Wow, the time has flown. 2021 is drawing to a close, and what a year we’ve had. The main highlight? Travel came back, baby! Many of our favourite destinations opened their arms and borders, ready for backpackers to get their much-needed travel fix. We’ve noticed a lot of you have been booking ahead for 2022. So, let’s have a peek at what our survey says. We’ve put together a list of the best backpacking destinations for 2022, based on where you beauties have been booking over the last twelve months. From protected paradises to bustling cities, it’s just about time to get packing for the year to come.
1. USA – Hawaii – Maui
With major restrictions lifted, it’s time to navigate your way across the stars and stripes of the US of A. This super-sized nation truly has something for everyone; with your choice of 50 states to tread, trample and trek to your heart’s content.
Hawaii may not be the first place that springs to mind when reciting the pledge of allegiance, but savvy travellers have snapped up deals for ultra-sexy spots like Honolulu and Maui in 2022. Think Hawaii is too expensive? Think again. Hold your purse strings, it’s time to experience true luxury on a shoestring budget.
Maui is the second-largest Hawaiian Island, and possibly the most attractive to budding backpackers. If black sand beaches and migrating humpback whales don’t excite you, perhaps a hike up the imposing Haleakalā Volcano will get your blood pumping. While tourism has boomed in recent years (ignoring the blip of the global pandemic), Maui refuses to relent its lush roots and Polynesian origins. Granted, there are resorts for those who want them, but this is an island that remains grounded in Hawaiian culture and Aloha spirit.
Young, wild and free: the three words that spring to mind when describing the legendary Banana Bungalow Maui Hostel. An ever-changing, multi-national crowd of the best backpackers known to mankind generates more pure fun here than anywhere else on the island. With a large Jacuzzi, tropical garden, and weekly keg parties, this family-run hostel will guarantee a (humpback) whale of a time.
2. Spain – Barcelona
Spain has sky-rocketed to number two on our list, with eager backpackers booking trips for 2022 to get their much-needed tapas fix.
Barcelona itself needs little introduction to seasoned travellers. The jewel of Catalonia is sewn together in an architectural patchwork of Gothic and Modernist structures, with the occasional splash of colour – courtesy of Antoni Gaudí himself. The Catalan capital is a hub of all sorts, tempting tech expats and sun-seekers alike to stroll along the cobbled stones of Las Ramblas. A utopia of food and art, wander through the clustered stalls of La Boqueria Market to experience some of the freshest fish in Catalonia; or experience life through the lens canvas of the OG of abstract faces himself, the captivating halls of the Picasso Museum await.
With sister hostels in Madrid and Sevilla, TOC Hostel Barcelona is an interior designer’s dreamland. Both dorms and private rooms certainly don’t skimp on quality; their premium suites with private terraces are on par with any boutique hotel. Want to take your R&R up a level? Soak in the scorching Spanish sun atop their private rooftop terrace, complete with a swimming pool and a healthy dose of chilled vibes. Not only are the perks enough to make you feel like hostel royalty, Fiddy/50 Cent/the king of Hip Hop himself said, quote: “I never knew hostels could be that dope.”
3. Mexico – Holbox Island
It’s time to shatter stereotypes and rediscover one of the worlds greatest civilisations. Sure, Mexico may be famous for tacos and tequila, but the enticing blend of Mesoamerican cultures, diverse tropical landscapes and an ancient history richer-than-gold make the birthplace of Dia de Los Muertos one of the best backpacking adventures of 2022.
20 minutes off the northern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, Holbox Island reverts to a time before tourist resorts. Although it would be almost too easy to spend your entire holiday lounging around and sipping on margaritas (we wouldn’t judge), Holbox is an island that deserves to be explored. Take a walk on the wild side without the crowds; the beaches here are rugged and empty, perfect for swimming, surfing and sunbathing away from the weather-beaten masses. Nature lover? Immerse yourself in the Yum Balam ecological reserve, home to over 150 species of exotic bird (flamingos included), an impressive native turtle population and a sea alight with bioluminescent plankton. With a strict ban on cars – sorry Fast and Furious fans – 2022 is time to kick back, relax, and enjoy what this sleepy island has to offer.
A 2-minute walk from the centre of Holbox’s main fishing village, Tribu was built from scratch using traditional – and tremendously technicolour – construction methods. This friendly hostel offers a garden practically overflowing with hammocks, and we sincerely doubt life gets any more blissful than when cracking open a Cerveza and watching the sunset from their rooftop terrace. The owners are quick to encourage you to “leave your footprint”. Whether through Spanish courses, Salsa lessons, or free yoga (!!!), you’re sure to be channelling the laid-back spirit of Holbox by the time you board the ferry back.
4. Italy – Rome
Italy is one of the most sought-after travel destinations in the world, and for good reason. Whether exploring the ancient streets of Pompeii; wine-tasting in the sun-kissed fields of Tuscany; or attempting to force down your sixth helping of Spaghetti Alla Carbonara, Italy is a country that will feed your heart and soul, in a full five courses.
Far from the rustic villages and orchards of Italy’s countryside, Rome is an intoxicating mix of vibrant nightlife, age-old culture and a triple helping of passion. ‘The Eternal City’ is steeped in ancient history, from the iconic arches of the Colosseum to the architectural marvel of the Pantheon itself. Travellers to Rome are rewarded with a full belly and happy heart, scoff down Italy’s finest gelato on the Spanish Steps before roaming the maze of cobbled streets in search of the region’s best pizza.
Dive headfirst into Rome’s exhilarating nightlife at the YellowSquare hostel. The infamous YellowBar, legendary in both price and atmosphere, attracts revellers from far and wide. Experience an eclectic mix of DJs, a nine-hour-long happy hour and never-ending matches of Olympic-standard beer pong. Need funds to fuel the revelry? Embrace the remote-working revolution in their amazing co-working spaces and bookable desks.
5. Germany – Berlin
The traditional land of bratwurst and beer is a delightful mix of modern enterprise and medieval charm; where you can flit between the tiled rooftops of Bavaria to the steel skyline of Frankfurt in one super speedy train journey. Germany has remained in our top 10 booked countries for 2022. So dust off your Lederhosen and dive headfirst into the 1,500 types of beer this country has to offer.
Germany’s capital city is sure to excite history buffs and alternative party-goers alike, with a turbulent history and vibrant culture pulsing through the very foundations of the Berlin wall. A night-owls paradise, spend your night stumbling through industrial techno warehouses and subterranean cocktail oases. By day, explore the cities complex past among the blocks of the Holocaust Memorial, or satisfy your creative cravings in one of the capitals many theatres.
Ever dreamed of running away to the Circus? The Circus Hostel in Berlin makes those dreams a reality. Roll up, roll up, because this hostel has it ALL: decoration, activities and location, location, location. Did I mention their ‘Behind the Curtain’ events? Get ready for a cultural minefield of sights, smells, tastes and stories to make you fall head-over-heels in love with this crazy city. Also, they have their own microbrewery. Enough said.
6. Netherlands – Amsterdam
The Netherlands is never far from the top of our list – we can’t imagine why! If you’re not strolling through tulip fields or visiting the Windmills of Kinderdijk, what else are you really doing here… Sarcasm aside, the Netherlands is a land where innovation meets tradition. By day, lovers of art and architecture will be spoilt for choice. For those who burn the midnight oil, candlelit coffeeshops and a glittering nightlife await in the dark, ready to welcome you with open arms.
Amsterdam is the beating heart of Holland, a city divided by world-renowned museums and a hyper-charged nightlife. A maze of Golden Age canals lined by rows of tilted 17th-century century narrow houses; this is a place of charm, magic and masterpiece. The Soho of Amsterdam – De Negen Straatjes – promises some of the best strolls this city has to offer. These quaint and quirky streets are big on personality and full of cosy cafés, buzzy boutiques and vintage stores. We think it’s pretty Dam cool.
Situated mere moments from Centraal Station, Flying Pig Downtown Hostel is an adorable home away from home. This 18th-century townhouse attracts the coolest crowd of raucous revellers, enticing you in from one of Amsterdam’s liveliest shopping streets to party until you drop. The hostel bar is not to be missed, with the cheapest drinks in town, DJ nights hosted three times a week, and new drinking buddies on every barstool.
7. France – Paris
Entering our top 10 countries for backpackers to visit in 2022, France is a true staple for any European adventure. The country that inspired revolution and romance alike, expect storybook landscapes, ambient cities and museums chock-a-block with historical riches.
Name a more iconic French symbol than the city of light itself. We’ll wait. Paris is a true lovers’ playground, but don’t worry! While ridiculously romantic, you sure as hell don’t need a soulmate (or any mate) to thrive in this timeless city. Craving culture? Renaissance buildings ooze elegance at every turn, while fan-favourites like the Louvre and Musée D’Orsay cement the city’s reputation as a leader of art, antiquity and style. Feel Tres Tres Chic while strutting through the iconic Triangle d’Or; or if you’re on a budget (let’s face it, most of us are) climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe to admire the French capital’s world-famous traffic jams.
Recently opened by three young Parisian travellers, Les Piaules is located in the oh-so-arty district of Belleville – in a renovated Art Deco building no less! For anyone who’s too hungover to brave the sweaty maze of the Parisian metro, this stylish space boasts a rooftop terrace with an unbeatable view of Paris’ iconic monuments. Sundown revellers and day-trippers alike will love the carefully curated hostel bar, offering an unbeatable range of local beer, coffee and French specialities.
8. Costa Rica – San Jose
Costa Rica joins our top 10 list for 2022, and we couldn’t be happier. This Central American country is an adventure seekers paradise. Spend your days clambering through cloud forests; kayaking through mangroves, or surfing some of the country’s 300 beaches. Costa Rica translates to ‘Rich Coast’, so expect to see coastlines overflowing with rugged rainforest, vibrant wildlife and colourful Caribbean culture.
Costa Rica’s dense capital is as rowdy as it is friendly. Enter, San José. The traditional Central American city is heaving with history and culture, even though most buildings are rarely older than 100 years. Soak up the steamy sunlight in locals-favourite La Sabana Park; or discover why bird-watching isn’t just for oldies, San Gerardo de Dota is home to over 200 tropical birds and counting! While the city is mainly used as a jump-off point to the tropical Eden beyond, its gritty charm and authentic spirit are not to be skipped over!
A steam room, in a hostel?! Expect steamy vibes and even steamier people in the slice of party paradise that is Costa Rica Backpackers. With hammocks, sofas, picnic tables and sun loungers, your chill vibes just kicked up a gear.
9. England – London
There’s nowhere quite like England, and it seems our backpackers agree. Whether strolling past limestone cottages in the Cotswolds or letting loose in the sound soaked fields of Glastonbury Music Festival; Great Britain really does cater for both ends of the spectrum. And yes, milk in your tea is mandatory.
London is massive. A sprawling mishmash of cultures, you’ll find something new, exciting or outrageous around every turn. Charming, age-old pubs nestle in every corner ready to set down a pint and a packet of pork scratchings in front of you; in East London, trendy hipsters roam the weekend markets searching for up-and-coming vegan eateries. Where to start? For culture-buffs, witness a Shakespearean masterpiece at the riverside Globe Theatre (standing of course); for great grub, chow down on authentic East Asian cuisine amongst the bright paper lanterns of China Town.
Want to experience life in the trendiest part of London? St Christopher’s Inns Liverpool Street is located in London’s bustling business district, just a stone’s throw away from the gritty-yet-glamorous nightlife of Shoreditch town. From Brick Lane beigel-munching to Old Spitalfields Market bargain-hunting, travellers couldn’t be better placed to experience London at its very coolest.
10. Scotland – Edinburgh
Scotland: where travellers can expect to find rugged wilderness and warm, candlelit hospitality, all in the same stretch of highland. The infamous home of the Loch Ness monster is drenched in tartan-clad history; sightseeing adventures take you to fabled battlefields where warring clans fought or lead you stumbling through throat-scorching Scotch Whiskey trails. Whichever path you seek, Scotland is heaving with memorable experiences. Just remember to bring your umbrella!
Surrounded by green hills and a gob-smackingly beautiful countryside, Edinburgh is full-to-the-brim with culture, history and 500 miles of pure charm. Home to the Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival, every August the city channels an atmosphere charged with fun, fevered chaos. Among the white sandstone bricks and winding medieval alleys of old, the bustling Edinburgh restaurant scene and its ginormous array of hard-to-beat pubs make it a top tier destination for Michelin Star seekers and cheap-and-cheerful hostel-dwellers alike.
Smack bang in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, Castle Rock Hostel is equal parts plush and comfort. If you’re looking for the perfect travel buddy, their pet Axolotl Bryan is up for the challenge. Built in 1846 and turned into a backpackers’ hostel in 1997, this grand old building is full of art, character and a whole load of antiques; not to mention a common room to rival Hogwarts itself. Mischief managed.
So, there we go. Phew! Isn’t mental travelling just exhausting? If you’ve visited any of next year’s top backpacker destinations already, please share your experiences with us. Or perhaps you’re planning a trip now; let us know in the comments! Here’s to another year of meeting the world.
About the author
Maya is our London-born Junior Copywriter with a love for all things extreme. When she’s not climbing rocks, she’s diving under them; always on the lookout for something new to get her blood pumping. She has a long-standing love affair obsession with Japan, despite the fact she’s yet to go there.