Booking your summer break should feel like a fun task, but it can become onerous when trawling through page after page on the web to find the ideal destination. Plus, what can make matters worse is that if you are going away with others, be that your children, grandchildren, or friends, you must also consider their needs. For example, some people may want to stay in a villa in an old town area, while others may only want a beach holiday, staying in a hotel.
With that in mind, we've come up with a handy list of the top 10 places to go on holiday this year, which we think are great to pay a visit in the summer. However, they're popular holiday spots year-round and could be worth trying if you're travelling without youngsters outside the usual school holiday dates.
Top 10 holiday destinations
When taking a trip abroad, it's a good idea to consider the best time to visit your destination. It would be a shame to spend all that time and money to visit a capital city with outstanding street food, for example, if the weather is so cold that you don't want to wander around. Or it would be a massive disappointment if you wanted to see the world's best coral reef, but the time you're going means you can't see anything through your mask and snorkel!
When the weather heats up, the Portuguese capital is one of the best places to go. It's a beautiful place for a city break, yet the coastline is nearby too. It means you can get some beach time while also getting a serious dose of culture when mooching around Lisbon's beautiful streets and alleyways. It's famous for its custard tarts, which you'll find on sale at many of the countless eateries dotted around the city. You'll be spellbound by the intricate tile work on the buildings, and you'll have plenty of restaurants and cafes to pick from for every meal. It's a gastronomic delight and heaven on earth for those that love their food. The city is great for a long weekend break, but you can make it longer by joining it up with a trip to the coast down at Cascais.
2. Zion National Park
Over in the States, there's no shortage of national parks home to some spectacular sites. However, while more prominent names like Yosemite tend to get the headlines, adding Zion to your bucket list is a good idea. It abounds in natural beauty and is a dream for those looking for miles of hiking trails. Plus, there's so much to see there too. Located in Utah, its landscapes are characterised by impressive red cliffs, and the Emerald Pools Trail has many a waterfall flowing into the river and a must-be-seen-to-be-believed hanging garden. There are many places to stay here, though if you're after a real experience, camping in the open air is the best way to see the park. Whatever you do, make sure you read up on fees, permits and wilderness information before you go - it means you'll be able to make the most of your trip while staying safe at all times.
Hampshire may seem like an oddity when listed against the likes of Lisbon and Zion National Park. However, it's worth considering if you want to stay closer to home this year. It has some beautiful hotels, like the Limewood hotel in the New Forest, that often have a spa, beaches that offer quintessential seaside living, and fantastic food. The Pig Hotel is an excellent place to try for lunch, or you could go wine tasting at one of the many vineyards around Stockbridge, a pretty village where it's worth spending the afternoon. It's full of boutiques and pubs, so it's easy to mooch around here for a few hours. Trout fishing is also a great activity, with the Test being home to some tremendous angling spots.
While Greece is very hot in the summer, what's great about a trip here is that you can satiate many different wants and demands. In Athens, for instance, you have several UNESCO World Heritage Sites to keep culture vultures and history buffs happy. However, you can easily head to one of the many islands to spend time kicking back and relaxing on the beautiful beaches there. The seas can be a deep blue or turquoise, with beaches found in coves with dramatic cliff backdrops or long stretches of coastline, depending on where you go. The food in Greece is also another excellent reason to visit. It's a brilliant example of Mediterranean food at its finest. Fresh seafood abounds, while almost everything is served with a hearty, and always very welcome, portion of tzatziki.
While Croatia may have once been the destination of only a well-worn traveller, it's now found itself somewhere between the mass market and backpackers only. It's great because it's easily accessible with plenty of options for things to do there to please a wide variety of tastes. For instance, along the coast, there are some beautiful beaches and hotel resorts. You'll be able to find something to suit your budget easily. But there are some great cities to explore too. Zagreb, its capital, is interesting, while Dubrovnik resembles something from a Game of Thrones set. Keen sailors will also love a sailing holiday around the islands and off the coast. The warm Med is very clear here, so it's great for diving off your boat to cool off in the heat.
Canada is such a vast country with so much to do that you could head back there holiday after holiday without running out of things to do. In the winter, skiing in Canada is hard to beat, but it's also a great summer holiday spot. The weather can be lovely and warm, sometimes sweltering depending on where you go, so you'll feel like you've had a sunny holiday break if you head here. Vancouver Island on the west side of the country is stunning, with plenty of pretty beaches, while the cities of Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal are all great for culture, food and sightseeing. There are plenty of lakes to visit too, with Lake Louise, near Canmore, one of the most famous. Its pale blue waters are mesmerising, especially as its surrounded by a mountainous landscape.
Staying in the Americas, Mexico can be an excellent destination for this time of year. It will be hot, but it's a good option if you want a break to escape it all. While swathes of people head to Cancun for its glitzy resorts and raucous nightlife, you could head further south to Tulum or even Holbox to find a boutique hotel. Tulum has become more commercialised in recent years, so its boutique hotels are on a much grander scale if you prefer more mainstream luxury. Holbox is a little more rustic, though it's by no means only for the well-seasoned traveller looking for a beach break after a rainforest excursion. You'll be pleased to find many beachside restaurants serving fresh, delicious food and plenty of exceptionally comfortable hotels.
8. Cape Verde
Cape Verde is having a moment. It's a collection of islands off the coast of Senegal and The Gambia, making it a great all-year destination. Plus, it's just over six hours away and is exceptionally picturesque - whatever island you choose. People who love an easy, relaxed holiday will enjoy a trip here. It has long sandy beaches, surrounded by clean sea that's great for cooling off in, while you can island hop to experience the different feel and cultures of each. You could head inland on many islands, such as Fogo and Santo Antao, to go hiking. The trails vary in difficulty, so you will always be able to find something for your level and ability with no trouble. What's great about all of them is that, while you'll head up on a gradient to ascend any hills, mountains or even volcanos, you'll barely notice due to the panoramic views as your climb.
The Azores are a collection of islands part of Portugal but found in the mid-Atlantic. The country enjoys warm weather in July and August, the hottest months. Flights here are regular and easy enough at just over five hours to Ponta Delgada - its main airport. You can then jump on another flight to go to a different island. Like Cape Verde, each island has a unique feel, so you could island hop here for a couple of weeks or simply arrive at your final destination to kick back and relax. Hiking here is also a big draw, thanks to the stunning landscapes you can see from every angle. A trip to this archipelago is the kind of holiday you will never forget.
While expensive, Iceland is once in a lifetime destination to visit. It's sparsely populated, with most of its population in Reykjavik, the capital. The sparse population is down to its landscape - a lot of it is stunning but challenging to live in for an extended time. The weather in the summer is never hot; you'll get highs in the mid-to-late teens if you are lucky, but nor does it get very cold, though the wind can add a chill. But it's a great time to visit as, while beautiful in other seasons, the summer won't be too wet or too cold to prevent you from sightseeing with ease. The country's hot springs are a big tourist attraction, with one of its most visited sites being its famous blue lagoon.
Great places for the best travel experiences in 2023
Going abroad is a wonderful opportunity to take a break from daily life, enjoy some time with loved ones, and experience new places and cultures. The above countries and spots to visit in 2023 are a fantastic example of the wide breadth of choice we're lucky enough to have again, with few, if any, Covid-19 restrictions to worry about. Plus, the above options also highlight that it's easy to find a spot for a trip away that isn't just the stereotypical package holiday - where you'll do little mixing with locals and rarely try local cuisine.
So look at them and see if they will answer your, your family or your friends' needs for a memorable holiday, for all the right reasons.