6 of the hottest cities to visit in 2023

With two long weekends coming up and the summer holidays swiftly approaching, all we can think about is travel.

At the moment, Ryanair has become our home page, and we’re always browsing through Instagram in search of travel ideas.

If you’re in the same boat, we’ve put together a list of the best cities to visit in 2023.

Read on for our ultimate city hit list of the trendiest cities to visit in 2023, which includes perennial favourites, second towns poised to take the limelight from its more well-known siblings, large city hubs that display global style, and metropolises that really seems to give it all.

The city: Auckland, New Zealand

A vacation to Auckland should come with a caution: be ready to fall hard for the North Island’s aesthetically and geographically gifted metropolis. After being off limits to tourists for more than two years (New Zealand just completely opened its borders in July last year), Auckland’s appeal has grown stronger than ever. And if there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that this location will not let you down.

Auckland is the kind of best of both worlds, win-win location that everyone raves about. The restaurant and food service sector thrives and there is a strong feeling of culture and history. Depending on the neighbourhood, the mood could vary from luxurious and cosmopolitan to casually cool, arty, or indie. The spectacular natural landscape background runs everywhere, with the city’s two harbours, the Manukau and the Waitemat, enclosing untamed beaches peppered with volcanic cones and surrounded by massive, lush green regions. Furthermore, animal areas and jungles perfect for adventure are all less than an hour distant.

To add to the allure, the city will have a lot going on in 2023, with Auckland’s Eden Park hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup opening ceremony and first match in July.

The city: Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is a multi-ethnic, historically-rich cosmopolis that should be on every traveller’s wish list, offering an authentic sense of cultural history and tradition while simultaneously embracing the modern and the hippie.

The magnificent Blue Mosque, enormous Topkapi Palace, and Hagia Sophia, with their Ottoman and Byzantine influences, are all appealing and awe-inspiring sites to view. The Istanbul Archaeological Museum provides a chance to go across the country’s history exhibit after exhibit. No trip to Istanbul is complete without a Turkish hammam experience (the 16th century bath house Haurrem Sultan Hammam comes highly recommended), and do we even need to mention a cruise across the Bosphorus Strait?

A treasure trove of hip eateries and cafés, clever boutique hotels, and costly shopping choices await on the more modern side of things. Take notice that Istanbul’s cuisine is out of this world, mixing new components, quality products, and centuries-old customs with on-trend energy and enthusiasm. Spend your mornings eating on delicious traditional fare.

Breakfast in Turkey is followed by mezze-inspired eating later in the day.

Where to stay: Karaköy is undoubtedly Istanbul’s hippest area, and SuB Karaköy may be its hippest hotel, with to its industrial-chic decoration, roof terrace with Bosphorus views, walls covered with local artists’ work, and eccentric yet welcome attitude.

The city: Lisbon, Portugal

The photo postcard The beautiful Portuguese city is well-known for its seven rolling hills, cobbled avenues, rumbling wooden tram system (take route 28 to see all) and flowing River Tagus. However, in recent years, Lisbon has experienced a food-focused makeover, making it one of the most memorable places to dine in the world.

If you thought Portuguese food was all about pastel de nata, think again (but remember to have a few of those egg custard-filled flaky pastry nests first). Not to brag, but the opening of the Time Out Market Lisbon at the Mercado da Ribeira in 2014 switched the game slightly. The market offers a carefully chosen mix of dining and drinking options – from the high end to the wonderfully, purposely low-brow – all under one dazzling domed roof, working solely with the finest of the city.

Since then, everything has grown. Young Portuguese chefs, baristas, and restaurateurs have led the way, while long-established local dining establishments have stepped up their game, and chefs from all over the world have applied to open business here. In summary, the capital of Portugal is today a flourishing, truly wonderful gastronomic stronghold to be reckoned with.

Where to eat: It would be an aberration not to spend a few joyful hours eating and drinking at Time Out Market Lisboa, the first gourmet food court. Alma, whose seasonal menus show the best in Portuguese products and cookery, has been favoured by many Lisboetas in the know for a more classic restaurant-style eating experience.

Where to stay: The Bairro Alto Hotel is the OG of boutique Lisbon hotels, nestled in the buzzy bohemian Bairro Alto neighbourhood and boasting a much-admired restaurant, BAHR, an art-deco influenced cocktail relax and meticulously – and personally – designed rooms.

The city: Manchester, United Kingdom

Manchester is totally of the present, fusing a dedication to accessibility and sustainability with limitless creative energy, a rich industrial and musical past, world-renowned football past (are you a Red or a Blue?) and northern spirit in spades.

The city appears to have it all: edgy flair, an ever-growing arts and cultural scene, outstanding architecture, an array of world-class institutions, and lots of green spaces (Mayfield Park, Manchester’s first city centre park, is a prime example). Add to it a consistently great food offering – everything from fine-dining restaurants to secret drinking holes and one-off venues like the former Victorian meat market turned food hall Mackie Mayor – and you’ve got yourself a winner. In summary, if you’re thinking about a trip to the United Kingdom in 2023, Manchester is the place to be.

Where to stay: The Cow Hollow Hotel, a refurbished historic textile warehouse, is located in the heart of the Northern Quarter. You’ll be laughing all the way to the numerous adjacent eateries if you book a wonderfully decorated room at this boutique hotel.

Feeling overwhelmed by the options? Don’t worry, the concierge will gladly propose some tried-and-true favourites, like superb Indian restaurant Bundobust, Japanese restaurant Tokyo Ramen, or French bistro 63 Degrees.

The city: Sharjah, UAE

Staying close to home, Sharjah is the emirate that all the cultural vulture are raving about. The UAE’s third biggest city has gently but steadily established itself as an arts and cultural centre, and it is now poised to shine on a worldwide scale.

Sharjah Art Foundation is at the forefront of the trend, bringing a slew of galleries, exhibitions, and events to the region while also restoring the famous Flying Saucer into a dynamic art gallery and open community hub that is well worth a visit. More culturally rich hours may be spent roaming through Sharjah Heritage Area and exploring the Mleiha Archaeological Centre.

Meanwhile, the Foster + Partners-designed House of Wisdom acts as both a work of art and a futuristic digital library, complete with studio areas, exhibition centres, and quiet gardens, as well as the contemporary restaurant Chie. As if that weren’t enough, the Sharjah Biennial’s 30th anniversary will feature works by over 150 artists shown at multiple locations across the city in February.

Where to stay: The expansive The Chedi Al Bait, Sharjah is hard to top for its magnificent comfort, clever architecture with local tradition in mind, and lovely atmosphere. The Serai Wing, an innovative boutique-style 12-room extension built in the 100-year-old family house of an elderly pearl trader, is the place to stay in 2023.

The city: Sydney, Australia

When it comes to city break locations, Sydney just surpasses the competition. The beautiful beaches, majestic architecture, world-class museums, art galleries, and aquariums, vast coastline, and remaining restaurant circuit all contribute.

And, while Sydney’s big sights are well-known (hello, Harbour Bridge, Opera House, and Royal Botanic Gardens), many Sydneysiders believe that the best way to see the city is to go beyond the obvious. In 2023, that might mean embracing Sydney’s thriving theatre scene (check out Belvoir St Theatre for experimental and original Australian drama), taking the scenic Bondi to Congee coastal walk, or kayaking from Manly’s North Head to lesser-known, fairy-penguin-dotted Store Beach. Food-wise, it’s worth chatting to locals and visiting their favourite secret spots as well as the well-known major names (Quay, Tetsuya’s, Aria, and so on).

All of that said, spending a few hours maxing out and resting on Bondi Beach, perusing the high-end stores on Gould Street, and indulging in the Sydney tradition of yum cha are all non-negotiables.

Where to eat: La Capannina, a family-run Italian restaurant in a beautifully friendly atmosphere, serves up delicious seasonal dishes and menu classics such as homemade tagliolini with blue swimmer crab. The Harbour Bridge vistas and lovely courtyard are just cake on the cake.

Where to stay: The hipsters’ favourite hotel, the Mount House, comes laid-back chic. Stay at the historical Paramount Pictures Studio offices and enjoy a classic movie at the Golden Age Cinema, excellent coffee at the Coffee Project, and some R&R at the rooftop Paramount Recreation Club.

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