We have waited a long time for this moment. And now the new rules on travel have kicked in, there has been a surge in bookings, with Jet2 reporting a 150 per cent increase and Skyscanner, the airline comparison website, an immediate 81 per cent rise in online enquires. British Airways Holidays said that website searches increased by 40 per cent week on week (with New York, Dubai and Barbados most popular).
Ski specialist travel agent Iglu Ski (igluski.co.uk) said enquires leapt by 90 per cent after the changes to testing rules — hardly surprising, with the cost of a trip for a family of four suddenly down by as much as £350. And with fares to Spain as low as £9 this month, £15 in April and £31 in June, according to Skyscanner, this could turn out to be a bumper year for bagging a travel bargain. Here’s our guide to some of the best holidays available — plus the latest entry requirements in Europe.
MALTESE MIRACLE – UNDER £100
Get set for the Med: The Blue Lagoon in Gozo, Malta. Holiday Pirates is offering a value seven-night stay at Paradise Bay Hotel Mellieha, which is set on the northern tip of the country
Mellieha is on the northern tip of Malta and home to a 19th-century church, hiking trails, plenty of beaches, restaurants and bars.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights room-only at Paradise Bay Hotel Mellieha from £98 pp including flights on January 23 (holidaypirates.com).
SPANISH COAST – SAVE 65%
The Costa Brava is known for its beaches but also has beautiful inland towns to visit.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights room-only at HTOP Royal Beach from £159 pp, including flights on May 10. Book by January 31 (sunmaster.co.uk).
CARIBBEAN CLASSIC – SAVE 40%
Inspiring Travel Company is offering a seven-night all-inclusive stay in St Lucia from £2,359 pp. Pictured is a St Lucia beach looking out on one of the Pitons
It’s all go at the BodyHoliday in St Lucia, as this premium resort offers activities from water-skiing to archery.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights all-inclusive from £2,359 pp including flights for May 31 to August 31. Book by February 4. (inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk)
DISNEY MAGIC – SAVE 31%
With America back on the travel map, family breaks to theme parks in Florida are taking off again. Base yourself at a Walt Disney hotel to be at the heart of the action.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights for a family of four with two adults and two children, with flights and accommodation, at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort in Orlando from £3,224 (tui.co.uk).
MAKE IT MEXICO – SAVE 22%
The Canto del Sol all-inclusive hotel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, has huge pools, tennis courts, a spa and watersports on the adjoining beach. Summer temperatures are in the 30s Celsius.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights from £3,628 all-inclusive for four, with flights (tui.co.uk).
TEMPTING TURKEY – SAVE £571
Holiday Village Turkey in Sarigerme, in the Dalaman region, is ideal for families with young children. Pictured is the nearby Sarigerme Sacred Beach
Children will love the waterslides, ten-pin bowling, ‘jump nets’ and ‘kids’ den’ rooms at Holiday Village Turkey in Sarigerme, in the Dalaman region. Free child places are available this May.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights from £1,113 for two adults and child up to the age of ten in May, with Gatwick flights (firstchoice.co.uk).
GO FOR GRENADA
The True Blue Bay Boutique Resort in Grenada is a ten-minute drive from Grand Anse beach (pictured)
Enjoy your own two-bedroom villa with a plunge pool at the True Blue Bay Boutique Resort in Grenada, a ten-minute drive from Grand Anse beach. Hike in the rainforests, learn about the art of chocolate-making and visit a rum shack or two.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights from £1,365 pp B&B with Gatwick flights and transfers, for four sharing in January (tropicbreeze.co.uk).
CASH IN ON CYPRUS
Save a quarter on the usual price at Villa Aphrodite in Coral Bay, near Akamas National Park in Cyprus. It comes with a small pool and is in a peaceful spot near a fishing village with characterful tavernas.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights from £229 pp self-catering; flights not included (jamesvillas.co.uk).
Adventures beckon: The rooms at Villa Vinita in Corfu, pictured, are tastefully decorated throughout
Villa Vinita is on a hilltop with fantastic sea views. A pool sits on a terrace and rooms are tastefully decorated throughout, with air-conditioning, wi-fi, a maid service and breakfast each day. It’s a scramble down the hill to a nearby beach.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights from £549 pp based on ten sharing, with London flights in April (cvvillas.com).
LUXURY FOR LESS
INDULGE IN IBIZA
A swanky new all-inclusive hotel opens on Ibiza in May — the TRS Ibiza Hotel, on the west coast, with rooftop infinity pools, a spa and cocktail bars for sunset- watching. Enjoy the opening rates while you can.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights from £1,254 pp all-inclusive in June, with Birmingham flights and transfers (jet2holidays.com).
SPA IN SICILY – SAVE £116
The luxury, all-inclusive Grand Palladium Sicily opened last year. Pictured is the nearby city of Cefalu
SO WHAT ARE THE NEW RULES?
Pre-departure tests for vaccinated travellers entering the UK have been ditched. From Sunday, there is also no need to take a PCR test during the first two days after returning to Britain — or to self-isolate. But you must take a cheaper lateral flow test. Here are the rules for entry in Europe…
FRANCE: Tourists banned from entry.
SPAIN: All tourists aged 12 and over must be fully vaccinated.
PORTUGAL: Must show proof of a negative Covid test if aged 11 and over.
GREECE: Need proof of a negative Covid test if aged five and over.
CROATIA: Require proof of a negative Covid test or that you are fully vaccinated if aged 12 or over.
ITALY: You must show proof that you are fully vaccinated and have recently tested negative for Covid. Children under six are exempt.
AUSTRIA: You must have had booster jab and show proof of a negative test. Children under 12 are exempt and you can get a special pass for unvaccinated children aged 12 to 15 at ski resorts.
GERMANY: Fully vaccinated Britons are allowed in; unvaccinated children require negative tests, though under fives are exempt (but must quarantine for five days).
SWITZERLAND: Must be fully vaccinated and have tested negative for Covid.
SWEDEN: Must be fully vaccinated (unless under 18) and have a negative test result (unless under 12).
HUNGARY: The unvaccinated must show a recent negative test result.
CZECH REPUBLIC: The double-jabbed need to take a PCR test; those with boosters can enter without tests. Children under 12 do not need tests if they are with vaccinated parents.
- Check the latest entry requirements at gov.uk before making any booking.
Relax in the saunas, pools and hydromassage baths at the spa at the Grand Palladium Sicily. This luxury all-inclusive hotel, which opened last year, is great for outdoor-lovers, with hiking in nearby pine forests as well as watersports galore.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights from £761 pp all-inclusive, with Gatwick flights on May 1 (tui.co.uk).
CUT-PRICE BARBADOS – SAVE £50
Book ahead for later in the year and it’s possible to enjoy a week in Barbados, staying at the beachside Dover Beach Hotel, from little more than £600 per person per week. It comes with a pool, too.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights from £619 pp self-catering in September, with Heathrow flights. Book by midnight on January 11 (britishairways.com/barbados).
DOMINICAN DASH – SAVE 60%
Punta Cana on the Dominican Republic’s eastern tip is known for its 20-mile stretch of coast on the Atlantic and Caribbean.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights all-inclusive at Ocean El Faro, Punta Cana, from £798 pp, including flights in May 2022 (caribbeanwarehouse.co.uk).
MADE FOR TWO – SAVE 45%
Jamaica’s Seven Mile Beach looks more appealing by the day. This is also a great base to explore the rest of Negril.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights all-inclusive at Couples Swept Away Negril from £1,949 pp including flights. Book for May to October 30 (caribtours.co.uk).
HOP TO CYPRUS – SAVE 23%
Temperatures endure in Cyprus better than in many other Mediterranean destinations, and a trip to Paphos promises ancient ruins, theatres and villas.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights B&B at Constantinou Bros Asimina Suites from £959 pp, including flights. Book by January 31 for April 3 – 30 (inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk).
GRAND GALAPAGOS – SAVE 30%
Nowhere seems more remote than the Galapagos, which teem with wildlife, from giant tortoises to penguins and iguanas.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights sailing including most meals and accommodation from £1,922 pp. Book before January 17 for selected departures until October 2022. Flights excluded (intrepidtravel.com).
MOROCCAN MIRAGE – SAVE 25%
Desert, beaches, mountains and dazzling cities — there’s plenty to see in Morocco and the best way is on a tour.
HOW TO DO IT: Nine-night Casablanca to Marrakech trip from £1,019pp, including activities and some meals, on February 19. Flights excluded (gadventures.com).
MADAGASCAN MARVELS – SAVE 20%
On a visit to Madagascar, make sure to visit the lively capital of Antananarivo (pictured above)
Women wearing clay sunblock masks in Madagascar. Explore is offering a 15-day half-board tour of the country from £2,465
THE GREAT FLIGHTS SALE
Here are the best short-haul deals (all returns excluding luggage):
- London Luton to Larnaca, Cyprus, in March with Wizzair: £15.98.
- London Stansted to Milan, Italy, with Ryanair in January: £9.98.
- London Stansted to Budapest, Hungary, with Ryanair in March: £15.98.
- London Luton to Malaga, Spain, with Ryanair in March: £15.98.
- London Luton to Athens, Greece, with Wizzair in January: £9.98.
- London Stansted to Zagreb, Croatia, with Ryanair in January: £9.98.
- London Stansted to Venice, Italy, with Ryanair in January: £9.98.
And the best long-haul deals (all returns excluding luggage):
- London Gatwick to Sal, Cape Verde, with TUI in January/February: £188.
- London Gatwick to New York JFK with JetBlue in February: £283.
- London Gatwick to St Lucia with TUI in January/February: £270.
- London Gatwick to Bridgetown, Barbados, with TUI in January: £279.
There’s plenty of wildlife in Madagascar and some spectacular rainforests, but a visit is also a chance to see the lively capital, Antananarivo.
HOW TO DO IT: A 15-day half-board tour from £2,465 pp, including flights on April 8 (explore.co.uk).
CHEAP CITY BREAKS
ICELAND BOUND THREE FOR TWO
Reykjavik combines Nordic charm with plenty of modern character — and Iceland’s thrilling natural sights are near by.
HOW TO DO IT: Three nights B&B at Grandi by Center Hotels from £188 pp including flights on March 12 (holidaypirates.com).
DUTCH DELIGHT – SAVE 26%
Amsterdam’s canals, cycle paths, excellent restaurants and green spaces make it the ideal destination for a relaxing break.
HOW TO DO IT: Three nights room-only at Amstel Botel Hotel from £189 pp, including flights, on February 14 (jet2holidays.com).
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SAVE 10%
The Big Apple is back. Take in a Broadway show, the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and the new Little Island park.
HOW TO DO IT: Three nights room-only at Freehand from £735pp including flights. Book for dates between May 27 and June 20. (dialaflight.com)
AMAZING SKI DEALS
BULGARIAN BARGAIN – SAVE £266
Expect slopes running through pine forests, cosy bars and restaurants at the resort of Borovets. Base yourself at Hotel Festa Chamkoria.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights from £317 pp half-board, with Manchester flights/transfers in February (crystalski.co.uk).
SWISS ADVENTURE – SAVE £200
Stay in Saas-Fee to make the most of reliable high-altitude snow, great runs and the pretty mountain village.
For enticing prices, try the simple-but-smart Allalin Apartments.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights from £519 pp self-catering, with Gatwick flights on January 29 (inghams.co.uk).
WINTER IN HINTER
Hinterglemm in Austria is connected to the extensive Ski Circus area. Stay at Hotel Zur Dorfschmiede in the centre.
HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights from £1,681 pp half-board, with Gatwick flights on February 19 (igluski.com).
THE ENTICING WORLD OF CRUISING
SOLO IN SALZBURG
There’s no single supplement on the eight-day MS Thomas ‘Blue Danube’ from Budapest. Book for April 7 from £1,519, including flights (riviera-travel.co.uk, 01283 523431).
£662 FLY CRUISE
Save up to £300 on Marella Cruises departing between May 1, 2022 and April 30, 2023. Marella Explorer’s seven-night ‘Canarian Flavours’ January 17 sailing is from £662 pp including flights (tui.co.uk, 0800 975 4477).
CHILDREN GO FREE
Save up to 30 per cent on selected 2022 Celestyal cruises booked by March 31: children of 12 and under sail free if sharing their parents’ stateroom. Cruises include the seven-night ‘Idyllic Aegean’ from £759 pp (celestyal.com, 0800 411 8038).
Free children’s clubs and entertainment are available on Anthem of the Seas’ seven-night ‘Spain and France’ cruise, reduced to £635 pp on May 22. (cruise.co.uk, 0330 127 8218).
CHANGE AND SAVE
If previous river cruisers book a Great Rail Journeys river and rail holiday, the company will cut the fare by £300 (greatrail.com, 01904 521 936).