Hurtling closer to the end of the year signals many things and ‘where to travel’ lists are one of them. Despite 2020 drastically changing our scope for 2021 travel, these annual lists are still on the menu – but with a renewed focus.
This week, both Lonely Planet and National Geographic released their ‘best destinations’ lists – but this year, there’s a tweak. The focus for 2021 travel is now centred around shared values, with sustainability as a key factor.
This year’s National Geographic’s annual ‘best trips’ list splits the 25 ‘destinations on the rise’ into five themes instead of the usual four, to include sustainability. They are: family, nature, adventure, culture and sustainability. The magazine says each of its choices are “to inspire future journeys and remind us why we love to travel”.
Surprisingly, Australia only made the list once – with the last frontier paradise of Lord Howe Island highlighted in the nature category. Only 400 visitors are allowed on this precious, unspoiled island at any one time, ensuring its incredible nature and wildlife remains just that.
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Highlights in the sustainability category include Alonissos in Greece, where an ancient , 2500-year-old shipwreck has been turned into a new underwater museum, and New Caledonia, which now has a 1.3 million-square-kilometre marine park. Unsurprisingly, Copenhagen in Denmark continues to shine in this category, but two US cities also emerged as sustainability benchmarks.
For family fun, Nat Geo recommends the almost-complete England Coastal Path, which will be the longest seafront walking trail in the world (4500 kilometres long). Florida’s Space Coast and Transylvania in Romania also made the cut.
When it comes to adventure, it should be no surprise that Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina is honoured, along with Georgia’s Svaneti — a stop on the epic Transcaucasian Hiking Trail between Georgia and Armenia.
If culture is your drug, you’re encouraged to explore the resilience of New Mexico’s Native Pueblo Nations. This category is also where you’ll find the only other mentions in Asia and the South Pacific: Guam and South Korea’s ancient capital, UNESCO world heritage Gyeongju (known as a ‘museum without walls’).
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The hiker/boater/kayaker playground of Isle Royale in Michigan’s Great Lakes features in Nat Geo’s nature picks, along with the grassy savannahs of the Cerrado in Brazil, the aforementioned Lord Howe Island and Canada’s Yellowknife (a key location to spot the Northern Lights).
Just quietly though, is anyone else confused as to how natural wonderland New Zealand didn’t make the cut?
For the full list, see below.
The best destinations for nature
- Isle Royale, Michigan
- Yellowknife, Canada
- Cerrado savannah, Brazil
- Lord Howe Island, Australia
The best destinations for sustainability
- Alonissos, Greece
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- New Caledonia, Overseas France
- Freiburg, Germany
- Gabon, Africa
- Denver, Colorado
The best destinations for adventure
- Svaneti, Georgia
- Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina
- Katmai National Park & Preserve, Alaska
The best destinations for culture
- Pueblo Nations, New Mexico
- Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
- Gyeongju, South Korea
- Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Tonglu, China
The best destinations for family
- England Coastal Path
- Transylvania, Romania
- Space Coast, Florida
- Hortobagy, Hungary
- Indigenous British Columbia, Canada
(Lead Image: Destination NSW)
Sonia feels most at home on the road, with travel her greatest passion. But really, she’s hype about a lot of things: beautiful design, tasty food, wellness, nature, interesting people and women’s issues. The Founding Editor of Junkee’s The Cusp and former Homes Editor at Nine, Sonia prides herself on seeking out authentic experiences with charm and loves sharing a personal rec. Catch her on Instagram @sonnietothetee.