21 countries to visit in 2021
Following 2020, the year of staying at home, most of us are now yearning to travel again. As we bide our time through the darker winter months while vaccines are being rolled out, more people than ever are looking forward to travelling once more, whenever that may be. With so much culture and so many great destinations waiting to be discovered, it’s time to start planning those adventures and sun-soaked vacations. Here are 21 countries to consider visiting in 2021 – when it’s safe to do so, of course.
Japan was poised for one of its greatest years on record in 2020 by hosting the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. Thankfully, this event has been rescheduled for 2021, giving you a great reason to visit this incredible country.
But there’s even more reasons to visit Japan. 2021 marks the 90th anniversary of the National Parks Act in Japan which embraces the 34 parks across the country, from Hokkaido down to Okinawa, each with wonderful landscapes, from volcanoes to coastlines, plus wildlife, history and great places to stay.
One of Africa’s most visitor friendly countries, Tanzania is a wonder for the senses. Mt Kilimanjaro offers an amazing adventure for hiking to the summit. Owing to climate change the glaciers on top of Kilimanjaro have been diminishing, which might make 2021 one of the last years to be able to see them.
Tanzania is also home to the incredible Serengeti National Park, with its game reserves and unique wildlife. Taking a luxury safari to witness the wildebeest migration later in the year is a sight to behold. Not only has Tanzania been COVID free since May 8th 2020, but it has also been named one of the best wildlife safari destinations on earth.
The vast open spaces of Canada offer so many unique experiences for the traveller. US citizens can easily visit without boarding a plane, and thanks to the low population density it’s easy to keep a social distance. The affordable exchange rate means those looking for a trip without the big budget can get more for their money in Canada.
Easy trips include the spectacular Niagara Falls, the vast mountain spaces of Banff National Park in the Rocky Mountains, the Atlantic coastline of New Brunswick, or the lively and historic cities of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
With relatively few Covid infections, Vietnam has been quick to react to new cases entering its borders. But this wonderful country relies on tourism and it will be quick to welcome visitors again once the risk is over. When you can visit you will find the Bãi San Hô resort area on the eastern coast a wonderful sandy and sunny retreat. It has new hotels opening which respect this biodiverse area, mixing careful construction methods with luxury.
Also planned for 2021 is a new train route between Da Nang and Quy Nhon, linking luxury retreats at either end using quirky wooden carriages boasting fine dining and spa treatments.
Covid-19 has put a halt on the ambitions of many countries around the world, but places like Turkey will not let that stop them. After arriving at the giant new Istanbul Airport, your tour of this meeting point between East and West can take you on many adventures. In particular, this year enjoy the ancient landscapes and cities, like Cappadocia, Pamukkale and, of course, Istanbul itself. This beautiful city on the Bosphorus always enchants and offers so much to visitors.
Portugal is one of Europe’s best places to visit. And don’t just take our word for it – in 2020, it won 27 European awards, including “Europe’s Leading Destination 2020”, for the fourth time in a row, at the World Travel Awards Europe Ceremony.
The Algarve was voted the best beach destination, thanks to its cleanliness, open spaces, health protocols and its restaurants. Meanwhile Madeira Islands won “Europe’s Leading Island Destination 2020” for the fifth time in a row. With visitors numbers reduced, now is a great time to enjoy Portugal!
New Zealand was quick to act on Covid-19, closing its borders to visitors. As a result, it has witnessed among the fewest numbers of cases in the world. Now, it is time to discover this country again. Famed for its outdoors, snow-capped glaciers, national parks, outdoor pursuits, hips towns and cities, and of course the country’s excellent wine, there’s so much on offer that you’ll want to come back again to discover some more!
Visitors to the Maldives can once again enjoy this tropical paradise with minimal restrictions and no quarantines. Following the downturn in travel, many of its hotels and tour operators have some excellent deals in place to attract visitors once again, with easy connections from Europe and Asia. The Maldives have so many luxury resorts, hotels and villas to choose from, most of which are still quiet, and the coral reefs have not seen any divers for months. Now is the perfect time to visit.
Thailand is gradually opening its borders again to tourists, following a successful period managing the Covid outbreak. In fact, the tourism department is actively trying to bring foreign visitors back into the country, with some restrictions now being reduced on visas and the introduction of a new long-term visa for digital nomads that will probably see some big uptake in 2021. What’s more, the wide open beaches around the country are sun-soaked and devoid of crowds, so what’s not to like?
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Belize’s independence from Britain. Therefore, it’s going to be a celebratory year for the tiny nation despite the restrictions in travel that have been in place. It’s easy to get to Belize, with only a short two-hour flight from the USA. And the country will also see two new resort hotels open this year – the Four Seasons Cave Chapel Belize, and the Alaia Belize – which should be checked out for an incredible stay. All over there are natural spectacles to enjoy, great food and drink (look out for the Chocolate and Mango Festivals) and welcoming locals to greet you.
This year will see some special reasons to visit Denmark. It will host the Euro 2021 football championships in Copenhagen, LEGO Movie World is due to open at LEGOLAND Billund, and on the island of Funen the new Hans Christian Andersen House is due to open. This fairy tale museum will open its doors in June at Odense and will recreate the experiences of being immersed in some of the popular writer’s most treasured tales, like The Little Mermaid.
With one of the lowest Covid-19 fatality rates in Latin America, Costa Rica continues to inspire and attract visitors looking for sustainable travel and adventure holidays. This country operates on almost 100% renewable energy and sparkles in what it offers. From Arenal Volcano National Park to the new eco-lodges like Hacienda AltaGracia, which keeps you in touch with both nature and luxury, to the Botánika Osa Peninsula, Curio Collection by Hilton.
There needs to be little introduction to the wonders that can be seen in Egypt, from its ancient landscapes, monuments and museums, to the majestic Nile and the country’s resorts. But in 2021 there’s one more reason being added to the list. The Grand Egyptian Museum is due to open, leading guests through the history of Egyptian civilization. With views of the Great Pyramids of Giza, the museum will cover mummies, tombs, the afterlife, and all the other fascinating highlights of Egyptian history and culture and should not be missed.
In the early days of the Covid-19 outbreak, Italy was one of the hardest hit countries. Now, it is fighting back and looking forward to people visiting its famous landmarks, museums, galleries, landscapes and resorts once again.
In fact, Italy has been named Travel + Leisure’s Destination of the Year 2021, with so much allure. From the wine and food, to the hills and beaches, fashion, art and culture, it has and will continue to attract visitors from all over the world. This year marks the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death and there are many special events planned as an extra reason to visit Italy.
Bermuda is a gem in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, popular with tourists from the US and Europe. It has amazing weather, perfect beaches, stunning architecture and great water sports. This year the island is hosting the first SailGP events of their second season from April 24 – 25, 2021, and a great place to stay is the St. Regis Bermuda Hotel & Residences, which is set to open the same month, with “safe pods” designed for groups of friends and family to keep COVID safe.
Another country which has postponed its 2020 events to 2021 is the UAE! Expo 2020 will now take place from October 2021 to March 2022, hosted by Dubai and easily accessible thanks to the great air links from around the world. The Expo literally showcases the world, from exciting new innovations to cultural experiences and touristm. It will now coincide with the UAE’s 50th anniversary in December, so making another great reason to visit and join in the celebrations.
The UAE offers complimentary COVID‑19 PCR tests on arrival in Dubai for some countries.
As tourism begins to emerge, many are looking for new experiences and off-the-beaten-track places to explore, doing out with the well-trodden path and overcrowded destinations. Uruguay is set to become one of those places for post-Covid visitors to South America. Thanks to its small size and early precautions, Uruguay is expected to open sooner than other countries, and those that do visit will be able to explore the capital city and cultural hub of Montevideo and the Rambla beach, or the entertainment and outdoor region of Punta del Leste.
Australia has been strong in protecting its residents from the Coronavirus, keeping its international borders shut for a long time. The outbreak comes only a year after bushfires devasted Kangaroo Island. Once travel is permitted again, Australia is going to need visitors to help get its destination back on their feet, and especially at places like the koala rehabilitation center where you can learn all about the habitat restoration and how recovery from the fires is being managed.
Israel has been a world leader in combatting the Covid outbreak, having already vaccinated a large percentage of its population. It is on track to have everyone covered well before the summer.
After its tourist industry suffered one of the worst years on record, Israel is keen to start welcoming visitors again, with green and sustainable travel high on the agenda. Sharon Bershadsky, director of the Israel Government Tourist Office, said :“Israel has a lot to offer. We have great weather most of the year and the amount of things you can do outdoors is endless – the Negev, the green North, Masada – and not just if you’re sporty and active.”
While visiting Amsterdam immediately post-Covid will likely be a crowd-free experience, allowing you to explore and enjoy the museums, galleries, cafes and canals at your leisure, the country is expecting tourism to quickly return to previous levels thanks to all the Netherlands has on offer. One extra event this year is the Eurovision Song Contest which will be held in Rotterdam in May. It is sure to guarantee a party atmosphere throughout the country for this spectacular music contest.
It is now safer than ever to visit Uganda – one of Africa’s true gems, where you can enjoy a secure and welcoming experience. What’s more there are many wonderful experiences to be had. One of the greatest is making a gorilla trek, where you’ll have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to witness some of the gorilla babies born during the boom in 2020. These inquisitive creatures can be found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, where organised tours will guide you safely along the way. Uganda has many more open spaces to enjoy, including ten national parks, plus game reserves where you can take a safari.
Which countries, that we haven’t mentioned here would make your ‘top 21’ list, and what makes them a great place to visit in 2021?