Where to go in 2022: 9 Exciting Cultural Destinations

Hopefully 2022 will be the year when we can get back to focus on destinations  – and not on health regulations.

Did you visit any of the destinations, I recommended in 2021? I had already been to Gothenburg, so that doesn’t count. On top of that I had breast cancer last year. Not even the Wadden Sea in my own country did I manage. Hope 2021 was better for you out there. But at least, it wasn’t nowhere that was my only destination. 

But 2022, here we come! Here are my carefully researched and selected 9 destinations for this long awaited travel year. 

9 CULTURAL DESTINATIONS FOR 2022

KAUNAS, LITHUANIA

Lithuania is one of the cheapest destinations in Europe. Need I say more?

From Wikipedia

WHY GO NOW?

You can actually fly here direct from Copenhagen right now, so that’s almost reason enough. But there’s plenty of more reason to  travel here, since it’s one of the 3 European Capital of Culture in 2022. 

Kaunas is also on Travel+Leisure’s 50 Best places to travel

WHAT TO SEE!

For a time, Kaunas was the capital of Lithuania. The city and country is some of the cheapest in Europe, so head for one the Michelin starred restaurants. Roam the old town, a Sunday walk around the Gothic castle, Pažaislis monastery and why not check out the Devils Museum. As I discovered in Latvia, you need to know something about the history of the Baltics, so head for Great War Museum.

All this makes for the perfect weekend trip. The city has a pretty good visitor site for more info.

From Pixabay

Realistically, I’ll probably stay in the UNESCO-listed capital Vilnius instead for their Christmas markets, but hopefully also visit Kaunas, since it’s only 1 hour by train between the two... Hopefully in November 22. 

If you are interested in the Baltic I can highly recommend Riga in Latvia. Weekend Trip to Pleasant Riga, Latvia

AROUND THE WORLD

The ultimate dream trip: a trip around the world also called a circumnavigation. For someone who gets airsick, this would also means shorter flights end no return trip. saving on co2- emissions.

From Wikipedia

WHY GO NOW?

500 years ago, the Magellan-Elcano expedition ended the first recorded circumnavigation of the Earth. (Sure, they took off in 1519, but I think it’s the end date that counts) Explorer Magellan left with 3 ships and only 1 returned. Without Magellan, since he died on the way.

To be fair, it’s disputed that it actually was the first trip. Apparently someone not-Western might have travelled the world before him. But nonetheless, it was epic! Find a Ted-Ed here on Magellan’s trip (I don’t think I would have been a traveller in ye old days…)

WHAT TO SEE!

Well, there quite a lot to see. Highlights from the old guys’ trip: Begin in Seville and head to Sanlucar de Barrameda from where they set off. I enjoyed these two places very much. Drinking sherry one place and eating tapas another surrounded by palm trees and sunsets. 

Then the straits of Magellan (yes, named after him) by Cape Horn. Next stop is Guam and then the Philippines (where Magellan was shot by locals, but that probably will not happen to you) and finally the islands of Maluku or Moluccas in Indonesia. The Spices on the island were the main driver for travelling around the world being worth their own weight in gold.  

Me in Seville back in the days (2002)

If you want to plan a trip around the world try this around-the-world planner like this one from Staralliance. It might not be the best year to do this, so read on for other suggestions for top destinations for 2022 below. 

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

Symbolized by a giant figure of Christ the Redeemer, the capital of Brazil Rio de Janeiro is one of the great cities in the world. 

travel 2022
From wikipedia

WHY GO NOW?

On September 7 2022, it will be 200 years ago Brazil became independent – free from Portuguese rule. It was the Portuguese prince Pedro 1, who reformed the country making it the only empire in South America: The Empire of Brazil with Rio de Janeiro as its capital.

WHAT TO SEE!

Sure there are some famous beaches. But us cultural travellers gotta have something for both body and soul.

Of course you must visit the newly appointed UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sítio Roberto Burle Marx. The lush park is a work of art developed over 40 years by a single artist. It looks like the larger version of Marrakesh’ lovely Majorelle Garden.  Also check out Arcos da Lapa monument, a Roman-style monument, the iconic Museu da Chacara do Ceu, the botanical garden from 1808 and the instagrammable staircase Escadaria Selarón. 

One of the World's 7 wonders. From Pixabay.

I didn’t mention the statue since I’m a little upset it won the popularity contest against Angkor to be one of the 7 wonders of the world.

NOVI SAD, SERBIA

With 6 official languages, the city is melting pot of cultures. And this always makes for interesting destinations for a cultural traveller. They usually have the best food and a treasure chest of history – like nearby Sarajevo and Sofia. 

travel 2022
From Pixabay

WHY GO NOW?

Novi Sad is the second city out of the three European Culture Capital 2022. And because the capital Beograd has long been on my list. Serbia ranks as one of the cheapest places in Europe to travel to, so there’s also that.

WHAT TO SEE!

Known for music and art and a relaxed vibe, Novi Sad has churches, synagogues and museums like the Museum of Vojvodina telling the area’s story from 70.000 years back. Head for the cultural center Egység built in 1890 – now hosting concerts and more. The Petrovaradin Fotress from the 1800s is also worth a visit.  And it’s easy to get around on foot, which I definitely prefer. (For stopping to take pictures of course.)

Find the program for events in 2022 here.

Nick Savchenko/Wikipedia
Besides Novi Sad also the Luxembourgian town of Esch sur Alzette is on of the 3 cities named as European Capital of Culture 2022. But I will not recommend it as a destination for 2022.  I went to Luxembourg this Christmas and even though the town is just a short train ride away, I instead took the train to Vianden and Clervaux. I like industrial cultural heritage, but the town just didn’t seem interesting enough. Maybe it will be in 22 with special events. So no recommendations here.  

QUANZHOU, CHINA

China is home to a long history, great food, beautiful nature and many many many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. And they just got a new one.
©Quanzhou Maritime Silk Road World heritage Nomination Center

WHY GO NOW?

In 2021, Quanzhou made it to the list of World Heritage Sites appointed by UNESCO. The reason is the silk road – not the one on land I followed in Uzbekistan, but the Maritime Silk Road. According to themselves- they are seeing a rise in interest. Maybe I’m not the only one recommending it as a destination for 2022… Find the local website here.

WHAT TO SEE!

The UNESCO site includes a series of sights. Sights include an almost 1000 year old Qingjing Mosque, bridges and Islamic tombs. The city on the east coast of China. They even have a Maritime Silk Road Festival although the event shifts locations.

From Pixabay
I’ve been 3 months in China, but didn’t see Quanzhou. I guess there’s always more to see. More than 30 new sites was added in 2021. Find my selection of the new World Heritage Sites here.

POMPEII, ITALY

Pompeii is most likely the most famous ruins in the world. At least in the Western World. Sure Angkor is magnificent (it truly is), but the stories of people trying to escape this all-at-once doom of a natural disaster is legendary.

pompeii ruins in italy

WHY GO NOW?

Because I just went here in October 21 – and there were almost no other tourists!!! We didn’t have to book tickets in advance and only 3 people were in line in front of us.

WHAT TO SEE!

Okay, that will take way too long. I’ll write an entire post on it soon. In the meantime get the map of the site and prepare. Make sure you have 5 hours – preferable more.

Combine the trip with a stop in my new favourite city Naples easily reached by train or stay in the train for a little longer to end up in the eternal city Rome  – where I had an embarrassing meeting with the Pope.

PAKISTAN

Beautiful scenery,  delicious food and interesting history. If not for the many years of unrest in some areas, this would be a top destination for anyone.  

Mohatta Palace. By Aareez Asif/Wikipedia

WHY GO NOW?

2021 saw an important anniversary for Pakistan. On August 14, the country celebrated its 75th independence day. Okay, I should have included Pakistan in last year’s list, but shit happens.

WHAT TO SEE!

Pakistan has beautiful nature, but the independence treaty was signed in Karachi.  In the city, you can visit the 100 year old Pink Mohatta Palace was built a someone’s summer house, but kind of the way Taj mahal is a tomb. It’s made of the easily recognizable pink stone of Jodhpur and is now a cultural centre.  Just outside the town, you find 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Chaukhandi Tombs and the most elaborate tile work in South Asia: Shah Jahan Mosque. (It looks like the incredible mosques in Uzbekistan. Uhh, I gotta see more of these beautiful mosques.)
Shah Jahan Mosque. By Asultan/Wikipedia
Culture Trip has a great post on what to see for the cultural traveller in Karachi. But prepare before travelling in Pakistan especially near the border to Afghanistan.

DUBLIN, IRELAND

Home of beer, whiskey (with an e) and many a literate character. Which brings us to the reason to go in 2022.

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink Life to the lees

James Joyce/Ulysses
The amazing library in

WHY GO NOW?

The book, that many talk about, but almost no one reads: “Ulysses” by James Joyce came out 100 years ago. You might not think that’s a cultural event, but it is to me. And do you really need another reason for visiting the capital of Ireland? You must of course visit on Bloomsday – named so after the main character and on the day the novel takes place: June 16.

Lonely Planet also has the city on it’s list Best in Travel 2022

WHAT TO SEE!

No trip to Dublin is complete without the library in Trinity College. It’s an epic library. Like on Hogwarts. Make sure to see the “Book of Kells” while you are there. Books like they don’t make them anymore. I also liked the Little Museum of Dublin– they had a great guided tour – and a old edition of “Ulysses” of course.  (The guide asked us who had read the book. I was the only one raising my hand. Yikes)

For Joyce aficionados: St. Peter’s Road nr. 7, visit the James Joyce Centre and the statue of Joyce on St. Stephens Green. But he lived even more places in Dublin. Grab your pint and follow me in Guinness & Joyce! A literary guide to Dublin.

traveller in front of dublin castle

And while you at it: Rome, Trieste, Paris, Zürich and London, where he also lived. What a euro-trip!

CAIRO, EGYPT

Finally! Cairo has been on my list since 2019, but now it should be bullet proof. This year the new Grand Egyptian Museum opens. Or GEM for us in the know. Oh yeah, and there are pyramids!

From Pixabay

WHY GO NOW?

After 10 years of delays, the long awaited GEM is opening in November 2022. At least partly.  All the gold from Tutankhamen’s tomb in Luxor has been shined up for you, and a new airport and metro line will make it super easy to get there. And when it does, I’m there!

Lonely Planet also has Egypt on its list Best in Travel 2022. 

WHAT TO SEE!

The Museum! Historic Cairo is in itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so you’ll be cultural just by walking around taking in the smell and drinking tea – in the City of the Dead for instance. I would choose to see the fortress built by famous sultan Saladin. And did I mention pyramids?

After a few days, when you had enough of the chaotic traffiic, jump on a train to Alexandria as well. For the library, you know.

The lack of tourists due to COVID-19 must be hitting hard. When I visited 3 Luxor in 2018, they were still missing tourists due to an earlier terrorist attack.  The locals I spoke to were desperate for some business.  

If you want to see where the gold treasure from Tutankhamen was originally found and Carters House, head for Luxor or ancient Thebes: Must-See Temples & Tombs In Valley of the Kings!

Did you find something interesting destinations for your travels in 2022? I hope you been inspired. Personally, I want to go everywhere on the list. Follow me to see which ones I do visit. Safe travels!

Bern, Switzerland August 2021