Four countries we predict will be open to Britons this summer

Oliver Smith
·5-min read
Montenegro is already open to UK arrivals - Getty
Montenegro is already open to UK arrivals - Getty

The Spanish Prime Minister has cast doubt over summer holidays in the country by hinting that international travel will not be possible until herd immunity is reached.

“We are already the ninth country in the world in the vaccination process and one of the first countries in Europe,” said Pedro Sanchez this week.

“And we are going to advance with the vaccination at the highest rate until reaching 70 per cent of the population with immunity by the end of the summer. This will allow Spain to be progressively better prepared to receive international tourists.”

Mr Sanchez will surely come under immense pressure to welcome holidaymakers sooner than that – particularly from leaders in the Balearics and the Canary Islands, which rely heavily on overseas visitors – but his words will leave many Britons nervous about their summer plans. After all, we visit Spain for our holidays more than any other country.

So here are a few alternatives that look like a safer bet for summer. Our picks are based on each country’s existing travel restrictions, their vaccine status, and their likely eagerness to see the return of lilo-clutching and vitamin D-deficient Britons.

Everything could change, of course (our Government might even still have us under lock and key), so please think hard before booking, use – where possible – an Atol-protected tour operator, and closely check terms and conditions when it comes to refunds and cancellations.

Montenegro

Pint-sized Montenegro relies heavily on tourism, which accounts for around 12 per cent of GDP. Indeed, it was one of the very first countries to reopen to overseas visitors last year (on June 1). That desire to keep its borders unlocked clearly remains, and since January 12 all travellers, including UK citizens, have been free to enter Montenegro without even needing to provide evidence of a negative test. Come on down.

EasyJet flies to Tivat, gateway to the stunning Bay of Kotor. Kaye Holland, writing for Telegraph Travel, describes the country as a quieter alternative to Croatia. “It shares the same breathtaking blue waters, lush forests and magnificent walled cities – the only thing it doesn’t have is too many people,” she says.

Kotor Bay - Getty
Kotor Bay - Getty

Greece

We love Greece, and the Greeks love us. Well, maybe not the ones who live near Kavos or Faliraki, but the others certainly do. Throughout the pandemic, no country has been more welcoming to British holidaymakers, and even in the autumn, when UK cases were rising and other nations were pulling down the shutters, tourism-reliant Greece was still rolling out the red carpet. So, once the vaccine is rolled out, cases fall and lockdown is lifted, it seems reasonable to assume that we’ll be welcomed once again.

Furthermore, the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis supports the use of vaccination certificates to reboot tourism. With the UK leading the way in Europe when it comes to inoculation, Mitsotakis’s stance could work in our favour.

There are literally hundreds of Greek islands to choose from, but among our favourites are Tinos, with its empty villages and otherworldly landscapes; Folegandros, the quiet alternative to Santorini; and Symi, a contender for the country’s most romantic spot.

Tinos - Peter Marston
Tinos - Peter Marston

Portugal

Along with Greece, Portugal has been very welcoming of Britons throughout the pandemic (even when we have failed to reciprocate). Luis Araujo, who heads up the national tourism authority, was keen to let us know that Britons will be “100% welcome” by early summer – unsurprising, given the reliance of certain regions, like the Algarve, on British arrivals.

Portugal is also among those European countries lobbying for the introduction of a vaccine passport, something that will smooth the way for millions of British travellers to return to its sun-soaked shores.

For social distancing, it’s hard to beat the seemingly endless beaches near Comporta. “Turquoise waters lap on to such picture-perfect white sands that it’s hard to believe you’re in Europe,” says Mary Lussiana, our Portugal expert. “Walk the beach at sunset, or weave your way on horseback through the green rice fields before a meal of the freshest of fish on the seashore.” See her pick of the country’s best seaside options.

Malta

Europe’s first completely vaccinated country may well be Malta. Not only is it small, with a population of around 500,000, but it is already inoculating its citizens faster than nearly every other nation on the continent. How it approaches the return of sunseeking foreigners remains to be seen, but perhaps it will adopt the same policy as the Seychelles. The Indian Ocean archipelago has said it will reopen its borders to all travellers once its own rapid vaccine rollout is completed (possibly by the spring).

Among the European holiday favourites, Malta is leading the way when it comes to vaccines
Among the European holiday favourites, Malta is leading the way when it comes to vaccines

Malta, like the Seychelles, is heavily reliant on tourists – with 14 per cent of GDP coming from overseas visitors. What’s more, in a typical year a quarter of its visitors are from the UK. Mark Stratton, who visited in the autumn for Telegraph Travel, found an island desperate for Britons to return. So it’s not far-fetched to expect that we’ll be welcome come summer.