For many of us with Lockdown, summer 2020 feels like it never really took place. Even though lockdown for much of the UK began to ease in June, the changing quarantine rules have meant that planning a summer holiday abroad has been more complicated than ever, with travellers not just wondering about the best places to stay, but where is safe to travel to right now.
As the world adjusts to the new normal, now we’re looking ahead to the colder months and wondering which classic winter-sun destinations it’s still possible to visit. Below we’ve collated the destinations that not only offer warm weather during December onwards, but are also open to tourism and exempt from the English quarantine list (check the separate government pages for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as travel restrictions in those countries are being tightened and loosened at different times).
Flight time: 4 hours 30 minutes
When to go: March to May; October to November
Average winter temperature: 22°C
UK travellers can visit Cyprus without having to quarantine upon return to the UK. All UK visitors (except those under the age of 12) need to provide a negative coronavirus test obtained within 72 hours prior to travel.The eastern Mediterranean Sea around Cyprus may be chilly in winter, but the island gets plenty of sunshine all year, so there’s a good chance you’ll get T-shirt weather even in the coldest months. From March, the island’s flowers start to bloom, and there’s barely another visitor in sight. Plus it’s only a short hop from the UK.
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Flight time: 7 hours from London
When to go: October to March
Average winter temperature: 24°C
UK travellers can visit Bermuda without having to quarantine upon return to the UK. You’ll need to apply for Travel Authorisation and have a Covid-19 test before you go.
The mid-Atlantic archipelago of Bermuda, mythical setting for Shakespeare’s Tempest, is a land of pink beaches, pink houses and brightly coloured shorts. It is Caribbean in nature, though it’s much closer to the UK – so shorter flight times – and has a distinctive character all of its own.
Its pink-sand beaches are lovely, too. Those along the South Shore are the glory of the island. Horseshoe Bay is the best known and most crowded, though Warwick Long Bay, a short way along the coast, is just as alluring. At one end of Horseshoe there is a little patch of sand the size of a playground, cut off from the rest of it by a rocky hillock.
Flight time: 13+ hours from London
When to go: October to April
Average winter temperature: 27°C
UK travellers can fly into select airports in Cuba without having to quarantine upon return to the UK. There are luggage limits of one case of up to 32kg per passenger, plus hand luggage.
With its lovely Caribbean climate, guaranteed warm and sunny days and very little rain, Cuba’s weather is at its most reliable during the UK winter. The beaches down on the south coast may get the best sunshine and draw the biggest crowds, but there’s plenty beyond the palm-fringed stretches of sand.
Havana’s got its colourful pastel-hued buildings, cigars and Cadillacs, while the perfectly preserved Spanish colonial architecture in UNESCO-protected Trinidad makes the city feel lost in time. Elsewhere, there’s no end of nature reserves, lush forests, mountains and tobacco plantations to explore.
BORA BORA, TAHITI & FRENCH POLYNESIA
Flight time: 1 day.
When to go: Year-round (though March is particularly rainy on Tahiti).
Average winter temperature: 28°C
English and Northern Irish travellers can visit French Polynesia without having to quarantine upon return to the UK, but Scottish and Welsh travellers will have to self-isolate. All travellers need to present a medical certificate when arriving in French Polynesia. You will receive a self-testing kit upon arrival, which you will need to complete four days after your arrival date.
In both geography and spirit, just about as far from a drizzly British winter as you can get. French Polynesia is made up of 100-odd little islands in the South Pacific Ocean, the best-known of them Tahiti and Bora Bora. They are out of this world. Castaway fantasy, ringed by reefs; the water unbelievable shades of turquoise blue; the hibiscus flowers Gauguin bright; everything bright and light and hyper-real.