The 22 Best Places to Go in 2022

Condé Nast Traveler has released its picks for the best destinations of 2022, and World Navigator is taking you to many of them. We’re bringing you to Norway, the Balearic Islands, London, Cape Verde, Panama and more. Check out the original post here.

Whether you’re looking for a cutting-edge food destination or a relaxing beach getaway.

This was the year of getting back out there—as vaccines became readily available in the spring and borders opened slowly throughout the summer and fall, our travel calendars began to fill up once again. Now, as we look ahead to what 2022 has in store, it’s clear that our travel priorities have changed. We’re no longer checking destinations off a list; instead we’re being purposeful about why we choose to take a trip, and thoughtful about how our actions impact local communities while we’re there.

This year’s list of the best places to visit reflects these shifts in thinking: We’ve organized these destinations based on some of our favorite reasons to travel, from exhilarating food and drink scenes and historic sites to explore, to new places to soak in the great outdoors. We hope it makes it easier to plan your next big trip—and helps you narrow down where to go first of the 22 exciting places that made our 2022 list. —Stephanie Wu

All listings featured in this story are independently selected by our editors. However, when you book something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

text card that reads "food" with background of a dish

SOURCE: Heidi Bjerkan

Helen_WHOLE-YELLOWTAIL-SNAPPER-A-LA-PLANCHA---Credit_Cary-Norton

SOURCE: Cary Norton

Birmingham, Alabama

Downtown Birmingham is feeling more revitalized than ever, as several historic buildings have been reimagined as restaurants by local chefs. Five-time James Beard finalist Rob McDaniel, who grew up 80 miles from the city, opened contemporary Southern grill Helen in 2020 inside a 1920s shotgun-style building. You can smell his wood-fired meats from the sidewalk, and inside every meal starts with warm angel biscuits topped with whipped cane syrup butter. A block away at The Essential, Southern-bred chef Victor King and pastry chef Kristen Hall have partnered with farmers to serve vegetable-heavy dishes, homemade pastas, and the tastiest desserts in town (look for Parisian-inspired Bar La Fête from the duo in early 2022).

There’s plenty to do downtown as well. The new Urban Supply mixed-use development will bring century-old warehouses in the Parkside neighborhood back to life with restaurants, bars, shopping, and fitness studios when it’s completed in mid-2022. City Walk BHAM is also in the works, adding markets, green spaces, and food trucks to city blocks beneath Interstate 59/20. The project is set to be complete by summer 2022, when the Magic City will serve as the first American host for The World Games, an 11-day, 34-sport event (including tug of war and wheelchair rugby) expected to draw 500,000 spectators. While downtown has its share of big-box hotels for groups, find a quieter stay at Elyton Hotel in a restored historic building, or the boutique Valley Hotel in Homewood, a mere 10 minutes away. —Kelsey Ogletree

Salon 1905

SOURCE: Salon 1905

Serbia

Since the dissolution of Yugoslavia 30 years ago, many of its constituent nations (Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro) have emerged as major tourism hubs. Yet Serbia has taken a backseat—until now. Belgrade has earned a reputation as a culinary destination, and the Michelin Guide will soon bestow stars on the city, celebrating its East-meets-West cuisine which draws liberally from neighboring Greek, Turkish, and Central European influences. Standout restaurants include Langouste, run by chef Guillaume Iskandar, whose work at Paris’s Garance earned the place a Michelin star. And the opulent Salon 1905 (pictured) serves a tasting menu with Serbian wine pairings that proves domestic truffles, cheeses, and charcuterie can hold their own against Europe’s best.

The nightlife-rich capital city is often compared to Berlin in the ’90s, but its cool-kid persona is getting a luxe upgrade in 2022 with the opening of a St. Regis. The hotel will be set within a 42-floor tower that will be the tallest skyscraper in the Balkans outside of Istanbul and will anchor the new $3 billion Belgrade Waterfront urban revitalization district, a collection of gleaming high-rises and green spaces.

Meanwhile, Serbia’s second city, Novi Sad, has been named one of three European Capitals of Culture for 2022, marking one of the first non-E.U. cities to receive the honor. A progressive hub of music, art, and literature set along the Danube River, Novi Sad has opened several new venues in preparation for its close-up: a former pasta factory, a silk-dyeing facility, and an 1890s château have been transformed into contemporary art galleries and performance spaces that will host events and exhibitions throughout the year. —Nicholas DeRenzo

Credo-Restaurant--Credit-Heidi-Bjerkan_Credo02

SOURCE: Heidi Bjerkan

Trøndelag County, Norway

Central Norway’s Trøndelag County has become a world-renowned food region in recent years. The area’s diverse landscape—forests, mountains, fjords, and fields—produces high-quality seafood, organic dairy products, and fresh vegetables, which farmers share locally and with restaurants around the world.

Trondheim-Trøndelag was named the European Region of Gastronomy 2022, and to see what all the fuss is about, food connoisseurs should start at the newly refurbished Britannia Hotel to dine at Michelin-starred Speilsalen, Norway’s Restaurant of the Year 2020. Indulge in head chef Christopher Davidsen’s signature dish, featuring scallops from the island of Frøya fried in organic butter from the town of Røros and served with celery and caviar. Visit Bula Neobistro for chef Renée Fagerhoei’s lamb from Madsøy island with anchovy and green pepper sauce. Stop by chef Heidi Bjerkan’s one-Michelin-star Credo (pictured) for the grilled langoustine tail or langoustine soup, and wrap up your tasting tour at Kraft Bodega, where chef Thomas Bogan serves a delicious dessert of waffles with porcini ice cream, Norwegian apples, and brown cheese—all dishes you won’t find anywhere else.

The region hosts several annual celebrations, like the Trondheim Wine Festival in March, the Trondheim Brewery Festival and the Trøndelag Food Festival, one of Europe’s largest, both in July, and the Trondheim Gin Festival in August. Consider timing your visit around one of these events, where you’re bound to be surrounded by like-minded gourmands. —Kwin Mosby

text card reading "arts & culture" wiht mountain background

SOURCE: Courtesy Banff Gondola

Courtesy of Travel Alberta_a20-022771

SOURCE: Travel Alberta

Alberta, Canada

Alberta’s turquoise lakes and snow-capped mountains have always attracted crowds, but there’s a new draw as international travelers return: a spotlight on the area’s Indigenous heritage.

Fort Edmonton Park, Canada’s largest living history museum, is now home to the Indigenous Peoples Experience, a 30,000-square-foot immersive exhibit exploring First Nations and Métis culture. For a deeper dive into the region’s thriving Métis community, head to cultural interpretation center Métis Crossing, which recently debuted its new wildlife park and will open a 40-room boutique lodge accented with Métis artwork this month. Later this winter, the property will also launch Whispers from the Stars, an evening experience where Métis knowledge holders will tell stories of the constellations.

The annual Jasper Dark Sky Festival in the dark sky preserve of Jasper National Park is also including more Indigenous voices in its programming (think drone light shows narrated by Indigenous leaders). Those planning a stay in Jasper can look forward to the June opening of a new 88-room wilderness-themed hotel from local hospitality and attractions company Pursuit.

And Banff has debuted new experiences including the 360° Dome, a private outdoor dining venue at Fairmont Banff Springs that pairs local fare like bison short ribs with Bow Valley views. Next summer, the historic hotel will debut a $28-million renovation of its Royal Suite and Fairmont Gold rooms. Those visiting this winter can cap off the evening at the Banff Gondola with Nightrise, a multi-sensory experience (running December 2 to March 12) that highlights the historical significance of the Stoney Nakoda Nation through multimedia storytelling against a backdrop of alpenglow-drenched mountains. —Julia Eskins

Hauser-&-Wirth-Menorca-on-Isla-del-Rey_Courtesy-Hauser-&-Wirth_Photo--Daniel-Schafer_HWM_Daniel_Schafer_023

SOURCE: Hauser & Wirth/Daniel Schäfer

Balearic Islands, Spain

Rugged landscapes, a laidback lifestyle, and Ibiza’s infamous party scene have long drawn travelers to the sun-bleached shores of the Balearic Islands. Over the past year, though, the archipelago off the east coast of mainland Spain has refocused its ambitions toward art.

Last summer’s opening of Hauser & Wirth Menorca (pictured)—a new arts center and the gallery’s latest international outpost—was just the starting point. Located on the historic Illa del Rei in Manorca’s Mahón harbor, the site has taken over an 18th-century naval hospital and outlying buildings. With eight galleries, a restaurant, shop, garden, and an outdoor sculpture trail with works by Frank West, Louise Bourgeois, and Eduardo Chillida, it puts the sleepy Balearic island on the international art map with big-name exhibitions, educational activities, and sustainable initiatives.

Art and design stand out at the archipelago’s new hospitality offerings, too. In Mallorca, Can Ferrereta, a boutique hotel housed in a restored 17th-century building, features a Maison Assouline-curated library and works by local and Spanish artists—Joan Miró, Riera i Aragó, Bárbara Vidal—in all its 32 rooms and communal spaces. On relaxed Formentera, the recently opened Casa Pacha has stylish retro interiors by Patricia Galden Studio and statement decorative objects from local artisans. Meanwhile on the hard-partying isle, the Six Senses Ibiza will feature farm-to-table dining, music, art, wellness, and sustainable fashion, as the Balearics’ first BREEAM-certified resort. 2022’s debuts—El Vicenç de la Mar and the Kimpton Hotel Santa Ponsa, both in Mallorca—are bound to have unique draws of their own. —Marianna Cerini

The Loutrel_Photo credit Kim Graham_The Lobby and The Veranda Lounge

SOURCE: Kim Graham

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston will honor its African roots in a big way in 2022. The long-awaited International African American Museum is slated to open in the fall, and will examine the African diaspora and Charleston’s role housing one of the largest slave ports in the U.S. The museum sits on the hallowed site of said port, Gadsden’s Wharf, where the tide washes in and out near contemplative gardens. The exhibits will tackle centuries of difficult history and highlight contemporary Black artists, while the genealogy center is designed to help visitors connect the past to the present through their own family trees.

Music lovers will have plenty to look forward to at the Spoleto Festival USA, one of the country’s most prestigious classical music events. The opera Omar, which will have its world premiere at Spoleto, explores the life of a Muslim African scholar who was captured on the border of Senegal and Mauritania in 1807 and enslaved in Charleston. Grammy Award winner Rhiannon Giddens co-composed the score with Michael Abels, best known for his work on the films Get Out and Us. Shortly after, the city will join its three main Juneteenth festivals into a bigger and better Lowcountry Juneteenth Experience to wrap up the celebration.

The historic district has plenty of new places to stay, dine, and further explore the city’s origins. Luxury hotel The Loutrel (pictured) is inspired by Charleston’s renowned gardens, with expansive views from its rooftop terrace, and The Residences at Zero George provide longer stays for those who love the elegance of the award-winning hotel. Finally, don’t miss the refined, creative southern dishes at Lenoir, served by James Beard Award winner Vivian Howard, and traditional French cuisine at Brasserie La Banque. —Sarah Enelow-Snyder

Mandarin-Oriental-Istanbul_istanbul-royal-suite-terrace-view

SOURCE: Mandarin Oriental

Istanbul

Istanbul’s cultural scene is poised for the global spotlight in 2022. Billions of dollars have been poured into urban renewal projects that are finally coming to fruition. “I’ve lived here for 23 years and I can really see a major transformation,” says Karen Fedorko, founder of Sea Song Tours. Travelers can follow the newly established Beyoğlu Culture Road—a two-hour walking trail that knits together many of the city’s new and restored attractions. Begin at Taksim Square to visit the newly built Taksim Mosque and Atatürk Cultural Center, a once-abandoned 1960s architectural icon that has been faithfully restored to house an opera hall, theater, rooftop restaurant, and a façade where live performances are projected. Strolling down Istiklal Street, pop into the beautified Atlas Cinema and neoclassical Istanbul Cinema Museum before making your way to the Galata Tower. The medieval stone landmark’s redone rooftop is the place for a view of the city’s fabled east-meets-west skyline. The route culminates at the Bosphorus where Galataport, a new arts and culture hub in the Karaköy neighborhood, touts a newly minted world-class cruise terminal, restaurants from international chefs, a revamped fine arts and sculpture museum, and a refurbished Ottoman clock tower in Tophane Square. Opening late next year along the waterfront is the highly anticipated new home of contemporary art museum Istanbul Modern, whose show-stopping Renzo Piano design will house the works of big-name Turkish artists. Travelers can bed down in the just-opened Bosphorus-facing Mandarin Oriental in Kurucesme (pictured) or the Four Seasons in Sultanahmet, which will reopen in 2022 after significant renovation. Or plan a stay at the Peninsula hotel in Karaköy whose waterside rooms, Turkish baths, and swimming pools will give new life to an old port terminal when it debuts at the end of next year. —Nora Walsh

text card reading "history" with stone sculptures in background

SOURCE: Getty

OWO_Grand_Staircase

SOURCE: Grain London Ltd

London

London will be in a festive mood in 2022 as The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee marks 70 years of Her Majesty’s reign. Events honoring Britain’s longest-serving monarch range from solemn services to rollicking celebrations. The biggest party unfurls over a long weekend, from June 2 to 5, where visitors can join the waving crowds lining The Mall for The Queen’s Birthday Parade (also known as Trooping the Colour), cheer for the races at Epsom Downs, and soak up the street carnival atmosphere of the Platinum Jubilee Pageant.

Raffles introduces its first London hotel with The OWO (pictured), which will house 120 guest rooms and 85 private residences in the splendid Old War Office building that once served as Churchill’s headquarters. If it looks familiar, that might be because the OWO has appeared in five James Bond films. In fact, Ian Fleming was inspired to write the Bond stories when he worked in the building as a naval intelligence officer.

Other new lodging options include The Peninsula London, overlooking Hyde Park Corner and Wellington Arch, and the Lost Property from Curio Collection by Hilton, combining new accommodations with a preserved façade near St. Paul’s Cathedral. And The Audley, a five-story historic pub in Mayfair, reopens in the fall after an art-filled reimagining by the Hauser & Wirth team, complete with a new restaurant and private dining rooms. —Laura Beausire

Queretaro, Mexico GettyImages-655050558

SOURCE: Getty

Querétaro, Mexico

Follow any of the shaded, twisting pedestrian alleys in Querétaro, which sits two-hours north of Mexico City, and you’ll arrive at a flower-drenched plaza, often surrounded by Colonial-era convents, palaces, and 18th-century homes, many of which have been converted to modern destination restaurants that rival those of the country’s capital.

Founded by the Otomí people in the 15th century, this city is a crossroads of Indigenous cultures, but has also served as a major base for Franciscan missionaries, a center for silver wealth, and a political seat—in 1917, regional representatives created and signed the country’s constitution. Though Querétaro’s international importance has faded since, its beauty and Baroque architecture remain.

The mid-17th-century Templo y Convento de la Santa Cruz anchors the historic city center, and its recent preservation effort earned Querétaro a nomination for UNESCO’s Jean-Paul L’Allier Prize in 2020, which honors exemplary urban cultural heritage conservation. This might just be the only place in the world where tech and aerospace workers commute on roads that weave under the slim arches remaining from a 1738 aqueduct.

Despite a slow two years during the pandemic and recent flooding, the city is growing as a tourist destination, with new hotels under construction that signal a wider opening to international travelers. One unique offering is already available to book: After sales fell because of COVID, a cheese factory outside of town kept its workers safely on the job by employing them to build the Hotel de Tierra: nine rammed-earth rooms, sustainably built from and on the soil of its adjacent vineyard, Tierra de Alonso. —Naomi Tomky

Rapa-Nui_GettyImages-1303060161

SOURCE: Getty

Rapa Nui, Chile

Some 2,300 miles off the coast of Chile in the South Pacific Ocean, UNESCO-listed Rapa Nui is famous for its roughly 900 monolithic moai stone statues sprinkled across the island. Now, just in time for a major anniversary, the world’s most remote inhabited island is preparing to open its borders after almost two years of isolation.

2022 marks 300 years since Dutch explorers arrived on Rapa Nui’s shores on Easter Day, which is how the 64-square-mile volcanic landmass acquired the appellation Easter Island. Locals, however, trace their lineage to a thriving Polynesian civilization dating back to the 4th century and take great pride in their native Rapa Nui language and culture, which has experienced a renaissance during the pandemic. And with less food being brought to the island, there was a boom in ancestral agriculture, yielding a bounty of guava and taro root. Some sustainability-oriented initiatives are in place as well, including proposals to limit the number of visitor arrivals to protect its cultural assets from erosion. When the island reopens to fully vaccinated tourists in February, be the first to stay at the newly branded Nayara Hangaroa, where self-drive ATV tours allow guests to take in iconic attractions like the Ranu Kau crater, moai sites at Rano Raraku quarry and Ahu Tongariki, the Orongo ceremonial village, and Anakena beach at their own leisure. For a complete cultural immersion, tap Abercrombie & Kent for local guides, a traditional meal in a friendly home, and insider’s access to the two-week-long Tapati Festival held every February. —N.W.

Text-Card-transportation train background

SOURCE: Courtesy Seven Stars Kyushu

Fontainhas,SantoAntao,CapeVerde_GettyImages-497607115

SOURCE: Getty

Cape Verde

When Portuguese sailors first landed on what is now Cape Verde in 1456, they arrived to a largely untouched archipelago devoid of inhabitants and with few natural resources. This remote group of islands—located 369 nautical miles west of Senegal—soon became a stopping point in the transatlantic slave trade, resulting in the unique blend of Portuguese and West African traditions and heritage (many of today’s residents have roots tracing back to each) that exist on the island today.

This year, Hurtigruten Expeditions will launch sailings to the island country, beginning with a 14-day journey aboard its 180-passenger MS Spitsbergen in November. The company is scheduled to be the only expedition cruise to visit Cape Verde this year—and it’s also their first-ever trip to Africa. The ship will make stops at some of the archipelago’s most notable islands (there are 10 in total, as well as several islets), including Santo Antão, with its hikable misty pine forests and steep-cliff canyons, and Fogo, home to the awe-inspiring (and still-active) 9,281-foot-tall Pico do Fogo volcano, western Africa’s highest peak. For those who aren’t on a cruise, an inter-island ferry system and relatively inexpensive domestic flights makes island-hopping doable, too.

And you’ll want to explore on land: Known for its laid-back vibe and innate hospitality, Cape Verde is considered an LGBTQ+ oasis within Africa thanks to progressive laws. Mindelo, on the island São Vicente, hosts an annual Pride parade that will take place in the summer. As Cape Verde’s cultural capital, this colorful port city is a great place to catch performances of morna, a locally honed, melancholic music symbolizing longing for the African mainland, as well as the rousing tunes of accordion-based funaná. Listen from new Mansa Floating Hub, a futuristic-style floating music center that opened in August atop Mindelo’s Porto Grande Bay. —Laura Kiniry

PearlSeasCruises_PearlMist_Milwaukee

SOURCE: Pearl Seas Cruises

The Great Lakes

The Great Lakes comprise 95,000 square miles of freshwater flanked by thick forests, historic sights, and skyline-speckled cities. But despite the waterside attractions, this stretch of the upper Midwest and Canada has long been off the cruise-industry map. Soon, those tides will turn.

In spring 2022, Viking’s posh new Octantis expedition ship will sail from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Toronto and Thunder Bay, Ontario, meandering by Great Lakes gems such as Mackinac Island and Sleeping Bear Dunes. The vessel, crafted for Viking’s new Antarctic voyages, welcomes up to 378 guests; it’s the largest Great Lakes cruise option to date.

For something more intimate, French cruise operator Ponant and partner Smithsonian Journeys will unveil their own Great Lakes voyages in fall 2022. Itineraries on ships like the 184-guest Le Bellot run from Toronto to Milwaukee, with a stop at Niagara Falls along the way. Ponant and Viking will share these waterways with small-ship cruise outfitters like Pearl Seas Cruises (pictured), Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, and Plantours Cruises.

Thanks to new infrastructure and accommodations, Great Lakes port cities stand ready to host disembarking guests. Milwaukee will debut several new hotels in 2022, including the Kinn Guesthouse MKE Downtown and The Adams Hotel, while Canada cruise hub Toronto has eight new openings on the docket, including a W Hotel. —Stephanie Vermillion

Seven-Stars-Kyushu_0N9A9349-2

SOURCE: Seven Stars

Kyushu, Japan

The southernmost of Japan’s four major islands, Kyushu is known for its vibrant food culture, abundance of historical sites, subtropical climate, and laid-back reputation.

Despite its seemingly remote location, Kyushu is surprisingly accessible, both by air via Japan’s many domestic carriers and by Shinkansen (bullet train). A flight from Tokyo to Fukuoka, Kyushu’s largest city, clocks in at just under two hours, while a train trip from Shin-Osaka Station to Fukuoka’s Hakata Station takes roughly two and a half.

Kyushu’s rail network will receive a notable boost when the Nishi-Kyushu Shinkansen, connecting the historic port city of Nagasaki with Takeo Onsen in Saga prefecture, opens in the fall. Foreigners can take advantage of highly discounted rail passes throughout Kyushu, with unlimited rides on all trains operated by the JR Kyushu Railway Company.

Onsen lovers have plenty to choose from in Kyushu as well—hot springs are dotted everywhere from the famed black sand beaches of Ibusuki in Kagoshima prefecture to the rural enclave of Yufuin in Oita. In the summer, Hoshino Resorts will open Kai Yufuin, a luxury property designed by famed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, featuring 45 guest rooms in the remote onsen town.

Those looking for a bit more adventure should head to the city of Sasebo in Nagasaki prefecture for a luxury catamaran cruise around the Kujuku Islands. Some packages include meals, but there’s also the option to seek out a Sasebo Burger, a popular item whose influence is traced back in part to the large number of American service members who arrived in the city after World War II. —Kat Bee

Uzbekistan_Credit-Maximum-Exposure-Limited_AC545D5D-C617-4E26-ACCC-310394ECBA0A

SOURCE: Maximum Exposure Limited

Uzbekistan

2021 marked Uzbekistan’s 30th anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union, just as a slew of new projects set the foundation for the country to be more accessible than ever.

The new airport terminal at Samarkand, opening this month, is a beautiful introduction to the Islamic architecture style found throughout Uzbekistan. The center of the airport is shaped like an open book in a nod to the work of astronomer Mirzo Ulugbek. The high-speed train network, which opened in 2012, is being extended to the ancient Silk Road town of Khiva in 2022, so visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site from the capital city of Tashkent no longer requires hours in a car weaving through desert dunes. A number of exciting openings and events are also set to take place next year, with the unveiling of the Silk Road Samarkand Complex. It will house restaurants, cafes, and boutique hotels including the 22-story Samarkand Regency Hotel, the country’s first five-star stay, in the first half of 2022. The first-ever Silk Road Literary Festival will also take place there in the fall, as well as the grand reopening of the renovated State Museum of Arts, designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. —Michelle Tchea

Text-Card-sustainability with elephant background

SOURCE: Laura Vesmare

Gabon-Wildlife-Camps-&-Safaris_Photos-Lynn-Loango-(2)

SOURCE: Lynn Loango

Gabon

In Gabon, where dense rainforests spill onto serene tropical coasts, tourism has barely made a whisper. But adventure seekers, nature lovers, and environmental advocates who visit will find incredible biodiversity, and a country determined to put critical conservation and eco-tourism projects in place before the masses arrive.

With over 70 percent of its territory covered in forest, Gabon has already made its mark in the world of conservation. Over the last two decades, the government has secured 15 percent of its land as protected areas and established 13 national parks, nine marine parks, and 11 aquatic reserves, safeguarding the country’s magnificent wildlife and habitats. With the launch of the African Ecotourism Safari project in March 2021 and the anticipated opening of Petit Loango Lodge in early 2022—the first of the African Conservation Development Group’s sustainable luxury lodges—the equatorial African nation’s exquisite landscapes are gradually becoming more accessible to adventurous travelers.

Beyond the reaches of Loango, find leatherback turtles nesting in sand dunes along the shores of Pongara National Park, spot whales spouting among crashing blue waves in Mayumba, climb verdant mountains and staggering cliffs in Bateke Plateau, explore historic caves and savanna in Birougou, and marvel over waterfalls plunging into the rapids of the blackwater rivers in Ivindo National Park. You’ll also find low-impact tented camps throughout the country, everywhere from Moabi Tented Camp amid the rolling savanna of Lope National Park, to Pongara Lodge on the pristine beaches and mangrove swamps of the namesake national park on the Atlantic Coast. —Alicia Erickson

Four-Seasons,-Taormina,-San-Domenico-Palace_SDH_053

SOURCE: Four Seasons

Sicily, Italy

Last year, the buzz around Italy’s largest island was the opening of two flashy resorts: Villa Igiea in Palermo and the Four Seasons on the east coast. Both are spectacular, but you’d be missing the point of a trip to Sicily if you spent the entire time holed up there. Consider the properties as bookends to a trip exploring the core of the region, where slow-living traditions hum on—and are becoming increasingly dependent on outside visitors to survive. United’s long-awaited direct flight from Newark to Palermo may finally launch this year, making the destination easier for Americans to reach than ever before.

South of the Four Seasons in the beautiful, Baroque town of Noto, the regal Seven Rooms is where to stay after dinners of fettuccine ai funghi at Manna and a late night passeggiata with locals past the grand cathedrals. This coming summer, its team will open a small retreat on the nearby seaside (the exact location is yet to be announced). A 15-minute drive away in Ragusa, the cheerful Maria Guastella is one of the only sfilato Siciliano embroiderers keeping what was once a grand Sicilian artform alive, and her workshop is open for visitors. Just down the hill is Rosso Cinabro, the last artisan carettiere (cart maker) whose hand-carved and -painted wagons tell a story of the destination centuries ago.

Heading west, the millenia-old temples at Agrigento are also unmissable. Base yourself nearby in Fontes Episcopi, a divine eco-retreat with an ivy-draped courtyard and a lively farm kitchen; in February, it will open three new stand-alone suites with skylights and terraces just behind the pool and orchards. Closer to Palermo, the men in rainboots working the salt flats by Trapani showcase a tradition increasingly threatened by industrial engineering. Watching them work is extraordinary—like so many of the experiences in Sicily, it is a reminder that often the most important reason to go somewhere is to preserve what has always been there. —Erin Florio

Oasia Resort Sentosa - Pool

SOURCE: Oasia Hotels

Singapore

For years, Singapore has attracted those at the forefront of finance, technology, and business. Now, a 10-year push to transform the republic into a sustainable city promises to lure more eco-explorers—especially now that vaccinated U.S. travelers no longer have to quarantine upon arrival. Efforts are already underway: At the new ABC Waters at Jurong Lake in Singapore’s west, visitors can discover 12,000 square feet of man-made wetlands via sleek wooden walkways that wend toward expansive views of the lake and the occasional glimpse of otters, Malayan water lizards, and jewel-hued tropical birds. Meanwhile, the Rail Corridor—a cross-country rewilding project and nature trail—recently saw the launch of a central 2.5-mile stretch dotted with relics like the hauntingly solitary Bukit Timah Railway Station office, built in 1932 and abandoned in 2011 when the line was decommissioned.

The plushest beds in town will be at the Raffles Sentosa Resort & Spa when it opens in 2022, 135 years after the original Raffles Hotel was established. An all-villa sanctuary, it will house 61 butlered villas amid more than a million square feet of tropical gardens. But there are other options for a fresh green perspective, like the new wellness-focused Oasia Resort (pictured), where you can dine on locally farmed barramundi and get a massage with recycled coffee grounds. And those seeking a getaway that’s even more embedded in nature will soon be able to set up camp at Singapore’s first off-grid accommodation by Sentosa Development Corporation on the uninhabited southern Islands. —Audrey Phoon

Text-Card-outdoors-beach

SOURCE: Getty

Honduras_GettyImages-638712174

SOURCE: Getty

Honduras

Tropical Honduras, an under-the-radar divers’ and bird-watchers’ paradise, is fast becoming a hot spot for eco-conscious travelers.

The Cayos Cochinos Foundation—a nonprofit based in its namesake archipelago off Honduras’s Caribbean coast—is one of the many sustainability organizations prioritizing the protection of Honduras’s rainforests and barrier reefs. The archipelago is already famous for its cerulean waters, white-sand beaches, and spectacular freediving, but in 2022 the Foundation will launch eco-tours allowing travelers to participate in reef cleanup, spot pink boas on hikes, and join scientists in monitoring turtles.

Back on the mainland, zip-line through 400 acres of pristine rainforest in Rawacala Eco Park, which will launch two new hiking trails and bird-watching platforms alongside a revamp of their zip-line systems in 2022. After exploring Copán’s Mayan ruins, visit the nearby Paseo de los Girasoles, a sunflower plantation put in to improve grazing conditions. Visitors will soon be able to enjoy its new farm-to-table café, pergolas, and hammocks—just try to visit before everyone on Instagram catches wind of this photo-friendly spot.

For eco-friendly accommodations, try Rawacala Eco Park’s sister property, Paraiso Rainforest & Beach Hotel, or its new venture, Paraiso Boutique Hotel, opening in 2022 on Utila. The property—which will offer eco-tours through the Cayos Cochinos Foundation—will employ solar panels and recycle rainwater, in addition to reducing plastic waste by favoring local produce. The Grand Roatán Resort will also reopen as a Kimpton mid-2022 with living green walls, a reverse osmosis water generation plant, and a new spa. —Eva Sandoval

Malta_GettyImages-638562040

SOURCE: Getty

Malta

Seemingly little more than a few specks on a map of the Adriatic, the island nation of Malta has felt like a well-kept secret among European travelers—it’s accessible, just an hour by plane or ferry from Sicily, and its crystalline waters, surrounded by fossil-studded limestone cliffs, are prime for summer sunbathing and year-round scuba diving. Along the coast, there are a whopping 80 wrecks to dive, and the Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit is dedicated to maintaining them. There’s a cultural draw, too, as Arabic, Italian, French, British, and Norman influences intertwine in ancient fortified cities, with a cuisine, traditions, and language unlike any other in the region. The island was first inhabited prior to 5000 B.C., after all, with ancient megalithic temples—like Ġgantija and Ħaġar Qim—where visitors can see its storied past.

This might just be the year the destination becomes less of a secret. In 2021, Viking Cruises launched three new itineraries departing from Malta that sailed the Adriatic and Mediterranean, and the cruise line plans to add additional sailings from Malta in 2023. On land—yet still close to the water—three notable properties have opened, including a Hyatt Regency and Marriott Hotel & Spa in the beach town of St. Julian’s, and the decadent Iniala Harbour House in the capital city of Valletta. New transportation, including a recently launched speed ferry, makes it easier than ever to get from the island of Valletta to Gozo. And as for the food scene? Two more Malta restaurants were added to the Michelin Guide in 2021, including ION at Iniala, for a total of five in the country of less than 500,000 lucky residents. —Megan Spurrell

Panama_BW1416

SOURCE: Alamy

Panama

Copa Airlines’ popular Panama Stopover program is back, allowing travelers to add a one- to seven-day stopover en route to 36 destinations in South America at no extra cost. There are fewer Americans here than in neighboring Costa Rica, and with hundreds of islands on both the Caribbean and Pacific sides, you won’t be fighting for beach real estate. Make like the mammals and freshwater fauna of the Pliocene era, who migrated between North and South America when the isthmus of Panama formed, and linger awhile to explore Panama’s biodiverse jungles and beaches.

Bocas del Toro is a must-visit, with sprawling beaches that never feel too crowded and turquoise waters home to 95 percent of the coral species found in the Caribbean Sea. Memorable wildlife encounters include nighttime snorkeling in bioluminescent waters and exploring the subterranean lakes of Nivida Bat Cave with the help of headlamps and a knowledgeable guide from Hello Travel Panama.

The mountainous region of Chiriquí is equally enchanting, between its beaches and highlands, where active Volcán Barú looms large. Check in at the new 10-room boutique hotel Finca El Oasis and leave at midnight to hike the summit by daybreak for a panoramic sunrise above the clouds. Fuel your hike with locally grown coffee that you can’t find back home, like Chiriquí’s highly valued Geisha coffee. If a hike sounds too intense, there are off-road tours to the top of the volcano too, and canopy zip-lining right on the property. —Amber Gibson

Sumba-Island,-Indonesia_GettyImages-1214609855

SOURCE: Getty

Sumba, Indonesia

With millions of tourists Eat Pray Love-ing their way around Bali every year, it has become increasingly difficult to find a quiet beach or a waterfall without a gaggle of snap-happy travelers nearby. If you’re after a post-pandemic trip of quietude and untamed wilderness, you’re better off hopping on a 50-minute turboprop flight headed east from Bali, to Sumba.

About twice Bali’s size with only a fraction of its crowds, this rugged island is often compared to Bali before its tourism boom. Here, you’re more likely to share sugar-white beaches with grazing sandalwood ponies, and nosy dolphins will often be the only creatures you’re riding a wave with. And there’s more to love: hike through frozen-in-time hilltop villages bookended by ancient stone megaliths, swim in glassy lagoons, and bear witness to pasola, a boisterous ceremonial spear fighting competition (not for the faint of heart), typically scheduled between February and mid-March.

Though Nihi Sumba put the island on the map for deep-pocketed surfers back in 2012, a new crop of boutique resorts now make a five-star visit slightly more affordable. Opened in April 2020, Alamayah combines six rattan-wrapped suites with an Ayurvedic spa and Turkish hammam, plus a restaurant where plant-based dishes and remedial potions by an in-house herbalist take center stage. Mid-2022, Cap Karoso will open a small village of 47 suites and 20 beachfront villas on Sumba’s western tip. Its design melds the French owners’ Parisian flair with Sumbanese ikat and carved wood panels, while the resort’s organic farm will double as an agricultural school and artist atelier. With these hotels making efforts towards sustainable tourism development (Cap Karoso partnered with southwest Sumba’s governor for a 2022 launch of the Kodi Reserve, a coral restoration and reforestation program), the island is unlikely to follow in Bali’s trampled footsteps anytime soon. —Chris Schalkx

West-Virginia-Department-of-Tourism_destination_wv_2019_speciale_selects-22

SOURCE: West Virginia Department of Tourism

West Virginia

Our collective obsession with the outdoors this past year turned out to be fortuitous timing for West Virginia: Last December’s $2.3 trillion stimulus package redesignated the New River Gorge as America’s newest—and the state’s first—national park and preserve in an effort to promote tourism. Comprising some 73,000 acres, the park features 1,000-foot-high sandstone cliffs for climbing, 53 miles of river for whitewater rafting, and the iconic New River Gorge Bridge, which you can traverse on a guided trek across its 24-inch-wide catwalk.

But it’s not just national parks that benefited: West Virginia state parks are on track to hit a record 10 million visitors this year, and lawmakers approved $42 million in budget surplus for infrastructure improvements, including 20 new cabins at Coopers Rock State Forest and 25 new tree house cabins at Beech Fork State Park. Meanwhile, the new Elk River Rail Trail in central West Virginia is transforming an old railroad line once used to transport coal into a hiking and biking path that, at an eventual 74 miles, will be one of the longest trails east of the Mississippi.

If you need a little more comfort during your stay, the Hotel Morgan recently reopened in Morgantown. The space dates back to 1925 and has hosted the likes of Harry Truman and Eleanor Roosevelt. Next up is the new Schoolhouse Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, which will open in the town’s 1912 high school building. Financed by the Disability Opportunity Fund, the boutique property is being hailed as the world’s first fully accessible hotel, with each of the 30 rooms and suites designed to accommodate wheelchair users. —N.D.

Discover some of the best destinations for 2022 aboard World Navigator on a luxe-adventure voyage.

Sign up and be the first to know about special offers, new itineraries and more.

    • Select

      We're here for you!

      Let us connect you with an Atlas Ocean Voyages expert to help you plan the best vacation today.


      For immediate assistance call us at 1.844.44.ATLAS (28527).

      I am a Travel AdvisorI am working with a Travel AdvisorI am not working with a Travel Advisor

      Privacy Policy

      magnifiermenu
      linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram