When travelling to a new country it’s easy to go into ‘autopilot mode’ and stay in popular and familiar cities.

But there are so many benefits to going off-the-beaten track and exploring lesser-known towns and villages.

Not only do you escape the hustle and bustle, but often you get a more authentic cultural experience of that destination.

Ultimately, lots of these places preserve landscapes, culture, culinary traditions and more – and if you’re looking to experience that on your next trip, you’re in luck.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recently released its third annual list of the Best Tourism Villages for 2023, highlighting spots that are doing exactly this.

This year’s report spotlights 54 best villages and towns across five continents that have met a number of criteria, including economic, social and environmental sustainability, tourism development, safety and more.

On the list, Peru is the frontrunner as the country that shines out the most – with five villages recognised. While Portugal, Japan, and China each had four villages on the 2023 list.

In Europe, Andorra’s Ordino was praised for its stunning landscapes and environmental initiatives, while Austria’s Schladming and St. Anton am Arlberg were praised for their mountainous backdrops and blend of tradition and modernity.

Similarly, Croatia’s Slunj was commended for ‘placing a high value on preserving its cultural heritage’, alongside Hungary’s Tokaj – which was noted for its rich wine-making history.

Spain had three villages in the rankings with Cantavieja, Oñati and Sigüenza making it onto the list.

Speaking about the annual list, Zurab Pololikashvili – secretary general of UNWTO – said in a statement: ‘This initiative acknowledges villages that have harnessed tourism as a catalyst for their development and well-being.’

You can find the full list of 54 villages and towns below…

54 Best Towns To Visit In The World:


  • Ordino, Andorra
  • Schladming, Austria
  • St. Anton am Arlberg, Austria
  • Slunj, Croatia
  • Tokaj, Hungary
  • Lerici, Italy
  • Văleni, Moldova
  • Ericeira, Portugal
  • Manteigas, Portugal
  • Sortelha, Portugal
  • Vila da Madalena, Portugal
  • Cantavieja, Spain
  • Oñati, Spain
  • Sigüenza, Spain
  • Morcote, Switzerland
  • Saint-Ursanne, Switzerland


  • Huangling, China
  • Xiajiang, China
  • Zhagana, China
  • Zhujiawan, China
  • Dhordo, India
  • Penglipuran, Indonesia
  • Biei, Japan
  • Hakuba, Japan
  • Oku-Matsushima, Japan
  • Shirakawa, Japan
  • Saty, Kazakhstan
  • Dongbaek, South Korea
  • Mosan, South Korea
  • Sehwa, South Korea
  • Şirince, Türkiye
  • Sentob, Uzbekistan
  • Tân Hoá, Vietnam

Mexico, Central and South America

  • La Carolina, Argentina
  • Barrancas, Chile
  • Caleta Tortel, Chile
  • Pisco Elqui, Chile
  • Filandi, Colombia
  • Zapatoca, Colombia
  • Oyacachi, Ecuador
  • Higueras, Mexico
  • Jalpa de Cánovas, Mexico
  • Omitlán de Juárez, Mexico
  • Chacas, Peru
  • Chavín de Huantar, Peru
  • Pozuzo, Peru
  • Paucartambo, Peru
  • Taquile, Peru

Africa and the Middle East

  • Dashour, Egypt
  • Siwa, Egypt
  • Lephis, Ethiopia
  • Kandovan, Iran
  • Al Sela, Jordan
  • Douma, Lebanon

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