1. Croatia: This Baltic beauty is just as popular as the Greek Islands with its celebrity rising even more so thanks to Game of Thrones (think Kings Landing and that walk of shame through the medieval cobbled streets of Dubrovnik).
The idyllic beaches and its day bars, the ancient buildings that form part of its buzzing nightlife, the fresh and hearty cuisine… and the opportunity to charter a boat to island hop along the azure Adriatic coast… are the hallmarks of a perfect holiday.
Dubrovnik, Split and Hvar were once taken over by tourists in peak summer, this may change in 2021, but do consider the lesser popular (but equally picturesque) areas up the coast such as Istria (borders Italy and Slovenia – add these both to the list too!), or for a point of difference go inland into the national parks such as Plitvice lakes and Krka Waterfalls.
2. Norway – Scandinavia is seen as a (Covid) low risk destination, but with high impact i.e. filled with exciting experiences and renowned for its spectacular landscapes, charming villages and majestic mountains. The priceless Northern Lights (electrically charged particles from the sun), are a must-see experience to watch the lights sour across the sky above the Arctic Circle.
And while you’re there, board one of the most incredible rail journeys in the world – the Flåm Railway, which offers a panoramic view of some of the most stunning nature amongst the Norwegian fjords.
Explore Scandinavia for the first time on Adventure World’s Unique Fjords & Glaciers trip.
3. Portugal: One of the Mediterranean’s best sun-and-sand destinations dotted with historic cities, world-renowned cuisine and natural landscapes. Something for everyone as it has become an increasingly popular wellness destination to unplug and unwind with some of the world’s best surfing.
Contikiis offering new self-care experiences such as its Portugal City and Surf adventure. A 2-night ‘Special Stays’ at Noah’s Surf House in Santa Cruise offers experiences including paddle boarding, skateboarding and morning sunrise yoga overlooking the country’s scenic coastline.
4. Vienna via river: For those that have experienced Europe a few times and looking for a point of difference, consider a river cruise – it’s a unique way to explore Europe as you float past castles and quaint villages onboard a luxury ship (max 130 people), all while relaxing and sipping on wine from the rooftop deck. Think floating 5-star boutique hotel, restaurant, bar and yoga studio promoting ‘wellness on the water’.
Waking up to swans outside your window as you roll past misty waters, pure magic. And there is plenty of free time to explore the cities and towns. Vienna to Prague is my pick, sailing along the enchanting Rhine and Danube rivers stopping in the “City of Waltzes” to explore its artistic legacy, imperial palaces and historic treasures.
For your safety and protection – all Uniworld Boutique Collection ships have its air purified and rendered treated surfaces self-disinfecting in an odor-less, chemical free and sustainable way, decomposing microbes such as bacteria and viruses, including the coronavirus family.
5. Southern Africa: Safari, safari, safari. To feel like you’re part of a David Attenborough documentary is pretty surreal – I had six young lions walk an arm’s reach by my group and then attack a buffalo right before our dumbstruck eyes – only to have the buffalo shake off SIX lions and then run off to warn its herd to steer clear and then beat a tree in with its HEAD to show its dominance against the lions. That kind of ‘live show’ doesn’t happen every day, which is the beauty of a safari – each day and night is different, you can only hope to catch the Big5 (lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo, rhino).
Plus add in the staggering Lions Head climb with 360 views of Cape Town, various nature walks and of course the beautiful spirit of the people – your vacation is complete.
And opening in December 2020 is Red Carnation Hotel’s Xigera Safari Lodge set in Botswana’s unspoiled wilderness spanning 15,000 square kilometers in the heart of the Okavango Delta. This ultra-luxurious escape is dedicated to sustainability, with 12 phenomenal suites socially distanced and is 100% solar powered.
The tranquil haven offers Wellness in the Wilderness – soul-soothing, individually customized treatments that re-energize and nurture the body and mind by tapping into the natural healing powers of the peace and tranquility of the bush.
6. Egypt & Jordan: How fascinating to step back in time to the land of the pharaohs, get lost at Valley of the Kings in Luxor, visit Giza’s colossal Pyramids and Great Sphinx and cruise the mighty river Nile which has many ancient monuments dotted along the edge – the history and stories to be heard is enough to bring out the explorer in anyone, not to mention ALL the mezze plates and hummus.
Then onto Jordan, also filled with World Heritage Sites and inspiring desert landscapes, Petra, considered a ‘world wonder’ with sites positioned over rocky landscape and an apparent mood that changes with the shifting light of dawn and dusk.
Trafalgar and Insight Vacations offer guided holidays and an opportunity to visit the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Co-op, a community of women with a mission of self-empowerment and developing their crafts (stats show some of the highest unemployment rates for women are in the Middle East) – you’re welcomed to visit and join them, learn their way of life and give back to the community #MakeTravelMatter.
7. South America: Take some time off and be one with nature and wellness – the Andean peaks, Amazonian rainforest (staying in eco lodges), Patagonian glaciers, Incan ruins (hike Machu Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the world!), Lima as a global gastronomy destination and relax on white-sand beaches.
For an unpackaged holiday tailored by you, Costsaver, takes you through South America; and now Uniworld Boutique River Cruises sails on the Amazon and includes Peru for a Machu Picchu exploration. Try a state-of-the-art skiff ride on the Yanayacu-Pucate River where you can kayak, canoe and swim in these famous waters with a possible sighting of a pink dolphin.
8. Canada: A breath of fresh air for many, Canada presents thriving city highlights and plays host to an array of activity including hiking, biking, canoeing, camping, skiing, wildlife and more. Get lost and discover Mother Nature’s bounties from the Rocky Mountains to the waters of Alaska and cover national parks, glaciers and historic villages of Western Canada. But also consider the mountains of Yukon or British Columbia are equally impressive to the Rockies.
9. Japan: A mix of Eastern traditions crossed with Western modernity, Japan is one of the oldest civilizations complete with diverse history, majestic temples and boasts 21 UNESCO World Heritage Listed sites; pristine natural scenery such as Mount Fuji and its forested hills, a chance to take a dip in a mineral-rich Onsen hot spring bath heated by geothermal forces which are said to offer ‘rejuvenating powers’; its freshly powdered ski fields in winter, and in spring the blooming of the cherry blossoms which peak in April.
Food and entertainment are important to Japanese culture, so while on holiday you must sample a range of the many delicious dishes that make up their traditional cuisine (while sipping on sake and singing karaoke, obviously). FYI – Japan is the birthplace of Karaoke and there are around 100,000 karaoke boxes and bars across the country. So find your favorite song and immerse yourself in the culture!
Embrace the timeless tradition and modern spirit of Japan’s iconic sites, to the soothing hot springs of Kotohira, then ponder over world peace in Hiroshima with Trafalgar’s Splendours of Japan.
10. Australia and New Zealand: Yes I’ve listed two countries as one to fit into the Top 10, BUT they share the same qualities yet are completely unique from each other – incredibly diverse in nature, extraordinary scenery and endemic wildlife, and offer an interesting indigenous culture to be discovered (and they are both deemed incredibly low risk Covid countries).
While Australia is renowned for its picturesque coastlines and white sands, New Zealand is known for its breathtaking mountains and landscape.
Imagine snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef (one of the seven natural Wonders of the World and the biggest single structure made by living organisms), then head north to the Daintree Rainforest for its hikes and sleep in an eco-treehouse, then travel across to Uluru – such a spiritual place that draws you in like a vortex in the most magical way.
New Zealand offers contrast between its North and South islands – a plethora of natural wonders such as the Tasman Glacier made famous by The Lord of the Rings. Take a scenic journey through Fiordland National Park and out to the unmissable Milford Sound.
And that’s a wrap of the Top 10 best places in the world to visit in 2021. Admittedly, we could squeeze in at least another 50 hot spots from popular destinations, to the roads less travelled! There are so many exciting sites, cultural experiences, walks, wildlife yet to be discovered… and so many more memories waiting to be created!
Deciding where to go now? Check this link for the most up-to-date travel restrictions