What’s that in the sky? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a — hold on, is it actually a plane? A real-life, globe-trotting, passenger-carrying plane? With the tight grip of lockdown loosening, it could very well be. And, what’s more, as more and more countries begin to open up their borders, we could all be checking in and jetting off very, very soon.
So where to go? Restrictions still apply, obviously — so it’s not going to be as easy as throwing a dart at a map. Most destinations will remain closed until the end of the year. But there are a few choice countries and cities we’ve got our passports poised for. So, from a handful of alternative European city breaks to some farther-flung locales, here’s where you should travel to in September…
For alternative European sun, head to the Croatian Coast
Forget your sandy Spanish escapes or craggy cliffside Italian villages — there’s a new country sailing its way to seaside supremacy; Croatia. And what a coast it has — over 1,000 miles of blazing, winding Adriatic beaches just begging you to unfurl your towel and crack the spine on a pulpy paperback. What’s more, those beaches have been officially recognised as Europe’s second-cleanest (after Cyprus), so you can rest assured that you’ve kept your getaway as germ-free as possible.
The country is currently open to UK residents, and Britain doesn’t require you to self-isolate when you return. But that’s not the only draw. From Mljet and Vis to Brac and Hvar, there are so many lush islands off the Croatian coast that it’s the perfect place to charter a yacht and island hop. Or, if you’ve missed the hustle and bustle of urban breaks, head to one of the country’s grand coastal cities; from capital Dubrovnik to cultural Rijeka.
For a farther-flung adventure, look to St Lucia
With restrictions and regulations limiting much of the world’s far-flung travel, it’s a godsend when a long-haul destination slips through the cracks. Even more so when that destinations looks like St Lucia. True, you may have to show a negative test (completed no more than seven days prior to arrival) upon landing — but once you’re through customs you’ll be able to enjoy one of the sunniest, friendliest islands in the entire eastern Caribbean.
Among its West Indian wonders is Gros Piton, a mountainous volcanic spire perfect for bracing, blazing summer hikes. Elsewhere on the island, you’ll be able to enjoy reef diving, rainforest trails and even waterfalls — a literal breath of fresh air for anyone who has so far spent 2020 self-isolating in a city. And, when you’re done with your day’s activities, there’ll be a plate of Green Figs and Salt Fish — the national dish — waiting for you. Mouth-watering stuff.
For a short-haul option, explore the joys of Denmark
Pandemic or no pandemic, Denmark should be on your wanderlust list. The stripped-back, no-nonsense nation straddles Scandinavia and continental Europe — and is one of our favourite short-haul hops even at the best of times. With its borders currently open, if you haven’t yet discovered the myriad joys of the Nordic nation, now is the time.
We’d start in Copenhagen — and why not? The Danish capital has it all; a burgeoning cultural centre, one of the best gastronomic scenes in Europe and surprisingly decent weather. Even outside of the cities, there are beautiful towns dotted around the rugged, rural wilds of the country. And who wouldn’t want to cap off 2020 with a Scandi roadtrip? We’d fire up our motors in western Ribe, the oldest town in Denmark, before driving almost 500 kilometres eastward to the coastal town of Gudhjem. Now that’s an adventure.
If you’re missing decadent living, jet off to Monaco
Glamour — remember that? Five-star hotels and four-course dinners? It’s been a while. Thankfully, every racing driver’s favourite bastion of decadence, Monte Carlo, has once more opened its doors for business, pleasure and a good dose of Mediterranean sun.
For the first time this year since 1954, the streets of Monaco weren’t treated to the howls of the iconic F1 Grand Prix. And that means now is the perfect time for you to visit — and explore the many twists and turns of the track for yourself. As current Gentleman’s Journal cover star Lewis Hamilton told us; “I love it there” — and we can see why. The Prince’s Palace, the Casino Monte-Carlo, Saint Nicholas Cathedral? No wonder they can’t keep the racers away.
Turkey’s largest city is as diverse a destination can be
While Denmark above proudly straddles Scandinavia and mainland Europe, Turkey one-ups the Nordic nation by spanning two whole continents. The bridge between both Europe and Asia, there is no city on earth quite like Istanbul — and it remains open to tourism despite the global pandemic. Last year, we explored how the city was establishing itself as a must-see global destination — and we advise you to take a look for yourself…
After all, Turkey’s largest city — inexplicably not the capital, that’s Ankara — offers such a diverse, swirling blend of cultures that it’ll make up for all those city breaks and holidays you’ve missed out on this year. Head to Sultanahmet Square to see an Egyptian Obelisk, a Mediterranean lunch in the Mısır Çarşısı spice bazaar and, finally, take a trip across to Bosphorus to Asia. Globe-trotting in a single city.
If you’ve really, really saved during lockdown, why not try Fiji?
Okay, we’ll admit — there’s a catch with this one. Fiji is the stuff of white-sand, blue-wave dreams for most of us — and, unfortunately, the Fijian prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, seems to want to keep it that way. The UK may have popped the South Pacific island on our ‘safe’ list, but the country has only opened its borders to billionaires. Seriously.
“Say you’re a billionaire looking to fly your own jet, rent your own island, and invest millions of dollars in Fiji in the process,” the prime minister tweeted last month. “If you’ve taken all the necessary health precautions and borne all associated costs, you may have a new home to escape the pandemic in paradise.”
With palm-lined beaches, coral reefs and clear, sparkling lagoons, ‘paradise’ is right. It’s just a shame most of us will miss it.
Want to stay a little closer to home? Here are the best UK getaways for a late summer break…
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