IF YOU are bored of holidaying in big cities, villages could be an option for your next destination. As in the list of 54 destinations selected as the best tourist villages by the United Nations (UN).

This is the third year that the UN has selected the best villages in the world. There were 260 villages from Africa, America, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East assessed. The assessment is based on nine factors, including culture and natural resources, social sustainability, tourism development, and infrastructure and connectivity.

According to Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary general of the UN World Tourism Organization, said tourism can be a powerful force for inclusivity, empowering local communities and distributing benefits across regions. This initiative recognizes villages that have utilized tourism as a catalyst for their development and prosperity.

“A total of 20 villages were selected to join the Enhancement Program, which supports rural destinations that come close to meeting the criteria for which gaps were identified during the selection process. A total of 74 villages have joined the UN Global Network of Best Tourism Villages, which now covers 190 villages since its inauguration in 2021,” he said.

The best tourist village in the world according to the UN
Europe leads the way with 19 villages this year, with Portugal and Spain having the most representatives. These include Ericeira, a coastal fishing town north of Lisbon, famous for its surfing waves; Sortelha, a medieval hilltop village that is also a National Monument; and Manteigas, located in the beautiful Serra da Estrela mountains, bordering a glacial valley, all made it through to Portugal.

In Spain, Cantavieja, a historic village that has also been named one of the most beautiful villages in the country; and medieval Sigüenza, with its centuries-old architecture, are among the winners.

The Italian Mediterranean village of Lerici, a picturesque hillside community of colorful residences crowned by a castle, was also recognized as the best village.

Meanwhile, one of the newcomers this year is Valeni in Moldova. A mountain village located next to a lake in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, chosen for its natural beauty and cultural heritage.

Meanwhile in Africa, the only village selected was in Ethiopia, Lephis, which is located near Lephis Falls. Japan represents Asia, with Biei in Hokkaido. Part of it is located in the country’s largest national park, Daisetsuzan National Park. [sources/photo special]