The best places to visit in 2022 have been named by the travel experts at Lonely Planet – and it’s the Cook Islands that’s No1, followed by Norway in second place.
Lonely Planet’s newly released Best In Travel 2022 book crowns the top 10 countries, top 10 regions, and top 10 cities to visit next year.
The best cities have been unveiled as Auckland, Taipei and Germany’s Freiburg – with Dublin in seventh – and the best regions as Iceland’s Westfjords, West Virginia, Xishuangbanna in China and Kent’s Downs and Heritage Coast ranking fourth.
Lonely Planet says the Cook Islands offer ‘adventure, cultural interaction and culinary delights’. Pictured above is the archipelago’s Rarotonga island
Auckland, pictured above, is ‘recognised for its blossoming cultural scene where the spotlight is on local creativity’
Kent’s Downs and Heritage Coast is the only UK top 10 entry. Pictured are the region’s White Cliffs, near Dover
Lonely Planet says it awarded the Cook Islands the gold medal ‘thanks to its innovative strategies for pushing forward environmental initiatives in the South Pacific’.
‘Diverse landscapes framed by the remote expanses of the world’s biggest ocean promise active adventure, cultural interaction and culinary delights,’ it adds.
Highlights for visitors include snorkelling and paddleboarding in the Muri Lagoon, caving on ‘Atiu and wandering through Punanga Nui Market on a Saturday morning.
Runner-up Norway is described as a ‘leading light on sustainability, green technology and community culture initiatives, from the cities to the wilderness’.
Runner-up country Norway is described as a ‘leading light on sustainability, green technology and community culture initiatives’. Pictured is the Norwegian fishing village of Reine in the Lofoten archipelago
A view of Le Morne Brabant mountain in Mauritius, which claims third place in the countries list
Belize comes fourth in Lonely Planet’s list of the world’s top 10 countries to visit in 2022. Pictured is the Belizean island of Tobacco Caye
Pictured is the town of Piran in Slovenia, which Lonely Planet says ‘is a world leader in being literally and figuratively “green”‘
TOP 10 COUNTRIES FOR 2022
1. Cook Islands
Source: Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet recommends holidaymakers ‘take the country’s most spectacular train trip over the snow-strewn Hardangervidda plateau’ on the Bergensbanen rail route and go dog-sledding in Tromso in the Arctic Circle.
Mauritius claims third place on the countries list, followed by Belize and Slovenia, which Lonely Planet says ‘is a world leader in being literally and figuratively “green” with responsible travel being part of the Slovenia way of life for decades’.
The rest of the ranking for countries comprises Anguilla (6th), Oman (7th), Nepal (8th), Malawi (9th) and Egypt in tenth place.
As for the best cities to visit, Lonely Planet says winner Auckland in New Zealand is ‘recognised for its blossoming cultural scene where the spotlight is on local creativity’.
It adds: ‘Within the city’s boundaries there are 53 volcanoes, more than 50 islands, three wine regions and numerous beaches.’
Need a hand with your Auckland travel itinerary? Lonely Planet recommends exploring Maori and Pasifika artefacts in the Auckland Museum and signing up for a wine-tasting on the Hauraki Gulf islands.
Silver medal winner Taipei is praised for ‘its inclusive approach to society and protection of natural and cultural experiences’ while Freiburg comes third as ‘a trailblazer in Germany’s environmental movement’.
Atlanta, Georgia, claims fourth place. ‘Nicknamed “Hotlanta” for its contemporary energy and sweltering summers, Atlanta is a thriving, shining cultural jewel in the heart of the American South,’ reveals Lonely Planet.
The guidebook, which commends the city’s ‘invigorated arts scene and cutting-edge sustainability initiatives’, recommends tucking into ‘classic homemade Southern cuisine’ in Mary Mac’s Tea Room and paying a visit to the Georgia Aquarium – the largest aquarium in the US.
Silver medal winner Taipei, pictured, is praised for ‘its inclusive approach to society and protection of natural and cultural experiences’
Freiburg (pictured) comes third in the best cities category as ‘a trailblazer in Germany’s environmental movement’
Pictured is the view of midtown Atlanta from the city’s Piedmont Park. ‘Atlanta is a thriving, shining cultural jewel in the heart of the American South,’ declares Lonely Planet
Lagos in Nigeria takes fifth place, with Nicosia (also known as Lefkosia) in Cyprus finishing sixth.
Seventh place is awarded to Dublin, owing to the city’s ‘approach to ethical tourism, its flourishing independent artisan shopping scene and plans to pedestrianise parts of the centre to create a renewed sense of community’.
The Irish capital’s highlights include the Guinness Storehouse, where punters can savour ‘a pint of plain’, and the historic former prison of Kilmainham Gaol.
The remaining cities in the ranking are Mexico’s Merida (8th), Florence (9th), and Gyeongju in South Korea (10th).
The Nigerian city of Lagos is named the fifth best place for a city break in 2022. Pictured is a view of the Lagos Lagoon at night
Seventh place in the city ranking is awarded to Dublin, a city that boasts a ‘flourishing independent artisan shopping scene’. Pictured is the Irish capital’s Ha’penny Bridge
Turning to the best regions ranking, Lonely Planet says Westfjords is a deserving winner as it’s ‘one of the most remote and untouched regions’ in the world, adding that ‘the area is proving increasingly popular with hikers and outdoor adventure enthusiasts’.
Runner-up West Virginia, the guidebook reveals, ‘has long been a nexus of American culture and is finally attracting some well-deserved outside attention’.
It adds: ‘Visitors will discover a still-uncrowded region with unspoiled mountains and unmistakable heritage, where the leisurely tempo of Southern small towns converges with the adrenaline sports that attract adventurers from across the continent.’
THE TOP 10 CITIES AND REGIONS FOR 2022
1. Auckland, New Zealand
2. Taipei, Taiwan
3. Freiburg, Germany
4. Atlanta, USA
5. Lagos, Nigeria
6. Nicosia / Lefkosia, Cyprus
7. Dublin, Ireland
8. Merida, Mexico
9. Florence, Italy
10. Gyeongju, South Korea
Source: Lonely Planet
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
Lonely Planet says region winner Westfjords (pictured) is ‘one of the most remote and untouched regions’ in the world. Above is Hornbjarg, a cliff in the region’s Hornstrandir Nature Reserve
Region runner-up West Virginia, pictured, ‘has long been a nexus of American culture’, according to Lonely Planet. Pictured is the state’s New River Gorge Bridge
While exploring the Mountain State, Lonely Planet suggests snowboarding on Snowshoe Mountain and visiting Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, home to ‘a stuck-in-time 19th-century town and a network of hiking trails’.
In third place Xishuangbanna, meanwhile, ‘intensive domestic investment in tourism infrastructure and the completion of the high-speed China-Laos Railway project’ have put the region ‘on track to regain its ancient status as a central hub of Southeast Asian travel and trade’.
Kent’s Downs and Heritage Coast is the only UK top 10 entry, earning its place ‘thanks to its commitment to sustainable tourism initiatives’, which include the regeneration of the historic towns of Dover and Folkstone, and plans to establish a Biosphere Reserve and secure the Strait of Dover as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The guidebook says region bronze medallist Xishuangbanna, pictured, is ‘on track to regain its ancient status as a central hub of Southeast Asian travel and trade’
Puerto Rico (pictured above) comes fifth in the world’s best regions ranking, while Shikoku in Japan is ranked sixth
Lonely Planet extolls the ‘long stretches of beautiful, iconic white cliffs’ and ‘idyllic countryside’ in Kent and recommends holidaymakers bike along the Chalk and Channel Way and sample ‘champagne-like fizz’ in Kent Downs’ vineyards.
Puerto Rico comes fifth, while Shikoku in Japan is ranked sixth. The rest of the ranking comprises Chile’s Atacama Desert (7th), Australia’s Scenic Rim (8th), Vancouver Island in Canada (9th) and Burgundy in France (10th).
When it comes to choosing the world’s best places to visit, Lonely Planet’s lists start with nominations from Lonely Planet’s community of staff, writers, bloggers, publishing partners and more.
Its panel of travel experts then whittle the nominations down to three top 10 lists, choosing each winner based on its ‘topicality, unique experiences, “wow” factor and ongoing commitment to sustainable tourism practices’.
Tom Hall, Lonely Planet’s VP of Experience, says of the Best In Travel 2022 lists: ‘After an enforced hiatus, it’s time to take those long-postponed travel plans off the shelf and make them a reality and the lists celebrate the world in all its wonderful enticing variety.
‘As always Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel delivers new takes on popular destinations such as Iceland, Norway, Slovenia and Dublin, Ireland, and unearths some of the gems on our doorstep like the Kent Downs Heritage Coast and arguably Germany’s most sustainable city, Freiburg.’
Lonely Planet’s Best In Travel 2022, available here, is out now.
Best in Travel 2022 has been compiled using the opinions of staff, writers, bloggers, publishing partners and more