How much of the day do you spend planning for post-pandemic life? If the answer is more than you’d like to admit, you’re not alone. It feels like I spend half the day daydreaming of the next time I can see loved ones in the flesh or go to the pub. Just being able to pop into the supermarket without worrying about whether I brought my mask with me would be a blessing. But of course, one of the things I miss the most is travelling. And it looks like I’m not alone — holidays are the third most missed thing for Brits during lockdown.
Whilst it’s still going to be a while before our next holiday, Monday’s optimistic exit plan announcement brings our next getaway a little bit closer. And in the meantime, we can still daydream about our next adventure. In fact, this is the perfect time to plan your trip, since most of us have suffered from a serious case of lockdown boredom. If you want to turn your holiday daydreaming into real life plans, these are the 5 best countries to visit post-lockdown.
If like me, you’ve been dreaming of an idyllic island getaway and sipping cocktails on the beach, then Greece should be your first port of call. Dazzling sunshine, clear blue sea, the laid-back atmosphere — there’s a reason that it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. But the best thing about the country is that despite the increase in tourism every year, it’s still easy to find somewhere peaceful and secluded. This is definitely something that you should consider for your next holiday, as the expected holiday boom means that the most touristy spots will be completely packed. If you’re after a tranquil break, then check out this list of the quietest Greek islands from The Mediterranian Traveller.
One of my favourite places for a peaceful Greek holiday has to be Paleokastritsa. This scenic village located in the North of Corfu island is seriously underrated in favour of more popular locations like Mykonos or Santorini. But Paleokastritsa is just as beautiful, and even more peaceful, so it’s definitely worth a visit. If you go, make sure to check out the monastery and buy yourself a bottle of olive oil that is made by the nuns themselves.
Of course, Greece is about far more than just the beaches. The country has a rich and fascinating history, renowned not just in Europe but across the world. From the Olympics to the great Greek philosophers, there’s so much history to discover in the country. If you’re interested in learning more about Greece’s riveting history, check out Dave’s Travel Page’s list of the top 10 historical landmarks in the country.
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who wouldn’t fall completely in love with Portugal after their visit. This fantastic country is often overlooked for its more touristy next-door neighbour Spain. But Portugal has become an increasingly popular holiday spot, and it’s hardly surprising to see why. The mouth-watering food, the beautiful beaches, the stunning cities, and the impressive 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites — it’s the perfect place to travel after lockdown.
If you’re after a relaxing beach getaway, then you’re in the perfect place as the Algarve has one of the best coastlines in the world. Long, sandy beaches, deep blue sea and stunning rock formations make this region the most beautiful one in the country. One of my personal favourite beaches in the area is Carvalho. It’s quite small, and popular amongst locals and tourists alike, so you need to make sure to get up early to pay it a visit, but it’s definitely worth it. To access it, there is a narrow staircase through the rocks. The beach itself is sheltered by cliffs on either side, making it the perfect spot to kick back and relax.
For those of you who prefer city breaks, make sure to check out Lisbon, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There are so many fascinating landmarks in the city, from the remains of a 1000-year-old castle to the most beautiful lift in the world, created all the way back in 1902. Of course, one of the best things about Lisbon is the impressive architecture. Take a stroll through the city (or hop on a tram if you prefer), and take in the scenery. It’s simply unforgettable.
This country is easily one of the most underrated tourist destinations in Europe. Bosnia is far too often associated with war and violence, and some even think the Bosnian War is still going today — the fighting actually finished a quarter of a century ago in 1995. However, tourism to the country is increasing year on year, so hopefully, it will finally get the attention it deserves soon.
By far the most popular tourist city in the country is the absolutely magical Mostar. Anyone who’s had the pleasure of visiting this city won’t be surprised. The gorgeous architecture, the charming shops, and the iconic Stari Most bridge make this city easily one of the most picturesque in the world. Walking through Mostar is like walking through a fairytale, it completely transports you to another world.
Another city that’s definitely worth paying a visit to is Sarajevo. Compared to Mostar, the capital appears a bit rough around the edges, but it’s home to some amazing street art and fascinating history. Archduke Franz Ferdinand was killed next to the famous Latin Bridge, an event that is widely considered to have been the final straw for the start of the First World War. Sarajevo is also home to some fascinating museums and galleries which detail the city’s tragic past, so any history buffs would thrive here.
One thing that Bosnia is less well-known for is its coastline. Yes, it may be just 12 miles long (making it the second shortest coastline in the world), but it’s actually a pretty great beach. The bay is sheltered making it comfortable and safe for swimming, and it’s extremely affordable too. Plus, the sea is absolutely beautiful. Whilst it’s not the best place to spend a whole holiday, it’s definitely worthy of a day trip.
Bosnia’s next-door neighbour is another great place for your first post-lockdown holiday. But unlike Bosnia, Croatia is far from being a hidden gem. Tourism is one of the biggest industries in the country, as demonstrated by the impressive 19 million visitors that flocked there in 2019. However, there are plenty of secluded beaches to visit thanks to the many islands and the impressive 3600-mile coastline (you can’t help but feel a bit sorry for Bosnia and their tiny 12 miles!).
One of the most beautiful and serene Croatian islands is the absolutely beautiful Mljet. This little piece of paradise is Croatia’s greenest island, with the national park taking up a good chunk of the land, making it a dream destination for wildlife enthusiasts. It’s also a great place for an outdoorsy adventure. Swim around Odysseus Cave, cycle around the scenic island, or go kayaking (and try not to flip the boat and lose both your flip flops like I did). But my favourite thing to do by far is to relax, lie back, and soak up the sun.
As well as the sublime coastline, there’s plenty of great cities to visit in the country too, the most popular being Dubrovnik. It certainly isn’t the best place for a quiet city break — almost 1.5 million tourists visited the city in 2019. The ever-increasing popularity of Dubrovnik is largely thanks to the stunning backdrop, which is what inspired the creators of Game of Thrones to film some of the hit series here. The city’s main tourist hotspot is the picturesque Old Town. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s an important piece of history too — it’s one of the world’s best-preserved medieval cities. Stepping foot in the Old Town is like travelling back in time. Learn more about the history of the UNESCO World Heritage Site by taking a walking tour and exploring the landmarks fascinating past.
If you’re looking for a city that’s just as beautiful but without the crazy crowds, you should definitely check out Split. The second largest city in Croatia shares a lot of similarities with the tourist hotspot, Dubrovnik: a fascinating history, a well preserved Old Town, and a beautifully dramatic backdrop. Just a few of Split’s highlights include the Klis Fortress, Diocletian’s Palace, and the beautiful walk along the Riva harbour. Although Dubrovnik is a beautiful city, the laid-back vibe of Split just edges it as my favourite city in Croatia.
Your Home Country
I know you’ve probably been dreaming of jetting off as far away as possible, but you shouldn’t forget about your own country. If you want to take a holiday anytime soon, the chances are that it’ll be far easier to take a domestic one rather than an international one. You also need to consider the safety of international travel. Just because a country allows you to travel there, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this is a good idea. Some countries are so desperate to get their tourist sectors back up and running that they don’t stop to think about the risk that having international visitors brings. Remember, you have a responsibility to protect not just your own health but the health of those around you too.
Of course, it’s not just about the practicalities — domestic holidays are so fun! Many people rarely travel their own country like a tourist, so it’s a great way to see it in a new light. Visit the tourist spots that you’ve never even considered before, support the local economy, and have a great holiday.
Which country do you want to travel after lockdown? Let me know in the comments below!