While we travel to see the sights, what we really take home with us are the experiences. And finding the right tour operator — one that’s able to meld insider knowledge about a destination with the best ways to take it in — can make or break a trip. But when the right combination does come along, it can be pure magic, so it’s no wonder that the last year has seen group travel on the rise.
How Voting Works
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Nearly 165,000 T+L readers completed the 2023 survey, an increase of nearly 25 percent over pre-pandemic voting levels. A total of more than 685,000 votes were cast across over 8,500 unique properties (hotels, cities, cruise lines, etc.).
Tour operators and safari outfitters were specifically rated on the criteria below:
For each characteristic, respondents could choose a rating of excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor. The final scores are averages of these responses.
What Readers Loved
With nine of the companies returning from last year’s list, one major trend that stands out is the focus on a region, like with this year’s No. 1 pick, ATJ, which focuses on luxury travel, ranging from bespoke private to small group itineraries, in Austrasia. Also destination experts are Inside Japan Tours (No. 10), who offer themed trips, from honeymoons to diving, around the island nation, and Vagabond Tours of Ireland (No. 12), which makes its debut on the list, standing out for its B Corporation status, as it guides travelers around the Emerald Isle in their choice of style, either relaxed and culture-focused or active and adventurous.
Also notable are the operators who go a step beyond, like two returning favorites: Artisans of Leisure (returning as No. 3) has been called “top notch”; one reader said that “no other tour operator comes close in terms of knowing