National Geographic has just revealed 25 destinations across the globe that it has chosen as “best of the world” across five different categories. These unique top spots stand out as exceptional travel experiences for a variety of reasons and have been selected by a team of National Geographic global editors. Noted for being “under the radar, ahead of the curve, and ready for you to start exploring,” these locations are truly unique and have a great deal to offer travelers who dare to venture off the beaten path.
The chosen locations each fall into one of five categories – culture, nature, community, family, and adventure, and represent what National Geographic has deemed the best of the best in each respective field. From a National Park in Texas and a buzzing UK city to a hub of ancient civilization and a vibrant West African country, this list really packs a punch for travelers looking for some top-notch travel inspiration.
One of the top reasons people travel is to experience the culture of another place. History, food, art, and local customs all play important roles in culture and are elements that shape a location’s identity. Exploring the local culture is a great way to get to know the true essence of a place.
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Culture category highlight: Busan, South Korea
Busan ticks all the boxes for a unique cultural travel experience. As South Korea’s second-largest city, Busan is a hub for the creative arts, offers world-class cuisine, and is home to some fascinating military history. The city’s markets, most notably Jagalchi Market, provide tourists with an incredible, culturally immersive experience. This 600-year-old market makes the most of Busan’s seaside location and serves up and sells an array of local seafood to fill the bellies of both locals and tourists.
Other top destinations for culture:
- The Appian Way, Italy
- Charleston, South Carolina
- Longmen Grottoes, Henan Province, China
Exploring the natural beauty of a place can bring travelers a new appreciation for the magnificence and vastness of the physical world.
Nature category highlight: Big Bend National Park, Texas, USA
Big Bend National Park doesn’t have the name recognition as some of the more touristed parks in the U.S., but its under-the-radar status makes it no less worthy of a visit. Especially attractive for travelers looking to immerse themselves in a vast and awe-inspiring natural setting, Big Bend is a treasure trove of geology and natural beauty.
This West Texas gem sits along the Rio Grande bordering Mexico and is chock-full of places to explore. Over time, the river has carved deep canyons into the landscape, exposing 130-million-year-old fossils and creating habitat for more than 1,200 species of plants and over 4,100 animals, including 400 species of birds.
Other top destinations for nature:
- Scottish Highlands
- The Azores
Community-based tourism and responsible travel are fast becoming popular ways to see the world while having a positive social, environmental, or economic impact, and can often be a more authentic and rewarding way to travel.
Community category highlight: Ghana
The West African nation of Ghana is fast becoming a popular travel destination thanks to an effort by the country to reconnect the African diaspora with its ancestral roots. Ghana is investing in its tourism potential, not only with infrastructure improvements but also by creating unique opportunities for visitors to learn more about and connect with their African heritage.
Tourists are encouraged to take part in modern cultural celebrations and the arts, to visit explore the history of Ghana, and to reclaim a part of their past that was lost through slavery by becoming honorary members of the beautiful Ghanaian community.
Other top destinations for community:
- Karpathos, Greece
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Alberta, Canada
The world is full of wonders, especially when seeing it through the eyes of a child. Traveling as a family has benefits far beyond spending quality time together – it can inspire and shape people, no matter their age. That being said, some destinations are inherently more accessible and enjoyable for family travel than others.
Group highlight: Manchester, UK
Manchester has plenty of attractions to keep active and curious families busy, and 2023 will see more programming than ever before. Home to exciting festivals, outdoor urban adventures, and eclectic museums, Manchester is an up-and-coming destination. Of note is the newly developed Castlefield Viaduct, an elevated walkway where visitors can explore the City’s industrial heritage while enjoying views of the historic heart of Manchester.
Other top destinations for family:
We all know someone who is always on the hunt for their next fix of adrenaline. Adventure travel is popular and varied and is a great way to ensure that your vacation is never short of excitement.
Adventure category highlight: Revillagigedo National Park, Mexico
Dubbed “the Galápagos of Mexico,” Revillagigedo National Park is a 57,000 square-mile underwater park that lets tourists get up close and personal with an array of marine life. Located 400 miles off the tip of the Baja California Peninsula, Revillagigedo is popular with scuba divers for obvious reasons.
The park is home to dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, whales, massive manta rays, and 26 species of fish that are found nowhere else on the planet.
Other top destinations for adventure:
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com