At the end of each year Lonely Planet publishes “Best in Travel” list. The list for 2022 is carefully selected by their editors and is meant to inspire and excite you, and help you make your 2022 travel dreams a reality. We are highlighting a few destinations from their list below.
Cook Islands – No. 1 Country on Lonely Planet’s list
Fifteen droplets of land cast across 2 million sq km of wild Pacific blue, the Cook Islands are simultaneously remote and accessible, modern and traditional.
With a strong cafe culture, a burgeoning organic and artisan food scene, and a handful of bar and clubs, Rarotonga lives confidently in the 21st century. But beyond the island’s tourist buzz and contemporary appearance is a robust culture, firmly anchored by traditional Polynesian values and steeped in oral history.
North of ‘Raro’, the sublime lagoon of Aitutaki is ringed with tiny deserted islands and is one of the Pacific’s most improbably scenic jewels. Venture further and robust Polynesian traditions emerge nearer the surface. Drink home brew at a traditional ‘Atiuan tumunu (bush-beer drinking club), explore the ancient makatea (raised coral cliffs) and taro fields of Mangaia, or swim in the underground cave pools of Mitiaro and Ma’uke. The remote Northern Group is a South Seas idyll experienced by a lucky few.
Slovenia – No. 5 Country on Lonely Planet’s list
An earthly paradise of snow-capped peaks, turquoise-green rivers and Venetian-style coastline, Slovenia enriches its natural treasures with harmonious architecture, charming rustic culture and sophisticated cuisine.
From the soaring peaks of the Julian Alps and the subterranean magic of Postojna and Škocjan caves, to the sparkling emerald-green lakes and rivers and the short but sweet coastline along the Adriatic Sea, tiny Slovenia really does have it all. An incredible mixture of climates brings warm Mediterranean breezes up to the foothills of the Alps, where it can snow even in summer. And with more than half of its total surface still covered in forest, Slovenia does more than simply claim it’s ‘green’, it really is one of the greenest countries on earth.
You might be forgiven for thinking that anything of beauty in this greenest of green lands is, well, all natural. But it isn’t necessarily so. Where man intrudes is often to good effect, such as at Lake Bled, where a tiny baroque chapel on a picturesque island and a dramatic castle looming above complete a harmonious whole. The architecture is wonderfully varied: from the Venetian harbour towns of the coast and the rustic Hungarian-style farmhouses of Prekmurje to the Gothic churches of the Julian Alps and the art nouveau splendours of Ljubljana. The museums are rich and the culture vibrant.
Anguilla – No. 6 Country on Lonely Planet’s list
Fringed by shimmering white-sand beaches shaded by coconut palms and sea-grape trees, and filled with colorfully painted, open-sided beach bars serving sizzling barbecues, feisty rum punches and live reggae tunes, Anguilla is the Caribbean dream come true. Its crystal-clear waters and vibrant reefs offer spectacular snorkeling, glass-bottomed kayaking, and sailing to islets and atolls scattered offshore.
The island’s rich and varied history dates back to settlement by the Amerindians and Arawaks, with extraordinary rock art still being discovered in sites such as Fountain Cavern National Park. And unlike many nearby islands, the flat terrain makes it easy to get around by car, bicycle or quad bike.
There’s a catch, of course. Anguilla is no shoestring destination and authenticity comes at a premium here. Luxury hotels and private villas cater to jet-setters craving a vacation off the radar. Visit outside high season for a more affordable taste of paradise.
Auckland – No. 1 City on Lonely Planet’s list
Paris may be the city of love, but Auckland is the city of many lovers, according to its Māori name, Tāmaki Makaurau. Those lovers so desired this place that they fought over it for centuries.
It’s hard to imagine a more geographically blessed city. Its two harbours frame a narrow isthmus punctuated by volcanic cones and surrounded by fertile farmland. From any of its numerous vantage points you’ll be surprised how close the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean come to kissing and forming a new island.
Whether it’s the ruggedly beautiful west-coast surf beaches, or the glistening Hauraki Gulf with its myriad islands, the water’s never far away. And within an hour’s drive from the city’s high-rise heart, there are dense tracts of rainforest, thermal springs, wineries and wildlife reserves. No wonder Auckland is regularly rated one of the world’s top cities for quality of life and liveability.
Atlanta – No. 4 City on Lonely Planet’s list
The South’s so-called capital isn’t nicknamed Hotlanta for nothing, y’all. Charismatic and lush, Atlanta is a feverish, easy-on-the-eyes cavalcade of culture, cuisine and Southern hospitality.
With more than six million residents in the metro and outlying areas, Atlanta continues to experience explosive growth thanks to domestic transplants and international immigrants alike. Beyond the big-ticket Downtown attractions you will find a constellation of superlative restaurants, a palpable Hollywood influence (Atlanta is a hugely popular film-production center) and iconic African American history. That last point can’t be overstated: any nationwide African American intellectual, political and artistic movement you can mention either had its genesis in Atlanta, or found a center of gravity here.
Without natural boundaries to control development, it’s fair to say Atlanta is more a region than a city. Yet for all its sprawl and suburbanization, there is a lovely urban core covered with trees – some 36% of the city to be exact, making it one of the most densely forested cities in the US. Magnificent oaks, Southern pines, dogwoods and magnolias pepper the nation’s ninth largest metro area, a refuge for 343 parks, nature preserves, gardens and public spaces. Among the green is the ongoing Atlanta BeltLine, transforming the city’s urban core and cutting a cinematic path through the canopy.
Atlanta is a quirky and cultured metroplex, with world-class museums, theater and arts. The economy is robust, the population is young and creative, and the social scene is refreshingly diverse. Distinct neighborhoods are like friendly small towns, rife with pristinely preserved historic homes and thoroughfares of hip bars, cozy coffee shops and independent shopping. And the food? Be it classic Southern eats such as pecan pie, fried chicken and pimento cheese; innovative, chef-driven New American foodie haunts; or ethnic holes-in-the-wall, Atlanta’s dining scene is a culinary juggernaut.
Mérida – No. 8 City on Lonely Planet’s list
Since the Spanish conquest, Mérida has been the cultural capital of the entire Yucatán Peninsula. A delightful blend of provincial and cosmopolitan, it is a town steeped in colonial history. It’s a great place to explore, with narrow streets, broad central plazas and the region’s best museums. It’s also a perfect place from which to kick off your adventure into the rest of Yucatán state. It has excellent cuisine and accommodations, thriving markets, and events happening just about every night.
Long popular with European travelers looking to go beyond the hubbub of Quintana Roo’s resort towns, Mérida is a tourist town, but a tourist town too big to feel like a tourist trap. And as the capital of Yucatán state, Mérida is also the cultural crossroads of the region. There’s something just a smidge elitist about Mérida: locals have a beautiful town, and they know it.
Check out the whole list at: www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/best-in-travel-2022