With cases beginning to rise again across Europe and governments changing their advice on travel restrictions by the day, you’d be forgiven for thinking a holiday this year is now out of the question.
But don’t despair. Despite the likes of Spain, France and Malta being removed from the UK’s quarantine-exemption list, there are still a good number of destinations with fairly low rates of infection that remain on the travel corridor list.
So if you want to book a last-minute trip without the worry that you might suddenly have to quarantine on return, here’s where you should consider.
Number of cases per 100,000: 4.2
This eastern Caribbean island re-opened its borders in mid-July, although entry restrictions were tightened on 3 August as a result of an increase in cases (0 to 23 in a matter of weeks).
Nevertheless, quarantine is not mandatory for most arrivals (including those from the UK), and visitors are free to travel as they wish as long as they agree to take a PCR test between days 5 and 7.
If you’d like to extend your stay, the island is also offering a Barbados Welcome Stamp: a 12-month visa that allows people to live and work remotely. Zoom calls on the beach sound like a lot more fun to us.
Number of cases per 100,000: 2.8
This Baltic nation has been ranked as one of the best in the world in terms of controlling the virus, and despite opening its borders to a number of EU/Schengen countries (and the UK), its infection rate remains remarkably low.
Most restaurants, shops and attractions in Tallinn and elsewhere across the country are open as normal, and it is one of the few countries in Europe where masks are not mandatory on public transport or in small spaces.
If you’d prefer to enjoy a breath of fresh air then Estonia has it in spades. Some 50% of the country is covered in forest, and with over 2,000 islands dotting its coastline there are plenty of opportunities for beach strolls, sea kayaking and wild swimming.
Estonia is also offering a ‘digital nomad’ visa, allowing people to work remotely in the country for up to a year.
Number of cases per 100,000: 5.5
Once the worst-affected county in Europe, Italy has managed to keep its infection rate down since reopening its borders, and holidaymakers are continuing to enjoy its historic cities and glorious beaches without the crowds.
Bradt MD Adrian Phillips recently returned from a week-long holiday in Sardinia where things were remarkably normal. ‘Apart from the masks and fewer tourists, you wouldn’t think there was anything different.’
Number of cases per 100,000: 5.7
Lithuania is another nation that has taken a cautious approach to reopening. Arrivals from the EEA (plus Switzerland) are permitted, but those coming from a country with an incidence rate of more than 16 cases per 100,000 are required to isolate for 14 days (which, at the time of writing, includes the UK).
But if you can get in, you’ll see why this Baltic nation has been shooting up the list of the most popular destinations in Europe in recent years. Swathed in forest, the country boasts a wealth of enchanting wilderness to explore, either on foot, by bike or by kayak. Its two main cities, Vilnius and Kaunas, are renowned for their UNESCO-listed heritage, and are known as two of the best-value cities in Europe.
Number of cases per 100,000: 5.9
Located entirely within Italy on the edge of Emilia Romagna, little San Marino has seen only 5 new cases since 12 July.
The world’s smallest republic has been popular with day trippers for decades, but its medieval streets offer plenty to those seeking longer breaks, including grand palazzos, fascinating art museums and some of the best wine in Europe. It’s Italy in miniature.
Number of cases per 100,000: 5.3
Landlocked Slovakia might not be your first thought for a summer getaway, but this beautifully green country might just surprise you.
Surrounded on all sides by verdant forest, its capital, Bratislava, has long been on the radar for those seeking a good-value city break, but away from its Art-Nouveau architecture and buzzing nightlife it’s also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Read more about how to enjoy a summer break in Bratislava.
Number of cases per 100,000: 7.4
Mighty mountains, grand lakes, world-class spas and the greenest capital in Europe: Slovenia might just offer the perfect antidote for those seeking to rejuvenate after months in lockdown. It’s also a popular destination for camping and glamping, so if that treehouse you were hoping to book back home is booked up until 2022, then Slovenia could be the destination for you.
Although border restrictions remain tight, the UK is currently on the green list meaning that visitors are not required to quarantine on arrival.