This week’s announcement that almost every country in the world — barring seven — is being removed from the red list is the best travel news for months. As long as attention is paid to the entry requirements for each nation — see the need to know sections below — and the UK Government’s rules on returning to our shores are followed, it is game on for overseas breaks.
The big bonus is that tour operators and hoteliers are desperate to kick-start business, while planes have plenty of spare seats, meaning some brilliant deals are to be had. Here, we round up a selection of the best, including to countries that were formerly on the red list.
MEXICAN HOP: SAVE 30%
Perfect spot: Tulum beach in Mexico, pictured above, is a great spot for a new year’s break
Playa Mujeres on Mexico’s Caribbean coast is a great spot for a new year’s break and January is one of the prime warm, dry months in this country. Expect glorious beaches as well as wildlife reserves, plus the popular resorts of Tulum and Cancun nearby.
Need to know: Register on the Mexico Vuela Seguro platform (vuelaseguro.com/login) before boarding your flight (a QR code must be shown). There will be a health questionnaire on arrival (visitmexico.com).
How to do it: Seven nights’ all-inclusive at the adults-only Secrets Playa Mujeres Golf Resort & Spa from £1,345pp, including flights in January. Book by October 30 (dialaflight.com).
AFRICAN SHUFFLE: SAVE £1,045
Pictured are vineyards in Constantia near Cape Town, South Africa. May to October is the best time to visit the country
A return to South Africa for British travellers is long overdue and good news because there is so much to do in this varied country. The dry season (May to October) is the best time to visit and a tour — packing plenty in — is the way to go.
Need to know: Negative PCR test taken and a paper copy (take several) of the result including the name of practitioner, date and time of the test (southafrica.net).
How to do it: An 11-night B&B fly-drive trip to the Western Cape from £2,999 pp including flights in July (trailfinders.com).
BARBADOS BLITZ: SAVE 45%
The average temperature is 25c (77f) in Barbados during January — perfect for winter sun without being too scorching. It’s a good time for a round of golf (£89 at the renowned Sandy Lane golf course, sandylane.com). Or just enjoy the secluded beaches and the fantastic Bajan cuisine.
Need to know: Negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel, plus completed entry form 24 hours before arrival (travelform.gov.bb/home, visitbarbados.org).
How to do it: Seven nights’ all-inclusive at Sea Breeze Beach House from £2,729 pp, including flights in January (caribtours.co.uk).
CHEAP IN FLORIDA: SAVE £100
On a trip to Florida’s Gulf coast, it’s worth visiting the intriguing Cuban-influenced neighbourhood of Ybor City (pictured)
Slip away to Florida’s Gulf Coast for some of America’s best sunsets. Tampa makes a good base. It’s a lively city with restaurants and bars lining the Hillsborough River, a top theme park (buschgardens.com) and the intriguing Cuban-influenced neighbourhood of Ybor City.
Need to know: Not possible to go now. But from November travel restrictions will be lifted for the fully vaccinated — details to be announced.
How to do it: Seven nights split between the Plantation Inn at Crystal River and the Sheraton on Clearwater Beach near Tampa from £1,219 pp with flights and car hire (americaasyoulikeit.com).
MAURITIUS BOUND: SAVE £600
Waterfall visits and rainforest hikes are just some of the activities holidaymakers can experience in Mauritius. Pictured is the country’s Chamarel Waterfall
UK TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS
Before returning to the UK you must complete a passenger locator form. To do this you must have a code showing that you have purchased a Covid test to take before ‘day two’ of getting back.
At the moment, PCR tests are required, which cost an average of £75.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says that the requirement for PCR tests will be changed for cheaper antigen/lateral flow tests ‘hopefully before half-term’.
Meanwhile, as of earlier this week, British travellers no longer need to take an antigen/lateral flow test abroad before flying home. This was previously required and could cost as much as £42.
For more information see ‘New system for international travel’ at gov.uk.
There’s plenty to do on Mauritius aside from lounging on the beach. Think rainforest hikes, waterfall visits, wildlife encounters, learning about history at the Eureka Plantation House or visiting an 18th-century botanical garden. Average temperatures hover between 20c and 30c (68f and 86f).
Need to know: Proof of Covid-19 travel insurance is mandatory on arrival and before boarding, as is a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of embarkation (mauritiusnow.com).
How to do it: Seven nights’ B&B at Constance Prince Maurice from £2,199 pp, including flights. Valid for travel between January 7 and April 30, 2022 (abercrombiekent.co.uk).
ST LUCIA SAVINGS: SAVE 32%
Visit the towering Pitons, a pair of dramatic volcanic plugs overlooking the calm waters of western St Lucia, and enjoy one of the Caribbean’s classic settings. The energetic can hike up Gros Piton (guided tours £37 with hotel pick-up, grospiton.com) or else visit the nearby Sulphur Springs for a healthy, hot soak.
Need to know: Negative PCR test taken within five days of travel – no quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers (stlucia.org/en_UK/covid-19).
How to do it: Seven nights’ all-inclusive at The Landings Resort & Spa from £1,849 pp in November including flights and transfers (tropicalsky.co.uk).
DUBAI DREAM: SAVE 45%
For a burst of sunshine, how about a trip to the desert? The average daily high is 26c (79f) in Dubai in December, or you could hold off until July and August next year when temperatures regularly touch 40c (104f).
It feels a long way from home on a four-wheel drive desert safari followed by a barbecue in a Bedouin-style camp (visitdubai.com).
Need to know: Negative PCR test required 72 hours before travel; see the UAE entry requirements page at gov.uk.
How to do it: Three nights’ B&B at the Ajman Saray hotel from £549 pp in November (britishairways.com/dubai).
SRI LANKAN SMILES: SAVE 40%
Sri Lanka has a lot to offer, from elephant-filled national parks to tea estates. Pictured are elephants in the Sri Lankan village of Pinnawala
It is likely many have missed Sri Lanka during the pandemic. The small island seems to pack so much in, from elephant-filled national parks to tea estates, spectacular ancient sites and lovely beaches.
Need to know: Proof of vaccination or recovery must be presented in letter form (digital will not work), PCR test not required if vaccinated. Mandatory Covid-19 insurance required on arrival which costs U.S. $12 (£8.80).
How to do it: Ten nights at Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa from £1,469 pp, including flights. Book for travel in February 2022 before December 12 (destinology.co.uk).
THAILAND TIME: SAVE £150
See the magnificent temples of Bangkok – such as the Wat Arun Temple, pictured – on a trip to Thailand
Beauty: A banded kingfisher at Khao Yai National Park in Thailand
Before the pandemic, a million Britons visited Thailand each year. See the magnificent temples of Bangkok, spot elephants, monkeys and tropical birds in Khao Yai National Park, and then head to the beaches of Hua Hin overlooking the Gulf of Thailand.
Need to know: Tough inbound travel restrictions are in place at the moment but signs are that Thailand is about to open up to British tourists again; be sure to check latest ‘entry requirements’ at gov.uk before booking.
How to do it: 12 nights from £3,245 pp on a Classic Thailand private guided tour with flights and hotels (coxandkings.co.uk).
TANZANIAN TREAT: SAVE £100
Enjoy the warm waters of the Indian Ocean at a top-class beachside hotel on the island of Zanzibar — part of Tanzania.
Visit historic Stone Town to see the old forts, spice markets and labyrinthine streets where the explorers of Africa once met before heading off to the Nile in the 19th century.
Need to know: Negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival, plus a test on arrival (£18). Check ‘entry requirements’ at gov.uk, plus afyamsafiri.moh.go.tz/#/home.
How to do it: Seven nights’ all-inclusive at The Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort from £1,321 pp all-inclusive in April with flights (tui.co.uk).
BALI BONANZA: SAVE 40%
Visit Bali, a country that is home to many fine beaches and a tropical interior that is fantastic to explore by hire car
This week it was announced almost every country in the world – barring seven – is being removed from the red list
As well as many fine beaches, Bali is home to a tropical interior that is fantastic to explore by hire car. Ubud makes a great stop-off with its traditional music shows, cafes and sense of zen up in the hills amid terraced paddy fields. Many hotels have first-class spas offering massages.
Need to know: Visas required for the fully vaccinated, with proof of travel insurance and £1,500 in your bank account. Rules may be relaxed soon; see ‘entry requirements’ at gov.uk before booking.
How to do it: Ten nights’ B&B at Nusa Dua Beach spa hotel from £1,104 pp next February with flights (travelbag.co.uk).
CLASSIC KENYA: SAVE 25%
One of the most spectacular introductions to an African safari is a trip to Kenya’s Masai Mara. For seeing the ‘big five’ — elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo and rhinos — there’s nowhere that gives you a better chance. This trip also takes in the Great Rift Valley and visits to Masai villages.
Need to know: Negative PCR test within 96 hours of arrival (children under five exempt), you must complete a health screening form (ears.health.go.ke/airline_registration) and submit daily health information on the Jitenge app for 14 days.
How to do it: Eight nights’ all-inclusive split between Nairobi, Ol Pejeta and the Masai Mara from £4,750 pp with flights travelling until December 15 (coraltreetravel.com).
CUT-PRICE MALDIVES: SAVE 25%
The bustling capital of Male (pictured above), with its markets and mosques, is a must-see on a trip to the Maldives
With more than 1,100 tranquil islands surrounded by coral reefs (great for snorkelling and diving), you are spoilt for choice in the Maldives. The average daily high is 30c (86f). A day trip to Male, the bustling capital with its markets and mosques, is a must.
Need to know: Negative PCR test required within 96 hours of departure; must also complete a traveller health declaration form (imuga.immigration.gov.mv/ethd/create).
How to do it: Seven nights’ B&B at Kandima resort from £2,019 pp with flights, lounge access and transfers from January 11 (britishairways.com/maldives).
OMANI ESCAPE: SAVE 30%
Overlooking the sea of Oman, Al Waha Hotel has a private beach, multiple pools, a lazy river, runs a turtle care project and is geared towards families. The resort is surrounded by spectacular red mountains and is also a good spot for striking out to Muscat with its history, 16th-century forts and Grand Mosque.
Need to know: Negative PCR test 72 hours before arrival for flights shorter than eight hours and 96 hours for flights longer than eight hours. You must fill in a pre-registration form at covid19.emushrif.om and have proof of health insurance that covers 30 days of Covid-19 treatment.
How to do it: Seven nights’ B&B from £1,339 including flights in October (southalltravel.co.uk).
JAPAN JOURNEY: SAVE 35%
Take in the beautiful sights of Japan – such as Mount Fuji, pictured – on a 13-day tour of the country
Join a 13-day tour that takes in Kyoto, Mount Fuji, Nara, Osaka and Tokyo. Activities include seeing the capital’s Imperial Palace, a bamboo train ride in Kyoto’s historic Sagano and a visit to Osaka Castle.
Need to know: It is still difficult to travel to Japan in all but exceptional circumstances. Stay updated at gov.uk/ foreign-travel-advice/japan.
How to do it: A 13-day tour of Japan including transfers, activities and some meals is from £1,499 pp. First departures for this trip are in February 2022, deal available until April 2023 (exoticca.com).
BRAZILIAN DREAM: SAVE £100
The interesting coastal city of Salvador, pictured above, is famed for its Portuguese colonial architecture
Several countries in South America remain on the red list but not Brazil, the world’s fifth largest country with great swathes of land to explore and interesting cities to visit.
Typical tours take in trips to the rainforest by the Amazon River, the Brazilian side of the Iguazu Falls, the Pantanal tropical wetlands, the beaches of Rio de Janeiro and the interesting coastal city of Salvador, famed for its Portuguese colonial architecture.
Or perhaps you could time your trip to tie in with the extravaganza of the Rio Carnival, from February 25 to March 5 next year (riocarnaval.org).
Need to know: Double-jabbed visitors are welcome or those with a PCR taken within 72 hours of flying or an antigen test taken within 24 hours of travel.
How to do it: 12-day trips covering Rio de Janeiro, the Pantanal and the Iguazu Falls from £3,810 pp B&B with flights, transfers, excursions, hotels and full board in Pantanal (journeylatinamerica.co.uk).
… and closer to home
BALKAN HOLIDAY: SAVE £207
Montenegro (along with Georgia) was Europe’s last country to come off the red list. Four nights’ B&B at One&Only Portonovi from £1,255 pp including flights, valid until April 30, 2022. (elegantresorts.com)
Need to know: One of the following — proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test within 72 hours of travel, a negative rapid antigen test within 48 hours of arrival, proof of recovery from Covid-19 which is not older than 180 days.
Full of character: Plan a getaway to the old city of Budva in Montenegro on the Adriatic coast
GREECE FOR LESS: SAVE 35%
Temperatures are in the low 20s during October in Kefalonia. Seven nights at the Kalokeri Apartments near the charming harbour of Fiskardo from £422 pp with three days hire car on October 16 (ionianislandholidays.com).
Need to know: Fully vaccinated travellers welcomed; must complete passenger locator form (travel.gov.gr).
LOVE LANZAROTE: SAVE 37%
It’s warm in the Canary Islands throughout the winter — the December daily high in Lanzarote is 22c (72f). Stay for a week from £369 pp at Hotel Club Siroco on Costa Teguise departing December 11 with flights (olympicholidays.com).
Need to know: Fully vaccinated travellers welcome. More information at hellocanaryislands.com.
ITALIAN JOB: SAVE 20%
Explore the rolling hills and vineyards of Puglia in southern Italy — great for winter walks — while staying at Masseria Torre Maizza, a top-class Rocco Forte Hotel with stylish Olga Polizzi-designed rooms. Four nights from £1,250 pp B&B with flights (elegantresorts.co.uk).
Need to know: Double-jabbed welcome; must fill entry form (app.euplf.eu).
AZORES BARGAIN: SAVE 38%
Pictured is Sao Miguel Island in the Azores – the Portuguese islands are ideal for winter hiking and cycling
Escape to the Portuguese islands of the Azores for winter hiking and cycling. Seven nights from £508 pp B&B at the chic Furnas Boutique Hotel on Sao Miguel island, with flights (loveholidays.com).
Need to know: Negative PCR test within 72 hours of travel or antigen test within 48 hours; must complete Passenger Locator Card (portugalcleanandsafe.pt).
CROATIAN DEAL: SAVE 29%
Plan ahead for an early summer getaway in Croatia and enjoy 23c temperatures and a big saving staying at Tui Blue Kalamota Island. The price is from £746 pp all-inclusive with Gatwick flights on May 1 (firstchoice.co.uk).
Need to know: Proof of being fully vaccinated or having taken a PCR or antigen test required.
DASH TO TURKEY: SAVE £176
Turkey remains hotter than the rest of Europe in October. Seven nights’ all-inclusive at Club Med Palmiye, overlooking the sea, from £1,052 pp on October 23, including flights (clubmed.co.uk).
Need to know: Complete an online form 72-hours prior to travel (register.health.gov.tr). All arrivals 12 or over must have proof of either being fully vaccinated or recent recovery from Covid-19 or a negative PCR test (with 72 hours) or an antigen test (within 48 hours).
SPANISH ESCAPE: SAVE £202
A golden beach in Benalmadena, which is the oldest part of the Costa del Sol and is filled with whitewashed houses
Benalmadena Pueblo is the oldest part of the Costa del Sol and filled with narrow streets and whitewashed houses. Three nights’ all-inclusive at the Holiday Village Costa del Sol is from £311 pp including flights on April 24.
Need to know: Negative test within 72 hours of arrival or proof of being vaccinated at least 14-days prior to arrival (spth.gob.es).
CYPRIOT DANCE: SAVE £279
Tui Blue Atlantica Mare Village is in Coral Bay with a dramatic clifftop location. Four nights all-inclusive is from £517 pp including flights on November 22. (tui.co.uk)
Need to know: Fully vaccinated travellers welcome but you must obtain a Cyprus Flight Pass (cyprusflightpass.gov.cy/en/vaccinated-passengers).
OFF TO MALTA: KIDS GO FREE!
The Qawra Palace Hotel has sea-view rooms and is on Malta’s north coast near the Blue Lagoon — easy for a day trip to Gozo. Seven nights’ half-board is from £584 pp with flights on October 22 and two children going free (jet2holidays.com).
Need to know: Proof of vaccine at least 14 days before arrival, public health declaration form and online passenger locator form must be completed.