World's Best Adventure Holidays for 2022

written by Joanne Owen
updated 2/16/2022
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If you’re wondering where you should go in 2022 for a fantastic adventure holiday, we’ve hand-picked ten destinations that deliver exactly that. Places that offer unforgettable opportunities to enjoy pulse-quickening experiences of a lifetime — take your pick from from ice-caving glacial lagoons, ziplining tropical rainforests, trekking sweeping desert landscapes, and soaring over cliffs and canyons in a copter.

That said, adventure isn’t only about satisfying cravings for high-octane kicks. Adventure also means getting off the beaten track for extraordinary wildlife-watching experiences , spending nights star-gazing in remote wildernesses, or finding your new favourite food in local markets.

After discovering a full gamut of places to go for fantastic adventure holidays in 2022, you might also want to read our where to go when, alternative month by month guide  to 2022, and to arm yourself with ways to find more adventure  during all your travels. Our gallery of seriously weird places around the world also offers inspiration for adventurous travellers seeking alternate experiences.

1. Croatia

Adventure awaits: hiking, cycling, river-rafting and quad-biking 

WhiIe spectacular UNESCO-designated Dubrovnik  understandably attracts a whopping number of visitors each year, as does the country’s beaches  and islands , Croatia’s adventure offerings are every bit as epic, not least in Plitvice Lakes National Park , another UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

This emerald wilderness of mighty mountains, lakes and waterfalls offers twelve hiking trails through pristine landscapes that’ll take your breath away in more ways than one, whether you hike it solo, or book a walking tour with boat trip. And, while you can’t cycle within the park, a fantastic network of trails is marked on its northern edge. 

More untouched wilderness awaits in Northern Velebit National Park. The Velebit massif, Croatia’s longest mountain, rewards hikers with a mind-blowing mix of craggy cliffs and limestone peaks, wildflower meadows, and pine forests that seem to extend to infinity. 

Croatia's Plitvice Lakes National Park - a place to enjoy epic hike in epic surroundings © Shutterstock

If you fancy picking up the pace, head to the glorious Gacka River valley or the Konavle region for bone-juddering, off-road quad safaris, while white-knuckle experiences can be had rafting the white-water rapids of the Cetina River, taking in canyons and karst fields along the way. 

For more inspiration — and to take the hassle out of planning — take a look at our 100% customisable ultimate adventure trip around Croatia and the Rough Guide to Croatia .

Meanwhile, newbies will want to read our first-timers guide to Croatia , find out about the things you won't want to miss and gaze upon the best beaches in Croatia . Been there, done that? Discover unusual things to do in Croatia

Where to stay in Croatia

Ethno Houses Plitvice Lakes offers rustic elegance a mere 400 metres from the park’s highest waterfall.

2. Iceland

Adventure awaits: ice-caving, glacier-hiking, lava-caving and intercontinental snorkelling

Frozen glaciers, dramatic fjords, mighty volcanoes, and the northern lights Iceland  is a ruggedly majestic stunner of a country. But don’t just take our word for it — see for yourself in our gallery

Given the drama of its landscapes, it’s little wonder that Iceland is one of the world’s top hiking destinations, whether you head to the glacial valleys and lava fields of the enchanting east , or fancy exploring the remote waterfalls of the wild west

Serious hiker? Discover Iceland’s most extreme trail .

Iceland also offers unique opportunities to find adventure in bona fide fairy tale landscapes. You could, for example, take a Crystal Ice Cave Tour from Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. The enchanting cave is part of Europe’s biggest glacier, Vatnajökull Glacier, and presents itself as a sparkle of heavenly blue hues.

Extraordinary landscapes yield extraordiary adventures in Skaftafell, Vatnajokull National Park, Iceland © Jens Ottoson/Shutterstock

Iceland is also a hotspot for unforgettable water experiences. Head to the Silfra Fissure to snorkel between North America and Europe and try lava caving. Then there’s all those bubbling geothermal springs to relax in after you’ve flexed your muscles. Before you take the plunge, discover Iceland’s best hot pools , and read up on the dos and don’ts of Icelandic spas .

With so much to see and do, you'll want to be informed about the best travel experiences in Iceland . Or, if you like to do things your own way, read our rundown of unique things to do in Iceland . For more inspiration, take a look at the best places to stay in Iceland and Rough Guides' Iceland itineraries .

Where to stay in Iceland

Just 10 minutes from the Blue Lagoon, boutique Silica Hotel boasts its own lagoon, with room verandas overlooking lava fields.

3. Cuba

Adventure awaits: biking, hiking, wildlife-watching and water-sports 

If you think of Cuba, chances are your mind’s eye will conjure images of idyllic Caribbean beaches , classic cars, colonial architecture, revolution, and the romance of Cuba . But alongside its coastal and cultural attractions, Cuba offers a tonne of exhilarating adventure experiences. 

To truly get off the beaten track, you could consider taking a Cuban bike trip . After exploring intoxicating, off-beat Havana and fuelling yourself at the best restaurants in Cuba , head to the Las Terrazas Biosphere Reserve for an undulating 200m climb through spectacular scenery before a speedy downhill run to Soroa.

Going it alone? Discover the best places to cycle in Cuba  and read our tips for backpacking through Cuba . Serious cyclists might also want to discover the world’s most epic cycle routes

For more biking or hiking adventures, Viñales  National Park is a must-visit, with its striking landscape of boulder-like hills exuding decidedly prehistoric vibes. Satisfying trekking can also be enjoyed in the pine-forested Sierra del Escambray , and the cloud forests of the Sierra Maestra.

Feel revitalised in Cuba's Vinales Valley © Shutterstock

Want to watch wildlife? The Península de Zapata National Park is an unspoilt paradise for birdlife, including the endemic Zapata rail and the Cuban pygmy owl, along with plenty of boars, iguanas and crocodiles.

The Peninsula de Zapata  is also a hotspot for excellent scuba diving and snorkelling, as is the Jardines del Rey . Fringed by 400km of coral reef, this archipelago has over forty dive sites to explore — think enchanting forests of colourful sponges teeming with tropical fish.

Ready to dive into Cuba’s diverse delights? From family-focussed adventure itineraries , to extended off-the-beaten-track tours , Rough Guides’ tailor-made trips have a host of activity-based ideas for Cuba. You might also want to discover the best places to go in Cuba on a first time visit and the best beaches near Havana , and get your hands on our in-depth guidebook .

Where to stay in Cuba

For five-star luxury before jumping into the saddle, Art Boutique Havana hits the spot.

4. South Africa

Adventure awaits: safaris, cycling, hiking, climbing and road trips

Going on safari in South Africa  is one of those unforgettable adventure experiences of a lifetime, with Kruger National Park offering one of the world’s widest diversity of wildlife. Around 140 species of mammals — including all the Big Five — and 500 species of bird call Kruger home.

Covering an area the size of Wales, you could spend days here and still not see everything, so read our first-timers guide  to give yourself a decent shot at it, and consider opting for a private guided tour of the park. It's also worth taking the time to discover how to safari safely and ethically .

Roving rangers in Kruger National Park, South Africa © Rich T Photo/Shutterstock

Alternatively, if you fancy having more freedom to truly immerse yourself in the region, consider a self-drive tour – check out the best road trip routes in South Africa . That way you can spend as long as you like in Kruger National Park before exploring the likes of Blyde River Canyon, and Dullstroom’s highlands, where pretty fishing villages serve as gateways to hiking trails and rock-climbing sites.

Need convincing about self-drive breaks? Here are a host of reasons to choose a road trip for your next adventure

Another exhilarating way to experience South Africa is to cycle the Garden Route  — ideal for adventurers who want the challenge of cycling a variety of terrain while taking-in outstanding scenery , with fine food and wine  on hand to provide post-ride replenishment. 

From tours covering safaris and culture , to discovering wildlife, wine and whales around Cape Town , check Rough Guides’ customisable South Africa itineraries for inspiration.

Where to stay in South Africa

Kicking off your South African adventure in Cape Town? Cape Grace Hotel is flanked by Table Mountain, and has a private quay.

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5. Costa Rica 

Adventure awaits: ziplining, hiking, surfing and wildlife-watching

One of the world’s most biodiverse countries, it’s not for nothing that Costa Rica  features in our best places on earth for 2022 . It also happens to be among the world’s best destinations for adventurous nature-lovers. 

Whether you’re into wildlife watching or more high-octane experiences, Costa Rica sure isn’t short of beautiful national parks  for walks on the wild side. Experienced hikers might want to tackle a 20km trek through Parque Nacional Corcovado. Alive with toucans, sloths, howler monkeys, and the thrum and shimmer of hummingbirds, you might get lucky and glimpse an ocelot or jaguar. 

For a less hardcore (but every bit as rewarding) hike, head to Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja in Guanacaste , where a 6km circuit unfolds in the shadow of a smoking volcano. 

Wild waterfalls await walkers in Rincon de La Vieja National Park, Costa Rica © Shuttertock

Meanwhile, alongside being a great place for birdwatching, Monteverde cloud forest delivers pulse-quickening kicks. Take a mega mix adventure trip to experience the whole kit and caboodle of ziplines, swings and climbing thrills.

Want to get wild on the water? Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is a prime surfing spot, but since the country spans both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean  Sea, it offers a huge variety of coastal experiences, so it’ll be worth reading up on the best beaches in Costa Rica

If that wasn’t enough, Costa Rica is also the perfect place to put your plans to travel more sustainably into practice. For decades, Costa Rica’s eco lodges and activity offerings have been blazing a trail for responsible tourism. 

To help choose your base, discover the best hikes in Costa Rica . Keen photographers might also want to know where to see the country’s best waterfalls . Our Costa Rica travel tips  and customisable eco adventure itinerary might also come in handy for pre-trip inspiration.

Interested in adventuring around the wider region? Read our overview of Central America’s top adventure experiences . And, if you’re planning to go it alone for longer, arm yourself with tips for back-packing Central America and top tips for visit Costa Rica .

Where to stay in Costa Rica

Want to be close to the beach and forest? Locations don’t come better than Lapa Rios Eco Lodge.

6. Yellowstone National Park

Adventure awaits: hiking, driving, kayaking, horse-riding and wildlife-watching

Included in our round-up of the best places in the USA to visit in 2022 (discover all 100 in the picture-packed Rough Guide ), Yellowstone National Park  offers a staggering range of landscapes and activities. 

The mountain scenery makes a stunning backdrop for all those hiking and horse-riding excursions. Take a trip to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone to experience that glorious diversity — from the Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful Geyser, to azure Yellowstone Lake and sub-alpine Hayden Valley. 

Alternatively, you could go all out and take an immersive safari driving tour, staying in lodges that are primely located for kayaking and wildlife-watching. Expect to see grizzly bears, huge herds of heavy-bearded bison, elegant horned elk, prairie dogs, eagles, coyotes and wolves. 

Grand Prismatic pool spring in Yellowstone National Park © Lane V. Erickson/Shutterstock

All that considered, it’s no surprise that Yellowstone attracts over four million visitors a year, so you might want to find out how to avoid the crowds in Yellowstone  and curb the pitfalls of over-tourism. And don't miss Rough Guides look at the truth about tourism in Yellowstone National Park .

Sticking with the sustainable travel theme, consider taking a railroad trip to explore the wider Rockies  region, or more of the USA, for that matter. To start planning, read our tips for travelling by train in the USA

Want to know more about America’s great outdoors? Read our overview of the most stunning national parks in America , and take a look at the inspirational Rough Guide to the USA’s National Parks

Where to stay in Yellowstone National Park

To be close to the action, browse hotels near Yellowstone National Park’s west entrance.

7. Oman

Adventure awaits: desert trekking, turtle-watching, snorkelling and star-gazing

If you’re looking for fresh adventures in a genuinely lesser-visited location, Oman  might just be your cup of saffron-spiced coffee, best served from a traditional dallah pot.

Before heading off on your desert-to-coast adventures, you’ll want to make time to explore Muscat , which offers unforgettable opportunities to discover ancient Arabic culture alongside cutting-edge, contemporary architecture, courtesy of its Grand Mosque.

To experience Muscat’s diversity, take a Muscat tour that includes a visit to the ancient city of Nizwa (don’t miss the market), and Bahla, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a formidable 13th-century fort at the heart of its oasis settlement. But that's not all this city has to offer — discover more reasons to love Muscat .

Muscat is also the ideal base from which to visit the otherworldly Wadi Shab pool, cave and Bimah sinkhole, and to enjoy whale and dolphin-watching excursions and snorkelling. The idyllic, UNESCO-protected Dimaniyat Islands are guaranteed to stir your soul as they present an astounding array of marine-life. 

Oman's desert in atmospheric night mode © Shutterstock

For the ultimate Omani experience, head to Wahiba Sands to see undulating dunes shift from gold to burnished orange before heavenly star-gazing opportunities unfold. 

Meanwhile, nature-lovers will won’t want to miss exploring Ras Al Jinz bay. Happily, this important nesting site for green turtles is within reach of Wadi Bani Khalid, where curving canyons and cooling pools show Oman in sublime light. 

If the country is new to you, read our guide for first-timers to Oman , and find out what you won’t want to miss in Oman . To cover more ground without the stress of planning, you could consider booking a tailor-made Omani adventure trip .

Alternatively, if you want an all-out independent experience, discover more about wild camping in Oman , and dig into the in-depth Rough Guide to Oman .

Where to stay in Oman

Offering sunset camel rides, sweeping desert surroundings, and stirring star-gazing experiences, Sama al Wasil is a delight.

8. Sri Lanka 

Adventure awaits: trekking, abseiling, climbing, safaris and surfing

Though modest in size, jewel-shaped Sri Lanka  is a diamond of a destination for adventurous travellers, especially those who want to get to know the culture and wildlife of the destinations they visit, and enjoy Sri Lanka's great food

One of the most rewarding aspects of visiting this dramatic Indian Ocean island is the fact that its hiking trails also afford incredible wildlife-watching opportunities. This certainly holds true while trekking to Single Tree Hill. Starting in Shanthipura, Sri Lanka’s highest village, the trail traverses the forest habitats of wild boars, sambar deer and leopards. And don't miss 10 reasons to discover Sri Lanka's east coast .

You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to full-on safaris. For first-time visitors to Sri Lanka , we especially recommend Yala National Park  and Gal Oya National Park, both of which teem with birds, elephants, sloth bears, leopards, jackals, marsh mugger crocs, and much more besides. For added atmosphere (and lively birds), you can’t beat taking a golden hours safari through Yala

Talkling of golden hours, southern Sri Lanka features in our round-up of the best places to visit in winter for sun .

Look out for leopards in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka © Shutterstock

Experienced climbers will want to tackle K1 (also known as Kirigalpotta), the highest point of the Horton Plains Sanctuary. Traversing grassland, marshland, cloud forest and rocks, the trail is nothing but diverse, and you might just see leopards along the way. 

But Sri Lanka’s adventure activities aren’t limited to its interior. The island’s coastline offers incredible surf , with beautiful Sri Lankan beaches  to rest up on between riding those waves. There are plenty of places to go whale-watching in Sri Lanka , too, with trips from Mirissa of longstanding repute. 

Planning a family adventure? Find out why Sri Lanka should be the next place you take your kids . If you’re going it alone, read our tips for solo travel . Or, to skip the pain of planning, Rough Guides’ Sri Lanka for adventure-lovers trip can be customised to your exact spec.

Where to stay in Sri Lanka

For rewarding walks, Queenswood Cottage is well-located in Nuwara Eliya, Central Sri Lanka, and beautiful with it.

9. Mexico

Adventure awaits: Mayan exploration, hiking, canyoning, cave-diving and wildlife-watching  

If your idea of adventure involves intrepid treks through dense rainforests to explore ancient cities — with a whole lot of wildlife wonders to be wowed by en route — Mexico should be top of your wish-list. 

To experience exactly that in a single trip, you might want to take the Mayan Trail Tulum’s  archaeological treasures aren’t exactly off the beaten track, but their spectacular (and unusual) coastal setting make them a must-visit. 

What’s more, Tulum is in reach of beautiful Bacalar Lagoon, and the lesser-visited Kohunlich ruins. Located deep in the jungle, and best-known for its Palace of Masks, this ancient Mayan city exudes a truly magical atmosphere. 

With over 360 bird species recorded here, and being home to over 100 species of mammal, Calakmul Biosphere Reserve is the perfect place for wildlife-watchers. Find out where else to see animals in Mexico

In addition, given that this sprawling site also includes over 6000 Mayan structures, most of which are still being excavated, Calakmul Biosphere Reserve is also a sure-fire winner for wannabe explorers.  

A stunning sunset over Chichén Itzá, Mexico © Shutterstock

Hailed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, it’s worth devoting a day to exploring Chichén Itzá . Alternatively, if you’re staying in the Cancun region  and find yourself hankering for activities beyond the beach, book a Chichén Itzá tour with added adventure — take your pick from ziplining, driving amphibious vehicles, and rafting underground caves. 

Talking of caves, if you’re feeling brave, the Yucatán  Peninsula is known for its cenotes — underwater limestone caves that deliver refreshing dive experiences. Discover the cooled places to visit in Mexico

Meanwhile, Sumidero Canyon National Park, located in the state of Chiapas  and accessed via boat, offers a smorgasbord of outdoor activities, from kayaking and abseiling, to zip-lining and mountain biking. Or you could always book a nature-oriented trip that includes visiting Chiapa de Corzo, where craft markets and ancient ruins await. 

Given the country’s diverse offerings – we haven’t even mentioned all those beautiful Mexican beaches  and the Mexico's incredible food  — you might want to read up on things not to miss in Mexico  before booking your trip. 

Rough Guides’ customisable Mexico itineraries  also offer plenty of inspiration, whether you want to immerse yourself in Mayan culture during a self-drive trip around Yucatan , or fancy an authentic experience in Central Mexico .  If you're travelling with little ones in tow, don't miss our guide to visiting Mexico with kids .

Where to stay in Mexico

The perfect base from which to explore the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve and a tonne of Mayan sites, eco-minded, jungle-surrounded Casa Kaan Calakmul is a top place to rest your head.

10. Kauai, Hawaii

Adventure awaits: hiking, helicopter-riding, kayaking and feasting 

Known as Hawaii's Garden Island Kauai  is a lush and lesser-visited destination that made it into the Rough Guide to the 100 Best Places on Earth 2022

With over half its 550-square miles reserved for conservation and preservation, and tonnes of tropical forests, hiking trails, zip-lines, and excellent surf, Kauai epitomises adventure, with its iconic Na Pali Coast delivering peak pulse-quickening activities and scenery. 

Often featured in Hollywood adventure movies, the Na Pali Coast is inaccessible to vehicles, which means you’ll have to get into Jurassic Park mode to see its staggering rock spires. Take your pick from paddle-boarding, kayaking, or booking a private plane or helicopter trip that offers exhilarating views of both the coast and Waimea Canyon

Hardcore hikers will want to consider hiking Na Pali’s Kalalau Trail. Definitely not for the inexperienced or faint-hearted, this showcases why Kauai is regarded as one of the world’s best hiking destinations. 

The Na-Pali coast of Kauai, Hawaii, is like no place on earth © Shutterstock

Starting alongside Kee Beach, the 11-mile trek to Kalalau Valley involves increasingly challenging scrambles and climbs. The first two miles of the trail to Hanakapiai Beach aren’t too tricky, though you’ll still have to clamber through dense vegetation to reach it. From the beach, a sub-trail leads to the thundering, jungle-bounded Hanakapiai Falls. 

Keen to up your hiking game? Discover hiking tips  that’ll serve you well wherever you are in the world.  

After spending your day surfing, hiking, or zip-lining Kauai’s tropical forests, you might want to enjoy fine food while learning about local legends and history at an Island Dinner and Luau Kalamaku Show. Though known as an adventure destination, Kauai’s certainly not short of cultural experiences.

If Kauai’s unspoiled remoteness and sense of adventure has sparked your interest, you might also fall for the surfer’s holy grail of the remote Marshall Islands , an archipelago located between Hawaii and the Philippines. Alternatively, get the lowdown on all six of Hawaii’s freely visited Islands .

Where to stay in Kauai

Set near crescent-shaped Poipu Beach (great for safe swimming, novice surfers, and snorkellers), Hideaway Cove offers laidback comfort in stunning surroundings.

Hanalei Bay and pier on Kauai, Hawaii © Steve Heap/Shutterstock

Inspired? Discover where else to find serious adventure in some of the world’s wildest places . And remember, wherever you’re thinking of heading, there’ll be a Rough Guides guidebook or ebook to support you along every step of your journey, while our tailor-made trips  take all the hassle out of planning.

Finally, to support you through your post-adventure comedown, you might want to bookmark our advice for adjusting to life after travelling   — you can thank us later. 

We may earn commission when you click on links in this article, but this doesn’t influence our editorial standards. We only recommend services we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.

Header image: diving adventures in Mexico © Shutterstock

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written by Joanne Owen
updated 2/16/2022
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Joanne is a Pembrokeshire-born writer with a passion for the nature, cultures and histories of the Caribbean region, especially Dominica. Also passionate about inspiring a love of adventure in young people, she’s the author of several books for children and young adults, hosts international writing workshops, and has written articles on the Caribbean and inspirational community initiatives for Rough Guides. Follow her @JoanneOwen on Twitter and @joanneowenwrites on Instagram.

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