Best New Ways to Travel 2023 Hot List
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Hot List

The Best New Ways to Travel This Year: 2023 Hot List

The most exciting new openings in travel, from the freshest airport terminals to exciting train and air routes.

Nothing makes us more excited to get up and go than putting together our annual Hot List, now in its 27th year. This curated collection of the world’s best new hotels, cruises, restaurants, cultural destinations, and transportation projects is a labor of love for our global team, which spends the year researching, visiting, and vetting the entries to bring you a definitive directory of new standards for hospitality. Think a new state-of-the-art cruise terminal welcoming over 10,000 passengers per day, and the new air and train routes exciting Americans from coast to coast. These are the best new ways to travel this year.

Click here to see the entire Hot List for 2023. 

Doha's new Grand Cruise Terminal

Qatar’s art-filled Hamad International Airport is regularly voted among the world’s best by air travelers, and now passengers arriving by sea will be greeted in similar style at the just-launched Doha Grand Cruise Terminal. Opened just before the FIFA World Cup, the new facility sprawls along the water’s edge near the city center. It is able to host two mega-ships simultaneously, with a capacity to welcome 12,000 passengers per day. In a nod to traditional Arabian architecture, the building’s sand-colored façade features rows of repeated arches, creating dramatic contrasts of light and shadow. There’s an art gallery, a large open-air rooftop terrace, and, perhaps most thrillingly, an escalator for arriving passengers that passes through a vast aquarium before emerging into the bright Doha sunshine. 

New and revamped airlines and airports, from Doha to Honolulu

Ask and you shall receive. Pent-up demand for flights to Australia and New Zealand (two of the last countries to lift COVID-related travel restrictions) has sparked a handful of new direct airline routes, including Air New Zealand’s game-changing nonstop from JFK to Auckland (lie-flat beds in economy!), as well as San Francisco to Brisbane on United and Dallas to Melbourne aboard Australia’s own, Qantas. New direct flights are also making previously tricky-to-reach places much more accessible. Take the first nonstop US-to-Cook Islands flight on Hawaiian Airlines. Travelers no longer need to fly from the States to New Zealand and then backtrack to the Cook Islands, but instead can get there directly from Honolulu, saving hours. The new Washington Dulles-to-Amman flight on United ups the options for getting to Jordan, and the Azores, Portugal’s increasingly popular island chain, is now reachable from JFK on Azores Airlines and from Newark on United.

Increasingly, airport terminals are feeling more like high-end malls with luxury boutiques, million-dollar art installations, and outposts of celebrity-chef restaurants than utilitarian passageways to departure gates. These creature comforts are becoming the new norm for New Yorkers, with two of the area’s major hubs competing for the most bells and whistles: LaGuardia’s Terminal C and Newark’s Terminal A have been completely reimagined. LaGuardia’s C, a Delta hub, is now home to the brand’s largest sky club, while Newark’s A is doubling down on Jersey pride, commissioning the state’s arts community for installations as well as bringing in a number of locally loved restaurants and shops (including a Jersey Mike’s Subs stop). 

On the other coast, at Los Angeles International, Delta’s first phase of a $2.3 billion investment premiered last year at Terminal 3 with a video-gaming area and access to a new Sky Club with rare outdoor space. Farther afield, airports are creating large green spaces, only indoors—like the Orchard, a 60,000-square-foot atrium garden with 300 trees and 25,000 plants at the newly expanded Doha Hamad International Airport in Qatar.

New trains that are right on track

It was a banner year for trains—but not of the gilded, romantically throwback sort that wanderlusters find themselves swooning over. More accurately, this was a big year for train nerds, with enormous rail projects coming to fruition in the unlikeliest of places. South Florida’s ambitious Brightline between Miami and West Palm Beach added two new stations, in Boca Raton and Aventura, and is slated to extend all the way to Orlando later this year. Across the country in Los Angeles, the K Line light rail connecting Jefferson Park and Westchester opened its first phase in late 2022 and is set to connect to LAX next year, theoretically making it possible to—gasp!—get around LA without a car. Just in time for summer, Amtrak adjusted its northeast Empire Service route to offer a dedicated Berkshire Flyer service on weekends between Manhattan’s Moynihan Train Hall and Pittsfield, Massachusetts. 

In Switzerland, the TikTok set are devouring the new Golden Pass Express for its scenic Bernese Oberland views—but real train connoisseurs are lauding this train’s unique ability to change both wheel gauge and coach height to accommodate changes in rails and platforms along the route. And a bit north from there, Swedish train operator SJ launched daily overnight service between Stockholm and Hamburg, with seasonal extensions on to Berlin. All in all, it feels like slow travel has never grown so quickly.

This story appears in Condé Nast Traveler's Hot List issue. Never miss out when you subscribe to Condé Nast Traveler.