(CNN) – In 1973, young British couple Tony and Maureen Wheeler published a how-to book, Across Asia on the Cheap. Little did they know that a modest how-to brochure would lay the foundation for a global travel brand called Lonely Planet.
Nearly 50 years later, their travel guide empire, Lonely Planet, is still going strong.
As much of the world is slowly opening up in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, travel is high on the minds of many of us. The hope is that 2022 will see families reunited, loved ones catching up after long periods apart, and packed vacation time used in once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
“After an imposed hiatus, it’s time to take long-delayed travel plans off the shelves and make them a reality,” Tom Hall, Lonely Planet’s vice president of experience, said in a statement. “Rolls celebrate the world in all its fascinating and seductive diversity.”
This year, Lonely Planet highlighted the top 10 cities, regions and countries – see the lists below.
Top 10 countries
But don’t think “old” is synonymous with “boring.” Despite their 4,500-plus year history, we continue to learn more about these architectural marvels every year.
Malawi is considered one of the friendliest countries in the world.
Jonathan Gregson / Lonely Planet
But there are treasures to be had in the “warm heart of Africa,” all while having fewer tourists to compete for space along the stunning Lake Malawi, the world’s ninth largest lake.
Malawi has many of the same attractions that its African cousins love, such as safaris where you can see elephants, baboons, hippos, and other animals in their native habitats, all for a fraction of the price.
It is almost impossible to discuss Nepal without talking about Mount Everest. But this Himalayan country has a lot to offer to travelers who don’t climb the highest mountain in the world.
The Middle Eastern Kingdom of Oman scores highly for Lonely Planet employees.
Justin Folks / Lonely Planet
Do you think Norway is the only place in the world where there are fjords? Think again.
But that is not all that Oman has to offer. On the same trip, you can also experience the Empty Quarter, a stretch of desert where Oman meets Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. That’s four countries at once – and you won’t need to pack a coat.
Anguilla is one of the Leeward Islands.
Well, Anguilla is a British Overseas Territory and not technically a country. However, the gorgeous Caribbean island deserves a closer look.
She was passionate about the island’s “aquamarine sea, 33 public beaches, 80-degree temperatures, great hotels and food,” as well as her responsible approach to public health amid the pandemic.
Thanks to the country’s small size, visitors can cover a wide range of terrain in a short amount of time, from picturesque Lake Bled to the bustling capital of Ljubljana.
Lonely Planet isn’t the only one noticing this. This year, the Michelin Guide distributed stars to seven restaurants in Slovenia.
Do you want to explore the Mayan ruins, swim in the blue waters and watch the wonderful wildlife? Belize has all of this and more, and can be accessed via direct flights from several North American cities.
If you’ve been waiting for Australia to open its borders, try Belize instead: The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Belize Barrier Reef Reserve is so breathtaking that US travelers won’t need to worry about jet lag.
In the meantime, language enthusiasts will appreciate that the national language of Belize is English.
The most searched topic on Google about Paradise Island in Mauritius is “Where’s Mauritius?” Let’s face it: It is located in the Indian Ocean 700 miles east of Madagascar.
Norway has more than 15,000 miles of coastline.
Nick Fox / Alami
Norway is constantly included in the lists of the happiest countries in the world. So what is their secret? CNN asked two members of the country’s royal family, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit, about their theories.
If you want to channel that peaceful energy yourself, head to Bøkeskogen, the world’s northernmost beech forest. It’s about two hours from the capital of Oslo, so you can easily experience the city and the country on the same day.
1. Cook Islands
Fun fact: Air New Zealand only operates one flight from the US that doesn’t go to New Zealand. It connects Los Angeles to Rarotonga, the capital of the Cook Islands and a gateway to some of the most beautiful places on the planet.
This group of 15 islands in the South Pacific has been at the top of many Lonely Planet employee wish lists for 2022 and beyond.
What is on offer? Water-centric activities such as snorkeling, diving and fishing, not to mention a glimpse into the indigenous Maori community of Te Phara Nui village.
Thinking of choosing a city or region for your next trip? Here are the rest of Lonely Planet’s picks for 2022.
Top 10 Regions
1. Westfjords, Iceland
2. West Virginia, United States
3. Xishuangbanna, China
4. Kent Heritage Coast, UK
5. Puerto Rico, United States
6. Shikoku, Japan
7. Atacama Desert, Chile
8. The Scenic Rim, Australia
9. Vancouver Island, Canada
10. Burgundy, France
Top 10 cities
1. Auckland, New Zealand
2. Taipei, Taiwan
3. Freiburg, Germany
4. Atlanta, United States
5. Lagos, Nigeria
6. Nicosia / Lefkosia, Cyprus
7. Dublin, Ireland
8. Merida, Mexico
9. Florence, Italy
10. Jeonju, South Korea