The UK is currently in lockdown, meaning international travel isn’t currently allowed. However, following the announcement of the planned road map by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday 22 February, it seems UK staycations are looking more likely by Monday 12 April, while overseas breaks may be permitted from Monday 17 May at the earliest. Read ‘When will we travel?‘ for all the latest information. And in more good news, some countries have said they’ll allow travellers to enter once they’ve been vaccinated, something the UK is hoping to achieve for the entire adult population by autumn 2021.
Although vaccine passports are still being discussed by the UK government, on Thursday 11 March Grant Shapps told the House of Commons that a travel certification will be introduced to allow people to travel abroad, revealing that he has been having conversations with US counterparts and ‘many others around the world’ in order to get ‘travel going again’. Fortunately, many countries have already said they will welcome travellers, potentially without a negative Covid-19 test or having to quarantine upon arrival if they have official proof of having had a coronavirus vaccine, or, in some places, if passengers have evidence that they have recently had and recovered from the virus, and therefore still have the necessary antibodies in their system.
As of 04:00 GMT on Friday 19 March, Portugal will be removed from the UK’s ‘red list‘, meaning travellers will not have to quarantine in a hotel on return to the UK. While overseas travel remains illegal (with some exemptions), the country has revealed it hopes to allow vaccinated travellers into the country as soon as possible.
Where to stay: For a city break, Lisbon‘s cobbled streets, wooden trams and colourful houses will capture your imagination. If you’re looking for something more relaxed, head to the Algarve and spend long afternoons watching the waves from one of the many beach restaurants on the coastline.
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What to do: Eat a pastel de nata, drink wine, soak up the sun… the list is endless.
Greece is planning to welcome foreign tourists from Friday 14 May – travellers will have to present a certificate that proves they have either been vaccinated or have antibodies or show a valid negative test. Tourism minister Haris Theoharis said: ‘Regarding 2021, in Greece we are more than optimistic’. British and Greek teams have also been in talks regarding introducing a travel corridor between the two countries, using a digital pass.
Where to stay: It’s pretty much impossible to pick one Greek Island over all the others – that’s like asking us to choose our favourite child. However, we have picked out the very best Greek Island hotels. If you’re planning to travel sooner rather than later, May could be a great time to avoid the peak summer crowds.
What to do: An island-hopping experience is ideal after a year of being unable to experience the rest of the world. Our guide to the best Greek Island beaches has plenty of inspiration for a dream trip.
Cyprus has said it will open its borders to vaccinated tourists from May. While current travel restrictions mean Brits are unable to fly until 17 May at the earliest, the Cypriot government is allowing all those who have had both doses of a Covid vaccine to enter the island. Only those who have had a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will be allowed to enter without the need for a negative test or quarantine. However, the vaccines being used in the UK (Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and soon-to-be Moderna) are the same ones approved by the EMA.
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Where to stay: Sumptuous scenery is pretty much guaranteed wherever you choose to stay in Cyprus, although Paphos stands out thanks to its ancient ruins and stunning harbour. Stay at Anassa Hotel for ultimate indulgence.
What to do: A visit to Paphos’ ancient ruins is a must, but we’d recommend hiring a car and driving north of the island for some of the dreamiest beaches.
The Estonian ministry has confirmed the country will welcome travellers in these circumstances: ‘From 1 February, 10-day self-isolation and Covid-19 testing are not mandatory for individuals, including those arriving from the UK or a third country, who either have suffered from Covid-19 and no more than six months have passed since they have been declared cured, or who have undergone Covid-19 vaccination and no more than six months have passed since its completion.’
Where to stay: The unique capital, Tallinn, shimmers in beautiful Northern light and can be both endearingly shabby and stunningly attractive. The Three Sisters Hotel was Tallinn’s first contemporary-style hotel, and is housed in three adjacent 14th-century buildings, the so-called ‘sisters’.
What to do: A morning can easily be spent wandering through the old town, visiting the Town Hall and Upper Town for a special view of the majestic city. Follow this up with a visit to the National Art Museum, which houses an impressive 59,000 items, many of which are on show in the 18th-century noble’s house.
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The Seychelles is planning to remove all quarantine requirements for those who have had a Covid vaccine. However, a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travelling will still need to be shown.
Where to stay: The nation of 115 islands has plenty of choice, but the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island is a firm favourite. Alternatively, check out more of the most beautiful places to stay in the Seychelles.
What to do: Explore a few of the islands to make the most out of your trip. Getting around is relatively easy thanks to inter-island plane transfers.
Covid measures for travellers to Iceland include testing and quarantine, but it’s expected that people who can prove they have had a vaccine will be able to bypass this from Saturday 1 May 2021. Authorities are also accepting certificates proving previous Covid infection, enabling those with antibodies to be exempt from testing or quarantine requirements.
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Where to stay: Most head to Reykjavik for its café culture, boutiques and world-class bars. For a particularly special trip, book into Ion Hotel at the foot of Mount Hengill, on the edge of Thingvellir National Park, in south-west Iceland.
What to do: A bucket-list blitz, of course: see the Northern Lights, swim in the Blue Lagoon and go on a whale tour. For something a little more unusual, horseback riding in the cold, open air is equally as memorable.
Arrivals into Romania will not need to quarantine, provided they can show proof of two Covid vaccinations, the second dose having been given more than 10 days before travel.
Where to stay: Transylvania is a glorious throwback to go-slow, rural living, filled with 12th-century buildings and Gothic castles, horse-drawn carts, brown bears roaming the mountains and farmers busily ploughing fields. There’s also some excitingly fresh places to stay there too, thanks to Bethlen Estates.
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What to do: Take a trip to the Carpathian Mountains to see Bran Castle – also known as Dracula’s Castle, due to its similarity to the fortress described in Bram Stoker’s novel. Or choose to explore one of the many, many other beautiful places in Romania.
In Lebanon travellers will be able to skip longer quarantine measures as long as they have a negative PCR test taken 96 hours before flying. Upon arrival, they are then required to take another test and quarantine for 72 hours.
Where to stay: Beirut’s vibrant dining scene and sleek, polished bars will keep you occupied for at least a long weekend. Stay at Le Gray hotel, which is home to a sweeping rooftop bar offering great views of the city.
What to do: Eat, of course. Feast on mezze, tabouleh, fattoush and baklava to your heart’s content.
As of Monday 1 February 2021, all international tourists can enter Georgia (the country, not the American state) as long as they can prove that they have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
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Where to stay: From the charming, historic streets of Tbilisi to the remote mountain regions, Georgia is a unique and varied destination. Stamba Hotel, set in a former Soviet printing house, with quirky elements of the building preserved, captures the magic of the area perfectly.
What to do: As the birthplace of wine (the country has more than 8,000 years of winemaking tradition) no trip is complete without a tipple or two. Head to the winemaking region of Kakheti, about two hours outside Tbilisi, to taste some of it.
The 10-day quarantine requirement for those travelling to Poland will be lifted for anyone who has been fully vaccinated. You will need to have a Covid test issued within 48 hours before arrival, but both PCR and antigen tests will be accepted.
Where to stay: Warsaw is a fun, vibrant city that’s a perfect antidote to months of isolation. Raffles Europejski hotel is the place to be for drinking like a local.
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What to do: The unusual Neon Museum, dedicated to the brief period of liberalisation that followed the death of Stalin when Poland’s Communist government commissioned lots of neon advertising in an attempt to make the city look shinier and more Western, makes for a memorable trip.
WHICH COUNTRIES ARE RUMOURED TO BE CONSIDERING LETTING IN VACCINATED TRAVELLERS?
Greece is said to be considering allowing tourists to enter the country. This would mean the country would be breaking from the European Union, which is pushing for a cautious approach to reopening for non-essential travel from outside the bloc. However, Greece has already forged a ‘vaccine bubble’ agreement with Israel and Cyprus, which means it’s feasible that the process could be applied to UK travellers, too.
Spain is also reportedly considering allowing British travellers to visit if they have had a Covid vaccine. In late February, the country’s tourism chief said travel could return as soon as summer, although this has not been confirmed by the UK government.