These are the world’s best villages you’ve never heard of

Take your tourist dollar to one of these small-scale spots, where tourism boosts the community

Lucy Thackray
Friday 30 December 2022 15:04 GMT
World's best villages to visit named by UNWTO

A list of more than 30 beautiful, rural villages has been published by UNWTO, the World Travel Council, as part of efforts to combat overtourism.

The organisation’s list of 32 remote destinations aims to recognise lovely, small-scale places to visit, as well as spotlighting places that are embracing sustainable tourism away from the world’s big-hitter capitals and major cities.

The “Best Tourism Villages” list is described as “a global initiative to highlight those villages where tourism preserves cultures and traditions, celebrates diversity, provides opportunities and safeguards biodiversity,” says UNWTO.

The village of Alquézar, Spain (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The top 32 villages chosen for 2022 span 18 countries across the globe, narrowed down from a total of 136 villages nominated by UNWTO’s member states.

Raqchi in Peru, Pyeongsa-ri in South Korea, Creel in Mexico, and Birgi in Turkey were just four of the little-known spots named by the organisation.

The Austrian villages of Zell am See and Wagrain were both included on the list, while Spain was represented by three small communities: Rupit, Alquézar and Guadalupe.

The Moroccan Berber village of Ksar Elkhorbat, a 19th-century fortified village which has been restored for tourists with a museum, women’s workshop and guesthouse, also made the list.

The Romanian village of Rășinari, in the country’s Transylvania region (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The team behind the list also pointed tourists towards Isola del Giglio, an Italian island off the Tuscan coast, and Sauris/Zahre, an Italian Alpine comune close to the border with Austria.

“The Best Tourism Villages [list] showcases the power of the sector to drive economic diversification and create opportunities for all outside of big cities,” said UNWTO’s secretary-general, Zurab Pololikashvili.

“The accolade recognizes rural destinations that are embracing tourism as a driver of development and new opportunities for jobs and income, while preserving and promoting community-based values and products,” added a UNWTO statement.

Mudbrick houses in AlUla Old Town, Saudi Arabia (Getty Images)

The world’s top 32 rural villages to visit on your travels:

  1. Zell am See, Austria
  2. Wagrain, Austria
  3. Puqueldón, Chile
  4. Dazhai, China
  5. Jingzhu, China
  6. Choachí, Colombia
  7. Aguarico, Ecuador
  8. Angochagua, Ecuador
  9. Choke Mountains Ecovillage, Ethiopia
  10. Mestia, Georgia
  11. Kfar Kama, Israel
  12. Sauris-Zahre, Italy
  13. Isola del Giglio, Italy
  14. Umm Qais, Jordan
  15. Creel, Mexico
  16. El Fuerte, Mexico
  17. Ksar Elkhorbat, Morocco
  18. Moulay Bouzerktoune, Morocco
  19. Lamas, Peru
  20. Raqchi, Peru
  21. Castelo Novo, Portugal
  22. Pyeongsa-ri, Republic of Korea
  23. Rasinari, Romania
  24. AlUla Old Town, Saudi Arabia
  25. Bohinj, Slovenia
  26. Rupit, Spain
  27. Alquézar, Spain
  28. Guadalupe, Spain
  29. Murten, Switzerland
  30. Andermatt, Switzerland
  31. Birgi, Turkey
  32. Thái Hải, Vietnam

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