By Mark Hodson
With the pandemic receding and travel returning to normality, where do you really yearn to visit? So many people have felt confined to quarters, and some have built up a wall of savings they are itching to spend. Here, Mark Hodson, Editor of 101 Holidays, suggests 22 sensational trips you can tick off your bucket list in 2022, and the best months to go.
This will be a big year for Egypt: 2022 marks the 100th anniversary since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, and November will see the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum near the Pyramids in Giza featuring Tutankhamun’s funerary mask and a colossal statue of Ramses the Great amongst its many treasures. If Kenneth Branagh’s movie remake of Death on the Nile hasn’t put you off, a cruise on the great river is a must. Book with the market leader Abercrombie & Kent. Best months to visit: November-April.
Spitsbergen is the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago in northern Norway and home to beluga whales, walrus and polar bears. Join a small-ship expedition cruise around the spectacular coastline as you attempt to circumnavigate the island (depending on ice floes), with shore landings by Zodiac. Details from Discover the World. Best months to visit: June-August.
Soak up the elegance and romance of the Italian Lakes with a stay at the Grand Hotel Gardone on the shores of Lake Garda. This art nouveau treasure offers sensational views, fine dining and a long list of former guests that ranges from Churchill to Nabakov. Book with Citalia. Best months to visit: June-September.
St Lucia is arguably the prettiest and most romantic of the Caribbean islands, with an array of luxury hotels, some in hidden coves surrounded by forest like Sugar Beach, and others tucked away amid the lush volcanic peaks like Ladera. Stay a few nights at each for the full experience. Details from Classic Collection. Best months to visit: anytime except September-October.
Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands
With South America back on the map, the Galapagos Islands are a great place to start. You can join a small-boat cruise between the islands, swim and snorkel with sea lions, penguins and sea turtles and enjoy intimate encounters with giant tortoises and iguanas. Don’t miss mainland Ecuador with its volcanic peaks, national parks and colonial towns. Try this Ecuador & Galapagos in Style private tour with Cox & Kings. Best months to visit: all year round but June-November is dry and cool while December-May is wet and warm.
The old adage about Mauritius was “five-star destination, three-star hotels”. That’s no longer the case, with stunning resorts dotted around the pristine coastline. There’s much more to the island than white-sand beaches. You can hike in the forests, climb Le Morne Brabant, eat creole food and visit extraordinary botanical gardens. Check out the best places to stay with Beachcomber Tours. Best months to visit: any time, though winter (May-October) is drier and cooler.
Orient-Express to Venice
Most romantic city in the world? Most romantic way to get there? It’s no wonder the Orient-Express to Venice gets booked months or even years ahead. After an overnight journey and a water taxi transfer into the centre, I’d recommend a stay at the gorgeous Hotel Cipriani. The experts at Kirker Holidays can open doors. Best months to visit: anytime, but try to avoid peak summer.
Although it has some of the finest white-sand beaches in Southeast Asia, Borneo’s true lure is its unique flora and fauna, from pygmy elephants to orang-utans and Probiscus monkeys. Experience Travel Group specialises in getting visitors off the beaten track with one-off encounters, from rafting trips through the jungle to overnight stays at a research station in the heart of a rainforest. Best months to visit: March-October.
It’s only three hours flying time from the UK, yet Morocco offers a world of thrilling experiences, from the ancient souks of Fez to the kasbahs of the south and the rugged beauty of the Atlas Mountains. See the highlights on a Grand Tour of Morocco with Fleewinter. Best months to visit: March-May and September-November.
In the rush down the autoroute to the Cote d’Azur, it’s easy to miss the beautiful region of Aquitaine in south-west France. Its glorious island, the Ile de Ré, has long been a summer hideaway of chic Parisians, but the pine forests, lakes, sand dunes and surf beaches all along the Atlantic coast offer many perfect hideaways. Rent a villa with pool through Simpson Travel. You can drive, fly, take an overnight ferry or the train via Paris. Best months to visit: May-October.
Ski in Aspen
If you’ve skied in France and Austria, 2022 may be the year to upgrade to the rugged slopes of Colorado. Peak glamour is the resort of Aspen and you may find yourself brushing shoulders with A-listers at the wonderfully low-key ski-in, ski-out hotel, The Little Nell. Book with SNO. Best months to visit: December-March.
Another wonderfully exotic destination within a few hours flying time of the UK, Iceland offers epic adventures and thrilling encounters with the natural world, from geysers, glaciers and thermal pools to whales, seals and puffins. There’s no need to join a group, you can experience it all on a fly-drive. Regent Holidays are the experts. Best months to visit: May-July for midnight sun; November-March for the Northern Lights.
In the midst of a northern winter, few destinations are as alluring as the Arabian Gulf. But if glitzy hotels and shopping malls aren’t your thing, head to the muscular landscapes of Oman where adventure awaits. Sleep under the stars in a Bedouin camp, explore historic forts and watch turtles lay their eggs on virgin beaches. Don’t miss the atmospheric capital, Muscat. Book with the Inspiring Travel Company. Best months to visit: October-April.
Catamaran cruise of Croatia
Charter your own 38ft-long private catamaran – with a captain on board – to sail the coast of Croatia. With three double cabins, your group of up to six adults can hop between islands, choosing your own route (for example, Split to Brac, Hvar, Vis and Solt). Details from Completely Croatia. Best months to visit: May-September.
The ultimate way to experience the vast wilderness of the Canadian West is aboard a train. The Rocky Mountaineer operates sightseeing routes from Vancouver to Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper. With meals and drinks served at your seat and large domed windows, you can spend your days admiring the dramatic scenery of the Rockies, with overnight stays in cosy mountain resorts. Combine it with a cruise around Alaska with Fred Holidays. Best months to visit: May-September.
Few tropical island destinations come close to the Seychelles for dreamy beaches, mountains, jungle and fabulous hotels. If you’re going all that way, I recommend staying on at least two islands because they are all so different. On the main island Mahé, Raffles Seychelles is the pick of the hotels. Combine it with the Constance Lemuria on Praslin or escape to Denis Private Island for some authentic barefoot luxury. See all the options with Tropical Sky. Best months to visit: April-May and October-November.
From the elegant colonial capital of Buenos Aires to the majestic glaciers of Patagonia, Argentina is packed with one-off experiences. You can learn to tango, ride with the gauchos, explore lakes, mountains and vineyards, and enjoy the world’s best barbecues. Design your perfect trip with Dehouche, a specialist tour operator based in Rio and run by British expats.
If it’s your first visit to southern Africa, you might be tempted by the big game in Kenya or Tanzania, but if you’ve already seen the Big Five, Madagascar will blow your socks off. Its unique flora and fauna – with 80% of species found nowhere else on earth – include many species of lemur, elephant birds, pygmy hippos and ancient baobab trees. Once wowed by nature, you can settle down to some serious barefoot R&R on the beach. Explore the options with Rainbow Tours. Best months to visit: April-October.
Walk the Amalfi Coast
Italy’s Amalfi Coast may be known for its glamorous hotels and hair-raising roads, but you can also explore it on foot with one of a range of independent hotel-to-hotel walking holidays around Europe offered by Inntravel. A week-long tour of Amalfi takes in Corpo di Cava, Ravello and Positano, walking along mountain trails and through pretty villages, lemon groves and vineyards, staying in small characterful hotels with your luggage transported each day. Best months to visit: April-June and September-October.
One of the most beguiling, ancient, ultra-modern and mystical of destinations, Japan is slowing opening once more to tourists. When it does, Wendy Wu Tours is ready to put together your dream itinerary. Its most popular tour, Japan Uncovered, includes Tokyo, Mt Fuji, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima and the cultural centres of Takayama, Shirakawago and Kanazawa. Best months to visit: March-May and September-November.
Cape Verde island hopping
For winter sun with a twist, take a direct six-hour flight to the Cape Verde islands which are midway between Brazil and West Africa, both culturally and geographically. Don’t stick to one island; instead try this multi-centre trip that visits five islands, from the active volcanoes of Fogo to the lush interiors of Santo Antão. Find out more from Cape Verde Experience. Best months to visit: November-April.
Fancy a gorgeous hotel on a white-sand beach overlooking a turquoise sea? You don’t have to cross continents to find one, just head to the lovely Italian island of Sardinia. The best place to stay for spa, sports and dining around is the Forte Village Resort, but if you want a small charming hideaway, try the Grand Relais Dei Nuraghi. Find out more from Sardatur. Best months to visit: May-October, though August is busy with Italian visitors.