The travel corridors have turned booking a holiday into a game of destination roulette. Tourists must be willing to go to a country they may not have previously considered and accept that cancellations, refunds and a potential whole new booking are all part and parcel of the changing travel landscape. The general advice is now to book just a few days before you travel.
Things are moving fast. Look at Croatia, where last month some 20,000 British holidaymakers were given 24 hours to get home after cases tripled in a week and infection rates went over the Government’s quarantine threshold of 20 cases per 100,000 people.
Then it was a similar situation in Spain and France — and Portugal could be next (although in Wales and Scotland it’s already on the red list). But it’s not all bad news. Many countries are still welcoming tourists, and have introduced their own safety regulations. We rate the best . . . and riskiest options (five stars is good news, zero is a disaster).
France and Croatia are on the red list and Greece has turned amber – but there are hotspots that get the green light for a quarantine-free break
The Northern Lights shine brightest in Iceland in September and October and it’s possible to get there for as little as £27 with easyJet (£55 return). Iceland is on the UK’s travel corridor list and cases remain low.
However, all arrivals must either choose a 14-day quarantine or a double Covid-testing procedure along with quarantine for six days. The first test (£50) is at the border on arrival, the second (£60) five or six days later. In between the tests, arrivals must quarantine.
Autumn favourite: Britons are required to provide a negative test result on arrival into Cyprus, and fill out an online form within 24 hours of departure. Pictured is Louma beach
The sunny Eastern Mediterranean island is one of the best options for an autumn break. Cases are declining, airlines and holiday operators are offering cut price deals and temperatures can reach 28c into October. Cyprus was added to the UK’s ‘travel corridor’ list in July. Britons are required to provide a negative test result on arrival, and fill out an online form (cyprusflightpass.gov.cy) within 24 hours of departure.
The Cypriot government will cover the cost of accommodation, medicine and food for tourists who test positive.
How to do it
Luxury: Seven nights half board at Anassa in Polis in September, with Scott Dunn, from £1,800 pp,including flights (scottdunn.co.uk).
Budget: Three nights all-inclusive at The King Jason, Paphos from September 10, with Tui, from £227 pp, including flights (was £945, tui.co.uk).
How to do it
Luxury: A ten-night tour from Keflavik to Blue Lagoon in September with Tour Radar from £5,618pp, including meals (tourradar.com). EasyJet (easyjet.com) London to Reykjavik from £39 return.
Budget: A 12-night tour from Reykjavik to Reykholt with Trailfinders from £1,565pp, including some meals (Trailfinders.com). Flights as above.
Although the infection rate has increased slightly in recent weeks, Turkey is unlikely to be ditched from the quarantine-free list any time soon
Glittering seas, ancient ruins and some terrific bargains (thanks to the plunging lira) await in Turkey this autumn.
The weather is superb well into October and Tui, easyJet Holidays and Love Holidays are currently offering discounted last-minute package breaks. Although the infection rate has increased slightly in recent weeks, Turkey is unlikely to be ditched from the quarantine-free list any time soon.
Tourists have their temperatures checked on arrival and face masks must be worn in crowded areas, supermarkets and on public transport.
How to do it
Luxury: Five nights B&B at Mandarin Oriental in Bodrum in September, with Destinology, from £1,388 pp inc flights (destinology.co.uk).
Budget: Three nights at Sinem Hotel and Apartments in Marmaris from September 7 from £198 pp (was £412, tui.co.uk).
Scotland imposed quarantine restrictions on arrivals from Greece on Tuesday, while Wales announced specific measures on arrivals from the island of Zante, after 16 people on board a flight from Zante to Cardiff tested positive
Greece got off to a good start in July when it reopened to tourism, with cases remaining low despite a sudden surge of travellers entering the country. But figures have slowly been increasing.
Scotland imposed quarantine restrictions on arrivals from Greece on Tuesday, while Wales announced specific measures on arrivals from the island of Zante, after 16 people on board a flight from Zante to Cardiff tested positive.
Tourists must fill in a Passenger Locator Form (travel.gov.gr) 24 hours before travelling and show the QR code on arrival. Curfews are in place in tourist hotspots such as Mykonos, Corfu, Rhodes, Crete and Lesbos.
How to do it
Luxury: Seven nights B&B at Blue Palace in Crete in September, with Kuoni, from £1,605 pp including flights (kuoni.co.uk).
Budget: Seven nights room-only at Olive Garden in Rhodes from September 21, with easyJet, from £338 pp inc flights (easyjet.com).
Protection: Denmark is welcoming British tourists and is highly unlikely to be removed from the UK’s quarantine-free list as cases remain relatively low. Pictured is Egeskov Castle
Sweeping beaches, historic harbours and chart-topping contentment are on offer in this famously jolly country.
Denmark is welcoming British tourists and is highly unlikely to be removed from the UK’s quarantine-free list as cases remain relatively low. Ryanair return flights to Copenhagen in September are on sale for as little as £40 and £19 in October. In Finland, across the Baltic, British tourists are required to isolate for 14 days.
How to do it
Luxury: Two nights B&B at Kokkedal Castle in Copenhagen in September, with Baltic Travel Company, from £785 pp including flights (baltictravelcompany.com).
Budget: Two nights room-only at the Ascot Hotel in Copenhagen in November, with Jet2, from £320 pp including flights (jet2holidays.com).
PICK THE RIGHT INSURANCE
The pandemic turned travel insurance into a minefield. But now 14 firms offer cover for Covid-19 claims, including Saga, Cedar Tree, Coverwise, CoverForYou, ABTA, British Airways, Holidaysafe and insurefor.com.
All will cover you if you catch coronavirus while on holiday, including medical treatment and repatriation, but only Nationwide Flexplus will cover cancellation costs if the FCO changes its advice on non-essential travel to your destination after you take out a policy.
Italy’s reputation as a holiday destination took a hammering after becoming the worst affected European nation at the beginning of the pandemic. The country has reopened to tourism, but concerns are mounting after Italy recorded a seven-day rate of 14.8 cases per 100,000 yesterday, up from 13 a week ago.
Nightclubs were closed and face masks became mandatory in public places a fortnight ago. Arrivals must fill out and print a self-declaration form before boarding (www.esteri.it).
How to do it
Luxury: Four nights room-only at Masseria Torre Maizza in Puglia, until September 19, with Abercrombie & Kent from £1,260 pp (abercrombiekent.co.uk). Ryanair (ryanair.com) London to Bari from £24 return.
Budget: Three nights B&B at The K Boutique Hotel in Rome from October 31 with Love Holidays from £197 pp (loveholidays.com).
Portugal has had a hard time in recent weeks. After being added to the UK’s travel corridor list a fortnight ago, Wales and Scotland re-imposed the 14-day quarantine restrictions. English travellers remain exempt, despite the number of cases per 100,000 residents hitting 23 yesterday — higher than the UK government’s threshold of 20.
Up to 100,000 Britons are believed to have been in Portugal this week and many will be forced to isolate on their return after a rush for flights home led to most seats selling out.
The regions with the highest concentration of cases appear to be clustered on the coast and major cities.
Images of pristine beaches, sapphire waters and ancient walled towns draw hundreds of thousands of British tourists to Croatia each year. But quarantine restrictions were re-imposed in mid-August after cases tripled in just a week.
Tourists can enter with no restrictions but need to fill out a form stating where they are staying (entercroatia.mup.hr).
We love Spain. That’s why 18 million of us visit every year. However, the country became the first to have quarantine restrictions re-imposed in late July after cases surged.
It now has one of the highest infection rates in Europe and local lockdowns have been re-introduced in Beniganim, 60 miles from Benidorm.
The Canary Islands of Lanzarote and Gran Canaria are also in danger of new lockdown restrictions.
Following a huge spike in cases in popular tourist regions, quarantine measures were re-imposed on France in August. President Macron refused to rule out a second national lockdown last Saturday after 7,379 cases were recorded in 24 hours — the most since the peak of the initial outbreak in March.
Far-flung: The Caribbean islands make up a large proportion of long-haul destinations on the quarantine-free list
The far-flung Indian Ocean island nation has had no local infections in the past three months. It is on the UK’s quarantine-free list and will begin opening up to international tourists in October.
With secluded islands, deserted beaches and overwater villas for two, the honeymoon islands lend themselves to socially-distanced holidays. The Maldives is open to British tourists, but is not on the UK’s quarantine-free list.
Visitors have their temperature checked on arrival and need to register a confirmed booking at one of the country’s 156 resorts, most of which are opening next month, with the tourism board.
If you’re willing to take a long-haul flight, destinations such as Antigua (pictured) and Barbados are on the quarantine-free list
The Caribbean islands make up a large proportion of long-haul destinations on the quarantine-free list, including Barbados, Antigua, the BVIs, Cuba, St Barts and St Lucia.
Jamaica was ditched from the list last Saturday after infections shot up from 4.3 per 100,000 people to 20.8.
NEW ZEALAND AND AUSTRALIA
Borders in Australia and New Zealand remain shut and are unlikely to reopen to international tourists until well into next year
We’re likely to be waiting a long time before we can experience New Zealand’s mammoth national parks or Australia’s world-class beaches again. Borders in both countries remain shut and are unlikely to reopen to international tourists until well into next year.
PACKAGE OR DIY?
Package holidays provide much greater protection than a DIY break because they’re ATOL protected. This means if the FCO begins advising against travel to the country you’re due to visit, or the provider goes bust, you’ll get a full refund.
If you’d prefer to go on a DIY holiday: book flights with a credit card, call hotels to ensure you can cancel free of charge before booking, and book car hire with a company (such as Alamo or Enterprise) that will allow you to cancel free of charge.
Dubai has reopened to international tourists but is not on the UK’s quarantine-free list. Visitors must show proof of a negative test on arrival, or carry out a test at the airport, and register their details in the Covid-19 DXB app. Arrivals will also have their temperature taken with thermal screening devices.
This cluster of 115 tropical islands in the Indian Ocean is on the quarantine-free list, but Britons are considered ‘high-risk’ and so are unable to enter. Visitors from low-risk countries, including Norway, Cyprus and Canada, require proof of a negative test.
Canada this week extended a ban on foreign travellers until September 30. An American tourist who violated Canada’s coronavirus travel twice to visit Banff National Park in June is now facing a six-figure fine and up to six months in jail.
Borders have been closed to British tourists since March and are unlikely to reopen this year.
Brazil’s coronavirus outbreak is one of the world’s most severe, having registered more than 122,000 deaths. The archipelago of Fernando de Noronha has announced it is reopening to tourists, if they prove they have had coronavirus with two antibody tests.