My Favorite New Destinations of 2023

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How do I sum up my travels of 2023? They were a bit random, with little trips in random spots whenever we could fit them.

Also — less Italy than we’ve had in YEARS. Believe me, we’re going to make up for it in 2024.

This year was all about getting married, and Charlie and I were very busy putting on our weddings — our civil elopement in Prague in April, our big Prague wedding in May, and our medium-sized Boston wedding in July.

Travels were a bit of an afterthought this year — but they were fun.

So what made the list of my favorite new destinations of 2024?

In 2012, I chose places like Iceland, Montenegro, and South Africa.

In 2013, I chose places like Japan, Berlin, and the Scottish Highlands.

In 2014, I chose places like Sri Lanka, New Orleans, and Skellig Michael, Ireland.

In 2015, I chose places like Nicaragua, Albania, and Chicago.

In 2016, I chose places like Puerto Rico, Alsace, and Western Australia.

In 2017, I chose places like Ukraine, the Florida Keys, and St. Petersburg, Russia.

In 2018, I chose places like Antarctica, Hokkaido, and St. Croix.

In 2019, I chose places like Newfoundland, Georgia, and Lake Orta, Italy.

In 2020, I chose places like Mexico City; Viñales, Cuba; and Vis, Croatia.

In 2021, I chose places like the Aeolian Islands, the Berkshires, and Valle d’Aosta, Italy.

In 2022, I chose places like Naples, Martha’s Vineyard, and Guanajuato, Mexico.

As usual, I am only including destinations that I visited for the first time in 2023 — so that excludes destinations that I’ve visited before, including Paris, Salzburg, and Český Krumlov. One exception: the Second Time Around award.

A view of the jagged coastline of Ischia, lots of little white boats in the bright turquoise water, and a bridge leading from the island to the castle.
Ischia viewed from the castle

Ischia, Italy

When it came time to choose the number-one new destination of the year, I knew in my heart that Ischia was the place that made my heart beat fastest. (It’s a bit ridiculous, as Naples was my favorite new destination of 2022, but…I guess I know what I like!)

Ischia is so close to being the perfect island. It doesn’t have the huge tourist hordes of Capri and the Amalfi Coast — instead, most of the tourists are locals, often Neapolitans. They come here to enjoy beaches, hot springs, and the sea, along with fantastic pizza and seafood.

You can relax in Ischia, or shop, or head to an agriturismo to eat the island’s signature stewed rabbit, or hike up a mountain. The island is a veritable Rorschach test, being whatever you want it to be.

A hiking path leading past wildflowers, the Mediterranean in the distance.
The path up Monte Epode
Kate and Charlie in bathing suits, sitting on the bow of a boat in front of some clear green water in Ischia.
Enjoying our honeymoon boat trip
A small town perched on a beach in Ischia. There's a church with a bright orange and yellow dome.
The town of Forio

How to get to Ischia: Ischia is one of the easiest Italian islands to get to! Just fly into well-connected Naples and hop on the hourlong ferry.

Best thing to do in Ischia: Take a boat ride around the island for the day! There are hot springs on the edge of the sea, cute fishing towns, caves, and of course — a castle. We splurged on a private boat ride and it was surprisingly affordable.

Read more: A Guide to Ischia, Italy — The Best of Ischia Island

A pristine, calm green-blue lake surrounded by Rocky Mountains, including three sharp rocky spires in the distance.
The base of the towers in Torres del Paine, Chile


The first thing I noticed about Patagonia was the clouds. They were long, streaky, and opaque. That’s because the wind here is fierce and unyielding. I love that you can see the unusual clouds in so many of my photos.

Patagonia feels like it’s at the edge of the world. You’ve got fierce mountains to climb, enormous glaciers to admire, rivers, lakes, and plenty of wildlife — especially guanacos, the llama-like creature that add so much to the landscape!

People spend their lives dreaming of hiking in Patagonia, and I’m so glad I got to hike up and down and up and down the “Patagonian flat” hills — along with a tough hike to the base of the towers in Torres del Paine that I’ll never forget.

I especially loved spending time at Ecocamp Patagonia, which is offline, mostly self-sufficient, and lets you feel connected to the surrounding landscape.

A group of people in helmets walking on a huge blue-white glacier with liquid puddles on it.
Ice trekking, Perito Moreno Glacier
Kate and Charlie taking a selfie in front of a jagged mountain range that looks exactly like the Patagonia logo.
Fitz Roy view near El Chaltén
A guanaco (llama-like animal) posing for the camera, Patagonian mountains behind him.
Guanaco in Torres del Paine

How to get to Patagonia: You can get flights from Buenos Aires to El Calafate, or from Santiago to Puerto Natales (closer to Torres del Paine) or Punta Arenas, then travel by bus.

Best thing to do in Patagonia: Hike. Whatever your hiking level is, go on a beautiful hike that shows you what this region has to offer.

Read more: More is coming, but for now you can read a bit about Patagonia in my November-December 2023 recap.

The town of Karlovy Vary, with elegant multi-colored homes set against a walking street running along a river.
Karlovy Vary

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

When it came time for our “micro-moon” — a quickie nearby getaway after our civil wedding in April — we chose Karlovy Vary, a Bohemian city known for its thermal hot springs. Karlovy Vary has blossomed into a major tourism destination for spa travel (as well as an international film festival every summer).

This is the perfect two-night getaway in the Czech Republic. You can visit the Moser Glassworks — a very cool place where you can watch glassblowing artists at work — stroll along the river, hike up into the hills, photograph the elegant architecture, and eat some delicious meals.

A lot of the hotels have spas built into them — some with heated pools, saunas, hammams, cold rooms, and more. I recommend enjoying your own place and also booking one of the bigger spas like Hotel Thermal.

People swimming in a milky green outdoor pool.
Swimming pool at the Hotel Thermal
Kate taking a smiling selfie and holding up a small pink water jug with a scene from Karlovy Vary painted on it.
KV’s signature water jugs
A view from above of Karlovy Vary, with pastel-colored buildings nestled into the hills.
View from the hills

How to get to Karlovy Vary: Karlovy Vary is a 90-minute drive northwest of Prague, and there are buses there from Prague and nearby German destinations.

Best thing to do in Karlovy Vary: Get a spa pass for the Hotel Thermal! The outdoor heated pool has amazing views over the city, and indoors there are a variety of saunas and steam rooms at different temperatures.

Read more: I wrote a bit about Karlovy Vary on my April 2023 recap.

People standing on the bow of a bright red boat, taking photos of a glacier in the distance.
Sailing to Eqi Glacier


I knew I wanted to have one big solo adventure trip amongst a busy year of weddings and events. So I picked a place that my husband has zero desire to visit — the Arctic. Greenland would be the northernmost place I had visited, and one of the most remote.

Greenland wasn’t everything I had imagined. It wasn’t as striking as Iceland or Antarctica, and I was surprised how little Indigenous culture was built into the fledgling tourism industry.

Even so, this is the kind of place that leaves you in disbelief — the thought that people live here, have lived here for centuries; that whales play right outside your (tiny) commuter ferry boat; that the sunrises here cast gold light over the black sand beaches.

If you’re a fan of offbeat and hard-to-reach places, take a look at Greenland. It’s going to explode in the next few years once they open up larger airports that can host jets from Europe and North America.

A line of people hiking along the ridge of a rock, a big glacier in the distance.
Hiking the Greenland Ice Sheet
Kate wearing a raincoat and bright pink beanie, standing between two waterfalls at sunrise.
Best morning ever — hiking on Disko Island
The town of Aasiaat, Greenland, with colorful houses built on a rocky cliff overlooking the bay.
The very local town of Aasiaat

How to get to Greenland: You don’t necessarily have to take a cruise ship here! In fact, I recommend you don’t. You can get direct flights to Kangerlussuaq from Copenhagen on Air Greenland, and from there you can travel Greenland by flight and boat.

Best thing to do in Greenland: It’s all about the outdoors here, and I adored every hike that I did. But the activity I would prioritize if I were you would be a trip to Eqi Glacier — and if you can swing it, spending two nights at Glacier Camp Eqi, staying in a little red hut in front of the groaning, calving glacier.

Read more: What’s it really like to travel to Greenland?

The calm fjord side town of Perast, with lots of ancient palaces on the edge of the water, and tall mountains rising up in the background.
Perast in the evening

Perast, Montenegro

I’ve been in love with Montenegro since my first visit in 2012. Montenegro has always felt like a quintessential summer destination for me, all limestone cliffs and bright blue water. This year, I decided I wanted to celebrate my birthday in Montenegro — but instead of my usual Kotor, we went to Perast.

Perast is a tiny, gorgeous town about 20 minutes up the road from Kotor. You can walk from end to end in about 20 minutes. Ancient palazzos fill the town, now repurposed as guesthouses and waterfront restaurants.

You would think that Perast wouldn’t have enough entertainment to sustain you for a multi-day trip. And yet I really enjoyed my four days here! Come here with the intention of taking it slow and you’ll really enjoy yourself. Especially if you become a regular at the Pirate Bar.

The old town of Perast, with lots of stone buildings, trees squeezed between them, and boats in the water.
Old Town Perast
Kate smiling in sunglasses, a burgundy tank top and polka dot shorts, with a tiny church-topped island in the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, behind her.
Enjoying Our Lady of the Rocks
A metal pole on the edge of a concrete platform leading into the bright green-teal-blue Bay of Kotor, jagged green mountains in the distance.
Easy mornings swimming in the Bay of Kotor

How to get to Perast: There are Blue Line buses that run up and down the Montenegrin coast from Herceg Novi to Kotor that stop on either side of Perast. It’s about a 20-minute drive from Kotor, but beware — summer traffic here can be bumper-to-bumper!

Best thing to do in Perast: The one thing that everyone does in Perast is visit Our Lady of the Rocks, a tiny island in the bay with a church. But for me, I just loved strolling through the quiet town, taking swims off the “beaches” (more like cement platforms on the edge of the Bay of Kotor), enjoying the sunsets, and giving the finger to every giant cruise ship making its way to Kotor.

Read more: A Detailed Guide to Perast, Montenegro

A round gothic building in Oxford, England, surrounded by green grass.

Oxford, England

I’m so glad Charlie and I began visiting a new destination in England before his friend’s annual fall bonfire in England. It’s getting us to visit new places — and Oxford is absolutely a new favorite.

Oxford is one of the most popular day trips from London, just west of the city. It’s a university city, home to the many colleges of Oxford University, and is a major filming destination for the Harry Potter movies.

But what I really loved about Oxford was how the youthful energy filled the city with a buzz. There was so much good food everywhere, lots of cool shops, and plenty of bookstores, of course! That with the gothic architecture stacked throughout the city, it feels like quintessential England.

Young people eating an an outdoor food market with lots of food stalls.
Gloucester Green Market
Kate lying back on a river boat in Oxford, with a church tower behind her reflecting in the water.
Punting down the River Cherwell
A gothic church and bright flower garden underneath a cloudy sky.
Christ Church College

How to get to Oxford: Oxford is a little over an hour’s train ride from London.

Best thing to do in Oxford: Go punting! You can absolutely rent a riverboat and punt yourself around an easy route, but we chose to hire someone to do the punting and just enjoy the view. (And it was just as well — we saw some tired people who regretted going it alone!)

Read more: I wrote a bit about Oxford in my October 2023 recap.

Cascading turquoise waterfalls, with a big conical snow-capped mountain in the background.
Petrohue Waterfalls

Chile’s Lakes Region

Sometimes a destination you choose on a whim turns out to be a delight. It took us forever to choose a place for our work break in Chile — Valparaíso? Pucón? — then we chose Puerto Varas, which couldn’t have been better.

The Lakes Region (Los Lagos) is incredibly green, filled with rolling hills, farmland, big blue lakes, waterfalls, and even a few volcanoes! This area was settled by German immigrants in the 1850s, and to this day there is a lot of German flavor around the lake.

Puerto Varas is a good-sized town with some great restaurants in shopping, but don’t miss heading up to the extremely photogenic Frutillar, which looks like it was plucked from Bavaria. A day of driving around the lake is an excellent way to spend your time.

And if you’re looking for adventure, this is a great place to go hiking, whitewater rafting, or even volcano trekking!

An outdoor museum with a traditional German wooden home surrounded by hedges and gardens.
Kate standing on a rock in front of a rushing turquoise river.
Petrohue Waterfalls
A calm lake beach underneath a blue sky.
Puerto Varas

How to get to the Lakes Region: Puerto Varas makes a great place to base yourself. It’s a beautiful 25-minute drive from Puerto Montt airport. It’s also a 4.5-hour drive from Bariloche, Argentina, another lakeside hotspot.

Best thing to do in the Lakes Region: Visit Petrohue Waterfalls on a clear day! These waterfalls are huge and rushing, and if the weather’s clear, you can get photos with the snow-capped conical volcano of Mount Osorno in the background!

Read more: I wrote a bit about the Lakes Region in my November-December 2023 recap.

A view of the old town of Cavtat peeking through the trees -- a traditional Croatian seaside town with orange roofs and lots of greenery.

Cavtat, Croatia

By now you know that I spend a lot of time in Croatia. I like to add a few new spots whenever I visit, and the best one this past year was the little town of Cavtat (SAV-tat), which makes a nice alternative to Dubrovnik.

When summertime in Dubrovnik brings sweaty, pulsating crowds and sky-high prices, Cavtat is the perfect antidote. This beach town is so quiet and relaxing. And the prices are much lower, too! You feel your blood pressure drop just by being here. And the beaches have that lovely clear Adriatic water.

Best of all, there are ferries that go directly from Dubrovnik to the old port, which is part of the Old City of Dubrovnik. It couldn’t be more convenient. So far it seems like Cavtat is popular with Europeans, but I didn’t hear a single American voice during my stay. It almost makes me wonder if I should say anything here.

People swimming in the bright green, clear Adriatic Sea, mountains in the background.
Swimming in the Adriatic
Kate and Charlie taking a selfie, eating ice cream in front of a blue and pink sunset on the sea.
Sunset in Cavtat
A cement walking path along the sea in Cavtat, trees slanting sideways along the edge.
Cavtat Walking Path

How to get to Cavtat: Cavtat is actually close to Dubrovnik Airport than Dubrovnik! And there are many hourlong ferries from the old port in Dubrovnik that leave on an hourly basis.

Best thing to do in Cavtat: Take a long walk around the Cavtat Walking Path, which is on the edge of the sea and encircles a forest. Stop by the Little Star Beach Bar, book yourself a beach chair, or just enjoy a nice stroll.

Read more: I wrote a bit about Cavtat in my August 2023 recap.

A single statue of an angel on a piazza in Palermo, in front of city roofs and mountains in the distance.

Palermo, Italy

We headed to Palermo for a week in February, and though the weather was not our friend (it was cold and rainy almost every day!), my love for the city ignited. I have a lot of affection for lesser-loved cities (or, often, cities believed to be a bit more “dangerous” than the standard spots), and Palermo sh

Palermo is a wild and passionate city with outstandingly delicious food. The desserts are the absolute best in Italy, in my opinion, and bakeries are everywhere. AND IT IS SO DAMN CHEAP. Seriously. People think Western Europe is the expensive part of Europe, but Palermo was significantly cheaper than Prague!

Oh, and there’s the cultural stuff too! Palermo is filled with UNESCO World Heritage-listed monuments from the Arab-Norman architecture influence, including stunning golden chapels and ancient cathedrals. Cultures have been mixing in Palermo for more than 1000 years, and the city is so much better for it.

A Baroque fountain on an Italian piazza filled with lots of statues of muse-like women. In front of it some teenagers in winter coats take a selfie.
Fontana Pretoria
Kate smiling, sitting at an outdoor table, holding up an Aperol spritz in one hand and a bowl full of fried seafood in another.
Time for aperitivo!
A pastry case filled with dozens of different brightly colored Sicilian pastries.
Sicilian desserts

How to get to Palermo: There are flights to Palermo as well as Trapani, which is about an hour away. Palermo is well-connected with trains and buses going to different parts of Sicily.

Best thing to do in Palermo: Go on the Classic Sicilian Food & Wine Tour! I absolutely loved this tour — not only do you try so many of Palermo’s unusual delicacies, but you also get to have a few sit-down experiences in restaurants and try lots of wines.

Read more: 22 Fabulous Things to Do in Palermo, Sicily’s Sizzling Capital

Angel-topped crypts in Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires.
Recoleta Cemetery

The Second Time Around Award: Buenos Aires

It was so hard to figure out who to give the second time around award to! Copenhagen, Salzburg, and Český Krumlov were all in the running. But I had to give the award to the city that I visited on my first solo trip ever, at the age of 24, that I didn’t return to until age 39.

“So, has it changed?” several of my friends in Buenos Aires asked me.

“No,” I replied honestly. “I’ve changed.”

Buenos Aires is a behemoth of a city. There are so many sprawling neighborhoods, each with their own personality, and a list of things to do that you won’t even be able to make a dent in. You shouldn’t come here for less than four days.

But if you give Buenos Aires the attention it deserves, you are going to LOVE it. The restaurants are outstanding. The nightlife is SO fun. And it’s one of the best value-for-money cities I’ve visited.

It’s also a place that feels…well, precarious is probably the best word. Argentina has been going through a lot of economic and political upheaval, and you can feel the tension in the air. Exchange rates change daily, and there’s a separate exchange rate for cash on the ground.

I hope for the best for Argentinos. They deserve it.

A mural in Buenos Aires with Conan O'Brian and his arms around Lionel Messi and Pope Francis.
This Conan mural in Palermo Hollywood made me laugh so hard!
Kate standing in the middle of a grand, brightly lit bookstore.
Ateneo Grand Splendid
A juicy, rare steak on a plate at Don Julio in Buenos Aires.
Steak at Don Julio

How to get to Buenos Aires: Buenos Aires is well-connected by air and bus.

Best thing to do in Buenos Aires: Spend a Monday night at La Bomba de Tiempo, an incredible percussion show that will have you jumping wildly with everyone in the audience!

Read more: I wrote a bit about Buenos Aires in my November-December 2023 recap.

A view from the water of the orange roofs on the stone buildings of Korcula town.
I can’t wait to head back to Korčula in 2024!

Where I hope to go in 2024

So what does the coming year look like? I have a few trips planned, but they are mostly to places I’ve already visited.

There will be a trip to London and Paris in February; a long weekend in Rome for Charlie’s birthday in March; a brief getaway to Wrocław, Poland, in April (that one will be a new spot), and a trip back to the States in June.

Also — I’m turning 40 this August. I’ve decided that I want to spend my birthday in Croatia with friends — so I rented a place and we are heading to one of my favorite islands, Korčula!

Beyond that, there’s a lot of empty space on the calendar. Which is fine! I don’t feel pressure to fill it (and I’m remembering how busy the past two summers were and how I’d like to be more low-key).

But here are some ideas floating around my mind:

Ponza and Ventotene. I’d like to continue visiting new Italian islands, and these two intrigue me and would dovetail nicely with a work trip Charlie has this summer. Ventotene is a tiny island between Ischia and Ponza that our boat guide told us about last year, and we’ve been intrigued since!

Taiwan. Taiwan seems like the kind of place I’d love: great mix of cities and nature, compact, good infrastructure, fabulous food. And nonstop flights from Prague — who knew?!

Camino Portugues. Is this the year I finally do the Camino de Santiago?! If I do it, I think I want to do the two-week Portuguese route from Porto to Santiago de Compostela.

Svalbard. I’ve been craving cold weather trips in August lately, and the last two years I went to Iceland and Greenland. Svalbard has been on my mind for next. Now THAT will be the furthest north I’ve ever been!

Central Asia. This new-to-me region has been on my mind. I’d love to do a multi-country hop in the region — probably Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, with most of the time spent in Uzbekistan.

Morocco. Yeah, it was on the list last year, too…I’m thinking about it more and more. It’s a bit easier to imagine when I tell myself I don’t have to do ALL of Morocco, that it’s okay to do a small portion…

More Christmas markets. After missing Christmas market season entirely last year, I’d love to visit a few new markets this year. Alsace and western Germany might be nice! And my friend went to Bratislava this year and was impressed at how good their markets were — that would be an easy getaway!

Who knows what travels lie ahead? Let’s go, 2024!

What were your favorite new destinations this year?