The 54 Most Authentic Villages in the World, as Decided By the UN

With the new year fast approaching, your mind might be turning to plans for next year – specifically, what travel you might want to take. If that’s you and you’re looking for inspiration for where to go that’s off-the-beaten-track, a new report has you sorted.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has shared its third annual list of Best Tourism Villages for 2023, a compilation of villages and towns in five continents that it determined were leading the way in preservation and sustainability.

Released during the UNWTO General Assembly, the list highlights villages with tourism that preserves cultures and traditions, celebrates diversity, provides opportunities and safeguards biodiversity.

The villages chosen all met nine criteria, including economic sustainability, social sustainability, environmental sustainability, conservation of cultural resources, tourism development, connectivity and safety.

 “Tourism can be a powerful force for inclusivity, empowering local communities and distributing benefits across regions,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili at the release of the list. “This initiative acknowledges villages that have harnessed tourism as a catalyst for their development and well-being.”

Hakuba Japan
Image: Unsplash

This year’s list features five villages from Peru, the most out of any other country. Other popular countries include Portugal, Japan and China, which each had four villages on the list.

Highlights include Hakuba in the Japanese Alps, an Italian village called Lerici, in the Liguria region of Italy, and Douma, Lebanon, a village with traditional stone houses, centuries-old churches and views of the Batroun Mountains.

The UNWTO is the United Nations specialised agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. Headquartered in Madrid, Spain, it promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability.

List of Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO 2023 in alphabetical order is:

  • Al Sela, Jordan
  • Barrancas, Chile
  • Biei, Japan
  • Caleta Tortel, Chile
  • Cantavieja, Spain
  • Chacas, Peru
  • Chavín de Huantar, Peru
  • Dahshour, Egypt
  • Dhordo, India
  • Dongbaek, Republic of Korea
  • Douma, Lebanon
  • Ericeira, Portugal
  • Filandia, Colombia
  • Hakuba, Japan
  • Higueras, Mexico
  • Huangling, China
  • Jalpa de Cánovas, Mexico
  • Kandovan, Iran
  • La Carolina, Argentina
  • Lephis Village, Ethiopia
  • Lerici, Italy
  • Manteigas, Portugal
  • Morcote, Switzerland
  • Mosan, Republic of Korea
  • Oku-Matsushima, Japan
  • Omitlán de Juárez, Mexico
  • Oñati, Spain
  • Ordino, Andorra
  • Oyacachi, Ecuador
  • Paucartambo, Peru
  • Penglipuran, Indonesia
  • Pisco Elqui, Chile
  • Pozuzo, Peru
  • Saint-Ursanne, Switzerland
  • Saty, Kazakhstan
  • Schladming, Austria
  • Sehwa, Republic of Korea
  • Sentob, Uzbekistan
  • Shirakawa, Japan
  • Sigüenza, Spain
  • Şirince, Türkiye
  • Siwa, Egypt
  • Slunj, Croatia
  • Sortelha, Portugal
  • Anton am Arlberg, Austria
  • Tân Hoá, Viet Nam
  • Taquile, Peru
  • Tokaj, Hungary
  • Văleni, Moldova
  • Vila da Madalena, Portugal
  • Xiajiang, China
  • Zapatoca, Colombia
  • Zhagana, China
  • Zhujiawan, China

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