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.
Its roster of countries to visit is particularly intriguing, with Dublin coming in at number 7, with the publication described the Irish capital "one of Europe's most down-to-earth and friendly cities".
In it's description, it praised 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".
It also mentions Dublin's "Georgian squares, traditional pubs and warm people" and says that "modern Dublin still has all the appeal of the city in Joyce’s day plus a host of compelling contemporary reasons to visit now".
Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, said: "This is a wonderful accolade for the city and very well deserved. It has been such a difficult period for our tourism industry and this is a timely reminder that Ireland and in particular Dublin remains a world class holiday destination."
Top 10 cities in Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2022 are:
- Auckland, New Zealand
- Taipei, Taiwan
- Freiburg, Germany
- Atlanta, USA
- Lagos, Nigeria
- Nicosia/Lefkosia, Cyprus
- Dublin, Ireland
- Merida, Mexico
- Florence, Italy
- Gyeongju, South Korea
Here’s our lowdown on what you need to know about the top five…
1. Cook Islands
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2022 is available in bookshops now.