best travel destinations

Lonely Planet’s Best Travel Destinations 2022

For many, the new year means new travel plans and an opportunity to explore the world. While the world is still dealing with the threat of Covid variants, travel is back on the cards for many. So, whether you’re planning a trip or just dreaming of exploring new destinations, Lonely Planet’s Best Travel Destinations for 2022 list is here to inspire you.

The publication releases its list of best travel destinations each year, as it has been for the last 17 years. Each year, Lonely Planet unveils its top 10 countries, cities and regions to visit. This year’s edition focuses on sustainable travel experiences, supporting local communities and reconnecting with the world.

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Top 10 Best Travel Destinations: Countries

What are the best travel destinations for 2022 to add to your list? Let’s take a look.

1. Cook Islands

This tiny nation made up of 15 islands in the South Pacific takes the top spot on this list. Praised for its artisan food scene, robust culture and outdoor activities, it’s easy to see the appeal of the Cook Islands.  

Described as “simultaneously remote and accessible, modern and traditional,” the Cook Islands are a great destination for anyone searching for meaningful cultural experiences, culinary delights and relaxation in an idyllic setting.   

2. Norway

Norway’s appeal rests in its natural beauty. From the magnificent fjords that make up the jagged coastline, glaciers and ice fields to mountains, forests and rocky coastal islands, Norway is an outdoor lover’s paradise. It’s unsurprising that it’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

While the extraordinary landscapes beckon adventurers, the county is also filled with picturesque villages, cosmopolitan cities and Scandinavian sophistication. Whether you’re a culture lover or an outdoor enthusiast, Norway has it all.

3. Mauritius

Mark Twain once said that Mauritius was the inspiration for heaven and it’s easy to see why. Located in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is known for its spectacular white beaches, lagoon reefs, mountainous interior and waterfalls. Here you’ll also find quaint fishing villages, botanical gardens, UNESCO World Heritage sites and Black River Gorges National Park.

According to Lonely Planet, “Mauritius is a fabulous culinary destination with great wildlife watching thrown in.” If you’re looking for turquoise waters, great beaches, water sports and hiking while immersing yourself in local culture, consider adding Mauritius to your list.

4. Belize

Belize’s cultural and natural appeal solidifies its spot on the list. Whether you want to learn more about the ancient Mayan culture, explore the wildlife sanctuaries in the jungle or spend your time relaxing on the beach, consider visiting Belize.

“With one foot in the Central American jungles and the other in the Caribbean Sea,” this tiny country is the perfect destination for adventure lovers and culture aficionados. Here you can swim in the second largest coral reef, zipline, go tubbing through underground river systems and spelunk or visit archaeological sites, explore excavated tombs and learn about the mysterious Maya culture.

5. Slovenia

While often overlooked by its neighbours, Slovenia’s offerings prove that it deserves to be on this list. The country has also received praise for its focus on responsible travel. In 2016, the Dutch organization Green Destinations named Slovenia the world’s most sustainable country.

Slovenia is the perfect destination for diverse outdoor activities, filled with architectural and cultural gems, an exciting culinary scene and rich history. Exciting, affordable and stunning. This country will enchant you.

6. Anguilla

With lovely beaches, crystal-clear waters and vibrant culture, Anguilla’s appeal is understandable. This idyllic Caribbean island deserves a closer look, especially if you’re looking for a relaxing vacation spot.

Lonely Planet editors noted that “Anguilla is no shoestring destination and authenticity comes at a premium here.” If you’re craving a tropical getaway, there are numerous luxury hotels and private villas to choose from. However, if you’re worried about the cost, consider visiting outside high season for more affordable deals.

7. Oman

Oman has the distinction of being the lesser-known middle eastern country on this list. That doesn’t take away from its rich heritage, culture and natural offerings. It is the “obvious choice for those seeking out the modern face of Arabia while wanting still to sense its ancient soul.”

When you think of Oman, you might envision a wind-blown desert, but there is so much more to discover here. From stunning mountains to a pristine coastline, it’s an outdoor lover’s paradise. Culture lovers can explore historic forts, castles, museums and mosques while enjoying the hospitality and generosity that Omani people are known for.

8. Nepal

Nepal is a trekker’s paradise and a perfect destination for mountain lovers. It makes the list for its “Himalayan views, golden temples, charming hill villages and jungle wildlife.” Here you can combine your love of the outdoors with a cultural and spiritual journey.

If rugged mountains are not for you, opt for the tropical jungles of the lowlands and grasslands that are home to abundant wildlife, including diverse bird species, crocodiles, rhinos and the elusive Bengal Tiger. Explore the hidden shrines, temples and monasteries as you learn about Tibetan Buddhism or stroll through the medieval cities of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur.

9. Malawi

Like many other places on this list, Malawi has an abundance of outdoor activities. It’s home to the world’s ninth-largest lake, Lake Malawi, rolling grasslands, misty forests and dramatic mountains. As with many other countries in Africa, Malawi’s Majete Wildlife Reserve is an amazing wildlife-watching destination.

Come for adventures and stay for the people. Malawians pride themselves on being friendly and welcoming, so when you’re not trekking or exploring, take an opportunity to explore the local culture. As most of the population lives largely in traditional villages, you have a chance to learn about daily life in Africa and partake in cultural activities. Immersive education at its best.

10. Egypt

When it comes to exploring ancient cultures, it’s not surprising to see Egypt on this list. Explore the tombs, pyramids and temples of Egyptian pharaohs as you marvel at the mummies and artifacts uncovered over the years.  Who knows what you’ll stumble across?

Egypt also entices visitors with its landscapes. From the mighty Nile and stunning beaches to the lush delta and rugged desert, this is a great place for adventure. Whether you want to take a cruise on the Nile, explore Luxor with a hot air balloon or dive in the Red Sea, you can do it here.

Top 10 Best Travel Destinations: Cities

  1. Auckland, New Zealand
  2. Taipei, Taiwan
  3. Freiburg, Germany
  4. Atlanta, USA
  5. Lagos, Nigeria
  6. Nicosia/Lefkosia, Cyprus
  7. Dublin, Ireland
  8. Mérida, Mexico
  9. Florence, Italy
  10. Gyeongju, South Korea

Top 10 Best Travel Destinations: Regions

  1. Westfjords, Iceland
  2. West Virginia, USA
  3. Xishuangbanna, China
  4. Kent’s Heritage Coast, UK
  5. Puerto Rico
  6. Shikoku, Japan
  7. Atacama Desert, Chile
  8. The Scenic Rim, Australia
  9. Vancouver Island, Canada
  10. Burgundy, France

Thoughts on best travel destinations for 2022

All the places on this year’s best travel destinations list have several things in common. They are small countries with ample outdoor offerings, spectacular landscapes and natural beauty. But their appeal goes beyond that. Each destination offers visitors cultural immersion, which aligns with the theme of sustainability, community support and wellness.

The same applied to the top cities and regions on the list. Many are familiar to travellers even if they might not be on everyone’s radar. While Dublin and Florence might be more recognizable to travellers outside of Europe, they are not necessarily top of their lists. Same with Burgundy, France or Shikoku, Japan. Chances are that when you think of visiting either country, these lesser-known regions wouldn’t be on top of your list.

I am always intrigued by what places make the best travel destinations list. Some are tediously obvious, while others intrigue me. With this year’s list, I can say that all the destinations, cities and regions have something that appeals to me. I’ve been fortunate to visit a few of them in the past, while many others have not been on my radar or not that high on my list till now.

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