2022 was the first year since 2019 where things finally started to feel “normal” again. After years of travel taking the backburner thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, with several nations lifting restrictions in 2022, globetrotters were finally able to scratch the itch again of getting out there and seeing the world.
Travel was so popular in 2022 that flights saw a 43% increase in price, and the prediction of “revenge travel” came to fruition. Some destinations, however, were just seemingly more popular than others. As the year closes out, here’s a look back at the top 10 spots that attracted visitors in 2022.
10/10 Antigua, Guatemala
The colorful, colonial streets of Antigua, Guatemala appeared on Instagram feeds this year by travel influencers, travel bloggers, and even friends and family who were looking for a quick getaway from the USA.
Guatemala is a small nation in Central America, often given a poor reputation due to high crime rates and a generalization of being “unsafe.” In 2022, the Guatemalan Institute of Tourism (INGUAT), claimed Antigua, which can easily be visited in just a weekend, was the most popular destination in Guatemala, seeing over 500,000 visitors.
Not only is Antigua a beautiful destination, but it’s a great starting point to see other parts of the country, such as Lake Atitlan, Volcano Acetenango, and more.
9/10 Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Some places simply made up for the tourism lost in the past pandemic-pillared years, and others managed to find a way to break their own tourism records. Insert Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Dominican Republic is the most visited island in the Caribbean, which should come as no surprise to those who have been here; from their pristine beaches to their relaxed resort vibes to delicious dishes such as mofongo and sancocho.
Punta Cana doesn’t even require having anyone to go with, and an all-inclusive resort can be perfect for a solo getaway. This tiny Caribbean nation which neighbors Haiti saw a 5% increase in tourism in the year 2022, and in April, DR broke records of seeing more tourism than they had ever seen in its history.
Much of this is, of course, thanks to their lax Covid-19 restrictions, being one of the few nations that required no testing or vaccine requirements earlier this year.
Another nation whose lax attitude toward Covid-19 restrictions paid off in the name of tourism is the eastern African nation of Tanzania. From trying to sight the Big 5 on the Serengeti, to climbing to the roof of Africa with Mount Kilimanjaro, to the pristine waters of Zanzibar, it’s safe to say Tanzania has a little something for every type of traveler. No wonder it was so popular this year.
People were hungry to travel, and even hungrier for an adventure, and Tanzania certainly provides one.
The tourism board even added Wi-Fi to Mount Kilimanjaro in 2022 to ensure travelers who dared to climb this beast of a mountain are able to stay connected with friends and family, to reassure them they’re safe, and maybe throw in some bragging rights that they’re climbing one of the world’s tallest mountains.
7/10 La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Staying on theme with places that had a more relaxed approach to Covid-19 restrictions, Costa Rica, which is already one of the most popular destinations in the Americas, continued to climb in the year 2022.
Most notably, in January, when the world was concerned over the ultra-contagious Omicron variant, Costa Rica did not require any testing requirements upon arrival, and though the nation was allowing unvaccinated travelers into the country, restaurants, cafés, bars, and other public Costa Rican establishments required a vaccine to enter.
It’s safe to say there’s a pattern here, and that the nations that truly thrived in 2022 tourism didn’t enforce too many Covid-19 restrictions, giving hungry travelers a spot they could go to without the need to jump through additional loopholes.
And what better place to social distance than in the jungle oasis that is La Fortuna? With so many reasons to visit La Fortuna, from waterfalls to wildlife to the town’s many hot springs, it’s no wonder this place became even more popular than before.
6/10 Istanbul, Turkey
If it seemed like everyone and their sisters, mothers, uncles, and third cousins were in Turkey this year, it’s because they were.
Turkey is not only a vast nation offering much more than Istanbul, the most visited city of the nation, but it has plenty of connecting flights via Turkish Airlines, making Istanbul, Turkey a great destination if even only for a day thanks to a long layover.
Turkey was yet another nation that had relaxed entry protocols, especially during the earlier months this year. This gave them the one-up over other nations’ that required testing, vaccination, and/or quarantine.
Restrictions aside, Turkey is a beautiful destination with so much to offer, and Istanbul is one of the most vibrant cities there.
5/10 Tulum, Mexico
Follow Your Dream Sign in Tulum, Mexico. PHOTO: Kaitlyn Rosati
Mexico is already popular amongst US-based travelers thanks to geographical location alone, but nowhere in Mexico has quite seen the tourism boom like Tulum. Tulum is located in Quintana Roo on the Yucatán Peninsula, the same state that hosts popular tourist spots Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Though those two beach destinations have been in the spotlight for years, Tulum has recently given them a run for their money as the most popular spot in this Mexican state.
This comes as no surprise; there are plenty of Instagrammable spots in Tulum, it’s closely situated to the world wonder of Chichen Itza, it’s on the beach, it’s close to an international airport (Cancun), and with the influx of vegan eateries, juice bars, spicy mezcal margaritas being served right on the beach, and art installations, Tulum nearly screams for tourists to come to visit.
Tulum might not be the most authentic slice of Mexico, but for a place far away that feels a little like home, it might just be the spot for an epic trip.
4/10 SUMMIT One Vanderbilt In New York, New York
The only actual landmark that makes this list versus a destination is one that went super viral on Instagram in 2022. SUMMIT One Vanderbilt opened in early 2022 and has made quite an impact since. It’s a tourist attraction atop Midtown Manhattan’s tallest skyscraper, open every day from 9 am until midnight, with the last entry being at 10:30 PM.
So, why did it go so viral? This new spot is made entirely of glass, providing the ultimate panoramic views of the beauty that is New York City.
Let any fear of heights take the backseat while wandering through this exhibit, filled with art installations and aesthetically pleasing metallic balls to add to Instagram photos.
3/10 Puglia, Italy
Italy is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, for good reason. There’s something magically romantic about this boot-shaped nation.
While cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice will forever be at the top of most Italian bucket lists, this year, the southern region of Puglia saw more traffic than they’ve seen since pre-Covid days.
Puglia is long overdue to becoming a popular tourist destination in Italy. It’s already a common spot for local Italians to go on holiday, and international visitors have finally caught onto an understanding of why. The best airport to fly into is Bari International Airport, and once there, it’s ideal to rent a car to drive around. Explore the coastal cliffside town of Polignano a Mare, stroll through the trulli of Alberobello, or explore the historic ruins of Lecce.
No matter where travelers choose to go, Puglia is bound to leave them stunned, uncovering a whole other side of Italy.
2/10 Dubai, United Arab Emirates
In early 2022, TripAdvisor released its predictions for the best destinations of 2022. The top of that list? Dubai, United Arab Emirates. TripAdvisor must know what’s up, because Dubai welcomed over 8 million tourists in only the first seven months of the year.
This should come as no surprise. Dubai is essentially a manmade city in the Middle East, giving travelers that adrenaline-rush in being in an area that has been considered geographically unfavorable in Western media, but doing so in a way that doesn’t completely culture shock the soul.
Dubai is a luxurious city with quick desert escapes to go sandboarding, camel-riding, or even glamping. With Emirates Airlines, it’s easy to plan a trip to Dubai.
1/10 El Salvador
While saying El Salvador went “viral” might be a small stretch, El Salvador did finally get some recognition as a tourist destination for 2022, thanks to the revamping of its tourism board. Backpedaling to Covid-19 talk, El Salvador was actually the first nation to lift ALL restrictions, which certainly helped attract visitors.
El Salvador doesn’t stop there when it comes to trendsetting, as they are also the first nation to announce Bitcoin is officially a legal form of tender. This Central American nation might be small in size, but it’s grand in activities, friendly folks, and beautiful lush landscapes.
It’s worth visiting just for its volcanoes alone, though there are plenty of other reasons to head here. Don’t let the negative naysayers say otherwise.