The 10 most in-demand holiday destinations for 2022 – and how to visit them

·15-min read
where to go in 2022, travel in 2022, holidays to book this year - Getty
where to go in 2022, travel in 2022, holidays to book this year - Getty

The relaxation of Britain’s travel testing regime has reportedly sparked a spike in holiday bookings. But where will holiday-hungry Britons flee to this year?

According to Abta, the travel association, it is our old favourites that are finding favour. Number one on people’s travel wish list is Spain, with 29.3 per cent of respondents in Abta’s annual holiday survey saying they plan to visit in 2022.

France, Italy and Greece make the top five, while three English-speaking long-haul options – the US, Australia and Canada – crack the top 10. No doubt many are hoping to catch up with family and friends after two years apart.

Here we look at the 10 most in-demand countries, explain the restrictions on travel, and offer suggestions on where to go.

Spain

Our old favourite Spain retains the top spot. Pre-Covid, around 18 million of us visited the land of sun, sea and sangria; in 2020 that fell to just 3.2 million. Expect much of the ground to be made up in 2022.

Can I visit?

Yes. However, since December only fully vaccinated tourists have been permitted entry (previously a negative test was sufficient). Whether those rules are relaxed in the summer, when the Spanish economy is far more reliant on British visitors, remains to be seen.

Where to go

Galicia. This overlooked region looks like Cornwall, with the added benefit of warmer weather and better food and wine.

Rodas beach in Cies Islands, Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain, the best beaches in Spain - Getty
Rodas beach in Cies Islands, Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain, the best beaches in Spain - Getty

Our Spain expert, Annie Bennett, adds: “The rugged coastline is scored by deep inlets, known as rías, and has some of the best beaches in Spain. Inland, lush green landscapes are the result of higher rainfall than other parts of the country, but sunshine is pretty much guaranteed from June to September. It is cooler than Andalusia and the Balearics though – pleasantly warm rather than stiflingly hot.” Read her full guide to the region here, plus our pick of the best hotels in Galicia.

Back to normal rating: 5/10

Spain has just reintroduced its outdoor mask mandate; sunseekers fearing sweaty faces and strange tan lines will be hoping this is a temporary imposition and will be ditched in the spring. Some regions have adopted vaccine passports for entry to hospitality venues, although Spain has been relatively relaxed with its hospitality rules compared to other Western European countries.

USA

America leapfrogged France in the Abta rankings. It finally reopened to Britons last November for the first time since March 2020 and clearly there’s plenty of pent-up demand for holidays this year.

Can I visit?

Yes. However, adults will need to be fully vaccinated, and all those over the age of two will need to take a pre-departure test.

Where to go

For families, it’s hard to beat Florida – and March will see the launch of a new out-of-this-world experiential adventure: a two-night “voyage” aboard the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser. Launch Pods transport kids and parents from Disney World through hyperspace to the Starcruiser, an immersive space where they will meet and work with Star Wars characters, take the ship’s controls, learn to use lightsabers, join missions and sleep in a cabin looking out at galaxies far, far away. Disney World (disneyworld.co.uk) offers two-night trips from around £3,900 per family. See our guide to the 20 best family holidays for 2022.

Back to normal rating: 6/10

It depends entirely on where you go. Red states like Florida and Texas, for example, have prided themselves on living largely restriction-free for many months, with masks optional and vaccine passports non-existent. A holiday in Daytona Beach or exploring the Florida Keys will almost certainly have a pre-2019 feel.

Conversely, everyone aged five and over must show evidence of a Covid vaccination to dine at New York restaurants (the UK’s vaccine taskforce hasn’t even approved the vaccine for younger children), while kids as young as two are expected to wear masks in the city’s indoor venues.

France

Slipping one place to third, France nevertheless remains popular – despite the best efforts of Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson to strain relations.

Can I visit?

Not right now. Macron barred British tourists in December and despite vocal opposition from his country’s ski resorts the ban remains in place. A u-turn is expected as soon as this week, however, so prepare to be reunited with our old friends across the Channel.

When the border does reopen, entry rules are likely to include a requirement to take a pre-departure test.

Where to go

Our France expert Anthony Peregrine has chosen his 20 favourite French departments. Of the Pyrenees-Atlantique, he writes: “Paradise. Basque country rolls beautifully from mountains to a muscular coast punctuated by pristine seaside towns; St-Jean-de-Luz may be the most appealing in all of France.

Colourful basque houses in port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France - Getty
Colourful basque houses in port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France - Getty

The absurdly pretty village of Ainho, Europe’s pepper/piment HQ, Espelette, and Biarritz, all Belle Époque glamour and inimitable coastal culture, mustn’t be missed.” Of the Lot, he says: “Figeac is the finest small town in France, its conspiratorial old centre recounting the historic structures of French living. It was the birthplace of Egyptologist Jean-François Champollion, who cracked hieroglyphics, and Hollywood Latin lover, chain-smoking Charles Boyer. Beyond, the Célé river flows to Cabrerets, home of the outstanding Pech Merle cave paintings. I’d book now.”

Back to normal rating: 3/10

If you’re fully vaccinated and don’t mind being regularly asked to provide evidence, France remains a fine holiday destination. Otherwise, you might want to give it a miss. The country’s Passe Sanitaire is required for restaurants, trains, and all other venues accommodating 50 people or more. Don’t expect this to change. Last week Macron caused controversy when he spoke of unvaccinated people thusly: “I really want to piss them off, and we’ll carry on doing this – to the end.”

Note that those over 65 years old need a booster shot for their Passe Sanitaire to remain valid.

Italy

One of the first countries to reopen to tourists in 2020, Italy was more cautious in 2021 and saw overseas arrivals plummet by 80.3 per cent during the first seven months of the year compared with the same period in 2019.

Can I visit?

Yes. However, you’ll need to present evidence of vaccination and a negative test; non-vaccinated arrivals must take a test and quarantine for five days.

Where to go

Why not discover the Italian region with beautiful landscapes and ancient villages – but hardly any tourists. We’re talking about Abruzzo. Italy expert Tim Jepson explains: “Having been ignored for too long, travellers are finally learning that its mountains, still the haunt of wolves and bears, are the finest in Italy outside the Alps, that its coast is gloriously wild in places, and that many of its ancient villages are timeless and traditional in the best sense. And if visitor infrastructure is still in its infancy – part of the region’s charm, of course – newer destination hotels are gradually opening, and the food, as ever in Italy, is superlative.

“The new Tuscany? The new Umbria? Not quite. But a place to visit now before everyone else? Definitely.” Read his guide to the region here, plus the best hotels in Abruzzo.

Back to normal rating: 3/10

Italy has introduced a battery of measures in response to the omicron wave, with outdoor events in public spaces prohibited, and nightclubs closed. Masks are mandatory both indoors and – where social distancing is not possible (such as in city centres) – outdoors, while the use of FFP2 masks is compulsory on public transport, in theatres, concert halls and cinemas and for sporting events until at least March 31. One must assume these rules will be eased in the spring.

The situation regarding vaccine passports is similar to France; only people with proof of vaccination, or who have recovered from Covid, can eat at indoor restaurants, go to the cinema or attend a sporting event.

Greece

Around one in 10 Britons are planning a trip to Greece in 2022, according to Abta, making it the fifth most in-demand destination.

Can I visit?

Yes. More than most, tourism-reliant Greece has fought to keep its borders open. As things stand, both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers can visit if they present evidence of a recent negative test.

Where to go

Where to start? Greece is packed with gorgeous islands. My favourite is Tinos, a 20-minute ferry ride from better-known Mykonos but mercifully untouched by mass tourism. It offers everything that makes Greece such a perennial favourite with British holidaymakers. Laid-back lifestyle, fresh, simple cuisine, glorious beaches and rugged scenery, but without the crowds. A week there and you’ll wonder why anyone bothers with Mykonos at all. For more quiet Greek islands see our guide.

Back to normal rating: 6/10

Masks are mandatory in both indoor and crowded outdoor settings. Proof of vaccination is required to enter restaurants, non-essential shops and museums. However, enforcement is varied; don’t expect little island tavernas to be as vigilant as city-centre establishments.

Portugal

Tourism to Portugal fell by 83 per cent during the first seven months of 2021, compared with 2019, but it will be keen for a return to tourism prosperity this year. Overseas arrivals had risen dramatically to around 24 million in 2019 – up from 10 million in 2015.

Can I visit?

Yes. Like Greece, Portugal has been keen to keep the tourist cash rolling in and Britons can visit regardless of their vaccination status. They will, however, need to show evidence of a negative test.

Where to go

The Alentejo region offers both wide plains scattered with medieval hilltop towns, Roman remains, olive groves and vineyards, as well as a coastline dotted with unspoilt, under-the-radar beaches.

Comporta, Portugal - Getty
Comporta, Portugal - Getty

For a base, Portugal expert Mary Lussiana recommends Comporta. She says: “This little village has, until recently, been a secret of the cognoscenti, but with hotels now starting to open, you should make the most of it before the crowds come. Turquoise waters lap such picture-perfect white sands that it’s hard to believe you’re in Europe: walk the beach at sunset, or weave your way on horseback through green rice fields before a meal of the freshest of fish on the seashore.” See her complete guide to Portugal’s seaside highlights here.

Back to normal rating: 6/10

While things might change in the coming months, Portugal has tightened its restrictions since the emergence of omicron. You must show proof of vaccination or a negative test result to enter restaurants, hotels, gyms, and events with reserved seating. A negative test result (PCR or antigen) is required, even if vaccinated, to enter bars, nightclubs, sports arenas and events without reserved seating. Face masks are required in all enclosed spaces and outdoors where social distancing cannot be maintained.

Germany

Europe’s economic powerhouse isn’t usually considered for a summer holiday, but according to Abta 8.2 per cent of Britons are considering a break there in 2022.

Can I visit?

Yes. Having briefly barred Brits from entering, Germany has rolled out the red carpet again. You will need to possess either proof of vaccination, proof of recovery or a negative Covid test.

Where to go

David Bowie, had he not gone to meet his maker, would’ve turned 75 this month. What better excuse for a trip to Berlin, where the musical genius lived and recorded a trilogy of albums. Our expert on the city, Paul Sullivan, writes: “Berlin has busied itself since the fall of its infamous Wall with becoming one of the most stimulating creative and cultural centres in Europe.

It is a hub for hedonists, hipsters and history buffs alike – one that truly offers something for everyone. Its slew of art spaces, notoriously tolerant nightlife and burgeoning start-up scene grab the headlines most regularly, but the city is also a welcoming destination for families thanks to a wealth of green spaces, sparkling lakes and a generally child-friendly infrastructure. Luxury travellers are catered for with a slew of five-star hotels, Michelin-starred dining spots and indulgent spas; and for history fans, there's plenty – after all, the city was at the heart of much of the turbulent 20th century.”

See his pick of the best things to see and do here, plus guide to the best hotels in Berlin.

Things to do in berlin, berlin holidays - Getty
Things to do in berlin, berlin holidays - Getty

Back to normal rating: 3/10

Sadly, those notorious nightclubs are closed, while football is being played being closed doors or with reduced crowds. Furthermore, entry to non-essential shops, restaurants and bars is restricted to fully vaccinated people; previously a negative test also permitted entry. The nightclubs will almost certainly reopen in the coming weeks and months, but the vaccine passports look likely to stay.

Australia

Around one in 20 Britons hope to visit Australia in 2022. No doubt many have family and friends Down Under who they haven’t been able to see for two years.

Can I visit?

Australia has changed tack recently, abandoning its Zero Covid efforts and adopting a slightly less stringent approach to border restrictions, even in the face of omicron. Its outbound travel ban was rescinded and immediate family members of Australian citizens or residents and travellers with a “compelling reason” are now allowed to enter the country. However, ordinary tourists will have to wait a while longer. Once it does reopen, you’ll almost certainly need to be vaccinated to enter.

Wildflower displays in Australia, The Profusion in Western Australia - Getty
Wildflower displays in Australia, The Profusion in Western Australia - Getty

Where to go

Australia will surely reopen to tourists by the summer (or their winter), the perfect time to see the wildflower displays of Western Australia (July-September). Nicknamed The Profusion, much of the region turns into a patchwork carpet of colour. Flowers are everywhere during the period, blooming first in the north before sweeping south, but Lesueur National Park, along the Margaret River, and Karijini National Park are prime places to see the blossoms. Qantas may even relaunch its direct flights from London to Perth before then. See our expert guide to the Western Australian city.

Back to normal rating: 3/10

As Novak Djokovic discovered recently, Australia is rather strict when it comes to Covid protocols. One can only hope that things will calm down once the omicron wave subsides and the rest of the world inches back to normality.

Canada

Like America, Canada kept its borders closed to overseas arrivals for most of the pandemic – but lifted its tight travel restrictions in the autumn.

Can I visit?

Yes. However, you must be fully vaccinated and take both a pre-departure test and another on arrival. Unvaccinated children can travel with their vaccinated parents, but must quarantine for 14 days on arrival (if aged 12-17) or take a battery of tests and avoid crowded settings (if aged five-11), making some family holidays difficult.

Where to go

It’s hard to beat the combination of Vancouver, often dubbed one of the world’s most “liveable” cities, and the spectacular Rockies. Travel writer Tim Jepson explains: “Western Canada does not disappoint. In Vancouver it has a city regularly lauded as one of the world’s most beautiful, and in the Canadian Rockies a medley of landscapes frequently praised as some of the most spectacular on Earth. All too often destinations don’t live up to this type of accolade. Here the superlatives barely do justice to the city or the scenery.”

Follow his guide to the perfect holiday in the region and the best hotels in Vancouver for ideas on where to stay.

Back to normal rating: 3/10

As outlined above, the country remains difficult for British families to visit thanks to its strict vaccine requirements, while some regions are already adding booster jabs as a requirement for entry to restaurants, bars and shops.

Turkey

Like Portugal, Turkey has seen tourism grow rapidly in the last decade, with around 52m overseas arrivals in 2019 – up from 30.3m in 2016. It has been in damage limitation mode during the last two years, but its tourism decline of 58.8 per cent during the first seven months of last year (vs 2019) rates as a success in these strange times.

Can I visit?

Yes. All arrivals aged six and over must present evidence of vaccination, a negative test or prior infection.

Turquoise Coast, Turkey, Mediterranean - Getty
Turquoise Coast, Turkey, Mediterranean - Getty

Where to go

Terry Richardson, our Turkey expert, says: “Turquoise Coast may be a bit of modern branding, but it aptly describes the most beautiful stretch of shore in the entire Mediterranean. In ancient times this region was Lycia, named after its then inhabitants, and the ruins of their unique civilisation form a distinctive part of the breathtaking landscape of towering peaks, deep valleys, pine forests, plunging cliffs and secluded bays. Gulet cruises are one way to experience the Turquoise Coast, as is walking the fantastic Lycian Way.” See his guide to the country’s best seaside destinations.

Back to normal rating: 8/10

While Turkey uses a domestic Covid passport, which requires proof of either vaccination, recent recovery, or a negative PCR test (taken within 48 hours), tourists are exempt and reports suggest things are relatively relaxed, Covid wise.

For our guide to the easiest last-minute winter holidays, head here.

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