These tourist villages have been called ‘best in the world’ by the UN
With the rise of second-city travel—the concept of skipping the popular city—these destinations can also serve as offbeat getaways on your next adventure.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has unveiled its third annual list of the finest tourism villages for 2023. Encompassing locales from Mexico, China, Ethiopia and Italy — these places are shortlisted for their efforts in preserving community values, fostering innovation and promoting sustainability. “The concept of rural tourism possesses the capability to revitalise local art and craft, redevelop rural areas, and generate jobs for local residents. In the long term, it can further lead to upscaling rural areas by enabling infrastructure developments, such as building roads, offering sanitation facilities and establishing telecommunications,” says Rikant Pittie, Co-founder, EaseMyTrip.
With the rise of second-city travel — the concept of skipping the most popular city in a region — these destinations can also serve as offbeat getaways on your next adventure. For instance, those planning to visit Kutch would also do well to sneak out to Dhordo, which has claimed a spot on the list.
We round up some of the other villages on the list that you can visit in November and December.
Al Sela, Jordan
Nestled along the migratory route of soaring birds, Al Sela village emerges as a haven of natural and cultural wonders. Its landscape, a canvas of valleys, mountains, and plateaus, showcases the grandeur of perennial trees such as Romanian olives. The rare vegetation, an extension of Wadi Feynan and Dana Nature Reserve, paints an exquisite tapestry at the local level.
Al Sela recognizes tourism as a pivotal force for economic growth. Since 2018, a collaborative effort between the local community, government authorities, and strategic organizations has meticulously crafted a tourism development framework.
After hosting the Tourism Working Group Meeting of the G20 earlier this year, Dhordo’s nomination and win after competing with almost 260 applications has elevated the destination on an international scale. Popularly known for hosting the annual Rann Utsav—a rich, cultural extravaganza that celebrates the White Desert—it also showcases circular mud houses called Bhungas which reflect the way of life in the desert region. Besides the Rann Utsav, the handicraft and local cuisine beg for a long, winding detour on your trip to Rajasthan.
A jewel in the Japanese Alps, Hakuba is renowned for its world-class ski resorts, including Happo-One and Goryu. The region hosted the Winter Olympics in 1998, attracting avid skiers and snow enthusiasts. Hakuba's picturesque landscapes offer hiking trails, hot springs, and the iconic Matsumoto Castle nearby.
In the heart of the Alto Deba region, cradled by the Aloña Mountain, Oñati beckons with a historic charm set against a backdrop of rugged slopes. The town's ancient quarter unfolds a tale of the Basque Renaissance through palaces, churches, and architectural jewels. The 16th-century Sancti Spiritus University, a masterpiece by Bishop Rodrigo Mercado de Zuazola, showcases a smart facade and a Plateresque retable sculpted by French artist Pierres Picart.
Situated in the Ancash Region, Chacas is a historic village characterized by colonial architecture and the majestic Santa Rosa de Lima Church. The Huascarán National Park, home to Peru's highest peak, Huascarán, surrounds Chacas, offering opportunities for trekking and exploration.
Higueras, located in Nuevo León, Mexico, is known for its rural charm and agricultural activities. The village features traditional Mexican architecture and a tranquil atmosphere. The nearby Cumbres de Monterrey National Park provides hiking trails with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and canyons.