Worldwide, people are more optimistic about international travel, with 72% stating that traveling will always be worth it. And forget the usual favorites; in 2023, travelers are looking for unique, delightful, and surprising vacations.
2023 is the year of bold adaptability when it comes to travel. Nothing is off-limits, and everything is possible. Nearly 73% of Americans want to experience ‘out of comfort zone’ travel destinations that push their limits, meaning more adventure travel and niche experiences.
Winter approaches and the travel industry experiences a remarkable surge. International travel is soaring by 200% and hotel bookings skyrocketing 300% compared to last year. It’s clear that the allure of international adventure destinations has never been stronger.
If you’re searching for unique international travel destinations that include adventure and will be the trip of a lifetime, these destinations are worth looking into.
Tayrona National Park, Colombia
Between its renowned coffee and a wide variety of fruits, it’s no surprise that Colombia is the world’s third most biodiverse country. The best place to see Colombia’s natural beauty and biodiversity is Tayrona National Park along Colombia’s Caribbean Coast. Here, biodiversity reigns supreme, with over 300 bird species, 400 fish varieties, 100 mammal types, 770 plant species, and a mesmerizing array of over 100 coral species.
Tayrona National Park is an amazing place to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city. It’s magical to wander along its jungle trails between the impressive Sierra Nevada mountains and the calm Caribbean coast. The park’s shoreline features beautiful white sandy beaches, quiet little bays, and clear blue waters. Tayrona is perfect if you love nature, unique scenery, and Colombia’s finest beaches.
Indulge in the ultimate Santa Marta experience by booking a room at the newly unveiled Hilton Santa Marta, a haven that welcomed its first guests in early 2023. With 261 rooms, this exquisite property promises breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea and easy access to the area’s pristine beaches.
And that’s not all – the wonders of the Sierra Nevada’s emerald peaks and the enchanting Tayrona National Park are just a stone’s throw away. Plus, savor the flavors of contemporary Colombian cuisine right on-site for an all-encompassing sensory delight.
Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador
As a destination, Ecuador is known for its Galapagos Islands. However, Ecuador’s mainland offers incredible adventure and unique destinations. In between the Andes mountains and the Amazon, you’ll find Baños de Agua Santa.
Stepping into this charming little town, prepare to be swept away by a whirlwind of thrilling adventure opportunities. Picture rafting through wild rapids, soaring through the skies on ziplines, conquering trails on a mountain bike, or descending into the mystical depths of canyoning – all at your fingertips. And if you’re looking to experience it all, a scenic drive along La Ruta de las Cascadas – the route of the waterfalls – unveils exhilarating options one by one. After a day packed with adrenaline rushes, don’t miss the chance to unwind in Baños’ natural thermal baths, heated by the nearby Tungurahua volcano.
For an extraordinary stay in Baños, choose Abby’s Hideaway. They have a big colonial house like a boutique hotel, an incredible A-Frame cabin, and a river house. There is also a campsite for vans and tents with a kitchen and showers. The property is just outside town, so it’s super quiet, with hiking and the river. Abby leads tours and takes visitors to the bathhouses, on adventure tours, and to all the cool places guests wouldn’t know about otherwise.
In the south of Guatemala, surrounded by volcanos, lies the small city of Antigua. Founded in the 16th century, Antigua is often considered one of Central America’s best-preserved colonial cities. UNESCO declared Antigua a World Heritage Site in 1979, ensuring its culture and architecture will be preserved.
For travelers seeking adventure in Guatemala, the majestic Volcán de Fuego and Acatenango to the west and Volcán de Agua to the south will satisfy their adventure needs. With tours going up to Acatenango daily, it’s possible to sleep on the volcano while watching the neighboring Fuego erupt every 10-15 minutes. Other volcanoes are nearby, like Volcán de Pacaya. On this volcano, you can not only see the red-hot lava flowing out, but walk up to it to toast marshmallows.
Tourists looking for a unique stay in Antigua, Guatemala, should consider Villa Bokéh. It is located just 10 minutes from downtown Antigua. The 15-room hacienda, once home to over 10 orphans, celebrates Guatemalan culture, craftsmanship, and hospitality, overlooking the lush, volcano-laden landscape surrounding the historic, colorful town. Rooms feature private balconies, enclosed gardens with fire pits, and panoramic volcano vistas – all spaciously distributed throughout the estate’s two floors, contributing to providing guests with an experience as exclusive as it is unique.
Found in central Chile’s Lake District, Pucon is home to Lake Villarrica and features stunning views of the Villarrica Volcano. It is the ideal town for travelers looking for gastronomy, nature, and adventure. Mapuche traditions greatly influence Pucon town; those interested in the culture can visit a Mapuche family and share a meal while learning about their beliefs, history, and rituals.
Travelers can spend the day at Villarrica National Park, with over 135,000 acres of extensive forests of araucarias characterized by its volcanoes, forests, caves, rivers, and lagoons – the centerpiece of the park is a line of three volcanoes stretching to the Andrean range. After a day of exploring, guests can relax at the Termas Geometricas, a labyrinth of 20 thermal baths that draw water from over 60 natural hot springs connected by rambling wooden plank Japanese-style boardwalks.
Nestled in the heart of Pucon, Chile, Selina Pucon provides a cozy and comfortable retreat surrounded by nature’s beauty. With its rustic charm and proximity to Lake Villarrica and the Villarrica Volcano, Selina Pucon offers a unique opportunity to unwind and connect with the stunning landscapes of this picturesque town. Whether you seek outdoor adventures or a tranquil escape, the accommodations provide the perfect balance for a memorable stay in Pucon.
Find An Ideal Destination
In 2023, the world of travel is evolving, with travelers seeking unique and surprising experiences more than ever. With international travel surging by 200% and hotel bookings soaring by 300% compared to the previous year, the demand for distinctive and adventurous destinations is at an all-time high.
Whether it’s the breathtaking biodiversity of Tayrona National Park in Colombia, the adrenaline-pumping adventures of Baños de Agua Santa in Ecuador, the cultural richness of Antigua in Guatemala, or the natural wonders of Pucon in Chile, this year promises unforgettable journeys. So, if you’re ready to skip the winter blues and embark on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, these international destinations await exploration.
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Founder of Spark Nomad, Radical FIRE, Journalist
- Expertise: Personal finance and travel content
- Education: Bachelor of Economics at Radboud University, Master in Finance at Radboud University, Minor in Economics at Chapman University.
- Over 200 articles, essays, and short stories published across the web.
Experience: Marjolein Dilven is a journalist and founder of Spark Nomad, a travel platform, and Radical FIRE, a personal finance platform. Marjolein has a finance and economics background with a master’s in Finance. She has quit her job to travel the world, documenting her travels on Spark Nomad to help people plan their travels. Marjolein Dilven has written for publications like MSN, Associated Press, CNBC, Town News syndicate, and more.