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The ultimate bucket-list escapes to book now

The Balearics, Barbados and Malta are just some of the hot new additions to the UK’s travel ‘green list’, meaning holidaymakers no longer need to quarantine on return to the UK from these destinations. With that in mind, it’s time to plan that long-overdue trip to the sun…


01/07/2021

“Good old vitamin sea” at Aguas Blancas beach in Ibiza

Ibiza

Best for: wellness

We know what you might be thinking: Ibiza and wellness? But the Balearic beauty has always had a spiritual side and, whether it’s yoga, hiking or a full-on body detox, the White Isle has carved itself a well-deserved reputation as a haven for a serious body MOT. There are countless excellent retreats that focus on yoga, meditation and getting guests to reconnect with nature – although some still come to party for a few days and then relax and recharge on the island’s quieter northern side. Ibiza also has some of the chicest spa destinations in the world but, if your budget is more modest, give yourself a boost with some good old vitamin sea. Our picks are Cala Xarraca and Aguas Blancas, both on the magical northeastern coast (although, be warned – or delighted – that Aguas Blancas is partly nudist). Swim, explore and soak up the sun: what could be better for the soul than being in the moment by, or in, the Mediterranean?

Entry requirements: All travellers must complete a pre-travel declaration form. Find out more here.

Take off to Ibiza


Landmannalaugar (the people’s pools) in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Iceland

Iceland

Best for: adventure

If the idea of lying on the beach leaves you cold (oh, the irony) and a holiday isn’t a holiday without cramming in as many experiences as possible, then Iceland is the destination for you. The land of fire and ice will earn you serious bragging rights with the variety of one-of-a-kind adventures on offer. Upgrade the familiar trekking experience with a glacier hike and ice climb on the Sólheimajökull glacier in the island’s south or go north and traverse the long volcanic fissure along the Krafla Fires. Iceland also proves that scuba diving isn’t just a tropical destination activity, as holidaymakers can scuba dive in Silfra (opening image) on the southwest coast – the only place in the world where one can dive or snorkel directly in a crack between two tectonic plates. Round the trip off with an unforgettable horse-riding tour (Icelandic ponies have their own fifth gait, the tölt), which is another excellent way to take in the otherworldly landscape. Visit between October and March for the best chance to see the ultimate bucket-list experience: the Northern Lights. Truly phenomenal.

Entry requirements: Travellers must show proof of full vaccination or proof that they have had and recovered from Covid-19. They must then take a test on landing and quarantine until the result comes through. Find out more here.

Take off to Iceland

Deserted beach near Holetown, Barbados

Barbados

Best for: romance

Barbados has the killer combo of being laidback and luxurious. Days spent ambling along powder-soft, white-sand beaches and devouring a book by the pool with zero distractions – the only set plan being a Dark & Stormy backdropped by a glorious sunset. Couples should head for boutique-style Mango Bay on the island’s glam west coast, which promises a top-notch spa and exudes a peaceful, intimate feel. To really crank up the bucket-list factor, hire a catamaran cruise such as The Cat & The Fiddle, a 62ft luxury lagoon catamaran where every whim will be catered for. Barbados is said to be the best culinary destination in the Caribbean so romantic dinners are de rigueur. From barefoot, candlelit dining on the beach to Bajan institutions such as The Cliff – now reimagined as the equally lovely Cliff Bistro – romance is most definitely on the menu.

Entry requirements: Travellers must have proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure to Barbados. All passengers must submit an embarkation/disembarkation card 24 hours prior to travel and should upload their negative test result via a travel form. Find out more here.

Take off to Barbados


A stunning waterfall on Levada das 25 Fontes in Madeira (Unsplash/Piotr Musiol)

Madeira

Best for: great outdoors

This vibrant green island with a year-round temperate climate is just the ticket for those looking to explore and hike through lush landscapes and rainforest trails. Hike via a levada, a small irrigation channel created to transport water from the island’s north to the south. There are around 1,550 trails to choose from and all fitness levels are covered. Confident walkers should try the seven-mile Levada das 25 Fontes, a three-hour trek through high forests that ends with the reward of a dreamy lagoon surrounded by cascading waterfalls. Or hit the Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo trail and hike above the clouds. Aquatic adventurers can take their pick from windsurfing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, or scuba dive at the Madeirense wreck in Porto Santo, an artificial reef and one of the most popular dive sites in the Atlantic.

Entry requirements: Travellers must have proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure to Madeira. The proof must be uploaded to a traveller questionnaire and presented on arrival. Find out more here.

Take off to Madeira

Landscape of historic limestone buildings in Valletta, capital of Malta

Malta

Best for: food

Malta and its bijou neighbour Gozo have been quietly building a reputation as fantastic foodie destinations over the past few years: Italian, Sicilian, Arabic, British and French influences combine for a truly distinctive and delicious cuisine. Typical dishes include fenkata, a rabbit stew, and lampuki (mahi-mahi) pie. Capital Valletta has some outstanding restaurants: book a table at Michelin-starred Noni and dine on local prawn ravioli with red mullet followed by 120-day-aged côte de bœuf. For a very different, but equally heavenly experience, visit Ta’Mena Estate on Gozo, which holds informal wine and olive oil tastings, with the added bonus of animals to pet (the estate doubles as a smallholding). And as well as having a stunning food scene, Malta also lays on a visual feast. Valletta is one of three Unesco World Heritage sites, along with the fortified Three Cities and old capital of Mdina. Pretty impressive for an island that’s just 95 square miles.

Entry requirements: As of 1 July 2020, visitors to Malta must show a UK Covid Pass, EU digital Covid Certificate or Maltese issued certificate to show proof of full vaccination in order to enter Malta. You must complete a public health travel declaration form and a passenger locator form. Find out more here.

Take off to Malta