With changes to UK travel rules, a summer holiday abroad is now a realistic prospect for Britons who have been vaccinated twice at least 14 days before departure.
British requirements will continue to mean, at a minimum, an antigen test before returning and a PCR test within two days of arrival in the UK.
Some countries still require proof before departure, or a passenger locator form (in addition to the UK’s own). In a typical year, choosing a destination can take months to ponder, with heated family debates over the winter, but not this time. Quick decisions are needed. Where to go? Here is a list of possible countries.
Entry requirements– There is no isolation for people with double vaccination on arrival, but you must fill out an online form (at https://entercroatia.mup.hr/) before traveling and show proof of accommodation reservation. Masks should be used indoors and when social distancing cannot be maintained. Restaurants are open for indoor and outdoor dining. Cafes and bars are only open outdoors.
Croatia has a stunning coastline and islands, but some places can get crowded: Dubrovnik and Split are usually crowded in summer; Popular islands like Rab and Hvar can also be very crowded. Instead, head to the lesser-known islands, places like Dubi Otok, Brijuni, and Lastovo. Any island that requires a double ferry trip is likely to be a good option. To really get away, try an active vacation like kayaking or sailing.Lastovo old town on the Adriatic coast, Croatia. Photograph: DavorLovincic / Getty Images / iStockphoto
Malik Adventures leaves for the Kornati Islands, where you will be lucky enough to see another tourist. Alternatively, head to the mountains like Velebit, where there are great hiking and wonderful mountain villages and lodges. Croatian food and drink are excellent and often in the mountains where you will find the real gems, such as Drniš, home to the best dry-cured ham, pršut.
Entry requirements: Those who received two vaccinations more than 14 days prior to travel must still complete a Cyprus Flight Pass no more than 48 hours prior to departure (www.cyprusflightpass.gov.cy/en/vaccinated-fly-request.) Cafes, bars and restaurants are open to reduced indoor capacity. The nightclubs are open but the dance floors are closed.
Caledonian waterfall trail in the Troodos Mountains in Cyprus.
Photographer: Dynamoland / Alamy
It is usually easy to find crowds in Cypriot cities like Paphos and Ayia Napa. To get off the beaten track, head to the Troodos Mountains in the southwest and cycle through its villages or hike to the Caledonia Falls. Finish with some grilled trout and a glass of local dessert wine, commandaria, the oldest named wine in the world, still in production after 800 years.
Entry requirements: Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to be quarantined, but will need a negative PCR test performed within 72 hours prior to arrival, or an antigen test within 48 hours. Masks are mandatory indoors and on public transport.
Flowering daffodils on the Bious plateau in spring in the Ossau valley, Pyrenees National Park, France.
Photographer: Biosphoto / Alamy
There is no doubt that the mountains will be calling out loud this summer with fresh air and plenty of space. Fortunately, France has many highland regions to offer: the Jura, the Massif Central and Pyrenees they all seem like good bets. Where traditional hotels by the sea may lose out, the winner will be traditional country houses (https://www.gites-de-france.com/en) that provide you with self-catering accommodation and remote rural locations.
Entry Requirements: Double-vaccinated individuals are exempt from quarantine regulations, but as the UK is currently classified as a high incidence area, you must complete a pre-departure form at https://www.einreiseanmeldung.de/#/. Entry by land involves different regulations that should be consulted. Music venues and nightclubs are closed, but the situation varies across the country according to federal regulations. Beer garden and cookout dinners are usually open.
Sunset on Lake Mecklenburg, Western Pomerania, Ruegen, Sellin.
Photograph: Westend61 GmbH / Alamy
Germany is a country that British visitors had started visiting in increasing numbers before the pandemic. With a great mountainous landscape, beautiful lakes and forests, as well as a beautiful coastline, it has a lot to offer. Try the waterways and lakes of Meklenburg, a summer favorite of Berliners, or head to Saxony to see the magnificent towns and landscapes near the border with the Czech Republic. In the Baltic, islands like Rugen offer a smooth and relaxed pace of life, perfect for a walking or cycling holiday.
Entry requirements: No isolation for those who have a vaccination certificate proving double vaccination at least 14 days before departure. You must complete a passenger location form (https://travel.gov.gr/#/) prior to arrival. Masks are mandatory indoors. Random tests are underway at airports.
Swimmers and bathers in ‘Seychelles’ on the island of Ikaria, Greece. Photographer: Dimitris Tosidis / EPA
While some Greek islands draw crowds, others are peaceful havens even in high season. From Piraues, take a ferry to spectacular mountainous locations like Amorgo, Ikaria, and Sifnos, where long hikes on mountain trails lead to stunning beaches and villages. On the mainland, head to the gorges near the Albanian border from bases like Ioannina and Kastoria, or the wonderful green Pelion peninsula. In August, when the days can be hot, get up early and you’ll have the place to yourself.
Entry requirements: Proof of double vaccination more than 14 days before departure. You must also present a completed Public Health Passenger Form upon arrival (http://www.onda.ma/form.php). The bars and restaurants open but close at 23:00.
A Berber village in the Toubkal National Park, Morocco.
Photographer: Dorin Marius Balate / Alamy Stock Photo
At 4,167m, Mount Toubkal is North Africa’s highest peak and a worthy challenge for a first overseas trip in a long time. It is usually climbed from Imlil, a small mountain town just a taxi ride from Marrakech (the 67km is often covered by bike as well). These Atlas mountain towns are wonderful to explore, but you may want to wait until September when the weather is cooler. From Imlil you can go to Ijoukak. Many UK tour operators run hiking tours here. Another great peak is Mount Mgoun, 4,071 m, a less-visited peak found above the Ait Bougmez valley, where terraced fields rise up the slopes of the mountains.
Entry requirements: Without isolation for those over 18 double vaccinated. Face masks are used indoors and outdoors when social distancing cannot be guaranteed. The restrictions tend to be stricter than in the UK. Bars, cafes and restaurants are open normally.
The imposing Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal. Photographer: Patrícia de Melo Moreira / AFP / Getty Images
A very popular destination for the British, but Portugal still has many less explored areas outside of the hotspots of Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve. New hiking and biking routes in the mountains offer a great opportunity to get away from the crowds. Saddle Skedaddle, for example, take a great mountain bike trip, Atlantic Trails, to the mountains near Sintra while trekking specialists, Inntravel, offer an enchanting ride through the country’s only national park, Peneda-Gerês, on the northern border with Spain where there are wild horses and a small population of mountain goats.
Entry requirements: Isolation is not necessary for people who have been double vaccinated, but must have a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure. Masks are not mandatory in public spaces. Bars open normally.
Sunrise at the top of Les Agudes, in the Montseny natural park, Catalonia, Spain.
Photographer: Cristian Zaharia / Alamy
Not long ago, tourist hotspots like Barcelona were asking for a stop to the numbers reading that their neighborhoods be invaded. The situation now is very different, but it is an opportunity to observe the regions of the country that have never registered much on the radar of the visitors. Inland, from places like Valencia and Benidorm, there are mountainous areas that have become depopulated in recent decades and yet boast magnificent traditional villages and ancient trails. Further north in Catalonia, Wild Frontiers takes a walking tour of the Montseny National Park that also offers the opportunity to discover Priorat, one of the best wines in Spain, but less known.