The experts have spoken and Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel’ rankings are in.
Due to global Covid restrictions, the 2021 list came with a twist – instead focussing on incredible people, places and businesses making a significant contribution to travel in unprecedented times.
But with international travel firmly back on the table, the latest edition crowns the top 10 countries, top 10 regions, and top 10 cities to visit next year.
Scooping first place is the Cook Islands followed by Norway in second position and Mauritius in third.
Lonely Planet awarded the Cook Islands in the South Pacific the top destination, due to their innovative strategies for tackling environmental issues.
They also have plenty to offer in terms of scenery and culture, as thrill-seekers can try snorkelling and paddleboarding in the Muri Lagoon or even caving in Atiu.
The guidebook says: ‘Diverse landscapes framed by the remote expanses of the world’s biggest ocean promise active adventure, cultural interaction and culinary delights.’
Runner-up Norway was also commended by Lonely Planet for its ‘sustainability, green technology and community culture initiatives.’
The guide recommends that travellers take the train over the snowy Hardangervidda mountain plateau and then go dog-sledding in Tromso, in the Arctic Circle.
Known for its stunning beaches, lagoons and reefs, Mauritius places third on the list – followed by Belize and Slovenia.
Top 10 countries for 2022:
1. Cook Islands
In terms of cities, Lonely Planet named Auckland in New Zealand as the winner, recognising the spot for ‘its blossoming cultural scene, where the spotlight is on local creativity’.
Likewise, Taipei, Freiburg and Dublin also came out on top as some of the best places in the world for a city break.
Top 10 cities 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
What’s more, Westfjords in Iceland has been crowned as the top region, for its remote and untouched qualities. It’s also a great choice for hikers or anyone who likes to be with nature.
West Virginia follows close behind in second place, as Lonely Planet explains it ‘has long been a nexus of American culture and is finally attracting some well-deserved outside attention.’
The only destination in the UK to place within the 2022 region rankings is Kent’s Downs and Heritage Coast, which secured a spot due to its ‘commitment to sustainable tourism initiatives.’
Top 10 regions for 2022:
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
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