Reader Awards 2022: the winners have been revealed

Our seventh annual Reader Awards celebrate the best places, experiences, hotels, operators, authors, podcasts and more, as shortlisted by our editors and voted for by you.

A road in Mount Cook National Park in New Zealand.

Photograph by Getty Images
By National Geographic Traveller (UK)
Published 29 Nov 2022, 11:00 GMT

In 2022, travel reinstated itself in our lives as pandemic challenges cooled, and confidence and our sense of adventure rose again. In the seventh annual Reader Awards, shortlisted by our editors and voted for by you, we wanted to know what inspired you to pack your suitcase last year — and where you headed. Plus, who got you there, what captured your interest and what you read and watched on the way. Our awards celebrate the places, experiences, tour operators and travel innovators shaping the industry and the very best in travel last year. The votes are in, let’s reveal the winners…

A view of Pragser Wildsee in the Dolomites, Italy.

A view of Pragser Wildsee in the Dolomites, Italy.

Photograph by Getty Images


Winner: Italy

For the fourth time in a row, you picked Italy as your short-haul destination of choice, and it’s easy to see why it continues to dominate in this category. From the art and archaeology (and dolce vita) of the cities of Florence, Rome and Venice to the lakes of the north, the beaches of the south and the slopes of the Dolomites, Italy has it all in one ‘boot’. And underpinning it all, food and wine to charm the Gods — enjoyed at long, languid lunches — and a general sense of wellbeing. For frazzled visitors looking to recapture their equilibrium, it offers a seductive glimpse at what a slower pace of life might look like, surrounded by some of the world’s most beautiful natural and man-made treasures.  

Runners-up: Greece // Croatia

The skyline of Auckland, New Zealand.

The skyline of Auckland, New Zealand.

Photograph by Getty Images


Winner: New Zealand

Nature went large with New Zealand — two main islands (and 558 smaller ones) with an extraordinary diversity of landscapes and vistas. It’s not just Middle-earth that puts it firmly on the must-visit map; rich Māori culture, good food and wine plus the easy-going charms of Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland are draws that make the long flight utterly worthwhile. Shout out too to the adventure travellers, who cite the country as one of the best places to ramp up adrenaline with extreme sports. If that wasn’t enough, New Zealand is the second most peaceful country in the world after Iceland, according to the Global Peace Index. Reason to visit and recharge in febrile times indeed. 

Runners-up: Japan // USA

Grilled prawns in oil in Barcelona, Spain.

Photograph by Getty Images


Winner: Barcelona

Barcelona continues to fight off stiff competition, not least from other Spanish cities like Valencia. Yet this perennial favourite, full of Gaudi architecture, lively nightlife and beaches, remains your top choice for a city break. And the Catalan capital hasn’t stood still in 2022. A slew of hotel and restaurant openings have boosted its appeal even further, including the Hoxton hotel and the Amar in the El Palace hotel under chef Rafa Zafra of Casa Jondal. And with the opening of the Torre Glòries in Poblenou, you can now get a 360-degree view of its appeal from the observation deck — including the 20 miles of cycle lanes being added to one of Spain’s already most cycle-friendly cities. 

Runners-up: New York City // Amsterdam

The skyline of Portland, Oregon, one of British Airways’ new destinations for 2023.

Photograph by Getty Images


Winner: British Airways

We asked you to name your top airline for customer service, flight comfort and route network, but also for commitment to addressing environmental issues around flying. The nation’s flag carrier, having celebrated its centenary in 2019, scooped the win, coming back post-pandemic with new routes that include Portland, Oregon, taking its direct US routes from London to 26. Climate change initiatives have included introducing software that works out emissions calculations more precisely, enabling customers to buy sustainable aviation fuel or carbon offsets from certified climate projects to help contribute to the airline being sustainable for another 100 years.

Runners-up: Emirates // Virgin Atlantic


Winner: Exodus Travels

For the second year in a row, Exodus Travels scoops the top spot in this category as the travel company that excels at turning your wanderlust into memorable itineraries. With over 45 years’ experience, having started by taking small groups of travellers to the Himalayas, it now offers more than 500 adventures in over 90 countries. Exodus offers everything from wildlife tours and winter activities to self-guided walks, epic cycles, interesting family getaways and far-flung adventures for intrepid groups and solos. You also love its attention to detail and expert travel advice, offering end-to-end itineraries that are inspiring and stress free as well as customer support that goes the extra mile.

Runners-up: TUI // Trailfinders

Dean Village in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Photograph by Getty Images


Winner: Edinburgh

The popularity of home-grown adventures remains undimmed, but which of the UK’s cities has lit up your life over the past year? Our shortlist of great urban getaways had strong contenders but, in the end, you voted Scotland’s capital as your pick for a short break — full of culture, energy and great food and drinking spots. With the return of the Edinburgh International Festival in 2022, for the first time since 2019, the city is fully reinvigorated. And some splashy new openings, including the Gleneagles Townhouse hotel and Duck & Waffle’s first UK restaurant outside London, add to the alchemy. Ever evolving and always current, historic Edinburgh’s stylish star continues to shine. 

Runners-up: London // Bath


Ok, so you won’t be wandering lonely as a cloud in this popular part of Cumbria these days, but there’s still enough space and natural grandeur for you to vote it your best rural destination. England’s largest national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site is a patchwork of glacial lakes, rugged fells and literary heritage thanks to former residents, Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and Coleridge. Whether basing yourself in market towns such as Ambleside, Kendal or Keswick or retreating to lakeside cottages, the scenery packs a lot of drama into a relatively small area. River deep, mountain high here means Wastwater and Scafell Pike, both within the park — and do you love it, my oh my…

Imperial War Museum in London, England.

Photograph by Alamy


You highlighted the Imperial War Museum’s Holocaust and Second World War galleries as the exhibition space that’s made the most impact last year. Spanning two floors, these galleries examine the relationship between both, with eyes firmly on the stories of the people at the heart of it. Harrowing and powerful, the individual tales from some of the six million Jewish people murdered during the Holocaust — told through personal objects, such as clothing, toys and musical instruments — are monuments to the need for fierce vigilance and determined progress. 

Runners-up: Portsmouth Historic Dockyard // Museum of the Home, London


Winner: Crossing Continents (BBC Radio 4)

Shows on foreign affairs tell us what’s going on in other places — great shows on foreign affairs open up the world for us and make us care. And BBC Radio 4’s Crossing Continents did just that for you last year, taking you around the world and to the centre of the story through its powerful character-driven half-hour episodes. Whether you want a window on Native American lacrosse traditions, rising tiger numbers in Nepal or the fight to restore democracy in Myanmar, the audio documentary series reports with keen insight, putting thoughts, actions and needs in context. Crossing Continents has already won numerous awards from world press and NGOs — and garners yet another trophy to add to its cabinet here.

Runners-up: The Travel Diaries (Podcast) // Alexei Sayle's Strangers on a Train (BBC Radio 4)

Stanley Tucci in BBC Two's Searching for Italy.

Photograph by Getty Images


You loved Stanley Tucci for his urbane twinkle and passion for food and travel, propelling him to the top spot for the second series of this show, which restored some sense of right in the world, one bruschetta at a time. In Searching for Italy, Tucci travels through the country connecting with local producers, chefs and home cooks to discover the regional cuisine at its roots. With a warmth and intelligence that turn this food tour into a personal odyssey, his joy at each spoon of sauce, proffered pastry or glass of breakfast wine makes for an uplifting must-watch. 

White Edge Lodge, a National Trust property, in the Peak District, England.

Photograph by Mike Henton, National Trust


Winner: National Trust

The National Trust are custodians of some of England, Wales and Northern Ireland’s most beautiful and unique buildings and grounds — and it’s playing a full deck when it comes to special stays. You recognised it as your favourite go-to for that perfect place for a celebration, notable escape… or just because. Easy to book, well-maintained properties scored highly with you, as did the amount of choice. From holiday cottages and lighthouses to bothies and bunkhouses, and even historic house hotels, the array of accommodation for all party sizes is stunning. You enjoyed dog-friendly stays, literary- and film-themed breaks, and walking tours — all backed up by reliably gorgeous locations to boot. 

Runners-up: Canopy & Stars // Sykes Cottages


Broadcaster and writer Simon Reeve has traversed the remarkable and the remote, and you tuned in to watch him as he reflected on his highlights in this BBC Two series. At the heart of his tales were the people he’s met along the way — “If I’m not meeting people and learning about their lives, I’m not on a proper journey” — a kaleidoscope of life and experience packed into just four episodes that won your votes. In episodes that cover child labourers, Indigenous campaigners and maverick conservationists, Reeve looks with clear eyes at what is at once unique and interconnected, showing that travel is not just a rarefied escape, but a living experience that illuminates the world around us. 

Peruvian chef Virgilio Martínez, author of The Latin American Cookbook.

Photograph by Gustavo Vivanco


Winner: The Latin American Cookbook, by Virgilio Martínez (Phaidon Press)

What food tome were you reaching for in 2022? It was the cuisines and ingredients of South America that most piqued your taste buds, with this tribute to its cultures and communities as your guide. You agreed with Gordon Ramsay’s hearty pinch of superlatives (“This incredible cookbook is truly extraordinary”), taking a tour from Mexico to Uruguay via 600 remarkable recipes under the tutelage of Peruvian chef Virgilio Martínez. From crispy empanadas to spicy arepas, there’s plenty in here to inspire even the most unadventurous home cook — the easy to follow, non-intimidating, must-read, must-cook book turns supermarket ingredients into Latin American meal magic. Those attempting the brilliantly named Chilean Disco Fries get extra points for flair.

Runners-up: Ripe Figs: Recipes and Stories from the Eastern Mediterranean, by Yasmin Khan (Bloomsbury Publishing) // A Curious Absence of Chickens: A Journal of Life, Food and Recipes from Puglia, by Sophie Grigson (Headline Publishing)


Winner: Living Planet: The Web of Life on Earth, by David Attenborough (Harper Collins)

As world tour guides go, Sir David Attenborough is pretty unsurpassable. You voted this updated edition of his biography of Earth, The Living Planet, your travel book of 2022. The book illustrates the incredible life force of our planet — and the threats it now faces, from climate change to mass extinction. As Attenborough sounds an urgent call for action, this book is a powerful reminder of all there is to lose by not heeding it. 

Runners-up: Epic Train Journeys, by Monisha Rajesh (Gestalten) // Slow Trains Around Spain: A 3,000-Mile Adventure on 52 Rides, by Tom Chesshyre (Summersdale)

Karen Darke climbing El Capitan in 2008.

Photograph by Natasha Sebira


Winner: Karen Darke

After Karen Darke was paralysed in an accident at 21, she set up Quest 79, a series of gruelling, global adventures to increase awareness of the possibilities of life after spinal cord injury. Her mantra, ‘anything is possible’, and her determination and sense of endurance inspired you. Last year, the Paralympic cyclist, who has sit-skied across ice caps, kayaked extreme latitudes and hand-cycled the world’s tallest mountain ranges, joined the Ocean X team, sailing from Iceland to Greenland. Contributing to research projects on board, she ended the journey with the Extreme E X Prix rally to raise awareness of climate change. Her advice for those ready to cast off limitation: don’t overthink and don’t over-plan.

Runners-up: Nims Purja // Hafida Hdoubane

National Geographic Traveller (UK) Reader Awards 2022.

Photograph by National Geographic Traveller


1. A seven-night holiday for two at Landings Resort and Spa in Saint Lucia
Unwind with views across the Caribbean Sea on this unforgettable escape to The Landings Resort and Spa, tucked into Saint Lucia's picturesque Rodney Bay. Long hailed as one of the lushest isles the Caribbean, Saint Lucia is known for its forested green peaks, dazzling beaches and famous hospitality, and you’ll experience the very best on this trip of a lifetime, which includes a seven-night stay in a Marine View room – with its own private plunge pool – on a B&B basis. You’ll also be able to make the most of the resort’s first-class service and facilities, including four pools, three restaurants, two bars, expansive spa and stretch of white-sand beach. Flights from the UK and transfers from the airport to The Landings Resort and Spa are included, as well as a complimentary dinner at The Beach Club restaurant, non-motorised watersports, a ziplining experience and a ride in the island’s aerial tram. Valid until 31 August 2023, blackout dates apply.

2. A six-night rail adventure for two through Slovenia with Inntravel
This six-night journey by train from slow-travel specialists Inntravel showcases the very best of Slovenia’s spectacular landscapes, from soaring mountains to the shores of the Adriatic. Beginning amid the peaks of the Julian Alps in the Triglav National Park, you’ll visit the famed lakes of Bled and Bohinj before exploring the capital, Ljubljana, with its buzzing restaurant scene. Another southbound train will then transport you to the glittering Gulf of Venice – home to glorious sunsets and the pocket-sized town of Piran. Includes six nights’ accommodation, B&B; flights from a UK airport (to the total of £250 per person); a flexible rail pass (including Bohinjska Bistrica-Ljubljana-Kope and transfer from Koper-Piran on day four), and detailed cultural notes for city walking tours. Valid from 1 May to 31 October 2023.

3. A five-night cycling holiday for two in Puglia with Macs Adventure
Explore the heel of Italy by bike on a Puglia in Style cycling holiday with self-guided specialists Macs Adventure. Starting from the Adriatic waters of Monopoli, cycle to the UNESCO-protected town of Alberobello, with stylish accommodation throughout, including two nights in a traditional trulli house. You’ll pedal through olive and almond groves to the medieval castle of Conversano and up to the hilltop city of Ostuni, all the while sampling some of the finest local produce, from creamy burrata to crisp Apulian wines. Includes return flights from a UK airport (to the total of £400 per person).

4. A two-night stay for two at room2 in Chiswick, London 
We’re offering a two-night stay for two at the new room2 in London, on a B&B basis. This green, 86-room ‘hometel’ offers a relaxed combination of home and hotel, while encouraging guests to embrace a sustainable lifestyle. The hotel aims to use 89% less energy per square metre compared to typical UK hotels, and with decor inspired by the area’s 19th-century arts and crafts heritage, it’s perfectly placed for exploring this leafy corner of West London, with historic riverside pubs, Kew Gardens and Chiswick House and Gardens all moments away.

5. A £25 voucher to spend at Stanfords
Established in 1853, Stanfords is the UK’s leading retailer of expertly sourced maps, travel books and other accessories and is a one-stop shop for travellers planning or seeking inspiration for their next adventure. Whether you want to stock up on guidebooks or treat yourself to a beautiful map of the world, Stanfords is offering 10 vouchers worth £25 each to spend either online or in the Covent Garden or Bristol stores.

6. A year’s subscription to National Geographic Traveller (UK)
For fans of the magazine there are 10 subscriptions up for grabs, for a select number of those who voted in the awards.

The prizes in the National Geographic Traveller Reader Awards 2022 are kindly provided by Landings Resort and Spa, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, Inntravel, Macs Adventure, room2 and Stanfords.

Photograph by National Geographic Traveller UK

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