During our summer of staycations, the Telegraph Travel team discovered plenty of surprises in England and Wales. More beautiful, fascinating or compelling than we'd ever suspected, these destinations are now firmly on our must-visit lists...Read More »
This half-term holiday is up for grabs (those in Tier 3 look away now). There are cancellations in some of the UK’s most-sought-after properties due to the ever-changing situation.
Back in the day, the idea of a holiday “starting early” might have involved a cocktail the night before flying, once your bags were packed and your out of office was switched on. These days, the holiday starts even earlier, only it involves inserting a swab into the darkest crevasses of your nose and throat. As it stands, our options for international holidays are as follows. There are the four destinations that let us in without any quarantine or testing restrictions – these are Gibraltar, Greece, the Canary Islands and Sweden. There are many that won’t let holidaymakers in at all (the USA, India, Thailand) and a number which you can feasibly get to, but which will require a quarantine either on arrival or on your return (mainland Spain, Italy, Turkey). Then, there is a gaggle of green-listed destinations which will test you on arrival, like the Faroes, Jersey, and Cuba, and another handful that will let you in so long as you can present a negative Covid-19 PCR result on arrival, like the Maldives, Cyprus, Barbados and a number of Caribbean countries. My destination is St Lucia, which has one of the most lenient testing requirements – the Caribbean country merely asks for a negative PCR test result taken seven days before travel. As half term approaches, there are thousands of British holidaymakers who need to get their hands on a negative Covid-19 PCR result before their holiday. This is how the process works. First up, what is a PCR test? The universally accepted Covid test for entry to a country is the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. These are diagnostic tests, to see if you currently have the virus, rather than antibody tests, which identify whether you have had the virus before. How do I get a PCR test? You can only get a Covid-19 diagnostic test through the NHS if you have symptoms. So for an international holiday, you will need to take a PCR test through a private clinic – whether taken at home, or in a lab. There are many out there – we give information on some, here. The most cost- and time-effective way of getting a PCR test is by taking the test at home. Tui uses Randox, a laboratory based in Belfast. Their tests cost £120 but, when you book through Tui, there is a code to get 30 per cent off, meaning it will set you back £84. This is cheap compared to many other clinics, which typically range between £120 and £200. Step 1. The package arrives at your door After confirming my trip, and organising my test through Randox, I needed to wait a mere 24 hours before there was a knock on the door – the test kit had arrived. Step 2. Unpack the kit In the package you will find an instructions document and the following seven items. A swab A sample collection tube (containing pink liquid, to put the swab in) A transportation tube (to put the sample collection tube in) Unique Reference Number labels A pathoseal bag The box the kit arrives in A large return envelope
The Canary Islands and the Maldives have finally been granted travel corridors. Both archipelagos are popular options for winter sun, and have opened up the holiday map for Britons looking to get away before the end of 2020. Infection rates on a country's islands can be significantly lower than its mainland: take the seven-day caseload in La Palma (3.63 per 100,000 people) compared to Spain’s national rate (224): it is positive that the UK Government has recognised this in recent quarantine-list updates. Yet there are still many destinations with rates that are consistently well below 20 cases per 100,000 people (the number at which the UK Government originally considered adding a country to its quarantine list) that are still waiting to be green lit. Some of these have economies that are reliant on tourism. Below we take a look at the places that are most deserving of being added to the UK’s travel green list, with low numbers of Covid-19, open borders and without entirely prohibitive quarantine measures (14 days or more) in place for visitors from the UK. Egypt The north African country has recorded a rate of just 1.4 per 100,000 people over the past seven days. It has just 1,270 active cases of the virus having seen 106,060 in total. Tourism accounts for around 12 per cent of Egypt’s GDP, and it's an ideal destination for winter sun. Since July 1, the Egyptian Government has permitted international flights to and from Egyptian airports. All arrivals are required to present a negative PCR test certificate, which must be conducted no more than 72 hours before their flight departure time. Those travelling from London Heathrow can take their PCR test up to 96 hours before their flight departs. Other requirements include completing a monitoring card with personal details and providing confirmation of a valid health insurance policy to airport authorities. There are local restrictions in place, including mandatory use of face masks in enclosed public spaces. A direct flight from London to Sharm El Sheikh is just five and a half hours. Tui is offering a service from London Gatwick to Sharm El Sheikh. You could leave on November 1 and return on November 8 for £338. Easyjet has direct return flights from London Gatwick to Sharm El Sheikh leaving on November 7 and returning November 14 for £265.
Australia’s ongoing international border closure has sparked an unprecedented domestic tourism boom to remote, dangerous destinations including a giant monolith which has claimed three lives in six weeks.
‘I have never in my career seen so many broken parts in a toilet, and it smelled of vomit and urine,’ said flight attendant
America's biggest challenge Until the mid-80s, few people had heard of the cult ski area of Jackson Hole. Tucked into the top left-hand corner of Wyoming, with a Teton mountain range backdrop, it is now one of North America's foremost resorts. While originally famed for its tough terrain, these days Jackson Hole has plenty of facilities, lifts and terrain aimed at intermediates, families and beginners.
Last month, Health Secretary Matt Hancock pointed to Belgium as an example of a country that had managed to use restrictions on socialising to keep a lid on Covid. Now it has one of the highest case rates in the world
The whole of the United Kingdom was added to Germany’s Covid at-risk list this week, obliging British arrivals (including children in some states) to prove that they’re not importing the virus.
‘The flight from Ibiza to Stansted was half empty, not sure what difference a few cm would make,’ says fellow traveller
Czechs are famously glum in the face of even the sunniest of life events. It’s a flawlessly logical world view, really – go through life expecting the worst and you’ll never be disappointed. Statistically speaking, you’re even bound to be pleasantly surprised sooner or later.
After a year’s hiatus from flying, a hastily grabbed trip to Turkey recently showed me how exciting travel could be – and how easy it is. Why hadn’t I done it sooner? On the train to the airport, I had the carriage to myself; on the travelator, I slid along like Benjamin Braddock through a half-empty airport filled with the sound of silence. As the plane broke through the dark clouds into brilliant sunshine, I was reminded that there’s nothing like flying to get a fresh perspective on the world. After months of being grounded, travel had begun to feel like an impossible dream. Lockdown stuttered to an end, but many of us remained mired in our comfort zones, rooted to the spot, literally and psychologically. Even leaving the house can become an expedition, so what a faff a holiday can seem: the researching, the packing, the form-filling, never mind the journey and the threat of quarantine. And yet in the end, it’s easier than you think. Spontaneity is key. Choose a destination on the “safe” list, or decide to live with the quarantine if you can. Book your flight or train and go, before anyone changes their mind. Yes, our choice is ever-dwindling (within days of my return, Turkey joined the red list) but it doesn’t really matter where you go. The change is the thing. In Bodrum, after the relief of unmasking, I felt transported to another world. The damp heat of night rushed in through the taxi windows, and I stuck my head out to breathe it all in: salt-sea breeze scented with jasmine, clamorous east-west music on the radio. At the Macakizi Hotel, people were carrying on at the bar like it was 2019. I bit into what seemed like the most delicious food I’d ever tasted: exotic spices, a subtle smokiness, sea bass caught early that morning. And the view, when I awoke the next day, was worth two weeks of isolation: gulets in the bay, framed by bougainvillea, the sun shining on the water like molten silver. What a balm for the soul! What joyous, soul-stirring otherness, a few hours from home. It’s a reminder of what is out there. All we have to do is leave the house.
Propping my bike against a handy fence, I loll in blessed shade beneath clusters of ripe red and green fruit. Striped hills swell and ebb to the horizon. From beyond a nearby cellar door seeps a lip-smack-sigh of a bottle opening, the effervescent whisper of fizz foaming in glass. A swirl, a sip, a swallow: bubbles dance on the tongue, a flash of fruit tang, a distinctive dry minerality, lingering tannins.
Cerulean seas, cloudless skies, and the long, endless summer – these are the ‘Cyprus clichés’, the things I laud over my English relatives. But they’re true. They’re the reason many of us expats chose to live here. And they’re also what motivates the millions of visitors to the island each year. In 2019, back when we’d never heard of Covid-19, Cyprus welcomed four million tourists to the island – a record high. Tourism is a driving force for the economy. Thousands of us, in one way or another, relying on the annual influx to keep our finances afloat. Enter Covid-19. On March 9 (the day after my 72-year-old mother returned – corona-free, thank goodness – to the Cotswolds from her annual two weeks in the Med) our first two cases were announced: a health professional who had recently returned from the UK, and a young man who had flown back from Italy. On March 13, the President announced all borders would be closed to anyone except returning nationals for the next few weeks. And the lockdown had begun. My husband and I – both writers, and able to work from home – isolated immediately (albeit after a three-trolley shopping run that involved too many Toblerones). But in Cyprus, the tourist industry has such a far-reaching impact that many simply refused to accept that the strictures would last. As the government imposed stricter measures on arrivals, visitor figures plummeted. Summer came; the tourists didn’t. From March 15 to June 8, the government had set measures which included an entry ban on foreign visitors. But even when the airports finally reopened, figures remained at a record low. In June 2020, usually amongst the busiest months of the year, tourism was down over 90 per cent; just 22,000 arrivals – hardly enough to fill a couple of the larger hotels. Smaller establishments all over the island shut up shop; short-term rentals never opened their doors.
It’s been a rollercoaster few weeks here in Germany, as the coronavirus figures have started to steadily climb again and new lockdown curfews have been imposed on several cities and regions including Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Cologne, Bavaria’s Berchtesgaden Land.
‘And to thee and thy company I bid a hearty welcome’ reads the inscription on the bronze gates to New Place, William Shakespeare’s final residence in Stratford-upon-Avon. The Bard’s words from Act 5 Scene 1 of The Tempest seem almost wistful now in a town longing to welcome people from far and wide.