, sandy beaches and beautiful history and culture.
More on the food – Italian food has to be one of the highlights of visiting any destination in this region. And if you can’t indulge yourself while on vacation, when can you? From espressos and cappuccinos, to tempting Sicilian sweets, there are so many gorgeous pick-me-ups to enjoy throughout the day, as well as wonderful family-run pizza and seafood restaurants to keep you satisfied in the evening. And of course delicious pasta!
Debating which is the best area to stay in Sicily? Our favorite (and the destination of our luxury yoga retreat) is Siracusa town, a little-known gem of the area. Full to the brim with lively outdoor markets, peaceful side streets, and stunning sea views from the castle, you can wander past majestic baroque buildings and famous squares, experiencing a little slice of Italian paradise. Other beautiful towns near Siracusa are Noto and Taormina, which are worth a day trip if you’d like to try more local food and explore other charming places. Although there are so many gorgeous beaches to pick from, our favorites in the area are San Lorenzo and Fontane Bianche with their soft white sand and crystal clear sparkling water.
Top holiday destination ideas: Corfu, Greece
Greece is undoubtedly one of the most popular holiday destinations for travelers all over the world – and one of the most romantic, as it was recently named one of the best holiday destinations for couples. So, in the name of self-love, it’s no wonder that three Greek islands feature on our 2023 yoga retreats calendar.
Described by travel bloggers as the “perfect European island escape”, Corfu’s cultural heritage clearly shows its years spent under Venetian, French and British rule before it was united with Greece in 1864. From imposing Venetian fortresses to a French-style arcade, the remnants of its dotted and colorful history are everywhere – and lots of fun to explore!
With wonderful beaches and rugged mountains, you can treat yourself to all of the typical enjoyments of Greece – from beautiful sunshine to delicious food. Corfu in particular has some local specialities that differ to other Greek islands, namely fish and meat dishes cooked in wine with fresh tomatoes, cinnamon, onions and different spices. Not to mention, they have some excellent wine pairings to go with your meal – which we will be enjoying on our upcoming yoga retreat in May!
Best places to travel to a Greek island: Mykonos, Greece
You know those holiday destinations which absolutely steal your heart? And instead of ticking that place off your list, you seem compelled to return again and again, exploring every corner of it.
That’s Mykonos for us. The quintessential Greek island, we’ve been coming back every summer for over 20 years (to match the 20 gorgeous beaches you’ll find on the island) and have been hosting yoga retreats in Mykonos for 10 years. We know you’ll adore it too!
Mykonos has something for everyone – early birds and night owls can find their favorite activities in this top vacation spot. The charming town is a maze of narrow streets, full of white-washed houses right by the sea. It’s beautifully quiet and peaceful in the daytime, perfect for boutique shopping and a refreshing cold drink. Yet in the evening, the town comes alive with people strolling the streets and eating al fresco at the many outdoor restaurants and cafés, or dancing off their Greek dinners at the outdoor bars by the sea.
Best holiday destination ideas: Crete, Greece
As the largest Greek island, Crete has a host of wonderful places to stay – and a contagiously relaxing atmosphere. Our favorite town in Crete is Chania, thanks to its authentic Greek feel. Chania’s harbor is the central meeting point of this picturesque town, making it the perfect place to sit by the water and watch the world go by. Full of local artisan stores and family-run tavernas, this is the real Greece.
No exception of authenticity is made when it comes to the food either – even the Greeks say that the local ingredients in Crete are second to none. The fruit, the pure olive oil, the fresh vegetables and salads, the olives, the cheeses, slow-cooked oven dishes and homemade pastries are all heavenly.
As well as delicious food, there’s no shortage of beautiful things to drink in Crete – it has some excellent wines. The nearby island of Santorini and its volcanic land has produced some brilliant wine, which you can find on Crete as well. We recommend the Santorini Sigalas white – if you’re a fan of wine like we are, don’t leave without trying it!
We think the ideal time of year to visit Crete is early October (which is why we’ve scheduled our Crete yoga retreat from the 30 September – 7 October), when the weather is still warm enough to eat outdoors and go swimming in the sea, but not too hot and overwhelming.
Best cities in the world to visit: Rovinj, Croatia
Looking to explore the stunning holiday destination of Croatia? We find that it’s one of the most up-and-coming vacation spots being discovered by many, so if you enjoy crystal-clear water, lovely beaches, stunning waterfalls, and picturesque towns, it’s one to add to your list right now.
If you’re deciding where in Croatia to take a trip, we’d recommend visiting the gorgeous town of Rovinj in Istria, a beautiful region in the northern part of the country, close to the Italian border. It feels less commercial than other parts of the country, and is authentically Croatian at its heart.
The food in Rovinj is heavily influenced by the proximity to Italy (never a bad thing!) so you can expect fresh seafood that’s sourced locally, dry white wines, and lots of fresh local olive oil on vegetables and salads. There’s also a wide array of Croatian delicacies to enjoy, such as ‘fuzi’ pasta dishes with truffle sauces, or grilled squid, sea bass and grouper. So if you’re a big lover of fish, don’t miss Croatia off your list! And if you’re a fan of homemade gelato (who isn’t?), there are a couple of really good places in Rovinj for a treat.
If you’d like to join us on a luxury yoga retreat in Croatia, we’re jetting there this September – find out more and book your place.
Hottest travel destinations: Egypt Red Sea
Last but not least on our list of holiday destination ideas, it’s the incomparable Red Sea in Egypt. If you’re looking for unique places to visit in the world, Egypt is truly one to add to your travel plans.
An escape to Egypt is the perfect winter getaway, with gorgeous white sandy beaches and year-round sunshine. The 7,000-year-old colorful coral reefs make it the perfect place for sailing, snorkeling and diving, and there’s plenty of hummus and tabouleh around to satisfy your appetite after a day on the water.
Our favorite place to stay (and the location of our Egypt yoga retreat this year) is Soma Bay, the most exclusive beach resort on the Red Sea and unspoiled by mass tourism. No package group holidays to be found around here, just people in the know having a relaxing time – so if you want to avoid the crowd, look no further.
If you visit, don’t miss out on a day trip to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, with a guided tour of pharaoh tombs and ancient Egyptian sites – definitely one on the bucket list!
We’ve planned our Egyptian escape for November, we’ll take you sailing and snorkeling and to Luxor on a day trip, why not join us? We take care of all the logistics on all of our retreat holidays, so you just need to turn up and enjoy yourself.
Planning your holiday, whatever the destination.
Our last piece of advice for your holiday planning: make sure to read up-to-date information about the location you’re going to visit. Lots of the information you see online for “top holiday destinations 2019” or “best holiday destinations 2020” (and even the throwback of “best places to travel 2018”!) is now inaccurate, especially since the pandemic. It’s no good looking at a list of the best places to travel 2019 if actually the delicious family-run restaurant you’ve been recommended may have since changed owners or closed. Decide on the best holidays in the world from current and reliable sources, preferably locals or people who’ve visited the destination multiple times themselves – and always check that you’re looking at holiday destinations 2022 or later.
We hope our list has added some alternative locations to the typical star-studded and well-known places you see on other lists (the Maldives and Dubai of the world). What is the best holiday destination in your mind? Any gems you’d say are the world’s best cities to visit? Leave a comment and let us know.
Fancy heading on a luxury holiday to one of these destinations above? If yoga by the sea, a 5* hotel, spa treatments, delicious food and wine sounds like your ideal holiday, take a look at our 2023 calendar of luxury yoga retreats and let us take care of you!
If you like this post, you may also like:
“Luxury Yoga Retreat in Crete: sun, yoga, beach & 5-star hotel.”
“Top 5 Mykonos Beaches”
Yoga Escapes organizes luxury yoga retreats in beautiful places around the world, offering a mix of Vinyasa and Yin yoga classes. Contact the Yoga Escapes team for info on upcoming yoga holidays.