CNN Travel has curated a selection of the most sought-after destinations for travel enthusiasts in 2022. This carefully curated list features an array of stunning locations, including Antigua and Barbuda, Bissagos Islands in Guinea-Bissau, Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Chile, Colombo in Sri Lanka, Dijon in France, Disko Bay in Greenland, Gabon National Parks, Jordan, Lahti in Finland, and many more. Each of these destinations promises unique experiences, ranging from pristine beaches to rich cultural attractions and thrilling outdoor adventures. Notably, the emphasis on sustainability and environmental conservation is underscored throughout the list, aligning with the growing trend of promoting responsible travel. Furthermore, this collection also highlights the increasingly popular trend of indigenous tourism, providing opportunities for travelers to immerse themselves in the traditions and customs of local indigenous communities. With such an incredible selection, 2022 promises to be an exceptional year for exploring these top destinations.
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is a stunning Caribbean destination that offers a paradise of pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a tropical climate. Visitors to the islands are greeted with a sense of tranquility and natural beauty that is unparalleled. The beaches of Antigua and Barbuda are known for their powdery white sands and turquoise waters, making them the perfect setting for relaxation and rejuvenation.
In addition to their exquisite beaches, Antigua and Barbuda also offer a wide range of water sports activities. From snorkeling and scuba diving in the colorful coral reefs to sailing and windsurfing on the gentle Caribbean waves, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The islands are also home to numerous marinas and sailing events, attracting sailing enthusiasts from around the world.
For those interested in history and culture, Antigua and Barbuda have a rich heritage to explore. The islands are dotted with historical sites that tell the story of their colonization and struggle for independence. Visitors can explore places like Nelson's Dockyard, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was once a major naval base during the colonial era. Other historical sites include the Betty's Hope Sugar Plantation and the St. John's Cathedral, both offering insight into the islands' past.
Bissagos Islands in Guinea-Bissau
Located off the coast of Senegal, the Bissagos Islands in Guinea-Bissau are a hidden gem for those seeking untouched natural beauty and ecotourism opportunities. The archipelago consists of over 80 islands, many of which are uninhabited and untouched by human presence. Visitors to the Bissagos Islands can expect to find pristine beaches, lush forests, and diverse ecosystems that are home to a unique array of wildlife.
Ecotourism is a major draw for the Bissagos Islands, as the region is known for its commitment to sustainable practices and conservation efforts. Visitors can embark on guided tours and hikes through the islands' protected areas, learning about the local flora and fauna and the efforts being made to preserve them. Birdwatching is also popular on the islands, with over 400 species of birds residing in the region.
The Bissagos Islands are home to unique wildlife species, including the endangered saltwater hippopotamus and the green sea turtle. Visitors have the opportunity to witness these incredible creatures in their natural habitats and learn about the conservation initiatives that are being undertaken to protect them. The islands also offer exceptional opportunities for fishing and snorkeling, allowing visitors to experience the abundant marine life that surrounds them.
Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia
Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada, is a destination that showcases stunning landscapes and offers a multitude of outdoor activities. Known for its rugged coastline, towering cliffs, and picturesque fishing villages, Cape Breton Island is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers.
The island is renowned for its scenic drives, including the iconic Cabot Trail. This 298-kilometer route takes visitors along the coast and through the highlands, offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, lush forests, and charming coastal communities. Along the way, travelers can stop at various lookout points, hiking trails, and cultural landmarks, immersing themselves in the beauty of their surroundings.
Hiking and outdoor activities are also abundant on Cape Breton Island. There are numerous trails suitable for all skill levels, leading to hidden waterfalls, panoramic viewpoints, and secluded beaches. Whether visitors are seeking a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, they will find a trail to suit their preferences. Other outdoor activities include kayaking, fishing, and even whale watching, as Cape Breton is a popular spot for spotting these majestic creatures.
Chile is a country that boasts diverse landscapes, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike. From the Atacama Desert in the north to the fjords and glaciers in the south, Chile offers a wide range of experiences that showcase the country's natural wonders.
One of the highlights of Chile is its wine regions. The country is internationally renowned for its production of high-quality wines, and visitors have the opportunity to explore the vineyards and indulge in wine tasting sessions. The Colchagua Valley, Casablanca Valley, and Maipo Valley are among the most popular wine regions to visit, offering picturesque landscapes and world-class wineries.
Adventure tourism is also a major draw for visitors to Chile. The country's diverse geography provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and mountaineering. The Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia is a must-visit destination for adventurers, with its breathtaking granite peaks, turquoise lakes, and vast glaciers. Additionally, Chile's coastal regions offer excellent conditions for surfing and water sports, attracting adrenaline seekers from around the globe.
Colombo in Sri Lanka
Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka, is a vibrant metropolis that combines cultural attractions, historical sites, and a bustling city life. Located on the western coast of the island, Colombo offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern development.
Cultural attractions abound in Colombo, with numerous museums, galleries, and theaters showcasing the rich heritage of Sri Lanka. The National Museum of Colombo is a must-visit for history buffs, housing a vast collection of artifacts that date back to ancient times. The city is also home to several art galleries, where visitors can admire and purchase traditional paintings, sculptures, and handicrafts.
Historical sites are scattered throughout Colombo, offering a glimpse into the city's colonial past. The Old Parliament Building, the Dutch Hospital, and the British-era buildings in the Fort district are just a few examples of the architectural wonders that can be found in Colombo. Visitors can take guided tours or explore these sites at their own pace, immersing themselves in the history and stories of the past.
Colombo's vibrant city life is another aspect that sets it apart as a destination. The city is home to an array of restaurants, cafes, and street food stalls, offering a variety of culinary experiences that range from traditional Sri Lankan cuisine to international flavors. The bustling markets, such as Pettah Market and Galle Face Green, provide opportunities for shopping and socializing, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the vibrant energy of the city.
Dijon in France
Dijon, located in the Burgundy region of France, is a city that appeals to food and wine enthusiasts, history buffs, and architecture lovers alike. Known for its gourmet cuisine, historic architecture, and world-class wines, Dijon offers a unique and unforgettable experience.
Gourmet cuisine is at the heart of Dijon's cultural identity. The city is famous for its mustard, which has been produced in the region for centuries. Visitors can explore the Maille Mustard Boutique, which offers a wide range of mustard flavors and products, and learn about the history and production process of this culinary delight. Dijon is also home to a diverse range of restaurants, from Michelin-starred establishments to cozy bistros, where visitors can indulge in traditional Burgundian dishes and experience the region's culinary excellence.
Historic architecture is abundant in Dijon, as the city was once the seat of the powerful Dukes of Burgundy. Visitors can marvel at the ornate facades of the Palais des Ducs et des États de Bourgogne, a former palace that now houses the City Hall and a museum. The Church of Notre-Dame, with its intricate carvings and magnificent stained glass windows, is another architectural gem that should not be missed.
Wine tasting is a must-do activity in Dijon, as the city is located in the heart of the Burgundy wine region. Visitors can take guided tours of the nearby vineyards, visit renowned wineries, and sample a variety of wines, including the world-famous Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The region's rich winemaking history and the passion of the local producers make wine tasting in Dijon an exceptional and educational experience.
Disko Bay in Greenland
Disko Bay, located on the western coast of Greenland, is a destination that showcases the breathtaking beauty of glaciers, icebergs, and Arctic wildlife. The bay is named after the large floating icebergs that can be found in its waters, creating a surreal and magical atmosphere.
Glaciers and icebergs are the main attractions of Disko Bay. Visitors can take boat tours or cruise through the bay to witness these awe-inspiring natural formations up close. The Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must-visit destination for its massive icebergs and the stunning calving process, where chunks of ice break off from the glacier and fall into the sea. Hiking on the nearby Eqi Glacier is also a popular activity, providing breathtaking views of the ice sheet and the surrounding fjords.
Whale watching is another highlight of Disko Bay. The bay is known for its rich marine ecosystem, attracting various species of whales, including humpback whales, fin whales, and minke whales. Visitors can join boat tours led by experienced guides and witness these majestic creatures as they breach and swim in the bay's waters. The experience of seeing whales in their natural habitat is both thrilling and humbling, providing a profound connection to nature and its wonders.
Arctic wildlife is abundant in Disko Bay, offering ample opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts and nature photographers. Visitors may encounter seals, polar bears, reindeer, and numerous bird species during their explorations. The region's pristine environment and remote location make it an ideal habitat for these species, allowing visitors to witness the richness and diversity of Arctic wildlife in its purest form.
Gabon National Parks
Gabon, located on the west coast of Central Africa, is home to pristine national parks that offer remote wilderness experiences and unique safari opportunities. The country's commitment to conservation and sustainable tourism has made it a destination of choice for travelers seeking an authentic and off-the-beaten-path adventure.
The national parks of Gabon are vast and diverse, covering a range of landscapes, from dense rainforests to sweeping savannahs. Lopé National Park, Loango National Park, and Ivindo National Park are among the most popular parks to visit, offering exceptional wildlife sightings and outdoor activities.
Remote wilderness is a defining feature of Gabon's national parks. Visitors can explore untouched forests, discover hidden waterfalls, and witness the rich biodiversity that thrives in the region. The parks are home to a variety of animal species, including gorillas, elephants, buffalo, and numerous bird species. Guided safaris and treks allow visitors to immerse themselves in the natural wonders of Gabon and learn about the efforts being made to protect these ecosystems.
Primate watching is a unique experience in Gabon, as the country is home to several primate species, including the critically endangered Western Lowland Gorilla. Visitors can embark on guided tours led by experienced trackers, who will lead them through the forests in search of these elusive creatures. The opportunity to observe gorillas in their natural habitat is a humbling and awe-inspiring experience that instills a deep appreciation for the importance of wildlife conservation.
Jordan is a country that showcases ancient ruins, desert landscapes, and world-class diving opportunities. Located in the heart of the Middle East, Jordan offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty that attracts travelers from around the world.
Ancient ruins are a major draw for visitors to Jordan, as the country is home to numerous archaeological sites that date back thousands of years. The city of Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of Jordan's most iconic attractions. Carved into the rose-colored cliffs, Petra was once the capital of the ancient Nabatean civilization and now stands as a testament to their architectural prowess. Other notable archaeological sites include Jerash, the Roman city of Umm Qais, and the desert castles of Qasr Amra and Qasr Kharana.
Desert landscapes dominate much of Jordan's terrain, offering a unique and ethereal setting for exploration. The Wadi Rum Desert, also known as the Valley of the Moon, is a vast expanse of red sand dunes, towering cliffs, and natural rock formations. Visitors can embark on desert safaris, camping under the stars, and taking in the awe-inspiring beauty of the landscape. The iconic rock bridge of Jebel Burdah and the breathtaking views from Lawrence's Spring are just a few of the natural wonders that can be found in Wadi Rum.
World-class diving opportunities can be found along Jordan's coastline, particularly in the Red Sea. Aqaba, Jordan's only coastal city, offers pristine coral reefs, clear waters, and an abundance of marine life. Divers and snorkelers can explore the colorful reefs, encounter tropical fish, and even spot the occasional sea turtle or dolphin. The warm and tranquil waters of the Red Sea make it an ideal destination for divers of all levels of experience.
Indigenous tourism is a growing trend in travel and offers opportunities for visitors to learn about and experience the traditions of local indigenous communities. By engaging in indigenous tourism, travelers can gain a deeper understanding of the culture, history, and way of life of these communities, while also supporting their economies and promoting cultural preservation.
Learning about local indigenous communities is a fundamental aspect of indigenous tourism. Visitors can participate in guided tours and cultural exchanges that provide insights into the traditions, rituals, and customs of these communities. Whether it's learning about traditional crafts, attending cultural performances, or listening to stories and legends passed down through generations, visitors have the opportunity to gain a nuanced understanding of indigenous cultures.
Traditional cultural experiences are another highlight of indigenous tourism. Visitors can engage in activities such as cooking traditional meals, participating in traditional ceremonies and dances, and even staying overnight in indigenous communities. These immersive experiences allow travelers to truly connect with the local culture and form meaningful connections with members of the community.
Supporting indigenous economies is an important aspect of indigenous tourism. By choosing to engage in indigenous tourism activities, visitors can directly contribute to the livelihoods of indigenous communities. This can be done through purchasing traditional handicrafts, supporting local businesses, and staying in indigenous-owned accommodations. These economic contributions help to empower and sustain these communities, preserving their way of life for future generations.
In conclusion, the destinations mentioned in this article offer a diverse range of experiences that cater to different interests and preferences. From the pristine beaches of Antigua and Barbuda to the remote wilderness of Gabon National Parks, there is something for every traveler. The growing trend of indigenous tourism provides an opportunity to connect with local cultures and support indigenous communities. As travel continues to evolve, the importance of sustainability and respecting the environment remains at the forefront, ensuring that these destinations can be enjoyed for generations to come.