The best places to visit in 2022 have been named by the travel experts at Lonely Planet – and it’s the Cook Islands that top the list, 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 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 snorkeling and paddle boarding in the Muri Lagoon, caving on Atiu and wandering through Punanga Nui Market on a Saturday morning. Pictured: The archipelago’s Rarotonga island.
As for the best cities to visit, Lonely Planet says winner Auckland (pictured) in New Zealand is ‘recognized 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 artifacts in the Auckland Museum and signing up for a wine-tasting on the Hauraki Gulf islands.
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. 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. Pictured: The region’s White Cliffs, near Dover.
Runner-up Norway is described as a ‘leading light on sustainability, green technology and community culture initiatives, from the cities to the wilderness’. 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. Pictured: 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: The Belizean island of Tobacco Caye.
Pictured: The town of Piran in 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’.
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’.
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. Pictured: A view of midtown Atlanta from the city’s Piedmont Park.
The Nigerian city of Lagos is named the fifth best place for a city break in 2022. Pictured: A view of the Lagos Lagoon at night.
Seventh place is awarded to Dublin, owing to the city’s ‘approach to ethical tourism, its flourishing independent artisan shopping scene and plans to pedestrianize parts of the center to create a renewed sense of community’. The Irish capital’s highlights include the Guinness Storehouse, where punters can savor ‘a pint of plain’, and the historic former prison of Kilmainham Gaol. Pictured: 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’. Pictured: Hornbjarg, a cliff in the region’s Hornstrandir Nature Reserve.
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.’ 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’. Pictured: The state’s New River Gorge Bridge.
In third place, Xishuangbanna in China. Its ‘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’.
Puerto Rico (pictured) comes fifth in the world’s best regions ranking, while Shikoku in Japan is ranked sixth.
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.’
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