After nearly 3 years of interrupted and difficult travel, most of Europe has dropped all pandemic restrictions and is open for business. Not only is it open, it’s looking like 2023 will be a record year for many locations.
So if you’re ready for your next (or first) trip to the continent, here are 5 destinations you should consider.
1) London, England
Home to luxury hotels, charming pubs, world-class (and often free) museums, and centuries of history, London has something for everyone.
2023 will also be a historic year, with the coronation of King Charles III taking place on May 6.
Known for its luxury hotels, the London scene is set for a shakeup in 2023 with multiple highly anticipated openings including The Peninsula London in Belgravia, the Mandarin Oriental in Mayfair, and the Raffles London at the Old War Office.
For the best weather with fewer crowds, consider traveling in April/May or September/October.
2) Sicily, Italy
Fans of White Lotus who want to experience the real-life luxury that inspired the second season of the hit show will want to take a trip to the island of Sicily. From the capital city of Palermo to the luxury hotels of Taormina (where the show was set), there’s no shortage of things to see and do.
In addition to the luxury hotel scene, take the time to visit Sicily’s multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites, remote mountain communities, and charming seaside villages.
Sicily has its own unique style of Italian cuisine. Seafood is plentiful thanks to the island’s 600 miles of coastline, and arancini (fried rice balls) are one of the most popular snacks. Pasta alla norma, with tomato, eggplant and salted ricotta cheese, and pasta con le sarde, with sardines, fennel, pine nuts and raisins are also popular.
3) Transylvania, Romania
To experience Europe’s last true wilderness, head north of Romania’s capital of Bucharest to Transylvania. There you’ll find alpine meadows, ragged limestone ridges, and old-growth forests.
Transylvania’s mountains are still home to Europe’s largest carnivores, including brown bears, wolves and lynx. A reserve is currently being created to protect this vast wilderness, a “European Yellowstone” that will stretch across 618,000 untamed acres in Romania’s Southern Carpathian Mountains.
While most people know of Transylvania thanks to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, it’s also a famous wine region best known for its whites. The region has been producing wine for approximately 6,000 years, making it one of the oldest producers of wine in the world.
4) Vienna, Austria
2023 marks the 150th anniversary of Vienna’s 1873 World’s Fair, and the city is planning celebrations all year long to mark the event. It’s also the 300th anniversary of the city’s palatial Belvedere museum.
Vienna is also famous for its coffee house culture, and Café Landtmann, one of Vienna's best-known coffee houses, will also celebrate its 150th anniversary this year.
Nonstop flights from multiple US cities make Vienna an easy city to visit, but it can also now be paired easily with a trip to Paris thanks to the NightJet train service that will run three times per week. Guests can enjoy a private compartment, departing Paris around dinner time and arriving in Vienna around 10am.
5) Hvar, Croatia
If you’re looking for sun, look no further than Hvar, Croatia. The Dalmatian island bills itself as the sunniest in Croatia.
Thanks to Croatia’s acceptance into the Schengen travel zone, passport checks entering and exiting Croatia from mainland Europe will no longer be necessary and the Euro will become the official currency in 2023. That makes it even easier to add Croatia to a European trip this year.
The island also has some of the best stargazing in southern Europe, with Jesla, on the island’s north shore, being named southern Europe’s first International Dark Sky Community.
Lavender lovers will want to visit in July, when the town of Velo Grablje celebrates its lavender festival. Food, drink, and family-friendly activities of all kinds are centered around the beautiful, fragrant Mediterranean plant.
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re looking for big city adventures, wine tasting or time spent in nature, Europe has something to offer in 2023.
If you're ready to start planning your next vacation you'll want our free download, "5 Tips for Planning Your Dream Trip."