A lot of end-of-year traditions are a little different in 2020.
The annual “Where to Travel” lists revealed by big-hitter adventurers National Geographic and Lonely Planet are no exception.
Faced with a world where travel is often currently difficult, inadvisable or impossible, the publishers’ 2021 lists — both released Tuesday — have gone for a more ruminative approach.
While Lonely Planet’s message this year is on travel as a “force for good,” with picks themed around diversity, sustainability and community, National Geographic has chosen sustainability, family, nature, adventure and culture as its five categories.
Rather than an invitation to throw your sarong in your case and hotfoot it to the airport, the lists are intended to serve as inspiration for future adventures, whenever they may be.
National Geographic’s “Best of the World 2021” list offers up 25 picks for your consideration, selected by its international editorial teams, and is showcased at natgeo.com/bestoftheworld.
Here the reader will find stories describing “conservation successes, preservation achievements, cultural resilience, and tales of communities overcoming daunting obstacles to thrive despite the pandemic,” says National Geographic in a release.
The sustainability category celebrates six superlative destinations across Europe, Africa and the United States.
There’s Alonissos in Greece, with its new underwater museum where visitors can explore the remains of a 2,500-year-old shipwreck, and New Caledonia in France, with its 1.3-million square kilometer marine park.
Florida’s Space Coast is honored in the Family section, as well as the nearly completed England Coastal Path, which at 4,500 kilometers will the be the world’s longest seafront walking trail.
Over in the Adventure category, there’s Georgia’s Svaneti — a stop on the epic Transcaucasian Hiking Trail between Georgia and Armenia — and Alaska’s Katmai National Park.
Michigan’s Isle Royale, in the northwest corner of Lake Superior, is honored in the Nature/Wildlife category, and there are showings too for Yellowknife, Canada, and Australia’s Lord Howe Island.
Asia and Oceania are under-represented on the list overall, but it recovers some ground in the culture/history category, with three destinations selected.
The picks include Guam, a US territory in the Pacific Ocean, which played a strategic role in World War II, and Gyeongju, an ancient capital in South Korea that is so teeming with artifacts it’s known as “the museum without walls.”
“While the pandemic has brought journeys to a standstill, it’s not quieted our curiosity,” says George Stone, executive editor of National Geographic Travel, in a release. “The world is full of wonders — even when they’re hard to reach.”
National Geographic’s Best of the World 2021
New Caledonia, France
Gabon, Central Africa
England Coastal Path
Space Coast, Florida
Indigenous British Columbia, Canada
Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina
Katmai National Park & Preserve, Alaska
Isle Royale, Michigan
Cerrado savanna, Brazil
Lord Howe Island, Australia
New Mexico, road trip
Bitoria-Gasteiz, Alava, Basque Country, Spain
Gyeongju, South Korea
Tonglu, Zhejiang Province, China
To see more of Nat Geo’s Best of the World 2021 list, visit NatGeo.com/BestoftheWorld