The Scottish Highlands have been named one of the greatest locations on the planet by one of the world's most respected magazines.

National Geographic has named its 'Best of the World 2023', a list of 25 places across five categories that make up the most-visit locations for the coming year.

Scotland's wild north has been named in the nature category alongside locations in Botswana, Slovenia and Texas.

Praising the effort to re-wild the Highlands, the magazine wrote: "The windswept Scottish Highlands are celebrated for their austere beauty, but the sheep-scoured landscapes are in fact the result of human interference.

"In ancient times, Scotland’s glens and hills were covered by the great Caledonian Forest. Pine, rowan, and oak trees sheltered all kinds of now vanished wildlife, including wolves, bears, aurochs, and wild oxen. 

"But centuries of logging and overgrazing devastated the ecosystem. Now a move to return the Highlands to its original woodlands, by reintroducing former flora and fauna in a process called 'rewilding', is gathering steam—with major strides to come in 2023.


"The nonprofit organization Trees for Life is opening a center in Dundreggan to educate the public on the concept of rewilding. Above Inverness, the 23,000-acre Alladale Wilderness Reserve has already planted nearly a million trees, runs a breeding program to reintroduce the native Scottish wildcat, and has a longer-term plan to bring back wolves. And most ambitiously, the Affric Highlands project will start restoring 500,000 acres stretching from Loch Ness to the west coast in a 30-year initiative that could make Scotland the planet’s first rewilded nation."

Manchester was the only other UK location to make the list, getting a nod in the 'family' category while other places included were the Appian Way in Italy, the Austrian Alps and Ghana.

Amy Alipio, senior editor at National Geographic Travel said: “We have experienced so many changes and disruptions in the way we explore over the last few years, so with this year’s list, we really wanted to get back to identifying positive stories about destinations and communities.

“With our team of travel experts and editors, we took a deeper dive into places all over the globe that are providing experiences that are unique and beneficial for both locals and travelers: locations where visitors ultimately sustain and support—not damage—the destination’s environment and community.

"We also worked hard to provide lesser-known gems on the list, equally inspiring alternatives to destinations that have become overcrowded (think Choquequirao vs. Machu Picchu in Peru).”

The list was created, researched, reported and written in collaboration with National Geographic Traveler’s international editorial teams, which serve millions of readers through their magazines and websites in more than a dozen offices around the world.

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Nathan Lump, the 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 travelers’ itineraries for years to come. From craft breweries and Asia’s top film festival in Busan, South Korea, to women-led Indigenous tourism in Alberta, Canada, and the densest leatherback turtle nesting ground in the world in Trinidad and Tobago, this year’s list reminds us that there is still so much out there to explore and experience.”

National Geographic was founded in 1888 as a scholarly journal, and began introducing the large photos it is renowned for in 1905.

It claims a total circulation of over 6 million globally, and is printed in 29 local editions around the world.

Its Instagram page is the biggest non-celebrity account on the app, with more followers than the likes of Rihanna, LeBron James and Taylor Swift.