After a couple of years of staying firmly put, we’re glad to be able to go anywhere beyond our hometowns these days. But if years of visiting the same destinations has you hankering for the thrill of the new, or the not-so-very-distant memory of lockdown has instilled a renewed sense of adventure, you may want to plan your 2023 travels around places you’ve never ventured to before. These are the destinations igniting our wanderlust this year.

Vilnius, Lithuania

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Hands up who can pinpoint precisely where Vilnius is on the map? If you are amongst those sheepishly hiding at the back of the class, you are far from alone. In fact, Vilnius itself recently launched a tongue-in-cheek ad campaign to mark its 700th anniversary this year, in which it pokes fun at itself – and the rest of us – for having completely forgotten its previous 699 birthdays on account of not quite knowing where it is. Should you make a trip to right that wrong, you will be richly rewarded. For the entire city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to its exquisite Baroque architecture and maze of medieval streets, which beg the question: how did we manage to overlook this jewel for so long?

Where To Stay:

There are many lovely hotels in the Old Town, from the quirky to five-star luxe. We like the four-star Hotel Vilnia, which is housed within a 19th-century grand and imposing building, right in the heart of the city. Book it.

Gili Islands, Indonesia

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A group of three tiny islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air – this trio of spectacular idylls is located in near coast of Lombok Island. Each one is, in short, a vision of paradise, aided in being kept that way by the fact that there are no cars permitted on the islands, meaning that the only modes of transport are by foot, bike or horse-drawn carriage. Exactly what is called for amid these busy and often turbulent times. The perfect destination for complete escape. Do be aware, Gili Trawangan does attract some party-goers, so if it is a quiet escape you’re looking for, then Gili Air or Gili Meno might better fit the bill.

Where To Stay:

Ponte Villas are new, reasonably priced and you can even book a two-bed villa with a private pool. Charming, friendly and relaxed. Book it.

Yukon Territory, Canada

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Way up at the top-most westerly part of Canada lies its Yukon Territory, a largely undiscovered area – at least from a tourism perspective. For anyone who wants to tap into the current collective quest for authenticity, here you’ll find Indigenous-owned lodgings and wildlife aplenty. The landscape is sensational – and, if you’re lucky, you may even catch the Northern Lights.

Where To Stay:

Bombay Peggy
YT is a big old area. But if you happen to bed down in Dawson City, do spend a night at Bombay Peggy’s. Built in 1900, in the 1940s, it was used by the titular Peggy as a brothel. What guests see today is the result of a loving restoration thanks to owner, Wendy Cairns – one that involved moving the entirety of the building across town and transforming it into a characterful pub and guest house. Fancy it is not; fun it is. Book it.


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Central America’s most diverse country, Guatemala often gets overlooked in favour of some of its better-known counterparts. And yet it is stuffed full of beauty, history and interest, from the still-inhabited Mayan villages in the highlands to the jaw-dropping scenery (only two per cent of the country has been urbanised, leaving huge swathes of lush canyons, awe-inspiring mountains and stunning coastlines). If you like active holidays, try trekking, paragliding, white water rafting or caving. Or, simply, go at your own pace and enjoy the extraordinary scenery.

Where To Stay:

Casa Polopo, run by Relais & Chateaux, is set high above the spectacular Lake Atitlán. Its views are second-to-none, and there is an infinity pool of dreams to while away languorous days. Housed on a former private estate, this is a boutique getaway – but with bags of character and eye-popping colour everywhere you look. Book it.

Douro Valley, Portugal

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You may be intimately familiar with the Algarve and Lisbon. Perhaps you know Sintra and Porto, too. But have you ever ventured to the Douro Valley, a couple of hours east of Porto? If the answer to that is no, then we urge you to correct that immediately. Stunningly beautiful, its picturesque villages are dotted along the hillside, with views overlooking the sun-drenched vineyards. On which note, oenophiles will be in heaven, thanks to all those grapes maturing beautifully on the vines. Do follow in the footsteps of pilgrims who make their way to Lamego and its sublime church, which is reached via an astonishing stairway – straight to heaven, of course – that took over a hundred years to construct.

Where To Stay:

Six Senses
Six Senses can always be relied upon to deliver luxury. Here in the Douro, it also delivers panoramic river views from its many floor-to-ceiling windows and private balconies. In a word: heaven. Book it.


It doesn’t have the seductive glamour – nor the hauteur – of Paris. It’s not postcard pretty like Provence, nor does it demonstrate the insouciant chic of the French Riviera. But what Marseille lacks in all those areas, it makes up for in character, for it is at once gritty and grand, charming and – just occasionally – challenging. We love it for its multiculturalism, its busy, working port, and the profusion of new museums that have sprung up since it was garlanded as European Capital of Culture in 2013.

Where To Stay:

Hotel La Residence Du
There is an Intercontinental Hotel that is situated slap-bang in the middle of Marseille and is perfect if you are looking for five-star luxury. However, for something more individual, try Hôtel La Résidence du Vieux-Port, which is family-owned, has views over the port, and is characterised by Mondrian-style pops of colour everywhere. An ode to the 1960s, there is even a floral fresco to feast your eyes upon – as well, of course, as the view of the port. Book it.

By Nancy Alsop
February 2023