Top 10 Destinations That Will Exceed Your Expectations In 2023


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Have you ever visited a place that wasn’t necessarily on your bucket list, only to be blown away by how amazing it was? It’s a wonderful experience — and certainly one worth repeating. That’s why a recent study analyzed over 825,000 TripAdvisor reviews from over 100 of the most frequented cities in the world to find out which cities have exceeded expectations more than any other. From the obvious to the lesser-known, below are the top 10 destinations that will exceed your expectations in 2023.

Chain bridge in budapest looking down length of bridge with city in background, destinations concept

10) Sydney, Australia

Australia removed all covid restrictions over the summer, and Sydney is the perfect place to call home while checking out what the country has to offer. 95.44% of TripAdvisor reviews of the city have positive things to say about Sydney. Be sure to visit the iconic Sydney Opera House, where you eat at world-class restaurants before seeing a performance.

Spend a day exploring some of Sydney’s beautiful beaches like Bondi or Manly beach. There is plenty to keep busy in Sydney, and travelers certainly won’t leave disappointed.

Sailboat sailing in front of opera house in sydney australia, destinations concept

9) Auckland, New Zealand

New Zealand was a little slower to drop restrictions, but travelers can now enjoy Auckland without any issues. Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and an excellent jumping-off point for the rest of the country. As the country’s largest city, it is also home to the most connected airport in New Zealand, with direct flights from several U.S. cities, including Houston and San Francisco.

Be sure to take a day trip to Waiheke Island, only about a 40-minute ferry ride from downtown. Spend the day taking in the gorgeous beaches, award-winning wineries, or adrenaline-fueled adventures like ziplining and jet skiing. 95.45% of TripAdvisor reviews for Auckland had something positive to say. After visiting, you probably will too.

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Travelers walking along mount eden with Auckland city skyline in the background, destinations concept

8) Nice, France

France lifted restrictions in August, and Nice is the perfect underrated French destination to check out in 2023. Nestled in the French Riviera, Nice is filled with history, great food, and a gorgeous landscape.

Travelers love walking through the Old Town to appreciate the unique architecture on their way to Castle Hill. Castle Hill offers an incredible lookout over Nice that is perfect for taking pictures. 95.63% of TripAdvisor reviews for Nice had positive comments, further proving its designation as a destination sure to exceed expectations.

Cafe in a historic street alley in Nice, France, destinations concept

7) Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City is no stranger to the spotlight and is a very popular destination for digital nomads. However, they aren’t the only ones who love this city! Travelers vacation in Mexico City for its delicious food scene, beautiful colonial architecture, incredible weather, great music, and proximity to fantastic day trips like Teotihuacán. 95.74% of traveler reviews had nothing but praises for Mexico City, further cementing its place on this list.

Mexico City Basilica with travelers walking in the backround on the streets

6) Lisbon, Portugal

Portugal was one of the most popular destinations this year, and Lisbon is especially impressive. Lisbon tied with Mexico City, with an identical 95.74% of reviews filled with positive comments. The city is great for Europe lovers on a budget. Lisbon is more affordable than many of its western European counterparts. The weather and food are great, and prices are even better. No wonder so many travelers have had their expectations exceeded here!

Lisbon city view from the air with water in the foreground and sun hitting the buildings

5) Lima, Peru

Peru was one of the destinations that took a long time to open up, but the country finally reopened completely on November 1st of this year. 95.87% of traveler reviews had good things to say about Lima. Once known as The City of Kings, Lima has beautiful colonial architecture and many historic monuments. This includes Lima’s city center, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

UNESCO world heritage site of historic city center in Lima, Peru

4) Dublin, Ireland

Dublin is a must when visiting Ireland, and new flight routes from the U.S. were recently announced. Dublin itself is full of things to do and is surrounded by incredible day trips like Glendalough, a glacial valley south of Dublin that is home to picturesque landscapes that make you feel like you are walking through a fairy tale.

While in the city, be sure to check out Dublin Castle, one of the most popular attractions in the city. 95.90% of traveler reviews had good things to say about Dublin, so it’s certainly worth a visit!

Tourists walking along grafton street in dublin , ireland

3) Zurich, Switzerland

Although Zurich is a bit more on the expensive side, travelers have continually been pleasantly surprised with this Swiss gem. Depending on the timing of your visit, you can go for a swim in Lake Zurich or sit by the water’s edge enjoying a drink with a view at one of the bars or cafes dotted along the shore.

Nightlife is plentiful in Zurich, so if you’re a night owl, you’ll feel right at home. 96.02% of travelers had good things to say about Zurich, despite its higher cost compared to many other destinations on this list

Aerial view and autumn cityscape of Zurich, Switzerland

2) Brussels, Belgium

96.04% of travelers had their expectations exceeded in Brussels, ranking it in 2nd place overall. Brussels has plenty to keep travelers entertained. Countless museums, thriving nightlife, street art, and incredible food are just a few reasons travelers find this city so incredible.

Rainbow Forming Above The Historical Grand Place In Brussels, Belgium

1) Budapest, Hungary

Considered to be one of the cheapest destinations in the world for digital nomads, Budapest is a great place to visit long term and short term. 96.17% of TripAdvisor reviews for Budapest had positive things to say about the city, making it the city that exceeded travelers’ expectations more than any other. Travelers also pointed out that Budapest is the ‘most beautiful’ city on the list.

Offering many of the things that attract visitors to western European cities at a much lower rate, Budapest is an excellent destination for getting the most value for money in Europe. As the world’s spa capital, visitors can spend the day unwinding in an ancient thermal spa before heading out for a night filled with great music and food. Be sure to try a river cruise at night for a spectacular view of the parliament building!

Budapest Parliament Building at night

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