With changes to UK travel rules, a summer holiday abroad is now a realistic prospect for Brits who have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days before departure.
UK requirements will always mean, at a minimum, an antigen test before return and a PCR test within two days of arrival in the UK.
Some countries still require a pre-departure test, or a passenger locator form (in addition to the UK one). In a normal year, choosing a destination can take months to think about, with heated family debates throughout the winter, but not this time around. Instant decisions are needed. Where to go? Here is a list of possible countries.
Entry requirements: no isolation for people with double bites on arrival, but you must complete an online form (on entercroatia.mup.hr/) before traveling and present proof of accommodation reservation. Masks should be worn indoors and when social distancing cannot be maintained. Restaurants are open for indoor and outdoor dining. Cafes and bars only open to the outside.
Croatia has a beautiful coastline and islands, but some places can be overcrowded: Dubrovnik and Split are normally crowded in summer; popular islands like Rab and Hvar can also be busy. Instead, head to the lesser-known islands, like Dubi Otok, Brijuni, and Lastovo. Any island that requires a double ferry ride is likely to be a good choice. To truly get away from it all, try an active vacation like kayaking or sailing.
Malik Adventures goes to the Kornati Islands where you will have the chance to see another tourist. Otherwise, head to mountains like Velebit where there are great hikes and beautiful mountain villages and huts. Croatian food and drinks are superb and it’s often in the mountains that you will find the real gems, like DrniÅ¡, which is home to the best raw ham, prÅ¡ut.
Entry conditions: Those who have had two vaccinations more than 14 days prior to travel should always complete a Cyprus Flight Pass no later than 48 hours prior to departure (cyprusflightpass.gov.cy/en/vaccinated-fly-request.) Cafes, bars and restaurants are open at reduced indoor capacity. The discos are open but the dancefloors remain closed.
Crowds are normally easy to find in Cypriot towns such as Paphos and Ayia Napa. To get off the beaten track, head to the Troodos Mountains in the southwest and cycle around its villages or hike up to Caledonia Falls. Finish with grilled trout and a glass of the local dessert wine, Commandaria, the oldest wine in the world, still in production after 800 years.
Entry conditions: Fully vaccinated people do not need to be quarantined but will need a negative PCR test done within 72 hours of arrival, or an antigen test within 48 hours. Masks are mandatory indoors and on public transport.
No doubt the mountain will be calling hard this summer with fresh air and plenty of space. Fortunately, France has many mountain regions to offer: the Jura, the Massif Central and Pyrenees everything looks like good bets. Where traditional seaside hotels can lose out, the winner will be traditional lodgings (gites-de-france.com/fr) which offer you isolated and independent rural locations.
Entry Requirements: People with a double bite 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 einreiseanmeldung.de/#/. Entering by land involves different regulations that you need to check. Concert halls and nightclubs are closed, but the situation varies across the country under federal regulations. Beer gardens and alfresco dining are generally open.
Germany is a country that British visitors had started to visit in increasing numbers before the pandemic. With stunning mountain scenery, 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 discover stunning villages and landscapes close to the Czech border. In the Baltic, islands such as Rugen offer a gentle and relaxed pace of life, perfect for a walking or cycling holiday.
Entry conditions: No isolation for those who have a vaccination certificate proving full vaccination at least 14 days before departure. You must complete a Passenger Tracking Form (https://travel.gov.gr/#/) prior to your arrival. Masks are mandatory inside. Random tests are carried out at airports.
While some Greek islands attract large crowds, others are havens of peace even in high season. From Piraeus, take a ferry to spectacular mountainous places like Amorgo, Ikaria and Sifnos where long walks along mountain paths 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 beautiful green peninsula of Pelion. In August, when the days can be hot, get up early and you will have the place to yourself.
Entry conditions: Proof of double vaccination more than 14 days before departure. You must also present a completed Public Health Passenger form on arrival (onda.ma/form.php). Bars and restaurants are open but close at 11pm.
At 4,167 m, Mount Toubkal is the highest peak in North Africa and a challenge worthy of a first trip abroad in a long time. It is usually climbed from Imlil, a small mountain village located a taxi ride from Marrakech (the 67 km is often also traveled by bicycle). These Atlas mountain villages are wonderful to explore, but you might want to wait until September when the weather will be cooler. From Imlil, you can head towards Ijoukak. Many UK tour operators hike here. Another great peak is Mount Mgoun, 4071m, a less visited peak that rises above the valley of Ait Bougmez where terraced fields rise up on the mountain sides.
Entry conditions: No isolation for those over 18 who are fully vaccinated. Face masks are worn indoors and outdoors when social distancing cannot be guaranteed. The restrictions tend to be more stringent than in the UK. Bars, cafes and restaurants are open normally.
An extremely popular destination for Brits, but Portugal still has many less explored areas outside of the hot spots of Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve. New hiking and cycling routes in the mountains provide a great opportunity to get away from the crowds. Saddle Skedaddle, for example, makes a great trip by ATV, Atlantic Trails, in the mountains near Sintra while walking specialists, Inntravel, offer a beautiful trip through the country’s only national park, Peneda-GerÃªs, to the northern border with Spain where there are wild horses and a small population of ibex.
Entry conditions: No isolation required for people who have been fully vaccinated but must have a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure. Face masks are not mandatory in public areas. Bars open normally.
Not so long ago, tourist hotspots like Barcelona were calling for numbers to be cut for fear their neighborhoods would be invaded. The situation is now very different, but it is a chance to look at parts of the country that have never registered much on the visitor’s radar. Inland, from places like Valencia and Benidorm, are mountainous areas that have become depopulated in recent decades and yet have beautiful traditional villages and ancient paths. Further north in Catalonia, Wild Frontiers takes a walking tour of Montseny National Park which also offers the chance to experience Priorat – one of Spain’s best, but lesser-known wines.