It’s been a long time since any of us were allowed to go on holiday, and after months of lockdown, to say we’ve got itchy feet is an understatement. According to the government’s road map, travelling abroad could be allowed from 17 May – but legislation was passed on 29 March to make holidays overseas illegal until 30 June. Many potential holidaymakers are now setting their sights on July for a break abroad.
In April, the UK government’s Global Travel Taskforce will reveal a strategy for reopening foreign travel, which could be based on a traffic light system this summer – rating countries green, amber or red depending on how safe they are to travel to.
The suggested system sees ‘green’ countries open to UK residents and nationals, without them needing to quarantine on arrival. An enforced self-isolation period, or maybe a continued travel ban, would still apply to ‘red’ countries, whereas ‘amber’ countries would fall in between – most likely with COVID testing requirements and perhaps a shorter self-isolation period.
So, which countries are likely to be green listed, and open to travel in July? Predictions are based on a combination of effective vaccination programmes, current case numbers and historic COVID-related border policies in each destination. Let’s take a look at our best bets for a quarantine-free July holiday.
DISCLAIMER: This article was last updated on 29 March 2021. Please always refer to official government resources for the most up-to-date information before planning or booking travel.
Which countries could be on the green list this July?
With its low coronavirus case numbers and decent vaccination programme, Iceland is looking like a very attractive choice for a holiday in July. Plus, since 18 March, Iceland is open to all Brits that have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, without subjecting them to PCR testing or quarantine.
Though it’s not the warmest summer destination on the planet, averaging at about 14°C, Iceland’s long daylight hours from May to August – not to mention the fact that it’s the least-populated country in Europe, home to sweeping lowlands, fjords and mountain peaks – make it a popular choice for hikers and outdoorsy travellers.
Get to grips with the landscape by hiring a car and driving the famous island ring road. Explore fishing villages, go whale watching and seek out the thundering waterfalls of inner Iceland.
Always wanted to see the cultural marvels of Jerusalem, or eat falafel in one of the world’s most vegan-friendly cities, Tel Aviv? This summer could be the perfect opportunity. Some 60% of Israel’s population has been vaccinated against COVID-19 so far – the fastest vaccination drive in the world – and once-high infection rates are down to under 3%. The country has left lockdown behind and started celebrating holiday gatherings again with almost no restrictions.
This is good news for tourists, too. The tourism ministry has launched a new campaign, Bring Tourism Back to Israel, aiming to open the country up to vaccinated international arrivals in mid-2021.
Tiny Israel packs a punch when it comes to what it can offer visitors. In July, temperatures in Tel Aviv average at a balmy 26°C, and it practically never rains at this time of year. Spend a few days on the city beaches, and eating and drinking your way through cosmopolitan hotspots, before exploring further afield: the lush hills of Galilee, the lowest spot on earth at the Dead Sea and the Negev desert are all within a two-hour drive of Tel Aviv. Not to mention Jerusalem, one of the cultural capitals of the world.
At the beginning of 2021, Portugal was in bad shape. It had the highest coronavirus infection and death rates in Europe, sparking a strict national lockdown to curb the spread. It worked: last week, Portugal was removed from the UK’s ‘red list’ thanks to a sharp drop in coronavirus cases (they now have far fewer cases than the UK). Arrivals from Portugal no longer need to quarantine in a hotel, and Portugal’s secretary of state for tourism Rita Marques has stated that the country is keen to re-open tourism to Brits from mid-May. And the island of Madeira is already welcoming vaccinated travellers.
This means that Portugal is very likely to be on the UK’s green travel list, and could be a good bet for a holiday in July. It’s the perfect time to go, as one of the warmest months of the year in Lisbon, with average temperatures at a very warm 27°C.
A city break in Lisbon is always tempting, but if you fancy avoiding the crowds, a week in the Algarve might suit you better. Yes, it’s still a very popular tourist spot – but it’s got plenty of sandy cliffs, golden beaches, sea caves and surf spots to cater to everybody.
Malta’s vaccination programme is forging ahead, with a quarter of the population having now received their first jab. COVID-19 infections are low, and Malta was on the UK’s travel corridors last summer, making it a strong contender for the green list this summer.
Just as well, because if you’ve been craving sunshine, the picturesque island is a scorcher for a holiday in July – average temperatures can hit 31°C. Start in the UNESCO-protected capital of Valletta, a city jam-packed with historic attractions, and small enough to discover on foot. Then get out of the city to make the most of the island’s active offerings – we’re thinking horse riding, scuba diving, snorkelling or rock climbing.
The Maldives was a lockdown lifesaver for many Brits able to get away over this past year: it’s consistently low coronavirus cases can be put down to the natural social distance in place between its islands. As it stands, tourists can travel without restrictions between islands and resorts that do not have COVID-19 cases. Seeing as many Maldives resorts reopened to British tourists in July 2020, it’s reasonable to predict that the country could be green listed for holidays this July, too.
If so, it’s probably going to be a popular choice. The Maldives is home to some 150 gorgeous resorts, most of which have private beaches. And a holiday there doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might think. Avoid privately-owned islands, where resorts can cost hundreds of thousands of Maldivian rufiyaa per night. More modest guesthouses on public islands such as Maafushi, Fulidhoo or Garaidhoo will charge literally a hundred times less than the likes of Como Cocoa Island – and they still have those iconic, idyllic beaches.
While Mexico has been hit hard by COVID-19, cases are now falling, and the country hasn’t been closed to British travellers throughout the pandemic. This bodes well for potential green list holidays there this July, so long as the British government eases restrictions.
Most flights to Mexico end up in either Cancun or Mexico City. We say head for Cancun this July, where temperatures average out at 28°C – but unless you dream of spring break-style holidays, head down the Caribbean coast when you arrive. Playa del Carmen is a bohemian, classy alternative to Cancun, and an hour further is Tulum – a white sand paradise, dotted with Mayan ruins and hipster cocktail spots.
After many months of closed borders and low rates of COVID-19, Thailand is planning to welcome back non-Thai travellers, who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. It has also announced that vaccinated foreigners will be allowed to travel to Phuket, Thailand’s biggest holiday island, from July, without having to quarantine.
This makes a green list travel agreement look fairly promising. And July is a good time to visit, despite the fact that it’s the wet season. Temperatures drop to a workable 28°C, and while thunderstorms might make an appearance, prices tend to be lower and crowds smaller as it’s not peak season.
Might as well head to quarantine-free Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, which is as famous for its white-gold beaches as its backpacking culture. While you’re there, hunt out the spots that many visitors gloss over – the cultural riches of Phuket Town’s museums, its two national parks and the wildlife sanctuaries in the north of the island.
There’s been a travel ban between the UK and Spain for the past three months, but that’s due to end on 30 March, suggesting that Spain is preparing to welcome back British tourists this summer. The country has also suggested a health pass for vaccinated visitors from the UK. However, coronavirus cases remain high and vaccination progress is slow – so there’s a chance that Spain could end up on the amber list, which might require a short self-isolation or mandatory COVID testing.
Of course, holidaymakers and industry professionals in both Spain and the UK hope that it will be green listed in time for a holiday in July. 18.1 million Brits visited Spain in 2019, and many of us made good use of its travel corridor in summer 2020, too.
If you manage to go this summer, it’s worth tracking down some of the country’s lesser-visited areas. The northern regions of Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia get less love than the Costa del Sol, but are worlds apart, offering rough coastlines, natural parks, Atlantic-fresh seafood and some of the world’s best cider.
What about the amber and red lists?
At the moment, experts are saying that Croatia, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey could feature on an amber travel list. Each of these countries has expressed a wish to bring back British tourism, but high coronavirus cases and different rates of vaccinated populations mean that some restrictions could remain in place for UK travellers to these countries.
You should be able to go on staycation in July
In England, domestic holidays should be allowed from 12 April – and in Wales, people are already free to travel wherever they want within their own borders. Hotels and B&Bs are set to open for holidaymakers in England on 17 May, while travel within Scotland will open from 26 April, with restrictions in place.
Luckily, we’ve got some stunning holiday destinations right on our doorstep, from the rolling hills of the Lake District to the Gothic architecture of Edinburgh. Whether you’re up for a UK city break, a wacky hotel or the chance to explore a corner of the UK you’ve never heard of before, this country has a post-lockdown staycation tailor-made for you.
Where can I go?
Making plans to get back out there? Find out which borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.
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