After two long years of lockdowns, false starts and negotiating traffic lights, holidaymakers are ready to make up for lost time.
ABTA’s recent Travel in 2022 report showed us that 61 per cent of those questioned plan to have a foreign holiday this year, with 46 per cent willing to spend more money on it than in previous years. Research from GWI shows the same, also highlighting the nearby European favourites that people want to get back to – as well as the USA, the Maldives, Thailand and the UAE. These countries increasingly offer the sustainability accolades and rich culture that travellers crave more than before.
If the Omicron variant passes its peak over Christmas and the New Year, we’re hoping for a big, holiday booking stampede later on this month. To get you ready, here are the most popular destinations expected for 2022 – as determined by ABTA’s research.
Propelled by passion and gifted at living the good life, Spain blends gorgeous grub (paella), eye-popping art (Picasso, Dalí) and an inexhaustible nightlife that stretches from the cities to its sun-kissed Balearic and Canary islands.
Why it’s hot in 2022: After a disappointingly wet British summer in 2021, the ever-sunny shores of Lanzarote and Mallorca are more appealing than ever.
Eat at: Dating back to 1725, Sobrino de Botin in Madrid is the world’s oldest restaurant and is renowned for its roasted suckling pig.
Stay at: Elegant French hotel chain Sofitel opens its first outpost in Spain, the Barcelona Skipper, in May.
Don’t miss: Starchitect Antoni Gaudi’s showstopper of a basilica, La Sagrada Familia (pictured) in Barcelona, mixes the divine (a nativity facade) with the deranged (lizards slithering down the exterior).
Put together the historical wonders of Rome, the picturesque waterways of Venice and the truffle-oil doused pasta in Tuscany, and Italy is ridiculously well stocked with memorable moments.
Why it’s hot in 2022: The tiny island of Procida, near Naples, is Italy’s 2022 Capital of Culture and will stage 40 events this year.
Eat at: For something different (and a bit controversial), try piping-hot pizza from a vending machine at Mr Go Pizza near Rome’s Policlinico metro station – the first of its kind.
Stay at: Hipster brand The Hoxton has made the leap to Italy with The Hoxton, Rome, which comes with a first-rate coffee bar and beautiful outside terrace.
Don’t miss: The lesser-known but fascinating ADI Design Museum Milan chronicles the impact of Italian Industrial Design.
Whether it’s the ornate boulevards of Paris, the down-to-earth bouchon eateries in Lyon or the blue, blue water of the French Riviera, there’s a reason why France is the world’s most popular tourist destination.
Why it’s hot in 2022: From April you’ll be able a raise a glass to the International City of Gastronomy and Wine in Burgundy, a complex with a cooking school, restaurants and a wine cellar.
Eat at: A former Parisian butcher’s shop in the 11th arrondissement, Le Bistrot Paul Bert is the talk of the capital, thanks to delectable dishes like milk-fed pork.
Stay at: Located five minutes from the Palais des Festivals, the Staybridge Suites Cannes Centre opens mid-2022.
Don’t miss: Lyon’s traboules are an Escher-like network of covered passageways and courtyards, dating back to the fourth century.
From the crumbling, starch-white ruins of Athens to the idyllic island beaches in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Greece charms visitors with its beauty, lust for life and incredible seafood.
Why it’s hot in 2022: Greece has taken the lead in sustainable tourism with initiatives like Clean Blue Paros, making Paros the first plastic-waste free Mediterranean island.
Eat at: Strap yourself in and get hoisted above Athens for a slap-up meal at Dinner in the Sky, which returns in April.
Stay at: ‘Favela walls’ made from old furniture is one of the cool design touches at the trendy NEW Hotel in Athens.
Don’t miss: Labelled the ‘Parthenon of shipwrecks’, the Alonissos Underwater Museum near Peristera is the first of its kind in Greece, and accessible by diving.
Like 50 nations in one country, the USA is a patchwork of diversity, from its beautiful population to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park, the beaches of California and shimmering skyscrapers of New York City.
Why it’s hot in 2022: With the US having opened its borders to UK visitors after almost two years, a holiday there feels like a hard-earned treat.
Eat at: Katz’s Delicatessen in New York has legendary pastrami on rye and is featured in the iconic rom-com When Harry Met Sally.
Stay at: From March, book yourself a cabin on the geektastic Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
Don’t miss: The Bob Dylan Center, featuring more than 100,000 artefacts chronicling the musician’s life, opens in Tulsa in May.
After years of living in the shadow of Spain, its more high-profile neighbour, Portugal’s cobblestone villages and golden, surf-ready beaches are coming into their own.
Why it’s hot in 2022: Sónar, the pioneering arts and experimental music festival, makes its Portuguese debut in Lisbon in April.
Eat at: Pharmacia in Lisbon has a clever pharmacy theme including drinks (try the Ibuprofeno) and drug store-cabinet decor.
Stay at: Light Human Hotels – known for unique, sustainable hotels inspired by the surrounding area – will open in Vila Real towards the end of 2022.
Don’t miss: Sintra, near Lisbon, looks like it’s been torn out of a fairy-tale book, right down to a palace (Palácio Nacional da Pena) on a forested hilltop.
Much like its spicy cuisine, Thailand is generous, refreshing and exciting, with one of the world’s friendliest populations meeting banging nightlife and beaches.
Why it’s hot in 2022: A country already known as a prime foodie destination just got more alluring with six Bangkok restaurants recently earning a Michelin star.
Eat at: The menu at Aksorn in Bangkok is inspired by chef David Thompson’s collection of Thai cookbooks from the 1940s up to the 1970s.
Stay at: Mandarin Oriental, Phuket opens in January and will sit on one of the last undeveloped beachfront sites on the west coast of the island.
Don’t miss: Railay, a peninsula between Krabi and Ao Nang, is home to a collection of beaches that offer white sands, crystalline waters and imperious limestone formations.
An irresistible combination of sprawling futuristic cities and dramatic desert landscapes, the UAE is a hot destination in more ways than one.
Why it’s hot in 2022: At the Future of Food: Epochal Banquet in Dubai (at Expo 2020, on until March) you can savour space-age delicacies formed using the same technique that NASA uses to collect comet dust.
Eat at: Offering a front row seat to the skyline of Downtown Dubai and the Burj Khalifa, CÉ LA VI sits 220m above sea level.
Stay at: To really experience the UAE’s natural beauty, try one of the five bubble tents at the base of the Jebel Hafit Mountain.
Don’t miss: Hit the Truck Road that runs between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain and take in the bizarrely beautiful fossil dunes that featured in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Not one island paradise but 1,200 of them, the collection of Indian Ocean isles that make up the Maldives are unmistakable for their cyan-blue waters, powdery white sand and thatched-roof hotel rooms perched on wooden stilts.
Why it’s hot in 2022: This year sees the arrival of a series of new resorts including the Emerald Faarufushi, on a lagoon that’s ideal for snorkeling.
Eat at: Take the Flying Sauces zip-line to a six-course meal 12m above the sand at Soneva Fushi.
Stay at: Surrounded by a reef, Alila Kothaifaru Maldives (opening in February) is the ultimate getaway in Raa Atoll, a 45-minute seaplane journey from Malé.
Don’t miss: See if you can find Nemo in the Banana Reef, a North Malé Atoll spot that’s shaped like, well, a banana.
Whether it’s the 365 beaches of Antigua (one for every day of the year), the calypso cuisine of Barbados or the candyfloss-coloured architecture of the Bahamas, the choice of experiences is endless in the Caribbean.
Why it’s hot in 2022: This will be the year that musical festivals return with a vengeance, including February’s dance music event Vujaday in Barbados and the Soul Beach Music Festival on Aruba, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in May.
Stay at: After being destroyed by Hurricane Irma in 2017, Saba Rock on the British Virgin Islands is back with a new restaurant and two bars.
Don’t miss: GoldenEye, the estate where Ian Fleming wrote all 14 James Bond books, is near the town of Orcabessa in Jamaica.
Make sure to refer all customers to the government’s official foreign travel advice page for the latest news on destination entry requirements and Covid-related travel restrictions.