Tips and top spots for our favorite travel season.
Last year we cheered travel’s return with big-ticket trips and visits to beloved haunts. So what are our destinations for the sun-drenched months of 2023? We’re dedicating this summer to pure fun: escapes inspired by The White Lotus, Europe’s less-touristed hideouts, sushi feasts, and chasing the wake of Argentina’s World Cup glory.
Perhaps Sicily’s San Domenico Palace is pop culture’s most sublime avatar, newly sought after since the fourteenth-century former convent set the stage for the delectable mess of The White Lotus’ second season. “That show has really put the spotlight on Sicily as a destination – so many people are wanting to go there,” says Ane Lowe.
It’s not the only European understudy ready for the main stage. “I think you’re going to see a lot of alternative destinations because people were a little taken aback by the crowds last summer,” says Tiffany Layne, whose off beat fave is mountainous Slovenia. “It’s gorgeous, great for adventurers, and outstanding gastronomically.” Neighboring Croatia is another star. “It’s right on the cusp of becoming really huge, but you can still find the authenticity of a local experience,” says Samuel Spencer, pointing to private yacht charters as a trending way to explore the country’s archipelagic beauty.
And Japan, now welcoming travelers for the first summer since 2019, has returned as a food lover’s dream destination. “In Asia it’s Japan, hands down,” says Melissa Wu, whose clients are planning trips around the country’s most refined dining. “They want the best of the best, and you can find that in Japan.”
Other travelers are riding World Cup euphoria all the way to Buenos Aires, captivated by coverage of victory parties there, says Stephen Scott. The city’s architecture, design, and local markets have always won high praise, but, Scott says, it’s the winning energy that makes Argentina a marquee destination this summer: “How do you not find excitement in the country that just won the world’s biggest sports event?”
Read on for Virtuoso advisors’ recommendations – and some travel-tested tips from magazine staff – for summer-vacation success.
What’s the best cruise for a noncruiser?
Try river cruising, which wins over holdouts with intimate, small-boat experiences. “You feel like you’re in a floating hotel, not a floating city,” says Ane Lowe, who loves that the nimbler craft can visit off-the-radar destinations and dock right in the heart of cities. “When you arrive in port, you’re able to get off and immediately go exploring.”
Popular summer itineraries in Europe include the Rhine, Douro, and Seine, but Lowe’s pick is the Danube, linking Germany to the Black Sea. Its current draws travelers toward uncrowded, lesser-known capitals, from edgy, art-filled Belgrade to the post-Soviet ebullience of Bucharest. “Usually on river cruises the focus is more on the cities you’re visiting versus onboard entertainment,” Lowe says. And the 1,771-mile Danube also offers wine to thrill, flowing between the terraced vineyards and castles of Austria’s UNESCO-listed Wachau wine region and monk-founded ancient vineyards famed for fragrant whites.
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I’m a gluten-free vegan, and my partner is dairy-free. We’re thinking Asia for our honeymoon. Where will we find the best local food that works for both of us?
“I adore Thailand,” says Tisha Neufville. “The food is phenomenal, and you can do everything from high-end dining to street food safely.” Much Thai food is naturally gluten-free and enriched with luxuriantly vegan coconut milk – must-try dishes range from veggie stir-fry pad pak to tofu curries and green papaya salad (ask for yours without fish sauce). Taste them in jungle-lush Chiang Mai, she says, a once-bohemian idyll burnished to sophistication by resorts from Anantara and Four Seasons.
Rome is at the top of my list, but I’ve seen photos of crowds at the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain. Help!
Just go already. Rome is the Eternal City, but never old hat. “Rome is like an onion – it has so many layers,” says Adamarie King, who for decades spent six months a year in Italy. Make neighborhoods the focus rather than hitting all the big sites: Street art, boutiques, and galleries have made a creative hub of the once-gritty San Lorenzo district, King says, while the garden suburb of Garbatella has lesser-known, traditional (and delicious) food markets that have been reenergized amid post-pandemic life.
Can I really go to Santorini for a week with a carry-on?
“It can be really helpful to minimize the need to check bags, especially when traveling to a small island,” says Tiffany Layne. Though a self-described overpacker, she strategizes by matching outfits with detailed, day-by-day itineraries, so she can make items work double shifts. “You can look cute and fashionable without overpacking,” Layne says. Long dresses, linen pants, wedges, and neutral-toned sandals are island all-stars from brunch to beachside ouzo, and a couple of swimsuits will take care of the rest. Don’t sweat the details: The height of Mediterranean style is sprezzatura, which elevates unstudied cool over carefully put-together outfits.
We want to go winetasting, but we have two teens in tow. Where can we go that’s fun for everyone?
“The South of France, from Nice all the way to Biarritz,” says Katie Stewart, who travels frequently with her kids, ages 13, 15, and 17. She recommends family-friendly Château de Berne, a 1,272-acre wine estate with hiking trails, mountain biking, and vineyards that older teens can safely explore on their own. Within day-tripping distance: Saint-Tropez beaches and the tawny Provençal village of Tourtour. “You also have so many different tasting regions, so many varieties of wine,” she says.
What do I do if my luggage gets lost?
Sometimes we boldly go, and our bags just don’t. A headache, sure, but also an excuse to go shopping for a few stylish items. Think local: A good concierge should be able to advise you about traditional garb – whether Spanish espadrilles, a designer’s take on the embroidered Maya huipil, or one of those woolly Icelandic lopapeysa sweaters – that doubles as a chic souvenir. Most “lost” luggage is just delayed, and you can track its wayward journey using AirTags. (You do use AirTags, right?) It’s also key to file a claim at the baggage desk before leaving the airport, keep a copy of the report, and save your receipts – most airlines will cover the cost of clothes or toiletries if your bags dawdle more than 24 hours.
How do I keep my squirmy 3-year-old happy on a ten-hour flight to Europe?
“Prepare yourself to be there for your little one,” says Katie Stewart. “People assume that items will entertain them, but your attention will be key.” She recommends starting the process at home, building airplane anticipation with conversations, toys, and videos. Keep onboard activities – triangle crayons, workbooks, stickers, games – on a rotation tight enough to match preschool-size attention spans. You probably won’t sleep on the plane, so plan to relax on your first day. “There’s no reason to push any kind of touring,” she says. “If you can afford the extra time, let everyone recover and spend a lot of the day outside.”
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What’s a solid souvenir-shopping strategy?
"My most beloved souvenirs (and the gifts that get the best reception) are invariably small, useful things that slip into daily rotation back home. Housewares get a lot of play: Witness the little ceramic bowls I picked up in the Algarve years ago, which my son eats his yogurt out of every morning. Anything unwieldy or uncheckable is out; tea towels, wooden utensils, and paper products are in."
– Marika Cain, editorial director
Any pro tips for taking memorable travel photos?
There’s always a place for sweeping landscape shots, but my favorite travel photos are the quiet still lifes: a local flower captured in light and shadow, colorful roadside fruit stands, a handmade sign’s typography, or maybe a favorite straw hat, sunnies, and a cocktail in situ by the pool. And my No. 1 rule after returning from a trip: Always print your favorites! I toss my prints in a big, shallow basket on my coffee table. They always make me smile when I thumb through them.
– Korena Bolding Sinnett, art director
Are there any proven ways to beat jet lag?
For years my strategy was to just push through it. But when prepping for an assignment in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, I heard about Timeshifter, an app that helps reset (preset?) your circadian rhythms. Enter your destination and flight info, and it creates a personalized, hour-by-hour schedule from a few days before departure until arrival. Prompts include when to have caffeine or cut it out, avoid light (or put on your darkest glasses if you can’t), experience sunshine or bright light, take a nap, and go to bed and wake up. It works. I followed the plan closely and arrived – 37 hours of travel and a 15-hour time difference later – feeling shockingly good.
– Justin Paul, managing editor