We know you haven’t been able to travel anywhere near as much as you would like to in 2020. After months of lockdowns, travel restrictions and quarantines, things are finally looking up for travel enthusiasts in the New Year thanks to vaccine development and rollout.
In addition to this, as of Wednesday 2 December there are no restrictions on travel in the UK or abroad for those living in Tier 1 and Tier 2 areas. You can use the postcode checker on the official UK government website to discover what tier you are in.
While there is a long list of countries placed on the government’s quarantine list; i.e. countries where upon return from you have to self-isolate, there are many countries that remain exempt from quarantine rules – rewarding eager travellers the opportunity to scratch that adventure itch.
We’ve rounded up the best last minute winter holiday destinations available to those living in the UK below.
Floating in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are a tropical dream with an average January temperature of around 27° making it an ideal getaway for those suffering from the harsh British winter.
Staying in a private villa or overwater bungalow on a secluded island sounds like the dream post-lockdown holiday. Who wouldn’t want to stargaze on these white-sand shores?
Commercial flights are operating to and from Maldives on a limited number of routes but we expect frequency of flights to rise in the coming months.
Entry requirements: Upon arrival in the Maldives all visitors must present a negative test for Covid-19, issued no more than 96 hours prior to departure.
The UAE and Dubai in particular is being positioned as an ideal work from home destination thanks to its new remote working visa. Having recently been added to the UK’s list of travel corridors, the popular winter sun location is now also trying to win tourists back after the pandemic set numbers tumbling.
Dubai has thrills for every traveller with beautiful beaches featuring the iconic Burj Al Arab as a backdrop and five star luxury spas for those seeking relaxation to the wonderful Hatta Dam; perfect for kayaking and hiking enthusiasts.
Entry requirements: Travellers from the UK must provide a negative PCR test carried out within 96 hours of departure, or undertake a test upon arrival at Dubai airport.
3. St Lucia
The Caribbean is made up of more than 7,000 individual islands, including 13 sovereign nations and 12 dependencies. Some suit the relaxation seeking beach lover while others appeal more to adventurers and thrill seekers. St Lucia offers a little bit of everything.
Few coastlines offer a more stunning view than this islands spectacular south-west corner where you’ll see a pair of jagged volcanic peaks that almost safeguard the international airport. Visitors should try to find accommodation as close as possible; this is not a view you grow tired of.
Despite the island’s volcanic beginnings, there is beauty aplenty from golden sands and turquoise waters ideal for snorkeling and night dives.
You’ll find more to do than you expect on St Lucia.
Entry requirements: St Lucia’s border re-opened on 4 June and all travellers must complete a Pre-Arrival registration form prior to arrival. Pre-testing prior to travel is now mandatory and passengers must provide certified proof of a negative PCR Covid-19 test carried out no more than seven days before departure.
Suppose exploring sun kissed islands and tropical locations is not to your taste - one option is to enjoy the almost Martian like surroundings of Iceland.
On this mystical island you’ll have the opportunity to explore and photograph some awe-inspiring locations; from Lake Mývatn and Jökulsárlón to the wondrous Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls.
Meanwhile to the south west of Reykjavík, you’ll find the luxurious Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.
One last thing, Iceland is one of the most popular destinations in the world to catch a glimpse of the stunning natural light display that is the northern lights.
Entry requirements: All passengers arriving into Iceland can either self-isolate for 14 days or take two Covid-19 tests, one upon arrival or another 5-6 days later. The test fee ranges from around £52-£64 but will be free of charge between 1 December 2020 until 31 January 2021.
5. Azores or Madeira
If you’re craving a warm and sunny getaway, the Azores and Madeira are ideal. Both offer an exotic island retreat within Europe so we’ll leave the decision of which one to explore up to you.
Madeira is mostly mountainous with stiff cliffs and rocky shores while it is also more associated with mass tourism while the Azores is flatter, lusher but also colder and rainier than its neighbor.
Those after a bit of fine dining would be better suited to the more built up Madeira Islands while adventure seekers and nature would certainly enjoy the Azores; especially its beautiful volcanic lakes.
Entry requirements: Mainland Portugal is on the UK’s quarantine list but the Azores and Madeira can be visited by travellers from England, Wales and Northern Ireland without having to self-isolate upon their return. Travellers must provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test carried out no more than 72 hours prior to departure. Madeira offers a free test upon arrival for those unable to get tested before travel.
A large percentage of the workforce in Greece is in the travel industry and it is therefore one of the destinations that will need more tourism the most in the next few years to bounce back from the storm of coronavirus.
Rhodes, Kos, Zakynthhos, Corfu and Crete are currently on the travel corridor list meaning there is no quarantine requirement upon return to the UK.
January temperatures in the Greek islands aren’t your usual Mediterranean highs but the waters stay around a refreshingly warm 16° for the winter months making it perfect for a winter swim.
Entry requirements: You must complete an online Passenger Locator Form (PLF) at least 24 hours before your arrival in Greece and you must also provide evidence of a negative PCR test conducted within 72 hours prior to your arrival. Greek authorities may also ask you to undergo an additional rapid test for Covid-19, as a condition of permitting entry.
Disclaimer: Before travelling to any of the above destinations, be sure to check the relevant travel pages on the England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland government websites as advice may quickly evolve given the nature of Covid-19.
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Other relevant blogs:
England Arrivals Will Be Able to Cut Quarantine
EasyJet Changes Cabin Bag Policy
Christmas 2020: The Safest Trips and Christmas Markets in Europe