It is a year of new beginnings. While the famous Maya Bay in Thailand is set to welcome visitors after a break, New Orleans is planning on letting Mardi Gras parades unfurl in their full glory once again. Save this list of places to ensure there is never a dull moment in your bucket of 2022 travel destinations. By Rashima Nagpal & Rajlakshmi Dastidar. Images courtesy of Shutterstock
Jump To / Table of Contents
- New Orleans, USA
- South Australia, Australia
- Mexico City, Mexico
- Al Khor, Qatar
- Andersonville, USA
- Kaunas, Lithuania
- Novi Sad, Serbia
- Medellin, Colombia
- Kyiv, Ukraine
- Villeray, Canada
- Leith, United Kingdom
- Dakar, Senegal
- Applecross Peninsula, United Kingdom
- Lofoten Islands, Norway
- Jingmai Mountain, China
- Lahaul Valley, Himachal Pradesh
- Orchha, Madhya Pradesh
- Kochi, Kerala
- Maya Bay, Thailand
- Kamchatka, Russia
- Phong Nha, Vietnam
An archipelago of over 500 little islands, including 200 that are volcanic, Palau is a gem in the Pacific Ocean. It is a true-blue diver’s paradise, offering unique dive sites such as the Blue Corner, German Channel, and Ulong Channel. Between February and April every year, hundreds of grey reef sharks swim to the waters of Palau for mating season. This is when the destination hosts Shark Week Palau. Its 20th annual edition is set to take place from February 27 to March 6, 2022; experienced divers can take part in citizen science activities such as keeping a tab on the number of shark species, from grey reef and blacktip to blue, tiger, and hammerhead. Or sign up for a snorkelling tour of the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Rock Islands Southern Lagoon with the Oceanic Society in February or November.
French for ‘Fat Tuesday’, Mardi Gras is culturally synonymous with New Orleans, Louisiana—one of the first places in the United States to hold the parade. In the month leading up to Mardi Gras, residents and visitors paint the town red with parades and masquerade balls. Bars and clubs come alive with parties every night. New Orleans’ Creole-Cajun culture is celebrated through food, music, and architectural events. On Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, you’ll find the best of jazz bars as well as plush hotels to stay in. The charming Garden District nearby is brimming with boutique shops, top-notch restaurants, and grand dame mansions. Mardi Gras 2022 falls on March 1, with festivities beginning a month in advance.
South Australia, along with its coastal capital Adelaide, is known to have the best food scene in Australia. From rustic organic farms to top-of-the-line restaurants, not to mention a rich range of wines (think Barossa Valley), South Australia has it all. In autumn, Tasting Australia organises an annual food festival in the region. Set to host around 200 events over 10 days in 2022 (from April 29 to May 8), the festival lets you explore 11 regions of South Australia. The line-up of experiences includes a masterclass on international chardonnay tasting, meals highlighting local produce, a seafood adventure in Coffin Bay, a tasting menu at Yalumba’s 170-year-old winery in the Barossa, and much more.
Travel + Leisure (US) declared Mexico as the Destination of the Year 2022. At the heart of the country is its buzzing capital, Mexico City. Made up of over 75 vibrant neighbourhoods, it is one of the oldest and largest cities in the Americas. Find the ruins of Tenochtitlán, the ancient capital of the Aztec empire, just outside of central Mexico City. In the south, the floating gardens of Xochimilco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a unique experience. The city is also home to over 150 museums and galleries, including the Soumaya Museum and Dolores Olmedo Museum. Plan your 2022 visit in November for El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a festival that has been around for nearly 3,000 years. It is celebrated across Mexico, with street parades, fancy dress displays, and copious amounts of food and drink.
A coastal city in northern Qatar, Al Khor (meaning ‘the creek’ in Arabic), is a rising cultural attraction for discerning travellers. The original settlement of Al Khor was built on a creek, thus the name. The Al Bayt Stadium will be one of the main venues for matches of FIFA World Cup 2022—the first-ever football world cup to be held in an Arab country—in December. Get a chance to explore the region’s history at Al Khor Museum. Experience the exotic beach life on Purple Island and Al Farkiah Beach. Home to beautiful parks like Al Tawasul Traditional Park and Al Khor Park, the city is a walker’s delight. The Al Shu’aa Reserve, located around one kilometre south of Al Qarma Beach Garden, is also worth a visit for a sight of its ducks, tortoises, geese, ostriches, goats, rabbits as well as a few Arabian oryx.
Chicago’s old Swedish quarter is also recognised as the city’s most diverse and quirky neighbourhood. The locale takes pride in its strong LGBTQ+ presence. During Pride Month, it is decked up with pop-up bars, charming boutiques, and cafes. A range of new bars and restaurants have cropped up in the region; must-visits include Nobody’s Darling, a black-owned queer cocktail bar; and Parson’s Chicken & Fish, famous for its fried chicken, Negroni slushies, and outdoor patios. Events such as Taste of Andersonville allow you to sample some of the best restaurants that Andersonville has to offer, while initiatives such as Clark Street Composts serve as a model for eco-friendly composting throughout Chicago.
An art-deco hub, Kaunas in Lithuania shares the title of European Capital of Culture 2022 with Serbia’s Novi Sad and Luxembourg’s Esch-sur-Alzette. Its modernist interwar-period architecture has brought it due recognition; the city is home to around 6,000 modernist constructions. Other than that, the city attracts travellers with its Devil’s Museum, which houses sculptures and carvings of devils from around the world and striking street art. A walk along Old Town Road, lined with cafes and restaurants, is another must-do. Kaunas also bagged the title of UNESCO City of Design in 2015, welcoming creative folks from all over the world.
Nestled between Belgrade and Subotica, Novi Sad is among the first cities outside the European Union to be declared the European Capital of Culture 2022. A variety of religious landmarks, including a neo-Gothic Catholic church, Orthodox Bishop’s Palace, and the Synagogue of Novi Sad, reflect the city’s multicultural history. Set along the Danube River, Novi Sad is now a hub for art and music festivals. It impresses with European architecture, old towns, and the iconic Petrovaradin Fortress—the second largest structure of its kind in Europe. Don’t forget to explore Vojvodina, wander aimlessly at Liberty Square, and try local cheeses and raspberries.
Colombia’s ‘City of Eternal Spring’, called so for its year-round pleasant weather, is fast becoming a vacation hotspot. The capital of Antioquia, Medellin has excellent restaurants, trendy bars, and world-class coffee. The city is also reinventing itself as South America’s first eco-city: it is working on reducing carbon emissions, making all public transport electric by 2030, and expanding bike lanes. El Centro, or downtown Medellin, underwent extensive renovations recently. It is now home to lush boulevards, cycle lanes, and community-led ‘pocket parks’. It might be a good idea to align your trip with Baum Park, one of the region’s top techno events happening in May 2022.
Home to many churches and monuments, the capital of Kyiv is symbolic of ancient Ukranian culture. The top attractions include Saint Sophia Cathedral, the oldest standing church in the city; Mystetskyi Arsenal, Kyiv’s national art and culture centre; Saint Andrew’s Church, a rare example of Elizabethan Baroque; National Art Museum of Ukraine, which dates back to 1899; and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. Don’t miss the city’s traditional dishes like borscht (beet soup), chicken Kyiv, salo (pork fat on rye bread), varenyky (stuffed dumplings), and horilka(Ukrainian vodka).
Villeray is well-connected to the rest of Montreal and has a thriving F&B scene of its own. Boasting everything from thrift stores to museums, escape rooms, green passageways, popular cafes, and international fine-dining restaurants and bars, Villeray is perfect for a family holiday. Jarry Park transforms into a festival ground in summer, thanks to the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, with people grilling food and playing baseball and beach volleyball or simply chilling by a pool. In winter, you can see people step out for sledding, pond skating, ice-hockey, cross-country skiing, and other fun activities.
Waterfront seafood bistros and traditional pubs dot the Shore area in the 18th-century port district of Leith. In modern Leith, several buildings have been given a new lease of life, including the long-abandoned Leith Theatre and the nearby Biscuit Factory that houses more than 30 creative businesses and its own performance space. Time your trip to catch the Leith Festival and Edinburgh Mela, two events that showcase the neighbourhood’s strong local identity every June and August, respectively. You can also get a taste of this at The Pitt, Leith’s ever-popular weekly street-food market. Take a stroll along the neighbouring Water of Leith Walkway to get away from the city for a relaxing afternoon by the river.
Dakar, the capital city of Senegal that sprawls across the Cap-Vert peninsula in West Africa, is a fascinating destination. At the heart of the city is the traditional quarter of Medina, overlooked by the minaret of the Grand Mosque. The mosque’s construction mirrors the structure of an African village in which spaces are built around a courtyard. In Dakar’s northern outskirts, Ngor is home to waterfront restaurants and rooftop bars. You can spend time perusing Dakar’s lively markets and taking in the sights of a bustling city. The Dakar Biennale, Africa’s most prominent contemporary art fair, is set to be held from mid-May to mid-June and will be a good time to visit.
Located in the county of Wester Ross in Scotland, the Applecross Peninsula lies between the mainland mountain masses and the Isle of Skye. It is home to just a couple of hundred people and can be accessed by only two roads, making you feel that you are at the edge of the world. Drive into the peninsula via the Bealach na Bà road—it rises to a height of 626 metres from sea level in about six kilometres, making it the most spectacular pass in Scotland. In Applecross, admire the rocky shores, sandy beaches, sea caves, and sand dunes along the coastline. Buy locally smoked fish from the Applecross Smokehouse, and spend a few days in the family-run Applecross Inn, which offers comfortable rooms with sea views. Or sign up for sea kayaking, hill walking, or mountaineering with the local tour operator, Mountain & Sea Guides.
The Lofoten Islands could be the place where you can check Northern Lights off your bucket list this year. Surrounded by the Norwegian Sea, far above the Arctic Circle, Lofoten is made up of deep fjords, long beaches, and fascinating fishing villages. The midnight sun, which can be witnessed from late May to mid-July, adds to its surreal beauty. The aurora borealis casts a spell between September and April, and is integral to the art and folklore of the area. Lofoten also has a strong connection with the Viking Age; at Lofotr Viking Museum in Borg, you can learn how the Vikings used to live, in a reconstruction of the largest Viking longhouse ever found.
The ancient tea plantations of Jingmai Mountain in Pu’er, China are slated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2022. At an altitude of 1,524 metres, with tea trees growing up to 15 metres in height, this is the world’s largest ancient artificially-cultivated tea plantation. The mountain is located at the southern tip of the Yunnan province. There are over a million tea trees here, with the oldest being 1,400 years old. Over 100 varieties of tea leaves are hand cultivated in small lots to ensure sustainability.
The opening of the Atal Tunnel in October 2020 has made the secluded Lahaul Valley much more accessible. Take a trip in winter when the valley transforms into a white wonderland. Last winter, the region celebrated a two-month-long Snow Festival, featuring regional performances as well as culinary fare, and it is set to return in 2022. The locals of Lahaul follow a blend of Hindu and Buddhist customs. Stay in homestays to enjoy authentic Lahauli traditions and delicacies; camp on the banks of Bhaga river in Sissu or Jispa for an adrenaline high; and drive to Bara-lacha La, which connects the district of Lahaul to Ladakh.
The historic town of Orchha, nestled on the banks of Betwa River, takes you back in time. Orchha was established by Maharaja Rudra Pratap Singh in 1501 and was once the capital of the Bundela Rajput kings. Its palaces and temples built in the 16th and 17th centuries enchant visitors. Take a stroll along the Betwa River that runs through the heart of the sleepy little town; visit Lakshmi Temple to see the city from a vantage point; spot eagles atop royal cenotaphs; bask in the beauty of Jehangir Mahal; or go birdwatching at Orchha Wildlife Sanctuary.
A one-of-its-kind contemporary art festival in South Asia, Kochi-Muziris Biennale has put the humble port city of Kochi on the world map. Its fifth edition is slated to take place in December 2022. Held in the vibrant neighbourhood of Fort Kochi, the Biennale imbibes the multi-cultural essence of this old trading port as it transforms heritage buildings into immersive art spaces. In sync with the city’s traditions of cultural pluralism, the fair creates an atmospheric experience that should not be missed. Apart from the Biennale, Kochi charms you with its bucolic villages, Malabari cuisine, and backwaters lined with Chinese fishing nets, among other things.
Maya Baya rose to international prominence after appearing in the Leonardo di Caprio film The Beach in 1999. But the famous beach itself, on the island of Phi Phi Leh, was closed to the public in June 2018 after officials said the rise in visitors had damaged coral reefs and other marine life in the region. Now, the destination is all set to open again in January 2022. A new jetty at Loh Samah Bay, on the opposite side of the island, will take you to Maya Bay. Daily visitor numbers will be capped, and a restricted swimming area will be established to prevent damage. A new coral reef area has been added, and more trees have been planted on the beach to help kick-start the ecosystem too.
With over 300 volcanoes, including one that has been erupting continuously since 1996, the Kamchatka Peninsula in Eastern Russia boasts some of the most stunning volcanic activity on the planet. Here, you also find the world’s most diversified salmon species, and unsurprisingly, the highest recorded density of brown bears on earth. Kamchatka is one of the largest peninsulas in the world, about the same size as New Zealand. Its population density is one of the lowest in the world, less than a person per square kilometre—perfect for that physically distanced holiday. With numerous rivers and lakes set against jagged mountain ranges, it makes for an ideal nature holiday.
Home to Hang Sơn Đoòng, the largest cave in the world (cross-sectionally), Phong Nha is Vietnam’s adventure paradise. The cave is part of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, and has a subterranean river flowing through it. It is not the only cave in the region, though. Phong Nha’s landscape is covered in caves, with other popular ones being Tu Lan, Pygmy Cave, and Paradise Cave. The destination also offers verdant mountains with beautiful hiking trails, rivers fit for kayaking, picturesque rock pools, and countryside roads perfect for cycling. Avoid travelling from October to December, when it rains.