As travel makes its grand comeback, we’re focused on taking trips of a lifetime. These 9 destinations offer unique opportunities to explore new destinations and be completely immersed in local culture. We found sights, sounds, and colors more vivid than ever – reminders that travel’s allure is truly timeless – and now we’re ready to dream big again.
Whether they’re etching perfect lines into Hokkaido powder or trekking Rwanda’s lush forests in search of endangered gorillas, travelers are heading to the very edge of the map. For 2022, we’ve found places to spark that sense of long-awaited discovery.
Uncover Secret Slovenia
Europe’s undiscovered wine country is crowned by a soaring alpine playground. Slovenia is absolutely beautiful! Intimate geography puts the cobblestoned squares of capital Ljubljana’s core within day-tripping distance of seaside villages and three major wine regions that, with limited U.S. exports, still fly under the radar. Knock on tasting-room doors to meet vintners face-to-face – it’s like hopping a time machine to explore Tuscany before the rest of the world was in on the secret. An hour away from the capital, find day hikes along sections of the new 168-mile Juliana Trail, which hugs the edge of Triglav National Park, with its hanging valleys and high peaks.
Bloom in Costa Rica
Nature-powered wellness gives travelers the ultimate reset button. Sprawling over 180 acres of jade-canopied mountains, the Auberge Collection’s new 50-casita Hacienda AltaGracia embodies soulful retreat in southern Costa Rica. The country’s pura vida spirit suffuses the area, from a coffee plantation to riding trails and The Well, a 20,000-square-foot holistic health facility. Charter flights link AltaGracia with capital San José, where onward travel puts the country’s astonishing biodiversity within reach. After waking to a dawn bird chorus in Arenal Volcano National Park, visitors might then make the drive around Lake Arenal and to the south, for instance, to hike upward into the Monteverde cloud forest, then head to the coast to settle in for a sunset or two on a Guanacaste surf beach.
Tackle Tasmania Trails
Isolated but accessible, Tasmania combines pristine wilderness with serious gourmet and cultural cred. New mountain-bike trails at St Helens and the Bay of Fires cement Tasmania’s status as an up-and-coming adventure hub. From a lookout on Bruny Island Neck, visitors can track the world’s tiniest “fairy” penguins, while hikers watch for elusive Tasmanian devils in Cradle Mountain’s wilderness. Seaside capital Hobart is the cultural heart, with art at the waterside bunker-museum Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and stylish bars for sampling the island’s celebrated sparkling wines and farm-to-table foods. Best of all, it’s just a one-hour hop by plane from Melbourne.
Channel Colombian Cool
This charismatic South American country gets the attention it deserves. From the mountains to the sea, Colombia is just breathtaking! Bogota’s street art, desert off-roading, and coffee country are just a few favorite experiences of travelers. Dirt roads through the latter, called the Zona Cafetera, can turn espresso tastings into all-day affairs, but Colombia’s not limited to rugged adventuring. Within Cartagena’s city walls – built to fend off persistent pirates – colonial style at hotels Casa San Agustín and Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena brings a touch of romance. Cartagena is costal providing the perfect opportunity for a luxurious evening cruise.
Blaze a Path in Saudi Arabia
A kingdom newly opened to tourism can tantalize and challenge visitors in equal measures. Saudi Arabia evokes desert for days, but those swaybacked dunes silhouette modernist sculptures, jewel-toned reefs, and an archaeological treasure chest. Because the area is has just recently opened up for the world to see, the sites are virtually untouched. Ottoman architecture meets pristine coral formations at Red Sea port Jeddah, while Riyadh is an oasis-turned-capital-city spiked with glimmering towers.
Summer in the Dolomites
Italy’s winter wonderland blooms into an alpine dreamscape in warmer months. Fairy-tale villages girdle serrated peaks in Italy’s mountain playground, where alpine escapes, known as rifugi, teeter on passes with operatic views. Local cuisine, melding the region’s Italian and German heritage, is hearty enough to fuel outings on trails that S-curve through meadows laced with edelweiss and saxifrage. Some active trips overnight at the rustic rifugi, where you can rub shoulders with an international crowd of hikers and bikers. More-indulgent surroundings can be found at spas that earned the region its rep for world-class wellness among the summits.
Strike Out for Haida Gwaii
Explore an archipelago of 150 rocky islands cloaked in ancient rain forest and First Nations traditions. British Columbia’s jigsaw coast sets biodiversity hot spot Haida Gwaii apart, literally. But this is also a human landscape: Totem poles flank village sites and the shoreline by the Haida Heritage Centre at Kay Llnagaay. Watch for bald eagles, orca whales, and seals patrolling the waters here, or join a local interpreter to learn about Indigenous wood carving and dancing. Venturing beyond Haida Gwaii into the adjoining Great Bear Rainforest – one of the largest temperate coastal rain forests on earth – gives travelers a chance to spot all-white bears, known by First Nations people as sacred spirit bears, living among 1,000-year-old trees.
Charter a Caribbean Yacht
Step aboard your own vessel for the ultimate in personalization. The Caribbean fills daydreams with an island for every mood. Highball hedonism prevails from the shores of Saint-Martin to Anguilla, while sailors make landfall to take in laid-back, French-accented charm on Saint Bart’s and Martinique. Private charters usher travelers to regions where undeveloped archipelagoes still dot the map. Off the coast of Panama, for instance, the San Blas Islands offer castaway bliss where nature thrives – meet Indigenous Guna people on islands with just enough space for a thatched hut and a cool breeze.
Gorilla Trek in Rwanda
Find endangered mountain gorillas in mist-shrouded tropical rain forest at the edge of the Congo Basin. Five rain-forest summits mark the spot at Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, where tracking gorillas brings visitors face-to-face with the slow-moving giants. They’re not the only primates adding wonder to Rwandan forests, and more travelers are now exploring beyond Volcanoes. On the cusp of Nyungwe National Park the 22-room One&Only Nyungwe House opened in 2018 with wooden villas brushed by rain-forest canopy where chimpanzees and monkeys roam. Guests join trackers to follow their troops through the rain-lush landscape, assist in community tourism projects, and visit the resort’s private tea plantation to sip the most local of brews.
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