Planning where to travel in 2023? Hopefully, you’ll be inspired by my travels this year for your next trip.
In 2022, I travelled to 9 different countries, whereof 4 was new on my travel map. I hope you find some inspiration on where to go – and where not to!
I’ve ranked the countries from worst to best for a cultural traveller!
OSLO & TELEMARKEN, NORWAY
Norway is often at the bottom of my lists. This is not Norway’s fault, but I have been often and I like to see new places. Norway also has the most beautiful nature, but I’m a cultural traveller at heart. In addition, this trip was a business trip, where no one wanted to wait for my countless photo sessions.
Surprisingly, this was my first trip to Norway during the summertime. Normally, I go for skiing, and the Scandinavian country is beautiful in wintertime, but summertime has it’s perks.
For the first time, I could sit outside behind the Munch Museum om the “brygge” for lunch. The new Munch museum is hyped, but I prefer the new National Museum by far.
I also visited Telemarken, and the mountainous countryside is definitely breathtaking. Telemarken is where most people go skiing, but in summertime it’s perfect for hiking. But was I hiking? No!
I was on seminar learning about industrial heritage and UNESCO site: Rjukan-Notodden and the hydro-electrical tradition (Industrial heritage is an overlooked attraction). Don’t miss Vemork and the site for the famous ski-in-sabotage against the Nazis as seen in the movie “The Heroes of the Telemark”.
Norway was #2 on Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2022. And it sure is awe inspiring landscapes. Svalbard was my #1 in my list from 2019. If you want snow: Is Norway really a Winter Wonderland? YES!
PRAGUE & KUTNÁ HORA, CZECHIA
Prague is an amazing city. But it’s still (almost) at the bottom of my list. The only reason it’s not finishing last is thanks to another Czech city. And maybe this tiny village is something for your travels in 2023.
Prague is one of the most touristy cities, I’ve been to. More than 6.500.000 visitors in 2019 – and they all stand in front of the same clock and one the same bridge I had been a few times already, so I skipped the iconic sights.
Instead I recommend: be inspired to read at the Kafka Museum or discover what might be the most beautiful library in the world: Klementinum.
The small town of Kutná Hora just outside Prague can easily be reached by train. During the Middle Ages, the city was a religious centre and also became wealthy from the surrounding silver mines.
Don’t miss the most exciting site for a dark tourist: a bone church – Sedlec ossuary. This was a business trip and my meeting with the head of the ossuary was the best thing on my trip. In company with the two churches, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
When I was a kid, Paris was a dream, but today it’s only #7 on my list. The reason is that it was my 6th visit and also a business trip. But compared to Oslo, Paris is still more stimulating…
Despite this being my 6th visit to the city of cities and my love of old castles – I hadn’t visited Versailles. What a palace and what a garden! Versailles is a must-see and a UNESCO site. That being said, I have to admit, I prefer Alhambra and Rosenborg Castle.
Again, a business trip, my focus was on dark tourism (yes, that’s my job) Dark sites include the disturbing catacombs, the grandiose tomb of Napoleon and the overlooked basilica of Saint-Denis.
Saint-Denis is the first Gothic cathedral in the world! AND the funeral church for the French kings and queens. Many tombs are empty, since during the French Revolution the bodies were removed and many destroyed. Later, they some remains were found and re-buried in an ossuary (you know the word from above). Try to find the famous sun king Louis 14…
France is the biggest tourist destination in the world and #3 favourite country in Wanderlust reader’s travel awards this year.
And if you want to learn more about France (or any other country) head for the world famous museum of Louvre. Be inspired in More than Mona Lisa: 12 other highlights.
Valencia was a new experience. The third largest city in Spain is famous for arts and history – and its nightlife if you like that. But for some reason, only few travellers get pass Madrid and Barcelona. Maybe in 2023 everyone will travel here.
The top sight for a cultural traveller is the UNESCO-listed silk-exchange La Lonja. For photographers and lovers of Westworld, the iconic and futuristic City of Arts and Sciences will probably be top of your list. As if this wasn’t enough, the cathedral has a somewhat surprising and sought after relic: The holy grail is in Valencia.
Surpassing France, Spain was voted #3 on Wanderlust Travel Awards this year. Also this year, Valencia was named best city to live in for foreigners and European Capital of Smart Tourism. The government is also working hard on making it a green destination.
My favourite part of Spain is Andalusia. Discover why in Cava, Carmen & GOT! A Cultural Roadtrip or Seville, the Cultural Frying Pan of Spain!
I really love Italy. It should not so far down a list. But the ranking is due to 3 things.
The first one will probably not be a problem for you. But ever since my cancer treatment, wine went from Yummy to yack. NOT drinking makes Piemonte for a dispiriting (pun intended) destination. Secondly, I went in March hoping for spring, but everything was bare and the vines are not really visible without leafage. I’m sure, Piemonte is lovelier in autumn. Thirdly, out of season many winebars, castles, restaurants and cultural attractions are closed. It also means fewer tourists, but in this case I would recommend going closer to high season.
Rent a car, eat pasta, visit some castles, drink some wine, enjoy the sun – for some, Piemonte is vacation heaven.
It was my first visit to Cyprus. This alone places the Mediterranean island among my favourite destinations this year. The fact, that it’s the island of Aphrodite also helps.
I went to Cyprus for 2 reasons: halloumi cheese and Aphrodite. I convinced my I-hate-to-travel-son with 2 things: halloumi cheese and the pool. Halloumi and feta are my two favourites and the squeaky and perfect to grill cheese is a Cypriotic delicacy.
According to legend, the goddess of fertility was born here and the strongest Aphrodite-cult was located near Paphos. Visit the temple and the rock Petra tou Romiou – the birthplace.
The reason the island with the beautiful beaches and incredible ancient ruins isn’t at the top of my list: the landscape is barren and not as varied as Crete and despite the many ancient ruins, I have no desire to come back. Maybe if I had visited the Turkish side as well… The capital – which is both Greek and Turkish and also Cypriotic – was on Best cities to visit in 2022 by Lonely Planet. So I must have missed something. You can check on your next trip.
It was a very close race between Cyprus and #3:
Instead, 3. place goes to another new country this year: Scotland. Even though, Scotland is not a country when counting UN’s 195, it still is. So how did a short visit to Edinburgh topple of Aphrodite’s island?
Edinburgh is not that big, but has a lot to offer. 2 castles, nature, monuments and great museums. Only a few weeks after I went to Palace of Holyrood House, Queen Elizabeth died and was lying in state inside the palace. Edinburgh Castle is the most besieged place in Britain and you’ll even find some pirates here.
Scotland is #7 in the Wanderlust travel awards and no wonder. The short visit made me wanna come back and that’s more than Cyprus could. I need to feel like wizard in the Harry Potter train, be overwhelmed with emotions at the titanic museum in Belfast and be my usual dark-tourism self at Culloden Moor.
Meanwhile, you can read about Dublin. Guess if I liked it more or less than Edinburgh…
One of the 4 new countries I visited this year was Slovenia. And what a stunning place! It easily takes out the destinations further down the list. Not many of my friends and colleagues know Slovenia. And we live in Europe! Apparently, they don’t read Lonely Planets’ Best in Travel, where the country was this year’s #5. 2023 will see a lot of travellers in this country.
Delicious food, stunning landscapes, plenty of history and very reasonable prices. AND you can take the train past green rivers, hillside castles, half-timbered houses, roadside chapels and snowcapped mountains.
The capital of Ljubljana made it to #6 on favourite cities in Europe in the travel awards (beating my hometown Copenhagen). This is well deserved. Despite the many tourists, it’s one of the most charming capitals in the world.
Number 1! You might have guessed it: Oman was my 4. new country this year making it to #48 (Scotland doesn’t count, remember). It was an easy choice since I prefer travelling new places and it was also my first time outside of Europe since the pandemic.
Climb a 400 year old castle made of mud with the green cobber-mountains in the background as the mosque calls to prayer. Add a night in the desert under the starts drinking milky cardamom tea and wash the dust off in the Indian ocean with swaying palm tress and green turtles laying eggs. Oman is 1001 nights dream inhabited by the friendliest people.
Oman was named #7 in Best country to Visit by Lonely Planet in 2022 meaning it’s further down than Slovenia. But how can you compare… You can and Oman wins! If you haven’t already been, your travels in 2023 should go to Oman.
In 2023, I will take fewer trips and flights, but instead travel for longer. I’m planning a trip to Georgia in spring and (fingers crossed) hopefully convincing my autistic and travel-is-unnecessary-son to a safari trip to Kenya and Tanzania in October. Business will take me to Iceland.
What was your best travel in 2022?