Booking.com Reveals the Most Welcoming Cities on Earth for 2023
With a renewed sense of travel optimism on the horizon, almost half (46%) of people around the world believe that 2023 is the year to throw themselves into new travel experiences. And the good news is that despite the unpredictable microenvironment, the world is still full of amazing hospitality, friendly hosts and a wealth of undiscovered destinations to provide people with incredible and memorable travel experiences. To make it easier for everyone to experience the range of welcoming stays on offer in each destination, Booking.com is unveiling the 10 Most Welcoming Cities on Earth for 2023** alongside its suggestions for things to do and places to stay that have all been awarded for consistently providing outstanding hospitality, as evidenced by more than 240 million verified reviews from Booking.com travelers.
Polignano a Mare, Italy
Situated on Italy’s southern Adriatic coast, in the Puglia region, Polignano a Mare is a picturesque town perched on a limestone cliff above the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic, known for its beautiful beaches and white colored houses. This southern Italian destination is perfect for cliff diving, and in recent years has even hosted an edition of the world’s famous cliff diving event, where cliff divers execute incredible acrobatics from heights of more than 65 feet (20 meters). Another iconic site from Polignano a Mare is Grotta Palazzese, a restaurant set in the sea cave, which has been included in many social media feeds globally. But the most famous export of Polignano a Mare is Italian legend Domenico Modugno, who wrote and sang numerous classic songs, of which the catchy song ‘Volare’ is the most internationally known.
Where to stay: Vico Blu is a centrally located guest house where guests can easily explore the beautiful town of Polignano a Mare by foot, or can rent a car to explore more of Puglia’s highlights, including Alberobello which is a nearby town famous for its ‘trulli’, the whitewashed stone huts with conical roofs and iconic for the Puglia region.
Hualien City, Taiwan
There are plenty of reasons to visit Hualien City, situated on the East Coast of Taiwan. Besides Taiwan’s most beautiful National Park, Taroko, at its doorstep where travelers can explore incredible nature, temples and waterfalls, the city itself has much more to offer. The city has a laid back atmosphere, with many beautiful parks like Meilunshan to wander around and relax, and a perfect destination where travelers can taste some of Taiwan’s greatest delicacies at buzzing night markets, including Dongdaemun Night Market.
Where to stay: For a perfect stay in Hualien City, Before Sunrise Seaview B&B is a stunning bed & breakfast situated near the beach, with spacious rooms and modern decor, and as the name of the property already suggests, offers great sea views. Guests can either spend their days relaxing at the beach or renting a bike to explore Hualien City.
San Sebastián, Spain
Situated in Spain’s Basque Country and surrounded by golden beaches, San Sebastián is a perfect seaside destination to visit for foodie travelers. With plenty of restaurants and bars scattered throughout the city, travelers can enjoy fresh oysters and a glass txakoli – a light sparkling white wine produced in the Basque country, fine dine in one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants, or eat Pintxos (Basque tapas) with fresh local ingredients all day long in one of the many cozy bars or during a Pintxos Tasting and Spanish Wines Experience.
Where to stay: Hotel Boutique Villa Favorita is a beautiful boutique hotel situated in the center of San Sebastián, offering stunning panoramic views over La Concha beach. This Booking.com Travel Sustainable property is centrally located from some of the city’s historic sights, including the Cathédrale du Bon Pasteur de Saint-Sébastien (San Sebastián’s most important cathedral), and the beach and many restaurants are easy to reach by foot.
As the capital city of the German state of Saxony and its second most populous city, after Leipzig, Dresden has a lot to offer for those travelers who want to learn more about culture and history. After a devastating history, in which the city was destroyed during the Second World War, much of the city has luckily been rebuilt and restored, maintaining and bringing back the historic, baroque architecture. It’s not surprising that Dresden is often called ‘Florence of the North’, as it has a similar look and feel as Florence, Italy. Travelers can explore the old town, the part of the city that was mainly destructed, during a Historic Walking Tour and explore the Old Town's most famous sights, including the Frauenkirche, a soaring domed church that was rebuilt after the bombing, the Augustus Bridge, and the Renaissance palace.
Where to stay: Just outside the city center of Dresden, travelers can stay at the spacious Strohhutmanufaktur, a Booking.com Travel Sustainable apartment with modern decor and cozy vibe. Guests can easily reach the city center, with public transport options just around the corner, or for those who prefer to be a bit more active, rent a bike to explore city cycling.
Lithuania’s most historical city Klaipėda is a port city where the Baltic Sea meets the Danė River, and an incredible destination to visit for any type of traveler. The city offers plenty of culture and great architecture to explore. The old town has a German look and feel, with German-style wood-framed buildings situated in the cobblestoned streets, whereas the modern city sprawls into an industrial forest of cranes and shipyards. For travelers who like to explore nature, Klaipėda is a gateway to one of Europe’s best-kept secrets – the Curonian Spit. This narrow sand dune peninsula of 100-kilometers long, separating the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea, is an UNESCO Heritage site and offers spectacular scenery, charming villages, and various attractions. Travelers can explore this hidden gem during a Full-day Tour of the Curonian Spit National Park, and have a chance to see the country’s wildlife and visit the UNESCO-listed Dead Dunes.
Where to stay: Situated in the center of Klaipėda, near the Danė River and surrounded by plenty of restaurants, TILTŲ NAMAI Self Check-in Apartments is a modern stay for travelers to explore the city. With its central location, it’s also easy to take the ferry for a day trip to Curonian Spit.
York, United Kingdom
Travelers can transport themselves back to medieval England when traveling to York, situated in the Northeast part of the UK. This city was founded by the Ancient Romans, and has been preserved by city walls. York has a great selection of things to do for any traveler, from historical, picturesque buildings to quirky tea shops, a visit to York won’t bore anyone. The heart of York’s historic core is The Shambles, a 14th-century cobbled street known for its timber-framed houses with the cozy cafes, sweet shops and boutiques The seventh-century cathedral of York Minster is the city’s architectural crown jewel, with its Gothic-style facade towering above everything else in the city. For travelers who would like to experience the spookier aspects of the city, a Ghost Bus Tour will show some of York’s most famous landmarks while learning about a more creepy side of their history.
Where to stay: Situated on a quiet one-way street that overlooks Bootham Park and has views of York Minster cathedral, and just a few minutes walk away from York’s historic center, the beautiful Victorian guest house Bronte Guest House, is a perfect stay for guests to explore the ancient city.
Ushuaia is known as ‘El Fin del Mundo’ (The End of the World) and the most southern city in the world, famous for being the gateway to Antarctica. The city is a perfect destination for outdoor fanatics, as it is situated in Tierra del Fuego province, home to one of Argentina's most famous national parks, known for its dramatic landscape of snowy mountains, glaciers, tundra and wind-sculpted trees. Travelers can hike their way through the region and experience some of the world's incredible views, or choose to explore the region by water by taking a boat tour and potentially even spot penguin colonies.
Where to stay: After a full day of hiking, Hosteria y Restaurante America is a perfect place to relax and stay for travelers exploring the Tierra del Fuego region. This cozy inn is situated in walking distance from Ushuaia’s city center, where travelers can visit multiple museums and restaurants serving regional dishes and taste incredible Argentinian wines.
Porto De Galinhas, Brazil
Beautiful beaches with light-colored sands and crystal clear water can be found in Porto De Galinhas, one of Brazil’s best beach destinations to experience the authentic Brazilian beach culture. It’s a perfect destination for travelers who want to relax and spend some quality time with their family. Porto De Galinhas is also home to natural tidal pools – pockets of turquoise water surrounded by coral reefs where tropical fish congregate at low tide. One of the best ways to witness this phenomenon is by taking a 'jangada' – a single-sail fishing boat – for some offshore snorkeling. With plenty of lively restaurants and bars situated in the town, with ‘churrascarias’ (barbecues) and a fantastic seafood selection, this destination can also be considered a foodies paradise.
Where to stay: Just a few steps away from Porto De Galinhas beach and the center of Porto De Galinhas town, Solar Porto Rico is a great place to stay when enjoying a beach break with the family. With its central location, guests can easily explore attractions by foot or taste traditional Brazilian cuisine at one of the nearby restaurants while enjoying the views of the turquoise waters.
Mexico City, Mexico
Steeped in history and culture, Mexico City is a perfect destination to explore in Mexico. Travelers will find a wealth of attractions in its eclectic neighborhoods – from museums and ancient ruins to sprawling parks and art galleries. The capital of Mexico is also home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the city’s historic center, which can be explored during a Historic Downtown Walking Tour. Travelers also have plenty of options to taste traditional Mexican cuisine, such as tacos and quesadillas paired with drinks like mezcal and tequila, as the city has a great selection of ‘cantinas’ (local bars), street food stalls and high-end restaurants. And for those travelers who want to explore more culture outside the city, a day trip to the archaeological complex of Teotihuacán or the World Heritage Site of Xochimilco are highly recommended.
Where to stay: Stay at H21 Hospedaje Boutique for a pleasant stay in Mexico City. This contemporary Mexican guest house is located in the old town of Coyoacan, known for its cobblestone streets and colonial architecture. Guests can easily explore the area by foot, with art galleries, and colorful artisan markets nearby.
Gold Coast, Australia
Sun, surf and sea, this is what the Gold Coast is all about. With its iconic white sanded beaches and luxury hotels, this surfers paradise south of Brisbane is a perfect destination for travelers to visit for pleasure and relaxation. Besides the incredible beaches, Gold Coast is known as Australia’s theme park capital, with a variety of theme parks throughout the city, making this destination the ultimate playground for every traveler of any age. Perfect for the 61%* of travelers planning travel that allows adults to live like kids again. For the more outdoor travelers, a variety of national parks, including Nerang National Park and Lamington National Park, are situated in the surrounding area, where travelers can hike and mountain bike, or spot some incredible wildlife.
Where to stay: Meriton Suites Southport offers picturesque, panoramic views of Gold Coasts' surf beaches and the marina. Guests can enjoy a day of relaxing and tanning at the nearby beach, or walk to one of the many restaurants in the surrounding area. The city theme parks are easy to reach when renting a car, including Sea World and Movie World, both just a short drive away.
*Travel Predictions 2023 research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure in the next 12-24 months. In total 24,179 respondents across 32 countries and territories were polled (including 1014 from Argentina, 1006 from Australia, 505 from Austria, 504 from Belgium, 1009 from Brazil, 503 from Canada, 1009 from China, 1010 from Colombia, 505 from Croatia, 505 from Denmark, 1010 from France, 1001 from Germany, 500 from Hong Kong, 1005 from India, 504 from Ireland, 504 from Israel, 1008 from Italy, 1003 from Japan, 504 from Mexico, 502 from The Netherlands, 1007 from New Zealand, 1009 from Portugal, 507 from Singapore, 1008 from South Korea, 1001 from Spain, 505 from Sweden, 508 from Switzerland, 500 from Taiwan, 504 from Thailand, 1006 from the UK, 1009 from the US and 504 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in August 2022.
**Destinations were sorted by the total share of Traveller Review Award 2023 recipients when compared to the total amount of eligible properties in that city (accommodation only). Destinations also had to have an above-average amount of winners to be included on this list (500 award recipients or higher for cities) and were curated for geographic spread.