14 out of the 32 ‘Best Tourism Villages 2022’ selected this December by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) are located in Europe and the majority of them are in the European Union countries.
The list has been revealed on December 20, whereas the awards will be allocated at the end of February 2023 in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, during the first presential meeting of the UNWTO Network of Best Tourism Villages, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
Explaining the selection, the organisation points out that it has taken into consideration 136 villages in its 57 Member States, each of which was eligible to nominate a maximum of three villages, and as a result, has selected a total of 32 villages in 18 countries, across five world regions.
“The ‘Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO’: Recognises villages that are an outstanding example of a rural tourism destination with accredited cultural and natural assets that preserve and promote rural and community-based values, products, and lifestyle and have a clear commitment to innovation and sustainability in all its aspects – economic, social and environmental,” the organisation explains.
The list consists of villages in Austria, Georgia, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Spain, etc.
Zell am See, Austria
The small Austrian village of Zell am See, which has a population of only 9,852, is listed first in the UNWTO list. The village is an important tourist destination in the state of Salzburg due to its ski resorts and 408 kilometres of slopes.
It is also in an important summer destination as it is located on the shores of Lake Zell, in which tourists can not only swim but also sail and surf.
Another Austrian village occupies the second spot on UNWTO’s list of Best Tourism Villages. Wagrain is one of those little towns seen in Christmas cards which offers tourists the best winter experiences.
In mid-2022, Wagrain was also the first and only destination in Austria to be awarded the Global Sustainable Tourism Council accredited Green Destinations certification.
At an elevation of 1,500 metres, the village of Mestia is listed tenth amongst the Best Tourism Villages selected by the UNWTO.
It has a population of only 1,973 residents, and it is known as a centre of mountaineering tourism. In this village, you can visit the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography, which is home to some of the most important historical artefacts both from the region and the rest of the country.
From there, you can hike the glaciers or the nearby lakes.
Immersed in the nature of the Carnic Alps, the Italian Sauris village is located at a height ranging between 1,000 and 1,400 metres above sea level.
The village has been semi-isolated for centuries, preserving its culture and architecture over the centuries. Maybe the most unique thing about this village is that the ancient language spoken in the Friuli area is still spoken in Sauris.
The same is listed as 12th by UNWTO.
Isola del Giglio, Italy
Spread over two small islands, that of Giglio and Giannutri, the Italian village of Isola del Giglio is listed 13th on UNWTO’s list. It is home to the remains of a Roman villa of Domitius Ahenobarbus and the church of San Pietro Apostolo.
The village is committed to maintaining its identity and avoiding depopulation, which currently stands at 1,436 residents.
Castelo Novo, Portugal
Built 800 years ago, Portugal’s Castelo Novo is listed 21st in the list of Best Tourism Villages of UNWTO. It is home to one of the most important archaeological sites in this region – the Roman baths of Quinta do Ervedal and a remarkable fortified settlement from the Bronze Age.
It is also the first location in Portugal with 100 per cent sustainable mobility, free of carbon dioxide and noise emissions, which offers five electric vehicles available for free use in addition to serving as a transfer service to the train stations.
Rasinari, a picturesque village in Romania, is listed as the world’s 23rd best village for tourism by UNWTO.
It has many tourist sites as the Andrei Șaguna monument, “St. Parascheva” Church, Octavian Goga memorial house, and the ruins of the medieval fortress of Cetățuia Citadel.
An app called Questo helps tourists and other people interested in this village to learn more about the local stories and legends of Rasinari.
Listed 25th, the village of Bohinj in Slovenia is another beautiful piece of heaven on each, 65 per cent of which lies within Slovenia’s only national park – the Triglav National Park.
The village stands on Lake Bohinj, Triglav, the Savica waterfall, and the Church of St. John the Baptist and is also home to protected architectural sites.
Rupit, Alquézar and Guadalupe in Spain
Three Spanish villages have been selected among the best world tourism villages by UNWTO, with Rupit being listed 26th, Alquézar 27th, and Guadalupe 28th.
The village of Rupit is of medieval origin and is considered to be one of the jewels of Catalonia in Spain. It preserves baroque buildings from the 17ᵗʰ century and is surrounded by the Rupit stream, lush forests, caves, prehistoric tombs, waterfalls, and miles of cliffs.
Alquézar, on the other hand, is a historic-artistic site since 1980 and has the status of a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Its name originates from the Arabic words al qaçr, meaning “for fort”.
And last, but no less important, is the village of Guadalupe, which can be accessed only through mountainous roads. It has several recognised cultural sites as the Royal Monastery of Guadalupe, Villuercas Ibores Geopark Jara or The Pilgrimage Paths to Guadeloupe, The Well of the Snow of Guadalupe, Los Molinos, Aceñas, etc.
In 2017, Guadalupe received the award the “Most Beautiful Christmas Town in Spain” from Ferrero Rocher.
Murten and Andermatt, Switzerland
Listed 29th and 30th as the world’s Best Tourism Villages are Murten and Andermatt in Switzerland.
While Andermatt is home to a great variety of ora and wildlife, mountain lakes, brooks, springs, and untouched mountainous area, Murten is a lakeside medieval town consisting of various objects from the New Stone Age, Bronze age, Roman and Medieval age.
The village of Birgi in Türkiye is listed as 31st and is the last European village in this list. It has a history of over 5,000 years from the ancient Lydian Empire up until the Ottoman Civilization.
The town is often considered the heart of silk production and weaving in Türkiye.
The other world villages in this list are:
- Puqueldón, Chile – 3rd
- Dazhai, China – 4th
- Jingzhu, China – 5th
- Choachí, Colombia – 6th
- Aguarico, Ecuador – 7th
- Angochagua, Ecuador – 8th
- Choke Mountains Ecovillage, Ethiopia – 9th
- Kfar Kama, Israel – 11th
- Umm Qais, Jordan – 14th
- Creel, Mexico – 15th
- El Fuerte, Mexico – 16th
- Ksar Elkhorbat, Morocco – 17th
- Moulay Bouzerktoune, Morocco – 18th
- Lamas, Peru – 18th
- Raqchi, Peru – 20th
- Pyeongsa-ri, Republic of Korea – 22nd
- AlUla Old Town, Saudi Arabia – 24th
- Thái Hải, Vietnam – 32nd
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