Holidays are go! From May 17 – next Monday – you can officially, legally, embark on a good old-fashioned getaway. But where on the ‘green list’ is actually accepting Britons, without the need for vaccination certificates, quarantine on arrival, or worries of whether borders will open in time?
Of England’s 12 ‘green’ destinations, just two will be accepting British leisure travellers from May 17 with minimal faff: Madeira and Gibraltar. Here, tourists need only take PCR tests on travelling/arrival – no quarantine, no vaccination certificates and no hassle. For detailed entry requirements, see the FCDO’s pages for Madeira and Gibraltar.
The green list, you see, is not quite as simple as it sounds. Of course, the likes of Australia and Singapore remain closed to tourism, but even the closer ‘options’ come with unnecessary stress. As it stands, mainland Portugal is open to essential travel only (not holidays), Israel requires non-vaccinated travellers to quarantine for at least 10 days and Iceland asks for vaccine certificates or a whopping three PCR tests.
But, if you choose your destination wisely, you could be on holiday one week from now… Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? Here are some ideas – all with flights and accommodation included, and availability at time of press.
The Rock Hotel
Six nights, from £799 per person (incl flights from Gatwick). Departing May 22.
This four-star hotel is set on the western face of The Rock, where it has welcomed a star-studded line-up of guests since the 1930s. When our reviewer Belinda Beckett visited, she wrote: ‘On the edge of town opposite the magnificent Botanical Gardens, cable car trips to monkey territory are a five-minute stroll beneath arbours of tropical greenery.
‘The swimming pool hides in a secret garden across the road, [where] you can chill under the bougainvillea all day.’ Heavenly, no?
Price based on two people travelling together, room-only. Book through Hays Travel.
Seven nights, from £1,095 per person (incl flights from Gatwick). Departing May 21.
Sunborn is Gibraltar’s first five-star ‘yacht hotel’, with its rooms and suites occupying spacious cabins. You’ll be staying in a Superyacht King, with a marble bathroom and king-size bed, and bed and breakfast included. There’s a spa, casino and restaurant on board, and the sights are just a short walk away.
Price based on two people travelling together, bed and breakfast, with airport transfers and checked-in baggage included. Book through flightcentre.co.uk.
The Eliott Hotel
Four nights, from £699 per person (incl flights from Heathrow). Departing May 17.
You’ll likely spend your days lounging by the rooftop pool of this four-star hotel, between jaunts into town – for cold beers, fresh seafood and a novel peek at the Marks and Spencer. Rooms are spacious and fresh, with rainforest showers and Juliet balconies on even the most modest options. Upgrade to an Executive room for sea and Rock views.
Price based on two people travelling together, bed and breakfast, with checked-in baggage included. Book through ba.com/gibraltar.
Walking in Madeira
Seven nights, from £1,245 per person (incl flights). Departing May 17.
Explore’s self-guided walking holiday in Madeira puts you on some of the island’s most spectacular walking trails, from the wild Atlantic coastline to the ancient levadas (aqueducts) that weave through its lush countryside. This is a moderate-graded trip, with all routes and maps provided – as well as transportation for your luggage between hotels, so you can roam, unburdened, at your own pace.
Price based on two people sharing, though single rooms are available from £173. Includes breakfasts and dinners, and airport transfers. Book through explore.co.uk.
Porto Santa Maria Hotel
Seven nights, from £899 per person (including flights). Departing May 21.
Set on Funchal’s oceanfront promenade, this hotel is a short walk from the beach – with a gondola lift right next door, that’ll whisk you up to the palm-shaded province of Monte. Better yet, it’s adults only – so you can enjoy the panoramic pool and tropical gardens in peace.
Price based on two people travelling together, bed and breakfast, with airport transfers. Book through trailfinders.com.
Seven nights, from £1,355 per person (including flights from Gatwick). Departing May 21.
The Savoy Palace, a five-star hotel, overlooks the Atlantic and the picturesque rooftops of Funchal – the laid-back capital of Madeira. It has a choice of restaurants and pools, as well as a glamorous bar and – according to our reviewer Mary Lusianna – the largest spa in Portugal.
‘There is a myriad of facilities,’ she wrote. ‘The spa comprises a Kniepp water path, heated indoor swimming pool, sauna, Turkish bath, sensory showers, halo-therapy room and 11 treatment rooms… The rooftop has two pools and a seriously large pool takes up most of the area in front of the hotel.’
Price based on two people travelling together, bed and breakfast, with airport transfers. Book through prestigeholidays.co.uk.
Albatroz Beach & Yacht Club
Seven nights, from £760 per person (including flights from Gatwick). Departing May 17.
This isn’t your average ‘fly-and-flop’ resort: the clifftop Albatroz has two sea-level saltwater pools, with easy access to the ocean – as well as a heated swimming pool and hot tub. It’s a great spot to blow away the lockdown cobwebs, with tennis courts and a golf course – and just 20 rooms, styled in a traditional Portuguese way with bespoke furniture and hand-painted tiles.
Price based on two people travelling together, bed and breakfast, with airport transfers. Book through thomascook.com.
Sé Boutique Hotel
Seven nights, per couple from £2,027 (including flights from Gatwick). Departing May 21.
This hotel puts you in the heart of Funchal, close to the restaurants, museums and shops of Madeira’s capital – with sweeping sea views and a sun-drenched rooftop terrace. Our reviewer rated it 9/10, praising its location and restaurants in particular.
Her favourite? O Calhau: ‘[it] is situated next to the cathedral tower, with a terrace on the street. It specialises in local dishes such as octopus with chickpea puree and the classic Madeiran black scabbard fish steamed with banana and passion fruit sauce as well as a range of pastas and salads.’
Price based on two people travelling together, bed and breakfast, with airport transfers. Book through Not Just Travel: email@example.com / 07590122968
The Cliff Bay
Seven nights, from £1,549 per person (including flights from Gatwick). Departing May 21.
This five-star hotel was awarded 9/10 by our reviewer Mary Luisianna – who praised its ‘excellent’ facilities, including a tennis court, three swimming pools, solarium, outdoor whirlpool tub and ESPA spa – as well as an outdoor gazebo for open-air massages. It’s also home to the only two-Michelin starred restaurant on the island, Il Gallo d'Oro, which offers wine pairings with Portuguese wines.
Price based on two people travelling together, with bed and breakfast. Book through kuoni.co.uk.
Hotel Madeira Panoramico
Seven nights, from £619 per person (including flights from Gatwick). Departing May 17.
Offering incredible value for money, the Madeira Panoramico is a family-friendly hotel overlooking the mountains, sea and city of Funchal. Its hilltop spot is tranquil and breezy, with two swimming pools (both indoor and outdoor), a tennis court, hot tub and Turkish baths. Staff can organise cycling, snorkelling and fishing excursions, and there’s often evening entertainment for guests too.
Price based on two people travelling together, bed and breakfast, with airport transfers. Book through haystravel.co.uk.
For more ideas on 'green list' holidays, see our guide