The world feels as though it is still tentatively waking up to travel again; the pandemic isn’t over, but adventures are more possible. Jetting away is conceivable once more and making holiday plans no longer feels entirely futile.
But if you’re still out of the habit of making grand vacation plans, Lonely Planet is back with its annual Best in Travel rundown, looking ahead to the places you’ll want to book a flight to in 2022.
Its roster of countries to visit is particularly intriguing, with Egypt sliding in at 10th and Malawi in ninth, while Nepal, Oman and Anguilla take us from eighth to sixth. And Lonely Planet’s top five destinations for 2022? Here’s our lowdown on what you need to know about each …
1. Cook Islands
If scuba diving is your thing, the Cook Islands in the South Pacific might just be your spiritual home. Besides the Mataora Wreck, there are intricate coral gardens, atolls and caves to weave through, while during the region’s summer and autumn months, it’s possible to spot migrating humpback whales. Beach-wise, the Cook Islands have it all going on too – think white sand, otherworldly turquoise waters, lagoons and palm trees – while the main hub, Rarotonga, is said to smell like frangipani blossom. You’ll want to nab a zingy plate of ika mata, fish marinated in citrus – a Cook Islands-style ceviche – too.
Norway is just stunning, whether you head straight to the Lofoten Islands – for Arctic Circle fishing expeditions, red clapboard houses and perhaps a glimpse of the northern lights – or if you take to the cities instead. Eat waffles with goats’ cheese in Oslo, go hiking on the seven mountains of Bergen, and be quite amazed by the sight of the Hardangerjokulen glacier from the train between the two.
The destination of a thousand honeymoons, you don’t actually need to have said ‘I do’ to enjoy a tropical stay in Mauritius. Having recently reopened to travellers, you can usually catch some sun on this island in the Indian Ocean. Go for the luxurious beaches and then find yourself seized by the ancient forests and conservation work being done, such as the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation’s tortoise rewilding project.
A trip to Belize can get you into excellent shape, physically and mentally. For your body, there’s kayaking, paddle-boarding, jungle ziplining and windsurfing, and for your mind enjoy the archaeological knowledge that will come from visiting Mayan ruins. The wildlife, meanwhile, makes hiking practically mandatory – look out for spider monkeys and green iguanas.
Slovenia has an old-world European charm – thanks to capital Ljubljana’s red-pitched roofing and baroque details – as well as incredible, densely forested countryside and ski resorts to rival France and Austria (Slovenia gets the Alps too, you know). Indulge in dumplings, brave the tourists at Lake Bled and check out the famous Lipica Stud Farm, with its fields of white horses.
The best of the rest …
In Lonely Planet’s regions category for 2022, Westfjords, Iceland, came top, followed by West Virginia, USA, and Xishuangbanna, China, while Puerto Rico (fifth) was pipped to fourth place by Heritage Coast, Kent.
Cities-wise, Auckland, New Zealand, was the most hotly tipped, closely tailed by Taipei, Taiwan, and Freiburg in Germany, while Atlanta, USA, and Lagos in Nigeria rounded off the top five. Dublin also got a very honourable mention in seventh place.
Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2022 is available in bookshops now.
Where are you looking to go this year? Do you have any travel plans or are you happy to wait a bit longer? Let us know in the comments section below.
– With PA
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