National Geographic has announced that Manchester will be included in their highly anticipated list as one of the world’s best destinations to visit in 2023.

The influential ‘Best of the World’ list, released today, ranks Manchester as the only city in the UK to be awarded the prestigious accolade, which annually sets out 25 of the must-see places to visit around the globe.

The accolade recognises Manchester’s post-pandemic revival and comes ahead of a raft of significant cultural attractions due to open in the city in 2023, with editors and travel experts personally nominating the city “as a mecca for soccer fans and a growing arts and culture hub”.

Castlefield, Manchester with 'National Geographic Travel Best of the World 2023' logo

Reasons given for the decision to name Manchester ‘Best of the World’ include; Manchester Museum, due to reopen in February 2023 following a £15m transformation that will add new galleries; Factory International, opening in June 2023 with an ultra-flexible, large-scale performance space set to become home to Manchester International Festival; and the newly-opened Castlefield Viaduct, a National Trust managed former industrial railway bridge now transformed into a skyline urban park.

Manchester joins global destinations including San Francisco, Colombia, Switzerland, and Trinidad and Tobago, which were included in the ‘family’ category of the accolade, recognising destinations offering educational journeys for all generations. The other categories featured in the list include culture, nature, community, and adventure.

The ‘Best of the World’ accolade follows the work of Marketing Manchester, the destination marketing agency for Greater Manchester, in showcasing Greater Manchester’s visitor attractions and new openings for 2023 with its regularly updated Tourism Watchlist, which is distributed to over 1,200 travel media contacts across the world.

Commenting on the accolade, Sheona Southern, Managing Director of Marketing Manchester, said: “This is huge news for Manchester, and we are thrilled the city is being recognised as one of the world’s best destinations to visit in 2023. This accolade comes after a turbulent time for the visitor economy and is a testament to the exciting developments and openings coming up in 2023.

“With major world-class cultural openings at Manchester Museum and Factory International, new music offer at the expanding AO Arena and opening of Co-Op Live, beautiful new green space at Mayfield Park, and Castlefield Viaduct – not to mention incredible new food and drink experiences, and stunning new places to stay – Greater Manchester continues to strengthen its offer as a compelling international destination.  

“At Marketing Manchester, we have worked hard to rebuild Greater Manchester’s post-pandemic reputation as a must-visit place to tick off the bucket list, and this accolade firmly acknowledges our positioning of Manchester as a leading UK city destination; showcasing the music and football we are known for, but also the rich combination of culture, food and drink, shopping and year-round events that we know travellers love to include when visiting the city.”

Operating in over 170 countries, National Geographic’s titles are some of the best-known and most recognisable travel publications in the world, reaching over half a billion people on social media.

Cllr Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: "This international recognition is great news for Manchester. Tourism is really important for our economy and creates and supports thousands of jobs and opportunities. 

"We have a long-term vision for a vibrant city with an array of activities, especially for families, and this accolade and others show that is bearing fruit. There is so much to do here - both for residents and visitors. From the recently opened Mayfield Park to the forthcoming Factory International, there's always something new.

"We've been working to broaden the range of high-quality family-friendly facilities and attractions across the city and the fact that we have been recognised in National Geographic's 'Family' category demonstrates the strong progress that is being made." 

Nathan Lump, National Geographic’s Editor-in-Chief, said: “’Best of the World’ is Nat Geo’s annual love letter to the most incredible places in the world, both near and far, we couldn’t be prouder to shine a light on these 25 extraordinary places that most inspired us this year, and which we know will define travellers’ itineraries for years to come.”

The ‘Best of the World’ list can be viewed in full on the National Geographic website.