While the word “destination” means an endpoint for most, we at Winetraveler believe it signifies new beginnings. Choosing a wine country destination is where the adventure truly starts, and from there you can immerse yourself in culture, landscapes, and activities that will lead you down the road less traveled. Browse our catalog of travel destinations for wine country inspiration or dive into our focused itineraries, travel tips, and expert advice for adventures in France, California, Italy, and beyond!
Whether it’s about hitting the swankiest – or quirkiest – wine bars and restaurants in San Francisco and Paris or slowing down to soak in the sun at a Tuscan wine country retreat, we have everything you need to help craft the perfect excursion no matter where your interests lie. Below, find our list of top travel destinations this year, ranging from countries, to regions to cities, according to the number of bookings we’re seeing from our readers and Winetraveler staff suggestions.
This year, Spain has emerged as the most sought-after and visited country, topping our statistics for international travel. Wine enthusiasts, in particular, are drawn to this enchanting destination, where a rich tapestry of culture, history, and gastronomy is seamlessly interwoven with an exceptional viticulture heritage. Spain’s vibrant wine regions, such as La Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Priorat, offer travelers an unforgettable experience of exploring world-class vineyards and tasting exquisite wines. Visitors can embark on a wine journey by exploring charming cities like Logroño, which lies in the heart of La Rioja, or Valladolid, which serves as an ideal base for excursions to Ribera del Duero. With convenient access to some of the most popular wine regions, these cities enable wine aficionados to enjoy day trips and immerse themselves in Spain’s unparalleled terroir and winemaking traditions. If you decide to visit this area, take a look at our suggestions for some of the top hotels in the Rioja region.
Additionally, Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Catalonia, has also become a popular destination for Winetravelers, thanks to its proximity to the renowned Priorat wine region. Just a couple of hours away from the bustling city, visitors can escape to the enchanting landscape of terraced vineyards and centuries-old wineries. The region is celebrated for producing some of Spain’s most prestigious and full-bodied red wines, with a focus on Grenache and Carignan grape varieties. Travelers can effortlessly combine the excitement of Barcelona’s architectural marvels, vibrant art scene, and delectable cuisine with the tranquility of the picturesque Priorat countryside. This winning combination allows visitors to indulge in a truly unique and unforgettable Spanish experience, where urban allure and viticultural splendor unite in perfect harmony.
Spain’s southern gem, Andalusia, has also piqued significant traveler interest this year. This culturally rich and diverse region offers visitors an enchanting blend of stunning landscapes, architectural marvels, and a captivating wine scene.
The cities of Granada, Seville, and Córdoba are not only home to some of Andalusia’s most beautiful sights, but they also serve as ideal bases for exploring the nearby wine regions. The Montilla-Moriles wine region, located just south of Córdoba, is particularly renowned for its production of delectable sherry-style wines, while the up-and-coming wineries in the Ronda area, within easy reach of Malaga, are making a name for themselves with their bold reds and expressive whites.
A visit to Andalusia promises an unforgettable experience, as travelers have the opportunity to delve into the region’s rich history, unique traditions, and remarkable wine culture.
This year, France has secured the #2 spot on our list of most requested and visited countries, beckoning travelers from all over the world with its captivating blend of timeless elegance, world-class gastronomy, and unparalleled wine culture. Home to some of the most prestigious and diverse wine regions, France offers a cornucopia of sensory delights for wine enthusiasts. From the effervescent elegance of Champagne to the rich, complex flavors of Bordeaux, visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to savoring the country’s vinicultural masterpieces.
For those looking to explore France’s celebrated wine regions, cities such as Reims and Épernay provide the perfect gateway to the enchanting world of Champagne, where the delicate bubbles and nuanced flavors of the iconic sparkling wines have captivated generations of connoisseurs.
Meanwhile, Bordeaux serves as a magnificent base for immersing oneself in the prestigious vineyards and châteaux of the Médoc, Saint-Émilion, and Pomerol appellations.
In addition, cities like Strasbourg and Avignon allow travelers to conveniently access the charming wine regions of Alsace and Rhône Valley, respectively. By choosing these urban hubs as their starting points, wine aficionados can embark on unforgettable day trips, delving deep into the terroir, history, and traditions that shape the French winemaking landscape.
As our #3 most requested and visited country this year, Portugal has been captivating the hearts of wine travelers with its distinctive blend of old-world charm, breathtaking landscapes, and exquisite wine offerings. Steeped in history and tradition, Portugal’s wine regions promise visitors a truly authentic and diverse wine experience. From the terraced vineyards of the Douro Valley, birthplace of the world-famous Port wine, to the sun-kissed slopes of Setúbal, which has recently seen a surge in traveler interest, Portugal offers a plethora of exceptional wine destinations to discover and savor.
The enchanting city of Porto, situated at the mouth of the Douro River, serves as the perfect starting point for visitors eager to explore the stunning Douro Valley and its remarkable winemaking heritage. A short drive from Porto, wine enthusiasts can delve into the world of Port wine production, visiting historic quintas and tasting their way through the region’s diverse range of fortified wines.
Meanwhile, the picturesque city of Setúbal is ideally situated for travelers to immerse themselves in the rapidly growing wine scene of the Setúbal Peninsula, renowned for its luscious Moscatel dessert wines and bold red blends.
In addition, Lisbon and its proximity to the acclaimed wine regions of Alentejo and Dão allows visitors to easily embark on day trips and experience the unique terroir and flavors that make Portuguese wines truly unforgettable.
Claiming the #4 position on our list of most visited destinations this year, Italy continues to enchant wine travelers with its rich cultural heritage, picturesque landscapes, and exceptional viticulture. The country boasts a plethora of top wine destinations that delight visitors with their distinctive regional flavors and winemaking traditions. From the rolling hills and cypress-lined roads of Tuscany, home to the renowned Chianti, Montalcino, and Montepulciano sub-regions, to the majestic vineyards of Piedmont, Sardinia, and beyond, Italy offers a veritable treasure trove of wine experiences for the discerning traveler.
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Ideal cities for wine explorers include Siena and Rome, both of which are conveniently located near some of Italy’s most celebrated wine regions. Siena, nestled in the heart of Tuscany, allows visitors to embark on day trips to the enchanting sub-regions, savoring world-class Sangiovese-based wines and immersing themselves in the region’s rich history and picturesque scenery. Rome, with its unparalleled historic charm and vibrant culinary scene, also serves as a fantastic base for excursions to the nearby wine regions of Lazio and Umbria. Additionally, the small island of Ischia has recently experienced a surge in traveler interest, as visitors are drawn to its unique volcanic terroir and the delightful, mineral-driven wines that result from it. It’s also a hidden gem that allows you to escape the broader tourist crowd often surging to Italy throughout the summer season.
Greece has captured the #5 spot on our list of most visited countries this year, enticing wine travelers with its idyllic landscapes, rich history, and flourishing wine culture. As one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world, Greece offers a wealth of viticultural experiences for visitors to explore. The sun-soaked islands of Crete and Santorini, in particular, have emerged as top wine destinations, showcasing the unique character of Greek wines and the diverse terroirs from which they are born.
Crete, the largest island in Greece, boasts a vibrant winemaking scene that is complemented by its stunning natural beauty and ancient archaeological sites. The island’s capital, Heraklion, serves as an excellent base for visitors to venture out and explore the nearby vineyards, where indigenous grape varieties such as Vidiano and Liatiko thrive.
Santorini, famed for its iconic blue-domed churches and dramatic caldera views, is also home to some of the country’s most exciting wines, with the Assyrtiko grape taking center stage. Wine enthusiasts can easily visit Santorini’s charming wineries, many of which are perched along the island’s volcanic cliffs, offering both exceptional wines and breathtaking vistas. As travelers immerse themselves in Greece’s diverse wine regions, they will discover a fascinating tapestry of flavors, history, and terroirs that reflect the country’s enduring winemaking heritage.
South Africa has secured the #6 spot on our list of most visited countries this year, enticing Winetravelers with its breathtaking landscapes, diverse wildlife, and thriving wine industry. As the southernmost winemaking country in Africa, South Africa offers visitors a unique blend of New World innovation and Old World tradition. The country’s wine regions, such as Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Swartland, produce exceptional wines that are gaining worldwide recognition for their quality, character, and exceptional value.
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Wine enthusiasts visiting South Africa should be aware of the exciting offerings in the Western Cape, home to the renowned Cape Winelands. The region is celebrated for its production of outstanding Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as its success with Rhône varietals, such as Syrah and Grenache. In addition to the superb wines, visitors to South Africa can also enjoy the region’s stunning natural beauty, from lush vineyards and dramatic mountain backdrops to the iconic Cape Floral Kingdom, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its incredible biodiversity. South Africa’s unique combination of wine, wildlife, and natural splendor makes it an exciting and unforgettable destination for any wine traveler looking to explore the road less traveled.
Argentina has claimed the #7 spot on our list of most visited countries this year, captivating #Winetravelers with its striking landscapes, vibrant culture, and world-class wine offerings. As the fifth-largest wine-producing country in the world, Argentina showcases an impressive range of wine regions that promise visitors an unforgettable journey of flavors and experiences. Mendoza, the country’s most famous wine region, is renowned for producing exceptional Malbec wines and boasts the highest-altitude vineyards in the world.
Wine enthusiasts visiting Argentina should also be aware of the exciting offerings from Chile, Argentina’s western neighbor. Chile’s top wine regions, such as Colchagua Valley, Maipo Valley, and Casablanca Valley, offer a wealth of diverse terroirs and microclimates, producing high-quality wines from varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Additionally, Chile’s undiscovered sub-regions, such as Leyda Valley and Elqui Valley, are gaining recognition for their unique wines and exceptional growing conditions. The close proximity of these two wine-producing powerhouses allows travelers to explore the best of both countries’ winemaking traditions and terroirs, creating a truly unforgettable experience.
Argentina and Chile, with their diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and flourishing wine industries, stand out as must-visit destinations for any wine traveler looking to discover the hidden gems of South America.
Croatia has earned the #8 spot on our list of most visited countries this year, charming wine travelers with its stunning coastlines, rich cultural heritage, and burgeoning wine scene. As an up-and-coming wine destination, Croatia offers visitors the opportunity to explore a variety of unique wine regions that showcase the country’s ancient winemaking traditions and indigenous grape varieties. The regions of Istria, Dalmatia, and Slavonia stand out for their distinct terroirs and exceptional wines, inviting travelers to embark on a one-of-a-kind viticultural adventure.
Wine enthusiasts considering a visit to this unique destination should check out these Croatian road trip wine routes featured in our recent Winetraveler article, which highlights some of the country’s most scenic and delicious journeys. One such route takes travelers through the picturesque Istrian Peninsula, where they can discover the region’s celebrated Malvasia Istriana white wines and flavorful Teran reds. Another suggested itinerary explores the sun-drenched Dalmatian Coast, where visitors can sample the unique flavors of Plavac Mali and Pošip wines while enjoying breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea.
Croatia’s fascinating fusion of Mediterranean, Central European, and Balkan influences, combined with its diverse landscapes and exciting wine offerings, make it a standout destination for any Winetraveler seeking to uncover the hidden gems of Europe.
Dive into any of the countries, regions or cities listed below to see recent articles, travel guides and itineraries published by the Winetraveler team. If you’re looking for a recommended wine tour, be sure to reach out to our team at [email protected] and we’ll quickly set you up with one of our enthusiastic, local tour operators we work with around the world.