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.


Top five destinations for 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

Aitutaki lagoon Polynesia Cook Islands
Aitutaki lagoon Polynesia Cook Islands (Alamy/PA)

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.

2. Norway

Lofoten Islands archipelago, Norway
Lofoten Islands archipelago, Norway (Alamy/PA)

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 goat’s 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.

3. Mauritius

Flik ‘n Flak Beach
Flik ‘n Flak Beach, Mauritius (Alamy/PA)

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 could even catch some winter 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, like the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation‘s tortoise rewilding project.

4. Belize

Main Street, Caye Caulker, Belize
Main Street, Caye Caulker, Belize (Alamy/PA)

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 visit Mayan ruins. The wildlife meanwhile makes hiking practically mandatory – look out for spider monkeys and green iguanas.

5. Slovenia

Tartini Square in Piran
Tartini Square in Piran reflected on water in Slovenia (Alamy/PA)

Slovenia has 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
Lonely Planet’s Best In Travel 2022 (Lonely Planet/PA)

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2022 is available in bookshops now.


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