The most popular holiday destinations in 2023

The last few years travel plans have been somewhat tarnished by the COVID-19 epidemic – so the question is, are we as keen as mustard to get back out there this year, or feeling a little hesitant?

It only felt like we were seeing in the New Year a short time ago, and yet summer is nearly upon us. That means, the most popular time of the year for holidays is just around the corner too.

The last few years travel plans have been somewhat tarnished by the COVID-19 epidemic – so the question is, are we as keen as mustard to get back out there this year, or feeling a little hesitant?

While it’s important to remember, that across the world, COVID-19 is still very much around, with sensible precautions the travel door is now open to plan a summer holiday abroad. So, with that in mind, with the help of the Association of British Travel Agents, or ABTA, and Scottish-based travel agency Skyscanner, we wanted to give you an insight into what Brits’ holiday plans could look like this year. We review what will be – and currently are – the most popular holiday destinations in 2023.

The most popular holiday countries and cities

The possibilities are almost endless when it comes to choosing a holiday destination, so where do you start? The mixture of these countless holiday options with a wide variety of travel preferences, from flights, to cruises and everything else in between, significantly broadens the spectrum of locations Brits choose to travel to.

To understand how people in the UK are booking their holidays, we look at ABTA and Skyscanner’s top 10 most popular travel destinations.

ABTA’s list features the top 10 countries that individuals in their study said were the countries they would most likely go to on holiday in 2023. Whereas, Skyscanner’s list includes the top 10 cities that their customers have travelled to so far in 2023. All in all, by combining these we get an interesting picture.

Here’s our summary of the top countries and the top cities:

Shorter haul flights are more popular this year.

ABTA’s data reveals a lot about the British public’s attitude towards holidaying during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. The majority of our favourite holiday destinations require short haul flights, which tells us a great deal about how much people are willing to spend to travel abroad, and how far they are willing to go this year.

Interestingly, 2022’s ABTA’s top 10 was almost identical to this year’s list as well, which suggests that Brits maybe are not quite ready just yet to go further afield and step out of their comfort zone after such a tumultuous time. For instance, around this time five years ago, ABTA were predicting the likes of Rwanda, Nepal, Argentina, nations located in South America, Asia and Africa, to be amongst the most popular British holiday destinations.

Despite this though, the US and Australia remain popular destinations, and the travel time isn’t putting us off entirely. There does still seem to be some resiliency against the UK’s high inflation and economic uncertainty when it comes to those planning a trip of a lifetime.

Cities of Spain top the list!

The city of Malaga in Spain tops Skyscanner’s top 10 most travelled to cities by Brits in 2023

Spanish cities have without doubt been amongst Britain’s favourite holiday destinations so far in 2023. Malaga, Barcelona and Alicante make up the top 3 whilst, quite surprisingly, sunny Dublin follows up as the 4th most booked holiday destination.

Shorter haul flights are a preference in 2023 – New York is the only city in Skyscanner’s top 10 cities which travellers have booked flights to outside of Europe and the UK.

What types of holidays are we likely to book in 2023?

We have a better idea of which destinations Brits have already been to, and plan to travel to in 2023, but we also wanted to find out more about the types of holidays we are booking in 2023.

Of those surveyed, 30% were looking for a beach holiday, while just over 20% said they would plan a city-style holiday.

Another 30% were looking to book a ‘short break’, which is a significant increase at 20% higher than last year. And it seems many of us are still weighing up our options as 40% of responders were ‘unsure’ – which is at least 25% more than those who answered the same way in 2022.

What types of holidays are the most popular in 2023?

Interestingly, we can see that Brits currently have certain travel trends. ABTA reports that 30% are taking advantage of all-inclusive holiday packages, likely to ensure they have a set spending limit for their holiday this year. More and more agencies are becoming aware of this too, offering more all-inclusive packages to entice travellers to book a holiday where they spend the bulk of their money at the initial booking stage.

Almost 40% of travellers are also more likely to enlist the support of a travel professional when they come to book their holiday. Avoiding scams and booking with more well-known names has, and will continue to be, a more popular trend for travel booking in 2023, particularly against a recent backdrop of strike actions, and the reassurance you’ll have support when you need it.

And against the cost-of-living backdrop, we’re looking harder for great deals. Airlines and agencies report that we are now, more than ever, adopting an ‘early bird’ approach to booking holidays. Currently, one third of us are booking trips based on booking early, getting the best price we possibly can.

This is interesting, because this ‘early bird’ approach, combined with a new cautiousness to avoid scams and bad-value deals, is not a mix you would expect. It might explain why there’s still a lot of British people who are not sure about travelling right now.

To summarise…

Although surveys and responses don’t always reflect a national sentiment, what we can say is that the current UK economic climate is undoubtedly influencing how and when we holiday this year.

Shorter haul flights, typically to Europe and particularly to Spain, are incredibly popular right now. We are also more likely to book more cautiously, scouring the best deals on the market, and using a travel agent, to avoid falling victim to a poor value holiday option. But yet, there is also a huge percentage of us who are also displaying a hesitancy towards booking holidays in 2023 – and it is still not clear when exactly that reluctancy will disappear for good!

Looking for some advice on travel insurance? Our travel specialists in our Farnham or Oxford branches are here to help, either over the phone or in branch!

Sources: ABTA, Skyscanner, GoCompare

You could also read…