The best destinations to visit in 2022

Our New Year’s Resolution? To actually try to get away next year...

Saturday 01 January 2022 10:00
<p>Uzbekistan, Central Asia</p>

Uzbekistan, Central Asia

Well, 2021 was a year - much like 2020, in fact.

A nonstop merry-go-round of ever-changing pandemic restrictions, both in the UK and abroad, meant opportunities to travel were few and far between and had to be grabbed with a gusto bordering on desperate.

Although Omicron is already plunging travellers back into a world of border closures and testing red tape, there are glimmers of hope on the horizon for 2022: vaccination programmes, including the administering of booster jabs, are much further along than even a few months ago.

So, though none of us has a crystal ball, The Independent’s travel team is optimistically looking forward to where we might venture in the next 12 months. Here’s our pick - along with those of a selection of travel writers - of destinations to visit in the year ahead.

Moulin Huet Bay, Guernsey, Channel Islands

Channel Islands

With international travel still looking uncertain, opting for closer-to-home but still-not-in-your-backyard holiday destinations feels like a safer bet than planning an epic foreign adventure. I’ve always been a fan of the Channel Islands, thanks to their laid-back island-living vibes, warm climate and sea-dipping opportunities at every turn. And, as a flight-free traveller, I can add to the list that they’re accessible from the UK by boat, creating a pleasing sense of having travelled somewhere far-flung and exotic on the three-hour crossing. I haven’t been to Guernsey since I was a kid, but am also keen to try some island hopping, taking in the much smaller isles of Alderney, Sark and Herm for even more secluded, off-the-beaten-track charm. Helen Coffey

Cairo, Egypt

The leading cultural venture of the 2020s is undoubtedly the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo, revealing the incredible breadth and depth of human creativity. With 100,000 artifacts, including the oldest intact boat in the world (just short of 5,000 years), it will put every other archaeological museum in the world in the shade. The spectacular structure by architects Róisín Heneghan and Shi-Fu Peng has a panoramic view across to the pyramids of Giza. It is now 20 years since then-President Mubarak laid the foundation stone. And at some time this decade, it may finally open – along with, it is rumoured, a subway link from the centre of the city. Some say the opening may happen in September; I have my visit pencilled in for November 2022, but I am not buying my ticket just yet. Simon Calder

Southwest Turkey

Twice in the pandemic I was invited to and booked travel for a wedding in Dalyan, southwestern Turkey - and twice it was cancelled. But those rollercoaster months were enough to whet my appetite for the area’s jewel-bright waters, low-key, local-run accommodation, its sleepy creeks and turtle-nesting sites, not to mention flashier resorts and spa hotels along the coast. I’m determined to make 2022 the year I get to this mysterious Med stranger - while I’ve been to neighbouring Greece at least 20 times, I’ve never made it here. If I was feeling particularly adventurous, I might aim to walk a portion of the Lycian Way, a 400km, 29-day pine-scented coastal route from Fethiye to Antalya - before celebrating with a week-long flop at a beachside hotel. But I’d be just as happy with a late-summer, sun-soaked lounge with a boat trip or two to satisfy my urge to explore. LT

Kuleli Bay, Turkey

Valencia, Spain

I had big plans to eat my way around this sun-soaked seaside city on Spain’s east coast in 2020, having pledged to stop by on the way back from a friend’s wedding near Cadiz in spring. But... well, you know the rest. Global pandemic; wedding cancelled; borders closed; blah blah blah. I didn’t make it there in 2021 either, but so much the better - 2022 sees Valencia have two pretty neat titles bestowed upon it: European Capital of Smart Tourism and World Design Capital. On top of that, it’s leading the pack on responsible tourism, having become the world’s first city to measure and verify its carbon and water footprints from its tourist activity. HC

Uzbekistan

This intriguing country has been on my bucket list for so long I may well have included it as an entry in our “where I’d like to go in 2018” round-up. I still haven’t managed to make it to this culturally and historically rich Silk Road stop - both the pandemic and my own decision to stop flying or sustainability reasons have provided fairly comprehensive road blocks. But I’m hoping neither will be insurmountable for long: after all, it is possible to reach Uzbekistan overland, and travel restrictions can’t last forever (can they?). The country relaxed its entry policy a few years ago - British passport holders can stay for up to 30 days, visa-free. And, best of all, I’ve already got my itinerary sorted courtesy of Uzbekistan ambassador Sophie Ibbotson, who tweeted with her suggestions: “Lazgi Festival (dance) in Khiva in April; Stihia Festival (electronic music) in Moynaq in May; Lavender Festival in Kokand in June; Sharq Taronalari (world music) in Samarkand in August; Silk Road Literature Festival in Tashkent and Bukhara in September; International Festival of Handicrafters in Kokand in September; Tashkent Film Festival in September. Also Tadao Ando designed extension to the State Museum of Arts and the Centre of Islamic Civilisation both opening in Tashkent by the end of 2022...”. HC

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Winter, eh? Miserable, particularly in these higher latitudes. Yet on 4 February, the tourism picture will brighten. That is the scheduled opening date for the Game of Thrones studio tour, in the unusual surroundings of an out-of-town shopping centre in Banbridge, south of Belfast. It seeks to do for the medieval realism of the HBO series what the Harry Potter experience near Watford does for J K Rowling fans. Northern Ireland has a reasonable claim to the tour: the National Trust property of Castle Ward, outside Strangford, doubles as Winterfell Castle. SC

Tiger's Nest temple, Bhutan

Bhutan

The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan was the original “premiumised” destination – with a minimum spend requirement and the nation’s tourist organisation promoting “Bhutan as a high-end tourist destination in a manner which accords with the tenets of Gross National Happiness”. That concept is courtesy of the king, who in March will royally reopen the 250-mile Trans-Bhutan Trail as a tourist experience (only well-heeled visitors need apply). The path has been restored by the Bhutan Canada Foundation. SC

Turin, Italy

Turin, the well-heeled and aesthetically pleasing capital of northern Italy’s Piedmont region, has much more going for it than the famed shroud. With long avenues of refined architecture, a distinctive cuisine that includes plenty of rich Piedmont cheeses, local hazelnuts and liberal shavings of white truffle on everything, and an enviable position a stone’s throw from the mountains for ski trips or summer hikes, it’s a city with a lot to recommend it. I have more of a guilty-pleasure inspired reason for wanting to visit in 2022 though - Turin is hosting the Eurovision Song Contest after undeniably hot young things, Maneskin, won last year’s event dressed head to toe in iridescent burgundy leather. Mmm. HC

British Columbia

For someone who’s never been outside of Ontario, Canada’s wholesome, nature-packed western state feels like a whole different country to explore. After two years largely cooped up in the UK, I’m convinced that its rambling pine forests, quaint coastal towns and bear-stalked hiking trails would soothe my soul - via some great eats and craft brews in Vancouver, its urban gateway served by frequent flights. I particularly have my eye on the Cranbrook to Ainsworth Loop where you can visit several hot springs resorts wrapped up in nature, including the mineral-rich Radium Hot Springs in Kootenay National Park. Throw in fresh seafood dinners and its own under-the-radar wine scene, and I’m practically running for the plane. And who doesn’t love Canadians? Lucy Thackray

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