The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has given us all hope that travel will be possible again. But with the situation changing daily, and travel restrictions too, it’s hard to pinpoint a low-risk place to book a trip.
Canadian travel expert, Matthew Keezer, suggests we look for places which have remained stable throughout the pandemic, rather than choosing the destinations that were popular before the pandemic.
What makes a destination safe?
Firstly, nowhere is immune from COVID-19. But you’re in with a better chance of getting away on holiday, with relatively low restrictions, by looking for places which have experienced fewer cases of COVID-19. For example, cities and areas where hospitals have avoided overcrowding and are less likely to impose curfews or other restrictions.
Madeira and Porto Santo, Portugal: the safest travel destinations in Europe
Although mainland Portugal has had many COVID-19 cases (788,560 at last count), the less populated Madeira and Porto Santo islands have remained the safest destination in Europe ever since the pandemic started.
The archipelago implemented health measures early on to protect the local population and the destination currently has one of the lowest rates of active cases in Europe, with just 971 cases in total since the start of the pandemic.
Madeira is known for its lush nature and breathtaking landscapes. The archipelago is surrounded by the ocean, where the air is clean and clear, unlike in the majority of big European cities.
If you're planning a workation it's also a great choice as the government recently opened Europe's first digital nomad village.
You can keep up to date with the latest travel requirements here.
Monte Carlo, Monaco: playground for the rich keeps COVID out
Known as the ‘playground for the rich’, Monaco is another of Europe’s safest travel destinations. This French principality region has had 21 deaths and a total of 1,787 cases since the start of the pandemic.
Whether it’s relaxing on the beach or playing in some of Monte Carlo’s world renowned casinos (once they’re open again), this stunning Mediterranean city has something for everyone.
Although there is no mandatory period of quarantine upon arrival in Monaco, there is currently a curfew from 7pm to 6am.
You can keep up to date with the local restrictions in Monaco here.
Martinique, Lesser Antilles: rugged Caribbean island
After a dreary winter in lockdown, some sun, sea and sand on a rugged Caribbean island is definitely in order.
Exceptional hikes, canyoning on the Mount Pelée massifs, or swimming with turtles are just some of the things on offer to holidaymakers in Martinique.
More importantly, the destination has been 15 times less affected by COVID-19 than most countries in Europe, with 6,000 cases and 45 deaths in total.
All travellers over the age of 11 are required to have a negative PCR test result to enter.
You can keep up to date with all travel restrictions here.
Asos - Kefalonia Island, Greece: hidden fishing village
For dreamy blue skies, crystal-clear seas, excellent cuisine, and beautiful landscapes, Asos is the perfect destination to recuperate from the stress of the last year.
This ancient and colourful fishing village is one of Greece's hidden gems. Here, you can soak in the sun on the beautiful Navagio Beach, or explore the Melissani Cave - Greece's natural treasure.
In terms of safety, Asos has four times fewer deaths linked to COVID-19 compared to other countries in Europe.
The Greek Prime Minister says that travellers with a COVID-19 vaccination certificate can enter the country without any restrictions.
There’s more information on travel requirements here.
Tahiti, French Polynesia: unbelievable beaches
Tahiti’s crystal-clear waters, lush natural landscape and rich local cuisine are sure to induce major Instagram envy.
But more importantly, Tahiti is another relatively safe destination to book a holiday in 2021.
Tahiti has three times fewer deaths per million inhabitants than France. Across the whole of French Polynesia, there have been 18,299 cases of the virus and 136 deaths.
Most travellers are required to have at least one negative PCR test before boarding.
You can see the latest travel information for Tahiti here.
Safety first - wherever you choose
Even though these locations are regarded as the safest destinations, all travelers should be careful for the sake of their own health, and that of the communities they’re visiting. Always follow the government guidelines at home and abroad.
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