Yesterday, on Friday 7th May, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed which countries will appear on the ‘green list’ as foreign travel restrictions gradually begin to be eased. The twelve countries on the list do not require holidaymakers to quarantine, but they must take a coronavirus test both before and after their trip. This news was bound to be an exciting moment as many people around England eagerly awaited the news of where they could escape to, and whether the dream of a summer holiday abroad will come true.
The twelve countries on the ‘green list’ from 17th May are:
- New Zealand
- Falkland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
- St Helena, Tristan de Cunha, Ascension Island
The rules for travel will be reviewed every three weeks, which means that this list is expected to change quite rapidly, with the government being able to add and remove destinations as required and when necessary according to the level of coronavirus risk in each country. This means that travellers will have to plan carefully and efficiently. IMPORTANT! Ensure that the bookings you make have flexible amendment and cancellation policies! It has also never been more important to buy adequate travel insurance, as we continue to navigate the unpredictable climate of a worldwide pandemic.
Unfortunately, people from England will not be able to visit Australia, New Zealand and Singapore for a holiday despite their inclusion on the ‘green list’ as they are currently closed to UK tourists. This is disappointing for many, but restrictions are subject to change. We will be allowed to visit more destinations in the not-too-distant future once our country can prove that the virus is fully under control and once the vaccine rollout has progressed even further throughout the population.
Read on for my top ‘green list’ getaway recommendations!
Portugal is one of Europe’s top destinations for sun, sea and sand, popular with British holidaymakers year-round and a staple of the summer holiday agenda, along with Spain and Italy.
Holidaymakers may choose to visit the beautiful beaches of the Algarve in the south or soak up the history and culture in the cities of Lisbon and Porto. Portugal also includes the mesmerising island of Madeira, and the geodiverse archipelago of the Azores, which is often described as Europe’s best kept secret, featuring nine ready-to-explore islands each with their own characters and featuring landscapes akin to Hawaii and Iceland. With a small population and plenty of dramatic, natural scenery, this is a COVID-friendly destination where you can keep away from crowds of tourists. If you are unfamiliar with the Azores, this might be the perfect opportunity to visit a little-known destination that none of your friends have been to, right before other keen travellers catch discover this natural paradise! Watch this short travel film by photographer Chris Hau for a taste of what it has to offer.
If visiting the popular regions of the Algarve and the island of Madeira, it will be convenient to quickly grab a package holiday from a tour operator at the few clicks of a button on your smartphone or laptop. For speed and efficiency this is a great idea and tour operators are likely to offer flexible amendment and cancellation policies. The UK’s largest holiday company, Tui, is to offer coronavirus tests from just £20 to green list countries in an effort to attract customers and make travel both possible, and financially accessible. This is extremely reasonable in comparison to the £60 offer from other companies and the standard PCR tests which typically cost £120 each.
Alternatively, you could secure some flights with low-cost airlines like EasyJet and RyanAir and book your acommodation separately. The cost of travel and package holidays is likely to rise significantly due to high demand, so people will be hunting for the best deals they can find. It may be cheaper to avoid the luxury of a hotel and find an Airbnb like these in Lisbon, in Porto, and in the Algarve.
Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory and headland located on Spain’s south coast, dominated by its famous Rock of Gibraltar and notoriously known for its many wild monkeys, considered to be one of the region’s top tourist attractions. For a small territory, Gibraltar has a lot to offer any tourist with something for everyone. With 300 days of sunshine each year it is the perfect summer holiday destination. Watch an introduction to this unique destination in the video below, created by the online travel booking site, Expedia:
Enjoy the luxuries of this beautiful yacht-hotel or make yourself at home in an Airbnb such as this one.
Iceland, while not the typical choice for a summer holiday destination, is a magical place which has grown in popularity in recent years. It has a breathtaking landscape and predominantly attracts tourists for its otherworldly geothermal pools (most famous of which is the Blue Lagoon) and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of experiencing the Northern Lights. Most travellers tend to base themselves in the capital of Reykjavik, in sleek Scandi-style hotels like this one, or in practical, modern hostels like this for a budget break. There are also more off-the-beaten-track options like this rural farm stay or a quirky getaway in these unique domes which can be booked through Airbnb. This may be the ideal time to visit Iceland, as the crowds of tourists will be smaller, and the country has recently been observing the incredible eruption of the Geldingadalir volcano which you might just be lucky enough to see for yourself!
The small Middle Eastern country of Israel may seem unfamiliar to the average holidaymaker, but the ‘green list’ presents an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and visit somewhere that would not ordinarily be an option for your summer getaway. In this case, Israel is the easiest option currently for a trip outside of Europe, and the state has been celebrated for its astounding vaccine rollout, which is in fact the fastest in the world. Culture vultures may opt to visit the holy city of Jerusalem, while just an hour away others will be warmly welcomed to the lively, progressive and cool Mediterranean city of Tel Aviv, famous for its nightlife and its identity as perhaps the most liberal place in the Arab world. Beyond these cities, Israel has even more to offer, with a plethora of active pursuits to suit all tastes, various ancient ruins to explore, and even the world’s first underwater museum in Caesarea. Head to Eilat to go diving in the Red Sea, swim with dolphins and explore the desert via jeep tour or camel ride. Sunshine is pretty much guaranteed; the city sees less than ten days of rain per annum. Stay at Tel Aviv's uniquely designed urban tower hotel or try something new and go back to basic in this earth house on the edge of the desert!
I hope you found some inspiration in this blog post and are looking forward to being able to travel again as much as I am. If you have not yet had your COVID-19 vaccination, please think carefully about the risks involved in going abroad and consider travelling at a later date. If you do travel soon, have fun, but be mindful of others and keep vigilant with safety measures. Happy travels! Stay safe.